Samuel was the first up, even though Robin and Smarn were usually the early ones up, he beat them by several hours.
A lot of the things he had seen and been shown since they had begun this journey had seemed a bit peculiar and off at times. He had let his Detective mind kind of tune out during all of it, but it had been hacking away in the background, tossing up bits and pieces from time to time for him to ponder. He didn't bother Jimbo with his doubts or his concerns, because he had his heart and hands full with Nanny, who was would've kept any honery Texan busy, even one as outrageous as Jimbo tended to be...all blustery, hands on, get dirty and kick their butts action kind of guy that he was.
But Samuel, while he wouldn't eschew action, usually preferred to figure things out before jumping into action. He had been pretty much corralled into action since he had met the Lady Marantha at the Denny's.
He wasn't angry with either Nanny or Jimbo. He wouldn't take back everything they'd done, even the scarier parts of it if he had a choice to do so. So it was with somewhat of a heavy heart for many various reasons that he climbed down from the tree house and headed along the criss crossing bridges of the lake to the highest islet.
It had caught his attention all along. Something about it bothered him, but he couldn't put it into words just yet.
He reached the middle of the lake and the highest islet and stopped at its base. It was the prettiest of them, topped by beautiful rows of flowers that cascaded down its sides with benches between the rows for visitors to enjoy their beauty and fragrance.
Daisies, petunias, marigolds, sunflowers, roses of every hue of the rainbow, azalea, orchids. Just about every kind of flower imaginable, all growing in one spot, all growing in the same conditions, which should, theorhetically, of course, been impossible.
He went up row by row, allowing the scent of the flowers to soothe his troubled soul. For troubled it was. He suspected there was a lot more going on than anyone had told him or Jimbo, and that there was much yet that remained hidden. When he had put his nose to the last violet colored rose...which had been divine...and reminded him of Hawaii and the beautiful orchids there...he reached the summit, where a single bench sat alone and uninhabited. A small fire burned next to it, fed by a channel of fuel that was piped from underground somewhere and fed it.
Yes, Robin's world was far more advanced than it seemed at first. Trees that could mold beds to your sleeping needs, flowers that didn't need special growing circumstances, psychic abilities in almost all the people he'd met...even the tiny elephants, which brought a smile to his face, who he just saw were now trailing him, the Mother Elephant sniffing the ground, then trumpeting to those in the rear to follow her.
They finally reached the islet he sat at the top of. The Mother Elephant raised her nose in greeting and he could swear that one of her eyes had just winked at him.
She turned around and her babies formed a line of defense about the islet, though what they might be defending it from he didn't know.
"Interruption, Sam." Al told him as he materialized on the bench next to Samuel.
Marilyn appeared next, dressed in a lovely all yellow summer dress and yellow shoes, with a yellow bow in her hair. She flashed him one of her usual dazzling smiles, and sat down next to Al on the grass next to him. She took out a half-darned sweater and began darning it as they spoke, her eyes on them and her work as well. She never missed a thing, even though she was usually the quieter of the two.
Anyone who mistook her for stupid or not so smart, had been so wrong, this woman was one of the sharpest cookies ever born. She had just been born too soon.
Sam eyed Al thoughtfully. "This is the moment, isn't it?"
Al nodded his head. "I'm sorry, Sam, but it had to be done this way, or you wouldn't have come this far."
"Far to do what?"
Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds ever born on Earth, the ghost of him, the angel he had become frowned. "That which is right."
Samuel felt a chill go up his spine. It was reckoning time. Always was. There was some kind of lesson he was supposed to get from all of this that he had been missing because of all the diversions going on...the Nazi attacks, the monster in the snow...the past life regressions. He felt like a sponge that was full to bursting and he had to be squeezed or he would explode.
"None of this is real, is it?" Samuel finally asked.
"Oh, it's real all right." Al answered brightly, but just not as real as it seems at first.
Al didn't say anything.
Then Samuel began weaving through his mind all the events that led to this point in time. "The touch from Lady Marantha was the trigger, wasn't it?"
"Yes. And have you figured out who she is?" Al asked, his eyes watching Samuel for any sense of confusion or digression from the topic.
Samuel put his head in his hands.
