Hiss coiled up Heather's arm, slid past her shoulder and brushed past her ear. Heather could feel the tickle of the fairy's forked tongue against her soft cartilage. Hiss glided past her neck and finally rested amidst the nymph's dark brown hair.
"Well done Hiss," Heather whispered.
In the dirty streets adjacent to Balinsteil's prison, Heather huddled in company of stray dogs and the grimy faces of homeless orphans. The cobbled streets and faded grey bricks offered little comfort to Heather, for she was not accustomed to so much stone, yet Mouse and Hiss seemed perfectly at home. They were city dwellers, Heather was not.
Moonlight streamed down on the three collaborators as they plotted Engle's prison break. Foolish man, Heather thought. Shouldn't he have known he was only getting himself into trouble? How did throwing himself into prison get him any closer to finding his bounty and returning to his home? Heather shook her head. Of course, it had always been her job to fix other people's problems.
"Hiss, how many others were there?"
"Three? Who was the third?"
"A new captive. Not tortured though. No, he was quite fine."
Heather gave Mouse a sideways glance. Torture? Mouse only began to clean his nose fervently.
"Hiss, who was tortured? What do you mean?"
Hiss crawled out of Heather's hair as a bluish grey fairy. "The two other men, the crow and the blonde, they were badly hurt."
"Was Engle hurt?"
"How long do we have until they try to hurt Engle?"
"Tell me about the prison. How heavily guarded was it? What was the cell like?"
"Two guards at the prison doors. All four men are chained my some enchanted iron. There's a barred window just above the ground. Hmm, what else? Oh yes, Engle told me they took away all of his supplies and weapons."
Heather frowned. This could make things more complicated. "Does he need them?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Mouse, are you up to this?"
The Mouse stopped his cleaning and looked up. He rarely ever spoke, but when he did he was eloquent and often ruthless with his words.
"I've done greater tasks than this, my fair nymph, but all for a good wage of gold. Great blocks of golden cheese! Never doubt my abilities, wood nymph, only my support."
Heather nodded. "Will I have your support then?"
In answer, the mouse scampered up Heather's arm and plucked a huckleberry from her hair. He nibbled on the ripe berry as if to say "good enough" and stayed on her shoulder as if to say "I'm sticking to the plan."