Kodiak Queen: Chapter 7: The Great Tree

With both Pudgy and Cobalt explaining what had happened, Sandra and her husband Raymond soon found out what was the cause of the calamity in the world.  Once the story had ended, Raymond rubbed his beak with the tip of his wing. Involuntarily, his left leg lifted straight up and folded against his body.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, wondering how the bird was able to stand on one leg?  Sandra rubbed her belly with her wing, “I think herons eat fish.  I hope there are some in the river.”  The dragon nodded, “yes, I remember a nature show that herons would swoop over the water and snatch fish in their beaks.  Let me see if I can save you a trip …” Cobalt turned a bit, and walked out from the island’s shoreline, and out into the water.  It was cold, having quickly flowed from the mountains behind the city.  

Pudgy was still lashed into the straps on the dragon, but he covered his eyes.  Raymond looked at Pudgy, “what is it?”  The hedgehog frowned, “Pudgy doesn’t like it when Cobalt hunts.”  Sandra had a soft look in her yellow eyes, “Pudgy, did you ever eat pepperoni pizza with Cobalt?”  The little critter nodded, “it was so bubbly and yummy!”  The female bird nodded, “milk comes from cows, and pepperoni comes from pigs.  That meal was partially made from animals.”  The hedgehog whimpered a bit, not realizing that many of the things that he liked to eat were in fact made of animals.  The difference was, it came in a can or jar, Pudgy had never seen the actual act.  When Cobalt went to the butcher, he would always leave Pudgy home to play.  Certain aspects of life, the hedgehog was shielded from, but now in a human less world … they were becoming known.

The dragon’s body shook, as he thrusted his head downwards into the water.  Raymond watched and wiggled a bit, “Sandra .. I can’t get my leg to go down.”  The female bird looked at her husband, “what, it won’t go down?  What did you think about?  Remember, I was thinking of opening cans of root beer, and my tail went up?  These animal bodies react differently than our human ones.”  The hedgehog looked at the male heron who was speaking, “I have no idea why.  I thought about the party we went to for your mother.  You were shaving your legs, and smiled at me.”  Sandra giggled, “that was a random memory, and a fun time.  You were wondering which tie to wear?”  Pudgy watched as Sandra’s left leg picked up, and folded back.  Raymond laughed, “uh oh.”  His wife looked at him with an angry smirk, “great … now my leg is stuck too.”  

Pudgy wiggled his nose, and then watched as Cobalt pulled up a large catfish in his mouth.  It was easily 2 feet long.  As he backed up towards the birds, Cobalt turned around, and then looked at both of them on one leg.  Biting hard, he snapped the fish in twain, and then started to chew his piece.  The taste of raw fish was growing on him, and this was a proper meal.  After swallowing, “Sandra .. Raymond .. what happened?”  The two herons were wiggling, with Raymond chirping as he cursed, “It won’t go down.  One stupid fun memory, and now we’re stuck.”  The dragon blinked, “what were you thinking about?”  Sandra chirped, “me shaving my legs before a party.”  Cobalt started to laugh, and then looked at Raymond.  “Well, after she shaved her legs, what did she do next?”  

Sandra pondered, and then her left leg went down and she could walk again.  Raymond looked at his wife, “what did you think about?”  The female bird on purpose did not answer him, and instead started to peck at the catfish.  If the male bird could pout he would have been, “no fair .. tell me?!”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “what would Sandra do .. Cobalt?”  The dragon laughed, “well … either she put pantyhose on … or put her leg down so she could walk out of the bathroom.”  The hedgehog watched as Raymond started to think about things, and then his leg went down.  He walked over, and started to hungrily peck at the catfish.  The dragon eased down, so Pudgy could dismount.  As the little hedgehog slid off the dragon’s back, he went to the saddle bags, and opened them.  Getting out some pieces of hardtack, the critter nibbled.  

The group was quiet, eating and listening to the water rush past the rocky shore of the island.  Raymond looked up at Cobalt, “you flew an awful long way out here Cobalt.  Where will you go next with Pudgy?”  The dragon nodded, “we are heading to Mt. Rainier.  There the owls will help us, and if we need to go further … to Alaska.”  Sandra looked up from the quickly disappearing cat fish while her husband started to eat again.  “Alaska, what is up there?”  Pudgy looked up at the birds from his meal, “Mamma Bear is up there, she called all the bears in the world to her.  The island is being attacked by shadowy monsters with red eyes.”  Raymond stopped eating, “I thought the Kaiser’s forces were defeated?”  The dragon shook his head, “they were, but this is a worse problem.  Wolves and coyotes …  The coyotes act as their lead forces, and have been attacking in Pudgy’s forest.  Mr. Bear is up there, along with his father, and we have to help.”

