The General looks up. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"Attack again now," says the Dark Lord, his voice rumbling like waves on the Sea¹. "Take more Molpies and more Sparrow-raptors. Capture LaPetite and bring her to me."
The General grins. "Yes, Your Majesty." He pauses. "How many?"
"Two hundred and fifty Molpies," says the Dark Lord. "and forty Sparrow-raptors. Her dozen Molpies will have no chance."
"Yes, Your Majesty. I will have my revenge for this bruise." He touches his forehead gently.
"Remember," says the Dark Lord. "do not harm LaPetite.
Doing so would bring the wrath of the Valar down on us for certain."
"Yes, Your Majesty." The General puts his hand on his sword.
The Dark Lord stares at the General for a few moments, keeping him waiting.
Then he waves his hand. "Now go."
* * *
"I think we should take LaPetite back to her village."
The sun had gone down half an hour before. Makarga and Turazal had taken over guarding Gurrin late in the afternoon. Makarga was the one speaking.
"She doesn't want to go," Turazal replied.
"It doesn't matter," Makarga said. "This is no place for her to be. The Dark Lord could attack again at any time. For her own safety, we'll have to take her back whether she wants to go or not."
There was a splash. All three Molpies raised their heads. More splashes.
"LaPetite! In the name of the Dark Lord of Moraer, I order you to come out!"
Gurrin recognized the voice. It was the General.
"To the Trebuchets!" called a Molpy from another part of the castle.
"If you do not surrender, we will attack!" said the General. "I have a much greater force than last time!"
"Fire!" said the Molpy with the Trebuchets.
"Molpies, attack!" the General called. "Sparrow-raptors, attack!"
Several Sparrow-raptors came flying over the wall. A few were hit by rocks from Trebuchets.
LaPetite came into the room. "That mean guy is here again," she said.
Turazal rushed over to her. "Milady, get back in the other room!" he said. "It's safer there."
A Sparrow-raptor swooped down on the girl. Turazal leaped up and bit down hard on its wing. It fell with a screech.
Gurrin thought about escaping in the heat of the battle. Makarga was still watching him carefully.
Two more of LaPetite's Molpies came from the other room behind her. They stood on either side of her.
Then Molpies started coming in the door. Dozens of them, pouring in, a steady stream. LaPetite's three Molpies stood around her, staring defiantly at the Dark Lord's Molpies invading their castle.
Makarga's focus turned to the door. Gurrin took the opportunity and bit him on the ear.
Makarga yelped and swung his tail, hitting Gurrin on the side.
Gurrin ran as best as he could on three legs toward the gate. As he reached it, one of the invading Molpies hit him on the head. Spots flashed before his eyes. Of course. They wouldn't realize he was one of them.
"Hey!" he shouted. "I'm on your side!"
Suddenly there was a sharp pain in his tail. He turned and saw Makarga biting it hard.
Gurrin twisted around and bit him on the other ear. Makarga grunted but did not let go of Gurrin's tail.
One of the Molpies coming in the gate jumped on them and hit them both. Apparently he wasn't sure which one was on which side.
"I'm n th Dark Lord'th thide!" said Gurrin as best as he could while biting Makarga's ear.
A pile of sand landed on the three Molpies. Gurrin and Makarga finally released each other in surprise.
Gurrin looked up and saw that the wall above the gate had been knocked down and the General was standing there.
"LaPetite!" the General shouted. "Give up now!"
Gurrin looked toward where LaPetite was. He couldn't see her with all the Molpies filling the castle now.
He ran out the gate, ducking past the General's legs.
"Treacherous dark Molpy!" Makarga called after him.
The General would probably want him to turn and help capture LaPetite. But Gurrin was injured, and anyway, the girl didn't seem like much of a threat.
So instead, Gurrin ran to the Sea¹ and plunged in. Perhaps the Dark Lord would like an early report from the battle.