Iron Wood: Chapter 8: Allegheny

When Pudgy woke up the next day, he could see the sunlight just starting to spread over the surface of the lake.  It had grown considerably cooler since the last time he had visited the lake with his hawk friend Comix.  While wiggling his nose, the hedgehog yawned, “hopefully this year is not a bad winter.”  As the words were spoken, an occasional quacking noise could be heard, as a brown mother duck was swimming along the shoreline, followed by several ducklings.  The lake’s grandeur was being revealed slowly, and the majesty of nature was on full display once again.  While rousing to a more wakeful state, there was a soft squeaking noise coming from below the perch, around the base of the tree.  

As the critter adjusted himself to look down, he could see that a small brown otter was standing guard and looking upwards expectantly.  Pudgy waved, and watched as the guard wiggled his nose making the whiskers bounce.  Calling down, “Good morning Mr. Otter!”  The otter waved and smiled, “good morning Pudgy!  The General asked me to keep an eye out while you slept, but nothing happened, except for a large bear face appearing in the sky for a time.  It didn’t say or do anything, and faded away.”  Pudgy nodded, and while he started to look around the tree branches, the critter could see that his hawk friend Comix was just starting to awaken.  The hawk groaned, “…oooooohhh, my wing muscles hurt….. Good morning Pudgy.”    The red tailed hawk started to ruffle out his feathers, and started to extend his wings to stretch fully.  While this was occurring, the hedgehog waved back as he undid the straps that lashed himself into the tree branches.  

The otter called up into the tree, “Pudgy, I have to report to the otter high command.  One of the others will be back soon, to escort your group to the Great Holt for debrief.”  Comix looked down the tree, and watched while the otter scampered across the shoreline, and slid into the lake water.  The aquatic animal was much faster in the water, and was speeding off towards the interior of the lake’s cove towards where their home was located.  The hawk turned and watched while Cobalt opened his yellow ringed eyes.  The eagle wiggled a bit as he ruffled his feathers, and stretched a bit while scanning the area around them.  “I’m still amazed how far I can see.  There seems to be benefits to being an eagle, or a hawk for that matter.  Good morning …Comix?”  The hawk nodded, “good morning Cobalt.  Yes, it does have its advantages …”  The hawk trailed off as a vague image of a human woman flashed in his mind, and a wonder where she was?  The thought was fleeting, and was quickly replaced with thoughts of food.

The little hedgehog waved and nodded while he spoke to the eagle, “because when you were a human, you had to wear glasses,” he said while wiggling his paws.  The eagle nodded, “I see…  Well whatever a human is, I’m glad I am not one now. Everything the eagles told me in Iron Wood seems to paint them as terrible destructive creatures.  I don’t know about you Comix, but I am hungry.  Pudgy, I need to go out to hunt.  Would you like me to take you down to the ground?  The little hedgehog nodded, and looked around the tree, “yes please.  But Pudgy have question first: Where is Angeliki?”  The other birds looked around and noticed the raven was missing.  Comix rubbed his beak with his wing tip, “I don’t know Pudgy.  Maybe she woke up earlier, I suspect we will see her later today though.”  Cobalt nodded, “I concur with Comix, Pudgy.  But if she left us, that is alright too, you remember the way to get to your home.”

After the hedgehog had prepared himself for flight, and secured the backpack properly to his body, he was ready to go.  In a quick movement, the eagle had launched himself, snatched Pudgy up in his talons, and glided around the tree.  Comix blinked, “whoa …”  The hawk watched as  Pudgy was placed on the ground, and then the eagle flew back into the air at a very quick pace.  The little hedgehog waved, and looked up at the tree as Comix waved, and flew off as well.  With the large birds off, Pudgy had time to himself and watched as the beavers were starting to appear in the water and heading to the dam.  Turning from the dam, he started to scamper along the shoreline.  Heading out at hedgehog speed, the little critter was able to investigate the shoreline on the way to the Great Holt.  

