Lori was sitting on a pale leatherette seat with her laptop bag on her lap. She had this uneasy feeling, that something was not quite right. After the helicopter had landed, Natasha their liaison with the company had led them through the mine on a guided tour. Her footwear was not the kind of attire to be used on an onsite visit. She had assumed, incorrectly, this would be an office setting. Luckily, she was not the only one having trouble walking, as Natasha cursed in Russian and had to walk on her tip toes to avoid sinking in the mud. The office was essentially a series of town behind trailers that had been backed into the mine, and connected using a series of connector couplings, almost like a big gasket.
Natasha was sitting at a dark brown wooden desk, with a green colored office lamp that was turned on. She was busy typing a report, on a laptop that was sitting in front of her. She had taken off the sunglasses, to wear a dainty set of black rimmed eyeglasses on the tip of her nose. Her companion Mike had been led to a nearby trailer, which served as the records room, and had been tasked to investigate payroll records. “Lori, you may go in now. The Kaiser is ready.” Lori nodded, and stood up, walking across the room as her heels clicked on the metal floorboards of the trailer. She reached a door, with an incredibly unique KGEI logo, with a silver bird on it. The picture reminded her of something, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was?
The door handle was a latch style, and as she squeezed it, the lock clicked, and the door began to creak loudly as it opened. Upon crossing the threshold of the door, she saw an executive office had been built within the trailers. It rivalled that of any New York office, with marble floors, all the high-end finishes, and a large mahogany desk sitting in the center of the room. There was an elderly man sitting at the chair behind the desk, and his steel gray eyes almost burned with an unnatural glare. His hair was snow white and cut short in proper military fashion. The suit was black, almost as if it could suck in the light surrounding it. “Lori, I presume?” The man said in English, with a German accent. “Please have a seat, we have much to discuss.” The nervous businesswoman nodded and walked towards a couple seats that were in front of the desk. Each chair was a high back style, with black leather. The same strange bird logo was stitched into the chair’s head rests. “Mister Kaiser, on behalf of my firm, we wish to express our most sincere apologies. Jeff, your former investment consultant, has been summarily fired for his gross incompetence.” Lori said mustering up as much confidence as she could, since the client had almost three billion dollars invested with their firm.
The executive nodded, “I would certainly hope so. I do not know the ways of your American stock market and was assured a 20% return on investment. Based on my own rough calculations, my investments have yielded a net loss of 23.7432%. I estimate, my funds have been cut by roughly 713 million American dollars. How does your firm care to explain this?” Lori swallowed hard, realizing this was going to be extremely difficult. “Well, as part of the investigation as to what has occurred, our firm would first like to advise how your capital was invested. Then from there, I can discuss what went wrong, and finally how to fix this. May I set up my laptop, to show you?” The Kaiser nodded, though his eyes almost seemed to glow red from time to time. The unnerving man ran his hands along his white neatly trimmed beard, before folding them in front of his mouth. The nervous woman shook her head and started to go into her report. The laptop displayed the various investment vehicles that the funds were being used to fund.
Meanwhile Mike was shoulders deep in handwritten expense reports. Most were in German, some in Russian, and very few in English. Luckily, the German reports were legible, and had numbers on them. The most unnerving part of his work was there was a giant man sitting in an overstuffed green chair next to the door of the trailer. He had shown Mike to the records room and towered above him at almost seven feet tall. He wore an eye patch over his left eye, and a pinstriped black suit. The records were most helpful however, as the source of the accounting irregularities from the Denver investigation were becoming known. KGEI had invested vast sums of money into buying mining sites all around the world. There were invoices for pay offs to various governments, as well as handwritten expenses for artifact acquisition. This company was doing something, and the more he researched, the more uneasy he became. The logos on the paperwork also unnerved him, as they were reminiscent of something, he vaguely remembered from history class long ago.
The giant man looked up over the piles of papers, “accountant, have you finished?” Mike looked up, and rubbed his eyes, “to be honest, I am not sure. There are dozens of questionable expenses here, that do not make any sense. Any idea why there has been so much activity around Poland?” The large man shot him an angry glare, “That is beyond either of our pay grades.” A phone ringing sound began to be heard, and the handset was picked up by Mike’s escort. “Ja, ich verstehen.” The red handset was returned to its phone base, and one blue eye peered at Mike intently. “Accountant, it is time, the Kaiser commands your presence.” Mike nodded, and stood up, gathering his belongings, and walking towards him. Standing up and fixing the wrinkles of his pin striped pants, the escort motioned with his hands to follow.
