Tears of Liberty: Chapter 1: Birmingham

In the city of Birmingham, located in the country of Great Britain, is an art museum like any other.   Museums are all over the world, and normally are sleepy places that children are brought to on field trips.  Adults work there, and the facility always seems to be having a funding issue of some sort.  As the tower’s clock chimed 4 bells, the whole building began to slow down.  It was teatime, and the workers of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery headed to a room that the general public did not have access to.  In many ways it was a glorified cafeteria, though being a museum, it did have its charms, with old displays of previous exhibits hanging upon the walls.  The museum director, who was an elderly fellow that walked with a cane, ordinarily did not join the others.  He normally took tea in his office, but today was different.  This change in schedule was quite odd, and the workers all noticed and talked quietly amongst themselves.  As the balding man sat in an overstuffed red chair, he crossed a grey tweed pant covered leg, and smiled at the others, before sipping the steaming brew from a Styrofoam cup. 

A janitor started to walk past, “Director, it is good to see you here.  Is everything all right?”  The director nodded and adjusted the glasses upon the bridge of his nose. “Yes, it is, my good fellow.”   The janitor nodded and pushed his cart on its way and exited the room.  As this occurred, an excited university student ran into the room, and waved at the director.  “Director, you have a package in your office.”  The elderly man shot him an annoyed look, “Nigel, I am having tea.  It can wait.”  The man sheepishly twiddled his thumbs, “I’m sorry director, it’s just the address is from the Museum of New York, from the states.”  The director looked at him, “oh my, yes that is different.”  The director uncrossed his legs and began to stand up.  Walking with a bit of a limp, he leaned heavily on the cane.   Nigel for his part ran quickly ahead and back into a connecting corridor. 

As the director passed through a set of dark oak doors, he entered the museum with its myriad of colored tiles which formed a plaid patchwork upon the floor.   Rows of paintings were artfully arranged upon walls with a deep red color.  Low leather clad benches were scattered about and were way too low for him to sit upon anymore.  In his youth, he could have made it to his office in minutes, but now it took longer.  It was a sign of the times, and soon he would need to retire.  Maybe go on holiday to the places pictured in the works of fine art.  The man had been director for close to 20 years, and it was extremely hard to give up the routine.  While turning a corner, Nigel was seen excitedly waving from the office doorway.  The director remembered being young and nodded as he maneuvered towards a large package in a crate.   Adjusting his glasses, the director located the shipping tag and manifest.  Removing the documentation, he began to read quietly. “Oh my, it’s from the William Tyron collection.”  Nigel looked up at the director, “Who’s William Tyron?”  The director nodded, “He was the 39th Governor of the New York colony.  Well come on my good fellow, bring it inside!”  The director laughed, and held the door open, to allow the younger man to carry the crate inside of his office. 

The wood crate was long and narrow, with extra cladding on the front.  While not particularly heavy, it was awkward, which resulted in some audible grunts from the younger man as he got the package inside of the office.  Sliding the crate into an empty spot on the near wall, Nigel stood up rubbing his lower back.  The director entered next and looked around the office.  Tastefully appointed, with a furnishing from the 1800’s, some pieces could be included in a display.  The director navigated around various cardboard banker boxes full of papers and sat down into a worn green chair.  “This is a painting on loan Nigel, do be careful!”  He quipped, while reviewing the manifest.  The younger man nodded and was using a screwdriver to undo the long wood screws that held the top of the crate together.  After 20 screws, his arms were tired. “Director, why can’t we buy one of those battery powered drills, with the screwdriver attachment?”  The older man laughed, “it builds character.”   Eventually though, with careful effort, the crate opened, and its painting within was revealed. 

