The Bright Star Journals
The Star Warriors
Byron C. Calhoun
Copyright 2015 by Byron C. Calhoun
“. . .whereunto ye do well that ye take head, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” II Peter 1:19
Dedicated to my wife Kathryn, my children-Paul, Daniel, Joshua, Faith, Mercy, and my Lord Jesus Christ to whom I owe all. Soli Deo Gloria!
The Bright Star Journals
“The Star Warriors”
Roller Coaster Riding
Mercy Smithton (from our previous adventures in Logoland) and Brooke Wells, her best friend, sat expectantly in the roller coaster seats. The bars rested against their shoulders holding them firmly in their seats side-by-side.
“This is sooo great,” grinned Mercy.
“Yeah! This roller coaster is suppose to sling you from zero to 60 miles per hour in like 3 seconds!” shared Brooke excitedly.
Both tensed as the count-down began, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” intoned the speakers. “Blast off!”
Mercy and Brooke felt themselves smashed back into their seats as the car flung them forward. The coaster hurled ahead through the flashing lights into the darkness. As their car spun into the first turn, they felt it leave the tracks and fly off into the dark!
Mercy gripped the shoulder harness in terror.
Brooke just screamed.
Instantly, they were thrust into a blazing, blinding, blue light. Both noticed their restraints were gone and they were flying forward. Instead of sitting they flew stretched out on their stomachs. The air rushed by in with a crisp, clean smell of fresh-cut cedar chips.
“W-w-what happened?” asked Brooke looking at Mercy.
“I don’t know,” answered Mercy in a puzzled tone.
“Hey! Look at your clothes,” said Brooke with wonder in her voice. “You are all dressed up in funny clothes!”
“So are you,” laughed Mercy.
So they were. Brooke’s dress consisted of cunningly woven fabric of green silk with a white trim of embroidery work around the neck and the wrists of the long sleeves. Her long blond hair streamed behind her with a simple veil on her head. Around her neck hung a beautiful golden star with a blue stone in the center. Mercy’s dress flowed behind her in a cloud of blue cloth with golden embroidery at the neck and wrists. Her hair swept back in a French braid. A golden star on a gold chain with a blue star in the center rested on her chest.
On their feet each had a pair of lovely, soft, black leather, slippers similar to our ballet shoes.
“How can we be flying like this?” asked Brooke in wonder. “And where are we?”
“My guess is Logoland,” replied Mercy knowingly.
“What’s a Logoland?” inquired Brooke.
“Not a what, but a where,” answered Mercy matter-of-factly.
“You’ve been here before?” asked Brooke with surprise.
“Several times,” said Mercy gravely.
The two began to slow down and rotate to an upright position.
“Whoa! What’s happening?” began Brooke. “We’re slowing down and standing up.”
“I thing we are getting ready to land,” replied Mercy.
The two lost speed and descended down through the clouds toward a small clearing. As they went lower, they could see a man bent over at the edge of the clearing. He seemed to be absorbed in some task. The two girls landed gently with a short trot and stopped.
Hearing them land, the gnome (not a man) whirled in surprise and gaped at the two girls. As he turned, Stonegood the gnome, dropped the book from his hands and managed to stammer, “Who be ye?”
Mercy, with a curtsy, replied, “I am the Lady Mercy Smithton and this is my good friend the Lady Brooke.”
“You be the Lady Mercy from the stories?” asked the gnome.
“Yes. I am that lady Mercy,” said Mercy politely.
“What is all this talk about?” asked Brooke in a very confused voice. “You’ve really have been here before? I thought you were just kidding me.”
“Actually several times,” replied Mercy.
“Then, ye have come to help us,” responded Stonegood.
“Help you do what?” inquired Mercy.
“Help us in ‘our time of need’”, answered Stonegood. “As the ancient rhyme says,
‘In our time of greatest need,
The King shall send two of deed.
Boy and girl to free the land;
Servants of the Most High’s band.’
“Except this time, it will be,” grinned Mercy.
‘In our time of greatest need,
The King shall send two of deed.
Two brave girls to free the land;
Servants of the Most High’s band.’
“What is it with all the rhyming stuff?” asked Brooke. “It is really weird!”
“It is just how things get done here. They have a more formal way of doing things in Logoland,” responded Mercy.
