It took quite a while for Pudgy to finish his tale. Due to some confusion on his audience’s part, he had to act out certain parts to explain things. The arctic mice were fascinated at the grand tale, and all of the adventures their new hedgehog friend had on the way here to their home. Mary’s mouth had dropped open several times during the tale, and when the tale was finished, she smiled at her hedgehog friend. As the rain pelted the glass windows, Pudgy took a moment to nibble on a stale butter cookie. The animals looked around the empty restaurant, as it began to darken more so due to the approaching night. Mary noticed the hedgehog’s gaze outside, and looked around as she sniffed the air. The restaurant’s smoke smell was prevalent around the room, but this area seemed to be much less. “This time of year is always annoying, with the angle to the sun, we might get 18 hours a day or more of light. I had a room in my home with special curtains, to block out the light, so I could sleep easier.” The female fox said, while looking at the bouncing hedgehog in front of her.
Mary giggled after taking a few moments to process the story, “what a strange, but wonderful tale. I do not agree with the owls’ decision. But it is past the point where we could do anything to stop it. The island you spoke of, with the bears, where do you think it is?” The hedgehog bounced as Mary spoke and then answered in an excited tone, “the bald eagle and then the sea duckies told Pudgy it is to the west of here. Pudgy hopes Mr. Bear and Grandpa bear are ok …” The hedgehog realized that it had taken considerably longer than expected to reach Alaska. Their final destination had not yet been reached, and while he really wanted to rush there, he had to wait for his dragon friend to recover. Almost in unison, the animals started making funny faces at each other. The salty processed food had kicked in, and dried out their mouths. Mary was the first to mention it, “wow that stuff is salty, i really need a drink. Cobalt only grabbed food, but to be fair to our dragon friend, he was exhausted. Maybe the kitchen still has stuff to drink still?”
The arctic fox stood up, and started to walk up the steps. It was so strange to be running around on all fours, yet it felt natural in her new animal body. Pudgy and the mice fell into line behind her, and soon a little parade of animals were scampering through the restaurant. There were various framed nature paintings that were hanging on the walls. Through the aisles the group passed, towards a single dented aluminum door with a fish window at the top. The fox was big enough to push the door open with her head. The little critters scampered around her, and into the kitchen. Mary giggled then scooted inside, which caused the door to swing shut with a loud thump behind her. The animals spread out and wandered around the commercial kitchen. Aluminum work surfaces, a big black stove that really needed a good cleaning, and huge walk-in refrigerators that did not smell too good filled the room.
The mice found it first, and called out in their squeaky voices, “over here!” As Pudgy and Mary circled around a prep station with a foul smelling trash can beside it, they found a flat of children sized plastic bottles of water. The shrinkwrap was cut off on one side, so it would be easier to get the bottles out from the cardboard flat tray. The mice watched Pudgy scamper up, and then into an empty spot within the water bottles. He started to move the bottles around, and then lifted them up. The mice scampered up and pitched in to help move the bottles, and they bounced onto the gray concrete floor. Mary helped to catch and then line up the little bottles of Alaska Best water. After retrieving one bottle for each, the critters looked at each other and then the row of water bottles. They were screw tops, designed to be opened by humans, which would prove to be very difficult to open. The mice scurried over and tried to use their teeth to chew the bottle, but the plastic was too thick.
Unfortunately they needed dragon help since he had something that resembled hands to open the bottles. That meant waking up poor Cobalt again, causing Mary to grumble, “if I only had my hands, I could open these. I wish we could get up to those sinks, and just turn the faucet on.” Pudgy shook his head, “Pudgy missed water coming out too, that was so nice at Cobalt house. Pudgy has a well at home, so have a hand pump at Pudgy height, to fill up the tea pot. The big problem is water from faucets need power to make water come. Cobalt says Pudgy water comes from a big station that pumps water from a place. No power means no plant to pump water.” The fox nodded, “that is true Pudgy. If any place in town has a well, there should be a hand crank or manual pump we could use. But that would not solve our immediate problem.”
