Canto 8 – The Abandoned Barn
As the group continued to ride the roosters, little Schtinker could not stop talking. Poppy talked to him as soothingly as possible, hoping to calm him and quiet him.
“We is headed to badness!” insisted Schtinker.
“You should say, We are headed for trouble,” corrected Poppy.
“We are headed for trouble. That knight don’t care bout ennybuddy but his own self.”
“You mean, That knight doesn’t care about anybody but himself.”
“See there? You know it yourself!” said the exasperated Schtinker.
“You know,” said Flute leaning over from his rooster saddle to look Schtinker squarely in the eyes, “This kid is learning to speak better almost instantly.”
“This kid can thinks bedder dan he ever does before. Troll thinking comes hard and slow. But my mind is getting faster da more I uses it.”
“Let’s make for that abandoned barn over there. We need to study this polymorphed little phenomenon a little bit closer.” Flute pointed at the huge rotting structure that had once been the kind of fortress for cows that Slow Ones called a barn.
“But it is urgent that we get to Castle Cornucopia fast,” warned Tod.
“I have an idea that we may benefit more by what Poppy has learned to do with her magic than any sword swings or fireballs we could add to the battle to come.” Flute grinned as he spurred Tannehauser towards the run-down old barn.
“You is no knowing what you is doing, Prinz-guy. Dat barn be da home of Gobbuluns!” warned Schtinker.
“Yes, I know. But tell me, Stinky, do you really want to become a Troll again? Or would rather stay a Sylph boy?”
Schtinker got suddenly wide-eyed and serious. “You mean I can be dis permanent-like?”
“He can, can’t he, Poppy?” Flute asked.
“I would have to make a difficult spell translation to turn him back into a Troll, and I like him better like this.” PoppenSparkle smiled at the wiggly former Troll.
Schtinker gave her a hug for the sheer joy she had apparently filled his little Sylph body with.
Once inside the old barn Flute made the group dismount and gather in a circle amidst the old tractor-tire ruts on the barn’s dried mud floor.
“Poppy, I need to cast a rather invasive spell on you to measure things in your mind. You will have to disrobe for me to do it,” Flute said. He was not asking for permission.
“Sure. I prefer to be naked.” Poppy had no trouble slipping off the bikini-like armor that protected her from mind spells. Her butterfly wings magically unfurled.
Flute pulled a scroll out of his pouch attached to his loincloth. “Messen Sie die Metriken in ihrem Kopf. Finschole!” Sparks flew out of his fingertips and embedded themselves in her forehead. Poppy’s field of vision turned into multicolored clouds.
“Aha! It’s just as I thought. Her polymorph spell not only reshapes the body, it boosts the intelligence in the parts of the brain of the subject that serve the principles of light. It’s a mix of changing the shape and changing darkness into light.”
“So, what does that mean?” asked Tod.
“Let me test the boy to make certain of it.” Flute cast the same spell on young Schtinker.
“Just as I thought. We can turn Gobbuluns of various sorts into Sylphs, Elves, or Brownies simply by turning their inherent darkness into light.”
“Weez doan no wut you iz talkin’, but weez tanks you for bringin’ us chickie meatz an Fairy bodeez to eats!”
Four Gobbuluns gathered together atop a rotting hay bale with mushrooms growing on it. They were armed with spears that were basically sharpened sticks.
Prinz Flute looked them over humorlessly, then broke into a huge smile. “Poppy, I think we may have just found some recruits for the upcoming battle. Can you morph them the same way you did Schtinker? Please?”
Poppy leaned into the spell and enveloped the three Wartoles and one Cyclopes in her spell cloud.
The Gobbuluns didn’t even have time to scream. The cloud dispersed leaving behind three Sylph warriors with iron-tipped spears and one Elf with an Elven bow and quiver of arrows.