War Cry: Chapter 3: Fair Memories: Part 2

Pudgy’s back started to twinge, so he looked around the statues of the carved bears.  There were several large flat rocks nearby, which would facilitate sitting down.  Slowly, the elderly critter walked, until he reached the stone and sat down.  The pressure was being relieved on his spine, which felt a lot better.  There would be no walking for now, so the little hedgehog pondered what happened less than a day later after Mr. Dave and the bears had arrived.  The forest was abuzz with activity, with all manner of animal friend were busy at their various tasks. 

Every free spot was full with baked treats in Pudgy’s home.  The annual festivity known as Thanksoween was soon upon them, and the hedgehog was working from sunrise to sunset to make as much food as he could.  Mr. and Mrs. Fieldmouse were helping as they were able to, but were busy with their normal daily tasks.  In years past, the gathering marked the last time that the forest would see the various birds who lived there.  The next day, the grand migration to the warmer lands south occurred, and the trees would become very quiet.  However, with the various changes to the world, the birds had changed their habits.  While some continued to migrate, out of habit, others chose to linger longer.  As such, the town party changed accordingly to a festive affair with less emphasis on departing friends. 

Having a wide variety of yummy foods to eat was important when planning a party.  To help facilitate this: woven baskets were lined up in front of the underground home.  The birds were tasked to gather seeds and nuts, as well as other items that would be of use during the grand gathering.  There was a steady stream of robins, blue jays, cardinals, gold finches, sparrows, and crows making regular trips outside of Pudgy’s home.  The birds would land, drop off the gathered item, and then take flight again.  That was until the gray and fluffy bunnies came up with an idea.  The mischievous rabbits arranged the baskets further out, and then started to excitedly tell the birds about their game.  They called it “who can land the nut or seed in the basket and win points for bunny prizes but not too many prizes because we don’t know what the prize is.” 

As the rabbits bounced and excitedly talked over one another, the red panda Mr. Drew stopped by and nodded as he listened.  When the birds were thoroughly confused, he spoke calmy and pointed out that Payload was a much better name.  The bunnies pouted at first, but watched as the birds began to really got into the fun.  They started doing power dives, corkscrew barrel rolls, and all sorts of highly coordinated displays of aerial prowess.  There were also many arguments in progress as the cardinals yelled at the blue jays about which basket was theirs?  Then both arguing flocks took off chirping loudly in anger, while the gold finches would sneak in and drop off their load.  The game was simple, you would score points by style, but also by weight of product.  The yellow birds were playing to win, and their section was already at three baskets. 

All bets were off when the red panda heard an eagle cry, and the bunnies watched as Cobalt swooped in and dropped off a small pumpkin.  The predator bird banked hard and flapped his wings to gain altitude, as he weaved through the trees.  It was not too long afterwards, when Mr. Dave the Philippine eagle swooped in carrying a pumpkin of equal size, though a bit greener than the first.  The tropical bird’s call was unique, and followed the same flight path to head back to the pumpkin patch that was still producing the fruit all these years later.  All the smaller birds started to chirp loudly, protesting that the eagles were cheating!  The quick-witted red panda nodded, and to avoid a full-on meltdown by the sparrows, announced that the eagles were not part of the competition. 

With the crisis averted, the red panda looked around town to see Mr. and Mrs. Bobcat helping to move long wooden tables into place around the town stage.  They were joined by a tiny female bobcat kitten, who was busy playing with a dandelion flower.  During the time of the grand adventure of the Determined, the bobcats entertained themselves within their cottage.  It was not long until the Waffle Cat’s cabin soon became very full, with the addition of their daughter Star.  Patches the cat assisted with not only the pregnancy, but also the birth as well, as she had had a few kittens herself over the years.  The birth was hard on Tess, since there were no hospitals, and anesthesia was no longer in existence.  It took many hours, but the kitten was successfully birthed.  Both mother and child recovered, while Pope took on more responsibility.  The faithful husband hunted and gathered, while staying close to protect his family.  During their scant time together, there was much colorful language, and a joint decision was made that they would not entertain themselves again when Pudgy was gone.

