As Theodore was climbing over walls and sidling along back alleys, he thought of several other organizational policies that would help boost the efficiency of the Fairy Circle jail. He made a mental note to draft a few proposals and send them by messenger bird after this was all over.
He kept an eye on the sky. In the distance, he could see furies soaring in wide arcs along patrol routes. Even with his path to the docks in mind, he needed to be careful.
His father always stressed the value of going undetected. Theodore recalled his lectures with grudging necessity. Stay low or keep high to stay out of line of sight. A good distraction can be better than silence. Move heel to toe and be double sure of your surroundings before proceeding. For such a celebrated warrior, the man believed it was better to be sneaky than to get into a fight. Of course, that never stopped him from tormenting Theodore with endless sword drills.
“Did you hear a human got into the Circle??”
Theodore stopped. A couple of gray furred fauns were gossiping at the end of the shadowed alley. They were dressed in silk mantles, both males.
“Some untitled lowborn probably let them in,” the fluffier one said. “See, this is why the Court needs to spend the Fates to add more folds to the Circle! What if it gives birth to a litter here? It could start a whole infestation!”
“I think we’re okay,” The short haired one said. “The Spriggan caught it pretty quick. The Lady wouldn’t let the humans take over.”
The other scoffed. “She’s let them push us around for centuries. Have you seen all the guests she’s let in? I don’t like it. One insult and they’ll turn on us. It’s time the Circle had a real queen. One who won’t take crap from humans. One who’s not afraid to go back to the old ways!”
“You shouldn’t talk like that. If word got back to our Lady…” The short hair shot glances in all directions. His eyes widened as they focused on Theodore. “Wait. Who’s that?”
Theodore bolted, doubling back down the way he’d come. He came to a cobblestone bridge, and dropped down into a stony water channel. Hiding underneath the bridge, he waited until he heard hooves clopping overhead and stayed still until he was certain they were gone.
Lance would’ve failed him for that mistake. Made him start all over. Thankfully, life was more forgiving than his father. He peered down the waterway and realized it would take him to the docks if he followed it. Provided he didn’t make too much noise wading through the ankle-deep flow.
Pushing upstream, he wondered why he had never seen Oboe wearing clothes like other fauns. Was it because she was nameless? It was still strange to think about her being an outcast. She never talked about it. He hoped she was okay.
Theodore came out the far end of a tunnel with miserable soaked socks. A set of piers stretched along the shore. He climbed back up to street level and crept through someone’s vegetable garden to get closer. A family of gnomes was disembarking a small skiff. Theodore moved in as soon as they left and found the dock was deserted.
On the back of a citation, Theodore wrote a formal apology for commandeering the skiff and advised the gnomes could seek reimbursement by addressing the Ranger Deputy office at their earliest convenience. He left the note under a firm stone and climbed into the boat to untie the mooring.
“Hey!!” Something small and fast zipped out of the skiff and buzzed circles around Theodore’s head. “What’re you doing to my boat?! Get out of my boat! I’ll kill you!!”