Shadow Fall: Chapter 2: Hubris

Pudgy wiggled his nose, and worry filled his mind.  The moon was glowing a bright white, brighter than anything he had ever seen before.  In the typically dark craters, they were full of red and orange hues.  The lights were streaming from the craters, and throughout the sky.  The little hedgehog whimpered, “oh no …. the moon dinos are in trouble!”  The dragon was still busy cooking on the open fire, but he looked up as well occasionally.  “Pudgy, this is out of our control … whatever is happening.  I am sure the dinosaurs are handling the situation.  You said that their technology was advanced, in more ways than the humans.”  The bears watched the skies, but listened intently to both dragon and hedgehog.  The Bear Mother looked down at Pudgy, “tell me more of these moon dinos.”  The hedgehog scampered up by the fire so he could face everyone, and he began to tell the grand tale of when he went to the moon. 

The bears that lived in the lodge had heard the story before, but the Kodiak Grizzlies and the Mother of all Bears had not.  The newcomers sat enraptured by the tale, and the little scenes that the critter acted out for them.  When Pudgy explained about the rocket ship that Cobalt built, with help from a man from the center of the earth, the Bear Mother looked at the dragon.  Cobalt laughed while he confirmed the story, and stirred the bubbling pots.  The trip through the vacuum of space, to reach the moon resulted in a hush over the crowd of bears.  Even Alabaster, the arctic owl perched up in his pine tree, was quiet as he listened and watched the streaks of light.  The landing of the rocket, the protective suit, and the exiting onto the surface drew a ton of questions from the Bear Mother.  This required Cobalt to explain things: why there is no air in space, the lesser gravity of the moon, why Pudgy needed the protective gear, and many other things.  

Pudgy described being captured by a raptor dinosaur dressed in a protective suit, and being taken back to a huge triangular shaped pyramid dome with large black hexagonal windows.  Upon being taken to the dome, he was handed over to a triceratops dinosaur who had the title of Lead Claw. She took Pudgy to a huge museum, where he could address the hundreds of dinosaurs that lived within the domes.  Eventually, he was taken to the Daedlus Claw, a gigantic tyrannosaurus rex with blue skin and silver eyes.  The story was halted, when the Kodiak Grizzlies started to growl menacingly.  The Bear Mother gave them a stern look, and then nodded to continue.  The hedgehog described the battle on the moon surface against the gray aliens and the dark eldritch god Cthulhu.  Once the battle was over, Pudgy’s desperate trip back to earth, where his rocket broke apart in the skies and he landed in Great Britain.  After a long rest in both his landing spot, and in the center of the earth with the man, he was returned home to his forest.  

By this time, the various bubbling pots of food were ready, and hungry bears started sniffing at the fire.  The Bear Mother was served first, when she decided to take the huge stock pot full of chicken soup.  There was no dispute, she was the Matriarch of the island.  The dragon grinned, and served all manner of foods: swedish meatballs, spaghetti with meatballs, cream of potato soup, all things from the restaurant sized cans.  In time, all bears had been served in large pots or wide pans, and munching happily while the fire crackled.  Pudgy was busy with his mug of potato soup, and bouncing happily.  Cobalt also got a chance to eat as well, while everyone sat watching the lights in the skies streaking to the south east.  Tipping a pot up to drink the last remaining potato soup, the former human pondered.  After taking a moment to swallow, “Pudgy … the moon dinosaurs … the gray Allarian aliens … Why would they need to evacuate the moon?  Cthulhu was removed from it, and you sealed him underneath Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.”

The Bear Mother looked down at the fire, “what Pudgy discovered was not meant to be found.  Now it is my time to tell a tale of this world from long … long … ago.  I was told this by the Bear Mother before me.  Before this world was created, there was an archway of stone where all animals lived.  It was so crowded that no one could live.  So they prayed to the great spirit over all …Unetlanvhi.  The great spirit agreed to their request, and he pulled the land up from a great sea.  The land was held by a single chain that connected all the way to the arch of stone.  The land was mostly flat, with gentle hills full of lush green plants, freshwater lakes that would cover this island from all sides, and saltwater seas.  The first animals to descend the chains to the new land, were not like our kinds from today.  They were huge, covered in scales like our dragon friend here.  Though some had feathers, and some had smooth hides as well.”

