Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chapter 5

“Oh swell!” Abigail said the sarcasm thick in her voice. She looked at her companions; “Any ideas?” she asked hopefully

“Let me fly up and take a look!” Tallie suggested, she flew up quickly and gracefully.

“There are a few stones loose up here, I’m going to try and push them free” They heard a faint grunt which was followed the sound of stones falling against stone.

“How’s it going?” I asked

“I don’t think I can get enough loose to let us out!” said a disgruntled Tallie

“At least we’ll have more air circulating” Abigail said, trying to hide any sign of stress in her voice.

Tallie floated back down and landed in between Abigail and I.

There was a long pause, while we all thought of what might be done to get out of this predicament.

I looked around our surroundings, my eyes adjusting to the darkness. For the first time I noticed a long passage way, the other’s followed my gaze.

“I didn’t notice it being there before!” Tallie said

“Me either” I said.

Abigail stepped forward and examined it carefully.

“With the lack of dust here, I’d say that it was closed in and the earthquake must have reopened it.” She said

We looked at each other, seeming to read each other’s minds. Silently we picked up our things and cautiously began and trek down the dark unknown.



I wandered the forest, trying to clear my head and search for firewood.

How are we going to find the rogue wizards? What will we do even IF we find them? How can we free Wizard Martin? All these questions flooded my mind, seeming to drown me.

“What would Wizard Martin do if he were here?” I wondered aloud. I sat down on an old oak stump to think it over. Just as I did there was a sudden shift in the wind, almost undetectable, an instant later the earth shook so hard I thought it was going to come apart under me.

The first thing that came to my mind was: I’m too young to die! I waited for it to escape from my mouth, but I couldn’t make a sound!

Then as soon as it had started it was over. The forest was still and quiet……but the peace that had been there before was gone!

I slowly picked myself up off the ground and looked around, I didn’t notice anything or anyone out of the ordinary. This earthquake was definitely stronger than the last one; we must be getting closer to the source. WE! The girls! I darted back the way I had come, dodging trees and nearly tripping over a tree stump. I burst into the clearing…..nothing!

“Lizzie?! Tallie?! Abigail?!” I cried. I scanned the clearing for any sign of them, then; my eyes fell on where the opening of the cave had been.

OH NO! I ran to the cave “Girls!!! Are you in there? Are you alright?”

Never in my entire life had silence ever been so loud!


The tunnel was musty smelling and the occasional drip would land on us, but we kept going. We rounded the corner

“Ouch!” I exclaimed

“Are you alright?!” Tallie and Lizzie asked in unison

“I’m fine. Be careful, there’s a large rock or something there!” I laughed it off, trying to hide the pain in my voice. I felt my shin, it was wet. I held my hand closer to my eyes to see it better; it was red! I picked myself up and we continued; there was nothing to be done now anyway.

“Is it me or is it getting cooler in here?” Tallie asked

“I do feel a slight breeze coming from ahead!” I agreed

We subconsciously quickened our pace. It was getting lighter in here. We turned the next corner and were a few feet from an opening. The fresh air greeted us like an old friend!

Suddenly Lizzie exclaimed “RUN!” and she shoved us toward the exit.

We stumbled out of the exit a moment before an avalanche of stones closed off the opening.

As the dust and pebbles settled I looked over at Lizzie

“How did you know that was going to happen?” I asked

“I…I don’t know. I just sensed something was wrong, that was my first instinct.”

“Well…..Thank you! I doubt we’d have gotten out in time if it weren’t for you!” I smiled at herJ.

I looked back at the rocks, and let out a low whistle. That was WAY too close!

We walked back around towards where we thought our original camp might have been; it was growing quite dark by now. Half an hour later we entered the clearing. There sat Rizon, a warm fire crackling in the middle. I can honestly say it was the most welcoming sight I’d ever seen!

“It’s about time, any later a dinner would’ve been ruined” Rizon said, he almost managed to hide the sound of relief in his tone. Almost!

We lounged around the fire eating vegetable stew and exchanging our stories.

“Your leg” Rizon said

I looked down; my left pant leg was stained brown. I’d completely forgotten about it being cut.

I opened my pack and found a compress and bandage.

“At least I know how I got this cut. I’m usually bleeding and don’t know how it happened!” I laughed. Soon we were all joking and laughing.