Pudgy had met Star, and bounced happily while asking where she came from.  The baby pounced on the hedgehog, who was marvelously squishy, but soon learned that the quills could be quite prickly.  With a look from his wife, Mr. Waffle Cat made up a story that would explain how the kitten arrived.  He used artistic metaphors, and thoroughly confused the hedgehog, who decided the kitten arrived by magic.  The kitten pointed at Pudgy’s house with the dandelion, while her mother giggled a bit, “we will go visit Pudgy soon Star.  Your father and I must set up the tables first.”  Star nodded, and waited patiently, watching Patches come strolling up and waving a paw at her.  The house cat grinned, and twitched her nose, “I see you found a dandelion.  Did you know those flowers are named after a lion?  A lion is a huge cat, and they roam the plains in lands far away from here.”            

The kitten nodded, and listened to Patches intently.  She had not started to speak yet, but was developing quickly.  Turning towards the river, a tree was being pushed down stream and towards the town.  It was covered with a huge pile of blueberries.  A couple beavers were in the water guiding the log, and eased it against the river bank.  The house cat padded down towards the log, “hello!  Oh …. Are those blueberries?  Where did you find those?”  A proud male beaver emerged from the water and waved one of his webbed paws, “they grow on bushes near our town.”  The scent of the fruit was sweet, and every animal present was trying very hard not to devour the entire log’s contents.  Nodding, “Pudgy will want to see this … good job finding these!”  The beavers beamed, and started to offload the fruit onto a wide shale rock nearby.  The house cat snatched up a bunch by the stem, and started to head towards the underground home. 

The house cat crossed the distance through town, and started to carefully pad across the bridge that stretched over the river and to the shoreline where the hedgehog’s underground home was.  She dropped the bunch of fruit on the ground in front of the open front door way, and meowed happily. “Pudgy, look what the beavers brought us?”  The cat watched her hedgehog friend scamper to the door way and bounce happily, “Hi Patches!  Oh wow … blue berries!  We can make jam, and muffins!”  The house cat giggled, “or just eat them.  They brought a whole tree load up to the town … and … are…. Excited …. to …”  The cat trailed off, and she spotted the beavers becoming agitated.  There was loud arguing, which drew the hedgehog’s attention as well.”  Three turtles had emerged from the water, and were angrily snapping at the tails of the beavers.  “YOU STOLE OUR BLUEBERRIES!”

The hedgehog looked at his cat friend, “we need to go.  Please bring the blueberries Patches,” the hedgehog said as he scampered towards the bridge that spanned the river.  The cat nodded, and picked up the fruit by the stem in her mouth.  Falling into line behind her friend, the two animals crossed the well-worn wooden bridge, and over to the side of the river where the beavers were now angrily slapping their wide flat tails on the muddy shoreline.  The brown animals chittered in high pitched angry sounds, while pulling the log covered with the fruit towards them.  The turtles were about eight inches long, and were a dull green color, with muddy colored brown that covered shells on their backs.  They were slowly advancing towards the long, and kept repeating the same thing over and over.  “You stole our blueberries, you stole our blueberries, you stole our blueberries,” it was incessant and the nearby animals of the town looked on with confused looks. 

As the hedgehog scampered up to the beavers, he waved and wiggled his nose.  “Hello beaver friends, can Pudgy ask you a question?”  The three beavers stopped slapping their tails, and turned to face Pudgy.  A young male spoke, “hello Pudgy.”  The critter pointed at the log, “where did the blueberries come from?”  The turtles cut the wet brown animal off, “from our land.  They stole our blueberries!”  The hedgehog turned to the lead turtle, “hello, my name is Pudgy, what is yours?”  The turtle looked at him, then at the fruit covered log, “they stole our blueberries!”  The other two turtles repeated the same, and did not acknowledge the question.  Patches padded up, and placed the bunch she had taken back onto the log, “Pudgy … these guys do not seem very with it … perhaps we should just give them back the fruit?”     

