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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 2
Quote:Year 1

Chapter 2: Berry Drifting

Four days had passed after the day we moved four gem berry trees from the wilderness to a greenhouse in Emerald City. I had discussed with Henry about the possibility of using gem berries as fuel for the generator we were going to make, and in the end we were still uncertain whether it was a good idea or not. First, we were still blank on what kind of energy the gem berries contain. Second, it was still unknown whether the gem berry trees could be cultivated in Emerald City. And third, even if it turned out the gem berry trees could be cultivated, we still had no idea if the berrykins would allow us to do it in Emerald Castle courtyard. Henry's status as The Great Wizard of Oz would help, but the status wouldn't last forever, and it probably would cause a backlash when Henry decides to reveal the truth someday.

This morning, after we were done with our breakfast, a messenger from Emerald City came to Emerald Castle bringing a letter. Glinda was the one who received it, and after reading it she called all of us to meet her. It only took a few minutes until all of us gathered at the castle's balcony.

"What's the matter, Glinda?" Strawberry asked.

"This letter just came from Emerald City," Glinda said, showing the letter. "It came from the mayor."

"What does it say?" I asked.

"It says that he wants all of you to come to his office as soon as possible," she said.

"All of us? Why? What we're gonna do?" Angel asked.

"Are the berrykins still afraid of us?" Orange asked.

"Don't worry," Glinda said. "The gem berry trees in the greenhouse are growing well, and he wants to thank you all personally. He also has further reinforced the news that all of you are no threat to the berrykins."

"Really? That's berry good to hear!" Strawberry said, followed by everyone else getting relieved.

"Took him long enough," Peppermint said.

"So, are we going there now?" Huck asked.

"If none of us has anything important to do right now, I suggest so," I said.

"Nope, I'm as free as a bird in the sky right now, yessire!" Ginger said.

"I can teleport you all to the city hall if you want me," Glinda said.

"Thank you, Glinda. But I think we will walk. I don't want to surprise any of the berrykins," Strawberry said.

"I see. I'll only teleport you to the castle's front door then," Glinda said. "Shall we go now?"

Everyone agreed to go immediately, and Glinda casted her teleport spell to transport us all to the front door of Emerald Castle. From there, we walked to the city hall of Emerald City. The berrykins we passed along the way still whispered to each other when they saw us, but they neither escaped on sight nor did other negative reactions any longer. It only took us less than ten minutes until we arrived at the city hall. Thanks to Glinda, we could enter the mayor's office right away. He looked enthusiastic when he saw us coming.

"Ah, welcome to my office!" he greeted. "Please be seated over there!"

All of us including the mayor then sat on a set of chairs and sofa around a table.

"First of all, thank you for coming here," the mayor said. "As you may already know, the gem berry trees are growing really well in the greenhouse. We will not have to worry about running out soon. And for that, we thank you."

"Despite that, I think all the berrykins should still use them properly," I said.

"Of course! I will always try my best to remind my people on that point!" the mayor said.

"That's good to hear!" Angel said.

"Yeah, it really is!" Orange said.

"I believe now we're no longer monsters in the eyes of the berrykins, right?" I asked.

"Ah, that's the other reason I called you all here," the mayor said.

"Is something wrong?" Huck asked.

"You see, even though I have spread and reinforced the news that none of you brings any kind of threats, my people are still cautious about you," the mayor said.

"Even after all of that?" Peppermint said, looking upset.

"The thing is, we berrykins are always cautious to those we don't know. Even Glinda had her difficult times back then, a very long time ago" the mayor said.

"So, what do you expect us to do now?" Peppermint asked, still looking irritated.

"First, I want to tell you that next week will be the day of the annual Berry Drifting Festival," the mayor said.

"Berry Drifting Festival?" I asked.

"We berrykins love berries. We love seeing them grow all over the land, and we have this festival to convey our hope for that," the mayor said.

"What do people do in the festival?" Strawberry asked.

"The main part of the festival is our high priestess giving her blessing to a large basket full of berries, then the berries are distributed to all people, and finally they go to the river just outside Emerald City and throw their berries into the river. The berries will then drift away, bringing our hope for them to spread and grow throughout the land," the mayor said.