It was a picturesque scene of the New York colony countryside, with a woman wearing a long bluish white gown standing beside a flowering bush of some sort.  Fields of crops planted, lay in the distance behind the proper English garden.  The director smiled, “the painting is called Evening in a New Land.  I believe this was commissioned when the Governor’s wife had crossed from the homeland to be with her husband.”  Nigel nodded, and rubbed his hands to get the feeling back into them.  The director nodded and spoke once more, “Please take the painting to the south wing, and instruct Michael to begin the display process.  We will place it within the section where we had to return the Van Gogh.”  Nigel blinked, “we had to return to Van Gogh?”  Which drew a nod from the director, as the young man gingerly picked up the painting.  As he carried it out of the office, the lead was soon left alone in the musty office.   “My word, that was a rare find.  I wonder why they leant it out?”  He mused, while leaning back into the chair working on paperwork.  Across from the desk, were several small televisions, which changed between the security cameras.  While there was a much better security office on the second floor, his office was the original security area using 1970’s era closed circuit television cameras.  Looking up occasionally, a woman with curly hair was looking at a wooden carved statue of an angel with outstretched wings.

The woman was smiling, quietly taking in the atmosphere, when a female voice called out from behind her.  “Purple, it is so good to see you!”  As the woman turned and pulled back some errant red curled hair behind her ears, she saw a woman with long brown hair and glasses approaching with a couple of young boys. “Starry, yes, it is good to see you as well!”  The meeting of Purple Lady and Starry-Eyed Girl has been delayed off and on, as both their schedules did not lend easily to a get together.  At the last moment, the babysitter cancelled, so Starry had to bring her children.  The trip to the pub was cancelled, and museum was in order.  Purple smiled and waved at the boys, who while behaved, clearly had too much energy for this time of day.  As the group walked through the museum, various fine paintings hung on the walls.  A small commotion was in the south wing, which was due to a new painting being hung.  “Oh, lets go see what the new one is Purple?”  The red head woman nodded, and tried to herd the boys, to little avail.    The small crowd of other locals dressed in the various fine garments, watched and let out a collective gasp as the beautiful painting from the colonies was hung into position.  One by one people filed by, until it was their turn to look at the painting. 

The one young boy looked up at his mother, “where are the colonies?”  Starry smiled, “they mean the United States.  Looks like this is from New York city.”  Purple smiled, “Oh my, isn’t Pennsylvania nearby to there?”  Starry nodded, “Oh boy, I wonder if Cobalt and Pudgy saw this when it was there?”  Purple smiled, and the little boys looked up, “we miss Pudgy, it was near when he came to visit.  When is he coming back?”  Purple smiled, “He visited me awhile ago, dressed in a space suit.”  The boys could have cared less about old musty paintings, they wanted to hear about Pudgy’s adventures.  So, the two women led the boys, telling the various stories they had heard of the fearless little hedgehog.  Maneuvering through the halls, they found the snack shop.  As Starry went to get a couple of iced teas, Purple continued her story of what Pudgy had told her when he was with her.  The boys sat enraptured, listening to every word.   So engrossed in the story, they did not notice their mother had returned with their drinks.  Purple smiled at her friend, and tossed her a quid, and opened the aluminum can and taking a sip.  The boys in turn one by one opened their cans and started to drink as well.  As their mother sat down, she smiled at her friend.

“It’s all they ever want to hear about, where is Pudgy and what is he up to?”  The red-haired woman nodded, “The latest activities have him going to New Orleans for some reason.  It is strange love, it coincided with Doomcock’s disappearance from not only YouTube but Twitter as well.”  Starry nodded, “I also though that was strange, maybe something happened?  Sometimes I don’t know how much of this is story versus reality.”  Her friend nodded and watched the boys all start to get up from the table to explore the snack bar.  “Honestly, I suspect much of it to be real.  Pudgy was so weak when I found him and brought him home.  He was in that space suit, and barely could move.”  Purple spoke, as her friend sipped the can of tea and nodded.  “I wonder why Cobalt lets him go on all those adventurers?  I would put my foot down, at some point.”  Starry laughed and stomped her foot for effect.  Purple looked down, “oh my, nice flats.”  The long-haired brunette woman laughed, “thanks, I got these on sale.”  As the boys began to jump over chairs, the clear sign that breaktime was over dawned on the two women.  They finished their tea, and then threw away the cans into a nearby trash receptacle.  Purple lady was in front, leading out the group, and headed back towards the gallery.  She stopped suddenly, which caused one boy to bump into her from behind.    

