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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 8
#1
A.N. Sorry that this took so long. I found myself preoccupied with a number of pressing matters. Also, this chapter was actually longer, too long in fact, that I decided to cut it in half and later post the other part as chapter 9.

Quote:Year 1

Chapter 8: Monsterberry


Three days had passed after the event where I had sealed the deal with King Wulfgar. I would receive an electricity generator in return of the successful treasure hunt, and the generator would be delivered to Emerald City within a month. Both me and Henry had no idea what to do during the one month period. We had already prepared a construction plan and a few alternatives as well. We still had no materials at all, and we had no idea where to get any. I wanted to ask Glinda if she knew a way to get materials, but ever since I got back to Emerald City, Glinda had been somewhat missing. She only appeared during breakfast, lunch, and dinner time to provide our meal. Other than those, nobody knew where she was.

This morning, I was at the courtyard of Emerald Castle together with all my friends. We all were relaxing, lying down on the grass field there. Glinda had still acted the same during breakfast: Appearing, conjuring meals, and then disappearing.

"I really wonder..." I said.

"Wonder about what, Blackberry?" Strawberry asked.

"About Glinda," I said. "She has been acting strange lately."

"Oh, so you feel it too, Blackberry? Me too! You see, Glinda has been only with us during breakfast, lunch, and dinner time, am I right? Only to wave her wand to make our meal appear on the dining table, am I right?" Ginger said.

"Yeah, and then she just left," Angel said.

"Is something bothering her lately?" Orange asked.

"Who knows," Huck said.

"Well..." Peppermint said, seeming in doubt.

"What is it Peppermint?" Strawberry asked.

"I'm kinda, sorta scared that Glinda... we're becoming a burden for her," Peppermint said.

"Burden? That can't be!" Angel said. "Can it...?"

"Come to think of it... I'm starting to worry the same thing," Orange said.

"Kinda makes sense," I said. "Glinda had been living peacefully here with Henry, occasionally helping anyone who seeks advice from Wizard of Oz. Now she has eight kids to take care of."

"But all she has to do is to conjure all those meals with her magic, right?" Angel said. "Is that really a burden?"

"Angel Cake, I don't think she just merely conjures the meals," Strawberry said. "Well, maybe she did at first, but don't you all notice it? Since one week ago?"

"Oh yeah, the meals don't taste unnatural anymore ever since I came back from Dwarven Capital," I said. "In fact, they tasted much better."

"Does that mean...?" Huck said. "She cooked all of them herself? For us?"

"Probably," I said. "And she actually has been teleporting the meals from the kitchen to the dining table."

"We can't let her do this all by herself!" Strawberry said. "We should at least help her make our own meal!"

"Friends help Glinda," Apple said.

"You're right, Strawberry! Yes, you are!" Ginger said.

"Let's go tell her!" Orange said.

"But where?" Peppermint asked, and suddenly the cheerful atmosphere ceased to exist.

"Man, you're right," Huck said. "Nobody knows where she is now."

"Then, I guess we have no choice but to wait until lunch," Strawberry said.

"So, what are we gonna do now?" Angel asked.

"Anybody up for a walk?" Huck asked.

"Sure, count me in!" Peppermint said. The others agreed as well.

"What about you, Blackberry?" Strawberry asked.

"Go without me," I said. "I want to lie down here some more."

"Alright then, see you later, buddy!" Huck said, and seconds later I was alone lying down on the soft grass. Within the following minutes, I fell asleep there and when I woke up I had no idea how many hours had passed. The position of the sun was still pretty low at the East, so at least I was sure that it was still morning. I then decided to walk into Emerald City, hoping that I would meet the others there.

While walking in Emerald City, I kept thinking about how long I would have to live there. Despite the progress I had made on the project, it was still a very, very long way to go. The construction plan had been made, but nobody had any idea whether the result would be strong enough to endure the black hole. I even still had no idea how to get materials to actually do the construction.

