Henry Willowstone wakes up in a commoner groundskeeper shack to a bright sunshine with shades of red sky and deep blue clouds. It’s sunrise. Henry sees through his panel windows as he’s woken by the barks of his old reliable shepherd greyhound with her small yet sharp ears pulled all the way up, wearing a vibrant maroon necklace with white letters that spell “DERBY”. Cut to Derby now slower and calmer barking and exposing her limping left-back leg whose injury, long ago, still affects her to this day. Surrounding Derby is a large world with vast hills and amazing mythical-looking fauna and flora, along with castles, commercial buildings, forts, markets, stables, religious buildings and a public square. Henry pulls his straps, robes and straw hat along with his tools and technological metal-rusted hoe while in the background showing more parts of his home and the small bodega constructed alongside his house, while large fields of crops and some herd animals flash in the backside of his home. Henry incurs in comedic small talk with Derby as he says some sort of good morning to her while the bright sky blinds them both as they exit their home and enter the main road into the city market. Henry and Derby walk along the main road while they pass by different characters. Henry tells Derby the ingredients and materials they need to gather in the market, she barks in agreement. As the humble commoner gathers his materials at a workshop without a peep, he looks in awe as the afternoon and the sky is a heavy deep blue with few clouds and a shy yellow sky.
See, Mr. Willowstone lived in a world which was divided, not much as in walls or prohibition, much worse. That will be discovered later. For now, this is where our story takes place. We find Mr. W laying in his bed, ready to drift off into a deep sleep. Hoping to see another day tomorrow, he closes his eyes as he looks towards the deep blue moon and dark pitch red-ring sky. He now sleeps.
The fact that he slept was an achievement in it of itself, given the state of the world…
After an awful long day, Henry decides to go home with all the garnered supplies. Once he reaches home, he fetches a cold bowl of water for his dog, and sits in his bed pondering about life and everything. He is tired, yet not enough to fall cold asleep as usual. Yet he ponders. He wonders what’s behind that giant iron fence where the bounder’s forest lies. No one who ever travelled there has returned, and Henry knows that pretty well… Yet he ponders. What could be hiding there? Would the governor be hiding something from the people? Yet again, not many trusted the governor. And just like that, pondering about life, Henry found himself in quite the shock of a sleep. Yet this dream, he would not forget.
Chapter 1 — Pt. 1
Henry wakes up perplexed by his dream, drenched in sweat and shivering. It’s past morning, he overslept through the dog’s barks. He fetches himself a comfortable bowl of cereal provided by the coffins of the colony treasury, as it was customary to receive a free bowl of cereal after completing a certain reward. For Henry, it was his year of toil and hard labor in the field which allowed him to sell his crops to the state, not for a profit, but for a small loss which the state would in the future pay him back. Well, here was the nice Colony`s reward, a comfortable bowl of cereal. After his late breakfast, Henry decides to go back to market and see what kind of commerce could be established.
“Henry!” — Shouted a man in the market.
“Hey Mr. Marcos, good morning, how are you?” — Henry replied to his former boss and the man who gave him the land.
“Good to see you! Didn’t catch you yesterday at the public square. Why weren’t you at the feast?”
“Well Lord Marcos…:”
“Oh, stop being so formal, you know I don’t care about that.”
“Mr. Marcos,” Added Henry, “as you know, I´m not that big on crowds”
Marcos looked down in disappointment and in awkwardness. “Of Course, I just wanted to have a word with you. Have you seen anything out of the ordinary lately?”
Henry looked at Marcos the same way he would look at a deranged man. “Sir I’d be surprised if anything ordinary happened around here”
Lord Marcos looked at Henry perplexed as if he wasn’t expecting Henry to be so brush. Henry understanding his current predicament quickly added: “But as you know sir, the people have gathered until late at night discussing about something”
“Yes… They gather around the brewing house discussing what I assume to be a fairy tale”
“A fairy tale?” Asked Henry in advance
“Yes, it’s probably nothing, just town folk gathering dust around a storm, you know, trying to keep busy!” And with that, Lord Marcos raised his tall hat over his head, greeted Henry one last time, and went on his way to his large residential home.
The hours went by, and his day kept going on as normal but had Lord Marcos’ warning in the back of his mind, even though it seemed outlandish Henry believed it to a degree since stranger things have happened. Once he got home, Henry decided to take a nap and just sleep it off…
Later, he rises from his nap drenched in sweat as if he just had a nightmare. Visibly affected, he stands up to get a glass of water from the tap, just to remember it doesn’t work, therefore he leaves the house to get water from a stream nearby. By this point it’s already nighttime, Henry hesitated to go outside for a second but decided to go anyways since in his mind:
- “He’s probably messing with me.”
As he reaches the stream a dark figure emerges from the woods across which catches his attention and startles him even more, making him trip to the ground. Once the figure gets closer and closer it resembled a big semi familiar object, then it spoke “Henry, it’s me. You have to go now!”
Henry stayed on the ground not being able to move, but after recognizing his ex-boss’ voice all he could do was look up. With the night’s red sky and deep blue moon, he managed to get a glimpse of the figure under the light. Only to scream out “WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK?!”
Chapter 1 — Pt. 2
After hearing a loud scream from her owner, Derby hurries in pain to assist Henry, but once she reaches there, Henry is passed out in the ground with a large round figure lurking above him. As the old wounded shepherd dog saw the strange figure almost hovering above his owner, she began to bark in what could only be pure cold fear, grounding the dog to a shiver in despair. Until a familiar voice raised her small ear in caution:
- Calm down Derby. You´ll get us killed, go! LEAVE!
The dog was shocked in terror and confusion. It wasn´t until a small well-polished shoe stomped the ground with authority that brought the old shepherd dog back to reality:
-Go home Derby! NOW!
Instinctively Derby listened, as if it wasn’t her first time following a command, and left in a suffering hurry whose barking moans could be heard until she left. All poor Henry could remember while being dragged before falling into a deep slumber was the reflection of the sunset on what seemed to be a rounded mirror.
