Cobalt was whistling, which he did not do often, as he walked through the forest. He was pulling the wagon behind him, loaded with a variety of supplies for his woodland friends. Also, he had some repair parts for the water wheel, and Pudgy’s home. The monster attacks were over, but the repairs were almost complete. As he stopped by the water wheel and checked on the alternator, he noticed that the chain / sprockets were starting to rust, due to being exposed to the elements. But everything was still in working order, and as the man got out the oil can, he began to lubricate the various parts. The creek was flowing much higher, so the wooden paddles of the water wheel were spinning at a fair speed.
Looking up at Pudgy’s home, he could see the chimney puffing white smoke, and the windows were open. The man wondered how the visit with the owl had gone? He had not been contacted by his hedgehog friend, which was a good sign. After putting the oil can back into the wagon, Cobalt stood up, and then pulled the wagon through the creek. He walked the short distance up the softly ascending hill towards the underground home. Pulling the wagon in front of the big round bifold doors that led into the big room, Cobalt looked around the forest. An excited familiar voice called out through the window, “HI COBALT!”
The hedgehog scampered outside the home through his open front doorway. The man knelt down,. and scooped up his hedgehog friend, and hugged him softly. “Hi Pudgy, glad to see you too. So, how was your visit with the owl?” The hedgehog looked up at his friend and wiggled his nose, “it went well. Alabaster is inside, but he is not ready to come out yet.” The man nodded, and looked into the round kitchen window to see a set of golden eyes staring back at him. Smiling at what clearly was the owl, Cobalt then hugged Pudgy again. “I brought more supplies to repair your home, and also fix something up at Argente’s. I researched what owls like to eat, and I think I was able to get things that would be more agreeable for him?”
Pudgy nodded, and wiggled out of his friend’s grasp to slide down his leg and back onto the ground. “Thank you Cobalt, Pudgy will go inside and open up the big room.” The man smiled as he watched his little friend scamper inside the home, and then past the owl in the window. “Hello Alabaster, my name is Cobalt.” The human said to the owl, who narrowed his eyes in return. He didn’t take it as an insult, because Argente did the same thing to the man when she first arrived in the forest. The doors behind him started to screech open, “oh yes, most definitely needs oil.” Turning around, the man got back to his feet and then walked a couple of steps to get to the round door with its bi-fold doors inside. His hedgehog friend was peeking over to the bottom jamb. “Alabaster, I am staying in the big room, so you will be safe in the main part of Pudgy’s home.”
As his human friend spoke and stepped inside the big room, Pudgy scampered back through his interior door to see Alabaster looking scared. A huge leg blocked the open doorway, as his friend knelt to work on the home. Pudgy walked up slowly, and placed a paw on the owl’s chest. “It’s ok, Cobalt is a nice human. You do not need to be scared. He even brought owl food too.” The owl’s golden eyes were fixated on the doorway, and the noises from the next room. “Pudgy, what is that over there?” Alabaster asked hesitantly, while watching his hedgehog host bounce happily. “That is the big room, it is big enough to hold Cobalt and 2 other humans. Pudgy has it so it can host big people in Pudgy’s home. We can go see it eventually once Cobalt is done working. Pudgy don’t use it often, because it is harder to heat from Pudgy’s wood stove.”
The man worked inside the room, oiling the gears and chains used to open each side of the doors. He also checked the power room, before locking it up. “Ok Pudgy, I’m done with the repairs. Let me get the supplies out,” the man said, while placing the couple tools and oil can back into the wagon. The man got out a couple boxes of cookies, and then slid them through the interior door. He also placed tiny cans of vienna sausages, potted meat, jerky, and other meat products. He had read conflicting pieces on what owls ate, and perhaps these could work. At the very least, it would get the items out of his house. Why he bought them in the first place, Cobalt’ couldn’t remember.
He stood up part way, and exited the big room. The next step was to check the external water tanks. With a tap on each partially exposed top, he could tell they were full of water. “Pudgy, I am heading up to Argente’s home now to do some maintenance. I’ll be back,” Cobalt said with a smile as he watched his hedgehog friend bounce and wave in the window. Standing upright fully once again, the man took the wagon’s handle, and then pulled it around to behind him once again. The man started to walk past the fire ring, then turned to walk around a large stone, and started to go up the hill. The next stop was the clearing where Argente’s cottage was, as well as the mice home and bunny warren.
