"I know you tried Wiz, but this is disgusting," said Hubba Hubba, jerking back with a drool-flinging shake of his beak and ruffled feathers. "What are you eating, giant stinking sow bugs or what?"
"That's shrimp, Hubba Hubba," said Razzmorten.
"It's out of the sea, you silly bird, not out from under some old rotting board in a barn lot," said Lukus with a laugh, as everyone else broke out with titters.
"All right, all right," said Hubba Hubba, as Pebbles stepped back from hers with watery eyes and wiped her beak. "Dogs gobble up much worse, and they don't know any better than to offer you ones the same rot they eat. I'm sorry Wiz, you've just got me gagging, here."
"What did you find?" said Razzmorten quickly to spare Hubba Hubba's feelings.
"That old Elf has four unicorns in a large paddock near the wharf where his fishing boat is docked. He'd just come in with his catch and was at the fence giving them a scratch, when we lit and asked him if he was Kie. He answered to it, but we sure gave him a start. It might have been dangerous to do but it was quick. Anyway, he does have unicorns to sell and he'll be there if we don't fool around."
"Very good, you two," said Razzmorten, as he gave them each a scratch.
In short order they were on their way to Fen, on a sand swept lane meandering along the coast just inland from the furthest reaches of the high tide. Rose and Fuzz rode Mystique through the saw grass to follow along on the beach for a spell. Sandpipers trotted ahead. Crabs scuttled sideways into holes. Rose rested her head against Fuzz's shoulders and gave him a squeeze. Soon they were dismounting in front of a cottage that smelt vaguely of rotting fish, where Hubba Hubba and Pebbles circled overhead.
They found the Elf feeding his unicorns. "Hoy there, Kie!" called Razzmorten. We are travelers on our way to see King Neron, and we'd like very much to purchase two of your unicorns to speed us over the mountains, if you've any for sale."
"How is it that you and your green birds know my name and I know not yours?" said Kie, pushing back his floppy hat with a squint as he spit across the fence.
"A young fellow by the name of Galor told us about you, sir," said Fuzz.
"Good lad," said Kie, shifting his chew into his other cheek as he put his foot on the fence. "Well folks, I really hadn't planned on selling these unicorns. You know they're my pets, I'm afraid. I've had these here since they were colts."
"Oh she's darling," said Rose as she scratched a short-legged one who had just come to investigate. "We'll take good care of them, sir."
Ch. 29, Stone Heart
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps