Glad you could join us for the next silky episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Standing tall before the solitary ant, Arturo said, “Out of respect for the living, we ask you to leave.”
Boldly facing Arturo’s size and stinger, the ant’s voice pierced the air. “Respect for the living brought me here. My people need to eat, so we serve the world by giving purpose to its dead and decaying. This place smells of death, so I am here, and I must tell them what I’ve found. When we return, we will give thanks to honor the life that was taken from one and shared with others.”
Arturo dropped to one knee. “Is it too much to ask that you wait to give thanks until the life is truly taken?”
The tiny scout paused to consider. “I will share your thought with my people. When we return, we will wait until you grant us permission to enter.”
“We have your word?”
“Our word.” He nodded and left.
“Thank you, friends.” Pristalwhisp gave her paw a halfhearted lick. “This is not the end my former life promised. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Your former life?” Cassandra asked.
“Oh, my dear,” she sighed, weak and wistful, “I could tell you tales of another world filled with love and pampering, crushed by tragic cruelty…”
Vernon awoke, confused and sore, beside a bush beneath a starry sky turning to dawn. Touching his wounds, he discovered silken stitches holding the shredded edges of Spike’s bite together and a silken bandage covering the hole from Spike’s sting. He pushed himself up to stand.
The hopper came flying over the bush to land precisely in front of him. “Vernon, me lad,” he laughed, “yer up!”
“I didn’t mean to sleep all night. I need to find the princess.”
“Ye’d not have made it fahr last ev’nin’ no matter how great yer need.”
“But I have a duty to keep the Princess safe. If anything happens to her—”
“That’s what I was goin’ ta tell ya b’fore ya passed out. Ahfter the sudden demise o’ that Mr. Spike, the snail and the good lookin’ lad took off ta the east. It was a big hurry they were in, for sure. I don’t think ya have anythin’ ta worry about.”
Fingering his stitches, Vernon asked, “Did you do this?”
“Me? No! Sure an’ if I had, ye’d not be alive ta ask, mate. But I found one as could help ya, and there ya ahre — ahlmost good as new! He’s still about if ya wish ta meet him.”
Fergus led him to the silk spinner.
“Thank you, sir,” Vernon said, “I’m deeply obliged. What do I owe you?”
The fuzzy fellow shook his head. “I’ve done what I can, but the infection is likely to return. You’re lucky Fergus found me when he did. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be all wrapped up in my own business and won’t have any silk to spare. I can’t take anything with me but your word, so my fee is this: promise me you’ll leave moths and butterflies alone.”
Vernon touched the silk on his chest and pictured Spike’s abominations. “I will,” he replied. “Thank you.” He turned to Fergus. “I need to find Cassandra.”
“An’ I need ta git home ta the missus. If we’re goin’ in the same direction, I wouldn’t mind the company.”
As dawn dribbled over the horizon, they proceeded in silence, each dreading what he might meet at the end of his journey.
To be continued. . .