*The night passes in silence after the attack and we now meet with Henry at an unknown location.
Henry now wakes up in a daze, confused as to what happened, wondering if it was just a dream he had. That suspicion was quickly shattered as he heard the sound of birds in the sky and the roars of waves besides him. Henry was covered in sand and all he could see were birds in the sky, the blinding sun on his face and the sound of thundering waves. It seemed louder and harsher, unlike anything he has ever heard before. Then he hears a voice call to him:
“Hey Henry! Are you up?” — Asked the voice.
The familiar voice who attacked him raised Henry´s consciousness enough to shake his head and look around. He couldn’t believe what he saw. This surely must be some sort of freakish dream, or he accidentally ate one of Miss Pumklin´s treats, for before him, stood a giant bowl of cereal for a head wearing a tuxedo and pulling a knot with a rope on a wooden pole on what could only be the front of a boat. The rocky boat only amounted to chunks of milk along with cereal constantly jumping around on the bowlish head. As Henry stood perplexed, he noticed that the cereal on the bowl were small fedora-like hats.
- “Henry there is no time”, and the bowl of cereal tossed him a small weathered map wrapped with a rubber band.
Henry looked at the living, breathing bowl of cereal with a stern face as if he almost found familiar the voice coming from his mouth.
“Lord Marcos? Is that- Is that you?” — Asked Henry, confused beyond his wildest dream.
“Yes Henry, it’s me. Now I understand this all seems very strange…”
“Very strange?! YOUR HEAD IS A FUCKING BOWL OF CEREAL!”
“Yeah… Well oh have I a surprise for you”.
Lord Marcos himself, his highness, member of the Royal Court and Counselor to the Governor of the Colony, and Secretary Treasury, whose head was now a bowl of cereal filled with mini hats, extended a mirror to the horrified Henry.
Henry grasped in awe. He stood shaken and crooked to the bone. He was looking at himself, but instead of recognizing his face, he saw a giant bowl of cereal, with big eyes, and straw milk dripping from the right side. Henry had become a bowl of cereal as well.
- “What happened to us?”
- “We’ve become bowls of cereal Henry” Replied Lord Marcos confidently.
Henry placed his hand on his mouth as he grasped for air in shock “Oh my God”.
- “Listen Henry, everyone´is in danger. In grave, grave danger”.
Henry looked around the boat and sea, trying to grasp the reality of the situation. The sun had now faded to a comfortable degree, and the shade from the boat sail hit his cereal bowl of a face with great refreshness. He finally grabbed the courage to stand up, and asked: “Where are we going?”
- “You see that far off land?” Aked Lord Marcos as pointed to a distant patch of terrain.
- “Yeah” replied Henry.
- “That’s the East, we need to get there and meet some people. It may be our only way to find a solution.”
- “How did this happen?” Asked Henry with a tone of sadness in his voice. Lord Marcos stared at the despaired Henry. He then bowed his head in discomfort. “I don´t know”.
- “My God, the people. Are they all going to- going to….”
- “Turn into bowls of cereal?” Lord Marcos looked away from Henry and glanced at the sea. “My best guess says so”.
- “Wait a minute” said Henry, “One minute I was myself, next thing I know… I wake up and I’m a goddamn bowl of cereal in a boat in the middle of nowhere”.
- “I can explain…” said Lord Marcos calmly, “after you fainted, I picked you up and brought you with me to the harbor. In the process of bringing you here, you turned into a bowl of cereal as well” explained his lordship while now leaning on the boat sail. “It was quite gruesome to be honest. I thought you’d liked being knocked out for that one. Mine was painful too. And disaster almost happened, I had to sit you down in a corner because your milk started to drip out”
- “My milk?” asked Henry as he simultaneously regretted sticking his fingers inside his bowl of cereal, as a sharp pain rocked his entire system.
- “Yeah your milk, I have a bad feeling about losing it” Answered Marcos with a straight look.
- “How are we going to fix this? I mean, we are literally bowls of cereal. We have milk in our head, you have little hats for cereal. This is all so crazy!”
- “Forget that for now Henry, the people are in danger.” demanded Lord Marcos.
- “Wait, what about the Colony´s authorities? Aren’t they trying to fix this as well?”
Lord Marcos looked at Henry like any nobleman would look an incompetent moron, but then quickly glanced away, as if a quick thought had entered his head. “I guess so, but we must try our part as well”
- “And what are we supposed to do in the East?” Asked Henry cluelessly.
- “I might have an idea, but it’s too early to tell”
As Henry looked at the distant land that awaited them, a crucial thought popped up in his mind. He realized this was his first time leaving the colony. Leaving his home. For the first time, Henry found himself outside the familiar borders he called home. The commoner groundskeeper, whose life had seen nothing but toil and labor, suddenly felt a rush of excitement he hadn´t experienced in a long while.
Chapter 1 — Pt 3
Slowly, the far-off distant terrain appeared ever closer. Henry observed the white sand of the beach while Lord Marcos anchored the boat with a steadfast knot around a wooden pillar in what seemed to be a makeshift harbor, composed of wooden slabs and rusted slacks, with a few other boats, yet larger in proportion, and slicker in design. Red ceilings covered the main entrance of the old harbor, and a dense jungle followed in suit behind it. Lord Marcos made a royal exit out of the boat while Henry almost stumbled out of it. The two bowls of cereal were amused by the vibrant tropical trees and birds whose calls could be heard from their very arrival. Lord Marcos led the way through the jungle following a made-up path in the ground which made them traverse a beautiful natural array of monkeys howling in trees and tossing small tree chunks amongst each other. At one point they encountered a mother hog with her calf, an eagle soaring above the trees looking for prey, along with red and deep blue birds chirping in harmony.
