Glad you could join us for the next testy episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
The Crone’s windowless cell in Fen’s lockup allowed her to take one step in any direction before bumping into a wall or a gate of narrowly spaced bars. Anger and contempt seething in her gut, she didn’t hear the stealthy scratch of clawed feet creeping down the rough hewn stairway leading from the jail above to the shadow-filled dungeon she occupied.
She jumped, bumping her head on the low ceiling, at the honeyed whisper in the dark.
“Good evening, Madam Duggla. I come with a message from the General.”
Gasping, the Crone spread her bulk against the back wall as far from the bars as it was possible to be.
“What are you doing here, Anthony?” croaked the Crone staring hard at the dim outline of a shadow in the dark. “How did you get past the guard?”
“Really, my dear Madam, need you ask?”
“All I have to do is scream and they’ll come running,” she warned. “You’ll be trapped.”
“I suppose you could,” the messenger allowed, “but then you’d never hear the General’s message.”
“All right,” she capitulated. “What is it?”
“Step up to the bars, and I’ll whisper it to you,” he beckoned.
“You must think I’m crazy.”
Anthony chuckled. “Well, yes. But still cunning and not without your charms.”
“Tell me,” she demanded.
“As you wish.” His nonchalance as he approached the bars, his tail hanging lazily over his back, only made her more cautious. “As you can imagine, the General was… concerned… to find you missing when he arrived at the border.”
She shrugged. “He left without me.”
“Tsk, tsk, Madam Duggla. You stayed behind,” he corrected her.
He cut off her objection, “But no matter — he wasn’t terribly upset until he learned you’d spoken to the Queen of Fen.”
“I’m trying to gain her trust—” she began.
“And I see how well that’s working,” Anthony finished.
The Crone glared through the gate. “If my tongue weren’t so shredded right now, you’d be up against these bars gasping your last.”
“Ah, yes,” he sympathized, “I heard about your unfortunate, sticky run-in.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. What does he want me to do?”
“Bring him the Queen.”
If she’d had a mouth full of water, she’d have sprayed it all over him. “What? How am I supposed to do that?”
“Not my problem,” Anthony concluded. “It will only become my problem if you fail. And although you probably don’t need me to remind you, please allow me the rare vanity of reminding you anyway that I am a consummate problem solver. It’s what I do.”
Duggla could hear his smug smirking smile. Rubbing her face in frustration, she spat malice and hatred at him. “I’ll do it,” she said, opening her eyes, “I’ll take care of it.” But there was only black, empty silence. “Anthony?”
Madam Duggla stood alone in the dark, massaging her tongue and wondering why everyone thought frogs were the slimy ones.
To be continued. . .