This epsiode is number 22 in an ongoing web serial, updated weekly as a part of #fridayflash. If you are new to The UCF Stories, you can read from the beginning here.
As Botchett and Aveena sat down to dine with Lady Mandrake, elsewhere in the Other World, a small figure could be seen darting between the trees, heading in the direction of the fairy fortress.
Swazzle was making slow progress. Since the recent events at Goddess Rising, the fairies were taking no chances and had flooded the forest with sentries. For hours it had seemed that whenever he'd taken one step forward he'd been forced to take two steps back. Getting into the fairy fortress was going to be particularly difficult, Swazzle thought as he pulled himself deep into a patch thick of brambles to consider his position. He was halfway through one of Mistress Botchett's ham and peasepudding sandwiches when he spotted the hole in the bramble roots. The beginnings of a plan began to germinate.
By the time the sandwiches were finished, Swazzle felt sure the plan would work. Firmly grasping a small stick he'd found lying on the ground, Swazzle gingerly poked it down the hole, stopping now and then to feel for any resistance. After a moment or two something grabbed hold of the end of the stick and there followed a brief tug of war before Swazzle was able to haul the spider from its lair. Popping it deftly into Mistress Botchett's sandwich bag, Swazzle tucked the spider into his satchel and set off in the direction of the fairy kingdom's border again.
* * *
Oberon weaved unsteadily across the castle courtyard, a large bottle of Marigold nectar clutched in his fist. The castle had been on high alert for two days and nights and all the stress had shredded his nerves. Carefully climbing the rough stone steps to the castle wall walk on all fours, Oberon shushed theatrically every time the nectar bottle chinked against the stones. As usual these days, Oberon was hammered. At the top of the steps Oberon waved at the two sentries who snapped a neat salute as he staggered towards them, waiting until he had passed and disappeared into the garderobe passage before rolling their eyes and sniggering.
Once inside the garderobe passage, Oberon slumped onto one of the seats and took a long swig from his bottle. The cool darkness of the passage did go some way towards soothing his frazzled nerves, the Marigold nectar did the rest and soon Oberon was snoring, his face pressed against the cold stone wall as drool ran slowly from the corner of his mouth and dripped onto his tunic.
* * *
It was past midnight by the time Swazzle reached the midden beneath the fairy fortress walls. Picking his way carefully up the slimy pile, Swazzle soon reached the base of the wall and, as he stared upwards, he could just about make out a hole in the overhang high above him. He pulled the bagged spider from his satchel, musing idly about why fairy ordure had the faint aroma of flowers.
Whispering soothing words to the spider, Swazzle encouraged her out of the bag to sit in his palm. As he stroked her abdomen she began to spin, Swazzle deftly weaving her silk as it appeared until he estimated he had enough spider rope to reach the opening above him. Thanking the spider for her help, Swazzle set her down at his feet and she scuttled quickly into the darkness while he fashioned one end of the rope into a sticky ball of spider silk before swinging it round and round, letting go at the opportune moment so the ball flew silently up the castle wall. With unerring accuracy, the ball sailed straight through the opening and came to rest somewhere within, a few hefty tugs on the rope satisfying Swazzle that it had attached itself firmly to something immoveable. He began to climb.
* * *
Oberon was awakened by an urgent need to relieve himself. Lurching to his feet, he fumbled with the front of his leggings before bracing himself with one hand against the back wall of the garderobe to relieve himself. Oberon had a blissful look on his face, which changed slowly to one of confusion when he spotted the silvery thread stuck to the adjacent toilet seat. His aching bladder was thanking him for its relief when a pointed hat, smeared in excrement and looking somewhat wet appeared through the hole next to him, closely followed by a head. Oberon recoiled in horror as the head swivelled towards him.
'Thanks a lot,' muttered Swazzle, fairy pee dripping off his eyebrows. He hauled himself quickly through the hole and dropped lightly onto the stone floor. The fairy was still looking repeatedly from the bottle he clutched to Swazzle and back again when Swazzle whipped out the small club he kept for such occasions and whacked the fairy right between the eyes. The fairy crumpled in a heap at his feet, the bottle glugging the remains of its contents all over the fairy's tunic.
Wiping himself down with a handful of the leaves placed in a small basket next to holes, Swazzle crept silently to the doorway of the passage and squinted out onto the wall walk. Two sentries lounged a few yards away, deep in muttered conversation and passing a small flask back and forth between them.
Damn, thought Swazzle. He'd rather hoped this section of the wall might have been unguarded, or at least sparsely patrolled. He'd have to get past the sentries the old fashioned way, he was sure the fairies would have enchantments in place to detect Pixie teleporting by now. Taking a deep breath, Swazzle eased out of the doorway, dashed along the wall walk and began to descend the steps.
So far, so good, he thought. Now, to find what I came here for.
This week also marks the release of the fifth episode in The Great Chocolate Conspiracy multi-part story. You can find episode 5 over at A Shift in Dimensions. Don't forget to follow the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter for more updates on this project. For more information, and to read from the beginning, please go here.