Today, I am sharing a few of my favorite parts of Brumbletide and the Triad Champion. I love Chapter 3: A King’s Tears because it gives some insight into what exactly Pippin is doing in Castle Emily. Christians might find Maggie’s vision familiar…

Chapter 3: A King’s Tears

The next class is Academics with Queen Mother Felberta in Soleil Tower. I have never been more glad to be in the dark and dreary tower, even if there is a creepy white dragon head mounted to the ceiling above us. Aren’t heads of animals usually on walls? Soleil Tower, like Justice, has many levels, and today we are at the very top. Science and Math are taught here, but the equipment and techniques used by Queen Mother Felberta are by no means ordinary for high school. All around us are dusty beakers and bottles containing strange liquids, dead reptiles, and even human organs. These are by no means the most disturbing; large wooden beds with leather straps stand erect, leaving one only to guess what is done to someone in them. Tall metal walls full of bulky Frankensteinish switches are creepy décor that pop and spark randomly during lessons. I try to imagine little spikey-haired Soleil, so spunky and vivacious, working experiments and equations here. She is the Queen of Science and Mathematics.

Despite all the creepiness and dreariness, it’s warm, and I’m not expected to climb two hundred feet. Queen Mother Felberta is at the head of the class wearing large black goggles; her short grey hair pokes out of the strap and top of her crown. Her pointy nose looks even more pointy between the circular lenses, and thick black rubber gloves cover her hands and arms all the way to the elbows.

“Good day, your majesties,” she says kindly. “We have an exciting class today. Give me one moment to clean up; we were picking brains last period.” She giggles a strange giggle at her pun.

The desks of Soleil Tower are old, tattered, and wooden. Nothing nice is needed for dissecting, burning, and blowing things up. Calysta is next to me.

“I’m doomed,” I whisper. “And I’m mortified. We were to climb George Tower this morning in Hoplology. I couldn’t even get five feet up.”

“Ugh, we had to do that yesterday. Isn’t it the worst? I hate it.”

“Were you able to climb it? How high did you get?”

“I went the whole way, but it was awful.”

My cheeks burn.

Queen Mother Felberta emerges from a closet now looking like a perfectly splendid queen.

“Alright, class, I need a volunteer.”

No one raises their hand. This is because Nathan Youngblood’s hair is just now growing back from when he decided to volunteer a month ago. I hesitate, waiting for someone else to offer, but a small voice in my head taunts, “redeem yourself from the morning,” and the next thing I know, my hand is in the air.

“Ah! Princess Maggie. Excellent. Come up here with me, please.”

As I trudge past the student’s rickety desks and wide eyes, Queen Mother Felberta rolls out a gigantic coffin.

Of course.
            She pops open the lid revealing that it is about half full of water.

“Today, we are studying sensory deprivation. Princess Maggie here is our specimen. My dear, hop inside and make yourself comfortable. I’ll have a Snickerling bring you another gown.”

Unable to speak because my throat has closed, I silently step into the coffin and sit in the water.

“You have to lay down, Princess,” says Queen Mother Felberta helping me lay back into the lukewarm water. Now, all but my face is submerged. 

“See you soon,” Queen Mother Felberta says, but right before closing the lid, adds, “It might be a while.”

I am now in complete silence and darkness and water. My throat is still closed, and my heart is beating so hard I think it’s touching my ribs. I start breathing through my mouth, taking large gulps of air, but this seems to make my head spin. I close my lips and breathe through my nostrils, fighting the urge to gulp air again. Slowly, my muscles relax, and I float in the water. Slowly, my throat opens, and my shoulders loosen. The class could have up and left for all I know because I can’t hear a thing. Slowly, the blackness seems to blend with my thoughts, and images appear in a way that I’m no longer sure if they are in or out of my head…

Yes, yes, I see crowns and gowns, scepters and thrones—royals in a room with glimmering chandeliers, flames dancing among them. Everyone is smiling and laughing. I see Calysta and Atticus dancing together. She is teasing him as usual, and he is blushing. I smile watching them. My foot taps to the Snickerling’s song.

