Operation: soup-can Sam
I don't own fablehaven. Suggestion by a guest
Newel stood hiding in the bushes close to where the ogress's chimney was. Today was the day where all of Newel and Doren's soup dreams would come true.
As Newel scanned out the chimney a young boy walked up to it. On the way there he was stealthy, but the way back was a different matter. The boy didn't even try to be quiet. He disappeared from sight after hiding behind a bush. The boy's voice sounded, "Come here, you have to see this."
"What is it?" This time it was a girl's voice.
"Nothing scary". The boy went around the bush and the girl tentatively followed. They looked similar, probably siblings. The girl's eyes locked on the chimney.
"A well?" A Well? They thought it was a well? Newel shook his head.
"Yeah. Come smell."
They walked to the well. The girl leaned over the opening. "Smells good."
"Like soup," The boy said. "Meat, veggies, spices."
"Am I just hungry? It smells delicious."
" I think so too. Should we try some?"
"Lower the bucket? The girl asked skeptically. Newel grew impatient. The more time these two were there the more likely it was that the ogress would find out.
"Why not?" The boy replied.
"There could be creatures down there."
"I don't think so," he said.
"You think it's just a well full of stew," the girl scoffed. Still not a well.
"We are on a magical preserve."
"As far as we know it could be poisonous."
"It can't hurt to take a look," the boy insisted. "I'm starving." This moment reminded Newel of a tv show he had watched. Oh tv, he thought longingly.
"Besides, not everything here is bad. I bet this is where fairy people come for dinner. See, it even has a crank." He began turning the windlass, spooling the bucket down into the darkness.
"I'm staying on lookout," said Kendra.
As the pair was distracted Newel shuffled across the ground making sure they couldn't see him. He moved to the bush where the siblings had been hiding earlier. He hoped that the ogress wouldn't notice and things would not be lost.
The boy continued unwinding the rope, sending the bucket ever deeper. Eventually he heard it wetly hit bottom. The rope slackened a bit. After a moment he began winding the bucket back up.
"Hurry," The girl said.
"I am. This thing is deep."
"I'm worried everything in the forest can see us."
"Here it comes." He stopped cranking and pulled the bucket up the last few feet by hand, setting it on the lip of the well.
The girl joined him. "Looks like a normal stew," she said.
"Better than normal. I'm trying some."
"Don't!" she warned.
"Lighten up." He tweezed out a piece of dripping meat and tried it. "Good!" he announced. He plucked out a potato and offered a similar report. Tipping the bucket, he slurped some of the broth. "Amazing!" he said. "You have to try it."
Newel's ears pricked up. The ogress was coming. Satyrs had hearing better than humans so it was no coincidence that the two didn't hear. That's how he was able to hear their conversation so clearly.
He charged our behind the bush wielding his knife. The siblings turned in alarm. "Salt" the boy said, dipping into his pockets. The girl fumbled around and dashed around the well. The boy stood his ground.
He threw a fistful of salt at Newel, and Newel stopped, obviously surprised. Another handful of salt was thrown and the boy again reached into his pockets searching around for more.
"What are you doing?" Newel asked in a hushed tone.
"I could ask you the same question," the boy replied.
"No you can't. You're spoiling our operation." The satyr lunged past him and slashed the rope with his knife. " She's coming."
"I'd save the questions for later," Newel said. He wound the rope until it was tight around the windlass, seized the bucket, and started down the hill, spilling soup as he went. From the far side of the hill, Newel heard foliage rustling and branches crunching, She was getting close. The boy and girl followed him.
Newel slid into the bush that he had been hiding in earlier. The siblings followed suit.
An instant after they ducked out of sight, a bulky, hideous woman lumbered into view and approached the well. She had a broad, flat face with saggy earlobes that hung almost to her hefty shoulders. Her misshapen bosom drooped inside a coarse, homespun tunic. Her avocado skin had a ridged texture like corduroy, her graying hair was shaggy and matted, and her build bordered on obese. The well barely came to her knees. She waddled from side to side as she walked, and she was breathing heavily through her mouth.
Bending over, she pawed at the well, stroking the wooden frame. "The ogress can't see much," Newel whispered.
When he said it, the ogress jerked her head up. She yammered something in a guttural language. Shambling a couple of steps away from the well, she squatted down and sniffed at the ground where the boy had thrown his salt.
"There been peoples here," she accused in a husky, accented voice. "Where you peoples be?" Operation definitely ruined.
The satyr placed a finger against his lips. The ogress lumbered down the slope toward their hiding place, sniffing high and low. "I heared peoples. I smelled peoples. And I smell my stew. Peoples been at my stew again. You come out now to apologize."
Newel shook his head drawing a line across his throat. The boy slid a hand in his pocket. Newel grabbed his wrist and shock his head with a scowl.
The ogress had already closed half the distance to the bush. "You peoples like my stew so much, maybe you take a bath in it."
He held up a hand, tacitly signaling for them to keep still. Without warning, something began crashing through the bushes about twenty yards to their right. The ogress pivoted and stumbled toward the ruckus with a quick, awkward gait.