“Very true Lady Mercy,” said Stonegood with a slight bow and smile.
“So what is it this time?” inquired Mercy.
“We have the Princess Katy of Logoland engaged to Prince Faithless of Humanista. Her father King Barnabus the XIVth engaged her to him to try and bring Logoland closer to Humanista. We know that this is not the way to get closer to Humanista. Sacrificing his daughter will not do this. We know compromising with evil never works,” responded Stonegood.
“Who is King Barnabus the XIVth” asked Mercy.
“He is the great-great-great grandson of King Logosian XIII of Logoland,” replied Stonegood.
“So, how long ago was King Logosian’s XIII reign?” questioned Mercy.
“The good King Logosian XIII reigned some 80 years ago,” answered Stonegood.
“It’s now 80 years since I was here in Logoland?” asked Mercy.
“Seems so,” answered Stonegood.
“Who are these people with the funny names: Princess Katy of Logoland, Prince Faithless of Humanista, and King Barnabus XIVth?” inquired Brooke. “And why do we care if the Princess marries the Prince?”
“I suppose a short history of Logoland is in order,” replied Mercy. “Logoland came into being with the Bright Star as His chosen place. Humanista borders Logoland and has been its enemy for many years. I met King Barnabus the Xth many years ago in Logoland with my cousin Paul to rescue the Princess Faith. Now we are back to save Logoland from Humanista again.”
“Who is the Bright Star? And how do you know that Princess Katy does not love Prince Faithless?” asked Brooke.
“The Bright Star is the one who made Logoland and all things in the world. We know the Princess does not love the Prince because we talked with her. Princess Katy contends she is marrying the Prince to please her father and for Logoland,” answered Stonegood. “If we could but show that the Prince and his Father King Lipophrenia IVth are plotting to overthrow Logoland, we could stop this wedding.”
“Absolutely! The Bright Star is the One who called us here to come to the aid of Logoland. He called us out of the roller coaster and sent us here,” added Mercy. “So, how are we going to reach the Princess and talk to her?” asked Mercy.
“We were not sure. That is why we sent for you,” stated Stonegood.
“Sent for us?” asked Brooke.
“Aye. We used the ancient rhyme,” began Stonegood
‘In our time of greatest need,
The King shall send two of deed.
Two brave girls to free the land;
Servants of the Most High’s band.’
“I like the new version better,” giggled Mercy.
“I’m not sure I like either version,” grumbled Brooke. “I think ‘kidnapping’ young girls is against the law!”
“They really didn’t ‘kidnap’ us. They really just ‘borrowed’ us to help them out,” answered Mercy. “Where are we right now?”
“We be near the Clearing of Light close to the Plain of Reckoning and the River Ripplesway. We are about 40 miles from the capitol of Sanctua,” replied Stonegood. “There will be many who do not wish to see us arrive at Sanctua or see the Princess. So far, the minions of Humanista do not know you are here in Logoland.”
“How do you know they are not aware of our presence already,” asked Mercy somberly. “The times I have been to Logoland, there have always been those who oppose us and spy for the others.”
“True milady,” said Stonegood rubbing his chin. “But ye have only been here a short while. It seems unlikely that they would have word so soon.”
At that moment, they heard the cawing of a crow. They all turned abruptly to look at a large black crow in a massive ominsk tree at the edge of the meadow. Ominsk trees were unique to Logoland. They have leaves rather like a cross between the maple and a spruce. The leaves also had a yellow-green color that contrasted sharply with the green meadow they stood within. The ominsk leaves fall off the trees in the fall like a tarmarac in our world and new bluish-green leaves grew in their place for the winter months.
“So much for our ‘secret’ arrival,” muttered Mercy. “How did they know to watch you Stonegood?”
“The Humanistans have been watching loyal Logolanders for some time now. They know we are opposed to the wedding with Prince Faithless,” said Stonegood. “We must hurry. We have a long journey ahead of us with many dangers.”
“What dangers?” began Brooke. “I’m not sure I like this adventure all that much. All I wanted to do was ride the roller coaster.”
“Oh well. Too late to back out now. Don’t be such a wet-blanket!” responded Mercy cheerfully. “What is next?”
“We need to get you changed into some traveling clothes. Those lovely gowns will not wear well on the trail,” said Stonegood.
