Blood Fang: Chapter 14: Friendship Town

The day was warm, and the sun was bright.  The forest continued its awakening while Pudgy gave the recently arrived eagles a guided tour of the forest.  The trio of birds, and especially their leader Striped Feather, were amazed at all the changes and development going on in the forest.  All remembered the wonderful stories their hedgehog acquaintance told them, and were excited to see the locations for real.  There was a bit of disappointment, since they were too large to squeeze through the doorway to get inside the hedgehog’s home.  Each of the large birds marveled one at a time at how nice the underground home was on the inside.  As their tour guide narrated about the home’s construction when Cobalt was a human, they nodded while listening intently.  The birds only knew Cobalt as an eagle, and were interested in his time as a human.  Once the explanation was over, the route continued and the group followed behind the scampering hedgehog. 

As they passed the store house’s round exterior door, Pudgy explained that they were gathering supplies, so that all could share when needed.  This was unlike most animals, who would only store food for themselves or their flocks.  The concept of a shared set of supplies was hard to wrap one’s mind around the concept.  Along the way, they bumped into a variety of animals who were politely friendly towards the newcomers.  A pair of bobcats, a snow fox, a red panda, and eventually a silver fox who padded quickly up to check mainly on the hedgehog, but also to greet the eagles.  Pudgy made introductions, and Striped Feather chirped happily once she finally knew who Argente was.  Pleasantries were exchanged at each meeting, and the tour headed to the dragon cave.  Pudgy explained when Cobalt first came to the forest, he was a dragon and lived in the cave.  It was converted into a multi animal home, with space to accommodate new friends when they would arrive.  The scampering continued through the weeds just beginning to grow, to the bank of the river opposite from the bobcat’s home.  The little log cabin had smoke puffing out of the chimney, as a faint smell of something baking wafted in the air. 

The white feather subordinate eagles were amazed at the sights they had seen.  The varied assortment of animals who all gathered around the hedgehog, to helping build the town.  The contemplative looks resulted in the silver fox to giggle.  All watched as a frown furry animal began to swim past in the swiftly moving river.  Argente and Pudgy waved their left paws as the otter swam past.  The otter waved back while giving a squeak to acknowledge them, and continued to swim past towards the lake to the south of their town.  Striped Feather chirped happily, “what a wonderful forest home you have here Pudgy.  I am surprised you leave it so often?”  Argente nodded, “I agree, and keep telling him, no stay home!  But he never listens,” the female fox giggled while wiggling her ears.  Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy intend to stay home now.  Pudgy don’t want to go on any more adventures.”  The eagles started to chuckle, with one white feather waving his wing tips, “somehow we doubt that.” 

Overhead an eagle cried out, and the hedgehog looked up, watching Cobalt flying through the trees.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “oh good, Cobalt came back early today.  Sometimes he leaves and we do not see him for a day or two.  Pudgy wonder where he goes…”  The group watched as the former human flew overhead of the river.  The arriving eagle spotted the assembled group along the river bank opposite from the bobcat’s cabin, and gave an acknowledgement chirp.  Adjusting his wings, he glided in for a landing on the edge of the river bank a short distance away from them.  As Cobalt folded back his wings, he walked with a bounce in his stride up towards them.  “Striped Feather, it is good to see you, I think?  Am I in trouble?”  Cobalt said with a curious look, and nodded towards the white feathers who were in accompaniment of their leader.  The subordinates nodded back, and chirped happily. 