The mice were not listening, and already pushed over their bottle of water, and were rolling it towards the door. Pudgy laughed, and did the same, pushing two bottles ahead of him with his head. The female fox scampered around them, to get to the kitchen door and prop it open once more. One by one, critters with bottles of water were pushed underneath the fox between her legs. She started to laugh when Pudgy’s quills tickled her belly, and then scooted out of the doorway to watch the mice’s bottles bouncing down the stairs. Once all bottles were moved into place in front of the sleeping dragon: Pudgy gingerly touched Cobalt’s face. It took some gentle shaking, for a silver eye to appear. “What …. is it …. Pudgy?” The little hedgehog pointed at the water bottles, and the dragon started to open the bottles one by one. The former human man had a little trouble with the first one, but once figured out, the rest gave him no issues. The animals watched as Cobalt fell immediately back to sleep.
With help from Mary, the bottles were tilted in such a way that each critter could drink. The water was room temperature, but tasted fresh and washed away the salt that had caked the inside of their mouths. The mice bounced, “tell us more stories Pudgy!” The little hedgehog smiled, took a drink, and then began his first adventure to visit the center of the earth. The stories were fascinating, and entertaining when Pudgy acted out parts, drawing oohs and aahs from the audience. However, with full bellies and a nice dry place to rest, the mice soon fell asleep. Pudgy wiggled his nose, watching Mary drift off as well. The restaurant was dark and quiet, save for the rain continuing to pelt the windows that overlooked the marina.
While the tired hedgehog was pondering sleep, he could see a shimmering light through the windows. In the distance over the ocean water, a gigantic bear was standing motionless on the surface. Its body twinkled like the stars, and was as large as a commercial fishing boat. “Pudgy, you are so close, why have you stopped once more?” The hedgehog recognized the voice of the Mother of All Bears, and wiggled his nose, “Cobalt is flying much better, now that the owls taught him how to fly properly. He was awake for too long, and needs to rest.” The female bear’s eyes grew very angry, and roared an ear splitting growl that shook the restaurant’s tables. Pudgy began to see visions of shadowy monsters surrounding the island of the bears. Their eyes were glowing blood red, and the howls that filled the sky were terrible. Quickly though, the visions faded away, and Pudgy was once more plunged into darkness. A new vision formed in his mind, of a cave with an entrance too small for bears, flanked by pine trees on each side. The trees were growing at strange angles, and were dead on one side that faced the entrance.
Pudgy woke up, with the arctic mice looking scared. Mary’s brown eyes had a look of concern as well, “Pudgy, you were screaming in your sleep. You woke and scared everyone …” The fox trailed off, as she watched the hedgehog. Turning to face the group, “Pudgy sorry, the Bear Mother came to Pudgy again. The island is under attack, and she can’t hold off the monsters for long. Cobalt needs to fly Pudgy there as soon as possible, but he needs rest.” The female fox nodded, “Pudgy, when you get there, what does this Mother of All Bears want you to do?” The hedgehog nodded, “Mr. Bear tells Pudgy that after so much time passes, the Bear Mother passes on her position to a new bear. Pudgy found out that the bears have a link on their island to the chains that hold the world up to the sky. If bad animals were to get that chain, they could do terrible things. The bears have a pact with the wolves, which the wolves are breaking.”
Mary nodded, “I see. There are local tribes to where I used to live, that would tell of how the world came into being. I vaguely remember them saying the world was hung from the sky, but I know that is wrong. It was just their understanding, and they did not know about gravity or the planets, etc.” The mice wiggled their noses and whiskers at Pudgy, and then tipped their bottles of water to drink again. One by one, the animals calmed, and settled in once more, to fall asleep. The remainder of the night proceeded without any more nightmares, and in the morning, the critters started to munch away on the remaining food. The dragon woke up last, and then opened a large commercial restaurant size can of shredded tuna fish. Mary pouted at Cobalt, so he offered her some as well. Both animals noted the fish was not of the best quality, but when you were hungry, everything tasted fine. There was a touch of an oily aftertaste, which was quickly dispersed by a drink of water.
