Eternal Summer: Chapter 12: Resolve

Pudgy dangled under neath the eagle’s body, and for a moment, he almost thought it might have been Cobalt carrying him.  But those thoughts were quickly dashed by the long cream white feathers that covered his new friend’s belly.  One thing was for certain, Dave was a bit faster, given his longer wing span.  They were flying down the mountain slopes at a tremendous rate of speed.  The rocky land was quickly being covered by green foliage.  Keeping a high enough altitude, the eagle flew over the tops of the jungle canopy.  All manner of bird calls were frantically chirping at the same time.  The roar from the King of the Ocean had eliminated any clam within the jungle.   About an hour passed of travel, before the little hedgehog called out, “down there Dave!” 

They had just cleared the jungle’s edge, and the eagle could see the makeshift camp beside the shoreline.  As Pudgy had described, a wooden sailing shift was moored off the coastline, with a gang plank extending out from the ship to the muddy shoreline.  All manner of small animals were milling about, and working diligently at a variety of tasks.  Dave adjusted his wings, and started to coast down, descending at a quick pace.  Of course, the large predator coming in for a landing resulted in some scattering at first.  Until the bunnies pointed up at Pudgy being carried by the large bird.  “Mister Dave, when you get low enough, let go and Pudgy will start running.  You can land in front of Pudgy.  Pudgy did this many times with Cobalt.”  The eagle chirped, “ok Pudgy … 3….2….1…” The eagle released his talons, and the hedgehog was dropped onto the ground. 

As the hedgehog landed hard on the ground, he started to run a bit until he slid to a stop just shy of one of the white tents that had been set up.  The large eagle landed a distance away, and then started to fluff his wings, before folding them back.  As the tall bird started to stride over towards Pudgy, the animals of the camp peeked timidly out from the tents and aboard the ship.  Pudgy scampered up and waved at all of his friends, “hello everyone, Pudgy back from the mountain.  Pudgy found a friend, his name is Dave.  Please come out, he is nice!”  The little hedgehog bounced happily, and soon the various animals scampered out and started to bounce beside their hedgehog friend.  They did not approach Dave, who was still standing at a safe distance away from a strange assortment of animals.  He had seen pictures of squirrels and chipmunks, but had never seen one in real life.  The gray fluffy bunnies also were amazing to see in real life. 

A blue jay quickly flew over, and waved his left wing at Dave.  “Hello, are you a fellow former human, such as myself?”  The eagle nodded, “yes, I was.  And now I have feathers and can fly … what a strange life?”  The blue bird chirped happily, “one day I was a pastor giving a sermon, and now I’m still a pastor but chasing birds and critters to preach the good word.”  Mr. Bunny waved a paw at Dave, and then looked at Pudgy. “Pudgy, where is Argente and Angeliki?”  The hedgehog nodded, “they are still on top of the mountain with Argente’s mother Shima Moyo.”  The animals went quiet, and all eyes locked onto their captain.  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy have big story to tell everyone.”  As the animals hopped into place, they formed a semi-circle around the hedgehog.  Dave and the Pastor stayed off to the side, but within sight of Pudgy. 

The critter explained the travel through the jungle, across the grasslands, being chased by the scary eagle, the eagle turning into a friend, camping by the boulder, and the trip up the mountain to the lake.  In terms of story, other than the eagle part, it was rather boring and not Pudgy’s normal exciting tale.  The shrew rats seemed nice though, and the plantains sounded yummy.  As the little hedgehog explained about the ghost fox, as well as the appearance by Unetlanvhi, there was no sound made at all.  As the explanation of what had happened to the world sunk in, Pudgy glossed over the fury that Argente let loose on her mother.  The grand tale concluded with what Shima told Pudgy about the underwater world, and the King of the Ocean, as well as what the hedgehog saw out in the ocean during the terrible roar that filled the air. 

