The Mystery of Willowyck Castle Part3

gargoylecastle 001“Hey,” Mandarin Bat called from the web, “I’m certainly grateful for the assist, but, uh, ya think you could work on getting ‘Nana and I OUT OF THIS CONFOUNDED STICKY STUFF?”

The Bushel fluttered over and grabbed their friends, pulling while DragonFruit burned the web from the wall. In only a few seconds Batnana and Mandarin were free of the sticky netting and pulling the last treads of it from their fur.

The Bushel and their new found friend flew back into the main room and settled down on the table top.

“So, you live here?” Apple asked DragonFruit in admiration.

“Yes. I was born from a cactus-like tree on the way to the bay. I didn’t know there were others like me! I saw the castle and decided it would be a wonderful house.”

“We are here because we saw a cloud over the castle, do you know what it is?” Watermelon asked.

“A cloud? Why would that be unusual?”

“We looked at it from across the bay. It’s dark. We think it’s some kind of animals, not just a cloud, and they are swarming above the turrets!” explained Grape Bat.

“I haven’t been outside recently,” DragonFruit replied, scratching his chin in thought. “Maybe I could come with you.”

Strawberry bounced, “Yes, but first: can we see more of the castle?”

“Why of course! I shall give you the grand tour!”

“Ooooo,” responded the Bushel.

 

…After showing them three rooms that looked pretty much perfectly alike: stone walls, a window, wood floor broken through in some places, DragonFruit paused.

“Come to think of it,” he said, turning to the rest of them, “Most of the rooms are empty and look about the same.” He scratched his head. “O! But there is ONE room, in the top of one of the towers that’s interesting!”

He led them up one of the winding staircases, passing through the shafts of gold light from the skinny, tall windows. They went up, up,up, all the way to the top floor. He stopped in front of an old wooden door that was open just a tiny crack. All the Bushel hovered around behind him.

“Whats in th-there?” Lemon Bat stammered nervously.

“You’ll see!” DragonFruit said, and wedged himself between the door and the door frame, pushing the door with his feet while clinging to the frame with his wings and pressing his back against it to open it just a little bit wider. “Go in!”

With a little wiggling, the bats popped through. The light in the room was much better than out in the tower’s hallway! The sun, on its way down for the day, shone through a big round window, much like the one from the feasting hall downstairs. There were also several smaller square ones, in order to bring in as much light as possible. After all, when people lived there they only had candles for light and having nice big windows would help tremendously! The room filled an entire half of the top floor of the tower. There were several tables, and they were covered in strange tools. Hammers, chisels of all sizes, tools for measuring, and tools for cutting. Everything was covered with dust and cobwebs.

“It’s a TORTURE CHAMBER!” Mandarin Orange insisted, picking up a chisel and brandishing it as best he could while flying at Strawberry. “I’ll get that secret outta ya, see!”

Strawberry giggled and spun through the air and out of the way. “You’re totally fermented”, she laughed as Mandarin lost his balance and summer-salted onto the table behind her. Dropping the chisel, he sat up and shook his head to regain his senses.

Grape smirked at him as Lemon grabbed hold of Lime. “You don’t think there are ghosts, do you?” he asked.

Lime patted him on the ears. “Of course not, you silly Lemon Drop.”

“It’s not a torture chamber, “Grape corrected. He flew over to the table right in front of the window. On it sat a big stone and more tools. “These are the tools of an artist!”

This got Batnana’s attention, as she always likes the idea of creating things. She landed on the top of the stone and looked down at Grape where he sat on the table.

“These tools are used for carving! Specifically, for carving stone. What we have here, is the room of a sculptor!”

Mandarin sighed. “Ya know, sometimes you’s a total buzz-kill.”
Ignoring this comment, Grape continued; “Some sculptors claim that they don’t create the sculpture, but that the sculpture is already in the stone, or piece of wood, they simply release it.”

“How poetical,” Apple sighed with stars in her eyes.

“So, what was the sculptor ‘releasing’ from the stone Batnana is sitting on?” Watermelon asked.

They all fluttered over to the light side of the stone to see.

Just as they turned to look, a giant shadow swept across the window! As it passed, all the Bushel squeaked in surprise, not only because of it, but because upon the stone was carved the face of a snarling dog with horns!

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The Mystery of Willowyck Castle part2

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!”

dragonfruitbat

The Mystery of Willowyck Castle Part1

island 001mato 001

“…and then there are the ‘Mato Mons’ers,” Grape Bat was explaining to BlackBerry. Since BlackBerry had decided to stay with the Bushel in the fruit grove, Grape had taken upon himself to educate him in all the different things he would find there.

“Monsters?” asked BlackBerry, understandably worried.

“Well, sort of.”

“Are they scary?”

“Not so much. Here, follow me!”

