Kodiak Queen: Chapter 5: Danger

More time passed, and the days turned into weeks.  The forest was finally back to life, after a winter that seemed like it would never let go.  The days were very warm, the sunshine bright, the rains were on their schedule, and the nights pleasant.  The coyotes were still in the area, and would scout through their section of the forest at night.  But the critters had their routines down pat at this point, and no one went off on their own.  Pudgy had started the grist mill up, and was grinding the nuts gathered, into large quantities of flour.  He was baking like crazy, all sorts of shelf stable food items, as well as yummy breads.  The store house was still full, with both human foods as well as gathered supplies.  They had even started to harvest the potatoes planted, and the harvest was surprisingly big.  The tomatoes were growing nicely, as well as the carrots.  The bunnies were allowed to quality test one carrot per day, and would wait all day to do so.  

Everything was fine, and the critters were happy, except for Pudgy.  Mr. Bear and his father had not returned, nor had his dragon friend Cobalt.  Pudgy and Argente would wander up to his cave, and there would never be an answer when they knocked.  Argente was starting to grow worried, as when she told Cobalt to go away, she didn’t mean forever.  Her hedgehog friend was putting on a brave face, but she could tell that he was past the point of worry, and close to adventure status with a grand exploration.  The female silver fox was trying everything she could think of to keep the hedgehog there.  The mayor’s tactic was a ruse, and it was losing its power to keep Pudgy there.  What did not help, was Pope and Tess offered to help Pudgy find the wayward dragon in a couple of days.  The Bobcats were still very busy finishing the interior of their cottage home.   

The hedgehog’s dreams continued every night on the island, with the bears sitting around the shoreline looking into the ocean.  But the details were filling in with each one, and Pudgy had been keeping a journal.  So, on the day before the married bobcats arrived to search, Argente was reading what Pudgy had written down.  The bears were waiting, watching the skies, and the moon was lining up over the center of the island.  A beam of pure moonlight was shining upon a cave, where inside a large female bear could just faintly be seen.  On the shoreline, shadowy monsters were staring from the tree line, with glowing blood red eyes.  The ice bridge collapsed into the ocean, and the roars began.  Pudgy thought the strange voice was that of the Mother of all Bears, but he was not certain.  It was as she shut the journal with her paw, that Argente looked at her friend making tea at his sink.  

“Pudgy, as much as it pains me to say this …. I think you are being called to this island.  Do you have any idea why?”  The little hedgehog turned and wiggled his nose while putting tea leaves into his teapot.  “Pudgy unsure, Mamma Bear never says anything that makes sense.  Pudgy missing words, or the bear growls are a different dialect Pudgy doesn’t understand.  Pudgy really needs to talk to owls, Painted Feather can help explain things better.  But Pudgy needs to know the forest is safe before can leave.  Pudgy has to find Cobalt …”  The hedgehog said, while starting to whimper a bit.  He poured hot water from his kettle into the teapot, and watched as the boiling water started to cause the leaves to steep.  

Argente sighed and nodded, “Pudgy, I am sure Cobalt is fine wherever he is?  Do you really need to go see the bears?  Do you really need to see the owls for that matter?”  The hedgehog scampered over and hugged the female fox tightly.  “We all are friends with Mr. Bear, he helped us many times.  If he and the other bears are in danger, Pudgy has to help.”  His female friend sighed again, and hugged him closer with her paws.  “I worry Pudgy, what if this is your last adventure?  I know you have come back in the past, but each time I worry more you may not.”  Pudgy looked up at her, “Pudgy promise to come back.”    The hedgehog’s attention returned to his teapot, and started to break free of the fox.  But he found her holding onto him, which caused both to laugh.  Eventually Argente released the critter, who smiled and then started to serve tea.  

Evening came, and all too soon it was time for bed.  The hedgehog climbed into his bed, and pulled up the blankets.  He was not running the wood stove, so the home had a slight damp chill to it.  The opening of the tunnel had resulted in air leaks in his formerly snug home.  It was alright for now, but come winter time, they would need to be addressed accordingly.  As his eyes fluttered closed, the hedgehog immediately dreamed of the island once more.  This time however, the bears were gone, which caused confusion to form in the hedgehog’s mind.  He was floating over the ground, and soon found himself being blown on the ocean breeze inland.  The bears were all amassed at a bridge of ice, that stretched across the ocean to reach the mainland shore.  Bears of all sizes, shapes, and colors were racing across the bridge and back.  Deep gouges in their furs, from vicious claws had been cut into them, resulting in profuse bleeding.  Whimpering, the critter still could not speak, and floated over to where Mr. Bear Senior was tending to an injured grizzly bear.  

