Tears of Liberty: Chapter 4: Washington

The trio of friends checked into the hotel, and after a couple cursory matters to attend to, Cobalt collapsed into the room’s bed.  He fell immediately to sleep, though that left the energetic fox and hedgehog unsupervised to explore the hotel room.  They bounced on the bed, and ran around, having slept though most of the insanity it took to get to Valley Forge.  Soon though, they wore themselves out, and cuddled up to Cobalt and fell asleep as well.  In the morning, the man’s phone alarm started to go off, and as he began to stir, he felt Pudgy sleeping on top of his chest.  Argente had her head on his belly, and her brown eyes were looking up at him.  “Good Morning everyone,” the man said, and gently petted the fox.  “Well I think they are still serving breakfast.”  Pudgy started to bounce, and Argente looked up expectantly, as the man moved animals aside so he could get out of bed. 

After a moment to ready himself to leave the room, Cobalt got the hotel room key, and put it in his pocket.  Then the man opened the door, letting the two critters scamper out into the hallway.    Cobalt smiled, and exited the room, letting the door shut behind him.  Turning, the trio followed a red plaid carpet down a long beige hallway.  There were the occasional lights sconce and colonial America painting hanging on the well.  Reaching the elevator, Cobalt pushed the button to go down to the main floor.  Argente was busy looking around the hallway, while Pudgy was sitting on Cobalt’s foot looking up at him.  The familiar DING sound rang out, and the elevator doors opened.  As Cobalt walked in, Pudgy waved at his fox friend to come in.  She padded in softly and sat beside Cobalt’s foot.  The doors closed, and they started to descend.  The elevator was quick, and soon the DING sound rang out, and the doors opened once again.  The man exited the elevator, and watched as a couple businessmen walked past, talking shop.  They were talking about multipliers, and stock warrants. 

Pudgy spotted the breakfast area first and scampered over to a meeting area with white tables scattered about.  There was a long table set up with a variety of breakfast foods.   “You two grab us a table, I’ll get us some food.”  The hedgehog and fox nodded, and looked around, finding a table that would seat two humans.  The two nodded at each other, and then scampered up to sit on the chair.  It was a modernistic style of furniture, with white plastic style accents.    The two watched as their human friend opened the various silver metal serving containers, and piled food onto two plates.  As he turned, he spotted the hedgehog waving from the table.  Other hotel guests watched, and smiled, while the businessmen were too absorbed in their chat to notice the animals watching expectantly for their friend to return.  As Cobalt set the plates of food down, he had two small plates, which he set out in front of Pudgy, and then Argente.  After serving them, the man sat down and began to eat. 

The hotel was sadly out of waffles, though they had a limited number of French toast sticks.  They had slept in too long, so it was just the remains left over after the breakfast rush had come through.  There were some eggs, and potatoes that had been warmed a little too long.  As Argente nibbled on some eggs, and a piece of bacon, she looked up at the table.  Her eyes could see just over the table, as she was sitting on the chair while she ate.  Pudgy was nibbling the French toast stick and bouncing happily.  The man smiled, and after taking a sip of coffee from a beige cup, “Ok, today’s plan.  We are going to head to the battlefield visitor’s center.  Just like Gettysburg Pudgy, we will start there.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Yes, Pudgy think good idea.”  The fox wiggled hear ears, savoring the salty goodness that was the bacon strip. 

The table beside their had a woman dressed in a dark business casual outfit, who looked in amazement at the talking hedgehog.  The two animals were having a conversation with the tired looking man dressed in blue jeans and a black t-shirt.  She discreetly waved at Cobalt, who smiled at her when he noticed.  “Um, did that hedgehog talk?”  The man nodded, and then laughed when Argente turned her head to face her as well.  Pudgy waved at the lady with blonde hair, “Hi Lady, Pudgy going to Valley forge today.  We have to stop the British!”  The fox nodded, “yes, and figure other things out too.”  When the fox spoke, the woman’s eyes went wide.  She coughed, and took a sip of coffee, “I see.  Well, I hope you have a good day.  I need to get going, have a long drive.”  The man nodded, “Where are you heading?”  The woman smiled, “New York City, I live there.  I was out here for a conference.”  The woman smiled, and politely excused herself while standing, before walking over to join the two businessmen.  Cobalt smiled and waved at the woman as she left, returning to his breakfast. 

