Shadow Fall: Chapter 3: Flight

The lodge in the days that followed was still the center of activity on their part of the island.  With the addition of alcoholic beverages, the bears were much more animated.  Pudgy did not drink that stuff, because it tasted funny, and he would feel sleepy afterwards.  The supplies had many boxes of cookies, so he was very happy.  The dragon had stayed in his room asleep for the entire time, even sleeping through the first ever grizzly bear open rock night.  Bears took turns standing on a nearby boulder, and did stand up comedy acts.  The hedgehog laughed at most of it, but Drew covered his ears with his paws to try and stop the really bad punchlines.  The streaks of lights continued to scatter throughout the skies, but was diminishing as each night passed.  By the time Cobalt had emerged from his room, there was only the occasional streak of light.

Pudgy was sitting on the deck of the lodge, and looking up at the star filled twilight sky.  Cobalt was sitting, and looking up as well.  The two friends sat quietly, as the ocean waves splashed up against the rocky shoreline.  Alabaster sounded a greeting call, and flew over the roof of the lodge.  The arctic owl glided down to land on the wooden railing of the deck.  He turned around carefully, to look at both animals sitting in front of the lodge.  “Greetings Pudgy …Cobalt,” The snow white owl said while waving his left wing tip at them.  The dragon grinned, while Pudgy bounced happily, “Hi Alabaster!  Pudgy is very glad to see you!”  The owl would wander off for a day or two, and then return.  This time, he had headed off to take a look at what was going on in the port town of Kodiak to their south.  

Alabaster hooted softly, “well … it is as we expected.  The Russian Grizzlies have taken over the town, and have been holding a huge party.  It would seem the ideas as presented by our dragon friend here, were applied there as well.  To say there is a party going on, would be an understatement.  I even saw the Mother of all Bears there, laughing hysterically as she drank from a large wooden barrel.”  The dragon chuckled, “well, if she starts doing jello shots …..we’re in trouble.”  The owl and hedgehog looked confused, but Alabaster nodded as he was finally getting used to the former human’s quirks.  “Anyhow … Pudgy … I need to return home soon.  Our Parliament will be growing worried, not just about me, but you as well.  It is for that reason, I have to ask Cobalt something.”  The dragon nodded, “sure, ask away.”  Alabaster nodded again, “would it be all right for me to take Pudgy with me?  We will head to the great tree.  You could join us there, when you are able to.”

The dragon rubbed his chin with a clawed paw, and looked down at the hedgehog.  His little friend was wiggling his nose, and eyes darted back and forth.  “I am not opposed to this idea, Alabaster.  Each day, I am recovering, and even can fly short distances again.  But I do not think I am strong enough to fly the whole way back yet.  If I were to leave, it would take a very long time for me to arrive.  Is it safe to assume, you would use the ley line nodes to travel?”  The arctic owl nodded, “yes.  There is a node to the south west of here, as you call it, in the direction of the setting sun.  It took me four jumps to get here, and along the way is our northern tree.  I need to stop there, in case Grand Claw moves north.  Sometimes, it becomes too warm for us during the summer season.”  Cobalt nodded again, “where is the second tree?”  The owl at first just looked at him, and ruffled his white feathers about.  “It is along the coast of which you flew to get here.  A pine tree taller than all the rest, surrounded by jagged ice covered mountains.”

Pudgy scampered over to his dragon friend, and started to hug his left leg tightly.  He was whimpering, “but ….Pudgy can’t leave Cobalt here all alone!”  The owl hooted softly laughing, “Pudgy, he is not alone.  This island is full of all sorts of bears to keep him company.  Besides, I am not saying we leave tonight.  I know you will want to say goodbyes first.  I think we should depart tomorrow though.”  Before the owl could protest, he was gently snatched up by the dragon in his right clawed paw.  The hedgehog was picked up by the left clawed paw, and soon both were being hugged by Cobalt.  The owl hooted in a shocked tone, not realizing he was going to get a hug.  But eventually Alabaster settled down, and looked up at the dragon’s silver eyes.  After a couple of minutes passed quietly, both hedgehog and owl were placed on top of Cobalt’s head.  The owl hopped to perch on one of the dragon’s horns, while Pudgy held onto the other.  The trio sighed, and watched the stars twinkle in the sky.  