The beavers snapped angrily, “we did not steal the blue berries!  The bushes grow on our land surrounding our town!  Turtle Village is much farther downstream, and nowhere close for that matter!  So why do not you dummies go home,” the young male said while his two friends nodded.  The turtles narrow their beady black eyes and shouted, “ZEKE!”  The word floated in the air, with no apparent action that occurred.  The turtles stood defiantly, but the beavers only laughed as they started to move back towards the log.  Three steps were taken, when a large shell started to emerge out of the river water.  A turtle that was almost two feet in length started to emerge slowly.  The shell was a similar muddy brown color, though had gouges in it.  Green leathery skin started to appear, as the much larger turtle picked his head up out of the water. 

Mr. Waffle Cat, curious about the commotion, had started to approach when he called out with a concerned tone.  “Pudgy, careful, that’s a snapping turtle.”  Zeke had arrived, and lunged towards the log and bit down hard on it.  He started to drag the log back into the water, but a tug of war started as the beavers grabbed the other end.  The large turtle let go of the log, and darted forward in a short burst of speed, and lunged towards a beaver tail.  His powerful jaws bit down hard on the flat black tail, causing tremendous pain.  The beaver squeaked out, and tried to pull away, as he began to whimper. 

Pudgy rushed over as quickly as his little legs could carry him, “please Zeke!  No hurt beaver friends, they did not know about the blueberry bush!  Please, Pudgy do not want any animal friend hurt.”  The snapping turtle narrowed his black eyes, as the water started to dry from his skin.  The words of the hedgehog resulted in the turtle letting go, and the beaver running away to join his friends.  The other two beavers seeing the snapping turtle had started to back away slowly.  Slow, measured words began to come out from the large turtle.  “They…. did … know.  We … told …. them.”  The beavers shook their paws at the turtles, “no you did not!  Liar!  Lies!”  The beavers had started to shout, while the smaller turtles nodded and hissed in agreement. 

The hedgehog realized that there would be no agreement, as each side was completely at odds with another.  Rubbing his chin with his paw, the little critter pondered.  After a few quick moments had passed, Pudgy looked at the turtles.  “Can Pudgy see the blueberry bush?  Will you show Pudgy where it is?”  Zeke nodded, “yes … I … will … show … you … tomorrow.  In meantime …. Brothers … take blueberries.”  The beavers chittered and slapped their tails on the ground, “NO!  THOSE ARE OUT BLUEBERRIES!”  And unfortunately, the brief negotiated calm rekindled the anger.  Both sides started to argue loudly, with hissing, and slapping tails.  Patches shook her head, “this is going nowhere.  How can we fix this, Pudgy?”           

The hedgehog scampered over to the log, and picked up a blue colored fruit and sniffed it.  It smelled sweet, though it seemed to have a slightly acidic smell for some reason.  Lifting it to his mouth, the critter took a bite.  This resulted in both the turtles and the beavers to stop arguing and look at the critter.  Mrs. Waffle Cat watched as the hedgehog made a face, and immediately rushed to a rock and started to spit up the fruit.  Then, the hedgehog started to expel the contents of his stomach.  Concerned, the mother bobcat padded over, and placed a paw on the hedgehog’s back.  “Pudgy what is it?”  The various animals nearby all started to look concerned, as a clearly sick critter looked up.  “The fruit tastes weird … makes Pudgy tummy feel bad.”  The beavers wiggled their noses as they looked concerned, and then at the turtles.  Zeke frowned, “not good.  No one eat fruit … Pudgy come tomorrow.”   

As the turtles backed into the water, the beavers slowly moved towards the log.  Picking up the berries, they tasted them, and immediately had a similar reaction to their hedgehog friend and spat them out.  Patches nodded, “there is something very wrong here.  We need to get rid of that stuff, so no other animal friend can get sick.  Tess, can you please take Pudgy home?”  The mother bobcat nodded, and leaned down so Pudgy could weakly climb up onto her back.  Star looked concerned, and padded beside her mother as she headed towards the underground home and center of town activities.  Patches and Mr. Bobcat carefully grabbed the fruit by the stems and scattered it around the forest, under rocks and in various nooks and crannies, where no animal would easily find the tainted fruit. 

