Gramps Blaze and Grandma Crystal snorted mocking laughter when Kid Joey described Leroy's curse to them.
"Not only is he smelly, but his magic isn't so good," Gramps Blaze said. "Children could remove this curse. In fact, children shall."
Grandma Crystal smiled at how things work out, then got kind of a sad look on her face. "You know, it's not so much that the old guy is mean, he's just crampy and self-conscious because of all the gas. Nobody wants to be around him."
Kid Joey said, "Grandma Crystal, look at his castle. It's almost covered in a big fart cloud! Would you go visit him? Or love him? Or live there?"
"I see your point, Kid Joey. But it's hurting his feelings. Something must be done," Grandma Crystal said, kissing the top of Kid Joey's head.
Gramps Blaze turned to Fairy Ashlyn, and thought about how brave she'd been to travel with Kid Joey and Kato to Greece, eat a magic Golden Olive, and earn her Golden Fairy Wings. "Fairy Ashlyn, exactly what happened to your brother Alexander? And exactly when did it happen? What was going on when Leroy got mean and turned him into Grando the Farting Dragon?"
"I'm not sure, really. I was way behind walking, I'd gotten caught in a sticker bush with lots of thorns. I was walking instead of flying because I'd lost my temper and my wings disappeared. That happened a lot back before I ate the Golden Olive.
"Anyway, I was trying to keep up with Alexander; he was far ahead of me. He wanted to something important that he was very excited about. He'd found this really beautiful field to practice his Karate in.
"That's it! He was practicing Karate! And I was trying to back out of the brambles and go around them, but they kept getting thicker and thicker. I had to calm down and not get angry. I finally stopped moving and waited. I waited for a long time in the middle of the sticker bushes, until my wings finally grew back and I could fly up and out of the thorns."
"And what happened with Alexander? Were you lost? Where did he turn into Grando the Farting Dragon? Did you hear the spell Leroy put on him?"
"Give her a chance, Kid Joey, let her tell the story at her pace, please," Gramps Blaze said softly. Kid Joey climbed onto Gramps Blaze's lap and waited for Fairy Ashlyn to continue.
"I remembered the direction Alexander had gone, but I was way behind. Way behind. Even with my wings back, I had a hard time catching up. I started hearing these snorts and smelling this rotten egg smell coming up through the trees. I remember getting worried that there was some sort of monster or troll in the woods, that Alexander might be in danger, so I flew as fast as I could, then I came to the clearing that Alexander had found to practice his karate in. It really was perfectly smooth ground with velvety grass, almost like someone crawled around trimming each blade with scissors.
"I remember that now, but all I noticed then was this big, warty dragon who stumbled along, clumsy, farting with every step it took, snorting, trying to outrun its own farts because they were so disgusting."
Kid Joey sucked in his lips, clamping them shut with his teeth to keep from laughing. All he could picture was this giant, goony fat dragon, trying to run away from his own farts.
Fairy Ashlyn saw him trying not to laugh and frowned. "You think it's funny? That's my brother inside that stupid dragon, and a meanie put a spell on him!"
Kid Joey nodded. "I'm sorry, Fairy Ashlyn, but you kindof have to admit, if it wasn't Alexander, that a giant, evil dragon scared of his own farts is pretty funny. Especially since running makes him fart even more." Kid Joey's laughter kind of melted away in his throat when he looked around at Gramps Blaze, Grandma Crystal, Fairy Ashlyn and even Kato who only looked sad because Alexander was in trouble.
He still thought the dragon was funny. Maybe everybody else would agree once the spell was reversed and Alexander was back safe and sound, his troubles a memory.
Gramps Blaze patted Kid Joey's back and said softly, "I'll bet Alexander will laugh when this is all over."
Fairy Ashlyn smiled. "Yeah! He probably will! He always loved a good fart joke."
"But right now," Grandma Crystal said, walking over to her crystal ball, "You have to go back and find Grando and reverse the spell."
Fairy Ashlyn came over to the crystal ball as well. "I tried, Grandma Crystal, but it didn't work. Nothing worked, and my Auntie Judy taught me two different reversal spells," said explained.
Grandma Crystal and Gramps Blaze both nodded, and Grandma Crystal said, "Because you were not a full-fledged fairy then. You were still not in control of your temper, and Leroy had cursed you too."
Grandma Crystal placed her hands gently on the ball, sort of warming it up. It misted up inside, reacting right away to her touch. "I'll bet you were plenty mad when you tried casting those reversal spells and they didn't work, right?"
Fairy Ashlyn nodded, and then hung her head in disgrace.
Gramps Blaze noticed, and said, "It's okay, Fairy Ashlyn, nothing to be ashamed of. That was then and this is now. You're doing much better with your temper and you're a real fairy. It will be different now, and there is a better way to reverse the dragon spell."
"First," Grandma Crystal said, gazing into the crystal ball, we have to find your brother."
Everyone gathered around the ball, as its mists cleared and Fairy Ashlyn saw her brother galumphing along next to a long, long wall.
