Chapter Seventy-Two: In Which Mysteries Deepen
Every action has a reaction. If there is a fire, there is bound to be something burned, even if you started a small one in the middle of the Hungry Wastes down at the edge of the Flame Kingdom. (By the way kids, don’t.) That small act will do something. That small act could cost your life. Especially if you’re in the middle of the Hungry Wastes. There are poisonous gases there. But that’s besides the point. The point is, every little thing you do could cause a change. For good, or for bad. You have a life. You have lots of opportunities to make a change, so use it wisely. Use it wisely.
Opportunities. Change. Ha. Concepts that blew away like dust when Mrs. Dahlia was giving those empowerment lectures to Rose’s class back then. No one remembered she was there, how could she make any sort of difference? The only remotely important thing she ever did was make sure everyone got berries for dinner that weren’t poisonous. Which was pretty important for the safety of the village, now that she looked back at it. But still, it was a job reserved for people who knew a green berry from a purple one and couldn’t do anything else. And she couldn’t even talk back then.
But now she had a voice. Now she had the power to make or break the world- wasn’t that what she always wanted? To be heard?
Except once Rose got her wish, she didn’t want to anymore. Wouldn’t it all be better if she could just never join Flake on his harebrained quest and just slink back into the shadows like a good girl? Then he wouldn’t be dead. Then the war might have never started. Then something might’ve been better. But there was no going back. That action started a fire. And whether she was going to risk making another choice was something else.
Well, it wasn’t as if she could do nothing now.
The ground was wet. The air smelled like smoke. All the buildings they had come across were abandoned. Everything was eerily silent except for the sounds of footsteps. Snow didn’t like any of it, especially the silence. If only Jack came, then she could have someone to talk to, to keep her mind off the details she didn’t want to face. But now she was stuck with Rose- who had spent the last thirty minutes in deep thought with a very serious look on her face. It was unnerving, to say the least.
The mountains were coming into clear view. They had just circled around the Coral Lake and were now walking through what used to be the Daily Market right between the Snake and Coral Kingdom. Again, it was completely empty, a ghost of what it could have looked like. It was like they had stepped out of the caves to a parallel world.
Of course Rose paid no mind to any of that. She was still walking along with that stoic expression of hers.
“Heya young’uns!” An old man holding an umbrella and a picnic basket riding a wooden peddler’s tricycle. “Don’t see a lotta little fellas these days. Or much of anyone really.” He grinned. “Only in dreams and untouchable monologues and such. And pickles! Wanna pickle?” He took one out from his basket and threw it at us.
Snow jumped out of the way. Rose stepped back very quickly, watching it closely as if it was a bomb. The pickle was very peculiar. It had a happy face drawn with marker on it and a pin attached that said Vote For Alder! Huh? Who was that?
“Alder, what- why are you here? What do you want? And why are you like this?” Rose asked him, sounding very wary.
“You… know him?” Snow asked.
“Do I know you?” asked the man. He looked curious. “Do you wanna ‘nother pickle?”
Rose stormed away. Snow quickly followed after her. “Wait- Rose- who is he-”
“Hey! Kiddos! Going somewhere?” The old man -Alder?- started stepping forward on his bicycle. “Hello? Want me to take you there?”
Snow stopped again, looking back.
“Snow- hurry- don’t look at him-” Rose whispered harshly.
“But at this rate we aren’t going to get there till past sundown-”
“Hurry!” Rose grabbed her by the arm and dragged Snow away, leaving her with a lot of questions. “Come onnnn…”
To Chief Phoenix
This whole war is estranged and going out of hand. Call it off. My people are already suffering from the mysterious sickness that makes people go crazy, and with the forest burned and refugees coming from almost everyone, the strain is taking its toll on everyone. And to what end? I heard you already got Flint back, so now what? Or is your pride too invested in this already?
Chief Phoenix looked over the letter and threw it in the fireplace before looking over his battle map that was dotted with needles and overlapping strings and debating battle strategies.
You want to end the war? We can do it. Chief Pheonix is holding out on his own, with the Breeze Kingdom in pieces, and we can make the stand next week. I need you on our side. Chief Frost hasn’t been responding to any of my letters, and I’d go to his castle now if it weren’t for my kingdom’s desperate need for control over these dark times. Your people could make the difference.
Sorry about what mutated mental disease that has being going around in that area. It is quite strange. If you wish, I could have some researchers look into that.
Old Maple ended up seeing it first (the Council of the Tree share a common meeting space). He folded the letter up and put it in his fancy desk cabinet.
I do realize that we currently happen to be on opposite sides of the battlefield, but I was hoping you would find it in you to notice the wrongdoings of a violent rebellion and aid me in making sure my kingdom does not get too out of hand before they see sense and wish for me to come back. And also lead any of my supporters that flee from the kingdom to my direction. Your kingdom is, after all, directly under mine geographically, and I would greatly apprieciate any given effort on your part. If you don’t intervene properly, then this will all have a devastating effect on you too.
You would do well to remind people I am still a chief. Just because I have been out of the public eye for a while does not mean I am not present.
Regards, Chief Alya
Chief Ripple didn’t see it. The only letter on his desk was one not from any chief or similar public authority. It was crudely written, with tattered paper that looked slightly wet. Half of it was torn off, leaving only a short part of the original message.
Every action has its reaction, and there will be change. This is your one opportunity to-
The chief was gone by night.
Kaylee C. (Cow Chron. and TSC)