However, the need for food and water soon overtook his mind.  Pudgy headed to the water, and tasted it.  It was fresh, and did not have a funny taste.  So he stuck his face down in the water and drank deeply.  After many several long draws of water, the critter sat up and let loose an epic burp.  Turning towards the grassy shoreline, he could see a variety of mushrooms sticking up out of the ground.  Heading over in that direction, he checked the plants.  Many kinds of mushrooms were not safe to eat, but after a quick search, the hedgehog found ones suitable to be eaten.  Sadly he did not have any cooking gear with him, but he was too hungry to care, and started eating.  The plants had a unique taste, and while he preferred cookies, this would do.    The little critter sat and munched away, while watching the water move within the lake.  

The brown otter that earlier was guarding the tree where Pudgy had slept last night, swam past back towards the dam.  After a couple of minutes, the same otter was swimming back on the surface calling out to the others.  “I LOST PUDGY AND HIS FRIENDS!”  The critter wiggled his nose, and continued to eat, watching soon as more otters surfaced and were searching the lake.  “Pudgy needs to let them know Pudgy is ok, but Pudgy eats first.”  The hedgehog said, while munching on another mushroom.  Eventually as the otters swam around, they spotted their target on the shoreline by a tree.  A trio of small brown otters slid out of the water, and scampered on the shoreline towards the tree squeaking.  The leader of the group gave Pudgy a stern look, “everyone was worried, and here you are …eating … those things?”   

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “care for a mushroom?  But don’t eat those black and red ones, they will make your tummy hurt.”   The otters looked around, and shook their heads no.  The leader looked at Pudgy, “you are ordered to accompany us to the Great Holt.  General Otter Braun wishes to speak to you … Where are your bird friends?”  Pudgy stood up and started to scamper back towards the shoreline, with his otter friends in tow.  “They went out to hunt, but Pudgy was unsure what hawks and eagles eat?”  The soldiers formed a triangular formation around Pudgy, and then led him down the shoreline.  Around the bend, and back inland, around and back, until they found the Great Holt.  Once more across the log bridge they headed in single file, and the hedgehog was led inside.  

Pudgy was presented in front of the General, who was busy munching on a minnow fish.  “Good morning Pudgy, you gave my forces quite the scare.”  The lead soldier nodded, “we found him on the ground …eating  those white puffy things by the trees.”  The General made a look at Pudgy, “those things taste terrible.  I prefer fish.  And what about the birds that accompanied him?”  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy does not know where Angeliki Raven is, she left earlier this morning.  Comix Hawk and Cobalt Eagle are out hunting, for something to eat.”  The head otter nodded, and looked around his grand hall.  The murals were shining, as the light shone in through holes in the ceiling.  “I take it your mission to Iron Wood was successful, Pudgy?”  The critter nodded, “yes General Otter Braun.  Cobalt however has a problem, he doesn’t remember everything from before.  Pudgy hopes Pudgy can jog his memory.”

The General nodded as he listened, and looked thoughtful while the hedgehog continued to speak.  “But something the other animals told Pudgy has Pudgy worried.  When the humans are converted, each time they lose memories.  Eventually, there will be nothing left, and only an animal will remain.”  Private Pawl waved from the side of the room, “would that be a bad thing, Pudgy?”  The otter leader nodded, “yes it would be Private.  That means that if Pudgy’s formerly human friend comes back too many times, he will not remember Pudgy.  And should he come back as a predator, might not hesitate to dispatch our quill covered friend here.  It is for that reason, I will suggest we ensure that does not happen.”  Before Pudgy could respond, there was a chorus of squeaking alert sounds coming from outside.  The General looked past Pudgy, and pointed towards the archway that led out to the wide platform where Pudgy gave his grand tale to the combined forces.”

Private Pawl scampered towards the exit, with the hedgehog following behind.  As they navigated the tight corridors, they emerged through the exterior of the Great Holt.  A large bass fish was laying on the stone platform, with an eagle and hawk eating hungrily.  Several otters were looking curiously at the two birds, but also at the large fresh fish that had been pulled out of the lake and brought to their home.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “ Cobalt!  Comix!  Wait …you’re eating the fish?”  The little critter shuddered again, but at the same time, the words of the bear mother rang in his head.  Cobalt had to eat, and Comix too for that matter, otherwise they would become sick and not survive.  The bald eagle looked up at Pudgy, “the fish tastes good Pudgy.  You used to like fish when I would get it from that place with the blue color.”  