The third in command eagle shook her head, “no, should you be in trouble for something?”  The female eagle started to chirp happily as she laughed, and fluffed her feathers a bit, before looking down at the hedgehog.  “Pudgy was giving us the guided tour of the forest.  It is truly amazing what is going on here.  You said in your story though, that this creek was a lot smaller.  There is now a river heading through the forest,” the leader said as she looked at another otter swimming by past in the opposite direction.  Cobalt nodded, “it is like I said in my report, when the ley line node was destroyed, the forest started to be sucked into the ground.  The lake to the south of here is now higher than our forest, so the water rushed this way.  I see by your expression as our otter friend keeps swimming past that you are a tad bit confused.  That is Private Pawl, of the otter navy, on maneuvers here from the Great Holt.  He is on patrol, due to the fact that they built a new forward operating holt at the end of our new river.  It even has a miniature lock and dam being constructed, so access to this part of the river will become possible.”

The hedgehog cupped his paws around his mouth, “PAWL! IT’S OK, THE EAGLES ARE FRIENDS!”  The otter squeaked again, and then turned around to swim back towards the north west, which headed back to his base.  The eagles looked curiously at the otter, then the hedgehog, before turning back to the former human turned eagle.  Cobalt chirped happily, “Pudgy, would you mind if I borrow the eagles for a while?”  The little hedgehog nodded, “ok, Pudgy will go make tea now.  Everyone can come back to Pudgy house, and we will have a nice tea party.”  The eagles chirped happily, with Striped Feather happily speaking, “oh my … a tea party at Pudgy’s home?  Silver Claw will be most jealous, we accept your invitation.  Do not worry, Cobalt is not in trouble, we are here for an inspection.  This is normal procedure for the aerie.”  All four eagles nodded, and then quickly flew off.  As Cobalt led the visitors through the trees, he called out, “we will head back to my tree.  Sorry about the condition of the nest, it’s been a rough winter.” 

The flock of birds chirped, and followed the former human high into the trees, to land on a white elm tree.  Striped Feather landed beside Cobalt, and looked at the sorry excuse of a nest that had been built.  She gave him a look, “that is a terrible nest … another gap in your training I see.”  Cobalt laughed, “yes, but I am not going to use it anymore.  I want something with a roof, to keep the rain and snow off my head.”  The subordinate white feathers chirped as they laughed, and watched as the third in command was easily able to scatter the nest remnants with her left claws.  “Cobalt, how have things been since we last met?  I am not talking reports … we know what you have been advising.”  The former human nodded, “all is well, the forest is coming back to life at an astonishing pace I must admit.”  The female eagle chirped as she gave an inquisitive look, “how so?  I am intrigued, but will hold my questions in reserve, please continue with your observations.” 

The other eagles listened while Cobalt spoke, “I have lived in these lands all of my life when I was a human, and now as an animal.  Winter was either terrible, or annoying.  This year was a terrible winter, worst than I have seen for a long time.  But usually, it takes forever for spring to arrive, and this year it came quick.  The temperatures sometimes resemble summer, with the sun shining brightly, and baking the land.  Poor Pudgy has now started to have to gather water to irrigate the crops planted.  That is something usually done in August, not May.  And then there are the stars, they have changed position.”  Striped Feather looked up towards the skies, “we have felt the warmth all the way to the Lightning Tree.  The leaves have returned, earlier than any could remember.  How have the stars changed … Cobalt?”  The former human explained with many wing movements, at how the constellations he could recognize have changed positions.  After a long back and forth discussion between the subordinate white feathers, and Cobalt, Striped Feather looked at him with a confused expression and motioned with her wing tip to continue.

Cobalt nodded, “this world has what the humans referred to as a North Pole and a South Pole.  During the seasons, the earth shifts position towards the sun in summer, and away from the sun in winter.  The reason why our winter was so brutal, as that our section was tipped much farther away.  Now the planet is swinging back the other way, and we are warming at a much faster rate than normal.  The sad part is, the human technology which could have confirmed my theory is all gone.  The humans who might have had a better explanation, or would have been able to confirm are also gone.”  Striped Feather was still confused, “I do not understand.  What are you saying?”  The former human nodded once more, “it means that our world will start to drastically change.  What was snow and ice will melt, and what was green may turn into desert.  Let me put this another way, what would the aerie do if summer lasted two seasons or longer, and winter became considerably shorter?”  The birds looked at each other, then chirped quietly amongst themselves.