“The wolves have broken the treaty!”  The injured grizzly moaned, as the elderly gray bear listened with a mournful look.  The elderly bear nodded, “they have taken this opportunity to strike.  We must give the Bear Mother time!”  The bears looked up at a tall mountain, and as Pudgy turned to see, he could see a gigantic bear glowing in an ethereal light.  She was sitting on her rear, and her concerned face was looking out past the shoreline.  But as Pudgy focused his eyes, the Mother of all Bears locked onto the hedgehog’s.  Pudgy heard one single word boom in his mind, “help.”  Suddenly, the hedgehog was thrown from the island.  Across the ocean, down the coast lined with dense forests and mountains.  Over a large bay, with a derelict human city, and to the great mountain the hedgehog was thrust.  Pudgy landed at the base of a tree, and rubbed his head with his paws.  

In the boughs above, he could see the snow owls, who all looked down to see what had shaken their tree.  Pudgy still could not speak, nor move for that matter, and then felt his body being thrown once more.  So quick did he move, that the land blurred, and soon he woke up screaming in his bed.  As Pudgy shot out of bed, he clutched his chest with his paws.  That settled it, the bears were in trouble, and he had to go!  The critter scampered around his home, and turned on the lights.  Pressing the concealed panels that ran the length of his home in various spots, the hedgehog got out his travelling backpack.  The mining helmet, and tools were then placed on his kitchen table.  As he turned, Pudgy caught sight of a field mouse frowning at him while twitching her nose.  “You’re going again, aren’t you?”

The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy dreams are bad.  The bears are in trouble, and Pudgy has to go to help.”  Mrs. Field Mouse shook her head, “what good would you do there?  Pudgy, if it is as you have told Argente … there should be plenty of bears on that island to fix whatever the problem is.”  As the critter started to get out some hardtack, and other dried food supplies, the mouse approached and tugged at his quills gently.  “Pudgy, please, think this through?  How will you get there?  How will you get back?  What will happen to the rest of us when you go?”  The field mouse looked up at him with pleading eyes, and then let go of his quill.  She scurried out of the home, and shut the interior door to the store house.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, pondering the questions his mouse friend raised.  He also continued to pack supplies in his bag, and check the mining helmet with its head lamp.  

What Pudgy had not realized in his haste to pack, that the sun was coming up.  Soon light was streaming in through his round windows.  Wiggling his nose, “It’s sun up already?  Oh Pope and Tess were coming in the morning to help find Cobalt.”  Sure enough, there was a knock at the door, and he could see Tess peeking into his kitchen window.   The hedgehog scampered over to the front door, and opened it to see Pope wiggling his nose and waving with his paw.  “Good Morning Pudgy, you look like you are up.  Do you still want to go find Cobalt?”  The hedgehog nodded and bounced while exiting his home.  Shutting the door behind him, he secured it, and then hugged both Pope and Tess.  The female bobcat giggled, and wiggled as the hedgehog hugged her.  

Pope nodded, “Pudgy, we think Cobalt is in town again?  A couple of days ago, we asked Argente if it would be ok to borrow her wagon?  She said it was fine, and so Tess and I headed into town.”  Tess giggled, “yes, we needed some cottage supplies.  The buildings in towns are decaying so quickly, it is amazing.  Pudgy, you will be amazed when you see it.”  The male bobcat nodded, “we could hear the dragon somewhere, but could not figure out where?”  Pudgy nodded, and then started to scamper happily beside his bobcat friends.  At hedgehog speed, the trip took longer, but was more fun as Pudgy showed his cat friends all sorts of neat things along the way.  In time however, an annoyed silver fox showed up, and chided Pudgy for leaving without her.  Before he could apologize, she pulled him onto her back with her mouth, and they were off at fox speed.  

Past Mr. Bear’s cabin, through the clearing, across the oak tree bridge, up the switchback trail, and to the war memorial park they went.  The grass this time was now about 6 inches tall, and a herd of deer were bedded down in the park.  The group stayed quiet, as some deer were still asleep.  They had a field day on the plants in town, so were back to eating the plentiful tall grass sprouting everywhere.  As Argente reached where the road used to be, her mouth went wide.  Pudgy rubbed his eyes with his paw, “Pope, you were not kidding ….”  The buildings had all fallen over, and none were standing along the main street in front of the park.  Piles of rubble were everywhere, and the street was now sinking into the ground.  A water line had been severed, causing a torrent of water to flood down the street, causing a new creek to form.  The road sloped downwards towards a day care center, before making a  turn to the left.  Pudgy could see the bend was gone, having been swallowed up by a sinkhole.  The flowing water was now pouring into the creek that the oak tree bridge was spanning.  

