"The Trouble with Magical Beings" Chapter 12 (A Fantasy)
They touched down on a carpet of thick soft grasses just as the sun began to rise and soft daylight broke over the tree tops.
“This land feels different,” Naia said and her little green pony nodded his agreement.
Daniel agreed, “It’s much easier to walk on than that mountain but there aren’t any more of those birds we saw on Pele’s mountainsides, where did they go?”
“I don’t hear any birds chirping and I always hear birds chirping in the morning.” Jenny said listening carefully for the sounds she always woke up to. The tree outside her bedroom window was filled with morning birds and they sang to her every morning, but there were no morning birds singing in these trees.
‘There are no birds here,” Jenny concluded sadly staring up at the quiet trees.
“I don’t hear the sound of those waterfalls either,” Shale said, his robot eyes scanning the area.
Now everyone stopped and looked carefully around.
“It is quiet,” Daniel said.
“I was thinking the same thing,” Naia agreed, “but we are on Pele’s land so there’s no telling what lives here and I’m sure something is living here,” Naia nodded.
“What kind of animal is this quiet?” Shale asked her but it was Boots who answered.
“One that likes to hide,” said Boots with certainty.
“Oh, I don’t like that at all,” Jenny said closing her eyes again and clutching Boot’s mane like a security blanket.
At that moment, several of the trees in front of them began to shiver but there wasn’t any breeze to cause those trees to sway, in fact there was no breeze whatsoever.
“What’s happening with those trees?” Shale’s voice squeaked.
“Let’s go back the other way,” said the Stallion beginning to turn around but Daniel stopped him in mid turn.
“Wait! Did you hear that?” Daniel asked.
“I didn’t hear anything,” said the Stallion.
Daniel was sure he’d heard something.
“I didn’t hear anything either,” Shale told him but then he did hear something.
And they all heard it.
A strange chattering sound was coming from one of those trembling trees.
“Nope, I still don’t hear anything” the Stallion said refusing to listen, “and I say we go back the other way.”
“What is that?” Naia asked ignoring the stallions request to retreat.
“I don’t know,” said Jenny, “but I don’t think it’s a bird.”
“Maybe we should go the other way,” Shale said, not wanting to investigate any mystery sound and he really did think the Stallion had the better idea.
They all seemed to be considering turning around when the something in the trees actually spoke to them.
“Who is here uninvited? What manner of thing is out there?” The voice came from one of the trembling trees.
The horses with their riders took a step back but the lion stared at the spot the voice had come from and slowly moved forward.
“We’re just travelling through,” Daniel answered it, but he didn’t know where the voice had came from.
“Travelling through?” The voice from the trees asked curiously.
“Yes, if you’ll let us pass,” Daniel said hopefully.
“But no one passes here, no one travels through here, I am so confused,” the voice said with real alarm.
Daniel looked at Naia not sure what to say to calm the unknown thing.
Boots courageously walked up to the tree where he knew the creature was speaking from and said, “Why don’t you show yourself, we will not hurt you,” he told it in his best kingly voice. His perceptive eyes caught a movement on a very high branch in the tree and he smiled at what he saw there.
The little Red Panda did not answer the big lion looking up at him. Instead, he stayed curled up in his raccoon like bushy tail, shaking with fear and afraid of the lion and the ‘whatevers’ that were standing by his tree.
“You don’t need to be afraid,” the lion told the little panda in his most friendly lion voice.
The little panda stared, even though the lion’s expression appeared not to threaten him, he decided he was staying exactly where he was.
“It is a little, red panda bear,” Boots whispered to Daniel and the others.
Jenny quickly looked up to see the cutest little red ball of fur looking back at them with big fearful eyes under bushy white eyebrows. It was peeking out over a fluffy, stripped tail. Jenny almost asked if they could take him along with them but she quickly remembered Pele’s stern warning. She knew better now and would never ask to take something away from where it lived.
“Hello cute little bear,” Jenny said with a big smile and a friendly wave to the small creature in the tree.
The little red panda cautiously returned the greeting, “Hello to you,” it said slowly unwinding its tail; curious as to what this new thing was that was baring its teeth at him but not in a threatening way.
