Moon Cry: Chapter 8: Grand Parliament

It was known simply by the name: The Tree.  In the center of the section of the redwood forest where the owls had roosted, stood one redwood tree that they considered to be sacred.  It started to grow from seed during a time that man was just a fanciful dream.  Some trees could grow up to 350 feet, but this one towered at well over 400.  The tree was a tourist attraction, and the humans would visit it to take pictures.  So many visitors arrived, that the forest and park services had to barricade and fence around the base of the tree.  Humans being what they were, felt the need to carve their names into the tree, after getting their picture.  Pesky humans were an annoyance, as the tree had survived multiple catastrophes.  It had been struck by lightning, and even was clipped by a helicopter that had flown too low over the forest.    

As the owls flew, they circled the trunk of the tree, and began to fly upwards.  Almost all the way at the top was a section of trunk that had been burned out by a lightning strike.  The rain had put the fire out before it did further damage, and weather over time smoothed the rough edges.  The owls had chosen this area of the tree for their meeting spot.  A natural flat spot had formed over time,, and was large enough to hold the various Parliament’s Grand Claws.  One by one the various owls started to land, and formed a ring around the platform.  The Shamans were landing in the center, and started bouncing as they began their dancing.  The burning plant material that Pudgy smelled, was that of sage, and they began to cleanse the space.  Some would stomp their claws, others would puff their wings, while others would call in their various tones.  

While owls were on the platform performing their dance and assembly, flocks of all the birds who had chosen to attend began to land on the branches of the tree that overlooked the platform.  This was a Grand Parliament like no other, as the enigmatic hawks and eagles had arrived days before to hold their own gathering beforehand.  The last time there was a gathering like this, was when the humans were making mushroom shaped clouds appear over the desert lands.  Most who attended this gathering had not been born during that time, but the stories of the last Grand Parliament were passed down so that no one would forget.  Ultimately, the council could not make a decision, and chose to watch and wait.  In time the humans stopped making the clouds appear, though the land itself was poisoned.  There were hard feelings, and many blamed the council for not acting.  Though after a long time had passed, memories dulled, and the feelings began to mitigate.  

As the song and dance continued, the shamans were illuminating very faint white lights throughout the platform and in the branches above.  They looked like tea candle lights, but were blue in color and caused no heat.  The platform illuminated slowly, and seemingly spread throughout the branches as if following the path that the tree sap would flow.  This caused the smaller birds to wake, and began to send their calls as well.  Such a noise was heard, that it echoed throughout the entire forest.  Thousands of owls and birds had come to the forest, who were sending their calls into the air.  Without warning, the Shamans abruptly stopped dancing, and then bowed to the grand claws.  The myriad calls all started to die down, and soon only the wind was heard as it blew through the trees as a deathly silence fell upon the tree.  

A huge owl, standing slightly over 2 feet tall strode forth to the shamans.  He was striped in dark brown, with tufts of white poking out around his upper chest near his neck, and huge ears that looked like horns.  Yellow unblinking eyes scanned the trees, as he twisted his head and body to scan the area.  As the combined flocks watched, the owl raised his head to the sky and sounded a loud warning call.  The other Grand Claws looked up and sounded their calls one by one around the circle.  The Shamans stayed low to the platform, and walked silently through the spot  that had been opened up by the leader of the council.  They walked around the platform, and stopped behind their respective leader, and then began to sound off one by one as well.  

In the trees, the birds were doing the same.  While a multitude of voices blended as one, it was the same call.  The whole tree shook with a pulse of magical energy, and the bark began to emit a soft green light which spread from roots to needles.  The birds noticed, and as the calls started to end one by one, all watched as the tree’s glow became much stronger and illuminated the forest around the tree.  Rings of light started to form on the platform under the Grand Claws, and then under the Shamans, matching the tree rings of the trunk.  Once the entire platform was illuminated, the leader of the council stopped his call.  In a loud voice, the leader spoke, “I am Steel Feather ….welcome one and all to the Grand Parliament.  It has been many moons since we all gathered.  We come together to raise our voices in song, and to renew our bonds with Gaia once more.  The stones of the earth mother have been located.  The stones have been turned on, and the power of Gaia has been restored.  As she promised, the humans have left this land.  We can now live in peace once more.  Now, let the Parliaments send their Grand Claws forth, so all may hear tales of what is going on.”