“Pudgy, it will be alright.  I will be fine.  Winter does not come here for another month or two, so as long as I leave by that time … there should not be any issues.  Alabaster can take you back to the owls, and you can have fun with the Parliament.  Maybe even take you the rest of the way home as well, back to the forest.  I am sure Argente and the others are a nervous wreck by now.”  The former human said softly, which drew a nod from the arctic owl.  “Yes Cobalt, I was thinking along the same lines as you.  When you arrive at the great tree, you can rest like before, before continuing on.”  Pudgy sniffed his nose, “Pudgy wants to see owls again.  Tell Grand Claw and Painted Feather everything that happened.  The little owls will want to hear the new story as well of what happened here. Pudgy feels guilty though, leaving Cobalt behind.” 

The dragon chuckled, “everything will be fine Pudgy.  The lights in the skies are slowing, almost stopped now.  Whatever is going on, can not hurt us.  Eventually we will all be back in the forest, you will be home and can sleep in your own bed.  I can sleep in my cave ….for a month.  And Alabaster can stop worrying about hedgehogs, bears, and wolves for a while.”  The owl started to laugh, and that even drew some mischievous giggles from Pudgy.  The trio fell silent once more, and watched the beauty of nature in all of its glory around them.  The trees swayed in the gentle ocean breezes, while the occasional bat flew overhead in search of its next prey.  The moon was starting to decrease in size and brightness, which signalled a return to normal.  

As the little hedgehog started to yawn, Alabaster hooted softly.  “Cobalt, it looks like we have a sleepy hedgehog.”  The dragon nodded, and started to roll a bit to stand up.  Once he was on all fours, he started to walk towards the open doorway that led into the lodge.  “Time for bed Pudgy, you need to rest up for your trip tomorrow.”  The little critter tried to protest, but he was yawning so much he couldn’t make any words come out of his mouth.  Through the lodge, down the stairs, make the left, head down the hallway to the door with a red panda and hedgehog face taped on the door.  The dragon gently picked up Pudgy from his head, and then set him down on the smooth concrete floor.  Opening the door, the tired hedgehog scampered inside.  “Good night Pudgy,” both dragon and owl said, before the door was softly shut.  

Alabaster hooted softly, “Cobalt …we need to talk.”  The former human nodded gently, and turned around in the hallway.  Walking back down the hallway, the dragon made a left turn and headed out through the lodge’s front entranceway.  There were a couple of sleeping bears underneath the large porch roof, so Cobalt headed  out to the gravel road in front of the lodge.  After walking a short distance towards a former human home that was collapsing in on itself,  the owl hooted again, “this should be far enough.  Cobalt, I have noticed you are not doing well.  What is wrong?”    The dragon sighed, “Alabaster … I very nearly died getting here to the island.  I had just figured out how to fly, when everything went to hell and a handbasket.  Then Pudgy was talking about using the teleportation stone to jump out to see the owls.  I had to go with him, especially given the nightmares that were plaguing him.  The Bear Mother was also a factor, and she pushed me as well, faster and faster.”

The owl nodded, “no wonder you were so tired?  You were flying completely wrong from what my mother told me.  Did the lessons help?”  Cobalt nodded, “yes they did.  But I could never rest long enough to recover, and then there is the issue when I eat.  I never thought I would ever say this, but human food is not good.  I’m either hungry all the time, or it is now making me feel sick.”  Alabaster hopped off the dragon’s head, and glided over to a log sticking out of the ground.  He perched onto the log, and turned around to face the dragon. “I see, and when you arrived here, were you able to rest?”  The dragon shook his head, “no … it was straight on to the Mother of all Bears and then the battle of the ice bridge.”  

Alabaster rubbed his beak with the tip of his left wing, “that is not good.  We all saw your condition after the battle …. from what I can see … on the outside it appears you have recovered.”  The dragon sighed, “yes, outwardly I look fine.  On the inside, it feels like I am being torn apart.  When I sleep, I can see something, and it doesn’t make any sense.  I feel drawn to it, but I know not what it is.  Then it’s time to wake up, and Pudgy wants to go exploring.  The other bears have been able to keep his mind occupied, but sometimes he really needs me, and I feel terrible that I can’t be there at all times with him.  Alabaster, I already went away once, and it wrecked him.  I don’t want to go away again, Pudgy might not be able to handle it.”