Alabaster listened intently as the loud footsteps quieted as the man walked away from the hedgehog’s home. He watched Pudgy moving the boxes of cookies around, and putting things in cupboards. Staring in disbelief, golden eyes stayed unblinking, as they took in everything occurring. “You, rely on the human,” Alabaster asked Pudgy. The hedgehog looked up and nodded, “when Pudgy was very little, Cobalt came and took Pudgy to his home. Pudgy lived with Cobalt for a long time, before Pudgy asked if can have own place. Cobalt did not try to talk Pudgy out of it, and helped Pudgy build a cabin here.” The owl looked around, “but this home is underground?” The critter nodded, “yes, Pudgy’s original home was blown up by the rocket engine when Pudgy went to the moon. Cobalt said we should build underground, so it would be safer.”
Pudgy put away the variety of food items that his friend had brought over. It was not just cookies, and shelf stable foods. There were a variety of tiny pouches of baking ingredients, as well as tea and decaf coffee. Pudgy opened the bag, and sniffed, “oh by, coffee. Pudgy have to be very careful with this, or Pudgy bounce so high, Pudgy can touch the ceiling. Here smell it,” the hedgehog brought over the bag, and allowed Alabaster to sniff at the rich smell. The owl blinked, “my word, what a unique smell?” He watched as Pudgy put away the remaining items, before bouncing again in front of him.
“Alabaster, Pudgy going to go visit Argente.” The hedgehog said excitedly, “Cobalt built Argente a home so she can live in as well. He also fixed the mice house, and helped the bunnies with their warren as well. Pudgy will be back, please stay here and rest.” The owl nodded, and watched as his hedgehog friend scampered out through the front door. Soon he was all alone in the home, left to his own devices. Alabaster reflected on the events that brought him to the home, and pondered where his mother was? The mission was critical, so he understood why she had not returned to locate him. But still, the young owl could not help but wonder if she was worried about him?
He walked slowly through the home, marvelling at the round ceilings, and the fine woodwork throughout the structure. It had a golden oak stain, with almost a glisten. The boards were smooth, with nary a splinter to be found. Upon reaching the interior door once blocked by the human’s leg, he found a cavernous room within. There was a round shaped bench seat along the walls and back of the room, with a big area for humans to sit. It was not as magnificent as the great tree, but for such simple surroundings, the room’s existence was unexpected. There was another door, though this one was metal with yellow and black markings all over it in the shape of lightning. The room was locked, which confused the owl further. As he was about to turn back to head to the interior part of Pudgy’s home, a large brown bear appeared in front of the open doorway.
“Hello there Mr. Owl,” the bear said with a grin. Alabaster started to puff up as best as he could, and fluffed out his good wing. He hooted angrily, to try and drive off the owl. Well, until the large brown bear laughed, and bopped him on the beak with a large pale claw, “How dare you do that?!?!” Alabaster shouted, “I am Alabaster, second in line to the Grand Claw.” The Bear narrowed his eyes at the owl, “I know who you are, Alabaster. And I know of the owls, as well. My hedgehog friend is under my protection here, and if you hurt him ….” The owl shot the bear an annoyed look, “i have no intention of hurting him, he has been assisting me with my injury. I will be off once I am able to fly once more.”
Before either animal could say anything, soon a loud happy noise of bouncing critters in a wagon could be heard. Everyone had wanted to ride in the wagon, so Cobalt had loaded all animals up, and was pulling them along behind him. They were approaching the bear, who turned and waved his paw at the approaching parade. The man laughed, “Hello Mr. Bear. I think I need a bigger wagon if you want to get in and ride too.” The large brown bear laughed, and watched as soon all of the critters were bouncing out of the wagon one by one. They ran up and started hugging the bear, while peeking over the door jamb at the white snow owl. The exception to this were the field mice, who stayed in the wagon, but peeked out between the wooden slats of the wagon.
