The night quickly passed once again, and at daylight the tiny ship was prepped for departure. The gangplank and anchor were pulled up, and the boiler was lit. Once sufficient steam pressure had been obtained, the throttle was set to full speed, and again the tiny ship was off. Argente was happy to be with Pudgy, but the routine of the ship was a tad boring. All attention had to be on the boiler, because without steam, the ship did not move. They were also going through more fuel this time, as the current was stronger, the further north they went. As the hours passed, the countryside stretched out on both sides of the river, the farmlands were beautiful. Neat rows miles long on each side were planted, Corn, lettuce, beans, sorghum, sun flowers, wheat, and many other types of crops were being raised. Trees young and old dotted the riverbanks, and soon the sparse forests became fuller as the ship proceeded towards the Kentucky border.
“CLANG!” A loud noise was heard, and a vibration was sent throughout the ship. The fox immediately got to her paws and looked back at the stern of the ship. “Pudgy, what was that?” She asked, looking at a wooden box made of slats, with spaces inside. The hedgehog locked the steering wheel, and then scampered back to stand beside her. “That is steam motor. Fire box heat water in boiler, boiler make steam, steam goes to motor to turn propeller. That is not good sound,” he said while nodding. The hedgehog scampered back to the wheelhouse, and after unlocking the steering wheel, throttled a bit down, to be safe. The ship slowed but was still moving forward, “CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG!” The motor started making a terrific awful noise. Argente’s body grew rigid, and she looked again, watching the slats starting to break, as the motor started to rip the box apart. “Pudgy! You got to turn off the engine!” she called out, and the hedgehog dropped the throttle to what served as neutral. The ship began to flow down stream once more slowly.
The hedgehog locked the wheel, and then scampered back, to the wooden box. Cobalt had put the box there to keep the engine and hedgehog safe. It was loose when he placed his paw on it, so Pudgy removed the box. The slats were chewed up on the insides and was clearly damaged. The steam had weakened the glue and nails were rusting. With the fox’s help, the box was removed, and placed in the wood hoppers. The motor seemed to be intact, so the hedgehog scampered back to the wheelhouse, and throttled up to full. The motor began to chug once more, with the pistons moving up and down. Argente could see why the box was there, as one could catch a tail or paw inside and be hurt. The motor had a steam box on the top, which caused steam to leak out. It seemed like more steam was coming out for some reason though. She turned to look at the boiler, and the pressure indeed was dropping. She opened the fire box and started to toss in the loose slats from the guard box, and the pressure began to build once more.
The ship continued it journey, and the phone’s map function showed that they had crossed the Kentucky border. The Mississippi river would soon be gone, and they would be back on the Ohio river. That also meant the return to the locks and dams that would dot the river every couple of miles as they ascended elevations. The fox was starting to relax when the ship shook again. She turned back, watching the pistons violently shaking. The rods that lead to the cam shaft, which turned the propeller blade were all starting to bend. “Pudgy, the motor is doing something again!” She called out, while her hedgehog friend nodded and looked back. “Pudgy find place to pull over, we need to fix engine.” Pudgy immediately got on the VHF radio, “This is Captain Pudgy, is anyone on” In a short time, a man answered, “Hi Captain Pudgy, this is Mike from James Marine, how can I help?” Pudgy pushed the transmit button once more, “Pudgy steam motor making a lot of noise, and started to rip guards off. Boiler is not keeping pressure, so we need a place to dock to see what is going on?” The man did not immediately respond, and another older man got on, “You get here as soon as you can, we are on the Kentucky side of the river. There is a large commercial dock for the barges to load cargo nearby.” Pudgy nodded, “ok, thank you mister!”
In a couple of minutes, Pudgy could see what the man meant, as a huge commercial shipyard appeared in front of the ship. Barges and boats were moored, and there was an area where new boats were being lowered into the water and pulled from as well. Several dock workers were milling about and started to point at the tiny ship approaching. The commercial dock was too tall for his ship, so Pudgy navigated to the inside of the dock, which was for the personal vessels. An older man with a long white beard and oil stained beige straw hat was waving and pointing to where he should pull the ship to. Pudgy began to pull along the docks, with Argente watching a younger man dressed in bib overalls run up and pull the ship towards the mooring cleats. The mooring lines were already tied to fisheye hooks on the ship, so the two men reached for the ropes laying on the ship deck and tied them off to the cleats. Pudgy throttled, down, and then scampered out to the deck waving. The fox was wary but wiggled her tail as she looked at the two men. “My word Mike, y’all weren’t kidding when you said you had seen a steam ship pass by a couple of weeks ago. And you must be Captain Pudgy, “I’m Albert. What is going on?”