The owl’s beak was slightly agape, as he listened to Cobalt.  It sounded very much like the former human was about to die.  The same condition occurred with the elderly of his Parliament.  The call to the unseen place was a return to the great stone archway, where all animals originated.  Cobalt coughed, and spat out an ice shard to the side, which caught the arctic owl off guard.  “If I remember Pudgy correctly, he mentioned something about Xylenia.  She was a dragon originally from under the earth’s surface, but later went to the North Pole.  She could only stay so long in this world, before things would occur to her body.  The elves that live there, lived in some sort of magical bubble.  Pudgy said his teeth would wiggle, and he could not stay there long.  I wonder if that also may be a factor in this?  Dragons are not natural to this world.”

As the two animals spoke to one another, the occasional bear would walk past on the gravel road.  It was a quiet night, full of stars in a cloudless sky.  Alabaster nodded, “perhaps the magical idea makes the most sense.  But the problem is, who would know about magic?”  The dragon nodded, “I will speak to the Mother of all Bears.  At the very least, she may be able to point me in the correct direction.  I think the best option is rest for now.  Please promise me that you will keep Pudgy safe, Alabaster?”  The owl raised his right wing, “I promise Cobalt.  I will take him to the great ice tree first, then if the Parliament is not there, onto the great tree beyond the grand mountain.  We will wait there until your arrival.”  

The dragon yawned, “ok … sounds good to me.  And Alabaster, please do not tell Pudgy what we discussed tonight.  If he were to know what is going on with me, he would not leave here.  I want him to get back home.  Live in his little underground home, surrounded by friends, in his forest.”  The owl hooted softly, “I promise.  We will assume that you are coming.  Good night Cobalt,” the arctic owl said before leaping off the log and taking flight towards the northern direction of their location.  Turning around, Cobalt started to head back towards the lodge.  It was as he had described to the owl, but he had omitted a part from the story.  In the darkness, he could hear someone calling to him.  The voice was neither male, nor female, and could never be heard directly.  It was as if the television set’s volume was set to 1, and a speaker wasn’t working.  The walk back to the lodge was quick, and in short order he was back to his room.  Curling up inside, the dragon promptly fell asleep.  

The nights were extremely short this far north, but each day it was growing 1 minute longer of darkness.  While the animals eventually adapted to this time of year with plentiful light, Pudgy was much slower in his acclimation.  By the time the little hedgehog had awoken, the bears were already up and about.  Scampering up the stairs, he found Drew sitting on a pillow tucked off in a corner on the floor.  Wheezing a bit from his effort to climb the stairs, the critter scampered over slowly to the red panda.  “Good morning Pudgy,” Drew said while wiggling his dark nose.  “Good morning Mr. Drew,” the critter said as he sat down in front of his friend.  “Alabaster stopped by last night,” Pudgy trailed off a moment before wiggling his nose. “He wants to take Pudgy back with him to the great tree.  The Parliament will be worried why he is gone so long?”  

The red panda frowned, “I knew this time would come.  You’re leaving us, to start the trip back home.  I’m glad you are telling us, instead of just scampering off without any notice.  You would have many sad bear friends up here, if you never said goodbye.”  Pudgy scooted over, and started hugging Drew on his side, “Pudgy would never go away and not tell you.  Alabaster wants to take Pudgy tonight, though.”  Bill the koala bear had been sitting on a brown leather couch, and he was frowning. “That’s right mate, you can’t go, we have to have a party first!”  Before either red panda or hedgehog could say anything, the koala jumped off of the couch and ran down the steps.  

Pudgy chuckled, “Pudgy thinks the party will be starting soon.”  Drew nodded, and hugged his hedgehog friend back gently.  “If what the Bear Mother has told the others is correct, we too will be heading home in about a month or two.  Can I still come to live in your forest?”  The hedgehog bounced happily, and nodded while hugging.  A short period of time passed, and soon Cobalt walked up the stairs, and headed into the kitchen.  The dragon started getting pots out, and opening cans of a variety of foods.  Bill came bouncing up the stairs with Bo the black and white panda, Mr. Bear Junior, and Grandpa bear.  As each took their respective favorite spots in the lodge, all were looking at Pudgy.  Mr. Bear Junior waved his paw, “so you are heading off on an owl adventure huh?  Are we too boring now?”  The bears in attendance started to laugh, while smiling at the critter.  

