The Kingdom

The Kingdom : Homecoming – Chapter Seven

This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form. It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world. All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them. Please let me know what you think in the comments below! Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.

If you have not read the previous chapters or Season 1, Beginnings, HEAD HERE! 

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Author’s Note:  Welcome back!  And thank you for waiting every so patiently.  While The Kingdom may not be back up to full regular posting power, I couldn’t hold back any more and had to start sharing new content with you guys!  Enjoy!

Chapter Seven

Chip

Chip awoke with a gasp. The crisp cool air of morning nipped at his cheeks, making him shudder with cold. He had stopped to take shelter the previous night beneath a large boulder overlooking a mossy patch of ground.  And though it was the most comfortable place he’s slept in days, he still awoke to find himself sore and exhausted.

He was lost. He had to be. Though he’d done his best to use the sun and stars for guidance, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was running around in large circles, forever missing the path that would lead him to the Kingdom. What was worse was that his body was starting to pay the price for his lack of survival skills. His face was burnt by the sun and his clothes were torn, exposing his pale skin, which had lost much of its plumpness, accenting his bones underneath. He’d barely eaten, and when he finally did, he couldn’t shake the feeling that what he was eating was poisonous. He’d never learned to hunt, so he simply prayed to the stars that he would stumble on civilization before it was too late.

He rolled to sit up, feeling every muscle in his body cry out in agony, and found an odd sight before him. There on the ground in front of him, was a tiny creature covered in brown fur with a little black and white stripe on its backside. It had a red button nose and little buck teeth, and it sat in front of a bright red apple.

“Hello there,” said Chip, hoping the small rodent, he believed to be called a chipmunk, was of the friendly sort.

The chipmunk squeaked and then used its tiny paws to push on the apple, rolling it towards Chip.

“Y-you want me to have this?” asked Chip, gingerly reaching for the fruit. His mouth watered at the prospect of food, but he also didn’t want to be rude and steal the chipmunk’s offering under false pretense.

The chipmunk squeaked once more and then, as if understanding him, nodded in affirmation.

Chip smiled and took the apple into his hand, eyeing it hungrily, but not too eagerly lest he forget the manners his mother had taught him back at the castle. Even when he’d been transformed into a tiny porcelain cup, she’d make sure he’d minded his manners. “Thank you very much,” he said and then took a large bite into the apple, its juices spilling over his chin. It was sweet and crisp and, perhaps because he was so hungry, tasted better than anything had his entire life.

“Careful, I hear an old witch around these parts likes to poison those.” A voice echoed from the forest around Chip, causing him to drop the apple into the dirt. The chipmunk jumped into the air, startled, and ran for cover. Chip was on his feet, with a long stick, the closest weapon he could find, pointed at the foliage where the voice had come from.

“Who’s there?!” called Chip, half hoping that it would be no one.

“Perhaps no one is there,” said the voice. “Perhaps you have gotten so lost in this forest that you are now hearing your own imagination. Perhaps it is all in your head.”

“Don’t be silly,” remarked Chip. “You’re not in my head. I can hear you. Now come on out and show yourself.”

A heavy sigh came from the underbrush. “What a shame,” said the voice. “No one wants to play make believe with me. Not ever. Fine, fine. Come on close and I’ll show you my face.”

Chip eyed the bush in front of him warily and then took a step forward.

“That won’t do, you’ll have to come closer.”

Chip moved closer once more.

“Almost there,” said the voice.

Chip moved so that his face was practically touching the green leaves, and glared into the bush.

“BOO!!!” Chip leaped into the air, dropping his stick as the voice shouted from behind him. He fell to the ground and spun around to see, well, not what he had expected to see at all. The voice was that of a dragon. Not a big one, by any means, but a dragon nonetheless. It had a purple body and a slim neck, with little orange horns and orange wings which kept it afloat. It crossed its arms and laughed cheerfully.

“Oh boy, you should SEE your face. You did not see that coming!” cackled the dragon.

