It was now well past noon—probably twelve or fifteen minutes past it. And though we—we being Macie and me—me being Kelvin F. C. L., secret attache to Lincylum, she being Macie M. Masterson, Master at Arms of all of Mappleton—though we had scored a success in locating the Ambassador, we had, in that very success, succeeded at losing ourselves. In fact, we were becoming ever more lost as we soared ever-so-deep into the Willowing Forest of Delights.
“Dessert!” Chevron corrected, a few puffs in front of me.
“My thoughts exactly!” I exclaimed, stomach agrumble. If not dessert, at least something to hold us over as we were held over these sweet-scented trees.
“Your thoughts exactly?” Chevron asked. “I can still hear your thoughts?”
“Oh, no—” I said. “I don’t think I was thinking of dessert until you said something.”
“Of course you weren’t thinking of dessert!” The Ambassador declared. “Who could think of dessert at a time like this?! We haven’t sat for lunch yet!”
“Yet?!” Macie mocked, hovering in the air over the Ambassador’s left shoulder. “Yet?!! You couldn’t sit if you wanted to!”
“Well, I don’t want to!” The Ambassador said. A man of mania, sure—but a man of my own spirit.
“I’ll tell you what I want…” I started.
“Lunch,” Macie guessed. “And it doesn’t take a mind-reader to read that.”
“No it does not,” Chevron said. “But to guess the right lunch, the right dessert—takes time-tested taste testing.”
The Ambassador huffed at this professional self-profession.
And I huffed right back at him: Let Chevron take pride in his work. At least it worked. Unlike Titanium Levitation! I had had it up to here with huffing and puffing of all kinds—and here was getting higher and higher up by the minute—thirty, forty, fifty five feet over the treetops. I leveled a claim: “Too bad you magician’ed those perfectly good boiled eggs into perfectly spoiled chicken-ants,” I said. “Who knows how long we’ll be up here, now. Maybe straight through the sweetest hours of the afternoon. Maybe all the way to dinner!” The horror was too much to contemplate; I regretted even bringing it up.
“Believe me,” the Ambassador said. “In most of this place, you’d much rather be up here than down there.” He gestured then at the small crop of houses we swooped over—little boxy numbers, hugging the hills for dear life. And there wasn’t much life in’em.
“Is that right?” Macie asked. I didn’t like the way she asked it. And I liked it less when I saw the Ambassador drop out of the sky. Then Chevron, then Macie—then I.