Canto 9 – The Mad Fight
Prince Flute’s rooster riders made a mad dash for Castle Cornucopia. They all knew that their presence was desperately needed. But more than ever was their presence required since Poppy’s new spell provided an answer to the war problem that the Fairies never had before. Bad guys could be changed into allies by magic. And once having a taste of life as a Sylph or an Elf, the Gobbuluns definitely preferred to stay in their new bodies on the side of the Fairies.
“We promise to fight hard for the Cornucopians,” said the Elf, the fastest learner of Fairy English. “There is no going back for us. And even if we have to fight and kill our former friends, they are such low and horrid creatures that we will not shed a tear over them.”
“Not ebben for me wifey!” added one of the Sylphs. “She be too uglee and stoopid for keepin’.”
They all rounded the final turn, and Castle Cornucopia was laid out before them. It was, of course, actually a Slow One’s barn with Fairy ramparts and towers added to all the wooden walls, but disguised by magical glammers that made the barn appear to be a normal functioning palace for milk cows.
But the truly unbelievable part was the fact that the entire defense force, instead of manning the fortified walls and ramparts, were out in the middle of the field to the east of the castle, surrounded by a sea of raging green Gobbuluns and enemies from the Unseely Court.
“What’s this? Why is Lancelot attacking rather than defending the castle?” Prinz Flute was shocked.
“He be mad, dat one!” called out Schtinker.
“We have to help them survive. That is the entire defense force of the castle about to be slain!” cried Tod.
“No, no, no…!” called out Glittershine.
Flute turned to Poppy and put a hand on each of her arms. “Can you polymorph a really large number of Gobbuluns into Fairies?”
“I… I don’t know. That takes an immense amount of power. It will completely exhaust me, and I doubt I can change enough of them to make a difference.”
“Can you try, please? As many as you can, on the side closest to the castle so the encircled army has a way to escape.”
“I will do the best I can…”
PoppenSparkle gathered all the energy her tired body could hold. It wasn’t enough because she hadn’t absorbed enough sunshine since she had changed the four from the abandoned barn. But it would change a few dozen completely. She crackled with the summoned charge of energy, and then carefully spied out the area of fighting Gobbuluns she meant to target.
The power left her fingertips as soon as she uttered the trigger word and formed into a lightning bolt before becoming the transformational cloud over the writhing Gobbulun bodies. They twisted and morphed as if they were made of clay and became mostly naked and poorly armed Sylphs, Elves, and Butterfly Children.
“Men of Cornucopia! Follow me back to the castle!” shouted Prinz Flute, dashing forward to toss fireballs with his wand into the crowds of green Wartoles that hadn’t been touched by the polymorphing cloud.
“No! Hold your ground men! We will be covered in glory this day, even if we all die.” Lancelot seemed outraged at Flute trying to take command.
“Look at all these new Fey Children on our side, Lord! We now have a chance to hold the castle. Why should we still go through with the plan to sacrifice ourselves? We don’t have to die now! And you will not die in any case.” The Rascal was obviously defying his master. But it was effective. The Sylphs under Lancelot’s command broke ranks, fighting only to protect their escaping brethren. The mass of Fairy warriors flooded back towards the castle, carrying Flute’s rooster riders and all the newly made Fairies with them.
At the castle gate, Lord Lancelot, King Mouse, and Prinz Flute all pulled up short of it to shout at each other.
“How dare you countermand my battle plan?” roared Lancelot.
Prinz Flute, taken aback, quickly replied, “How dare you try to get everyone killed in spite of the fact that I provided you with a means to survive the day, and possibly win the war?”
King Mouse was a Pixie, of the kind that take on the partial form of woodland creatures. His head and paws and tail were all very mouse-like, while his body was very hunman-shaped and capable of wearing a suit of Fairy armor.
“I know your status as Tellosian Hero means you outrank me, Lord Lancelot, but as King of Cornucopia, I side with Prinz Flute on the question of whether today is the day we all die or not.”
“Well, we can’t exactly reform the troops and attack again now. But I would rather take the fight to them than hole up for a siege and defensive last stand.”
Prinz Flute seemed to be actively trying to calm himself. Poppy appreciated how calm he could make himself in dire situations. “You must come in and listen to the new plans I have formulated. I have made a breakthrough in magical research that might win the day for us without fighting battles against foes that outnumber us.”
Angry as Lancelot still seemed, he nodded his assent.
The Rascal ran up to him to make a report on the retreat into the castle.
Lord Lancelot eyed him coldly. “I have no time for disobedient underlings. Rascal, you are dismissed from my service.”
Crestfallen, the boy turned and walked back into the castle without making a report.
“Now that we have more men to defend the walls with,” said King Mouse, “let’s retire to the throne room and discuss further strategy.
Flute signalled to Poppy, calling her to him. “You have saved the day yet again, PoppenSparkle.”
“I only did the magic. You made it happen.”
“You look exhausted, little one.”
She smiled. She was actually taller than Flute, but not about to contradict him. He put his arm around her to guide her.
Lord Lancelot stood in the gateway, looking at the stupidly confused horde of Gobbuluns. He finally turned and entered too so that the gate could be shut and barred.