The hedgehog let go of Drew, to quickly head over and hug Mr. Bear Junior. “No, you are not boring Mr. Bear!  But Alabaster’s Parliament is worried about him, and since Pudgy is part of Parliament, Pudgy needs to go too.”  Grandpa Bear laughed heartily, “Pudgy we know.  My son was just joking with you.  I am glad you are telling us first though.  So once you head to the owls’ tree, what next?”  The little critter scampered out into the center of the room, so he could more easily talk to everyone assembled.  “Pudgy will address the Parliament, and tell them all about what happened from the last time Pudgy saw them.  We will then wait for Cobalt to arrive, before heading back home.”  Bill wiggled his nose, as he scratched behind his left fluffy ear.  “Home sounds good … mates …I like you all … but it is too bloody cold here.”  Bo laughed, “I am growing accustomed to it.  But from what the other bears are saying, the snow on this island sometimes is taller than the top of our dragon friend’s head.  We all need to depart to our respective homes, eventually.”

Yummy smells started to waft in the air, and fill the room.  The stove ran on propane, which they had plenty of, so the blue flames were heating large pans of food.  Corned beef hash, potatoes frying in oil, pan fried bread slowly rising, and a huge pot of water was boiling.  The dragon poured in the rice, which drew a look from the Bo.  “Cobalt, you are supposed to wash the rice first.”  But it was too late, and the dragon laughed, “oh sure …. Now you tell me.  Wait, is that why it always comes out crunchy?”  The room started to laugh once more,  but eventually the yummy smells were too much to resist.  Bill padded over, and looked up at the dragon with big eyes.  Cobalt laughed, and nodded, while taking the pan of corned beef hash off the stove.  Turning carefully with the bubbling pan, he placed it down on a low bench beside the one lower cabinet.   After getting low bowls out, the dragon started to serve with a big metal spoon.  

Meals with the bears never got to the point where all the food could be laid out banquet style.  As soon as something was ready, they wanted to eat.  One by one the bears, and hedgehog, would patiently wait to be served.  Then they would scamper back to their spots, happily munching.  There was just enough hash for them, but not enough for the dragon, so he served what was available.  In time, the potatoes were ready, which were served quickly and devoured.  The pan bread always took the longest to make, since that one burner was not working well.  The rice however was finished, and had absorbed the water.  This time, Cobalt served himself first, a big pile of fluffy white rice.  Then, opening a bottle of soy sauce, he added it slowly over the rice.  The chinese condiment had a unique taste, but it was pure salt, so it was best to use it sparingly.  Of course, when the dragon started to eat, a black and white panda bear was pouting as he watched.    

The rice was served, in heaping portions, and Bo requested the remainder of the bottle for him.  After all were served once more, Cobalt began to eat once more.  The stove burners were off, save for the last pan with the fry bread.  Pudgy looked over at Bill, “what is Australia like?”  The koala got a soft look on his face, “mates .. you would love it.  It is never cold there, and trees as far as the eye can see.  The leaves taste so good there, and all manner of animals live there.  My grove was in danger of fires last winter, but once the rains came, we were fine.”  The dragon nodded, “you’re on the coasts then.  That makes sense … Pudgy, in the center of the country is a vast desert and highlands area.  Most of the humans lived along the coastlines, though some lived further inland.  That’s also where kangaroos live.”  Bill shot Cobalt a look, “don’t get me started on those bloody bastards!  They are all annoying as hell!  Sure, they look cute and fluffy, but mouths like a …”

Grandpa Bear laughed, “truckers.  Why do adorable animals always have foul mouths?  I believe the term is cheeky bastard.”  The koala laughed and bounced on the couch with his bowl. As Cobalt cut up pieces of the fry bread, he dusted them with the remainder of the powdered sugar they had from the last scavenge run.  The bears moved about once more, to pick up their piece, and hungrilly munch away.  Pudgy bounced happily at Cobalt’s clawed paw, nibbling away on his piece.  There was a tiny sliver left, which the former human popped into his mouth.  As the dragon checked the cabinets, they were quickly emptying once more.  Having so many large animals stopping by for three meals a day, was a tremendous drain on their food supplies.  That was despite the numerous trips to the surrounding human areas.  Turning around, Cobalt sighed happily as his belly rumbled.  