With a pile of empty boxes and cans around them, Pudgy and Mary started to clean up and put the trash into a bin that was beside the hostess station nearby. There were already dirty dishes and napkins inside, so that was a good place for trash. Once he was fully awake, the hedgehog told his dragon friend about the latest message from the Bear Mother. After taking a moment to process the information, Cobalt nodded his head. “I see, the situation on the island seems to be growing desperate. Pudgy … we need to get going then.” The dragon stood up, and very carefully turned around, to start to walk through the restaurant. Once it was safe to stretch out his tail behind him, the dragon chuckled when a line of animals began to follow him out of the dining room and into the main entrance of the inn.
The dragon stopped in the entranceway, noticing various pictures and charts framed on the walls. Nodding to himself, Cobalt eased his legs down to rest his belly on the white tile floor. This allowed easier access for Pudgy to climb up, “Pudgy, if what your sea duckie friends said is correct, the island of the bears is not too far away. Maybe it is only one or two Ohio’s, but I suspect when we get there, it’s going to be crazy. I need you to put your extra layer, backpack, and helmet on. We might fly into a war zone …” Wiggling his nose, the hedgehog knew what that meant, and then climbed up onto the dragon’s back to get to the left saddle bag. Mary watched Pudgy open the bag, and pull out a backpack and other items from within the small brown leather bag. “A war zone? I always wanted Pudgy to come visit, but I thought he would have fun playing with the animals. Now I find out there’s a cold war between the wolves and the bears? What’s next, the deer have a secret base?”
Cobalt laughed, and watched as the arctic mice bounced happily watching their new hedgehog friend put on another set of winter clothing. This was the last of the exterior space suits from his space adventure, which was water resistant as well as air tight. Pudgy put on his metal helmet with a tiny lamp on the front of it, and secured the strap under his chin. Finally, the backpack was strapped onto the critter’s back, with all manner of tiny tools clipped securely on the outside. The arctic fox started to frown, “you two look like you are heading off to war.” Mary started to whimper sadly, “please come back! I do not want you to die out there. I want to hear what happened, and hug you both lots and lots.” The mice nodded and bounced, “us too, we want Pudgy back. You haven’t finished your story about the ghosts yet!” Sliding down from Cobalt’s back, the hedgehog hugged Mary for a long time, and looked up at her. “Pudgy promise, we will not go away forever. We will stop here on the way back, hug, and tell lots of stories. Is Mary going to be alright? What are you going to do?”
The female fox nodded, “I will be fine Pudgy. Our new mice friends told me of a couple places in town that seem interesting. There is a way in and out of the inn here, that is animal accessible. I want to explore the town here some more. The trip to my human home would be dangerous, even if I was still human. From the stories you are telling, it sounds like my home will not even be there when I arrive. So perhaps I can help the local animals move into this inn, at least for the winter.” The hedgehog nodded and released his embrace of the fox, so that he could scoot off to hug each arctic mouse, one at a time. After the hugs were done, Pudgy looked at the group, “Pudgy promises that both Cobalt and Pudgy will come back.” The dragon nodded, “agreed. I do not plan on dying on that island. Let’s go Pudgy, it looks like the rain has finally stopped.” The hedgehog looked at Mary, and then climbed up to the top of Cobalt’s back and lashed himself into the leather straps. In a couple of minutes he was secured, “Ok, Pudgy strapped in Cobalt.”
The mice watched as their new dragon friend opened the front door, and a gust of cold damp air blew inside. Slowly the former human man walked outside, and then exited the inn to stand in what was the parking lot. The metal and glass door swung shut quickly behind him with a loud thud. Mary the arctic fox and the arctic mice peeking out through the glass doors. Pudgy turned to wave at his new friends while feeling the dragon begin to run, watching them wave back at him from within the inn’s lobby. The dragon’s wings were unfurled, and with a couple powerful flaps, the dragon had taken off once more. Pudgy turned forward and held on, watching as they began to circle the town during the ascent. The town’s buildings were still intact, though the roads continued to degrade and flood from the heavy rains. Pudgy held on as his friend began to bank hard to the left, so they would fly over the marina. The boats bounced on the ocean waves, still tied to their moorings. Refreshed from an adequate sleep, Cobalt was flapping his wings at a fair clip, resulting in a considerable altitude gain as they quickly began to pass over the open ocean.