Striped Feather looked towards the lake in the distance, “it would mean much more activity.  The breeding season would double, and we would have more mouths to feed.  Our aerie would become powerful, and we could defend our lands with a power unseen.”  Cobalt nodded, “it would also mean that any arctic animals would suffer, until they were able to adapt.  I have not told Pudgy any of this, because he really likes the arctic owls.  Speaking of which, do you know why they have not come back to our forest?”  The third in command shook her head, “I do not know the exact reasons why, but they advised that they had to return to their Great Ice Tree.”  The former human chirped, “ahh, that’s why?  I can understand … now that Blood Fang has been defeated … and the Wolf Mother returned … there was much to report.  Uh oh … we are in trouble now.”  The eagles turned and looked in the direction which Cobalt was looking towards.  Pudgy was trying to climb a tree, while Argente was yelling at him to get back down.  “It is tea time, and we are late …”

Far below on the ground, and exasperated silver fox was underneath a tree trunk calling up. “PUDGY! You get back down here this minute!”  The little hedgehog was all set: the tea was made, and the cookies laid out on little trays.  But as the minutes passed by, turned into an hour, the little hedgehog scampered out the door to go find Cobalt.  When he wanted to, the critter could be quick, and was part way up a tree by the time the silver fox could react.  Thankfully the eagles all swooped down from out of the trees, and landed one by one in front of the underground home.  Argente watched as the hedgehog started to climb back down, and once he was within range, she snapped him up in her mouth and carried him by the quills over to his front door.  Cobalt landed last, and chirped happily as the hedgehog was dropped and scampered inside.  “Sorry Argente, our meeting ran over the scheduled time.  But I have an excuse, I was with my supervisor.”  Striped Feather shot him a look, before hearing the white feathers chirp in unison. “Yes, it was all Striped Feather’s fault we’re late!  Cobalt …what’s a supervisor?”

The group of birds laughed, and after a short explanation, watched as Pudgy came out with pots of steaming tea.  They were almost too large for him to carry, but managed by making several trips.  After everyone was served their beverage, Pudgy returned with trays of tiny cookies.  After those were served, a very tired hedgehog sat next to Argente huffing and puffing.  The large birds saw the tiny portions offered, but also the exhausted hedgehog sipping tea, and chirped happily as they attempted to very slowly consume the offered delights.  The white feathers blew it, and ate everything within seconds.  Striped Feather ate the wonderfully sweet cookies first, then looked at the pot of tea in front of her.  Cobalt was someone able to manage to pick up a single cookie with his beak, and munch on it slowly.  The former human looked down at his little quill covered friend, “marvelous tea party Pudgy, you outdid yourself.  What kind of cookies are these?”  The little critter looked up while nibbling, “Pudgy made honey cookies.  The buzzy bees let Pudgy have some honey again.”

Cobalt leaned down and sipped the tea, unfortunately in one draw, but he swallowed slowly.  “The buzzy bees are active?”  Argente giggled, “I was amazed too.  Pudgy always askes nicely, and soon is covered with bees on every one of his quills, gathering a tiny bit of honey.”  Striped Feather looked at Cobalt, then down at Pudgy, “well the cookies are wonderfully sweet. I concur with Cobalt; this is a marvelous tea party.  Tell me … these …. Buzzy bees make the honey?”  The little hedgehog nodded, “yes, they gather pollen from the flowers, and turn it into honey.  The bees eat the honey, but make a lot of it to make it through winter.  Pudgy wonder why flowers came back so soon?  But Pudgy happy, now have honey for baking again.”  The group finished their refreshments, and soon watched the hedgehog taking things back inside his underground home.  After a couple trips, the hedgehog sat back down beside Argente and wiggled his nose.    

