Flushed! Part 3:
Dee commented, “Man...that is so cold. I hope I am their king. I'll give you guys a beat down.”
Ganga only chortled, “You're in no position to threaten us, lad.” Yelling at all the Bweebles, “Now...be gone out of my presence before the rest of your crops are also set aflame.” Then, Ganga sneered at Dee. “Now...you are to march right to the Bweeble Empty Palace.” He pointed to three of the soldiers, “You three come with me to accompany this young lad. We'll see if he'll complete the challenges and if the Bweeble prophecy would indeed come true. If not...we'll take him to the Emperor. He'll have you drawn and quartered.” To the remaining soldiers, he barked at them. “You three will have the wagon delivered with the Emperor's phystia. If any of the beasts stumble, cut them from their harnesses and...just dispose of them.”
One of the soldiers in charge of the wagon and the Bweeble women who pull it, went up to the one harnessed at the front to the left. Slapping her on the back of her nearly bald head, the team of Bweeble slaves began hauling the heavy load. It was difficult telling the women Bweebles from the men. The women had worn the work dresses. That was really the only distinguishing features between the men and women.
De'Angelo was outraged by how cruel the Goya were, but there was nothing he could do to stop them—for now. Ganga gave Dee a shove on the shoulder, and he had to place a foot out to avoid hitting the ground. “Get moving. Follow that road.” For a time he had followed the wagon until the roadway came to an intersection. The wagon made a turn to the left, and he and his group of soldiers went to the right. Up a cliff over a half-mile away he could see a palace so shiny from its gold plating that it gleamed almost blindingly in the sunshine. As they walked silently, Dee noticed how brown and dried up most of the vegetation was. Any trees were barren of any leaves, and he occasionally glanced back at the Bweeble wheat field with flames whirling around monstrously high and smoke billowing towards the cloudless sky.
“Hey...Ganga,” confronted Dee.
The muscle-bound slave master turned around and smacked him across the face, knocking him to the ground. De'Angelo clutched his aching jaw. “Man!” he cried. “What was that for?”
“You will address me as 'sir.' Is that understood?”
“Okay, sir.” Dee said that with a high degree of sarcastic anger.
“Now, get up. And do not speak to me unless I request you to speak. Just head to the Palace.”
Pushing up off the ground, Dee longed to go back home. He thought of his shoes and wondered if they would give him the means to leave this terrible world like in a movie. However, he didn't dare stop to try with these huge soldier guys surrounding him with their weapons. Dee attempted to project bravery, but he was scared—the most he ever had been in his life.
With the Sun beating down on him and his shoes and socks still squishing wet, Dee's feet and legs throbbed. He wasn't certain he could take another step. The dirt roadway, which had become weed-infested from the lack of use, continuously sloped upwards, making the trek that much more challenging. To make matters worse, the soldiers and Ganga carried canteens and made sure their thirsts were quenched. They even pulled out dried pieces of meat, similar to beef jerky, from below their metal chest plates. These Goyas seemed to enjoy rubbing it into those they had power over.
As they finally ambled their way up to the Palace grounds, Dee could see orchards of some type of tree that once produced glorious fruit, but were now just as lifeless as the ones he saw traveling here. That was to the left of him, but after that was what must have been a vineyard with rows of grapevines. Only, weeds had intertwined themselves with the grape plants and whatever fruit actual grew was mostly eaten by animals or birds. To the very left of the Palace was something similar to a basketball court. He saw six poles carved from tree trunks and attached at a height greater than the typical ten feet Dee was used to and positioned at an angle were baskets carved from hollowed-out wood. The one soldier carrying a sword had used it as a machete, clearing away the thick weeds so they could easily maneuver to the strange looking basketball court.
The hexagonal court was separated from the vineyard by a high brick wall that wrapped itself around all sides with the exception of the one closest to the Palace. Each pole and basket stood evenly spaced apart right at the center, as opposed to the ends of a traditional one back in Dee's world. When Ganga stepped onto the court his armored boots chipped away at the surface made from some kind of tan clay and smoothed over by transparent varnish. It was slippery to walk on as Dee planted the soles of his shoes on the top. Ganga reached over a ledge and found a leather-bound ball, smaller than a basketball, close to the size of school playground ball.