The Bear Mother paused for a moment, as she looked at the moon once again.  The group was silent, but Alabaster was growing annoyed, because this version was different from the owls version.  The owl stayed silent, because the Bear Mother began to speak again.  “The animals grew, multiplied, and filled the land.  They became aware, and developed a society similar to that of humans.  Huge structures were built on the land, first made of tall trees, but later of rock.  Their works covered the land, so new land was needed.  The freshwater lakes were drained, and filled in by more works.  In time, there was no green on this world, all covered by rock.  The seas were drained, since water was still needed.  Though the salt remained, eventually poisoning those that lived in the sea.”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, listening intently to the story.  Bits of pieces of what he remembered the dinosaurs telling him, as well as the murals on the walls, started to make sense.  The Bear Mother continued, “However …. eventually the animals grew arrogant.  They thought themselves better than Unetlanvhi, and forgot the great spirit.  They went to the world chain, which held the land from the great salt sea, and began to build upon it.”  Cobalt raised his paw, “Bear Mother, may I ask a question?”  The large Matriarch paused and nodded, which the dragon grinned as he bowed his head a bit. “The chain holds this world up, but you are able to draw power from the chain as well.  I assume there are limits?”  She nodded, “yes … an appropriate question.  I can draw upon the power of the world chain on this island to do many things.  But, the chains are fragile, and if too much power is drained from them … a calamity falls upon the land.  It is for that reason something occurred.”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “what happened next mamma Bear?”  The matriarch giggled a bit, “well … The animals began to test the chain.  They drew power from it, causing many changes to the world.  The single land began to split apart, filling with the poisonous salt water between the lands.  Still the animals drew water from the seas, eventually removing the last bit of water.  There was only salt remaining, and the bones of the former animals that lived within the sea.  The great spirit Unetlanvhi became angry … the animals had destroyed the world.  Their works were offensive, and they sought to draw power from the great sky to fulfill their selfish needs.  The great spirit decided to act, and he severed the chain holding the land to the sky.  Thus the calamity began …”  Alabaster hooted softly in his tree, memorizing every word, he had to report this back to his Grand Claw ASAP.  Pudgy whimpered, “what is a calamity?”

The large female bear’s eyes burned with an intense golden light, “the moon, the stars, and the sun all disappeared.  The land was engulfed in total darkness.  The animals at first were confused, but retreated within their works, safe from the outside world.  The great spirit then formed ice into mountains, and threw them down onto the land.  The weight of his fury flattened the structures, and killed the animals.  The animals reacted, building their structures tougher, and soon the ice was not enough to penetrate.  Then mountains of rock, full of heavy metals were formed, and thrown down onto the world.  Claws full of anger and sadness plunged into the land, injecting fire underneath.  The animals were burned from below, and crushed from above.  It was at this time, they remembered the pact first sworn when they arrived on the land.  Please of mercy were shouted into the black void above, which were not answered.  The fires melted the ice, and waves of freshwater flooded the world.  Soon the world was covered with water, and the fires subsided.  As the world cooled, since there was no sun, it soon froze.”

Cobalt nodded, realizing this story had been told many times before in different ways.  Even fictional tales had elements of truth in them, which made the dragon wonder how much in the various works of the former humans were truth versus fiction.  The Bear Mother’s story halted for a moment, when she started to drink from the pot she had been offered before.  It had been too hot to eat, but now it was just right.  After a couple of moments, the story began once again.  “The world had been sealed with ice, and the last remaining animals were dying.  The works destroyed, they prayed once more, begging forgiveness.  Their pleas were ignored once more, but that only hardened their resolve.  The remaining power they had was diverted, and their works were changed to move.  A hole was punched through the thick ice that sealed the world, and two structures were able to be flown from this world.”

Pudgy whimpered, “that is a sad story.”  The Bear Mother nodded, “yes it is.  A very long time passed, with no light.  The animals found the moon, and landed their structures there.  Unetlanvhi in his mercy, allowed them to remain there.  He decreed that they were never to return to the world.  The animals stayed there, locked away in their domes, with no way to escape.  That is why this  …. space …as you call it … has no air.  The great spirit removed it to ensure that no animals could escape this world again.”  Cobalt nodded, “then NASA made rockets to go into space.  Gee …I wonder why the humans were removed from this world?”  The red panda nodded from his spot by the fire, agreeing with the dragon.  The humans had acted just like the animals from the story.  The hedgehog whimpered, “but why are the dinosaurs on the moon?”  Drew waved at Pudgy, “Pudgy … animals from the story … They are dinosaurs.  Now we know why they went extinct in this world.  And maybe why there are Pyramids scattered around the world too?”

