Canto 11 – Battle Plans
The meeting that followed the feast was limited to the Mouse King and Zam his wife, Prinz Flute and his three companions, Lord Lancelot, and the Rascal, who was forced to sit next to PoppenSparkle because he was apparently no longer welcome as Lancelot’s Squire. Schtinker, of course, wanted badly to be there, but he was taken to the bathhouse with the other Sylph children that didn’t pass the smell test before bedtime.
“I think the solution is obvious. We use Poppy’s Polymorph Spell to turn as many Gobbuluns into Fairies as it is possible to do. We bolster our army with the converts from theirs.” Prince Flute looked pleased with himself as he announced the plan to the whole table.
“Nonsense!” Lancelot sat with his arms folded in front of him and his reddish, tired eyes glaring at the map on the center of the table.
“Why is it nonsense?” Flute insisted.
“Because we are doomed here. The Stoor has his ugly army, and Lord Toxiss brought his vast army all the way from distant Sheek-a-go.”
“The Slow Ones actually pronounce that place Chicago,” Tod corrected helpfully.
“I don’t care what you call it. The point is… we are so outnumbered, they will overwhelm us, slaying everybody who is not immortal, and then swarming down to Cair Tellos to do the same to them. We have only one play here. We make a glorious last attack, kill so many of them before they overwhelm us that they can’t muster a big enough force to overwhelm Cair Tellos. We will die heroes.”
“You won’t die,” pointed out the Rascal. “You are an immortal Storybook. The rest of us will all die for your glory and you’ll walk into Cair Tellos to claim all the credit.”
“You wound me, Rascal. Did I not save your life a dozen times over in the Battle of the Arcanum?”
“You did. But you decimated the entire army doing it. We would have sold our lives better defending the castle rather than fighting them on the open fields.”
“Okay, perhaps we choose to die on the parapets of Castle Cornucopia. Maybe we can take more of them out if we make them climb our walls and pour down the hot oils as they try to climb up…”
The Mouse King cleared his throat. “Zam and I have three little mouselings to care for. And there are hundreds of Sylph and Elf children left orphaned by the war that could use new parents. We don’t want anyone to die who doesn’t have to. And don’t we know that at least a few of the Gobbuluns out there are citizens of Cornucopia that have been changed by Lord Toxiss?”
“We won’t do ourselves any good to change a few of the Gobbuluns the way the girl did today. It won’t make a sizeable enough difference, and she will just exhaust her magic getting Gobbuluns changed so other Gobbuluns can kill them. It would be futile… a wasted effort.”
“I think, Lord Lancelot, that the point where your heroics are sorely needed, is at the gate where you and your best soldiers can defend and gather the changed ones into the castle as we change them.” Flute smiled as he obviously was trying to manipulate Lancelot’s ego.
“You cannot change enough of them with one little girl casting one little spell.”
“We can do better than that!” said Glittershine. “I helped PoppenSparkle write the spell into her spell book. I already am familiar with the spell. Tod and Flute can also study it. We will have four Wizards, not one, changing bad guys into good guys.”
“If we should happen to accidentally win the war that way, what will you do with all the new Fairies? Where will they live?”
“You know good and well, Lancelot, that the Castle Cornucopia is huge. We have thousands of towers, secret rooms, mushroom gardens, Fairy houses, businesses, and entertainments in this big, old barn that haven’t had enough Fairy people to live in them since King Pallas and his army were destroyed by Darvon Redsoul, the Great Dragon.” The Mouse seemed to be getting a bit hot under the collar to Poppy.
“And as Glitter mentioned, there will be four talented Wizards helping to repopulate the place,” said Flute, grinning like a fox.
“Very well, then. It is obvious that you have to learn the hard way. I will go along with this plan if only to prove you wrong.”
“Will your plan really work?” the Rascal whispered to Poppy.
“I think so. I am not as confident as any of the rest of you, but I am just learning how to be a Wizard. But if Flute believes in the plan, then, I think I believe in it too.”
“I hope so. I thought it was a great honor to be chosen as Lord Lancelot’s Squire. But right now, I just need to see him proven wrong… even if it kills me.”