Sunlight filtered in through the thick green canopy above Cadmus’s head. He gazed through the branches over his shoulder, still attempting to collect the slimy green mushrooms Netra had sent him to find. Today curiosity stirred along with the rustling of leaves in the summer breeze.
“Dratted slime!” Cadmus exclaimed. A thickly oozing mushroom had squirted him in the eye when he grabbed it carelessly. Cadmus dropped his findings and shook his hands in disgust, trying vainly to wipe the slime on his rough clothes. Gnomes hate mushroom slime even more than humans, or so he had heard.
The branches above his head tossed and rustled. Cadmus took one look at the mound of mushrooms and rubbed his hand where a scar had singed his knuckles years ago. Still four years to go before he was free-but now-he wanted just a taste of that freedom so suddenly that his little white beard quivered and his tiny bare feet shuffled restlessly in the leaves. But what was the use? He told himself. He couldn’t even get very far with her tracking him anyway. Netra would know-would punish him-but it would be worth it!
With a leap, Cadmus abandoned his mushrooms and his reason and ran. He didn’t know where the forest ended. He might even run straight into the strange humans he had heard of. He didn’t even know that he might not turn to dust the moment he stepped out into the sun. He no longer cared.
“If you are watching me, witch,” he cried, “Then watch how Cadmus, slave of the Old One, Cadmus the brave, had his moment in the world outside!”
Moments later, huffing and puffing, Cadmus darted through thorny brambles that tore at his arms and legs. Then he disappeared from the brooding embrace of the ancient Rosslea Wood.
Tales of Enndover 1