Pudgy scampered back, and then pointed at the steam motor, and started to explain what was going on. The two men knelt and looked down into the ship. “My god, this is an Advace-Rumley steam engine! Where did you get this?” Pudgy bounced happily, “Pudgy friend Cobalt went to antique store, they have all sorts of neat farm stuff.” The older man smiled, and then started to poke about the engine, with hands gnarled with experience and arthritis. The younger man, by about 10 years or so, smiled and looked at the boiler. “This is a good boiler, I’m glad to see all the safety valves and gauges. And a whistle too, does it work?” Pudgy nodded, “Yes it does, real loud too.” Albert laughed, “you can play with the whistle later Mike. Captain Pudgy …” the older man trailed off, half in disbelieve there was a talking hedgehog and silver fox in a steam ship, “The engine is not safe to use anymore. The steam box here, “he pointed with an oil stained finger, “has had a seal failure. Therefore, you are losing pressure, but of more concern are these tie rods to the cam shaft. They are bent, loose, and this one broke off. We might be able to fix it but getting parts for a hundred-year-old steam engine, are going to be extremely difficult to find.”
Pudgy felt sick, the worry started to fill his mind. The ship was intact, but the motor necessary to make it move was now not able to work. He did not have enough money to pay for repairs, or an upgrade to a newer type of motor. “Can Pudgy stay have docked here? Pudgy friend Cobalt can help.” The two men nodded, “yes, please stay here. This dock is not used often for the commercial ships.” Pudgy waved, and then scampered back to the wheelhouse, and pushed the steam whistle button. A tremendous burst of steam escaped with a loud shrill noise. The men laughed, and then dock workers all looked on and smiled. The boiler immediately lost pressure and began to build once more slowly. Argente nodded, “Thank you, mister. I will let the fire die out, so the boiler will cool.” The two men smiled and stood up. As they started to walk away, Pudgy pushed the phone button on his cell phone, and started to push icons until he called Cobalt. Cobalt answered, “Pudgy! How are you?” The hedgehog started to whimper, “Ship engine broke, but Pudgy and Argente ok.” The man listened to his hedgehog friend quickly blurt out everything the two dock workers said to him. A silence passed before his friend spoke once more. “I will come to get you. Now, where are you?”
The hedgehog explained he was at James Marine, in Kentucky. When his friend entered the address into the map software, it showed that he was ten hours away by vehicle. As the man told him not to worry, he would be there soon, the call ended. Pudgy scampered out and waved at the two dock workers, “Pudgy friend Cobalt driving here with trailer, will take ship home that way.” Albert walked back, “that is good, where is your friend coming from?” Pudgy bounced, “Pennsylvania, he should be here in 10 hours.” The man blinked, “You went from Pennsylvania all the way here, in this ship?” Pudgy beamed with pride, “New Orleans. Pudgy was on return trip home.” The man smiled, and nodded, “That is why, the engine was fine for a down stream trip. It is not mean for strenuous journeys. I need to get back to work, but please stay here till your friend comes.” The two critters nodded, and then decided to eat lunch. Since there was no need to ration supplies anymore, they made a big meal. Ship biscuits, hard tack, cookies, potted meat, and tea. Argente smiled with her belly full and looked over at the hedgehog sipping tea. “Pudgy, is it all right for me to come with you? I can leave here if you want.”
