Ace has no idea that picking a bright purple handkerchief would send him to the adventure of his life.
But will he be able to defeat a gigantic eagle, conquer ape warriors, outsmart an evil Prince while saving Princess Juliana and her kingdom in time?Chapter 01 Chapter 02 Chapter 03 Chapter 04 Chapter 05 Chapter 06 Chapter 07 Chapter 08 Chapter 09 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Trying to ignore the rumbling in the distance, King Jonathan of Chesterfield thought through his options, but there weren't very many.
He could continue to sit comfortably in his situation room while his best soldiers died valiantly on the field of battle until Chesterfield was left without any protection at all. He could pack up his family and flee, trying not to think of his subjects he left behind and hoping that at least his family would survive. Or, he could surrender to the invading enemy.
He did not want to surrender. Chesterfield had never been forced to surrender to an enemy in all its years of existence. But as the stomping boots of the invading army drew closer, King Jonathan did not see that he had any other choice.
He hung his head for a moment, drew a deep breath and then looked up at the commander of his armed forces. He gave a short, sad nod.
"Are you certain, Sire?" his advisor asked from the sidelines. Some around him gasped at such insubordination, but King Jonathan understood the question and did not begrudge his long time friend the doubt.
"Sadly, I am. I do not see any other way. Commander, please instruct your generals to raise the white flags of surrender, and we will be forced to comply with the wishes of the enemy. It is our only chance to survive."
"Not exactly," came a strange, musical voice from the windowsill. And then, before anyone could react, a small silver marmoset sailed in through the open window.
For a moment, everyone in the room froze. Then, all the military leaders jumped into action and shortly the tiny creature was surrounded on all sides by guns and bayonets. He just laughed and leapt onto the table directly in front of the king of the monkeys.
"At ease," the king said, holding up a hand to calm the anxious soldiers all around him. "What do you mean, not exactly?"
"And who are you?" added the king's advisor.
The marmoset eyed the advisor very carefully, and then glanced around the room. "I think we should speak in private," he said to the king.
"Out of the question!" cried the military commander. "Sire, he could be a spy, or worse, an assassin!"
The king did not think the marmoset meant any harm. In fact, from the moment he had appeared on the windowsill, the king had felt a great surge of hope, of possibility, the feeling that perhaps Chesterfield would emerge unscathed from the battle after all. But he could also see his commander's point.
"My lead advisor stays," he said to the marmoset. "Everyone else, clear the room."
The commander scowled, but he headed out and everyone else followed. Only the king's most trusted advisor remained, closing the door firmly on the last soldier to exit.
"You are a good and wise king," the marmoset said. "And for that reason I have come. Because Chesterfield does not need to be destroyed today. In fact, Chesterfield possesses a resource that can keep it forever safe, if used wisely. I am here to give you that resource."
"You still haven't said who you are," the advisor pointed out.
"My name does not matter much, does it? Not when I am about to tell you how to save the kingdom from imminent harm. But as you seem so anxious to call me something, you may call me ... the Protector."
The advisor snickered, looking at the creature less than half the size of himself and the king of the monkeys. How could such a small creature possibly protect the entire kingdom?
But the king did not snicker. He did not even crack a smile. He shot a silencing look at his advisor and then turned back to the Protector and nodded gravely. "Tell me what I need to do."
"Come with me." The Protector turned and headed toward the double doors on the far end of the room, which led out onto a small balcony. The invading enemy could be seen far off in the distance, looking like an army of ants that would soon reveal themselves to be far more lethal gorillas.
"Sire," the advisor objected, thinking it highly unwise for the king to put himself directly in view of the oncoming army.
"Peace, friend," the king said. "They are still some ways off."
The king followed the Protector out onto the balcony and watched as the little marmoset leapt up onto the railing and pointed far off, beyond the oncoming army to a small, lush mountain in the distance, ringed with trees and covered in green growth.
"Do you see that mountain there, to the east?"
The king nodded. He had seen it many times before, though he had never been there.
"That is the sacred forest," the Protector said. "It is a beautiful place. But more importantly, it is a powerful place. The sacred forest is home to the plant soldiers, which used properly, have the power to protect Chesterfield from the fiercest foes and largest armies of the world."
"Plant soldiers?" the advisor sputtered.
"How do we get these plant soldiers on our side?" the king asked. He didn't care how preposterous they sounded if they might save his people and his beloved country.
"They are already on your side. They live to serve Chesterfield. All you must do is awaken them."
"Fine. How do we do that?"
"You must possess three objects: a magical ring, a magical necklace, and a magical scepter. Whoever bears these three objects controls the plant soldiers. But - and this is very important - if these three objects should fall into the wrong hands, the plant soldiers could be used against you. Do you understand?"
"Yes, yes," the king said, looking nervously at the approaching enemy, which no longer looked like ants, but instead were beginning to look more like mice. "Where are these objects? Can you take me to them?"
"I already have," the marmoset said, and then he leapt off the balcony and disappeared from view.
