In the Orchard

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The swinging gate transformed. First, two broad arms uncurled from within the wooden slats. They stretched past us and scooped Riddy and me into a crushing bear hug. Then, when I was still seeing stars from our heads knocking together the wood grain took to life and formed fine brown hair. It tickled my nose but I was gripped so tightly I couldn't inhale to sneeze. And finally, it spoke in a booming voice that descended on us like a downpour.

"Who are the two who dare trespass on the orchard?"

"Let us go! We'll leave!" Riddy broke free of his daze.

"WHO ARE THE TWO WHO DARE TRESSPASS ON THE ORCHARD?"

I interrupted before Riddy could start yelling again. "We are Riddy and Squiff!"

"What is your purpose here?"

"We were hungry!" Riddy again.

"WHAT IS-" it wasn't good enough. The guardian tightened its arms around us.

"We're running from the Master!" I blurted.

"The Master?" The guardian abruptly dropped us on the dirt. He turned to the direction we came from. "They're after you. Quick come in side."


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