Day 26 – 1554 words and a total of 46 107 words! We’re getting closer and closer here!

Somewhere in the undergrowth surrounding the base of the mountain, a small, silent Strobot lay, watching the progress of the stickmen through binoculars as they continued to repair the castle walls.

Turning one of the lenses at the end of the binoculars, the robot refocused them on the wall, staring harder as the blurry figures adding the final touches to the walls came back into proportion.

Over the past few hours the lone Strobot had lain there, only moving to adjust the binoculars as it watched the progress of the stickmen far up above it on the castle walls.

Shifting slightly, the metal spy watched as the faint figures completed their work, let out an unheard cheer that was carried away by the wind, packed up their tools, and made their way down the staircase where they disappeared into the castle ground.

Staring at the wall one last time as the final stickman descended down the staircase, the Strobot got to its feet, strapped the binoculars to its side, stood up, and made its way back into the undergrowth.

It was time to report back to Destick.

 

However, the Strobot had not been as stealthy as it had thought. Stikky had seen the sun glinting off its body from the walltop and made his way down quietly to the vine-covered entrance, where he had watched it closely for at least half an hour.

As it moved off into the trees, he parted the ivy covering the secret cave and crept out, determined to follow the Strobot and find out where it was going, and if there were more robots somewhere else on the island.

Slipping silently through the undergrowth, Stikky kept his sword at hand as he followed his unaware quarry as he sneaked quietly forward, keeping the Strobot in sight, but not going too close for fear of being spotted.

The robot kept going at a steady pace, and Stikky began to wonder how long it could keep it up. Then he remembered that it was a robot—obviously—and could maintain a good speed for several hours.

Stikky trailed the Strobot for as long as he could, then began to slow as his energy began to run out. He struggled along for a few more minutes, then just when he was thinking he’d have to stop, the trees began to thin and the robot he was following emerged out onto the beach.

Panting as quietly as he could for breath, Stikky hid behind a tree as he watched the Strobot hurry across the sand, look cautiously back the way it had come, struggle through the water to a small boat floating in the shallows, and clamber aboard.

A moment later, a rumbling sound came from the boat as the motor inside it started, the propeller began to turn, and the craft moved away from the shore—slowly at first, but then faster and faster—and towards the open sea.

After waiting a few moments until he thought it was safe, Stikky hurried from his hiding spot in the undergrowth to the water’s edge, where he watched the boat move off in a northwest direction, the water churning behind it.

“That’s heading for Destick’s Island…” he said to no one in particular, then turned and made his way back through the Fruitful Forest towards the mountain to report what he had seen.

 

“I’d have thought Destick would’ve taken a break from his schemes after we brought down the laser cannon…” Leddy mused, relaxing on his bed after listening as Stikky related his story. “I guess he’s never going to give up, is he?”

“I think we need to go back and find out what he’s planning and why’s he’s spying on us,” Stikky decided firmly. “He probably sent that Strobot to see whether we’d begun to repair the walls or not. Too bad for him we get things done quickly, otherwise we’d probably have been overrun by robots in a couple minutes.”

“We’d better go get supplies then!” Leddy said brightly, excited at the chance of another voyage. “C’mon, we need food, five or six flasks of water this time—it was a close call the first time, I’d prefer to have more than enough to drink than not enough—and a couple lanterns.”

Leaping up from the bed, Leddy moved towards the door, then stepped back in alarm as three shadows fell on him.

“Going an another secret mission, eh?” asked a suspicious voice. A moment later, Steik, Stif, and Stib stepped out of the shadows and glared at the two.

“Don’t try and make something up,” Stif interrupted as Stikky opened his mouth to protest. “We heard the whole thing, so don’t worry.”

“You’re not going somewhere without us again!” Stib added, folding his arms across his chest. “This time, we’re coming with you!”

