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Kodiak Queen: Chapter 10: Tether

The deafening roars of the Kodiak legion quieted down, and soon an eerie silence was surrounding Pudgy and his dragon friend as they stood in front of the cavern.  The gigantic Mother of all bears had not said anything yet, but was studying them intently.  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose as he looked up at her, and watched as the golden eyes started to soften when he waved at her.  Pudgy swallowed hard, “H ..hello Mamma Bear?”  Cobalt chuckled, “Pudgy, we need to use her proper title here.  She is the Mother of all bears.  I am sorry we are late.  I was human once, so flying is still a tricky thing for me.”  The little hedgehog nodded and bounced happily on the back of the dragon as he looked up at her.  As the Bear Mother opened her mouth, teeth like spears started to emerge.  While having a feminine tone, a deep butterual voice boomed out of her mouth.  “Welcome Pudgy … welcome Cobalt to my island.  My word … I have never seen a hedgehog before.  And it has been a long time since a dragon came to visit my island.”

Cobalt looked up at the matriarch, “is it customary to bow?”  There were several male bears nearby who nodded, so the dragon proceeded to bow before her.  Pudgy lowered his head as well, which drew a short laugh from the Bear Mother.  “You do not need to do that, but an old bear like me does appreciate it.  Time is short, and we have much to do.  Did you understand what I communicated to you telepathically as you travelled here?”  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Pudgy has to find a cave with two pine trees, to find something.”  The dragon nodded, “I saw a bridge of ice, with wolves attacking.”  The Bear Mother blinked when Pudgy spoke, and then nodded while she lifted her front right paw to point towards a long strand of white that stretched across the ocean water.  “I lifted the ice bridge so that my children could cross, but the wolves chose to attack.  They have broken our treaty, so I have ordered no quarter, all wolves and their subordinates shall perish.  Our kind is strong, and have been far too patient with their antics.”

Cobalt nodded, realizing that he had no say in this matter.  “What do you wish for me to do, Mother of all Bears?”  The matriarch nodded, “go to the bridge, and help defend the island.  Once all have crossed, I will drop the bridge into the ocean.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and frowned.  “Isn’t there a way we can talk to the wolves?  Pudgy doesn’t want anyone to go away.”  The Bear Mother’s eyes grew a tad angry, “you know not how many of my children … went away … due to their actions!  But I do not expect you to understand small one, only to heed my orders.  You will have your own task to complete for me, to go to the cave that we bears can not enter.  This task will separate you from your dragon friend, since he can not fit inside either.”  Pudgy whimpered, “why does Cobalt have to leave Pudgy?”  The little critter started to pout, which made the angry female bear calm down.

The Bear Mother chuckled, “don’t pout, you will see your friend again.  Besides … a newly converted human has arrived from the desert lands to the south west of here.  He will be assisting you to reach the cave,” the matriarch said while motioning with her right paw once more.  Both dragon and hedgehog watched as a short bear started to walk out of the cave.  It was standing at about two feet tall, and roughly 4 feet long.  It had a face that both resembled a panda, and a racoon, with a black button shaped nose and whiskers.  The coloring was primarily a reddish brown, though the legs were black, with short claws.  There was a long white striped tail, which swished happily back and forth as it ran up to the dragon.  “PUDGY!”  The hedgehog looked down from Cobalt’s back and started to whimper.  “M … M…. Mr. Drew!”  The hedgehog quickly started to untie himself from the saddlebag straps, and then jump off of Cobalt’s back.  He scampered up to the former human, and hugged him tight.  Cobalt looked down, recognizing that Mr. Drew had been turned into a red panda bear.  Smiling, “hello Drew, good to see you.  It’s Cobalt.”  

The Bear Mother smiled, and then cleared her throat.  “Drew will take Pudgy to the tether cave, which is not far from here.  Inside, the hedgehog will clear a path so that the chain may rise once more.”  As Cobalt nodded, she continued to speak, “many years ago … humans were making the ground explode, to find Gaia knows what.  The Tether is what holds this world up from falling into the sea, and could rise into the sky unimpeded once long ago.  The path of the chain is blocked by the mountain, so my connection to the sky is strenuous at best.”  Cobalt raised his paw, “Mother of all Bears, if the chain can see the sky once more, what happens then?”  The matriarch nodded, “then I can finally get some rest.  My successor can take over, and our kind will be safe for another lifetime.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “what happens if Pudgy can’t do this?”  The female bear lowered her head, and her eyes locked onto Pudgy’s eyes.  “then I will pass on, my successor will not have my power, the wolves will win, and our island will sink with everything on it.”  The hedgehog shrieked, “Pudgy won’t fail then!”  Cobalt nodded again, “You can do this Pudgy.  I have faith in you, and Drew, to get you there safely.”  