Alabaster was shocked, and waved with his good wing back. “Hello,” he said. Cobalt could not understand him, and only heard the hoot sound. The sound of happy critters bouncing and playing filled the air. While Mr. Bear turned to look back at the owl, he saw Alabaster’s golden eyes staring at the human intently. Pudgy noticed this also, and turned towards his human friend. The little hedgehog watched as the man was becoming translucent. “COBALT,” Pudgy yelled out as he started to scamper frantically towards him. The man coughed, “Pudgy, i don’t feel so good.” As the brown bear turned, he too watched as the human vanished from sight. His scent was gone as well, which caused all of the animals to frantically start to search the area where he had been standing.
Pudgy was wailing uncontrollably, as tears streamed down his cheeks. One fluffy bunny stayed with him, helping the hedgehog walk back to his home. Little voices were calling out, “Cobalt, where are you?” Argente sprinted back up to her home, but the man was not there. There was no track, no scent, nor sound of the human anywhere. Everything had been fine, he had dropped off supplies, and fixed her window so it would open once again for summer. Once she had investigated all of the surrounding area, the silver fox raced back to Pudgy’s home. She could still hear his cries, which meant he needed her.
Upon reaching the home, she found the large brown bear shouting in a menacing tone at Alabaster. “What did your kind do?” Pudgy was looking at the owl from outside of his home, but also looking at Mr. Bear with a confused look. Alabaster snapped back, “we did nothing, do not dare to accuse my parliament of any ill actions!” The hedgehog whimpered, “please Alabaster, if you know something….” Argente poked her head around the doorway, “Alabaster, tell them!” The owl fluffed up and looked defiant, “I will tell you nothing!” The owl noticed that a bunny was standing in the interior door to Pudgy’s home, blocking the doorway and giving him a look. The Bear was blocking the big doors, along with Pudgy and Argente. He was trapped inside, with one busted wing, so his chances of escape were slim.
Argente sighed, “Pudgy, Alabaster is part of a parliament. That is the name of a group of owls, and they arrange based on their kind. Snow owls do not normally travel this far south, and stick to the northernmost parts of the world. However, they do have an outpost north of Mt. Rainier, where you went to save Angeliki from the Kaiser. My mother and I called that area home for many years, before she passed. Their home is the tallest tree in a dense forest of evergreen trees,” the silver fox spoke. Pudgy was watching her, and then the owl occasionally. The hedgehog sniffed his nose, and wiped his eyes with the back of his paws. “Argente, do you know what is going on?” The fox narrowed her eyes at Alabaster, “you found one didn’t you?”
The owl beamed with pride, “my people found one of the Gaia stones.” Mr. Bear also looked confused, “what the fudge is a Gaia stone?” Argente looked up at the bear, and then at the other attentive critters. “My mother told me this story when I was young, but back when this world was young, it was empty. Gaia, the earth mother, felt her lands needed life. First the plants, and trees were called forth. For time unknown, the world was silent, until the first animals came. Gaia created stones, imbued with her power, to bring forth life around them. In the old times, the stones were scattered all over the world. The world was at peace, as the animals grew and multiplied.”
Alabaster nodded, “the before times were wonderful. I remember the stories my Grand Claw spoke of, of the dam.” Pudgy sniffed again, “the dam?” The beavers had come during Argente’s story, so were expectantly watching both the fox and owl. Alabaster nodded, “the beavers built a gigantic dam, where hundreds gathered. The creation was amazing, and held back the water of the great river for a day’s flight. Multiple dams were spread along the river, to keep the pressure from overwhelming the main dam. Thousands of beavers all in the same river, building and living in peace. Until the humans came …”
Argente nodded, “Gaia wanted life to continue, but along the way, created the humans. At first, their kind remained few and scattered. But as time passed, they evolved, and spread through the world.” Mr. Bear nodded, “yes I have heard a version of this story as well, but more of a bear prospective. Huge caves in the mountains, thousands of bears, great hunts, female bears dancing …” Argente giggled, “well, yes there are many versions. Anyhow, the humans dominated the land, and soon the stones started to lose their power. A great imbalance had begun, and the stones were lost. But, it would appear that one has been found.”
The owl still looked indignant, “I know not of which you speak, ground walker.” Argente snarled at him, which made Pudgy scared and hide behind Mr. Bear’s leg. “The Gaia stones can be still used, and if one knows the correct incantation, can activate the stone. The stone can be used to create, or destroy.” The hedgehog whimpered, “please Alabaster, if you know anything?” It was as the owl started to open his beak, that a loud screeching noise was coming from Pudgy’s home. The bunny inside the doorway waved, “Pudgy bad sound coming from the blue thing on wall!” The hedgehog nodded, and scurried quickly inside, to check his phone. The phone’s screen was red, with an emergency broadcast logo on it.