The fish soon disappeared, except for a few tail fin pieces that could not be eaten.  Pudgy was doing inventory, and what he had found was not good.  The amount of food supplies was almost exhausted, so they would need to find a place to resupply somewhere.  The other saddle bag was the cold weather gear, the backpack, tools, and mining helmet.  As the hedgehog secured the saddle bags and their contents once more, he watched the herons talk to Cobalt.  “I see and afterwards, you will fly back?  That is going to be a long trip,” Sandra said while the dragon nodded.  Cobalt cleared his throat, and spat out a piece of bone away from the group.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and noticed the bone was covered in ice.  Raymond stared at the ice, “Cobalt … it came out … frozen?”

The dragon nodded again, “I don’t know why that keeps happening?  I know in the fantasy books dragons breathed fire.  I had a book that theorized how they did it.  All of it was fantasy nonsense, but …. it would seem that somehow … someone was possibly on to something?”  Sandra chirped as she giggled, “we are finding out all sorts of things were wrong or missing key details.  So you can breathe ice, that might be useful if you can figure out how to work it.”  The group of friends laughed, and relaxed on the island, while the sun peeked out from between the clouds overhead.  Soon the daylight started to fade, and the animals all curled up and fell asleep.  Pudgy had another dream, but it was the same as before.  

In the morning, Sandra advised they would be heading back home.  Their departure was happy, but at the same time Pudgy was a bit sad since he knew it was an extremely long way to Virginia.  It had been weeks since they had left Pennsylvania.  As Pudgy climbed on top of his dragon friend and secured himself with the leather straps, he could not help but worry about his forest home.  Once securely in place, The dragon took off and began to fly once more.  Having a bit more energy, Cobalt chose to fly much higher than he had tried before.  The combination of altitude, speed, wind direction, and more rest resulted in a much smoother flight.  Pudgy worried about Argente, the bunnies, the field mice, the beavers, and the bobcats.  He hoped they were safe, and his home was secure.  

In time worry was replaced by sleepiness, and he fell asleep once more.  The dragon smiled, and wished he could fall asleep, but he was the faithful steed to the hedgehog hero.  That silly thought, after he finished it, made him wonder about horses.  As the former human pondered galloping horses, who were most likely complaining the entire time, they quickly made up time.  Day turned into night, and with the clouds passing by underneath the dragon, he could see the stars in the skies above.  The Mother of all Bears was in the stars once again, looking directly at the flying dragon.  In his mind, he could hear a deep growling voice, “Dragon …. you must hurry.”  Cobalt nodded, “I’m trying as best as I can.  It’s getting easier to fly though.”  The stars started to dissipate, and the face of the bear disappeared once more.  In its place was a single star, glowing brightly to the north west.  

The mountains passed underneath, dark and silent.  What Cobalt did not realize was that he had already passed into Washington state.  So with wings outstretched, he adjusted to glide downwards.  The speed increase helped, and while the towering pine trees started to become visible, Pudgy woke up.  The little hedgehog called out, when he saw the remnants of a town appearing to the left side of the dragon.  Wiggling his nose, “COBALT!  THAT’S PACKWOOD!”  Bouncing happily, the hedgehog realized that their long trip was almost over.  “The owls’ tree is north of here!  Follow the road till you see a big granite boulder in a grassy field.  It was white, and had no moss on it.  The tree is to the left of the boulder!”   The dragon nodded his head, and flapped his wings again, to gain altitude.  The human town of Packwood looked almost the same, just empty.  Birds could be seen flying about, and animals moving around the buildings.    

This area was wild, even during the time of humans, so the animals moved where they wished.  The key difference was, they had no worry of humans interfering now.  Pudgy saw a herd of tiny deer grazing alongside the road.  “Pudgy hopes Loki is ok, and finds daughters.”  Because the air movement, and where he was on the dragon, there was no response.  After a couple of hours, the dragon called out, “I see the boulder!”  Cobalt banked to the left, and started to head northwest.  This was the first time in the long trip, the hedgehog started to shiver.  It was much colder at this altitude.  Plus the rushing air around the dragon was not helping things, but that could not be avoided.  

