- Ch. 1: Waking up is hard to do. Unless, of course, there are fries.
- Ch. 2: It might be a game to you, but it’s not to us.
- Ch. 3: Does anything actually happen or do we just talk about it?
- Ch. 4: What could possibly be better than jewels, gold and glittery treasure?
- Ch. 5: The first thing we do, let’s uninvite all of the parents.
- Ch. 6: The long walk to freedom
- Ch. 7: Pieces of the puzzle are coming together. But what’s the puzzle?
- Ch. 8: The unknown versus the known.
- Ch. 9: It doesn’t always make logical sense. Sometimes, you just have to go with it.
- Ch. 10: This is the worst day of my life (again).
- Ch. 11: We are family.
- Ch. 12: Castle Burgers with a side of Bog
- Ch. 13: Upside-down ladders and distant brothers
- Ch. 14: Sibling rivalry isn’t only among 9- and 11-year olds
- Ch. 15: No time for patience
Lu & Dec dig in for some serious answers to serious questions.
The bar was again silent, but they had no time to discuss or think or even move as a woman walked in so suddenly it seemed as if she and Killian were on a relay team.
“Hey lads,” came the sweet voice so opposite of the eyebrow-strong sorcerer who just left that it seemed fake, like she was making it up. But she spoke again and it was real.
“Ooh,” she squealed, “I know who you two are, you’re the brothers of Li and Dan.” But she continued before they could say anything, not that they had much to say. “No need to respond, lads, there are only four boys in the whole castle and I’ve already fed two of them. I just came in here to get a splash of Irish cream as one of our guests fancies a little of the spirits this morning. A little early for me to get started on the liquor, but it is a wedding, I suppose,” she looked to her left as if waiting for the imaginary person she was having a conversation with was going to respond. Then she looked back to the boys and started up again, “Oh, lads, I hadn’t properly introduced myself, I’m Darcy.”
The boys knew they were supposed to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ or ‘Nice to meet you’ but they stood there like mute zombies until finally Lu spoke up.
“I’m Lu,” Lu said and when Dec didn’t speak up within a quarter of second, Lu shouldered him and Dec was tossed out of his trance.
“I’m Dec,” Dec said. “I guess you met Dan, my little brother.”
“I most certainly did and I met Li as well. They gobbled up breakfast like they had never eaten before. Are you two boys hungry as well?”
They nodded as words were still a little difficult to put together as their brains were trying to process what Killian had said. Was he helping them or threatening them? Was he the good guy or the bad guy? How were they supposed to know?
Darcy turned her head and lodged it back slightly, she then looked down her nose at the boys as if she were trying to read their thoughts. Of that, she did a fine job.
“Lads, did I see Killian leave as I came in? Of course I did, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed it, right? So, hmm, yes, well, what did he say to you boys?” she asked and waited. Lu and Dec looked at her and wondered if this was a question they were actually supposed to answer as the last several questions from Killian and Darcy all seemed to answer themselves. This was no exception.
“Wait, I bet I know. I bet he talked to you about tonight, didn’t he?” They again didn’t know what to say, but had both everything to say and nothing to say. They chose one word.
“Yes,” Dec said.
“Oh me, I apologize, I do,” she said and kept putting words in odd places that the boys weren’t used to hearing. It was all English, but just these little words and phrases plopped in here and there.
“Well, what’s wrong?” Lu asked.
“Oh, well, nothing,” she paused, “Well, nothing and everything is all.” She brought her hand up to her mouth and rubbed it like she was checking to see if she needed to shave her beard.
“Which is it, nothing or everything?” Dec asked.
“Can I ask a question?” Lu asked.
“Of course, son, you’re more than welcome to ask anything you like, although I can’t guarantee I’ll have any answers or at least any answers that answer your question,” she just kept going. “That is to say, I might have answers to your questions, but they might not be the right ones. Go right ahead, lad, I’m listening,” and with that she finally stopped talking long enough to ask his question.
“Why does everyone around here talk about stuff, but there are so many words and so much of ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’ and we all talk about something happening tonight, but could you just tell us what’s happening tonight?” He paused as if to wait for an answer, but then proceeded just as others had done.
“I mean, do you know what’s going to happen tonight and you’re just not telling us because we’re kids? Does everyone who works here know what’s going to happen to us and it’s all just a big secret and you’re all just holding out on us like it’s some game?”
“Well, Killian said it wasn’t a game, remember?” Dec interjected.
“Exactly,” Lu started again. “He says it’s not a game, but I don’t really even know what he’s talking about. There’s all this talk of puzzles and words and secrets and histories but no one tells us what’s really going on or what’s going to happen tonight,” he stopped and looked at Darcy. “We meet Alastar and then Killian, who looks like he’s going to kill us, then Margaret and now Darcy,” he nods and points towards her, “that’s you,” and he laughs a nervous laugh. “And people tell us stuff and it sounds like something big and scary, well, I mean big but also scary, is going to happen tonight and, I don’t know, I mean, what about the World Cup? What about a soccer ball? What about if there’s a pump here so I could pump up my soccer ball,” Lu kept going without realizing he was keeping going, but now was rolling, so kept going. But Darcy looked at him with a look of some sadness or maybe confusion.
“I’m sorry, you look like I hurt your feelings now, did I say something wrong?” Lu continued, but like they always did, he didn’t leave any room for answers. “See, I don’t even know what’s right to say and wrong to say and all I really want to know is if I could get some fries for breakfast and you know what’s even kinda crazier? I don’t even know if you call them fries!” his voice rose, but more out of exasperation than anger or anxiety. “I had this whole discussion with Dec this morning about what fries are called all over the world and … ” but Dec interrupted.
“Wait, we did?” Dec asked.
“Well, you were still asleep, but it’s OK because sometimes when I talk and talk, people don’t listen anyway. But you know, it’s kinda like here. People talk and talk and I don’t know what parts I should listen to. I mean, Darcy, thank you for talking to us, but I just really want to know two things. Do you think you could give me, like, real answers? I’m sorry, is that being annoying? I don’t want to be annoying. If you want annoying, that’s Dan, you met him this morning, he even said out loud that he’s annoying, which I thought was pretty funny. But if I just had two questions, could you answer them for me? For us? I swear, I’ll stop talking now and let you answer.”
“Whew, laddie, you and I should have morning coffee and just talk at the same time and see who can last longer,” she laughed and had the most welcoming, big-sister smile any boy would swoon over. “I would be honored to answer your questions as best I can, but I’m not sure you asked them yet, did you?”
“Could you just tell us what’s going to happen tonight?” Lu asked and said nothing more.
Darcy’s smile went from that of comedy to one of understanding and compassion. It was warm and soothing. “What’s the second question?” she asked.
Not wanting to ask why she didn’t want to answer the first question, Lu just launched into the second question.
“Could we have fries for breakfast?”