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Blackberry's Second Journal: Chapter 17
Quote:Chapter 17: Unexpected Meeting

We went out from Strawberry's storybook not long after parting with everyone in Brambleberry's house. I brought with me quite a number of Brambleberry treats which Brambleberry Fairy had given to us. The first thing I checked was the time because I needed to know how long had passed in the real world while we had been away in the storybook.

"Well, that's surprising," I said, looking at the clock on the living room wall.

"What is it?" Almond asked.

"Not even a minute has passed here," I replied.

"Are you sure, Blackberry?" Strawberry asked.

"Well, there's one way to know," I said. "Almond, please communicate with him and ask how long we have been away."

"I see. Okay," Almond said. He then closed his eyes for a brief moment, and opened them again.

"Well?" I said.

"He said that we came out of the portal just about ten seconds after we had entered," Almond said.

"How berry strange! We spent a lot of time there, right?" Strawberry said.

"Ten seconds... Hmm..." I said, thinking for a moment. "This is just an estimation, but it seems that one day in the storybook is one minute in the real world."

"That's interesting," Almond said.

"I don't know if it will be the same for a different storybook, though," I said. "Oh, Strawberrry, please take the storybook from the device and check if there's any change in the story."

"Alright," Strawberry said, taking the book from the device. She then opened the book and read it briefly. "Nope, the story here is still the same."

"Well, it's unfortunate, but if we enter the book again the story will probably restart and nobody will remember us," I said.

"Hey, it is how a storybook supposed to work!" Almond said. "After we finish reading one and then go back to page one, the story begins again without any change!"

"Yeah, I guess you're right," I said. "Let's try the other storybook then."

"This one is more peaceful. There is no villain in this story," Strawberry said, taking the other storybook.

"Good for us," I said in low voice so only Almond could hear it.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Almond asked. Strawberry then put the storybook in the device. I activated it and it began to scan the storybook. However, suddenly the device let out black smokes right after the scan had finished.

"Something is wrong. I better turn it off," I said, but right before I could switch it off, electricity waves emerged from the device and created a dimension door. To make matters worse, the dimension door sucked all of us like a black hole.

We all fell down on an open field of grass. I immediately stood up, and so did the others.

"What just happened?" Strawberry asked.

"I honestly have no idea," I said, picking up my backpack which fortunately had been sucked in with us.

"Better make sure we can still go home," Almond said.

"Yeah," I said, taking the device's remote which I had been keeping in my pocket. I pressed a button and a dimension door appeared. "No problem here. We can go home anytime we want."

"That's a relief," Almond said as the dimension door vanished. "Let's enjoy this world then, now that we're here."

"Hey, look! Someone's coming!" I said, pointing to a direction. Indeed there were two persons walking towards us. It was a bit surprising that one of them looked like Sour Grapes, but it was even more surprising that the other person can be recognized as Purple Pie Man but younger, about Apple Dumplin's age.

"The lady is probably Professor Grapes, but I have never seen the boy with her in the book," Strawberry said.

"He sure looks like Pie Man," Almond commented.

The boy seemed to notice us, and then he talked to the lady while occasionally pointing at us. Once they were near us, they stopped and started a conversation.

"Good day. Do you know the way to the king's castle?" the lady asked.

"Umm, we are travellers from far away, so we have no idea. Sorry," I said.

"Oh dear," she said. "Better keep walking, then."

"May we walk with you?" Almond asked.

"I see no problem," she said, and we started walking. "Ah, where are my manners? I am Professor Grapes, and this is my son Purple Palm Pie."

"Uhh, hi there," the boy said timidly. "You can just call me..."

Professor Grapes interrupted by clearing her throat.

"Never mind," Purple Palm Pie said.

"My name is Blackberry Bun," I said.

"I'm his brother. My name is Almond Cookie," Almond said.

"I'm Strawberry Shortcake. It's berry nice to meet you, Purple Palm Pie and Professor Grapes!" Strawberry said.

"Why are you all here?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"Well, we are travellers. We just happen to be here," I said.

"Oh, I see. My mother here was invited by the king and the queen to be the teacher for the princess," Purple Palm Pie said.

"That must be a very tough job. We wish you luck," I said.

"Thank you," Professor Grapes said.

"Hey, Strawberry," I whispered. "Is it written anywhere in the book that Professor Grapes has a child?"

"I am berry sure that it is never mentioned anywhere in the book," Strawberry whispered back.

"That's very strange," I whispered. "Probably the effect from the accident we had when we came to this world."

"So what do we do now?" she asked.

"Let's wait and see what happens next. If anything goes wrong we will immediately get out of this world," I whispered.

It didn't take long for us to find the castle because it was big enough we could see it from far away. When we arrived at the front gate, we stopped and a conversation started.

"Wait here, son," Professor Grapes said. "I'm the only one invited."

"Alright, mom," Purple Palm Pie said.

"Travellers, could you please accompany my son? This should not take long," Professor Grapes said.

"No problem," I said.

"Thank you," she said, and then she entered the castle.

