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Heart of Ice

Finally the debt was repaid with the cook, so the trio could rest a while.

Johan and Peewit leaned against each other at the base of the same tree just beyond the castle walls – Falla sighed and lay in the grass in front of them with her hands behind her head and one leg crossed over the other. It was about half past six o’ clock now, and the sun was drawing near to the horizon, allowing the sky to fade into a shade of purple.

“Thank goodness that’s over,” Peewit said. His friend agreed; he stretched and looked at the sky through the tree branches above his head. “Johan, do you think we’ll see Gargamel again?” He heard and felt him exhale, leaning his head and shoulder on his right arm.

“We might, and we might not, Peewit. I’m not sure,” he replied simply. He was half-in and half-out with his gaze cast over the girl in the grass – he wasn’t intentionally looking at her, it was just where his eyes fell. She was busy watching the sky change from light to dark blue as the sun set.

“What do you think, Falla?” Peewit asked. Johan registered her moving her head to see them, and that pulled him from his half-daydream state.

"I think we’ll see him when we least expect it,” she said, glancing up at the knight, “and I think he’ll be under our noses if we’re not on guard.” He blinked and understood what she was trying to communicate to him. Then she turned back to the sky; it was getting to be dark blue and lightly black with three or four stars piercing the darkness and the sun disappeared under the horizon line.

“We should go back inside now,” Johan suggested. He stood up, causing Peewit to fall over; he helped him up. “Sorry, Peewit.”

“It’s okay, Johan,” he replied. While he headed towards the drawbridge, his friend offered his hand to the girl, saying, “May I?” She smiled and held his wrist as he held hers, getting to her feet in a moment, and then they followed the jester over the moat.

"Thank you for helping us with that list, Falla,” he said when they were through the gates.

“It was nothing,” she told him with a smile starting. She saw Dame Barbara and Princess Savina approaching and turned to the left to find her room in the tower

“There you are, Johan,” the princess said, “My uncle and I have been looking for you. Follow me, please.” He obeyed and entered the King’s throne room as she told him, “My cousin, King Gerard, has discussed something with us, but I know very little right now.” He turned his attention to the throne.

“You called for me, your majesty?” he asked, bowing respectively. The King was seated at his throne wearing his usual red robe with white fur trimming and his crown atop his head

“Yes, Johan, I’ve received word from my nephew that he is expecting to find a suitor by the end of this year,” he began.

His knight smiled and put his hands on his sides: “That sounds wonderful.”

I agree, but he’s informed me that he’s not sure how to impress a princess, let alone choose the one best for him. He’s worried that he’ll shy away from the idea or that he won’t be good enough for whichever princess he likes.” Johan’s smile disappeared as he lifted one hand to his chin, thinking it over.

“Perhaps my friends and I can help him,” he said after a minute, “I’m sure we could give him some confidence. In fact, with your permission, I may be able to ensure he chooses the best possible suitor.” To his luck, the King smiled and liked the idea. He considered bringing along Princess Savina, but Dame Barbara cut in and insisted that she remain here and master her tapestry skills – a step closer to being a proper princess, she proposed to the King.

“In that case, when should Peewit, Falla, and I leave for King Gerard’s castle, Sire?” he asked.

"I would say no later than the morrow,” he said, “in the morning is best so you arrive by late afternoon.” His knight nodded and bowed again.

"Thank you, your majesty,” he concluded, leaving the throne room. He had to find his friends and tell them the plans before they feel asleep tonight. He knew Falla would be ready, but it was Peewit he worried about – he relied on him or Falla to keep him from forgetting about packing for the journey.

. . .

“Hold it steady, you ingrate!” Gargamel whispered hoarsely. He and his poor apprentice were in a wolf’s den attempting to take a few hairs while the pack was asleep, and Scruple’s job was the hold the vial while his master dropped the fur into it. He was struggling to keep his hands from trembling. The sight of the ragged wild dogs gave him jitters; they were brown and grey, all scrawny, snoring, twitching, or growling as they lye together on a bed of dirt and grass bits. The large cavernous rock over their heads shaded them from the dying day, and it would only be a matter of minutes before they awoke for the dusk hunt.

Gargamel dropped in several more hairs from the grey fang-bearing canine into the vial and pointed to the entrance.

“We have enough – get moving so we can beat this pack before they’re awake.” The boy bolted out and hid behind a tree a few feet from the den, and then followed his master looking rather sourly at him.