"Yes." Albert answered, a tinge of sadness in his voice.
Samuel looked up, but Albert wasn't sad looking. He had a glance that was filled with pride and purpose. "Samuel, you've been hanging onto her since she crossed over. You know you can't do that. Your mission on Earth is too important to live in the past. You're still a young man. You have a whole world. A whole universe to explore yet. And it's so........vast."
Albert touched Samuel on his forehead. Not physically, but with a spiritual touch and Samuel felt a dazzling spiral of colors open up in front of him.
Lady Marantha stepped out of them and stood before him, smiling. Then as he stared hopefully, she began to transform into his mother as he remembered her. Tall, proud, smiling, her warmth like a minature sun shining in the day.
"I love you, Sammie." She told him.
He rose from the bench and reached to hug her. She backed off.
"I'm sorry, son, but I'm not really physical anymore."
"But you touched me before!" He pleaded to her.
"Yes. But that was God's touch not mine."
"I miss you so, so much." He said, his eyes watering with a flow of tears.
"And I am so, so proud of you, my son. So very, very proud. You have become everything a mother could ever have hoped for and so much more."
"But all of this..." He gestured to the world about him. "Why here? Why now?"
"Haven't you known all along?"
And yes he had. Nanny looked too much like someone he had loved with all his heart. It just hadn't occurred to him that it was his mother, because she had altered her appearance in so many ways.
"She's real, Sammie. She's your sister. From my first marriage. That is why you felt so close to her from the very beginning and why you've felt certain feelings so strongly as you get to know her."
"Your father and his first wife."
"All yours, Sammie." She laughed. "All yours. Why else do you think Jimbo loves you so much? He doesn't give a horse's tail for the spiritual side of your life. It's you he cares about, your lightheartedness, your dedication...your drive to do what is right. It brings out the best in him, it honors his own soul's determination to do what is right."
She smiled gently, then began to fade. "But there's more."
Samuel tried to stop her, but his hands passed right through her.
"I love you, Sammie. I always will. Listen to Albert. He's not half bad for an angel kind of guy."
Albert broke into laughter and gave her a wave. "And you're not so bad yourself, madam."
She smiled at him, then extended her hand out towards Samuel, who reached out to touch it. Their fingertips touched and a spark ignited.
The rest of their journey was relatively uneventful.
Mother Elephant recovered several days later with the tender care of Nanny, who it turned out was a quite capable nurse among her many other talents. She never left the Mother Elephant for a moment, making sure she was warm enough, sometimes even using her own body for extra heat, though the baby elephants usually closed in to add warmth as well.
It was quite a site to Samuel and Jimbo as they watched that last morning.
Robin and Smarn were off scouting for the best path back to their home, which was also where they wanted to go.
When Samuel told Robin about Lady Marantha his eyes lit up. "Oh her!"
Smarn smiled. "Smarn!"
Robin glowered at him. "You lovesick puppy!"
Robin eyed Jimbo, who had this look on his face. "Everyone loves her. They can't help it, she has a charm on her."
"Charm?" Jimbo demanded. "No one is charmed!"
"Little do you know, oh tall one." Robin replied, even though he was as tall as Jimbo.
Jimbo looked flustered a moment. "Tell me how then!"
"Do you not believe in the goodness of the One Light?"
Jimbo rolled his eyes. "There we go with all the hocus pocus, spiritual mumbo jumbo again."
Robin looked at Samuel. "Is he always like this?"
"Pretty much." Samuel agreed, winking at Jimbo, who gave him a disgusted look, then walked away, pretending to go looking for food.
"He's in love with the Mommy and the daughter, I take it." Robin commented, as he and Samuel watched Nanny hugging the Mother Elephant, who put her trunk around Nanny's neck and hugged her back.
"Aren't you?" Samuel asked, a hint of amusement in his eye.
"I suppose." Robin said, a touch of sadness in his voice and eyes. "There was one like her once I cared for quite deeply. We came here after the War of the Roses saw the defeat of good King Richard."
"I don't remember him thought of as a good king." Samuel remarked.
"You wouldn't. Those times were rife with the hand of the church, which rewrote history to whichever way it served it. Hence, I becoming a legend to your world, when I was quite real."
