Mickey’s Little Gambit
We had to walk for a considerable distance in the leafy, greenish-blue shade of the soybean field until we located the errant skull. We were not alone of course. Master Eli recruited a half-dozen Gingerbreads as scouts to help us locate the thing and make sure the bone-walker’s pilot didn’t escape alive.
Gingerbreads, as I’m sure you probably already know, are actually fairy golems. Their bodies are gingerbread-boy-and-gingerbread-girl cookies baked by the cook-witch Gretel, Anneliese’s mother. The souls that inhabit the cookie-bodies are the spirits of children murdered in Nazi death camps during a slow-one event apparently known as Were-Wore Two over in what the fairies call the Continent of Cernunnos the Horned One and Wotan the Wise. They were gingerbread-cookie fairies that, if any animal or slow one bit a bite out of them, could immediately grow it back from the stores of magical gingerbread dough stored in Cair Tellos.
It was a gingerbread boy named Johan that located the skull and took us straight to it.
It was Master Eli Tragedy, Mickey the Wererat, and me that moved to surround the skull and its occupants with the six gingerbreads.
But I caught my breath when I saw her. It wasn’t a little green wartole, or one-eyed Cyclopes that had been piloting the bone-walker, but a nude, young Sylph girl, holding what looked like a demon skull and talking to a pair of full-sized crows.
“So, what’s going on here?” roared Master Eli. “You are not a Gobbulun!”
“Call me later, Derfy! I can hear your thoughts. Gotta fly now!” said one of the two crows as they both turned and flapped away.
The girl turned to look at us. Her eyes were cold and gray, but they were also streaming with tears.
Eli pointed his magic wand at her with his finger tightly on the trigger. “Confess, child. How did the necromancer come to send the likes of you?”
“You are going to kill me anyway. So, why should I tell you anything?”
“How is it that you were able to make a non-magical crow talk? Your demon-head doesn’t normally have a power like that. Tell me, or I use the dragonfyre in this wand upon you.”
“I don’t know.”
“I said I don’t know.”
Eli lifted the wand higher as if he was going to incinerate her. But, of course, he wasn’t. There was only one charge left in the wand, and he wanted to save it. It was unclear to me if he even had any reloadable charges for it.
“Tell me the name of your little demon head, and I will let you live for a little while longer.”
“No. I won’t tell you that so you can control the master’s demon head.”
“My name is Kackenfurchtbar. Please don’t kill my Derfentwinkle. I love her,” said the demon skull with the broken horn.
I looked at Mickey and he looked at me. Both of us had our mouths hanging open and our eyes nearly bugged out.
“Kack, why did you…?”
“Kackenfurchtbar, you will now only take commands from me, the great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy!”
“Yes, oh, great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy.”
“So, now you are finally gonna kill me?” she said softly to Master Eli.
“No, probably not,” said Master Eli.
“Oh, good! Does that mean we can use her to learn necromantic sexual practices and try them out on her?”
“Don’t be gross, Mickey,” I scolded.
“Mickey, whatever you and Bob decide to do with her on your spare time is between the three of you. You will not abuse a captive, no matter what else you do. And you know I give you two very little spare time.”
“Yes, Master,” Mickey said glumly.
“Kackenfurchtbar, what is the name of the necromancer?”
“Kronomarke, Necromancer to the Kingdom of the Valley-Eaters, and servant of the mighty King Stoor.”
“Oh, of course it is. Old Blue-bottom from Mistress Schulelehrer’s school for cursed youngsters. I knew the principal should’ve put him to death in the second grade for eating a classmate.”
“You know the necromancer?” I asked.
“Personally?” asked Mickey.
“I had Basic Runes classes with him about six hundred years ago. Ugliest damned kid in whole cursed school.”
“If you went to school with Kronomarke, why does he hate you so much?” asked the girl.
“Oh, told you about me, did he? By name?”
“Ah, that’s a lie. My truth spell tells me you know about his oath of vengeance.”
“You don’t have a truth spell. At least, not active.”
“And how would you know that?”
“My magic tingle wasn’t tingling at any time during this whole encounter. And the electrical tingle I get is always accurate.”
“So, how could you possibly know that Bluebottom hates me more than any other boy from the whole cursed school? Are you a mind-reader?”
“Yes. Pretty much.”
“Kackenfurchtbar? How did Miss Doofy-Twinkle make that crow talk?”
“The crow claims to be her natural familiar.”
“I see. She has magical potential herself. Does Bluebottom know about that?”
“Not that he ever told me. I was only his fifteenth-best demon-slave when I was alive. And he sent us both on a suicide mission.”
“Ooh! Can we keep her? I will feed her and take care of her, and… um, she can even sleep in my bed,” shouted Mickey.
“We will keep her for a while anyway. I can put her in the iron cage we use for monsters and keep her there for a while.”
“Ooh! Good, good, good!” crowed Mickey.
“Bob, you, of course, will be in charge of the keys to the cage. You and Mickey will find out what magic she knows instinctively and write it all down in scrolls.”
“Yes, Master Eli, sir.”
“There you go again with the sir stuff.” Master Eli smiled at me.
I took charge of the prisoner, and we headed back to Cair Tellos. The gingerbreads surrounded us to protect us with their peppermint swords.