Daniel convinced Stallion to walk closer to the tree and Shale and Naia followed him. They were all curious to see this little red panda Boots and Jenny were talking to.
When the little panda saw all the odd faces staring up at him from the bottom of his tree he quickly hid back inside his furry tail.
“Please don’t be afraid,” Naia spoke softly to it, “We’d like to be your friends.”
“Friends?” the panda said from inside his fur, “What is a friend?”
“You don’t know what a friend is?” she asked with surprise.
The little panda shook his head.
‘Well, friends are those we care about and those we can talk to about anything and friends will always protect each other too,” she said realizing at that moment that she was surrounded by friends, really good friends.
Daniel, Jenny, Shale, the ponies, lion and even the, not always friendly, stallion were her friends now and she suddenly didn’t want to think about how she’d miss them once this adventure was over and she suddenly felt like crying.
“You look sad, do friends make you sad?” the little panda asked her curiously.
“Oh no, I’m not sad,” she denied it but her voice did sound sad.
Daniel thought she must be missing her home and friends and he knew it was his fault if she was sad. He answered the little panda, “We’ve been on this adventure for a while and we’re all tired and want to get home.”
“So you’re sad too?” the little panda said observantly.
Daniel and Naia looked at each other and both could see the sadness in each other’s eyes.
“You’ll get back your full magic and we’ll all get home,” Daniel promised her.
“I know,” Naia said softly to him.
The red panda unwound its tail, stood up and walked head first down from the tree towards all the sad looking things below. On the ground, he found himself next to the lion and he looked up at the big face of it with new concern for his safety.
“Are you sure you aren’t going to eat me?” the little panda asked the lion fearfully.
“Absolutely not,” said Boots indignantly, “I would never do that.”
It did raise the question as to what the lion did eat, as no one ever looked in his bowl.
“What do you eat? “ Shale asked Boots curiously.
“Why, I fill my tummy with stuffing, good digestible stuffing,” Boots told him with a smile, thinking about stuffing at that moment.
“Of course he would, he is a toy after all,” said Stallion huffily, “Now can we ask this little bear which way to go, so we can be on our way already?”
“I don’t know which way, I just know here,” said the little bear.
“Are you all alone here?” Daniel asked it.
“Oh no, there are plenty of others like me but they live in other trees and we don’t talk much, we mostly like to be alone,” the little panda told him.
All those other little pandas were peeking out from their trees and watching these strange things the little panda was talking to.
Boots could see the other bears peeking out at them from the surrounding trees.
“They don’t have to be afraid and maybe one of them knows the way out of here,” Boots said to the little panda, “Can you ask them?”
The little panda mewed and twittered then he huffed and chirped and all these sounds, all differed in range and length, communicated as words to the other pandas in the trees.
There was an answering barrage of noise sent back to the little panda’s question and, after another exchange of what sounded like questions and answers in chattering panda talk, an army of little red pandas in all sizes and shapes began to emerge from the trees around them.
Hundred of these especially cute little bears now surrounded the little group of travellers.
“Can any of you tell us which way leads us out of here?” Daniel asked.
The little bears looked at him, then they looked at each other, then they looked back at him and then they all shook their heads.
“Great, we’re stuck here forever,” the Stallion snorted and the sound made all the little pandas near him jump and retreat a few steps back.
“No, don’t be afraid, that’s just the sound a horse makes,” Naia told the pandas and they all turned their little panda eyes trustingly her way.
Then one chubby, little panda walked up to Naia, stood on his hind legs and said curiously, “You’re not like these other things, what are you?”
Naia didn’t know how he could tell but she admitted she wasn’t.
“You’re right, I’m not. I just look like them at the moment, but I am really a Dolphite.”
“A what?” the little chubby, red bear asked.
“It is a magical being that can shift from a flying moon beam into a sea creature,” Naia told the curious little bear, but she knew Daniel, Jenny and Shale were listening too.
“If you’re a magical being, can your magic give us back our bamboo trees?” the chubby little panda asked with a hopeful smile.
“I don’t know, my magic is a bit weak right now but I can try,” Naia said.
“Oh, please do,” the chubby panda bear said and all the other little bears began to chirp and huff, making very happy panda sounds.