The hedgehog bounced, “Cobalt, you remembered the pirate fish place.  Pudgy used to love the hush puppies there, and the nice lady that gave Pudgy the pirate hat.”  Comix chirped, “I remember that place, they mostly closed down though.”  Pawl was licking his lips, and creeping closer to the large fish.  The hedgehog nodded again, “Pudgy already ate mushrooms, so Pudgy is full.  Can the otters have some fish too?”  Both large birds chirped, and continued to eat, while Pawl and a couple otters nearby crept up closer and started to eat as well.  Eventually the General emerged from inside the holt.  “What is going on out here?  Wait, who brought that fish here?  And why did you start without me?”  As the gathering grew, the bass was quickly devoured, and the animals stood up and bounced happily.  

Cobalt turned to face towards the Great Dam, and the lake beyond it.  “This is a nice place, plenty of fish in the lake, and peaceful.”  The General strode up beside the eagle and nodded, “yes it is.  Cobalt I presume?  Pudgy spoke very highly of you in his stories, though he said you used to be a dragon, and before that a human.”  The bald eagle nodded and looked down at the otter beside him. “Yes … I can remember mostly everything from my time as a dragon.  It’s what happened before that point that I am having trouble with.”  The General backed up, and then turned around to face Pudgy.  “Pudgy, can you please tell the story again of what happened since the time you left us.  I have some questions, and need context.”    The little hedgehog nodded, and began to tell his story once more.  

While most otters swam about the Great Holt’s surrounding waters, a few chose to remain and listen to the story.  Comix walked up beside Cobalt and chirped, “no fair …why are you bigger?”  The eagle chirped as he laughed, and was easily six inches taller than his counterpart.  “You should have seen me as a dragon, I was larger than a bear.  Never could get that ice breath to work right though, just cough up ice shards.  It hurt like heck, and I could taste blood afterwards.”  The hawk looked horrified, and also noticed that Pudgy was looking at the eagle as well.  The story had halted, causing an uncomfortable silence for a time, before it continued once again.  Both large birds turned around, so that they could face Pudgy while he spoke.  The story was wrapped up, and the otters all nodded with thoughtful looks on their faces.  

General Otter Braun rubbed his throat with a webbed paw, “thank you Pudgy.  I did hear correctly then.  So, you will leave this place, to return to your home with the others assembled here.  Once there, what is your plan?”  The little hedgehog nodded, “well, Pudgy has to tell everyone what happened.  Then figure out where to have Cobalt and Comix stay, since winter is coming soon.  Then gather supplies, and figure out what to do about the holidays?”  Comix nodded, “oh boy that is right.  Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years …. Boy, I forgot about all of those holidays.  Wait Pudgy, there are no more humans left, so doesn’t that mean that all the holidays are a moot point now?  There are no more stores left, all the human places are gone now, all the wonderful things we took for granted that would always be there….”

Pudgy had to explain what the holidays were that he had spoken of, and as the explanations were given, the otters were not able to understand.  Comix tried to assist, but it didn’t work, and a circular discussion started, until Cobalt chirped loudly.  “What difference does it make?  All that matters is that those you care about are safe, and happy.”  The animals quieted down, watching the bald eagle.  Private Pawl waved his webbed paw at Pudgy, “who is that Santa person you spoke about?”  The little hedgehog bounced, “he is so nice.  He is a magical human who lives in a castle, with his wife, hundreds of elves, and two dragons.  Oh phooey, Pudgy was hoping Xylenia could see Cobalt in dragon form this year.  Xylenia is a green dragon that visits Pudgy every year during the holiday times.”  The hedgehog went into further details about Santa and his home, which fascinated the otters.