Trouble came when they encountered pesky bees, mosquitoes and other insects who were instantly attracted to the pouring sweet juices of the cereal milk atop their heads. Lord Marcos tossed Henry a piece of cloth and instructed him to place it above his bowlish head to prevent insects from getting in, and the Lord did the same with a spare piece of parchment he had laying around on the inside of his jacket. Although Lord Marcos was confident in where they were going in the current path they were travelling on, he held a worrisome face long enough for Henry to ask: “What’s wrong?”.
“It’s too hot… and humid” answered Lord Marcos with a stern voice. “It affects the condition of our cereal,” he added quickly. The piece of parchment Lord Marcos held over his bowl-of-cereal head wasn’t large enough to cover it entirely, and Henry noticed that the small fedora-like hats Lord Marcos had for cereal were slowly losing their quality, some drowning at the bottom of the plate and looking more and more deteriorated. The once fancy black hats floating in pristine white milk were slowly quenching and creating a sloppy mess. Henry couldn’t even begin to ponder what his own straw-like milk would look like now.
Not long after, the two bowls of cereal walked upon a wooden sign with two slabs pointing in different ways, splitting the path in two. However, the left path looked sharp, neat and clean, with sidelines and distant lights that illuminated the way. The path to the right on the other hand, looked rough, the ground path was broken, had many holes and missing layers. Additionally, after a few meters into it, a huge boulder lay in its tracks, stopping the way for anyone interested in endeavouring on such heinous terrain.
“Damn! It´is blocked” proclaimed his cereal bowlness majesty. The naive groundskeeper and commoner, now spontaneously turned into a bowl of cereal, was bewildered by Lord Marcos’ harsh reaction. “We’ll have to go through the city,” whispered his esteemed lordship. Henry took his first glance at the sign: it read Oldtown with an arrow pointing to the right, and just below, it read City, with an arrow pointing to the left. Henry was ready to argue that the path to the city was in much better condition for travel, when Lord Marcos brashly said: “Listen Henry… uhm this city… how can I explain this to you… This city in the East is a commercial hub created by the Central Bank of the Colony´s Treasury.”
“The Central Bank? I didn’t know there was a Central Bank” questioned Henry rapidly.
“Yeah, the chief board of directors, composed of the Governor´s most loyal and trusted court nobles, control it. My uncle, my mother’s brother, Lord Baldwin the IV, currently sits in it along with seventeen others. He helps me with dull matters like loans and treasury grants from time to time” Henry was only ashamed of hearing so many unknown court nobles at such a rapid pace. His whole life, the Colony´s authority and himself had felt so distant. His only link with the prestigious reality of the island was Lord Marcos. Unlike the vast majority of the people on the island, Henry Willowstone could pull the curtain of the royal reality from time to time thanks to his lifelong friend. However, a sad deed would pull their bond closer together.
Henry always lamented the fact that Lord Marcos grew up motherless. His mother died in a freakish accident when he was very young. Henry did assume that it was this lack of time Lord Marcos spent without his mother that made a young lord wish to maintain a friendship with a poor commoner like young Heny at the time. Henry´s father, Berry, used to tend the large luxurious lawns, and work the fields of a coastal family property of Lord Marcos´s family. The young Lord used to go on his summers to the property and play with Henry, who was allowed to enter the property and enjoy the time with his friend. Yet, when he was growing up, his father pulled him away from playtime, and made him work the fields, tend the lawns, and learn how to shephard the cattle. Due to Berry´s known irritable reputation, Henry pondered if his father grew bitter of Henry´s chance of escaping the hard toil of labor in the property, instead of working alongside him, like Berry did with his own father.
“It was through my uncle that I got you the state grant for the land, Henry”. The bowlish groundskeeper looked up in appreciation, and humility, to his royal friend. Henry was used to being humbled by Lord Marcos’ family and entourage. Growing up, Henry knew of the drastic differences between his life and Lord Marcos, yet the court noble never presumed of his social rank or dignity, instead, he would hide it from Henry, and repudiate it whenever his commoner friend brought it up. Lord Marcos was never fond of titles and prestige, and Henry always thought that if Lord Marcos was allowed, he would abandon every social compromise he held with the island´s authority. The Royal Lord growing up had a knack for being mischievous, and a great talent for misbehaving. Once, for the young Lord´s fourteenth birthday, he and Henry snuck inside the Royal Cruiser of a high ranking navy officer, only to sail it ashore and sink it at the bottom of the sea. Luckily, Henry was never found in the plot, and an innocent bystander was charged with the crime. When Lord Marcos came of age, he and Henry stole several bottles of the Governor´s moonshine from the closed reserve he kept at the southern point of the island. It was Lord Marcos´s distinctive ability of being a renowned trouble maker, and his lack of eyesight for prestige that always brought Henry and Lord Marcos together, despite of their enormous differences.
“I never had the opportunity of thanking him personally, your uncle”, replied Henry in shame.
“Oh forget about that. Miserable prick doesn’t even know you exist. He’s too busy on the Grand Tower to ever step out of his comfort, drinking champagne and living in luxury”
Ah the Grand Tower, another reminder of how distant Henry truly was to the island´s authority. He could almost picture it atop the tallest hill of his field. A sky-reaching, thin layered structure that rose from the grounds to the heavens. Blocked off by miles upon miles of unsanctioned terrain, only accessible to the court nobles and whoever had business with the Governor. Henry was never close enough to get a clear view of the tower, as heavy dark creamy fog covered it in mysterious fashion, yet he was always intrigued by whatever happens over there. A giant wall, of almost twenty five feet tall in size, separated the island´s commoners like Henry, from the prestigious and elitist court nobles, like Lord Marcos, from entering the unsanctioned lands that led up to the Grand Tower.
“I see,” replied Henry in honesty. He wished to add more, but before he could say anything, Lord Marcos added hastily.
