What the heck? I wondered. Who would want to interview me? The Jade who can't do any spells? Who only knows how to write her name?
I didn't have long to wonder about that, though, because Tam and I were lead to a little creek just a few feet from the carriage. It chuckled and giggled at us as we splashed water on our faces.
"That feels good!" I said.
"Yes," Tamara agreed. "Um, look ... I have something to tell you."
"Does it have to be right now? During the best part of this stupid journey?" I asked, maybe a bit rude.
"Never mind ..."
"No, no, never mind me. Tell me!" I said, more curious than I pretended to be.
"Do you mind if I tell you a story?" Tam asked, her eyes looking at me nervously.
"Tell all the stories you want."
"Okay. It all started when a young girl started having dreams when she was three ...
The young girl tossed and turned in her bed, getting tangled in her sheets. "No! You can't!" the girl yelled in her sleep. "Stop! Thief!"
"Darling! Wake up! It's just a dream," the girl's mother soothed, cooling the girl's head with a wet washcloth. That was when dreams were just dreams in the girl's life.
"He ... he's stealing Lady Equinage's jewels! Stop him!" she screamed, still partly asleep.
"Honey - it's just a dream," her mother repeated.
"No it isn't, mummy. It's much more than that." At the time, the poor girl had meant a nightmare ...
The next day the girl's father was reading the news when he gasped loudly, unknowing of the dream from the night before. "Lady Equinage's jewels were stolen!" he exclaimed.
"What the -" the girl's mother uttered a curse word that she never said around the girl."What did you say?" the mother asked, catching her breath. "What the heck did you say?"
"Lady Equinage's jewels were stolen by a man with a scraggly beard, according to this article in the Morning News."
"Tam, darling, shouldn't you be at school?" the girl's mother asked.
"Mummy! I told you it weren't a dream."
"Wasn't, darling. Wasn't," Tam's mother said absent mindedly.
"Tam! School, remember?"Thus was the beginning of dream riddled life for the poor girl, Tam.
And that's my story."
"Oh - Tam, I'm so sorry! But ... that's how you knew all those things?" I asked Tam, half sorry, half curious.
"That's ... correct."
"I - I didn't know ..." I said lamely.
By now we had both stopped splashing our faces with water and were sitting with our legs dangling in the water.
"But now I get visions while I'm still awake ... more and more as I get older," Tam explained. "About stuff I don't want to know."
"Do you ever have ... normal ... dreams?"
"Once in a while."
The boy who Tam claimed was one of the slave trader's children had never talked to us during the whole trip, but now he came out to chat with me and Tam.
"Have you figured out why you're here?" he asked.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," I said. "Aren't you going to introduce yourself?"
"Customs," he muttered under his breath. "I'm Ben ... and I'm eleven."
"Nice to meet you." Ben said stiffly. "Anyway, have you had a dream, Tamara? Do you know why you two are here?"
"Well, I'm here to tell you," he told us, his voice filled with a sense of duty. "We captured you roughly, I admit. But that was in case you escaped, you would give us a bad rap."
"What - who wants a bad rap?" I asked, confused. I knew I sure didn't.
"We do. Let me explain. There are Scareydaddies in the human world, Earth, and they want to capture it. Have you heard of Hitler? He was a Scareydaddy. The people behind dropping the first atomic bomb? Scareydaddies. There are still Scareydaddies on Earth these a days, and our mission is to stop them. We sell the smart 'slaves', like you guys. You infiltrate things. We also only kidnap people with no real life. Tamara, you weren't enjoying school. You knew when your friends lied to you. Everything new was old for you. The police were constantly hiring you up. Yasmine ... you were an orphan, you lived off of berries in the forest, you learned spells by watching from a tree."
"What about you?" I asked Ben, eager to switch the subject of my terrible life to that of Ben's skills - or to anything else.
"Me?" Ben laughed, "I'm simply a genius. No magic to it."
"Boring," me and Tam said sarcastically at the same time. Then we laughed, giddily, ready to laugh at anything after the last few days.
"Anyway," Ben continued, "We want you guys to go be slaves ... don't worry, we'll pay you when you're done."
"Right. Don't worry," Tam said scornfully. I agreed with her silently. Who do they think we are? I mean, gosh, I'm only thirteen!
"Don't worry my thumb!" I cried, voicing my anger. "I will have nothing to do with this! I'm a mere thirteen! Some humans may say that's old but in Jadeland it's young! Don't you see? Have you spent too much time on Earth to qualify as a Jade?"