Cobalt chirped as he spotted Angeliki flying towards them over the lake.  The raven had spotted the assembly on the Great Holt’s exterior platform.  She coasted in and glided down to land next to Comix.  Waving to Pudgy, “hello Pudgy.  Sorry, I had to commune with my mother.”  The eagle nodded, “how is the goddess?”  The demigoddess turned to Cobalt, “not good I am afraid to report.  The other gods and goddesses have assembled on Mount Olympus.  They are deciding what to do, and offering counsel to Zeus.”  The hawk nodded, “I can only imagine.  If real life is anything like the movies, they do not get along together naturally.”  Angeliki chirped with a shrill tone, “those movies got the gods all wrong!”    

General Otterbraun nodded, “if I may ask, what do these affronts to the Great Spirit matter?”  The raven chirped with an angry tone, “they have watched over this world for eons.  Watch your mouth!”  The otters all started to squeak angrily, and many faces started to appear out of the water and look at the raven.  The undisputed otter leader looked back at the raven with a stern look, “you are within the boundary of my home.  I will remind you strongly, that with a word, my forces can ensure your stay to be quite unpleasant.”  The tension was thick, and the little hedgehog scampered up to his raven friend.  “Please Angeliki …the otters are nice …please apologize.”  The raven chirped loudly, “ I will not apologize, my Mother is not an affront to anything or anyone.”  The critter turned to the General, “Angeliki’s mommy is a goddess.  Hecates is a nice goddess, and helped Pudgy on his adventures.  She is not bad,” the hedgehog said with a whimper.  

Raising a paw to his forces, “everyone….stand down.  Raven …I will let this slide for now.  I will remind you to watch your tone.  Pudgy, before you leave, I want to know where your home is.  In case my forces ever need to locate you for assistance.  It seems having a resourceful hedgehog may come in handy, should events transpire to the negative.”  Pudgy nodded, “this big lake is called a reservoir, Pudgy believes.  It turns into a river, which snakes to and fro, until it joins with another river, to form a much bigger one.  Along the way, you will need to make a right, and head far inland.  Wait, it would be easier to make a map.”  The little critter scampered over to a section of the platform that was covered in mud.  Finding a broken stick nearby, the critter began to draw a not to scale map, and the General walked over to look at it.  “That far inland will be an issue for my forces … we do not usually go far from the water.  Sadly, it is a limitation to our range. Pawl…..”

The private inadvertently walked across part of the map as he moved closer to look.  So after a hug from the hedgehog, the otter helped Pudgy redraw the map.  Cobalt looking down at the map chirped, “this is the Allegheny Reservoir … I was here a long time ago when I was….where was I?”  The General looked up, “keep it up eagle.  Perhaps with enough time, you will find what was lost.  In the meantime, we now know where Pudgy is located.  So far…inland … we must find an interior water way to bring us closer.  Perhaps even set up a forward operating base, maybe even sent Pawl out to staff the post.”  The subordinate pouted a bit, “but then I will be away from everyone else.”  A random otter peeked his head up out of the water, “yeah, and you can snore away to your heart’s content!”  Pawl looked back into the water, “I DO NOT SNORE!” 

The group laughed, while the private pouted, until the raven turned her head towards Cobalt.  “Cobalt, I think we should leave today.  We do not want to inconvenience our hosts any further.”  The eagle nodded, “I concur.  Pudgy, we need to get you back to your home.  I have my orders from the Silver Claw, and need to start my patrols.”  When Cobalt said this, the General snapped to attention, and looked at him.  “Orders, so you are with the Iron Wood advance forces?  I was not aware the aerie has been dispatched?”  Comix nodded, “yes, the eagles sent out scouts to search for the wolves.  They are amassing to the north, where the humans once called Canada.”  

The otters looked at each other, and then back at Cobalt.  The bald eagle nodded, “I hope they stay there.  But if something changes, I have been given instructions on how to communicate with Aerie.”  The hedgehog nodded, and started to scamper around the platform hugging the otters.  When the General was hugged, his expression softened, “goodbye for now Pudgy.  I suspect we will see each other again soon.  Perhaps your eagle friend can bring you back in the spring, once the lake has unfrozen?  That is when I start boot camp, for the new forces.  Having a land and air component to our ranks would be of use to us.”  The eagle chirped, “I hope to come back as well, General Otter Braun.  I am unsure if I would be allowed to join however, I would need to clear that first.  Pudgy, are you ready to go?”