The hedgehog shook his head, “No, Pudgy want you to come to Pennsylvania. Cobalt is so nice; you will like him. You can stay at Pudgy house, for as long as you want. Pudgy know that eventually you will want your own place, and we can help you build one. The forest is big and has many places good to live. Pudgy can also introduce you to mister Bear and mister Dinosaur. They nice too and live nearby.” The fox smiled while she nodded, “Ok, Thank you Pudgy. What should we do now?” The hedgehog rubbed his chin with his paw, “Once the boiler is cool, we will need to start to get the ship ready to be transported.” The two looked back, and all the coal was gone. The wood they had cut was almost all gone, as well as a few parts of the crate guard lay beside on the deck hopper. The two sat quietly, and watched the birds fly in the sky above, and smiled at each other. Then nodding, the hedgehog began to work on his ship.
Hours passed, and soon the skies grew dark once more. The workers all left the docks, and headed home, which meant they were all alone once again. The ship’s cabin light was turned on and cast a warm glow on the deck. The sounds of the commercial barge traffic were steady passing back and forth in front of the pier. The VHF radio was full of talk of many things, including the broken ship. The other captains all were sad that Pudgy could not make it home the whole way. Pudgy told everyone about Cobalt, coming to get the ship. Argente listened but looked around. She kept seeing a faint shimmer on the shore, with an occasional blue light. She did not bring it up to her friend, but she was wary of the light. The two critters settled in and started to fall asleep, as a heavy fog started to form in the river area. Argente was a light sleeper and could hear footsteps approaching on the dock. Keeping her eyes mostly shut, she perked an ear up to listen more intently. Soon a figure could be seen in the mist, approaching. She moved her paw slowly and pushed Pudgy. The hedgehog looked up, ears perked, he too had heard the noise.
The figure approached the ship, and stopped at the wheelhouse, placing a gloved hand on top of the roof. “Pudgy, are you awake?” The voice was familiar, and as Pudgy looked up; he saw Lord Doomcock standing there. Pudgy sat up, and nodded, “Pudgy awake.” The lord walked over and looked down at the hedgehog and fox. “Are you well?” The fox nodded, “I’m sorry Lord Doomcock. Cthulhu….” The golden mask glistened from the heavy dew, and the black glass eyes looked down unblinking. Pudgy was wary, ears perked up, but staying away from him. That was noticed, and Diktor’s shoulders slumped a bit. “Pudgy …I’m sorry. I wanted to stop, but I could not …. I never meant …to hurt you.” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy understand, you were being controlled. Are you ok now?” Doomcock nodded, and looked around, “The crystals are all gone now, Harvey made sure of that. I can no longer teleport, nor track you. I sent my robots to locate you, that is how I found you. Pudgy, when you were in New Orleans, the robots said that the coast guard surrounded your ship. What did you tell them?” Pudgy blinked, and looked up at him, “Pudgy told them everything.” The lord did not say anything, realizing just exactly what that meant. After an uncomfortable silence, “Pudgy, I wish you hadn’t.”
The hedgehog looked up at Doomcock, “Pudgy told was in trouble, so had to tell truth.” The golden mask nodded, “Pudgy, then I need to do something, I hoped I never would have to. Let me see your legionnaire card.” Pudgy knew what this meant and pulled out the tiny card that he kept in his vest. The hedgehog held it up and watched as the card disintegrated. The card was his approval to enter Xanadoom and had been revoked. Lord Doomcock turned and waved, “Goodbye Pudgy.” The man disappeared into the fog, and the fox looked at her friend. Pudgy sniffed, but this was for the best. His Xanadoom adventures were over, turning his gaze to the fox, “Pudgy want to go home now.” The fox nodded and scooted closer to hug him. The footsteps could no longer be heard, so the lord was gone. Soon, they had fallen asleep once more, and slept the rest of the night till the first rays of sunshine approached over the eastern horizon.
Pudgy watched as a big red vehicle pulling a boat trailer was pulling down the road that ran parallel with the shoreline. Cobalt honked the vehicle’s horn and waved out the window. He had driven all through the night to get there and looked visibly tired. He put the vehicle into park, and then turned off the engine. Getting out of the card, he walked with a limp as his legs had gone numb from the long drive. Approaching the dock, the man dressed in blue jeans and a black shirt approached the ship. Pudgy scampered past Argente and ran out to the dock and started to hug Cobalt’s leg. As the man knelt, he scooped up the hedgehog and hugged him gently. The two did not speak for a long time, and Argente cautiously got out of the ship and walked up towards the man. She looked up at him and stared at the silver glasses that sat upon his nose. The man smiled, “You must be Argente. Hello, I am Cobalt. It is genuinely nice to meet you.” The fox’s tail swished back and forth behind her, with ears perked up. The man let go of Pudgy, who bounced back to the dock and scampered up beside her.
