Children of the Last God
(Book IV of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2001 BY

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Smith closed the door to his little house behind him, walked over to his chair by the fire, and plopped himself down with a large sigh.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" Little Tinker squeaked, trotting over to hug Smith's legs. Smith smiled, lifting his son from the floor and putting him in his lap to give him a proper hug.

Bootie came out from the kitchen carrying the bowls and spoons for dinner. "Ah, there you are, dear. I was beginning to wonder. Long day?"

"Yes, very," Smith replied, stroking his son's head. "Oh, the new mice learn fast enough, but there's so much they have to learn! If the library was finished it might be easier, but it's not. It won't be done for another eight years, still - assuming we can still keep up with our schedule."

"They'll learn, dear, and the library will be finished on time, don't worry. How are the new mice adjusting?" Bootie asked as she set the table.

"Slowly," Smith replied. "We've finished the last of the new houses for them, and they like them very much. We've paired them off in each house as best we could, male with male, female with female, trying to choose someone they were friends with and would be able to room together with while they got used to us and slowly built relationships within our village. All of them seem to be very happy inside their new homes - unfortunately, they still aren't used to coming outside and seeing the sky. Sometimes getting them to come out for their daily schooling is a bit of an effort. They're not really used to mus-style clothing, yet, either. Well, truthfully, they're not used to any clothing except those... Silk things, and that just won't do. Winter's coming - they'll freeze to death! And they still haven't gotten used to the idea that they can be seen all the time, so they still use their tails in public occasionally."

Bootie nodded. "Well, they'll get better as time passes, dear. How is Jendara doing?"

"Better. I think she's gotten over Lord Kahgah, Bootie. She's settled into the little house we made for her and Cleonara fairly well, and I think she's been giving a few of the younger males in our village the eye. I was surprised, though - I thought she'd mope for weeks over that."

Bootie shook her head. "She's young, dear, and has the passions of the young." Bootie then smiled. "Well, we'll chat more, later. For now, why don't you play with Tinker while I bring out dinner?"

Smith smiled down at Little Tinker. "And what would you like to play today?"

"I wanna adventure!" Tinker squeaked happily.

"Adventures. Pfft," Smith snorted. "Nasty, scary, uncomfortable things, adventures. Make you late for dinner - maybe make you never come home at all. Now, having been on two of them, I still can't imagine what the musties see in them."

"Adventure!" Tinker insisted.

Smith smiled. "Well, alright. What kind of adventure shall we have today?"

"Djuducu-ride! Djuducu-ride!" Tinker squeaked excitedly.

Smith turned Little Tinker around and sat him atop his knee, then bounced him on his knee. "Okay, where do we go today?"

"Through the fields! Through the fields!"

"Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp!" Smith called, bouncing Little Tinker steadily. "Aaaah! All the food is stomped! What will we poor mice eat?"

"Crickets and caterpillars!" Little Tinker giggled. "Through the woods!"

"Whoop-ah!" Smith called, dipping his knee low for a moment. "Duck the branches! Whoop-ah! Duck the branches! Oh, no! All the rabbits are scared off! What will the poor musties eat?"

"Big old bears!" Little Tinker giggled. "To the castle!"

"Ba-da-bump! Down the road! Ba-da-bump! Down the road! To the castle goes Tinker the Terror! But look, there's the moat!"

"Jump the moat! Jump the moat!"

"Ba-da-bump! Ba-da-bump! Ba-da-bump! Ba-da-bump! Whoop!" Smith cried, lifting Little Tinker into the air at the last. "Waaaaaaah! Ker-splosh!" he called, plopping Little Tinker into his lap, on his back. "Into the moat with you, with dozens and dozens of fishies to nibble and nip the little toes!" Smith then playfully nibbled on Little Tinker's foot, to his squeaks of laughter.

"Alright, you two - dinner is ready," Bootie called, smiling.

"Yay!" Little Tinker squeaked. Once all were sitting at the table, Little Tinker grinned as he picked up his spoon to start into his root stew. "Someday, I'm gonna ride a real bird, just like Lord Xaa! And I won't fall off into the moat, neither!"

Smith grinned. "I'm sure you will, son. I'm sure you will," Smith replied, and he and Bootie shared a silent smile.


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