Pudgy rubbed his belly, “did Pudgy miss breakfast, or can Pudgy still get a ration to eat?”  A chipmunk nodded, and scampered over to a barrel, and got out a piece of hardtack.  The critter scampered back, and pawed it over to the captain.  The two critters bounced, and the hedgehog quickly started to nibble on it.  Dave waved his wing slowly to get their attention, “it is a pleasure to meet you all.  Pudgy, if we can create some sort of basket, I should be able to carry more than one of your friends up to the mountain summit.”  The animals looked confused, until Pudgy nodded and turned back to address the group.  “Pudgy found a ley line node at the summit of the mountain.  Pudgy was able to see Mr. Drew in Friendship Town, which means we may be able to go home that way.  Angeliki is still checking our the node, to see if there are any issues, but we should be able to use it.  But … there is something else … Pudgy saw another node far away to the north east of here.  It is where Shima Moyo is from, a place called Japan.”

Sargent Miller ‘s head popped up, and the otter scampered past the assorted group of animals.  “Did you say Japan, Pudgy?  Why would we need to go there?”  The hedgehog nodded, “Shima said that we can link the nodes together, and that would mean we would be able to travel there as well.  But Pudgy could just see it, not actually connect to it.  Pudgy unsure why, it might be important, but Pudgy does not know.”  Private Pawl slowly padded up and twitched his nose, “Pudgy … I don’t want to go to this Japan place.  I want to go home, and be with my other otter friends.  I miss the General, and the Great Holt.”  There were looks between some of the animals, and low murmurs about going home.  The travel here was arduous enough, and all had assumed travel to and back: not heading off to a new place.  But there were also many murmurs about wanting to go to the new place as well.  There was not a consensus amongst the crew, which the Pastor raised his wings to get all of their attention. 

“This is indeed good fortune one and all!  We now know what is going on with the world.  We also know that the changes occurring seem to be slowing down, and soon will stop.  Our grand purpose has been fulfilled, and the prospect of returning home is in front of us.  We can not ignore the threat beneath the waters, but for now, we must continue on with our tasks.”  The blue jay’s words echoed throughout the camp, and the animals nodded in unison.  Slowly, they started to file off in various directions, and started to work on their assignments once more.  The blue jay walked over to Pudgy, and chirped happily.  “Pudgy, we have made good progress with resupplying the ship.  What the bunnies had found, was wild ginseng.  It is edible, and they have been gathering as much as they can.  The local animals say it also helps with various ailments.”

The hedgehog nodded, “if we can get back into the jungle, we can find the plantains.  Pudgy sure the shrew rats would help, as long as we gave them some fruit as well.”  The blue jay nodded, “an excellent idea.  We have observed similar trees close to the beach, as well as what may appear to be coconut trees as well.  I always had trouble opening those as a human, so …”  Dave strode up, “look over there … screw pines …”  As Pudgy and the pastor looked over, there was something that looked like a short palm tree, with round green balls that were spiked.  Dave beamed, “that is a natural plant that is edible, once you get past the spiky exterior.”  The hedgehog turned over to the tent, noticing pink colored berries being stacked in a tent.  “Are those raspberries … Pudgy thought they only grew back home?”  The blue jay nodded, “they are all around here, in these needle-like bushes.  The chipmunks were able to get them out without being poked too many times.  They say they are slightly sweet; we were waiting for you to return.  They said you know how to make jam?” 

Dave watched as soon the hedgehog was escorted away, and was immediately became engrossed in a variety of ship related tasks.  Taking a moment to himself, the eagle strode carefully around the camp, to reach the muddy shoreline, and examined the wooden sailing ship.  It was almost as long as a tractor trailer truck, but it was much narrower.  The masts were sticking straight up into the air, and the sails were tied tightly around the mast arms.  The ship’s hull was stained heavily gray, with various discolorations that ran along the entire length of the visible parts he could see.  “Should have used some polyurethane or paint to seal the wood … oh … no more chemical plants to make that stuff.”  Dave muttered as he continued his examination.  On board there were some mice, who waved at him, before scurrying around to do various tasks.

