After Loki had patched up Pudgy’s injuries, he tended to his own. Wrapping his knee tight with an ace bandage over the jeans, the pressure helped him be able to walk better. The man explained what had happened, and that his leg was not broken. He opened his refrigerator, and got out bread, butter, and yellow cheese. As he started to make grilled cheese, he continued to listen to the grand tale that Pudgy told him. Supper was relatively quick to make, and he cut Pudgy’s sandwich into 4 triangles. The hedgehog started nibbling hungrily when the sandwich was placed in front of him.
The man laughed, and started munching on his sandwich as well, and looked across the table at Pudgy. He had hoped the hedgehog would return, as his house had suddenly become unbearably quiet. Yes, the man had his shows, and various friends to keep him company, but the hedgehog added an element of excitement to his life. As the hedgehog started nibbling on the second sandwich section, he bounced. “Mmmfmf goodf…” Pudgy spoke with his mouth full hidden by the sandwich triangle. Smiling, Loki nodded and continued to eat. The meal concluded in time, and with the dishes in the sink, the two headed towards the couch. But, out of an abundance of caution, the pistol was strapped to a holster on his hip. Sitting down gingerly, chuckling as he began to realize sitting with a holster was not going to work. Popping the snap, he took the gun with its holster off, and set it on his coffee table.
Pudgy climbed up on the couch and sat beside him. Pudgy looked up, “can you tell Cobalt, Pudgy is at Loki house?” The man nodded while taking out his phone. After sending a couple messages, he sent one to Cobalt. There was no response, but it was late, so perhaps he was sleeping. Turning on his television, Loki started to scroll through the options. After all the events of today, he needed something calm and soothing. Pudgy pointed, “oh boy, it’s Bunny land!” The man nodded, and turned on the show, and it was a brightly animated cartoon. Happy bunnies were dancing around, singing songs, and solving problems. Soon both hedgehog and human were asleep on the couch, while the bunnies danced on the screen.
The night was quiet, thank goodness, and the two slept soundly. When the man woke up, he had a stiff neck, and rubbed his eyes. Looking beside him, Pudgy was starting to wake up too. “Need coffee….” Loki grumbled, as he wearily stood up. His knee was feeling better, but he would keep the bandages on for now. As the still recovering man headed over to the kitchen, he started to make coffee. After putting the water into the coffee maker, he checked his phone. There was a dozen or so, “Where are you,” messages from a variety of people. “Oh shoot, missed the video game stream again.” Starting to tweet, he sent a variety of messages, advising that Pudgy had come to visit once more. At first, there was no response, but soon his phone’s rumble feature was causing it to move all over his counter.
Samantha had been tweeting out stories of her Pudgy adventure, which then brought the Waffles to comment on their part. It was a grand series of tales, which only continued to speed up when Loki mentioned he had helped Pudgy stop a shade too. Cobalt had finally responded, thankful that Pudgy was safe, and glad that all of them could help Pudgy. Loki responded, that Pudgy would be heading back soon. As the appliance started to percolate, the strong smell of coffee began to waft through the kitchen. Turning to look back the couch, Loki could see the hedgehog was scampering up the leg of the table, climbing to reach the top. It took a couple of tries, but soon he swung his body onto the top of the kitchen table.
When the coffee was ready, he poured himself a cup into a large stainless-steel mug. “Pudgy, I have to do my morning show, would you like to help?” The hedgehog bounced and nodded. So, the man gently scooped up Pudgy, and carried him to his office. Setting the cup of coffee down, and then the hedgehog, he fired up his computer. As the monitor screen turned on, Pudgy soon saw a pretty lady dressed in a bikini, but the top was not on right. Loki covered the hedgehog’s eyes, “oh crap! Pudgy, close your eyes.” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy wonder those thingies were?” The man was cursing, and quickly logged in, and covered the desktop with his various programs. He would need to hedgehog proof his computer for the next show.
As Pudgy sat quietly and watched, soon his eyes were uncovered. The various windows opened, and the broadcast started. The show was a discussion on the finer points of a science fiction show, specifically episode 12, minute marker 12 to 26. A passionate discussion was being had with the guest, who said the red shirt was clearly wrong, and continuity demanded that a blue shirt be worn. Pudgy thought it was al silly, and when motioned by Loki would yell either “Skol or Fudge!” The show was fun and ended after about an hour of broadcast. The consensus was that some woman named Kathleen was wrong. The critter wondered if she ever had a happy day and hoped one day she could just rest and be forgotten.
Locking his computer, the man scooped up Pudgy and empty coffee cup. Heading to the kitchen, Loki dropped both off, before ducking into the powder room. The hedgehog bounced happily but felt his vest vibrating. Looking down, he started to pull out the sapphire, and looked inside. “What is it Mister stone?” Pudgy asked, and as he peered within, the stone started to show an image of his forest. Argente was sitting in front of his underground home’s door looking sad. Cobalt was in the distance, inspecting the water wheel, which was not turning. The hedgehog started to feel very homesick and put the stone back into his vest. Sighing, “Pudgy need to go home soon.” He could fear water running from the powder room, and the man exited. “Ahh, those discussions sometimes go so long. Ok, who’s hungry?” Pudgy nodded, and the man smiled and headed over to the fridge. Breakfast was quick: friend eggs and toast, and soon the two were munching.
Pudgy ate quick and looked at his friend. “Pudgy need to go home soon.” The man nodded, “I know. Hey, next time you come to visit Pudgy, how about we just go to the go kart place?” The two friends laughed, and the hedgehog nodded. “That sounds fun,” The critter said while holding his paws up like a steering wheel, making motor noises. Loki continued to eat, while Pudgy scampered over to the edge of the table and slid down the leg. The man smiled, and checked his phone, getting a stream of messages from the various comments left about the show. A short period of time passed, and with breakfast eaten, the man was sipping his coffee. He felt a tug at his pant leg and looked down to see Pudgy dressed with his backpack on and mining helmet atop his head.
Reaching down, he gently scooped up Pudgy, and hugged him gently. “I’m serious about the go-karts. But I fear we may see those monsters again; I will make some preparations for next time. Please be careful, Pudgy.” The hedgehog hugged back and looked up. “Pudgy will be careful. Pudgy have to keep everyone safe, now that monsters know about Pudgy friends.” Loki nodded, and then set the hedgehog down on his table. He watched him get out his little blue sapphire stone, and in a burst of light, disappeared from his table. The home grew incredibly quiet once again. The man saw the pistol and its case still out on the table, so it was time to unload the pistol and clean the gun. While he was hopeful for a clam future, the existence of supernatural monsters in the real world was enough to snap his focus. He would be ready next time and suspected another hedgehog visit would be coming soon.
Pudgy watched as Loki’s house quickly sped behind him, as the teleportation started. The world was cast in purple and blue hues, with the lands quickly speeding below him. The hedgehog was happy, he was heading home, but at the same time apprehensive. Unlike his previous adventures, the bad guys were not stopped completely. He knew the Kaiser was out there somewhere, and more shades ready to hurt his friends. The tank and the submarine were no longer available, and access to heavy firepower was nonexistent. His one option to contact for backup was out of the question, as the underground Lord had been silent for months. The hedgehog would need to talk to his friend Cobalt, to devise of new measures to defend his friends.
The states flew quickly by underneath Pudgy, and soon he was approaching his forest home. He could see Argente just starting to stand up and flick her tail to the left. So as a brilliant flash of light filled the area, and the female silver fox was rubbing her eyes with her paw, Pudgy appeared beside her. The hedgehog immediately started to hug her, and the fox hugged back. “Oh Pudgy, I was so worried!” The two friends hugged for a long time, not saying a word. Her brown eyes locked onto the hedgehog’s eyes, and she rubbed her nose with his. Pudgy bounced happily, “Pudgy so glad to be home.” Soon though, both the fox and the hedgehog were picked up, as Cobalt started hugging them both. The fox was giggling, “Oh Cobalt!” Pudgy hugged back and looked up at his friend. The man’s gray eyes looked tired, and his glasses were a tad dirty, but the appearance of a silver flecked beard took him off guard. “Cobalt, you’re fuzzy!”
The man laughed, “yeah, and I have a bit of grey in it too. I really need to shave.” He released his embrace, and soon the fox and hedgehog bounced out in front of him. The forest was hot, much more so than Missouri. Pudgy looked around him and saw the water wheel was not turning. “What wrong with water wheel Cobalt?” The hedgehog asked inquisitively. His friend pointed, “Well we are still in the drought, so the creek dried up. I also suspect your beaver friends have a paw in this as well. I may need to check up stream. It is fine Pudgy; we need to check your home though. You have been gone a long time.”