Cobalt saw a huge forest of pine trees, spreading in all directions.  It was going to be hard to find the tree that Pudgy was speaking of.  So the dragon adjusted his wings once more, and started to come in lower.  Reaching the height that most birds flew, increased the number of curious birds coming to fly around them.  Pudgy waved at a brown hawk, “HI MR. HAWK!”   The bird looked at him with a weird look, “I have no mate, and I’m a female.  What is this you are riding on critters?”  Pudgy called out, “PUDGY SORRY MISS HAWK…. COBALT IS A DRAGON.  WE ARE HEADING TO THE OWLS’ TREE!”    The hawk nodded, and flapped up to fly beside the dragon’s head.  “I will tell them you are coming.”  The hawk folded her wings back,and then power dived, before returning her wings to glide position.  The bird was extremely fast, and soon disappeared into the trees.    

Pudgy was excited, and wiggled his nose, as he watched a series of white owls start to fly out of the tree tops. In a short period of time, there was a  parliament that had formed around the dragon.  The little arctic owls had joined up, and were hooting happily.  They recognized Pudgy, and were saying hello at the same time in happy high pitched chirps.  The dragon called out, “I see the tree Pudgy!”  There was one lone pine tree, standing out amongst the others.  Its branches were gigantic, and spread out in all directions.  There were 2 mountain peaks behind the tree in the distance, each capped with snow.  The tree was speckled white, but not due to snow, but the owls all appearing  in its branches to look on.  The former human watched as two owls shot off ahead of him, and eventually into the tree.  

Landing in the tree was out of the question, as Cobalt was way too big.  And even if he could manage it, he was not skilled enough in flying to land in a tree anyway.  The tops of the pine trees were starting to tickle the dragon’s belly as he continued to descend.  The forest was so thick, that it was going to fly with his wings outstretched.  Folding back a bit, the dragon caught the wind and braked. While this caused him to drop quickly, it also slowed him and allowed a controlled descent.  Once entering the forest, Pudgy could see how densely packed the trees were.  The owls were small enough to fly between the trees and through the branches.  But Cobalt was way too big, and navigated through the canopy as best as he could. Some branches were striking him, but they did not hurt too bad.  The descent continued carefully dodging trees, until finally he reached the forest floor.  Cobalt landed hard, and his claws dug into the soil.  They were surrounded by tall ferns, with many laying behind them due to the landing.  

Taking a moment to recover, Cobalt folded his wings back, and started to walk.  The area was steep hills, continuing up towards the tree.  Pudgy hung up, but noticed that the little white owls had landed in the trees above and were hooting happily still.  One in particular could not wait anymore, and swooped down to land on one of the dragon’s black horns that ran behind his head.  “HI PUDGY!  You came back!”  The hedgehog waved, “HI!  Is everyone still all right?”  The owl nodded and hooted happily, “yes, we sent went so the Grand Claw will know you are coming.  The hawk told us, and we were so excited, most of us flew without telling him.  Who is your large blue friend here?”  

The dragon smiled as he climbed the hill, “my name is Cobalt.”  The owl’s eyes went wide, “Pudgy, didn’t you say your human friend’s name was Cobalt?”  Pudgy nodded, “yes, he came back as a dragon.  Pudgy has met a couple of humans who came back as animals now.”  The owl nodded, and hooted as another owl flew in to land on the dragon’s opposite horn.  Pudgy waved, “HI ALABASTER!”  The older owl waved with his wings, “PUDGY! It is so good to see you!  We did not expect you to come back so soon.  What is this thing?”  The little owl started hooting excitedly, telling him what he had found out.  As Alabaster listened with his gold eyes wide, the dragon’s body shook as he lifted himself over a large stone boulder, to reach a relatively flat clearing around the base of the great tree.  

The dragon slowed until he reached the base of the huge pine tree, “ok everyone, looks like we’re here.  Oh, and hello Alabaster.  I am glad I can finally talk to you properly now.”  As Cobalt looked up, he saw the owl peeking at him from his perch on the horns.  “H .. hello … Cobalt.  I too am glad.”  While the dragon eased down to sit on the moss covered ground, he could hear the owls sounding their calls all around and above him.  Pudgy’s description did not do this place justice, and the dragon slowly lifted his head to look upwards.  Hundreds of branches were growing from this tree.  If the former human were to estimate, the tree was most likely in excess of two hundred feet tall.  In Pennsylvania, the trees at most grew to eighty feet, but this was an old growth forest.  The trees had been here long before humans stepped foot on these lands.  The scent of pine was heavy in the air, and the ground was littered with a sea of shed pine needles.  

