Crimson Dawn: Chapter 3: Pride

The Determined’s crew was pointing at the tentacle that had emerged from the water.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and with one paw on the ship’s wheel, he turned to look backwards at the Ganzaya.  The ship’s sails were slack, and not catching the wind like they should.  The large mean looking cats had broken the oar paddles and used them as spears to fight off the outermost extremity of the King of the Ocean.  “Zippy … Digger … go get rope and a harpoon,” The hedgehog said while turning around.  “We have to help them.”  Mrs. Field Mouse stomped her foot, “they just threatened us!  Why should we help them?”  The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “maybe if we help them, they will leave us alone once we escape the King?”  The field mouse twitched her nose while looking clearly upset, “ok, but if they do anything, we cut the rope and let them to fend for themselves!”  The mouse watched as two squirrels ran quickly to get rope and a harpoon from beneath the deck. 

As the distance slowly increased between the two ships, Pudgy called out as loud as he could towards the Pallas cat’s ship.  “We are going to throw a harpoon and rope!  You can tie it, and the Determined can pull the Ganzaya!”  On the enemy ship, Genghis hissed angrily as he sneered, “we do not need your help … run away like the cowards that you are!”  The field mouse scurried up to the hedgehog and tugged at one of his quills, “see … they are too angry to reason with!”  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and turned around, watching as the squirrels were just emerging from below deck.  Nodding and calling out loudly, “we’re going to leave the Ganzaya behind.  Adjust the sails, we need all available speed.  Head below deck, and even out the supply barrels, we need to speed up the ship somehow!”  The squirrels nodded, and disappeared below deck.  There were loud noises below as the night crew was woken.  The ship’s wheel was spun to head on a straight north eastern course.  The sails started to creak loudly, as the wind coming from the distant land was strengthening.  Adjustments were made, and the ship started to pull ahead very quickly. 

Mrs. Field Mouse watched at the stern of the ship, as the tentacle was thrashing at the red ship with the mean cats on board.  There was all manner of loud hissing, and words being spoke in both a language she understood and one that she did not.  Their ballista was firing bolts, and striking the tentacle.  Each time a bolt connected, there would be a subsequent deafening roar sent in all directions.  The water would ripple as vibrations from deep below were sent upwards towards the surface.  Their progress was agonizingly slow, but little by little as the ship progressed, the water was changing colors from the black void to a very deep blue.  The ship was sailing over exceptionally deep waters, and in the distance on the port side, the Japanese mainland was looming. 

The coast was mountainous, covered in a dense forest of trees.  The ropes began to crack loudly overhead, as the wind was starting to become almost too strong for the crew’s liking.  In earlier days, before the arrival of the Pallas cats, they would have dropped sail to let the wind die down.  But they needed to escape, both the junk ship and the underwater monster.  Pudgy heard the noises coming from the ship’s rigging, and was worrying that something might happen should he continue to push the ship like this.  Shaking his head, he watched the coast line to the port side, and it was speeding past much faster. 

In actuality, they had been able to goose the ship to about 6 knots, roughly 6 miles per hour.  Their normal cruising speed was 4 knots.  What had happened, was despite the resupply in Okinawa, the ship supplies were being used.  The weight being carried was lessening every day, allowing the boost in speed.  The lack of supplies in fact had become a blessing in disguise. As the wave height started to increase, the ship began to rock a bit more so to and fro in the water, but the forward momentum continued.  Keeping one eye on the ocean in front of the ship, and one eye on the Ganzaya, Pudgy watched as the cats were eventually able to successfully battle the tentacle.  The water was changing quickly back to its normal coloration, as the waves once more began to move about the surface of the ocean.  “We need to keep this speed for as long as the ship can take it, “the hedgehog said, while turning back to face forward. 

The Determined was passing by the eastern most coastline of the Kagoshima.  In the days before, when humans once lived on the land, this section of Japan was not very heavily populated.  There was a shrine where the Shinto priests performed their holy rituals, and small towns dotted the rocky coast line.  The only beaches that existed, was due to the humans creating them.  All of this was moot, as the waters had risen so high, it covered most of the former settlements.  Though hidden away under the dense canopy of trees, the remaining works were being carefully looked after by the animals of the island.  All manner of eyes were starting out into the ocean, wondering whose ship that was?  That sentiment was shared by the deck animals as they worked at their stations.  Though the crew had other worries to contend to, so the pondering was kept at a minimum while they peeked over the side into the dark water that surrounded the ship. 

In time, the light of day started to fade, and the shift change started at the appropriate time.  Pudgy was too stirred up from the day to sleep, so he stayed at the wheel.  As Mr. Field mouse yawned and walked up to the hedgehog he said tiredly, “did we get away from those mean cats?”  Pudgy nodded, “yes.  Pudgy wanted to help them, but they refused our help.  So, we left them behind to fight the King of the Ocean,” he said as he wiggled his nose.  The mouse nodded, “cats are stubborn … full of themselves.  Tessa, Pope, and Patches are nice though, so not all are mean.  It is best to leave them behind … our safety is more important.”  The critters nodded as they looked at each other, and watched as the stars started to twinkle in the skies above the ship.  The hedgehog captain placed the locking restraint onto the ship’s wheel.  The critter patted his mouse friend on the shoulder with his paw, before slowly started to walk up towards the bow of the ship.  The rodent yawned and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, as he looked out to the stern of the ship and into the water.    

The deck boards were starting to splinter, as they were weather-beaten into a gray color.  And the deck rails were starting to do the same for that matter, causing a worry to build in the hedgehog’s mind.  The materials used to construct the ship were deteriorating at an accelerating pace.  Yet somehow, there was enough strength within to withstand the elements.  The ship had been built at an accelerated pace, and certain precautions were not taken, due primarily to Pudgy’s insistence on going.  Cobalt and Drew had spoken about the need to seal the wood, and had been looking at options.  The human made product polyurethane was typically used, but since there were no petroleum-based materials in the world, the research was going slowly.  On the very most important surfaces, such as the hull which made contact with the ocean water, a layer of beeswax had been applied.  That was a stop gap measure, as the salty brine had quickly eaten away at the protective coating. 

What none of the animals on board the ship understood, was that the ocean water was much different than fresh water.  The salt that was suspended within the water, was also mixed with a myriad of other chemicals, as well as naturally occurring substances.  The aquatic animals had learned to live within the water, but the land animals were seeing the devastating effects of the ocean water on wood.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and nodded to himself.  “When we get to Kyoto … we have to inspect the ship.”  The slow meandering took him to the bow of the ship, and it was not long until the he reached the forward storage hold where Argente was sleeping.  The hedgehog chose not to wake his silver fox friend, and watched as her black tipped ears twitched occasionally as she slept.  Sitting down on the deck, against the railing, Pudgy sighed and immediately fell asleep.  The night crew chuckled amongst themselves, and then returned to their tasks, leaving their captain alone on the deck.

As the noise of the ocean softened, and then rocking of the ship in the water slowed, Pudgy soon found himself floating over the water.  There was no sound, nor any movement of air around him, but he could see the coast line passing on his left at about the rate of speed that the ship was moving.  As the hedgehog looked to his right, he could see that the open ocean was to his right.  Looking back to the left, he watched as the coastline weaved in and out.  Sometimes the transitions were so fast it was hard to see, but the critter did all that he could to try and memorize as many details as he could.  The land was in a perpetual twilight, with the ability to see key details, but great detail not so much.  The shoreline was covered in the thickest forest of trees he had seen since Iron Wood.  The mountains towered high into the air, though there was scant if any visible rock that could be seen from his vantage point. 

Shima Moyo slowly appeared beside him and wiggled her ethereal tail, motioning to follow her with a wave of her white paw.  The hedgehog floated beside the ghost fo with an increase of speed, as soon they quickly began to pass where the human city of Miyazaki was.  The horizon then began to brighten and darken just like the outside world would.  This was important, because it signified how many days it was.  In two days’ time, they eventually reached a strait.  To the right was a mountainous island, and to his left was a much larger mountainous island.  As the duo continued to fly over the water, soon they could see land ahead of them.  It was a gigantic ocean bay, with the waters becoming shallower.  The ocean waves were still in effect, but were greatly reduced.  First straight north, then north east, then east, then north east; they weaved between small islands as well as the mountains on either side of the water.  In three more days’ time, they would reach the watery grave of the former human city of Osaka. 

