Under Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles 2) - Page 87

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“You!” she yelled. Even accounting for the diminutive footprint of the mole city, she was still easily fifteen feet away from the tower’s top.

The mole seemed to have heard her. He flinched a little and pointed his eyeless snout in her direction.

“You make this stop!” she called. She could only guess at the mole’s authority; the fact that he was neither fighting nor particularly disturbed by the untold number of deaths occurring at his feet led her to believe that he was someone of importance.

The mole, hearing her words, only shrugged. The war continued to wage.

“NOW!” she cried. She could feel her face contort as an unmitigated rage overtook her. The mole in the tower, evidently sensing her anger, gave a little squeak; he turned and ran for the cover of the tower’s inner chamber.

“No you don’t,” hissed Prue, and she began climbing the pyramid of the mole city.

As her feet came down on the framework of the structures, she could feel them start to give way; it was clear that the city had not been built to withstand the weight of humans. Nonetheless, with every building, hovel, and home that was destroyed beneath her boot, she decided that it was all for the good of peace. The battle below her fell into a lull as each mole, regardless of their alliance, stopped to witness the massive Overdweller step across their heads and approach the Fortress of Fanggg. Arriving at the base of the tower, she braced herself against the aluminum shaft and stood, her eyes arriving at the level of the cupola.

Inside the dome she saw what appeared to be an ornate bedroom. Resplendent tapestries lined the walls. A miniature four-poster bed stood in the center of the room. It was there that Prue saw the pajamaed mole; or rather, she saw him under the bedsheets, creating a kind of mole-sized lump on the bed, a lump that was quivering with fear.

“Out of there, you,” said Prue. “I can see you perfectly.”

“NO THANKS,” said the mole. “I’LL JUST STAY HERE.”

“No you won’t,” said Prue, and she reached her arm into the bedroom and flicked the covers aside, revealing the cowering mole. Before he was able to scurry away, she’d picked him up by the hem of his pajama pants and pulled him, screaming, from the protection of the cupola. She held him that way, dangling from her fingers, and brought him close to her face so she could better inspect him.

“Are you Dennis the Usurper?” she asked.

“NO, I’M NOT,” said the mole. His voice was struck through with fear.

“YES, HE IS,” came a voice from Prue’s feet. She looked down; it was one of the knights. The fighting had stopped as both sides looked on at Prue’s interrogation of the mole. “THAT’S HIM, ALL RIGHT. I’D KNOW THAT VOICE ANYWHERE.”

Dennis Mole seemed to curse his luck; he kicked impotently in Prue’s grasp.

“I want you to stop this,” said Prue, trying to look the mole in the eyes, despite the fact that he didn’t really have them. “I want you to tell your soldiers to lay off.”

“REALLY? I MEAN, NOW?”

Prue swung her arm around in a quick, fluid motion; she dangled him high above the clutter of the city streets. The soldiers below gasped; Dennis shrieked. A little wet spot developed in the crotch of his pajamas.

“I’ll do it,” said Prue. “I’m not above sacrificing one mole for the good of the entire city.”

“OKAY, OKAY,” sputtered Dennis. He waved his little arms above the gathered crowd below. “I GIVE IN! YOU CAN HAVE YOUR STUPID FORTRES

S OF FANGGG BACK.”

The cheer that met this proclamation, even issuing from such small creatures as the moles, was overwhelming. Whatever noise the battling armies had created during the siege was dwarfed by this one unified shout of pure joy. The Knights Underwood hefted their swords and halberds; the army of Dennis the Usurper threw down their weapons in a shower of tiny metal instruments. The two sides rushed together at the declaration of peace; long-separated family members were reunited; friends rent asunder by the division were once more trading hugs and handshakes. The scene was so moving to Prue that she nearly forgot she still had Dennis suspended in the air by her fingers.

“SO CAN YOU LET ME DOWN NOW?” he asked.

“Oh, sure.” She paused, eyeing the former despot warily. “Though I think I should probably hand you over to the authorities. Where’s Sir Timothy?”

A cry came from the crowd at her feet. “MAKE WAY! MAKE WAY!”

The tone of the celebrations suddenly grew somber; Prue turned to see the gathered armies part to allow passage to a group of stalwart knights bearing a makeshift stretcher on their shoulders; on the stretcher was none other than the still body of High Master Commander Sir Timothy. Septimus walked at the head of the procession, his patchwork armor stained in the blood of the fallen. As the moles recognized the nature of the procession, they each in turn fell to their knees in mournful silence. Prue put her hand to her mouth.

“Is he okay?” she asked.

Septimus removed his helmet and threw it to the ground. His brow was drenched with sweat. He shook his head sadly in response to the question.

“HE’S GRAVELY WOUNDED,” responded the Seer Bartholomew, who stood by the rat.

The sound of weeping could be heard welling up from the crowd; a few shouted, “NOT SIR TIMOTHY!”


Tags: Colin Meloy Wildwood Chronicles Fantasy
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