The flight over the water was not long, since to the Southwest of the town was a long narrow island covered with trees. The island was not populated, though there were a couple of docks where boats could tie up and allow humans to head ashore. Neither friend knew what the purpose was, as they could see any structure from the coast of the small island. “Pudgy, when we were in the restaurant, did you notice the pictures hanging on the walls?” The dragon called out as he continued to ascend. The critter shook his head, and shouted, “no … Cobalt … what were they?” The dragon laughed, “they were maps of the coastline. Old sea charts, and other nautical things. If the maps are right, I think I know where we need to go? I hope the sea ducks also told you the right directions as well.” Pudgy nodded, and settled in for yet another very long flight. Higher and higher they flew, past the long island, and along the jagged coast of what was once called Kenai Fjords National park. The mountains stretched into the sky, piercing the clouds, and were capped with bright snow. In this part of the world, it was never warm enough for long enough, so the snow remained year round.
Just as they began to pass over the ocean once more in front of a massive fjord, in both of their minds, the two friends could hear a bear growl. “WHERE ARE YOU TWO?” A clearly exasperated Bear Mother growled telepathically. The dragon adjusted his wings and set them to glide position. Cobalt snapped back in his mind, “HEY! You try flying from Pennsylvania to Alaska! See how long it takes you?!?!” Pudgy wiggled his nose, when he saw in front of them, the clouds started to part and in the distance was a tiny spec of green. “Mamma Bear, we are trying to get there as fast as we can. Cobalt can only fly so fast.” There was no response to either of their thoughts. The telepathic message may have been only one direction, or the other explanation was she didn’t want to answer. Either way, they now had a beacon to focus on. “Pudgy, I think that is our cue to speed it up. I know you don’t like it, but I have to risk it, and fly like Ice feather taught me for speed. HOLD ON TIGHT!”
The hedgehog knew what that meant, and put his head down and faced the dragon’s blue scales. He held onto the straps tightly, and felt his dragon friend start a power dive. Pudgy shut his eyes tight, and whimpered, feeling the cold air pass quickly by as they plunged straight down. The dragon had dove hard, and then hit an updraft from the ocean. Whipping back hard, the dragon’s speed was greatly increased. In a couple of seconds, the former human was moving much quicker over the coastline of the mountains and the deep fjords. A new pattern was set, where every so often, he would flap his wings once more to gain altitude. Returning to a glide position so he could rest and Pudgy to recover. Then another hard power dive, and repeat the process once more. They followed this pattern for the better part of the daylight hours, until the last bit of land started to pass behind them. Pudgy opened his eyes and saw that they were now over the open water, with dark clouds forming in the sky to their south. The little critter really hoped the rain would hold off till they got to the island.
After roughly 16 hours had passed, the sun was starting to finally set once more. The long days were throwing both friends off, but it greatly helped their journey. In the distance in front of him, Cobalt could see seven small islands clustered around each other covered in pine trees begin to appear. Returning to a power dive, and gliding, they passed overhead very quickly. Several sea birds were startled at the sight of the dragon flying overhead, and flew up into the skies squawking loudly into the air. Pudgy watched as the small islands went away, and once more they were over the ocean. The water was dark blue, with white froth on the tips of the waves. Several of the birds started to fly alongside Cobalt, and the little hedgehog recognized the black and red markings. A small one quacked, “hello Pudgy!” The hedgehog waved and shouted, “HELLO Sea Feather! What are you doing out here?”
