Pudgy woke up a short time later and looked up. Angeliki was still holding him and smiling at him. “Pudgy sorry, fell asleep.” The woman nodded, “It was not for a long time, dearest Pudgy.” Pudgy heard a very loud rumbling sound coming from within the woman, and he looked up and began to wiggle free of her grasp. The hedgehog fell onto her lap once again and started to undo the straps of the backpack. Giggling, she looked down, and saw the hedgehog pulling out cookies from his pack. “Here, take Pudgy cookies, will make feel better!” The woman at first was hesitant, but she was weak from her imprisonment, and gingerly took the cookies which barely fit in the palm of her hand. Pudgy watched his friend pop the cookies into her mouth, and then he turned his focus back to closing the backpack and putting it back on. “Mm, those tasted very good Pudgy, thank you.” She said while watching the little critter in her lap.
“Pudgy, I overheard the shades talking when they imprisoned me. The Kaiser was coming, he may already be here.” Pudgy looked up at his friend and frowned while twitching his nose. “Pudgy see Kaiser, he killed the big one with the orange eye. Pudgy and Loki hurt that one in Branson. Pudgy’s talisman from Goddess hurts the shades. Pudgy have taken care of 2 shades: one in Texas and one in Pudgy forest.” Angeliki blinked and looked in disbelief. “Oh my, you hath been busy little one? Wait, what talisman?” The hedgehog pulled out a tiny gold talisman, with green writing on it. The woman gently scooped him up, and raised him to eye level, so she could study the talisman. She immediately recognized it, and her pale blue eyes went wide. “With no doubt, that is a Hecatean Talisman. Have you …. Met my Mother?” The critter nodded and began to explain about all the times he met the Goddess, and what was discussed. The woman nodded while she listened to the stories being told. Weakly, she began to stand, while keeping the critter in her hands.
Hecates Daughter Angeliki began to tell the story of what had happened to her, while she walked through the dark mine. The woman was thankful for the occasional safety light humming with electric that dotted the walls of the mine. Each light cast a pale orange light in circular spots along the ground, which lit the path back to the elevator lift. She had just returned to Pudgy’s forest after travelling to Europe on an errand for her mother. The Goddess, though not at the height of power she once enjoyed, was still responsible for maintaining certain aspects of life behind the scenes. She was responsible for the gateways and paths, the beginnings and endings. The Kaiser had been causing issues throughout many natural processes, interrupting the natural flow of life and death. Pudgy was confused and would raise his paw to ask a question. She would smile softly, and to soothe his mind, she would hug him gently. The question would subside, and she could continue her story.
It was not because she needed to hide anything, but mainly because it would be difficult to explain, and possibly upset her hedgehog rescuer. She continued to explain that the shade had followed her through the forest and kidnapped her when she had let her guard down. Unceremoniously she was loaded onto a spectral horse which galloped through the air. Throughout much of the trip she was unconscious, though for brief moments of awareness, she could see the shade attacking several planes as they journeyed west through the skies. The shadowy creature would return to the steed after each attack, and upon finding an aware woman, would summarily knock her out once more. She did not know how much time has passed and was awakened when the rider reached the mine. Her mouth was gagged, and her hands were bound, before she was led into the mine. She was taken to the deepest part within, and then strung up to hang from the ceiling of the room Pudgy had found her in. With no connection to the outside world, she was unsure how long she had spent within the mine.
Pudgy looked up at her, “Pudgy don’t understand, why would they want to kidnap you Angeliki?” The woman hugged her hedgehog friend once more, and then paused beside an orange safety light. Her pale blue eyes started to flicker, “my magic is too weak yet, I can not show you. Pudgy, there are ancient places throughout this world. Long before men walked the earth, the Gods practiced their arts, and shaped this world. Inside this mountain, is a font of power, which I can unlock. I have thus far resisted, hence my imprisonment.” The critter nodded and looked up at her worried face. She resumed her slow pace forward, “the Kaiser, should he be able to access the font, would do terrible things. We must not let that happen.”