“You are right. I don’t think silk dresses are made for hiking,” laughed Mercy. “Let’s go get changed.”
The three walked briskly to Stonegood’s home at the clearing’s edge. The home was really more of a cottage and made in the octagon shape since it was the gnome’s “lucky shape.” The inside appeared spotless with a polished stone floor and large, arch-shaped rock hearth with a big, black kettle and metal arm to swing the pot over the fire. The kettle and metal arm were made by Stonegood’s uncle, for gnomes are very clever with metals. Only two rooms made up the cottage and a sturdy wood bed stood in the corner with a lovely quilt made of some sort of soft fabric; keslo down they learned later. We ought to explain about a keslo. A keslo is a remarkable little creature about the size of a small sheep only it has a head and neck similar to a llama and fleece like an agora sheep: long, silky and very soft. Its fleece will repel water of the wettest night and yet is as soft as a bird’s down. This remarkable creature also gives rich, creamy milk.
The table was the size of a regular card table, only shorter and made of wood with small wood stools to sit on. The walls were decorated with carved pictures that Stonegood made in the cold winter covered with paintings of lovely animals that the two girls had never seen. Over the hearth were two portraits: one of a distinguished, grey-bearded, wrinkled gnome and the other an older, motherly appearing gnome. They turned out to be Stonegood’s parents.
“There are 2 sets of traveling clothes in the store room. I hope they fit you. I only knew there would be two of you,” began Stonegood.
The two girls went into the storeroom. Brooke at 5 feet 7 inches had to duck her head as they entered the low ceiling room. Mercy at 5 feet 2 inches had to duck as well since the average male gnome was only 4 feet 6 inches tall. On a large storage chest lie two sets of identical leather traveling jerkins with soft keslo under garments. There was a green set of under garments for Brooke and a blue set for Mercy. The long undershirts hung to their knees and had a single hole for the neck with the large, comfortable armholes. The lower half of the under garments pulled up like a set of tights and had a drawstring at the waist to hold them up. Over these went the brown leather jerkins. At the waist of the jerkin, was a wide leather belt with a buckle of cunningly wrought silver. The buckle consisted of a silver star with a blue stone at the center with carvings radiating from the center of the buckle like the rays of the sun. The clothes fit perfectly. On their feet each put on comfortable and rugged hiking boots.
“How did they know our sizes?” wondered Brooke in a puzzled voice. “This is really strange stuff.”
“The Bright Star knows everything and makes sure all things work in His plan,” replied Mercy simply. “We need to keep the necklaces. They might come in handy.”
They still had the golden stars on gold chains with a blue star in the center hanging around both their necks. Mercy remembered her other necklace from the Bright Star and her previous visits. She knew that somehow the necklaces would help them both. Mercy also knew it might be dangerous to have them showing around their necks so she suggested they both tuck them in their undershirts.
“Are ye ready yet?” asked the gnome. “We need to get traveling.”
“We are. How do we look?” asked Mercy.
“Just like a couple of Logolanders out for a wee hike,” grinned Stonegood. “Shoulder those packs and we’ll be off.”
“Packs?” wondered Brooke. “Why do we need packs?”
“Because we be going on a long journey to Sanctua,” said Stonegood.
“I didn’t know I would be going on a camping trip,” joked Brooke,
“Oh, it will be a bit more than that,” said Stonegood. “We will be going over 40 miles to the capitol on foot. It will be a tough hike with enemies on the way.”
“Forty miles?” said Brooke incredulously.
“Aye,” finished Stonegood slinging his pack over his left shoulder. He grabbed his walking stick in his right hand and strode off.
The two girls scurried after the gnome with their packs on their backs.
Stonegood started up a forest path toward the River Ripplesway. The river valley lay about a half days journey through the ‘Pass of Doubting’ between two mountains: the ‘Old Man’s Nose’ and ‘The Fair Maiden’s Hair’. These two mountains peaks rose in the hazy distance. Travelers had used these landmarks for navigating since Logoland was formed.
The sun shone overhead brightly in a cloudless sky and birds sang happily. Butterflies flitted gaily over the meadow flowers that scattered along the path. If not for the grim purpose ahead, this might be a pleasant hike in the spring woods. The day grew warmer and the girls began to perspire. Stonegood showed no signs of slowing as they toiled along. The trail steepened and the girls’ calves began to burn with the exertion.