The little critter nodded, and tightened his backpack straps, and scampered to stand in front of the eagle’s claws.  “Goodbye everyone, Pudgy will come back soon, Pudgy will miss you all.”  The otters waved from the water, as well as the platform in front of the Great Holt.  They watched as the eagle extended his wings, and with a quick flap, had lifted off and snatched Pudgy’s backpack perch bars in his talons.  The eagle quickly flew off, with the hedgehog begging carried underneath him.  Comix and Angeliki waved, and then took off as well, quickly flying around the holt and towards the eagle.  There were many squeaky voices calling out, “goodbye Pudgy!”

The little hedgehog waved as they passed over the beaver dam.  The beavers in turn looked up and waved their tails, realizing it was time for their hedgehog and bird friends to return home.  Cobalt slowed, to allow his hawk and raven friends to fly up in a flanking formation on each side.  Angeliki called out, “we have too many to use the ley lines to travel.  We will have to take the long way home.  Cobalt, do you know where we are heading?”  The eagle chirped, “a fragment of a memory came back to me.  This reservoir is the headwaters of the Allegheny river.  If we follow it, it will take us the whole way to somewhere that starts with a P….”  The little hedgehog looked up and shouted, “Pittsburgh!  Yes, but we have to turn south before we get to that point.  Otherwise, we will have to turn around and fly east.” Comix chirped, “Follow the river sounds good to me.  Maybe there will be some remains of human things we can navigate along the way?”

As the birds flew, they extended their wings to glide with the wind.  Flying west meant that there was more effort required as they were flying into the approaching wind.  However, it was not too much, as soon they had found themselves at the end of the reservoir, and the start of the river proper.  The river wound to and fro, through mountainous hills, covered with trees full of autumn colors.  The whole river valley was a sea of orange and red trees, with lone pines piercing the veil.  Time passed, and the sun moved high into the sky, before starting its descent  towards the south western horizon.  Pudgy had fallen asleep,  a fact which drew a chuckle from Comi.  Now that he did not have to carry the hedgehog, he found it was a lot easier to fly.  As such, his range was greatly extended, though his wing muscles were starting to tire.  

“Cobalt, can we stop soon?”  The red tailed hawk called out, which was seconded by the raven.  “I concur with Comix, I am tired as well.”  Cobalt called out, “sounds good to me.  Let us find a place to land, near that river bend?”  As the trio of birds adjusted their wings, they started to come in closer to the surface of the river.  Comix called out, “hey look over there!  I think that is Sandra!”  The little hedgehog had awakened, and pointed as he spoke excitedly, “yes it is!  And there is Raymond too!  Cobalt, can we fly over there?”  The eagle cried out and acknowledged, and banked to fly towards a strip of land that was just off from the main shoreline.  Two large blue heron birds were standing along the river bank, facing the center of the river.  As the eagle cried, they looked up, and saw Pudgy waving.  Comix landed first, then Angeliki, and both walked up to the blue birds.  Cobalt adjusted his wings, and coasted in, landing in front of the male bird, and released Pudgy onto the ground.  

The hedgehog ran around Cobalt, and started hugging Sandra’s leg.  Bouncing up and down excitedly, “Pudgy glad to see you again Sandra!  Oh, and you found Raymond, thank goodness!”  The female herron giggled, “yes I did.  I found him along this river actually.  The fishing is good here, so we decided to stay awhile.”  The hedgehog nodded, and then scampered over to start hugging Raymond’s leg.  The male heron laughed, “hello Pudgy.  Good to see you as well.  I see you are travelling with an assorted aviary here.  Who are your friends?”  Comix waved, “Comix Villain, I got turned into a red tailed hawk.”  The raven waved, “Angeliki, daughter of the goddess Hecates.”  The bald eagle nodded, and waved, “Cobalt.  I don’t remember what happened.”