The first branch nearby was perhaps 6 feet from the ground, and the diameter was well past ten feet thick.  As Cobalt looked, he could see movement, as more owls were flying down.  Eventually a white owl that was painted with black markings in varying spots of his body landed.  Pudgy waved from the back of the dragon, “Hi Painted Feather!”  The shaman hooted in return and waved, “hello Pudgy.  I see you brought a very large friend with you here.”  The dragon raised his clawed front right paw up to wave, “hello .. my name is Cobalt.”  The shaman’s gold eyes went wide, and his beak dropped open.  Alabaster nodded from atop of the dragon’s head on his perch, “Painted Feather, I am amazed too at this.  The human .. was turned into …this?  What are you Cobalt?”  

The former human nodded slowly, while placing his paw back onto the ground to steady himself.  “I am unsure how, but I was turned into a dragon.”  The hedgehog bounced happily, and watched as the shaman leapt from the branch, and glided down with his wings stretched out.  Pudgy slid down from the back of his friend, and then scampered over.  The shaman was looking at the dragon with eyes wide open.  None of the owls had ever seen a dragon before, and was being inspected from all angles by an ever growing parliament of owls.  The hedgehog had maneuvered to the saddlebags with the cold weather gear, and opened the bag.  He was in the process of putting on what was the last interior space suit from his moon adventure, when the shaman stopped to watch Pudgy.  “What are you doing, Pudgy?”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “it’s cold here, so Pudgy brought warm clothes this time.  Pudgy has an extra layer for when we go to Alaska.”

Securing the saddle bags once more, the hedgehog scampered with Painted Feather as he completed his inspection of Cobalt.  The little owls were all amazed at Pudgy’s new outfit, and since it was white, he was just like them now in terms of coloring.  A thunderous noise of flapping wings could be heard coming from above, and all watched as the Grand claw flew around the tree in a descending path, until he could land on the branch closest to the ground.  Glacier gave a deeper welcome hoot to Pudgy and his dragon friend, “welcome back Pudgy and … your friend.”  The hedgehog waved, while the shaman bowed to the Grand Claw.  “Hi Grand Claw Glacier!  This is Cobalt!”  The former human smiled, but lowered his head to slightly bow as well to the obvious leader of the owls.  The act drew a grin, as well as a softer look from the towering owl.  The other owls were half of his height, maybe even less.  

Glacier took a breath, “Pudgy, I did not expect you to return so soon.  But I suspect your arrival corresponds to a development our Parliament must be made aware of?”  The hedgehog nodded, “yes Grand Claw.  Let Pudgy explain what is going on,” the critter said while more owls arrived.  The grand tale of Pudgy’s return to his forest commenced, as well as the developments in the forest.  The arrival of Cobalt drew many questions from both Painted Feather and Glacier.  Cobalt also spoke, filling in portions, as well as clarifying certain parts.  The growing coyote attacks drew many worried hoots from the assembled owls.  The Grand Claw gave a look, which silenced the members of the Parliament.  Cobalt explained about the ruins of the human homes, including his, and how the buildings were destroyed.  The earth was swallowing up the buildings, as Gaia erased all signs of humanity.  

The town’s buildings were decaying, and eventually destroyed by an earthquake, before being swallowed up like the others.  It was when Pudgy started to tell everyone about his dreams of the bears, that the owls grew deathly silent.  Cobalt’s descriptions of the bear constellations, as well as the pilgrimage amongst the stars, also drew much attention.  The trip westwards with Cobalt flying, and the meetings with the elk and herons, caused much confusion.  Once Pudgy finished the story with their arrival at the tree, the little owls bounced happily in the branches.  They loved hedgehog stories, but this one was also very confusing.  Pudgy was an honorary owl, why would he be working with the bears now?  Painted feather was so full of questions, he was about to burst, but waited patiently for the Grand Claw.  Glacier nodded, rubbed his beak with his wing tips.  