“Listen Henry, there is something imperative you must know. And it´s crucial to what we are doing here in the East”. Lord Marcos took a few steps backwards from the broken right path and gave a sharp look to the neat path to the left. “You must not get distracted. And you must always follow me”, Lord Marcos now looked directly into Henry´s eyes and said: “Now Henry, the most important thing is that you don´t talk to anyone”. Lord Marcos opened his eyes very wide and with a finger pointing to Henry´s chest said: “DON´T SPEAK TO ANYONE. And always, always, keep your mouth shut. Can you do that?”
Henry was perplexed by Lord Marcos´s harsh assessment, yet he simply nodded like he was used to when receiving instructions from his friend. Lord Marcos stepped even closer to Henry, and with a determined look on his face spoke again to Henry: “I need you to say it to me Henry. I need you to tell me that you won’t get distracted, and you´ll keep your mouth shut”
“Okay…“, Henry glanced at the awful path to the right, then quickly to the good looking one on the left, and then looked back to his friend. “I won’t get distracted, and I´ll keep my mouth shut” replied Henry, in the likes of a loyal service dog following a command. Lord Marcos looked away from Henry, and walked a few steps into the neat path to the left. “Good. Let’s go then. Let’s go to the city”.
And so, the two bowls of cereal walked their way among the delightful path, filled with street lamps and benches the likes of Henry had never seen. The well dressed bowl of cereal led the way, as his commoner groundskeeper bowl of cereal followed in suit behind him. Henry didn’t understand why they had to be so secretive and silent about their endeavours in the East, yet he wasn’t going to question a mandate from Lord Marcos himself. He never had. It was his closest friend who always helped and supported Henry. Lord Marcos aided Henry when his father passed, got him out of trouble with the island’s authority hundreds of times, and is responsible for giving him the land which he now tends, along with his second good friend and companion, the old shepherd dog Derby.
“Derby!”, exclaimed Henry in suspense. “What about her?” asked Lord Marcos, as if Henry´s colms were a matter of distraction. “She’s all alone on the island!” said Henry, now placing both his hands on his bowlish head. “The people on the island must be going crazy, what is she going to do without me?!”. Lord Marcos didn’t seem hesitant by Henry´s troubles, and calmly answered: “She´ll be fine. Remind me to tell you the story of how I found her”
“We need to go get her. We need to get back to the island”. Lord Marcos looked back only to stare at an unmoving Henry looking back at him with a glimpse of defiance in his face. Lord Marcos stared at Henry in what could only be amusement, as if the once loyal dog now bit back in arrogance to the hand that feeds him. Surprisingly, Lord Marcos gave a vague half smile and walked back to Henry. Most probably, Lord Marcos was impressed by this sudden act of defiance. This could be the very first time Henry ever told Lord Marcos what to do. Still wearing that vague smile on his face, Lord Marcos answered: “We will Henry. Trust me, we will get Derby back”, Lord Marcos raised his right arm and laid his hand on Henry´s shoulder, “I promise”
Lord Marcos walked further into the path, where he originally stood before being rudely interrupted in his mind, and then spoke again: “But the people Henry, think of the people. They are undergoing the same thing we are going through. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared everyone should be right now.” Lord Marcos looked back at Henry with a worried face, “I brought you with me because I thought out of everybody, you’d be the one to put personal matters behind for the common good of everyone. I thought you´d felt likewise as I do, and would help set things right. But I guess I was wrong. If you wish to rescue Derby, go. Use the boat which is still tied at that ungodly harbor and sail towards the island. The seas aren’t as rough as using the southeast passage, so you should have a smooth sailing”
Henry´s determined face now resembles one of pure embarrassment. He couldn’t believe he dared defy his one true friend, who had always been there for him, and now wished to help everyone on the island. And what did Henry wish to do? He wanted to rescue his companion dog. How selfish could he truly be? His loyal friend is asking for his help on such an important matter, and all Henry wishes to do is go back to the comforts of the island in the sake of rescuing his dog? No, he wouldn’t allow it. He wouldn´t allow his friend to go alone, after everything Lord Marcos had done for him.
“I’m sorry… you are right. We have to help the people”
“I promise you Henry” replied Lord Marcos, “we´ll rescue Derby, and we´ll get back to the island. But we must return to the island with answers. We owe it to everyone.”
And with that said, the two bowls of cereal continued their way to find answers in the city on the East. One way or the other, his royal bowlness, and the commoner bowl of cereal, will attempt to save every single newly turned bowl of cereal in the island, whatever it takes.
Chapter 2 — Pt 1.
Henry Willowstone, the commoner groundskeeper, now fashionably turned into a bowl of cereal, accompanied by his royal bowlness, Lord Marcos himself, made their way through a well lit path, with benches on its sides and a nice array of forest trees, while the dense jungle made itself less dense and dense by the stroll, and a small opening could now be seen at the end of the path. After a few steps, the ground path was replaced with a well paved street, with yellow markings in the middle. Henry was impressed by everything he was witnessing. Slick wooden slab benches neatly placed along the trail, luminous phosphorescent white lamps with a slight curve at the top of the pole lit the way as the two bowls of cereal could now see what must be a city center.
Suddenly, Lord Marcos stopped in its tracks, and signaled Henry to do the same. “Do you hear that?” asked his cereal majesty. Henry stopped for a minute and listened carefully. He could hear the chattering noises of two people coming closer and closer to them. “Quick Henry, hide behind that bush” said Lord Marcos while pointing to a side bush on the left side of the path. Henry nodded and ran quickly towards the signaled bush. He hid back, and saw Lord Marcos hid behind a bench not too far from him, but definitely closer to the road than Henry. Not long, a couple holding hands and laughing about something came flashing into the light thanks to the street lamps. The cheerful couple were walking side by side, laughing and joking as they walked by. Henry saw Lord Marcos signal to him to remain silent, by placing his index finger on his lips. The young couple were both wearing jackets and jeans, while the man wore dirty white shoes, the lady alongside him wore fashionable sneakers.
