Kodiak Queen: Chapter 12: Port Lions

A steady rain fell all throughout the night, washing away the remnants of the battle.  As the light of dawn started to illuminate the clouds, the skies remained dark gray as the rains continued to fall.  The morning progressed, and one by one the group stirred.  The dragon was the last to rise, and stood up weakly.  Out of all of them, Cobalt was the worst injured, so he was in the back as they started to walk up the hill to the treeline of the forest.  The large Russian grizzly walked beside him, in case he fell.  Up the hill, and down the next they went, following a well worn muddy path.  Bear prints were everywhere, too numerous to count.  Alabaster would fly so far and roost in a tree, watching the procession of his friends as they navigated the forest.  

Hours passed, due to many rest stops being required.  Eventually, they made it to a conclave of bears all sitting underneath the boughs of wide cypress trees.  They were trying to stay out of the rain as best they could, which only seemed to increase in its volume.  It was as if Gaia knew what had happened here, and was trying to wash away all traces of it.  As Cobalt walked up, wounds packed with wet moss, the bears all rose to their paws and started to roar in acknowledgement.  Pudgy, who had been riding on the back of the red panda, watched in amazement.  The little critter watched silently, as the group of bears moved through the area, and then started to cross over a small creek.  Turning around, the black bears who had been camping, fell into line behind the dragon.  

It took almost the entire day to cross Uganik island by paw, and it had rained the entire time.  One ice bridge was remaining, to connect Uganik to Kodiak island, though it was melting badly with the rain.  The decision was made collectively to cross one at a time.  During the battle, it had been of a similar set of dimensions, though shorter in length to cross the channel.  Unlike the bridge that connected to the mainland, this one was a cool blue color, as it had been made from seawater.  The rain had washed away the blood, and it had returned to its original pristine state though much smaller.  The black bears moved first across the bridge, since they were the lightest, at only a mere 500 pounds each.  The bridge creaked, but did not crack as they crossed.  Once safely across, they waved their paws that it was safe to cross.  

Bo the panda bear continued to carry Bill the koala bear on his back, and then started to slowly meander across the bridge.  The cracking noises started to increase, in a worrying frequency.  Slivers of ice started to fall off the right side and crash into the ocean below.  Panda bears were fairly slow, but could manage short bursts of speed, which Bo utilized to quickly cross over to the main island shoreline.  Grandpa bear moved next, as quickly as his old bones could manage, and he too was able to cross.  Pudgy wiggled his nose as he looked up at Cobalt, whose eyes were half open.  The dragon was plodding along, more out of reflex, than out of conscious thought.  They really needed to rest once again, but who knew if the bridge would last till tomorrow?  Drew looked up and wiggled his ears at Pudgy, “ok Pudgy it’s our turn, lets go!”  The red panda scampered across the bridge quickly, with his hedgehog rider holding tightly on.  

Pudgy watched the ice become more translucent as they crossed.  The bridge itself was perhaps two hundred feet long, and maybe six feet across at best in places.  The cracking noises were much less, since they were so much lighter than the others.  Pudgy looked up and shielded his eyes with his paw from the pouring rain, to see Alabaster quickly fly overhead and land in a tall pine opposite from Uganik along the shoreline.  The hedgehog was a bit scared since he could see the ocean through the bridge in several places.  Eventually they reached the shoreline, and headed up to a spot where Grandpa Bear was sitting beside his son.  Mr. Bear Junior had crossed with the black bears earlier, and was getting better since he was less severely injured than Cobalt.  The hedgehog hopped off of Drew’s back, and then scampered up to a big rock sticking out of the ground nearby.  Cupping his paws over his eyes, Pudgy wiggled his nose as he watched the last two on the distant shore.  

The Russian was the largest of their group, and he had started to cross the bridge.  The ice started to crack loudly, and shards began to cascade off of the sides and into the ocean at a much faster rate.  He could not run, as the bridge was slick from the pouring rain.  Kodiak and its surrounding islands were off the southern coast of the Alaskan mainland.  Like Cordova, it would rain sometimes for a couple days straight, with cold water pouring from the sky.  The effect of the rain water only exacerbated the slick ice conditions, while increasing the melting of said bridge.  Just as the Russian was about to reach the two thirds mark of the bridge, it exploded into ice shards and disintegrated.  Both ice and bear fell into the seawater, making a tremendous splash.  The group across on the Kodiak shoreline started to roar out of concern, and started to head towards the ocean strait.  