The horned Grand Claw owl bowed slightly, and then strode back to stand at his place on the platform.  A small owl that almost resembled a bird strode out to the center of the platform.  It was mainly brown, but had checkered spots of white throughout its feathers.  “I am Grand Claw Tall Grass, welcome to one and all.  We live to the south of here, in the few spots of natural land, surrounded by the humans’ places of rock.  The humans disappeared one by one, and were panicking as they went away.  Fires burned as their foul homes were levelled, but the embers blew on the winds, and took root in other places.  We now have a problem, with fires burning our lands.  But this appears to be a cleansing fire, so we are not worried at this time.  It would help if we could beseech you Gaia to bring the rain.” The burrowing owl hooted, and backed away to its spot around the platform.          

A white owl strode forth to the center of the platform, with what almost looked like an orange head, with orange stripes running down throughout her body.  Pale white irises ringed around dark pupils and scanned the council as she spoke. “I am Grand Claw Warning, of the eastern forests.  Our forests are safe once more, and the humans who were cutting down the trees have left.  Their foul machines remain in the forest, but we can not move them.  We think they will be fine if left alone, but it would be helpful if someone with more knowledge in the matter could assist us.”  The owl sounded an acknowledgement call, and then backed away to her spot around the ringed platform.

A small female white owl with cream colored accents strode out to the center of the platform.  “I am Grand Claw Broken Bark, from the grasslands in the center of this land.  The humans are gone, their homes are silent, the rolling things have stopped, the big smoky places that have wires connected and hum …have stopped.  When the sun departs the sky, the land is dark finally once more.  The stars can be seen, and my Parliament is at peace.  We did not support the council decision to act, but we respected the council, and assisted with the efforts to locate the stones.  We now see the wisdom of this action, and apologize.”  The owl bowed almost to the ground, and circled the platform to all the Grand Claws.  Then turned and backed to her position along the ring, before she stood up once more.  

This continued with the Barred, the Boreal, The Long Ears, the Northern Hawk Owls,  the Elf, the Saw Whet, the Short Ear, the spotted, the Whiskered Screech, and Pygmy owls as well.  Each spoke of a similar set of circumstances, with the humans having disappeared completely.  The humans had these stone buildings with pipes that either sucked water out of the river and lakes, or put foul water back in.  The structures stopped working, and now these circular pools were giving off a terrible odor.  What the owls were describing was the water treatment, and sewage treatment plants.  With no power, and no humans for that matter, the operations shut down.  Terrible smells were starting to come out of certain human places, and the owls did not know why.  The grocery stores had lost power, and the fresh food within was starting to rot.   Confused pets were waiting for their humans to return, and were all alone.  The owls could see their desperate looks, trying to figure out a way to get outside.  As the Grand Claws spoke one by one, eventually all but two had spoken.  

A gigantic gray owl strode into the center of the platform, and puffed out his wings: which stretched from one side of the council to the other.  He folded his wings back, “I am Grand Claw Stone, of the Gray Owls.  The ground walkers can fend for themselves, as this council is for our kind.  We have guests in the trees, so welcome my winged brothers and sisters, but it has come to my attention that the Arctic owls indeed has a ground walker in their roost.  I would like to know why?”  The Arctic Grand Claw strode forth to the center of the platform, and was looking at the gray owl’s tiny yellow eyes directly.  The Gray owl fluffed up his plumage in a more aggressive fashion, before back into position to his spot along the platform.  