Argente giggled as she swished her long black tail with its white tip around the hedgehog.  She turned, “Pudgy have you given thought to what we should call our town?  I checked with our friends, and are fine with you selecting the name.”  Pudgy bounced happily, “Pudgy thought call Pudgy Town, but that means only Pudgy can live there, and all friends would have to build own town.  Then everyone would be sad, so Pudgy decided a better name would be … Friendship Town.  We are all friends, and now we can live in Friendship Town.”  Cobalt chirped, “I like that name Pudgy.”  Argente nodded, “me too.  And now our eagle friends can report back they visited Friendship Town.”  Striped Feather chirped happily, “yes we will.  I am sure Silver Claw and Copper Claw will be quite jealous.  Cobalt … you may have another visitation … eventually.”

As the animals laughed, and spoke about a variety of topics, the sun started to drift below the horizon.  The visiting eagles said their goodbyes, and then took flight to start their return home.  Cobalt hugged the hedgehog and silver fox, before returning to his tree.  Argente hugged Pudgy, and then headed back to her cottage.  Eventually Pudgy went back inside his home to wash the pots and trays, while thinking about the events of the day.  The work is finished by the time darkness fell outside his round windows, and an exhausted hedgehog collapsed into bed.  He slept soundly, well … until by the time what used to be 5 o’clock was.  When the myriad of returning birds began to chirping loudly in the trees.  As the sun started to rise over the horizon, work began anew. 

In the weeks that followed, the town continued to build up.  A sawmill was constructed, which was operated by the beavers.  The field mice were excitedly operating a grist mill, and were grinding acorns and seeds into a variety of flour.  As the surrounding animals found the town, they started to settle and further build up the area.  The road to Mr. Bear’s cabin was completed, and soon all could visit the large brown bear and his father easily.  The steam ship was constructed, and soon was docked at the dragon cave port.  They had even constructed a barge that could be towed behind the steam ship, which would be useful for heavy loads.  So, it was on yet another warm day, that the little hedgehog was standing proudly in the captain house of his newly constructed ship.  Argente was also sitting on the deck, wiggling her ears as the little bunnies were sitting on the dock pouting terribly.  “NO FAIR!!!! We want to go with Pudgy on the first trip!”  The gray and fluffy bunny children protested, while their parents twitched their noses.  The smoke stack was puffing with a white smoke, as Pudgy was watching the boiler come up to pressure.    

Argente stuck her tongue out, “I’m the official boat inspector, so I get to ride first.”  Drew the red panda laughed, “yes and to ensure Pudgy doesn’t sail off on a grand adventure.”  The animals laughed in unison, while the hedgehog scampered around the deck, and started to undo the rope lines that had moored the ship to the dock.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “ok everyone!  Pudgy steam ship ready to go, Pudgy heading around lake with Argente, and then will come back for bunnies!”  The bunnies continued to pout, and watched as the water began to churn at the ship’s stern.  The steam ship began to pull out and into the cove, and was floating properly in the water.  Even with a much larger Argente on the deck than when he returned with her, the ship was water tight.  It was just like his last ship, but a bit longer to accommodate larger loads.  But unlike before, there was no cabin to sleep in.  This was a working ship, not an adventure ship.  And it would be docked in a place where all could see it, so no hedgehog secret adventures could occur.

Pudgy engaged the throttle lever to full speed ahead, and steered the ship into the river channel.  The steam box was working well, with Grandpa Bear’s repairs working great.  The engine was working at full power, and soon they were quickly moving up river.  Argente waved as they passed a couple ground hogs building a den along the hillside by the river.  They waved back, while twitching their noses as the steam ship puffed past.  Down the river they sailed: past the split granite boulder, past the strand of pine trees, under the log bridge, around Mr. Bear’s cabin, past the revolutionary war soldiers camp, until they reached the edge of the lake.  The animals didn’t know what to call the lake, so they settled on: lake.  That was a new concept to them: naming things.  That was primarily a human thing, having to assign a name to everything.  But certain things did deserve a name, like their town. 