Mr. Duck called out, “those islands are where we roost. When we got back and told tales of the hedgehog and whatever a dragon was, our flock was quite interested.” Pudgy watched as many curious ducks started to fly around Cobalt. “Mr. Duck, are we getting close to Bear Island?” Cobalt called out, to which an astonished Mrs. Duck quacked, “Yes you are … but are you sure you want to go there?” The dragon did not turn his head, as it would throw off the direction in which he was flying, but he did nod. “The Bear Mother is quite cross at us for being so late. I hope we got here in time.” Mr. Duck flew quickly to join his wife, “Cobalt, the bears are being attacked on the side of the island that faces the mainland in the direction of the setting sun. I would suggest you turn back.” The sea ducks started to quack, and then banked left and right, off to head back to the island they had come from.
The confirmation of direction, as well as the general description of what was going on, confirmed the need for a hasty arrival. The dragon could see in the distance, there was another island forming. In the center of the island, was a huge ridge of snow capped mountains. Pudgy yelled out, “COBALT, THAT IS THE ISLAND!” The dragon nodded and grunted, while angling his wings for descent. Tense minutes passed, and with his wings angled to decrease altitude, they began to gain speed once more. Pudgy had his head down again, as he was very afraid of falling off during these aggressive flying maneuvers. Though when next the hedgehog opened his eyes, they were no longer flying over the ocean water, and had reached what was once called Shuyak Island.
When humans were still in this world, what was referred to as Kodiak Island, was in fact a series of tightly packed islands. The habitats were varied, with Shuyak being mainly a series of rocky coasts. Wild birds roosted here, as well as sea otters and seals. The light was fading, but the packs of animals could still be seen, as they were bedding down for the night. There was a short channel of ocean water to cross, and then they had passed over and above the next island, which the dragon continued to angle downwards to come in for a landing. He extended his legs, and tilted his tail down so that his body would pick up, causing a sudden decrease in speed. Pudgy whimpered as he held on, and soon felt a tremendous shockwave as his dragon friend landed hard onto the ground. Truth be told, Cobalt needed a rest from flying, but also was due to something he spied from above.
As the former human folded his wings back, Pudgy opened his eyes and looked around. The scent of the salt air from the ocean was everywhere. This island that they had landed on was once called Afognak, and was more substantial. There were pine trees standing here easily over a hundred feet tall. The air was a damp cold, and the last light of the sun faded over the distant horizon. “Cobalt, where are all the bears?” Pudgy called out from his seat on the dragon’s back, while looking around. The dragon nodded, “I do not know Pudgy. It feels good to not be flying though. The Bear Mother can not be mad at us, we are finally here.” Cobalt started to walk, as his claws dug into the cold dirt, the ground almost seemed to be frozen. There were no trails to follow, as this island was wild in every possible definition. The trees grew so close together, it was hard to navigate. There were a multitude of bushes, shrubs, and other low plants that would fill in the area.
As the dragon passed through, Pudgy could see berries on the branches. Reaching out his paws, as the branches passed around him, the hedgehog picked them and tasted. The wildly sweet berries were blackberries, and they were absolutely incredible. Stuffing his mouth full, the little hedgehog ate hungrily. They were cold, almost frozen in spots, though sadly the bushes gave way and the dragon was walking much easier between the trees. A small voice called out in front of the dragon, “g .. g… g….. day … m .. m … mate!” Pudgy squinted his eyes, and could see the outlines of a gray bear walking slowly on the ground up to Cobalt. He had long arms, and wide paws that almost resembled hands. Big fluffy ears tufted with a light grey inside the ear, and a round dark brown nose. The dragon looked in amazement, “oh my goodness .. a Koala bear? You must be freezing, this far north!” The critter looked in amazement as the Koala came within sight, and nodded while shivering. “You are bloody right there mate! Name is Bill …”
Pudgy waved from the back of his dragon friend, “Hi Mr. Koala Bear, my name is Pudgy. This is Cobalt!” The Koala bear’s eyes went wide, though in the low light conditions, it was hard to see more detail. “Did you say … Cobalt and Pudgy? BO! GET OVER HERE MATE!” The excited Koala shouted into the distance, and soon another bear started to walk up at a slow pace. This one was a big white and black one, which Pudgy immediately recognized as a panda bear. Bo nodded, “I hear you Bill, what is it? Wait … is … that a dragon?” Cobalt waved his clawed paw at both bears, “hello, yes I am a dragon. Actually, I was a human … then turned into a dragon. The Bear Mother has been guiding us up here. Do you know where she is?” The panda was easily 5 feet tall, and had a huge mass. The panda spoke with a heavy chinese accent, “a half breed dragon? My word, when I get back and tell the others ….” Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Mr. Panda, are you saying there are other dragons?” Bo nodded, “yes, though their numbers are few. There is one that lives in my forest of bamboo, he will be quite interested in your friend Cobalt here. I have never seen a blue dragon though, I thought they were all green.”