As Pudgy rode on top of his silver fox friend’s back, he looked around the town.  Some buildings were smoking, apparently having been burned down to the ground.  There had been some bad thunderstorms that rolled through the last few days, and there must have been lightning strikes.  A blood curdling roar was heard echoing throughout the empty town, which caused all of the animals to stop and look up.  The grocery store and hardware store were located in a 3 story building.  On the very top of the building, Pope spotted a blue dragon.  “There he is, what is Cobalt doing up so high?”  Tess rubbed her eyes, as she watched his wings unfurl and spread out.  “Oh my goodness!  He’s trying to fly?”   Pudgy wiggled his nose, and watched as his former human friend leapt from the top of the building, and start falling quickly.  “Nooo!” The little critter cried out, before at the last minute, the wings began to flap hard and the dragon started to fly into the sky.

Argente blinked, “my word, he is actually flying!”  The bobcats started to sprint off towards the grocery store building, causing Argente to giggle as she sped up to follow them.  Pudgy was watching with awe as his dragon friend was circling the town above.  Down the broken and uneven sidewalk they ran, to reach the intersection.  But there was a new challenge in front of them, as now several sections of road surface has been jutted up, and huge sections of asphalt now stuck vertically up out of the ground.  The animals maneuvered carefully through the mess of road surfaces, and noticed that a natural gas line was now broken.  It was rusted far beyond repair, so it snapped as soon as the ground pressure increased around it.  There was a foul odor, but it was not too strong.  

Reaching the grocery store parking lot, Pope could see the store had sunk partially into the ground.  The back half where the meat section was, and the attached floral shop, had broken off and sunk deep into the ground.  The only thing still standing was the front section, though the bricks were falling down from the broken sections.  A shadow passed over the area where the bobcats were standing, as the dragon began to glide quickly overhead, he adjusted his wings to start to come in for a landing.  Cobalt landed hard onto the asphalt driveway, causing a screeching noise as his claws scratched the parking lot.  Pudgy waved and called out, “HI COBALT!”  The silver fox giggled again, and then started to pad up quickly to the turning blue dragon.  

Pope and Tess waved, “well, I see you are getting better Cobalt.  No more falling off the building,” the male bobcat said with a smirk.  The dragon smiled, and looked at the assembled group of critters.  “I see the bunnies did not come again?  You know they are going to be pouting badly when you return home?”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Cobalt, you are coming back with us?  Everyone misses you, and understands what happened.”  Before anyone could speak, the whole area started to shake violently.  Cobalt dropped down onto his belly, “everyone get on, it’s an earthquake!” The bobcats, silver fox, and hedgehog climbed up onto the dragon’s back.  The former human stood quickly up, and started to run quickly on all fours.  The remainder of the grocery store was starting to fall, in their direction.  Huge cracks began to open up in the ground, as the streets started to sink into the ground further.  The wings unfurled, and with a couple of flaps, they soon were starting to ascend into the sky.  

The animals were clinging desperately to the dragon’s back, and were having a hard time holding on.  Along his spine, were black spires that stuck out in equal distant spots.  While they were not sharp, they were not substantial enough to cling to.  “Cobalt, I’m slipping off, please land?!?”  Tess cried out, and watched as his wings adjusted and they began to glide once more towards the war memorial park.  Landing hard once again, the dragon stopped moving so the critters could readjust themselves.  All watched in horror as the town was swallowed into the earth, with water rushing from underneath to flood over the area.  The earth continue dto shake violently, and the cracks started to head towards the park.  Quickly turning, and almost losing Argente in the process, the dragon took off again at a fast pace.  Through the memorial, and down the switchback trail they headed, until there was a break in the trees.  