As the hours passed, Pudgy recovered and was visited by many of his animal friends to check on him.  Word had spread throughout the town of the immediate violent reaction of the picked fruit and its effects on not only the hedgehog but the beavers as well.  Mr. and Mrs. Beaver even swam up to check on their friend, bringing him a root they would use to calm their bellies if they ever ate something bad.  The critter gratefully accepted, and the strange root did help, allowing him to head to bed and get some sleep.  He dreamed intense dreams, of hedgehogs being chased by German shepherds.  Pudgy would wake often, though would drift back to sleep, only to be confronted by scenes of terror as family now was joined by a baby hedgehog as they were fleeing.  By the time morning had arrived, the dream was over with him and Cobalt eating cookies. 

As the early morning sun streamed into his home through the round windows, he finally felt like his normal self.  After getting out of bed, and attending to some normal morning business, he scampered out of his home’s front door.  Turning to the left, the critter scampered past the big round door that led into the storehouse.  It was not long until he rounded the bend, and headed to the dragon cove docks where his steamship was moored.  Overhead, the skies were starting to cloud up, and there was a slight chill in the air.  It was not uncomfortable, but odd since it had been nice and warm for so long, that many had forgotten what winter was like?  Shaking his head, the hedgehog began to make many trips between the wood storage shed and his ship. 

A steamship adventure was not quick, and it required many steps to be able to go off on a trip.  First, a huge load of firewood had to be moved from the storage pavilion and onto the deck of the ship.  Various animals oversaw gathering firewood, and would ensure the covered wood pile would remain full of fuel for various tasks.  Once the deck was loaded with more than enough fuel, the critter started to load the firebox.  First small sticks, and dry grasses were loaded.  A flint striker was inside the firebox, and using the controls, bright sparks started to be created and catch the dry starter on fire.  Once the smoke started float out of the opening to the firebox, the critter started to load small sticks, and then larger ones.  It was about an hour until there was a roaring fire inside. 

White puffy smoke started to billow out of the blackened smoke stack.  The boiler was filled with fresh water, and as it began to heat: pressure began to build up.  There was a pressure gauge, which the hedgehog had learned how to read during his first steam ship adventure.  It was not long until a curious red panda appeared from behind the town’s saw mill.  “Good morning Pudgy, how are you feeling?”  The critter looked up and waved, “much better Mr. Drew.  Want to come with Pudgy to Turtle village?”  The former human grinned and nodded, “why yes, I would certainly like to go on a Pudgy adventure.  But we must be back by evening, I have a show.  Tonight, is the debut of my new play: Limburger Love.  It is a play of romance, bunnies, and stinky cheese.”       

The mooring lines were undone, and as Drew crossed over from the dock to the stern of the ship, the vessel sunk down a bit before recovering its natural buoyancy.  The red panda pushed the ship out from the dock, and watched as Pudgy headed to the pilot house.  Setting the throttle to half, he turned the ship’s wheel and maneuvered the ship out of the cove and into the main river channel.  Turning starboard, the ship started to turn to the right as the propellors spun up to proper speed.  Once out into the center of the river, the throttled was set to full, and the ship came up to speed as it passed through the town.  The bunnies waved from their burrow, and Mr. Drew waved back as he ducked a bit as the ship went under the bridge.  Friendship Town started to fade away, as the river twisted and turned, while it weaved through the land. 

Drew watched the groundhogs work, digging ever deeper tunnels, trying to find more metal ore to process.  Their butts were sticking out wiggling, while the dirt was flying out from either side of their bodies.  In time, they too disappeared, as the ship reached the lake that covered the former human town where Cobalt once took Pudgy to shop for cookies …and other non-cookie related items.  The water level was holding steady, though the geyser of water that once shot up at the lake’s center, ceased to flow.  Sandra and Raymond Herron, before they left to search for what remained of their human home, said that one day the water stopped bursting out from deep below the lake’s surface.  They flew very low over the area, and could see ripples, so water was still flowing, but with much less pressure.  The little hedgehog wondered what his bird friends were up to?  He also hoped they were safe, wherever they had wound up to?