“Could we stop for just a moment?” pleaded Brooke. “I am so very tired Stonegood.”
“Aye, we could use a bit of a break,” replied the gnome turning around. “Let’s go up a bit farther and find a place in the shade to rest.”
They walked up around a small knoll to find a glen with wetern trees to shade them. The wetern tree was similar to a small maple tree but have a small smooth shell nut with meat like a filbert. It also gave a tasty sap that could be made into syrup like a maple tree. They sat down upon a large rock to rest. The packs slid from their backs and they plopped down on the rock.
“Whew. What a hike,” proclaimed Mercy wiping the moisture from her brow daintily with a small handkerchief she had in her pocket.
“My legs are killing me,” moaned Brooke rubbing her thighs ruefully.
“Guess all that basketball hasn’t kept you in shape!” laughed Mercy.
“Less talking and more drinking of water,” grunted Stonegood. “We only have a little while to rest. We need to be through the Pass of Doubting before dark.”
“I’m not sure I like the sound of that,” said Brooke nervously.
“Aye. The Lord Edward and Lady Heather from of old had a terrible time at this pass. The trail winds and turns cunningly up the side of the mountain. The steep path makes for hard going. The way stays grassy with tall rustling trees and impenetrable undergrowth along the mountainside. Even at noonday little light filters down to the way. The climb is perhaps 4 miles in a long hard steep ascent to get the top. The ‘Clearing of Light’ is down on the other side. The weather here in Logoland is prone to late spring mountain blizzards. There is rumored to be a cave half way up the mountainside that Lord Edward and Lady Heather took refuge in when they had their adventure. We will have to work hard to get through the Pass by tonight. Up then, miladies,” said Stonegood brushing off his pants.
“OK,” said Mercy offering Brooke a hand up.
They both looked up ahead and saw the ice covered top of Old Man’s Nose in the Pass of Doubting.
“We’re going up there?” said Brooke pointing incredulously up the mountain.
“Yup,” said Mercy. “Looks like fun doesn’t it?” grinned Mercy mischievously. “Let’s get started.”
Stonegood readjusted his pack, turned, and started up the trail. The two girls followed. Up and up they walked. The trail wound around the mountain base working its way toward the summit. As they trudged along, the trees closed around the trail, and the air took on a cooler, crisper feel. The girls soon realized they were not perspiring as much and the trees began to thin. The trail roughened and there were even patches of snow and ice. The spring flowers littered the sides of the trail in a riot of color pushing up through the crust of ice. There were purple columbines, white star-flowers that were native to Logoland, yellow daffodils, and multicolored crocuses. If not for the hard climb, this would be a pleasant day in the hills. Their breathing became quite labored as the air thinned out at the altitude. Stonegood encouraged them to keep drinking so they did not get dehydrated. Finally, they rounded a curve and the top of the mountain was in view.
“Only a few more yards miladies and we will be on the downhill side of the Pass,” puffed Stonegood.
The three labored to the top of the Pass and paused. Below them sat all Logoland in a panoramic, breathtaking view. The River Ripplesway glistened in the setting sun. To their left and right the twin peaks of the ‘Old Man’s Nose’ and ‘The Fair Maiden’s Hair’ soared into the sky. The light glistened off the snow of the mountaintops in bright, sparkling rays. In the far distance, Stonegood pointed out the distant border between Logoland and the kingdom of Humanista.
“Let’s be moving down the Pass. We don’t want to be caught on the Pass after the sun sets,” said Stonegood.
As he spoke, dark clouds gathered in the west toward the setting sun. They rolled in a heavy, dark bank creating a jumbling, black mass. The wind rose rapidly and the temperature dropped quickly by several degrees. The sweat dried on their brows. All three turned to look anxiously at the western sky. The sun dimmed and the darkness sped toward them.
“Quickly miladies!” urged Stonegood. “We must get down the mountainside!”
Brooke and Mercy hitched up their packs and trotted rapidly after Stonegood. The air temperature continued to drop. The smell of rain blew across them as they saw the storm begin to rush toward them down the side of The Old Man’s Nose and across the valley. They could see the trees bending and whipping in the wind as they lost sight of the mountainside in the driving rain. Both girls looked scared and scrambled after Stonegood in haste.