Pudgy wiggled his nose at her, “what is a font?” The woman smiled, “it is remarkably similar to a well. There are many scattered throughout the world. I believe the miners here unearthed it unknowingly during their excavations. I believe this to be of Hades design, he would take measures to ensure my mother could not come close to the font. I know not why, and she will not explain what happened between them.” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy think understand. Someone tell Pudgy do not look in well, only darkness is there.” The woman smiled broadly, “that person is incredibly wise. If you were to look, you would see only the purest form of darkness and hatred. It is that reason why we must escape this place, and not let the Kaiser or his minions be able to access that source of power.” His friend began to walk once more, and with her much longer legs, they were travelling far quicker than the hedgehog could scamper.
In a couple of minutes, the two had reached the elevator lift platform in the mine. Pudgy pointed to where the control area was. There was a shack like structure, of rotting wood and metallic chain link fencing that served as a protective area over the lift control panel. She walked over to controls and set Pudgy down on a rusted metal panel. The exceptionally dark mine made it very hard to see what the panel said. Pudgy turned on his head lamp and moved around to light up the panel so his friend could read the faded instructions. “Pudgy, you know, as soon as I turn this on, the shades will come?” The hedgehog nodded and watched as his friend take a deep breath, and then gingerly placed her finger on the the power button. Upon pressing the control button, the panel lights started to turn on one by one, glowing faintly yellow with the occasional flicker. Moving her finger across the control buttons, she pushed the lift button that controlled vertical movement. As the woman expected, the hydraulic pumps started to whine loudly, and the gears shuddered, with the sprockets turning to pull the lift upwards. The noise in the quiet mine was disturbing, as it echoed throughout the shafts that ran vertical and parallel. It was an extremely old lift, so that meant it moved exceedingly slow.
Pudgy looked up with his little mining helmet casting a narrow beam of light in front of him. Looking around, he could feel the whole lift start to shake back and forth around him. Angeliki nodded, and pushed the stop button, causing the platform to slowly cease its upward movement. “What happened?” Pudgy asked and looked around. Before she could speak a word, demonic howls began to fill the mine shafts above them. The two friends looked up and the woman’s mouth went agape. She pointed far above them, as two golden orbs were floating above the elevator shaft. A golden glow was peering down at them, floating menacingly above them lift. “Pudgy, the shade found us,” Angeliki whispered. The black miasma began to fly down from above, filling the empty area of the mine elevator shaft. Pudgy was unsure how, but somehow the miasma was darker than the surrounding darkness. The golden orbs burning with hatred, was locked onto the two friends within the elevator control shack. The howls became deafening, filling the are around them. The shade continued to fly towards them, with its shadows splintering like knives, screeching against the rock as it continued to descend.
The hedgehog took out his talisman and pointed it towards the shade through an empty space in the chain link fence. “Scary monster, you go away! Open gate to north!” Much to the surprise of his human friend, the hedgehog started to glow with a white light. His quills started to extend a tiny bit and began to smoke from heat. A light beam shot out of the talisman and was fired directly at the shade. Angeliki nodded, and pushed the lift raise button, causing the elevator to begin to rise once more. The light beam connected with the side of the shade, and ripped holes through the miasma. The creature roared in pain, though much more distinctive this time. The other growls had a definite male tint to them, but this Pitch was higher. Pudgy surmised that it must have been the woman in the trailer he saw, the one the big man called Natasha. As the shade form approached closer, Pudgy could almost see the young woman’s features within the shadows. The figure dropped hard on the platform, causing it to lurch downwards a bit, before resuming its slow travel upwards. Pudgy turned to face the shade and holding his talisman in front of him.
The shadowy creature’s claws started to extend out, though this time they resembled needles. The black miasma began to swirl around the core figure within. This was to protect the core figure within, with the golden orbs focused on Angeliki. In a dark growl, “and where do you think you’re going? Your role is not yet over. The Kaiser still has plans for you, and you must not deprive him of that.” The defiant woman dressed in tattered white robes pointed upwards defiantly. “I am leaving this place with all haste. I will not assist your Kaiser, nor you with any plans. My dearest Pudgy, that way is east!” The shade looked confused for a moment, until Pudgy shouted, “Open gate to east!” The light beam blasted forth once more from the hedgehog’s golden talisman and nailed the black miasma directly in center of the chest. Pudgy noticed at point blank range, the beam seemed to set the shadows on fire. The burning resembled paper burning and had a similar smell that filled the air. However, the critters paws were starting to hurt, Due to an intense heat being generated from the talisman. But the critter was resolute, knowing he had to keep it up, otherwise his whole rescue trip would be for nothing.