The hedgehog nodded and scampered to his round front door. After pressing the door in a couple spots, he unlocked it, and opened the door. He scampered inside and tossed the backpack and helmet onto his bed. Pushing the buttons to turn the lights on, nothing happened. He then went to his sink, and started working the little pump for his sink, and only air came out. The critter scampered through the dark stuffy home, to reach his big room, and started to turn the little gears to open the door. As Cobalt appeared, Pudgy waved. “No lights, and no water.” The man nodded, “I suspected that, the batteries are dead, and your water tanks are empty. I can fix this.”
Pudgy watched as his friend opened the steel door that led to where the batteries were kept, and he knelt to reach inside. The battery panels were all dark and would not respond. “Yup, zero charge.” Cobalt disconnected the battery connectors and withdrew the marine grade batteries from the battery bank inside. “I have a charger at my house and will charge up the batteries. Water wise, I need to bring over my portable jug with house water. Ultimately, I think I need to drill you a well though Pudgy.” Looking down, the hedgehog kept hugging his leg. Patting his head gently, Cobalt, moved the batteries outside of the big round door’s jamb to the forest outside. “Pudgy, let us head over to my house. Can you lock up?”
The hedgehog nodded, and then watched as his friend exited the home through the big round opening. Pudgy turned the gears once more, and soon the bifold round door started to swing shut. Cobalt picked up the three batteries and stood up with them stacked on top of one another. There was bit of weight, so he started walking away from the house. Looking back at Argente he smiled, and the fox looked as Pudgy was just exiting his home and locking the door. Then the two critters scurried quickly up to walk on either side of the man. As they reached the creek, Pudgy was allowed to get onto Argente’s back, and watched as they crossed the dray creek bed. The forest was starting to die out, from the severe drought that had hit the area. The trees’ leaves were all curled up, and even the pine trees were starting to sag.
Cobalt narrated, “They’re calling for rain, in a week or so. It is bad, all the lawns are burnt out. The trees and plants are stressed.” Up the hill they climbed, to reach the wilting thorn bush. After looking left and right, they ran across the road as a wild a and crazy delivery driver in a big white truck with a purple F on it raced past. Up the small hill they went to reach the man’s house. Setting the batteries down on a plastic patio table, he got out his keys to unlock the back door. As the door opened, Pudgy and Argente could feel the rush of cool air escaping. Quickly they darted inside and got out of the way as the man brought in the batteries and shut the door behind him.
Pudgy looked around, and the basement was all different now, with Cobalt’s office in the basement. It was the same brown wooden desk, but it was all arranged differently. “What happened,” the critter asked curiously. Cobalt smiled, “well it was work related. This work at home thing is turning out to be a bit longer than the company expected, so I needed to make some changes for work. Hence, basement office. Boy, that was a lot of work over 3 days.” The fox nodded, “you moved this all by yourself?” She realized that Pudgy’s human friend was a lot stronger than he looked. As the fox and hedgehog explored the same basement, configured completely different, the man head headed back to his mechanical room.
Hooking up the batteries to a car charger, he connected the power. There was a flicker as the electrical draw kicked in, but the fluorescent lights recovered. The various Pudgy adventure tools and supplies were stored here, though he was running out of space. While turning to exit the room, he saw Pudgy and Argente scampering up his basement steps to head to the first floor. Laughing, he turned off the lights, and then headed upstairs. Upon reaching the living room, with the large television sitting dark on it stand, he found the two on the couch looking expectantly at him. The man headed into his kitchen and started to make a snack. He returned to the room, with three plates of pumpkin cookies. They were coated in thick orange icing and smelled sweet. He left to go get iced teas, and then returned with the drinks.
