This is a serial series published weekly on Thursday (well, most weeks). Visit the blog to read the first parts.
Maxine had been to many meetings in her life–staff meetings, Zoom meetings, impromptu meetings, annual review meetings–but this was her first time attending a meeting in the Hall of Kablooey. Well, at least Maxine thought it was the Hall of Kablooey but it was actually the Hall of Kabluii. How was she supposed to know how it was spelled?
The hall, which was more of a sunken chamber, could only be entered at the back of a seedy-looking bar. Scant light was cast by clusters of stubby candles and strange glowing orbs of ivory light, made buoyant by invisible forces. They bobbed around the room, seemingly knowing where they were needed the most. Right now, much to Maxine’s displeasure, they were clustered above her.
She was dressed in the outfit given to her by Captain Gray Wing. All black, the pants were too big and the jacket was too tight. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any boots that would fit her so she still sported her colorful sneakers, which made her look rather ridiculous. Aprene stood next to her, which made Maxine simultaneously uncomfortable and relieved, depending on how the warrior would use that spear of hers. Captain Gray Wing stood behind them.
At the end of the hall sat an old woman with an elaborate mass of braids coiled into various knots and buns on top of her head. She was presented to Maxine simply as Walleema and she wore so many layers of clothing of various colors that Maxine had trouble telling them apart.
Maxine herself was introduced as Maxine Waters but Aprene mentioned Yunil the Riant’s disappearance and how Maxine was her mirror image.
“Perhaps Yunil’s journey to the Isle of Renewal has resulted in some convoluted happenings,” Walleema’s accent and way of talking had Maxine straining to understand her. “Her goal to exhume the ancient civilization of Habi may have proven to be more troublesome than we could have presumed.”
“What do you suggest we do, Walleema?” asked Captain Gray Wing.
“We shall consult with the exuberant master of creativity, the Shopkeeper himself. He will have an answer to this calamity.” Walleema motioned to a man standing to her right and he exited the room. Just as Maxine was ready to ask what was going on, the man returned with another person. A person she immediately recognized. For, it had been less than a day since she last saw him. He greeted the gathered group of people with a joyful smile that only widened when he saw Maxine. “Ah, yes, my dear! I knew you would like that painting! How are you fairing?”
Maxine’s jaw dropped.
To be continued…