"That sounds like a berry beautiful festival!" Strawberry said.

"You bet it is! Yessire!" Ginger said.

"Apple wants berry drifting!" Apple said.

"Outside that, it is just like any other festival you probably know already," the mayor said. "Food stands, game stands, a stage, all in the town square."

"Can we go to the festival? Please?" Angel asked.

"Sure," the mayor said. "In fact, that is what I was going to ask you. By participating in the festival, the people will hopefully get to know all of you more, and eventually accept you."

"Wow, that's actually a very nice idea! Yep, it sure is!" Ginger said.

"Thank you berry much for the information!" Strawberry said.

"This is not mandatory, but I personally think it will be much better if you all perform on the stage," the mayor said.

"All of us at once?" Orange asked.

"Some of you or all of you, you make the call," the mayor said. "Just tell me within three days from now, and I'll add you to the list."

"Sounds good. That gives us enough time to plan ahead," I said.

"That's all from me," the mayor said. "Any questions?"

There was a few seconds of silence. I wanted to ask if I would be allowed to grow gem berries inside the Emerald Castle, but I was too hesitant to even say a word.

"Looks like that's it for today then," the mayor said, getting up from the chair he sat on.

"Once again, thank you berry much for the information!" Strawberry said. "We will let you know as soon as possible!"

"It was no problem," the mayor said. "Now if you don't mind, I've got a city to keep."

We then left the City Hall with the upcoming festival in mind. People were still looking cautious at us, but we just walked all the way to Emerald Castle while thinking what to perform at the festival. After we arrived at Emerald Castle, we gathered at the castle's conference room to discuss about what to perform and who would do the performance.

"Any idea?" I asked.

"I think we should not think to hard about it and just have fun performing anything we can come up with, right?" Ginger said.

"But is it really gonna work?" Angel asked.

"Yeah, we could just have fun back in Strawberryland because all the audiences were our friends," Orange said.

"Things probably work differently with the berrykins, huh?" Huck said.

"Glinda, do you know anything about the Berry Drifting Festival? What do people usually perform on the stage?" Strawberry asked.

"Nothing, actually," Glinda said, which surprised everyone else. "The berrykins are generally shy, so the stage has been used only for the mayor to give speech at the opening and closing of the festival, and also for the main event where the high priestess gives her blessing to the berries."

"So there's pretty much no information. In fact, this might be worse than I thought," I said.

"Why is that, Blackberry?" Strawberry asked.

"If there has been no performance on stage, ignoring the stage has probably become a habit for the berrykins," I said.

"Hmph! So there will be no point performing," Peppermint said. "Let's just forget it then."

"No, Peppermint! We should never give up!" Strawberry said. "And there's nothing wrong in trying."

"As always," Peppermint said. "So, do you have any great ideas now?"

"Well..." I said. "How about the thing all of you are really good at?"

"Huh? What is it?" Angel asked.

"Yeah, Blackberry. What thing we all are good at?" Orange asked.

"Singing," I said. "The amount of songs you all have sung is just numerous, not to mention that most of them were spontaneous."

"That's a berry good idea, Blackberry!" Strawberry said.

"That's a good one, Buddy!" Huck said.

"Oh yeah, we can sing loudly and there's no way nobody would notice us!" Ginger said.

"I guess that can work," Peppermint said. "But you forgot something."

"What is that, Peppermint?" Strawberry said.

"The instruments," Peppermint said. "Or maybe you expect to just use vocals like you have always been?"

"Well, as much as I don't like that point, you're right," I said. "On the rare times we use instruments, all of them were modern instruments."

"Glinda, do we have any kind of music instruments in here?" Strawberry asked.

"Unfortunately no, but I know some berrykins who are musicians," Glinda replied. "I think maybe if you perform together with them you will show that you can get along with the berrykins."

"You have a point there, Glinda," I said.

"Can we ask for their help?" Orange asked.

"Maybe the right question is, are they gonna help us?" Angel said.

"I will try asking them," Glinda said, and then she teleported away. Less than ten minutes later, she came back. "They agreed to help, and they will come soon."