As Pudgy pushed buttons on the screen, he turned up the sound. A man in a gray suit was speaking, with a map of the United States on it. “Good Afternoon everything, this is Bob Smith of PNN with breaking news. Starting at 2 pm eastern time, people have started to disappear. Eye witness reports say that the individual does not feel well, fades, until they disappear completely. Hundreds of missing person reports are being filed across the country, and local authorities are overwhelmed. What is more concerning, are the reports of empty cars and trucks crashing. Driverless vehicles have been crashing on and off roads, into trees and buildings, and into the rivers and oceans around this country. This appears to be centered only within the United States at this time, but we are receiving unsubstantiated reports of this also occurring in Canada and Mexico.”
The critters all crowded around Pudgy, watching the worried human newscaster show a big map of all the disappearances. Breathlessly the human spoke, sensationalizing the loss of the individual. Interviews with worried family members, and more reports. So far no one famous or important had disappeared, but for safety purposes, the government leaders were being sequestered in their respective buildings. Pudgy wiggled his nose, “no one important is missing, what about Cobalt?” The hedgehog started to whimper again, while Mr. Bear who was listening outside, rubbed his chin with his paw. “Well Pudgy, I think they are more focused on the humans. I am unsure if you were to call, if the authorities could do anything.”
The owl was poking his head through the doorway, watching the images and sound come from the device hanging on the wall. He had never seen such a thing, so it had drawn his curiosity. One of the bunnies noticed what the owl was doing, and bopped him on the beak with his paw. Alabaster gave a short hoot, before noticing the critters looking at him in unison once more. “Alright, alright, enough of this! Yes, we found a Gaia stone!” Argente nodded, and motioned with her paw to continue with the explanation. Nodding, Alabaster walked back out into the big room. He watched the critters assemble in a half circle around him, with blank expressions except Pudgy who was still sobbing softly.
“I do not know all of the details. But my Grand Claw found the stone, as he was exploring the mountain when he was a young owl. It was ancient, and covered in green moss. When he mustered the courage to touch it, he could hear the Earth Mother speak softly. She was exhausted, but in a clam soothing tone, she said the strain was becoming too much on her. He asked her what he could do, and that was when she told him of the other stones. Grand Claw told the Grand Claw of that time what had been found, and what the Earth Mother said. So a great Parliament was called, of all of the owl tribes. The shamans, who had once been human many years prior, knew of the rituals and summoned the avatar of the Earth Mother.”
The animals listened with a mixture of amazement and confusion. Argente nodded, having heard bits of this story from her mother, but not to this level of details. Alabaster took a deep breath, “Gaia told our Parliament that we needed to find the stones once more. Once they were located, the Earth Mother would be able to assist once more. The owls were in agreement, and then the pact was formed. As the years passed, the stones were found one by one. But also, the locations of some were compromised by the humans. In their ignorance, they had destroyed the land and the stone with it. This was what she had meant, as the stones were destroyed, she was losing connection to the land. If all stones were to be lost, the land would die.”
Mr. Bear nodded, “that would be extremely bad. So the plan was to find the stones, restore Gaia, and then what … kill all of the humans?” The owl shook his head, “that was not the plan at all. We were to restore Gaia, and then she would determine what to do next? I am sorry, but I know not why your human disappeared. My Mother and I were dispatched to consult with the Eagles to the land of the rising sun of our tree.” Pudgy sniffed, and wiped his eyes with his paw, “could your family help Pudgy find Cobalt?” The owl blinked, and looked down at the concrete floor as he contemplated. “Pudgy, I know not if they could help, but my Grand Claw is wise beyond comprehension. If anyone would know what is going on, he would. The magic box on your wall would appear to show that whatever made your human disappear, it is spreading. Humans are reckless, and if they feel threatened will lash out. Their disappearances will affect our kind, to our detriment I fear.”
