Katie and Richard
A Tale of Wizardry
THE STORY SO FAR: On their way to school one bright May morning, Katie and Richard - two normal American fifth graders - suddenly find themselves transported to an unfamiliar and magical world called Erthwold, where a renegade wizard named Grendell is scheming to release the Dark Arts - a malevolent form of magic - from its centuries-long confinement in an immense Black Cube. The children, together with an old wizard named Malvolio; a young wizard named Lorenzo; a dwarf named Gert; and Fluffy, a pet mouse in a small wire cage, have been charged by the wizards' ruling body, the Ring of High, to try to find out what the children's presence (and the diamond figurines Gert has been carving for a mysterious client named Clarence) might have to do with Grendell's schemes. The companions have escaped from a troll, survived an attack by a red ant while shrunk to the ant's size, and made their way through the traps and dangers of Grendell's underground tunnel complex to his workroom next to the Black Cube, where Katie - who has long suspected that Lorenzo is really Grendell - destroys the young wizard's staff by flinging it through a size-changing tunnel, removing its powers. At this point, Fluffy abruptly reveals that it is he who is actually Grendell. He explains that he has brought the children to Erthwold so he can transform himself into one of them, and that he plans to use this disguise to conquer Earth as well as Erthwold. As he prepares to put this plan into operation, quick action by Katie and Richard causes him to shrink back to the size of a mouse, and Lorenzo captures him with his hat.
This week: going home.
Chapter XXIV: Elm Street, again
At Gert's suggestion, they placed Grendell back in the cage he had occupied as Fluffy. "He's sommat used to it," the dwarf pointed out, "and it's secure, right enough. He ain't goin' nowheres lest we carry him. But I dasn't think he'll get the same fancy treatment he got when he were wearin' grey fur an' cute wheekers."
"What happens now?" asked Richard.
"What happens now," replied Malvolio, "is that Lorenzo and I do what we can to make these amplifiers, as Grendell calls them, stop working. That should take care of the trolls and the other manifestations of the Dark Powers that have been troubling the countryside. What happens after that, I think, will be up to the Ring of High. We will take Grendell back to Amaria, and the Ring will decide what to do with him."
"Will the locking charms let you out if Grendell doesn't want them to?"
"I am sure they will. Locking charms don't depend on what a person is doing or thinking, they depend on who the person is. These are made to respond to Grendell's presence, and we will have him along with us, in Fluffy's cage."
"But the charm in his quarters did fail to open when he didn't want it to."
Malvolio shook his head. "It did not fail. Grendell was applying a countercharm. He will not be able to do that in his current state."
"Can Lorenzo help you destroy the amplifiers without his staff?" asked Katie. She was looking at her feet. "I'm sorry I did that," she said, in a low voice.
Lorenzo put his arm around her. "Don't be," he said. "Who knows what would have happened, had Grendell not decided to act when he did? And the fact that I no longer had my staff certainly encouraged him to make that decision. Besides, you more than made up for stealing my staff by what you did to capture Grendell – you, and Richard."
"But your staff is gone."
"Actually, I could probably get it back with just a little effort. As Grendell so helpfully pointed out, the size-changing spell is still operating inside Malvolio's rosebush. I could thread my staff through the rosebush until it came out the right size. Or Malvolio could undo his spell and give us the size-changing tunnel back – that would make getting my staff back to normal quite easy. But I don't think I will bother. Grendell's staff is here, and it will probably be much better than mine at undoing his work, anyway, as it helped make it in the first place. And I can get a new staff of my own once we get back to Amaria."
Katie sniffled. "I'm sorry I thought you were Grendell," she said.
Lorenzo hugged her with both arms, this time. "Apology accepted," he smiled. "Although I'm not sure how you could have mistaken such a handsome dog as I am for the villain."
"Even Gert and I were beginning to doubt, at the end," pointed out Malvolio. "Grendell wove a very convincing trail of false evidence. It should be a lesson to all of us not to judge a person by how we think they must be acting at those times when we aren't watching them."
"Mostwise, that's true," agreed Gert. "but I allus did have a funny feelin' about Clarence. Wisht now I'd'a followed up on it sooner." He held up the cage with Grendell in it. "O' course, now," he added, "Clarence is th' size I allus figgered his morals t' be. I guess the real important thing t' remember when ye deal wi' sommat like this is ta make sure ya don't shrink down ta his size yerself."