They managed to stumble down 2-300 yards down the trail before the full fury of the storm hit them. The wind drove into them with stinging, icy fingers of rain. The three of them were nearly driven off their feet by the force of the gale. Sheets of torrential rain engulfed them. Stonegood could barely see the trail. Soon they were slipping and sliding down the Pass’ muddy trail.
“We must keep going!” panted Stonegood. “We will perish in the open on the side of the mountain.”
“I’m freezing,” moaned Brooke.
“Keep moving,” shouted Mercy. “We can’t stop now!”
“Okay,” responded Brooke with her teeth chattering.
Down, down the mountainside stumbled the trio. More sliding than hiking, they managed to make their way down the trail. The path by now resembled a small stream flowing with muddy, cold water. They sloshed in watery mud up to their ankles. Suddenly, Brooke lost her footing and slid into Mercy who slammed into Stonegood. All three lost their footing and began washing down the trail. With all the water and slippery mud, nothing could stop them! Mercy later related it was like being in a water slide in our world only in dirty, cold, muddy water. They careened down the path, bumping over rocks, trees, and smacking into the sides of the mountain. Out of nowhere, a sharp turn appeared in the rain ahead of them. Past the curve loomed a thousand foot drop onto the rocks below. Brooke screamed and Mercy grabbed her necklace inside her shirt.
“Help us Bright Star!” murmured Mercy clutching the star at her chest.
Golden-blue light shot from her hand and exploded in front of them. The rain parted and the light blew the wetness away. As if in slow motion, the sun burst through the clouds and a bank of fluffy white clouds swept to the side of the mountain trail. The three travelers flew off the path in a dirty, grey spray of mud, water, and debris. Their faces frozen in wide-eyed fear, they felt weightlessness overtake them. The golden-blue light inside white clouds like soft cotton balls surrounded them. Down and down they floated as they landed softly in the meadow at the base of the mountain in the brilliance of the last rays of the setting sun. The storm just blew away over the mountaintop.
“W-w-what just happened?” asked Brooke in wide-eyed wonderment. “I thought we were going to fall of that cliff.”
“I am not sure meself,” said Stonegood jumping up and checking himself for injury. “How did that happen?”
“The Bright Star saved us,” answered Mercy matter-of-factly. “I used the necklace the Bright Star gave me.”
“You mean my necklace would do the same thing?” asked Brooke.
“If the Bright Star chooses it do so,” responded Mercy.
“I never have heard of such a thing. . .,” began Stonegood.
“That is why the Star sent us,” replied Mercy sagely.
“Now what?” asked Brooke standing up with some difficulty. “I think I have bruises on top of my bruises,” laughed Brooke.
“We will be sore in the mornin’ that is for sure,” added Stonegood. “We need to find a place to dry out and spend the night.”
The three travelers looked a sorry sight with mud smeared all over their clothes, bruises all over their limbs and abrasions on their arms. The three limped down the trail a short distance. A narrow stream came into view with a small clearing by its side.
“We can camp here, wash up, and clean up our wounds,” said Stonegood.
The girls removed their jerkins and hung them on the nearby ako bushes. Ako bushes were a low, pale, green shrubby bush native to Logoland.
Stonegood did the same. Next they waded into the small stream and washed off most of the mud and dirt. The sky had turned that bluish cast just before last light of twilight.
“We just have to risk a fire to dry ourselves out and to warm up,” said Stonegood. “Let’s make a small shield of those green wetern branches over there.”
Mercy and Brooke scurried to pull green wetern branches to make a fire screen. They would use the branches to shield the light and smoke of the fire. Stonegood in the mean time, gathered an arm load of dry wood for the fire that the rain had not doused. He set about busily building a small, smokeless fire. The less visible the fire would be; the better.
The three huddled close to the fire with their hands outstretched palms facing the fire.
“That fire feels so good,” sighed Brooke.
“Sure does,” agreed Mercy.