As Mike exited the room through the gasket that led into the next, the lights were turned off behind him, and the hatch door closed shut. It was a strange occurrence, that his escort was behind him, and would point in the direction to walk. They navigated the almost maze-like series of trailers, to reach the first room where the receptionist office was. Natasha was sitting at her desk, checking her makeup in a small black compact. She smiled coyly at him and motioned with her hand to enter the room. The giant sat down on the leatherette couch and looked uneasy. Upon opening the door, the accountant could smell the faint waft of Lori’s perfume in the air. The Kaiser’s eyes were almost glowing, and the exasperated woman was trying to explain why shorting Apple, then executing an option on the Hertz stock, yielded an 83% loss on the capital.
The Kaiser waved his hand dismissively, “enough of your prattle, be silent woman. Ahh the accountant, come and sit here. We have much to discuss.” Mike nodded and headed to the chair beside Lori’s and sat down gingerly. “My firm would like to thank you Mister Kaiser, for the honor to do business with your operation.” The elderly executive shot back with a dismissive wave and sharp tone, “enough of your platitudes! Now, what have you found?” Realizing that Lori had stirred up the executive, the accountant started to explain in calm tones the horrendous numbers he had found. The company was bleeding red ink everywhere. The entire operation was a loss, and worse yet, there were severe tax implications both domestic and international. After Mike completed his analysis, the room sat deadly silent, with only the faint sounds of breathing. Someone’s nose was whistling, and he was sure it was not his. The elderly executive nodded, “well it would seem my business is on the verge of collapse, and my finances are in shambles. Now, how do we fix it?”
Lori started to speak and explained that the firm had already began to unwind the various options and shorts. After conversion to lower yield, fixed rate annuities, and various index funds, the rate of return had swung to a 2% gain just in one quarter. While not the rate of return that was promised, they were able to halt any further losses to the portfolio. The executive nodded, “so that means my firm only lost 10 million dollars? That is good, your firm will reimburse my loss.” Lori blinked, “Mister Kaiser, I do not know if I can authorize such a transaction. I need to speak to my superiors.” As the elderly man turned to Mike, “now accountant, what is your recommendations?” Mike swallowed hard and explained that several of the ancillary businesses had no revenue generation potential, but if shut down and liquidated, would offset the losses. When he spoke of the artifact business being shut down as a possible candidate, the Kaiser’s eyes started almost burned with intensity. The light within the office started to flicker, and the floors almost began to shake.
“I see,” The Kaiser responded in a dark tone. “So, Lori, what would be the net loss if I liquidated my entire portfolio and returned to cash?” Lori felt her stomach flip, “Mister Kaiser, I do not recommend such a course of action. There are tax implications, capital gains for instance. Mike could provide further clarity. If we utilize the plan as laid out, it will minimize your losses. Over time, in two quarters, your portfolio will have recovered.” Mike raised his hand discreetly, “I would be inclined to agree with my counterpart. You are looking at hundreds of millions of dollars of capital gains taxes if you were to liquidate. Not only that, you would need to file the various schedule forms, and SEC notifications to liquidate such large positions on the stock market. You could possibly incite a stock market panic, which would put your firm on risky legal status.” The elderly executive nodded, “I see, so it would hurt your stock market?” Lori and Mike nodded, then Lori spoke, “and your overall return as well. Please sir, I may be able to offset your overall loss, I just need time to work on a solution.”
The Kaiser nodded, and turned the laptop towards him, and reviewed the charts and graphs, as well as the prospectus for the funds that Lori was outlining. The man began to type on the keyboard and nodded to himself while doing so. He had a sheet of paper sitting beside his left hand and would write notes with the same hand. “This trading software is not user friendly, but I understand what you are explaining now. Thank you, Lori. Please see the changes I am suggesting as a counteroffer.” Turning the laptop around, Lori noticed the Wi-Fi had been connected. The Kaiser had broken her passwords, and the forex trading chart was showing a death cross formation. Lori’s eyes went wide, the Kaiser had used her credentials to liquidate the entire portfolio.” The accountant grabbed his chest, as he felt his heart almost stop. There was an indicator showing the stock market immediately dived 500 points, just on the trade execution.
