“Aye, lass. It sounds like the White Nicht. And do ye hear it? Yon Q.B. is coomin’, too”
She listened, and heard the far away sound of belling hounds. “Do you think they will meet?”
“Aye, and I think it will be richt here!” he chuckled.
Lillian continued to listen as the sounds grew louder, and closer. Soon she could hear muttering along with the rattling pans. At last a horse and rider appeared at the edge of the forest. It was the White Knight, just as described in the Arthurian tales. She knew he was King Pelinor He stopped and stared at them, then slowly rode forward.
“My Lady, Sir Urisk, I am sorry to intrude.” He doffed his helmet, and bowed creakingly.
“That’s all right, King Pellinore, I am happy to meet you. Why don’t you get off the horse and take a rest? We think the Questing Beast is heading this way, so you may meet it here. We have some food, if you are hungry.”
“You are most kind, My Lady, but I have provisions in plenty. I will, however, take your kind offer to rest a while. By the sounds, my friend the Q.B. will be here soon.” Clumsily, he slid from the saddle, and the horse started to graze. “I am honoured that you know me.”
It was not long before the noise of the Questing Beast was almost deafening, and then it burst from the trees, and skidded to a stop, staring at Lillian and Jock. It was a weird looking beast, the head and neck of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion and the feet of a hart. The sound came from its belly, not its mouth. For along moment, there was no movement, then it turned to look at Pellinore. He stared back for a second, then nodded, and turned to remount. Lillian and Jock went to help him.
“Fare thee well, My Lady, Sir Urisk. I will take up my quest again. May you find what you are seeking.” He donned his helmet, turned to the beast, and started forward. The beast swung about and disappeared in the forest, followed by the swaying knight, and soon they were gone, all sounds fading away.
“I guess we should be on our way, too,” Lillian said. The Urisk agreed, and they set off in the opposite direction, still following the river. It was early evening, the sun gone and the moon rising, when they came to a meadow beside the river. There, grazing quietly, was a beautiful white horse. Lillian gasped at the sight – it seemed to draw her toward it.
“Oh, Jock, it is so beautiful!” she exclaimed. She continued to move slowly toward it, murmuring about its beauty. Then she stopped, and looked more closely. Turning to Jock, she said “It’s all wet! Well, it’s a good thing I can’t ride, though its beauty makes me wish I could. Still I recognize an Each Uisge when I see one.” She turned and walked back to Jock. Behind her the horse shimmered, and instead, there was a creature part human, part goat. From the waist down he was a goat, from the waist up, a man, with curly hair and horns. He laughed “ho ho ho!”
Lillian turned, and Jock stepped in front of her. “It’s all right, Jock – I know who that is.” Turning to the small creature, she said “You are Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, the merry wanderer of the night. Are you here to lead us astray, or to help us?”
“Have you some milk? Or a sweet berry for me?” he asked.
Silently Lillian held out her hand to Jock, who put several berries in it. Lillian walked toward Puck, holding her hand out. “Here,” she said. “We have no milk, here in the forest, but we do have these berries, and they are very sweet.” She held her hand out to him. He stood for a moment, then lifted the berries from her hand and put them in his mouth. As the sweet juices leaked out, he smiled. “I am here to help you,” he said. “Where do you wish to go?”
“I want to go back to my home in second life,” Lillian said. “Can you lead me to a place that will take me there?”
“Follow me, and I will soon have you at the secret door. But why do you wish to leave our land? Is it not beautiful?”
“Yes, it is, and filled strange and dangerous things. I have friends and family in second life. I wish to return to them, because I love them, and miss them. Jock has been kind and helpful, and I am thankful he has been with me. You will have my thanks, too, for helping me.”
Puck smiled and turned, beckoning them to follow. It was much later, and the moon was high, when he pointed to a large tree. “The secret door is there. You knock three times, and say ‘I wish to go home,’ and it will open for you.”
Lillian stepped to the tree, raised her hand and knocked. “I wish to go home,” she said. Slowly, a door opened, and she could see the Ozland Art Gallery and the yellow brick road through the opening. Before she stepped through, she turned to Jock and Puck. “Thank you both for all your help. I will never forget you.” Then she turned and stepped through, and she was standing in front of the picture of the giant toadstools. Smiling, she clicked ‘World’, then ‘Teleport Home’, and she was back in her home. Looking around, she sighed in pleasure. There’s no place like home, she thought.