Bill the koala bear gave Bo a sharp look, “we …we … we have to get these …two ..two…. to the celestial cave.” Bo the panda bear nodded, “follow us. Tell me, where have you two come from?” As Cobalt nodded and began to follow alongside Bo, Bill climbed up onto the panda’s back and waved at Pudgy. Both bears were not suited for the arctic weather conditions, even during the brief summertime months and clearly were uncomfortable. In Australia, where Koala’s come from, the days are routinely over 80 degrees. While the Panda bear’s climate varies around 70 degrees. If Pudgy were to hazard a guess, the island felt like late fall, which meant it was much less than the preferred temperature. Both hedgehog and dragon talked about the long journey to the island, and the various stops they had to make along the way. Both bears’ eyes were wide, and they listened eagerly to each detail offered. The story was fascinating, and the two bears were amazed at how far they had travelled to reach the island.
Through the dark forest the group headed, and up a winding trail that was ascending a tall hill. The foliage was dense, with pinchy bushes that had sharp edges. Once ascended to that hill, Pudgy was amazed to see the land that stretched before them was gigantic. Though at all times, he could still hear the ocean’s waves crashing on the shore. Down the winding path, across a clearing of tall grass up to Cobalt’s back, and up another hill they went. When Pudgy finished the grand explanation, Bo slowed his forward pace, and turned his head to Pudgy. “You two certainly had quite the trip …” Bill nodded, “aye mate, you two blokes need to hit the pub down in Kodiak Station.” Cobalt chuckled, “is that a human town?” The koala bear nodded, “aye mate, though we can’t get the bottles open. The Russian grizzlies have been pouting this entire time.” Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Cobalt can open bottles!”
Unbeknownst to the group, a huge dark brown bear was listening. When he heard the part about a bottle opener, the titanic beast stood up and revealed himself. “Comrade! You must come with me!” Bo was a bit startled, but did not move at the suddenly appearing grizzly who had been sleeping in a patch of tall grass. “DON’T DO THAT,” the panda yelled. Bill laughed, “maybe later Comrade, but we have to get these two to the Bear Mother first.” The hedgehog noticed the russian was different from his friend Mr. Bear. The body was bigger, and the face was more narrow, with a wide oval shaped black nose. “Da, she is more important. Wait … is that the hedgehog she spoke of?” Pudgy waved at the large grizzly, and bounced happily as the group started to walk once more through the tall grass. They reached the end of the meadow, and began once more to ascend a hill. The Russian followed along, and wiggled his ears when Pudgy waved at him.
Hours passed, of winding trails, crossing densely packed meadows of foliage. And the short night soon started to fade away, as the twilight of the morning sun started to rise into the sky. Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy not used to night being so short here.” The russian nodded, “da, this place never gives one long enough to sleep. But this island is like no other, the perfect place for the Bear Mother to reside.” Cobalt slowed so that he could walk beside the grizzly, “can you tell us about the Bear Mother?” With a soft smile, the Russian nodded, “she is the Mother of us all. When the humans once walked these lands, she would call upon the chain of the world to throw them from our homelands.” Bo nodded, “the world is hung from the sky by magical chains, which she guards one of them. With a thought, she can move land around, to keep bears safe.”