Pudgy saw a sign written in the funny letters sticking out of the water, but also in English the word Osaka rusting away.  The ocean waters covered so much of the surrounding area, that within another two days’ time, they would reach the Kyoto region.  The ghostly fox landed on a jagged shoreline, and there was a dock sticking out of the water.  As she turned around, the fox wiggled her ears, and pointed to a series of small buildings in the distance up a hill from the port.  As the hedgehog slowly came to a halt, and floated over the water, he could see the faint outlines of civilization.  “Did the animals build all of this?”  The fox nodded, “yes … once the humans left, their buildings started to collapse.  Those that remembered, chose to rebuild.  You will see more when you arrive, and I think my daughter is trying to get your attention now.”  The little hedgehog waved, and watched as a large black fox paw reached around, and pulled him away from the ghost fox.

The little hedgehog woke up, finding Argente’s paw gently rocking him.  As he woke up, the light of day had arrived, and turned to look at the coast line.  Turning around to face his silver fox friend, “Shima Moyo came to me again last night in my dream.  If Pudgy remember correctly, we should be able to arrive at Kyoto in around seven days.”  Argente nodded, and her brown eyes twinkled as she spoke, “I will be very glad to be able to get out of the ship and walk around.  Mother has been coming to me as well in my dreams, and she spoke of a fox shrine.  I am very much looking forward to that.  Pudgy … I … do not want to be away from her again.  Now that I know she’s alive …”  The little hedgehog grabbed her paw and wiggled his nose, “Pudgy understand.  But, once we connect the ley lines together, then Pudgy can come visit you whenever we want to.  Shima can even come to our forest, and see your house.  Pudgy unsure if she would fit in Pudgy house though.”  The two friends laughed softly, and as the critter let go, he stood up. 

As the captain returned to his station, and the crew worked at their stations, the ship continued its accelerated course north east.  The ship stayed at a safe distance from the coastline, and was running mostly parallel to the shoreline.  Day turned into night, then back into day, and as the directions provided via the dream turned out to be correct.  In two days, they had reached the strait, and could see land far away to the east and to the west.  Long ago, there used to be a rocky peninsula that stretched from Ehime to half way out into the ocean, and pointed to the city of Oita.  Due to the sea level rise, only the very top of each of the rocky outcroppings could be seen, and then ship carefully sailed between them.  The ocean waves started to mitigate, and were calmer once they had passed the stretch of rocky islands.  By the time they had reached night fall, the ship was passing Ehime to the starboard of the ship. 

At one point, there had been hundreds of small islands that were scattered in the water between the mainland and the island of Tokushima.  The island acted as a massive breakwater to the open ocean, and was very mountainous.  The wind blew at a brisk rate of speed, always coming form the west or north west, so the sails remained in their angled configuration.  The ropes were continuing to creak loudly, and were becoming so noticeable that the crew was worrying.  There had been no signs of the Ganzaya for days, and the crew was starting to relax, thinking it would be a good idea to drop sail and inspect for repairs.  But the hedgehog wiggled his nose, and did not agree with that idea.  The hedgehog reasoned that as long as they maintained emergency speed, they could stay ahead of the attackers. 

The Determined was a brig style cutter ship, with a hull design meant to survive the icy conditions of the great lakes.  It also meant under the right conditions; it was much faster.  In contrast, a junk ship, is primarily found in the China and Korean water.  It was not meant for speedy travel, and designed primarily for heavy weight.  They were merchant vessels primarily, to transport cargo.  Pallas cats were much heavier than the crew of the Determined, which meant the vessel was running low in the water.  It was that reason that many of those ships had an alternative propulsion method, usually by the way of strong engines.  Though back in the early days of the humans, they would use men with oars. 