The Bear Mother nodded, “exactly.  The damage done to this world was so severe, that Unetlanvhi had to destroy the land.  He burned away the poison, and flushed the world with water.  During this time, more animals began to appear on the stone archway.  Unlike those that came before, they were much smaller.  Despite their smaller size, the archway soon filled once again, and the pleas of the animals for more room were heard once again.  It was then when the great spirit called one of each animal before him, and told the tale of what had occurred.  These animals were chosen to be the leader of each of their kind, and would guard the world.  No one animal would have control over the land and its chain.  The land was once again raised from the great sea, and lush with life once more.  Each kind of animal descended onto the world by their own chain, and the leader of each kind stayed by the connection point to the land.  The world was named Gaia, and the stone to which the chain connected, was henceforth known as a Gaia stone.”

Drew raised his paw, “Bear Mother … if the wolves had won … and they had your chain …”  The Bear Mother nodded and cut him off, “then Unetlanvhi would have been angry.  No animal kind shall have more than one chain, and the balance would be thrown off.  A calamity would begin once again, and the world would be thrown into chaos.  The humans were arrogant, and took more than this world could offer.  I am surprised that Unetlanvhi chose mercy this time, and decided to change them into animals?  Perhaps the great spirit tires of destruction …. or this serves a greater purpose?”  The assembled group nodded, and watched the fire dance on the logs in the fire pit.  The dragon was quiet, and had been adding black beans into a pot of water, which was boiling.  A strange smell began to fill the area, which Mr. Bear Junior recognized, “that coffee smells good Cobalt.”  Grandpa Bear nodded, “I have a taste for that drink as well.  Too bad there are no more spirits left to add, a bit of the irish.”  

Pudgy bounced happily, “in the ferry office, there were bottles of adult juice there.  We didn’t bring them back because the wagon was full.”  The older bears laughed but also pouted a bit, since they too had a taste for adult juice as Pudgy called it.  While the coffee brewed, the Bear Mother sighed a bit as she watched the streaks of light continue in the sky.  Cobalt looked up at her, and then to the sky, “there is no going back to space now.  All the human technology that made it possible is either gone or inoperable.  Even if somehow we could assemble a rocket, there is no way to fuel it.  Bear Mother, you said earlier you had an idea why the lodge has not fallen apart like the other human buildings?”  The Matriarch nodded, “I did say that earlier, but never explained did I?  I think it is because the animals have occupied the buildings.  Gaia and Unetlanvhi are keenly aware of what is happening in the world.  This lodge was once the source of death for my kind and the others.  However, when the animals came and adapted it, the structure became a source of good for all.  I have heard many stories of wonderful food, hedgehog stories, and much merriment to be had here.  I have also heard similar tales to the south of here, in a place named for my kind.”

Cobalt nodded, “Kodiak and Kodiak station are to the south of here.  Kodiak station was where an airport and shipping terminal was located.  Kodiak was a town, slightly up the coast from the airport.  I believe that is where Ivan, our russian grizzly friend wandered off to.  I hope he is doing alright…”  Grandpa Bear snorted, “knowing him … he drank the town dry by now.  He cleared out our small supply of spirits in under a week.”  The Matriarch started to giggle softly, “oh well then … I must make an appearance.  Pudgy … what is it?”  The female bear looked down to see the little hedgehog crying.  The critter looked up, rubbing tears away from his eyes. “Pudgy worried about the moon dinos … they were nice to Pudgy … but in the story … They were bad.  Pudgy confused,”  he trailed off crying again.  The dragon turned a bit, and reached over to gently scoop up his hedgehog friend, and hug him gently.  