Beaver Town was at the southern end of the lake, and the hedgehog steered the ship in that general direction.  The aquatic animals had developed their town with many wood buildings, of an ever-increasing number of artistic wood carvings.  Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who used to live near Pudgy had moved there a long time ago, and were central in the town’s operation.  They too had entertained themselves in the hedgehog’s absence, so there were many more children scampering around the town.  There was no time for the parents to explain, as the little ones always wanted to play with Pudgy and listen to his stories when he would visit town.  Their saw mills were in near constant operation, and the beavers supplied all the neighboring villages with a steady supply of expertly sawn lumber and wood products.   

Drew watched as the town started to pass by, and he waved a black fur covered paw at the beavers as they worked.  Some waved back, but others were too busy chewing and prepping the logs to be processed at the mill.  Pudgy knew that their destination was a short distance past the beaver town, and eased the ship into a ever narrowing channel of water that followed the original creek’s path.  In days long past, the naturally flowing stream that ran through the area, and continued for long distance before it too joined the Monongahela River.  The humans called the water Turtle Creek, due to the abundance of wild turtles within its water ways.  Pudgy had wanted to explore it for a long time, but adventures to far away lands always kept him busy. 

With bow paws on the ship’s wheel, Pudgy navigated the channel, and avoided large rocks that were sticking up in various spots.  The foliage started to pull in closer, and the trees weaved together like a carpet over head with their green foliage.  The light decreased, and soon an eerie silence started to fill the air.  Drew wiggled his nose, “Pudgy, I do not like this.  Why are there no birds here?”  The hedgehog was wondering that too, and pondered whether he should light the lanterns at the bow of the ship?  He would use them in low light or night conditions, though Argente was very keen on no extended night time trips.  The critter would find her pacing at the dragon docks, and get a tongue lashing, before a hug from his female silver fox friend.

The red panda called out, “helllooo…..”  Pudgy looked around, and lowered the throttle to half, and pulled the strting for the steam whistle.  Toot! Toooot!  The shrill whistle blew, and echoed in the trees.  The loud noise started making the calm water ripple, and suddenly Zeke emerged from beneath the water.  “Helloo … Pudgy … follow ….. meee …” Both hedgehog and red panda nodded, and watched as the large snapping turtle start to move very quickly in the water.  The turtle led them a short distance around the bend, and underneath a large fallen pine tree, to reach a very large outcropping of rock that covered a naturally forming cove in the stream.  The rock was shale, which was naturally occurring in western Pennsylvania, and was very thick.  The pressed layers of rock could clearly be seen, and varied from dark to light.  There was also a prevalence of bright brown dirt, which signified an abundance of clay. 

“Pudgy, all this clay ….  The turtles could make a lot of trades with our town.  We can make pottery.”  Pudgy nodded, and guided the ship along the shoreline, and then quickly scampered to drop the anchor.  The anchor made a splash, and the chain rattled for a time, until it caught bottom and the ship was moored into place.  Shutting the vents on the firebox, the fire was starting to be snuffed out, and the water pressure gauges slowly fell.  Pudgy tooted the whistle again, to further release boiler pressure.  A dozen turtles peeked out of the water and waved at both the red panda and hedgehog in the ship.  Zeke’s head was soon resting on the deck of the ship as he looked at Pudgy.  “Nice … ship … Pudgy.”  It was not that the turtle was speaking slow, he had a very measured approach to speaking.  The smaller turtles spoke normally, at a higher pitch.  The hedgehog beamed, “yes, it is.  We had to rebuild the hull, but the engine and drive system are the original that Cobalt built for Pudgy a long time ago.” 