The large snow white owl bowed slightly as he turned around to all the other Grand Claws.  Standing back upright, he spoke in a clear voice with authority.  “I am Grand Claw Glacier, of the snow owls.  Yes, our Parliament does indeed have a groundwalker visiting with us.  My daughter and grand feather were dispatched by the council, to summon the owls to the far east of this land.  Along the way, my grand feather was hurt and fell to the ground.  A small brown hedgehog and a silver fox arrived, and took him back to their home.  They patched him up, and met a human who lived nearby.  The human did not attack, and seemed to be kind to the forest animals.  As the human stood nearby, Alabaster my grand feather watched what occurred.  The human felt strangely, and then began to fade away, before ultimately disappearing.”

The burrowing owl’s Grand Claw nodded, “you speak of Pudgy Hedgehog.  My grand feather Short Feather spoke of him,”  Glacier nodded, “yes, but that is ahead in the story.”  The arctic owl told all those in attendance of the travels of Pudgy and Alabaster to get here.  He spoke of the humans who assisted them, and what they were like, as well as the final journey through the human lands to get to the settlement to the south east of the forest.  The owls were hooting softly amongst themselves as they spoke, trying to process why the humans helped an owl?  Grand Claw Glacier nodded and waved his wings at the chattering council, “while the actions of the humans were not expected, one good deed does not outweigh generations of evil.  I told this council of the stones, I told this council what Gaia said, I lobbied the Parliaments, my resolve is still firm in this regard.  The humans needed to be removed, otherwise we would all die.”

The Elf owl Grand Claw raised his wing, “I am glad to see your resolve has not changed, brother.  My kin overheard the wonderful story of the hedgehog’s adventures last evening.  I suspect a resourceful ground walker may be of use to the council, should the need arise?”  The other owls started to nod and hoot as they began to agree.  Glacier bowed to the council slightly, and then backed into position along the ring.  The other bird flocks did not have a right to speak at this Grand Parliament, but were invited to attend.  They all started to chirp, or send their calls from the tree branches that were above the platform.  The hawks had noticed the tree’s glow was starting to pulse, and ancient runes were beginning to form around the base of the trunk of the towering redwood tree.  

The shamans could feel the tree pulsing from deep within the earth, and began to dance once more behind the grand claws.  The leaders of the gathered Parliaments looked towards the center of their ring, as a green flame began to form from the tree’s center most ring.  An ethereal voice called out from within the dancing flame, “children of the air ….welcome.”  The Grand Claws immediately recognized the voice, and bowed low to the platform.  The birds grew silent in the branches above, and bowed as well.  It was the avatar of Gaia, and had chosen her time to appear.  The Grand Parliament coincides with naturally occurring forces within the planet, where the earth mother can manifest more easily.  The owls were not aware of this fact, so were a bit surprised at the emergence of the flame.  The shamans stopped their dance, and too bowed to the platform.  The forest grew silent once more.

“My children, you have done well.  I can feel my connection to the surface restored.  I feel the sway of the trees, the rush of the air through the tall grass, the water as it runs across the surface.  It has been so long since I have been able to feel this, thank you.  It was as if I was in an eternal slumber, unable to wake till now.”  Grand Claw Steel Feather raised from his bow, “blessed mother Gaia, how may we be further service?”  The flame avatar danced happily within the center tree ring, and earth mother spoke once more. “The world has been poisoned, and life has been torn asunder.  It will take time to repair the damage.  Fires may rage uncontrolled, floods may occur, and winter will come early.  This needs to occur to cleanse the world, though some poison will take much longer to rectify.  I can feel holes dug deep within me, where poison was removed or inserted.  Please be safe my children, and know that these actions are not taken lightly.”