“It’s not nice to trick people!” shouted Chip, who preferred the company of the chipmunk to this rude mythical creature.

“Oh please,” said the dragon. “It was just a bit of fun. Come now, don’t be so serious.” The dragon straightened up and held out a small clawed hand. Chip eyed it apprehensively but at last took it and the dragon pulled him to his feet. “Let’s start from scratch. My name is Figment.” The dragon winked at Chip. “And you are?”

“Chip,” he replied. “I didn’t know dragons still existed.”

“Silly boy,” chided Figment. “Everything exists that can be imagined.”

Chip thought this over for a long moment, his eyes quirking up questioningly.

“You don’t believe me?” Figment waved his hand through the air and summoned a cloud of white, which formed itself into a tall, stark white unicorn, which took off, galloping into the woods.

Chip was wonderstruck, but didn’t let that deter him from arguing with the dragon. “But that’s not imagination,” he pushed back. “It’s only a bit of magic. I’ve been under a magical spell most of my life, and I can tell you that summoning mythical beasts is just fancy magic.”

“Who’s to say that imagination doesn’t have a bit of magic to it?” asked Figment, and this did indeed stump Chip who had never considered his thoughts and the powers of sorceresses to be one and the same. “Ah!” snapped Figment. “Seems I’ve struck a chord.” With this, an enormous grand piano appeared and Figment struck it with all eight of his fingers, causing a loud C Major to ring out through the forest around them. The piano then vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

Chip was not as amused as Figment would have hoped. “You’ve got quite the talent,” said Chip, “But quite honestly, you are wasting my time. I must get to the Kingdom and find someone who can transform the lady of my castle back to her normal self.” Chip began to stomp off, but Figment stopped him.

“Wait a moment,” said the dragon, his little wings flapping gently to keep him aloft. “Why go ALL the way to the Kingdom when what you seek is only half a day’s walk from here?”

“What do you mean?” asked Chip, who wasn’t sure he was quite ready to trust Figment.

“I mean, there’s a magical woman who lives near her who is quite skilled in dealing with curses. Mama Odie they call her.” Figment smiled and crossed his arms. “Why she’s helped to break all sorts of curses in her day, not to mention helping the lovely Princess Tiana out of a tight spot not so many years ago.  Not that breaking the curse kept her out of trouble for long.”  Figment rolled his eyes.

“Well if she’s as skilled as you say, then you must take me to her,” said Chip.

“Me?!” exclaimed Figment. “But I’ve got a day full of imagining to get to!”

“Then do it on the way,” said Chip. “You owe me for the scare you gave me before.”

“Wow, you really know how to hold a grudge,” sneered Figment. “Very well, I am a dragon of great honor, therefore I will take you to Mama Odie and see all your curse breaking needs are cared for.”

They set off into the forest, Figment’s imagination creating all manner of things as they went: ponies, fireworks, strange mechanical robots and large loaves of bread. Anything that crossed his mind seemed to appear before his eyes. It wasn’t long before they broke through the seemingly endless trees and found themselves at the top of a huge canyon, almost like a crater, which looked down on a valley far below. The valley itself encircled a single pillar of rock, which rose up as high as canyon walls. In the distance, Chip could just make out a small rundown shack sitting on top of the pillar.

“There you are, Chip,” exclaimed Figment. “Mama Odie is right over there.”

“Over there?” gasped Chip, who had to squint just to make out the little shack atop the stone pillar. “How do you expect me to get over there? I haven’t got wings.”

Figment simply rolled his eyes. “Really, what are they teaching you back in that castle? And haven’t you been listening? Anything is possible if you can imagine it. Why, I imagine if you really tried hard, you could walk right over to that shack and knock on the door.”

“Are you mad?” asked Chip. “I’d fall to my death. It’s impossible.”

Figment flew right up to Chip’s face and smiled. “Nothing, not one single thing, is impossible.”