All those thinking came to a stop when I noticed something at the town square. I saw Orange Blossom standing on what seemed like a shining red magic circle on the ground, holding a wand in her hand. About three meters in front of her, there was a berrykin also standing on a shining magic circle and holding a wand, though the magic circle was blue. It seemed as if they were doing a magic duel.

"Ready... set..." the berrykin said. "Go!"

Immediately, both Orange and her opponent pointed their wand at each other. A blue lightning came out from Orange's wand, and a red magic shield came out from the opponent's wand. The blue lightning shattered the red magic shield and hit the berrykin, but it caused no harm to the berrykin. Soon, a number '10' appeared above Orange's head and she jumped happily as the magic circle stopped shining. I wanted to know what actually had happened, so I approached her.

"Hey, Orange," I said.

"Oh, hi Blackberry!" Orange said.

"What did you just do?" I asked.

"It's a game," Orange said. "Want to try?"

"I don't even know how it works," I said.

"It's simple! You only need to point the wand at your opponent while thinking of a color, either red, blue, or yellow," Orange said.

"Is that all? Really?" I asked.

"Yes! Now try it!" Orange said, giving her wand to me.

"I will explain more while you play," the berrykin who had been Orange's opponent said. "Let's begin."

I then stood on the magic circle near me, and it started shining again. The same applied for the other magic circle. However, this time my circle was shining blue while the other was shining red.

"My circle is red, so I begin as attacker," the berrykin said. "Point your wand at me on my mark. Don't forget to think of the color."

"Alright," I said.

"Ready... set... go!" the berrykin said, and both of us pointed our wand at each other. A yellow shield came out from my wand, and a yellow lightning came out from my opponent's wand. The lightning hit the shield and vanished, and a number '1' appeared above my head.

"What just happened?" I asked.

"You defended correctly," the berrykin said. "If both players think of the same color, the shield will repel the lightning and the defender will get one point. If the colors are different, the lightning will shatter the shield and the attacker will get two points. The winner is the one who gets ten points first."

"So that's how it works," I said as both magic circles swapped their colors.

"No more need to explain, right?" the berrykin said.

"Yeah, no more," I said. "Let's duel!"

Later, the three of us were sitting on a bench at the town square. The berrykin brought us a drink, which was some kind of juice. The taste was good, although I couldn't recognize what the ingredients were.

"That game sure was fun," I said.

"Yeah, Blackberry. It sure was!" Orange said.

"I was quite surprised. I thought only Glinda can use magic around here," I said. "And the wizard."

"None of us can. The magic is in the wands," the berrykin said. "Glinda gave those game wands to berrykin children some time ago."

"Wow, Glinda sure is a nice person," I said.

"Of course she is!" the berrykin said. "But we pity her that she has to have such sister."

"Strawberry is no longer the same thanks to Gladys!" Orange said, seeming upset. "Gladys stole all her hair!"

"Umm, Orange? Glinda fixed that problem, right?" I said. "Why you suddenly brought that up?"

"Sorry. I just feel upset that Strawberry will never have her beautiful orange hair back," Orange said. "Her new hair is not bad, but... I still feel really upset whenever I hear that wicked witch's name!"

"Better change topic then," I said. "By the way, I still don't know your name."

"Marble!" the berrykin said.

"Nice to know you, Marble," I said.

"Same with you, weirdo with four eyes!" Marble said.

"Hey..." I said, a bit upset, though I knew she was just kidding.

"Kidding! Nice to meet you, Blackberry!" Marble said. "Hey, there's a place I want to show you! Come with me!"

"Well, why not? Show me the way," I said. "Come with us, Orange?"

"Yeah, sure!" Orange replied.

Marble then brought us to a small forest above a hill just outside Emerald City. The trees inside the forest were not tightly close to each other, so sunlight could still easily illuminate everything there. After walking for a few more minutes, we arrived at a place where a bunch of berries of many kinds grew everywhere. I could recognize strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and many others. There were also some berries I couldn't recognize, but they all made a very beautiful view around us.

"Wow, so many berries!" Orange said, being very excited.

"Pretty unbelievable," I said.