The currents were strong in the water as it weaved through and around the surrounding islands.  When the Russian surfaced, he started swearing in his native tongue. Swimming as hard as he could muster, much to the relief of the group, eventually he was able to make it to shore further down the coastline.  Bo and Bill headed over to rendezvous with their friend, while Grandpa Bear and Junior remained with Pudgy and Drew.  The black bears had already departed to head deeper into the forest towards the Bear Mother’s cave.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “we left Cobalt back on the outer island!”  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “Pudgy, that is true, but you saw the condition of the bridge.  If Cobalt had gone in front of Ivan, our Russian friend, he would have been the one in the water.  The dragon is so bad, who knows if he had the strength to be able to swim?  I’m surprised we got as many as we could across before it fell apart?  Cobalt will be fine over there, he can fly after all, provided he has enough rest.” 

The skies only continued to darken, and the rains seemed to increase their ferocious downpour.   The hedgehog did not have a say in the matter, and soon was placed on top of Drew’s back once more by Mr. Bear Junior.  Their group headed to a rock overhang that was nearby to meet up with the others.  Pudgy was protesting silently and pointing towards the shoreline where Cobalt was still sitting.  In the fading light, the hedgehog could just barely see that the dragon had laid down, and curled his tail around his body.  The critter went along with the plan, as he would make sure they were not going to leave without Cobalt tomorrow.  The bears all mentioned one way or another that it was night, and would be dangerous to do anything until morning.  

Their destination was quickly reached, as it was only a few steps from where the former bridge connection point with the shoreline was located.  The overhang was large enough to accommodate many bears, and while it was still damp, it was a place an animal could go to get out of the rain.  Pudgy watched as one by one, the variety of bears shook off the excess water from their thick fur, and sat down along the moss covered rock walls.  Drew forgot he was carrying his hedgehog friend, and started to shake the water off.  Pudgy was thrown from the back of the red panda, and landed beside him, and wiggled his nose while making a face.  “Oh Pudgy! I’m so sorry,” Drew started to apologize.  Pudgy chuckled, nodded, and then wiggled his body to shake the cold water off.  It would have been very nice to have made a fire, since it would have taken the chill and dampness away, but everyone was too tired to think about human comforts like fire.  The assembled bears all curled up, and started to fall asleep.  

As Pudgy stared out of the half cave, he could just barely see Uganik island across the ocean strait.  The rain was coming down harder and harder, flooding the low lying areas around the surrounding area.  A small flash of lighting temporarily illuminated the area, and the critter could just barely make out Cobalt who was sleeping on the shoreline.  The hedgehog whimpered, “Cobalt.”  The hedgehog continued to sit at the cave’s entrance,, despite the occasional splash from the falling rain.  Despite the activity of the day, he could not sleep due to his mind racing with worries.  All of his wonderful hedgehog adventures thus far had followed a pattern.  This was the part of the adventure where he was supposed to go home, and Cobalt would hug him, and feed him lots of goodies in a nice warm house.  But with the activation of the Gaia stones, all that was taken away.  

Cobalt disappeared, as well as all of his other human friends.  Some had come back, converted to animals, but all the wonderful things of the human world were being taken away.  There were no more warm homes full of food and wonderful silly things on the television to watch.  No more humans yelling about dumb things, or passionately talking about movies and shows.  The world had returned to the state it had been in for a long time, and this made the hedgehog sad.  But the worst part was, that what Argente said to him had come true.  The adventure was leading to someone being hurt, and possibly not coming back.  Up until this point, Pudgy always assumed that one day it might have been himself.  He had sad thoughts about everyone being upset, but they would be fine eventually over time.  