Malvolio nodded. "And now we must get to work," he said. "It has been a very long day, and there is still much to do before we can sleep. And the very first part of the work is to get Katie and Richard safely home."
Katie looked startled. "Don't we have to go back to Amaria with you?" she asked.
"I think not," smiled the old wizard. "Gert is quite capable of watching over Grendell, and Lorenzo and I can do the work that needs to be accomplished here. It is likely to be easier than it looks, especially if Grendell cooperates with us – which he will probably do, once he understands how that will affect his fate at the hands of the Ring of High." He smiled again – a little sadly, this time. "Of course, we will all miss you," he added.
"I'll miss you, too," cried Katie, flinging her arms around him. "You're the best friend I ever had!"
Malvolio gently disentangled her. "Perhaps," he said. "But there is still Richard."
Katie looked at Richard. Richard looked back. "Yeah," he said. "We'll still be friends when we get back to Elm Street, won't we? It'll be funny, but there it is."
He smiled. Katie smiled, too. "Way back in Dwerry, the first night we were here" she said, "you said maybe we've always been friends but we didn't know it. We know it now, don't we?"
The children hugged both wizards and the dwarf. Katie hugged Lorenzo last. "I'm still sorry," she said. "I promise never to judge anyone again before I know who they really are."
"Don't make promises that are so very difficult to keep," smiled Lorenzo, in his usual cheerful manner. "It is enough to promise to try not to judge. As for my part, I promise to try to help people see, a little more easily, who I really am."
Richard was hugging Gert. The dwarf looked uncomfortable. "Hugs!" he cried. "Almos' as bad as gettin' wet!" But he wiped a tear from the end of his gnarly nose just the same. "I'll take good care o' Fluffy fer ya," he said, holding up the cage with the sulking Grendell in it. "'Course now's we know who he really is, it'll be sommat diffr'nt from th' care you was givin' him before."
And then they were standing in front of the structure that held the two frozen moments of time. Katie and Richard looked at the images of themselves uncertainly.
"What's going to happen when we walk into those?" wondered Katie.
"It'll tingle!" snapped Grendell. It was the first time he had spoken since Lorenzo's hat had dropped over him. "I wish now it would tingle a lot, but it won't."
"Will we be dressed like we are now, or like we were then?"
"Like you were then."
"Will I have my flute back, like I do in the picture?" asked Richard.
"Yes!" exploded Grendell. His teeth were clenched. "And Katie will have her book. Just get it over with and don't make me watch." He sat on the floor of his cage and buried his face in his arms.
Richard squared his shoulders. "Well, here goes," he said. He walked into his image. There was a loud POP! and the image and Richard both disappeared.
Katie threw her arms around Malvolio one last time. Then she wiped her nose and eyes on her handkerchief, put the handkerchief away, and stepped into her own image.
The light on Third Street changed to Walk. Katie walked across Third Street on the east crosswalk as fast as she could. Richard walked across Third Street on the west crosswalk as fast as he could. Both of them broke into a run for the school.
They reached Mrs. McCarthy's classroom just as the bell rang. Mrs. McCarthy looked up as they came in. "Well," she said, "just in the nick of time."
"We got a few nicks ourselves," said Richard, "as Lorenzo would say."
"What? Who's Lorenzo?"
Katie smiled. "Never mind," she said. "Mrs. McCarthy, can Richard and I sit together?"
Mrs. McCarthy looked keenly at them. She really does seem a lot like Ludmilla, Katie thought.
"This sure beats all," said Mrs. McCarthy. "Of course you can sit together – if you want to."
Katie and Richard looked at each other. "We want to," said Richard. "Katie's my friend."
Katie Green lived in a white house with a brown roof on the east side of Elm Street.
Richard White lived in a green house with a brown roof on the west side of Elm Street.
Katie and Richard knew each other, and they were best friends. This has been the story of how they got that way.
– END –
This concludes the tale of Katie and Richard. If you have enjoyed your trip to Erthwold, please consider purchasing the book, and/or reviewing it on Amazon. You can reach its Amazon home by clicking on the image of the book's jacket in the upper left-hand corner of this page.
On behalf of Katie, Richard, Malvolio, Gert, Lorenzo, and the rest:
Thank you for joining us on this journey.