Before Lori could speak, the Kaiser’s eyes started to glow blood red. “I care not for your country, or its stock market. I care little if this company loses millions of dollars, as long as I can fulfill my destiny.” The businesswoman looked over at her accountant counterpart, “Mike, this is not right, why is his eyes glowing red?” The Kaiser stood up from his desk, and his black suit had started to almost flow like a robe, and hung around him at strange, unnerving angles. “Now, I understand. Your country has always tried to inflict pain upon my homeland. Your trickery has cost me a fortune, and your solution is more trickery!” He slammed his hand on the desk, almost cracking the top. It was then when Mike and Lori looked, there was silver skull with flags on either side. The flags were red with white circles inside, and a strange black logo. Lori blinked, and looked at the Kaiser directly. “You’re…a….”
The furious man started to shout in pure German. His voice boomed like thunder, and the light seemed to fade around him. The only intelligible thing he said that either occupant could understand when he shouted, “HANNNSSSS!” The two professionals during this tense exchange had picked up their things, as discreetly as they could, while the screaming executive continued his dark transformation. Their chairs started to shake, and violently they were flung out of the office and into the waiting room. The Kaiser’s office was enveloped in pure darkness, his door sung shut violently. “Lori, up now, we have to run!” The accountant yelled at his friend, and as Lori nodded, she started to scream. Looking down from above her, was the giant man, encased in a black miasma. One orange orb like eye glowed with an unearthly flame. Clawed hands grasped onto their shoulders, and each were violently thrust out of the door of the reception area and into the mine. The two landed hard on the rocky ground of the mine.
Coughing hard from rock dust, Lori took off her heels, and stood up barefooted. Even though her feet hurt from the rocky ground, the terrified woman started to run. Mike nodded while he rolled over onto his knees, stood up coughing, and then started to run beside her towards the exit/entrance to the mine. Demonic laughter, and guttural growls filled the mine. The sounds echoed around them, almost boring a hole into their very souls. Neither looked back, nor continued to run as fast as their legs could carry them. Lori started to fall behind but was yanked forward when her accountant friend grabbed her hand and pulled her along. The two reached the exit of the mine and ran out into the wide gravel staging area for the mining vehicles. While Mike turned around, Lori fell to the ground wheezing. The shade was following them out of the mine, with one orange orb filled with a burning hatred. As the monster reached the exit of the mine, its black shadows started to erupt out of the mine and wrap around the rocky openings. A gun metal clawed hand reached out and picked up Lori in its grasp.
She started to scream hysterically, and then was thrown like a rag doll hard against a pile of wooden crates. Mike shouted, “Lori!” He dropped his bag and clenched his fist. The angry man started to speak in Spanish and started to say words not suitable for daily use. The shade laughed in its demonic voice tones and pointed at Lori, then at Mike. Its other clawed hand thrust out of the shadows and grasped around his waist pinning him to the spot where he stood in front of the mine’s entrance. While its other claw grasped and began to squeeze hard around the woman’s lower abdomen. Mike cursed out in Spanish and turned his head to look at her, while she furiously tried to pry open its grip. However, the man was starting to realize he was not powerful enough to stop the monster. Thoughts of possible death crossed both his mind and Lori’s. With focus on Lori and the monster, the accountant almost missed a small voice from below him call out. “Pudgy say stop hurting nice people, you bad monster!”
The hedgehog had heard the commotion from his camp and had come running as fast as his little paws could carry him. The shade focused on Pudgy and boomed, “PUUUUDDDDGGGGYYYYY!” The accountant looked down, and there was a little hedgehog dressed in a camouflage suit, backpack, and mining helmet on. The critter was holding a glowing disc in his paws, and his quills were almost starting to glow with a white light. Lori looked up weakly and whimpered, “Go get him Pudgy!” The bewildered man looked at the monster, Lori, and then Pudgy. “Santa Maria, he is real?” Pudgy scampered past Mike, and closer to the mine on all fours. The little backpack wiggled on his back as he ran along the ground, and then when he was close enough, he sat on his rear end, and held up the Talisman. “Open gate to the north, send bad monster away!” A light beam of pure white light shot out from the talisman, and the shade was engulfed. Howls of pain, and demonic screeches filled the air. The claw released Mike instantly, causing the man to drop down onto his knees wheezing. The shade retreated into the mine while roaring, and from deep within the mine, guttural roars continued to fill the area.