In what almost seemed to be a blink of an eye, a week had passed.  And there was now a new worry for Pudgy and his crew.  The food supplies were running low once again.  Despite the resupply in Okinawa, and careful rationing controls by the field mice, the foodstuffs were being eaten at a much too quick of a pace.  Half rations were starting to be issued, which made the animals grumpy.  Not even a Pudgy story helped, as their bellies rumbled, and they became irritable.  Argente tried her best to keep everyone calm, and went to one quarter of a ration to help out.  Though this resulted in a grumpy fox, which was not good.  It took much will power to suppress thoughts of those tasty looking squirrels climbing the masts.  So, it was safer for all, and more helpful, if she were to sleep. 

With the ship even lighter, it was cruising higher out of the water, and had only increased in speed.  Now cruising at roughly eight knots, the Determined quickly passed Iwaya Island.  The light of day revealed massive steel supports sticking out of the ocean water and high into the sky.  The ship was directly underneath what was once called the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.  The bridge was a crowing human achievement, a massive suspension bridge that connected the island to the mainland and the city of Kobe.  The crew looked up, seeing gaping holes in the bridge deck, which allowed them to see up into the sky.  Somehow, despite the effects of the deterioration, this human structure was surviving.  Though bits of jagged metal were still falling in places, causing a huge splash when connecting with the deep green blue ocean water.    

As the dawn’s light intensified, the destruction of the human lands went on full display.  The water had covered most of the area where the humans lived, but there were still signs of dense development.  Huge buildings were sticking up out of the water.  Their glass windows were shattered, but as they saw before, there were animals inside of the buildings.  The sights of the decaying buildings passing by on the port side were the remnants of the once proud city of Kobe.  The critters at the bow of the ship called out, “Pudgy!  I see stuff coming up from the bottom of the ocean!”  The very tops of cell phone towers, radio towers, and skyscraper buildings could be seen just below the hill of the ship through the water.  Once again, all the crew took equidistant positions on board the ship’s deck, and called out as they saw something of concern.  The ship started to weave in between the various obstacles, slowing their forward progression slightly. 

Night fell, and the crew maintained the same vigilance, as the ship started to cross over the cities that were once called Nishinomiya and Toyonaka.  The human cities were on the north side of the Osaka metro area.  The ocean flood waters had covered the entire city and stretched far on either side.  Mr. Field Mouse gave the order to drop one of sets of main sails, to slow the ship and allow for inspection.  By the time dawn arrived, the night crew had once again raised the sails, and Pudgy was none the wiser.  The night crew had been doing a similar maneuver, each time the hedgehog had went below deck to sleep.  So far, no repairs were needed, but the ropes were beginning to fray.  The hedgehog had started skipping meals, to allow the rest of the crew to get more to eat.   

Walking up to Mr. Field Mouse, Pudgy pawed him a piece of a plantain.  The mouse twitched his nose, “no Pudgy I’m ok, you should eat it.”  The little hedgehog shook his head, “no, you need to eat.  You are important, so here.”  The mouse reluctantly took the dried fruit, and nibbled it as he walked slowly to the hatch that led below deck.  The rodent stopped and pointed, “Pudgy …what is that to the starboard side?”  The hedgehog turned to look at these massive red poles sticking up out of the water.  They had a long rectangular beam running through them, and a singular brace that connected to another long beam with a curve in it.  There was another curved beam on top of it, this one was black.  The hedgehog scampered over, and started to ring the bell nearby signaling all crew above deck.  It was not long until the day crew began to emerge sleepily from below decks.  The night crew pointed, and watched the approaching archways in the distance. 

The land on each side of the ship was quickly approaching, with the ocean water finally becoming much shallower.  The animals took positions, and saw that there were roads and houses underneath the water.  They started calling out the ship directions to navigate, and all watched as clear signs of development could be seen.  Though not in the way that any expected.  There were small houses built of wood, painted red and white.  They had green or black roofs, that were curved to a point in the middle.  The front doors were made of paper, brightly painted with all manner of nature scenes.  Those screens soon opened, and animals started to peek out at the passing ship.  Mrs. Field Mouse yawned, and noticed that many of the animals were wearing …clothing? 