The hotel staff quickly came in and started to clear out the empty containers.  Attached to the breakfast area was a small kitchenette, where they would prepare and clean up.  Cobalt stood up and went to get another cup of coffee.  He also brought back two small boxes of apple juice.    After sitting down, he put the straws into the boxes, and handed them to the two critters.  Argente had trouble at first, but once she got it, was amazed at the sweet juice that came from the box.  A female employee with black hair walked over and smiled at the two animals.  “Did you enjoy breakfast?”  Pudgy bounced, “Pudgy love French toast.”  Argente smiled, “The bacon was very good.”  Cobalt smiled, “Oh yes we most certainly did, Thank you.”  The woman grinned but was in a bit of shock as she walked away.  After everyone was finished with their drinks, the man cleaned up the table, and moved the empty plates to a bin marked dirty dishes.  He threw out the juice boxes in the trash, and then turned to find Pudgy and Argente gone.  As he scanned the room, they were looking at a stone fountain, with water splashing down. 

Cobalt walked over, “Ok you two, I need to go back to the room for a bit, so let’s go.”  The two critters nodded and followed.  Back in the elevator they went, and after a short trip, they made it back to the room.  The man opened the door, and headed into another room and shut the door, while the fox and hedgehog could run around the room and explore some more.  There were all sorts of neat things in the hotel, with a white rectangle that made cold air come out, and lights that would flicker.  Cords to trace where they went to, and an ironing board underneath the bed for some reason.    The man exited the room adjacent and went to his suitcase.  Opening it up, he took out a green backpack, and started to load up a variety of items.  He placed inside the leather pouch that contained the gemstone and the coins, as well as the broken sword.  He also added Pudgy’s pack, as well as a couple bottles of pop and snacks.  Zipping up the pack, he slung a black padded strap over his shoulder, and headed towards the door.  “Pudgy, Argente, are you ready to go?”  The two animals shot out from under the bed and bounced at his feet. 

Once more they exited the hotel room and headed down the beige hallway.  Down the elevator they went, through the main lobby’s glass doors that opened by themselves, and out to Cobalt’s big red car.  Pudgy saw the bumps in the door panels, “oh no Cobalt, they got the car!”  He nodded and opened the driver’s side door.  Then one by one, he picked up and loaded the animals into the passenger seat.  Unslinging the backpack, he put it in the passenger side footwell, and got into the car, shutting the door behind him.    Starting the engine, he backed out, and then started to drive towards the battlefield visitor center.  While the hotel was more than he wanted to pay, it was close to where they needed to go, so it was worth the extra cost.   The trip was short, less than 10 minutes by car, and soon a big glass structure was seen passing by.  The American flag flew proudly in front, and in big white capitol letters read Visitor Center at Valley Forge.  It was easy to read, with the dark red metal building behind it.  Cobalt parked the car, and then helped everyone out of the vehicle. 

The man shut and locked the door, and then started to walk with two excited critters through the parking lot, and up a wide concrete sidewalk to the visitor center.  Reaching the front doors, there was no ticket booth.  A sign asked for donations on the way out, with a red white and blue lock box with a slot to put the money inside.  The visitor center was not exceptionally large, nor extensive as the one in Gettysburg.  Though the variety of museum exhibits were interesting to read about.  There was a replica statue of general George Washington on a white horse standing proudly in front of a huge colonial American flag.  Pudgy counted, “Cobalt, there’s only 13 stars?”  The man nodded, “13 colonies at that time.  The United States was much smaller during those days.  California didn’t exist yet.”  The fox looked at the displays, and at the occasional passerby that would give them looks.   Pudgy bounced, “Cobalt, come here!”  The man turned to see Pudgy looking at a big mural painted on the wall, which was a map of the entire area.  As Argente padded over, she read aloud.  “Potts …. Varnum …. Stephens …. Knox.  Those are all the places on the coins!”  Pudgy nodded, and there was a wooden display stand that had paper maps.   The places were actual houses that were on the perimeter of the battlefield.  Those were the names of the original owners, and families that helped the Continental forces when they stayed during the winter of 1777 to 1778. 