Lori looked up as the large claw that had grasped her was gone, having been burned away by the light beam that Pudgy had summoned. Looking up into the night sky, the stars started to fade away. “Pudgy!” The woman cried out and watched as the hedgehog put the talisman away. Pudgy scampered along the gravel chip road surface, and up to Lori. The hedgehog rubbed his nose with hers, “Lori, are you ok?” The woman smiled weakly and patted his head with her hand. Pudgy saw she was bruised and dirty but seemed otherwise to be ok. The astonished woman looked at Pudgy in his strange getup, “Pudgy, what are you doing out here?” The critter turned to watch the middle-aged man walk over and sit down with his legs crossed Indian style. Pudgy waved, “hello Mister.” Lori sat up gingerly, as she was very sore. Her skirt was ripped, so sitting lady like was going to be difficult. Sitting like a gentleman was also out of the question, the last thing she needed to do was explain to Pudgy why she was different than Mike.
“Pudgy forest was attacked by shades, the scary black smoke monster that attacked you. Their leader is a bad person named Kaiser. He is enormously powerful. Pudgy have magic talisman to stop monsters. But Pudgy not here to fight Kaiser.” Mike nodded, “Ok, I’ll bite, why are you here … Pudgy?” The hedgehog pointed into the mine, “Kaiser kidnap Hecates Daughter Angeliki. Pudgy have to save her!” Lori smiled, “well, I would not have believed you yesterday about monster … but now I do.” The accountant laughed, and gingerly touched Pudgy’s head. He was warm to the touch, and his quills were so soft. The tips of his quills were starting to turn white, and he seemed to be aging as he stood there. “Pudgy, how did you get out here?” The man asked and watched as the critter turned around. “Cobalt built Pudgy a plane, plus paid Sandra and Raymond to fly Pudgy out to Packwood airport. It is that way, about hour away by Pudgy plane.” The two humans turned to look to the east, and saw the road snaked down the mountain.
Lori started to tear up, “Pudgy, I am not sure you can stop them, let alone save Angeliki. What we saw, they have unnatural power. And the death’s head ring the Kaiser was wearing, means that he served in the third Reich. “Mike looked at Lori, and his memory was instant refreshed, the imperial eagle logos on the chairs, and stationary. The documents had red and black logos, “Nazis…not the fake ones from online. We are dealing with real fudging Nazis. Lori, we have to call the authorities, do you still have your cell phone?” The businesswoman nodded, and opened her bag, she cursed as she forgot her laptop inside the mine. The company could buy her a new one, and a new outfit too. Her phone was smashed, with the screen leaking battery acid. “It’s busted, what about yours?” The man nodded, and opened his backpack, finding his cell phone, tablet, and pretzels all crushed and mixed in pieces. There were many words in Spanish, of which Pudgy only recognized one: “the.”
Mike stood up, “Maybe one of the mining vehicles has gas, and the keys inside? We can take it and drive to town.” Lori nodded, and stood up slowly. As she did, she noticed the hedgehog had disappeared. “Pudgy, where are you?” The two humans turned around and started to look, and calling out the little critter’s name. It was after a short scan of the area that Mike pointed towards the mine. Lori turned, and saw Pudgy scampering inside the mine. While she was saddened that he had run off again without her, the woman realized that the hedgehog had to save his friend. Hecates daughter was always nice to her online, and she hoped to meet her one day. The man cupped his hands around his mouth, “go get them Pudgy! Kick their butts!” Lori smiled and limped beside her male companion as they started to walk down the road, towards a parked mining truck. Maybe they could get lucky, and not have to walk 13 miles to town?
Pudgy was scampering as fast as he could with his heart racing from a mixture of excitement and apprehension. This was it, he made it to the mine, and inside was his friend somewhere. The mine’s entrance was gigantic and seemed to tower higher than anything Pudgy had ever seen. Inside the mine, there was virtually no light. Demonic howls bellowed from deep within the mine, which only grew louder with each step towards the entrance. There were big wooden crates flanking the sides of the mine and were labelled dates from 1975. All outward signs pointed to the mine being shut down, yet the presence of heavy machinery showed something indeed was going on.
