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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 10

Mystiboo

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     The next morning, the children were jolted awake by the sound of a bugle. Lukas was the first to peek his head outside of his tent and notice a horn-wielding Quotidian standing atop a nearby rock. The melody he was playing, and the volume he was playing it at, was clearly intended to wake up the entire camp. It worked.

     Quotidians began to emerge from their tents, many letting out high-pitched yawns as they stretched. As the children looked over the many stick-and-fabric tents across the large field, their eyes were drawn to the horizon where they got their first view of the “Big Rocks” Wink had described the day before. The mountain range was tall, with snow on the peaks, and stood as a harrowing reminder of the journey ahead.

     As the Quotidian finished his song, he lowered his instrument and shouted, "Sun up, we up!" 

The voices of the entire camp rang out and echoed into the forest as they all replied, "Sun up, we up!" 

     With that proclamation, a bustling energy enveloped the camp. It was clear that each Quotidian had an assigned task. Some kindled campfires while others ventured into the forest to gather food. A few began organizing supplies for upcoming meal preparations. Feeling somewhat unsure of how to contribute, the children joined in by tidying their sleeping areas and stowing their belongings into their packs.

     Once finished, Elizabeth asked, “What should we do now?”

     “Let’s find Wink,” Gabriela suggested.

     They all agreed and began searching. As they passed Quotidians, they were greeted with “mornin’ kiddos” or “hiya kiddos”. As they reached the far side of the camp, near the edge of the forest, they spotted Wink among a group of younger Quotidians. He was demonstrating how to peel a potato-like vegetable that older Quotidians were bringing in from the forest. As the children approached, Wink's eyes lit up and he greeted them with a cheerful, "Happy Mystiboo!"

     "Happy Mystiboo," they all replied, still unsure of what that meant.

     Gathering vegetable peelers from a nearby table, Wink waddled over to the children with an inviting grin. 

     "You help peel?" he asked.

     The children accepted the tools and sat down in the grass next to the young Quotidians who were already hard at work on the task. Gabriela, who swiftly caught on to the peeling technique, was the first to speak. 

     "Hey Wink, can I ask you something?"

     "Whachu ask, Gabby?" Wink replied, his voice as friendly as ever.

     Setting her first peeled vegetable down and picking up another, she asked, “What is Mystiboo?”.

     The younger Quotidians, astonished by the question, stopped their peeling and looked at Gabriela with wide eyes.

     Wink nodded, “Ah righ righ. You no have Mystiboo.”

     The young Quotdians, now in total disbelief, cried out, “No Mystiboo?!”

     Wink raised a hand, motioning for the young Quotidians to settle down. He then began to explain Mystiboo to the children, “Mystiboo a wonderful day. We imagine, play, and pretend.”

     “That sounds like fun,” Jamari chimed in as he was struggling to peel the vegetable in his hand. He then asked, "What kind of stuff do you do?"

     As if they were now in a classroom of eager students, the younger Quotidians shot their hands into the air, hoping they’d have a chance to answer Jamari’s question.

     Wink nodded and pointed to one of the Quotidians, “Righ righ, you tell.” 

     “We eat yummy fooood!”, a Quotidian howled while rubbing his belly.

     Another spoke up, “We play games!” 

     “We dress up and pretend!” another shouted.

     “Oh I see,” Gabriela began, “So Mystiboo is kind of like a holiday we have back home. We call it Halloween.” 

     The puzzled expressions on the faces of the young Quotidians clearly communicated that just as Mystiboo had been a new word for the children, Halloween was a new word for them. One by one, they tried repeating the word      “Halloween”.

     “Howwowween,” one tried.

     “Heywowhinny,” another attempted.

     Gabriela giggled and repeated slowly, “Halloween.”

     The group continued on their task until the last vegetable had been peeled. As Wink gathered the peelers from the children, he asked, “We eat and then you help Mystiboo, okeekay?”

     Each of the children, except for Lukas, nodded in agreement.

     Pointing toward a small river, Wink instructed “Okay, go wash for morny munchy”.

     The children didn’t realize it, but they were already becoming better at understanding the Quotidians. Without hesitation, they made their way to the river to wash their hands before breakfast.

     As they walked, Lukas spoke up, “Is this really a good idea?”

     “What do you mean?” Gabriela asked.

     Pointing at the mountain range towering in the distance, Lukas said, “Shouldn’t we be focusing on getting to the challenges?”

     The others paused and looked upward at the mountains, each realizing he had a valid point.

     Gabriela responded, “Maybe, but Aurelia told us to trust the Quotidians.”