Somewhere out in the darkness an evil force was planning something, but for the night it was enough to be laughing with friends around the fire!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Chapter Four: What Am I Doing?!

Once again there was a knock on the door. Rizon quickly rose to answer it. But before he could open the door, it opened on it's own and the girl from yesterday strode inside. Apparently she had discovered that it was unlocked.

"Alright, what's going on with this weather? Spit it out," she demanded.

"Excuse me?"

"This weather. I came yesterday to find out what was causing it, remember? Well, the wizard wasn't able to answer our question because he left in such a hurry. So what do you know about all of this?"

"Um...well, I uh..." Rizon hadn't intended on telling anyone of what the wizard had told him, but... "it's because of a group of wayward wizards. A little experiment they did. And apparently there's much more to it than meets the eye. Something dangerous."

"Dangerous?! What type of dangerous?"

"Well, I'm not sure. The wizard isn't quite sure either. He just knows it is. There's no specifics yet, though."

"Is someone going to do anything? If it's dangerous, and in the hands of criminals, it needs to be stopped! What's the wizard doing right now when this is going on?"

"Um, he went to scout out the rogue wizards' center and got captured. He's sitting in a prison right now. Very happy place, I'm sure."

"Wait, how do you know he's in prison? Were you there?"

"No, he appeared to me using one of his wizardly tricks," Rizon admitted. There was a small moment of silence, and then,

"Well, what are you going to do?" the girl demanded.

"What am I going to do?!" Rizon exclaimed. "Now wait just a minute! I'm no wizard. I'm just a wizard's apprentice. What can I do?"

The girl was just about to answer, when there came yet another rap on the door. Rizon stepped over and opened the door.

"Hello, again!" a sweet voice greeted him. It was the little mouse maiden and her bird friend. Also from yesterday.

"Oh, hi," Rizon said. "Come on in."

"Lizzie! Tallie! Hi!" the girl exclaimed.

The mouse maiden smiled shyly. "Hi, Abigail."

Abigail quickly got the two new visitors up to speed as Rizon stood there, wondering what the rest of the day was going to look like...

"You need to do something!" Lizzie exclaimed, jerking Rizon out of his thoughts. Apparently the comment was directed at him, because all three girls were looking at him. Shoot, he thought. Here we go again.

"Look, like I told the girl-"

"It's Abigail."

"Okay, like I told Abigail,  there's nothing I can do. I'm no wizard. Wizard Martin only told me to go fetch the other wizards from Kamden." He wasn't about to say what else Wizard Martin had told him. He knew that he needed to keep it completely secret.

"But by the time you get the wizards, something could have happened!" Tallie squawked in frustration. "We need to do something now-before it's too late!"

These girls seem awfully hasty...Rizon thought. Mighty rash, they are.

"Girls, please, you have no idea what you're getting yourself into! This is not a job for girls."

Abigail raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?" Her hand went to her belt. Rizon now noticed a small sheath hanging from it. He watched as she drew forth a very sharp dagger and then jumped as she flung it past him, quick as a flash. It landed in the opposite door, in the exact center with a loud thud. "I'm very accurate," Abigail stated. "Care for me to demonstrate more?"

"Uh, no. There are no more demonstrations necessary. From anyone." Obviously he had underestimated her talents, and he wouldn't be surprised if the mouse and bird also had daggers hidden on themselves. He was hesitant about going after the wizard himself, but he wasn't wanting to argue with this dagger-throwing girl. It could cost him dearly, he feared.

"Well," he began slowly, "what do you all propose we do?"


Two hours later, they were on the road.

What am I doing?! Rizon thought. These girls know nothing about quests! And aren't their parents going to wonder where they are? This seemed bad all around. But of course, he wasn't about to argue.

"So, we're headed west to the Derzak Plains where these wizards are located. When we get there, we'll scout around the area and make a plan about how to rescue the wizard and we'll figure out what these rogue wizards are up to and stop them before it is too late. Sound good, everyone?" Abigail looked around.

"Sounds great," Rizon replied, rolling his eyes.

"A wonderful plan!" Lizzie exclaimed. "It's going to be just like it is in the books! We'll be spies!"

"It is not going to be just like it is in the books. It never is. Sorry to be a rain cloud, but this quest is no game." Rizon rolled his eyes again for the hundredth time and strode ahead, eager to be alone with his thoughts.