Cobalt walked beside the two critters, and headed to the ship, looking at the mangled steam engine. Nodding, he looked around. “Pudgy, this is a good place to break down at. There is a boat launch up ahead, but there is a pier blocking it. The engine is disabled, and there is no one else around. I called ahead, and today the dock workers do not work. So, it is just us …. “he trailed off, looking around. The shoreline was smooth, with grass and mud. He could back the trailer down, and then using the trailer’s ratchet winch, could pull the ship over manually. “Stay here Pudgy, I’m going to move the trailer into position.” He patted his friend’s head gently, and then stood up to walk quickly back over to his vehicle. As Pudgy watched, he hugged Argente, who smiled back as they sat on the dock watching. The man reached his red car and started it up. Pulling forward, he began to back the trailer down the bank to the water line. He was easing gingerly down into the water, and once the trailer was half submerged, he put the car into park and added the emergency brake.” Getting out of the vehicle, the man walked down to the trailer, and started to crank the winch to let out the wire wrapped line. “Argente, can you help us please?” The fox’s ears wiggled, and she padded over to the ship, and peeked over the edge.
The ship was docked on the starboard side of the dock, closest with the shoreline, and the trailer was now backed into the water ahead of it. “What do you need me to do?” She called out, as the man started to tie a weight to the end of the lead. “I’m going to toss the line over; can you attach it to the ship? Pudgy, help her too!” The hedgehog scampered over to the ship and got on board as well. The fox nodded and watched as the man throw the line over. The weighted ball landed with a thump on the dock, as he had overshot the ship with his throw. Argente scampered out, and pulled back the line to the ship, taking the weight off. As she passed the line to Pudgy, the hedgehog clipped the hook to the prow fisheye. The man started to crank a silver winch handle, and the two critters watched as the slack of the line diminished and soon grew taught. “Ok you two, undo the mooring lines. I will start cranking again.” The two nodded and started to undo the lines from the mooring cleats on the dock. Soon the ship was free, and the loud clanking noise of the winch could be heard. The ship gently floated towards the trailer, and soon was pulled up on marine grade felt bumper pads.
Pudgy and Argente rode inside the ship, as the vessel reached the shoreline. The ropes were left tied to the cleats and dropped into the water. Cobalt attached the locking clamps and looked up at the two peeking critters. Laughing, “on the way home, you two will ride in the car, not the ship! For now, stay inside and hold on, I need to pull the trailer up to the road, so I can secure it for travel.” The man walked up and got back into his red vehicle. Turning the engine on and putting the transmission into 4-wheel drive low, he took off the brakes and then started to pull forward. The ship started to raise, and rock back and forth on the trailer. The two critters held onto the deck supports and watched as the water line started to pull away. The wheels spun a few times, but the trailer was able to be pulled out, and moved up to a gravel parking area. With the vehicle and trailer now on firm surfaces, Cobalt put everything in park, and shut off the engine. As he got out, “Pudgy, look on the control panel for the bilge pump button. Push it three times, that will empty the tanks”
The hedgehog went inside the wheelhouse, and did as his friend asked, which caused a torrent of water to come out the back of the ship. It was during this activity, an older white Kentucky state police approached. Pulling down the road, the vehicle pulled up behind the trailer. Cobalt smiled and waved, and the officer in his gray uniform waved back. As the man got out of the car, “Hello, are you Cobalt?” Pudgy watched his friend nod as he spoke to the officer. “Yes, I am, hello officer. I am down here to save the day.” The officer smiled, and then walked up to look at the ship. “Why didn’t you use the boat launch over there?” The officer pointed, and then watched as a hedgehog started to peek at him. He was joined by a silver fox who spoke first, “Engine broke, could not move ship.” The officer stared in disbelieve as the animal spoke to him. Pudgy waved, “We went all way from Pennsylvania, to New Orleans, and then broke down here.” The officer blinked again and walked around to inspect the ship. The construction was good, and the ship indeed was intact. He stood on his tiptoes and looked over to see the mangled steam engine. “Oh my, yes that would do it.” As the officer went back, he saw deep gouges in the hull from what looked like claws. The propeller blade also was missing a blade.