Stikky rolled his eyes. “Whatever,” he decided, letting out a sigh. “I just hope the boat can hold five of us! And by the way, you’ll all have to help—you two included!”

He pointed to the twins as he spoke, who looked at him with injured dignity. “And when, exactly, have we tried to get out of helping?” Stif asked, then waved a hand. “Nevermind, don’t answer that.”

They five made their way to the kitchens after collecting a bundle of blankets and a pillow in case they needed to make another bed.

“Can one of you go and find some lanterns?” Stikky asked, grinning as Steik nodded, then spun around and hurried off for the storerooms. “You two,” he continued, turning to Stif and Stib. “We’re going to need a lot more water now that we’ve got three extra people coming, so can you go and find some more water flasks and fill them up? We’ll need at least twelve…”

Saluting smartly and winking at each other as they did so, the twins turned and ran after the faint silhouette of Steik as they argued about whether they needed more than twelve canteens or not.

Grinning cheerfully, Stikky turned to Leddy. “Come on,” he decided. “Let’s go and get some food. We’ll need a lot more, especially considering the twins are coming!”

Bursting through the doors into the kitchens, the two were greeted by the usual aroma of warm loaves of bread baking—a delicious smell in itself—and something new… something… sweet…”

“Well ‘ello lads!” McRhoddy exclaimed, plonking a tray of hot scones on a rack to cool and waving a gloved hand vigorously. “So, ‘ave ya come to try my newest creation?”

Leddy and Stikky shared a questioning look. Another invention?

“Oh c’mon!” the old stickman exclaimed, then stared at the two. “Oh… right. I see what ya want—you need s’more supplies for another trip, aye? Tell ya what: you try one of my Honey Puffs and I’ll get you all the food you need. Deal?”

Stikky rolled his eyes. “Okay,” he decided, winking at Leddy as they were both handed a still-warm scone. “Just remember, it’s not that we don’t want to try your food, it’s that we’re too busy to!”

McRhoddy rolled his eyes. “Well, you’ve got one now; there’s no gettin’ out of it!”

Shrugging, Stikky lifted the small cake to his mouth and took a bite, his eyes widening as a stream of warm, gooey honey flowed out into his mouth from the centre of the scone.

“Mmmm!” Leddy exclaimed, licking his lips as he finished his scone with a second bite, licking his lips as he looked greedily at the tray McRhoddy held.

Stikky nodded in agreement. “Yeah, these are delicious! Once again you’ve made something amazing, McRhoddy!”

The old stickman blushed at the praise. “Well, that’s your end of the bargain,” he stated, waving a hand as he dismissed the subject. “Now, what do ya need, and how much of it?”

The three proceeded to pack five packs with loaves of bread, scones, biscuits, flasks of water—Stif and Stib had finally found them—a box of matches, and the telescope.

“Well, I think we’re about ready!” Leddy decided, relaxing back in a chair next to Stif and Stib as he munched his third Honey Puff. “But where’s Steik? Has he found the lanterns yet?”

A moment later the kitchen doors opened and Steik came puffing—red faced— into the kitchens, holding a stack of lanterns.

“Here… they are!” he panted, sitting the lamps on the bench and collapsing into a chair as he tried to catch his breath. “Now…” he continued a moment later, after a drink of lemonade. “Is there anything else?”

The others shook their heads promptly. “We were just waiting for you!” Stif replied, picking up two packs and handing one to Stib as he slipped the other around his shoulders. “Stikky, where are those blankets?”

Leddy pulled them out from under his chair. “Here they are; I took them for safe keeping in case Stikky forgot. Now come on, let’s go!”

Waving a cheerful goodbye to McRhoddy, the five made their way out of the kitchens and down the maze of tunnels the twins jumping up and down at the thought of another adventure.

Stikky grinned as Stif and Stib raced past him down the dimly lit corridor. “Come on,” he decided, motioning to the others with a hand. “Let’s hurry up and get down to the shore—I can’t wait to set sail again!”