Fantasy Fiction posted September 16, 2020 Chapters:  ...7 8 -9- 

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A chapter in the book The Gardens at Weatherbury

C9 - Readying the Troops

by Y. M. Roger

Summary: After accepting the position as Groundskeeper (**See End Notes), Nicholas is discovering all about the fantastical Gardens he'll be in charge of. Here, we finally get to know ALL the imps.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Through September 20th, you can also earn points and bucks for EVERY CHAPTER of the book up to this one. Just pop over to my Portfolio and it’s right there on top! Don’t miss out on this fun adventure! And, yes, each one is only about 500 words, folks! ;)

End of Chapter 8:
At some point during their performance, Archie had retrieved an old tin can filled with water. As I watched in wonder and Constantine shook his head muttering, the two imps quickly separated. They sat there, soaking wet and sputtering, in the middle of a small puddle.
And the other two? They started dancing and cheering and shouting at Archie.
“Now us, Sir Archibald! Now us! Now us! It’s our turn now!”

Begin Chapter 9:
Grinning, Archie shook his head in a dismissive manner as he held the can over the two imps – their faces along with most of their torsos and upper arms covered in blueberry juice.

“Minah and Sprig,” Archie chided, “I worry about the two of ye.”
There was only a bit left in the can, but the two spread all their arms out and hummed as the last of the water dribbled over them. 

Constantine yanked on my shirt, motioning for me to lean over. He covered his mouth with his hand as he whispered in my ear.
“Shot and Jerry are actually hard workers when they’re focused.” He rolled his eyes toward Minah and Sprig. “But these two? They’re not playing with a full deck, if ye know what I mean. Ye better keep a special eye on ‘em.”
I straightened and nodded in affirmation, all the while smiling at the entertainment of the four of them. But before I could say anything else, Archie was taking control.
“Now,” Archie’s voice was all authoritative-like, “the four of ye retrieve the correct map for end-of-summer pruning and planting.”
Minah and Sprig shook themselves off and zipped over to the open drawer, but Jerry and Shot remained in their puddle, both of their mouths falling open in horror.
“Sir Archie, I think they wan–” I shut my mouth as both Constantine and Archie turned to me in unison, frowns of question or, perhaps, disbelief on their faces. I cleared my throat and put my hands in my pocket – apparently the imps were Archie’s purview.
“Shot and Jerry?” Archie held up two big, fresh blueberries in those funny, pink claws. “I think I gave you an order.” His beady, little magenta eyes altered their focus between the berries and the two unmoving imps standing in defiance.
There was this silent stare-off as Shot began to vibrate and Jerry began lolling his head, his body slumping as he whined pitifully. Constantine was once again mumbling under his breath about the personality traits of imps in general.
The only sound was the rustling of paper from inside the filing cabinet drawer.
Then Archie began moving the berries ever so slowly toward his mouth, opening it in time with the approach of his hand. Just when I was convinced Archie was gonna have yet another berry snack, Shot grabbed hold of Jerry’s back foot and launched them vertically to eye-level with the determined armadillo, poor Jerry hanging upside down in Shot's grip.
“You made your point, Sir Archibald!” Shot stated emphatically.
Poor Jerry, still hanging, tried to get his bearings straight, wings flapping in confusion. “Do you see how weak I am from hunger? I can’t see or fly straight. O, benevolent and powerful Groundskeeper, plea–”
Shot continued, interrupting Jerry's pitifulness. “Do we get ‘em when the map’s ready?”
Archie nodded regally. “As long as it’s done efficiently and respectfully.”
Satisfied with that answer, Shot dropped Jerry, who recovered valiantly just before he landed back in the puddle, and they both flew into the drawer.
Archie gave a solid nod of approval and trundled over to the desk against the wall.
“We’ll be ready to go straight away, Groundskeeper Nicholas!”
Oh, good, I thought. But the real question on my mind was:  Where were we gonna go?

To be continued…

**The Gardens at Weatherbury is a collection of approximately 500 word chapters about young Nicholas' continuing adventures as Groundskeeper for the unique gardens at the fantastical Weatherbury Estate. The chapters are short to maintain the attention of a pre-teen audience for whom it is written.

Nicholas (narrator) - young boy (current age 17), telling of adventures since accepting Weatherbury's Groundskeeper job at age 14.
Constantine – garden gnome and self-appointed on-site manager of the Gardens
Rosalind – (aka Rosa) sentient climbing rosebush whose job it is to guard the Garden Shed
Sir Archibald – (aka Archie or Sir Archie) eccentric pink armadillo tasked with organization and upkeep of the Garden Shed
Imps – (an imp is a small mischievous sprite) There are a total of four imps: Jerry, Shot, Minah and Sprig.

Sir Phillipe - owner of Weatherbury Estate

George Thrasher – (aka G-Trash according to Constantine) former Groundskeeper, employment terminated by Sir Phillipe in Prologue


Oh, I don't know about you, but I'm so glad to be here in the Garden again... And hopefully we've got Nicholas and the gang back on track for a great Autumn! ;)

Thank you, as always, for reading me! ;-)

Image of 'Secret Garden Door' from Pinterest []

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