Starry walked beside her, “Purple…what…” she trailed off as the wood carved angel was now turned to face towards them.  “That wasn’t like that before, that statue weighs a hundred kilos.”  The angel had always looked up the main hallway, and towards the front entrance doors.  Local legend was that the angel guarded the museum, and during the blitz air raids from the Germans, the angel was unscathed when the ceiling collapsed.   Purple nodded, “Yes, and yet it is there looking at us.  How strange… Maybe the staff moved it?”   Starry nodded and looked down the south wing where the new painting was hanging crooked.  “Oh my, they need to hang that better.”  The two women giggled, and then led the boys back towards the angel, to head down another wing.  As the group passed, an older man was lecturing a younger man.  “Nigel, what on earth did you do?  I told you to hang a painting, not to move the statue!”  The younger man shook his head, “Director, I did not touch the statue!”  The elderly man in his tweed coat pointed a gnarled finger at the statues, “100-kilogram wood carved statues do not just move on their own!”  Nigel and a janitor dressed in a gray outfit were being verbally berated, as they began to gingerly turn the statue to face back towards the front entrance.   “Oh, do be careful lads, this is worth more then the two of you combined!”  With a careful struggle, the statue was put back into position. 

The rest of the day went calmly, with Starry and her boys, as well as Purple lady touring the museum’s various exhibits.  It was as the day grew long, and the boys began to yawn, that it was time to go.  The group started to walk through the halls towards the angel, and found the statue again was looking down towards the south wing.  The group passed it, and the boys pointed, “look Mom, the statue turned back again.”  The women nodded and proceeded towards the exit of the museum.  One by one they exited through the heavy oak doors, and entered the cobblestone covered courtyard that lay in front of the museum.  As the boys turned to look up at the columns that stretched for what seemed forever, their eyes turned to the large clock tower.  Starry turned to her friend, “I am sorry today’s get together turned out the way it did Purple.  I’ll make it up to you.”  The red-haired woman nodded, “Don’t worry about it. I enjoyed our trip to the museum.  You boys be good for your Mother.”  The boys nodded and started to follow Starry who laughed and waved as they headed off towards the bus stop to wait for the next bus.  Purple Lady headed the opposite direction, and headed towards a large stone pedestal, with a green stained copper statue of Queen Victoria.  Like Starry, she lived in Birmingham, though in a different part of it.  Passing manicured planters of well cared for plants of various stages of greenery and color.  Maneuvering through the crowds of tourists and locals, she headed past a tearoom restaurant, which was closed. 

The streets that surrounded the area was a mixture of bricks laid in a herring bone pattern, with a skim coat of asphalt over the weaker areas of brick.  It was a hodgepodge of uneven surfaces, which required her to keep an eye on the ground as she walked.  After a short time has passed, she came upon a series of narrow parking spots for motorcycles and scooters.  Stopping at a purple scooter, she smiled.  “Time to head home.”  Purple lady put on her helmet, which was an iridescent purple swirled color, that would change colors depending on how much light there was.  Sitting down onto the scooter’s leatherette seat, she put the key into the ignition, and the motor fired up.  She backed out of the spot, and then started to follow the line of traffic as they followed the streets to exit the museum and surrounding area.  The traffic in the city was heavy, and LCD signs on the traffic lights inside the congestion charge would be in effect.  The woman grumbled, but there was no getting around it.  Thankfully, scooter charges were much less than an automobile.  Soon the heavy traffic gave way, as the roads began to widen from the narrow streets of the city center.  Her home was not far, and as the scooter sped along, cars passed on each side of her.  It turns out bad drivers are universal, no matter the country.   

In a short time, the scooter pulled up to her assigned parking spot in front of the apartment building.  The woman smiled, and shut off the engine, putting the kickstand down with the heel of her shoe.  Standing, up, she rubbed her back, and then headed towards the exterior staircase to get to the second floor flat she leased.  Climbing the stairs, she could see the post man had thrown the mail on the hallway floor again, instead of placing the mail in her box.  Bending down, she picked up the letters.  “Bill … bill … bill … The BBC wants your support?  Trash …. Trash …. You too can look like Megan Markle?  Rubbish…” After collecting the mail, she stood back up, and unlocked her front door.  Entering the flat, she pushed the door shut behind her with her rear end.    Tossing the mail onto a table by the doorway, the tired woman headed for the couch, and sat down.  Taking her phone out of her purse, she looked at twitter, and saw the usual suspects arguing about the usual things.    Dr Who was still a mess, Star Wars was all wrong, star trek lost its mind, it was starting to become very repetitive.  Nothing was good, everything was wrong, it made you not want to watch anything anymore on the telley.   But Pudgy had joined twitter, and had been sending messages out, about hedgehog related things.  It was nice to see that someone was still having fun out in the world. 

