5 – Dungeon! Dungeon!
The dungeon had it all – riddles, mazes, booby-traps, and creatures to battle. It was enough to be fun, but nothing too dangerous Marceline had remarked. So far, thought Bonnibel. They followed Essie’s lead, allowing her to choose the paths and try the puzzles. She asked for their help during the first few chambers, but her confidence grew the further they went on.
When one chamber was suddenly swarmed by unsavory, skeletal beetles she charged in shouting, “Come on guys! Let’s smoke ‘em!” Marceline laughed as she transformed into a bat and swooped around to join in. Even Bonnibel found herself momentarily caught up in the fight, but a burst of flames in her periphery brought her attention back to her daughter. She blasted the last skele-beetle then started forward toward Essie, but realized she was unharmed. Essie had been fighting an enormous skele-beetle, larger and gnarly-er than all the others, and it lay singed and motionless at her feet, a tiny sword hilt sticking out of its head. The demon kitty paced in front of Essie, little tendrils of smoke coming from its nostrils. Marceline hovered in mid-air, still a bat, and looked sideways at Bonnie. So Hunson was telling the truth, it could take care of itself. And so, apparently, could their daughter.
Finn joined them, his face was streaked with dirt. Bonnibel turned to him, shaking off her momentary shock, “Finn, please tell me the number of creatures in this chamber are dependent on the number in the party.”
“Uh…,” he started, but he was already moving toward Essie, “Yeah. Sure Princess.” Marceline, back to normal, landed beside Bonnibel. “Come on,” She said, grabbing Bonnie’s hand, “I think we’re here!”
They joined Essie who turned to them grinning, the demon flame-kitten back on her shoulder. “My first Boss Battle, Mom! Did you see! Did you see what Velvet can do? He can breathe fire!” Her moms grinned down at her. “And look,” she continued, pointing to a large double door in front of them, “I think the end’s in there.”
She looked a little downcast. Marceline kneeled down beside her and whispered, “Yeah, but don’t forget. Your present is in there too!” Essie’s face lit up and she started forward toward the doors. She gave a shove and they opened into a brilliantly lit room. They all blinked into the final chamber, Bonnibel awestruck by what they saw. All of the guests and some of the banana guards were there lining an aisle, all of them faced toward Essie, smiling. Then they started to sing. She looked back once toward her moms, wearing her biggest smile yet, and walked in. Bonnibel looked at Marceline who was wearing a smirk. “Surprise,” she whispered, kissing Bonnie on the cheek, “Come on. Let’s go give our baby her present.”
They followed Essie to the top of the chamber where the small bottle sat on a plinth. The guests had all gathered behind them. Essie looked at the bottle, then curiously between her moms. “Happy Birthday, Es,” Marceline said, “Let me show you what to do.” Bonnibel watched as Marceline showed her how to breathe in the flight power. Essie did it but still clearly did not understand why she was doing this. “Now, said Marceline, “close your eyes and feel yourself LIFT off the ground.” Essie closed her eyes, she stood there for a few seconds and then she lifted a few inches off the ground and hovered there. The crowd of guests gasped.
“Ok, baby. Now, open your eyes.” Essie’s eyes opened and she looked around, still confused. She looked at Bonnie, who just smiled and pointed toward her feet. When she realized she was hovering, her eyes widened comically and she let out a small “Oh!”
Then she laughed and rocketed toward the chamber ceiling. Bonnibel drew a sharp intake of breath and had the urge to look away. But Marceline was there to steady her. “Nice work, mom. Look at how happy she is. And… unharmed!” And just as Bonnibel started to relax, she realized what they all had missed in their excitement and apprehension, the demon kitty, Velvet, had still been on Essie’s shoulder when she had taken off.
Bonnie saw it happen in slow motion. Essie flipped over in mid-air, Velvet let out a yowl, as he was unseated. Marceline took off to catch him, but she’d never make it. Essie was frozen at the ceiling in terror. The demon-kitty plummeted toward the ground, twisting in mid-air. And then, five feet from the ground, he stopped. He hovered unsteadily with the pair of tiny, leathery wings he had just unfurled. The guests, momentarily silenced in horror, gave a collective sigh of relief. “HA!” Bonnie heard Hunson exclaim, “I didn’t even know it could DO that!”
The little flying demon flame-kitten was making his way back to his airborne master, who was streaking down toward him. Essie caught him up in her arms, kissing him. Velvet’s guttural purrs echoed around the chamber.
Marceline landed back next to Bonnibel, looking paler than usual. “Phew,” she exclaimed, “That was close.”
“Yes,” Bonnie agreed, “That would have been a disaster.”
“Well, yes,” Marcy said turning toward Bonnibel and smiling wickedly, “But what I meant was, you were almost right.” Bonnie rolled her eyes but pulled Marceline toward her. She hugged her tightly, over Marceline’s shoulder she watched their daughter play mid-air with a demon and was, for once, very happy to be wrong.