     Elizabeth added, “Yeah, she said they would help us get ready for the challenges.”

     “But how is a party going to help us get ready?” Lukas countered. “If they are supposed to be teaching us, shouldn’t we actually be learning something?”

     The others couldn’t argue with his logic. While Mytiboo sounded like fun, was it really the best use of their time? Their steps were slower and much less determined as they approached the river where a small group of Quotidians had just finished washing their hands. 

     Handing Lukas the bar of soap they had been using, a Quotidian cheerfully said, “Mornin’ kiddos! Happy Mystiboo!”

     As they washed their hands, the children debated whether they should spend the day with the Quotidians or if they should tell Wink they would need to move on.

     The debate was interrupted by the sound of a triangle bell, signaling that breakfast was ready. The children and each of the Quotidians made their way to a long table that sat at the center of the camp. Two Quotidians gave Wink a boost so that he could speak to everyone from atop the table.

     “Happy Mystiboo!” he shouted.

     “Happy Mystiboo!” the camp cheered.

     “Time for morny munchy!” Wink called out. He then looked over to the children and added, “New friends first.”

     Wink motioned the children to one side of the table where a stack of wooden bowls, plates, and utensils lay ready to be picked up. The children hesitated, feeling awkward about being the first through the line. With some additional encouragement from Wink, they picked up their bowls and looked over their options. Big plates and pots of delicious-smelling food lined the table. 

     Wink, still standing on the table and noticing that the children looked unsure of what to do, described the different foods. Pointing to a large platter at the beginning of the line, Wink explained, “This fluffy flips”. To the children, fluffy flips looked like really chunky orange pancakes.

     Pointing to a pot that was next in the line, Wink said, “this munchy crunchy”. The children could tell this was the result of their peeling efforts. The vegetables had been cut into small cubes and cooked to be crispy.

     “This is eggy-shuf”, Wink continued. Eggy-shuf looked sort of like scrambled eggs, except these were blue! 

     Finally, at the end of the table, Wink pointed to something familiar, “An’ this slupy-lurp!”. The children were excited for more slurpy-lurp and loved the reminder of Aurelia.

     Only after filling up their plates and bowls did the children realize there was nowhere to sit. As they stood with their food in hand, Quotidians began walking around them and sitting in the grass. 

     “Sit here, kiddos!” one Quotidian called out.

     “By me!” another shouted.

     The children split up and each sat with a different group of Quotidians. The air was filled with the sounds of happy eating and chattering. Like everything else they had eaten in Akadia, the food was delicious and it quickly filled their bellies.

     As morny munchy wrapped up, Wink approached the children and began instructing them on how they would be helping to prepare for Mystiboo, “Okeekay, Lukey an Lizzy, you wif’ decorate”. He pointed to a large round table where a group of Quotidians were now preparing crafting supplies. Elizabeth grinned while Lukas was visibly disappointed. 

     Wink continued, “Gabby, you wif treats”. Two nearby Quotidians that were wearing aprons let out a squeal and, each grabbing one of Gabriela’s hands, pulled her toward a table underneath a canopy where baking was already underway.

     Wink then turned to Jamari and, while handing him a scrub brush, said, “Jammy, you wif dishes.”

     “Oh man”, he moaned.

     The camp was soon buzzing with preparations. At the crafting table, Elizabeth was helping to create a garland that would hang above the celebrations. Flowers, ribbons, leaves, and other colorful decorations sat on the table. Elizabeth immediately got to work and was able to make a very pretty section of the garland. But as she looked over her work, a familiar and automatic thought came to mind.

     “It doesn’t look good enough,” she said in a sad and quiet voice. A Quotidian that had overheard Elizabeth waddled over to take a look.

     “Oh Lizzy, tha’ very pretty!” the Quotidian admired, confused how Elizabeth had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t good enough.

     “Well, just look at it,” Elizabeth countered. “The flowers in this pattern aren’t matching and it just looks all wrong.” 

     The Quotidian tilted her head, still wondering how Elizabeth wasn’t able to see how beautiful her creation was.

     “Lizzy, wha’ you see?” the Quotidian asked.

     Confused, Elizabeth looked down to the Quotidian and asked, “Huh? What do you mean?”

     The Quotidian pointed at the garland Elizabeth was working on and asked again, “Lizzy, wha’ you see?”

     Realizing the Quotidian was talking about her garland, Elizabeth’s frustration brought her emotions close to the surface as she responded, “It’s supposed to be a garland, but I messed it up. I just wasted my time!” Elizabeth threw the flower that was in her hand down on the table. She stood up, crossed her arms, and walked a few paces away from the table before planting herself cross-legged on the ground. 