When it became dark, Rizon persuaded them to stop for the night. He found a cave in the side of a canyon along which they had been traveling and moved them all inside. Abigail could have gone on for a while more still, but she figured the others needed rest. Rizon moved towards the mouth of the cave.

"I'll be back in a few minutes," he said. "I'm going to go collect some firewood."

Abigail nodded her acknowledgment and set to work unrolling some blankets. Her work was suddenly interrupted by a violent shaking of the ground. She collapsed, unable to balance herself. Overhead, a large rumbling sound began. Abigail glanced at Lizzie and Tallie, whose eyes were wide with fear. It was an avalanche. The three huddled together as rocks tumbled down the mountainside, landing in front of the cave. Finally the avalanche stopped and the girls opened their eyes. What they found horrified them. The mouth of the cave had been completely filled up by rocks!

They were trapped.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chapter 3: Or is there?

Rizon Kandarr gulped. Three people at the door – girls, to be specific – what could they possibly want? He cautiously opened the door wider.
“Come right in, the wizard shall be with you in a moment. He stepped aside as they entered through the archway into Rizon’s home. They stared around as they stumbled further inside, into the large entryway. He took silent satisfaction in their incredulous looks as they absorbed the fantastic place he had the pleasure to call home.
The tall girl was the first to speak up, “So do all wizards live in trees?”
“Well, we, me and the wizard, do,” Rizon had quite forgotten that their house was built into the base of a large, ancient tree. The inside appeared quite normal; in fact it was rather deceptive in that the simple outside appearance of a tree disguised the elegant furnishings within. Polished wood was everywhere, plush pillows adorned the long couches, and a grand, polished marble fireplace sat off to one side. And this was only in the front room, the rest of the house would take too long to describe.
“I don’t really know any other wizards, so I couldn’t really . . . “  Rizon trailed off, unsure how to finish answering the question. But the girl didn’t notice, instead she was wandering about, examining the detail on the marble fireplace. Instead the mouse maiden spoke up,
“How do you clean all this? With magic?”
Rizon lowered his gaze, “No, the wizard won’t teach me the spell for cleaning yet; he believes that I must learn to do it the hard way in order to truly appreciate the magic.”
The mouse smiled apologetically, “That’s too bad, but it’s still pretty impressive to clean all this by hand.” Rizon met her warm, friendly eyes, and found not disappointment in his lack of wizardly ability but rather friendly acceptance.
He looked over towards the tall girl and saw her gazing longingly at the pillows on the couch.
“You know you can sit on the couch if you want.” She thanked him and slowly leaned down to perch on the edge of the couch, as if it might break at any moment. Rizon laughed, and dared to make a jibe, “Is that any way to use a couch? I know you want to do it!”
She cocked her head, as if contemplating what he was saying. But a flying object blocked Rizon’s point of view as it flew through the air and rebounded off the couch, only to get back up and flounce back onto it. The mouse maiden giggled as she sank deep into the couch only to spring back up again.
Abruptly, the wizard swept into the room, long cloak billowing furiously around his figure. He went straight to Rizon. “There are some matters of most important consideration that I must attend to. This blasted strange weather has started some wheels turning in my old head. If all goes well, I should be back within a day or two, and if I don’t return within a fortnight you must seek lodging in the village for I shall either be captured, being tortured, or all-together dead.”
All of these possibilities seemed equally problematic and not at all comforting but that was just how the wizard was, straight to the point. Rizon merely nodded, what else was there for his to say. He could protest, refuse to be left alone –for this was the first time – but that hardly seemed something that the wizard would expect from his exemplary apprentice, so Rizon kept a lid on all his feelings. The wizard was gone out the door in a few fleeting moments, no time for goodbyes.
“But . . .” the blue sparrow cried out, “We didn’t get to ask him our question.”
Rizon apologized for the unexpected change of plans. He informed the trio that they would not be able to get any answers that day, but if they came back in a few days they might be able to receive an audience with the wizard on whatever matters they desired to request of him.
As he ushered them out of the house, he hesitated, unwilling to forget the friendship he had felt with them. But then in that brief moment, they were gone. He peered out of the doorway, watching with some regret as their figures slowly receded into the deepening twilight.
He closed the door, and immersed himself in various obligations throughout the house: feeding the animals, preparing dinner, taking care of the dragon egg, and then just overall straightening up. A hour or two passed by, and then he sat down to dinner. A plump, roasted flatebird caught in one of the air-traps was a little overdone but that didn’t bother Rizon. It would’ve definitely bothered the wizard- who might have proceeded to “entertain” him with a long lecture about the more particular nuances of cooking. But the wizard wasn’t there, so Rizon enjoyed the respite from his never-ending learning.
The deepening twilight swiftly turned to pitch black outside the windows of Rizon’s empty manor. Undressing quickly, he was in bed within minutes of securing the premises. The sheets were cold but quickly warmed up, especially after he closed his still-open window. Drifting off to sleep, Rizon’s dreams took him places he could never hope to aspire to.
Rizon woke to a soft light playing over his sleepy face. He realized he hadn’t turned off the oil lantern by his bedside before succumbing to the dreamworld. Through his drowsy eyes, he managed to distinguish a wavering figure between him and the light source. Slowly his eyes adjusted, and he realized that the figure was the wizard Martin. He jerked to attention, his lethargic movements clumsy. J