The words of the earth mother echoed throughout the trees, as Steel Feather bowed once more.  “We hear you mother Gaia, and will spread your word to the others.”  Gaia spoke once more, with a sadness to her tone, “the humans were my children as well. It pained me so much to remove them, but it was clear that they would not stop until this world had ceased to exist.  Not all of their kind were evil, and depending on the judgement of Unetlanvhi, some may return.”  The owls looked up in shock, which prompted Grand Claw Glacier to speak. “Mother Gaia, how can the humans return?  They will lash out once more, and poison this world further.”  The avatar flame burned brighter, and extended its height.  “They will not be returned as they once were, but in a new form.  This process will start upon the equinox of summer.  They will not all return, only those who are deemed worthy.”

Painted Feather looked up, his words to Pudgy ringing in his mind.  It was as he had suspected, the humans would return as animals.  This both made him happy that he was right, and concerned as what would occur should too many return at once?  Grand Claw Warning approached the avatar, “Gaia, what is all the humans return at once in their new forms?”  The flames danced happily within the ring, “it will not be all at once.  I sense animals that are missing within and throughout this world.  I suspect the humans are the cause, so it is only fitting that they replace that which was taken.  I must confer with Unetlanvhi, and the other gods of the sky.  My children, take heed of my words … peace has returned at last.  Live quietly within each other, and do not make the mistakes of the humans.  I am renewed once more, and will be watching.  Should the world become unbalanced once more, I will act.  Now my children, spread forth from this place, and return to your lands.”

The green flame avatar slowly diminished, and returned to the tree.  The glowing green light that was coming from the tree slowly ceased.  The runes on the ground faded, and the tree was dark once more.  Grand Claw Steel Feather nodded, “without objection, I call this Grand Parliament concluded?”  The other Grand Claws nodded in agreement, and stood upright once more.  One by one the Parliaments began to sound their greeting call.  The voices of the owls soon mixed with the birds above in the trees.  Two by two, the Parliament representatives  started to fly from the platform to head to their roosting trees nearby.  Only Grand Claw Glacier and Painted Feather remained at the platform, as they watched the flocks of birds start to fly off once more.  Painted Feather strode up beside the elderly owl.  “It is done, Grand Claw.  What will we do now?”  

Grand Claw Glacier nodded, “we will return to our tree at the sun rise of the grand mountain.  I want to take our hedgehog friend with us.  He has an owl’s tear, which we must show him the way to our tree, so he may return if we need to use him once more.  Alabaster speaks highly of the hedgehog, and I believe we may need him in the future.  Gaia spoke of changes to this world, which has me … concerned.  For now, let us return to the tree.”  Painted Feather nodded, and followed behind the Grand Claw.  The two owls flew from the platform, and through the trees.  The flocks of the various birds were already starting to depart.  Some owls were also flying off, but Glacier and Painted Feather found their tree full of all manner of Parliaments.  Alabaster and Pudgy were in the center of their platform, acting out a scene to something.  

As the two owls flew down, they landed on their tree’s platform, and waved their wings at the hedgehog.  Pudgy waved, but was still talking.  He was telling a grand tale of how he flew to the moon in a rocket.  The owls were fascinated, and asking all sorts of questions.  The Grand Claw was expecting to be asked about the Parliament, but wasn’t as the arctic owls had forgotten about him.  He laughed, and looked at Painted Feather, who was ignoring him also.  Pudgy was acting out how when he hopped on the moon, he actually flew a fair distance.  It was due to the moon having less gravity, which then led to an explanation of what gravity was?  The hedgehog described the dinosaurs, their space suits, and the gigantic domes in which they lived.  All manner of creature, big and small, living in harmony under the watchful rule of a Tyrannosaurus.

Tiny elf and pygmy owls started to nestle up against Pudgy, as they had become scared.  Pudgy hugged them one at all, and then continued his tale.  The mischievous gray aliens, and the dark god Cthulhu.  The big battle in space, and then the desperate return trip back to the planet.  When Pudgy described the glider, and how he flew over the oceans, that really got the owls attention.  He had to go into painstaking detail, every bit of what the glider looked like.  The crash landing in Great Britain, and then the long time it took to recover.  Even Grand Claw Glacier was getting in on the fun, and asked questions as well.  Once the story ended, all the owls hooted happily and flapped their wings.  Gand Claw Glacier laughed, “excellent story Pudgy, now, may I speak?”  

