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"Do it quickly. Sir." Mustardseed's sharp ears caught hoarse cries from the kobolds' camp.
Moments later, Mr. Tod and every other available fox were bounding through the forest again. The
beasts were tired, but somehow picked up energy as they neared the fray. Foxes loathed reremice.
There wasn't any time to present the flag of truce in any formal way. The kobolds were backed up in a
solid mass, defending a cluster of wagons. Mustardseed heard tiny kobolds wailing over the din of battle.
The fairies charged.
Mustardseed glimpsed the face of Colonel Cap, who was directing the defense: he clearly thought the
fairies had come to polish his men off, and registered complete crogglement when he saw Titania's Finest
whaling into the bats. Then she had to concentrate on impaling reremice, having picked up a new spear in
camp. She turned three into shishkabobs before getting close to the kobold defenders again.
The reremice had figured out that the most defenseless morsels were in the wagons, and were
dive-bombing them in their haphazard fashion. Mustardseed watched in astonishment as the colonel's
pine marten hurled itself into the air and snapped a reremouse in half while its rider cleaved another. But
then the colonel's luck failed; a brown streak whizzed at his head and long claws raked through the black
hair. The felt cap flew off, and the kobold nearly lost his seat. The reremouse pivoted in air, readying
another attack. Mustardseed heaved her spear . . . and connected.
Two more of the monsters tried getting into the wagon, its canvas cover torn to shreds. Mustardseed
glimpsed small, frightened blue faces within, and maneuvered Mr. Tod in between the wagon and the
reremice. She fended off one with her sword, but when she turned to challenge the second, she saw the
injured kobold had already dispatched it. Blood dripping down his face, he looked around wildly for
more enemies. But the fairy reinforcements had driven them off, at least for the moment.
"Where's Hinzelmann?" Mustardseed asked him.Where had that darn white flag gone? Oh, well."We've
come to lead your people to safety. We have a refuge in the ridge, down by that glade."
The kobold shook his head, hoping to clear it and not succeeding. "Herr General Hinzelmann is
wounded. I command." He looked about, dismayed. "Die Fledermuse . . ."
"Yes, they'll be back soon. So let's get underground and worry about the details later, Colonel . . ."
He drew himself up, patted the neck of his exhausted marten. "Hdeken. So-called for my little hat,
wherever it is." He bowed.
There's something incredibly appealing about such dignity in the face of disaster. And that mustache!
"You'll need a new cap. That one's been haberdashed to pieces. Let's go."
* * *
"Who would have thought it would have worked out so well?" said Webby. Peaseblossom was again
throwing another bash, this time for Webby's imminent return to archery training. She was in rose silks,
which matched her flawless complexion, while Mustardseed was not only clad in silver but had the
jewelry to complement it.
"What, the kobolds discovering that those caves go on for miles and contain more silver than their old
ones did?" asked Peaseblossom, her hand smoothing the yards of lace in her skirt. "And Oberon and
Titania working out a deal with their leader? Good thing that crazy snakey general of theirs died of his
wounds. From everything I've heard, he was the one behind the invasion. The other fellows in charge
seem much more reasonable. Here's Moth and the man of the hour! Little Ghosh! Aunty Blossom has a
present for you! A new shovel! Such a good boy deserves anything he wants!" From a diamond-trimmed
satchel, Peaseblossom withdrew a gold-handled shovel and gave it to the chubby toddler.
Who promptly tossed it aside. "Don' wanna dig. Wannafish. Go fishing? Now?"
Moth picked up Ghosh and handed him to Blossom. "Good boy deserves anything he wants! Aunty will
take you fishing, for a while, anyway. His gear is by the docks, Peaseblossom."
Peaseblossom gulped. Then she hugged Ghosh. "All right, let's fish, if that's the latest passion. After all,
Moth has a Significant Meeting tonight with a certain Captain Throstle."
"And if he doesn't propose, we'llallthump him," said Mustardseed. "You know, I've never looked
forward to a dance so much." She surveyed the crowd of fairies and kobolds, looking for a certain figure
in black with a cap worn low on his face.
"I'm surprised," said Webby. "You're a lousy dancer."
There he was! He'd bear the mark of those claws forever, but at least they were healing without
infection.She rose, and he saw her, his smile visible despite the distance between them. She turned to her
pals. "I was a lousy dancer. But that was before Hdeken taught me to waltz. Later, girls."
Psyched Up
Michael D. Turner [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]