Pope watched as the trees at the very edge of the park started to shake.  Cobalt took a shortcut, and leapt into the air, extending his wings once more.  While not a flight to ascend, he coasted across the creek, and into the clearing beside Mr. Bear’s cabin.  The landing was much softer, and soon the animals started to fall off of Cobalt’s back.  Argente watched as the ridge line at the top of the hill seemed to shift positions.  Some parts rose, while others fell, and in a short time the tremors stopped.  She looked at Pudgy and Cobalt, “what happened?”  The hedgehog was laying on his back wiggling, “Pudgy think Gaia is erasing all signs of humans now.”  The dragon nodded, “I concur Pudgy.  We made it easy for her, all this area has miles of mines dug underneath. The mines were abandoned, flooded, and routinely collapse.  Mine subsidence insurance is terribly expensive here, because of how common it is.  She pulled the pin, and collapsed them all at the same time.”

Pope nodded, “I wonder how Texas is faring?  Is our home even still there?”  Tess frowned, “I hope so, we still have the mortgage to pay off.  Oh wait … “ Cobalt and Pope laughed, while everyone started to walk past the empty cabin.  Pudgy was offered a ride by Tess, who wiggled happily with the hedgehog on her back.  Argente giggled, but glad she could walk a while without her hedgehog friend, so she could stretch out.  Past the pine trees, past the granite boulder, make a left, head up the creek with its three waterfalls, and to the beaver pond they went.  As Tess stopped at the pond, the beavers were all shook up.  The ground was shaking, and caused their quiet pond to have waves.  Pudgy explained what happened, and the beavers listened with wide eyes.  The trees had been swaying terribly, causing the birds to scatter.  Actually, a large flock had formed and were hiding in the tunnel entrance.  

Pudgy nodded, “the birds are our friends too, so we should tell them what happened to the town, Cobalt.”  The dragon nodded, and continued to lead the way with the critters following behind them.  The grist mill and water wheel were intact, with no damage as they passed.  Up the hill past Pudgy’s home they headed, and into the clearing.  As the beavers advised: cardinals, blue jays, robins, sparrows, and goldfinches had huddled together underneath the rock overhang and behind the defensive tunnel barriers.  With the dragon slowing, as to not frighten the birds, Pudgy jumped from Tess’s back and then scampered up to the birds.  Cobalt watched as the hedgehog’s friends followed suit, and decided to instead head to his cavern.  The birds all started to chirp excitedly, and spoke at the same time.  

When the hedgehog arrived, and the birds began their calls, he waved his paws.  “Please everyone calm down, everything is ok here.  Pudgy and friends went into town, the bad stuff happened over there.”  The cardinals chirped the loudest, “the trees were swaying terribly, and the whole ground shook!”  Argente giggled when she watched Pudgy deploy his de-escalation tactic: the strategic hug.  The birds were hugged one by one until they were calmed down.  Pudgy explained during this process what had happened to the town, and what Cobalt said had happened.  The birds started to understand, and nodded during the story.  One blue jay raised his wing, “when I used to live in Oklahoma, we had quakes all the time.  It was the gas drillers, doing that fracking nonsense.”  Pope looked at the bird, “Oklahoma?  We’re from Texas, were you human once like Tess and I were?”  The blue jay nodded, “Yes, I used to be a priest actually.  One day I was giving a sermon, and poof I was in a gray void.  The next thing I remember was that I was falling out of the sky.  Thanks to my friends here, they helped me with how to fly.”  Two other blue jays waved and chirped.” 

Pudgy wiggled his nose and waved at the former human now in bird form, and looked at Argente.  “It is happening … the good humans are coming back now.”  The priest looked confused, “what do you mean?”  The hedgehog told all of the birds the short version of what his last adventure was with the owls.  When Pudgy got to the part of how the world was formed, the blue jay started bouncing, “that’s the Cherokee version.  But it makes sense, this is indeed the rapture.  But instead of going to heaven to be with the Lord, we returned to the earth as animals.  Eden is being restored,” the priest said.  This explanation confused the birds, who started asking a myriad of questions.  Pope laughed, “Pastor, I think you lost the flock.”  The blue jay laughed in a loud chirp tone, “well .. it would appear I need to start holding Sunday school.”  Tess giggled, “we never thought of building a church.  Might be a good idea now, since we have a bird of God here.”    

The birds started to fly off one by one, with the exception of the priest bird.  Pudgy introduced himself and his friends happily, and pointed up towards the dragon’s cave.  The blue jay nodded, “I think I would like to meet this dragon friend of yours.”  The critters all started to scamper up to the dragon cave to see that the door was open.  The dragon poked his head out of the doorway, “hello everyone.  Just cleaning up some things that fell down,”  Cobalt said while watching a bird land on his stacked stone wall beside the door.  Pudgy waved and explained excitedly what they had found out.  Cobalt nodded and waved at the blue jay, “welcome to the forest.”  The day was sunny, and warm out, so everyone decided to sit outside the cave.  With the dragon exiting, and then situating himself to listen, the grand story of Pudgy’s dreams were relayed.  

