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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 25

The Celebration

     With the challenges completed, the Quotidians began streaming out of the stadium, their happy chatter filling the air. 

     "What happens now?" Jamari asked eagerly.

     Aurelia responded with a smile, "It's time to celebrate!"

     The mood on the journey back to the village was especially cheerful, with some Quotidians even playing instruments along the way. As they walked, the kids couldn't resist joining in, clapping their hands to the beat of the drums.

     When the kids arrived back to the village, they found it already bustling with activity. Many Quotidians were hard at work, preparing for the celebration. The colorful decorations, enticing smells, and cheerful chatter immediately brought back memories of Mystiboo, but this time, the excitement was cranked up to a ten! Without hesitation, the kids eagerly pitched in, ready to lend a hand in any way they could. They spent the early afternoon adorning the village with vibrant streamers, setting tables, and helping to bake the food.

     With the village transformed into a whirl of color and sound, they were ready to celebrate! Music filled the air as Quotidians of all ages began to dance and play. Elizabeth, Jamari, Gabriela, and Lukas found themselves at the center of it all, surrounded by smiling faces eager to congratulate them. Everywhere they turned, they were met with cheers of "Good job, kiddos!" 

     Some of the young Quotidians, including Penpen, Rooby, Magoo, and Sunny, pulled the kids out to dance. Elizabeth and Gabriela eagerly joined in, moving to the lively rhythm. Even Jamari and Lukas couldn’t resist trying to replicate some of the dance moves of the Quotidians.

     The food was also top-notch, a feast fit for a Quotidian celebration! Many of the kids' favorite foods were there, but there were also new and exciting foods to try. Magoo encouraged the kids to try a special treat called "bouncybites", which allowed the eater to bounce around almost weightlessly for a few short moments. The kids eagerly sampled the bouncybites, giggling with delight as they experienced the sensation of bouncing through the air like a partially filled balloon.

     As the celebrations continued, Aurelia caught the kids' attention, signaling them to join her at a small round table nestled just outside the festivities. As they approached, the kids noticed that the table looked almost identical to the one they had gathered around at Aurelia's house near the beginning of their journey. This stirred up a sense of familiarity and anticipation. 

     Curious gazes turned to Aurelia as she reached into a pouch, her eyes bright and excited.

     "I have something for you," she announced, pulling out four small wooden boxes, the perfect size for holding a ring or other small object. 

     "What is it?" Elizabeth couldn't help but ask. 

     With a warm smile, Aurelia encouraged them to open their boxes. Simultaneously, the kids opened the lids, revealing their unique gifts. 

     Elizabeth's eyes widened as she beheld a beautiful necklace adorned with a bright pink gem. As she examined it closely, she noticed a tiny, hardly noticeable, crack on the gem. 

     Seeing that she had noticed, Aurelia reassured her, "Elizabeth, this necklace was designed specifically for you. We hope it’ll be a reminder to you that imperfections don’t make something less beautiful."

     Elizabeth smiled and nodded in understanding. She put the necklace on and looked down, admiring the pink gem. 

     Lukas eagerly opened his box and found a compass with a shiny silver needle, gleaming in the daylight. 

     "A compass!" he exclaimed, his eyes widening with excitement as he held it up for a closer look.

     "That's right," Aurelia confirmed with a warm smile, "but not just any compass." 

     She leaned in to explain, "This compass works a little differently, Lukas. If you're ever in trouble or need help, this compass will point you in the direction you need to go."

     Lukas stared at the compass in awe, his fingers tracing its intricate design. The idea that he now possessed a magical object filled him with wonder. 

     Jamari's box revealed a shiny key on a delicate silver chain. With a bright grin, he lifted it up, feeling its weight in his palm. 

     "Here da' key," he chimed, echoing the playful words from the song he had learned from the Quotidians.

     "You got it!" Aurelia affirmed with a smile, and then with some mystery in her voice added, "I would keep that with you; it may come in handy someday."

     Jamari nodded, now wondering what the key would unlock.

     Gabriela opened her box to reveal a golden locket with a beautiful design etched into it. Gabriela looked up at Aurelia, thinking the locket was beautiful but a little confused what it was or what it represented.

     "Open it," Aurelia encouraged gently.

     Realizing there was more to the locket, Gabriela found where it could be opened. Inside the locket was a small picture of Gabriela’s favorite beach from where she had grown up. The picture had a magical quality to it, almost as if she was able to see the waves moving and crashing on the beach. 

     “We wanted you to have something that will always remind you of where you grew up,” Aurelia said softly.

     "I love it!" Gabriela exclaimed.

     All four children now stood together, each admiring the gifts they had received. 

     Aurelia, while taking a step backward and checking the sky, announced, "I have one more surprise for you." 

     Bringing her fingers to her lips, she let out a whistle, distinct from the one used to call Barky. This whistle carried a deeper pitch and seemed like it could carry on for miles.

     As the children looked around, uncertain of what was to come, a low whooshing sound began to fill the sky, like the approach of an enormous bird. The Quotidians began chattering excitedly, seeming to know what was approaching. 

     Over the treeline, five majestic dragons soared into view, their powerful wings beating against the wind. The children's’ eyes widened, some even gasping in awe at the sight before them.

     The Quotidians moved around swiftly, clearing a space for the dragons. With a graceful descent, the dragons landed near the center of the village. The kids ran toward the dragons until they were standing just a few paces in front of them. Despite their imposing size, the dragons emanated a sense of gentleness that put the children at ease. Lukas was the first to step forward, cautiously raising his hand to stroke the head of one of the dragons.

Noticing that there were saddles fitted on the dragons, Jamari asked, almost in a shout, "Do we get to ride them?" 

     Aurelia nodded with what looked like a conflicted smile. 

     Sensing Aurelia had something else to tell them, Elizabeth asked, "What is it?"

     In a solemn voice, Aurelia explained, "We will get to ride the dragons, but I need to tell you where they'll be taking us." 

     A hush fell over the group and the kids listened intently. 

     "They're going to be taking us back to the door," she began, her voice carrying the weight of the end of their journey, "It's time to take you kids back home."

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