The eagle maneuvered around the camp to try to stay out of the way, and watched the activities of the critters milling about.  As the hours passed, a steady stream of food, and various materials were being gathered.  The various food stuffs common to the area were trying to be processed, and now that Pudgy was here, a cooking fire was started.  Once the fire was going, processing of various items could begin in earnest.  In time though, with his belly being empty, Dave headed off to feed out of sight of the animal crew of the Determined.  Day turned into night, and Pudgy retold the story of the Great Spirit and what he told the hedgehog.  With full bellies of exotic food stuffs, the animals fell asleep as the clouds started to thicken.  A soft rain began to fall, which made for excellent resting conditions.

The days turned into weeks, with the same activities every day: wake, meal, gather, meal, gather, process, meal, story time, rest.  The ship’s supply stores were refilling nicely, and the fresh water supplies were being rotated to ensure it remained drinkable.  Either Angeliki Raven, or Dave Eagle would stop by every day, to check on the progress of the ship and its crew.  Every animal looked forward to the visits, especially the raven, as she was studying the ley line and trying to determine how to use it properly.  It was several days straight of Dave visits, with the most recent visit confirming that Argente and her mother Shima had come to an understanding.  The time alone allowed the two to reconcile, safely away from the hedgehog and other animals. 

Early one morning, as Pudgy was walking slowly around the camp, he looked up into the sky to see the raven flying back at a quick pace.  She came in for a landing, and chirped at him, “good morning Pudgy!  I’m glad you are up; I need you to come with me quickly.  I think I figured out how to use the ley line.  I need to run a test, and hopefully we can do so quickly enough without attracting attention from a certain ocean dwelling entity.”  The little hedgehog nodded, and scampered over to the tent to put on his travelling backpack with the protruding perch bars.  Putting his mining helmet on, he scampered back to the black bird.  “Pudgy hope so, but the ship is ready to go, if we can not make it work.”  The demigoddess nodded, but before she could speak, she heard a very familiar voice calling from the water.  Slowly she started to walk, with Pudgy beside her, to reach the shoreline.  As the salty ocean water lapped up against the muddy shoreline, the white-haired goddess Hecates was there smiling.

Angeliki chirped happily, “Mother!  What a pleasant surprise, how art thou doing?”  The hedgehog waved beside her, which made the goddess giggle and smile.  Her eyes were glowing softly white, and she seemed tired.  “If I may ask daughter, where are you now?  That does not seem to be Pudgy’s forest …”  The little hedgehog bounced happily as he looked down into the water, “we built a sailing ship and sailed all the way to Mount Apo in the Philippines.  Pudgy found Argente’s mother Shima Moyo, as well as spoke to the Great Spirit about what is going on in this world.  Pudgy also found a ley line, which for a brief time, Pudgy could see Mister Drew back in the forest.”   The goddess nodded, “I see, my word you have been busy again Pudgy.  And this time, you had the foresight to bring my daughter with you to help, that is very wise of you.”

The raven chirped happily, “has Lord Zeus been able to negotiate with Unetlanvhi?  I wish to see you so desperately, Mother.”  The goddess pulled an errant strand of white hair behind her left ear, “negotiations are not going well, I am afraid.  The situation with Hades has made the Great Spirit distrust us even more.  We are safe within Mount Olympus, but even Lord Poseidon had to return.  And the tales he has been telling are not good at all.  Deep within the ocean, there is an evil spreading.  The underwater animals would not speak to him, nor would they heed his summons.”  Angeliki nodded, “we are aware, when Pudgy activated the ley line, the waters of the ocean were as smooth as glass.  Their coloration was black, and then a deafening roar boomed in all directions.  We could not stand, and were immediately struck unwell.  The only one who could stand was our fearless captain Pudgy Hedgehog.” 