All animals listened to the growing desperate plight of the bears, and how Pudgy felt he needed to head there to help.  When the story ended, the priest blue jay nodded, but started to ask a series of questions.  Cobalt filled in the blanks, and the bird looked confused still.  “I do not believe I can help you with this.  Thank you for explaining what happened, I need to dwell upon this and pray for awhile.”  The bird waved goodbye, and then flew off.  Pope laughed, “I think he took it well.”  Tess giggled, and watched as Argente wiggled her ears.  Cobalt nodded, “Pudgy, I agree Mr. Bear helped us many times.  We should help, but I am unsure if you heading there will be of use.  We all know you are resourceful, but if what you are describing is actually occuring, we have a heavy combat situation.  A hug attack won’t work, sadly.”  The hedgehog started to look sad, as the dragon was poking holes in the grand plan he had.

Argente smiled, as Cobalt was seemingly taking her side.  The silver fox turned to her hedgehog friend, “Pudgy, we all want to help, but the question is how?”  Pope nodded, “Tess and I could help, but our claws aren’t grown yet.  I think when we came back, we were returned as cubs.”  The dragon shook his head, “no, we need you here.  The good news, with all of the enhancements made to Pudgy’s home, there is now a village to keep everyone safe.  The Bobcat cottage, the tree house, the grist mill, the beaver pond, all play a role in the safety of the forest.”  The hedgehog was starting to pout, but looked up as Cobalt turned his head towards the grove surrounding the ley line node.  “Pudgy’s teleportation stone worked for a hedgehog and owl, but I do not think it would work for a dragon.  I’m too big….”  The silver fox shot Cobalt a look, then turned to watch Pudgy’s eyes light up.  “NO!  You two are not leaving!”

Tess nodded, “Cobalt … you can’t go, what would happen if the coyotes returned?”  The dragon nodded, “that is a concern I have.  Once I leave, they will return.  But, the village is set up now, with enough supplies to last for an extended time.  Pudgy has a well, water storage, and enough supplies to last a year if used correctly.”  Pope nodded, “I think we should be fine.  How long do you think it would take to fly to Alaska?”  The dragon rubbed his chin, “I don’t know.  No phones anymore to quickly search.  I know to Packwood, and based on 30 miles an hour …. it would take Pudgy’s plane to fly 84 hours.”  Tess looked confused, “what’s in Packwood, and why 30 miles an hour?”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Packwood was where Sandra flew Pudgy to when Pudgy went to Mt. Rainier.  The mountain was not too far from there, and where the arctic owl tree is located.  Cobalt, Pudgy need to talk to the owls first.”  

The dragon nodded, “that makes the most sense Pudgy.  They know things we do not, and if it turns out that this is a fool’s errand, then we will head back.”  Pope nodded, “that is roughly 4 days.  I think we can last a week without dragon protection.  Pudgy, would you show us how to work things in your home?”  The silver fox was still looking angry, “I can’t believe you are allowing this to happen!  What good is a hedgehog versus an untold number of wolves?”  Argente sounded an angry call, and then shot off away from the group into the woods.  The hedgehog looked sad as his fox friend shot off, and started to run after her, but she was too quick.  Tess padded past him, “I will go talk to her.  Pudgy, please show Pope how to run things.”  The female bobcat wiggled her nose, and scampered off.  Pudgy nodded, and then started to scamper back towards the tunnel.  Pope scampered off to follow Pudgy, and into the tunnel.  Cobalt sighed, and looked up into the sky, “Mother Bear … why did you have to involve Pudgy in all of this?”  The dragon rotated his neck a bit to get a kink out, and then turned around to head back inside his cave.  

Meanwhile Tess was chasing after an upset silver fox, and eventually found her sitting in a small clearing that was on top of the hill over the hedgehog’s home.  Approaching cautiously, she could see the fox was crying.  “Argente …”  The silver fox was wiping away the tears with her paws.  As the female bobcat approached, she sat down and did not say anything for a long period of time.  Eventually Argente looked up at her, “Tess, I saw my mother in the clearing.  She passed when a human vehicle hit her.  I only see my mother’s ghost when someone is going to pass.  What if it is Pudgy?”  Tess frowned, and nodded, “I know what you mean.  I am worried too, this bear business is way out of his league.  But yet, somehow he fought monsters and demons, and survived somehow.”  Argente nodded, “humans helped him, and now they are all gone.  Their things are going away too … I dreamed of a world without humans my entire life.  Made terrible mistakes, which Pudgy helped me correct.  I can’t imagine my life without him.”