“Oh...future king. You stand on the markings on the floor with the sketches of a crown. You have to fling the ball into each basket. Notice...the markings get farther and farther away with each basket.”
“Excuse me...Mr. Ganga, sir.” Ganga came stomping over towards Dee as he prepared his arms to block another hit from the Goya.
“You, worm, dare speak to me. I—”
“According to what's the orange dude's name again...? Hyphyn, is it? There are two challenges and I don't think I have to do both. There's a drawing challenge. I'd like to see that one.”
Surprisingly, Ganga did not strike the boy, but gave commands to the lead soldier in an unrecognizable language. The soldier vacated the court and went around to the palace entrance, parting the solid wood double doors, disappearing inside. Ganga explained to Dee, “Dirn went to go find this other challenge. I do remember the fabled prophecy claiming another challenge.”
A moment of awkward silence followed as the rest of the group waited for Dirn to return. It seemed to take hours, and Ganga spoke. “Huh...Dirn hasn't returned. There either is not another challenge or the fool got lost.”
Dirn, at that point, appeared outside the palace entrance and motioned for Ganga to go inside. Altogether, Dee and the Goyas meandered over to where Dirn had signaled, and they stopped just short of entering. Struggling to explain, Dirn explained to Ganga. “Go...ah, this way...signs prints dragon throne draw.”
The manner of his speech was amusing to Dee because the Goya sounded so unintelligent. Laughing and snorting, Dee commented, “What did he just say? Dang, the dude needs to learn how to talk.”
“Lad, he's a common class Goya...their only purpose in life is to obey and be prepared to fight. They never get any schooling,” Ganga grunted out this reality of Goya life. “But...I know what he's saying. We must head to the throne room.”
As they passed through the front doors, Dee noticed the luxurious foyer greeting anyone visiting the palace. The walls and floor were lined with black and white marble. From the wooden ceiling, encrusted with clear quartz crystals, each the size of Dee's thumb dangled a shimmering chandelier, lined with ten diamond covered candle holders. About 100 feet away was a staircase with marble steps that matched the bulk of the foyer. Wooden hand rails intricately carved with little swirls in them were attached to the two walls of the staircase. Dee noticed faint claw prints, as large as a four-wheeler, scarring the marble floor and leading straight up the staircase. Each print took up three steps at a time and the band of Goyas and Dee walked wherever they saw them lead.
Eventually, up the stairs they came to a grand royal hall that had a plush red carpet and the dragon prints were visible as outlines of dirt, instead of the imbedded ones in the marble flooring outside the room. Three chandeliers, duplicates of the one down in the foyer, hung over head from the high-arching ceiling that had the same wood and quartz crystal as downstairs. The hall resembled a church sanctuary with pews on either side of the red carpet. Ending at a double-sided throne on a platform three steps high, Dee strolled down the carpet. To the right of the throne was a picture of the Ruby Dragon, just as Hyphyn described and it was leaning against an easel. Another easel to the right of that had an empty canvas with sketching instruments that were like chalky crayons.
De'Angelo noticed the double-throne had one side that faced all the pews and another towards a window that the Bweeble king could look out and observe the kingdom. The two easels were in front of the side of the throne that faced the pews. He took to studying the detailed picture of the Ruby Dragon and nodded confidently to himself. Dee had created alien beings, fantastic worlds, and made-up superheroes in action all with more features than this image before him.
Cynically, Ganga inquired of him. “So, future Bweeble king...which challenge is it?”
“Well, I'm all right at the basketball out there, but this challenge...no sweat. What are you gonna do when I finish it and the Ruby Dragon shows up?”
“Ha...I'm pretty sure that even if you complete this challenge, there will be no Ruby Dragon. The Bweebles have spread this fairy tale for centuries. No Goya Emperor had ever witnessed such a creature. Besides, my men and I...we can handle any dragon. We'll capture it and make it do our bidding. Then we wouldn't need Bweebles. We could put them out of their miseries. Now get drawing.”
Dragging the easel with the blank canvas and drawing utensils over to the throne chair, he noted how plush and comfortable the blue violet seat was. After that hike up to the palace, he was grateful to rest his feet. Before he began his task, he examined the original impression carefully.
