Glad you could join us for the next dubious episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Panic tightening his throat, Clifton screamed, “Stand down! Stand down, soldier!”
A tick of indecision seized the fearsome jaws. The furry head whipped toward the brash young bee.
“Clifton? Is that you?”
All eyes turned to the Queen’s nephew.
“Yes, Lady Lucy, it’s me. What are you doing here?”
“I’m not dueling anyone. I’m following orders.”
He tried again. “Who sent you?”
She leaned close and whispered, “Do you need a kerchief, dear?”
His eyes on Lady Lucy, Prince Elliot slid forward. “Sir Barry, introduce yourself.”
Lucy turned toward Elliot, her right ear inches from Barry’s face.
“Sir?” the Knight asked.
“Just do it.”
“Oh, no. You, too?” Lucy sympathized. “There does seem to be something going around. I hope it’s not too contagious; I can’t afford to get sick.”
“Knight Barry, at yer service, ma’am,” he announced to Lady Lucy’s right ear and a complete lack of response.
“My Lady,” Elliot enunciated, “I am Prince Elliot of Bog. Are you having trouble hearing?”
“Of course not,” she protested. “As a member of the Hive Elite, superior hearing is a requirement. I can hear you just fine.”
Gently, he asked, “How about out of your other ear? Barry, try again.”
She drew herself up and spread her wings, declaring, “I have committed my life to the service of her Magnificence, Queen Lilian the Undisputed Monarch of the Kingdom of Fen.” Eyes shining, her gaze swept the travelers, resting on Barry whose lips were still moving. Her face fell.
Crumpling like a dry leaf, she confessed. “It’s true. But you won’t tell anyone, will you? Please. I’ve been part of the Hive Elite since the Great War. I’ve never had a family of my own, and without my work, I have nothing. I only want the chance to die as a servant of my Queen, not as an infirm, forgotten relic, alone and useless.”
Even in her admission, Clifton saw dignity and worth.
“Prince Elliot,” he ventured, “with great respect, I ask that my brothers from the Kingdom of Bog honor this request. This is Fen’s concern, and I’m sure Lady Lucy will act in the best interest of her Queen and her friends when she returns home. In the meantime, such an experienced defender of Fen would be a great benefit to our mission.”
Elliot the Faithful asked, “What were your orders, Lady?”
“The Queen said the Kingdom was in danger, and I thought she said, ‘Watch out for the travelers’, but now that we’ve met, I think she might have said, ‘Watch over the travelers’.”
“Then watch over us you shall. And welcome.”
As they continued into the night, Barry pulled Clifton aside. “Are youse sure dis is such a good idea? I mean, she was ready ta kill da Prince.”
“And you were ready to die for him, weren’t you? I thought you’d understand her if anybody did. We just need to watch her back. Agreed?” He held out his hand.
They shook on it and Clifton hurried to catch up with the others. Barry followed behind mumbling, “I’m not sure it’s her back dat needs watchin’.”
To be continued. . .