The female bobcat nodded, “when Pudgy visited, I felt wonderful.  Even as we battled demons on the lake, it was exhilarating.  But then he went away, and life was …well….boring!”  She giggled, watching the fox stop crying.  “And then one day … Pudgy came back, and it was fun again.  Off on another adventure to an island in the middle of the lake.  Then everything went dark, and I wound up in a gray void.  My point is, without Pudgy doing what he is doing, I would never have come back.  Maybe the vision you had is not Pudgy ….maybe it’s Mr. Bear?”  The fox’s eyes went wide, having not considered that.  “Oh no, not Mr. Bear!”  The fox started to sniffle again, “I worry so much when Pudgy is away though.”  Tess stood up and padded over to Argente, and hugged her gently.  “I worried too, and I lived a thousand or so miles away from here.  I kept telling Pope we have to drive up here, but he never could get time off from work. And now, here we are, with fuzzy tails and a little cottage.”  The silver fox started to giggle, “thanks for following Tess, I feel better.  Now, we should check on what is going on?”  

As the two female animals scampered down the path, they could see the dragon’s cave.  In front of the cave was a shimmering light, with stars floating in the shape of a bear.  Tess cried out, “what is that?!?!”  As the two scampered closer, and peeked around the trees, they could hear a conversation.  Cobalt nodded, “Ok, I understand.  We will head there soon.”  The stars started to disappear one by one, and soon the shimmering light was gone.  Tess whimpered, “we were too late!”  Argente increased her speed as she watched the dragon shut his door, and then walk off at a fair pace down the hill.  Tess also increased her pace, and soon was at top speed trying to catch up with the fox.  Past the dragon cave, past the tunnel, down the hill, make a right, to stop in front of Pudgy’s underground home they went.  “Pudgy, are you in?”  The dragon said, watching the hedgehog’s front door open.  As soon as the critter had exited his home, Tess knocked him over when she couldn’t stop in time. The two rolled several times, and laughed happily.  

Argente slid in the dirt, and then looked up at the former human.  “Cobalt, what was that in the clearing?”  The dragon nodded, and watched as Pudgy and Tess scampered up to him.  With Pope and the bunnies peeking out from the doorway and windows of the home, Cobalt began to speak.  “Well, I asked why Mother Bear involved Pudgy ….and she answered.”  Pope raised his paw as he exited the home, “what did she say?”  The dragon looked down at the female fox, “it is bad.  The island is under attack from the wolves.  I need to get Pudgy up there as soon as possible.  She says he is the key to something, and there is a cave on the island that no bear can reach.”  Pudgy raised his paw, “what is in the cave Cobalt?”  Cobalt sighed, “I do not understand, and how to explain this is very hard.  She showed me something, it looked almost like a chain.  It stretched from the island, all the way into the sky.  Something is there that the wolves want desperately, and if they get it … everything goes to heck and a hand cart.”  

Pudgy bounced excitedly, and soon was grabbed by Tess, preventing his scampering.  The female bobcat looked at the dragon, “Let us say you two go … get to the island …and into this cave.  What will the bears do with the thing?  Maybe what they want to do is worse than the wolves?”  Pope rubbed his chin with his paw, “perhaps, but with both Cobalt and Pudgy up there.  If it is bad, they can stop either side from having it.”  Argente looked around, and then sighed, “Pudgy, you can go. But you have to listen to Cobalt, and not wander off without him.  You two promise us to be back as soon as you are able to!”  The hedgehog raised his right paw, “Pudgy promise.”  Cobalt laughed and raised his right claw, “Cobalt promise.”  The other animals started to laugh, and watched as Pudgy was let go to scamper inside.  One by one the critters entered the home, and started to bounce as they helped their hedgehog friend prepare to go.  

The dragon waited patiently, and then looked inside the kitchen window.  “Pudgy, do you still have the straps with the saddlebags for Xylenia?”  The hedgehog peeked out, “yes Cobalt!”     Lots of movement was occurring within the hedgehog’s home, which the dragon could only see glimpses through the windows.  Pudgy showed Tess how to work the faucet, and load the fire box for the wood stove.  Where the storage panels were located, as well as how to turn the lights on and off.  The dragon saddle bags were located, and then supplied with food and materials.  Pudgy realizing what happened the last time when he went to the mountain, packed his winter weather gear.  Sadly, Cobalt did not have any gear to use, so Pudgy hoped that he would be alright.  After many hugs, and a cookie break for all, the dragon watched as the leather straps and saddle bags were drug out.  