Henry was intrigued about what Lord Marcos was possibly thinking. Yet he didn’t have to think for long, for as soon as the bright couple walked somewhat near to the bench Lord Marcos was hiding behind, he jumped, like a springboard coming to life, splashing pristine white milk, and fedora-like cereal hats atop his head, as he yelled, with both arms extended open: “SURPRISE”.
In a matter of seconds, the cheerful couple became petrified and froze in shock at what they had just seen. Milliseconds later, they both let out a gasping scream of terror, until they both fell on the ground in a deep slumber. Lord Marcos waved at Henry to join him, as he approached the fainted bodies in the ground, and removed the nice fancy jacket from the man, and told Henry to remove the jacket from the lady. Instinctively, Lord Marcos placed the newly acquired jacket on top of his head and instructed Henry to do the same. The once stunningly peculiar bowls of cereal, were now unrecognizable thanks to their new disguise. Each bowl of cereal wearing jackets to hide from the people, finally exited the neat path and found themselves in the middle of an open road with two story houses behind the streets, a park in the corner of the road, an opening to the sea and a distant harbor and port to the right side, and staring into the left was something that truly caught Henry´s eye. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He was so captivated by what he was seeing that he almost dropped his jacket in order to get a better look. “Henry!” yelled Lord Marcos who was now a few meters ahead of him, “What did I tell you?! Quit getting distracted and follow me”, exclaimed his cereal royalty. Henry shook his bowlish head, as if trying to wake up from a distorted dream, and correctly placed the jacket on top of his head again. Yet, he couldn´t let his mind escape asking him what it was that he just saw. At a distant corner, hundreds, if not thousands, of Grand Towers reached the sky.
Before Henry could get a better look of the many Grand Towers that the East had to offer, Lord Marcos took a sharp turn left on the main road, and Henry quickly followed in suit. After catching up to him, Henry noticed that they now found themselves in a dark alley, with trash on the ground all around them. The only thing that could help them escape that terrible smell of the dark alleyway were the sweet juices emanating from the milk on top of their bowlish heads. However, the sound of rats and mice quickly made Henry realize that his milk could land him in more trouble than any actual benefit. Lord Marcos led the way, as he went down a suite of stairs and then took another sharp turn right into another corridor, yet this one had some lighting coming from one flashing lamp pole.
“Henry, I know all of this must seem strange, or out of ordinary, but there is a simple answer to all of this…” said Lord Marcos, until he was interrupted by a fascinated Henry: “I just saw a hundred Grand Towers, all splattered together”
“Yeah about that, listen Henry…”
“The Colony´s treasury must be racking good business in the East then” deduced Henry. Lord Marcos stared at his commoner companion for some time, and then turned his back to him and continued walking. “Remember Henry, no distractions”. Lord Marcos stared into an opening that led back to the main street where Henry noticed the patch of Grand Towers. However, he walked back, as if he didn’t like what he saw, and decided to get back to the corridor and take a left into another dark alleyway. Yet again Lord Marcos stared back into the main road, and back again he stepped into the shadowy alleway. This procedure endured for almost through multiple smaller passageways for an hour, until finally, Lord Marcos peaked his round head, and decided to step out.
The main street was now filled with trees, two story houses and no Grand Towers in the distance to observe. A heavy forest at the top of a hill blocked any shot of getting a look at the batch of Grand Towers seemingly planted together. The bowls of cereal, covered underneath the jackets they acquired from less fortunate others, could easily pass by any wanderers and regular folks without creating a scene or causing havoc, as any glimpse into the bowlish companions could resolve in a complete disaster. They walked past strangers who in Henry´s eyes, seemed only to be worried about small black devices with shiny lights. People stumbled into the bowls with frequency, at times spilling milk into the grounds only to go unnoticed by the weary bystanders, as they held these slick devices close to their faces and seemed to walk without seeing where they were going like it was normal.
Henry stayed close by to his cereal majesty, hoping to avoid another reprimand from Lord Marcos. Lord Marcos walked through small crowds of people, avoiding gathering attention to themselves, and Henry, following close behind, was able to at times, peek around the jacket on top of his roundish head and observe the good looking two-story buildings, with ordained designs and elegant architecture. The buildings had nice paintings like sky light blue, and light orange, always portraying royal white marble accessories. Wherever they were in the East right now, Henry figured it must be somewhere royals inhabit, yet he couldn’t figure out why these regular folks and strangers were allowed near these pristine homes. Henry wasn’t about to stop and ask Lord Marcos about this, yet he would keep it in the back of his mind. It wasn´t until Lord Marcos took another sharp turn, this time to the right of the neat street with elegants buildings, into another dark alley. The alleyway was filled with graffiti, Henry noticed that plants were growing out of the broken ground and deeper into the alleyway, abandoned homes awaited them. Henry realized that the abandoned and broken buildings ahead were of the same kind as the elegant and pristine buildings he just observed in the main street, but time without care and cleaning had turned these prestigious buildings into broken shackles.
Lord Marcos led the way until he suddenly stopped in the middle of the broken road and stared into a decrepit building in front of him. The building had an old, weathered sign that had fallen down and was now gathering dust and earth in the ground. The crumbling building seemed abandoned and didn´t show any signs that anyone had entered it in a long while. Lord Marcos grabbed with a tight hold a rolled piece of parchment fastened with a rubber band and whispered: “This is it…”, Henry carefully approached Lord Marcos, but before he could say anything Lord Marcos looked at the commoner directly in the eyes and said: “We are going inside Henry..”
“Uh, sir… Are you sure this is the correct place? I mean, there were better houses back there…” said Henry pointing to the back alley, “I don’t think there’s anyone inside, sir”.
“There is Henry,” answered Lord Marcos. “Stay sharp and don´t look around too much. He doesn’t like it” And with that said, Lord Marcos took a royal first step and entered the decrepit, almost crumbling, abandoned building, with a largely worried Henry close behind him. Together, the two bowls of cereal will try to find answers as to what happened on the island, inside this mysterious building.