"What nonsense!" the advisor sputtered. "What a waste of our time! He must have been sent by the enemy purely to distract-"
"Silence," the king said. For he had turned and looked back inside the room and saw three glittering objects on the long table which had not been there before. He rushed back into the room and sure enough, spread out majestically on the table's gleaming mahogany surface, were a large gold ring with a gleaming red stone, a golden chain with a teardrop shaped sapphire pendant, and a scepter encrusted with more jewels than the king's own formal crown.
"Your Highness," the advisor said, reaching out to touch the necklace, which was nearest to him, but the king immediately put up a hand to stop him.
The king took the ring first and slipped it on his index finger, where it fit perfectly and caught the late afternoon sun streaming through the open balcony doors. Then he took the necklace and placed it around his neck, motioning for his advisor to come and secure the clasp. Finally, the king reached out and closed his shaking fingers around the base of the scepter.
The moment the scepter was in his hands, the rumbling sound of the approaching enemy grew instantly louder. So loud, in fact, it sounded like in a moment's time the enemy had crossed the miles and breached the castle walls. Gripping the scepter so tightly his knuckles were white, the king rushed back to the balcony doors.
But what he saw out beyond the palace was not the approaching enemy, but something much stranger. The mountain that the Protector had pointed out in the distance appeared, at first glance, to be moving, and the tremendous rumbling sound was coming from there.
It looked like an isolated earthquake, like just that one solitary piece of land was shaking. But then the picture shifted, and the king began to realize it was not the mountain itself that was moving. No, the plants on the mountain were moving, while the land itself remained firmly in place.
Before King Jonathan's eyes, the very trees that covered the mountain seemed to uproot themselves and move, much faster than he would have imagined possible for such old, large trees, toward the line of enemies.
"The plant soldiers," breathed his advisor from behind him.
"Yes," said King Jonathan. "Yes! Alert the commander! Alert the generals! We will not surrender after all!"
With the scepter firmly in hand and the ring and necklace secured around his finger and neck, King Jonathan raced through the halls of the palace and out the front doors, where he leapt on his most faithful horse and headed straight toward the front lines of the battle that would soon explode.
The plant soldiers reached the line of encroaching enemies well before King Jonathan and his horse. He watched as the moving trees, vines, and shrubs took the enemy by surprise, whipping them off their feet and entangling them in vines, lashing them with young, flexible branches and running them through with old, sturdy ones.
King Jonathan's soldiers were there, too, but they hardly had to do anything but hold the line and watch as the plant soldiers made quick work of the flabbergasted gorilla army. When the few remaining gorillas turned tail and retreated the way they'd come, King Jonathan's commander turned to him from across the field and raised his arms in victory.
King Jonathan nodded to the commander. "Well done," he called out, though in truth, the plant soldiers had done it all. But however it had happened, the people of Chesterfield were now safe, and King Jonathan's soldiers erupted in celebration all around him.
King Jonathan urged his horse forward, hoping to thank the plant soldiers. He did not know if they could talk, or how he would communicate with them, but still he somehow had to make them understand how grateful he was. But as he pushed his horse through the rejoicing soldiers, he saw only the backs of the trees as they moved swiftly toward the mountain they'd come from.
"Wait!" he called out, urging his horse into a gallop.
But the plant soldiers were moving back to the sacred mountains as graceful and quick as the wind itself.
"Wait! Please, wait!" the king called out.
"It's no use," said a familiar voice, and the king turned to see the Protector on the ground next to his horse, his arms clasped behind his back, grinning off in the direction of the plant soldiers, a satisfied look on his silver face.
King Jonathan leapt down off his horse. "Make them stop! Can't you make them stop? I want to thank them. They've saved my kingdom. Anything they'd like, I'll make it happen."
"They don't need anything from you."
"But couldn't we build them a special garden? Right next to the palace? That way they'll be handy if we should ever need them again, and we could see to their every need. I would bring in the best gardeners in the entire kingdom, the entire world-"
"Like I said, they don't need anything from you. And you shouldn't rely on having them right in your back yard, either. They arrived quickly enough when it mattered, didn't they?"
The king looked off in the direction of the plant soldiers' mountain, pondering this, and barely even noticed when the Protector plucked the scepter from his hand until it was gone.
"Hey yourself," the Protector said with another grin. "I'll be holding onto this."
"But I need that!"
"No you don't. You'll maintain peace in your kingdom like every other king before you. Only in the gravest hour of need, should you absolutely require the services of the plant soldiers, will you come to find me and retrieve the scepter."
"What if I can't come? What if I've already been taken captive, or worse?"
"You'll send someone. Whoever arrives at my private island bearing the ring and necklace you wear at this very moment, will be considered the true heir of the scepter, and I will hand it over."
"But this private island! Where is it?"
"I've left a map with your advisor," the Protector said. "And if I were you, I'd make sure I kept that ring and necklace very, very safe."
And with that, he disappeared as quickly as he'd come.