The goddess nodded again, “I see.  What did you see Pudgy?”  The little hedgehog took a breath, “Pudgy saw a massive eye glowing in the void.  Pudgy has seen that eye before, it is ten times Pudgy in diameter, and a funny pinkish red color.  There are tentacles as well, but every time Pudgy has vision, feel like drowning.  The air breathing animals mentioned a King of the Ocean, which Shima also told us about as well.”  Hecates frowned, “I can confirm that it is not Poseidon.  He has been fuming that the animals no longer revere him, and have chosen to follow whatever this is.  It is not a god, nor is it a spirit for that matter.  In my visions, I can see a corporeal body, and like Pudgy I see the tentacles.  It reminds me of what the mortals called a squid.  But no squid has ever reached that size, at least that Poseidon is aware of.”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “if we can not use the ley line, we will need to use the sailing ship.  Do you know where it is not safe to go?”  A male voice could be heard, speaking with a thick Greek accent from beside Hecates began, “stay away from where the humans once called Guam.  It is there, in the ancient trench, the false one resides.”  The goddess giggled, “thank you Lord Poseidon.  I said his name too many times, and attracted his attention.  I believe in the direction you are facing, out in the ocean, the area he speaks of is two weeks journey by sail.”  The little hedgehog nodded, and then looked at Angeliki with wide eyes.  The raven looked back, “what is it Pudgy?”  The hedgehog looked back at Hecates, “our ship sailed over that area Pudgy thinks.  Pudgy had a vision there, where Pudgy saw the eye.”

The goddess Hecates sighed, “you are lucky then little one.  Whatever this king is, we must be wary and trifle with it.  I fear that you might be called upon to act once again, Pudgy.  I am sorry, but this communication is very exhausting for me.  Good bye, for now ….”  The vision of the goddess faded away, and the ocean waters pulled back out and began to lap in and out with the tides.  The raven sighed, and looked at her hedgehog friend.  “I wish I could have spoken more with her.  But we have more information, as to what we are dealing with.  Now, come with me, so we may proceed with the test.”  The raven immediate took flight, and circled the camp one time.  Pudgy moved into position, to make it easier for her to pick him up by the bars extending from each side of his backpack.  In a less artful maneuver, the raven clutched the bars, and then started to flap her wings hard to ascend. 

Where the eagle was much bigger and stronger, the raven had to work much harder to stay aloft while carrying Pudgy below her.  So, what would have taken the eagle perhaps an hour, meant it would be at least double it to reach the summit.  As the sun reached the highest point in the sky, both raven and hedgehog made it to the summit where the ley line node stood.  The black bird dropped down onto the stone, wheezing hard, “ow … ow … ow … ow … ow … ow … ow …  Pudgy, you have to eat less cookies.”  The little hedgehog whimpered, “but we don’t have any cookies.”  The raven knew that he was telling the truth, and knew he had lost a considerable amount of weight.  She chirped playfully, “just kidding Pudgy.  I could go for a cookie too, though.  For now, can you please go to the center of the ley line stone?”  The little critter nodded, and scampered out to where she directed. 

“Pudgy, I believe the teleportation stone you have, allows you to activate the ley line just like before.  But there is a difference, when you leave the stone, the connection closes.  Do you remember when you used to ask the stone to work?  Please try that again …”  The raven said while bouncing off to stand on the ground beside the rock.  The little hedgehog nodded, and reached down to his brown vest pocket, and reached inside.  He started to look scared, and frantically started to check his vest.  Then he took off the backpack, and frantically started to search it.  “Pudgy can’t find the stone!”  The raven nodded, and motioned to come towards her.  “Pudgy please bring your things over here,” Angeliki said with a playful look in her dark eyes. 

As the hedgehog scampered over, the black bird motioned to place the items beside her.  He did so, then she chirped, “Pudgy.  You did not lose the stone … remember what you told us?  The stone floated above your head, and then a piece broke off and got sucked into the rock below?  The same thing happened when you were in the forest back home.  That stone is linked to you, and you can not lose it.  I believe it is deep within you, and will come out if you call it.  Now please return to the center of the ley line stone, and call forth your teleportation stone.”  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, looking confused, but did as he was asked.  In a couple of moments, he had returned to the center of the stone.  Taking a deep breath, he looked up into the sky above him, “stone!  Please come back, Pudgy need you!”  To his astonishment, a soft blue glow started to emit from all directions around him.  Then a glowing stone appeared over his head, blinking softly.  “Pudgy thought you were lost, Pudgy glad you still here with Pudgy.”