The hedgehog had never considered the possibility of Cobalt going away.  That was until he disappeared during the Gaia stones activation.  When his friend came back as a dragon, the critter was overjoyed.  Then it was time for a new adventure, and Cobalt was there for him, and flew him all the way up here.  The continued exertion of effort had taken its toll on the former human man, and he had not the time to properly rest, before being conscripted into service by the Bear Mother.  Pudgy whimpered, as he knew it was his fault that Cobalt was hurt.  He should have told the Bear Mother no, but the lure of the adventure called.  Fresh tears started to fall from his eyes, as the hedgehog started to cry.  However, the tiredness was starting to win out, and soon the hedgehog fell asleep sitting up.  

With no interaction from the Bear Mother, the critter’s dreams were vague at best.  Demons no longer plagued his mind, but images of the random visions of happy bears along the shoreline.  Every so often, the hedgehog would stir to a semi-wakeful state, and then wiggle back into a more comfortable position to fall back asleep once more.  Pudgy missed his warm home, and friends surrounding him.  He dreamed of making tea in his kitchen, while the bunnies played outside his round kitchen window.  Argente giggling at his kitchen table, while bread baked in his wood stove.  The bobcats out playing tag, while the beavers swam in their pond.  The only odd thing about the dreams was that there was no mention of Cobalt in human nor dragon form.    

When the light of dawn appeared, Pudgy opened his eyes.  The rain had finally stopped, causing the island to grow very quiet.  The only sound was the occasional crash of the waves against the rocky shoreline.  The ground was saturated with water, and a heavy dew blanketed the trees.  Stretching his body out, his bones cracked a bit, and he bounced to get the feeling back into his limbs.  Sleeping while sitting was always wrought with issues in the morning, but a bit of movement always seemed to work out the kinks in his muscles.  Pudgy started to scamper out of the cave, and towards the shoreline.  Huge rocks formed the shore, having slid down from the mountains over many years of heavy snows and rains.  The rocks formed an erosion barrier with the edge of the island, though the water was still worryingly high.  Over time the oceans were growing, and perhaps one day would cause issues to the island, but that would be far into the future.  

 Pudgy ran across the tops of the rocks that ran towards the connection point where the bridge was formerly located.  At hedgehog speed, he was not moving very fast, but it felt good to move around.  Looking out across the channel, he could see Cobalt beginning to wake up and started to shake the rain water off of his body.  The dragon gave a short roar, which echoed throughout the area.  That woke up a flock of seabirds, who all started to squawk and quack in the distance.  The dragon jumped up while flapping his wings hard, and soon was starting to ascend while flying forward to cross the short distance across the ocean strait to the main island.  Pudgy watched as once his dragon friend reached a certain height, he used his wings to glide across the water to reach the shoreline.  Landing with a dull thump, Cobalt folded his wings back, and looked around while sniffing the air.  To say it smelled like wet bears was an understatement, but he did smell hedgehog.  There was a soft voice calling out, and as the dragon turned slowly, he saw Pudgy scampering up to him along the rocks.  

“Cobalt!  You made it!”  The little critter said as he bounced happily in front of the dragon when he arrived.  The former human nodded, “yeah, i got a good rest last night.  That rain felt good somehow…”  The dragon trailed off, and eased down so that Pudgy could climb onto his back.  The critter hugged his leg first, and then scampered up to the center of the dragon’s back.  There were a series of black tines that ran along the spine of the dragon, which Pudgy could hold onto to steady himself.  Easing back up, Cobalt watched as a group of bears emerged from a nearby rock overhang.  They waved, and slowly plodded along until they reached him.  Mr. Bear Junior waved his paw, “good morning Cobalt.  I see you got across.”  The dragon nodded, and without further word, the group began their ascent up a much steeper trail as it ascended a small mountainous hill.    

Grandpa Bear, at various times during this leg of their journey, explained along the way that when they had first arrived bears of all clans were in a celebratory mood.  They had wandered into the human towns that ran along the coast line: Port Lions, Kodiak Station, Kodiak, Ouzinkie, and Larsen bay.  There were some inuit settlements as well from the native peoples that settled the island long before the Americans arrived also.  Port Lions was the closest town to where they currently were, and several of the human buildings could not be opened.  Mr. Bear Junior was a rebel who lived in a human style cabin, so he was nominated to try and open buildings.  The biggest issue was that while a door could be opened, most bears could not squeeze through to access the tasty human goodies inside the structures.  This made many bears sad, but ultimately they wandered off to more accessible places.  