Drew pointed at the clay overhead on the steep hill that was above the shale rock overhang, “Zeke, we can use that clay to make things in Friendship Town.  We can trade you for it, our town has many things.”  The snapping turtle nodded, “perhaps, I will talk … to my brothers …regarding your proposal.”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Zeke … Pudgy did not see any blueberry bushes on the way here?  Where are they?”  The turtle motioned further down the stream.  As Drew carefully maneuvered off the ship, he positioned himself so that Pudgy could climb onto his back.  His paws were in the cool water, and the mud squished between his toes, but most of his body was still dry.  Carefully maneuvering around multiple smaller green turtles, the red panda watched as Zeke started to dart again, causing a slight wave in the water.             

Pudgy watched as they went a couple feet past the turtle’s home, and made a left to follow the stream.  It was not very far until the water became so narrow and shallow, that the steam ship would not have been able to travel further.  The snapping turtle moved slower now, as there was less water to make him buoyant in, but after a right, then a left, the blue berry bushes could clearly be seen.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “the beavers swam past your town, to get to the bushes?  Zeke, you are right, this is no where close to beaver town.”  The turtle nodded, “we asked the beavers for wood.  Want to make village, like Friendship Town.  Then one day …. They came and picked almost all the berries off the bushes.”  The hedgehog nodded, “did you offer the blue berries as payment for the wood?”  The snapping turtle nodded, “yes … but we wanted to harvest them.  The beavers just came and took them.”

Drew nodded, “I see, that is why the smaller ones kept saying the beavers stole the berries.  What I do not understand is, why did the fruit make Pudgy sick when he ate it?”  The little hedgehog nodded, “the blue berries had a funny taste, almost acidic.  Zeke, where did the beavers pick from?”  The snapping turtle pointed, “they spent a lot of time over there.”  Drew padded slowly through the tall grass, and fruit plants.  Sniffing the air, there was an odd scent.  “Something is off … look at the ground Pudgy.”  The grasses were brown, and patches of dirt were bare as well.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “something is killing the plants?  Cobalt used to have this stuff in a blue bottle, he would tell Pudgy don’t touch or lick it.  Then Cobalt would wash his hands, sometimes twice with hot water and soap.”  The red panda nodded, “weed killer most likely.  No Pudgy, that would wear off, this is something else.  Oh no…look …”

As Pudgy turned forward, the red panda crested a small hill, which overlooked a terrible sight.  Zeke also slowly ascended the hill, and stared with unblinking eyes.  There was a mountain of tires, tossed into a gully.  A swarm of yellow jackets were buzzing, as they flew in and out of many of the tires.  There were also about a dozen car batteries that had been cracked open, or rusted until the acid within was leaking out.  Drew wiggled his nose, as he could see the varied remnants of an old house that was laying in a pile next to where the angry insects were buzzing about.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, “Pudgy think used to be a farm here.  Cobalt took Pudgy past here a long time ago, the house was so old he would say.”  Drew nodded, “they probably worked on cars, or just liked to collect hazardous waste.  Well, that explains why you got sick from the berries.  Zeke, no animal can eat anything the grows here.  The land is full of poison.”

The snapping turtle nodded, “agreed.  My brothers and I will block off this place, and prevent the beavers from coming here.  I wonder … how many berries did they eat?”  Pudgy wiggled his nose and whimpered, “Pudgy hope not many at all.  One was enough to make Pudgy sick, and Pudgy never was able to swallow it.”  As the red panda and snapping turtle turned, they started to head down the narrow path between the tall grasses.  After a few feet, they found a small green turtle waiting at the edge of the water.  Zeke looked down, “what is it brother?”  The small turtle wiggled his head back and forth, “the beavers came again.  They saw Pudgy’s ship, and then headed back to their town.”  The group headed back along the shoreline, and the turtles eased back into the water, and soon were swimming quick.  It was not long until they had returned to the rocky overhang.    