The raven chirped, “step one is done.  Now Pudgy, please ask the stone to open the connection to our forest back home.”  The hedgehog nodded again, “stone, can you help Pudgy open connection to Pudgy Forest back home?”  Slowly, the entire rock started to glow with a soft white light, and the hedgehog started to float above the surface, with the blue stone floating above him.  Once more, the tree canopy started to appear above him, and the night sky could be seen.  There were flashes of lightning in the sky, and rain was falling.  Occasionally Pudgy could even feel the warm rain hitting his face.  “Mister Drew!  Pudgy opened the ley line again, are you there?”  There was no response, which resulted in a chirping laugh by Angeliki who started shouting, “hey you lazy red panda, wake up!”  After a couple of moments, a very sleepy red panda peeked down from above, “who … who …who …you …you …”  The echoing was starting again, which the crafty raven had a plan for.  “Pudgy, turn to your right, I think we need to face the direction of the forest.

As the little hedgehog floated, he wiggled to the right, and the vision above actually started to become clearer.  The red panda also started to echo less, “who are you calling lazy Angeliki!  I have been coming here every night in case you called again.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Mister Drew!  Pudgy can hear you clearly now, and you look less fuzzy now.”  Drew chuckled, “why thank you Pudgy.  I opened a barber shop here, and have been helping keep everyone well groomed.  You should see Mary, she looks so much better, and is happier.  I thinned her winter coat, and the snow fox now is tolerating the climate here.”  The raven chirped as she laughed, and bounced along the circumference of the rock, and found the direction Pudgy was facing.  Stacking a series of rocks, she marked the direction so they knew in the future which way to face.  It turns out, like a radio dial, the hedgehog would need to face the ley line connection point in order to ensure a proper connection. 

Drew waved, “Pudgy I keep touching the ley line node on my side, and it is warm.  But I can not reach through it, I can only see you.  What is going on?”  The raven chirped again, “we are testing how to use the ley line.  We do not have much time, as there is something nearby that is of concern.  Can you back away, I want to test again.”  The red panda nodded, and soon he disappeared from Pudgy’s view overhead.  The black bird picked up a pebble, with her foot, and tossed it towards Pudgy.  The stone passed through the white light, and stopped mid-throw.  It began to float, before shooting straight up into the sky and disappearing.  The red panda appeared again, with a rock between his paws.  “Got it Angeliki!  All of a sudden, the rock appeared on the surface of the stone here.  Does this mean that the ley line only works in one direction?”

The raven nodded, “it would appear so Drew.  I also know the reason why, it is Pudgy.  He has to be here to activate the ley line node, and to open the door way.  This represents a problem, as it would mean that while we could pass through to return to the forest, Pudgy would have to remain here.”  The red panda looked sad, “that is not good.  Have you told Argente yet, she will not be pleased at all?”  The raven shook her head, and was about to speak, when she was interrupted.  The two river otters were scampering full speed towards the ley line rock.  Private Pawl was in the lead, sprinting as if his life depended on it.  Sergeant Miller was cursing as he chased after him, “Pawl darn it!  Stop, already! We do not know what will happen if we use that ley line!”  Before Pudgy nor Angeliki could react, the two otters crossed the white barrier of light at the edge of the ley line node.  As they started to float, both immediately shot up full speed towards the vision of the forest.” 