Meanwhile, Pudgy’s friend Angeliki was furiously working on the control panel. Using a bit of metal, she had found on the platform’s surface near the fencing material, she had popped off the safety panels that were below the control panel. While her knowledge of technology was not advanced, she did understand the basic concepts. She was working on a way to speed up the lift, to speed up their escape. The noise being generated from the fight was undoubtedly going to draw the attention of the Kaiser. By her estimation, the lift had ascended at least 3 floors. There were 3 more to go based on what little she could see above the platform. Angeliki watched as her hedgehog friend continued to blast out beams of white light that ripped the shade to shreds.
The black miasma began to pull back and reveal the slender woman ‘s figure within. While there were no clothes that either could see, the body was covered in black shadow. She shrieked like a banshee, “I have had enough of this!” She lurched forward, only to be blasted with another light beam from the hedgehog. Natasha watched in horror as the beam burned away her shadowy miasma, like sunlike caused fog to evaporate. It was sending shockwaves of pain throughout her entire body. Wailing once more, she clenched her teeth, and thrust her needle like claws forward. Pudgy jumped from the control panel, landing hard on the metal platform by Angeliki’s feet. His friend ducked as well and watched as the safety cable was pierced on the elevator lift assembly.
That did the trick, and the elevator gears began to whine loudly as they increased their revolution at a much faster place. This had the preferred outcome of the lift moving at a much faster rate of speed upwards. The trio assembled ascended three mine levels in seconds. At the upper most section of the mine lift trackers, there were stops to ensure the elevator did not go beyond its set course. The exceptionally fast ascend resulted in the platform striking the upper most stops hard, resulting in a severe vibration to shake the platform hard. The woman in white turned to her friend Pudgy, and yelled as she pointed towards the exit, “We have to go now!” The hedgehog scampered quickly along the metal deck plating towards the edge of the platform and reached the rocky surface of the mine shaft. Angeliki nodded and raced quickly after her friend. Upon reaching the scurrying hedgehog in the mine shaft, she lowered her arm and in a quick motion, she was able to scoop up her hedgehog friend. The woman continued to run as quickly as she could through the mine.
The upper section had better quality safety lights and was easier to see. Pudgy was navigating, “turn left, turn right.” Soon they passed the metal trailers where the Kaiser’s office was, which resulted in Pudgy pointing. “The Kaiser is in there, don’t stop Angeliki!” The woman nodded, though she was starting to breathe hard from the frantic escape in progress. The two did not look back to see if the Kaiser nor the shade was following. There was only one goal: to reach the exit of the mine. In a final burst of speed, she was able to make it to the main entrance/exit and pushed hard through the shooting pain in her legs. In a couple of minutes, she had reached the staging ground outside of the pine, with its myriad of packing crates, mining vehicles, and gravel road. Her leg muscles were on fire, and Angeliki coughed while dropping to her knees.
The woman was wheezing, trying to catch her breath. The critter in her hands looked up at her, “Pudgy have airplane, but it is Pudgy sized.” The woman looked down and gave him a tired smile, “an airplane? Did Cobalt build that for you?” The hedgehog nodded and pointed. As she nodded, started to walk slowly over the short distance behind a row of packing crates to where Pudgy pointed. Sure enough, there was a camouflage bi-wing plane sitting beside a mining crate. Pudgy wiggled free of her grasp, and using her dress, climbed down her side to slide down her leg. He bounced when he reached the ground, all the while causing a giggle to erupt from his friend. The woman knelt on the rocky ground and watched as her little friend frantically started to get the plane ready for flight.