Stonegood pulled out dried poc of his pack. Poc was from a pig-like animal that tasted like beef jerky, bacon, and smoked chicken all in one. Mercy found a pouch of dried wetern nuts in her pack. Wetern nuts have a small smooth shell with meat that tastes like a filbert or hazelnut in our world. There was plenty of fresh, clean water in the stream. They sat down to a tasty little feast. Their clothes soon dried out and they spread a dry bed of leaves they found under a rock overhang shielded from the rain. Their packs had stayed dry due the waterproofing of poc fat on the outside surface. The packs held dry cloaks that they pulled up over themselves as they snuggled into the leaf bed. Stonegood gave the girls some medicinal ointment made from ako leaves to spread upon their bruises and abrasions. The ako ointment had healing properties similar to our aloe vera plants.
“It tingles and burns,” squealed Brooke as the ointment was rubbed onto her skin.
“Aye. But you will be almost pain free and healed in the mornin’ milady,” said Stonegood.
Stonegood stoked the fire for the night and pulled up his cloak.
All three lay down to sleep in their bed of wetern leaves and gnome cloaks.
The night progressed and the second moon of Logoland shown brightly in the clear night sky. The group lay bathed in its soft glow. Suddenly a strange golden blue light began to appear at the edge of the trees. Brooke sat bolt upright and turned to look. Out of the light strode a man who radiated the same golden-blue light. Brooke’s mouth hung open in complete amazement. Never in her life had she seen anything like this at home! The man (if that was who it was) walked briskly toward her. Mercy and Stonegood slept on in blissful undisturbed slumber.
“Good evening Brooke,” replied the man.
Brooke managed to squeak out, “Who are you?”
“I am the Bright Star, Brooke,” smiled the Bright Star.
“The who?” asked Brooke.
“The Bright Star that Mercy has spoken of so much,” answered the Bright Star.
“You mean you are real?” breathed Brooke.
“As real as you are standing there,” the Bright Star returned. “Brooke, I must ask you to do something for me. Are you willing?”
“I…I…I am not sure,” stammered Brooke. “I don’t know you are.”
“Perhaps, but then, you must learn to trust me,” replied the Bright Star gravely. “So, I must ask again. Are you willing?”
“Alright,” said Brooke slowly. “I’m willing.”
“Good,” responded the Bright Star. “You must waken Mercy and start the journey to Existentia.”
“What about Stonegood?” asked Brooke.
“He will not be coming with you two,” said the Bright Star.
“He is staying?” asked Brooke uncertainly.
“His path goes another way,” replied the Star. “You must make haste. The second moon of Logoland does not have much time left before it sets. Mercy and you must be through the “Pass of Doubting” before it sets.”
“Alright,” responded Brooke as she turned to waken Mercy. “I bet Mercy will be cranky with me. I hope she doesn’t get. . .”
Brooke looked over at the Bright Star but he was gone! He just seemed to have vanished. There, and, then just gone. Brooke stared for a moment in astonishment and then shook Mercy awake.
“Mercy, Mercy. Wake up,” whispered Brooke. “The Bright Star said it is time to get up and go.”
“What is it,” moaned Mercy. “It’s not daytime yet. Go back to sleep Brooke.”
“No! The Bright Star said we have to go to Existentia right now,” urged Brooke.
“Oh, Okay then,” said Mercy sleepily. “You mean you actually talked to the Bright Star?”
“Yup. He told me to wake you up and for us to go to Existentia,” answered Brooke.
“If the Bright Star said for us to go to Existentia, then we need to go,” said Mercy with a yawn.
Mercy threw off the blankets, rolled up her clothes, and stuffed them into her backpack.
“Let’s go Brooke,” urged Mercy.
All through the activity, Stonegood snored on, oblivious to the girls leaving.
“Should we leave him a note or something?” questioned Brooke.
“The Bright Star will take care of him,” shared Mercy. “Let’s follow the moon to the ‘Pass of Doubting’”.
The girls stepped off briskly in the bluish slightly iridescent light down the path. Off into the distance wound the ribbon of light that was the trail through the “Pass of Doubting” that descended to the River Ripplesway. Neither girl said anything. The light of the second moon of Logoland lent a solemnity to the journey before them. The fact the Bright Star sent them on the quest seemed even more serious. They could hear the crickets chirping, night birds cooing, and the warm wind whispering through the wetern and ominsk trees. The ominsk tree was a strange sort of tree in Logoland that had leaves rather like a cross between the maple and a spruce with a yellow-green color. These leaves fell off the trees in the fall like a tarmarac and new bluish-green leaves grew in their place for the winter months. The ominsk tree also has a nut that was covered with short spines and tasted like an English walnut, only more oily and strong in flavor.