Kodiak was the largest of the towns, which meant it would have the most amount of supplies.  Since the humans had disappeared, by edict of the Bear Mother, the towns and their contents were now part of their dominion.  Cobalt chuckled as he listened to the stories, and followed along with the group.  The rest had helped immensely, but the former human knew that he was not capable of flying for a long period of time yet.  The trip by paw was tiring, but at the same time, relaxing and it aided in his recovery.  One thing the man was for certain about, was his belief that the long days in Alaska aided their journey.  It messed with sleep, but made walking around a whole heck of a lot easier.  The group walked higher and higher up the mountain as the trail twisted back and forth.  Eventually the path levelled off, and formed a wide area which would serve as a good spot to rest.  

As the group of bears moved to the area, they all circled around and sat down.  Cobalt was last in the procession, and chose an empty spot beside Ivan to sit as well.  The large black grizzly nodded, and sighed happily as they were resting.  The russian wiggled his ears when he saw Pudgy was  sitting on the top of the dragon’s head looking out towards the ocean strait beyond Uganik island.  It was a beautiful sight, with the forested lands, the mountains, the ocean, and then the mountainous coast of the mainland.  But Pudgy knew that across on the mainland, was where the wolves were amassed.  Pushing the horrible thoughts of the wolves out of his mind, the hedgehog looked down at Cobalt’s silver eyes. “Cobalt, it is so beautiful here.  But it is also quiet, really quiet?  Pudgy wonders why that is, shouldn’t there be more animals around here?”

The dragon nodded, “If I remember that nature show correctly I watched a long time ago … I heard that Kodiak island and its surrounding barrier islands held an estimated three thousand bears normally.  But there were other animals as well on land and in the water.  There were deer, birds, and plants … all sorts of food sources on the islands to support the large bears.” The assembled group nodded and watched as Grandpa Bear rubbed his chin with his paw.  “The island is well beyond that, by a factor of a hundred if my estimation is correct.”  The elderly bear said, before taking a deep breath, and speaking once more.  “However, not all bears were summoned here, and there are still some that are back in their respective homes.”  Bill the Koala bear nodded, “yes that is correct.  When the Bear Mother summoned us, she asked for we koala bears to send only ten.  The northern lands are so much colder than my home, that it would be too hard on the young and old bears.  I miss Australia, and I really …. realllly … could go for a nice piece of Eucalyptus right now.  The plants here taste terrible.”  Drew nodded, “this is a big problem.  Koala bears like Bill are ok now, but wait till winter when this place has snow as high as Ivan’s shoulder.”  The Russian black grizzly laughed, “who told you my name?  Da, high snow build muscle, make you strong like cossak.”

Cobalt looked up at Pudgy, “I see what Grandpa bear means though.  The bears are eating the other animals Pudgy, which explains the growing silence of this island.  I hope that they do not throw the balance too far off the island though.  It takes a long time for nature to come back into balance.  I wonder when the Bear Mother will send the bears home?”  Bo the panda bear nodded as he too rubbed his chin with his paw, “not for some time if I am remembering my grandfather correctly.  She has been renewed, but her powers will remain in flux for some time afterwards.  We will remain on the island, which is why accessing the human towns is so important.”  Drew looked up at Pudgy, “that would make sense.  The towns have food and supplies, if only we can get into the buildings before they disintegrate?  That will help keep the bears fed, while ensuring the other animals can reproduce.”  This was too difficult of a discussion for the Russian bear, who shook his head.  “conversation ist dumb, Ivan need vodka.  Let us head to town now, da?”  