“How dare you run like that you good-for-nothing coward! You’re pounding footsteps could have rustled those monsters from their slumber!” He snatched the vial from his hands and corked it hastily.

The sun was out of view by now and the sky was darkening quickly, so he shoved the boy along as he added, “It’s dusk. They’ll be out and howling before we know it.” With that they rushed back to the safety of the hovel quite a distance away, and just as he had predicted, by the time they were approaching the front door, a mournful wolf’s cry pierced the night.

  1. 6 Hellebore Seeds [x]
  2. 3 Large Snails [x]
  3. 1 Dungeon Rat [x]
  4. 5 Ounces Wolf Hair [x]
  5. 3 Ounces Gravel Powder [x]
  6. 2 Triptear Weeds with Roots [x]
  7. 4 Grams Vulture’s Blood [x]
  8. 8 Ounces Essence of Nastiness [x]
  9. 1 Pound Fresh Piranha [x]
  10. 2 Dragon’s Teeth [x]
  11. 3 Grams Enchanted Caraway [x]
  12. 5 Ounces Evil Root [x]
  13. 1 Frozen Heart []

“We appear to be missing the most important item of all,” he murmured. Scruple, when he glanced his way, was face-down on a makeshift bed, so he kicked him right out of it. “Listen you disgusting little insect! If we are to complete this potion and finally destroy the Smurfs and rule the kingdom, we must find the final ingredient!”

“Alright, alright, I’m listening!” Scruple snapped back, brushing himself off. “What’re we missing?”

“We need one frozen heart to assure that our young knight will be as cold, deceitful, and uncaring as we are, and there’s only one place to get that...” he explained, putting the list back in his pocket. “Chlorhydris.”

. . .

As the dawn approached the turn of five o’clock, Falla felt a hand jostle her shoulder until she stirred. She turned her head and smiled at the foggy sight of Johan leaning over her, mumbling a good morning. He whispered, “Let’s go. The horses are waiting below, so we just need to awaken Peewit and we’ll be off.” Then he proceeded towards the door as she sat up.

“What about breakfast? You know he’ll complain if we leave without any,” she reminded him. He stopped briefly to assure her that he took care of this: “I’m bringing two loaves of bread, a bunch of grapes, and cheese in a knapsack for him. As for us, I’ve already eaten and Gentile has a shoulder bag containing some food.”

Seeing that she was satisfied, he left her room and made his way down the halls with soft footsteps, reaching Peewit’s in minutes. He cautiously opened the door, poked his head in, and then pushed it out to let himself in.

The blonde boy was snoozing in his bed, curled up with the blankets, and at first rolled over in response to his friend’s nudging. The second time he swatted his hand away and muttered something, but by the third time, Johan was fed up; he simply picked him up and carried him out. His head and left hand rested against his shoulder while his other arm instinctively wrapped around his neck, but his carrier didn’t seem to mind.

He approached Falla and their horses in the front courtyard, and when she saw him – despite the fatigue – she giggled, holding the reins to Gentile in her hands. By now Peewit was starting to wake up.

“You had to carry him out?” she asked.

“I’m used to it by now,” he replied with a corner-smile. “This isn’t the first time I’ve brought him along an early morning ride, and I hope it won’t be the last. I might be starting to enjoy this, but he’s getting heavier as time passes.” Peewit sat up in his arms and looked at him, rubbing one of his eyes.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he whined. Johan shook his head, forcing himself not to laugh as he put him down near Biquette. “I’m just growing, Johan, that’s all.” Then he yawned.

“I know, Peewit, I know...”

The young knight mounted Bayard and gestured for him to get on his goat so they could depart. He turned to Falla to see if she was in her saddle – and she was – and then back to the smaller boy who was visibly dozing off on the minor steed.

“Allons-y,” Johan commanded in a relaxed tone. He guided Bayard across the drawbridge, glanced behind him and saw his friends following closely, and picked up speed along the path. “To King Gerard’s castle, my friends – if we ride without stopping, we can be there before noon!”

“There’s only two loaves in here?! You’re killing me, Johan!” Peewit shouted after searching through his knapsack. He consumed the food within seconds, regardless. He could hear him laughing through the pounding hooves against earth and saddle fabric against horse, so he pouted and shut his mouth.

It wasn’t shut for long. After all, he had brought his lute.

Author's Note

It took a while to fix the spacing issues, but I'm done now and can rest easy.

Continuation

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