As the man sat down on the couch and arranged the drinks and plates on the coffee table in front of his couch, “Ok Pudgy, tell us what happened after you left.” The hedgehog would alternate between nibbles of cookie and telling his tale. Pudgy had met the waffles, then the search for the underwater town, then the boat ride on the lake, then the diving down under water. Argente started hugging the hedgehog, “don’t you ever do that again!” The man laughed but started to grow serious when Pudgy began to tell of the dive down and reaching the submarine. The arrival of the ghost crew, and the battle with the shadowy creature. The meeting with the Goddess made everyone quiet and stop eating. It was when the shade attacked once more at the Marina, that made him most concerned. The trip back to the Waffles, and then the emergency trip to Loki’s house, to fight another shadowy creature made him pick up Pudgy,
“Pudgy, this is serious,” the man said with a serious tone to his voice. When he did that, Pudgy started to get scared. Unlike previous adventures, Cobalt started to interrogate his little friend. He was asking very pointed questions. The hedgehog was answering, but when he reached for his cookie, the man pushed it away. Looking up at him, the critter could see the man’s eyes intently staring at him. He kept a yellow lined legal pad, in case of calls, which was quickly filling up with notes. After he got the information he needed, and the hedgehog started to tear up, he handed back the cookie. The hedgehog nibbled but did not like what was going on. Argente was beside herself, as this adventure was even more dangerous than before, and she started hugging him, not letting her quill covered friend go.
The man did a quick search on his phone and located a description of Hecates: “associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.” Looking down at Pudgy, he patted his head gently, but realized that the gold talisman he was now attuned to meant that the adventure was not over. There would be no rest for anyone, until they stopped the Kaiser. “Pudgy, I fear this is far bigger than anyone of us realized. We are going to need to prepare for war.” The fox looked up at the man, who was sitting stone faced and sipping his tea. “What do you mean Cobalt,” the female fox asked, with her silver ears perked up. The man looked down, “the Kaiser and his shades know where we live. They will be coming here, after Pudgy.”
The fox looked worried, and Pudgy looked up as well. “Will you still help us Cobalt?” The hedgehog asked, which drew a smile from the man, “Of course Pudgy, I’m your friend forever and ever. And I am friends with Argente, Mr. Bear, and all your other friends too. We will stop the Kaiser, one way or another. But now, we must be incredibly careful, plan, prepare, and ready our defenses.” The three friends looked outside of the living room window, at the heat-stricken trees of the forest, as they swayed in the dry breeze. Pudgy looked up, “can we have more cookies?” The man nodded, “and I think I need a coffee too.”
As the days passed, Cobalt was able to get Pudgy’s underground home back in order. The batteries were charged and installed. The water storage tanks were filled with enough water for Pudgy’s use. Cobalt had ordered a small solar panel and wired it into the front of his home as stealthily as he could. Even with the water wheel down, due to no water, the panel was making electricity to charge to batteries. This plan would work fine, until the winter, when the snows would cover the panels and the light was the weakest. Argente stopped by frequently to check on her friend, but also to patrol the area. Everything was fine, though the heat wave would not break.
The local Agway truck stopped by and dropped off a load of galvanized pipes. Using both hand tools, and powered tools, Cobalt managed to drill a well for the underground home. The pipe was installed, but due to the length of pipe needed, he had to install a secondary pump. It required power, which made the batteries drain quicker, but did not need to be run all the time. Cobalt also determined what had happened to the creek as well. Pudgy’s beaver friends had blocked off the stream above Pudgy and Argente’s homes. After some measurements, as well as negotiations by Pudgy, the beavers agreed to allow Cobalt to install some spillway pipes. They needed a certain depth of water, so the pipes were mounted a in inch above that. The beavers did not like the way they looked, but quickly the pipes were disguised by mud and debris.
Out of the blue the rains came, and when they did, the skies opened. The rainwater pounded the area, and over the course of a couple more days, the forest was coming back to life. The beavers who had resisted the spillway, realized what was happening, when their dam started to buckle from the torrent of water that spilled down from the hills above. Their pond overflowed the banks and started to spill out everywhere. The pipes alleviated the pressure, which kept the dam from blasting apart. On a very humid, but much cooler next day, the man was hugged by happy beavers as well as a fox and hedgehog. The days seemed happy, and everyone was starting to relax.
In the distance, a woman dressed in a white gown, with a feathered mantle on her shoulders, smiled at the scene before her. Hecate’s Daughter had wrapped up her affairs that prevented her from returning. She had desperately wanted to tell Pudgy what was going on at Warwick but could not at that time. Taking a step forward, she was going to approach her friends. But she felt like she could not move, and as her eyes scanned the area, the black miasma began to surround her. A gunmetal gray clawed hand quickly covered her mouth, and she was pulled backwards into the shadows. As the terrified woman looked up, one fiery orange orb was staring back at her. Her muffled screams could not be heard, as the figure’s shadowy tendrils were covering her body. The two wrapped in shadow began to fade into the shadows that were cast by several nearby trees. Only the guttural demonic laughter could be heard, and soon the two were gone.