Cobalt only nodded and listened, because what they were explaining was continental drift. The fault lines along the plates in the earth’s crust. “A long time ago, was the world all one land?” The dragon asked, which resulted in nods from the three bears. Bill waved, “yes, that was a long time ago. All the land was one, and the chains stretched into the sky. But there were these certain animals, large reptiles, that thought they knew better. They manipulated their chain, and the land began to shake.” Bo frowned, “the great spirit who watches over us all was angry. The spirit of the ground was sad, and so the land began to move. It is told amongst our kind that the great spirit tolerated it at first, before sending a piece of the archway down from the sky and struck their land. We know not what happened to those animals, only that one day they went into the sky.”
Pudgy wiggled his nose and bounced, “COBALT! It’s the moon dinosaurs!” The former human nodded, “that sounds an awful lot like them. You said that they had technology that you did not recognize.” The bears looked perplexed, so Pudgy began to tell the tale of his trip to the moon and back. After a couple hours, the group stopped at the crest of a hill, and circled around so they could look at each other. The story told by the hedgehog was fascinating, but the existence of the dinosaurs brought only confusion. When they looked up at the moon, they thought no one lived up there. Bill nodded, “Mate, that was the best tale I have ever heard. You flew to the moon and back, and met the lady in Purple. I wonder if she is still around?” Cobalt shook his head no, “not as a human. The Gaia stones have been activated, so all the humans went away.”
The Russian bear looked at the dragon, “the Gaia Stones, what are those?” Pudgy bounced, “when Pudgy spent time with the owls, they told Pudgy about the Gaia stones. They are magical rocks, and when the birds all found them, they turned them on. Then somehow the humans were all made to go away. Pudgy is unsure of all the details yet, but know the good humans are coming back as animals.” Cobalt nodded, and turned to look out from the hill. There was a stretch of water that separated them from the next island. Kodiak was a collection of tightly packed islands, with narrow channels of ocean water or much larger ones separating them. Bo nodded, “Hmm … that may make sense. The Bear Mother will know more about that. I do not miss the humans, they were quite loud. I prefer quiet, and a good strand of bamboo.” Bill pointed across the water at the next island, “over there is the Bear Mother’s cave.”
Pudgy squinted a bit, seeing the wide channel of ocean, then an extremely steep hill that began to ascend up the side of a mountain. The peak was capped with snow, but in the far distance, there were many shades of brown all over the mountain. The dragon nodded, “I see, so fly up there. I think I can take Bill, but not you other guys. How are you going to get across?” The Russian nodded, “Comrade, we will be fine. We have to head to the bridge anyhow.” Pudgy wiggled his nose, “bridge?” The panda nodded, and pointed with a large paw away from the mountain. Through the channel of the ocean to the right, they could just barely see a white line crossing the ocean. Bill nodded, “many bears walked here from far away, but could not cross the ocean water. The Bear Mother made a bridge of ice appear and connect this island to the shore across. Everything was fine, until ….”
The Russian frowned, “wolves began to appear. Everywhere, from all sides, they attacked the bears crossing the bridge. We were at the battle, but then the Mother told us to look for you.” The Koala chuckled, “and you got lost!” The dark grizzly rolled his eyes, “details .. details … we still found the dragon and hedgehog. Now you two get going, Bill is coming with us to the bridge.” Cobalt nodded, and started to unfurl his wings, “Pudgy strap in again.” The little hedgehog tied himself in, and then waved at the bears. “Bye everyone, Pudgy, glad to meet you, hope to see you again soon!” The trio of bears waved, and watched as the dragon started to run forward towards the edge of a steep descent towards the shoreline of the island they were standing on. The dragon’s wings caught the air, and soon they were flying quickly across the water. Pudgy watched as the bears quickly grew farther and farther away, until they were just specs in the forest treeline.