Pudgy had returned from his trip to New Orleans, which drew a long discussion of what happened.  The hedgehog was answering the questions, but he would not talk about Lord Doomcock for some reason.  He was usually his number one fan, but the noticeable lack of attention, was a topic of discussion.  Cobalt too had backed off on the comments, though still attended the live streams online.  The latest posts were about bunny friends stopping by and using a catapult to launch them across the creek.  Giggling to herself, she was glad someone asked him to be careful, and avoid hurt bunny friends.  A female silver fox had joined him, and that drew a discussion, if Pudgy was finally growing up and had noticed girls?  He did notice girls every day, but was unsure what the hub bub was about?  Her eyelids grew heavy, and without realizing it, soon she had fallen asleep on the couch.  Dreams of her day appeared in her mind, with the wooden angel drawing the most attention.  It was not caved like those scary angels from Dr Who, but the expression was striking.  Thoughts of why the angel kept turning towards the south wing would not leave her mind.  Was it due to that painting from New York?  Perhaps, or maybe more likely, it was just a worker who did not read the cleaning schedule and moved the statue. 

As she slept, far away to the west, it was still a bright sunshine sort of day.  Cobalt was working outside of Pudgy’s home, disassembling the steam ship.   The various electrical components were disconnected and installed into Pudgy’s underground home.  Now that the power needs to run the Xanadoom crystal were no longer needed, Cobalt had rewired the home’s electrical room so it would have the radio.  The home’s big meeting room was now full of pieces of lumber and various boat supplies.  The longer pieces were stacked in neat piles, covered by a camouflage tarp.  It has been a few weeks since Pudgy had returned home.  The hedgehog had returned to a fully awake and green forest, which helped him recover.  He did not have to keep the fire going, as the night were now much warmer.  Argente the fox was adjusting to life in Pudgy’s home, and she was much calmer around humans, with the kindness from Cobalt helping to smooth over her hurt feelings.  Argente was wary, as foxes always were, but she was thankful to have met the two of them.  So, while the man worked on the ship, she played with Pudgy in the forest.  The days were sunny and warm, and the nights full of fun.  She hoped these days would never end, though a worry in her mind would not go away.  What if Pudgy went away again?  The hedgehog said he was done with adventures, and only wanted to stay home. 

Occasionally a couple of wild and crazy gray bunny rabbits with white tails would stop by, who could hop circles around the fox as she ran through the forest.  Pudgy also knew a couple of beaver friends who lived downstream, so there was no shortage of visitors.  The hedgehog talked about Mr. Bear and Mr. Dinosaur who lived further away, which caught her attention.   Bears usually ate small animals, so the fact that the hedgehog was friends with a bear, made her curious.  She did not know what a dinosaur was, but the way that Pudgy described him, he was huge.  The day soon turned to evening, and Cobalt hugged Pudgy before leaving to go back to his home.  Argente still was not ready for a hug by the human, so she wiggled her ears and waved her paw at him.    As the hedgehog shut the door, he scampered over to the wood stove, and made a small fire to boil water for tea.  Argente returned to her bed spot and curled into it looking at her friend.  The hedgehog smiled and waved, and then pouted water into his metal tea pot, and placed it upon the stove.  The water started to bubble, and a faint wisp of steam escaped the pot’s pour spout flap. 