Zeke called out, “brothers … surface!”  Pudgy watched as easily twenty turtles of various sizes started to pop their heads out of the water.  “The land is poison, no one go over there.  No one eat anything over there.  We will start at once to block the stream.  No animal will head past our village, it is not safe.”  Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy and Mister Drew will talk to the other animals in Friendship Town, maybe some animal friend will know what to do with the bad stuff we found there?  Pudgy and Mister Drew will head to Beaver Town, and let them know.  But before Pudgy go, Pudgy want to invite every animal friend to our party Thanksoween.”  Drew nodded, “yes please come, it will be a lot of fun.”  Zeke nodded, “we will come, but have nothing to bring?”  The red panda nodded, “yes you do.  Can you bring some of this clay?  We can use it to make ceramic, and pottery.”  The turtles nodded, “ok, we will bring the clay.” 

As the turtled cheered, and talked excitedly amongst themselves, Pudgy hopped from his friend’s back and onto the ship’s deck.  Quickly he scampered around, relighting the boiler and preparing to set forth once again.  Drew carefully maneuvered and eased himself back on the ship as well, without capsizing the ship of course.  The boiler was still hot, so it did not take much to come back up to pressure.  The anchor was pulled up, and Zeke helped to pull the ship out and turn it around.  “Bye every animal, Pudgy can’t wait to see you in two days for Thanksoween!”  The throttle was set to full, and a flurry of bubbles formed as the propellors spun quickly with the ship darting forward.   

The ship was now heading up stream, so the quick progression from earlier, was now much slower.  The turtles disappeared as they followed the bends in the stream, until they reached the lake once again.   The steam ship’s smoke stack from the firebox puffed away with white smoke.  The dense foliage also pulled back, and the skies opened to reveal a mostly cloudy sky, with the occasional peak of blue sky appearing.  After about an hour of travel, the ship pulled up to the edge of Beaver Town.  The town had a dock for Pudgy to moor his steam ship to, and with the assistance of Drew’s helpful paw, the ship was positioned at the end of the docks.  The anchor was dropped, as well as the mooring lines tied off to the pier posts.  Once the ship was safely tied off, the firebox vents were shut, and the fire was snuffed out once again. 

The red panda carefully maneuvered to disembark once again, and watched as Pudgy quickly scampered off the ship and along the teeth cut wood planks that formed the deck planks.  It was not long until the various beavers of the town started to gather around Pudgy and Drew as they headed to the town center.  Mr. and Mrs. Beaver waved their paws at their friend, and motioned over to a wide wooden table.  “Hello Pudgy … hello Drew!  We saw you sail past earlier, heading to Turtle Village I Take it?”  The male beaver said, while many others milled about trying to eavesdrop.  Pudgy nodded as he sat down beside his former neighbors, “yes, we did.  The turtles were much calmer this time.  Pudgy must know immediately, did any beaver friend eat the berries they gathered from beyond the village?”  Mrs. Beaver shook her head, “no.  The young ones said the bushes were just outside of town.  They so wanted to bring you a present, and show off.”

Drew looked at them with a serious expression, “the bushes were not close.  They had to swim past the turtle village, and go up a hill behind their home.  But that is not the worst part, we found what used to be a human dump or a farm.  There were tires, batteries, and other hazardous waste there.  The poison is leaking and leeching into the soil.  All the plants there are not safe to eat.  The turtles said that they would block off that part of the stream.”  All the beavers looked horrified, and started to quickly talk amongst themselves.  Pudgy nodded, “please, no animal friend must go there and eat any food you find there.”  The little hedgehog nodded, and as Drew was about to speak again, Mrs. Beaver looked at Pudgy. 

He was starting to look sick, and watched as the hedgehog’s eyes rolled back into his head.  He passed out, and fell backwards.  “Pudgy!  No Pudgy!  Quick, get him some water.”  Drew carefully reached down with his paw to gently shake his critter friend with a concerned look on his face.  The beavers were quickly darting around the various wood buildings, trying to find something to help their friend.  Mr. Beaver watched as the hedgehog started to float off the ground, and his quills started to extend out in all directions.  “Everyone!  Back away …something is happening.”  The animals stopped and stared, while watching the hedgehog float unnaturally in midair.  Drew wiggled his nose, “oh great ….” The red panda knew what this meant, and their days of peace were soon to be over once again.       

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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