Chapter 18 – The Kingdom of the Future
“This is a strange place,” Tristan said as they peered at their surroundings, “It feels like we are in an ocean or in the sky.”
Transported by Lucien’s ability, Tristan, Michelle and Lucien arrived in the Kingdom of the Future.
“It’s a shame we had to leave Tylo and Tylette behind,” Michelle said.
“At least they’ll be safe,” her brother assured her, referring that they have left the cat and dog with the Blessings and the Loves.
“Are we here to find the blue bird?” Michelle asked their guide.
“I wanted to show you something,” Lucien told them and led them through the place.
The Kingdom of the Future was a large city all of blue: buildings, walls, skies, ground – even the children they saw there!
“Who are they?” Michelle asked.
“What are they?” Tristan rephrased.
“They are the children of the future.” Lucien explained.
“Hello there!” A little blue boy approached them with rolls of paper under his arm. “You must be strangers. Welcome to the Kingdom of the Future!”
“Uh, thanks!” Tristan said and then asked nodding at the paper, “What’s that you have there?”
“Oh, this?” the boy held up the paper and unrolled it before them revealing the blueprint of a building. “I am going to be an architect and build the most unique cathedral in the world!”
“Wow! I have never seen such a picture,” Michelle commented.
“We call this a blueprint. It’s basically a map for making buildings,” the little boy explained. “That little girl over there,” he nodded towards a girl with a stand containing a number of slender glass tubes, “She is going to find a unique element that will help sick people around the world.”
“That one over there,” the boy showed them another boy in a lab coat playing with a glass covered dish and some eyedroppers. “He is going to find a cure for an illness and give it to the world without a cost. And that little girl over there,” showing them a girl sitting on a bench swinging her legs. “She is going to sit on a bus and make a difference on how people think about each other.”
“What’s a bus?” Tristan asked.
Their little guide showed them more about things of the future: carts that moved without the power of horses or cattle; fruits and vegetables of various shapes, sizes and colours; clothing made of materials yet to be discovered; lanterns that were lit without candles or oil; and many more.
“Wow! I didn’t think any of those would be possible!” Tristan exclaimed.
“Yup! That’s what we are: future builders, inventors, teachers, leaders, and visionaries!” said the boy excitedly, but suddenly his face clouded with sadness, “Unfortunately, not everyone will live long enough to see the fruit of their talents and labours.”
“Why do you say that?” Michelle asked.
“Many of us will die at a young age. Some of us will die even before we are born,” the little boy explained.
“Tristan! Michelle!” called a voice, the two of them looked to see a bunch of children approach them.
“Who are you all?” Michelle asked.
“We are your children!” they all said.
“Ch-children?!” Tristan exclaimed.
“But we’re not even married! Neither of us are!” she pointed out.
“Don’t worry, you will both get married and later have children,” said a little girl who looked like a smaller version of Michelle.
“All aboard for those who are leaving for the next ship!” called a deep resounding voice.
“That’s us!” someone shouted.
“To the future! Here we come!” The children whooped and shouted as they brought their things with them and walked up a ramp to get on board a giant sailing ship. At the foot of the ramp was a man with long hair and a very long beard, in his right hand he held a scythe, in his left he held up a large hour glass with its blue glittery sand trickling through its narrow centre.
“It’s kind of sad knowing that some of them won’t live long enough to see the fruit of their labours.” Tristan reflected sadly.
“That is what the future is – it is filled with uncertainties, but full of hope and promise.” Lucien explained to them.
Just when the last child boarded the ship, a large clock sounded striking twelve. The giant ship pulled away from its harbour and sailed into the night sky. The old man with the hour glass turned and saw Tristan and Michelle. He opened his mouth to say something, but seeing Lucien he closed it and bowed his head in reverence instead.
“Time to go,” Lucien said and with those words a swirl of gold dust encircled them and transported the three of them out of there.
Chapter 19 – The Sad Parting
“Where are we now?” Michelle asked Lucien.
They looked at their surroundings and saw a familiar room: the table where they ate their meals, the bed revealed from the open doors of their bedrooms, the birdcage hanging from the ceiling holding Tristan’s pigeon.
“We’re home?” Tristan could not believe his eyes.
“But we’re not done our quest!” Michelle protested, “We still have not found the blue bird!”
“No, not on our journey,” Lucien agreed sadly.
“But that would mean we could not save the princess,” Michelle addressed.
“We still have time till Christmas day, don’t we?” Tristan asked hopefully.
