In which a deal is made.
Greg was in front of the Dryads again, alone this time. He was holding Tony Tony’s phone up again; listening to what sounded to him like a small nuclear confrontation, fed through a wet mesh wall.
Eventually the sound stopped and he held the phone against his ear, “They’re offering you a deal Sir,” said Clare , “you have to stop some sort of apocalypse that’s going on down below right now. If you do that, they’ll take you to Transylvania.”
Greg focused on the important thing, “Apocalypse?” he asked
“Their word; not mine.”
“Actually I suspect their word was something like-” he scratched the phone against his four day beard.
Clare sounded shocked, “How did you know that.” She asked, “Sir.” she added, apparently quite genuinely
“Lucky guess, can you tell me where we are?”
“Sure sir, if you could just hold up the phone for me again”
“You know what Clare; I’m suddenly not so curious.” said Greg, who had been locked in his room for most of the day, and was quite keen for something to happen.
“Ok Sir, what do you want me to do?”
Greg considered, “Tell them I accept”, he said.
Five minutes later Greg was staring down on a ping pong ball sky, Tony Tony and Free Flower were there beside him.
Tony Tony looked up at Greg and asked, “Are you really Lord Redfox’s son?”
“What you told the Dryads earlier, are you really Lord Redfox’s son?”
Greg looked at his friend carefully, weighing him up. Finally he replied, “Yes I am”
Tony Tony looked confused, “Why did you always call him your uncle then?”
“It’s a werewolf thing, we never use close titles to refer to our relatives”
Somehow it had never occurred to Greg to ask that question, “I don’t really know, it’s just always been like that.”
“Ah”, said Tony Tony, grinning wryly, “It’s traditional”
Greg felt like he could laugh, “Yes”, he said, “I suppose it is.”
The Troll that had escorted them to the edge came back now. He, or she, Greg couldn’t be quite sure which, had three bundles in his arms. For a mad moment Greg thought of little troll babies, but then the troll handed them out and he saw that they were backpacks, a little bit old, but otherwise fine backpacks.
There didn’t seem to be anything else to do, so Greg started to pull on his backpack, which turned out to be surprisingly heavy, full of food maybe? Out of the corner of his eye, Grey noticed the others doing the same.
He got the backpack on; including the fiddly little security straps, and then he stood and waited. The troll seemed to be waiting too; at any rate it wasn’t doing much. Greg wondered how they were going to get down to ground level, some kind of air taxi? A special dragon perhaps?
“What do you think is in these things?” asked Tony Tony. Greg shrugged, he didn’t really have an answer, and he didn’t think it was that important, free stuff was free stuff.
Something was poking him in the back; he shifted uncomfortably and reached underneath his pack. When his hand came back it was holding a plastic gripping handle on a short piece of cord. Far too late his brain started to make the connection between the cord, the sky and the large troll, who was still standing behind them.
“Tony Tony,” he said slowly, “I’m not sure these are-”
Then the troll pushed them over the edge.
Greg took freefall well; he stayed calm and observed around him. He could see dragons whipping upwards and past him, like the floors outside a glass elevator, the sky was still the same impenetrable white. Somewhere above him Free Flower was sweeping acrobatically, she looked like she was having fun, so he left her to it. Tony Tony was thrashing around, and looked like he was using the kinds of words that make rushing wind a bonus. Greg yelled at him to calm down but his words were swallowed too, it probably didn’t matter though, Tony Tony had great survival instincts, he would pull the cord before he hit the ground.
Suddenly the sky cleared under his feet, and Greg dropped into clean and clear sunshine. He was elated, then a moment later, confused; very, very confused. He pulled his rip cord so he could get a better look.
It looked like the beetle from a horror movie he had seen as a child; in that it was at least twenty stories high. Then he noticed that the area behind it was devoid of trees, and he understood.
“It’s a tree clearer”, he said aloud, “A mobile lumber factory. That’s incredible!”
He noticed that Tony Tony had opened his chute as well, and was drifting down next to him, giving him a funny look. “And an apocalypse”, he added, “I can see why the Dryads are upset. But still you have to admit this is clever; think of the profit margins on this thing!”
Tony Tony just smiled and shook his head, and together they took in the sight in front of them.
“I say we land a little way away”, said Greg, “that way we can check out the guards and the procedures”
“Nah,” said Tony Tony, “The sun’s starting to go down, I say we just land on it, go the ‘honored diplomat’ route, it’s always worked before.”
Greg nodded, and together the two men drifted down.