Wednesday stared at the path, the basket his mother had packed tied securely to his back. Neither his mother nor his gran had been able to see them off, for which he was grateful. The yellow paths were perhaps the rarest in the UnderWhere, and he didn’t like to think what they would have to say about that—especially if they ever learned that this wasn’t the first time he’d set foot on one.
“Nah-nain,” Glop observed from beside him. The child frowned at the buttercup stones that uncoiled before them. His bear said nothing, but simply dripped with slime and stuffing.
“No,” Wednesday sighed, “not a nain.”
What was the UnderWhere up to? And what interest had the Great Under—if he even still existed—in them? Whatever it was, he didn’t like the way the yellow of the path winked at him with sunlight. It looked too much like it was laughing at him.
He readjusted the gillyhopper’s saddle he had flung over one shoulder, and nodded toward the path. “We best get going, then. And even if this most definitely isn’t a nain, I still think you’ll like the gillyhoppers.”
Glop gave him a gap-toothed grin and burbled something cheerful to his bear.
As though it had sensed him watching, one of Gahtoof’s black button eyes gleamed back at him.
Wednesday shook his head. There was nothing out of the ordinary about that bear–save for the fact that it managed to keep together and somewhat plump despite all the stuffing it had leaked across the UnderWhere. No, it was an ordinary creature, half killed by love and its duty to comfort against the dark.
Yet why was it as familiar as a half-remembered memory?
The bear continued to stare at him, but any wisdom he might have shared, he kept to himself.
Wednesday shook his head again, this time to clear out the clutter of things he couldn’t remember, and thus didn’t matter.
“We’re nearly there,” he said, nodding at the small pools of water—only a hand’s width for now—that had started to appear parallel to the yellow path.
Glop grinned and chittered like a monsquirrel that had just found a hidden cache of plump shadowberry nuts. He held Gahtoof out so the bear could see the puddles better, but the bear remained, as ever, impervious.
“You’ll want to pipe down a bit,” Wednesday said, grimacing. It wasn’t that the gillyhoppers disliked noise. Quite the contrary. The moment one of them sensed the child’s delight in squealing and babbling, the whole tribe would fill the lakes and ponds with noise. Conversationalists, they were not. However, they made excellent, if somewhat soggy and slimy, parrots.
The smile slipped from Glop’s face and he grunted solemnly. Putting a dirt-encrusting finger to his lips, he shushed loudly to show that he understood.
“Yes,” Wednesday muttered. “Something like that.”
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2015 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.
Come back to the UnderWhere next Thursday and I’ll see if we can’t go for our first gillyhopper ride.
*Author’s Note: Apologies for missing last week. It was a combination of things, not the least of which was going through the edits for the second book in the Tales of the Snow Queen series. Nearly finished and excited to share!
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!