“Tomorrow, we will go to Mister Bear’s house, Pudgy want to introduce you.”  Argente smiled at Pudgy, “That sounds fun, everything has been so nice here.  I, I don’t want to leave.”  Pudgy bounced, “Argente can stay however long she wants.  Pudgy love having new fox friend here.”  The fox smiled, and curled into her soft bedding, and soon was asleep.  Pudgy grinned and made a weak tea for himself.   The fire died down quick, and the hedgehog scampered as softly as he could to secure the home for the evening. After checking everything, he hopped into his little bed, and soon too fell asleep.  It was strange though, while Pudgy had silly dreams that never had any structure, this time he dreamed of Purple lady.  She was asleep on a couch, with her phone laying on her left leg.  It was almost as if he was a ghost and floated in front of her.  Floating past the area that boys should not look at, he was soon as face level, and twitched his nose.  Her eyes shot open, “PUDGY!” Pudgy startled, immediately woke up, and fell out of his bed.  Shaking his head, and subbing his paws, the hedgehog climbed back into his bed.  It was still dark out.   So, the hedgehog tried to settle down once more, and pulled his thin sheet over his body to cover him.  It was not cold, so the heavy blankets were put away, and soon he drifted off asleep once more. 

The hours passed quickly by, and soon it was daybreak once again.  Pudgy could feel a paw on him, and as he opened his eyes, Argente was there. The fox could not use the home’s potty, so she needed to be let out.  Pudgy nodded, “Ok…Pudgy awake.”  He scampered over rubbing the sleep from his eyes and opened the home’s round front door.  The fox shot out and ran behind a series of bushes nearby.   The hedgehog in turn went to the home’s small bathroom.  Cobalt had outfitted the home in many ways, including a RV / port a potty style toilet system.  So, while Pudgy attended to his business behind a shut door, Argente returned to the home. She knew where he kept the goodies and opened a cabinet with her paw.  Pudgy exited the room, with a flushing noise, and he scampered out to the kitchen sink to wash his paws.  Then helped Argente to open the package of granola bars.  The two critters sat and nibbled on the honey filled oat bars.  Pudgy started telling her all about Mister Bear, and the fox listened while nibbling.  Soon breakfast was done, and it was time to go.   As the fox padded out the front door, Pudgy did a once over to check that his home was safe, and then exited through the round opening.  Pulling the door shut, the hedgehog turned to his fox friend.

“Ok, follow Pudgy!”  The fox giggled and scampered through the forest with Pudgy down to the creek. Pudgy narrated while he scampered, “First we go to the water wheel, then follow the creek.”  The two friends followed the creek, with its little waterfalls.  Of course, at each waterfall, Pudgy and Argente played in the water.  And so, they followed the stream as it wound it was way through the forest, and down the hill.  That was until Pudgy stopped at a series of rocks, and a much taller waterfall.  “Turn right and follow the path up the hill until we reach the big boulder.”  The fox turned and followed beside Pudgy through a narrow path that wound its way through the trees.  The fox realized the method of his teaching, and since the directions are all at hedgehog level, it would be easier to find the way to and back.    In a short time, the two critters reached a large white granite boulder.  The boulder had been there for years, worn by weather, but still imposing and served as the marker to Mister Bear’s property.  “Can we sit on the rock Pudgy?” The fox said, while swishing her white tipped tail behind her.  The hedgehog nodded and followed her as she walked around and began to scurry up the rock.  It took the hedgehog a couple of tries, though soon he was laying on his belly panting as Argente sat on her rear end, tail curled around her body. 

“This is a wonderful place Pudgy; I don’t want to leave.”  The fox said, as she turned her brown eyes to look at the hedgehog.  Pudgy smiled warmly, “Pudgy glad, Pudgy really like you.  You are good friend and would be sad if you went away.”  From the boulder’s height, the two could see the creek continue to wind its way through the forest towards an exceptionally large pond.  A small beaver dam had been built before the pond, causing the water to back up, and spill over.  There were some human houses at the far edge of the forest, with vehicles parked in behind them.  Pudgy turned and pointed, at a barely visible dark wood cabin with green shutters.  “Mister bear lives there,” The fox nodded, and followed Pudgy as he slid off the rock.    Pudgy started up a path cut into the ground with heavy travel, that had a myriad of deer and bear prints.  “Up the well-worn path to Mister Bear’s house.”  The fox nodded, and stopped when she saw a huge print, with three toes.  “Pudgy, what is this?”  The hedgehog looked, “oh, that is Mister Dinosaur.”  The hedgehog turned and continued to scamper up the hill, towards a large pine tree.  The fox blinked, and looked again, seeing another print.  As she padded along, she realized from the tracks, it was a left and right foot, so the gait was immense.  This creature was gigantic, and yet Pudgy casually said it was just a dinosaur. 

