They decided it would best to leave first thing in the morning. Though they usually spent the first half of the day napping and woke in the afternoon, Watermelon pointed out that it would take a while to fly across the island and up the side of the mountain. Since they didn’t have have the best night vision (except for BlackBerry), and the echolocation of FruitBats is not up to the standards of other night dwelling bats, Grape Bat added that the light in the castle would be brighter if they still had the sun high in the sky when they arrived there.
So off they flew the very next morning! Swooping off the edge of the cliff and diving down, spread their wings to catch the wind! The whole Bushel streaked out over the gentle waves of Crescent Bay. For fun, they touched the tops of the little waves with the tips of their wings. When they looked down into the clear water, they could see several Mola Mola sunfish that had come up from the deep ocean to bask in the sun. Their cheeks were pink from the warmth of the light. There were also cuttlefish darting around in the reef, changing colors to blend in with the colorful corals. They were so funny with their wiggly tentacles and ripping ruffle fins.
Grape and Watermelon Bat flew ahead of the Bushel. Grape was feeling more confident in his adventuring capabilities since he had been right about BlackBerry.
“What do you think it is?” Watermelon asked him, referring to the cloud over the castle.
“I’m not sure, it’s really too far away to make an informed guess. Through the spyglass the shape certainly looks like individual creatures though, not a cloud of some sort.”
“I wonder if they are dangerous.” Watermelon pondered allowed. “I think it would be best for us to go up through the castle so we won’t be seen, at least until we can determine if they are safe to approach or not.”
Grape nodded appoval. “Good plan.”
It took over an hour for the bats to make it to the waterfalls that came down the mountain that Willowyck Castle perched on. It was far up, almost to the summit. After a rest in some trees, they started again.
“Whew! If I’d known this was gonna be such long fly, I’d have brought some snacks!” Mandarin Orange said.
Pear and Apple decided to sing some songs and the rest joined in to keep their spirits up.
Finally, they reached the foot of the castle! Watermelon made sure everyone quieted down, and told them they would be going inside and sneaking up to spy on the creatures over the castle.
“If it gets dark inside, BlackBerry can help guide us since he’s so good in the dark.”
BlackBerry puffed up with pride. “Of course I will!”
They waited a few minutes looking up at the old castle. The grey stone walls were covered in patches of moss, and vines crawled up between the weathered stones. Some of the wall had crumbled a little at the corners, and there was a thin window where the wall met one of the cylindrical towers. It was far to narrow for a person to fit through, but the FruitBats were so much smaller than a human, so they were able to pop right through, no problem!
The light inside the tower was weak. They had come in above a slab stone staircase that wound up the inside of the tower in a tight curve. There were narrow windows like the one they came through around each bend and dust floated like little specks of gold in the shafts of yellow sun light they let in.
“It’s actually quite pretty here,” Blueberry pointed out.
“Yeah, I thought it was gonna be scary,” Lemon admitted, “but I like it!”
“We have plenty of daylight left, I vote we do some exploring before going up to the roof!” Strawberry said.
“Indeed,” replied Grape. “How’s everyone feel about this idea?”
“Yea or nay?” Watermelon put it to a vote.
“Yea!” the Bushel agreed unanimously.
First they found an arched doorway a little way down the stairs. It opened into a hall, that then had pillars between the edge of the hall and a gigantic room with a tall ceiling and a huge round window at one end. A long, rough hewn table filled the center of the floor.
“Maybe this is where they had feasts and parties!” Lime Bat suggested, flapping in to the center of the room and spinning around. The light from the round window cast his shadow on the opposite wall. The others joined him and they played in the light, picking up splinters of wood from the old table and pretended to sword fight in their silhouette knight army. Grape landed on the table, wondering how long it had been there. Kiwi dropped her pretend sword and flew over to the circular window to examine the way the stones were cut to frame it, in case she wanted to make a round window from stone one day. Most of the glass was gone, so she could look out over the whole island and bay.
“Wow! We’re so high up! Look, I can see the fruit grove! It’s such a little dot!”
Pear and Apple went over and looked too. Soon, every bat was there looking at the view. All except one.
“Hey,” asked Strawberry, “Where’s Batnana?”
The Bushel looked around for their smallest member, but she wasn’t with the group.
“Search the room! Batnana, where are you!” Watermelon told them.
Everyone began to fly in all different directions around the room, calling for her. Then, there came a squeak from one of the darker corners across from there they had come in. There were more pillars on that side and so it was more shadow-filled.
“I hear her!” called BlackBerry, flying toward the darkness.
Another squeak echoed around the room. The others followed BlackBerry to the shadowy side.
He looked around with his glowing purple eyes and spotted her. “She’s in the corner!”
“What’s wrong, Batnana?” they called as they flew toward her. Her wings were open, but not flapping! She looked like she was floating in thin air! Strawberry got there first. She quinted in the dim light. BlackBerry came up behind her.
“It’s some sort of net!” he exclaimed.
The more Batnana struggled, the more tangled she became.
“Skibbity-jibbet! Be-da-bo-bap!” She said. She was scared, but also frustrated.
The others tried to pull her off, but she was stuck fast. Mandarin tried to grab the net, but he stuck too. It was sticky!
“Ah! What evil magic is this?” he yelled, trying to free his toes and wings.
“Uh oh,” gasped Grape. “This must be a spider web! Nobody touch it! You’ll get stuck, this one is too big for us to break. We’re gonna have to work together!”
The Bushel hovered in front of their captured friends. “If we all grab it at once, we should be able to pull it off the wall.”
Mandarin stopped wiggling because he was only getting more tangled. He looked at the ceiling over his friends heads. Suddenly, his eyes grew round. “I am so doomed,” he said.
The Bushel exchanged confused glances, when Batnana emitted one of her fear squeaks, looking where Mandarin was staring. Everyone looked up.
“Ahhhh!!!!!” they all dove away from the ceiling. Having never seen a spider larger than the tiny garden spiders in the fruit grove before, starting with such a very big one was quite scary. They swooped in panic as the creature got closer and closer to their friends.
Then, a voice broke into their sounds of fear.
“INCOMING!” it screamed, and a big fuchsia pink and white blur blasted past, as a small burst of fire lit the dark corner. “ROAR!” the blur continued, “Better go away, spider, or I’ll have to resort to deadly moves!”
The Bushel looked up from the floor where they had landed. There was some other bat up there! Another little flame showed them it’s face and cast a big black shadow on the wall. This new bat was fuchsia with white under it’s wings. It’s ears were green, and it looked like it had a long tail with green spikes on it. The weirdest part was it seemed to have two green spikes on its head too, like horns!
The spider paused, facing this new bat like it was deciding whether it was worth taking the risk. In the end, it seemed like fire was a good reason to turn around and find a different meal.
The Bushel took to the air again and cheered their savior!
“That’s was so cool!” Apple said, “Who are you?”
“Good afternoon, fellow bats,” the new bat said, giving a bow. “My name, is DragonFruit!”