Pastor Blue Jay raised his wings to the sky, “praise be to the almighty God in the heavens above, we have made it to our destination.”  Angeliki Raven nodded, “thank the gods … Pudgy, what is this place called again?”  The hedgehog bounced happily, “Shima Moyo told Pudgy it is called Fushimi Inari-taisha.  Pudgy wonder if we will see her here, she showed Pudgy a port where we can moor the Determined.  Does anyone see a dock?”    The crew of animals started to look around, with Filbert the chipmunk calling out from atop a mast arm, “Pudgy!  The dock is located off the starboard bow!”  As Argente peeked her head up over the right front side of the ship, she saw there was a series of docks built.  The pier posts were painted red, and tipped in black  to match the archways and buildings in the area.  Pudgy called out, “drop the main sails!”

The squirrels and chipmunks raced up the masts, and started to pull in the sails.  As each of the 11 sails were tired back, the ship slowed and was carried by the push of the ocean current and the ship’s original forward momentum.  The hedgehog was adjusting the ship’s wheel very slowly, to turn the ship to port.  This way, they could tie up to several of the piers.  As the ship approached, all manner of traditional Japanese style boats could be seen.  The hulls were rectangular, with a slight curve at the water line.  Many had a rectangular house built on top, with a red tiled roof.  Others were rectangular in the bow, and tapers to a point at the stern of the vessel.  Many had triangular, or ovular shaped sails, with a single mast pole.  They varied wildly in size, with some small enough that only a single mouse could use it, or others that were large enough to hold Argente and Shima Moyo on it. 

By this point, with the 30-foot-long Determined ship sailing past what clearly was a town, all of the animals on the land were starting to slowly follow along with the ship’s progress.  They watched in amazement at the massive sails being pulled, and furled in.  At the stern of the ship, the strangest creature that they had ever seen was standing with paws on the wheel.  He was brown, covered in spikes, and wearing a metal helmet with a light on the front.  Orders were being called out by the strange creature, so he was clearly in charge.  Turning to look at the shoreline on the starboard side, Pudgy waved at a couple of bunnies who were watching wide eyed.  They waved back, and hopped beside the ship on the shoreline.  Soon the bunnies were joined by field mice, and about ten critters of varying kinds approached the docks. 

The crew watched as the dock slowly approached, and it was clear that their ship was too large to pull into one of the slips.  Thankfully the three forward slips, or spaces where a ship might dock, were open.  So, with careful adjustments of the ship’s wheel and one forward sail still deployed, the ship pulled up to the first slip.  Pudgy called out, “ok everyone!  It’s time to moor the ship!  Drop the forward tack sail!”  The last of the sails was pulled in and furled, as the bunnies quickly hopped out of the ship and onto the dock.  Mr. Bunny was first, and waited to receive the rope to tie off the rear of the ship.  Hoppy bunny was next to jump out, when the ship approached the middle dock.  Bouncy bunny was the next to jump out, and was immediately thrown a rope by a chipmunk. 

Argente stood up, and reached out with her forward paws, to grab the pier post, and stop the ship from moving forward.  The ropes were thrown to each respective bunny, who started to pull the ship towards the docks.  The land-based animals stood in amazement at the end of the docks where the land stood, watching the crew work.  It was not long until the massive wooden sailing ship was moored off.  They watched as the anchor was dropped for good measure, to secure the ship to the docks.  Hesitantly, a gray bunny started to slowly pad across the dock towards Hoppy bunny.  Hoppy turned around and waved, “hello!  My name is Hoppy, what is yours?”  The two bunnies were a similar gray color, though the Japanese version had slightly more rounded ears.  The timid rabbit twitched his nose, “h …hello … my name is Minato.  Nice to meet you … Hoppy.”