"You're that...Robin Hood!" Jimbo exclaimed, having come back with a handful of odd fruit.
"Exactly. And the love of my life was none other than..."
"Maid Marion." Jimbo jumped in with, looking excited for the first time in days.
"My heart and soul."
Robin touched his heart, then wiped at his eyes. The memories were burning his heart once more. Though he was not one to look back, but instead forward, these moments of remembrance were bringing up old pains. He would have to speak to Methusaleh about it, to see if there were something he could do to heal that wound, which it obviously still was, in his heart.
He took a deep breath, then looked up. "Ah, your young friend looks ready to take a journey!"
Nanny joined them. She took Robin's hand and squeezed it. "I wanted to thank you again for rescuing us."
"Oh, it didn't look to me so much like we were rescuing you as assisting you." Robin said with absolute humility. He gave her a half bow and kissed her hand, his eyes never leaving hers. "Though I must admit that I would not find it hard to imagine risking my life to rescue one so fair as..."
"Look at that!" Jimbo interrupted, pointing to the sky. "A flying whatzit!"
Robin jerked away from Nanny's hand and looked.
Samuel burst into laughter.
Nanny and Robin both looked at him.
"Jimbo, time to leave this place, I think."
So they had packed up what little supplies they had gathered, using giant leaves as backpacks, that they had sewn together with strips of bark from the nearby trees. For canteens they used hollow nut shells the size of footballs that had fallen from some of the trees.
Jimbo had come up with the idea when Robin had told him they made their canteens from pieces of wood wrapped with cloth.
Smarn was silent for the rest of the journey, except for the occasional laughter he would give off when the baby elephants ran between his legs as he walked, playing tag with each other. The Mother Elephant followed Nanny like a pet dog, always close to her, its eyes on her constantly.
Robin noticed. "I think even our elephant friend is in love with...what's her name again?"
"Nanny." Jimbo said.
"Nanette." Samuel answered.
Jimbo gave Samuel a searching look.
"She told me when you weren't listening. Out for one of your nature hikes."
"Oh. Yeah. I think she is too. Who wouldn't be? She's smart, pretty as a rose, sharp as a tack..."
"A tack?" Robin asked.
"It's like a nail, but smaller and used to pin paper to boards."
"Why would people waste paper like that?" Robin asked in confusion.
Jimbo winked. "You'd be surprised at some of the things people do upearth these days."
Robin eyed Nanny fiercely as he made his next remark. "I've been thinking a lot about doing just that lately."
"What?" Jimbo asked.
Jimbo caught where Robin was looking and grew fiercesome looking for a moment. Samuel was about to say something, when Jimbo laughed. "You just go on thinking that, feather boy!"
Robin gave Jimbo a scowl, but said nothing in return.
Jimbo had found something that got to Robin and wasn't letting go it.
"With that fancy hat and bow you'll be an instant hit upearth. Robin Hood. Your Medieval boyfriend available for romance."
Jimbo barked with laughter at his own mean spirited joke.
Smarn looked back and growled, revealing his teeth.
Jimbo stopped laughing.
Samuel laughed then. "Oh for the peace of my balcony back in Vegas again."
Robin turned to Samuel. "Tell me about this mythical place called...Vegas."
Jimbo responded instead. "You'd love it there. Thieves run the place and all the women in the shows there are half naked or more."
Robin gave Jimbo a horrorfied look. "That is indeed most foul! What maiden of honor would ever reveal herself in such ways?"
Jimbo was suddenly dumbfounded and speechless. He couldn't think of anything to reply that made sense.
Samuel saved him. "Look, I can see the lake again."
They all stopped on the rise they had just reached the top of and looked down at the people working in the fields. The hint of smoke came from the thick forests beyond the waters.
"You'll like it here in Sherwood Forest." Robin pointed out with pride.
"Sherwood Forest?" Nanny asked with surprise.
"Oh yes. When I first arrived here I immediately saw that it was the spitting image of the resplendent forests of Old England we had resided within."
Smarn shook his head, but Robin ignored him.
"We even have tree houses."
Smarn shook his head.
Robin gave him a scowl. "Well, some of us do."
Smarn didn't move.
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