Pudgy scampered over to the spot where Painted Feather slept, and sat down.  He soon was joined by a couple of Pygmy owls, who nestled around him. Many sets of eyes then turned to watch the Grand Claw.  “My brother and sisters of the air, the Grand Parliament has concluded.  We spoke to Mother Earth Gaia, and she has informed us that the world is now healing.  It is time for us to return to our lands once more.  Your Grand Claws will tell you of what was said, in further detail.  We will be leaving soon, to return to our tree to the sun rise of the grand mountain.  Pudgy …we would like you to come with us.”  The elderly owl said with a smile of sorts in his beak.  The other owls started to hoot, and small voices called out, “no, we want Pudgy to come with us!  No fair, we want to hear the stories!”  Painted Feather laughed, “we are not leaving immediately.  We have time for more stories, do we not Grand claw?”

The elderly owl laughed, and nodded, allowing Pudgy to go back to his storytelling spot.  The hedgehog then began telling his adventure stories once more.  The owls that had stopped by tonight, were not able to hear the stories the night before, and word had spread throughout the Parliaments.  As Pudgy told the tale of his steam boat adventure to New Orleans, the Grand claws of the Elf and Pygmy owls arrived, and listened for a time.  They had shown up to gather thier straggling owls, but stayed to listen as Pudgy and Argente the fox battled the dark god Cthulhu once more on Lake Pontchartrain.  There were many protest hoots by the small owls as they were rounded up, and flew off to join their Parliaments.  Soon there were only Arctic owls left, which led the Grand Claw to signal the end to the story.  

Ice Feather landed beside Alabaster and hooted in greeting to Pudgy.  The hedgehog waved, and then started to pack up his things.  Putting his backpack on, he pulled the straps tightly around his body.  Once properly secured, he checked for his sapphire, and it was still safely in his vest pocket clasped shut.  He put the mining helmet on, and then walked to where Ice Feather was standing in front of Grand Claw Glacier.  Painted Feather strode up opposite to Pudgy on his right side.  “Everyone, it is time to return home.  May I ask who will be carrying Pudgy?”  Painted Feather raised his wing, “I will Grand Claw.  I need to educate him on how to properly use the owl’s tear.”  

The Grand claw nodded, “everyone take flight, and fly safe.  We will return to our tree, and see what our land looks like now?”  The hedgehog watched as the various Arctic owls began to take off from the tree branches, and began to fly to the east of the tree.  Painted feather took flight, circled back and then snatched up Pudgy by his backpack.  Once more the critter was being carried beneath an owl.  This time he did not cover his eyes, because it was so dark out, he could barely see anything. He tried to stay as stationary as possible as the owl flew, though he would bank with the owl to the left or the right.  

The light started to increase, as the redwood forest thinned, and soon Pudgy could see a meadow.  It was bathed in moonlight, and everything had a soft azure hue.  Painted Feather called out, “in the center of this meadow, is a leyline stone.  The lines are fragmented, but connect to various points in the land.  The magic stone you have, is called an owl’s tear by humans.  We call them the stone, and when an owl comes of age, he or she is given one.  The stones allow access to the leylines, and allow travel over great distances.  They can also teleport without using a leyline, but there are limits to their powers.  I’m going to dive now, so please don’t move too much.”  

Pudgy watched the owl start to circle, and then divebomb straight down over a large boulder that was sticking out of the ground.  He started to yell in terror, as the ground was coming too quickly towards them.  Before he knew it, the rock started to glow bright yellow, and then whoosh they were back into the leyline.  The hedgehog looked up, and saw the owl’s wings stretched wide.  They were moving very quick, and Pudgy could feel air flowing past them.  Perhaps because they were flying, this ley line seemed to move so much faster than the others?  The hedgehog would ask the shaman when they were safe once more.  