In the critter’s excitement to hug the panda bear, he had unknowingly released the buckles on the saddle bags straps.  The leather straps loosened, and the pouches slid off to fall onto the ground.  Cobalt wiggled his rear hips, thankful to get the pressure off from the straps.  “Allright, I am off then, to help the other bears at the bridge!”  The dragon announced, as he began to move.  Pudgy watched as his dragon friend turned around in a circle, and then started to run forward towards a cliff free of bears.  Cobalt leapt off the edge, and extended his wings while beginning to flap hard to ascend.  Drew wiggled his nose, “how did Cobalt get to be a dragon?”  Pudgy chuckled, “Pudgy unsure, but glad he did … it would have been very hard to get here.”  The Bear Mother nodded, and watched the dragon flying towards the coastline.  “Dragons are a precious few in this world, it is indeed extremely unusual that your human friend came back as one.  I wonder why as well, perhaps Gaia has a greater purpose for this?”

Pudgy looked up at the Bear Mother, “do you know about the owls and the Gaia stones?”  The matriarch nodded, and sighed.  “The humans were killing this world, so the owls made the right decision.  But, I worry that in their moment of anger, mistakes were made.  Humans after all are returning … just in new animal forms.  Though perhaps this experience will humble them,” the female bear trailed off.  She looked down again at the two remaining animals beneath her, “don’t you two have somewhere to go as well?”  Drew nodded, “yes Bear Mother!  Pudgy, climb onto my back, we need to get to the cave of tether.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “what about the saddle bags?”  The female bear smirked, and wiggled her left ear, which caused the bags to be flung into her cave.  “I will keep them safe for you.  But you don’t get them back till this is over.  Now go, get to the chain, and let it rise once more into the sky.”

The hedgehog noddled, and started to climb up onto Drew’s back.  His fur was so soft, and he smelled like blackberries for some reason.  The red panda wiggled his ears, and then started to scamper off at a fair speed away from the cave.  The two friends navigated the twin columns of kodiak grizzly bears down  the switch back trail.  Down the mountain they went, left, then right, then left, then right, then left once more, to reach the end of the column of bears.  Drew slowed to a stop, and then turned to the first two Kodiak grizzlies.  “Pudgy, are you all right?”  The hedgehog nodded, “yes Mr. Drew!  Hey, why do you smell like blackberries?”  The former human laughed, and looked at the first two bears at the start of the twin columns.  The two giant dark brown bears smiled, but said nothing.  The one on the left lifted his left paw and pointed towards a tall mountain with a peak that was shaped like a needle.  The converted red panda nodded, and then started to scamper in that direction.  “Well I had found a wonderful bush full of them prior to being summoned to the cave.”  

Both animals started to laugh heartily, while they headed towards the cave.  Like Mary, running on all fours was a unique experience for Drew, but it was natural somehow.  Truth be told, he was running faster than when he used to be human.  Pudgy called out to his friend, “Mr. Drew, what happened when you disappeared?  Pudgy was so sad in Orick when you went away.”  The former human nodded as he was running, “I felt so tired, at first it was just like I had fallen asleep.  I was in this warm, gray place, with no features.  I realized something was wrong, when I did not wake up.  At first, I thought I had passed away.  But then the warmth disappeared, and I was in a cold place.  Rain was pouring out of the sky, and I took shelter under a gas station awning.  It was then I realized I had come back, and was converted into this new animal body.  I was still in Orick, and could see my car parked in front of that liquor store.  I stayed in town for many days, until one day this giant bear shaped face appeared in the night sky.  The Bear Mother called out to me, and I followed along with the other bears in the sky.”