The fresh air and the clear skies above were very much a welcome occurrence, and she could feel her magic returning slowly. She had enough strength to cast one spell and began to whisper the incantations. She started to shrink to about the height of her hedgehog friend, which was a strange feeling to say the least. Pudgy was shocked when he saw his friend change size, and for the first time ever could look her directly in the eyes. He wiggled his nose and smiled while waiving at his friend. As she was about to say something back to Pudgy, the two turned when the demonic howls began to erupt from the mine once more. Pudgy cast off the tie down straps and moved the partial cover that was to serve as camouflage and double as a sleeping tent. The critter quickly packed away the materials into his plane, while checking certain parts to ensure it was still safe to fly.
When the plane was ready, Pudgy motioned with his paw to a back area behind the pilot seat. “Get into the compartment!” What Pudgy called a compartment, was a second seat location behind the pilot seat. There had been a cover installed by Cobalt to keep the materials inside from flying out. Pudgy had removed the cover to form the camouflage / tent covering to disguise the plane. Pudgy helped his now diminutive friend hoist herself up, and into the seat. Then once she was inside the plane and waved at him, the hedgehog climbed up into the pilot seat. He put on his flight hat and positioned the goggles over his eyes. Working the controls, the engine started to sputter, and begin to crank slowly. The propellor blade started to turn in first, not fully spinning. Just as when Cobalt tested the engine, it was having trouble starting. Perhaps the plan had sat too long, but there would be time later to discuss that.
His concerned female friend started to call out from behind Pudgy, “We have to go now!” After a couple more frantic attempts to start the engine, it finally kicked on and the propellor blade began to come up to full speed. The little plane started to bounce along the gravel road as the propellor drew it forward. The bi-wing plane began to taxi out between the packing crates, to the main road in front of the mine. Once the hedgehog determined the plane had a clear takeoff area, he went full throttle. The little engine roared, and the plane sped up to gain takeoff velocity. After many tense moments, and a false take off bump from hitting a bump in the road, the plane started to lift off. Soon the two friends knew their plane had started to ascend, and Pudgy steered the rudder to set course to the west.
The mine was passing by underneath them, though not far enough away for Angeliki’s tastes. She giggled in the passenger seat, as she was being rescued by her hedgehog friend. Closing her eyes, she could see flickering images of her mother. Whatever was causing the interference was starting to lessen, so if things got too hairy, she might be able to call upon her for assistance. The woman could hear portions of words being spoken to her, though she did not know by whom. Was it her Mother, or was it something else, she was unsure? The fleeting moment to question things passed, when the howls filled the air once more, causing her to turn in her seat. The enraged shade had emerged from the mine, with golden orbs staring at the little bi-wing plane quickly speeding away from the mine in the sky.
“Pudgy, she found us!” The critter heard his friend yell from behind him and nodded. Pudgy knew what he had to do and started to uncover a panel cover on his tiny control panel. Two rocker switches had been installed with microswitches. They were labelled stage 1 and stage 2, which were connected to separate igniters that were connected to the rocket fuses. The hedgehog remembered what Cobalt said, and he should not to use the rockets unless it was an emergency. Each switch would allow 2 rockets to burn at a time, proving a tremendous thrust. Due to the nature of the rockets, the man was concerned about the plane spinning, so they were wired to burn in pairs mounted on each wing section. The plane’s 4 rockets meant they could only speed burst twice.
Pudgy yelled over the airplane’s engine, “Hold on!” the hedgehog shouted and pushed the stage 1 button. The woman saw fuses ignite and sparks head towards 2 bottle rockets attached to the bottom of the plane’s lower wing. “Mother protect us,” she whispered while grabbing onto whatever she could. The rocket began to fire, sending a huge burst of flames backwards. The bi-wing plane immediately sped forward and started to travel at a terrific rate of speed. The trees below them sped by quickly, and the female passenger stared in amazement. Turning around to watch the mine quickly disappear, she wishes she had not looked. The shade’s swirling miasma approaching from behind them, spreading out tendrils in all directions trying to reach the speeding plane.
The rockets continued their burn, until the fuel was spent. Pudgy heard a clinking sound and felt the plane lift. What had happened, was that his friend back home had rigged the rockets to release upon firing, which would cause the plane’s weight to greatly diminish. This had the added effect of increasing range and maneuverability. Angeliki called out from behind, “Pudgy she’s approaching still, be careful!” Pudgy pondered using the next set of rockets, though he realized that the fuel was running out. He would need the rockets to try to increase the range of flight when the fuel ran out. Nodding to himself, there was only one thing to do, and he reached up to the machine gun.