Pudgy placed his front paws inside the threshold of the mine, and in an instant, the noises stopped. For that matter, all sound ceased. Tapping his helmet, nothing could be heard. Sniffing the air, the critter twitched his nose, and continued to enter the mine. Step by step he scampered, and what little light there was, turned into total darkness. Deciding against the light from his mining helmet he wore, Pudgy continued along the wall of the mine, cut from ancient stone. Chisel marks, and jackhammer gouges dotted the wall. The ground was rocky, though it was gravel chip that had been packed down from years of walking upon it. Unlike the humans who could run quickly, hedgehog speed was much slower, and it took a long time until he reached the part of the main mine shaft, which branched out. There were lights coming from the left side of the shaft.
Heading towards the lights, Pudgy proceeded cautiously, and darted between old rusty mining toolboxes, and empty derelict crates from former shipments of supplies. Closer and closer he crept and saw silver metal trailers parked inside a big area, which at one point houses the various mine equipment. The red and black KGE International logo with the imperial eagle was emblazoned on the outside of the trailers. Pudgy stopped and peeked around a big chunk of granite that had fallen from the ceiling when he saw a large man leaning against the trailer. He was missing his left arm and was cursing loudly. The man wore a suit of some sort, which was tattered and almost seemed to move like a flag in the wind. While pounding on the door to the trailer, he was dripping something, that was equally dark. Sniffing the air, the critter could smell blood.
The door to the trailer opened, and a slender woman looked out. She wore a tight form fitting dress, which showed off her various womanly features to detail. Circular black sunglasses were perched upon her nose, and her lips painted dark red curled into a smile. “Hans…I see you were unable to stop the accountant and investment counselor from escaping. You have failed the Kaiser twice now; you are lucky he is not here right now.” The woman had a thick Russian accent, which Pudgy recognized from the spy shows he watched with his friend Cobalt. When the large man cursed in German again, he dropped to his knees and stammered in English. “The hedgehog is here, and he has the talisman. He was outside of the mine, why?” The woman tossed back her long black hair and sneered at him. “Because I told him where to find us.” The man pulled his head up, and while Pudgy could see his expression, the tone said all that was needed to be understood. “YOU TOLD HIM TO FIND US HERE! Why would you do that? It will interfere with the Kaiser’s plans, Natasha.”
Pudgy slowly crept closer, trying to get a better vantage point, and listened intently on the conversation. Natasha smiled, and ran her hand along the cheek of her counterpart Hans. “My dear Zerstörer, I will miss you.” The woman released her embrace, and then stepped back inside of the trailer, shutting the door. Hans was confused, and looked around the area, “Natasha, what are you doing?!?” The hedgehog watched in horror, as black tendrils seemed to float along the surface of the mine shaft from all directions. The shadows began to wrap around the large man, who started to yell. “Nein, ich habe dir treu gedient, mein Kaiser!” A dark voice boomed throughout the mine shafts, with deafening howls of demonic voices. “Du hast mich zum letzten Mal im Stich gelassen, Zerstörer.” Footsteps could be heard, approaching from behind the hedgehog. As stealthily as he could manage, Pudgy backed into a small crevasse in the wall, and tried to stay as inconspicuous as he could.
Glowing red orbs floated in the mine, with a black miasma that filled the mine shaft. The miasma swirled, with a foul scent of sulfur filling the air. The smells of dead things wafted in the air as well, with the shadows taking shape into that resembling a slender man. Hans was twisted around violently and was struggling to breathe with the tightening shadow tendrils around his body. “Please my Kaiser….” He said having switched back to English. Pudgy realized that he was seeing the Kaiser, the source of all the evil and terror his adventures were as of late. The words of Lori and Mike from earlier ringing in his mind, these were Nazis. They were supposed to have been defeated in world war 2. The hedgehog remembered the strange history shows Cobalt would watch, about secret missions to evacuate the third Reich leadership and key personnel from Germany.