The fox shook her head and followed her hedgehog friend, until she saw a large brown bear sitting under a tree.  The bear was sitting, with his back against a large oak tree full of green leaves.  He held a long-stemmed pipe and was smoking a sweet-smelling substance.  The bear blew out a white smoke ring and turned to look at Pudgy.  “Hello Pudgy, welcome to my home!”  The bear waved a paw and grinned at the hedgehog.  Pudgy scampered up and waved back, “Hello Mister Bear!  Pudgy wanted to introduce you to Argente.  She Pudgy friend, met when went to New Orleans.”  The fox slowly scampered up and waved her paw at the bear. “Hello, Pudgy has told me a lot about you.”  The bear grinned and patted the ground beside him with his paw. “Hello Argente, a pleasure to meet you.  Pudgy, New Orleans you say?”  The hedgehog nodded and began to tell his grand tale of his travels from the lands of western Pennsylvania via the steam ship that Cobalt had built.  Mister bear listened with a big grin, and occasional puff from his pipe.  As the tale continued, Argente would add parts to the story, and apologize.  The hedgehog would hug her and continue the story.  Pudgy continued his story, along with acting out of certain parts, which was quite a show for the large brown bear.  He loved Pudgy stories, although the dangerous things that he went through, had him concerned for his small friend. 

The hours passed, and the sun travelled through the sky.  When it was high overhead, and the day was at its warmest, Pudgy finished his story.  The trio of friends were quiet, enjoying each other’s company on a warm late spring day.  With his pipe finished, the bear rolled onto his four paws, with the pipe in his mouth.  “Let’s go get some drinks.”  The hedgehog and fox followed the bear, towards a picturesque cabin made of dark wood beams.  The white windows were all open to let air into the home and flanked by green shutters.  Climbing a set of stairs to a big porch, the bear entered his home.  Pudgy and Argente remained on the porch, waiting for the bear to return.  In a short time, the bear returned with a small cart, that had a pitcher of iced tea, and several cups.  As the bear arranged the cups, he poured from the pitcher the dark tea.  The bear served his friends, setting the cups onto the ground.  Pudgy bounced, “Thank you mister bear!”  He started to sip the tea slowly.  It was cold from the fridge inside, and quite strong.”  The fox sipped her tea and wiggled her ears, “Thank you Mister Bear.”  The bear holding his much larger cup with both paws, took a long sip.  “Ahh, that tastes good.” 

The skies had started to cloud up, and as the friends relaxed on the porch, a small rumble of thunder boomed in the distance.  The bear looked up, “Pudgy, it looks like a storm is coming.  Perhaps you should stay here till it passes?”  The hedgehog nodded, and the fox smiled as they watched the dark gray skies approach quickly.  More rumbles of thunder occurred, as a flash of cloud to cloud lightning flashed into the skies.  A strong wind tore through the trees, causing the branches to sway hard.  Then the rains began, cascading over the area in wind fueled sheets of water.  “Pudgy thinks it’s passing…”  The hedgehog said, as a huge thunderclap BOOMED overhead.  The smell of ozone filled the air, and the area flashed bright white light for a second.  Mister bear shook his head, “I don’t think so Pudgy.”  The animals stayed on the porch and watched the rain fall.  As the hedgehog and fox drew closer to the large brown bear, the storm indeed started to pass.   In a short time, the rains slowed, and the thunder ceased.  Once it was safe to leave the porch, the trio of animals checked out Mister Bear’s cabin.  The home was safe, though Pudgy was the first to notice the smoldering wood in the distance. 

