Finding Uncle Zon and Father should have been simple. Kinderlings, as a people, are generally very warm and generous. Under normal circumstances, I would have been able to ask around and someone was bound to know where Father had been taken. However, these were far from normal circumstances. The people were scared. Scared enough to let Baot bypass the Elder's council, declare martial law, and even go as far as detaining the one known survivor of the Elder's council. The people followed along because he promised the one thing they wanted most, safety. I hadn't heard if Mother or I were officially declared to be traitors yet, but I was keeping a low profile just in case.
I spent the whole morning and into the afternoon scouting around. While I was lurking behind some empty shipping crates having a rest, I heard the whining wheezy voice of none other than Beso himself. As I peeked out, I saw that he had a young Kinderling woman by the arm, practically dragging her behind him.
"Come to my office where we can discuss your situation. As you know, Chancellor Baot has put me in charge of food rationing." He said with a leering grin. "You want food for your family, right? You can have some if you play your cards right."
The tone of his voice disgusted me. These mines provided more than enough mushrooms to feed the whole village. There shouldn't have been any need to ration food. A few years back there was a season with almost no rain. A lot of food sources dried up, but nobody went hungry. The mushroom farm was expanded and managed to feed everyone. Mushroom production was even higher now than it was then, and there are sadly fewer mouths to feed. Food was the last thing we needed to worry about.
I hid back down behind the crates, I had to find my Father but I wasn't sure how. I wondered if Mama had one of those compass things for him, but surely she would have already used it if she did. I supposed that I could go down into the mines and look, but the mines were huge, and I had a very good chance of getting lost. I needed to find someone who knew where they were. I'm sure Beso knew, but it wasn't like I could walk up and ask him. I didn't want to be anywhere near that guy.
It was then that I noticed the kitten had climbed out of my pack and slipped past me. To my surprise, the silly thing was following Beso. If Beso found out she was mine, he would probably kill her out of spite. I tried to quietly call her back, but she wouldn't come. I had no choice but to follow as carefully and quietly as I could.
As I expected, with the kitten following Beso and me following the kitten, we all finally ended up at what I suspect was Beso's office. Beso and the young woman went inside while I hid behind a rock formation a ways away. Perhaps Beso might go visit my Father at some point and I would be able to follow him. Without any other ideas, I settled in to watch the entrance to Beso's office.
Not long after, the young woman came out of the office, hair and clothing a mess, clutching a small bag. She Was obviously crying.
The whole thing depressed me. The Gorf had attacked our home, Father and Uncle Zon were being held prisoner somewhere, and my fellow Kinderlings were preying upon each other. And here I was, hiding in the rocks, and my only hope of finding my Father was following one of the rotten eggs around, hoping he might feel like gloating. What other reason would he have to visit my father?
At least the kitten hadn't given me away by meowing like she did when we were in the forest. In fact she was practically smoke. I was barely able to follow her while she was following Beso, and I'm sure there was no way he would have been able to see her following.
*"the bad one wants to capture you"*
I vaguely heard the voice in my head. The kitten was staring straight at me, like she was concentrating on something.
*"if the bad one thinks you are where you seek he will go there"*
Again, I heard the voice in my head. It was stronger that time. Again, the kitten was practically staring right through me. Then, almost imperceptibly, she nodded.