The lake had formed when the human town began to sink during the time when the humans began to disappear.  Gigantic geysers of eater burst from within the earth, and began to flood the area.  Cobalt called it an artesian spring at the time, and all were amazed at how the lake was able to remain full throughout the summer.  As the little ship sped through the water, Argente peeked over the edge of the ship to see what used to be the tallest building in town passing below the ship.  “Pudgy that was the place where the teeth remover was, I think.”  The little critter scampered back, and peeked over, “yes and the grocery store with the cookie lady worked.  Pudgy miss cookie lady … she made happy cookies.”  The fox giggled, “that was a different time …  But we now have the cookie hedgehog, so I like that better.”  The critter grinned, and hugged his silver fox friend for a time, before returning to the helm of the ship.   As they circled the lake, the two friends noticed the trees had completely covered the remaining areas of the human town.  A thick forest had covered the land, wiping away any remaining trace of human presence. 

At the one end of the lake, the direction where the medicine guy used to be, the lake turned into a marshy wetland, with a myriad of cat tails sticking up out of the ground.  There were two tall blue birds, quickly sticking their long beaks into the water to snatch up small fish.  Pudgy slowed the ship and shouted, “SANDRA … RAYMOND!!!”   The two herons looked up and waved their wing tips at him and called out in unison, “HI PUDGY!”  Sandra giggled, “we would have been here soon, but Raymond got lost again!”  The male heron chirped back at his wife, “it is not my fault that New Jersey looks a lot like Maryland! Oh, my Pudgy, you have your steam ship again?”  The little hedgehog waved, “Pudgy taking friends on trip around lake, to test the ship.  Please follow us back to Friendship Town!”  The married couple nodded, and watched as the ship went back to full speed, and sped off back towards the forest.  Past the forest shoreline, back to the mouth of the river they headed.  Around the bear cabin bend, under the log bridge, past the ground hog home, past the hedgehog dock, and into the dragon cove they headed. 

As Pudgy pulled up beside the dock, he started to reload the fire box with wood.  Argente slowly disembarked, as four gray and fluffy bunnies loaded onto the deck of the ship.  The bunnies all began to stick their tongues out at Argente, because it was their turn!  Then off the steam ship headed with the bunnies bouncing excitedly.  The two blue herons landed in the cove, and waved their wing tips.  Raymond chuckled, “and off Pudgy goes again?”  The bunny parents nodded, “you have no idea how much pouting has been going on.  Argente went first, why did Argente go first … never ending … the other eight of our children will be upset that they missed ship day.”  Drew laughed as he wiggled his ears, “bunny school huh?  How did those four get out of it?”  Mr. Bunny twitched his nose, “they said they were sick and had to come home.  Teacher stopped it at four …”  Sandra blinked, “bunny school … teacher?”  The forest had changed so much since they had last been there the last time.      

The day continued which many trips back and forth, and the steam ship soon was moored once again at the dragon cove port.  Once the ship was safe to leave alone, the animals returned to Pudgy’s home for the evening festivities.  There was good food, laughter, and a grand hedgehog story of what had happened since the herons had left.  The animals departed shortly after the story finished, and returned to their homes to rest.  As the hedgehog finished his dishes, he watched as Angeliki strode in through his open front door.  “Oh …  it would seem I missed dinner?”  Pudgy turned to his raven friend, “Pudgy can make you something quick!”  The bird chirped, “that is fine Pudgy, I already ate.  I have some news … that is best discussed in private.  Let us head back to where the ley line node once stood.  I will explain on the way.” 