“Rizon. How many times have I told you to secure all the premises? This lamp was strictly forbidden to be left on past your own bedtime. But what has been done has been done, and although I wish you would have heeded my counsel, I am thankful for such a forgetful, and irresponsible apprentice like you.”
Rizon experienced several emotions during the duration of the wizard’s dialogue; at first, shame; then, regret tempered with resolve to prove his attentiveness; and finally, utter confusion. “But wizard Martin, how could my mistake be something to be thankful for? I clearly disobeyed your command and you are thanking me for it?”
“Why? My boy, use your eyes. I am not in my usual form. Your eyes can reveal volumes to you if you only know how to use them. Tell me, what have I done? Why did I do it? How do these solutions resolve your first question?”
Rizon focused on the wizard’s wavering, shimmering form – wait, a minute, wavering? Shimmering? Aha, Rizon had found variation in the wizard’s form, but what did it mean? Why was it wavering? It was almost like the wizard was a pool of water that some little kid relentlessly continued to poke, spreading ripples throughout the entire pool. The form was wavering, sometimes substantial, sometimes almost like a ghost, like he wasn’t all the way –Rizon perused his mind for what the technique was used for. Surely the wizard had told him this sometime during a lengthy speal.
Wizard Martin studied Rizon thoughtfully all the while he was racking his brain to find the answers to the wizard’s questions and Rizon’s own.
Rizon slowly fitted various pieces of information and observation together to form a thesis. He finally managed to get into word-worthy proportions and was planning to give his answer, when a notion appealed to him that would allow him to test his theory. In a swift fluid motion, Rizon’s hand swooped down, grabbing the pitcher of water by the bed, and in a continuous upward motion Rizon flung the contents directly at the wizard’s face.
The wizard flinched and lifted an arm, as if to shield himself, but the water passed harmlessly through him to splash onto Rizon’ bedstand, wetting the wood and dousing the flickering oil lantern.
“Oh well done, young apprentice. You’ve succeeded in discovering the answer to your questions and eliminating my light source. Would you be so kind as to replenish the light you so thoughtfully doused.
Grinning from ear to ear, Rizon fumbled around in the darkness for another lamp, which he proceeded to light and set upon the damp bedstand. It’s brightness illuminated the entire room, much to Rizon’s disappointment.
“Oh dear, it seems to be a day for reprimands,” remarked the wizard sourly, as he gazed at the pile of soiled clothes that had collected in the vacant corner.
Eager to forestall any possible lectures or additional chores, Rizon forged ahead in the conversation. “But surely you didn’t come here in your spirit form to merely chastise me for a solitary lantern and a microscopic little pile of unwashed laundry. What has prompted your current state? What danger are you in?”
The wizard turned his head to face Rizon’s. “I’ve distracted myself with your faults when this is a time to encourage you for your strengths. I need your help. I gravely underestimated what I was up against. This weather lately, it was no mere wizardly accident. It was the experimental work of an extremely talented group of rogue wizards.”
Rogue wizards? Where had Rizon heard that before? Ever? Not that he could remember. Rizon stared questioningly back at the wizard.
“Ah, that’s right. I apologize. I have kept you shielded from the more hostile factions of our powerful group. The wizards are powerful, with magic that can be used for both good and evil. And since no one is more powerful than a wizard we came together and devised what is now known as the Wizard’s Code. It defines certain moral lines that shouldn’t be broken without severe punishment. All wizards are subject to them. Whoever crosses any of these lines is immediately banned from our presence and declared a rogue wizard, a direct enemy of all steadfast wizards. Now that you have heard our standing in a nutshell, without any of the more tricky scenarios and political scheming, I can explain my situation . . .
The wizard talked for what seemed like a good hour or two, describing what Rizon must do to free him from the prisons of the rogue wizards, in addition to all the backstabbing politics of the High Council of Wizards. Rizon found himself listening attentively, enraptured by the drama of all that had been going on without his knowing about it; he also found himself wondering just how much the old wizard had kept from him and maybe was still keeping from him.
Abigail feverishly scoured the big black cooking pots from the Royal Dragon outside the aforementioned establishment. Her thoughts were immediately centered on the unusual occurrences of the day before when she had gone to see the wizard. Something was up, she knew that much. The weather, the mysterious departure of the wizard, it was all pointing to . . .? Grrrr.  Why didn’t the wizards just say, “The weather is perfectly natural, so don’t worry about a thing. Oh, and I’m just going to go outside to check on some of my gardenias.” Nope, of course that was not what had happened. Instead, the wizard had appeared all dramatic and gave a bleak list of what might happen to him, along with instructions for his apprentice, should something actually happen. But although she might enjoy adventures and risk, she hated to be aware of an adventure but not have even an idea of what it was about. That very minute she resolved to return to the wizard’s house to pry whatever the apprentice knew out of his head and then if she was still in the dark, to . . . uh, finish scouring the pans.
Not far away, a mouse maiden and her companion blue sparrow were consulting each other, and coming much to the same conclusion that Abigail had. The wizard’s departure was extraordinary and they loved a good story. Life was a wee bit boring just then, so a bit o’ shakeup would be extremely therapeutic.
A tall, shy human girl, a mouse maiden, a blue sparrow, and a wizard’s apprentice all are about to realize just how lucky they are. Or are they?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chapter 2