Pudgy shouted, “MISTER DREW, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!”  The two otters disappeared in the sky above, and the red panda was immediately stuck by two river otters.  With the occasional flash of lightning still flickering in the sky above, the trees swayed, while Drew cursed out the two otters.  “DARN IT YOU TWO, THAT FRICKING HURT!”  Sergeant Miller appeared in the vision above, “Pudgy I’m sorry!  I couldn’t stop him.  Wait, what is going on, why is this side solid?”  Angeliki called up, “Miller, the ley line only works in one direction.  Plus, Pudgy has to remain on this side, to keep the gateway open.  Well, we now know the ley line works.  Miller and Pawl, I’m sorry, but I have no idea how to open the portal from the other side.  You will need to remain in the forest until we can figure out how to do so.”  The hedgehog waved, “Pudgy getting tired.  Pudgy need to close the connection.  Can you report back to the General, and tell him what is going on?”  The two otter faces appeared and nodded, but their voices were scattered, as the ley line started to deactivate. 

The white glow ceased, the hedgehog floated back down to his paws, and the blue teleportation stone entered his body once more through the top of his head.  Dropping onto his rear, the critter yawned, “Pudgy so tired.  Pudgy was doing fine just talking, but when the two otters went through, Pudgy felt all strength being pulled out of Pudgy body.”  The raven nodded, “I was afraid of that.  Because the stone is a part of you Pudgy, it using energy from your body to use the node.  This means that we must use these connections sparingly.  You sit there and rest, I must find Argente and Shima Moyo.”  The raven quickly took flight, and flew off towards where the summit lake was located.  This left the little hedgehog all alone on the ley line rock. 

“Everyone will be glad to be able to go home, Pudgy can open the gate way, and they can go home.”  The hedgehog said while rubbing his sides with his paws.  But the realization of what had just happened was starting to sink in.  “But Pudgy … can only open the door way on this side.  This means Pudgy can never go home again.”  The words spoken caused his eyes to go wide, and he began to whimper.  “Pudgy will never see Cobalt again, and no more hugs.  Pudgy never see home again …” The critter started to sob, and he sniffed his nose, while tears streamed down his face.  Had he had known that this adventure was going to be one direction, and he could never return again, he would have told the ghost fox to go away.  His mournful sounds echoed on the wind, while the hysterical hedgehog tried to calm him himself by looking out towards the ocean in the distance.  The water remained its deep blue, and the waves were visible even at the summit’s height.  The rhythmic movements of the water, calmed him, and quieted down his wails. 

As the hours passed, he did not move from his spot, and wondered what the otters were doing now?  They were probably bouncing with Drew in the dragon cave.  Yummy food was being eaten, and lots of laughter was being had in a warm dry cave.  The thoughts made him incredibly home sick, and prompted fresh tears to start falling.  Though this time they dried quicker, as a familiar voice called out from overhead.  Dave the eagle was coming in for a landing, “greetings Pudgy!  I see Angeliki had you run the ley line tests.  Were they successful?”  As the eagle climbed up onto the rock, he strode over and looked down at Pudgy with his pale blue eyes.  To the former human’s surprise, the hedgehog quickly scampered over, and started hugging his leg and sobbing.  Not sure how to respond, he remained quiet and folded his wings down around so he could try to hug back.

After a few minutes had passed, the eagle chirped, “Shima asked me to come get you and bring you over to the lake.  She wanted to discuss something with you,” Dave said, while feeling the hedgehog release his leg.  “Ok, let me grasp your backpack, and we will fly over there quick.”  The eagle quickly grasped the perch bars, and took flight in one movement.  As Pudgy found himself being carried once more under a bird, he watched the rocky ground pass by underneath him.  The lake at the crater appeared in no time at all, but there was no white nor silver fox there.  Angeliki flew up from the lake, and called out.  “Shima and Argente headed back to the ship, let us meet them there!”  The eagle cried out to acknowledge, and soon had banked to start the flight down the mountain.  What was going to be a short flight, turned into a much longer one, which was good as it gave time for the hedgehog to get his emotions back in check. 