The leader of the Parliament spoke with a kind but strong tone, “so … our plan to activate the Gaia stones .. to make the humans go away … did not turn out the way we expected.  I am confused, but the words of the former human fill me with hope.  We must learn more … Painted Feather, you are wise amongst our kind … Please ask your questions.”  The shaman nodded, “thank you Grand Claw.  Cobalt, when you went away, where did you go?”  The dragon looked at the shaman with his silver eyes, “When I was human, I felt sick.  Then the world faded away, until I was in a gray void.  There was no up, down, left, or right.  There was no wind, no cold, just a gentle warmth.  I was floating, and could not move, nor speak.  It was as if I was in a dream that I could not wake from.  Then one day, I saw a vision of the coyotes attacking Pudgy’s forest.  Mr. Bear was bleeding, having at least a dozen coyotes biting and clawing at him.  I yelled out, so full of anger and concern for Pudgy and his friends, and reached out towards the shimmering vision.”

The Grand Claw nodded, “I see.  You indeed went away, most likely with all of the other humans, to this gray place.  I wonder why you saw the vision of Pudgy’s forest being attacked?”  The shaman looked up, “I told Pudgy before he left us, of my suspicion that Unetlanvhi would judge the humans.  Cobalt was deemed worthy, and returned.  Pudgy spoke of other humans who returned, what were they like?”  Pudgy bounced, “Mr. and Mrs. Waffles helped Pudgy fight the shadow monsters.  They were so nice, and would help animals.  When Pudgy and Cobalt found them in town as bobcats, Pudgy was very glad.”  This led into more questions by both the shaman and Grand Claw, which Cobalt had to fill in the details.  Cobalt explained they were from Texas, which was far to the south of here.  They too had spoken of a shimmering light, which when stepped through, came into this world.  

Painted Feather nodded, “I see.  This shimmering light is the exit from the void, into the world.  You also spoke of an …. elk and blue herons?”  Both dragon and hedgehog explained, and the stories were similar, though these animals did not appear around Pudgy’s forest.  The Grand Claw nodded, “so there is more than one exit from the gray place?  I see … Cobalt .. why do you think that is?”  The former human eased down, and sat on his rear end, swirling his tail around his body.  Soon Pudgy was sitting on his tail, looking up at the Grand Claw also.  Alabaster was still perched on the dragon’s horn, listening intently.  

“If I were to hazard a guess … Grand Claw … I suspect it is partly the location of the disappearance from this world that directs where the return to this world would be.    In our forest, before leaving, we met a blue jay, who was from Oklahoma.  He used to be a priest, and spoke of similar things.  He was adopted into a flock, and was adjusting to life as a bird.  It would appear only good people are coming back.  So if you were evil, or had bad intentions in life, those are seemingly not returning to this world.”

Pudgy looked up at Cobalt, “but what about Tyler the bunny in Missouri?  He took Loki’s daughters away from him?”  The dragon looked down at his hedgehog friend, “true Pudgy, that he did.  But Tyler may have been a good person otherwise, and while he does bear some blame for the situation, Loki’s ex wife bears the majority for leaving him.  We do not know all of the details, Pudgy … who are we to judge Tyler?  Though I must admit, I am sure Tyler was none too pleased to be chased by that elk.”  The Grand Claw laughed, “the taking of one’s mate is problematic at best.  A subject for another time, but information nonetheless relevant to our discussion.  So this Tyler human caused a Parliament of humans to split, but formed a new Parliament.  An interesting concept, and strange to owls.”

Alabaster raised his wing, “Grand Claw .. may I ask a question?”  The leader nodded, and watched as his grand feather leapt from the dragon’s horns and extended his wings to glide down in front of him.  Turning around to face the dragon, “I am glad you returned, to save Pudgy.  We would all have been saddened greatly, if he were to never return to us.  But I must ask, why are you here?”  The dragon nodded, “Pudgy thought it was best to return.”  The younger owl shook his head, “that is not what I am asking.  Pudgy was shown how to use the stones, and could have travelled here in a day.  But yet, you chose to fly Pudgy here.  From your descriptions, it sounds like this brought you nearly to the brink of death.  If you were to continue, you may not survive.”  