Abigail stood outside for a moment longer, then reality sunk in. The animals! Hiking up her skirt she darted toward the barn. She barely made it in when a lightning bolt struck right where she had been standing. “Hey watch it!” she wanted to shout at the sky. The thunder seemed to be reading her mind, for right then it boomed in response! She shuddered and quickly battened down the barn windows and secured the animals. Abigail fought against the wind to close the barn doors. “Ugh!” She exclaimed as the dead bolt slid into place. She ran across the yard and into the kitchen of the Royal Dragon.

“Abigail, where have you been?” Her mother asked “I was getting worried about you.”

 “I was just taking care of the animals in the barn. How are things in the dining room?”

“Okay, other than some broken plates and spilled food. Would you grab a broom and start cleaning up, please? I’ll start cleaning things up in here.” She motioned toward the pots and pans that were spilled all over the floor and counter.

“Yes Mama.”

She picked up the fallen mirror in the dining room, and looked at herself briefly. She stood 5’ 5” in her socks, was average in build with wavy brown hair and vivid green eyes. She once overheard someone say she was “Plain to the point of forgettable”, which was fine by her. Abigail hung the mirror back on the wall, fixed her tousled hair and returned to straightening the room.

As she swept, her mind buzzed with a hundred questions, foremost among them was “What in the world is going on?!”

Tomorrow she would go and see Martin. If anyone would know what this thing was Wizard Martin would!


“Lizzie?!” Tallie called across the ruble of trees in what was once a clearing. The earthquake had brought some of the old trees down around the mouse family’s home. “Lizzie?!” Tallie called again.

“Here I am!” Lizzie stood up from behind a fallen tree. Her parents and siblings followed.

“Are you alright?”

“I….I think so. How about you? What just happened?” Lizzie asked

“Oh I’m fine” Tallie smiled “I’ve never seen anything like that before!”

“Well, is there anything we can do?” asked Lizzie

Suddenly Lizzie began hunting around under the fallen tree, gradually becoming more frantic in her search.

“What are you looking for?” Tallie asked

“My book! I can’t find my book!” Lizzie exclaimed.

