“Stop! Everyone stop and wait! That’s an order!” Glen decided to trust the voices and spoke as they suggested. “There will be no fighting today,” he insisted. Cormac and Prickles looked disappointed. The dwarves and goblins and certainly Macreedy, Ellean and Ignatius looked relieved. Sandra looked curious. She wondered how Glen’s just saying so could carry so much weight, though in a way she felt it too, and that made her even more curious.
“Quiet!” Glen was on a roll. “Goblins go home, and Gricklethorn, just maybe I won’t tell your wife where you are.” Several of the dark elves snickered and nudged the goblin chief, but the chief dropped his jaw. Macreedy smiled. Ellean appeared to be in shock. Breggus pulled off his hat and signaled the others to do the same.
“If you don’t mind, we’ll mosey on as well, if you don’t mind.” Breggus spoke in his most mollifying voice.
“I mind. You need to guide us in the way the djin and the baby went, and all of you dwarfs need to help. You especially, Gumblittle. We need your nose.”
“Enough of this,” Cormac yelled. He was a wild one, and he reached for Glen with one big hand, but Glen surprised the troll this time with some speed of his own. He slapped the troll’s hand, hard, and the troll snatched his hand back to his side amazed that he felt it, and he felt the sting of that slap like a small child might feel the sting of a bee, no less. Indeed, it was much like a terribly disobedient child having his hand slapped by a parent.
“Cormac!” Glen yelled, letting out a little of his own anger which was unusual enough, him being such a type-B, laid back personality, but in this case it was enough to make all of the Little Ones in the cavern take several steps back, and Sandra felt it, too. “You will stop eating people. From now on people are off your list.” And Glen turned toward the ogre. “And that goes for you, too.” He turned back to Cormac who was feeling something he never felt before. It was fear. “You can have your fingers back.” Glen said, as if he was giving permission for them to be healed. “But if you don’t keep them off people, I swear you will lose them all. Do I make myself clear?” Cormac cowered a little. “Is that clear!”
“Yes, Lord.” Cormac said, and he looked away and had trouble deciding which hand hurt more, though he ended up putting the bloody fingers back into his mouth to give them another good soak.
“Prickles.” Glen turned.
“Yes, Lord.” Prickles was ready, almost anxious for instructions. If he was not so blessedly ugly and horrifying to look at, Glen might have stared the ogre down. As it was, he first said, “God you’re ugly,” and Prickles held up his head, proudly, like he had just received the greatest compliment imaginable. Glen continued. “I suppose you had better come with us. Down here you will just get into no end of trouble. But keep a few paces behind us, will you? You stink so bad the smell of me throwing up might be refreshing. Down here, that smell is almost unbearable.” Prickles thought he was still being complimented, but the troll made a sound which Glen knew was his version of a giggle. Clearly the troll agreed with Glen’s assessment. Glen turned to see the goblins still there and had another thought, and this was the thing that caused a few gasps, shrieks and a couple of screams from all parts of that room.
“Ignatius Patterwig.” Glen called and pointed to the space in front of him. “Right here, right now!” Ignatius appeared out of nowhere and the hobgoblin looked confused for a minute.
“Hey! I was half way to the forest path and I even took a couple of unnecessary turns in case I was being followed.” Ignatius spoke loudly and spun around a couple of times. “How did I end up back here?”
“Ignatius.” Glen spoke without any introduction. “You will go with us. You will stay with us until I tell you otherwise. You will attempt to live up to your father’s legacy, as I remember it.” He turned and headed for Sandra and the others. “Hobgobs are the worst middlemen in the world. Being creatures of both dark and light, even more so than the dwarfs, they delight in playing both sides against the middle for fun and profit. Sometimes I am almost sorry I created them. Shall we go?” He signaled to Breggus.
“Who are you?” Sandra asked all at once. No one answered her, least of all Glen. He just followed Breggus into the new tunnel where Breggus turned with a word of his own.
“You should know. The djin has a fairy prisoner, not just the human woman and the baby.”
“How did I know that, already?” Glen said rhetorically, and then he was silent.
Macreedy and Ellean kept the dwarfs moving while Sandra walked beside Glen when she could. She pushed the stroller most of the way and carried it when she needed to; but Glen never offered to help or even spoke, so Sandra kept quiet as well. Ignatius came right behind them and the ogre brought up the rear. With the silence, Sandra heard the hobgoblin mumble more than once about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It was a good hour before Sandra had too many questions to contain herself “What is a djin?” She asked, only to see both Glen and the hobgoblin shake their heads.
“A djin is a powerful and wicked creature. and not one of our Lord’s. Our Lord cares for us sprites of the earth, and the fire, the air and the water sprites, too, but these djin are of a different order.” Macreedy spoke over his shoulder.
“All the sprites?” Sandra wondered. “That sounds like an awful lot. How can you keep track of them all?” She asked Glen, but he was not answering.
“Plenty, to be sure.” Ignatius spoke up. “But there are far more that are not his than his, and these djin range from little spirits, like us, to lesser spirits and all the way up to greater spirits, and if this one is one of the big, bad greater spirits, you will see some sparks fly, let me tell you.
“But what is a djin?” Sandra asked again, and this time Glen said a word.
“Genie.” But removing his concentration from what he was thinking about caused him to stumble and it took both Macreedy and the hobgoblin to catch him, to keep him from falling altogether.
“There is the opening.” Breggus came back and spoke, though Glen hardly heard him. “I said Gumblittle could find the place, but it looks kind of fuzzy.” Glen squinted, expecting fuzzy, but it was clear as day out there as far as he was concerned, and indeed it was day and the outside scene was a simple forest scene.
“Glen?” Sandra was gentle, and a little worried judging the appearance on Glen’s face.
“I’m just remembering too much, too fast,” he explained and tried hard to pull himself together as he spoke. “Dwarfs, I thank you. Macreedy and Ellean, you need to come to protect Sandra. Prickles, stay here! Ignatius Patterwig, you need to stick with me.”
“Me?” The hobgoblin was reluctant to move into the light, but as Glen stumbled forward, Ignatius followed along. “What do you want from me?” He asked.
“You need to keep me safe while I go unconscious,” Glen responded, and he fell face down in the leaves and pine needles.
“Me?” Ignatius said again, but he went invisible and hovered over Glen like a mother bird might hover over her nest.