“Hurry up, lad! I think you're stalling because you can't draw it,” Ganga snarled accusingly.
However, Dee just ignored him and concentrated. Finally, he scrawled an outline on the canvas with a black crayon. It was such a smooth instrument that allowed him to control the thickness of each area. Then, he grabbed crayons of various shades of red and green. Each of the soldiers had now relaxed on the pews as Ganga watched Dee slowly make an exact copy of the dragon. For his part, he had almost hoped the Ruby Dragon would show up just so he could subdue it and take control of it—he might consider overthrowing the Emperor. He was awestruck with Dee's artistic ability.
After painstakingly diagramming the rest of the dragon, Dee had put away his final crayon. Then, he beheld his achievement and admired how well he actually did. Every detail from the original he replicated and he wondered if it was good enough to raise the Ruby Dragon. Dee really hoped that he had fulfilled the Bweeble prophecy and not only rescue them from the iron fist rule of the Goyas, but he wanted to escape from this land and prevent any harm from happening to him. So far, there was no sign of any dragon.
Hanging his head in shame and defeat, Dee was almost in tears over his vain attempt at completing this challenge. Ganga only laughed at him. “Well, lad...it looks like your dragon isn't showing. Dirn,” he shouted to the soldier lying on the front pew to the right. Dirn bounded to his feet. “Take your sword. Cut this 'king' in half right from the top of his head until his body lies in two sections.”
The soldier drooled in satisfaction. “Dirn love to sword split him. Try cut I one try.” He might have been a brainless thug, but Dirn must have enjoyed this part of being a Goya soldier.
For Dee, his breathing and heart rate jumped as he watched the enormous man withdraw his razor-edged sword from its sheath, and the man lumbered towards him with the blade already prepared to strike. The only thing his mind could think of was to run away, but the platform he was on did not give him much room. Dee would risk an escape, regardless. Ganga stood in his way, but he dodged around him football-style and sprinted towards the right side of the room. All the soldiers sprung up off the pews and they readied their battle-axes. Dee was faster as he ran along the aisle to the extreme right of the pews, but he would have to somehow figure out how to get to the center of the royal hall and the red carpet. He leapt onto the seat of the last pew in the hall and made a dash towards the main carpeted walkway.
Only, one of the men with a battle-axe was right at the end, waiting for him. He tried backing up towards the end aisle again, but the other soldiers, including Dirn and Ganga had been coming at him from all angles. Dee had no escape. The boy cried out, “C'mon, now! Don't cut me in two. That's not nice!”
“There's no escape. You will now die.” Ganga had his monster sword drawn and seeing that his situation had been hopeless, he started shutting his eyes, when he noticed that there would most likely be enough space for him to crawl underneath the pews.
Just as Ganga brought his sword down, Dee did a shallow dive underneath, bashing his chin on the marble floor, biting through his tongue. The boy yelled in pain as Ganga shouted in irritation for missing him. Dee had to push through and not allow his injured tongue and chin to slow his egress. He glided along the smooth flooring and paid attention to the armored boots that gave away the position of each Goya. Ganga screamed at the other soldiers,
“There he is! I can't fit through these rows enough to strike him. Neither can you guys. Start tossing over these pews.” Attempting to add an air of hopelessness, Ganga growled, “Okay, lad. You're only delaying the inevitable.”
Dee froze as he heard the Goyas hurl each pew and they landed on the hard floor with a thud. They certainly had the strength to throw them effortlessly, but they must have started with the ones up near the throne platform. So, Dee scurried over to the red carpet and emerged just two pews from the exit. However, as he stood up, Dirn was now right next to the boy. The soldier was nearly ready to toss his next pew, but dropped it to ready his sword. Not waiting for him to swing the weapon, Dee dashed out of the royal hall while the Goyas all stumbled out behind him, not even close to catching up to him.
Ganga hollered at Dee, “You may be running ahead of us, but we will catch you. We Goyas will hunt you down. Surrender and we'll make your death a quick one with as little pain as possible.”