The two plunged into the tree line and began the climb up to the pass.
Large wetern trees arched over the pathway dimming the moonlight. The leaves cast irregular, lacy shadows across the girl’s faces. The breeze moved the tree limbs ever so slightly in a swaying motion almost as if the trees were dancing.
“This is kind of spooky,” said Brooke in a hushed voice. “It reminds of the scary rides back home. Only this is real.”
“It is sort of scary,” admitted Mercy. “But, the Bright Star would not send us to get into trouble or hurt. Besides, I thought you were the ‘big, brave Norwegian-Minnesota girl’,” teased Mercy.
“I am, and, besides I have Viking blood in me,” returned Brooke curtly.
“Oh yeah, Viking blood,” laughed Mercy.
The woods did not seem so menacing now that they both were grinning. A good laugh always breaks up a tense moment. Both picked up their pace. The trail increased in steepness up toward the pass between the mountains. The way became rougher and rockier. They had to pick the route around large boulders and stunted trees.
“This is getting tougher,” panted Brooke.
“Yup,” said Mercy. “Just have to keep going to get to the top,” puffed Mercy.
Up ahead the summit of the pass shimmered in the moonlight. Two large boulders flanked the top. They towered over the path, hulking stone masses silently guarding the way.
Mercy reached the top first and stepped through the opening. Brooke stepped up beside her. The view almost took their breath away. There, flashing in the meadow below twinkled hundreds of fireflies. The grass seemed on fire with small shimmering lights everywhere. The whole meadow glowed.
“Oh,” breathed Brooke. “It’s so lovely.”
“Amazing,” joined Mercy. “And we have to walk down through them.”
The two stood transfixed just staring out over the light show. Mercy moved first.
“We have to get going,” said Mercy regretfully.
The duo stepped off down the path into the meadow. As if by common command, the fireflies gracefully parted from the pathway. They swirled around the girl’s heads in a choreographed dance of light, blinking and winking in a syncopated rhythm.
The girl’s looked at each and laughed. They lifted their arms and twirled with the fireflies as they danced. Down the path they skipped to bottom of the meadow. As they reached the edge of the grass and stepped into the trees, the fireflies all stopped as if someone had thrown a switch.
“Where did they all go?” asked Brooke in wonder.
“I don’t know,” puzzled Mercy. “It’s like they were sent to just light our way and then shut off. I guess the Bright Star sent them,” shrugged Mercy.
“Well, it was really cool,” agreed Brooke.
“We need to get to the River Ripplesway,” urged Mercy. “It’s several hours journey from here. We still have a long way to go. Let’s get to it,” said Mercy hefting her pack onto her back.
Mercy turned and Brooke put her pack up on her back. Together they walked into the woods and onto the pathway.
“How much farther do we need to go?” asked Brooke.
“I’m not exactly sure,” replied Mercy. “I think we are about 3 or 4 hours walk from the River Ripplesway. I’m not sure how far it is to Existentia. It’s the capitol of Humanista, which is the country next to Logoland. That’s where Stonegood thought we might found out about Princess Katy.”
“So, you really don’t know where we are going?” asked Brooke doubtfully.
“Nope. But that never stopped me before,” replied Mercy with a wry grin. “Besides, the Bright Star will help us on the way. He always does.”
“Well, we can’t go back. So, to the River it is,” returned Brooke.
Down the trail trudged the girls. Little light filtered onto the path through the leaves from the second moon.
As the second moon of Logoland set, the trail became darker and darker. Soon, Mercy and Brooke could barely make out the pathway. Finally, they stepped into complete darkness with the loss of the moon’s light.
“What do we do now?” whispered Brooke.
“I’m not sure,” replied back Mercy in a low voice. “I can’t see the path ahead of us, and, if we can’t see it, then we will get lost.
“So, do we keep going?” asked Brooke.
“Let me think for a minute,” pondered Mercy.
Mercy stood still and thought. She fingered her necklace. Suddenly, the necklace began to warm and throb. The golden-blue light suddenly shot forth from the necklace through Mercy’s fingers. The light glowed onto the pathway illuminating the way forward.
Brooke inhaled sharply as the light burst forth and stared wonder as Mercy unclasped her necklace to show the path.