Cobalt picked up a folded paper map and looked at the map. “Stephen’s quarters are closest to here, so we will start there first.   The Potts house is where General Washington stayed, from what this mural is saying.”   The two animals nodded and started to walk beside Cobalt as he started to exit the visitor’s center, putting a $10 bill into the donation box on the way out.  As the trio of friend exited the building, the paths were marked out with signs.  The area was huge, and while there were roads to get to certain places, there was no parking.  So, this was going to be a long day of walking.  The sun was bright, and there was not a cloud in the skies of blue that stretched in all directions.    The fields were green grass, that stretched as far as the eyes could see.  The occasional yellow dandelion flower peeked up, as well as a variety of wildflowers.  This are was where the troops were stationed during the winter during the revolutionary war.  Eventually it became apparently, that Pudgy had to ride on top of Argente in order to keep up, so that quickened the pace of their travel. 

In about an hour of walking and looking at the various placards that described the conditions of 1777-1778, a brutal winter had struck Pennsylvania, and the troops were desperately low on supplies.  Brave men died dozens at a time, disease struck the camps, and other calamities befell the continental forces.  In the distance, several large trees could be seen, including one massive pine tree.  Behind it was a stately grey stone house, with white mortar.  There were 2 chimneys of red brick, on each end of the main house.  There was a side house of whitewashed brick attacked beside it.   Cobalt pointed, “This is the Stephen’s house.”  The man opened the map and began to read out, “There is no guided tour, and there is some information about the place, but more importantly Varnum is nearby too.”  As they approached, the white doors were open, and a group of students had just exited to head over to the next house.  The trio of friends walked up to the threshold and entered the house.  Well-worn oak floors were throughout, and there were wood barricades built to block full access to the home.  Exhibits were set up, showing what colonial life was like at that time. 

A large portrait of Maurice Stephens hung on the wall, with a description of whom he was.  But while the friends read the displays, they were searching.  The main issue was, there was little information to go on based on what they were able to find out.  There was no substitute for good old-fashioned field work.  It was as Argente was padding past a doorway, she noticed something. “Pudgy, Cobalt…come here!”  The two walked over, with Cobalt careful not to step on anyone. As the man looked, he saw the fox was staring at the fireplace hearth.  “What is it Argente?”  The fox padded under the barricade railing and pointed with her paw.  There was a circular indentation in the firebrick.  The man looked, “Oh my, I wonder…” He trailed off, as he pulled off the backpack, and opened it.  Taking out the leather pouch, he fished out the lead coin that read Stephens.”  Kneeling, he handed the coin to Pudgy, wh0 scooted over to Argente.  The hedgehog reached up and slide the coin into place.    Nothing happened, and the silence was deafening, as the fox looked at the coin.  Cobalt nodded, “Ok you two, get the coin back, and come back over here.”  Pudgy nodded, and touched the coins, but pulled his paw back shaking it. “Cobalt, it’s red hot!” The fox moved closer and could feel the heat coming from the coin.  She watched as the coin melted into the brick and fused within it.  The fox looked up at the man, “Cobalt, it’s melted into the stone!”  The two animals backed away, and rejoined their friend, watching the fireplace start to smolder, as a ghostly fire began to burn within.

The house started to creak, and the wood groaned.  As Cobalt turned, he saw several blood covered soldiers standing behind him.  They were being bandaged, by an overworked field medic.  They all looked tired, with a mournful echo of scattered voices, “when will this winter ever end?”  The ghosts then started to disappear one by one, leaving the home empty once more.  Pudgy looked up at Cobalt, “We have to put the coins back!”  The fox nodded, “if that one coin made the ghosts appear, maybe the other houses have ghosts too.  They may be able to help.”  The man nodded, “Varnum Quarters are nearby, we will head there next.”  As he turned, Amias ducked out of the room with a satchel bag through a rear doorway.  “Hmm….” Cobalt muttered, as they exited the home.  The bright sunshine was heating up the area, making it quite warm.  But there was now an uneasy feeling in the area.  Pudgy got back onto Argente’s back, and they started the short hike through the fields to the next home.  Again, built from the same grey stone, and white mortar, the home loomed in the distance.    Pudgy looked around, “Cobalt, we’re not alone.”