Up close, the Determined was massive.  Minato had never seen a sailing vessel this large before, and it took every one of 6 forward piers to tie the ship off to.  “This ship is massive, where are you from?”  It was not long, until Pudgy appeared on the deck opposite from Hoppy.  The little hedgehog waved, “hi, my name is Pudgy!  This is the Determined, and our ship sailed all the way from the human land once called Pennsylvania.  Be careful, we have to lower the gangplank!”  The Japanese dock was built to local standards, and had never considered a much larger ship would ever arrive.  This meant where the main access point of the ship was located, there was an open slip.  The deck crew untied the gang plank, and swung it out so that it would connect to the dock.  Two brown fluffy chipmunks scurried out, and soon started to tie off the wooden bridge.  Touma stared wide eyed in amazement, how quickly every animal as working. 

Angeliki called out, “Pudgy … I am taking the Pastor with me.  We need to explore the area, and see where this Fushimi Inari-taisha place is located.”  The Japanese bunny watched as soon a black bird and a blue bird took flight from the ship, and started to ascend into the sky.  It was not long after the birds left, that an older gray bunny slowly walked up the central dock, and stood behind Touma.  “Ohaio Minato, what is going on here?”  Touma turned around, “ohaio Grand Father, this is the Determined.  They sailed all the way from some place called Pennsylvania.”  The older rabbit nodded, “so very far away.  All the way from the eastern side of the United States I believe … who is this ship’s captain?”  As the rabbit looked at the ship, he watched a brown spike covered animal quickly scamper across the gangplank and out to the main dock.  Turning to the left, he approached and waved.  “Hello, my name is Pudgy!  Pudgy is the captain, and our ship is called the Determined.” 

“Konichiwa … Captain Pudgy of the Determined.  Welcome to Kyoto.”  The hedgehog bounced happily, “thank you.  Can Pudgy ask what ko …chi …wa means?”  The rabbit wiggled his nose, “sorry … old habbits are hard to break.  Konichiwa is the human language, and it is considered a more formal version of hello.  My name is Goro, and I see you have already met my grandson Minato.  And what manner of animal are you, Pudgy?”  The critter wiggled his nose, “Pudgy is a hedgehog.”  The elderly rabbit nodded, “ahh … and what is that?  Oh, where are my manners?  Come, let us head into town.  I am sure the mayor will want to meet you.”  The captain looked a bit sheepish for a moment, “we have been at sea for almost two months.  The last time we reached the shoreline, the entire crew was violently ill.  It would be best if we remained here, and get used to being on land again. Would you like to come aboard?  We still have some tea left to make.” 

Touma looked at his grandfather with expectant eyes, “that makes sense Captain.  I accept your invitation, and I expect our mayor will be here shortly to inquire about the reason you are here.”  Motioning to follow, the hedgehog led the way and crossed over the gangplank back to the ship.  The two Japanese rabbits followed suit, and watched as the hedgehog quickly disappeared below deck.  The deck animals were all very friendly, and greeted the newcomers.  Full rations were being passed out, and the hungry animals were eating quickly.  Goro wiggled his nose, when he was pawed a piece of hard tack biscuit.  Minato chuckled as he started to chew on the extremely hard cracker, “Grand Father … this is so hard.”  The elderly rabbit nodded as he nibbled, “the British called this ship’s biscuit.  It was preserved bread.  I am surprised they used it for food though.  This was a human made food stuff.”    

The two Japanese rabbits watched the crew, noticing they were all very slender.  It was clear that they had travelled a far distance, and they must have been rationing their supplies.  The way they were eating, was as if they hadn’t eaten for days.  This was good, because had they gone into town, who know how much they might have eaten?  It was not very long, until the hedgehog appeared once again with a metal tea pot that had steam escaping from its top.  Little metal cups were being passed out, first to their guests, and then to the rest of the crew.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “this is the last of our spice bush tea supply.  Thank goodness Pudgy had enough to make enough for us.  Spice bush is a plant that grows back home, and we think it’s tasty for tea purposes.  Too bad all the human tea is gone now, that stuff tasted much better.”

