First Intermission 23
Art by Xin Ye
Turns since TBfGK: 3
The picnic lunch consisted of a loaf of dark rye bread, a wedge of hard beige cheese, a cylinder of something like salami, a few tart apples, some dried cranberries, roast chestnuts, and some dried figs. Parson had never seen a fig before. He held one up and rolled it between his thumb and forefinger.
Gobwin Knob had popped two Twolls on its first two turns since being rebuilt, and would be popping them until Stanley decided they had enough henchmen around. This one was looking at Parson, and managing the trick of simultaneously appearing to be the dumbest thing that ever had its feet touch the ground, and making Parson feel dumber than that. "S'a feeg."
"Feeg, Ludd. You never see a feeg?"
Parson shook his head. "Guess not." He sniffed it; it smelled fruity. He took a chance and put it in his mouth. He realized what he was tasting by about the fourth bite. "Feeg! Right." He grinned at the Twoll, whose expression did not change. "Like Feeg Newton, yes?"
"Hah. No." Parson looked around. "What I want is a picnic basket."
"Basket, yes. Peekneek?"
"Yeah something to carry this stuff, about two or three hexes." He took a double handful of figs from the barrel and pressed the lid back down with his elbow. The figs went on the massive butcher-block island where he had put his other gatherings. He gestured to the Twoll with his empty hands. "Like a light basket, with a handle."
The Twoll nodded. "I make you one."
He lumbered a few steps past the island, opened a cupboard door and pulled out a large round basket full of potatoes. These, he dumped on the stone floor, then proceeded to unravel the basket with his fingers. As Parson watched, the Twoll re-wove the top of the open basket inward, and under his busy, fat fingers, a sturdy handle somehow formed over the top. He handed this to Parson without ceremony.
"Nice," said Parson, turning the object over in his hands. "Do you do chairs?"
The Twoll considered it. "Could, Ludd."
Parson packed the food, a blanket, some small cloths for napkins, two sheathed hunting knives and a paring knife into the basket and picked it up. It felt very light and solid. "We'll talk," he said to the Twoll. "What's your name?"
Parson looked at him closely, but there was no glimmer of...well, anything at all in the Twoll's eyes. This was not Bogroll. "Zhopa. We'll talk."