Nadia pounded on the door to Warren’s wagon until he threw open the top half with a growl.
“What do you want?” he snarled.
“I want you to leave Duurun alone,” she said through clinched teeth.
“Duurun?” Warren asked through an alcoholic fog. Who the hell was Duurun?
“Yaltzee!” Nadia almost hollered. “You touch him again and I’ll…”
“You’ll what?” Warren shouted back.
He slammed open the bottom part of the Dutch door on his wagon and bounded down the steps to stand towering over her.
“Let me remind you the shifter is my property, woman.” He leaned down over her and placed his face almost against hers. “He will do as I say and you will too if you know what is good for you.”
There was a rumble behind Nadia and she saw Warren’s eyes drawn to something high up over her head.
“What do you want?” Warren demanded.
“Just heard a commotion and came to make sure everything was all right,” Ruloth, the large red dragon said. Clara was standing at his side and there were several of the goblin crew behind him.
“Well, everything is just fine,” Warren said sarcastically. “Nadia was just leaving. Weren’t you, Nadia?”
She wanted to say more. She wanted to strangle Warren for what he had done to Duurun, but they all depended on the werewolf’s connection to book their circus throughout The Realms.
“Yeah, I was just leaving. Thanks, Ruloth,” she said, as she turned to go back to Duurun.
Clara and Ruloth fell in beside her.
“What did he do this time?” Clara asked.
“Geeser says he was beating on Duurun, the Turlow, and demanding he shift. I swear he almost killed him. The poor little guy was a mixed up mess when I got back from my bath.” Nadia sighed. “I better get back to him. Geeser was going to get Angel to look at him.”
Nadia hurried back to Duurun as the others that came to her aid, including Geeser, fell behind in a tight huddle to discuss their manager’s actions.
Angel was just slipping out of the cage when Nadia trotted up. She helped the old woman to the ground. Angel was little and frail, but a very talented healer.
She patted Nadia’s hand in thanks. “I’ve given him something to sleep. He needs to rest. I have never seen a shifter like this before. He is having a hard time retaining a single form. Don’t ask him to shift tomorrow. Keep him quiet. I will take another look at him when we stop mid-day.”
“Thank you, Angel,” Nadia said.
When Angel headed back to her own wagon, Nadia climbed in the cage with Duurun. She crawled over to where he lay sleeping on his blankets. She sat for a moment watching him. His skin rippled as though there were worms just below the surface. His hands twitched and for a split second they would morph into paws, hooves or taloned feet.
She sat down with her back against the bars and gently pulled Duurun’s head into her lap. She stroked his brow until the skin beneath her fingers stopped moving and he began to purr.
Nadia awoke early the next morning to find herself alone in the cage. She forgot to lock the door and Duurun was gone. She scooted out and stood frantically scanning the still quiet camp for the shifter.
He was nowhere in sight. She ran to the nearby road they pulled off of last night and looked up and down it for any sigh of the Turlow. She was just about ready to go back to camp and see if Ruloth would fly her out to hunt Duurun down when Geeser emerged from the forest across the road with a bucket of water in each hand. He had been down to the stream.
“It’s okay,” he said to Nadia on seeing her worried expression. “He’s down by the stream. He wanted to clean up. I helped him.” The little goblin shook his head. “He’s really weak. Clara’s with him now. She came down for a bath before anyone else was up.”
“Thank you,” Nadia said.
Geeser put his buckets down and rubbed his arms.
“Are you all right?” Nadia asked.
“Yeah, just a little sore.” He smiled up at her.
He never complained. Even with Warren as his boss he still had it better than where he was before. There were goblin’s in vast numbers in The Realms. It was hard for a fellow to find a place if he didn’t have connections and Geeser had never had connection.
“Warren’s been so obsessed with Duurun that he’s pretty much left me alone,” Geeser confessed a bit guiltily.
“I’m sorry we can’t do anything to make your life easier,” Nadia said. She felt bad that the little goblin was always at the werewolf’s mercy should he need a whipping boy.
“You know,” Geeser said, lowering his voice, “you folks don’t need the wolf as much as you think you do.”
“You’re wrong,” Nadia said with a shake of her head. They all depended on Warren for their livelihood.
“He’s not as smart as you think,” Geeser said. “It’s not him that knows the places to stop and the people to see for the performances. It’s the book he has.”
“The book?” Nadia asked.
“I found it in his wagon when I was cleaning up. It’s red with gold print on it. Really pretty,” he said with admiration and a bit of yearning. Goblins loved rich looking things. “It belonged to the dwarf that used to manage the circus before him. It was the dwarf’s journal. He recorded all the stops and the folks he knew. That’s how Warren knows everything.” Geeser rubbed his hand over his chest.
“When you pulled him off of me when I first came here, he was beating me cause he caught me reading it.” Geeser’s eyes twinkled and his ears perked up. “I know his secret.”
Nadia knelt down and put her arms around the little goblin. He stiffened at first, just like Duurun, he was unaccustomed to being touched in a gentle way.
“Thank you, Geeser.”
He gave her a quick hug and then wiggled free.
“I best be getting back. His tea has to be waiting when he wakes or he is cranky all day.” He picked up his buckets and headed off toward camp.
Nadia watched the goblin scamper away. Her head was spinning with the information Geeser confided in her. There was hope for the circus. They just needed a plan.
How I imagine Geeser looks