The ground colors changed as they descended the mountain, and the jungle plants soon spread out below him.  The dense canopy of trees and plants moved with the breeze back and forth, while the various bird calls and shrill noises from monkeys stretched upwards into the sky.  It was all a blur, as the little hedgehog was trying to compose himself.  The thoughts of not seeing Cobalt and the rest of his friends, was repeating over and over in his mind.  So, the hour or so travel time had passed in almost a blink of an eye.  He was set down in the middle of the camp, and didn’t even realize it.  He was not responding to the other animals, and was lost in his own thoughts. 

It was not until a familiar scent, and warm silver-gray fur surrounded him, snapped him back to the real world.  Argente was hugging him, and her brown eyes were softly staring at her with a concerned look.  “Pudgy, come back to us now, please?”  The critter looked up and hugged her tightly, and looked around at the various animals of the Determined sitting in a semi-circle around him, with looks of concern or expectation in their eyes.  Turning around from Argente, the hedgehog walked slowly out, and started to speak in a hesitating tone.  “Pudgy have announcement to make … the ley line does work.  Angeliki and Pudgy was able to open the gate way, and speak with Mister Drew back home.”  The animals all started to murmur amongst themselves excitedly.  The hedgehog nodded, “so Angeliki tossed a stone, and Pudgy watched it fly upwards.  Drew showed us the stone when it arrived on his side, but he could not send it back.  The ley line only works in one direction.” 

The animals quieted down, until Pastor Blue Jay raised his wing.  “Pudgy, where is Pawl and Miller?  They have been gone for over a day now.”  The hedgehog sighed, “as Pudgy was floating above the ley line … Pawl and Miller ran towards the rock.  Miller could not stop him, and both crossed the barrier.  Pudgy watched them slowly float up, and then disappear.  They are back in Friendship Town now …”  The animals of the crew began to cheer, and several bunnies started to dance happily.  They critters chanted in unison, “we can go home!”  It was not until several minutes had passed, when Mr. Bunny noticed Pudgy was looking sad and not dancing along with everyone else.  He hopped up slowly, and twitched his nose.  “Pudgy, what is wrong?”

The hedgehog whimpered, “Pudgy can’t go home.”  The words once spoken, immediately quieted the camp, as the animals turned towards him.  Angeliki nodded, “that is right everyone.  Pudgy has to be here to open the gate way, but it only goes in one direction.  We can send everyone home … except for Pudgy.”  The bunny children started to whimper, “Pudgy can’t go home?”  The hedgehog and raven nodded, which was further clarified when Pudgy spoke.  “That is true.  Pudgy knows how badly you all want to go home.  Pudgy can open door way, and you can head back.  Pudgy will remain here … maybe Angeliki can figure out way Pudgy can go home in future.  Mister Dave, would it be ok for Pudgy to live here with you for now?”    The eagle chirped, “Pudgy that sounds good to me.  My homeland offers many wonders …”

Shima coughed to get everyone’s attention, “the ley line in Japan is bi-directional I believe.”  Angeliki turned towards her, “wait … does that mean it can go both directions?”  The white fox nodded, “that is my understanding of the ancient texts that are stored at the temple in Kyoto.  Pudgy would be able to travel to and from Japan using the ley line there.”  The little hedgehog’s eyes went wide, “the owls told Pudgy that there was one ley line which ran under the ocean.  They didn’t know where it was, but Japan must be it!  Shima, after Pudgy sends everyone home, can you take Pudgy there?”  The animals all started to talk at once, arguing amongst themselves.  The noise was deafening, until Shima yelled, “EVERYONE QUIET!”  The group immediately silenced, and the white fox lifted her head and looked rather imposing. 

Argente looked at Pudgy with a soft look to her brown eyes, “I am staying with Pudgy.”  Angeliki nodded, “agreed, I will stay with Pudgy as well. I need to figure out how to make the ley lines work, given all the changes made to them by Unetlanvhi.”  The little hedgehog smiled, and then turned back to look at the crew of the ship.  “Everyone here is Pudgy’s friend.  Pudgy will not be hurt if you chose to go home.  Pudgy put this up for vote, who wants to go home, and who wants to keep going on this adventure.  One by one the various animals called out, “adventure!”  Despite all their words, if they went home and left him here all by himself, they would worry.  As the group of animals started to cheer and bounce, the hedgehog wiped fresh tears from his eyes with the backs of his paws.  Pudgy nodded, “thank you all for staying with Pudgy!  Pudgy was worried would be left all alone!”