Pudgy nodded as he listened, and hugged Drew gently many times.  The panda made a unique squeaking noise that was hard to describe, but both knew it meant happiness.  At the current altitude, the area was covered by a thin layer of snow.  Pudgy watched as paw prints were being left by Drew as he ran along.  Turning forward once more, “do you know where to go?”  The former human man nodded, “yes, the Bear Mother told me how to get there.  The bears have told me so many strange things, I have so many questions.  They told me my questions will be answered, after I get you to the cave.  Pudgy, you know what they are talking about?”  The hedgehog nodded, “ the owls told Pudgy that the world came up out of the ocean.  The land was held up by chains that stretched to a stone archway in the sky.  The animals came down the chains, and lived on the ground.”    

Drew nodded, “hmm, I heard a version of that too.  The bears mentioned that each animal was told to protect a chain.  The bears made a mountain around their connection, with a center hole cut out so the chain could reach the sky.  They refer to it as a tether though, for reasons I do not understand.”  As the two friends talked, the ground became considerably rockier, with more snow appearing.  At this height, there was few if any vegetation, since the mountain was made primarily of rock.  The sun seemingly did not move in the sky, but despite the light, the mountain was cold.  The occasional wind that blew, was cooled by the snow, making it much colder than the forest air.  Pudgy was very glad he had his heavy winter layers on, but he was a bit sad, since Drew was running around with no protective gear on.  Thankfully he had a thick coat of fur to keep him warm, but that would only be able to do so much.  

The hedgehog worried about Cobalt, as he flew off towards danger.  Pudgy had seen the images of the wolves, and their blood red eyes.  Bears were being hurt everywhere, as they desperately raced across the ice bridge to get to the island.  “Mr. Drew, when did the wolves start attacking?”  The hedgehog asked, as the panda started climbing rocks to get to the next section of trail.  Huffing a bit, “Hmm …  hmm …  When I first got here, the island was festive.  The bears were frolicking, and exploring the empty human towns.  These massive black bears from Russia were drinking straight from the brewery barrels, and were being quite rowdy.  It was maybe a week or so afterwards that the first wolf was sighted on the shoreline across from the bridge.  Then the next day were two, then four, then ten, then a hundred.  Each day their numbers increased, watching the bears silently from the forest.  Suddenly they emerged in full force, hundreds of wolves, attacking anything passing before them.  Their howls filled the air, as the roars of the bears responded in kind.”

Pudgy whimpered, “oh no!  Pudgy hopes Mr. Bear is ok, and Grandpa Bear too!”  Drew stopped, and wiggled his white fur lined ears, “when I first got here, I bumped into two bears over the bridge.  One was gray and arguing with another younger brown one.  There was a female bear nearby with two cubs yelling at them to never speak to her again.”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “that sounds like it might have been them.  Mr. Bear had cubs, but Mrs. Bear went away with them.  Pudgy is unsure why, but it made Mr. Bear sad, so Pudgy never asks.”  The red panda nodded, “good call.  Once we all crossed, they separated, and I wandered up to where the Bear Mother’s cave was.  Before the wolves, the islands were much more relaxed and festive.  Once the wolves appeared, the tone changed, and absolute monster bears started to appear.  I never knew bears could be that big, adorned with massive claws.  They emerged from caves scattered all around the island, and began to defend the islands.”

Hours passed, with the two animals heading higher and higher up the mountain with the needle shaped peak.  However, in the distance, a tiny cave started to appear.  Pudgy pointed with his paw, “Pudgy see a cave!”  On either side of the cave were two skinny pine trees that were just barely green on the sides that faced opposite of the cavern entrance.  Drew nodded as he continued to scamper at a fair but slowing pace, “yes … Pudgy ….it … is….. the …. cave.”  The panda’s muscles were burning, and he was wheezing hard.  Not only was this a strenuous effort for him, the air was thinning, and it was far too cold for his liking.  Yes he had thick fur covering his body, it was still cold out.  As both animals watched ahead of them, the cave continued to grow larger.  It soon came into focus, and loomed ahead of them, as Drew collapsed onto the ground.  He whimpered a bit, “Pudgy, I can’t move anymore!  Everything hurts …bad.”  The hedgehog climbed off of his back, and then hugged the side of his head. “Thank you Mr. Drew, again for getting Pudgy here.  Please stay outside, Pudgy will find the chain.” Drew watched as Pudgy scampered off quickly towards the cave, “good luck Pudgy.”  

