The child hid behind Wednesday, eyes as big as the moon, with a frightened squeak. Wednesday rolled his eyes and glared at the great wooden statue guarding the gate. It was a relic left over from the goblin wars, and while the wars had since ended, his clan had never gotten out of the habit of using it as a watchtower.
“If you can’t see who it is through the gogglescope, then you ought to spend more time keeping the Watcher clean and less time harassing honest UnderWherians,” he called.
With a creak that only served to underscore his point, the face of the Watcher swung open on rusty hinges to reveal his cousin Oliph.
“Some of us take our duties seriously, Ness,” Oliph said, his voice much higher and reedier than before when he’d been speaking through the talk tube the Watcher held in its wooden hands that curved all the way down to its wooden boots.
Wednesday snorted. Oliph had wanted to be a guardsman from the time he’d still been in diapers, and his first word had been “Halt!” if he remembered correctly.
“Grabble?” the child asked anxiously from behind him.
“No, not a grabble,” he reassured the child. Then sighed. “Just my cousin.”
The child held a hasty conference with his bear who seemed to be objecting to something, though Wednesday was not well enough versed in Stuffed Bear to understand.
“Nain,” the child finally said, as though that settled everything. He looked up at Wednesday, his small jaw set.
Wednesday stifled a smile. “Gillyhoppers and the crown prince first,” he said. “I think you’ll really like the gillyhoppers. Then, after you’ve been cleared by the prince we can go find this nain of yours.”
Satisfied, the child gave him a grin full of pebbly-white teeth and came out of hiding.
Oliph, who had been climbing down a ladder that had been cunningly hidden inside the talk tube, glanced over his shoulder to see who Wednesday was talking to and nearly lost his footing.
“Human child,” he finished wearily. He had hoped he’d be able to sneak through the village to get to the gillyhoppers without too much fuss, but evidently he’d been too much of an optimist in that regard.
So much for tea time. Hopefully the Lord Regent had only been his charming goblin self when he’d made that declaration. Wednesday shuddered at the memory of the black thought spiraling into the sky.
“Oh my goodness, why yes it is,” Oliph said, adjusting his spectacles as he approached. He squinted at the child as though memorizing every last stitch and detail of him. “What’s it doing here? We haven’t had one of these since, well—“
“I don’t know what business he has with the UnderWhere,” Wednesday said, glaring at his cousin. Not that it had any effect. Oliph had produced a notebook from somewhere and was hastily scrawling down notes. “But the Crown Prince has requested his presence by tea time, so if you don’t mind—“
“Nain?” the child said, eyeing his cousin doubtfully.
“No, I’m Oliph,” Oliph said peering at the child and scribbling something else down. He took his vocation of warrior histographer quite seriously, and unless Wednesday intervened, they’d been standing there long past tea time while Oliph took notes.
“Sorry,” Wednesday lied, steering the child around his cousin and through the little side door in the gate. “We’re working on a deadline.”
Oliph called back something, but by then they were on the other side of the gate and on the outskirts of the village.
The child looked around, his eyes wide with wonder, before he confided, “Gribble.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Wednesday muttered. “Now, we just have to get a saddle and a waystone, and we should be well on our way to the castle.”
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2015 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.
Come back to the UnderWhere next Thursday to see what other complications arise. Wednesday, like most monsters of an indeterminate age who have forgotten what it was to be a smaller monster, would do well to listen to the child and seek out this Nain (capitol ‘n’) of his. Of course, he can’t be held totally accountable for failing to see what he’s forgotten to remember. Fortunately, The Great Under took this into account. 😀
*Author’s Note: This story of a monster and his boy in a faraway place called the UnderWhere has been the most stubborn and intractable of stories in recent storytelling. It first ambushed me nearly a year ago, and after that initial meeting refused to say a word. Being an author, I soldiered on. The Story, of course, watched with hooded eyes, smirking to itself as it watched follow false road after false road. After nearly a year of this back and forth, it either grew a sense of conscience or exasperated enough to finally start talking.
And, oh, how it has been talking. As Storyteller, I must accept the fact that I will never be able to perfectly capture each thread and texture of it. There will be bits and pieces I either fail to convey adequately or forget to tell entirely, although I shall do my best to tell the story as best as I can. But the more I trek along in this UnderWhere, the more its world and history unfolds. It isn’t often that the world itself catches my whimsy and wonder. Though the path to this point has been long, it was worth it for all that’s coming. 🙂
If this is your first time, be sure to check out the first installment. And, if you’d like, dip your toes into the other stories. On Mondays, we’re exploring the moon with an enchanted flower and her–well, that would be telling. On Tuesdays, we’re off to the Garden with Gwyn who is hopefully avoiding the wrath of the Ruby Queen, and on Wednesdays we’re meeting with Mira as she discovers her destiny to become the Queen of the Nearly Dead Fae. No zombies. Promise. 😉
Have a great weekend!