"That's berry good to hear!" Strawberry said.

"I guess for now all we have to do is wait and see," I said, and everyone else agreed.

About half an hour later, three berrykins came to Emerald Castle. When they arrived at the conference room where all of us were still gathered, I was a bit surprised looking at how they looked.

"Hey, Huck," I whispered. "Don't you think they look like Blueberry, Rainbow, and Lemon?"

"Yeah, but let's not think about it," he whispered back.

"Hello, newcomers! I'm Lemon, and I play an ukulele!" the berrykin in yellow greeted.

"I'm Blueberry, and I play a flute!" the berrykin in blue greeted.

"I'm Rainbow, and I play a trumpet!" the berrykin in colorful outfit greeted.

"We are the Melodies of Emerald City!" all three said at the same time, while striking a pose.

"Hello, there! I'm Strawberry Shortcake! It's berry nice to meet you!" Strawberry said.

"Berry nice to meet you too!" Lemon said.

"Yeah! Absolooootely!" Blueberry said.

"Other berrykins might be still cautious about you, but we don't!" Rainbow said. "Because we know that you all are good people!"

"How nice of you!" Angel said.

"Thank you berry much for your trust on us!" Strawberry said.

"We heard from Glinda that you want to sing at the Berry Drifting Festival, and you need our help!" Lemon said.

"So here we are!" Rainbow said.

"We absoloootely are glad to help!" Blueberry said. "Tell us what to do!"

"Heh, I'm out of here," Peppermint said, walking away from the conference room. "I can't stay any longer with these weirdos."

"Please forgive Peppermint," Strawberry said. "She always has a hard time making new friends, but I'm berry sure she's a nice friend once you get closer to her."

"No worries! We understand!" Rainbow said, followed by the other berrykins agreeing.

So, the rest of the remaining days before the festival were spent for practicing the performance. I decided not to take part in it because it had become common knowledge since a long time ago that I couldn't sing. Peppermint also didn't take part and would rather watch, at least that was what she had said. The mayor was notified, and he added the group to the list. I really hoped everything would go well.

And so, the day of the Berry Drifting Festival came. Like the mayor had said, the town square of Emerald City was filled with various stands all over the place, with a large stage at the north part becoming the center of crowd's attention because the mayor was about to give the opening speech. Glinda had casted a spell on the stage, so any sounds coming from the stage would be greatly amplified, just like how microphone and loudspeakers worked in modern days.

"Hello, my people! Today I'm very happy to say that once again we are having our annual Berry Drifting Festival!" the mayor said, and the crowd cheered. "I'm also very happy to say that for the opening of this festival, we will have a special performance by our special guests! So, without further saying, Melodies of Emerald City and Children of Strawberryland!"

After saying those, the mayor left the stage and my friends entered along with the three berrykins. The ones who performed on the stage along with the three berrykins were everyone except me and Peppermint, who was watching like me. Only Strawberry and Angel who would be the main vocals. The rest would only provide additional vocals on moments where the song would be sung in choir.

"Ready?! One, and two! And three!" Strawberry said, and the group started singing a song which was pretty much the Berry Blossom Festival song with its lyrics modified to fit with Berry Drifting Festival theme. I was pretty impressed by the fact that they managed to sing well despite limited instruments. I looked around a bit, and I saw that the crowd watching seemed impressed just like me. Seeing my friends work together with the berrykins shed a light of hope that we would finally be truly accepted by the people of Emerald City.

After the song was over, the crowd cheered with an applause as my friends bowed down. The mayor then returned to the stage.

"Thank you for the impressive performance! Now, I declare to all people of Emerald City that the Berry Drifting Festival is officially open!" the mayor said. The crowd cheered once again and then they spread around the town square. All my friends got off from the stage, looking very happy and satisfied.

"Berry great job, everyone!" Strawberry said.

"You said it!" Huck said.

"I'm glad it went all right," Orange said.

"Yeah! I actually was really nervous I thought I was gonna mess up!" Angel said.

"Apple Dumplin' love singing!" Apple said.

"So, what are we going to do now?" Peppermint said. "It's still morning and the main part of this festival will be at nightfall."