Lucien only looked at them and led them to their house. Michelle threw her arms around Lucien, her shoulders shaking in tears.
“Michelle,” Lucien said to her tenderly.
“We failed our quest, Lucien!” Michelle sobbed, “We were asked by Madam Luna to find the bird of happiness for the princess and we failed!”
Lucien held her close and comforted her. “The quest is not quite over yet, dear one,” he told her.
Lucien shook his head and said, “Do not lose hope. You will find your blue bird.”
“How can you be so sure?” Tristan asked.
Their guide looked at him. “Remember what the Blessings have told you and you will know. Now, it is time for us to return to our worlds.”
“Will we see each other again?” asked Michelle as fresh tears appeared.
“We will. In time we will.” Upon those words, Lucien shone brightly until the place was washed white with his brightness.
Tristan opened his eyes and found himself back in home in his own bed. The place was still dark, but he recognized the scent and touch of his own bedclothes and home.
“I wonder what day it is,” he said to himself as he got out of bed. He approached Michelle who slept in her bed across from him separated by a thick curtain. He pulled back the curtain and found her sleeping soundly in her bed.
He let out a sigh of relief. They were home. So was it all a dream? Bringing out a candle he kept near his bed, he lit it. Climbing down the step ladder that separated them from the main level of their parent’s cottage, he silently made his way to his pigeon which he kept in its cage not far from the hearth.
The bird tucked its head under its wing. Tristan stared at his bird. Madam Luna had mentioned about the princess needing the blue bird. He lit a lantern and had a better look at his bird.
Whether it was the trick of the light, Tristan noticed that his pigeon looked bluer than it did before. He stood there in thought for a moment. Then he went back to his bed and changed his clothes. Grabbing his thick woolen coat he pulled it on. He then took his pigeon still in its birdcage; taking a thick shawl he covered the cage to keep the cold at bay. With his covered cage in one hand, he very quietly left his home after blowing out the lantern and candle on his way out.
He went to the barn, saddled their horse Greta and headed straight for the castle.
By the time Tristan arrived at the castle gates, day was beginning to break.
“Who goes there!” commanded one of the guards.
Tristan halted his horse and dismounted. “Please, sir, I would like to see the king.”
“What business do you have with the king this Christmas morning?” the second guard demanded.
“So it’s Christmas morning,” Tristan said, his face lit up with hope, “Please give this to the king. It is the blue bird for the princess.” He handed the cage to the first guard.
“Wait a minute! Did you just say a blue bird?” the second guard asked.
“Yes, I did,” he told them.
The guards whispered at each other. They peeked under the shawl and turned to Tristan.
“We’ll make sure to give it to her majesty,” the first guard told him.
“Thank you,” Tristan nodded, he stopped and asked, “Will the princess be all right now?”
“Now that we have the blue bird she will be,” the second guard assured.
Tristan nodded in gratitude. He mounted Greta and made his way back home.
Chapter 20 – As For the Blue Bird
“We’re home!” Pierre’s voice rang in the quiet home.
“Really, Pierre! They may still be asleep!” Jolie playfully smacked her husband’s arm.
In their rooms located on the second level further into their cottage, Michelle stirred in her bed at the jovial noise.
“It’s Christmas morning!” Pierre’s cheerful voice filled the air.
“Father!” Michelle leapt out of bed, scrambled down the stepladder and ran into the arms of her parents. “You’re home!” she cried out in delight.
“Well! This is a lovely Christmas greeting!” Pierre said with a chuckle. “Merry Christmas, Michelle!” he said as he kissed the top of his daughter’s head.
“Where’s Tristan? Is he still in bed?” Jolie asked as she gave her daughter a hug.
“I’m right here.” Everyone turned to see Tristan come into the cottage, fully dressed and his face red from the chilly air. He was glowing.
Michelle looked at her brother with a confused look. “What do you mean?”
“I found the blue bird. The Blessings were right; it was in our house the whole time.”
“They were right? You mean you found the blue bird? Oh, Tristan! I am so glad!” Michelle cried out in joy as she hugged her brother.
“What is going on here now?” Jolie asked her husband.
“Beats me, but if our children are happy then I guess all is well.” Pierre commented.
Tristan turned to his parents and stared at their faces. He turned to his mother and kissed her cheek and stared at her again.
“Um, yes?” their mother asked, looking puzzled.
“Just glad to see you, Mother,” Tristan told her as he put his arms around her.
“Well, I am glad to see you too, my son,” Jolie said with a smile unsure of what to make of this greeting.
“Well, let’s have breakfast ready, shall we?” Pierre said, as he removed his now wet coat.
“Yes, let’s! Michelle, get changed. We shall have a feast!” Their mother produced a large basket filled with wonderful gifts: little jars filled with jams and jellies, a loaf of bread, a wheel of cheese, a string of sausage, some apples, a bag of nuts and dried fruits, and finally a sugary cake wrapped in a tea cloth.
“Where did all this come from?” Michelle asked.
“You will not believe it, but it was left at the door of your grandparents’ cottage,” Jolie told them.
“Who would have left them?”
Tristan saw a sheet of paper wedged into the side of the basket, tied to a tin of tea with a sprig of pine with its cone. The paper was crisp with a shade of cream, on its pristine surface, in elegant script, were the words: Thank you for your kindness. Bérylune.
“What is it, Tristan?” his sister asked, as she leaned over his shoulder to see what he had in his hand.
“I believe the gifts were from Madam Luna,” Tristan said as he showed the letter to his family.
“Oh, she didn’t have to thank us!” Jolie protested.
“I think she still wanted to show us her gratitude,” Tristan explained.
Days passed and the news of the princess recovering from her mysterious illness was spread throughout the kingdom along with the news that the prince had returned safely after his long absence from his quest. Thus the people of Berlingot had the assumption that the prince found the cure and sent it ahead to his sister to speed her recovery.
“So where did you find the blue bird, Tristan?” Michelle asked her brother as they were cleaning Greta’s stable.
“I told you, it was in our home the whole time.” Tristan added new straw.
“Surely you don’t mean your pigeon.”
“I am talking about my pigeon,” Tristan brought Greta to her stall.
“Oh, Tristan! But I thought – ”
“I thought so too. I thought that the bird was not blue enough, but when I looked that early Christmas morning it was much bluer than before, so it had to be the one.”
“But that pigeon was special!”
“It was, which was all the more reason I had to give it away; if it will bring happiness to someone I was more than willing to let that person have it. Besides,” he added as he gave Greta a carrot, “I don’t need that pigeon anymore now that I could visit Grandfather in my memories.”
Michelle stared at her brother.
“What?” he asked, noticing a touched look on his sister’s face. “Why are you so emotional?”
“Oh, Tristan! I am so proud to have you as my brother!” she wept with joy as she threw her arms around her brother’s neck.
“Hey! Careful!” he protested, but was smiling the whole time.
“Tristan! Michelle!” their father called them, “You have visitors!”
“Visitors?” Michelle asked.
“Who could they be?” Tristan wondered aloud.
Their mother met them as they came out of the stable.
“Hurry, go wash up!” she shooed them to the water pump in the kitchen.
“What’s all the fuss about?” Tristan asked.
“Don’t keep them waiting! They’re already here!”
The brother and sister quickly washed up and straightened their clothes; both strode towards the front of the cottage where they saw a grand carriage with a royal crest on the door.
“Tristan!” Michelle grasped her brother’s sleeve.
“Your highnesses, allow me to introduce you to my children. My son Tristan and my daughter Michelle,” Pierre introduced them both to a regal looking pair.
The guests were also brother and sister, or so they appeared. The young man was tall and beautiful with hair fluffy and snowy white; his skin was smooth and dark as walnut; his eyes were almond shaped and the colour of amber.
His sister was just as beautiful, about Michelle’s age with smooth ivory skin, shiny black hair that flowed in silky waves about her shoulders, her lips were the colour of rose petals in the summer, and her dark amber coloured eyes were bright as stars. In her hands she held a pigeon the colour of the sky.
“Tristan, they look familiar. I wonder why?” Michelle whispered.
“You’re right, but I can’t seem to recall where I’ve seen them,” Tristan whispered back.
“Tristan,” said the young woman.
“Y-yes?” he jumped.
“I am Princess Jana,” she introduced, “I was told by the guards that you brought the blue bird to the castle.”
“I did, your highness,” Tristan said nervously.
“Thank you, Tristan,” the princess said with a smile, “I wanted to visit you sooner and thank you for your generosity.”
“It was nothing, your highness,” Tristan said, his face as red a beets.
Michelle giggled as she watched her brother’s reaction. She looked up and saw that the prince was looking right at her. He smiled.
“Excuse me, your highness, but have we met?” she asked.
“Perhaps we have, but not like this,” he said with a wink.
The princess handed the blue bird back to Tristan, but it broke away from her grasp and took flight.
“Oh no!” The princess watched the bird fly away.
“It is all right, your highness. We will find the blue bird again – this time close to our hearts.”