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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Raymond L. Step... on 10 March 2007 - 5:48pm. | | |

As the group continued on their journey, the woods gave way to more of a plains topography. After quite a time, they noticed that the grass was getting taller and taller. The ground began to be damp, then wetter and wetter.
“Howwwlll!” They all looked at each other, and shook their heads. Whatever made the noise was a long way off, and

nothing to worry about. The grass turned to reeds, and grew so tall they couldn’t see over the top of it. “Howwlll!”
Was it their imagination, or was the sound getting nearer.

“Hey Swoop,” Slayer called, “why don’t you pop up to see where we are?”

“OK, Slayer, just give me a boost so I can get my wings working above this stuff.”

Slayer and Dragon both crouched down, while Swoop climbed up and put a foot on each of their heads. At the count of three, both raised up and jumped as high as they could from their strong hind legs. Swoop judged their jump, and just as they reached their highest point, he too jumped as high as he could, and began to flap his huge leathery wings, launching himself into flight. Higher and higher he circled.

High above their heads now, Swoop called down to them. “Hey, there’s a river up ahead. You’re on the edges of a swamp.”

“Howwlll.” Much closer now.

“Aieeyah! I’m sinking!” Dragon shouted. “Help me!”

Buzzy grabbed one of Dragons flailing forelegs with his beak, and leaning back, digging his feet in, pulled with all his might. Slayer caught the other leg with his front feet and mouth, and did the some. Swoop came low enough to grab one of Dragon’s horns, and put forth all his mighty wings could muster. Dragon pulled free so suddenly, Swoop, Buzzy and Slayer went flying through the air, not a controlled
flight either, they landed with a bump, thump, and a rolling thud.

Dragon was about to ask how everybody was, but was interrupted by a “Howwll!”

“What is that!” Dragon was pretty worried now.

“It’s something coming to eat us!” said Buzzy.

“Howwll!”

Boy that did it, they were so scared, they just started running; but, with quicksand in one direction, and the river in another, and not exactly sure which direction they just came from; all they did was get in each other’s way, and trip one another. “Howwll!” Now all they could do, was huddle together, heads down, and rear ends up and out. Rustle, rustle, rustle, Dragon just couldn’t stand it. He raised one fearful, half-closed eye to peer over Slayer’s already raised collar. “Look!”

Slayer jumped and turned on his rear legs, mouth wide, and collar flaring. He was ready to try his darndest to scare anything that might be there. Buzzy sat up, and put his fearful beak forward. Dragon started snorting and whuffing, trying to get his fire going. Where was swoop? Had he already been eaten? Finally they spied the little pterodactyl. He had managed to get airborne, but was flying
very erratically. Oh, no, they feared he had been mortally wounded. The beast must have hurt him.

Just then, another rustle and a movement in the reeds caught their attention. As they watched, horrified, a little black nose button appeared, then a grey and brown muzzle, two small red eyes, and two pointed brown ears. “Please don’t hurt me,” it said.

“H-h-h-hurt you,” Buzzy said, “we thought you were going to eat us.”

“Was that terrible noise you?”

“Uh, I guess so, I mean, I was trying to warn you about the quicksand. I have been following you, but I was afraid to get too close. What’s the matter with him?”

All of them looked around, Swoop was coming in for a landing, but his beak was wide open, and his head was tilted back. His flight was so jerky, he could hardly maintain flight. Crash! Tumble, bump, Swoop crashed into Dragon, bounced over Buzzy, and came to rest upside down on Slayer’s tail. What! He was laughing so hard he couldn’t even roll over. “Oh, boy! You guys sure were funny. That was a show worth watching, and I had the best seat possible. I thought you were all going to turn absolutely white you were so

scared. You had me laughing so hard I almost flew upside down. Hahahahaha, it was great.”

Pretty soon they were all laughing, the comical picture Swoop drew for them overcame all their past fears.

“I’m Slayer.” “Dragon”, “Buzzy”, “Hahaha Swoop here,”

“And I’m Howl,” said the newcomer, shyly. “Can I play with you?”

“Sure,” said Slayer, “only we’re on an exploring patrol. We’re trying to keep Booploop safe from weird critters.”

“Yup,” added Buzzy, “say, do you know the way out of this mess?”