“Pudgy, I know you are concerned.  We can’t help them, not anymore.  Whatever is going on, we have to trust in God that he will do what is best for them.  Time has a way of changing people, and animals alike for that matter.  Perhaps in their time of exodus from the world, they became more humble?  Or possibly they are just as arrogant, and will screw everything up once more?  We do not know, and can’t control this.  It might not be them, because you know what is up in space also?”  The hedgehog looked up and sniffed his nose, shaking his head no.  The dragon smiled, “well over four thousand pieces of space junk floating around the planet.  Satellites, parts of satellites, tools, pieces of rockets, rocks, ice, and all sorts of other stuff.  When the power went out, all the human control systems also turned off.”  Drew nodded and wiggled his ears, “that makes sense Cobalt.  Pudgy, don’t be upset, Cobalt is right.  We are safe here, surrounded by friends.”  

The little hedgehog calmed down, and hugged Cobalt again, before he was set back down on the ground once more.  The dragon then began to serve the steaming cups of black coffee to any bear that wanted a cup.  At first the escort grizzlies did not want it, but became curious when they saw the dragon drinking it from a small pot with a black handle.  In the bear’s massive paws, the cooking pots seemed tiny.  But soon everyone was drinking the black drink, and could feel the caffeine hit.  The red panda started bouncing off the ground, which drew a laugh from the matriarch as she pondered what that stuff would do to Pudgy?  She looked down at Pudgy, “so that was your trip to the moon and back?  What happened next?”  The little hedgehog started to smile, and then returned to his spot to tell the next grand tale of the civil war ghosts.  The bears settled in, sipping coffee and listening.

Hours passed, and the night continued to darken the sky.  The streaks of light continued, making all manner of colors across the heavens above.  Pudgy continued with the story of his grand steam ship adventure to New Orleans, and the huge battle on lake Pontchartrain with the eldritch god Cthulhu.  The bears were staring at Pudgy as he told his tale, not wanting to miss a word, nor this little scene he acted out for them.   Cobalt was busy cleaning up the pots, and taking them back to the lodge quietly.  Drew also was helping, moving the empty cans of food as well.  This resulted in an occasional look from the Bear Mother, who smiled that they were cleaning and not just leaving the trash out.  This also allowed other bears to draw in closer, such as Kaymakli and her cub.  They had been straining to hear the stories, and now could do so much easier.  

Pudgy was telling the grand tale of his battles with the Kaiser, demons in the forest, ghostly tank and submarine battles.  The bears would cheer, and growl at parts, especially when the Kaiser was mentioned.  By the time Cobalt and Drew got back, Pudgy was at the part where he was flying his little plane to the infamous prison camp.  The Bear Mother was clearly disturbed at how dark a turn the adventures had taken for the hedgehog.  When he explained about the ghost Rabbis floating from the ground, and the demon portal, she growled loudly.  So much so, it echoed throughout the area.  The other bears all put their heads down, and waited for her to calm down.  Pudgy waited as well, and when she had recovered, he finished his story with the return trip to his forest.  The fire was the only noise in the area, as the fire burned into the logs.  The critter was able to take a long drink from a cup of water his dragon friend had left for him.  

The Mother of all bears stared at him with her golden eyes.  It was late, and while she wanted to get some sleep, she was still intrigued by the tales of adventure the little hedgehog told her.  Mr. Bear Junior, Grandpa Bear, Cobalt, and Drew all confirmed various parts of the stories.  So the events actually did occur, and she was unaware.  After a long moment to compose herself, “Pudgy … that tale … I suggest you do not tell the Kaiser to other bears.  It may upset them.”  Kaymakli was hugging her cub, “too late.”  The Bear mother nodded, “see?  But I suspect that is not the end of your tale.  What happens next?”  Alabaster hooted loudly from his tree, “it’s the best part!”  The hedgehog laughed, and then started to tell the tale of the owls and the disappearance of the humans.  

This tale was quite sad, as Pudgy relayed how hard it was to lose his human friend Cobalt.  But he met a new friend Alabaster the arctic owl, speaking of which, hooted from his tree nearby when his name was mentioned.  As Cobalt walked up slowly to an empty spot between Grandpa Bear and Kaymakli, he motioned Alabaster to fly over.  The owl leapt from the tree, and glided over to land on one of Cobalt’s black horns atop of his head.  The owl waved his wings at the Bear Mother.  Pudgy continued about the trip through the leylines, the trip to Texas, the silly talking cacti, the airship bunnies, the animal town along the lake, meeting Drew, and the frantic drive through the darkened cities of California.  When the human Drew disappeared too, Pudgy started to whimper.  But he composed himself, and told the tale of the grand Parliament.  The owls in the trees were too numerous to count, and the other birds who attended.  