Once more Pudgy was brought to his destination by one of his friends, and was laying exhausted.  The hedgehog started to feel very guilty, at the pain he was causing them on these adventures.  This must be what Argente was talking about, he thought to himself.  The critter was blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful friends, willing to go all out to help him.  Pudgy would repay their kindness, somehow, someday.  For now, the best course of action was to focus on the task at hand.  As Pudgy approached the entrance to the cave, he noticed a gray bear standing outside of the cave and waving his front left paw at him.  The hedgehog wiggled his nose and waved back, slowly to stop in front of the large gray bear.  “Hello Pudgy, I see you finally made it.”  The critter bounced over to the bear’s leg, and hugged tight, “Grandpa Bear!  You are safe!”  

The elderly bear laughed, “yes Pudgy, I am safe.  The Bear Mother sent me up here to guard the cave until you and your panda friend arrived.  I see he is exhausted, so we will let him rest.  So, Cobalt flew you all the way up here?”  The critter nodded while releasing his embrace, and moved back so he could look up at the gray bear.  “Yes, Cobalt did such a good job.  Pudgy feels bad for pushing him to fly so far.  Next time, Pudgy have to travel alone, so no one gets hurt.”  The elderly bear looked at him, and wiggled his ears.  “Even if you were to do that, your friends could be hurt, if you do not come back.  But that is talk for another day, you need to get inside.  The humans blew up this cave, mining for gold.  They did not realize what was inside this cave, and even if they had, they probably would have destroyed it anyway.  You need to get inside, and go where no bear can go, and free the tether.  Once it can stand once more, it will connect to the sky, and the Bear Mother’s power can transfer.”

Drew crawled up to the two, wheezing still. “What is… the tether?”  The elderly bear nodded, “this keeps our island from falling back into the sea.  But, it is also our kind’s connection to the stone archway above where the great spirit lives.  It is both a physical and spiritual connection to the realm above.  Once restored, the Bear Mother can perform many more things that she can not currently do.  Pudgy, time is short, get in there!”  The hedgehog nodded, and scampered inside the cavern’s entrance.  The red panda called inside, “good luck Pudgy, stay safe!”  The elderly bear nodded, and looked around the mountain area, seeing nothing of concern.  The elderly bear turned his gaze to the faint outline of white crossing the ocean.  “Junior … be safe .. please….”  Drew looked up at the older bear, “is that your son?”  With a silent nod, the bear sat down beside the cavern’s entrance.  “Hopefully this does not take too long,” the older bear said while both sighed.  

As stated just moments before, Pudgy quickly saw why no bear could enter this cave.  The entrance was perhaps two feet tall, which meant Mr. Drew could have entered but not moved further in.  The ceiling quickly dropped down to one foot, and the width decreased as well, to just barely hedgehog width.  The light from the entrance quickly faded, and the smooth rock began to become jagged.  The hedgehog could see what the bears had been talking about, as there was ample evidence that at one point the cave had been much bigger.  There were huge stalactites and stalagmites that had fallen over, and large chunks of granite rock from the ceiling had collapsed.  With his small stature, Pudgy was easily able to maneuver the tight places, even with his backpack on.    

With the last bit of light gone, the critter reached up, and turned on his tiny headlamp on his mining helmet.  A tiny beam of light shone out into the darkness, and very carefully Pudgy wiggled his way through the ever decreasing openings into the deeper part of the cave.  He whimpered, but remembered his adventure to the center of the earth.  There were many scary places on that trip, far worse than what he was currently experiencing.  So that helped to calm his nerves, and further his resolve.  As the Bear Mother said, he could not fail, or everything would fall into the ocean.  Reaching a point that he could not squeeze through, this required the hedgehog to take his backpack off.  Pulling his bag behind him, Pudgy continued to squeeze and twist his way to  follow the winding narrow path.  The air was growing stale, with a faint scent of gunpowder still clinging in places, and along the white rocks that filled the cavern.  An empty red stick from a detonated piece of dynamite stuck out of a ceiling rock, which required the critter to duck underneath it to pass.