“Everyone, we are almost out of food once again.  We still have certain things, which I can make last if we ration it out, but I don’t think it would last more than a week.  Mr. Bear, I think we will need to implement your idea tomorrow.”  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “I knew it would come to that.  There are only 5 human towns on this island, and the bears have stripped each clean of food and spirits.  We have to go back to hunting, so perhaps it is best that Pudgy will be heading off to the owls …when are you set to leave Pudgy?”  The little hedgehog looked up as he was still nibbling on the sugary bread, “sometime today.  Alabaster was going to come get Pudgy, and then fly towards the southwest.  There is a ley line node there, which connects back to the mainland somewhere.  He said it was about 4 jumps to get back to the great tree in Mt. Rainier.”  Before anyone could speak, an owl hooted outside softly.  Through the entrance way, up the stairs, and into the kitchen flew Alabaster.

As the arctic owl landed onto the kitchen’s black counter, he turned around and waved his wings.  “Greetings everyone,” Alabaster said with a small greeting hoot at the end of his spoken words.  The assembled group of bears all waved at the owl, with Drew walking slowly up to Pudgy.  Without warning, the red panda hugged the hedgehog while laughing, “ha!  I got the first Pudgy hug!”  The little critter hugged back, and bounced happily.  The hedgehog scampered around, hugging each of his friends in the lodge room.  Cobalt was last to be hugged, but the hedgehog hugged him the longest.  The dragon sighed, “it is time for you to go now … Pudgy.  Please promise us you will be safe, and don’t do anything crazy with Alabaster?  No going off to Las Vegas, and getting married.”  

Mr. Bear Junior and his father started laughing hard, eventually resulting in the rest of the room laughing as well.  Alabaster was confused, so after a brief explanation, he hooted softly.  Drew let Pudgy climb up onto his back, and then scampered quickly down the stairs to head back to their room in the lodge.  The large animals started to file out behind, down the stairs, through the entranceway, and out past the lodge’s porch.  Alabaster rode on top of the dragon’s head, clutching onto one of his black horns.  Instead of following the bears, the dragon turned down the hallway.  Drew was holding their door open, while Pudgy was busy putting his backpack on and strapping it around his body.  The tiny mining helmet was already on his head, and he was excitedly bouncing while smiling.  

Once properly dressed, and his things in their proper places, the hedgehog hugged Drew once more.  The red panda sighed happily, “Pudgy.  The others will want goodbye hugs as well, so we need to head outside.”  Both hedgehog, and red panda scampered past the dragon, and through the entranceway outside.  Cobalt had to back up, since turning around in the hallway was tricky.  Eventually the former human was able to turn around in front of the check in desk, and head outside.  The little critter was already excitedly hugging, and bouncing with not only their group, but other bears who had been passing by to visit.  By the time Cobalt reached the group, Pudgy was already telling a grand story about the owls’ tree.  But the story stopped as soon as the critter spotted his friend, and scampered over to hug him tightly.  The former human smiled a toothy grin, and gently picked up the hedgehog, to hug closely.   After many quiet moments,  the dragon set his critter friend back down onto the ground.  

As the bears backed up onto each side of the gravel road, they sat down on the rear ends, and waited patiently.  Cobalt looked up at Alabaster, “Goodbye Alabaster, hope you have a safe and boring flight.”  The arctic owl hooted softly, and leapt off of the dragon’s horns, to fly into the sky.  Bo looked confused, but noticed Pudgy was on all fours in the middle of the road.  His backpack was sticking straight up from his back.  The assembled group watched Alabaster bank hard to the right, and started to swoop in with his talons extended.  It was almost choreographed, and the owl picked up the hedgehog, and then started to fly back into the sky to the southwest.  The bears roared, and waved their paws.  Cobalt roared as well, watching as his hedgehog friend was carried off by Alabaster.  “Safe travels, to both of you, my friends.”  

Pudgy had figured out a way to tie off his backpack straps a different way.  This allowed him to be carried much more easily by the owls, and took some of the pressure off his limbs.  Higher and higher they flew into the sky, over the thick pine forests that ran around the town of Port Lions.  Over the wide grassy fields, and over the steep hills they flew.  Alabaster was not saying much, as he was concentrating on flying.  The little hedgehog had mixed feelings.  He was happy to be off on an adventure with Alabaster to see the Parliament, but at the same time he was sad, because he left Cobalt and the other bears behind at the lodge.  While the critter pondered matters, the owl flew over the trail that led to the Mother of all Bears cavern.  The mountain with the needle peak was still standing, covered in snow, and the glowing chain stretched high into the skies above the island.  

