Welcome back for the end of Toad Attack! If you missed the first part, you can either read it by clicking under recent posts to the left or just know that the toads are attacking the fairies in hopes of capturing ten of them for Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven.
Now on to the story!
Toad Attack Part Two
Leaf barriers, hastily woven together, surrounded the fairy trees. The bees brought their honey and were fast making bombs to slow the toad attack down.
“It won’t be enough,” Elder Leah worried.
Moira caught the elder’s hands to keep her from wringing them together.
“The toads can move with honey all over them. We get hit once and we’re done. Even a shield gets weighed down after a single hit.” The elder did a double take at their hands. Using honey, Moira had helped the floating bees stick themselves to the back of her hands to keep them safe while the fairy dust wore off. “Why?” Elder Leah asked.
“Dust,” Moira shrugged. “Wait, dust.”
“What about it? The toads are too big to float.”
“But the boysenberry bombs aren’t.”
The toads pulled the bombs on carts behind them. They’d positioned the carts ten paces from the trees and were constructing catapults to launch the boysenberry globs. It was the only thing giving the fairies time.
The elder shook her head. “We can’t get to them. Flying over the toads would only make us better targets.”
Moira slumped. Twenty-three fairies would never overwhelm the toads.
“What about below ground?”
They both stared at the bee attached to Moira’s hand. “Below ground?”
“It’s not a great friendship, but we honey bees get along okay with yellow jackets and they build their nests below ground, particularly around you fairies because your dust makes great packing for their nests. There’s a nest in the field there.”
The elder shook her head again and Moira’s stomach clenched in disappointment. She was sure the elder’s reasons were good.
“We can’t fit in a yellow jacket’s nest. We’re too big.”
The bee buzzed a negative. “You’re too big. She’s not.”
“I’m not?” Moira said.
“I can’t ask one fairy to take that big of a risk.” The elder countered.
Moira’s stomach clenched harder. “I can do this,” she said. Why did the elder doubt her?
“I can’t ask you…”
“You didn’t. I volunteer.” Moira backed away before Elder Leah could respond. She didn’t want to hear reasons why she wasn’t capable. “Where’s this nest?”
The bee pointed and Moira slipped between the leaf shields. The spot the bee indicated was a small, slanted hole in the ground.
“It’ll be tight,” the bee released himself from the honey holding him in place and disappeared into the hole.
Moira chuckled. “It’s good to be small, it’s good to be small.”
Head first she crawled into the ground. With her body blocking the light, her surroundings turned pitch black but her ears picked
up on the whisper of words between her bee friend and someone else. As she continued forward, those words became clear.
“You want what?”
“Ju-just a quick passing through,” the bee stammered. “Just to where the toads stopped the cart.”
“That’s through the nest. Why should we trust you?”
“We’ve helped you in the past,” Moira spoke up. The ground pressed on all sides and her breath came in short gasps. She wasn’t sure how long she could stand this. “And the squirrel adds you to his sandwiches too.”
The last part she added as an afterthought but she knew it was true. Any bug with wings went into Squirrel Van Hoven’s sandwich but especially yellow bugs. She wasn’t sure why.
“This is an attack from Van Hoven?”
Moira nodded, hoping the yellow jacket could see her and she didn’t have to speak.
“That’s all we need to know,” the yellow jacket’s voice lowered to that angry buzz they always got right before they attacked.
Moira stiffened and jerked within the hole’s confines when the yellow jacket touched her outstretched hand but he didn’t sting her.
“Follow me,” he said.
Without light, Moira could only tell they entered the center of the nest by the change in texture around her. It went from hard packed dirt to something softer, like paper.
She tried but the space was so small she could barely pull herself forward.
“This isn’t working,” the yellow jacket stopped in front of her. “Don’t move a muscle.”
Moira stilled. Movement was all around her and she didn’t want to anger the yellow jackets. A sting to a fairy was poison enough to kill. Stings from dozens of yellow jackets—Moira held in a shudder. Perhaps Elder Leah had a good reason to warn her away from this.
“Hold very still,” the yellow jacket said again. Something touched her arms, her legs, her torso and her wings. Then she was moving forward, being passed from one yellow jacket to the next through the center of their nest.
Moira closed her eyes and held her breath.
“Cool,” the honeybee whispered from somewhere ahead.
“Now you can move on your own. Just follow this tunnel till you reach the surface.”
“Thank you,” Moira whispered. She received dozens of buzzes in return.
Moving forward, she found the tunnel tighter than the other side. It felt like she couldn’t draw breath but there was sunlight up ahead. She was so close.
“Pull on my arm,” she told the honeybee.
His small legs grasped her hand and he pulled. She barely moved.
He heaved backwards and she slid closer to the light. A third pull brought her hand within touching distance of the opening. Threading her fingers into the grass above, Moira hauled herself free.
A deep breath filler her with relief.
The yellow jackets had steered her right. The hole brought her up underneath one of the carts.
“I can’t get to all the carts,” she realized.
“Don’t have to,” the bee whispered back. “Just float these ones and my cousin’ll take care of the rest.”
Moira was about to ask him what he meant when a brown toad turned their way. His catapult looked finished.
Scrambling from beneath the cart, Moira spread her wings and flew in circles over the boysenberry bombs. She’d never tried to produce the dust before but simply flapping her wings seemed to work.
The toad laughed deep in his throat. “They’re too big for you to carry,” he said as he approached the cart.
Moira kept moving but there wasn’t enough dust yet to float the bombs.
“Distract him,” she begged the bee. If the toad caught her, she’d never succeed.
The bee zipped away to fly in the toad’s face. He flew by once, twice, and then the toad swatted him from the air.
“No!” Moira resisted the urge to race to his aid. The boysenberry bombs were starting to lift. Rushing around them two more times, they floated into the air.
But the toad was close. He reached for a floating blob of jam just as a yellow blur zipped forward and shoved it into his face. It exploded all over the toad’s eyes and mouth.
“Ha!” the yellow jacket taunted. “Try to catch me now!” and he zipped away back into his hole.
The other bombs were well above Moira’s head by now. Several honeybees lumbered toward them, much slower than the yellow jacket but undaunted as they surrounded the floating bombs and directed them in the air. Hovering the bombs over the remaining carts, the bees shoved them downward to explode, sticking the cart and the bombs together.
Moira couldn’t help a laugh before she turned to find her friend who’d been swatted into the grass.
She found him a moment later, dazed and humming about the ‘Toad Attack” as he buzzed one wing and not the other.
“Is it broken?” She rushed to help him.
“Nope,” he buzzed, “just ruffled from being hit.” Closer inspection reassured her but she still stuck him to her hand again to take him to the healer. The bee didn’t seem right in the head.
“You did it,” the bee pointed around in a dizzy fashion.
Moira nodded. Without the bombs, the toads were leaving. They couldn’t break through the leaf shields or bring the fairies to the ground where they could be captured.
“Hero of the fairies!” the bee sang at the top of his lungs.
Moira chuckled. It was a good thing the bee had a small voice or his words would have been heard by the Elder Leah who was winging toward them. Even still, the words boosted her like dust and the wind. It felt good to accomplish something.
Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,