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Jul 05, 2020 6:16 AM
ai mica and beauty and the beast cat
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Well, we're not going to argue with that, but not many people would agree with you in our experience.

What do you plan to do now? Do you want a break from reading? 

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"Sure, is there something you want me to do?"

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Not particularly, but we thought you might like to explore the rest of the castle in daylight, or perhaps the gardens although we'd be reluctant to take this book outside. 

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"I would love to see the gardens."

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Wonderful! Follow the book, please. 

It takes off, pages flapping as it bobs in the air, leading him through the castle. Down a flight of stairs, around a few corners, and they come to a door. It's smaller and less impressive than the way he came in, and it leads out into an inner courtyard rather than the castle's exterior. 

Would you like a guide around the gardens, or would you rather explore on your own? 

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"I'll explore on my own. You can come get me if I'm needed, right?"

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Of course. We'll send something less easily damaged by the weather. 

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"Of course. Thank you."

Gardens!

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The inner courtyard is a study of man's inability to truly control or tame the spread of nature. Its neatly shaped flowerbeds have long since been overgrown, with tangled rose bushes blocking some of the spaces where once a person could have walked between the beds. The walls around the courtyard are so thick with ivy and climbing plants that the stone beneath can barely be seen. Every flowerbed is a riot of leaves and stems and flowers fighting for space, forming almost a solid mass of greenery. 

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It's beautiful. It's incredible. This is the best place ever and he's never leaving.

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Some of the plants will be familiar to him from the time he's spent in gardens and forests back home. Others might be recognisable from the botany text he read last night. A few are entirely unfamiliar. 

At the far end of the courtyard is an archway crowned with a thick mass of deep purple flowers, one branch of which hangs down into the open space. 

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What good flowers!

And what's through the archway?

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An orchard, the ground thick with fallen fruit and brown leaves from autumns past. The trees are heavy with unpicked apples, pears, plums, and peaches. One side of this garden is taken up by a greenhouse; the orange trees inside it have grown through the roof. The other three sides have climbing vines of ripe berries. 

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It's kind of a shame that he's here instead of someone who could get anything out of this fruit, huh.

Can he get into the greenhouse?

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It's not locked, although the plants growing up around the door make it a little difficult to open. He can open it about halfway and squeeze inside.  

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He'll do that, then! Is there anything inside other than orange trees?

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A bunch of other plants running similarly wild, including brightly-coloured flowers in fantastical shapes. Some of them aren't doing so good; the cold air must be getting to them through the broken glass. 

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That's something else to add to the list of things to fix. Poor plants, having to struggle along in this condition for who knows how long.

He'll be content to wander among the plants until he's needed.

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A while later, maybe an hour or so, a broom sweeps its way down the garden path. It's only a stick with bristles tied to one end, but it's nevertheless elegant as it twirls and dances towards Maika. 

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He bounces and waves once he spots it.

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It bobs up and down in what looks like a bow. Then it circles around Maika to playfully mime "sweeping" him back towards the castle. 

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Cute!! He presses his hands to his cheeks in delight and then starts heading back.

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The broom sweeps its way back along the path towards the door Maika left from. Waiting for them there is the book.

Hello! Did you enjoy the gardens? 

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We thought you might like to take a walk around the outside of the castle, to look at the architecture. The pen writes this slowly and deliberately, with more emphasis than might be expected for such a simple suggestion. 

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