The main problem with exploring a cavern is that since there is no sun, you do not know how long you spent in the cave.  Experienced spelunkers will use watches, and GPS devices, as well as ropes to help explore underground.  Pudgy did not have any of those devices, but he did have his tools, bag, and mining helmet with a lamp.  On the outside, it had already grown dark, and both bears were worrying.  They knew where Pudgy was, and that must have gone far in the hours that had passed since his departure of the two bears.  To the shock of the hedgehog, after squeezing through the tightest areas of the cave, he had made it to what seemed to be a chamber of sorts.  When he looked upwards, the light beam illuminated the ceiling, so it was not too high if his light could reach it.  The floor of the cave was cold and smooth, with a bit of moisture on it.  Pudgy started to slide, and soon was unable to stop.  “WHEEEE!”  The hedgehog called out, as he slid on his rear end down the slick rock.  Quicker, and quicker he went, until he slid onto a wide flat area.  His little light no longer reached far enough to light the ceiling.  

Rolling over, Pudgy wandered around on all fours scampering.  He explored the area, and this whole area was circular.  It was shaped like a bowl, with a flat area in the middle.  His lamp’s light beam illuminated paintings of bears playing in the forests on the walls.  Heading towards the center of the chamber, Pudgy’s lamp started to illuminate a pile of rocks that had collapsed from the ceiling above.  The pile was dead center, and when Pudgy looked straight up, he could barely see a white twinkling star.  “This must be the place, but where is the chain?”  The confused critter said out loud, but touched the pile of rocks.  Some rocks were loose, while others were too heavy to move.  Reaching his paw out to grasp a small rock, he pulled it out of the pile and moved it so it could shine under his lamp.  To his astonishment, the rock disintegrated in his paw, and crumbled into sand.  “The chain must be under the pile!”

Excitedly, the hedgehog started to move the small rocks from the pile.  One by one, they crumbled into a fine white sand in his paws.  Taking off his backpack, Pudgy unclipped his tools.  Grabbing the mining pick, he started to strike the rocks.  Some could be split easily, while others were much harder.  Use of the hammer as well worked wonders, with soon a pile of sand forming around the ring of rocks.  He was working in a circular manner, and had made several passes around the pile.  With each rock removed, an unnatural emerald light was starting to shine from the crevices between the rocks that still covered the center.  Though this work was back breaking, the critter stopped several short times to catch his breath, which allowed him to make progress at a fair speed.  Sadly, if Mr. Drew could have fit, he most likely would have been able to move the rocks with ease.  But this was not the case, and Pudgy was the hedgehog for the job.  He continued to strike the rocks, causing a terrific clanging noise to echo throughout the chamber.  But each time he did that, more light was being emitted from below.  

Rock by rock, hammer strike bye pickaxe strike, the pile of rocks continued to be cleared.  The white sand was beginning to swirl around the chamber like fireflies once did in the night.  A loud clinking noise started to echo in the cave, and when Pudgy started to push this one large boulder, he was thrown against the smooth cavern wall.  The remaining rocks all crumbled, and their sand joined the rest swirling.  One glowing chain link appeared, and pulled upwards to face the small hole in the ceiling above.  The hedgehog scampered back to get his tools and backpack.  One he grabbed them, he was thrown again by an unseen force away from the center.  A second chain link formed, and joined the green glowing chain that preceded it.  Then a third link formed, and a fourth, then a fifth chain link appeared.  The chain was growing, and stretching upwards a link at a time, which made the hedgehog bounce happily.  

It was a slow process, similar to when Cobalt would push the update button on his phone.  The little circle would spin and spin, and the counter would count upwards to a hundred so slowly.  However, the chain continued to grow a link at a time, until it stopped just as it reached the ceiling.  “Dang it, the chain can’t get through to the star.  Mr. Chain, please don’t throw Pudgy back, Pudgy needs to open the ceiling!”  As the hedgehog carefully approached, he touched the chain.  It was cool, but pulsed in his hand.  This time, he was not thrown back, which made him happy.  After securing his tools on his backpack, Pudgy took a deep breath, and then started to climb the chain links.  Each link was the length of a hedgehog,  so ascending the chain was not too difficult.  In time, he reached the top of the chain, and realized he was about ten feet off of the floor.  “Pudgy no look down, Pudgy no look down.”  

Reaching back for his pickaxe, the critter was able to free it from the loop.  With three paws clutching the chain, he swung his tool towards the ceiling, and broke a piece of the rock away.  It crumbled into several smaller rocks, and fell down to the floor of the chamber.  The chain started to grow once more, and several more links formed.  Nodding to himself, and putting the axe aways, he climbed once more.  This pattern repeated itself for several more hours, with the chain ever growing towards the top of the mountain.  Somehow he was not tired, it was almost as if he was able to draw energy from the chain.  Pudgy wondered if that was what the Bear Mother was able to do?  But no sooner had the thought crossed his mind, when the chain violently burst with green light in all directions.  The chain started to swing violently around the cavern, taking the critter for a ride.  