Time passed, and the mountains of the center of the island started to fade behind the two friends.  The land was dotted by large lakes, deep blue and filled with fresh water.  Passing over meadows so green that you could not help but look at them, Alabaster called out.  “The ley line node is soon … wait ….. something is blocking it?”  The node was a huge granite boulder that was sticking out of the ground at a strange angle.  Standing overtop of it, was the Mother of all bears, who was looking at the two with a stern look.  Her Kodiak grizzly escorts were standing around her, while facing each compass direction to guard her.  The matriarch’s voice boomed, “YOU TWO LAND THIS INSTANT!”  Alabaster hooted softly, “I think we have to land Pudgy.”  The owl started to adjust his wings, and glided in for a landing. When the ground was close enough, Pudgy was released and he landed onto the grassy covered area in front of the Bear Mother.  Alabaster landed in front of the hedgehog, and soon both were looking at the gigantic female bear.  

Pudgy scampered up beside Alabaster, and waved at the matriarch.  Golden eyes looked down at the two animals, “you two were going to sneak off …. without saying goodbye to me?  And where is my hug?”  The female bear said, while starting to giggle.  Pudgy scampered up to her massive left front paw, and climbed up to hug her leg.  Alabaster hooted softly, as soon Pudgy disappeared into her silver fur.  The female bear giggled still, “ok, there’s my hug.  Alabaster, please keep Pudgy safe on your trip.  I will be displeased if harm comes to either of you.  And please, give my regard to your Grand Claw.  I am happy he took a mate, all those years ago.  I was able to meet his Grand Feather now.”  The arctic owl hooted softly and waved his wing tips at her, “I promise Mother of all Bears.  And yes, I will inform my Grand Claw of your well wishes.  It was good to meet you.”  

The hedgehog popped out from the thick silver fur, and then scampered back to Alabaster.  Pudgy waved, “good bye Mamma Bear!  Pudgy glad was able to meet you, and help the bears here.”  The matriarch smiled, “I am pleased you heeded my summons, Pudgy Hedgehog.  You have helped my kind, more than you could ever know.  I would make you an honorary bear, however I believe you have been accepted into Alabaster’s Parliament already.  Safe travels to you both, and may your trip be uneventful.”  The gigantic Bear Mother started to back up, and uncovered the leyline node.  The hedgehog and owl scampered up to the rock, and stepped onto it.  As they did, the ground beneath their paws and talons started to vibrate.  Pudgy could feel his teleportation stone in his vest start to wiggle.  He was still wearing the two layers of winter weather gear, which made it difficult to touch the stone.  Alabaster hooted, “Pudgy I will use my stone.  Mother of all Bears, may we depart?”

The gigantic Matriarch nodded, and watched as soon the rock began to glow with a white light.  In a quick bright flash, the hedgehog and owl were gone.  Sighing, she motioned with her paw, “thank you for accompanying me on this trip my children.  Let us return to my cave, for a good rest.  It will soon be time to send my children from afar back to their homes as well.”  The Bear Mother started to slowly walk back towards her mountain, with her escorts falling into place around her.  All were quiet, thinking about the tiny hedgehog, and the activities on their island since the critter had arrived.  One escort sniffed his nose, “I’m going to miss Pudgy!”  The other grizzlies sniffed their noses, “don’t start …now i’m sad too!”  The Matriarch laughed softly, “perhaps we should head to the lodge where his dragon friend remains, first?”  The Kodiak escort grizzlies nodded, and roared in agreement.   

Meanwhile, Alabaster had latched onto Pudgy’s backpack once more with his talons.  They were in the leyline, and flying quickly through the earth in a dizzying swirl of light.  It was as if one were flying through a prism, with the lights changing colors as they moved around.  Within a short matter of time, maybe ten minutes at best, they could see the exit of the leyline.  The blue sky was shining, and whoosh Alabaster shot out of the ley line’s exit node and into the skies above.  The hedgehog had his eyes covered, until they levelled off.  Their travel through the mystic energies of the earth had taken them from Kodiak Island  to what used to be called Latouche Island.  As the critter uncovered his eyes, he noticed the ocean water below them. “Alabaster, we’re over the ocean!”