Chapter 2 — Pt. 2
Two heavy enforcers, wearing military uniforms, accompanied by assault rifles attached to a strap in their back, and a side piece close to their thighs were walking along a corridor. The two enforcers were tall, looked strong and tough, the sound of their boots smacking the ground in harmonious synchrony on the concrete floor. Wide-shouldered, and well-built, both soldiers had bowls of cereals for heads, with small weapons and jungle camo milk. A special helmet sat atop of their bowlish heads, preventing any milk or cereal from spilling out. Their green military helmet had a series of hinges welded into their respectives bowls. Both soldiers were walking on a dim light corridor, in an underground basement. Shy white lamps were located on the roof of the corridor, with a few flinching with electrical shortcuts, and others not working at all. Both men didn’t seem bothered by this, as they quickly turned right into a more open hall. The circular room the enforcers had just entered, contained a series of jail cells along the sides. Numbered from 001 to the 010, the enforcers approached the cell on the very middle, number 005, and with a harsh knock, demanded whomever was inside to pay attention. Suddenly, a cluster of noises inside the cell occured, until a lone, desperate voice spoke: “I’ve placed the bandana! I can’t see, I swear! Please… Please don’t hurt me! I´ll do anything you ask!”
The enforcer to the left, opened a small widget that allowed him to see inside the cell, and found a scared inmate, wearing an orange jumpsuit, sweating and trembling, while wearing a bandana wrapped around his head which didn’t allow him to see a thing. Glad with what he had just witnessed, the enforcer nodded to the soldier on the right, who proceeded to open the cell door. Both soldiers entered and picked the inmate by his arms. One soldier hit the blindfolded man in the gutter, making him gasp for air in pain. The soldiers grabbed yet again the inmate by his arms and dragged him out of the cell. One enforcer proceeded to place handcuffs on the scared man and ordered him to keep walking. Scared and trembling, with strong arms roughly wrapped around his own, the inmate did as he was ordered. The soldiers took the puny man along a series of corridors and more opened halls with cells like his own, until they reached a room with two doors, one door to the right, and another in the very middle. One soldier took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door in the middle. The small room that awaited them had only one chair and a table, a black glass screen in front of the table, and a small black box lying on it. The enforcers propped the man in the chair, forcefully removed his handcuffs, and exited the room, locking the door from the outside. Both soldiers then opened the door to the right, which had a label that said: “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY”. Inside it were a group of scientists wearing white medical coats, and one bald man in the middle of the room wearing a fancy grey outfit, with a black tie, a luxurious golden watch on his left hand, and an elegant royal walking cane on his right hand. This man was looking determinately at a clear glass mirror in the middle of the room which allowed them to have complete observatory access to the room the scared inmate was held in. Without even changing a glance, the well-dressed man told the room of scientists to begin.
The trembling inmate started to fidget in stress, waiting for anything to happen while he was blindfolded by the bandana. “Okay… I’m here, what do you want?” said the man with a tone of impatience. “Come on already, I´ve done everything you asked! I dug the ditches, I drained the reservoir, what else do you want!?” The man in the orange jumpsuit was now visibly upset with his wailing. “Please let me go, I want to see my family… I have been here for ages” cried the man in despair. Suddenly, a noise emanating from what could only be a public announcement microphone speaker said: “Test Subject №005, you may remove the blindfold”. The inmate shook his head in confusion, “Test Subject? What…?”.
“Test Subject №005, remove the blindfold” repeated the voice from the speaker. The inmate proceeded to remove the bandana wrapped around his head. The luminous white light from the room quickly blinded the man and caused him to cover his eyes with his hands. “Damn, I get why there are so many energy shortages now. Hmm… could you guys like do me a solid, and lower the lights a bit? Please…? It’s a bit unbearable”
“Test Subject №005…”, repeated the machine until the man interrupted again: “Hey I have a name all right! So stop calling me Test Subject whatever…” demanded the man in comedic anger. A deafening silence hit the room until the speaker sounded again: “Test Subject №005…”,
“Oh my God”, cried the man while the speaker continued. “Test Subject №005, remove the black lid from the table”. Along with all this confusion, the man barely noticed the mysterious black lid box in front of him. “This thing?” pointed the inmate, “Ok, fine”. With reluctance, the man removed the black lid box from the table and placed it on the ground, only to be very confused at what was hiding beneath. “What the hell is this?”
“Test Subject №005… Eat the bowl of cereal”. In front of the inmate, and hidden beneath the black lid box, layed a white bowl, with glossy white milk, and wheat grain colored cereal.
“Are you serious?” replied the confused man. “You want me to… you want me to eat a bowl of cereal? Why not just bring it to my cell you know? Save your boys the walk, and the smell too” said the man while smelling his clothes, “Ugh, I haven’t showered in so long”. The man took a long glance at the bowl of cereal, picked the silver spoon from the bowl, but before doing anything, he spoke again: “Wait a minute, wait a minute. Is this for real? I mean, I´ve been held captive here for so long, doing all this arduous and toiling labours, and now… Now I get to eat a bowl of cereal? I mean, what the fuck guys”
“Test Subject №005, eat the bowl of…” said the machine before being interrupted, “Yeah I know… I know…” replied the man. “Test Subject blah blah, eat the bowl of cereal, whatever… “ mocked the man.
Silence hit the room yet again, until the speaker noise sounded again: “Test Subject №005, eat the bowl of cereal, or we will make you comply”.
“Okay, okay… Fine. Keep your boys at bay” the man took another glance at the bowl of cereal and picked up the silver spoon, “Here goes nothing I guess”, and with that, the inmate took a spoonful of cereal. Quickly the man´s face turned into one of delight, as he clearly enjoyed what he was eating. “Hmm… Hmm, this is really good actually. How come I´ve never tested cereal this good on the island?” The man resumed eating the bowl of cereal, while enjoying every single bite of it. “And the milk, my God the milk. I don´t think even Miss Peggy produces such tasty milk”. With every bite, the grin on the man´s face got wider and wider. “This is so good, you have to give me the recipe… wait, let me guess, you feed the cows celery instead of onions?” The man continued munching, enjoying his meal quite a lot. Spoon after spoon, the man´s apparent insatiable appetite couldn´t be clenched.