     The Quotidian waited a few moments before coming to sit down next to Elizabeth. Out of the corner of her eye, Elizabeth could see that the Quotidian was holding the garland. 

     “Lizzy?” the Quotidian asked quietly.

     Elizabeth wiped away a tear and didn’t respond.

     “Lizzy?” the Quotidian asked again.

     Feeling frustrated, Elizabeth snapped, “What?!”

     The Quotidian held up the garland for her to see and said, “Lizzy, we see differen’ things”. 

     A puzzled expression came over Elizabeth’s face followed by a look of curiosity.

     “Lizzy, you see somethin’ bad. I see somethin’ good. We see differen’ things.”

     This was a new concept for Elizabeth. She had never realized that two people could look at the same thing but see something different.

     The Quotidian reached out for Elizabeth’s hand and said sweetly, “Com’ com’, we keep workin’.”

     Lukas was also at the crafting table, helping put together floating lanterns. Lukas had never built something like this before and was having a hard time getting the hang of it. The Quotidians around him were busily putting together the lanterns when one noticed Lukas was struggling.

     “You nee’ help, Lukey?” the young Quotidian asked.

     “No, I got it,” Lukas replied flatly.

     The group continued working and Lukas struggled to make any progress. The Quotidian spoke up again, “You sure Lukey? I can help!” 

     “I don’t need help,” Lukas responded, not looking up from the lantern he was trying to work on. 

     Lukas had already been feeling frustrated that the group was stuck spending the whole day helping the Quotidians get ready for a holiday he had never heard of. The frustration was only magnified when they had him help with something he had never done before.

     The same Quotidian that had offered to help came over and reached out a hand, motioning for Lukas to give him the lantern so he could show him how to build it.

     Lukas pulled the lantern closer to himself and out of reach of the Quotidian.

     The Quotidian let out a sign and said, “Lukey, asky for help make you strong, not weak.”

     Lukas’ grip on his lantern loosened as he struggled to make sense of what he had just heard.

     The Quotidian held out his hand again and said, “Com’ com’, lemme help.”

     Reluctantly, Lukas handed the Quotidian his lantern.

     Nearby, Gabriela was having a blast with a small group of Quotidians that were in charge of making treats for Mystiboo. They had loaned Gabriela an apron and put her in charge of rolling a sweet dough into small round balls before they went into the oven. Despite everything being Quotidian-sized, baking felt second-nature to Gabriela. This sort of scene was a regular occurrence in her family. Especially on birthdays and holidays, Gabriela and her extended family could be found working together in the kitchen, preparing wonderful meals and enjoying each other’s company.

     As she was handing Gabriela a batch of fresh dough, a Quotidian said, “Gabby, you good wif bakin’! You do bakin’ at home?” 

     Gabriela lit up and answered, “Oh yes, I love it! Our family makes the most delicious food together.”

     It only took that one mention of her family to make her heart sink. She had been having so much fun that she totally forgot that her family had moved. Her heart began to ache and baking with the Quotidians now only served as a reminder of how much she missed home. 

     Noticing her changed demeanor, a Quotidian asked, “You okay Gabby?”

     “I don’t know,” she replied. Looking around at the Quotidians that were happily baking, Gabriela admitted, “My family just moved and I’m really missing home.”

     “I sorry,” the Quotidian replied, “that be hard.”

     A few moments passed as they continued to work when the Quotidian asked, “Do you think you like new home?”

     Gabriela was surprised by this question. Her mind was still very focused on her old home. She looked down toward the Quotidian, unsure of how to respond.

     The Quotidian continued, “Here a’ new home, you have Lizzy, Lukey, and Jammy.” 

Gabriela looked down at the ball of dough she had been working on and rolled it a few more times. She then looked up to see where Elizabeth, Lukas, and Jamari were. 

     Jamari was near the river standing over a large tub of soapy water. As he examined the mountain of dishes before him, he found himself wishing that he had been given any other job. He grabbed a dish at the top of the stack and began to wash it mechanically. He then handed it to the Quotidian next to him to be rinsed.

     Noticing how unhappy Jamari seemed, the Quotidian at his side asked, “You likey to sing?”

     Jamari, caught off guard by the question, replied with a confused, “Huh?”

     The Quotidian repeated, “You likey to sing?” and added, “We love singy when we worky”. 

     “Uhh, no. I don’t sing.” Jamari responded firmly.