Climbing frantically when he was able to, the hedgehog was able to make it to the top of the chain, which was trying to squeeze through a narrow hole.  Cold fresh air was pouring in from above, and the single white star could clearly be seen.  The top of the chain was stable, enough for Pudgy to work, but below the chain continued to grow and began to loop around the cavern and coil.  The pick axe was out, and Pudgy was striking upwards, digging the hole out.  Black rocks fell, and crumbled one by one as they fell below.  The opening was widened and then dug further upwards,  with pieces of rock and dirt falling all over the hedgehog and getting into his eyes.  He blinked and wiped away the tears as best as he could.  Working as quickly as he could safely do so, the chain continued to rise up, until with one last strike of his pickaxe, a clear shot to the sky was cleared.  

The chain started upwards at a fast pace, as it shot up through the needle of the mountain peak.  Pudgy was screaming, as he didn’t know what to do?  Did he let go, and fall down the mountain, or ride the chain into the sky above?”  That answer was made for him, when as soon as both cleared the top of the rocky peak, the hedgehog was thrown off the chain.  Twisting in the wind, he watched as the green glowing chain shot straight up towards the star above the mountain.  The whole mountain seemed to be shaking, causing snow and rock to cascade off of the peak towards the lands below.  However the immediate problem was foremost in Pudgy’s mind, as he was falling at a terrific rate of speed towards the ground.  “SOMEBODY HELP PUDGY!”  He screamed out, as he was plummeting towards quickly approaching earth.  

HOOOOTTTT!!!!!  A loud call from an owl rang out from thin clouds that were just barely passing the peak of the mountain.  The terrified hedgehog watched helplessly as he fell as an arctic owl was power diving above him.   The hedgehog tried to roll over by flailing his limbs and paws.  He rocked violently back and forth, until finally he flipped over and was face down as he was falling.  Hedgehog aerodynamics are not good by any stretch of the imagination, but somehow with the skill of the owl and the luck of Pudgy, the owl was able to come into range quickly.  Extending his claws, the owl latched down onto the critter’s backpack.  They were still far too quickly descending, and the hedgehog was whipped violently as the owl adjusted his wings to level off.  The critter dangled under the owl’s claws, and watched as they started to circle around the mountain.  

“I have you Pudgy!  What on earth were you doing?”  Pudgy cheered, “thank you Alabaster for saving Pudgy!  The Bear Mother sent Pudgy inside the mountain.  Humans blew up the cave that protected the chain to the sky.”  With another soft call, “Pudgy,  I can’t believe she sent you inside on such a dangerous task?  But, somehow you freed the chain!  I have never seen it, though I think my Grand Claw may have when he was young.  He will be most interested in this development.  I am curious, when you were holding onto the chain, could you feel Gaia’s power?”  The dangling critter nodded, “Pudgy felt something, it is hard to describe.  While Pudgy touched the chain, Pudgy did not feel tired.”  The owl nodded as he adjusted his trim to continue a slow descent.  Alabaster spotted a gray bear and a red one waving excitedly from the ground.  “Should we land there?”  The hedgehog nodded, “yes please.  That is Grandpa Bear and Mr. Drew.  Mr. Drew is a human who was turned into a red panda bear.”  

The arctic owl gave a greeting call, and then swooped in to land with Pudgy in front of the two bears.  Once the hedgehog was on the ground, The owl released his grasp, and then flapped his wings to land beside Pudgy.  The elderly bear wiggled his ears, “my word, thank you Mr. Owl for saving Pudgy!  We were worried that he could be hurt falling from the mountain like that.”  The red panda nodded, “yes!  Thank you Alabaster!”  The owl gave a soft hoot, and looked at the two bears with his pale golden eyes.  Pudgy started to hug the owl, and bounce happily.  Alabaster had a happy look on his face, and was staring intently at the red panda bear.  This was another case of a human conversion, and he remembered the kind man who drove them though the human cities along the coast.    