Naia closed her eyes and wished for Bamboo Trees and this time, unlike before, all the trees around her, all of them, turned into Bamboo trees, no half wishes this time.
The magic had given the chubby little panda exactly what he’d wished for.
“Oh, thank you,” the little chubby bear said happily and then ran up the nearest Bamboo tree, which happened to be his tree anyway.
Then all the bears ran back up their own trees, which were now bamboo trees, and they began to pull off bamboo shoots and eat them noisily.
The forest was no longer quiet.
The little red panda they’d originally befriended looked up at all the delicious bamboo that was now his own tree and he smiled.
“We have not had our bamboo trees for a very, very long time,” the little panda said to Naia.
“Why, what happened to them?” She asked as she crouched down closer to the little bear’s height.
“Something tore them down, I don’t know what it was, it didn’t have a face like you, it had a big metal something that knocked down our trees and took them away and then we had no food to eat. Pele was angry at what they had done and she made the ground quake and all those metal things fell into holes but it was too late, all the trees were gone so Pele brought us to her land and said we’d be protected here forever from those things, but we’ve been too afraid so we’ve stayed right here ever since.”
“So you haven’t searched for any bamboo trees beyond here?” Naia asked.
“No, we’ve eaten whatever we could find here. It’s been sufficient but we have missed our bamboo.”
“I imagine you have,” Naia said kindly hearing all the happy chatter coming from those bamboo trees.
“Thank you,” The little red panda said sincerely to her.
“You’re very welcome,” Naia smiled down at the little reddish-brown and white streaked face looking up at her with pure happiness.
Daniel thought about the machines that took away the little panda’s bamboo trees and worried how they’d been driven by humans. He didn’t want to ask the little panda about it because he didn’t want any of these panda’s to be afraid of him and Jenny.
Daniel held out his hand to the little red panda and said, “My name is Daniel and I’d like us to be friends.”
The little bear looked at the big thing’s paw and stood on his hind legs and tapped it with his own paw; it seemed to be what the big thing wanted. “Yes, I will be your friend and my name is Rumple.”
Jenny slid down from her lion and said, “Hi Rumple, I’m Jenny.” She held out her hand and the little panda tapped it too.
Then Naia and Shale did the same and the little panda happily tapped their paws.
“Now I don’t know for certain,” the little panda said to them, “but if you walk past my tree and keep walking in that direction, somewhere out there our land ends, but I don’t know what is beyond here.
“Why do you think your land ends that way?” Daniel asked him.
“I can see from the very top of my tree where our trees end, and it is that way,” he said pointing to the east.
“Thank you Rumple, that helps us a lot,” Daniel said and climbed back on Stallion.
“Can we go now,” Stallion asked with a huff.
“Yes, we can,” Daniel said but the little panda stopped them.
“Wait,” the little panda said to Naia, “Since you’ve given us back our bamboo, I want to give you something too. Can you wait here? ”
Naia nodded and the little bear ran up his tree and disappeared into a hole they couldn’t see from down below.
When the little red panda returned, he ran to Naia and held out his paw to her and what was there, was shinning brilliantly.
“This is from the land where our bamboo trees grew. I found it as we were running away from those tree eating things. I’ve kept it because it would light up for me when I needed comfort, but I don’t need it anymore because you’ve brought back our comfort, so I want you to have it. Now it can comfort you and your friends and I think it might have magic too,” Rumple said placing the object into Naia hand.
Naia looked at the sparkling stone in her hand and smiled.
It was a clear crystal that sparkled brightly in the sunlight, it was just like the ones they’d found in the cave near robot world at the beginning of their adventure, and it was indeed magic. Now she knew the reason why her wish for the bamboo trees had been fully granted she’d been standing close to his tree and the power must have heard her and helped.
Thank you, I’ll keep it always,” she said slipping it into her pocket and then she knelt down and hugged the little bear.
Rumple was startled but then he felt comfort in the hug so put his paws around her too. It was not so scary to be friends with these odd creatures he thought.
“Goodbye Rumple,” Naia said as she climbed up on her pony.
“I hope you find your way home soon,” the little panda said to all of them and then scurried back up his tree where he grabbed a hand full of bamboo and began to eat happily.
They waved to him as they passed under his tree heading east as he’d told them to, and hoping they were on the right path.