From my favorite of all the novels I’ve written. Sagistic– or if you prefer, the novel formerly known as The Professor Finds a Way.
‘Talfryn woke up just after lunch. He was on a soft pile of folded cloaks and blankets. Finklebrecht was sitting beside him. Talfryn shook his head.
“You,” he sent.
“Yes, Gnome. It’s me.”
“The tables have turned,” he sent.
“How are you feeling, Talfryn?”
“Never mind about that. How are my gnomes?”
“You’re the last to wake up. Don’t worry. All of you should be fine.”
“You’re talking to me with your eyes open, Finch.”
“I’ve been practicing.”
“What happened to us, Human? What was wrong with that moat?”
“It was poisoned. Ragweed.”
“Ragweed? What’s that?”
“A spindly herb that grows in Myanpia. Surely you’ve heard the kidnappers used it to keep Seskanu and Vanhi prisoner. It’s a known poison to your kind.”
Talfryn settled back into his bed. For a long moment he stared at his visitor, with a crinkle in between his eyebrows. He frowned.
“What?” asked Finklebrecht. “Why are you looking at me like that? Have I done something wrong?”
He rubbed his hand over his face, to see if there was something on it.
“You saved all our lives, Finch. You hauled all five of us out of the water and carried us… Thinking of it makes me feel strange.”
Finklebrecht tilted his head, and then he grinned.
“It is strange, isn’t it?” he asked. “My muscles, I mean. Come on and admit it. My manly strength is awe-inspiring.”
There was a long pause, in which the gnome’s quizzical eyes focused on him. Finklebrecht raised one long skinny arm, bent at the elbow. He pushed up his sleeve and flexed his arm muscle a few times in self-admiration. He heard something from Talfryn that distracted him, and he turned to see it for himself. The gnome had a hand over his mouth, and he was laughing.
“Just go away, Human,” he sent at last. “Send Vanhi to me so I can get some straight answers. There aren’t any nearby gnomes in my mind.”
“Yes, sir,” said Finklebrecht out loud in a cheerful tone. He got up and stretched and then he headed for the rest of the campers.