The fox nodded, and as they approached the home, the white doors which had been open for guests, all slammed shut one by one.  Approaching the doorway, Cobalt tentatively placed his hand on the black wrought iron door handle and opened it.  The door was heavy and resisted his opening.  Like the other home, there were barricades set up, with signs that described the house and its contents.  Pudgy looked around and found the fireplace.  The fox scampered through the railings and started to inspect the hearth.  She could not find the indentation, no matter how hard she tried.  Looking defeated, the fox sat down, and ears folded down.  But this time, it was Pudgy who waved at everyone.  Argente quickly padded through and over to where the hedgehog was intently looking at a floorboard.  The wood floor was split in a section, and a stone piece was jutting up.  Pudgy pushed the stone, causing the house to groan once more, again finding a round indentation.  Cobalt fished out the Varnum coin and knelt to place the coin into the indentation.

“I told you, they are not welcome here!  I want these traitors out this instance!”  Pudgy watched as a woman in a pale-yellow colonial dress was yelling at a man dressed in an out of silver fabric and blue adornments.  “Dearest, it is just for the winter.  They will leave our land, go fight their war, and lose.  This nonsense of our own country will be settled, and King George will set things right.”  Cobalt blinked, “they’re loyalists to the crown.  Not everyone was for the revolution during that time.”  The ghosts looked at the man and disappeared.  The uneasy feeling from earlier, intensified as Cobalt tied up the pouch and skipped the backpack.   Pudgy scampered out first and bounced down a brick step to land on his rear end.  As Argente followed, she saw the hedgehog’s brown quills standing up.  She approached cautiously and began to see what was appearing.  The green fields were starting to cover in snow, with rows of triangular shaped tents appearing.  Thousands of tents, everywhere, stretching from the trees.  As Cobalt exited the home, he saw them. “Pudgy … Argente …. We have unlocked something very wrong here.  But we can’t undo it and can only press on.”  Scanning the tents, he saw a woman dressed in white, with glowing blue eyes.  She watched him, and pointed towards the Potts house, before disappearing.  “Hecates….”

Cobalt scooped up Pudgy gently and started to reassure his scared little friend.  “Argente, come on, “the man said, while walking quickly through the field.  Pudgy’s quills settled back into place, and he looked up at Cobalt with scared eyes.  The hike to the Potts house was a bit longer, and as they walked, Argente was watching more ghosts start to appear.  They were milling about the trees, setting up tents, and campfires.   The sounds of cars passing by on a nearby road started to be drowned out, by the sounds of the soldiers talking.  Some were in French, who were helping the fledgling country to spite their English enemies.”    The man also spotted train tracks as well, but thankfully there was no train present.    As they turned a corner around a tree lined hill, the Potts house loomed in the distance.  This home was bigger than the others.  Construction fencing surrounded the main house, and a sign that read: closed to the public.  Pudgy looked up, “Oh no, how can we get in?”    The man nodded and watched as the fox scampered out in front quickly.  She returned just as quickly, “the side door seems to be open.” 

As Cobalt placed Pudgy on his shoulder, the hedgehog clamped down and held on.    Pudgy watched as the man quickly reach the side door and enter the home.  A loud hissing sound could be heard in front of them, with the light fading within the home with each step his friend took.  Pudgy tugged on Cobalt’s shirt, “Look … there … Cobalt!”  The man stopped and looked up as he scanned the area.  There was another round indentation, this time in the plaster above the doorway threshold.  This was a side building, meant for the indentured servants who served the house.  As Cobalt took off the backpack, he fished out the Potts Coin, and placed it into the indentation above the doorway.  Like the others, the coins fused into the building, A man stood at the far end of the wall hallway in the main home.  He was dressed in an outfit of fine blue cloth, with a powdered wig, and white pants.  “We must get the tears to a safe place; the King must never find them.”  A subordinate officer appeared before him, and saluted, “Yes, General Washington!  I will dispatch our fastest courier.”

