Glad you could join us for the next accommodating episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Bowing so low her nose touched the ground, Duggla the Crone’s show of respect bordered on the obsequious. “You summoned me, your Greatness? How may this humble old woman serve her King?”
Rolling his eyes, King Arnie dismissed Duggla’s escort and waited. When the crone straightened up to look at him, she wore a lopsided, snarky grin.
“Madam Duggla, the Kingdom has further need of your assistance.”
“What is it now?” she sneered. “It’s almost sunset. I need my sleep.”
“The Kingdom of Bog needs further reinforcements to repel an invasion from the north.”
“The Kingdom needs? I think the King needs.”
His unflinching gaze bore through her self-satisfaction, and cracked her arrogance.
“All right, all right, I’ll send for someone. But as Advisor at Large, I advise against allowing the furry honkers more than a little way into the Kingdom. Wrigglers aren’t the only things they eat, you know.”
“Are you telling me you have no control over your friends’ behavior?”
“They come when I offer them free food. Isn’t that enough?”
King Arnie bit back his exasperation. “Madam Duggla, I charge you with contacting those who can help stop the Marauders. If they turn on the citizens of Bog, you will bear the consequences.”
Queen Lilian’s Liaison Vernon returned as the sun was dipping behind the treetops. He glanced quickly over each shoulder before whispering, “Queen Lilian is honored to receive King Arnie’s messengers in person. You must understand how rare it is for her Magnificence to leave the Hive; her responsibilities within are relentless, and the outside dangers to her person are great. Please follow me to the rendezvous point.”
Vernon led Elliot and Cassandra to a sheltered bower lined with night blooming jasmine. The scent clung thickly in their noses.
“Please wait here,” Vernon said, and then he was gone.
A low humming crept into the bower, becoming an insistent buzz as a dozen drones entered in a clump of fuzzy golden brown. As they approached their guests, the front guard line peeled back to reveal a regal creature with sparkling green eyes as deep as the Pond reflecting starlight.
Vernon returned to take his place at one side of the bower. “Her Magnificence Queen Lilian, Undisputed Monarch of Fen.”
Cassandra curtsied while Elliot bowed his head. “Queen Lillian,” he said, “we are honored beyond words that you have agreed to meet with us.”
The Queen acknowledged them with a nod, and turned to Vernon. “You may dismiss the Guard. We are among friends.”
The Queen’s Guard left and Vernon went with them. The golden pink of sunset filled the bower.
Queen Lilian inhaled the scented air, slouching into a relieved sigh. “I am so glad to get out of that baby factory. It’s noisy, it’s hot and humid, and it’s sticky.” Looking from one to the other, she graced them with a light, tinkling laugh. “What can I do for King Arnie the Former of Bog?”
Elliot shook off his surprise. “The King asks for your help, Queen Lilian. He said to tell you the years of peace are over. Marauders invaded the southern border and Bog needs reinforcements. On our way here, we learned the Marauders have also come from the north, and are already moving toward the center of Bog.”
The Queen had stopped smiling. “King Arnie is an old and valued friend. We have pledged to help one another, and Fen will not fail him now. Is he aware of the threat from the north?”
“We hope so, your Magnificence,” Cassandra answered. “A friend of ours was on his way to the King when we got word to seek you out.”
“Let’s hope your friend got through.” Queen Lilian regained her queenly posture. “I have resources that should prove effective, especially in the dark.”
To be continued…