The assembled group of travellers nodded and  started to stand up one at a time.  With Grandpa Bear and his son leading the procession, they started to fall into line and follow along.  Ordinarily the elderly would remain in the back for a long trip, but due to the injuries of the bears, the slow pace was extremely helpful.  Over the mountain, down the hill, across the grassy fields, and up a new mountain they went.  Day turned into night once more, resulting in the need to huddle up for the night.  They slept under a cloudless sky full of stars, which seemed to be so close, that Pudgy could reach out and touch them.  Sleep came quickly, and quiet dreams of food filled their minds.  Morning came once more, and their travels continued passing by several lakes both small and large.  A variety of bear clans were grouped up around the bodies of water, and fish was plentiful.  As their battle wounds healed, the mixture of emotions faded to be replaced with an atmosphere almost of jubilation.  The wolves had been defeated, and the island was safe.    

Up the mountain, down the mountain, across fallen pine trees that crossed ravines, the group travelled for another day until the faint traces of light disappeared once again.  By this time, the bears were being entertained by wonderful hedgehog stories.  The stories continued through the night, until all had fallen asleep, and then started anew in the morning.  The land changed to rolling hills, full of green grass, and scattered clusters of pine trees.  After many long days of travel, finally the group found a gravel road.  This was the first sign of human activity on the island that they had found so far, and was a good omen.  There was a huge pond of water nearby, with a giant rusted metal building sticking out of the ground at a strange angle.  A large green pipe stuck out of the building, made a right turn and stuck straight down into the water.  Ivan pawed at the metal building, which rattled when his paws touched it, “what ist dis?”  Cobalt nodded, “looks like a pump house. Oh, there’s a sign … Port….Lions ..Water Company.  This must be their service road, which means it will lead into town.”  The bears were all impressed that the dragon could read the sign.  With a flat gravel road that sloped downwards towards the coastline where the town resided, the group fanned out and started to walk side by side.  

The slow, but relentless pace of travel was starting to catch up with the red panda.  He was starting to wish he could ride Cobalt too.  Drew was out of breath, but was coping by slowing down a bit.  “I hope they have twinkies … or dreamies … or yellow sponge cake with icing product confectionaries.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy hope they have cookies!”  The dragon chuckled, “I hope they still have food, and a bar … need a whiskey.”  Ivan looked at Cobalt, “bah, why drink that stuff.  Whiskey is yankee drink, Vodka ist best drink.  Put hair on your chest, and fire in belly.”  With a spring in their steps, the group increased their pace much to the chagrin of Drew.  The group of animals followed the gravel road down the hill until they reached a series of log cabins that ran along a road.  A large beige aluminum building was fairly close to the left, that was the main office for the water company.  Like the other human towns, it was quiet.  The seabirds were calling in the air, and the group watched as Alabaster flew overhead to land on a telephone pole.  The owl was silently watching from afar and above.

Wandering the town, the group saw the human buildings were deteriorating.  The roofs had collapsed inwards, and the log wall exteriors had split apart.  Many of the homes’ interiors could not be reached, which meant their contents had most likely been destroyed.  Still they pressed on, until reaching the shoreline of the ocean bay.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and pointed at a long brown wood siding building. “Hey Cobalt, look over there!”  The dragon turned his head and read a sign, “Port Lions Lodge and Charters.  Oh good, a hotel, they should have stuff we need.”  The bears nodded, and fell into line behind the dragon, with the red panda scampering along beside the dragon.  The walk was thankfully only a short distance, and soon they had reached the building.  Several red or white pick up trucks were parked out in front of the lodge, with large american flags on their tailgates, and political stickers on the bumpers.  

The lodge was a two story long wooden building that was sitting on a concrete block foundation.  The exterior was clapboard dark brown painted wood siding.  The front porch was covered with a green metal roof, and a triangle archway made out of hand cut logs stained a similar dark brown.  There was a concrete porch, with the name of the lodge inlaid with river rock of various sizes and colors.  Drew leaned up against a split rail that framed the porch, and rested while watching the dragon walking up to a set of glass doors. Cobalt reached up to the handle of the front door with his front right claw.  To his surprise, the door pulled open.  “Good sign everyone, looks like we can get inside.”  Looking around, he could see the pull tabs for the left door at the top and bottom which locked it into place.  The former human started to undo them so the left glass door on the left side could swing open as well.  After some maneuvering and muttering under his breath, the door was able to swing open.  This meant that the opening was wide enough to accommodate even the Russian grizzly bear.  