At once, they are dry bones.

In the lavish Throne Room, gowns and crowns sparkle through the pile of hideous rubble. What has happened to everyone? My stomach lurches seeing both Atticus and Calysta’s crowns laying together amongst the debris.

Two antlers appear in one of the balconies. A great White Stag peers down at the mess of decayed bodies. He is crying, and I cry. Whatever happened here, there is no hope—all is lost. The Stag continues to cry. He hangs his regal head over the edge, and his tears become larger and larger as they fall, splashing with such mighty splashes on the bones that I fear everything will wash away. The Stag leaps from the balcony and walks on the pool—walks right on top of it. Giant tears continue to fall from his brilliant green eyes, and as they do, something miraculous happens.

The bones raise.

Skeletons are walking around, wobbling on their unsteady legs. Pippin picks crowns out of the mess with his antlers, drawing some out of the water as they float by and setting them on the heads of some of the skeletons. Those skeletons, in turn, begin picking up crowns themselves and placing them on the heads of others. In a short time, all the bones have become skeletons, and every skeleton is either giving or receiving a crown. But now the water is so much and so great that it covers everyone. The only one above it is Pippin, who crouches on the water, looking down into it at all the royal skeletons about to drown. He seems to be counting them—making sure they are all there, maybe?  He bobs along the waves doing this until finally, he stops counting. He stands, his great crown gleaming brilliantly between his glorious antlers. At once, the lake of the dead parts; each side rushes up the Throne Room’s walls and escapes out of the upper windows.  As the water parts, Pippin lowers into the midst of not skeletons but beautiful royals kneeling all around him. The brightness of their gowns and crowns is almost too much for me to look upon.

The lid opens. Queen Mother Felberta smiles down at me. “All done.”

She takes my hand and helps me out of the coffin. Snickerlings bring towels and dry me off a bit.

“Would you mind telling us your experience?” asks Queen Mother Felberta.

My face in my hands, I shake my head. “Can I gather myself a minute, Queen Mother?”

“Ah, you’ve hallucinated. How lucky! Yes, we’ll discuss it after you get changed. Use my office.” She turns to the class full of curious faces. “Class is dismissed for today.”

With disappointed groans, the class gathers their things as the conical roof opens and Snickerlings bring carpets to fly them to High Noon Fare. Calysta waves down to me just before disappearing into a cloud above.

Queen Mother Felberta runs her fingers along the glass jars on an old dusty shelf and stops at a small one containing a long, squishy pinkish organ. Written on some tape is “Tongue of Man.” When she pulls the jar, the shelf moves to the side, revealing a spiral stone staircase lit by torchless flames and Miriam, the Snickerling doomed to die before Pippin rescued her.

“Follow me, Princess.”

As Felberta, Miriam, and I descend the winding stairs, I am able to peak into other levels of Soleil Tower, ones we haven’t yet explored in Academics. You would never know one of them was inside a building because it looks to really be outer space! Wes has certainly not seen this, or he would have already talked my head off about it.

“The Heavens,” calls Queen Mother Felberta behind her. “Only for Last Years, Rexes, and Reginas.”

Calysta told me about Rexes and Reginas. They are sort of leaders of their year. I’ll have to tell Wes.

A few more stories down, Felberta unlocks a giant dungeony door and lets Miriam and me into her office. Her desk is extremely messy, books are scattered everywhere, some laying open as if she began reading but got distracted by another, and then another. There is a bookshelf, but most of the books are gone or stacked sideways. A blackboard is covered in chalk with equations I could never hope to figure, and another giant white dragon, not just the head, hangs from the ceiling as the only decoration. It is very lizard-like and has a fierce expression, nothing like the pint-sized, lumpy warmouth that belongs to Soleil.

