By: Lillabeth B.

            "Bring Hermione Harriet Everlark."
            The silence in the bridge was deafening. The first thing that happened was that Madeline Hinny wrapped her arms around her friend Hermione. The second was that Donald Rumpey placed his hand tenderly on Maddie's tense shoulder, which softened as she turned to him, blushing bright red. Third, the captain turned to the Lady and opened his mouth, before thinking better of it.
            Finally, Duke Francis Everlark burst into the room, befuddled and mystified. "What was--" He trailed off when he saw the tableau before him: Hermione in the center, turning towards him, shocked; Maddie grasping Hermy's arm, cowering; Don with his arm around Madeline's shoulders, looking confused and unsure; and the captain standing tall, defiant and proud.
            The Duke's face hardened. "I see how it is," he began, pacing between the frozen figures. "I've been triple crossed. Crossed by my daughter, crossed by my captain..." He walked to the window and looked out at the fortress. "...And crossed by my wife. From the moment she left, Harriet knew this day would come. No matter what happened, I would at some point be forced to have you on this ship. And no matter what happened, you would find your way to the observation deck, as I have no doubt you have, and you would feel the wind accept you. And you would perhaps even manipulate it. Then you would become like your mother, unwilling to stay in one place, unable to be tied down, flighty and crazed.
            Hermy, unable to hold her silence, took a step towards her father. "Now, wait just a-"
"No!" Francis marched to his daughter. "No, you wait! You listen!"
"Father, I've been waiting and listening for 13 years! I've been waiting for my entire life! I'm ready to feel the cool air on my face, to see cities and forests and deserts and the sky!"
            "Hermione, if you give yourself up to those people, you can never return to your normal life. Once you've been down there and seen what they have to show you, everything will change. I will never speak to you again."
            " Why would I ever want to return to this life?" Hermy had gone far past angry and made the leap to rage. "You locked me up in my own home! You shipped me around the world with my breaths of fresh air few and far between! Why would I ever want to come back to this terrible existence?"
            The Duke was silent for a moment. "I was simply trying to protect you. Once you've been down there, you'll see why." And with that, Duke Francis Everlark strode out of the room, leaving Hermy panting angrily.
            Maddie walked tentatively up to her friend. "Hermy...?"
The Lady sighed. "He got me worked up again... He's good at that." Maddie smiled, happy to have her friend back and then remembered what was going on.
"So, are you going down there? Are you giving yourself up to them?"
"Well, I am going down there," Hermy turned back towards the room. "But I'm certainly not giving myself up to them."
            Don walked over to them. "The only question is, how are we gonna get you down there? And how do we get you to stay there? Won't you just fall through the clouds?"
"The only thing she needs to do to get down there is an open hatch," the captain assured him, “The wind will do the rest." Don and Maddie appeared skeptical, but Hermy shook her head.
"Put your minds at ease, friends," she assured them. "I have confidence in the captain, and I have confidence in myself.
"Confidence that may kill you," Don added, and the Lady of Brightbrook laughed. "But confidence that won't."
The captain interrupted them. "Alright, cut the small talk, your Highness, we have a real problem."
Hermione nodded. "Just tell me where a hatch is.

Find out what happens next in the final installment of The Unexpected Radical Adventures of Lady Hermione Everlark and Her Abnormally Small and Consistently Quirky Crew! Here is chapter 6.

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