The ghost turned, and Cobalt blinked as he recognized Amias.  As the ghost approached, he disappeared.  The General’s eyes locked onto Cobalt’s, “God save the Republic” The door to the main house slammed shut, and the doorways to each side of the hall, slammed shut one by one. The man turned and headed back outside.  The snow was now ankle deep outside, and the skies were darkening.  Pudgy shivered, “Cobalt, this is weird, it’s summer.  Why is it snowing?”  The man shook his head, “I don’t know Pudgy.  But I think these coins are bringing the past back to life, so to speak.  The Knox and Chase homes are nearby to one another, but a far hike.  I’m glad I wore jeans and my boots today.”  The fox was starting to pant, “Cobalt, I’m thirsty.”  Smiling, the man opened his backpack, and took out a small bottle of water.  As he knelt on the stone sidewalk, he opened the bottle, and started to hold it up so the fox could drink.    She wiggled her tail and ears at him when she was done, and soon Pudgy was thirsty too, so he helped his hedgehog friend drink. After sealing the bottle, he put it back into the pack. 

Standing up, the man spotted Hecates again, pointing to the south.  She walked behind a tree and disappeared again.  Cobalt could not tell if that was the Goddess, or if it was her daughter.  They looked similar, but it was clear that they had to go that direction.  As the man walked, he could feel the snow landing on his head.  The sounds of late spring were replaced by the silence of winter.  The hike to the last two homes was much longer, and it was not until late afternoon that they had reached the Knox house.  It was a white stone brick structure, though this one was clearly in need of repair.  The map said that this home could be leased, which meant there was no museum inside.   The wood porches were rotting, as they approached.  The home had several attached buildings to it, with a large stable beside the home.  The woman in white was seen quickly ducking into the stables, which was caught by Pudgy. “Cobalt, was that Hecate’s Daughter?”  The man nodded, “I think so…”  Walking past the house, the big for lease sign was seen stapled to a wood screen door partially off its hinges.   Upon reaching the tables, several horses were sent inside, all dressed in English tack.  The horses were translucent and looked at the man as he stood there. 

Pudgy cupped his paws over his mouth, “Hecate’s Daughter, where are you?”  As Argente entered the stables, she saw a circular indentation on the cobblestone floor.  “Cobalt, here it is!”  The man nodded and opened his pack to fish out the Knox coin, and knelt to place the coin into the stone.  Like the others, is melted into the stone.  Another scene of ghosts appeared.  “Amias, why must you go?  There is nothing out there!  Only savages both men and beast.”    Cobalt watched as a clearly upset woman dressed in tattered garments was lecturing the colonial solider.  He was strapping a saddle to a dark brown horse, “Abigail, we have been over this many a time.  I am a solider, the General gives me orders, and I must follow them.”  The woman stomped her foot, “damn your orders, stay here!”  The man turned towards her and held out his hand to touch her tear stained face.  Cobalt tied up the pouch, and then zipped his bag up, slinging it over his shoulder. The ghosts turned towards him, “who are you?”  The man blinked, “just a traveler, I’m sorry for intruding.  I will go now.”  The ghosts started to fade, and as Cobalt turned, Hecate’s Daughter was standing there.  Her eyes were glowing blue, and she seemed to float. 

Pudgy waved, “Hecate’s Daughter, so good to see you.  Are you …” Pudgy trailed off, when he started to see her fade.  The man looked down at his hedgehog friend, “Pudgy, I don’t think that’s who we know.  I think that may be her mother.  But why is she here, and helping us seemingly?”  Shaking his head, he started to walk out of the stables, and out into an active farm site.  The blacksmith forge was being worked by a burly man, hammering out horseshoes.  Several continental soldiers were milling about and pointed at the trio.  Argente blinked, “Cobalt, we should go.”  As they started to walk away, an ice-covered creek appears shortly before them.  There was a connecting trail between the two homes, with the Chase home across the creek.  As the man helped the critters across, they could begin to see the estate approaching.  This was the main house, so it was much larger than the tables an attached home.  There was all manner of out buildings around the grounds, with a bright light starting to shine out from a large doorway sticking out of the hillside. 