"Oh my goodness! That's the Great wall of China." Grandma Crystal gasped. "So far away from your home. How did he get there?"
"There's only one way to find out," Kid Joey said, petting Kato gently, pulling him against his leg to let him know he would be okay, even though his friend was a little creeped out by tumbling through the mists inside the ball.
Kato groaned at the thought, but stood strong next to his best friend.
Gramps Blaze petted Kato, who licked his hand, then the powerful wizard turned to Kid Joey and Fairy Ashlyn. "Here's what you need to do."
"That's all?" Kid Joey said when Gramps Blaze was finished.
"That's it," Gramps Blaze said, shrugging.
"Are you sure?" Fairy Ashlyn asked. "That's a lot like my Auntie Judy's spell, and it didn't work at all."
"You have real fairy dust to sprinkle on your brother this time, and it's more powerful when you're helping Alexander, because you're his sister. The family, blood bond makes your magic all the more powerful.
Fairy Ashlyn nodded, getting it.
Fairy Ashlyn hovered over Kid Joey and Kato as Grandma Crystal waved her hands over them and they shrunk down until they fit inside the ball.
"Grando!" Kid Joey called to the fierce, smelly dragon, and winced at the stench it left behind as it clumped along.
"Stop! We're here to help!" Fairy Ashlyn shouted in her teeny little voice. "Alexander, I know you're in there somewhere. I brought a friend who can help."
Grando stopped. "Nothing works," he said sadly.
"So you ran away to China?" Fairy Ashlyn said. "You thought we wouldn't love you anymore because you're big and smelly?" Little tears were in Fairy Ashlyn's eyes, and Grando's head hung low.
"We love you anyway, Alexander! Nobody who really loves you cares what shape you are, or if you're sick, or beautiful or ugly or even if you smell bad. You're my brother, you're a nice guy in there. I love you."
Kid Joey and Kato watched Fairy Ashlyn soothe her brother's feelings, and smiled. Kato barked a happy bark then sneezed, because the farty smell was still pretty strong and burned his nose, sort of like hot pepper when Mom opened up the jar.
"Why did you run to China?" Kid Joey asked.
"Because I'm a bad dragon. In China, dragons are lucky. They are loved here. I thought maybe if I found a lucky dragon, it might rub off on me, or know how to change me back into a boy, since dragons are magical."
"Makes sense. But you didn't have to come all the way to China. My friend Catherine's best friend is a dragon named Shen Lung – that means good luck in Chinese. I'll tell you all about it while we walk."
Grando shook his bulky head slowly side to side. "You don't want me to walk near you. It makes me fart to walk; every step a stinky fart slips out. And they are deadly farts! I almost fainted a couple of times on my way to China."
Seriously, Kid Joey thought to himself. A big dragon fainting from his own farts. Was he the only one who thought this was hilarious? Come on!
"Blah, blah, blah!" said Fairy Ashlyn, in a stern voice. "Stop whining and listen to what Kid Joey says! His Gramps is magic. And I'm a fairy for real now! Thank you for noticing by the way."
"Congratulations," Grando said.
"Thank you," Fairy Ashlyn smiled.
"You're welcome. How'd you get over your temper?"
"Not now, Alexander!" Fairy Ashlyn snapped impatiently.
"Oh," Grando teased. "I see you didn't." The big ugly dragon smiled.
"What?" Fairy Ashlyn stopped, confused.
"I see you didn't get over your temper."
Fairy Ashlyn squinted her eyes for a second, but smiled in spite of her annoyance. "You know your fart cloud gets bigger every time you talk," she teased back, giggling.
Kid Joey snickered and Kato yipped, wagging his tail.
Fairy Ashlyn turned in mid-air, to face her new friends. "And you're right, Kid Joey, a dragon running away from his own farts is hilarious!"
Grando laughed loudest at the image, so hard he actually fell over, his landing on the ground producing an explosive, ripping fart that made everyone cough and wheeze, but they laughed even more.
Kid Joey said, through fading giggles, "Okay, the first part of the reversal spell is done. We made him laugh and not be sad anymore."
"Laughing is magic?" Grando asked.
"Sure! When someone, magical or not, can make you scared or sad, or mean or smelly or embarrassed, it gives them power over you. If you do just the opposite, it takes their power away, and gives you your power back."
"Oh, I get it. You're very smart, Kid Joey."
"My Gramps Blaze explained it all. There's more," Kid Joey said.
"What?" Grando said.
"You have to walk backwards all the way to where you were when you turned into Grando," Fairy Ashlyn told her brother, who cringed.
"If I walk backwards, I have to walk right through all the farts! Oh no!"
Kid Joey's face crumpled into hysterical laughter. "Every five steps you're gonna faint and fall over!"
Grando chuckled, little farts popping out of his butt with every heh, heh, heh. Fairy Ashlyn laughed too, and Kato wagged his tail and barked, but backed away from the dingy, smelly cloud forming around the big dragon dude. And he sneezed a couple more times for good measure.