The straps were laid out on the ground, and then Cobalt walked over them.  At the thinnest part of his dragon body, he eased down onto the ground.  The critters then started to throw the straps out, and Pudgy climbed up to the top of the dragon’s back to fasten the straps.  After many tries, and some bad words spoken, the straps were secured.  Pudgy had loops that he could secure himself with, but instead of doing that, he slid down to hug everyone multiple times.  Argente got the most hugs, who was still looking sad.  Pope and Tess waved, with Pope commenting, “you two come back, or Tess will be angry with the both of you.  And trust me, you don’t want that.”  Tess giggled and nodded, “that’s right!”  The bunnies bounced, and hugged Pudgy.  The field mice looked concerned, but still hugged their hedgehog friend.  Patches waved from her tree house, “I will be the eyes in the sky while you are gone!”  

Cobalt reached down to grab Pudgy, and then stood up.  Lifting his hedgehog friend up to the tree house,  Pudgy scampered inside to hug his cat friend.  She was meowing sadly, but understood why they were going.”  After many hugs, the hedgehog bounced out to his dragon friend’s clawed paw.    The dragon’s reach was limited, but Pudgy was able to get onto his friend’s back, and then secure himself in the loops on the saddle bags.  Pudgy waved at his friends, “Pudgy will be back as soon as Pudgy can.”  The dragon nodded, “bye everyone, I will get him to and back safely.  If the coyotes come back, everyone stay inside the village.”  With all of his woodland friends waving, they watched as the dragon started to charge forward.  Gaining speed, and unfurling his wings, he started to flap hard.  It took a lot of effort, but  eventually the dragon was gaining altitude, and soon he pierced the forest’s veil of tree branches.  

The dragon continued to fly higher, but soon found himself flying with a growing flock of blue jays.  The priest bird called out, “where are you two going?”  Pudgy called out, holding on tight to the straps, “we are heading to Alaska.  We have to save Mr. Bear and Mother Bear from the wolves!”  The birds chirped and started to circle off, and head back to their nests.  “I wish you safe travel, please come back, I most certainly want to know what happens next.”  The former human in blue jay form said, while banking to the right.  Cobalt kept flapping his wings hard, flying higher and higher into the sky.  The ascent was the worst part, trying to get high enough so he could glide.  The forests thinned out, and soon the city neighborhoods of Pittsburgh began to reveal themselves.  The few steel mills remaining were silent, and the rivers empty of barge traffic.  

Pudgy looked in awe at what he could see, and the hilly neighborhoods were being reclaimed by the forests.  The bridges all collapsed, sticking out from the ground at strange angles.  Cobalt continued his ascent, starting to cough.  Eventually though, the grounds turned from a sea of decaying cities, into a green carpet as individual homes were too small to see.  Settling in for a long flight, Cobalt extended his wings and started to glide.  As the hours passed, Pudgy started to grow tired and fell asleep.  His dreams were of the bears, but it was a rehash of what he had already been shown.  Reinforcement perhaps, or did something occur causing the feed of new information to stop?  Pudgy was unsure, when he awoke seeing a  large sign pass by that said Cincinnati.  The sign was partially lit up from one lone spotlight still working.  Settling back in, the hedgehog fell asleep once again.  

Cobalt for his part was amazed at how far he had been able to fly.  This was his first try at a long distance flight, and as long as he was able to glide, his range was much further than active flying.  Day turned into night, and the grounds below were a dark sea of black.  The moon was brightly shining above, with the stars shining brightly.  One star in particular shone the brightest, which was the nose of Ursa Major.  The bear constellation was serving as a beacon, which was helping the dragon navigate.  Even if he had his phone, it would not have worked, since the cellular towers were all offline. Plus, and how would he look at his phone while flying for that matter?  