Using a trembling paw, the critter pulled the safety pin for the forward mounted machine gun. The interrupter gear engaged, and he could feel the plane slow a tiny bit. Taking a deep breath, Pudgy banked hard to the left, causing the plane to spin. The plane began to turn around and started to fly directly at the shade. The woman passenger was screaming behind him, “what are you doing? We have to get away!” Pudgy gritted his teeth and watched the shade start to extend her arms, and claws menacingly. The howls of rage filled the air, and golden orbs burned with pure hatred. Pudgy made his mean face and gritted his teeth. He knew that his machine gun had to be close to be effective. His plane was not like a normal human airplane, and he was limited by many factors: fuel, ammunition, etc.
The shade continued its approach quickly, and the golden glowing orbs stared directly into the hedgehog’s focused eyes. The creature’s anger had blinded its judgment, and it was almost too late when she saw the machine gun. “What the hell,” the shade cursed in a thick Russian accent, when Pudgy pushed the button on his flight stick. The shells started to fire out of the gun, one after another and started to strike the golden orbs. Natasha started to roar in pain, as the tiny bullets began to strike her in the eyes. She could not react quick enough, and through a quickly diminishing field of vision, watched the world slowly disappear and an incredible headache form in the center of her head. The gun made a loud popping noise, and the shells were being ejected out of the bottom of the plane one after another.
“Pudgy make monster go away!” The critter shouted, while continuing to hold the trigger down. The continued to fire, striking each golden orb, until he had used up all the ammunition. The golden orbs shattered, and started to fall to the ground, causing the shadowy creature to fall to the ground. The plane had done enough damage to hurt the creature, and it could no longer pursue them. The critter banked hard to the right, causing the plane to just skirt by the side of the now blinded shade as she fell. With an astonished passenger behind him, Pudgy resumed the plane’s westward direction. The little critter knew Sandra had left a while ago, so there was no plane to take him home. The backup plan was discussed with his friend, prior to the departure. Cobalt had provided some maps of the area, locating several towns to the west of the mountain region. There was a big river that flowed from the melting snows of the mountain, and towns ran along that road eventually. If Pudgy could fly the plane there, he could get help or at least figure out what to do next in relative safety.
However, the aerial combat was too much a fuel draw on his little plane, and the engine began to sputter. Angeliki turned and watched as the shade started to fade away. It would seem when the eyes are gone, the power is greatly diminished. Upon hearing the sputtering engine, the woman inquired, “Pudgy what is wrong?” Pudgy called out, “out of fuel! Pudgy going to light booster rockets again, hold on!” The hedgehog pulled the stick back, so the plane would gain altitude, and hit the stage 2 rocket button. The fuses began to spark and led to the rockets mounted on the lower part of the upper wing. These ones were closer to the seats and when the fire started to burst out, it cast a fair amount of heat upon Pudgy and his female passenger. The rockets made the plane move fast once more and gained several dozen feet worth of altitude in the minute that they burned. Once the fuel was spent, the rockets ejected backwards, and the two passengers of the plane watched as they fell to the heavily forested lands below the plane. The propellor stopped spinning and the engine went silent, as the last bit of fuel ran out.
The plane began to quietly glide through the air, though the downward trajectory started to take hold as gravity began to draw the plane to the ground beneath them. Pudgy called back, “Pudgy think safe now, Cobalt show Pudgy, and made map, there is a town this way. Are you ok?” His female passenger was calming down, and smiled ear to ear. Now with no engine or rocket noises, it was much easier to hear her friend. “Yes, Dearest Pudgy, I am doing much better.” Pudgy bounced happily in his seat and waved with his paw at her. She continued, “It would seem, that when the shade loses its eyes, they lose their power. I would never have imagined this plane to be armed, and you would steer us on an attack run at the shade. My word, the wonderous things Cobalt builds for you, they never cease to amaze me.” The hedgehog nodded, “Cobalt tell Pudgy only use machine gun and rockets as last resort, because both were limited.” The two friends began to laugh, with a third voice joining their laughter softly. Pudgy recognized it as the Goddess and looked around to see if she was around. He could not locate the source of the laughter, so the critter smiled as he faced forward. “Goddess Hecates, any chance you can refill fuel tank?” The laughter abated, and the air grew silent once more around the plane, The plane’s fuel gauge did not move, which meant they still were going to glide.
