“Okay then, Montgomery the Moose and friends, let’s get started,” said the great purple dragon who called himself The Scary Stanley.

Montgomery wasn’t sure what that meant. He was just happy to be reunited with most of his friends, although he was concerned about where Tommy was.

He waited for The Scary Stanley to say more about what he wanted Montgomery to do, but the dragon said nothing. After a pause, Montgomery realized that The Scary Stanley was waiting for him.

“So…” Montgomery started, hoping that something would follow. Nothing. He gave up. “What am I supposed to be doing again?”

The dragon took a breath as if about to start a long speech, and started with drama in his voice, “Magic is broken -”

“Yeah, magic is broken, I got that part,” interrupted Montgomery. “But, I mean, so what? What does it matter?”

“What?” the dragon balked, taken aback by this question.

“Yeah,” Montgomery the Mouse chimed in from his Moose friend’s head. “Good question! Why does it matter that magic is broken?”

“Hey yeah, good point,” added Jerry. Roger wanted to support her friends, but she wasn’t thrilled with being such a different size, and figured it probably had something to do with the whole magic being broken thing.

Dorothy stepped forward and turned to face Montgomery the Moose. He lowered his eyes when he saw her in front of him. She was minuscule compared with the forty-foot purple dragon behind her, but she commanded quite a presence.

“It matters,” she said simply, “because it is endangering our whole world.”

There was silence. Some of the friends seemed shocked by this announcement, while others seemed uninterested.

“Huh?” Montgomery the Moose finally responded.

“The entrance, from Maine,” Dorothy began. “That hasn’t always been there. It started as just a crack – an opening you could see through. Twenty-one years ago.”

“Wait, Mom, how do you know all this?” Jerry asked.

“Like I said, kid, she’s been here before,” replied Fred the Chocolate Lab.

“It’s true,” Dorothy replied. “Like I’ve told you before, my parents discovered the crack in space which led here (I don’t know how else to describe it), but at the time there was no way to get through. And when it opened wider, they didn’t think we should be in this world; it’s too different, they said, like it doesn’t belong, or we don’t… but…” she stopped herself, and then decided it was time, “your father was sure we had to be here.”

“My… father?” Jerry answered in shock.

“Yes, your father,” Dorothy replied. She felt an urge to give Jerry a hug, but couldn’t tell what was going on in his mind and decided to give him space.

Fred the Chocolate Lab nodded. He hadn’t seen Jerry since he was a baby, but being part of a team with both their parents, he felt he knew them, and was glad for Jerry to finally learn more about his family history.

“You… haven’t mentioned my father in years.” Jerry felt embarrassed to be having this conversation in front of so many friends and strangers, but he hadn’t started it, and now the floodgates were open, he didn’t feel he could close them again. “What does he have to with all this?”

“Jerry, this place was so important to him. We came here with Fred in search of the treasure from the map. We saw some amazing things. But we didn’t know what my parents’ map meant. There was never any treasure – not really. We went back home, but your father was sure there was something really important about this place. It was all he talked about. He was sure that this place held some secret that was tied to the history of our people. We came back, but still nothing. He started to think about other things, and when you and your brother came along, he loved spending time with you both more than anything. But one day he said he’d figured it all out, and he needed to come back here. He said he’d be back in a few days, but… he… never came back.”

“But…”

“We came to look for him. You wouldn’t remember. You were just a toddler. Tommy was a baby. Fred looked after you both while I looked all over for him.” Jerry looked at Fred, who confirmed with a nod. “It took weeks. But… I couldn’t find him. Eventually, we went home. Fred stayed behind to look for him.”

Jerry looked at Fred, and then back at his mom. This was a lot to take in.

“I’m sorry, Jerry. I really am,” Dorothy added. Again, she wanted to hug him, and moved towards him, but he wasn’t sure how to feel about any of this, and backed away.

“The good news,” Fred started, “is that I think he’s still alive. And I think he’s here somewhere.”

“What?!” Jerry shouted. Dorothy smiled – she had picked up as much from Fred earlier.

“Yeah, well, now that I remember my pre-magical life, and I’m around your mother’s wonderful scent again, I know that I’ve smelled something similar in the hills to the East of here.”

“He’s here?” Jerry asked in shock.

“Yeah, I think so,” Fred replied.

“Your dad is here?” Montgomery the Moose asked. He and the others had mostly been trying to ignore the conversation that was happening between Dorothy, Jerry and Fred. It had seemed too personal, and instead The Scary Stanley had been trying to convince them that Montgomery the Moose needed to do something soon. The way he talked about it, the whole universe was in danger, but everyone listening thought that was probably a bit much. If they had known what the word hyperbolic meant, they would have said that’s what it was – but none of them had ever heard that word, and many of them couldn’t pronounce it.

Jerry looked back at Montgomery, in response to the question about his father. He wasn’t sure how to answer it, so he just looked with a blank face.

“What’s his name?” Montgomery the Moose asked.

Again, Jerry looked lost. This whole thing was such a shock, and he hadn’t heard his father’s name for so long – and he only ever thought of him as “dad”- that he drew a blank.

“His name,” Fred interjected, “is Notmike.”

“Notmike?” Montgomery the Moose replied with a furrowed brow.

“Well – ” Dorothy tried to say.

“That’s a ridiculous name,” The Scary Stanley added.

Notmike? Really?” Roger joined in.

“Well, hold on,” Dorothy added, with a bit of a smile, but also somewhat insulted by everyone’s reaction. Her hand was out to let everyone know she had more to say. “His name was… is… Michael.”

“Michael?” The Scary Stanley replied, perking up his head as if catching a whiff of something.

“Yes, Michael. Fred liked to call him Notmike,” she continued as Fred shuffled around, a little embarrassed, “because Fred started calling him Mike instead of Michael, and when Michael said his name was not Mike, well… you can imagine the rest.”

“Michael…” The Scary Stanley mused.

“Yes, Michael,” Dorothy confirmed, before noticing the expression on the giant dragon’s face. “Wait,” she said, “have you… met him?”

“Yes,” the dragon said matter-of-factly. “I believe I have. And once this Moose creature has fixed magic, I can take you to him.”

Except for Dorothy, who was lost in her thoughts, all eyes turned to Montgomery the Moose once again. He looked at each of them, hoping that someone else would say something. No one did.

“So…” he reasoned, “you’ve known for hundreds of years that I’m gonna fix magic when it’s broken…” The dragon nodded. “…and… was there any other information that went along with that?”

“Hmm,” mused the dragon, talking to Dorothy and Fred, whom he deemed more worthy of his respect. “This Moose creature has somehow managed to stumble upon a good point. Legend doesn’t tell us much about what my ancestors were told. Only that Montgomery the Moose, who we would know from the Mouse on his head, would be the one to restore magic from the cause of its brokenness.”

Roger raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “That sounds like a load of nonsense if you ask me,” she said. Some of the others looked at her, and she added, “I mean, that’s pretty vague, right?”

Even The Scary Stanley seemed to have some doubts.

“Saying it out loud to creatures who haven’t known this deep in the fiber of their beings,” he said, “it does sound a little vague, yes.” He turned away from everyone for a moment and faced one of the suns burning in the sky. When he turned back, he said, “One can only surmise that all six of us are needed to complete the task at hand.”

The group looked up at the giant dragon, most of them unsure of what he meant. Fred, however, smiled, and he would have got a glint in his eye if his eye hadn’t been comprised of melting chocolate.

“What I mean is,” the dragon paraphrased, “we need to bring all my brothers and sisters together. And,” he added, “find that horse.”

Click here for Chapter Twenty-Six.

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