Pudgy scampered quickly out towards the smoke, with Argente following.  “Pudgy, wait…maybe the storm has not passed?”  The fox quickened her pace and caught up with the hedgehog.  The two critters stopped, mouths agape.  As Mister bear slowly walked up, he saw what was being viewed.  The white granite boulder had been struck by lightning and had been sheared off.  Looking around, he walked around his friends, and approached the boulder.  “It’s safe, but can you two come here?”  The hedgehog scampered up and saw a small space inside the boulder.  “Oh boy, a cavern Pudgy wonder what inside?” Before the bear could say a word, the hedgehog had squeezed inside and disappeared.  Argente frowned and put her snout into the access “Pudgy You get back up here!”  The concerned fox called into the void, trying to peek inside.  She placed her ear on the opening and listened as Pudgy was moving around inside. “Pudgy ok, be out soon.” As the fox looked at the brown bear, he called into the void, “Pudgy I agree with Argente, please come back out.”  The hedgehog peeked out of the void, “Pudgy found something inside!” He disappeared again, and soon a pointed metal started to come out of the void, and a rusted curved hand guard.    The bear blinked and watched in disbelieve at the sword.  It looked like a calvary sabre, though the blade was broken.  Soon Pudgy’s rear end started to come out of the void, and the hedgehog was dragging a tattered black velvet pouch wrapped in leather. 

The fox looked at the items and peeked back into the void’s entrance.  “That was inside the boulder?”  Pudgy shook his head, “Pudgy found a square cut area inside there.  Entrance seems to have been sealed on side pointing towards Mister Bear cabin.”  The bear nodded, and picked up the sword gently, and started to carry it back towards his cabin.  Pudgy in turn hoisted the leather wrapped bag and started to wiggle behind the bear.  The fox followed behind Pudgy and watched as the skies above began to cloud up once again, with rain starting to fall once more.  The hedgehog scampered faster and reached the porch just as the thunder began to roll above in the skies above.  Pudgy dropped onto his bely panting, and the leather wrapped black pouch rolled out onto the planks that formed the porch’s deck.  The bear was looking at the sword, “Pudgy, if I were to hazard a guess, I think this sword might be close to 200 years old.  But why was it hidden there? What is in the pouch?”  The hedgehog nodded and started to untie the pouch.  The knots were old, which caused difficulty to open, the hedgehog struggled to open it.  After several unsuccessful attempts, the straps yielded their defense, and soon were opened.  Carefully, the hedgehog took out the items, and laid them on the plank for all to see.  There were several coins, in various states of repair and visibility of markings.

But what Pudgy drew out of the pouch was what caused the fox and bear’s mouths to drop.  Pudgy pulled out a blue sapphire that was set in a fine silver clasp and chain.  The fox looked with unblinking brown eyes, “that is so beautiful Pudgy.” The bear nodded, “we should get this checked by an expert, But I don’t know who we should go to?”  Pudgy bounced, “Cobalt takes Pudgy all the time to an antique story nearby.  The nice man knows everything, he can help us!”  The bear nodded, “Ok Pudgy, that sounds good.”  The friends continued to inspect the items, as the storm passed overhead.  Soon it was time to go, and while Pudgy packed up the items into the little pouch, Argente took the sword hilt into her mouth.  As Pudgy hoisted the pouch onto his back, “bye, bye, Mister Bear.  Pudgy will let you know what Cobalt finds out.”  The bear nodded and waved his paw at the two as they left his home.   He watched them disappear behind the pine tree, and down the hill.  “Depending on what they had found, it might be valuable, which would assist in the funding department for his bear related activities. The return trip from the large brown bear’s home was slower, and the two friends followed the creek back up to the water wheel.   As the night began to fall, the two tired critters reached Pudgy’s home. 

Pudgy unlocked his door, opened it, and then entered to turn on the lights.  One by one, the LED lights started to turn on, illuminating the home.  Argente backed inside the home and dragged the sword into the home.  Pudgy followed shortly afterwards with the pouch and shut the door behind him.  Pudgy was exhausted, and crawled into his bed, falling promptly asleep.  The fox smiled, and pushed the light switch with her snout, and watched the lights turn off.  Stepping over the sword, she crawled into her soft bed area, and looked at the items that were brought back.  She worried, what would this mean?  She hoped Pudgy would stay home, and not want to investigate further. As the worries trailed off, her heavy eyes fell shut, and soon the fox too was asleep.   They would talk to Cobalt tomorrow, to see what they had discovered?  What the animals did not know, was that they had stumbled upon a dark secret, and their lives would be changed forever. 

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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