Beside the hedgehog’s pilot seat was a little compartment, which he had tucked away a map inside. In reality, it was a space between the frame of the plane, and the outer skin, but it served its purposes for the critter’s needs. Pudgy started to review the tiny map and located something to guide the plane’s course. The two plane’s occupants were able to sight the large winding river flowing through the heavily forested lands beneath the plane. This was the Nisqually River, which was fed by water runoff from the melting snowcaps of Mt. Rainier. Cobalt pointed out several possible landing places, as the area was dotted with a variety of camp sites and lodges. Though the nearest town was a place called Elbe, which had more services available. Working on some math in his head, which always made Pudgy’s nose twitch, he figured out that they could probably make the town. The night skies had begun to lighten, with the approaching dawn, so it was becoming easier to see landmarks. Like twinkle lights, the faintest sources of manmade light began to appear on the horizon.
The plane was caught on the winds flowing down from Mount Rainier, allowing it to speed quicker than if flying against the wind. Without making any sudden movements, the hedgehog continued to steer the plane towards the town’s general direction. However, as the minutes passed, the trees were approaching too quickly for either occupant’s preferences. Pudgy called back, “Angeliki, Pudgy unsure if we going to make it to the town, going to try to find a place to land the plane.” His female passenger nodded, “Pudgy, keep heading this way. It has been awhile, but I know of a wonderful inn nearby. I am friends with the owner, and it is an incredibly unique place. They pulled up all manner of railroad cars together on tracks. I am sure they will let us stay, and it will be the perfect place to recover.”
Pudgy nodded and continued to keep their course, but secretly was worried. While the escape from the mountain was not easy, he was concerned about the Kaiser. Would he come after them? Pushing that thought aside, the hedgehog continued to pilot the descending plane. In time though, he saw a 2-lane road that held a small number of buildings, and houses. They had reached Elbe out of sheer luck and could see what Angeliki was referring to about the inn. There was indeed a series of train cars lined up on tracks. Most were dark as it was still exceedingly early morning, though a few had their interior lights on. The sunlight was just starting to peek over the eastern horizon. That meant the residents of the town and inn for that matter, were beginning to wake up.
Carefully Pudgy adjusted the flaps, and the plane continued to descend. Thankfully, there was a big parking lot, with a variety of cars and trucks parked. The plane continued to glide silently towards the inn’s parking lot, and the critter worked the controls to land the plane. The airplane bounced a couple of times as the landing gear wheels connected to the packed gravel driveway. With momentum still from the flight, the plane rolled along, until it slowly stopped in front of a large green bush. There was a series of brown tinges throughout its leaves, due to a recent heavy frost. “Thank goodness, we made it,” Pudgy said while sighing tiredly. Before he could turn around, he felt his plane bounce. Without warning, a huge leg appeared beside the plane, and while looking upwards, noticed his friend Angeliki had returned to her normal size. She stretched her arms and back, a couple of times, before looking down at the tiny plane and its pilot.
“Ahh, it feels so much better to be back to my normal size. That spell is a neat trick, but I can only maintain it for so long, before I must return to normal. You stay put Pudgy in the plane. I will go get us a room.” The critter nodded and waved, while watching his friend walk off in the direction of a black train car. The gravel crunched with each step of the woman’s slipper covered feet. She headed towards a large hand painted sign that read: new arrivals. The hedgehog sighed when she disappeared inside of the train car. He was happy to have been able to rescue his friend, and the realization that the most dangerous part of the adventure was now over. Pudgy climbed out of the airplane and stretched his body, and agreed with his female friend’s statement, it indeed felt good to get out of the plane and stretch.