Grape led BlackBerry from where they were hanging in the grape vine to the low wall of stacked stones that skirted one side of the grove, opposite the cliff. The stone had been stacked that way a long, long time. They were covered in patches of moss and had fallen in a couple places. It wasn’t that tall, just a few feet. In fact, a six-year-old human child could have climbed up and over it with little trouble at all.

The two FruitBats landed on a nice thick clump of moss and bounced over to the far side of the wall. They peeked down. There were several tomato plants there, using the stones like a ladder to stretch up and find the sunlight between the shade of the trees on the edge of the forest. On the plants grew plump red tomatoes!

“Do you see them?” asked Grape.

BlackBerry squinted for a moment, studying the green and red vegetation. Then, just as he was about to give up, he noticed some of the tomatoes on the ground under the plants were moving!

“Are those tomatoes alive?”

Grape laughed and began to climb down the vine. BlackBerry looked skeptical about this decision. “Don’t worry,” Grape insisted “They don’t bite! …well, they don’t bite bats, anyway.”

Shrugging, BlackBerry started to follow. As they got closer to the ground, he could hear something like little voices chanting! When they were almost to the bottom, they could make out what was being said:

“’Matoes, ‘matoes, ‘matoes!”

BlackBerry wrapped his toes around the nearest leaf and hung upside down to have a better look at the Mon’sers. They were about the size of beefsteak tomatoes. They walked on two feet and had two hands with 3 pointy fingers. They had big black eyes and a big mouth with a set of fangs. On the top of their heads they had a stem with green leaves around it like a hat, and there was a curl of vine growing from them like a tail. They also had two leaves coming out of their backs like wings, but they were too small to lift them off the ground. They weren’t really scary, they were actually kind of cute. They looked very happy as they rooted around in the grass.

Suddenly, one yelled “MATO!” and they all gathered around as it pulled a squishy tomato from where it had fallen and rolled under some leaves.

“The squishy ones are their favorites,” Grape pointed out.

The Mon’sers cheered, then passed the tomato around, gobbling messy bites from it until it was all gone. It didn’t take long. Afterword, they all went back to searching.

Grape and BlackBerry flew up into the air and back into the grove.

“So they used to be tomatoes before the shooting star that made us into bats?”

“As far as we know, yes. We don’t know whey they turned into little monsters instead of bats, but maybe one day we will find out.”

They came to rest in the BlackBerry bush beside the edge of the cliff and looked out over the bay.

“And the name of the bay is Crescent Bay, because it’s shaped like the moon when it is a crescent.

Mandarin Orange Bat came fluttering up next to the blackberry bush with a plate of cinnamon rolls he was passing out to all his friends.

“What are you two talking about now?” he asked as they came out and they all sat down on some rocks.

“I was explaining that the bay is named after the crescent moon.”

Mandarin looked at him and laughed. “The moon? No it’s not! It’s named after croissants!” He gave a bounce and beamed, “You know, the pastry!”

Grape rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to protest, but before a word came out, Mandarin popped a cinnamon roll in it!

The look of utter surprise on Grape’s face sent everybat nearby into a fit of the giggles. Grape wanted to be mad, but he had to admit that the roll was delicious and so he began to chew it up instead. When he was finished, he lifted his eyebrow at Mandarin and shook his head. “Maybe I shouldn’t have given you that magic talking box the FluffBats brought me from the beach. All those weird cooking shows from other worlds are giving you funny ideas!” He was talking about a radio they would sometimes listen to.

“Aaaanyway,” he said, turning to BlackBerry, “What should we learn about next?”

But BlackBerry wasn’t paying attention, he was looking out across the bay at the mountain on the other side of the island. There was a castle perched just above the treeline.

“Remember you told me about Willowyck castle?” he asked. The rest of the Bushel had stopped laughing at this point and started to look in the same direction as BlackBerry.

Grape went over and stood beside him. “Yeah, it’s abandoned.”

“Sure,” Pear said, coming up too. “We never see any lights there. The FluffBats say they never see anyone there either.”

BlackBerry pointed above the castle. “Then, what is that cloud over the castle now? It isn’t moving, it’s staying there.”

“Is it on fire?” Watermelon asked, as he joined them as well. “Hey Kiwi! Do you have your spyglass?”

Kiwi rushed over and lifted the glass. “Hm. I can’t really make it out. Looks a bit like birds though.”

“Birds?” the Bushel all asked from behind them.

“Why would there be birds flocking there?”

At that moment, Batnana, (who had been hanging on a root just over the edge of the cliff to observe the colors in the ocean) flew up and did several loops in the air in front of them spouting her usual unintelligible chatter. “Flibbity do-wa-ba-daba dop!”

Strawberry Bat translated: “She says ‘Well why don’t we go find out!’”

All the bats exchange looks with excitement. “An Adventure!” they cheered!