The arctic owl nodded, and hooted softly.  “That was our first jump, across the ocean water, to the next island we go to.”  The owl had his talons clutched tightly onto the critter’s backpack.    Pudgy noticed that the ocean water was quickly flown over, as the owl was flying the way his dragon friend was doing on the way out here.  Though the riding of air currents were much smoother, perhaps having feathers equaled a smoother flight?  As the hedgehog pondered this, they crossed over the channel, to reach the next island.  In human days, this island was once called Montague island.  High into the sky Alabaster flew, until he lowered his wings, and started a power dive.  Eyes covered once more, Pudgy did not watch while the owl head first into another boulder sticking out of the island.  It began to glow like the other leyline nodes, and whoosh the two had entered the next leyline.  

“Is it safe to look?”  The critter asked, which drew a laugh from the owl. “Yes, Pudgy, it is safe to look at our surroundings.  Settle in, this is a long one.”  Like the other lyelines, the magical energies swirled around them like a river of flowing water.  The colors were muted here, of a dull red color, almost brown in spots.  “Pudgy wonders why the colors are different in each line?”  His owl companion nodded, “well … the owls do not know the reasons exactly.  Our kind believes that each color represents an animal, and since only our kind uses these to travel, they would represent owls.”  The hedgehog whimpered, “the Kaiser knew about these. He used them to travel as well, though not often, Pudgy believes.”

SCREECH!!!!  SCREEECH!!!!  Alabaster saw another bird flying directly at them in the leyline.  It looked like a black crow.  Pudgy wiggled hard, and that resulted in Alabaster banking to the left, and hugging the outside of the energy.  The hedgehog shouted, “GO TO THE RIGHT!”  The two watched as the black bird matched their side of the node, as they quickly flew towards each other.  Alabaster hooted loudly, “YOUR OTHER RIGHT!”  The bird nodded, and banked to the opposite side.  With the tightest margin possible, Pudgy watched as a crow flew past.  As the owl levelled off, he was cursing between hoots.  “When did the crows get teleportation stones?!?!?!”  Pudgy nodded, because up until now, when they travelled it had been empty.  The ley lines appeared to work in both directions, and if that was the case for all, would lead to much confusion.  

“We have to tell the Grand Claw this, Pudgy!”  Alabaster hooted, keenly aware that now the ley lines had to be watched carefully.  And why was a crow heading in the direction which they came, for that matter?  A mystery was unfolding, which neither owl nor hedgehog were aware of.  The exit soon appeared, with a patch of gray sky appearing.  Quickly they flew, gaining speed towards the exit, until once more they shot out into the sky.   Once more, Pudgy uncovered his eyes once they had levelled off.  As Alabaster glided on the wind, they both could see a sea of pine trees stretching out as far as the eyes could see.  They had flown all the way to what used to be called Yakutat, which was still in Alaska.  The signs of human development had been erased from the world.  The roads had crumbled, and the homes rotted away to return to the earth once more.  

Alabaster called out, “we have a good way to go till we reach the next ley line.  I will fly for as long as I am able to, then we will have to land Pudgy.  We are heading to the Great Ice Tree first.”  The critter whimpered, “does Cobalt know how to get there?”  The owl hooted softly, “yes I told him how to arrive.  Pudgy, I have to tell you something.”  The owl sighed, despite his promise, it was best to tell his friend the truth about what the dragon told him.  Before Alabaster could say anything, Pudgy pointed into the sky, “ALABASTER LOOK OUT!”  The owl looked up, and saw a black metallic object plunging out of the sky.  It was about the size of a pickup truck, twenty feet long, and covered with black hexagonal windows along its sides.  

The owl banked hard, and narrowly missed the plunging object.  Both watched in horror as the curious device plunged hard into the ocean water that ran along the long stretch of rocky shoreline they had been flying near.  “WHAT WAS THAT?” The owl shouted, while sounding a warning cry.  The hedgehog watched as the object floated back up to the surface, and the windows started to blast out and land in the water.  It was some sort of a spacecraft Pudgy thought, and watched as the object then exploded into a gigantic fireball.  What little debris remained on the surface, soon sunk below the ocean waves.  The little critter whimpered, “what is going on?”

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 3: Flight”

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