The Bear Mother nodded, “I remember going to a Grand Parliament once.  I believe it would have been during the time of your great great great great great great great Grand Claw … Alabaster.  It was held near here, in the valley of the wolves.  Those were simpler times, before the current hostilities.  Continue please …” the Matriarch instructed.  Pudgy continued his tale to the Arctic owls tree, but he did not disclose where it was, which drew a soft look from the arctic owl.  The return trip, which features multiple leyline jumps drew many ooh and ahhs from the bears.  Having returned to the forest once more, the area was developed into a town.  Before the coyotes attacked, Cobalt returned in dragon form.  The little hedgehog told the tale of battle, and how ferocious his human friend was to defend the forest.  

As the bears cheered when the coyotes were dispatched, the Bear Mother rubbed her chin with a massive paw.  Pudgy then started the grand tale to reach the island, including not being allowed to go to bear school, before he was allowed to.  Cobalt laughed and covered his eyes with a clawed paw.  Mr. Bear Junior laughed as well, which stopped the story and required an explanation as to what exactly was bear school?  After the explanation, the Bear Mother gave Pudgy a quizzical look.  The story continued with the sinking of the human homes and town, the departure of Mr. Bear and his Father, and another coyote attack.  Alabaster hooted softly, “get to the good part!”  Which drew a laugh from the dragon, and shh sounds from the bears.  Pudgy continued with the dragon flight from Pennsylvania, meeting Loki who was now an elk, then Sandra and Raymond who had turned into blue herons, and the flight to the arctic owls’ tree.  

The Bear Mother laughed, “I take it the arctic owl tree is the good part?”  The owl hooted and nodded on top of the dragon’s head.  Alabaster started to tell this part of the story, of the owls helping Pudgy and Cobalt.  The dragon had been flying wrong the entire time, and needed training.  He spoke highly of his Mother, Grand Claw, Painted Feather, and the rest of the Parliament.   This also gave Pudgy a break to scamper off, attend to some business, return, and take a drink of water from his cup.  Cobalt nodded, and started to tell the next part of the story.  The flight to Alaska was long, and the surroundings were beautiful.  There was also a large bear in the sky who was yelling at him to fly faster.  The Bear Mother giggled, “I do not know what you are talking about.”  The arrival in Cordova, and the meet up with Mary the arctic fox.

Pudgy took over once again, telling tales of the sea duckies, Mary, and the mice at the restaurant.  Then the flight to Kodiak island, and meeting new friends: Bill the koala, Bo the panda, and Ivan the russian grizzly.  When their names were mentioned, the mentioned bears started to wave and bounce.  Meeting the Mother of all Bears, and then Drew in red panda form, then the desperate restoration of the world chain was the next part of the story.  Alabaster puffed up when he was mentioned during the rescue of a falling hedgehog from the sky when the chain threw him.  The Bear Mother gasped, and nodded, “that would be for the best.  Pudgy, had you held on, you would have returned to the arch of stone.  No animal has ever gone back there, so who knows what you would have found?”

Alabaster spoke a time about his flight to the bridge, and the bears fighting the wolves with the support of their dragon friend.  Bo and Bill spoke of their trip to the ice bridge, as well as the escorts spoke of their brothers fighting on the bridge against the onslaught of wolves.  The story wrapped up with the long trip to the lodge, and their recovery.  Finally, after many hours, the tale was done.  The bears all clapped their paws together, and roared in approval.  However, the coffee had worn off, and many bears started to yawn sleepily.  Cobalt settled down, content to sleep here, and watched as Pudgy scampered up to snuggle close to him.  The other bears started to lay down around, and watched as the fire died out.  The only sources of light were the bright moon above, the streaks of light, and the softening glow of the Bear Mother’s eyes as she too fell asleep.  