“It’s just like the light from the Star,” breathed Brooke softly.
“I know,” murmured Mercy. “It’s showing us the way.”
Over the River and Through the Woods
After walking for more than 2 hours, the two saw the edge of the trees ahead. The path ended as it opened into a small clearing. The River Ripplesway lay on the other side of the clearing like a silver ribbon in the golden-blue light from the necklace. The town of Existentia lay over the River and into Humanista. The way would be guarded and treacherous. How they would get to city without being discovered neither of them knew. But, they knew the Bright Star would somehow get them to the Princess Katy.
“There’s the River ahead,” said Mercy.
“So, what do we do now?” asked Brooke.
“We go across the River,” replied Mercy.
“How?” returned Brooke.
“We’ll need to find a bridge, a boat, or a place to wade across that is shallow like a ford,” said Mercy. “Let’s go find a place to cross.”
The two moved cautiously toward the River. They looked along the riverbanks for a bridge, a boat, or a crossing. In the dim light, the girls searched quietly for a crossing. The soldiers of Humanista could be close by the River.
The golden-blue light gave the path a brightness like the early morning sun. The girls walked quietly down the trail toward the River Ripplesway.
Mercy cautiously led the way looking anxiously up and down the riverbank. Even in the golden-blue light the banks of the River were hard to see. Thick, closely spaced bands of trees grew along the River’s embankments. Brooke and Mercy crept up to the closest wetern tree. The large trunk provided a screen from the other side of the River. The girls hugged the tree’s rough bark sidling around its side to peek at the other side of the River. Nothing moved in the hue of the golden-blue light.
“It’s so quiet,” breathed Brooke.
“I know,” murmured Mercy.
“Do you see anything?” inquired Brooke.
“Not a thing,” answered Mercy. “I think we need to move up River to look for a place to cross.”
“Wait!” hissed Brooke. “I think I see a small bridge up there!”
“Where?” questioned Mercy squinting up the River.
“There, behind that large bush,” pointed Brooke.
“Oh, yes,” agreed Mercy. “I see it. Let’s creep over there and check it out.”
They slowly moved up the River carefully picking their way through the bushes. Both girls knew they must be as quiet as possible. The enemy could be anywhere or even waiting for them on bridge. As they approached the bridge’s entrance, the girls carefully surveyed the whole area. Nothing moved and there were no night noises. It seemed as if the whole world lay in silent and suspended motionless in time. The girls crept up to the bridge railings skirting the edge of the bushes. Hunching over, the two plastered themselves against the stone sides of the bridge. Mercy inched to look around the corner of the side of the bridge. She could not see completely across the bridge because it arched slightly in the middle to span the River.
“I don’t see anyone on this side but I can’t see across,” said Mercy looking back at Brooke.
“What do you think we should do?” asked Brooke.
“I guess we just work our way slowly across the bridge,” said Mercy.
“But, what about the light?” asked Brooke. “Hasn’t someone seen us?”
“It doesn’t work like that,” Mercy replied. “Usually, people who don’t know the Bright Star can’t see the light.”
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Story number 6 of â€œBright Star Journalsâ€ brings back Cousin Mercy Smithton, who first appeared in our previous book the â€œThe Quickeningâ€ (book #4 of â€œBright Journalsâ€). You may want to read of Mercyâ€™s previous adventures in Logoland in Books 4 and 5 of the â€œBright Star Journalsâ€. In this book (story #6), Mercy and her good friend Brooke Wells enter Logoland through a magical rocket roller coaster ride. Once there, Mercy and Brooke meet Stonegood the gnome. Stonegood shares that the king of Logoland, Barbabus XIVth, has betrothed his daughter, the Princess Katy, to the evil Prince Faithless of Humanista. Princess Katy, however, is missing! Mercy, Brooke, and Stonegood must find the Princess Katy and return her to King Barnabus and Logoland. Their adventure includes a perilous journey through the â€œPass of Doubtingâ€, crossing the â€œRiver Rippleswayâ€, meeting the â€œBlack Swans of Logolandâ€, testing at the â€œLake of Languishingâ€, wading the â€œRiver of Wrongdoingâ€, and participating in the climatic battle for Logoland. Come along and see how to rescue a princess while learning about true courage and character!