The captain was soon serving everyone, and while none got a full cup, each had an amount that allowed for a sip or two.  As the hedgehog turned to face Goro, he could see a black rabbit hopping quickly up the dock towards the gangplank.  Pudgy waved at the rabbit, “hello!  Would you like some tea?”  The rabbit stopped at the plank, “Konichiwa!  Permission to come aboard?”  The hedgehog nodded, “granted!  My name is Pudgy, and Pudgy is captain of the Determined.”  The black rabbit slowly crossed the plank, and padded up to the hedgehog.  Catching sight of Goro and Minato, “Goro … you were supposed to bring them to Fushimi village so we can inter … welcome our gaijin friends.”  The elderly rabbit nodded, “I did offer, but the captain informed me that this crew had been at sea for almost two months.  They will have to reacclimate to the land, otherwise it may be quite messy.  Captain Pudgy, may I introduce Sichio Touma.  Sichio is the human word for mayor.” 

Pouring the last bit of tea in the pot, Pudgy passed the cup to the mayor and nodded. “Pudgy very glad to meet you Sichio Touma.”  The black rabbit sniffed the beverage, “what type of tea is this?”  Minato was already sipping, and twitched his nose, “it’s good.  Pudgy said it was called spice bush.”  Goro nodded as he sipped, “indeed it is good, almost peppery.  Pudgy, you are not drinking tea?”  The little hedgehog walked over to a water barrel to fill up his mug with water.  “Pudgy ran out, there is no tea left.  So Pudgy gave last bit to Mayor.  It’s ok, Pudgy drink water.  Pudgy had to order one quarter rations, or we would have run out of food on way here.”  Goro blinked, “that is not good … you can not sustain a crew on such little food.”  Touma nodded, “Captain Pudgy … may I inquire as to your reason for arriving to our village?” 

The hedgehog nodded, “it is a long story, but let Pudgy summarize.”  The little hedgehog greatly reduced the details, and explained about how a white ethereal fox led them to build the ship and head to the Phillipines.  Then once there, they had to travel to Japan.  The hedgehog was clear to point out the story was much longer, and he would be happy to tell it.  The mayor nodded, and sipped the strange beverage as he sat on the deck.  It was a long time before he spoke, “I see.  Thank you for the short version, and I may need to hear the longer version.  Though, it will be at my home in the village.  And I can show you how to properly make tea.”  Mrs. Field Mouse scurried up to Pudgy and patted his arm, “Pudgy, we are almost completely out of food now.  If full rations, we have perhaps a day’s worth of supplies.”  Touma nodded, “that settles it then, please stay here in Fushimi village as my guests.” 

The captain nodded, “thank you for letting us stay Sichio Touma.  Can Pudgy ask a question?  Do you know where a place called Fushimi Inari-taisha is located?”  The black rabbit nodded, “it is a Shinto temple that is located behind our village.  I am sure the priests will want to speak to you as well.  But for now, let us take our time, and allow ever animal to acclimate back to the land.  How about we meet tomorrow, when the sun is highest in the sky?  Goro or Minato, can you please stay with our guests tonight?  Tomorrow, please escort them to town, so we can make a proper welcome.”  Minato nodded, “I can stay here Grandfather.  I want to hear more about the ocean voyage.”  Goro nodded, “as do I, so we will stay here on the Determined.  If this is allowed, Captain Pudgy?”  The hedgehog nodded, “sure you can stay, we want to learn about Japan too!”  The animals wiggled and bounced happily on the deck.  Touma nodded, “I shall say my good bye for now, and expect to see you tomorrow as we agreed upon.   Sayonara … Captain Pudgy.”

The black rabbit bowed slightly, while taking a few steps backwards, and turning around.  The rabbit started to cross the plank carefully, and then hopped quickly across the docks.  The Determined’s crew all began to wave as the mayor departed the ship.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Japan has many words Pudgy does not understand.  Goro, was that important what the mayor said?”  The elderly rabbit twitched his nose, “it is a formal version of good bye.”  The dark gray rabbit took the last remaining sip of water from his metal tea cup, and grinned as he looked at the tall masts and the rope rigging above.  “Captain Pudgy, please tell me about your ship.  I have never seen such a vessel in my human nor animal life.”  The hedgehog beamed with pride, and began to tell the grand tale of how Friendship town came together to build the Determined.  The elderly rabbit was a ship builder, so soon there was a technical discussion occurring.  It was going to be a very interesting chat, so a round of water was in order. 

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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