The night was peaceful, with the sounds of the ocean waves lapping up against the rocky shoreline of the bay.  The only animal not asleep was Alabaster, the arctic owl.  His mind was full of many new things he had learned, and he desperately wanted to fly to the leyline node and return to the great tree.  However, the words of his Grand Claw also burned brightly in his mind.  He had been told to find Pudgy, and return with him to the tree.  The owls still had questions about the human conversions, as well as other matters in the surrounding lands.  The revelation of the animals that came before them, the destruction of the world, and the recreation of this one; filled in many gaps of the tales handed down in their Parliament.  Dawn came way too early for the owl, as he had grown accustomed to the longer nights to the south of here. Although their parliament would travel north, when the southern lands grew too hot for their liking.  The owl wondered if they were still at the great tree, or if they had flown to their other home?

After the sun rose over the horizon, one by one the bears began to wake and wander off.  The light of the sun blotted out the streaks of light once more, giving the illusion that all was well once more.  Alabaster hooted softly, and flew up into his nearby pine tree, and nestled down to sleep.  Cobalt woke up, and stretched out his body.  The former human found Pudgy sleeping on top of his snout, and was wiggling his nose at him when the dragon opened his eyes.  “Good Morning Pudgy,” the dragon said, which drew a wave from his hedgehog friend.  As the two friends looked over, the gigantic Mother of all Bears was curled up and sleeping.  Her Kodiak grizzly escorts were also asleep as well.  Staying as quiet as they could manage, the dragon backed up, and started to wander off so they too could attend to some business.  

The dragon had just wandered behind a large bush, when he could hear the Bear Mother begin to stir.  After finishing, and Pudgy climbing up onto his back once again, the dragon walked back over to see the Kodiak grizzly escorts waking as well, and standing up.  Dragon called out softly, “good morning. Did you rest well?”  The bears nodded, and stretched, while the Bear Mother’s eyes opened up.  The female bear yawned a bit, “good morning to you as well.  These short nights are annoying, but such is life this far north.  Though the opposite will soon be true, where our land will be dark most of the time.  Is it the same in your forest, Cobalt and Pudgy?”  The little hedgehog scampered up his dragon friend’s back, and bounced on top of his head.  “It is a longer night, even in the summertime.”  Cobalt nodded slowly, “it’s about 8 hours or so of night in the summer.  Winter is more night as well, perhaps half the day or a bit?”

The Bear Mother nodded, as she started to stand up.  “I see, it would be nice one day to visit your forest Pudgy.  I must be off now, there are many other places to visit within my domain.  Your russian friend in Kodiak must be quite busy by now, so I should look in on him.  What will you do now?”  Cobalt pointed across the bay with his left paw, “head back to the ferry terminal office.  There are at least three more loads of food to bring over here.  That represents the last of the human food supplies here, which will keep the lodge going for a while.  We need to keep it going, to have a place the Koala’s will be able to stay in when winter comes.  Their kind is not used to this cold weather ….”  The Matriarch grinned at him, “that is very thoughtful of you.  I will direct any Koalas along the way I see to this place.  However, it is my intention to send everyone home within one to two full moons.  I want to visit first, and meet all who survived the wolf attack.”

Pudgy bounced and waved at her, “bye bye Mamma Bear.  Pudgy hopes to see you again!”  The large female bear laughed, and waved her paw.  She slowly turned, and began to walk along the shoreline, with her Kodiak grizzly escorts following her after waving goodbye as well.  The two friends watched the gigantic bear and her followers wander off for a time.  Cobalt turned and then started to walk up the small hill that was beside the lodge, and around to the front of the building.  Mr. Bear Junior had already been strapped with a cart harness.  The second metal one they had found at the ferry terminal was moved into position, and Bill the koala bear was sitting there patiently waiting with more leather straps.  “Good morning mates, did the Mother of all Bears head off?”  

The hedgehog waved at Bill, “yes Bill, she just headed off to Kodiak to go find Ivan and the others.”  Bo the black and white panda bear wandered slowly up, with another cart strapped to him, though this one did not have any sides to hold things in.  “Kodiak is not far from here, about two nights’ travel if I remember correctly.”  Bill smirked, “only one for me, but I slept a lot of it.”  Cobalt laughed while he was being strapped to the cart by the koala.  “I know how that goes, Pudgy got to sleep for most of the trip.  I fell asleep while flying once though … that was bad … we wandered off course.”  The straps were tied in, and the dragon wrapped his tail around the wagon’s vehicle hitch’s tongue.  Grandpa bear waved from the entrance to the lodge, “you all stay safe while heading over there.  I will stay here, and hold down the lodge.”  