The owls quieted down, and Pudgy looked at Alabaster.  The dragon sighed, “yes I know that.  The stones have limitations, and while Pudgy could  travel with Alabaster using them, look at me?  I am much larger, the stones would not have worked.  So I chose to fly Pudgy out here, like the others in the forest, I worry about him.  I want to protect Pudgy, as I suspect the rest of you do as well.  I have no doubt, Pudgy could make it all the way to Alaska, and have a grand adventure with the bears.  But, if the shadows are as numerous as Pudgy describes, we may have a larger problem than the loss of one hedgehog.”  The Grand Claw nodded, “I see, what do you suspect, Cobalt?”  The dragon nodded, “Mr. Bear and his father told me about an accord that the bears and wolves had signed.  The wolves were constantly pushing up to the edge of the agreement, and used the coyotes to skirt the rules.  Over the years, while the wolf population declined due to human activity, the coyote population skyrocketed.  The bears act as a check and balance on the other predators.”

Painted Feather looked at Pudgy, then the dragon, “I see.  If this is indeed as bad as Pudgy’s dreams would appear to be, the wolves and coyotes seek to destroy the bears.  Then their kind would reign over the forests, and cause widespread harm.  But that is a long term issue that neither Pudgy nor I can solve.  Mr. Bear has helped us many times on many adventures, and we owe it to him to help.  Pudgy, tell them about the cave of which the bears can not reach.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Mamma Bear told Pudgy, and showed in dreams of a small cave nearby to hers.  No bear can go inside, as it is too small.  Far back into the mountain it goes, till Pudgy saw a rock with carvings in it.  There was a circular hoop, and what looked like silver links of a chain going straight up into the top of the cave.  Mamma Bear tell Pudgy, if the wolves get that, it would be very bad.”

Glacier’s eyes went wide, and then looked at Painted Feather.  “The Bear Mother protects one of the suspension points.”  The shaman nodded, “it would appear so.”  Cobalt looked at the Grand Claw, “suspension points?”  Painted Feather spoke, “long ago, when this world was formed, the land was hung from an archway of rock by silver chains.  The animals lived upon the archway, and used the chains to descend to the world.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy a bit confused, why would the wolves getting the point be bad?”  The dragon looked up at the owls, including a new female owl who had arrived and was listening intently.  Alabaster waved at his mother Ice Feather, who waved back. “If the wolves had the point, could they cause the world to fall?”  

The Grand Claw nodded, “they could plunge the land back into the water.  Or ascend the chain to reach the stone archway once more.  There were many such suspension points around the world, but their locations are closely guarded secrets.  While we owls are blessed with many talents, the ability to protect a ground based point is limited.  Unetlanvhi tasked that to other animals, such as the bears.  I do not know if this to be the case, but I agree with the Bear Mother’s worry if the point is not protected.”  Pudgy nodded, “if they climbed the chains, they could travel to the next point and descend.  The wolves and coyotes could travel great distances, like Pudgy and the owls can with the stones.”

The owls hooted, and spoke amongst themselves in hushed tones.  After many moments passed, the Grand Claw spoke once more.  “Pudgy .. Cobalt … we can not help you with this.  The bears have tasked you to help, and you must answer their call.  But there is something we can do to help, which is to rest from your long journey.  Ice Feather, can you help Cobalt with some flying lessons?  It never hurts to learn … “ Alabaster’s mother hooted as she acknowledged, and waved at the dragon.  Cobalt smiled, and nodded, “thank you Grand Claw.   I have been trying to figure this out on my own.”    The leader hooted softly, and then looked at Pudgy.  “Pudgy will return to our Parliament in the branches above.  The little ones undoubtedly will want to hear of hedgehog tales once more.”  

The little owls all started to hoot happily, and bounce on the ground around the dragon.  Cobalt smiled, and would have bounced too, but they were too close.   The hedgehog scampered around Cobalt, and got out his backpack, and then scampered around to the other side to load it up with the remaining food and water they had.  As the critter put his backpack on, and secured the straps, he met up with Alabaster.  The owl did not expect it, and was suddenly hugged by Pudgy, causing a happy hoot to escape.  Then the shaman got a hug too, which made him laugh.    Cobalt watched as Alabaster started to flap his wings, and grabbed Pudgy’s backpack to lift him from the ground.  “You have fun with the owls, Pudgy.”  The dragon said while a smile, as he watched his little friend disappear into the tree branches above.  