The hedgehog nodded, and quickly secured his home.  Then he was scampering beside the raven as she spoke.  “The town is truly wonderous Pudgy, and I know you will do everything you can to make it prosperous.”  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Pudgy love the town.  Our crops are growing well, and the buildings are all done now.  Now we can just focus on having fun, and preparing for the winter.”  The raven nodded and chirped, “winter … yes … we will need to prepare for that …”  As the two friends walked past the silver fox cottage, past the sawmill, and the dragon port, they headed up the steeply sloped hill to where the ley line node once was flanked by the ring of ancient oak trees.  The trees had fallen, and lay in all directions along the steep hillside.  Wiggling his nose, “wow … you have been busy Angeliki!”  The raven chirped happily, “yes I have … Pudgy.” 

The ground which had one stood at the crest of the hill, had sunk considerably down on the eastward side that led to the cove down below.  The little hedgehog examined the ring of stones had been placed by the raven on the ground.  It the same space where the granite boulder once stood.  Inside the ring of stones, were many other smaller rings, of pale white stones.  They were arranged in a variety of concentric circles, which all surrounded the last remaining chunk of the original granite boulder.  Angeliki pointed with her wing tip, “Pudgy I need you to stand on the boulder.”  The little hedgehog nodded, and scampered carefully through the rocks to reach the center of the circle.  The bird nodded, “ok Pudgy … is time to restore the node.  Do you still have your teleportation stone?”  The little hedgehog nodded, and reached into his vest pocket, and pulled out the blue sapphire gem stone.  It was flickering occasionally with a pale white light. 

Angeliki called out, “Selene, I am Angeliki … daughter of Hecates!  I beseech you, help us restore the damage caused by Hades.”  The stone began to glow bright white, and the moon appeared in the skies over the forest.  The forest soon was covered in pale light, and all colors faded away.  It was not hot, nor cold.  It was not evil, nor scary, just peaceful.  There was no sound, and soon only the light could be seen.  After a time, unknown in duration passed, the forest soon came back into view.  Pudgy rubbed his eeyes with his paws, and found himself standing on the granite boulder once more.  The rings of rocks were gone, having been merged once more together.  The little hedgehog tucked his teleportation stone back into his vest, and buttoned the pocket.  As he turned to examine the forest, Pudgy could see that a large female white wolf was standing beside Angeliki his raven friend. 

The wolf mother grinned, “I think that should suffice.  Angeliki, you do not need to be so formal though.  Pudgy, I have restored what hades has destroyed.  It will take time, but soon travel will be possible once again.  Might I see that stone you carry?”  The little hedgehog nodded, and scampered up to the spot just in front of her.  He took out the stone from his vest, and showed it to her.  The moon goddess’s eyes glowed a soft blue, as she examined the stone.  “There was much darkness associated with that stone, bit I see you have purified it via your actions.  Keep it safe, for the journeys to come, little one.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy want to stay home with friends.  Our town needs Pudgy, Pudgy has to stay.”  The wolf nodded, “you will have time … to build your town … to live in your town … and to prosper.  The wolves will trouble you no longer, nor their coyote cousins.  I have gathered those who remain to my island, and have been guiding them back to the proper ways.” Angeliki chirped, “how are your endeavors proceeding?”  The wolf rolled her eyes, “I am running out of artful ways of saying no.  But I am proceeding at a sufficient pace, perhaps by the next adventure of our little friend, I will have completed their education.  Speaking of which, I must get back to my island, I can only imagine the trouble my children are up to by now.  Fare thee well Pudgy, I look forward to our next meeting.”  In a sudden flash of moon light, the Wolf Mother disappeared.  Pudgy found himself in his bed, tucked under all the blankets.  His home was warm and secure, allowing him to drift off to sleep.  The little hedgehog dreamed of his ship, sailing across a vast sea.  The water’s surface was smooth, and Argente was laughing in the back of the ship.  Argente giggled, “Pudgy … let us sail to Manilla!”  Pudgy nodded, and the dream faded away to darkness as he rolled over in his sleep.  Another adventure had come to an end, and all were safe.  Soon our hedgehog friend will travel once more, across the water, towards a distant land.  But that is a story for another day…

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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