Glad you could join us for the next fortuitous episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
“Cassandra!… Cassandra! Can you hear me? Where are you? Are you all right?… Cassandra!” Elliot charged over the mossy ground, first in one direction, then in another, frantically calling as the shadows stretched deeper into the woods and the eastern sky darkened to cobalt.
“Cassandra…” his hoarseness whispered away to nothing as he slumped to the ground and wept.
“Excusé moi?” a smoky voice rasped, “I cannot help but wondair eef you are een need of some kind of asseestance.”
Startled, Elliot peered through his tears to see a strange yet familiar and disturbing shape, but the ache in his heart was so profound, he couldn’t feel enough fear to flee.
“I’ve lost my love and my way. I don’t know where I am.”
The mantis cocked his head. “We have all been zair at one time or anozair, my friend. Eet does not mean zair eez no hope, and eet does not mean zee way to your future eez no longer clear. Deed she leave you for someone else or deed she just need some space?”
“What? No. Nothing like that. I think someone took her.”
“Well, I know eet eez deefficult to accept, but no heart can be stolen unless eet eez free to be geeven away. Steel, you may ween zee lady back, yes?”
“No. No, you don’t understand.” Elliot brushed his tears aside and stared into a pair of bulbous but kindly eyes. “Look. What’s your name?”
“Clouseau. Marcel Pierre Clouseau at your serveece, monsieur.”
“Marcel. I’m Elliot. Maybe you can help me. Someone knocked me out and when I came to, Cassandra was gone. I’m afraid someone took her against her will. Did you see her? Did you see anything?”
“Ah, I see. Now zat you mention eet, I deed see a très jolie — very pretty — mademoiselle in zee company of a cruel speaking — how you say? — cad. She deed not seem happy to be weez heem, but love comes een many flavors, yes? ‘Oo am I to judge?”
“Who was she with? Did you see where they went?”
“I can tell you zey wair going west, but more zan zat I am reluctant to say. Eet eez not wise to meddle een zee affairs of Wasps.”
“Wasps? Was it Spike?”
“No, eet was not Monsieur Spike, but eet was one of heez rebels.”
“He must have heard us,” Elliot muttered to himself, “and now he knows who she is. I have to tell the Queen!” He looked at Marcel. “Which way to the Hive?”
To be continued. . .