NaNoWriMo Day 17 Part 1
posted at: 11/18/2014

Mr. Weisgarber helped the conspirators unload the cart, then climbed up into the driver's seat and led Sugar Bell back to his home. They wouldn't need the donkey with them while they held the prince captive, and a donkey is more difficult to predict than a human being. Even one so venerable and dignified as Sugar Bell. Everyone settled down for the night on the floor of the cavern. It wasn't as uncomfortable as it could have been. The night was warm and the floor was dry. It wasn't soft, but it wasn't overly lumpy either.

Old Man Gingham's back pasture was about a four hour ride from the castle. The prince's cavalcade arrived soon after sunrise and announced it's presence with the blare of a hunting horn that would have woken the group in the cave, even if they hadn't already been awake and making desperate, last minute plans for their capture of Charles. Herford, who had shrunk his staff and asked Amaranth to tie it to his back with a length of extra rope, hopped off in the direction of the hunting party. He was accompanied by Mrs, Weisgarber and the two boys. The net had been laid out neatly on the cavern floor. A silencing spell had already been placed on it so that as soon as the prince was inside of it, he wouldn't be able to make a sound.

Reginald stayed behind to inform Matilda of the news at the front. The Queen Mother had been chagrined about being left behind while everyone else risked their lives, but there was nothing to be done about it. She was too slow to bolt if something went wrong, and she wouldn't be any help if she did go. So, she sat among the bundles of cargo, listening to Herford's narration echoing from Reginald.

The day passed slowly. It sounded like the prince was being led on a jolly hunt. Herford, Cindy, and the boys had made several attempts at getting Charles alone, without luck. Matilda, who had taken to using the lantern Jack had left them the night before to explore the cave, knew that one of these attempts was coming when Herford began, reflexively, to whisper. Then, she would make her way back to where Reginald was nestled in the luggage--asleep with his head under one wing.

The first sign of trouble came when the net disappeared and Herford shouted "Aha!" Soon afterwards he began screaming "No! No! No! No! No! Aaaaah!" Matilda stared in dismay at the sleeping pheasant; her heart pounding. Several seconds later, the wizard's voice came again. He was panting and his speech was broken. "I...I think they might...they might be...following me."

Matilda felt a shock of fear and started yelling at the sleeping bird. "Don't come back to the cave! Herford! Don't come back here!" Reginald lifted his head and blinked drowsily up at her.

Not long after this shout had stopped reverberating off of the walls and ceiling of the cavern, a muddy, exhausted brown rabbit bounded into the cave. He still had the staff, but in his current state it was entirely useless. He hopped in a circle, repeating "What are we going to do? What are we going to do?" Until two burly men appeared, blocking their only exit. Herford fainted.