Cobalt started to walk inside the entranceway, with Pudgy bouncing excitedly on the dragon’s head.  The wild bears looked at each other, and were hesitant to go inside the human structure. Their fears were eased when they watched Grandpa Bear and his son enter the building behind the dragon.  The red panda had recovered and followed behind them as well.  Bill looked down at Bo, “they are going in, go on and move!”  The panda rolled his eyes, and plodded along with the Russian in tow.  The glass doors remained open, and were puled back to rest on each side of the entranceway.  The first floor was a check in desk, and then rooms that ran to the left and right of said desk.  Polished brown concrete floors ran the length of the first floor.  There was a wide staircase of golden oak wood that led upstairs, which the group was heading up as they followed the dragon upstairs. 

Pudgy bounced happily when his dragon friend reached the main floor of the lodge. Polished golden oak wood floors ran the entire length of the long room, with huge wooden beams spanning the ceiling.  Pictures of fish were hanging on the walls, as well as maps and charts of the surrounding areas.  Huge picture windows overlooked the shoreline of the bay, and the skies looked like they had been painted with hues of white and pink.  The group of animals fanned out to explore the lodge.  There were soft couches, long and deep that were pushed against the walls.  Bill hopped off of Bo, and bounced on a mission style wooden chair with a white cloth cushion.  Mr. Bear walked up to a set of french doors with clear glass panes, and looked around to see a wide wooden deck in front of the lodge.  Grandpa walked over to a kitchen at the one end, and found a bookcase full of glass bottles.  “Ivan … is Sto…lich…naya good?”  The Russian almost started to bounce like Pudgy, “da, ist very good!”  Cobalt laughed, and walked over to pick up the bottle of vodka.  Using his claws, he popped the bottle cap off, and sniffed.  “Still smells good …I think.”

Turning slowly with the open bottle, the dragon walked over to the Russian Grizzly bear.  Ivan sat down on the smooth wood floor, and reached out with his massive paws.  It was a delicate dance, as the dragon and bear passed off the bottle.  Once the hand off was completed, Ivan soon was downing the entire contents of the bottle.  The dragon walked around a peninsula island in the kitchen, and then opened a cabinet.  Thankfully, the kitchen was loaded with a variety of foods.  Restaurant and residential sized cans of food were stowed away in various places.  Freeze dried, shelf stable, and expired food was located within the golden oak cabinets. Cobalt smiled when he found a  box of butter cookies still sealed.  “Alaska General … butter cookies.”  The words spoken by the dragon made Pudgy very happy, and he started to bounce excitedly while shouting, “COOKIES!” 

The excited critter bounced happily from the dragon’s head and onto the white formica peninsula top.  Cobalt opened the box, and set it infront of his hedgehog friend.  The critter started to nibble happily on the stale cookies.  He didn’t care, they still tasted good, even if they were made in 2004.  Sadly there were no twinkies, but there was a jelly roll, so that too was opened.  Drew started bouncing almost as much as Pudgy, as he started to nibble on the sweet treat.  One by one the bears were served something from the kitchen, and eventually the group was sitting in the lodge and slurping uncooked food out of their provided cans.  Cobalt smiled as he watched everyone eat, and looked across the lodge to see a bear skin was secured on the wall.  In time, the other bears noticed it as well.  They also noticed the trophy head of a deer mounted to the wall.  Cobalt nodded, “everyone eat, and rest.  We will take those down, and bury them outside tomorrow.  Let the dead rest in peace …”  

The dragon’s claws, and his ability to open cans was proving to be very helpful.  Having two former humans in their group meant that they understood how the various structures and objects in the town worked.  While Cobalt popped open a can of chili, and started to suck it out of the can, Drew looked at Pudgy.  “This is a nice place, Pudgy, I think we should stay here.”  Grandpa bear nodded, “I agree Drew.  I believe there were rooms downstairs that we could utilize as well.  The humans are gone, so I do not think they care if we use their lodge.” Junior nodded, “I agree.  We can scavenge the town tomorrow, and gather all the items to keep here.”  The Russian was making a face, “Vodka ist good, friends ist good, food ist good …. but Ivan prefers outside.  Inside lodge make bears soft …”  Cobalt laughed, “well you don’t have to sleep inside Ivan.  But the idea of a home base makes a lot of sense, especially if we are going to be on the island for an extended time.”