"Is your mother a famous teacher, Purple Palm Pie?" I asked.

"You can just call me Pie Boy when my mother is not around," Purple Palm Pie said, which felt a bit awkward for me. "And yes, she's famous for being strict and a bit odd. And she has a very long list of references."

"Where are you from?" Almond asked.

"I don't know," he said.

"How come?" Strawberry asked.

"Mom's reputation made many kings invite her to be the teacher of their princesses. That's why she has been moving from one kingdom to another even before she had me," he said.

"Do you wish to have a permanent place to stay?" I asked.

"Yeah, kinda. All the travels are quite tiring, and having to say farewell to my friends every time mom moves..." he said.

"I see, that must be tough," Almond said.

Not too long later, Professor Grapes came out from the gate bringing a key and a scroll.

"Son, here is the key for the house the king provides for us this time, and here is the map for its location," she said, giving the key and the scroll to Purple Palm Pie.

"What about you, mom?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"I am going to pick up the princess and bring her to her study place. I will be home by nightfall," Professor Grapes replied. "Like before, I have memorized the location."

"Alright, mom," Purple Palm Pie said.

"Travellers, thank you for your patronage. I should not hold you any longer than this," Professor Grapes said.

"It was no problem," I said.

"Hey, where are you all going to sleep tonight?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"Well, we haven't decided," I said.

"Mom, how about we invite them to stay at our house?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"I see no problem with it," Professor Grapes said. Purple Palm Pie then looked at us with delightful face.

"Well, I guess we will gladly accept," I said. "Thank you."

"Thank you berry much!" Strawberry said.

So, the three of us stayed in Professor Grapes' and her son's temporary house, which was a simple wooden house located at the edge of a forest behind the king's castle. During our stay, Purple Palm Pie asked a lot about us such as where we were from and places we had visited. We ended up telling him everything about Strawberryland and quite a number of places I and Strawberry had visited during our stay in Oz.

"Wow! All the places you have told me about are all amazing! As if they came out from a fairy tale!" Purple Palm Pie commented.

"They sure are pretty hard to believe, and I honestly didn't expect you to believe that we really have been there," I said.

"Why shouldn't I believe? The world is huge! No matter how much I have travelled, there must be many amazing places I have not even heard of!" Purple Palm Pie said.

"You're berry right, Pie Boy!" Strawberry said.

"But still, how far are those places from here?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"Well..." I said. "We were in those places years ago, and we have been travelling without map. So unfortunately we now only know that those places are very far from here."

"I see. That's unfortunate," Purple Palm Pie said.

Professor Grapes came home by nightfall as she had said, and during dinner we learned about the princess she had to teach this time. The princess' name was Rapunzel and she was a complete tomboy, which had made her parents worried that she would not become a proper princess. To remedy this problem, Professor Grapes had been invited to be the teacher of the princess so she will learn the right thing. For this purpose, a tower was provided to be used as the classroom and also the place where the princess would stay for the rest of her studies. The tower was unique in a way that the only entrance and exit was a window located near its peak, which was only accessible with a long ladder.

"I'm not sure, but putting her in a tower doesn't sound right..." I said.

"Yeah, kinda sounds like a prison to me," Almond said.

"You have a point, dear. But I have to do things necessary for achieving what I was hired for," Professor Grapes said.

"Well, I guess I'll just believe that you know what you are doing and wish you luck," I said.

"Thank you," she said. "Let us sleep now. It is already late."

"Good night," I said, and we all went to sleep.

At the next day, Professor Grapes was already gone by the time the three of us woke up. We found Purple Palm Pie in the living room, sitting on a chair and reading a book. He stopped reading when he noticed us coming.

"Good morning! Did you sleep well?" he asked.

"Good morning, Pie Boy! Yes, we slept berry well! Right, everyone?" Strawberry said.

"I guess so," I said.

"Yeah," Almond said.

"So, what are we going to do today?" Purple Palm Pie asked.

"Well, this kingdom should have a town, right? Let's go there and walk around," I said.

"That's a berry good idea, Blackberry!" Strawberry said. Purple Palm Pie then took the map we had used the day before and opened it.

"According to this map, the nearest town is about 30 minute walk from this house," he said.

"What are we waiting for? Let's go!" Almond said in excitement.

"Right behind you," Purple Palm Pie said.

We then walked to the town of the kingdom. During the trip we told Purple Palm Pie more about us and he was excited to hear them. Later, as he had predicted, we arrived in town by 30 minutes. The town was about as technologically advanced as the towns in Oz, but of course only inhabited by humans without any magic present. After walking a bit, we ended up at the marketplace. The place was crowded with people shopping and trading, as expected from a marketplace. We didn't have any intention to buy anything so we just kept walking.

"It's him! He's the one!" suddenly we heard someone yelling. We looked at the source and saw a merchant pointing at us. Other citizens started looking at us immediately.

"Get him!" another merchant yelled, jumping from his stand and running towards us.

"RUN!" Almond said, and we immediately ran away from the place. The merchants, along with quite a number of citizens, chased us.

