No Neutral Ground

Shay had finished cleaning up the morning batch of bread a little early and was on her way to report for duty at the garrison. She had a thought about training that she wanted to run by Veron before she got to her regular work. As she approached the building, she saw the little goblins Dobble and Puckleflup exiting via the window Kane used for his clandestine escapes when he felt like ditching work.

Fearing that somehow the mischievous pair had broken in and caused minor havoc again, she began to hustle towards the entrance near the broken down wall. The sound of wind on a windless day rustled up next to her and Perran the Spriggan stepped out of a bush directly in her way with a shushing gesture. He then ushered her into the hedge he had just stepped from. Shay was once again astonished that here on a path she’d beat countless times there was another hidden entrance to Perran’s hedgebound kingdom. The self satisfied goblins came bounding down the path gleefully passing right by Perran, who stood as still as any tree, in the entryway blocking all view of Shay.

Once the little goblins had gone, Perran let Shay out of the hedge. She moved passed him and turned to face him. He also maneuvered to face her on the path. With his back now to the hedge line he seemed to fade into his surroundings. As he spoke to her it was as though the bushes and trees of Woodland were speaking. If not for his brilliantly blue eyes, and the opening of his mouth, revealing a catlike pink tongue, and childlike teeth, Shay would have lost sight of him completely.

Perran had a perfectly contrite look on his face, almost apologetic, though he still held a laugh in the corner of his mouth. “Well Miss Shay, the best laid plans so often go awry.”

“Oh really, Master Perran?” Shay questioned.

“I’m afraid Miss Shay, that Messiers Dobble and Puckleflup are now blaming you, among others, for this little prank war that they started.”

Shay rather felt that Perran had started it, but she understood that it was often easier to see the faults in others than to accept our own. She decided not to make an issue of it, though she was a little uncomfortable with the idea that any of this was her fault. “Oh dear! Really?” She replied. Shay wasn’t particularly afraid of the little goblins they were mostly harmless, but she was beginning to get an idea of why they had been climbing down Kane’s private exit. “How have you discovered this Master Perran?”

“I watch.” Was his only explanation. As he said it the bushes seemed to shrug nonchalantly.

“And, what have they done about it?” Shay pressed.

Again the bushes seemed to shrug, “They have gone to the Captain, and complained.”

Unconsciously Shay retreated a step as though engaged in a duel in which she was outmatched. She paled slightly at the thought of Kane being involved. She looked left and then right hoping for a way out of the situation. Perran waited as she chose her ground. Then, suddenly, she advanced back into close quarters with the Spriggan and lowered her voice considerably. She nearly attacked him with her whispered question, “And what did Kane have to say about it?”

Perran cringed slightly and retreated a single step unconsciously. “Words to the effect that they have an ally in him… against you… I’m afraid.” Perran responded slightly alarmed.

Shay held the slightly squirming Spriggan in her stare for three full breaths before calmly replying “Llw.” Then she stood upright again and smiled. The tensions eased, and she continued pleasantly, “Well Master Perran, what a fine mess that is. Have you any idea of what that man is capable of?” She pointed in the direction of Kane’s window, but without any real temper. “He is as skilled at pranks as he is deadly with the sword. Good grief! In New France he convinced one of his soldiers that they smelled like a potato! Poor fellow washed three times a day for a month before he caught on to the joke.”

Shay shook her head in dispare and good humor at the same time. “I blame you for this whole situation Master Perran!” Beginning to laugh she continued, “I was trying to prevent mischief getting out of hand with those two, not take sides with them. Or the Priest. Now you’ve landed me right in the middle! And just what do you think is going to happen when Lorcan finds out I said nothing when they took the silver?” Shay began to laugh out loud. From a distance she appeared to be talking to herself and totally hysterical over a bush. She didn’t care, the whole situation was totally preposterous.

The clicking sound of Spriggan laughter clattered for a moment then Perran responded, “Well, Miss Shay it would appear there is no neutral ground. Let’s make the best of it shall we?”

Shay clutched at her aching sides and bent over to catch her breath. “I’ve no better option Master Perran.” She answered panting. “If there is no way to stay out of it, I might as well jump in feet first. And, I have an idea! Let’s take Kane’s apples, and hide them.”

As Shay stood upright once more, Perran began slowly nodding. A mischievous and pleased smile spread across his barkish face. “Yes, yes that will do. That will do nicely! Only, lets take all the apples. All the apples everywhere. And we won’t just hide them. We will hide them in the church!”

“Near the church Master Perran, near it, in a covered cart. Lorcan is too smart to be caught out like that. And there it will let everyone think what they will, while we will offer no opinion on the subject whatsoever.” The co-conspirators burst out laughing again. Then together they disappeared into the hedge.