Both blue herons ‘ eyes went wide when Cobalt’s voice came out of the bald eagle.  No longer a dragon, this filled their minds with many questions.  Sandra looked down at the hedgehog, “that is Cobalt?  What happened to Cobalt, Pudgy, he used to be a dragon?”  The little hedgehog nodded, and started to tell his grand tale of what had happened.  In the meantime, his bird friends got a chance to rest and recover.  Angeliki bounced off towards the shoreline, and looked down into the river water.  The sounds drained away around the demigoddess, and the movements of the fellow animals became slowed as if time was moving at one tenth its normal pace.  In the water, one image of her Mother’s face appeared, with white hair.  “Dearest daughter Angeliki…”

The Raven chirped, “what is it Mother?  You only say that when something bad is going to happen?”  The goddess nodded, “I asked Poseidon for a favor, to converse with you one last time.  The Great Spirit is unwilling to negotiate with us.  The flow of humans into this world will cease soon, and of those that have been converted, they will eventually forget the previous world.  We have reached an accommodation, and as long as we remain within Mount Olympus, we will not be harmed.  However, if one were to leave, then they would immediately be erased from existence.  You are safe, since your father was a mortal human.  But soon, you will lose the ability to transform.”  

Angeliki became upset, “Mother … please… there must be another way?  I can not stand to lose you, not again …”  As the raven started to sob, a hand reached up out of the water, and gently petted the bird’s head.  The goddess spoke once more, “I love you, now and forever.  When it is time for your passing, I have asked the Great Spirit to allow you to join us here.  He is considering the request, but so far is leaning in the direction of approval.  Unlike the other humans, if you were to die and come back, you would not lose any of your memories due to your divine status.  That is a problem for the Great Spirit, in his new world.”  With her mother’s hand holding her, Angeliki quieted,  “I would love to be with you within your home.  It would be better if you could still be here though.”

The goddess laughed softly, “yes I agree.  Mt. Olympus is truly a wonderful place, but over time, it becomes very small.  The wide expanse of the world is a marvel, and the quietness of nature is a blessing.”  As the hand released, it began to vanish in a cloud of mist.  The goddess Hecate’s face disappeared from the water, “goodbye my dearest daughter, how I love thee.”  Angeliki looked down into the water as her mother’s visage disappeared, and the words rang in her mind.  “I love thee as well, my mother.”  Time once more began to flow naturally, and the sounds of an excited hedgehog telling a story filled the air.  The description of Iron Wood, and what was happening with the Grand Aerie, as well as Pudgy being rescued by Cobalt was the part of the tale he had reached.  

Both blue herons were listening wide-eyed and silent, though Raymond had a bit of a headache.  For some reason, a split moment, the world seemed to stop.  It only lasted a second, and the missing time was strange.  The thought was pushed out of his mind, as he looked at Cobalt.  In time the story completed, and soon all the birds were laughing in their various chirping tones.  Pudgy wiggled his nose and took a small bow, but then turned his attention to Raymond.  “Raymond, where did you go when you got lost from Sandra?”  His wife cut him off before he could answer, “Well my idiot husband had flown all the way to the Chesapeake harbor in Maryland! Then he picked a fight with a pod of dolphins.”  Raymond chirped at his wife, “those guys were jerks!  And they said you had a big butt too … I had to defend my wife’s honor!  So I called them a few choice words, and stole a fish.”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “uh oh.  Raymond, the ocean is a big place, who knows how many dolphins there are?”  The male heron chirped, “well .. after dealing with the dolphins,  and reuniting with my wonderful wife, we turned around and started to fly back.  So, if I am correct in my estimation … we should be in Virginia now.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “no, you are still in Pennsylvania.  Hey, we are heading back to Pudgy home, do you want to come with Pudgy and Pudgy friends?”  Sandraw giggled, “Virginia huh?  Ok Raymond, you are fired as the navigator.  Yes, Pudgy, I think it would be helpful for us to come with you to your forest.”  Her husband remarked, “hey … you try to navigate from memory based on no available details to acquire position.  All landmarks are gone, the only things left are natural features.”