Ice Feather Looked at the dragon, and grinned.  It had been a long time since she had taught Alabaster to fly.  Although the dragon would prove to be a challenge, she thought while inspecting him.  Cobalt’s eyes rolled back into his head, and soon his head dropped hard onto the ground.  The shaman quickly flew back, and then hopped over.  He could still feel the air coming from the dragon’s nose.  Looking up at the Grand Claw, “he is exhausted.  I think we are seeing his body reject the human’s commands.”  Glacier nodded, “I wonder if humans truly are being turned into animals?  What if their minds are being put into animal bodies?  I believed by activating the Gaia stones, we would rid this world of humans.  Why are the humans returning once more, but in a new form?”

The shaman nodded, “that too I wonder.  The only way to know is to go to the stone, and ask Gaia herself.”  Ice Feather nodded, “that may be for the best, but we must not tell Pudgy nor Cobalt what we find out.”  Glacier nodded, “agreed.  We will help them recover, and listen to many wonderful tales from our hedgehog friend.  The dragon can benefit from this experience.  Plus, it never hurts to have some muscle, should we ever have the need for it.  He represents both land and sky, a unique combination and very useful.”  Painted Feather nodded, “I agree Grand Claw.  I want to speak more to the former human, I can learn much from him.  Pudgy’s stories always mentioned how knowledgeable he was, so perhaps I can find out more to explain?”  Glacier nodded, “agreed, please proceed with your plan.  But first, we must let him rest, let us leave him for now.”  

The owls nodded, and started to quickly flap their wings, and soon flew up higher into the great tree.  The dragon had fallen asleep involuntarily once more, and was snoring loudly.  The pine tree shaded the area, and due the thick branches, also shielded it from rain and mist.  The owls would check on Cobalt from time to time, and found he slept for the better part of three days straight.  Upon waking, the blue dragon found himself alone.  Standing up and stretching, Cobalt looked around.  The sunlight was shining through the branches, causing spots of light to illuminate the forest floor.  But for the most part, it was still dark like twilight.  There was enough light to see, so Cobalt started to walk around the tree.  His belly was empty, and rumbling loudly.  His muscles were sore, in places he didn’t even know he had muscles in.  

After maneuvering around the tree, Cobalt could see the clearing continued towards a creek.  Walking slowly, the former human headed towards the flowing water.  With rocks on both sides, the water was flowing fast down the creek, and cascading over a rock overhang causing a waterfall.  Dipping his head down, he started to drink from the waterfall.  The water was ice cold, and very fresh, with no taste to it.  Taking many deep drinks from the creek, the dragon looked up to see Ice Feather sitting in a nearby tree looking at him.  Cobalt lifted his head, “good morning Ice feather.”  The female owl hooted, “I was off on a hunt, and noticed you had left the tree.  Are you feeling better?”  The dragon nodded, “yes, much better … Thank you.  Though I should feed as well, which I am always concerned about.”

The female owl gave him a curious look, “you are a predator, like myself.  Why are you concerned?”  The dragon took another long drink, swallowed, and looked up.  “When fighting the coyotes, something snapped in my mind.  I lost control, and started to rip the coyotes apart. I ate them, all of them.  When I was able to regain control, I found Pudgy and the others hiding from me.  They would not come out, and Argente told me to go away.  Pudgy does not like it when I eat other animals, so I try as much as possible to not eat.  The human sources of food are disappearing, as the towns and cities are swallowed up or destroyed.  So, when that happens, I will be out of choices and have to hunt.”  

Ice feather nodded, and coasted down with her wings outstretched to land on a rock beside the creek.  Her gold eyes looked directly into the dragon’s silver eyes.  “What you are describing is instinct.  All animals have it, including humans.  Humans for some reason chose to forget it, or ignore it.  When that occurred, did you hear any other voices?”  The dragon shook his head, “no, only my voice.  I do not feel as if there is another animal within me, if that is what you are asking?”  The owl nodded, “I understand.  That was a question the Grand Claw posed, which I will inform him of later.  You can not deny what you are now Cobalt, and you must feed.  I know not how you were able to make it this far, next to no food, and little sleep.  Pudgy must understand, and we will help him with this, you must feed.  If the situation is indeed as bad as Pudgy describes, the bears will need all the help they can get.”

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 7: The Great Tree”

Amazing, two chapters in 2 days! Glad they finally made it to the owls & the revelation that Cobalt has Ice breath is very cool (no pun intended). I’m excited to see what happens in the remaining 6 chapters.


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