Cobalt continued to lock the ship into the trailer, throwing yellow tie down straps across the ship to the other side. Using the ratchets, he pulled the webbed straps tight, and then looked at the officer who was smiling and watching silently. The officer pointed, “Put an extra strap there.” Cobalt nodded and did as the officer suggested. After another safety check, the officer got back into the car. The man looked up at the ship, “Ok you two, is everything secured inside?” The two critters nodded, which meant it was time to leave the ship. The man reached up and watched as Pudgy jumped into his hands. Hugging his friend once more, Pudgy watched as Cobalt carried him over to the red car and opened the back door. The hedgehog bounced onto the back seat and sat there looking expectantly at his friend. Cobalt turned and headed back to the ship, reaching up for Argente. The fox was wary and looked at the man who was smiling at her. She gingerly took a step forward, but soon his hands were around her, and he gently carried her to the car. When he reached the vehicle, he helped her inside, and then shut the door.
Pudgy and Argente watched as Cobalt opened the driver’s door, and then got inside. Buckling his seat belt, he started the vehicle. The lights on the dashboard and displays all turned on. Music started coming from the speakers, which he turned down. Setting the GPS for the return trip, the robotic voice said turn left. The vehicle started to pull forward, and they were driving through the shipyard. Ascending a small hill, the officer pulled up beside Cobalt’s vehicle, and put the window down. “Y’all drive safe now.” The man nodded, “Thank you officer, we are going home to Pennsylvania.” The officer waved and turned right. Cobalt pulled out slowly and turned left. Pudgy recognized AC/DC playing on the speakers and bounced happily. The ground felt funny, as it no longer shook, but that was natural until they became accustomed to land travel once more. Argente had never ridden in a car before, so she was exploring the back seat, and looking out the windows. Unlike the river which wound back and forth, the roads were direct, and they could travel in hours what would take days.
Once reaching the highway, many vehicles were slowing down to catch a look at the steam ship. Cobalt had a CB radio, and the truckers were all talking excitedly about the red vehicle pulling the steam ship. Pudgy climbed up the console and bounced into the front seat. The CB microphone was sitting in the seat, which Pudgy pushed the button. “This is Captain Pudgy, ship broke down, but friend Cobalt talking us home.” The truckers laughed, but soon several of the river captains were talking, and wishing a safe trip home. Pudgy had 2 miles to go before he would have been on the Ohio river. The CB radio was weaker than the VHF, so soon the captains disappeared. The hedgehog bounced off the front seat, and then squeezed under the seat to pop out into the back seat footwell. Argente laughed when Pudgy appeared again. As the hedgehog climbed up to the back seat, he saw a big sign that said US highway 24 / 69. Cobalt set the cruise control and settled in for a long drive back. “Somewhere along the way we are going to need to stop for dinner and a nap.” The man narrated, as the two critters rode in the back seat looking out the windows.
Hours passed, and the travel through the state of Kentucky was full of wonderful sights to be seen. When the big blue sign that said “WELCOME TO OHIO” appeared, Pudgy cheered. They continued their travel, till reaching Columbus. The car needed gasoline, and Cobalt a rest as he had been up for close to 18 hours. Exiting the interstate highway, they traveled till reaching a Sunoco station that had big wide lanes for vehicles. However, when the red vehicle with Pennsylvania license plates with a steamship on a trailer, drew much attention. The tired man was friendly, but he really needed some food and rest. They were in luck; the locals mentioned a cracker barrel up the road. After filling up the tank, he got back into the vehicle. And drove off once more. Within a short period of time, the familiar sight of the brown metal building appeared. The yellow cracker barrel sign appeared, and Cobalt pulled the vehicle into one of the bus parking spots. The two critters bounced in the back seat, especially Pudgy, “Oh boy!” As Cobalt got out of the vehicle, his knees popped loudly. Pudgy could hear them all the way in the back seat and frowned. The door shut, and then the passenger door opened. Pudgy scampered over and looked at the tired man. He smiled, and soon picked up Pudgy and placed him on his shoulder. Argente bounced out of the vehicle, and then stood at his black boot covered foot.