Faster and Faster they seemed to move, with the rocks whizzing past them so fast he could barely see the details.  The colors began to swirl around them, a mix of yellow and orange light, before suddenly a dark circular exit appeared in the distance.  Bracing himself, the owl exited the leyline, and shot out from the ground straight up into the much colder night air.  Painted Feather banked hard, and then levelled off.  He heard a funny noise coming from Pudgy, “are you alright Pudgy?”  The little hedgehog’s tummy contents had been expelled when they exited the leyline.  “Pudgy threw up, but Pudgy is getting better now.”  The owl laughed, “yes, the leylines are not for the faint of heart or full of stomach.  I believe Alabaster told you, we only drink water before using the leylines.  It is better to hunt at the exit, than be full at the entrance.”

Pudgy could see a flickering light that illuminated a sign that read: Packwood.  The little hedgehog wiggled slowly as he pointed, “this is Packwood!  This is where the nice Sandra lady and her husband Raymond brought Pudgy.  Pudgy flew bi-wing airplane to the mountain from here,” the hedgehog said with a happy tone.  The owl hooted, “it looks like the town is deserted.”  The two animals watched from overhead, as most of the town lights were off.  The land was dark, save for a couple odd lights that were running off solar batteries.  As Painted Feather banked to the left, they started to pass over the runway of the airport.  There were a couple of planes that had crashed into the ground.  It looked like fires had burned, as there were black rings of debris around each crash.  

“Planes crashed, Pudgy hope no one was inside.”  The little hedgehog whimpered, as the owl continued his flight.  After they had crossed a silently moving river, they were in thick forests of a myriad kinds of trees.  Higher and higher they flew into the night sky, as the moon darted between the clouds.  Painted Feather sounded a greeting call, and soon was joined by several other Arctic owls.  The group continued to grow, and soon the entire Parliament had gathered to fly in a quasi formation.  The Grand Claw was in the front, leading the others, to their home.  Painted Feather started to narrate once more, “our home is a forest of trees with green needles.  We used to live above the mountain, until the humans came with their machines of death and sorrow.  They took the trees, and burned the lands.  When it rained, the dirt washed away, and left only rock behind.  Not even the ground walkers could live there, well …save for the snakes.”

Pudgy listened, and continued to hold on as his paws were starting to tingle.  The straps were cutting off the circulation in his limbs, so he really hoped the flight would be over soon.  It did not, and the flight continued for a long time still.  The owls banked to the left once more, and were flying up a river that was flowing from Mt. Rainier.  The night sky continued to stay cloudy, masking the moon, and causing the features of the lands below to stay hidden.  Pudgy could only feel the air grow continually colder as they flew to a higher elevation.  The Grand Claw sounded a loud greeting call, which caused more owls in the trees to call back.  Painted Feather sighed happily, “home.”

The hedgehog dangled from the pack, not moving as he had lost all feeling in his limbs by this point.  He felt the owl bank hard upwards, and then soon he was dropped gently onto a moss covered nook of a series of tree branches.  Pudgy immediately curled up into a ball, and his quills went straight out.  The tiny backpack was sticking straight up in the air.  This reaction drew curious looks as the owls began to land in the nearby branches.  Alabaster landed beside Pudgy, and gently touched his quills.  He looked at the shaman, “you broke Pudgy!”  The shaman immediately got flustered and stammered out, “I did not do anything!  Pudgy, are you alright?”  Alabaster laughed, and watched as the hedgehog started to uncurl and wiggle his nose at him.  “Is it safe now?”  Pudgy asked while wiggling to get feeling back into his limbs.