The Kaiser sneered, and motioned broadly with his arms. “And now you use the language of our enemy to please for your life? You are pathetic Zerstorer. What did this to you, the hedgehog again?” Hans was coughing hard and screamed in pains as his ribs started to crack one by one from the pressure of the constricting tendrils. “Pudgy is outside, and he brought the talisman. He … figured out how to make it work.” The demonic man laughed, “no doubt it was the Goddess, trying to interfere with my plan. No matter, her daughter will soon outlive her usefulness, and like you soon will find out, my patience grows thin for my revenge upon this world. The trains shall run once more, to free my people from their eternal damnation.” Hans blinked his one remaining blue eye, and gasped, “I thought you were going to bring about the Reich once more?” Without a further word, Hans gasped out and groaned, before being squeezed to death. As the body dropped to the ground hard, the Kaiser stood silently.
While the shadows began to retreat, and the various mine lights started to come into view once more, Hans’s body started to slowly disappear as a fine black mist. The mist travelled along the ground and flowed into the Kaiser’s miasma. The demonic man took several steps forward, before stopping where ethe body of Hans once was. The shadows were pulling inwards around his body, and soon the Kaiser turned into an elderly man dressed in a form fitting set of black suit pants, and white shirt, with a red tie with the black imperial eagle on it. His shirt sleeves were folded up around his elbows, and as the man turned Pudgy could see him in greater detail. His face was wrinkled and wore a white trimmed beard and mustache. There were numbers on each forearm, which almost seemed to glow red like his eyes that remained burning still. Folding down his sleeves one bye one, he buttoned them and watched as the trailer’s door opened once more. Natasha exited the trailer, with the man’s black suit coat. She smiled a warm glance at him, while helping him put his suit coat on. Once properly dressed, the Kaiser nodded, “Zerstörer is no more, you are now my last shade, Natasha.”
The woman smiled again, and then stepped aside so the man could enter the trailer. Following him, she walked up the couple metal steps to get inside, and then shut the door. Pudgy was trembling, bordering on not being able to stop shaking. Without any effort or remorse, the Kaiser killed Hans. Hans was the most powerful of the shades, having survived two attacks from the Talisman. And the Kaiser killed him still, why was that? Pudgy was scared and confused, he tried desperately to refocus his mind on the task at hand. The trailers that lay before him might be able to help, but the Kaiser and the last remaining shade was inside. Shaking his head, Pudgy decided to avoid the trailers. Emerging from his hiding spot, the hedgehog scampered quickly across the floor, and into a nearby tunnel. Each step resulted in him being able to focus once more, though his heart kept beating quickly.
Hours passed, with Pudgy exploring the various mine shafts, which seemed to go on forever. They formed a perimeter around a central point, which was a huge elevator. The mining safety lights had been turned on, though the amount of light the cast was scant at best. Thankfully, he had his mining helmet, and a little beam of light illuminated the path he was walking. Soon he reached the elevator and looked down. The elevator car was somewhere far below, which meant that Pudgy would have to find the controls to bring it up. But that would make a lot of noise, and undoubtedly bring around the shade or Kaiser. Shaking his head, Pudgy knew he would need to climb down. With some searching, he located the chain drive which lifted and lowered the elevator car. The oil had dried up long ago, which meant the lift probably did not work.
Pudgy jumped out from his spot and caught the chain. While it swung back and forth, he started to climb down. There were a couple of slick spots, but link by link the little critter descended deeper into the mine. Hours passed, and despite frequent breaks to recover, Pudgy was growing extremely tired. He shook his head, “Pudgy have to save Angeliki, Goddess Hecate is counting on Pudgy.” So, he pressed on, and continued to climb down. More time passed, though it was hard to tell how much actually, and he passed several spots of boarded up areas from old branches of the mine that had been tapped out. But thankfully, Pudgy could see the bottom approaching. The Elevator cart was not a car with a roof and controls. It appeared it was a lift style with a platform, the control area though had a little shack overtop of it. Upon reaching the end of the chain where it met the sprocket, Pudgy let go and fell a distance, before landing hard on his rear end.
It felt good to sit, and while he rubbed his paws, he sniffed the air. The air was musty with a faint smell of lilies. Pudgy rubbed his chin with his paws and sniffed again. The same scent was there, off to the left tunnel. Weakly he stood up, and then started to scoot across the now uneven mine floor heading down the tunnel. While he really needed and wanted to rest, he knew there was little time left, and he continued to press on. His speed slowed, to almost a crawl, which meant after another extremely long period of time passed, he reached his limit and fell on his belly wheezing. The smell of lilies was stronger and seemed like it was tantalizingly close. Pulling his body along the floor with his front paws, the hedgehog reached the edge of a wall, and poked his head around it.
