“Smash the glass ball to release Agnie,” the letter says.
Roxie observes the little fire spirit looking this way and that in the glass ball that was sent by her parents, along with a letter and a thin, long, wooden tube. The ball doesn’t weigh much, but the spirit, bouncing up and down and looking eager to get out, adds to the pressure in her hands.
Worrying the floor might get messy, Roxie takes the glass ball out to the front of her house and drops it on the ground. It shatters, and the fire spirit roams wild: it soars into the air above and then dances around Roxie like a ring around an orb.
“Hello, Roxie!” A little hand grows out from the fire and waves. Its voice is a bit sharp, like that of an elf.
“That’s me!” It expresses a wide smile. “You can’t imagine how happy I am to see you. The days trapped in that glass ball were awful…”
Agnie goes on complaining about the trip to Mildar, but all Roxie can think about is her mom and dad. She hasn’t seen them since…since forever, actually. It is not the tradition or the preference of her family and ancestors to stay in one place—they always travel, adventure, explore.
“Mom and Dad, they sent you here. Are they alright? Where are they right now?”
“They’re doing great! Right before they sent me to you, they were about to embark at the dock near the Castle of Inception,” Agnie says. “I believe they are going to sail along the river to a dessert. What was the name again…”
Even though Roxie understands that the passion for new places, new views, and new people lies in Mom and Dad’s blood (just as it lies in hers), even though she knows it’s not the reason they left her at Mildar with their old friends to raise her, she cannot help but feel a sudden twitch in her nose and tears blurring her vision. She turns her back to Agnie and wipes away the tears with her sleeve.
Upon seeing this, Agnie stops the chatter; yet traveling with Roxie’s mom and dad—the happy-go-lucky couple—for four months has not taught Agnie how to comfort people.
“You know, Roxie,” it says softly. “I was saved by your mom and dad a few months ago. That’s how I met them.”
“Really?” Roxie turns back.
“Really. When your parents chased away the bullies, they looked like heroes to me. They saw me wandering alone and decided to offer me a family. And when they told me they had a daughter, I thought, ‘This girl must be so proud of her mom and dad.’”
Roxie nods as she listens.
“But the truth is, they are much more proud of you than you can ever imagine. They always told me stories about you, showed me baby pictures of you…even when they cooked, they would tell me what dishes used to be your favorite…”
Roxie looks Agnie in the eye, and for a moment sees Mom and Dad in it.
“Roxie, they love you very, very much.”
As if on cue, Roxie sits on the ground and cries out loud, but this time Agnie feels something gentle and warm through her tears, like the sun through the rain.
“Alright, alright, stop crying,” Agnie laughs. “Go pack your luggage and we shall leave first thing tomorrow!”
“To begin our adventure, of course! Have you finished reading that letter?”
“Or opened the tube?”
“What’s in it?”
Agnie lets out a sigh. “It’s a treasure map your parents have drawn you.”
“What? I’m going to show it to Max and Wisp! Wait here!” Roxie rushes in and out of the room, map in hand. “No, actually, you’re coming with me, Agnie!”
“But you’ve forgotten to lock the door!” Agnie yells, yet Roxie has slipped away in great excitement on her roller skates, completely forgetting about the open door and the tear stains on her face.
“This is going to be a long trip,” Agnie murmurs, but the corners of its mouth raise, forming a smile as bright as the flames of its body.