"Well," Strawberry said. "Just walk around and enjoy ourselves!"

"Yeah! You're right, yessire!" Ginger said.

"Let's meet here again at nightfall then," I said. We then spread out to walk around the town square, enjoying the festivities. I actually wondered why the main part of the festival was done at nightfall. The lightings in Emerald City was barely enough to see things happening on the stage, let alone at the river. I had asked Glinda about it, but she only had told me to wait and see. I then decided to comply and not think too much about it. I would get to see the answer soon anyway.

Later, nightfall finally came and all people including stand owners gathered in front of the stage. A decorated basket, about the size of Ginger's trike and almost fully filled with various kinds of berries, was put at the center of the stage. As I had expected, even with the gem berry lightings around I still didn't have a clear view of the stage. They could at least put more lanterns around the stage, but why didn't they do so? While I was wondering, the mayor stepped on the stage and began a speech.

"Hello there, my people!" he said. "I hope you all have been enjoying the festivities of the Berry Drifting Festival! Now, without further saying, here is the moment we all have been waiting for: The Blessing!"

The crowd cheered as the mayor stepped off, and then they fell into silence quickly.

"Are you as excited as I am?" I whispered to Huck, who was standing right next to me.

"Of course. This is the first time I see a festival outside Strawberryland," he whispered back. "I bet the others feel the same too."

"I'm eager to see what the High Priestess looks like," I whispered. Before Huck could reply, suddenly a tune was heard from the stage. The melody was chilling, yet also soothing. I could recognize that the melody came from the instruments played by the three berrykins, but I couldn't see them anywhere. Then, someone came out from the back of the stage. I was surprised that it was Glinda, wearing white robes instead of her usual purple dress.

"The High Priestess is Glinda?" I said in confusion.

"Yes, since ten years ago," a berrykin standing next to me said. "Now please be quiet. This is a solemn moment."

"Oh, sorry," I said. I then quietly watched the stage. I was stunned watching Glinda, who gracefully waved her wand singing in a language I didn't understand. Some sparkles were coming out from the wand as she did those, making the view even more beautiful. The singing lasted for about five minutes, and the she took a gem berry from one of the stage's lightings. She then walked to the large basket, and she slowly put the gem berry into the basket. I couldn't see the berries inside the basket from where I stood, but I could notice that the glow from within the basket grew larger and larger. I then realized that somehow the other berries within the basket were shining just like gem berries. The music then faded away, and the crowd kept silent.

"Now, it is time for me to share the berries to all people," Glinda said. She then waved her wand and all the berries in the basket floated above the crowd. The berrykins then raised one hand, as if they were ready to receive the berries. My friends and I understood the clue, and we all raised our hand as well. The berries then scattered, and each of them floated right into the hand of the people. Either coincidence or not, I received a glowing blackberry. Having it in my hands felt somewhat comforting.

All people then went to the river near the outskirts of Emerald City. There was no lighting at all in the area, but the moonlight was bright enough to provide visibility. Every people then scattered to various parts of the river, which was shallow enough for them to cross without a bridge, and then one by one they put the berries in their hands into the water. I saw Strawberry doing the same to her glowing strawberry, and then she watched it drifting away with other berries. I then remembered to do the same with the glowing blackberry in my hands. I went down into the river, put my hands slowly into the water, and I watched as my glowing blackberry drifted away. All the glowing berries drifting away made a very beautiful view, like a large group of fireflies. As I watched them, I heard a soothing music played, with Strawberry singing.

On the table of life
That they all could be mine

Berries, I love berries
Made with sun from up above
Berries, give me berries
Pick them fresh with lots of love
With lots of love

Of each flavor and type
That they soon will be ripe

Berries, I love berries
Made with sun from up above
Berries, give me berries
Pick them fresh with lots of love
With lots of love

I love berries

In the fruit bowl or pie
That they could multiply

Berries, I love berries
Made with sun from up above
Berries, give me berries
Pick them fresh with lots of love
With lots of love
With lots of love
They're the fruit that I love.

-End of Chapter 2-
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
Read like a 2003 episode. Nice job incorporating the song. Apologies for lack of things to say.

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