There was another large room that had been cut into the stone. Torches had been lit, and the flames danced on the quickly burning fuel. The light was soft, being cast and dancing along the walls. A woman in white was hanging from the ceiling in chains. Her face looked gaunt, and she swung from side to side occasionally. There were bindings at her ankles, as well as wrists from which she hung from. There was a red cloth with the white circle and funny black logo wrapped tightly around her mouth. Pudgy whimpered, “Angeliki, Pudgy found you!” The woman almost seemed to sense him, and her eyes opened glowing faintly blue. She whimpered back, but the gag was making her muffled. Pudgy felt a second wave of energy fill him, and he stood up, scampering once more up the mine shaft to reach the room where the woman was hanging.
Hecates daughter Angeliki had almost given up hope, having been kidnapped by the Kaiser’s shade and imprisoned within the mine. When she saw a little light moving along the floor, and the timid voice of Pudgy, her heart leapt. While it would seem impossible, she knew the hedgehog could do wonderous things. Tears started to form in her eyes, as the sense of relief started to well up from within her. The critter was dressed in a warm camouflage outfit of some sort, with a backpack and mining helmet on. There was a little light that cast a beam around in front of him, which made giggle slightly. Soon though, she could no longer see Pudgy. Realizing he must have passed underneath her, she tried to swing around, but she was too weak.
Pudgy started to explore the room, and while he passed underneath his friend, he kept his head down. Pudgy knows you should never pass under a lady and look up; it is not polite. When he passed underneath though, he started to see a mechanism of some sort. There was a long wire cable that was holding up Angeliki, which was coupled with a pulley, and then lead back to a winch. The critter scampered up to the winch, feeling his muscles burning. He was so close, he could not stop, and ignored the pain he was in as best as he could. The winch had a hand control, which thankfully had fallen onto the ground. The controls were simple, with a rocker switch that said up and down. Pushing the down button, nothing happened. Then realizing he had to push the on button, the critter laughed. Turning the winch on, caused the controller to light up with a faint orange light. He pushed the down arrow, and a terrific whine started to fill the room from the winch. Slowly, the woman started to lower and then reach the ground.
Pudgy pushed the off button and turned around to scamper up to Angeliki. The woman had sat down on the ground and was trying as best she could to unloop the hook from her wrist bindings. He headed towards his friend, and then crawled up beside her hip. Placing a paw onto her side, she looked down and her eyes filled with tears. “Pudgy sorry took so long, but Pudgy here.” She watched as the critter climbed up using her white dress and took off his pack. Getting out some tools, the critter started to cut her wrist bindings. The ropes were tied tightly and was taking a long time. But she was now no longer hanging by her arms, which meant she could finally start to recover.
Several tense minutes passed, and one of the ropes were cut, which allowed enough wiggle room for her to get one of her wrists out from the bindings. With her hand free, the woman reached up and started to pull the gag from her mouth. She watched while Pudgy was busy working on cutting her remaining wrist free of its binding. Finally, after weeks, she had the blasted gag off, and took in a deep breath through her mouth. After swallowing a couple of times, her dry mouth started to finally recover. She watched as the ropes fell off her other wrist, and then Pudgy bounce from her lap to start working on her ankle restraints. When the woman could finally speak, she whispered, “Dearest Pudgy, I am so glad to see thou.” Pudgy looked up her legs, and over the knees, to see her smiling face. Before Angeliki knew it, the restraints were free, and Pudgy was beside her hip once more.
He climbed back into her lap, and then put away his tiny tools, and looked up at her, “Pudgy glad to find you Angeliki. Your mother helped Pudgy find you.” The woman smiled, and gently scooped up the hedgehog in her hands, and brought him up to face level. She pressed her lips together and kissed him gently on the nose. Then hugged him gently against her shoulder, “Dearest Pudgy, I am glad she did. I was starting to lose hope help would come.” Pudgy hugged her back and felt himself falling asleep. Exhaustion had arrived, and Pudgy could not go anymore.