It had been nearly 24 hours since she'd discovered the Leprechaun's deception.
The first thing she had done was to grab a flashlight and run down into the basement, only to find Terry, Ima, and Hatima, but only darkness and silence greeted her. I thought they were supposed to be tending the tree. Then she saw the note taped to one of the pipes.
The Tree is nearly healed. Went to see the Dixie Chicks perform as treat. Back tomorrow.
"Why is it that everytime I need your help, you're out seeing a concert?" she fumed, then returned to the main floor. She was about to start up the ladder when she realized; I have no idea where I'm going. I know it's supposed to take a week to get to the Pole via the Tree, but I'm not prepared for a week long trek. It might have worked for Andrew to leave in a hurry, what with his traveling companions carrying all the outdoor gear, but Lara needed more thatn her winter clothes and few pieces of biscotti.
Or you're procrastinating. Afraid to go into the Tree.
She'd locked up the shop and gone home. Ever since she'd moved to Edmonton she'd been living with her sister Denise and her husband Rob. Neither were home. There was a note on the table.
Went to see the Dixie Chicks perform. Back late. Dinner's in the fridge.
She'd grabbed the cold chicken and rice and wolfed it down, then changed into a pair of army pants, a tank top and thrown on an old hoodie. Heavy wool socks borrowed from Rob's drawer, and then it was strapping on the army boots.
Good for stomping...leprechauns.
Then it was out to the garage. Rob's compound bow and quiver were the first order of business. Then a pair of work gloves. Her father had always said, you can't do better than work gloves for multi purpose item. They would keep her hands warm, and let's face it, until she mastered firing a bow without having the fletching tear hell out of your hands (she'd taken archery at summer camp, but that was years ago), work gloves would keep her soft pink skin safe.
Her eyes darted about the garage for a formidable weapon for close up work. She decided on Rob's claw hammer. She seemed to remember Mel Gibson blocking a sword with a hammer in Braveheart. The hard metal and easy balance felt good in her hand, and she threw it and the rope and an old sleeping bag into a framepack. The framepack went without saying. Years of Dungeons and Dragons had taught her the merit of this. You need something to throw all your crap in. And a framepack would allow her to hang things on it as well. Like the LED lantern.
She also grabbed a coil of rope. If she couldn't have Elvish, bright yellow nylon would have to do. Sam Gamgee was no fool.
Back inside the house, she added a bottle of aspirin. She anticipated getting the shit kicked out of her at some point in this venture, and she sort of doubted she'd have a cleric around to heal her sorry ass. She also threw in a toothbrush and toothpaste. There was really nothing she hated worse than having that "sweaters on your teeth" feeling a few days without brushing would bring.
A pack of smokes. Two lighters. Three water bottles. Her digital camera (after all, if she made it back, she'd want a record of her adventures), her i-pod (tunes are essential on long walks), her makeup, a box of lid-care wipes, and some feminie hygiene products, extra underwear and she headed back to the shop.
She left a note for Rob and Denise.
Went to rescue a friend from Leprechauns. Took your compound bow Rob. Back in a week or so.
The cab driver commented it was early in the year for backpacking. He eyed the compound bow with surprise. Lara said nothing, but chewed her bottom lip and looked out the window.Finally back at the shop, she'd thought she'd just race up the ladder and into the tree, but now that she was here, she felt less confident about this decision.
She had no idea where she was going once she entered the Tree. She decided to wait for the Fates to return. To pass the time, she began cleaning up some of the damage the Tree had caused. Then, overcome with the intensity of the day, she fell asleep on one of the couches. Dawn had woken her.
She'd made some coffee in the French press, and while munching on a very stale muffin from the baked goods, she realized she hadn't packed any food. A trip to the local grocery store and a box of power bars later, she was back in the shop, staring at the Tree and the ladder. She ruminated that, seeing as it would be her last real meal for some time, she ought to eat a real meal and went next door to the trendy restaurant for lunch. That done, she'd returned to the shop.
At this point it occurred to her that she ought to work on her archery skills before she actually needed to use the bow. Since the panelling was all going to be ripped out anyhow, she drew an outline of a leprechaun in black marker on the wall and began target practice. As it turned out, she hadn't completely lost her ability from summer camp. The completely immobile wall leprechaun took 3 arrows to the head, 2 to the chest, one in each arm, 1 near enough the groin to seem mortal, and one in the foot. The rest hit his imaginary friends on either side. Lara sighed. If she could get off 20 shots before the leprechaun got to her, she might just kill him.
Frustrated, she geared up once again, but realized halfway through that it was supper.
Finally, the sun set and the interior of the shop dark, she stood in front of the Tree. The Fates had not returned. If anyone was going to rescue Andrew, it was going to have to be her. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the LED lantern and placed a begloved hand on a rung. Just as she raised her foot to step up, she heard the front door to the shop open.
I thought I locked that.
She turned and held out the lantern. "Hello?"
"You look like you're going on a trip," a female voice said.
"Terry? Ima?" Lara called into the darkness.
"Neither," the voice replied. A tall form stepped into the glow of the lantern. Lara gasped. Pink eyes filled with intelligence gazed at her. "My name is Eostre."