The once mortified inmate, became a succulent connoisseur of great cereals by his apparent hunger. The once filled bowl was now almost empty, yet the mouth of the inmate was always filled with chunks of delicious grain cereal. The man had milk dripping from his face, and making a mess on the table by his frenetic eating. For a moment, this pleasurable time seemed perfect. Until suddenly, the man stopped chewing, with his mouth filled with cereal, and froze for a moment. He fastened his grip on the silver spoon and his left hand holding the bowl started trembling. For a second or two, he remained still, until the cereal filled inmate dropped the bowl of cereal and coughed the many chunks of cereal remaining on his mouth. The inmate started tweaking and shaking, while uncontrollably coughing. He dropped to the ground, vomiting grain cereal chunks and now diluted grey milk. His frenzy wouldn´t stop, and with the amount of cereal coming the man was vomiting, any air couldn`t enter his lungs. He started choking. Gasping in pain he grabbed his neck, as his red eyes were bold open and seeming to burst like bubbles. His head turned purple, as the man lay on the ground awaiting a cruel fate. He kicked and begged with gestures for any help, yet it was hopeless, for no one came. The man´s vision turned blurry at first, then slowly, an ill darkness creeped in. It seemed like all was lost for this poor fellow. But surprisingly, the man took a huge breath of air, and great precious oxygen, more precious than the cereal itself, entered his lungs. He began to cough in pain again, and started to recover his oxygen. Then, an incredibly strange and inexplicably mysterious pain began to perforate the skull of the inmate. The prisoner shouted in pain, and cried in distress, placing both his hands on his head. Even crazier, apart from the terrible pain the man was already suffering, he could swear his brain was popping out his skull. Something odd was going on, as the suffering man’s head began to warp in a distorted manner. The man´s face contorted in anguish, and began to deform. His ears got crumpled onto the sides of his head. His hair began to fall down, as his skull twirls and twisted for his great misery. Out of his mouth and nose, the poor man began to spew heavy chunks of blood and what seemed to be… brain chunks, and skull remains. And then, the top of his head began to screw up inside his own head, creating a bowlish sphere with an empty space. The man´s skin grew red hot as he cried in desperate despair, and began to turn marble glass. His whole face and head was continuously self adjusting and rearranging in an interesting pattern, and the top of his head began to fill itself, by its own, with a white liquid and a grainy substance. The man relinquished in pain, crying and out of hope, had painfully turned himself into a bowl of cereal.
Inside the scientist´s room, the well dressed man fastened his royal cane and pronounced the ground with an elegant smack, “Extract the milk, ditch the body” and promptly abandoned the room. The group of scientists, amazed by their results, complied with the gentleman´s command and delivered a pair of soldiers a spherical device, with a tube on top and a collection frask at the end. The two soldiers entered the room, only to find the man still crying in pain. The soldiers raised the man from the corner he was sitting, and attached the device to the man´s bowlish head. “Wait, what… what are you doing… what’s going on?!” decried the desperate man, yet to no avail, as one soldier turned a switch on the device, and the newly bowl of cereal´s eyes turned bright white, as the milk and cereal inside his head were slowly being absorbed by the device. After a few seconds, the device´s green light turned red, and chanted a small beep. The soldier turned off the switch, released the device from the man´s bowlish head, and his lifeless corpse dropped flat on the ground. The two soldiers, with their commanded essence collected, left the room, leaving a lifeless bowl of cereal behind.
Chapter 2 — Pt. 3
Henry and Lord Marcos entered a wrecked building. No lights, dirt and insects everywhere. Not a soul to be found. Lord Marcos lit a match and led the way through a narrow staircase into a highway. The walls were painted full with graffiti, the ground was pampered with garbage, and small rodents got scared away by the new incomers and hid in a small hole to the right. “Sir Marcos, there’s no one here. No one’s been here in a long time from what I can piece together”. Henry´s initial assessment seemed correct. The place was decrepit, abandoned. Only rats and ants inhabited the complot. “Yes. No one’s visited in a while… That’s good. He´ll want to talk”.
Lord Marcos looked around and focused his eyesight on a small weathered brick lying on the floor. His royalty examined the brick with precision, only to toss it aside saying: “Not this one”. Henry was amused by his highness looking around garbage and weathered construction rigs in a decrepit environment like this. If only he could picture this moment he thought. It wasn´t until the royal bowlness himself found another weathered brick lying on the ground that shook the cereal bowl to it´s sugary core. “It’s this one!”, exclaimed Lord Marcos. The bowl of cereal removed the jacket sitting on top of his roundish head, and held the brick high in the air. “Uh.. Sir, that’s just a brick”,
“Just a brick you say! But take a look at this!” replied Lord Marcos as he swiftly shoved the brick close to Henry’s face. At first Henry saw nothing, but at last, he saw a small engraving on the corner of the right side of the brick. A small inscription. A symbol of some sort. “It’s real”, whispered Lord Marcos to himself. “After all this time, she was right…” His royal highness took a strong hold of an enrolled piece of parchment sitting on his belt, while a victorious smile sat on his face. Henry wondered what the parchment could contain. “Step back Henry”, told his majesty to the commoner bowl of cereal. “We are in for a treat.”