Argente nodded, “Alabaster is not wrong with how they react sometimes. Pudgy, how are we going to get to Mt. Rainier? The planes are destroyed, there is no magic talisman anymore, and Cobalt is gone?” Pudgy rubbed his chin with his paw, and then pointed to his vest. The hedgehog pulled out the blue sapphire, “Pudgy can use the teleportation stone again. The Kaiser is not around, so it is safe to use once more. But the stone has limits, only can be used once per day, and to place Pudgy already visited with stone.” The owl’s golden eyes locked onto the gemstone, and his beak opened wide. “That is an owl’s tear, where did you get that?” Pudgy looked at the snow owl, “there were 3 of these stones, but Pudgy found and merged them when fought Kaiser for the first time in Great Britain.”
The hedgehog put the stone back into his little vest’s pocket, and clasped the opening shut. “Pudgy would be able to get to Texas, but from there would be a problem.” Alabaster raised his good wing, “Pudgy, the grove of trees where you found me is a ley line portal.” Argente looked at the owl, “what is that?” The snow owl nodded, “I forget sometimes when dealing with ground walkers. A ley line is a fountain of magical energy that runs through the land. The Earth Mother told my Grand Claw of this, and our Parliament has been following the currents of energy to locate the stones. The tree grove is a section of the line that reaches the surface, and has affected the trees around it. I can show you how to adapt your tears to use the lines. If you have used the stone to transport yourself already, I suspect you were inartfully using the lines already. I can educate you how to use the stone properly. On one condition,” the owl said.
Pudgy looked up, “what would that be?” Alabaster nodded, “I will go with you. Once we make it to the tree, I will introduce you to the Parliament. If you are deemed worthy, my Grand Claw will attempt to assist you.” Argente rubbed his chin with her paw, “I want to go with you as well! We do not know if we can trust Alabaster or not?” The owl looked indignant, but Pudgy nodded. “Ok, Pudgy like this plan. Pudgy did not want to leave the forest again so soon, but we have to find out what is going on? Pudgy have to find Cobalt,” the little hedgehog said with a definitive nod and tone.
The woodland critters were all collectively sad that Pudgy was going to be leaving again so soon. But Cobalt was their friend, and he had been so kind to them, that they needed to find him. Mr. Bear nodded, “Pudgy, do you have anything to drink?” The hedgehog looked up, bounced, and scampered inside his section of the home. The large brown bear recognized that perhaps the best way to help Pudgy at the moment, would be to give him a task. While the version of the story Alabaster told was different from what he had heard as a cub, many parts were the same. “Alabaster, one more thing, I need to ask you.” The snow owl nodded while the bear spoke to him, and waited for the question to be asked. The bear gave him a look, “can Cobalt be returned if it is indeed the stones?”
Outside the home, the chimney started to smoke again, as Pudgy lit his wood stove. The little hedgehog could hear the conversation going on, along with the critters inside talking at the same time. He missed what Mr. Bear asked, because the field mice had arrived and were hugging him tightly. They were giving him pleading eyes, and asking Pudgy to not go yet. Pudgy hugged back, “no, Pudgy will not be leaving tonight. Pudgy must make tea and supper for everyone first, then a good night sleep.” The bunnies nodded, and bounced happily once again. The tea was made, and a big mug for Pudgy was filed with the entire contents of the tea pot. He pushed the big cup out into the big room, and waved at his friend Mr. Bear. “Pudgy sorry took so long, here you go Mr. Bear. Pudgy will make another pot for everyone else, and supper now.”
Pudgy made another pot of tea, as well as many wonderful things. Little loaves of bread with fresh butter, as well as tea and cookies were served. Mr. Bear had to help open the cans of meat, but the bear and owl were also happily munching on things. The only downside was that in one get together, they had exhausted all of the supplies Cobalt had brought over. While Pudgy did have other foodstuffs in the home, now that his friend Cobalt was gone, the prospect of resupply was much more difficult. As the bunnies nibbled on their food, the hedgehog pondered Cobalt’s house. It was gigantic, and stocked full of supplies. That would be a possibility, since there was a hedgehog sized door he could enter through.
As the hours passed, the sun set behind the hill on the horizon. Mr. Bear was hugged many times, before he departed back to his home. The beavers left for their pond, while the bunnies gave the field mice a ride back to their home. Argente was sitting in the spot next to the interior wall that bordered the big room. Alabaster watched as Pudgy scampered over to the gears, and began to shut the large bifold round doors of the big room. The doors swung slowly shut, and locked into place with a loud click. The hedgehog pushed a tiny button, which turned off the LED lights that illuminated the room. He motioned with his paw to Alabaster, and scampered through the interior door that led back into his part of the home.
