Wayward Butterfly Children
Anneliese’s favorite Gingerbread Boy, Johan of Dusseldorf, found us as we were passing Tornhilda’s Towering Townhouse in the lower part of the castle.
“The Butterfly Child you had me watching is up near the wasp nest asking questions about the Wasprider Cavalry and Captain Bobkin.”
Anneliese frowned at that news.
“Why would she be doing that?” Bob asked me.
I shrugged. “Was she asking about where to find us?”
“Not unless she was intending to look into the iron spikes that the cavalry uses to make the wasp stingers more deadly to the Unseely Court in order to find you.” Johan’s peppermint candy eyes were expressionless, so I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being suspicious. I know I didn’t like the sound of that, and Dolly was my friend.
“Lead us to where you left her,” Anneliese ordered Johan. Over time, the Gingerbread Boy had developed a more Sylph-like shape to make him faster and more agile than the standard waddling cookie-shaped boy.
We found ourselves quickly climbing upward on the castle’s winding central staircase. We passed many Pixies with various animal and bug-like shapes. There were large numbers of Sylphs and Elves and Brownies and Butterfly Children also. I wondered if anybody had ever counted how many lived in this tree-castle. Bob had told me that it had an extensive underground city in the roots of the willow tree too. Could Dolly have been counting them for some reason?
I heard Dolly giggling in that girlish way she did as we reached the topmost landing of the central stair. She was hanging over the shoulder of an older Sylph grown fat and round with age. He wore a captain’s uniform that was tight on him because of his generous belly. He was laughing too, apparently at whatever the two of them had been talking about.
“Ah! Derfie! I’ve found you at last! Have you met Captain Bobkin? He’s in charge of the military defenses of Cair Tellos.” Dolly was smiling at me, but I’m not sure I was very quick to smile back.
“Well, well, I know Anneliese and young Bob quite well. I am even acquainted with Johan the Gingerbread Boy. But who is this charming Sylph who is the friend of the lovely Dollinglammer?”
“This is Derfentwinkle. She’s potentially going to be Master Eli Tragedy’s third apprentice,” said Bob, pulling me forward by the hand and placing my hand om the fat fairy captain’s gloved hand.
“Well, aren’t you sweet.” He kissed me on the cheek. His handlebar moustache was apparently waxed and felt slightly sticky on my cheek.
“We have all been looking for you, Miss Dollinglammer, since the Wizard Pippen arrested and nearly executed Miss Derfentwinkle, and Bob the Apprentice,” said Anneliese with what I took to be a guarded smile.
“Oh, my! Are you both okay? I thought surely the crows would rescue you both!” she said, seemingly surprised.
I wasn’t sure if Dolly was being straight with me, or just pretending. As far as I knew, she had never lied to me before. But Kronomarke can make a girl do horrible things whether she wanted to or not… Though I wondered what memories of evil the Magic Hat had removed from my head that made me think that in spite of not remembering.
And when Dolly mentioned Homer and Bert, I finally realized that I could no longer hear their continued presence in my mind or see what they were seeing through my eyes when I attempted to see through theirs.
I whispered in Bob’s ear, “I can’t feel my crow familiars in my mind anymore.”
Bob whispered back, “That was a special instruction that Master Eli gave to Bibby Joon. No mind can touch yours when you are wearing that cape.”
I honestly didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Did they not trust me yet? Of course, I didn’t trust me either, not knowing how the necromancer had screwed up my mind before I got the cape.
“Well, Dollinglammer, now that we have found you, we need to get you back to Master Eli’s tower where you will be safe.”
“Oh, yeah… okay.” Dolly turned to go into the stairwell leading into Captain Bobkin’s command center. “It’s the other way, Miss,” said Johan politely. And so we headed down the stair taking us back to the castle.