In case you are interested in starting this story at the beginning, Kinderling 1 can be found here:
Please don't judge the story or the writing too harshly, this story is written with little to no editing. It is just meant to get me writing regularly for practice.
Now back to our story, already in progress..
Have I ever told you that I have the most wonderful, most understanding family ever? Well I do.
"I have called you all together because I need help with a plan to rescue Mouse." I said to the gathered family and friends. In addition to Mizzy, who of course was there, I had Mama, Father, Tommil and Adiz - it's adorable how I never seem to see one without the other - Uncle Zon, Bez and Tilly, and finally Dobbo, who looked like he wished he was anywhere else. Watcher and Daisy were also there, sitting to the side.
"Who?" Tommil asked.
He got a sock on the shoulder from Adiz, "Her Gorf friend. The big quiet one."
I glared at him, he shut up.
"Why must you do this?" Asked Uncle Zon. He headed off arguments by holding up his hands. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing against it, I just want to know why."
"Because as far as I'm concerned, Mouse is a friend." I answered, probably a little more strongly than really needed. "And my Mama didn't raise me to abandon friends."
There was quiet for a few moments. I was terrified that I was about to be sent to bed without supper like a naughty pouchling. Then I saw Mama nod, then Father, then Adiz, then Bez and Tilly, and finally Uncle Zon. All nodding in agreement. At least most of them understood. It almost made me cry when I looked at Mizzy and saw the resignation on her face, and then a tiny nod. She didn't like it, but she knew I had to do it.
"Dobbo, you've been inside the Mountain King's fortress. Do you have any sense of how the soldiers are deployed or rotated?" I asked.
"I spent all my time in the slave pins or the Mushroom farms." Dobbo answered. "The soldiers were everywhere, but Gorfs all look the same to me. I couldn't even tell you if the Gorf soldiers that took us to the mushroom farm were the same every day." He at least had the decency to look embarrassed when he looked over at Watcher and Daisy. Watcher seemed to be taking it in stride. Daisy looked like was about to pound someone.
To be honest, I remember thinking the same thing at one time. It wasn't until I needed to pay attention to the Gorfs and learn their ways so I could stay safe in the forest that I started seeing them as individuals. That was when I started realizing just how different Gorfs are from each other.
"However, there were at least a dozen of the little bosses though." Dobbo added.
"Little bosses?" I asked.
"You know, the ones in the fancy get-ups that ordered the ones who wore the harnesses around." Dobbo said. "There were about a dozen of them that I saw. Maybe more. It's hard to keep track when you are chained up and hungry. On top of that, there were some bigger bosses that ordered the little bosses around. Not sure how many of those there were. Really I'm not sure of much of anything. I was there so long, and Gorfs came and went. When I got there, the place was chaos. It seemed like they were constantly in a state of war. From my cell, I saw the race of Man, Dwarves, and so many Gorfs thrown into the cells. There were even a few Gnomes once, but they didn't last long. They were pretty beaten up. I swear, I even saw them drag in an Elf once, all fancy and proper."
I let him talk, trying to glean any information I could from him before he got self conscious and stopped talking. I think Dobbo knew more than he let on. Don't get me wrong, I didn't think he was withholding information, I just thought he might know more than he realized.
Mama cut in.
"You saw an Elf?" Mama questioned, almost a demand. "A real Elf? Or are you just making this up?"
"No, no I swear!" Dobbo replied. "She was tall, and thin, and more beautiful than any creature has a right to be. Last I saw they were dragging her towards the deeper cells where I was when I first got there. I never saw them bring her back out, although they might have done that when I was off at the mushroom farm."
"If we're planning a jail break, I think we should include the Elf." Mama said, now seeming more interested. "If there is a Gorf tribe strong enough to take an Elf captive, the Elven council will want to know about it, and chances are they will at least send a team of troubleshooters."
"I don't like the sounds of that." Watcher interjected, "The Mountain King is holding one of my wife's people, and I feel responsible for that, but the Mountain King is, nominally, my own kind. Do we really need to set the Elves upon them?"
"Yes." Mama said, "The Mountain King isn't just holding Mouse. He provided Baot with soldiers to enslave my people. Besides, it is a toss up as to what the Elves might do. A typical punitive response would be to assassinate the Mountain King and be done with it. A heavy response could be as bad as killing some or most of the male population. It all depends on how the Elf has been treated. It'll be even worse if the Mountain King got stupid and killed the Elf or physically harmed her, especially if she is of the Royal line. Then there is no telling what they might do."
"Sounds like rescuing the Elf before something happens her might be doing the Mountain King a favor." I pointed out
"One he won't thank you for young Tandy." Watcher said.
"Mama, you know some Elves. Would you be able to contact them and get some help? After all, we are planning on rescuing one of their kind along with Mouse if she's still there."
"We could sure use the help but that would be too much too dangerous." Mama replied, "If we tell them that there is an Elf in danger, and they don't find an Elf, it would be us getting punished for wasting their time."
The arguing and planning went well into the evening. Even Mizzy, once she got used to it, warmed up to the idea and started pitching in. She would be coordinating provisions for the trip. Food, spare clothing, and even a neat clay pot she designed that if you put water in it, it would start boiling in a few moments, yet the pot stayed cool to the touch. Even on the inside if there wasn't any water in it. We could use it to make tea, or even to make soup.
"Mizzy, this is wonderful! I never knew you did crafting."
"Tilly is helping me learn." She smiled. "When you went up the mountain to find Flower's tribe, I was beside myself because I couldn't do more to help. Tilly asked me what I thought you needed and I said you needed me there to cook for you, but I was to scared to go. She helped me came up with a couple different ideas for things that I could make to help you. This is the idea that worked."
I have always believed that a Kinderling crafter's abilities depended as much on what they were interested in as anything else. Mama is interested in healing people, so her devices are useful for that. Mizzy is interested in home and cooking, so it makes sense for her to be able to make this pot.
"What's the matter Tandy? Don't you like it?" Mizzy asked.
"No, I was just thinking, if people's talents are guided by their interests. Mama with her healing devices, you with this. I love it by the way." I held the pot to me like I didn't want anyone to take it away. "But what does it say about me that my talent seems to be to build devices that hurt and kill people?"
"Oh Tandy, that's one the the many adorable yet infuriating things about you." Mizzy laughed. "You only see the good in others, but you only see the bad in yourself. You created those lights. I still love mine, I'm glad you didn't think to take it back. You made your go-sticks. I'm terrified to ride on one, especially with your Mama running it, but who else could make a Kinderling fly like that? Your no-see-me devices have saved how many lives? Including my own. Yet all you see are the arrow-chuckers and condemn yourself. Well stop it. Those things aren't you, they aren't because you are bad, they stem from your need to protect those you love."
I promised her I would consider it. Hey, it's the best I could do.
Throughout the meeting, every possibility, every plan or scheme that anyone could come up with was brought up, argued over, argued over again, and sorted. In the end, we went with the same plan that Mama and I used to get Mizzy out. Go, look, figure out a way in and a way out, and go in and get him. We would keep an eye out for the Elf, or evidence that she was there, while we were at it. If we saw her and there was a chance to get her out, we would take it. If not, we would take whatever evidence we could find to the Elves and let them rescue her.
"Tommil, I need a new go-stick. Can you get a tree to grow one for me?" I asked later.
"Sure Tandy, Adiz and I will get right on that."
"Tommil, I need a big one this time."
"How big Tandy?" Adiz broke in to ask.
"Taller than me. I got an idea."