"What's the matter with them?" Purple Palm Pie asked while still running.

"I have no idea!" I said.

"Me neither! But the way they acted obviously meant nothing good for us!" Almond said.

"Hey, look!" Strawberry said, pointing forward. We then saw someone at an alleyway entrance signaling us to enter the alleyway. His face was concealed in hood. We knew that we would be caught if we kept running straight, so we entered the alleyway. The guy then led us into a small house and once we were inside, he opened a trapdoor leading to the basement of the house. All of us, including the guy, entered the basement. Not long after, we heard noises of people chasing us from the outside. Fortunately, the noises eventually faded. The guy then lit up a lantern to illuminate the dark basement. We then realized that he was as tall as us, although we still couldn't see his face.

"Thank you for saving us," I said.

"Yeah, thank you," Purple Palm Pie said. "Although I still have no idea why they chased us."

"It's because of me," the guy said, revealing his face. The rest of us were surprised because the man looked exactly like me.

"What? Two Blackberry?" Purple Palm Pie said.

"I see that we even share the same name," the guy said, looking at me.

"Wait! You said 'because of you'? Does that mean..." Almond said.

"Exactly," the guy said. "I'm a thief, and this is my hideout."

"You're a thief? That's not a right thing to do!" Strawberry said.

"Strawberry, we better let him be," I said.

"But..." Strawberry said.

"I know how you feel. But remember, Strawberry. This is not our place. We should not meddle with the affairs of people here," I said.

"Okay..." Strawberry said.

"Wait until nightfall, and you will be safe to get out of here," the guy said.

"Unfortunately, we have a problem here," Almond said. "His mother will be worried about him."

"And to make it worse, he was seen with me and he will be staying in this kingdom with his mother for a while unlike us," I said. "If someday he comes to this town again, I don't know what will happen."

"Hmm..." the guy said. "I have an idea for that."

About half an hour later, the marketplace of the town was already back to its usual activities. But the activities didn't last long because a merchant noticed the thief he knew walking at the edge of a much less crowded street carrying a large sack.

"Look! He's stealing something again! Get him!" the merchant said, jumping from his stand. The thief noticed people chasing him and he started to run fast. However, the sack he was carrying was too heavy. So, he dropped the sack and ran away really fast, quickly disappearing from sight.

"He got away again!" the merchant said.

"At least this time he didn't get to steal anything," a citizen said, crouching near the sack.

"I wonder what he was going to steal this time," another citizen said. "Let's open it."

The people then opened the sack and got surprised. Inside the sack was Purple Palm Pie, bound and gagged, and looking scared.

"What?! This time he kidnapped a boy?!" a citizen said.

"I've never seen you before. Who are you?" the merchant said, releasing the boy.

"Purple Palm Pie. Professor Grapes is my mother..." Purple Palm Pie said.

"Professor Grapes? Isn't she the new teacher of Princess Rapunzel?" a citizen said.

"I was walking around town and he said he would guide me around. But he..." Purple Palm Pie said right before he cried.

"Easy, boy. You're safe now. I'll take you home," the merchant said.

Meanwhile, back at the thief's hideout, he has returned and met the three of us who were still waiting in the basement.

"Mischief managed," he said to us, which was a relief.

"Thank you berry much!" Strawberry said.

"It's surprising that you were strong enough to carry him around," I said. "I definitely can't"

"He's not that heavy. You need to work out more," he said.

"But I wonder..." Almond said. "Why did you go this far to help us?"

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe because I just felt like helping a twin brother."

"Hey, I'm not..." I said before he interrupted.

"Of course I know that!" he said. "Anyway, as I said, wait here until nightfall and you will be safe to get out."

"We don't need to," I said, activating the remote of the device. A dimension door appeared at the corner of the room.

"Heh, you're more than meets the eye as I thought," he said. "Farewell."

"Farewell, and thank you," I said. All of us then jumped to the dimension door.

We ended up in my room, which was quite a mess because of what had happened. The clock in the room showed that only one minute had passed, proving that my estimation was right.

"Well, brother. He just told me that we have been away for only one minute," Almond said.

"The story in this book is still the same. Purple Palm Pie and the thief is never mentioned anywhere," Strawberry said, checking the storybook.

"This is sad, but probably they were somehow created by the mess that happened. We might never meet them again even if we enter the storybook again," I said.

"That's berry sad..." Strawberry said.

"Hey, they're still with us, right here!" Almond said, pointing at his chest.

"Our heart? You're right. We have good memories of them, and that's how they still live with us," I said.

"You're berry right, Almond!" Strawberry said.

"But hey, there's another way!" I said. "We can write stories about them ourselves!"

"That's a berry good idea, Blackberry! I can't wait to do that!" Strawberry said. "Thank you for all the adventures today, Blackberry!"

"Thank you for providing the storybooks too, Strawberry," I said.

"See you later!" Strawberry said, and then she went home.

--End of Chapter 17--
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
I liked it. I take it Blackberry basically was the thief, though I wonder why.
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