In Dee's mind, those words were nothing but crazy talk. He planned on surviving his brush with the Goyas somehow. Dee had skipped several steps as he pranced down the staircase and he passed through the foyer to the outer courtyard where he planned on trotting along the pathway carved through the overgrown weeds. He briefly stopped and turned to see how far back his pursuers were, but that was a terrible mistake because Ganga had only lagged behind him by ten feet at the least swinging a leather-made bolas above him. Before he could continue his escape, Ganga released his weapon which wrapped around Dee's ankles, tripping the ten-year-old face first on the prickly ground below.
The preteen boy twisted around to find Ganga with his sword raised and he fought back tears at the realization that there was truly no escape for him. If I'm gonna die, he thought, I might as well take it like a man. Sorry, Bweebles that I couldn't help you.
“Now, you little maggot, I'll dash you into pieces. You should have stopped when I called you.” Ganga's teeth all blackened with decay, shown through his grinning lips. All Dee could do was shut his eyes and prepared for the first slice. No matter how hard he tried, tears streamed down his cheeks from the corner of his eyes.
A roar that echoed throughout this fantastic world had seemed to delay Ganga's first blow from his sword. Dee cracked one lid and found the sky above the Goya slave master twinkling red. Then, another roar rattled his bones and Ganga seemed to stumble about as the ground shook from that thunderous noise above head. Just hovering maybe twenty feet in the air was the Ruby Dragon with its bat-like wings extended and its claws curled up against its body. The creature was both strikingly beautiful and menacing to behold. With its ruby scales it twinkled in the sunlight with the gaudiness of a house decorated with way too many Christmas lights.
Ganga forgot about killing Dee, and shouted to his soldiers all cowering in terror over what they were witnessing. “Don't just stand there, you cowards. Attack it...attack it!”
Dirn spoke for the other three. “Dragon how no attack not know.” He had his sword drawn, and he swung it towards the beast, but couldn't even reach it. The soldiers all swatted the air above them, but the dragon lunged at the Goyas and pummeled them all with his great tail. They all went sailing into the overgrown weeds over to the left of the palace. Dee wasn't certain what the dragon had planned and he just lay on the ground, hoping he would somehow not be harmed by the creature.
Then, it spoke to Dee, staring at him with its emerald-colored eyes. “Get up, sire. Unwrap the bolas from your legs and climb up on my back.”
De'Angelo sat up and said, “You talk? Are you gonna kill me?”
“You fulfilled the prophecy, breaking the Emperor's curse...and now I'm free. You are the king of the Bweebles and together we will rebuild the beauty and glory of the once proud people.” As the dragon had conversed with Dee, the Goyas managed to push themselves out of the weeds and attacked the dragon from behind.
“Look out!” Dee pointed.
The Ruby Dragon turned and in one flaming breath set the Goyas on fire. Each of the burning soldiers, including Ganga, fell back into the weeded overgrowth, writhing and shrieking out in agony. Dee could hardly believe his eyes or his nose. He had never witnessed such a thing before, but he was glad those Goyas wouldn't be able to cut him into pieces or mistreat the Bweebles anymore. He undid the bolas from his legs and he found it easy to climb up on the ruby scales of the dragon and found one smooth spot right behind its neck. Grasping two ruby scales flanking the sides of the neck, Dee held on tight as the dragon soared into the sky. In the distance Dee could see a castle and the creature flew straight for it.
“Where are we going?” Dee wondered.
“You're going to destroy the Goya's castle and their emperor.”
This seemed to be a strange statement from the dragon. “Uh...you mean you're gonna destroy them, right?”
“Well, I'll help. Pull off one of my ruby scales and then toss it on the ground.” Looking to his right, he plucked one near the top of the dragon's wing. Below was the roadway that Dee and the Goyas took to get to the Empty Palace. The intersection where his group of ruffians split from the harnessed Bweeble women burdened with pulling that wagon full of phystia was quickly coming into view. Dee chucked the ruby scale at dead center of the intersection and a scarlet beam of light the diameter of an old oak tree escaped from somewhere in the sky, through the jewel, and hitting the graveled surface below as a slender ray. The dirt and the ground underneath melted into molten rock, generating an ever-growing sinkhole that threatened to not only swallow up the entire intersection, but much of the dried-out vegetation on all sides. All in all a hole maybe 100 feet deep and 100 feet in diameter was what now remained.
