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4. Maple Syrup

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Chapter 4. Maple Syrup

Our journey has finally begun, after a week of preparation. It was with much trepidation that I bade farewell to King Roylance and Queen Ara Liese. Neither of them is in good health, and with the stress of their daughter’s kidnapping, is it any wonder?

I’ve been trying to get in contact with the Makalo Patriarch. It would be wise to have his opinion on the situation. I hope he will be helpful.

***

Jacob had nearly made it to the tree when Akeno caught up with him, hand on his top hat to keep it from falling as he ran.

“You didn’t come back. They were worried—sent me to check on you.”

“Yeah, I’m heading home. Let them know I’m not going, and tell them I said good luck.”

Akeno stopped walking, then hurried to catch up. He met Jacob’s pace, glancing sidelong at him. Jacob ignored him. He wasn’t about to let the Makalo convince him to stay.

“Well . . . I’ll come with you.”

Jacob looked at him in surprise, but continued on. If that’s what Akeno wanted, that was okay. The Makalo would have to explain to Jacob’s family why he was there—some random alien in their town. That would definitely make the news.

They entered the forest, walking in silence for a while. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as Jacob had expected it to be—Akeno didn’t act disappointed or disapproving.

After some time, Jacob groaned in frustration. “I don’t understand why I’m the one they chose to go. I mean, Matt’s older, stronger, and he always knows what to do. So, why me?” He hesitated, but Akeno didn’t say anything. “I mean, this isn’t even my planet. And it’s not my problem. I’m not the one who lost the Key, and I’m not the one who thinks it should be protected. And I don’t have magical abilities!”

Jacob paused to think. “Besides, I’ve got my own things to deal with. I was supposed to try out for varsity today. And I know I would’ve made it. I’m actually really good at basketball. If it weren’t for those . . . those stupid wolves . . .” He let out a long breath. “Oh, forget it. It doesn’t even matter.”

Another silence. Jacob guessed they were about halfway through the forest. Akeno stopped, and Jacob slowed to see why.

“Hold on a second,” Akeno said. He plucked a couple leaves and sat on the ground. Rummaging through a bag strapped across his chest, he pulled out a tape dispenser and started taping the leaves to his shoes.

Jacob’s eyebrows went up as high as they could. “Tape?”

“It keeps the leaves on my shoes, and the leaves keep the dust off me. I use my Rezend—which is our form of magic—and as long as the leaves are fresh, they do what I ask them to do.”

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