Alabaster followed, and after he had passed through, Pudgy shut the door. It was still a warm night, plus the wood stove was lit as well, so the room was uncomfortably hot for the owl. “Pudgy, I need to head outside, it is too warm for me here.” Argente nodded in agreement, “it is a tad bit too warm for me as well, so I will join you outside as well.” Pudgy waved at the two, “ok, Pudgy has to clean up, and then will join you. Pudgy gonna turn the news on,” The little hedgehog scampered over to the cell phone hanging on the wall, and a different human was on. A pretty lady in a green outfit with dark black hair was speaking, “It has been 6 hours since the disappearances began. Famous basketball star Jimmy Sneakers disappeared in mid shot during a game this afternoon. We have a clip,” the commentator narrated.
Argente watched from the doorway, as the human vanished, and the orange ball went through the hoop. The surrounding players all started to run away in terror. As Pudgy started to pump water into the sink using his faucet, he started to wash the various plates and cups he had used for dinner. The news program continued, “we spoke to noted priest, Father Timothy, author of the smash best seller: God, the guy in charge. Father Timothy, what do you think is going on?” Pudgy turned to see a young priest with thick black glasses on start to speak, “the book of revelations state that in the end times, the almighty will call back the faithful to the kingdom of heaven. I know not if these are the end days, but the recent events in the prison camp in Poland, are a sign that the almighty has chosen to work miracles once more.”
Pudgy wiggled his nose, and shook his head. The hedgehog knew that was wrong, since he had heard from Alabaster, Argente, and Mr. Bear of the stones. But the words of Alabaster rang in his mind, that the humans would react if they felt threatened. Every year it snows in Pennsylvania, and every year the humans would go bonkers when a big snow was coming. Cobalt always had extra food and supplies laid in, in case he would not be able to get to the store. But some humans would go crazy, panic buying and causing accidents or fights. The snow would come and go, and things would calm down. So the owl’s statement was not incorrect, but Pudgy hoped that they would not feed into the owl’s narrative.
With the dishes washed, dired, and put away; Pudgy exited his home to find Argente and Alabaster sitting outside the door. He scampered beside his fox friend, and hugged her gently. His female silver fox friend smiled, and hugged back. The hedgehog sighed, “Pudgy know it has not been long, but Pudgy misses Cobalt. Pudgy hope he is ok, wherever he went?” Alabaster nodded, “I would assume he is, until we find out otherwise.” The hedgehog started to whimper again as he hugged Argente. “Pudgy never thought Cobalt would go away. Pudgy thought many times Pudgy might go, but never him.” Argente nodded, the one constant throughout all of the adventures, was the man. He spent a small fortune on his hedgehog friend, and worked tirelessly to help the woodland friends of the forest.
Pudgy watched the stars peek out from the clouds in the sky. “Pudgy remembers stars when was in the plane, and the souls flying beside the plane. It was so beautiful, so close Pudgy could almost touch it.” The owl sighed, “I feel that way sometimes too. Soaring high in the skies with my Mother or Grand Claw, the trees speeding below, seeing my reflection in the water below.” Argente giggled, “Mother used to show me how to make ripples in the pond water.” As the animals sighed and remembered happy things, thoughts drifted like the clouds in the skies above. A crescent moon started to appear over the horizon, “Pudgy hope the moon dinosaurs are ok.” Argente nodded, “I still can’t believe there are dinosaurs up there like Mr. Dino?” The owl looked at Pudgy and then at the moon. He was still a bit incredulous at the story of the creatures living on the moon.
In time, Pudgy started to yawn, so he turned around and started to slowly scamper into his home. Argente followed him into the home, and then headed over to her spot next to the kitchen to curl up in. The wood stove had burned its fuel, and grown cool. The little hedgehog called through the window, “Alabaster, it is much cooler in here now.” The owl stood up, and walked slowly into the home. Indeed it was cooler, and after a few steps, he had returned to his spot from before. The fox and owl watched their hedgehog host shut the home, and prepare it for the night time hours.