     The Quotidian pressed, “Oh com’ com’, everybody sing!” He cleared his throat and sang these words to a simple melody:

Jammy, wisten, here da key,

Work be fun fun, just you see.

Sing a song, giggles start,

Work wif joy, wif your heart!

     Jamari was unsure of how to react. He had heard his name in the song but didn’t quite understand what it was supposed to mean. He chose to continue on with his mechanical approach to the dishes. 

     Preparations for Mystiboo continued well into the afternoon. Once completed, decorative garlands adorned the camp, delightful scents mixed with the forest air, and there was a palpable sense of excitement. As the final touches were put in place, Wink's voice rang out, "Time fo’ Mystiboo!"

     The Quotidians let out a cheer and began gathering together.

     Wink raised his hands and shouted, “Firs’, we play bubbly ball!”

     The Quotidians cheered and assumed their positions for the game. As the grass field began to clear, the children could now see a large painted rectangle with two buckets secured on posts on either side. Two groups began forming while the remaining Quotidians sat on the sidelines.

     “Jammy, Lizzy, you on this team…” Wink said while pointing to one of the groups and then, pointing to the other, said, “...and Gabby, Lukey, you on this team.”

     As the children walked to their teams, they could see the Quotidians on the field were taking off their hats and putting on new ones. Jamari and Elizabeth’s team were putting on red hats while Gabriela and Lukas’ team were putting on blue hats. The children were handed hats that matched their team’s color. Each of them felt a little silly about wearing a hat that was so pointed and brightly colored.

     Securing his hat on his head, Jamari asked, “So what are the rules?”

     “Here rules…” Wink began, “...each team have eigh’ players. Each team try score this ball in their basket.” Wink held up the ball for the children to see. It was somewhat smaller than a soccer ball and had an inside and an outside layer. The inside layer looked like pieces of fabric had been sewn together to make a sphere. The outside layer was a web of ropes that seemed to be a perfect size for Quotidians to grab onto.

     Wink continued, “When you have ball, you no walk wif it. You pass. When you close enough, you shoot in basket.” Wink pointed to the two baskets on either side of the field. The baskets stood about 6 feet off the ground. 

     Wink then explained, “When you no have ball, you try to stop other team. But you no touch or get too close. The first team score five, win! You understan’?”

     The children nodded and both teams got into position at the center of the field. Wink took the ball in both hands and called out, “Ready? Play!”

     He threw the ball into the air and the game began. The children could immediately see that the ball they were playing with didn’t behave like a normal ball from back home. This ball acted more like a bubble, floating as if it were weightless. What happened next surprised the children even more. To retrieve the ball that was floating in the air, the Quotidians started making a tower of themselves by standing on each other's shoulders. Their athleticism caught the children off guard. They had assumed, because they were so much bigger, that they would have to take it easy on the Quotidians. But clearly, they were going to have to try their hardest just to keep up. 

     The blue team reached the ball first and the Quotidian that had grabbed it did a double front flip off of the tower of Quotidians. Jamari caught on to bubbly-ball the quickest, but by the second or third round of the game each of the children were having a great time. As the sun was starting to set in the sky, Wink rang the triangle bell to signal it was time for a new activity.

     Wink called out, “time for yummys!”

     Everyone in the camp cheered, including the children.

     The Quotidians Gabriela had worked with brought out the finished treats and set them down on the large table.

     Wink looked at the children and asked, “You ever have our tweats?” 

     The children shook their heads. When the Quotidians saw that the children had never had these treats before, they began to giggle and talk excitedly among themselves.

     “What’s so funny?” Jamari asked. Then, looking to Gabriela, he asked, “Why are they laughing about the treats?”

     Gabriela shrugged her shoulders, “I dunno.”

     Wink grabbed one of the platters and brought it to the children. As they got a closer look, they could see the treats looked like purple cookies with pink swirls on them. Each of the children picked up a cookie and examined it closer. 

     After a brief moment of silence, Wink asked the children, “Whachu favorite animal?”

     The children were confused and didn’t see what their favorite animals had to do with the cookies.

     Wink repeated, “Whachu favorite animal?”

     The children exchanged puzzled glances and Elizabeth was the first to respond.

     “I really like unicorns,” she said somewhat timidly.

     Wink giggled, “Ohhh, this be good!” The other Quotidian’s once again began to giggle and talk among themselves.

     Gabriela was the next to respond, “My favorite animal is a cat”.

     Jamaria spoke up, “Mine is a cheetah”.

     Lukas took in a breath to respond but stopped himself. It was clear he had a realization that interrupted his first answer. With a smile, he replied, “Barky”. The Quotidians laughed and their excitement peaked with Lukas’ response.