As Pudgy started to approach, he noticed it was much like his home, with an underground area behind it.  He could barely peek between the cracks of the doorway, and inside was only darkness.  Cobalt searched the area, and then placed his hand on the door, but it would not open.  It appeared to have been locked from the inside.  However, there was a round circular gap in the latch.  Cobalt opened his pack, and then pulled out the last remaining coin, and placed it upon the latch.    The metal melted, and the door unlocked with a cracking sound.  Cobalt pushed, and the door would not open, so then he pulled, and it began to open.  Once pulled open, wood barrels were stacked inside.  Two soldiers were taking inventory, “we do not have enough supplies to last the winter.  Even if we ration … when will the congress send us the supplies we need?”  The ghosts disappeared, along with the barrels. 

“Hmm, well we do not have any more coins to use.  I wonder what happens next?”  Cobalt said, while turning towards Pudgy and Argente.  The two critters were floating in the air, with ghostly soldiers holding onto them.  Pudgy wiggled, “Cobalt, Pudgy feel funny.”  Argente barked excitedly but could not break free. The man looked at the semi formed ghosts, “Please put my friends down.” The ghosts shook their still forming heads, with wisps of mist forming expressions.  A voice whispered into Cobalt’s ear, “The General would like to speak to you.”  The man nodded, “Ok, where do we go?”  The ghosts pointed, back towards the direction of the Potts house.  Turning, he started to walk, at a fair pace.  Each step he took, resulted in another ghost appearing, on each side of him, walking.  Within time, there was a couple hundred marching or walking beside him.  The skies continue to darken, and when they arrived, night had fallen.  As he turned to face the soldiers, Pudgy and Argente scampered up beside him and hugged his legs.  The ghosts were all quiet, and watching him, then one by one saluted. 

Turning back, General Washington was sitting on his white horse.  An unearthly light illuminated the area, making the ground glow with an eerie green light.  The general spoke clearly, though he had a faint echo within his voice.  “Who are you, and why do you come here?”   The man nodded, “My name is Cobalt, this is Pudgy Hedgehog, and Argente Fox.  My friends here found a bag of coins, a broken sword, and a blue Sapphire under a boulder in western Pennsylvania where we live.  When we looked through the gemstone, this area was pictured.”  The general nodded, “I see, so you have it?” Pudgy nodded, “yes mister general.”  The fox nodded, and looked around, seeing the ghosts all form ranks around the area, with men in groupings of ten or so standing guard in formations.  Cobalt unslung his backpack from his shoulder and took out the sword as well as the pouch.   All the ghost’s eyes locked onto the gemstone, and the General dismounted his horse.  “Please follow me.”

As Cobalt and his friends followed the general back inside the Potts house, the insides were decorated in colonial fashion.  Though signs of war were clearly seen everywhere, and inside a large wooden table was set up, with various maps.  Soldiers were pouting over the maps and looked up as Cobalt and the two critters entered with the general.  General Washington turned back towards Cobalt and held his white gloved hand forward.  “The war is never ending here, we escaped Philadelphia, only to fight winter.  While congress debates, my men die from starvation, disease, and neglect.”  As the General walked, he pointed to a map.  “During our escape here, my forces found the British soldiers hurriedly carrying a satchel.  Inside was 2 stones, of Sapphire.  These stones can end the war, so I had my men hide them in places that the British would never find them.”  Cobalt nodded, “General Washington, what do the stones do?”  The general looked at him, “I am not accustomed to commoners as yourself speaking directly to me, but you did this to bring us back, so I will oblige your request.  Simply put, the stones allow one to travel great distances, to see, to hear, and to destroy. The king, should he desire it, could for example sight this valley.  Then use the stone to move us to a place where we would be of no harm to him, say the ocean for example.”

Pudgy blinked, “So If Pudgy use stone, could appear wherever Pudgy want?”  The general looked down, “how strange, a talking hedgehog.  Yes, little one, that could be done.  Imagine thousands of British troops appearing here, it would be a slaughter.  That is why I sent the stones away.  Why did you bring it back?”  Cobalt nodded, “Sir, it has been about 243 years since this happened.  We’re from what you would consider to be the future.”  The general looked confused, “what outlandish talk!”  The fox looked up at him, “our friend is speaking the truth.”  Cobalt looked back at the general, “General, why would we find this now?  Pudgy said a huge lightning bolt struck the boulder where these items were buried.  If someone only had one stone, what could happen?”  The General rubbed his chin, “well, they could use the stone to summon things.  Lightning for example……Samuel, where did we sent the other courier?”  A subordinate solider pointed to the map, “Here sir, we sent him to Middlesex in New Jersey, on his way to the colony of New York.”  The General nodded, “yes, the Governor Colden is sympathetic to our cause, and will protect the stone.”  Cobalt rubbed his chin, “I am bit rusty on my history, but I believe William Tyron is the governor of New York. He is a loyalist to the crown.”