The group laughed and discussed many topics, until the light started to fade once more.  The dragon walked over to a huge stacked stone fireplace that ran along an exterior wall at the end of the lodge.  Stacking the firewood, and assembling the kindling fire starter, the dragon started to make a fire.  It took a long time, especially since he could not work the long nose fireplace lighter.  However, he found a spark striker that he could squeeze, and soon a shower of sparks was falling over the firestarter pile in the center of the logs.  Eventually after many tries, the smoke started to form, and the flames began to dance on the wood logs.  Bo and Bill sat nearby, watching the fire and smiled when the room started to warm.  Perhaps sleeping inside was not too bad of a thing, since warmth could come out of the stone box.

Ivan decided to pull down the bear skin from the wall, and he dragged out the skin from the room.  He would bury the skin, and pay respects.  He was a wild bear, and the lodge was not comfortable. Open sky, and cool dew on one’s fur was best.  Quietly he padded off, while the others curled up in the great room, and drifted off to sleep one at a time.  Pudgy looked up at Cobalt from his spot on the wood floor beside his dragon friend.  “We aren’t going home, are we Cobalt?”  The dragon looked down at his hedgehog friend, and picked him up carefully in his left clawed paw.  Hugging the hedgehog gently, “not yet Pudgy.  I am not well enough to fly long distances.  I need time to heal.  I hope that is all right?”  The hedgehog hugged back again tightly, and looked up nodding.  “Pudgy home wherever Cobalt is, and this will be a nice place to live, until we can go back to the forest.”

The former human nodded, and slowly walked over to another mission style chair with a fun white and black print of deer leaping across a creek. Cobalt placed Pudgy down onto the squishy cushion, and then pulled over a green plaid throw blanket over his friend.  Tucking him in, “good night Pudgy.”  The little hedgehog immediately fell asleep.  He was warm, dry, safe, and had a full tummy of cookies.  His friends were safe, and the lodge would serve as a good home for not only their group, but any who might wish to stay as well.  The dragon curled his tail around his body, and he sat next to the fire, tending it quietly.  Watching over the group of sleeping bears, he smiled and was thankful that the lodge still stood and the town was relatively intact.    

Drew padded up beside Cobalt, and sat down looking at the fire while yawning.  “So, this is what it is like to be on a Pudgy adventure?”  The dragon nodded and chuckled, which drew a smile from the red panda.  The two former humans sat quietly, watching the orange and red flames leap on the logs.  Their world had changed so much, it was hardly recognizable.  But, here they were, safe and warm …surrounded by new friends.  Perhaps Gaia knew what she was doing after all, and this truly was for the best?  The red panda bear could barely keep his eyes open, and soon was curled up beside the dragon fast asleep.  “Good night everyone, sleep well …” the dragon said, and pulled the firescreen across the hearth quietly.  The stars twinkled in the skies outside the picture windows on the front of the lodge that faced the ocean bay. However the call of sleep too arrived for the dragon, and he curled up and drifted off as well.  

Alabaster the arctic owl chose to remain outside, and had flown to sit on the peak of the metal roof that ran the span of the lodge.  He watched the chimney smoke from the fire, and the stars twinkle in a cloudless sky.  The moon floated silently overhead, and seemed to almost radiate with light.  The Russian had taken something from the lodge and buried it in a grassy area nearby to the lodge, before heading off to sleep in a field nearby.  The ocean water gently sloshed along muddy shores that ran a wide bay beside the lodge.  With Pudgy and the other safe, the owl did not have to worry for now.  This meant it was time to hunt, and fill his empty belly with a proper meal.  The owl flapped his wings and flew quickly off, not noticing the myriad of shooting stars as they streaked through the skies to the east.  The stars were the future and the past, and illuminated the shadows of a mystery yet to be revealed.

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.

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