"Well, most of them don't see a need for it," he responded to Jude's question. "But sometimes the younger ones like making dresses for themselves out of flowers, or bird feathers, or leaves. Each one has her own preference."
By now, they'd made it to the castle, which was like something right out of a fairytale: white sparkling towers, pointed minarettes, pendants flapping in the wind. A great wooden drawbridge lay sedately across a real moat, in which, yes, brightly colored fish were swimming around. The doors were wide open, inviting and welcome, and as Jude watched, a column of living suits of armor marched out. Sir Xander was at the front of the column, leading the march. "Company...halt!" he ordered, as Robin and Jude approached. The suits of armor stopped abruptly, in perfect formation. "And...salute!" bellowed Xander.
With a chorus of metallic pings, gauntlets struck empty helmets. The warriors stood at attention until Jude passed.
"Forward...march!" yelled Xander, and the squad began marching again.
In the castle courtyard, a variety of strange beings were visible. Gnomes, dwarves, giants, elves, fairies, along with all kinds of animals, both familiar and mythological. As she gaped, a giant sparrow hopped up. The bird was enormous, easily the size of a pony. Stranger still, a pair of spectacles perched on its beak, and an apron hung down over its birdy chest.
"You must be Princess Jude, dear," said the bird, turning its head this way and that to get a closer look at Jude. "I'm Mrs. Periwinkle. You probably don't remember me." Noticing the pixies clinging to Jude's nightgown, she flapped an irritated wing, causing them to scatter. "Shoo! Shoo, you naughty things."
Her tone eased somewhat as the last pixie fluttered dreamily away. She sounded a bit like Jude's grandmother, whose face always brightened into a rosy smile whenever Jude and her sister came to visit. "Let's get you into some proper clothes, dear. Do you prefer wearing trousers or a dress?"