The ghosts all stared at the man, and then quickly began to shuffle their papers.  The general’s voice started to boom, as he began to lecture the subordinates.  Pudgy scampered over and tugged at the General’s pant leg.  It was real, which shocked the hedgehog.  As the General’s expression softened, Pudgy started to speak. “Can we use the stone to see where the other stone is?”  The general nodded, “yes we can little one.”   The general knelt, and scooped up the hedgehog in his hands, then sat him on the table.  Cobalt walked closer and handed Pudgy the Sapphire.  As the hedgehog picked it up, he looked through the stone. “It’s dark, Pudgy can’t see anything.”  The general patted the critter’s head gently, “say out loud what you want to see.”  Pudgy looked up at the ghost’s solider, and nodded, then looked inside again. “Pudgy want to see other stone.”  The gemstone started to glow, and soon Pudgy could see the land quickly flying past him.  Through the city of Philadelphia, over the Delaware river, and into New Jersey he went, over the lands, and through the trees he flew, until reaching a forest, with a sign. “Pudgy see sign, says Middlesex.”  The general looked down at the hedgehog, “good, that means it has not yet fallen into possession by the crown.  Since it would seem my orders to hide the stones cannot be followed, I am ordering you to retrieve the other stone.” 

Cobalt blinked, “General Washington, in our time, the war is over, what threat would this be to our country?”  General Washington adjusted his powdered wig and cleared his throat. “Whomever wishes harm to our great nation, could use the stones to cause all manner of chaos to our nation.”  Nodding, “good point,” Cobalt said while rubbing his chin. “So, once we find the other stone, what then?”  A subordinate officer raised his hand, “place them together.  There is a reason why the stones always were kept separate.”  Another subordinate nodded, “those leather pouches kept them from touching. The British solider we interrogated said they grew hot if placed together.”    The room all nodded in unison while Cobalt spoke. “Ok, get the stones, place them together, and they grown hot.  Then we could shatter the stones.”  The General shot him a look, “destroy them, no, but let the stones touch and they will combine into one.  That way, they lose their power, we believe.” 

Argente looked up, “I’m confused, do we destroy the stones, or not?”  The soldiers all then began to argue with one another, but their bodies were becoming translucent.  What no one was doing, was paying attention to Pudgy.  The little hedgehog had crawled into Cobalt bag and got his pack and helmet.    Scampering back out to the table, he looked through the stone again, “Pudgy want to go see where other stone is.”  The room was filled with a blue light, and poof the Hedgehog was gone along with the stone.  The fox barked in an upset tone, “NO!  PUDGY!”  Cobalt looked at the General, who was continuing to fade, then to the upset fox.  She was padding around, trying to see if she could find her friend.   The man cursed, “darn it Pudgy!”    The fox was looking out the front door of the house, watching the tents disappear one by one.  The ghosts all started to leave this world once more.  The snows began to fade, and the strange light was replaced by light from the moon.  It was hot and humid outside, and as Cobalt stepped beside her, “Everyone is gone, including Pudgy.”  The fox looked upset and was circling Cobalt’s legs. 

Meanwhile, the hedgehog was flying quickly over the lands above.  He was inside a satchel bag and could hear a horse galloping.  Looking out of the flap, he saw the continental solider from before again. “Hello, is your name Amias?”  Pudgy stammered out, and the solider nodded, “I like you hedgehog, decisive.  Everyone else is talking, and you go for it.  I will take you to Middlesex, but that is as far as I can go.  I am centered around my sword.”  Pudgy looked up, “what happens if sword go away?”  The soldier nodded, “Then I can be with Abigail all the time, and not keep being taken away from her.”  The ghostly horse galloped hard and fast, and the ground sped quickly below them.  What would have taken Cobalt hours to drive, was reached in minutes.  And as the horse slowed, the solider reached into the bag, and picked up Pudgy.  He tossed him down onto the ground, which the hedgehog landed in a bush, and wiggled his way to the ground.   Looking up, he saw the ghostly solider fade away. As the hedgehog started to get his bearings, he started to repack his bag.  He put the sapphire into the back, and then started to repack his belongings.    Nibbling on a cookie, the hedgehog realized he had jumped headfirst into another adventure once more.  He had no supplies, no way to communicate with his friends, and was alone in a strange land. 