The group of animals all turned slowly one by one towards the mountain peak, to watch the ever growing chain stretch into the sky.  The ground was continuing to shake beneath them, and seemed to pulse at times with an immense power from deep within the earth.  Alabaster felt Pudgy release his hug, and watched as the hedgehog scampered over to hug Mr. Drew.  The red panda laughed, and hugged back, “no more aerial antics Pudgy!  We were lucky Alabaster came here to save the day.”  The hedgehog looked up and nodded, and watched as the elderly bear smiled at the owl.  “Alabaster, I take it?  May I ask why you came to the island?”  The owl softly hooted, “well my Grand Claw was concerned about Pudgy and Cobalt.  He wanted me to find them, and then return with a report back of what is going on with the island.  Pudgy after all is a honorary member of our Parliament,”  the owl said with a nod.  

A loud voice echoed through the area, “good job everyone!  Please head back to my cavern at once,” the booming voice instructed.  Alabaster gave an alert call, which Grandpa bear nodded with his head towards the Bear Mother’s cave.  “The Mother of all bears calls, so we must answer.  Alabaster, you can ride on top of my back, but please go easy on the claws.”  Pudgy nodded, and climbed up on Drew’s back.  Alabaster shook his head no, “I need to find Cobalt.  Where is he?”  The Panda pointed with his paw, “he is supposed to be over there on the ice bridge.  Alabaster, do not land, the wolves have been attacking.”  The owl nodded, “I will fly over to see what is going on, and then will join you at the Bear Mother’s cave.”  The owl quickly flapped his wings, and took off towards the ice bridge.  The bears nodded, and started to walk down the rocky trail, to return to the Bear Mother’s cave.

Alabaster was beside himself with excitement, and confusion.  The owl had used the teleportation stones to use the leylines to jump all the way to the island.  What took Cobalt weeks to do, the owl was able to do in three days.  The parliament was deeply divided as to whether or not to provide a teleportation stone to the dragon.  The Grand Claw ultimately chose to ponder the matter further, with Painted Feather making the appropriate steps  to ready the process should he change his mind.  There was a leyline node to the south of the chain peak, nearby to a former human town called Akhiok.  The owl noted as he flew, that just as Pudgy had described, the town buildings were all starting to crumble.  The high tide had come in, and continued to wash away more of the town with each ocean wave.  

This island truly was wild in every sense of the word, and as the owl flew overhead, bears were everywhere.  They were too numerous to count, and were in varying states of activity.  The section he flew over held mainly females and their cubs.  That part of the island was safe, and quiet.  There were other animals on the island, who were all trying to stay out of the way of the bears.  Various sea birds were all excited about the dragon flying to the northern part of the island, and gossiped with Alabaster as he flew.  It was when he was approaching the needle peak mountain, when he saw the world chain shoot into the skies above.  The sight of Pudgy clinging onto the chain, and then being thrown from it, filled him with fear his friend would be hurt.  

The first clue that something was very off was when Alabaster started to smell a foul odor.  Even this high up, the smell wafted on the breeze, it was the smell of death.  He was downwind, and as the owl continued to fly, he could see rows of huge kodiak grizzlies running at top speed towards an island that was just off the coast from the main island.  Huge cedar trees had been pushed down to make bridges over to the island.  Alabaster blinked his golden eyes, “oh Grand Claw …. What is going on here?”  The owl softly called, as he started to see piles of bears everywhere.  There were black bears, brown bears, panda bears, koala bears, all manner of strange animals he had never seen before.  In the distance, there was a huge flat ice bridge that stretched from the tip of the island, and crossed all the way across the ocean straight to the mainland shore.    The owl continued to fly and followed the ice bridge, seeing bears fighting wolves.  Giant Kodiak Grizzlies were snarling, and were flinging wolves off of the bridge and into the ocean water.      

As Alabaster began to circle, he started to see a blue shape between the bears.  The dragon was roaring loudly, and his silver eyes had rolled back into his head.  The owl realized that was very wrong, and watched as Cobalt lunged towards a wolf, and bit him in two with his powerful jaws.  Deep gouges were cut into his body, and he was bleeding profusely.  Sounding a warning call, the owl banked hard to the right.  Trying to shut out the terrible scene unfolding below him, the owl was flying as fast as he could.  The owl had to get back to Pudgy and the Bear Mother, before it was too late!

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 10: Tether”

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