“Let me fly up and see if I can find it.” Quick as a flash Tallie was in the air, her keen eyes searching the rubble for the book. “Aha! I see it.” She swooped down and plucked it up in her beak.

“Thank you! I’d hate to lose it, I haven’t finished it and the ending seems quite promising!”

Tallie laughed gently. If there was one thing her friend was known for other than being shy, it was her passionate love of books! Lizzie joined in the laughter; they often knew what the other was thinking! Their inside joke was interrupted by Lizzie’s father.

“Lizzie! We’d best be getting into the house, it’s late and starting to turn cold!”

“Yes dad! I’m coming, right away!” Lizzie replied.

Tallie and Lizzie said their goodbye’s and each went to their own homes. Tomorrow was a Saturday and they agreed to meet then.

The next morning after chores and an early breakfast Tallie and Lizzie met beneath the large willow tree near the river, Gorm Domhain, The Deep Blue.

“Last night’s events were so strange” Lizzie was saying. “I keep thinking about what it might have been!”

“I was also!” After a moment of silence Tallie said “I’ve heard there’s a wizard of incredible wisdom who lives near the edge of the forest. Perhaps he would know what it was?”

“Perhaps... You weren’t thinking of going to see him, were you?!” Lizzie asked.

“Not me….US!”

“I’m not sure about this!” Lizzie said. She was becoming more uneasy about this whole idea the closer they got towards the Wizard’s house.

“I’m not comfortable either, but this may be our only chance for an adventure! And I’d like to at least have one!” Tallie replied.

As they walked along the vague path toward the house, they were startled by the sound of rustling leaves to their right. Suddenly a girl appeared.

“Oh!” She exclaimed. A slight smile emerged on her face “Good morning! I’m sorry if I startled you.”

“Good morning” Lizzie replied timidly. She recognized the girl from around the village; she was the tavern keeper’s daughter.

After an awkward moment of silence the girl spoke again “My name is Abigail. What are your names?”

“I’m Tallie and this is Lizzie!” Tallie said quickly, having finally found her voice.

“Nice to meet you! Where are you off to this fine morning?” She asked

Tallie and Lizzie exchanged glances. Should they tell her? Very well, their look seemed to say.

“We’re going to see the Wizard!”

Abigail looked quite shocked “I am also! Would you mind if I walked along with you? I don’t get many chances to talk to people my own age, especially girls!” She laughed lightly.

So the three of them continued on their way to Martin’s house, unaware of what their futures had in store for them.


“Rizon Kandarr!” Master Martin’s booming voice seemed to echo off the walls of Rizon’s small room! It was amazing to Rizon how a man as small in stature as the Wizard could be so loud!

“I’m coming!” He answered groggily.

“I expect you to be dressed and down for breakfast in three minutes or I shall be forced to return!”

Rizon was out of bed like a streak of lightening. The last time he had over slept Master Martin had come into his room with a very hard stick, which found itself squarely on his…. Well, he didn’t wish to relive that!

He was dressed, bed made and at the table in record time; under two minutes!

“Well done Rizon! I hope you shall keep up this discipline in the future!”

After Master Martin blessed their food, Rizon dug into his hot porridge. Master Martin was not the best cook, in fact he might be one of the worst Rizon had ever encountered, but he made a wonderful porridge!

“What are my duties today? What will we be studying? Will I be able to do any real wizarding?” Rizon asked between spoonfuls of breakfast.

Rizon didn’t see the old wizard roll his eyes towards heaven.

“Yes, as a matter of fact you will be learning one of the most important things an apprentice wizard will learn!”

Rizon’s eye’s brightened. After 4 long months of monotonous schooling he would finally be learning something fun!

“What will I be learning today?” he asked with obvious excitement.

“You will be learning………..” he paused for effect….. “the difficult job of learning to NOT TALK WITH YOUR MOUTH FULL!”

Before Rizon could come back with a “cunning” remark, there was a knock at the front door.

Rizon and the Wizard looked at each other.

“Well... answer the door!” Martin said at last.

Rizon begrudgingly got up from his seat, slid the latch from the door and opened it. To his surprise there stood three girls; a three foot tall white mouse, a blue sparrow, and a human girl.

“We’ve come to see Wizard Martin” Abigail said. “Is he here?”