The trip across the channel was quick, and once more they were flying over a densely packed forest of cedar trees. Higher and higher they flew, as the land rose towards the mountain peak. Mingled with the strong scent of cedar, was that of bear. To say the smell was strong, would be an understatement. Little bears were in the treetops, waving or looking in amazement at the dragon flying above. In the spaces between the trees, Cobalt could see bears sitting shoulder to shoulder everywhere. In the distance to their left, was a small human town that once was called Port Lions. The town was ignored for now, since the Bear Mother took priority. Pudgy had his eyes open, since Cobalt was not aggressively flying, and could see the mouth of a huge cave sticking out of the side of the mountain. There was a trail that led up to the caven, and on each side were brown bears the size of which neither friend had ever seen. They were huge, easily double or triple the size of Mr. Bear from back home. They stood shoulder to shoulder and their numbers were too high to count.
The dragon realized that flying right up to the cave entrance might be a bad idea, so he started to adjust his wings to glide down. The trail seemed to switch back up the side of the mountain, with the occasional wide spot for the bears to rest on before continuing their ascent to the cave. Picking the one that was just before the cave entrance, Cobalt lowered his tail, and extended his legs to come in for a landing. Several startled light brown bears scattered, while the darker brown giant ones stood silently watching. Pudgy held on tight as his friend landed hard on the rocky ground covered in snow. They slid for several feet before stopping, “Pudgy you all right?” The hedgehog opened his eyes and wiggled his nose, “Pudgy ok!” The dragon laughed and folded his wings back, looking at an approaching female bear.
A lighter brown bear cup scampered along her at her side, and waved excitedly. “HI PUDGY!” The hedgehog waved, “hello! Does Pudgy know you?” The cub’s mother laughed, “well you may know me. I was called Kaymakli on twitter. Back when I was human, and could use a phone. This is Little Bear, my son.” Cobalt smiled, “hello, glad to meet you. I’m Cobalt.” The two brown bears looked at each other, and the cub bounced. “Oh boy! Mom, look, he turned into a dragon!” Pudgy bounced and waved happily, “Pudgy glad to meet you! You were turned into bears?” Kaymakli nodded, “yes, and we were stuck in our house in Alberta for a long time. When the Bear Mother called, we came here along with the others. We have learned so much!” Before the cub to speak, a giant brown grizzly bear stepped forward from the line of bears up the trail. “Cobalt, Pudgy, the Bear Mother has been waiting for you.”
Cobalt nodded, “Kaymakli, we’ll chat later.” And the dragon started to walk quickly to the trail. The Kodiak Grizzlies stood eight feet tall at the top of the head, in the all four leg down position. If these ones ever stood up, they would easily clear 14 to 16 feet tall. They were not fat, and extremely muscular, with heavy pelts of long brown fur. Massive claws that could tear a tree apart adorned each of their large paws. Upon reaching the trail, hundreds of sets of brown eyes turned to watch the dragon and hedgehog pass between their lines. Pudgy felt really scared, as just one of these bears could be trouble, and they were walking past one after another standing silently. The former human was also feeling quite unnerved, but continued his fast pace up the trail. The straight headed up the right side, before cutting left, and then one more right they went. The trail levelled off, and approached the cavern’s entrance.
Flanking the cavern were two rows of the Kodiak Grizzlies, who all started at the two approaching nonbear animals. Cobalt kept walking, until two large white polar bears emerged from the cave. Their pelts were covered in red blood, and were missing several of their front claws. Pudgy watched, trembling with fear, as a gigantic set of glowing golden eyes appeared in the darkness of the cavern behind the battle hardened polar bears. The two polar bears raised their heads, and began to roar loudly. This in turn resulted in the rows of Kodiak Bears to roar in unison. Cobalt stood tall, but tried very hard to keep his emotions in check, as the deafening roar of the bears was deeply unnerving. In the darkness of the cavern, an outline of a bear’s face began to appear. The Mother of all Bears was a gigantic Kodiak Grizzly bear, standing easily twenty feet tall at the shoulder. She was well beyond a ton, and was covered in long silver fur. Two golden eyes glowed, and locked onto the dragon and hedgehog. The two friends had finally found the Mother of all Bears, there was no turning back now.
One reply on “Kodiak Queen: Chapter 9: Mother”
Glad they finally made it to Bear Island. I hope it’s not too late!