I wrote this story last week at the same time that I wrote the last one. Actually, they were meant to be the same story, but it had gotten too long. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. My family did.
Without saying another word, the bears pushed me forward. Orange walked in front and the yellow one behind me as they led me through the woods. About fifteen minutes later, the led me to the edge of a clearing. I looked into the clearing and saw a palisade built from the trunks of the Lollypop trees. I asked, "The Cookie Patrol is in that makeshift fort?"
The two bears nodded. Orange said, "You better go out with a white flag. Whenever one of our bears leaves the protection of the woods, he comes back with an arrow embedded in his body." The two bears laughed. "Of course, that doesn't hurt us much."
I looked and saw several puncture wounds on both the bears. I took my hanky from my pocket and held it up as I walked out of the woods. No arrows flew in my direction, but after I came within a dozen yards of the palisade, I heard, "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
I yelled back, "Uh, my name is Ap LePie and I've come from the Candy Land Kingdom. I need to speak to Princess Lolly."
I faintly heard the sound of voices on the top of the palisade, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. After a moment or two, the same voice called out. "Come to the gate."
I turned to look back at the woods, but couldn't see the bears anymore. I walked around the wall until I found the gate. It was open just a crack. One the other side was Princess Lolly. "Mr. LePie. What do you want?"
I could tell that she remembered me. Even so, she didn't seem happy to see me. I replied, "We need to talk about your father and why you're here."
She made a frustrated sound and growled, "I'm here because these bears know where my father is. I was hoping to quickly beat them as they weren't terribly organized, but there are just too many of them."
Her comments made me quite confused. I said, "I don't know where you got your information from, Princess, but the bears are innocent. Lord Licorice is the one responsible for making your father disappear."
She stared at me blankly for a moment. "They can't be. I got a ransom letter from them the same day he disappeared."
I didn't know where the letter might have come from, but I had some ideas. I said, "Well, princess, I don't know what to say about that, but I do know quite a bit about the situation. I have Colonel Crunch's garrison besieging Licorice Castle while he waits for your army. The Gumdrop Giants are helping, for now, but they aren't comfortable with the situation. I think that your royal presence might convince them that the alliance with us is worth fighting for."
She replied, "But what about the bears? We've been fighting them for a couple of days now and I don't think that they're just going to let us go back through their woods."
I knew that she was right. The bears were very unhappy about what had transpired the last few days. I gave it some serious thought for a moment, and then inspiration hit. "Well, your majesty, if you'd be willing to come with me to the edge of the woods, I think that we can work something out."
She looked at me doubtfully and said, "You're going to have to give me more than that, Mr. LePie. I think that those bears are just as likely to shoot me unarmed as they are to look at me right now."
I glanced back over my shoulder at the woods and said, "Tell you what. How about I bring a couple of them, unarmed mind you, to the clearing and you come out too. We can have some peace talks out there in the open where everyone can see."
She gave the matter some thought and finally nodded. I turned and walked to the edge of the woods and saw an orange and yellow bear waiting there for me. "Are you the same bears that brought me here?" I asked.
They laughed at me for a couple of moments. The orange one said, "I like you, Ap LePie. My name is Circu S'Peanut and this is Lemo N'Drop. We're two of the cheiftans of the Lollypop Gummy Bear Tribes. What did your princess say?"
"I've arranged for her to meet us in the clearing to discuss terms of peace," I said. "If you don't mind coming unarmed, of course."
They nodded and proceeded to leave their weapons on the ground and followed me out into the clearing. Princess Lolly left the fort a moment later, also unarmed. We met in the middle of the clearing. When introductions were complete, I said, "Now that we're all here, I'd like to fill you all in on what's been going on around Candy Land."
I told them my tale all the way from my office to that very moment standing there with them. Afterwards, I said, "So, my idea is to form an alliance between the Lollypop Gummy Bear Tribes and Candy Land Kingdom to defeat Lord Licorice."
Princess Lolly nodded right away and said, "I think that sounds like a fabulous idea! The Candy Land Kingdom agrees."
The two bears looked at each other. Circu shook his head and said, "We certainly empathize with the situation that your kingdom is dealing with, but we don't think that we will help you. Helping you would put many of our tribesmen into danger needlessly."
I quickly responded, "It may seem like that now, sure, but you both don't know the troubles that the Candy Land Kingdom has been internally facing the last few years. If Lord Licorice has his way and succeeds in toppling the legitimate King and his family, he won't stop there. The kingdom is running out of viable farmland and the Lord knows it. Before he started his little coup, he had been urging the king to expand the frontier. To widen the kingdom's borders. Do you know where those borders lie today, Circu?"
Circu and Lemo looked thoughtful. Circu said, "We don't have a formal border with the kingdom because we haven't much needed one, but the Peanut Brittle Patches would be it, pretty much."
Lemo nodded and added, "Yes, and if you push the border much this way, you're getting into the Lollypop Woods."
Circu and Lemo looked at each other again and Lemo nodded to Circu. Circu turned to me and said, "We'll have to discuss this with the rest of the tribes, of course, but I think that we'll agree to help you. Afterwards, though, we'll want to formalize a border and such in a treaty."
Princess Lolly agreed and the two bears went on their way. She turned to me and said, "Thank you, Mr. LePie. I think that you just saved the kingdom."