Glad you could join us for the next convincing episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Sounding like rocks grinding together, the hovering embers spoke. “Madam Duggla.”
The messenger lit a lantern.
A wasp. Duggla let out a grunt. Why should I worry about a wasp? But his boldness made her cautious. “I know who I am. Who are you?”
“A friend who is sorely disappointed by the Marauders’ failure to take the Kingdom of Bog for their General.”
“Would you be that General?” She frosted the question with indifference.
“I would. General Hai.” He settled on the floor within her tongue’s striking distance. “I understand you led the force that defeated the initial invasion in the south.”
The messenger’s movement to block the chamber’s only opening tingled her spine with apprehension. “My King needed help. I served. It was my job.”
“And he thanked you by tossing you in prison.”
The crone shrugged. “Things might have gotten a little out of hand with the second wave of help.”
“Indeed. Still, initiative deserves recognition and reward when it succeeds.”
“I’ve always thought so,” she concurred.
Wafting the rising smoke her way with a flick or two of his wings, the General took a step forward. “I’m offering you the opportunity to succeed and receive what you deserve.”
She hefted the bulk of her bulk off the floor and waved a persistent wisp of smoke away from her face. “Doing what?”
“Working with me. Show me how to defeat King Arnie and his damnable Knights of Service.”
Lacing her fleshy fingers across her belly, she narrowed her eyes. “Why should I trust you after you’ve already told me you believe I defeated your troops?”
“Ah, I understand why you might be skeptical. Come with me. Let me show you something.”
Happy to return to the open, Duggla kept one eye on the messenger as she followed the General outside. On the far side of a lichen-covered tree, a small company of scorpions devoured bits of a former Marauder.
General Hai landed beside her. “I just want you to know I hold no sentimental attachment to those who fail me.” Ripping and sluicing noises punctuated his claim. “Can I count on your help, Madam?”
Duggla wondered if refusal constituted failure.
To be continued. . .