Glad you could join us for the next time-sensitive episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
“But, Mother,” Andre implored, “what was I supposed to do? Samantha’s team wouldn’t leave her alone with us, and when she took us to the front, I watched her kill two wasps with a single move — like it was nothing.” He stared hard at her as if that would communicate the full horror of what he’d witnessed. “There’s no way I could have forced her to do anything.”
Covering her face, Queen Madalena tried not to begrudge her son the senseless deaths and injury his friends had suffered. She tried not to blame him for the head-strong willfulness of his sister, even as anger, disappointment, and remorse tried to tear her heart apart. Her silence lasted longer than she knew.
“Mother?” Andre pressed.
The Queen looked up. Her eldest son could never be the ruler Samantha could, but he had his strengths, and he was always honest with her. “What did she say?”
“She says they need our help, and they can train us to fight like they do. She claims if the Alliance doesn’t beat the enemy now, we’re all in danger and we can’t win on our own if we have to fight them here.”
“What do you think?”
“You… you’re asking my opinion?”
Straightening, he answered, “If the Alliance loses in Fen, I believe Sam’s right — they’ll come here next, and we won’t be able to stop them. It’s not just the Alliance that needs help; we do, too, and I know they have a lot to teach us.”
Kissing his forehead, she said, “Thank you, Andre, thank you for trying. Thank you for coming home.” She walked him to the entrance. “You must be hungry; go find something to eat. I need time to think.”
Rain dripping from the tip of Knight Barry’s borrowed stinger, he pointed down the path. “Youse go dat way, Trev. I’ll go dis way,” he said, “so’s our tracks’ll cross halfway ’round each time.” They took off in opposite directions to begin circling around the Bower in ever widening rings.
The drops pelting Trevor’s neck sounded like feet smacking mud. Straining to hear beyond the rain, he blanched at the blazing flash that tore apart the darkness and roared the woods awake, painting a Guard’s body in stark relief as it lay across his path. One of those henchmen must have come this way.
He had to get back to the Bower. Barry would continue his circuit around the other side and realize something was wrong when Trevor didn’t meet him halfway. If he left the Guard here for his partner to find, Barry would know the enemy was somewhere close.
Fang in one hand and stinger in the other, the Knight leaped over rivers of runoff, splashing through ankle-deep puddles, racing back the way he’d come. He didn’t see the shadow charging out of the trees until it knocked him backward into the slime and threw itself onto his chest.
To be continued. . .