Leverage

Glad you could join us for the next over-powered episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot 251
Photo credit: Joel Sartore

General Hai’s glowing wings flared, igniting the fumes trapped against the ceiling of the little cavern he claimed as his field headquarters. “What do you mean, ‘all the prisoners are gone’?” His icy tone shivered the hapless soldier who’d been ordered to fulfill the demand Queen Lilian had relayed through her mouthpiece.

His breath shallow and shaky, the young wasp stared at the ground and elaborated. “I’m sorry, Sir. We found the same thing at every holding area: dead guards and no prisoners.”

Melting into the shadows, Anthony was familiar with their leader’s tone. Unless this young soldier was a lot smarter than he looked, the Assassin knew what would happen next. It was always a shame to throw away one of their own, but there was no reasoning with Hai when he got like this.

“Sir?” the soldier ventured, raising his eyes, but avoiding the General’s. “Shall I take a team to acquire more prisoners?”

The General opened his mouth and closed it again, pausing to consider the youth. Pursing his lips, Hai rubbed his chin. “I need only one who will agree to tell the Queen that the others are safe.” He nodded. “All right. Bring me at least one citizen of Fen. By sunset.”

The soldier darted away.

“Smart young man,” the General assessed.

Anthony would wait for proof. Is he smart enough to have someone else report back if he fails?

General Hai called, “Where’s my Assassin?”

Anthony stepped into Hai’s scarlet aura. “Here.”

Hai studied Anthony in the gloom. “Unless that Slimer Elliot is shrewder than I believe he is, I don’t think he knew the prisoners had been freed. And he doesn’t seem to be aware we hold his wife. Thoughts?”

Draining his answer of emotion, Anthony said, “I have found the Prince to be shrewd, but forthright. I believe we interrupted the Alliance’s communication flow, but he will know those things before I see him again.” He paused. “If you’re asking for suggestions, I suggest we protect the only leverage we have left.”

The General’s wings hummed with barely perceptible irritation. Gazing down his nose at the Stinger, he allowed, “I agree. Bring her here. Put her where I can see her.”

The Assassin bowed and left the cavern. Closing his eyes, he filled his lungs with sweet, fresh air before continuing on.

~~~

The screams came at intervals from within a haphazardly assembled rock pile. The Lieutenant waited for the next quiet period between them to call, “I’m Lieutenant Terrance of Bog’s Knights of Service. Do you need help?”

The answer gasped through the tiny triangular space above a boulder Terrence presumed to be the door. “Yes! Yes!” I need my mid-wife!”

“Princess Cassandra?” Terrance hoped.

“Yes! The Assassin— gngaaahh—” The next contraction inhaled her answer. Panic filled her breath.

“Are you alone?”

“Yee-EEESS!” she screamed.

The Lieutenant remained steady. With a large stone and a long, sturdy branch, he worked to shift the boulder to create an opening big enough to get through. He called out, “You’re going to be fine, your Elegance. Try to stay calm.”

“Yeah…ri-IIIIIGHT!” She continued screaming.

Minutes later, he wiped the sweat out of his eyes. “I think that will do it, your Elegance.” He turned to set the branch aside. The Assassin’s tail was already streaking toward him.

“Thank you,” Anthony said as the Lieutenant fell, “I wasn’t sure how I was going to get that rock out of the way.” He stepped over the Lieutenant’s body, and into the rock pile chamber.

“Really, Cassie. What is all the screaming about?”

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

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Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

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