With laughter still bubbling from his throat (and butt, unfortunately), Grando began backing up. Back and back he went, occasionally coughing from the smell.
As he took one backward step after another, Fairy Ashlyn flew above him, hoping the magic would work fast, because this fart cloud was making her gag. As she flew, her wings fluttered, of course, and fairy dust sprinkled off of them, all over Grando.
The fairy dust seemed to sink into Grando, right through all the blubber and right into his heart, which of course, was Alexander's heart, after all. Fairy Ashlyn's magic began to take hold, Grando's pace picked up, and his farts weren't so eye-watering strong and stinky. In fact, with every backward step and sprinkle of his sister's fairy dust, his farts not only stunk less, but they started to smell like peanut butter.
"Wow! That's really cool, Fairy Ashlyn!" Kid Joey said, impressed.
"It's my brother's favorite food," she said, fairy dust fluttering from her wings into Grando's thick, warty hide.
The friends walked and walked, with Kato walking ahead of and behind Grando, (since the dragon was walking backwards), sniffing his peanut butter farts, wondering if he bit the big ol' ugly tush if it would taste as good as it smelled. Such are the funny thoughts of peanut butter-loving Blue Tick Hound mutts.
Finally, Grando backed into the clearing near Leroy's castle, where he'd been practicing his Karate Kata.
"Exactly what part of the Kata were you doing when you poofed into Grando?" Kid Joey wanted to know.
"Crescent kicks; I remember because my/Grando's big leg was up in the air and my heavy body just fell on over, and it made me fart – bigtime."
Before Grando even finished the sentence, he broke up laughing, instantly joined by his sister and new-found friends. Even though he was still upset by his situation, he found that he felt better having friends around to help him laugh about it. And somehow he knew, deep inside of him that they would find a way to change him back into Alexander.
Leroy watched from his stinky old castle, seething and farting, farting and seething, not understanding why that stupid boy was laughing at the Grando-the-Farting-Dragon curse. It was a scary curse! Being suddenly turned into something big and ugly and smelly, so smelly that no one liked you anymore.
And what was up with that? Who were those numbskulls with Grando? Why weren't they grossed out by the smell? And why were they all laughing? And why was that mutt wagging his tail, sniffing Grando farts? Why was that Fairy – who looked familiar, he thought – wait! Was that Almost-Fairy Ashlyn? Were they Golden wings? Was she Fairy Ashlyn now? Why was she kissing Farting Grando's cheek and smiling without even waving her hands around trying to fan away the stench?
What the heck was going on, Leroy wondered, feeling very weak all of a sudden.
And why was he catching a whiff of banana splits? He hadn't had one in forever. Hadn't been able to smell anything but his own obnoxious farts for so long that nothing, even banana splits tasted good to him anymore. But they had been his favorite food, hadn't they? He smiled as he remembered their smooth sweetness, squishing in his mouth, sliding coolly down his throat on warm summer days.
And now that's all he could smell, even deep in the dungeon of his castle. Where was the banana split smell coming from? Seemed to him that wonderful aroma was coming from behind him.
He spun around and found nothing there, just a spider in its web – a spider who was not enjoying a banana split.
"Then why do I smell one?" Grando muttered to himself, farting with the effort. Then he smelled banana split again, spun around, making him fart, which smelled like banana split.
So there's this evil wizard who fell in love with his own farts and spent hours spinning around, trying to find a banana split hiding behind him.
Kid Joey would have rolled on the floor laughing.
Nobody ever accused Leroy of being a very smart wizard. And now, he wasn't even a very powerful one, with everybody laughing at his most evil curse and all.
He felt an urge to go outside into the sunshine and take a walk, now that the vile fart stench would no longer cause flowers to wilt and birds to drop out of the sky. But how had his farts begun to smell like banana splits, anyway, he wondered, stepping into the sunshine for the first time in years and years.
He watched the children in the field, and his eyes got big and his mouth dropped open as Grando suddenly poofed back into Alexander.
Suddenly Leroy felt different. Weak. Tired.
He sat down in the grass as Kid Joey, Kato, Fairy Ashlyn, and Alexander made their way toward him, chattering happily, jumping up and down, skipping and clapping, all very happy that Alexander was back and Grando was gone.
Leroy was too weak to even be mad. He hoped those children could make him feel better.
Why had he hated them so? They didn't seem so bad after all.
As he lay back in the soft grass, he saw Princess Nanette in the tower window and his heart flooded with joy. He loved her so.
So why had he locked her in a tower?
He couldn't hold his eyes open anymore.
Kid Joey and his friends found Leroy lying in the grass, a smile on his face, his dreams much nicer now.
They let him sleep there after Fairy Ashlyn took the large ring of keys from his belt, and flew up to the tower window and into it to land softly on Princess Nanette's shoulder and whisper in her ear.
What is Fairy Ashlyn telling Princess Nanette?
Is it a magical secret?
The answer will be right here in the RoJo Adventure Blog next weekend!
TD – 2/12/2016