     The children stood side by side, each holding a cookie. They couldn’t make any sense of what was happening or why everyone was watching them. They worried that maybe the cookies were some sort of a trick and actually tasted really bad. Hesitantly, they each took a bite. The cookies melted in their mouth as the sweetest thing they had ever tasted. 

     “These are so good!” Jamari called out.

     The Quotidians continued to giggle.

     As Gabriela finished her cookie, she clapped her hands together to wipe off the crumbs. She let out a shriek as she noticed her hands were now paws. She looked around her and saw that the other children were going through similar transformations. Elizabeth’s legs were growing longer and her hair was turning into a flowing mane. 

     “What is happening to me-ighh?” Elizabeth tried to ask. Her question had been abruptly cut off by a neighing sound that came from her own mouth. Startled by the loud sound she had made, she brought her hands up to her mouth. But instead of hands covering her mouth, she now had hoofs. She tried speaking again but all that came out were neighs and snorts. The Quotidians laughed and cheered as Elizabeth quickly completed her transformation into a majestic unicorn.

     As the children looked at each other, they could see that they had each become their favorite creature. Elizabeth as a unicorn, Gabriela as a cat, Jamari as a cheetah, and Lukas looked just like Barky.

     The Quotidians decided to join in on the fun. They each grabbed a cookie and quickly gobbled it up. The campsite soon looked as if it were a zoo where each of the animals had escaped from their enclosures. The Quotidians were now a variety of animals, none of them familiar to the children. These must have been the different animals that lived in Akadia. Now in animal form, the Quotidians hopped, ran, flew, rolled, slithered, and swung around the campsite. As the children watched all the fun the Quotidians were having as animals, they decided to join in. 

     Jamari immediately tested out his cheetah legs, seeing how fast he could run. Gabriela found a nearby tree and easily climbed and lept to the highest branches. Lukas was initially timid, adjusting to being as large as Barky. He soon became more comfortable as a group of Quotidians, now as monkey-like creatures, hopped on his back and signaled for him to give them a ride. Elizabeth pranced around the field gracefully as a group of Quotidians watched on in amazement. The commotion and hilarity continued for about 15 minutes when the magic began to wear off.

     One by one, the children and the Quotidians returned to their normal form.

     “That was amazing!” Gabriela said, jumping from a branch and onto the ground.

     “That was so much fun!” Elizabeth shouted. 

     “That was the coolest thing ever!” Jamari exclaimed as he examined his arms and legs, making sure he had actually changed back into himself.

     Lukas didn’t say anything but the smile on his face confirmed that he completely agreed with the others.

     Once everyone had changed back into themselves, the chatter and giggling across the camp began to subside. The children watched on as the Quotidians were once again walking toward the long serving table. Wink was standing beside the table, which now was covered with dozens of floating lanterns. Each of the Quotidians approached the table and picked out a lantern. A couple of the Quotidians motioned for the children to come pick a lantern as well. 

     Looking over the lantern she had chosen, Gabriela asked, “What are these for?”

     “Com’ com’, you see!” Wink replied in a hushed, yet happy, voice.

     With the fragile lanterns cradled gently in their hands, the children followed the Quotidians on a short hike into the forest. In just a few minutes, they found themselves on the shore of a small lake. The sun had now set and the stars were beginning to appear in the sky. Along with the Quotidians, the children gathered by the water's edge. 

     Wink's eyes sparkled as explain, "This last thing fo’ Mystiboo.” He held up his lantern for the children to see and continued, “We light candle, make wish, and let fly.” 

     Each of the children now looked at their own lanterns and Elizabeth asked, “So we make a wish? What kind of wish?”

     Smiling warmly, Wink replied, “We wish for somethin’ we hope for.” Looking over his lantern, he added, “no toys, no games. Somethin’ we hope for.” 

     A thoughtful expression came over each of the children’s faces. They each asked themselves silently about something they hoped for. One by one, they gave Wink a smile, signaling that they had decided what their wish would be. 

     Wink and some of the other older Quotidians helped everyone light their lanterns. The soft, warm glow of the candles illuminated the lanterns' and highlighted their intricate designs. Gently, they released the lanterns over the still waters of the lake. The lanterns slowly floated higher and higher until they looked like fireflies in the distance.

     In that perfect moment, surrounded by Quotidians, the children didn’t worry about whether or not their wishes would be granted. They didn’t need anything to make today better than it already was. Today had been a beautiful day, filled with laughter and fun. As the children watched their lanterns join the stars, they wondered what else Akadia had in store for them.

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