“Now,” chuckled the dragon. “Think of what will happen to someone like the emperor or anyone else.”
“Hey, Dragon. Once we destroy the Goya Emperor and his castle, how can we restore the Bweebles back into, you know, less orange and healthier people?” Another concern had entered Dee's mind.
“Hey, suppose there's like Bweeble slaves needing rescuing or in the castle perhaps there are Bweebles locked in a dungeon.”
“Hmm...I suppose we'll go and free any slaves after we destroy the castle and the emperor. But as for those in a dungeon, Goyas never hold prisoners for long. They execute them as soon as possible or enslave them.”
“Well, let's start with those girls they had hooked up to pull a wagon. Can you believe that? They treat them like animals.”
Finally, they passed over a thicket of woods and into the land of the Goyas. Throughout this region everyone had lived in a small castle, but at the middle of everything sat one with fifty or so lookout towers and sprawled an area of at least 10 acres. It was surrounded by a moat and at the center of the castle was a clay-surfaced courtyard. Dee located the wagon from earlier that had been loaded with phystia. “Where are those Bweeble girls that were pulling that wagon?”
Goyas throughout the land pointed up at the Ruby Dragon and Dee could tell they all dreaded the sight of the beast. They scrambled into their stone-reinforced castles, but over at the central royal structure, a drawbridge lowered across the moat. Goya soldiers on horseback, armed with bows and arrows charged out to confront the Ruby Dragon. As their arrows made contact with the jewel encrusted hide of the beast, ruby scales became dislodged. Beams of light like before streaked from the sky, opening up several magma-filled sinkholes, destroying all the main roadways going to and from this land. In one breath, the Ruby Dragon set aflame a score of horseback-riding Goyas. After a second fire-laced exhale, all of the attacking archers were now disabled. Their screams made Dee wince at their fiery deaths, but he just shrugged it off, saying aloud, “Man...I'd hate to be them.”
The dragon swooped down into the courtyard and Dee could see four wooden entrances back into the castle. Hopping from one entrance to the next, the dragon used its front talons to pulverize each of them. Bweeble women, the ones who pulled the wagon, surfaced from one of the entrances to check out what the commotion was all about, and they all rejoiced at the sight of the Ruby Dragon.
“The Prophecy. It's coming true,” one of the women cried out.
Due to the size of all the women, Dee was greatly relieved they could all fit on the dragon's back and escape their captivity. He motioned for them to get on board and they clambered upon the creature. “Hang on!” Dee advised them. Lifting into the air, Dee spotted a man dressed head to toe in gems and a gold encrusted robe. The Goya man stood in front of a cauldron two stories high and ten feet across. He turned a wheel that began tipping the simmering liquid inside towards the moat.
“That must be that stuff that make you Bweebles bright orange,” Dee Surmised. Plucking a ruby from the thick hide of the dragon, he dropped it right on the cauldron. A ray of light and the man and the pot vaporized.
Behind Dee, a Bweeble woman hollered, “You got the Emperor!” The ground underneath where the Emperor had been became molten lava. Dee dropped several more rubies on other areas of the castle and the land surrounded by the moat became a lake of magma, the entire structure became swallowed up by it all.
They flew off to the Bweeble village, which was a nothing but a series of tent dwellings. Dee landed in what seemed to be the center and the Bweeble women climbed off the dragon. All the Bweebles rushed out of their tents to greet them and to hug them each tightly. The women explained the death of the Emperor, the destruction of the vile phystia substance, and the total collapse of the castle. Hyphyn grabbed Dee by the wrist and shook it with all his might.
“You are the Prophetic king. We can start opening the Empty Palace and return it to its once gloried state.”
Dee shrugged his shoulders, “Look, I can't stay here and be your king. I'm really not from here. I'm glad to defeat the Goyas for you, but Hyphyn, you seem to be the kingly type.”
“Are you granting me...kingship?” His neon orange face beamed brighter than normal, and he was greatly honored.
“So, how are you guys gonna reverse the effects of that poison or whatever it was?”