"My, my," Ben chuckled. "Do take a breather."
He pulled us up.
As if in a dream I watched him snap his fingers and watched as dust flitted through beams of sunlight, landing on me and Tam's heads. Immediately I felt calm. Tam also seemed to loose her anger.
As we walked back to the carriage there was an awkward silence. To break it, I said the first riddle that came to mind, which was very suitable. "What breaks when you say its name?"
"Silence. I've heard that one before," Ben admitted, almost sheepishly.
"No fair!" Tam complained.
By then we had reached the carriage. I hadn't noticed it before when my eyes had been adjusting to the light, but this carriage was beautiful. It was made of cherry tree wood, and the windows were covered by beautiful red curtains. The horse pulling it was a beautiful grey mare, which really meant it was white.
"What's its name?" Tam breathed, before I had a chance to ask.
"Cherry Blossom." The lady who had helped me up was brushing the horse. "By the way, I'm Tanya - Ben's mother."
"Why are you being so nice to us now?" I asked, hiding my re-emerging anger behind false confusion.
"Hasn't Ben told you?"
"Yeah, but ... why am I here? I'm not a genius, and I don't have dreams that come true."
"Oh, you are good!" Tanya seemed very entertained. "You can fly!"
"What?" I exclaimed, amazed and disbelieving. "You're pulling my braid, right?"
"Oh, get into the carriage. Pieter can tell you about it."
So we entered the beautiful carriage. Beautiful leather seats with no patches curved to make a half circle. Soft and brilliantly coloured clothes lay out, taking my breath away. I completely forgot I had just learned I could fly.
"Who are they for?" I whispered.
"Ourselves, silly," Tam said.
"Ben ... could you please leave the room for a minute?" I ventured to ask.
As soon as the door shut behind him, me and Tam grabbed the clothes like hungry vultures grabbing food. Soon we were dressed in the most comfortable, pretty clothes I had ever worn. I felt, as stupid as it seemed, like a princess dressed up for a ball. Now I just need my prince. I cringed.
All at once Tam flung herself at me.
"Wha-?" I gasped as she engulfed me in a hug. "Uh .. I can't breath ..." I managed to get out.
"Sorry!" Tam exclaimed, letting go of me. "I just had to do that."
I looked at her. She seemed to be a new person - bright pink cheeks, big blue eyes, gorgeous blonde hair that reached past her shoulders like rays of sunshine. But nothing compared to the smile that lit up her face.
"I know what you mean," I answered. "On a different note ... is there a mirror? I want to see how I look."
"I think I can feel one ... over there ..." dramatically Tam felt her way towards a mirror. "Ta-dah!"
"Haha," I answered.
Just then someone knocked at the carriage door. "May I come in?" a warm voice asked.
"Yes," I replied, cautiously.
The door opened and man who looked to be about fifteen or sixteen. entered "Hello! I'm Pieter. Tanya said that you needed an explanation?" He asked. He had a warm voice.
"Yeah ... this is the first time in all my thirteen years I heard I could fly," I said good naturedly. "I'm sure that's worth an explanation, among other things."
"Well ... let me prove it to you by asking you to jump as high as you can."
I agreed and the three of us stepped out of the carriage and into the middle of the brick road that lead from the dock to the portal.
"Ready? Tamara and I will jump, as well, as high as we can," Ben told us. "On a count of three. One, two, three ..."
We all jumped, and I soared up so high my heels could've touched the tops of trees. Birds chirped around me, the unexpected visitor, before moving away. It was an amazing feeling! Just as I was getting used to it, I slowly floated back down. What the heck? I could feel a blush spreading over my face. Aloud, I whispered, "That can't just have happened!"
"Ha - but it did," Pieter said, putting on a silly voice. "Let us go back to the carriage, and then we may continue to the portal."
A half an hour later, once more according to Tam, we turned off the brick road and into a clearing.
"We're here!" Tanya called from where she was driving the carriage. "Out you get!"
The clearing was beautiful, but the thing that really stood out was the tree in the center of it. It stretched almost to the clouds, and bright red leaves grew from the branches.
"Amazing!" Tam breathed. "I - I've heard of it, but imagination can only go so far!"
I could only agree with her.
"What are you waiting for? We're off to Earth, for Tarbril's sake!"
Of the little school I had overheard from my tree, there was one thing I knew - Tarbril was the legendary warrior who had won the Battle of Binster for all of Jadeland.