"We call this place Berry Jewel Box," Marble said. "Go have some!"

"Can we?" Orange asked. "Are we really allowed to do that?"

"You sure can! Everyone can!" Marble said.

We all then ate the berries around us. There were so many of them that I was very sure even if all eight of us were there we would not be able to eat half of them. The taste of the berries I knew were the same as the berries in Strawberryland. I had been believing that if life existed on another planet, the lifeform there would be very different. However, at this time I stood corrected.

"Thanks for showing us this great place," I said.

"Yeah! We appreciate it!" Orange said. "May us bring our other friends here someday?"

"Sure! Don't hesitate!" Marble said. "This place is open for everyone!"

"The berries here sure are tasty," I said.

"Of course!" Marble said. "But there's the most delicious of all berries. Monsterberry!"

"M-monster?" Orange said.

"Monsterberry is very huge! It's also very sweet and juicy! It's the most favorite berry of all people here!" Marble said. "But it only grows at Witchbane Ravine."

"Witchbane Ravine?" I asked.

"It's just at the other side of this forest," Marble said.

"The name sounds somewhat scary," Orange said.

"I don't know how it got that name," Marble said. "Maybe because magic doesn't work there?"

"How do people get the monsterberries?" I asked.

"Ripe monsterberries fall to the river at the bottom of the ravine and get carried towards Emerald City," Marble said. "But we rarely get any good monsterberries!"

"How come?" Orange asked.

"Crushed by the fall, eaten by wildlife before reaching us, and overripe," Marble said. "At least one of those three almost always happens."

"Why don't you pick them up from the ravine with rope or something?" I asked.

"The ravine is too scary! We don't have the courage!" Marble said.

"I see," I said.

"Ah, I must go back now!" Marble suddenly said. "I made a promise with my friend to meet them soon! You can go home on your own, right?"

"Yeah, don't worry about us," Orange said. "Thank you for showing us this place, Marble."

"No problem! Bye!" Marble said.

"Be careful on the way," I said as Marble left us running.

"Maybe we should go back too," Orange said.

"I want to enjoy this place some more," I said.

"It's almost lunch time," Orange said.

"I kinda ate too much here. I'll skip it," I said as I sat on the ground. "Go back without me."

"Alright if you say so," Orange said. "See you later then."

"See you later, Orange. Be careful on the way," I said. Orange then left me alone there.

"That was... kinda too easy," I said to myself. All I had said to Orange had actually been an attempt to make her leave me alone. I wanted to be left alone because I had the intention to secretly go to Witchbane Ravine to pick some monsterberries. However, Orange immediately agreeing to leave me alone confused me because the Orange I knew would have at least asked whether I had been sure.

After waiting for a few more minutes, I stood up and started walking away from the direction we had come from. It took me less than ten minutes until I finally saw a ravine. The ravine was much smaller than the ravine in Granite, but still dangerous. I carefully stepped towards the edge to locate any monsterberries in the vicinity, but I couldn't find any. I got more and more scared the closer I got to the ravine edge, so I then decided to lie down and continue moving by crawling. When I finally reached the very edge, I looked around towards the bottom of the ravine, which was visible and actually not that deep. Suddenly, the ground I was on cracked because of my weight, causing me to lose balance and fall down.

I was very lucky that there was a ledge protruding from the cliffside below the ravine edge. I landed there pretty much unharmed. However, the top of the ravine was out of my reach, and that meant I got stuck there. I sighed, feeling terrible at the problem I got stuck into, and sat down leaning to the ravine wall. Right beside me was a monsterberry for sure, because its size was as large as a basketball. I found what I wanted, but I couldn't bring it home to Emerald Castle because I had been careless, or unlucky, or maybe both, I didn't care.

I looked around myself to see the situation and condition of my 'prison'. The protruding ledge was more than wide enough for me to lie down. It was also decently comfortable because it was covered in grass. There were quite a number of monsterberries growing around me, though it seemed that only one was ripe. My conclusion remained the same, my only choice was to wait until someone came to help me.


--End of Chapter 8--
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