Cobalt smiled, “sounds like a plan Mr. Bear Senior.”  The dragon started to walk first, followed by Bo, then by Mr. Bear Junior.  Bill rode in the metal wagon that Cobalt was pulling, and soon found himself joined by Pudgy.  Drew had woken up last, so a red panda came scampering from behind a bush nearby to pad up alongside Cobalt.  “Hey .. are we heading back to the ferry terminal office?”  Pudgy bounced in the wagon, “yes we are Drew!”  Down around the lodge they went, past the fire pit, along the rocky shore, across the long gray wooden bridge, up the hill, down the hill, along the dirt road with the tire ruts, past the cabins, along the rocky shore, and across the artificial peninsula of rock they headed.  Everyone had a spring to their step, and they made excellent time to reach the parking area in front of the ferry terminal office.  

Bill hopped out of the wagon, and then ran along on all fours up to the steel door that had been encouraged open by Mr. Bear Junior yesterday.  As the door squeaked loudly while it opened, the pallets of supplies were still there.  Mr. Bear Junior moved in first, followed by Bo, then by Cobalt.  With three wagons, and more animals to help, the remaining supplies were loaded onto the various wagons in short order.  The bottles of spirits were repacked to sit side by side, and filled the metal wagon that the dragon was hitched to.  While it was only one row of bottles, the weight was much greater than yesterday.  Once Bill, Pudgy, and Drew explored the remaining areas in the office, the group left with the supplies and headed back to the road that led back to the shoreline.  Pudgy was riding on the red panda’s back, and watching Bill scamper beside them as well.  

Bo’s wagon was loaded with long flat boxes that would not fit in the other wagons.  It was bulk packaged cans of tuna and vegetables of varying kinds, as well as boxes labelled duraflame.  The dragon said they were good for heat, but not to cook on since they had chemicals in them.  Only humans could make wood that was not safe, Bill thought quietly to himself while they walked around the curved road that ran along the rocky shoreline.  Once more past the rows of cabin, up the dirt road with the tire ruts carved in, up the hill, down the hill, to reach the bridge.  Cobalt stopped to rest, while Mr. Bear pulled up beside him with his wagon.  Bo stopped as well, “our wagons are heavy.  I think it is best we go one at a time.”  The others in attendance nodded in agreement, and Bo the black and white panda bear headed first, with Bill following behind him about a wagon length behind.  After a long time, the two crossed the large span of bridge, and waved it was ok to cross.  

Mr. Bear headed next, with Drew following along as well at the same distance.  Pudgy turned to wave at Cobalt, who grinned back as they left.  Just as before, after a long time passed, the next wagon was safely across.  Mr. Bear Junior waved, and the dragon started to pull the heavy load.  Cobalt was pulling a full load of alcoholic beverages, as well as canned fruit juice, and a couple cases of soda pop.  The wagon’s wheels were squeaking loudly, and when the dragon started walking on the wooden boards, they all creaked loudly.  Shutting out the noise from the wagon, the dragon moved as quickly as he could.  Though he could hear the boards cracking under the wheels of his wagon.  Tense minutes passed, and he eventually crossed the bridge,  slowing to a stop panting hard.  “I should have come back as a draft horse …”  Pudgy laughed at Cobalt and waved from the back of the red panda, “no, Pudgy likes you as a dragon!”

The group of bears smiled and laughed quietly, before starting to walk the short remaining distance to the lodge.  From the bridge, they could see it clearly.  A very tired dragon brought up the rear, and after another short but tiring walk, the group pulled up their wagons in front of the lodge.  The elderly gray bear walked out of the lodge, and waved his paw at the group.  “My word, look at all of this!  The lodge will be well supplied now.”  Bill scampered up, and started to undo the harnesses off of the bears and dragon.  Once free, Cobalt turned to head inside the lodge.  “I’m sorry everyone, I do not feel well.  I need … to rest.”  Drew walked slowly into the entryway of the lodge, and watched the dragon slowly head down the hall, and into his room at the end of the hallway.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, while Drew swished his striped tail back and forth, before turning around to head back out to the wagons.  It was time to unload, and put away their supplies.  However, he found Grandpa Bear popping the cap off a brown bottle of beer.  Well, maybe just one wouldn’t hurt….

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 “Shadow Fall: Chapter 2: Hubris”

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