Last week, the imp attempted to team up with our hero and his boy, asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Today, we find out.
Ben crept through the darkness. Stars sprinkled the moonless sky above the cottage with pinpricks of light. Trees branches swayed in the wind. A shiver ran down Ben’s spine.
A shadow moved on his left. “Stop tiptoeing. We won’t reach the traveling tree until morning at this pace.”
Ben leapt into the air. His ears grew hot with embarrassment. “Not all of us can see in the dark.”
The imp shrugged. With a snap of its fingers, a small, flickering flame danced on the fingertip of its first finger. The imp pointed its hand toward the grove. “Hurry.”
Ben hitched his pack higher on his shoulders. “Don’t know why anyone uses that.”
The imp scoffing laughter rang out beneath the forest canopy. “Do you have any idea how long it’d take to walk from here to your home?”
Ben shook his head.
“Me either, because no one does.”
A roar pierced the night sky. Orange light washed over the treetops.
The imp blew out his flaming finger.
Ben huddled beside a rock, his eyes locked on the sky above the cottage.
A dark silhouette blocked out the stars.
“Dragon,” Ben whispered.
The cockatrice on his shoulder pressed its head against his cheek and warbled.
The imp grabbed Ben by the shoulder. “Come on!” It yanked Ben to his feet and dragged him toward the grove.
“What about your mistress?” Ben’s wild eyes surveyed the dark cottage. “Or the goblin?”
“They’ll be fine. The enchantments are still in place.”
Ben dug his heels into the ground.
The imp dropped him. “Fine, stay here and die. See if I care.”
“How did it find us?” Ben gazed into the sky, searching for any sign of the dragon.
“Your little friend is like a beacon for them.”
“We haven’t come across any yet.” Ben scrambled to his feet.
“Luck.” The imp led the way to the traveling tree.
“No.” Ben planted his hands on his hips. “You did something.”
The imp turned and scowled at Ben. “Look, do you want to leave or not?”
“I want to know what I’m traveling with.”
“It’s me.” The imp grinned.
Ben’s frown refused to lessen.
The imp’s grin faded. It hand a hand over its bald, red head. “Dragons are attracted to magic. Outside the perimeter wards, I usually avoid magic, just in case a dragon happens to be lurking. But–”
“You wanted to help me see.” Ben gulped.
The nearby dragon roared again.
Ben ran toward the grove.
“That’s the spirit.” The imp chased Ben.
Together, they arrived at the traveling tree.
“How does this work?” Ben scratched his head and stared at the oak tree’s bark.
The imp rolled his eyes. “You jumped into the tree without knowing how it works?”
Ben bit his lip. “They stole my cockatrice.”
The imp gaped. “Fine.” He waved his hands in the air, dismissing the notion. “It’s easy.” He placed his palm on the tree. “Twelve Oaks.”
A sliver of light ran down the length of the tree trunk. The bark opened into a gaping maw of dazzlingly white light.
The imp shoved him forward. “In you go!”
So, what do you think will happen? What do you want to happen? Was it too short? Too long? Too unfunny?
Yep, that’s right. I’m soliciting comments and suggestions. I may even use them. No matter how wacky, zany, nerdy, or weird. No matter how serious, fanciful, or sci-fi. It’s a choose your own adventure. You choose what happens next.