Newel nodded. The escape plan had worked. The group scrambled out of the bush and started down the hill.
Behind them, the ogress skidded to a halt and changed direction, coming after them. Newel pitched the bucket of stew into a tangled patch of thorns, knowing that it would only slow them down. As he bounded over a fallen log the kids sprinted after him.
Heedless of obstacles, the ogress pursued them noisily, trampling bushes and tearing through branches. She breathed in damp, wheezing gasps and cursed periodically, reverting to her unintelligible native tongue. Despite her cumbersome size and apparent exhaustion, the misshapen ogress was rapidly gaining.
The slope leveled out. Behind Newel the ogress fell, branches and deadfalls snapping like firecrackers. The ogress rose to her feet soon after.
Newel led them into a shallow ravine, where they found the wide entrance to a dark tunnel. "This way," he said, dashing into the tunnel. Although it looked spacious enough for the ogress to enter, the siblings followed without question.
The tunnel grew darker the deeper they ran. Heavy footsteps followed them. The ogress blocked out the sunlight filtering in with her large body. Newel could still see fairly well.
The tunnel grew narrower and the ogress gasped and coughed.
For a space, the darkness became complete. Then it began to brighten. The tunnel continued to shrink. Soon it was small enough that they had to crouch, and the walls were within reach at either side. Newel slackened his pace, looking back with a mischievous grin. The siblings looked over their shoulders as well.
The panting ogress crawled and then scooted forward on her belly, wheezing and choking. When she could worm no farther, she roared in frustration, a strained, throaty cry. After that it sounded like she vomited. Newel had to crawl before the passage slanted upward. They emerged through a snap gap into a bowl-shaped depression. Doren stood waiting for them.
Doren motioned Newel and the people with him to follow. They charged recklessly through the woods for a few more minutes. After arriving at a clearing with a pond, Newel turned towards the others.
"What was the idea, ruining our operation?" he asked.
"Clumsy work," Doren agreed.
"We didn't know," The girl said. "We thought it was a well." Doren inwardly sighed.
"You thought a chimney was a well?" the redhead complained. From the way Newel said it, Doren knew that this was just a confirmation.
"I suppose you sometimes mistake icicles for carrots?" Doren asked.
"Or wagons for outhouses?"
"It had a bucket," The boy said.
"And it was in the ground," The girl added.
"They have a point," Doren said.
"You were on the roof of the ogress's lair," Newel explained.
"We get it now," the boy said. The still didn't know names. "We thought it was a hill."
"Nothing wrong with pinching a bit of soup from her cauldron," Newel continued. "We try to be free with our assets. But you need to use some delicacy. A little finesse. At least wait until the old lady falls asleep. Who are you, anyhow?"
"Seth Sorenson." The boy said. Any relation to Stan?
"I am Newel. This is Doren. You realize we'll probably have to construct a whole new rigging?"
"She'll rip the old one down," Doren explained.
"Almost more work than cooking our own stew," Newel huffed.
"We can't make it come out like she does," Doren mourned.
"She has a gift," Newel agreed.
"We're sorry," Kendra said. "We were a little lost."
Doren waved a hand, the girl sounded sincere. "Don't worry. We just like to bluster. If you spoiled our wine, that would be another story."
"Still," Newel said, "a guy has to eat, and free stew is free stew."
"We'll try to find a way to repay you," Kendra said.
"So will we," Newel said.
"You don't happen to have any... batteries?" Doren asked.
"Batteries?" Seth asked, wrinkling his nose.
"Size C," Newel clarified.
Kendra folded her arms. "Why do you want batteries?"
"They're shiny," Newel said, nudging Doren with an elbow. He got the message.
"We worship them," Doren said, nodding sagely. "They seem like little gods to us."
Kendra and Seth stared at them in disbelief, clearly unsure how to continue the conversation.
"Okay," Newel said. "We have a portable television."
"Don't tell Stan."
"We had a mountain of batteries, but we ran out."
"And our supplier is no longer employed here."
"We could work out an arrangement." Newel spread his hands diplomatically. "Some batteries to repent for disrupting our stew siphoning- Then we can trade for more. Gold, booze, you name it."
Doren lowered his voice slightly. "Of course, we would need to keep our arrangement private."
"Stan doesn't like us watching the tube," said Newel.
"You know our Grandpa?" Seth asked.
"Who doesn't?" Newel said.
"You haven't seen him lately?" Kendra asked.
"Sure, just last week," Doren said. That was a close call.
"I mean since last night."
"No, why?" Newel said.
Kendra and Seth continued to tell them about the fate of what had happened during midsummers eve. After bravely backing out of any real commitment, the satyrs showed them the way home.
*So I know the titles kind of funky, but it's a reference to one of my favorite tv shows. Alrighty now on to the thanking list. Thanks to Luna_Tenebris, Jesussavedevenme, MonstersHaveGreenEyes, and that fabulous guest. Just for the record I might have mixed them up, but I tried and this is what I think they were.
Guess what my school is getting out May 15th! So hopefully that means more updating, but maybe not. Also yes soup and stew are the same thing, at least in my head*