“Well, a few drops of dragon blood into our water supply should begin the process, but we would need to request from the Ruby Dragon if he'd donate some.” Hyphyn bowed his head humbly towards the dragon.
“I'm happy to help the Bweebles restore their land.” The Ruby Dragon bolted into the air, headed upstream, and eventually injuring his own hide just to mix his blood into the water supply.
“Now, how do I get outta here? I gotta meet up with the guys at the park. Man, they probably played without me or couldn't get a court.” Dee shook his skull knowing his buddies would give him plenty of grief over missing their chance at attaining a court.
“Just go back up through the drain. There's a lever down in the cave that reverses the flow,” admitted Hyphyn.
“Do you know where it is? Can you do the lever and I'll just climb up?”
“Oh, it'll just suck you in.”
“Hyphyn, I'm not sure if all the Goya soldiers were destroyed...they could, you know, still mess with you guys. The dragon burned up some of them, but they're still physically larger than all of you.”
“Now that the Ruby Dragon has been released, he's better than any Goya soldiers. Maybe the Goyas will be willing to negotiate peace with us...and all the lands they had previously conquered and oppressed.” Scratching his bald scalp, he asked Dee, “Are you sure you want to pass up being the Bweeble King? You'd have Bweebles waiting on you. You'd have a pick of any female in the Bweeble kingdom.”
“Naw...I'm just a kid. And I already have a girl that I kind'a like. I gotta go back to my family. I even miss Kayla, my little sister. She's partly responsible for me being here.” Dee never imagined in his life he would appreciate that three-year-old pest.
All the Bweebles lined up and hugged him with the utmost affection and appreciation. They bid Dee a fond farewell as he and Hyphyn followed the trail by the stream into the cave. Before going inside, Dee beheld the wheat field that had been completed burned away. “Hyphyn, man...what are you gonna do about the wheat?”
“Down in the Empty Palace, well in the cellar, are stores and stores of harvested wheat. It was preserved in an ancient Bweeble process that allows food from plants to last for nearly a thousand years. We'll tap into that. We'll be fine.” Hyphyn and Dee sauntered side-by-side until they found the drain. “When you see the water no longer flowing out, but up into the drain, then it's ready for you.”
Hyphyn disappeared down the branch of the cave where Dee first saw him and his little wheelbarrow full of phystia. Dee realized he would have to get his shoes wet once more, but as long as he could return home, it was a minor inconvenience. Then, he watched as water from the stream began vacuuming up into the drain, and Dee waded into the water. “Oh man, that's cold.” He wasn't quite used to the chilled creek, but he trudged on until his body ascended into the drain. Complete darkness surrounded him as well as the coolness of the wetness around him. De'Angelo's head was the only part of him out of the water. He twisted and spun. It was like a water park slide, but going against gravity. Finally, Dee shot out of the toilet in the bathroom in his home. Now, he stood on his feet without a single drop of water on him.
Moving his eyes around, he recognized the bathroom. His little sister had been beating her fists against the door. “Brother...be done. Kayla gotta go potty.”
“C'mon, De'Angelo. Get out of there. Isn't that toilet unclogged?” The voice of his mother was reassuring. Standing to the side of the toilet, so as not to accidentally fall in again, he pressed the handle and it flushed uninhibited.
Dee wondered how long he had been gone. “Yeah, Mom. It's flushing fine now.” Glancing at the window it didn't seem to be any later in the day than when he first began his adventure in Bweeble world. He stopped to peer down at the toilet, curious over whether or not he could see that strange land through the commode. However, it was nothing but porcelain.
Kayla pounded and whined more at the door. His mom screamed, “Dee, you need to be grounded? Now, get out of there. I thought you were playing with your friends at the park.”
Fortunately, his shoes had also been fully dry. Once more, he brushed his hands along his hair and his head, trying to look as good as possible. “Amari won't be able to take her eyes off of me,” he mused. “Okay, Mom. I'm coming out. You won't believe what happened to me.”
Opening the door, he scooted past his sister, patted her head, and said, “Sorry I made you wait so long.” He went down to the living room and explained his experiences with the Bweebles and the Ruby Dragon to his mother. She just smiled, happy that her oldest child was growing up, but still filled with imagination.