Dave chirped while he waved his wing tips at the hedgehog, “I would love to come on your adventure too Pudgy, but I don’t know if I will fit on your ship?  Shima Moyo wiggled her white ears, “I am not sure Dave, while the ship is long, it appears to be quite narrow.  Unless they were to tier you down like a load of cargo?”  The eagle laughed, “ok fine, I will stay here on Mondano.  But once you get to Japan, I want you to bring me there to help!”  The little hedgehog nodded, “yes Mister Dave, Pudgy definitely will bring you there.  Shima, how far away is Japan?”  The white fox rubbed her chin with her front left paw, “It should be only one month by ocean travel to reach the temple at Fushimi Inari-taisha.  Two pluses are that you no longer have your otter friends.  I know that is a strange thing to say, but your ship will be lighter and your supplies will last longer.  I have my own way of travelling, so I will lead the way.”

The crew of the Determined all started to bounce happily, and then hugged Shima and Dave while starting to break the camp down.  As the hours passed, the tents were dismantled, and returned to the ship’s storage holds.  The supply barrels were rolled up the gang plank, and returned to their original spots on deck.  Back and forth the critters worked, until soon there were only imprints left on the shoreline where their camp had been.  The fire was put out, and covered over.  Then one by one both Shima Moyo Fox and Dave Eagle were hugged, before the critter headed back to the ship.  Pudgy thanked every animal for staying with him, and in time, he and Argente were the only ones left on the shoreline. 

Argente looked at her mother, “I will meet you in Japan.  The fox shrine has me intrigued, based on what you said.  Please, be safe, I … would be upset if you were to be harmed again.”  Shima giggled, “I will stay safe Argente.  See you in Japan, and good journey!”  The two foxes embraced each other for a moment, before the silver fox headed up the gang plank, and headed towards the forward storage hold.  Pudgy looked at Shima and Dave, then scampered over to hug them one at a time.  Each animal smiled, then watched as the hedgehog scampered back towards the ship, and up the gang plank.  As the hedgehog reached the deck, he turned around and started to wave at them.  “Good bye for now Shima and Dave!  Pudgy will see you again.” 

Dave watched as the animals on board the ship all scampered about, and soon were in the process of pushing the ship out a bit, while lifting the gang plank.  They repositioned it on the deck, and stored it away, lashing it down.  The anchor chain started to lift up out of the water, while the squirrels and chipmunks climbed the masts.  The sails were unfurled, and as the wind started to catch the fabric, the ship began to move.  “It truly is a sight to see, eh Shima?”  The eagle said while watching the sailing ship begin to pull away from the shoreline.  The white fox nodded, though was starting to go translucent.  Dave waved his wings, and cried out loudly, good bye for now everyone!  See you soon in Japan!”  The former human was sad they were leaving, but the feeling of excitement was filling his mind.  As he turned to say something to the white fox, he noticed she was gone. 

Hours passed, and soon the tiny ship was pulled out into the ocean by the tides, as well as the wind.  Only a small series of white could be seen, leaving the former human standing on the beach and grinning as only an eagle could.  Taking flight quickly, he ascended into the sky, and headed towards the jungle.  There was much more of the island to explore, and wonderful things to eat.  Unlike Pudgy who had a schedule, he could take his time.  As the eagle circled over the jungle canopy, he started to see the ocean turn black once again.  Perhaps it was a storm, or perhaps it was something else.  “Safe travels Determined and its valiant crew!”  The eagle cried out, and headed towards the interior.  Dinner and rest were in order, with preparations to be made for adventure.  The adventure would continue onward to Japan, until the time of the Crimson Dawn.

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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