However, something did not feel right, and the critter started to turn around. He could see the black miasma forming once more, just feet away from his plane and beside a large green pickup truck. The female shade Natasha was standing there with the shadows swirling where her eyes should have been. There was blood around her eye sockets, and her body was twitching. When the mouth opened, her slender finger pointed towards Pudgy. The hedgehog sniffed the air and realized that there was no life in the body. Like the other shade he fought, it was being used as a puppet, undoubtedly by the Kaiser. However, he could smell nothing, not even ozone from the shadows. Squinting his eyes, he was trying to get a better look at the silently floating shadow covered woman in front of him. A voice started to emanate from deep with, that was not hers.
“You may have freed your friend from my grasp, but I was able to obtain what I was looking for. Your victory was hollow hedgehog!” The Kaiser’s distinctive male voice was emanating from within the woman’s body. Pudgy pulled out his talisman, and shouted, “you will never hurt Angeliki again! Open gate to the north!” The talisman blasted a light beam forward and engulfed the female shade. There were no howls, no demonic sounds, only the sound of silence. In a quick moment, and flash of light, the remaining shade had been dispatched. It was handled quick, and efficiently, which made Pudgy pause to consider if it had been too easy?
Despite the absence of the shade, he could still feel a presence in the air around him. All other noises drained away, and he was surrounded by silence. In time, the Kaiser’s voice began once more with a slight echo. “I have won despite your best efforts. And the best part is, you don not have the slightest inclination of what I am referring to. There is naught which you can do to stop me. I will head to the fatherland and end my people’s suffering. Those responsible shall burn in the fires of eternal damnation. I will enjoy every moment as I stand at the gates of hell. Enjoy your fleeting moments of respite, Pudgy Hedgehog, for we will meet once again.” The voice faded away, and slowly the sounds of birds chirping returned once more.
The hedgehog dropped onto all fours beside the plane, as exhaustion had finally hit him. A mixture of fear and adrenaline were competing forces within the critter. Looking down at his paws, he could see they were burnt. The talisman was exceedingly rough on him. The hedgehog’s quills were still smoking slightly, and the grey tinge had continued to spread throughout his exterior. Angeliki exited the train car holding a room key, as she returned from the front desk. Seeing her hedgehog friend’s condition, she was immediately concerned. In a couple of steps, she had knelt beside her tiny friend. The concerned woman scooped up Pudgy into her hands.
“Shh, you can relax now Pudgy, everything is fine. Let us go to our caboose room.” While standing up, she watched as the hedgehog drift to sleep. She could not help but smile, and while carrying him with one hand, she was also carrying the little plane that had brought them to safety with her other hand. She was able to book a caboose with a queen-sized bed, so it would be a 1-2-person room normally. There was only one woman, and one hedgehog, so it would be plenty of space. It was at the far end of the sleeping track, or about 6 cars down from where she was walking. Each caboose was painted a slightly different red color, as they were painted in off years, and the weather was causing its normal fading effects.
On the opposite side, there was another track with much longer train cars of varying sorts. There was a dining car, with a kitchen and attached deck. After a good rest, they would head there to get some food. Angeliki smiled when she reached a small wooden deck with stairs just outside of train car number 6. After ascending the stairs, she set the plane down on the deck just outside of the door to the caboose. Pudgy was still asleep in her hand, and upon reaching the door she placed the key within the lock. There was a click, and the door started to swing inwards. Upon entering, she turned on the lights, which ran along a track in the ceiling of the car. It was a neutral decor, save for the bed’s golden oak headboard and green plaid bedspread. While shutting the door, she locked it, and pulled down an occupied shade over the window.
Sitting Pudgy down on a darker stained oak dresser, the woman pulled down the bedding. Setting Pudgy on the pillow that would be beside hers, and looked around for a source of a blanket to wrap him in. Thankfully, she found a throw blanket with a similar green and white plaid as the bedspread. It was tossed onto a nearby chair originally. That would be perfect she thought, and after a quick motion to retrieve it, she covered the hedgehog. Pudgy continued to sleep silently, with the occasional twitch of his little nose. Sighing as she could finally relax, Angeliki undressed from her tattered clothing. She could use a shower but was too tired to care now. Instead, she slid into the soft bed, and pulled the covers up around her chin. It was not soon long after that, her pale eye lids fluttered shut, and soon she was fast asleep. The two friends could sleep knowing that they were safe and warm.