Once daylight started to fill the sky, as the sun rose behind them, Cobalt called back to Pudgy.  “Pudgy, I have to land.  My wings are burning, I need to rest.”  The hedgehog did not respond, so he may have still been asleep.  Adjusting the angle of his wings, they started to descend across the Mississippi river towards the ruins of a town.  The river had flooded, and wiped most of the town out of existence.  As the dragon landed hard, his claws screeched along what little of the road pavement was left.  This woke up his hedgehog friend, who looked around.  “Cobalt, what happened? Wait … Pudgy know this place!”  The dragon nodded, “it does look familiar Pudgy.  Looks like a tornado and a flood took out most of the buildings though.  Looks like a diner was here… Rose Kountry Kitchen.”  The hedgehog whimpered, “that was the nice place where Pudgy got pie with Bloodhoney.  Pie lady is gone now ….”

The dragon nodded, and found what looked like a carport, and walked underneath it.  As he circled around, the dragon dropped onto the ground and immediately fell asleep.  The hedgehog disconnected himself from the straps, and then slid off from Cobalt’s back.  Scampering around him, the hedgehog headed out to get a better look at the town.  The river had grown considerably, and the diner was sitting right at the river bank now.  The ferry docks were gone, and for that matter, most of the town as well.  Tall grass grew where the houses once stood.  The roads had crumbled away, and the weeds overtook the area.  While he really wanted to explore, the words of his friends, and his promise not to want kept the hedgehog in place.  He kept a watchful eye on the area, while his dragon friend slept.  

Hours passed, and the summer heat was intense.  Pudgy really missed air conditioning, as the sun baked the area with heat and light. The carport was not too much cooler, since there was no wind.  Birds were chirping somewhere, perhaps in the trees by the river, but none flew overhead the remnants of the town.  Cobalt started to stir awake, and then opened his eyes to see Pudgy standing outside on the road.  “Did I miss anything?”  The hedgehog scampered up and hugged Cobalt’s snout, “Pudgy keep watch. No bad stuff happened, but town all gone.”  The dragon nodded, “get back on Pudgy.”  He watched as the critter scampered around, and then felt him climbing up onto his back.  Once properly secured, “Pudgy ready Cobalt!”  Standing up and walking forward out of the carport, “man is it hot.  Too bad air conditioning is no longer a thing, but remember this time well Pudgy.  Once we get to Washington, then we have to contend with the cold.”  

Running once more, and flapping his wings, Cobalt started to ascend once more into the sky.  The same pattern followed: ascend, glide, ascend, glide … Pudgy would sleep during the gliding parts of their trip, as when the dragon was flapping, his entire body shook hard.    After many naps, the hedgehog woke up in the daylight as his dragon friend was starting to curse loudly.  Calling out, “Cobalt, what is it?”  The dragon’s wings were straining, “I think I steered wrong.  I am so tired, we might be too far south.  I need to land!”  The dragon had hoped to navigate based on ground markings like city signs, but the further west they went …. the less signs of civilization were remaining.  The dragon had also fallen asleep while flying, and veered off in the process.  

Coming in for a hard landing, the dragon landed with a thud into a field of tall grass.  Pudgy looked around in amazement, at the grass almost as tall as Cobalt’s head.  The two looked around as he walked through the tall grass, to reach the remnants of a street.  A terrible sound filled the air, like a mixture of a screech and a car horn.  Pudgy whimpered, “what was that?”  The dragon nodded, and headed towards the sound, to find several ranch homes lining a street.  The homes looked fairly intact, but there was one with a white pickup truck parked in front of it.  As they approached, Pudgy started to bounce, “Pudgy knows this place!  It’s Loki’s house!”  Cobalt laughed, “maybe he can give us directions if he is home …”  As the dragon walked around the truck, he saw a curious sight.  There was a tall elk stuck in the front door of the ranch house.  The elk was light brown on top, and had dark brown fur on his legs.  The elk sounded off the mournful call once more. 

Pudgy waved at the elk, as Cobalt walked up towards it.  The dragon smirked, “hey, nice rack.”  The elk had a large set of horns, at least 6 points on each side of his head.  The elk looked down at the blue dragon, “hey, my eyes are down here pal!  Pudgy …Pudgy is that you?”  The little hedgehog waved from the dragon’s back, “HI LOKI!”  Cobalt laughed, “Loki, how did you get stuck in your house?”  The elk recognized the dragon’s voice, “Cobalt?  How the heck did you become a dragon?  And I thought I would fit if I backed in … can you help get me out?”  Both hedgehog and dragon nodded, and proceeded to start helping free the elk.  It was going to be awhile …

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 “Kodiak Queen: Chapter 5: Danger”

It’s awesome that Cobalt can go on adventures now. Excited to read the remaining 7 chapters & I hope the forest critters will be alright without the dragon and bear to protect them.


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