Comix nodded, “now that all the human things are gone, it makes things way more difficult.  I think we need to make some new maps, with more descriptive directions to get to places.”  Pudgy bounced happily, “and Pudgy home will be home base for all of Pudgy friends.”  The animals nodded, and laughed while the sun set and the light began to diminish.  The birds all grouped together, and nestled down to rest for the night.  Pudgy hugged Cobalt, while looking up into the night sky.  Clouds were passing by on a stiff breeze, blowing from the North west, and a growing chill was in the air.  Once more, the night passed quickly by, with all gathered able to sleep peacefully.        

In the morning, after a breakfast of caught fish from the river, once more the birds took flight.  Cobalt was carrying Pudgy in his talons, and the little hedgehog was watching the forests pass by underneath him.  The river valley continued on and on, though the amount of trees that had turned to their autumn hues was lessening.  They were also descending in altitude, flying through warm breezes.  After many hours of flight, the main river was joined by a tributary.  Cobalt called out, “this is the Kiskiminetas River!  If we follow it, it will take us to Apollo.”  Pudgy looked up at his friend.  “Oh boy, that neat place where you got your boots is there!  The nice lady would give Pudgy jerky to munch on!”

Angeliki flew underneath the eagle, “is your home nearby?”  The little hedgehog looked down, “when Cobalt would drive his big red car, it was only an hour away. Mainly because we would get lost along the way due to a road being closed.”  The eagle laughed, “that road never did get fixed, always waiting for the feds to send the money, which never came.”  The group turned and started to follow the much smaller river.  As the day soon turned into night once more, the group landed outside of a derelict wooden structure that had collapsed in on itself.  They stayed along the river, with Cobalt sitting on top keeping guard.  The night passed by once more, although this time Pudgy stayed awake.  Looking up into the cloud filled sky, he could see flashes of light from cloud to cloud lightning.  A soft rain was falling, causing little circular splashes on the water surface.  Although eventually the hedgehog fell asleep as well.  

In the morning, once more the group flew, altering course once more to a more south and western direction.  They flew over open fields of tall grass.  Deer danced and played in the meadows, while confused dairy cows roamed free.  When Sandra spotted an amorous bull having relations with a heffer, she chose to fly underneath Cobalt to block the view of the hedgehog.  Pudgy was happy to see her, and chatted about many silly things.  Sandra giggled, and moved out of the way once it was safe to look once more.  Over a large lake, and many former farms, the group flew until the group had finally reached Pudgy’s forest.  The little hedgehog pointed, “Cobalt!  Look over there…the town is gone?”  The eagle looked down, and could remember flashes of the former human town that he lived in prior to his animal conversion.  “My word Pudgy, this warrants a look.”

Where the town once stood, a huge lake had been formed.  The entire area had sunk down a vast distance, and formed a bowl shaped region.  The creek which ran through Pudgy’s forest was now one of many streams feeding the lake.  Sandra called out, “Raymond …I think we will live here.”  Her husband nodded, “I agree, but first we have to find out where Pudgy lives.  Pudgy, is it close?”  The little hedgehog nodded, and tugged at one of Cobalt’s feathers.  The eagle chirped, and banked to the right, heading up the small hill towards where the hedgehog’s underground home was located.  Carefully the flock navigated the trees, dodging back and forth, and followed the happy little creek.  Past the small pool where the British ghosts camped, up the three waterfalls, over the two beaver dams, eventually heading to Pudgy’s home.  

One by one the birds landed, and Pudgy was released back onto the ground.  Wiggling his nose and waving to them all, “we’re back home!  Welcome to Pudgy’s forest!”  Sandra and Raymond nodded, and looked around, seeing the remains of the water wheel sticking out of the creek.  The destroyed remnants of the grist mill off to the side.  Raymond chirped, “Pudgy what happened here?”  The little hedgehog had scampered up to his front door, and opened it.  “Those were destroyed during a flood, Pudgy needed to rebuild them but couldn’t due to Cobalt needing rescuing.  Now that everyone is home, Pudgy can get back to work on our town.”  Sandra giggled, “a town of animals?  That sounds nice, maybe we can come to visit?”  The eagle chirped as he laughed, and looked around the very familiar forest.  It looked like he in fact had come home.  There were also very curious animals peeking at him from all the surroundings, so the eagle knew that it was going to become very interesting soon.

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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