Shutting the door, and locking it with the key fob, the trio began to make their way across the driveway, and up to the sidewalk. Argente was wary as this was a new experience, but she was with Pudgy and Cobalt. She followed and looked at a row of rocking chairs were positioned out front. A hostess station with a woman in a white outfit was taking names. When they approach her, she started to wave, “Hello, welcome to Cracker Barrel, it’s about a 30-minute wait. Name?” The man gave his name, and then sat down in a rocking chair. He immediately fell asleep, with Pudgy bouncing down to his lap, then climbing down his leg. Pudgy and Argente watched as people passed, and they stayed close to the sleeping man. Time passed, and soon the table was ready. The hostess gently shook the sleeping man, “I think you need some coffee.” Cobalt nodded as he got out of the chair and followed inside. The fox and hedgehog followed and were in wonder at the big gift shop that was inside the restaurant. Heading to the actual restaurant was a quick trip, and they were seated at a wooden table with two chairs. Argente and Pudgy were busy looking around at a variety of antique signs, farm, equipment, and what looked a lot like parts to the steam engine hanging on the wall.
Cobalt indeed ordered coffee, as well as chicken and dumplings. Pudgy loved dumplings, and he got a small bowl of them. Argente did not know what she wanted, so she got what Pudgy ordered. The critters were well behaved and waved at the people in the restaurant. Soon the food arrived, and everyone began to eat. Pudgy bounced, “Mmm, this is so good!” Argente nodded, and quickly ate her bowl of the gravy covered dough things. Soon all had full bellies, and as Cobalt waited to get the check, he allowed them to explore the gift shop. The two critters explored and marveled in amazement at the wide variety of things packed into the store. Soon Cobalt was there, and waved at the two, “Ok, time to go.” They nodded and followed out behind him and back to the vehicle. After a quick potty break for the critters, they got back into the vehicle, and pulled out. Cobalt had already taken care of business inside the restaurant’s appropriate facility, so he was ready for a 4-hour trip to home. Reaching the interstate was a short trip, and soon they were back to going at highway speeds. Pudgy and Argente yawned and fell asleep in the back seat.
Cobalt turned the music down and drove quietly. He was glad Pudgy had taken the cell phone, so when this happened, he could come and get him. These adventures were exciting, but extremely dangerous for his hedgehog friend. When they would get back, he was going to have a talk with him, Cobalt was not mad, not in the slightest, he was worried something would happen and Pudgy would get hurt. The time quickly passed as the man thought about things at work, as well as hedgehogs. Soon the car passed the “PENNSYLVANIA WELCOMES YOU” sign, with the familiar bumpy roads greeting him. It was a joke in the state, that you know when you cross the Pennsylvania border. Potholes, rumble strips, orange barrels, all were the familiar signs of the state. Soon however the sign that pointed the way home appeared, and Cobalt turned the car down that road. It was growing late, and the light was fading quickly. As the man yawned, he nodded to himself, “going straight to Pudgy’s house.” And indeed, the forest appeared once more, with cut off in the trees that lead into the forest. As Cobalt turned the wheel, he eased the vehicle into the woods. The ship rocked back and forth, causing the vehicle to shake.
This woke up the critters, who looked around as Cobalt was cursing softly. The ship settled down, and Pudgy recognized the dimly lit forest. “Pudgy home!” Argente wiggled her tail, and felt the car slow to a stop. The man set the brakes, and then turned the car off. “We’re home Pudgy.” The man got out of the car, knees popping once again. He opened the back door and watched as the hedgehog bounced out and scampered over to the round door for his home. Argente padded out, looking at the underground home. The grass had grown quick and covered the front. Soon one by one, little round windows lit up, and a hedgehog sized round door was open. She scampered over, and wiggled through the doorway, to see the underground home. It was beautiful, with golden oak wood walls that were curved to the ceiling. A black cast iron stove, table, chairs, and many wonderful things. There was a round door at the end, which had a bigger room. As the fox padded up to the door, she peeked out and watched Cobalt enter through a much larger round door.