He sniffed his nose and started to grow very tired.  Trying to fight it, the hedgehog started to scamper forward, but fell onto his bely and involuntarily fell asleep.    As the hours passed, night soon became morning, and the hedgehog quickly bolted awake.  Checking the gemstone was still there, which it was, the hedgehog began to explore the area.  The solider had dropped him off beside a creek, and burrow of some sort.  As Pudgy scampered across the water, and to the burrow, he called inside. “Hello, is anyone home?”  Soon a fluffy gray bunny poked his head out and twitched his nose, “yes, what the fudge do you want?”   Pudgy sat down, and waved, “Hello Mister Bunny, my name is Pudgy.  I am from out west, and I am looking for a big blue stone.  Have you seen one?”  The bunny looked at him, “no, I ain’t seen no fudging stone. What the fudge do you want one of those fudging things for?”  Pudgy started to whimper, and his ears folded down, “oh no, Pudgy came all way, and no stone.  Pudgy lost, friends can’t find Pudgy.”  The bunny’s expression softened, “Hey Pudgy, don’t be so bleeping sensitive, I was just kidding.”    The bunny scooted out and patted his head with his paw.  As the hedgehog stopped crying, the bunny nodded, “I know of a nice human lady that can help us.  She even gives me carrots sometimes, let us go!”

Pudgy nodded, and followed the bunny rabbit through the forest, and under a brown wooden fence the two critters headed.  Through the back yard of a fire station, and past a couple businesses, they reached a two-lane road with lots of cars passing back and forth.  The bunny, pointed, “nice lady lives there.  Now, we run fast.”  The bunny hopped across the road and watched as a car quickly sped towards him. The rabbit ducked, but started yelling again, “your stupid carrot licking mother fudger! Where did you learn to drive?”  The bunny made it across and waved Pudgy over.  The hedgehog started to run as fast as his little legs could carry him, but he stopped when a big truck started to whiz by at an extremely high rate of speed.  The bunny shook his paw at the truck, “go back to New York, you fudging balogney!”    Pudgy then completed his harrowing trip across the road, and then followed the bunny to a nondescript track home.  All the houses looked the same, with the same lines, but a varying faded paint color on the fronts.   So, the two critters continued, until the rabbit stopped in front a porch and bounced. “Here it is Pudgy!”  It was morning, so the grass was still cool, with dew on it.    Pudgy was panting, but glad they made it too. 

The front door opened, and a woman with long brown hair came out.  She was wearing a faded t-shirt with spider man on it.  Waving at the rabbit, “Hello Bun-Bun, do you want a carrot.  And I see…. You …brought ….”  The woman stared in disbelief, and recognized the hedgehog sitting beside the rabbit.  “Pudgy?”   The hedgehog waved, and scampered closer.  “Hello, my name is Pudgy. Who are you?”  The woman began to smile from ear to ear, “it is me, Brenda.  You made it to new Jersey finally to come visit!”  She ran forward and scooped up Pudgy before he could say anything further.  He wiggled in her hands, “Hello Brenda, it is nice to finally meet you in person.  Mister Bunny said you are very nice and could help Pudgy.”  The woman smiled and nodded and watched as the bunny scampered off.   As she stood up, “That Bun-Bun is so sweet, I will give him two carrots tomorrow.” Pudgy decided not to tell her just how Mr. Bunny spoke and bounced happily.  As he watched the outside give way to the inside of her home, the door shut and soon he was placed onto a coffee table.   “Stay right there Pudgy,” Brenda said while running into the kitchen to bring back a plate of snacks.  As she sat back down on the couch, she set out the plate of cookies.  “Ok, now tell me, how did you get all the way out here to New Jersey?”  Pudgy nodded, “well…” and started to tell his story.

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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