Alabaster nodded, “yes it is Pudgy.  Welcome to our forest, in the shadow of the Grand Mountain.”  Pudgy yawned terribly, “good, Pudgy glad.  Can Pudgy go to sleep now, Pudgy tired.”  The snow white owl nodded, “yes Pudgy, take a rest.  It is only a few moments till dawn, we will discuss matters later.”  The hedgehog nodded, and his eyes involuntarily closed by themselves.  He immediately fell asleep, wedged into the nook of the tree branches.  The shaman wiggled his wings at Alabaster, “did I break Pudgy? … HMPH!”  The shaman grumpily said, while flying off to the tree which he usually resided in.  What the hedgehog did not realize, that this was the Grand Claw’s tree, and while owls would visit, they did not normally sleep there.  An exception was being made for the ground walker, and Glacier watched from his perch over the forest.  The morning light was emerging from the direction of the sun’s ascension.  As he saw the sun appear, his eyes fluttered closed, and sleep arrived.

Both hedgehog and owl slept soundly in the cool forest, and despite the sun rising to shine over the forest, the temperatures did not get much warmer.  It was due to the elevation, with spring resembling an average winter to Pennsylvania.  Around some of the tree trunks there was still some snow in the shadowy places, which kept a slight chill to the air.  The trees of this forest were green however, due to them being predominantly pine trees.  For the first time in what seemed like forever, Pudgy did not stir awake in his sleep.  The sound of the swaying trees on the cold mountain air, and their general movement, rocked the hedgehog gently while he slumbered.  The nightmares had finally subsided, and he dreamt a dreamless sleep restfully.  It was not until the later afternoon he stirred from his slumber, and saw the light of the sun passing behind Mt. Rainier.  

The owls were still nestled on their branches, with the Grand Claw quietly watching with his soft golden eyes.  He noticed that Pudgy had stirred awake, and raised his wing to his beak.  Pudgy nodded, and stayed put quietly, while stretching a bit.  As quietly as he could muster, he started to undo the straps of his backpack, and slowly took it off.  The critter’s stomach was rumbling bad, so with the stealthiest of movements, he was able to set his back in front of him and open it.  Inside was smashed pieces of a cracker and a cookie, so he reached inside and started to munch.  While eating, Pudgy saw that Alabaster was sleeping on a branch above and beside his.  His hurt wing was still not folding correctly, but it seemed that with the movements as of late, it was healing.  Ice Feather was sleeping beside him, as well as a couple of other smaller arctic owls.  Painted Feather was sleeping below the Grand Claw’s perch.  

After finishing the cracker, Pudgy turned to the cookie fragments.  He had packed a ginger snap, which was famous for storing well during trips.  He really wished he had some tea to dunk the hard cookie in to soften it, but he was glad he had it.  The sun was continuing to set, which was both darkening the forest and causing the owls to stir.  Painted Feather was first to wake, and noticed the hedgehog was eating something.  The hedgehog waved, and nibbled on his fragment of cookie.  The critter decided to save a couple pieces, just in case he needed them.  As he looked inside of his pack, Pudgy saw the contents were quickly disappearing.  The hedgehog would need to resupply soon, if he were to stay for a longer period of time.

Unlike the night before, this evening was turning out to be a cloudless night.  The stars were out already, as the twilight faded and the temperature started to drop.  The hedgehog started to check his pack contents once more, and the pieces of fabric he brought, could be fashioned into something to warm him.  The little critter got to work, fashioning out a poncho of the pieces of fabric.  Thankfully he had packed a sewing needle and thread. though he was not a good tailor by any stretch of the imagination.  Cobalt was only slightly better, and they would go to the nice lady  next to the flower store when they needed help with sewing.  The owls were fascinated by what the hedgehog was doing, and soon saw him put on the strange covering.  It was too thin for the area’s climate, but it was better than nothing.  

Painted Feather’s curiosity got the better of him, and quickly flew over to land in front of the hedgehog.  He pointed with his left wing tip, “what is that Pudgy?”  The critter smiled and wiggled his nose, “Pudgy cold, so needed to make temporary clothing.  Pudgy stay inside when cold out like this.  Cobalt used to make special clothes for Pudgy …for …adventures.”  The critter said, and started to whimper sadly, as he began to miss his friend once more.  He sniffed his nose hard, as he shook his head, “but those days are gone now.  Pudgy has to learn to be by Pudgy self now.”  The little hedgehog said as he shook away the sadness from his mind and body.  

