They marched a long way into the mountain, and Boston was glad to see she did not take to claustrophobia, the way some light elves felt it. She never felt claustrophobic as a human and supposed there was no reason that should change. They picked up a few more goblins along the way, including one group that looked like they just returned from a hunt. They had two deer ready to be butchered and put on the fire, at least as much as goblins and trolls cooked such things. Finally, the group came to a big underground cavern filed mostly with women and children. There were a number of fires around the place, and one big fire up by a raised area. Boston guessed the one who stood up there was the goblin king. He certainly was frightening enough.
“Lord Mandible,” Flintskin spoke up as they approached. Chewy put Boston down, but held her so Boogern and Kraken could tie her hands behind her back and tie a big rope with a heavy weight on one end to hobble her so she could not run off. “Lord, we found this light elf wandering by the woods of the nightshade. She left the elf haven in the dark time so we brought her to you to decide what to do with her.”
Lord Mandible stuck his tongue out and licked his whole face up to his eyebrows. “I don’t like elf. They have a gamey flavor,” he said.
“She is an elf witch,” Boogern stepped forward.
“Fire, at least,” Flintskin said. “We didn’t exactly test her.”
“That might make it palatable,” Lord Mandible said. He looked closely at Boston for the first time and drooled, slightly. “Of course, eating the maid is not the only thing I have in mind.”
Boston caught the look. “You wouldn’t dare,” Boston said while two streams of laser light came from her eyes and caused a small explosion of the rocks at the goblin king’s feet. He jumped back while she spoke. “The Kairos would burn you feet off. She would pull out your tongue and blind your eyes. My Lady would make you human for even thinking such a thing.”
Mandible raised his voice. “Lady Nalishayas has said the humans have the light time and we can have the dark time as long as we don’t bother the humans. Light elves have no place on our island. We give them the small haven, but Issendilus knows better than to let his people out after sundown.”
“Who is Issendilus?” Boston asked, and the goblins all stared at her for a second.
Boston shook her head. “I don’t know him. I’m not from this island. We came here from the deep past,” Boston said as she pulled her hands free and mentally praised herself for doing so magically without setting the ropes on fire this time. “We are on a special mission of the Kairos and headed to the next time gate. Didn’t you think to ask about the red hair?”
“I thought that was because of the fire inside you,” Boogern said, and Kraken agreed.
“Mandible,” A woman’s voice sounded out sharply from behind.
Mandible grinned suddenly, an awful, Grinch sort of grin. “Yes, Coressus, my dear. Sweetheart. Honey.” The woman stepped up beside Mandible and gave him a quick frown. She leaned down to Boston and spoke kindly enough, despite the frightening eyes and very sharp looking teeth.
“Come here child,” she said, having judged Boston to be very young. Boston was already working on the rope around her ankle, and it only took another second to pull her foot free and walk up to face the woman. She tried not to look at Coressus, but let the woman pull her aside for a private conversation. The woman directed her speech so only Boston could hear, and Boston had to try to do the same.
“Forgive my husband. He likes to think he is in charge and can do whatever he wants. He likes to act all frightening and mean, but he can be sweet.”
Coressus reached for Boston’s chin with her claw, but was actually quite gentle so Boston did not resist. Coressus looked into her face and let go with a word. “You are very young, despite being full grown. It is something I do not understand.”
“As an elf, I am only three and a half days old. I was older when I was a human.”
Coressus shook her head, like that did not make any sense. Then she gasped. “Red hair?”
A voice came from the back of the cavern. “Boston. Don’t worry. The others are coming to set you free.”
Boston responded to the voice. “Roland!”
“Mandible,” Coressus spoke up loud and clear. “This one is not for you. She is betrothed and under the protection of the gods. And so is the other one,” she shouted across the cavern. “You better not hurt him.”
“What?” Mandible, Flintskin and the others did not understand.
“The camp where this one was taken,” Coressus said. “There were humans and big animals that they ride upon, and they all wear fairy weave and sleep in houses that become no bigger than a ball, and they travel with an elder in the flesh and blood.”
“Yeah, so?” Flintskin did not get it, but Mandible did, and he hit the poor goblin hard enough to make him cry. Flintskin hit Boogern in the same way.
“You should have known.”
Kraken wanted to hit Boogern as well, but Boogern raised a fist to say he would hit Kraken back. Chewy stood like a statue, unwilling to move a muscle, and it made Boston laugh to see him.
“Come child,” Coressus said. “And you, Lord Roland. Your name is known to us.”
Roland came to the raised stone and did not look too roughed up. Then again, a couple of goblins looked like they might have black eyes, so it was about even.
“I am far too young myself to be called Lord Roland.,” Roland admitted, and gave the goblin king a bow.
“Sir Roland, then. I have also heard this.”
“Probably not for a few thousand years,” they heard Katie’s voice at the back of the cavern, followed by a great “ZAP!” A troll and two goblins flew though the air.
“Leave the animals alone,” Coressus shouted.
“Leave the horses alone if you value your life,” Coressus shouted, and she directed Boston and Roland to the back of the cavern where there was a cave set up like a comfortable living room, with rugs on the floor and cushions scattered about to sit and relax. “It is for you about breakfast time, I believe.” Mandible and his friends made themselves scarce.
When the rest of the crew arrived, they had a fine breakfast of eggs and some kind of bacon. They even had toast of a sort, but the goblin cooks did not know how to do anything but burn the toast. They had a pleasant conversation as well, but Lockhart, and in general the others, were all glad when the goblins escorted them to the exit.
Coming next Monday and Tuesday, the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.8,or, what good is escaping the goblin lair if you end up in pirate hands? Don’t miss it. The second half of Pirates Cove. A free read to start the week off right.