As Tepic walked away from the city, he saw a lot of old towers with what looked like canons pointing out. Out of curiosity he went and had a look at one, but it was in a bit of a state, and nothing like as good as the ones on the Palisade Wall!
[img_assist|nid=7654|title=Not as good as the Palasade ones|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=640|height=480]
The evening wore on, and he discovered the locals had been right, it was a much better time to be travelling. After several hours walking, the light dropped, and he joined a camp of donkey drovers, the addition of some of his bread and cheese to the communal pot ensuring him a warm welcome. Curled up in the balmy night air he soon fell asleep.
It was early in the morning that the drovers woke, and they all set off on the trail once again, the boy quickly outdistancing the slower cargo train. He was strolling ahead when in the distance he could hear an angry buzzing, with an occasional high pitched whine. Following the sound he came to a dip in the ground, with a blue painted box sitting in the middle. The loudest sound was from that, and he realised it must be a beehive, though very different than the ones behind Mr Holmes place. All the bees seemed to be packed into the entrance, facing out, and he could now see they were under attack – hornets!
Crouching, he scooped up a handful of small stones, and taking careful aim, hurled one at a flying hornet! To his dismay, as he turned, he lost balance, and missed by a considerable distance. Everything was off since he had lost his tail, and even though his trip had been interesting, he could not be truly happy until he had found some way to re-attach it. Taking a firmer footing, he tried again, and this time brought down one of the pests. It took longer than it should have, missing more than he hit, and he had to scoop up more stones before with a final throw and a whoop of triumph, the last one dropped to the ground. He was just about to start a victory dance when a blow from behind lifted him from his feet and he flew head over tai… heels, crashing stunned to the ground!
“You nasty creature!” came the cry, “Throwing stones at my poor beehives!”, and Tepic had the impression of a huge lady towering over him as consciousness slipped away..
He woke in the shady yard of a small dwelling, resting on soft rugs, a cool damp towel on his forehead. There was a wonderful smell in the air, and the soft drone of bees in the distance, the happy drone of contentment. As he stirred, a lady in long flowing robes came to stand by his bedside.
“Ah my poor lamb, you awake! Can you forgive a poor foolish old lady? I saw you throwing the stones, and, well I took you for one of those mischievous satyrs… it wasn’t until after I saw the hornets! What a wonderful aim you have, and so brave, the hornets have a very nasty sting you know!”
Since she also placed a plate full of honey cakes by his elbow, he was ready to forgive her anything, especially as now he could see she was quite normal size, and not a giantess out to eat him after all.
It was not long before they were chatting like old friends, and Tepic was relating the tale of his adventures. The lady turned out to be the beekeeper he had been sent to get honey from, and knowing Epicurus as a customer for a long time, she took the coins he had been given to pay for it, and made arrangements for delivery, as it was quite clear he would not be able to carry the quantity ordered. Having heard about his tail and prospective visit to the hospital, she packed up several jars of assorted bee products as a donation. She also gave him a small jar of Royal Jelly and an even smaller one containing bee sting venom, telling him to keep those for his own treatment. The honey cakes were delicious, washed down by a cool almond drink, and it was with some reluctance that after an afternoon snooze the boy continued on his way.