Once satisfied, a very tired hedgehog headed to his bedroom, and climbed into bed. Getting under the blankets, Pudgy waved at Argente and Alabaster. “Good night.” The owl and fox both nodded, “good night Pudgy.” In time, all three fell asleep, though Alabaster was last to succumb to his tiredness. Pudgy woke up once during the night, due to night terrors and Cobalt, but was able to settle back down to sleep once more. The remainder of the night was quiet, and all occupants of the home slept soundly.
In the morning, the light started to stream through the windows of the underground home. Pudgy opened his eyes, and whimpered softly. He missed Cobalt terribly, and was so worried that his friend was hurt. While his dreams were still of the prison camp and the horrific events of his last adventure dominated, new threads were forming with strange occurrences. Pulling the covers back, the hedgehog exited his bed, and opened the front door. As with the day prior, Argente’s ears perked up, and watched as her friend went into the tiny bathroom. The fox got out from under her blanket, and then headed outside to attend to business once more. Alabaster opened his eyes and looked around, finding himself alone once again in the home.
The owl reflected on the events of the previous day, but soon was joined by the hedgehog as he exited from a tiny room just off the bedroom. Pudgy headed to the cold box in his kitchen, and started to take out tiny bottles of milk and other perishable items. There were not that many, as the previous supper had greatly diminished his supplies. The hedgehog was not lighting his stove, and made breakfast. In a couple of minutes, Argente returned to the home, and was happily munching. Alabaster did not eat, and only wanted water. The phone was turned on once more, and the same story of the disappearances were dominating the news. There was only a temporary break for some politician who did something that everyone was mad at him for. The story was the same every 15 minutes, until as the politician was giving a speech, he disappeared live on camera.
Pudgy started to clean up the dishes, and watched as the phone went to a commercial. Argente shook her head, “this is getting serious Pudgy.” Alabaster nodded, “I concur. We should depart soon.” The fox nodded, and watched as her hedgehog friend quickly put away the dishes. He started to scamper quickly, checking on the big room, and then locking the interior door. He pulled back a hidden panel on the side of his home. The owl watched as the hedgehog started to pack food, and supplies into a tiny backpack. He had a tiny shovel, and a hammer clipped to the pack. The mining helmet was pulled out, and placed on the hedgehog’s head. “Pudgy ready, everyone let us go to the grove.”
Argente giggled, and padded past the owl and hedgehog. She exited the door, with a swish of her tail as she squeezed through the doorway. Alabaster shook his head, and then exited the home as well. After Pudgy checked one more time that everything was safe and secure, he exited the home and locked his door. Turning to face his friends, Pudgy started to follow behind them as they walked through the forest. It was a cool, but sunny morning, with more signs of springtime growth everywhere throughout the forest. Argente was leading the way, with Alabaster behind her, and Pudgy behind him.
They headed towards Argente’s cottage, and stopped for a break to let the owl rest. The female fox took a moment to check her home, and after satisfied it was safe, she turned to head further up the hill back to the strange grove of trees. Alabaster was growing accustomed to walking, and bounced along the ground. He was taller than Pudgy, but only by a couple inches. The key difference was the snow white coloring, which made him stick out like a sore thumb on the forest floor. He hoped his wing would heal soon, so he could take to the skies once more. Pudgy saw the coyote tracks again on the ground, which made him stay aware of his surroundings.
In time, the trio reached the grove, and walked around the ring of tightly packed trees. They reached the opening, As the trio stared at the large flat rock in the center, Pudgy raised his paw. “Ok, now what?” Alabaster nodded, “Now I teach you how to use your owl’s tear properly.” The hedgehog nodded, and Argente listened as well. The oel started to give his lesson, but Alabaster did not do a good job. The lesson resulted in a myriad of questions, so the owl decided to start over, and spell things out explicitly. This time it worked, and both fox and hedgehog understood him. Pudgy walked over and stood in the middle of the rock, and watched as Alabaster walked beside him. As Argente was about to cross onto the rock, it began to glow with an unearthly green light. “NO WAIT, DON’T GO YET,” the fox cried out as Pudgy and Alabaster disappeared.
One reply on “Moon Cry: Chapter 2: Disappearance”
Very surprising inciting incident, I also liked having a scene where Mr. Bear & Argente could show how knowledgeable they are about the world of animals.