“Go ahead and change in here. I’ll be right back.” Queen Mother Felberta pulls the heavy door closed with a thud.

Miriam helps me with my gown.

“Miriam! It’s good to see you! I’m so happy you’re alive.”

“Thanks to you, ma’am,” she replies sweetly, tying my sash. She flies backward and looks me over. “Perfect.” Then coming in close, she whispers, “And now that you are Head of Castle, all will be well with my kind again.” She beams as she flies to the door, opens it like it isn’t the least bit heavy at all, and is gone.

My stomach sinks. Why is she so confident? It is true that Snickerlings will probably not be killed for their magic now that Julian and Louie are dead, but Michelle’s spirit is still in the hearts of everyone loyal to Emily Castle, and we have yet to find the stones of the Seven. As long as they are missing, the ancestors cannot leave the Axiom or they’ll die. In awful addition, we have placed trust in Lenore, who surely wants me dead, to help us with it all. Speaking of Snickerlings, a bunch of them were helping Lenore try to kill us! Here’s to hoping they’ve all reformed.

“Knock, knock,” says Queen Mother Felberta as she cracks open the door. Seeing I’m ready, she breezes in. “Have a seat, Princess.” She sets a roughed up wooden chair in front of her messy desk. “Watch out for splinters.”

I carefully take a seat, and Felberta leans back on her desk, crunching some papers beneath her bum.

“Tell me what happened in the chamber.”

“I saw a vision…er…or maybe it was a dream?”

“Hallucinations are common in sensory deprivation. It was probably a vision. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.”

Her last words take me by surprise. “Oh. Well, I saw loads of students in the Throne Room dancing and having a good time when suddenly, they dropped dead and were just a pile of bones! Then Pippin came—”

“The King,” Felberta says under her breath.

“Yes. Pippin came, and he was crying. But his tears became an ocean of sorts and somehow brought the royals back to life.”

Queen Mother Felberta’s eyes are as wide as saucers. “Anything else?”

“Not that I can remember.”

“This is no dream, Princess. With recent events, it is no surprise you’ve seen what you have.” She looks around as if something will appear suddenly in the air. Staring off into another world, she whispers, “Pippin is on the move. Anything can happen now.”

A thrill, both exciting and frightening, creeps through my skin. The “recent events” she speaks of is the defeat of the wicked ancestor, Michelle, by the great White Stag, Pippin—does she know about that? The return and then the dreadful exit of the six ancestors, George, Flori, Justice, Eve, Soleil, and Sara Lisa, whose stones that keep them immortal outside of Brumbletide have yet to be found. The escape of the ex-Head of Academy, King Julian, and his accomplice, Lenore’s husband, King Louie—I killed them both with the Scepter of the Seven and still haven’t come to grips with it. The Lux Sea turning to blood, signaling that Pippin is likely eradicating evil from Emily once and for all, but that war is probably imminent as well. And lastly, Pippin showing up during the fight between Lenore’s Snickerlings and the Boggletrice Company, terrifying Lenore and causing her to agree to step down and make me Head of Emily Castle. She also agreed to help us find the stones that were stolen from the Six so that they can leave Brumbletide and rule Emily with me.

As you can see, it’s been an average run-of-the-mill school year so far. Sheesh!

Queen Mother Felberta has come back to earth. “I won’t have you tell the class. We’ll discuss something else. You should, however, tell King McShanihan. Now go, hurry to High Noon Fare before you miss the meal.”

She heaves the great door open and whistles a loud whistle with her forefinger and thumb to her lips. In seconds, Snickerlings have brought a white carpet. I bid Queen Mother Felberta goodbye, and the Snickerlings fly me through the stairwells and then out of the conical roof to one of the high windows of the Throne Room. Inside, Atticus and Calysta greet me warmly. The balcony is loaded with a magnificent feast for High Noon Fare. Starving, I immediately take a seat on the third throne and pile my crystal plate full of fish and chips.

Have yet to discover the magic of Brumbletide? Find it here!