Lord Marcos stepped close to a brick wall at the far end of the room. The wall was weathered, old. Broken in a few pieces, but with a distinctive hole where a brick is missing. Lord Marcos placed the orange brick with the inscription in the hole of the wall, and stepped back with caution. Nothing happened. “Sir… maybe we should find a place to rest. We haven’t slept much and it could affect…”
“Quiet!” Yelled a disgruntled Lord Marcos. “Can’t you hear that?”Henry paid close attention, and it seemed that a low rumbling noise could be heard in the distance. The rumbling sound got lowder and lowder. “Yes! Yes”, exclaimed Lord Marcos. Henry could not understand what was going on, for a blue shadow now emanated from the back of the bricks in the wall, illuminating the room with a deep blue essence. Suddenly, the graving between the bricks in the wall shone a bright blue, and with a loud bang, the bricks of the wall crumbled to the ground, revealing a hidden entrance. Lord Marcos took an elegant step inward the dark room while warning Henry to watch his head.
The room in which the bowls of cereal had just entered, was unlike the kinds Henry had ever seen. Weird objects floated in dense liquids inside flasks and tubes. To the right, an entire shelf containing different skulls of animals and people. Down the dark hall, a black desk filled with spider webs and dust rested neatly while a small door could be observed in the back. “Follow me,” Lord Marcos told Henry. The two bowls of cereal approached the black desk, and Lord Marcos extended his royal finger to ring a bell. As soon as the bell was rung, a crack, and distant clambering noises coming from inside the room behind the desk could be heard. Someone clearly was not expecting visitors. Suddenly, and almost frightening, the door opened itself, gnashing on its swivel. For a moment, Henry thought he was going insane, for he could swear he saw emanating from the room, in the shadows of the wooden wall, a monstrous creature, with a crooked back, fangs roaring out of his mouth, horns a top of his head, and leatherous wings opening like a bird seeming for a flight. But as soon as the mysterious figure revealed itself from the shadows, it turned out to be a simple bald man, with a rather unpleasant large and botched nose, with an untrustworthy smirk on his mouth. The small man had a large hunchback below his neck, for our mysterious figure´s back was as crooked as they come. The hunchback man approached the desk, and after growling and spitting on the floor, with a rusty voice he spoke: “Found anything you want?”
“I’m not buying anything, Merchant…”, the crooked man looked over the desk to take a glance at the not be customers of his ungodly store. The bald, dirty man opened his eyes wide and absorbed entirely the two bowls of cereal. “So it’s true… They’ve garnered the essence…” exclaimed the Merchant, “But as expected… They don´t understand it…”
“Essence? What essence?” asked Henry. “Quiet,” replied Lord Marcos. “Comical… still in the blue… ”, the merchant opened a small door to the left of his tall desk, which allowed him to enter the same ground floor of the store, the two bowls of cereal were on. “Let me take a closer look at you…” proclaimed the Merchant, as he approached Henry in a malefic way. “Yes… Yes… your rich, powerful milk… It’s already calling me… Telling me… It should be mine!” The merchant launched at Henry with a small frask aimed at his bowlish head, only to be fashionably stopped and smacked hard in the face by Lord Marcos’ elegant walking stick. “Back away Henry, Merchant you play nice”
“So tell me… Lord Marcos” said the Merchant in a mocking voice, “when are you planning to fill your boy in?”
“He has the required information he needs”, answered his bowlish majesty.
“Yeah right… whatever you say… your majesty… or whatever you call yourselves nowadays…”
“Uh… Sir, do you know this man?” asked a naive Henry, confused by the entire situation.
“Not much, I’ve only met him once before… with my mother”. Henry´s eyes got wider by the second. This could probably be the only time Lord Marcos has mentioned his mother in quite some time.
“Uh Uh… what a pity there eh…” laughed the Merchant.
Lord Marcos smacked his cane on the Merchant´s foot, only to say lighty “My mistake, like I was saying Merchant, we are not buying anything… We are selling”. Lord Marcos took his hand inside his jacket in search of something. He removed his hand from his jacket revealing a purple pouch, tight with a golden rope. “This should be sufficient compensation for what we seek”. The Merchant swiftly unravelled the pouch only to reveal a green luminescent, shining brightly from it. The merchant´s smile got wider and wider.
“So… Lord Marcos… what do you seek” said the Merchant, in a now, more professional tone.
“Tell me where I can find the Zephyr”
The Merchant was taken aback by Lord Marcos´s request. “The Zephyr… “ said the Merchant, “where to begin?”. The merchant stood up from the ground and entered the confines of his tall desk once again. “What you seek has been the downfall of braver and stronger men than yourself… And most importantly… “
“No one has ever found it”, interrupted Lord Marcos, “I know”
“Sir… if I may, what is Zephyr?” asked an even more confused Henry.
The Merchant laughed mischievously as he opened his arms wide like a bird and later said: “The Zephyr… The Hidden Artifact… The Holy Grail… Many names and alterations it has had through the years… Many think of it as a source of great wealth… power… even… immortality…” The Merchant placed both of his hands on the desk once again and continued: “Yet no one realized it was none of those things… For it’s nothing more than a pesky key…”
“A key? Then… what does it open?” asked a curious Henry. “No one knows… for no one has ever found it… Yet I’m sure your friend knows what to do with the Zephyr due to that map of his…”
Lord Marcos took a step back and took a sharp hold of the piece of parchment lying on his belt. “Enough of this!” Yelled Lord Marcos, “Tell me where to find it” demanded his majesty.
The crooked, bald merchant swiveled on his high chair and took a nasty glance at Lord Marcos. “You really think you can find it? Don´t you?” asked the Merchant in a malefic tone, “And what could you possibly do with it?”
“That’s not of your concern” answered Lord Marcos defiantly.
“Well well…” The Merchant raised his right palm and layed it in the air as if he was holding something. Suddenly, in an impossible way, a small blue gem started to float in the palm of the Merchant´s hand. “Ahh the Zephyr… The only instructions to finding the missing jewel is only… a riddle”. The Merchant took a mouthful of air and continued. “Drowned through the ages and the ripples of time, the oldest family lights the first match. Warned be those who feel greater than they are, for the one who gushes will be dispatched. Neither of the lands won’t deny those who seek a bridge to pass, for those of you brave for glory, please answer my call”
“That’s it?” asked a frustrated Lord Marcos.
“Yes,” the merchant answered coldly.