Chip eyed him carefully and then looked at the valley far below him. “Maybe you could fly me there?”

“Not possible,” retorted Figment, shaking his head.  “I’ll be much too busy flying ME there.  It seems you’ll just have to trust that head of yours on this one.”

Chip took a deep breath and gulped, trying to swallow his fear. Then he concentrated very long and hard. He focused his mind on a road and he imagined it was there in front of him, leading straight up to the entrance of the little shack. He pictured it in his mind and let it take shape, imagining it was a real, tangible thing. And then, like magic, he noticed the slightest shimmer in the air in front of him, in the empty space. It was like a rainbow, but more solid. With a final deep breath, he took a step onto where the air shimmered. To his great surprise, he didn’t fall. Not even a little bit. The shimmering intensified and he saw a path laid out before him. A rainbow trail lead from the cliff’s edge up to shack which sat atop the pillar.

“How is this possible?” ssked Chip.

“It’s like I said,” replied Figment giddily. “Anything is possible if you believe it so.” The dragon flapped his wings joyously. “Now come on, we’ve got a curse to break.”

Overjoyed at his accomplishment, Chip took off at a run across the path. Every step he took the glowing of the path intensified beneath his feet. Nearly halfway to his destination, he felt on top of the world.  Just then, his eyes glimpsed downwards and saw the drop beneath his feet. Everything became hazy and his body began to shake. He was too high up, and here, for the first time in his life, Chip realized that he had a very deep fear of heights. He stopped on the path and dropped to his knees to try and grab hold of it, but his hands simply passed through it like water which wasn’t wet. This only caused his panic to intensify.

“What are you doing?” yelled Figment, flying around him.

“I can’t do this!” yelled back Chip. “It’s too high up. I-I’ll fall.”

“You will if you keep on like this,” said Figment. “You have to keep going. You have to believe.”

To Chip’s left, high above the valley below, there was a cackle of thunder and a black cloud of smoke materialized and began to grow, shifting and expanding.

“Oh no,” said Figment.

“What is that?!” squealed Chip.

Figment shook his head, worry spreading across his face. “Imagination’s worst enemy.” He gulped. “Doubt.” The smoke continued to undulate and grow, filling the sky and then, as if it weren’t already horrifying, a large creature emerged from the smoke. It was black and had the abdomen of a man, with the head of a demon with sharp teeth and horns. It had two massive black wings and claws which protruded from its fingers. “It used to live on Bald Mountain,” explained Figment hurriedly. “But before long it could no longer satiate its need for souls so it went looking for them instead.”

“It wants my soul?!” cried Chip.

“Yes,” said Figment. “Hurry, you have to get away from this place. Imagine the path once more. You can do this!”

Chip gritted his teeth and imagined the road once more. The path began to shimmer once again. Desperately trying to steady his racing heart, he stood and launched himself forward. He fearfully forced himself to look away from the great monster which was clawing at the sky, edging nearer and nearer towards him.

“Hurry!” screamed Figment, flying alongside Chip. “You must hurry!”

Chip ran with all the speed that his short legs could handle. Even though tears streamed from his eyes, the shack was now in full. He was almost there. He reached out, but a shadow overcame him. He looked up to see a black-clawed hand reaching for him.

“No!” he protested and leaped from the rainbow road just as the hand wrapped itself around the imagined path, shattering it like glass. Pieces of the imaginary path showered Chip as he fell through the air, screaming at the top his lungs.

“Imagine something!” cried Figment, who flew beside him, speeding towards the ground as well.

“I can’t!” yelled Chip, who watched as the ground approached at high speed.

“Imagine anything!” Figment pleaded.

“I can’t!!!” screamed Chip.

“Anything at all! Imagine something or you’re going to die Chip! Imagine!!!”

As the valley sped towards him, plummeting Chip to his death, he closed his eyes and thought of the last bit of kindness he’d experienced in the world. His mind clung to the little chipmunk with the apple–then everything went dark.

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