The man dropped a green bag on the floor and dropped down hard. He immediately fell asleep with his head on the bag. Pudgy was busy turning a crank, which closed a big set of round doors that shut in the middle. The man was snoring loudly, and Pudgy hugged his leg before scampering back over to Argente. Pudgy hugged her, and then shut the round interior door behind him. “Argente, welcome to Pudgy home.” The fox smiled and moved over to an empty spot in the living area. She yawned again and curled up falling asleep once more. Pudgy smiled, and started to turn the lights off, and shut his door clasping the lock. He bounced into his bed and wiggled as he got comfortable. “Pudgy home. Pudgy want to stay home now, no more adventures.” The hedgehog said as he fell asleep slowly once more. The trio were safe in the hedgehog’s underground home and slept soundly.
The morning came, but all three slept late into the next day. It was Cobalt who woke first, as he had tremendous kink in his back. Sleeping on a concrete floor did not lend itself to comfort. Having exited the home, he tended to some business outside behind a distant tree. Argente looked around and was watching Pudgy light the fire in the wood stove, and he smiled warmly at her. Argente smiled back, and followed Cobalt’s lead, and headed outside as well. In a short time, all had returned to Pudgy’s home, and were sitting on the meeting room looking out the familiar round door opening into the forest. Cobalt sipped a cup of tea and watched his hedgehog friend and Argente nibbling on waffles. “Pudgy, I’m glad you’re safe, but we have to talk.” The two critters looked up at him, and the man nodded. “I want you to be safe, and these adventures are getting out of hand. Please, promise me that this is the last one.” Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy access to Xanadoom was revoked by Lord Doomcock. Pudgy tired, want to stay home now. Pudgy don’t want to go on another adventure for a long time.” The man smiled, though he was a tad bit sad, as Lord Doomcock had been a friend up until now.
Pudgy started to tell his tale, of everything that had happened. The trip down the river, meeting Blood Honey in Cave in Rock, the river boat captains, the coal purchase from the barge, the Natchez and its pier, as well as the event of Lake Pontchartrain. When Pudgy and Argente described what happened, Cobalt got angry. The two critters calmed him down, and the explained about the voodoo doll. It was the next part about the Natchez and the Coast Guard interrogation that drew his attention. The coast guard had indeed called him and asked several questions. As Pudgy explained that he told the authorities everything, about all his adventures, he understood why Doomcock revoked the legionnaire access. The trip to Memphis, and meeting Samantha Jo was a fun sidetrack adventure, and he was glad she helped Pudgy calm down. Doomcock’s visit, and apology in Kentucky made the man nod and calm. Hours had passed during this tale, and the three friends exited the home to stretch. Cobalt was glad everyone was home safe, and that Pudgy’s adventuring days were over for now. He knew better than anyone else, that the adventures would not stop. But the key question now was safety, as there was no support from Doomcock to be obtained anymore. They were on their own, and perhaps that was for the best.
“Pudgy I need to return the trailer, as I have rented it.” The man said, as he began to undo the straps. The hedgehog and fox nodded, watching the man quickly work. The trailer was parked in such a way, that the ship’s prow was higher than the stern due to the forest incline. Cobalt then walked around the trailer and began working the ratchet winch, which caused the ship slid off the trailer onto the ground with a thud. The trailer was on an incline, so the entire vessel was off quickly. Undoing the winch line from the ship, he ratcheted the silver hand quickly to wind up the line. The man quickly jumped into the car and drove off slowly through the forest to where he rented the trailer from. As the hedgehog watched his friend leave, he looked at his new fox friend. She was busy looking around the home’s exterior. Pudgy scampered over, “what would you like to do Argente?” The fox grinned, “tag!” The fox patted Pudgy’s nose, and then scampered off. She peeked from behind a bush, “you’re it!” Pudgy bounced happily, and scampered after her, running around laughing gleefully. Pudgy was happy and was looking forward to many fun filled days. Cthulhu had been stopped once and for all, Doomcock was safe in his underground fortress, and the fox turned out to be a friend. Everything was now over; it was time to relax and play under the bright sunshine as Pudgy’s latest adventure was now over.