“Sure,” said Howl,” just follow me.”

They all agreed that Howl made a great point-man; of course, it helped that he knew his own neighborhood like the tip of his bushy tail. Soon Howl had them back on solid ground. “Howl, that was marvelous,” Dragon had been thoroughly impressed. “I didn’t think I would ever get out of that terrible, sinking place.”

“Say, Howl, I don’t suppose you know where we could possibly get a bite to eat.” Buzzy was looking positively famished.

“Why, sure, you should have said you were hungry. Just a little way further, up at the base of the mountain, there was a rockslide. There are a lot of bugs, mice, beehives and stuff in the trees the rocks knocked down. I go there all the time.”

Although it seemed like a long time to them, the brave little self-appointed patrol soon reached the slide area; just as Howl had promised, there was food in plenty, for all their tastes.

Before long, their tummies were bulging, and yet they kept on eating. Finally Dragon looked up from the tasty honey-comb he was feasting on. There was Howl, flat on his back, four paws towards the sky.

“Howl!” Dragon cried.

“Ooooh!” My tummy is so full, I can’t roll over.”

As he looked around at each of each member of the patrol, he saw that everyone was in much the same state. Buzzy was propped against a fallen log, extended stomach resting on the ground between his feet, a large grub still dangled from his beak. Swoop had managed to cling to tree branch with his Talons, and was hanging upside down to relieve the pressure, but in so doing, was in danger of throwing up the whole repast he had indulged in. Slayer was
suspended also, but with his forelegs draped over a limb, and his back legs on top of a rock. His belly looked like a swing in between. He was certain no matter what happened right now, he wouldn’t be able to get his magnificent collar to raise even an inch. Dragon, seeing the state his friends were in, finally succumbed, curled his tail for a hollow cushion, and, carefully arranging his swollen abdomen in the center, allowed front and hind legs to hang over the outside, and almost immediately fell asleep.

Ah, pain! Something must have him in its mouth or claws. Slayer couldn’t decide whether to risk opening an eye, or continue to feign sleep. Finally unable to stand the pain any longer, he risked opening his left eye just a crack. Nothing there that he could see. Cautiously he opened both eyes, and slowly looked around. He could hardly believe it, the pain was caused by the awkward position he had arranged himself in. Then he noticed that the sun was in the East instead of the West. He must have been dangling there for about twelve hours. Slowly and sorely he managed to get his powerful hindlegs under him, and on the edge of the rock. Mustering all his will-power, he readied himself, then with a tremendous push, launched himself over the limb an into a forward somersault.

“Yeow!” Quickly rolling upright, he found he had rolled right into buzzy, squashing him against the log. In spite of the pain, he jumped up and helped buzzy to his feet.

“Wow, What a wake-up,” Buzzy gasped for air.

“Hey, what’s all the noise? What’s going on?” Dragon uncurled his tail and stood up, looking all around, eyes finally resting on Slayer and Buzzy.

“Oh, just trying to get the kinks out.” Said Buzzy.

Chuck, flap, ouch Swoop released his grip on the limb.

“Boy, it’s a good thing he has a hard head,” said Slayer. “Hey, where’s Howl?”

The little wolf was used to the rockfall abundance, and recovered quicker than the others. He had spent several hours scouting around while the others were still asleep. “Hoowl! Hey you lazy-bones, it’s about time you were waking up. What’s the plan? Do you want to continue along the mountain, or go down into the valley?”

Almost automatically, all heads swiveled to look down off the mountain bench. The sight sent a chill through each. There was the valley floor far below, There was the river, winding its way through the plain; marshy areas (sometimes with quicksand) extending outwards sometimes for miles. Sometimes thickets and clumps of small trees grew
right down to the water’s edge. In one place, they could see what appeared to be a dangerous whirlpool, as if the very river itself was being eaten by some gigantic monster. Mists arose from many areas of the plain, and spread out to cover much of the lowest parts of the valley. In the distance, they could see small specks moving slowly; if they could only realize just how fast these specks were really moving. It’s probably a good thing they couldn’t see what the specks actually were, and the carnage that accompanied the everyday food chain process of the valley. Their very size would guarantee them being almost at the very bottom of that chain.



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