The hedgehog started to describe his underground home, and how Cobalt had helped him build it.  The nice man had also made a cottage for Argente the silver fox, who also used to live around here somewhere.  There were two wild and crazy, but loving bunny rabbits who lived in their warren up the hill from him.   Two field mice also lived across from the rabbits, and two beavers had their pond along the stream.  The little hedgehog spoke highly of his friends, and the many times that the brave and kind Mr. Bear had saved the day.  Pudgy spoke of the grumpy dinosaur who used to live in the forest, but he went away somewhere.  The dinosaur had spoken often of the rocky mountains, which were to the sun rise of here and the sun set of Pudgy’s forest.  

As the hedgehog told his latest story, the owls all were listening.  Pudgy’s home sounded wonderful, and when Alabaster joined Pudgy on his branch, he verified what the interior of the home looked like.  There were many pouting smaller owls nearby, upset that Alabaster was able to go inside of the hedgehog’s home.The description of Pudgy’s phone, with the little rectangle which had people inside, confused and delighted the owls.  The stories continued on through the evening, until the moon rose high in the night sky.  The Grand Claw sounded a greeting call, which quieted his Parliament.  “As always, my quill covered guest, your stories are fascinating.  I would like to discuss why we brought you here.  I know it is cold, and we will soon return you to your home, but please allow an old owl some patience.”

Pudgy nodded, and sat down on the branch, in his poncho.  He had put his pack and mining helmet back on, because they helped him also retain heat.  Grand Claw Glacier nodded, “Pudgy, thank you for helping my grand feather, and assisting him in returning to our Parliament.  While I do not foresee it at this time, we may need assistance from you once again.  The owl’s tear which you have in your possession, is given to each owl of the Parliament when they have reached age.  Painted Feather has instructed you in how to properly use the stone, and based on your stories, I believe you were partially doing this already.  However, you asked the stone to take you places you had not gone, and it took you there.  This confuses me, and also delights me, since that means that you have a greater mobility than our Parliament.  If you accept, I would like to include you within our Parliament.  Is that acceptable, Pudgy Hedgehog?”

The little critter listened, as the moon light illuminated the arctic owl.  Pudgy rubbed his chin with his paw, and then raised it. “May Pudgy ask a question, please?”  The Grand Claw nodded, and Pudgy spoke, “If Pudgy needs help, can Pudgy ask for assistance?”  The Grand Claw nodded, “yes, any member of the Parliament may seek aid.  We are few in number, but will assist as best we can.  Although, if you find another Kaiser monster along the way, we will politely decline.  I do not know how to build …. a p…l…ane?”  The owl had trouble sounding it out, but then hooted as he laughed.  The hedgehog stood up, “yes, Pudgy would like to join your Parliament then.”  The other owls started to sound happy calls, and Alabaster wrapped his good wing around Pudgy to gently hug him.   

The Grand Claw nodded, “I am happy to hear that you accepted our invitation.  Now then, we will tell you tales of our land and of our Parliament.  Then Painted Feather and Alabaster will take you to the leyline node that is near to here, that will allow you to travel home.  Alabaster knows the way there, and he will be given his stone soon, so if we have a need for you …he knows how to get there.”  Ice Feather hooted, “but don’t fly into that tree again, son!”  Alabaster looked sheepish, and called out, “well I will just have to go visit Pudgy again then!”  That statement caused the little owls to pout and hoot in protest, “we wanna go to Pudgy house!”  The adult owls laughed, and started to hoot and dance happily on their branches.  Painted Feather started to dance upon the story teller’s branch, and began to tell his tales.  Everyone quieted down and listened, and many owls started to snuggle around the shivering hedgehog.

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

One reply on “Moon Cry: Chapter 8: Grand Parliament”

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