The Rockliff loomed above them. A narrow stream ran through the sandy bottom of the canyon on their right. The party of Wildings, Scrufflings and Bar-Thur continued along a path that wound through a maze of corridors, turning back and forth on itself.
One would have to know the way to the village of Micael. There were other villages of the Wildings as the Forest Beings learned, Micael was the main one and the one in which Nonna’s family lived. As the group continued into the depths of the winding canyons the walls became steeper and taller, and the canyon became dotted with strange peaked mountains attaching themselves to the cliffs. Following the base of one such mountain, they came abruptly to a long deep tunnel.
“This will take us to Micael,” said Basil.
“I would have never found this alone,” Nonna exclaimed.
Pata-Pikki, nodded. It was indeed a strange convoluted path they had traveled. He had not heard a Strange Contraptor all day. For that he thanked the One.
“Why is it,” he asked, “the Strange Contraptors don’t fly here?”
“It is said that the cliffs repel their ability to communicate with other ships and Narflbots,” Samul said. Samul was a tall young Wilding with red hair like Nonna. The Wildings were dressed similarly with green skins and outer garments. The men wore short pants and shirts and Nonna a ruffle around her middle that hung toward to the ground.
Basil stopped at a niche in the wall, much like the one in the cave where the Scrufflings, Nonna and Bar-Thur had spent the night. A lantern hung there. Using a striker, he lit a candle, then prayerfully lit the lantern, and carried it with them into the darkness.
Hoopy and Flur-Ella took one last look at the light behind them and followed Samul and Nonna. Bar-Thur had to stoop in some places as they walked following the light that Basil carried.
“Yes, in my Grandfather’s generation the mountain was tunneled out. You will see the amazing work that was done here.” Basil responded. Soon they could see light appearing at its end. As they moved toward the light, the smell of green things floated in the air.
Flur-Ella’s nose twitched. “Ah,” she snuffled, “I smell flowers!”
Hoopy woofed, “I love green things! It was winter were we lived. How can it not be winter here?” Bar-Thur looked thoughtful about that idea.
The small group weaved through a winding section. Then suddenly Samul, shouted out in a loud voice. “We’re home! Look!” He pushed his long hair from his face and pointed ahead.
As the Forest Beings turned the corner, they could see why Samul had cried out. Before them was the most luxurious garden that they had ever seen. Rather than a variety of plants growing randomly, there were groups of plants that were covered with brilliant flowers, some had amazingly colored fruits, and some were green with tassels like very tall grasses. The could hear water running somewhere beyond them.
“What beautiful flowers!” woofed Flur-Ella. “They are amazingly fragrant.” Sticking her black nose into one of the large blossoms, she sniffed, “Astonishing!”
“These are flowers that the Farmer Man gave us, many years ago,” Nonna said. “We started them from small sticks and seeds.”
“Then the Farmer Man must indeed grow amazing things as you have said,” Pata-Pikki wuffled.
Light poured into the amazing garden as they walked now upon a sunny path. Pata-Pikki looked to see how the sunlight came into this remarkable cavern, since they were still were surrounded by stone walls. The cave in front of them had many tall openings that were large arched open doors. The sun came through them and from a hole in the ceiling high above them. Bar-Thur pointed to the ceiling. “Basil, Is that the peak of the small pointed mountain above us?”
“Yes,” said Basil. “Our Grandfathers found this peak which had a deep crater in the center. They climbed down and found some of these openings here. The group enlarged them and gradually made a tunnel to connect it to the stream and the path, so that there is access to water and an entrance from the outside. What you see in front of you is a long wide valley that is surrounded by cliffs and hidden from the outside.”
Illustration -Looking up at Peak, Flowers, Pata-Pikki, Basil, Flur-Ella in background
“Does it concern you that the Narflbots might someday fly over this area and discover the valley?” Pata-Pikki whined.
“It is of concern,” Samul answered. “They have seemed to stop short at the beginning of the cliffs; however, we believe the High King protects us with the cliffs.” Basil nodded.
“Behind you though, in the tunnel,” Samul announced, “are a series of metal doors in the ceiling, that can be lowered to seal the tunnel, or even trap intruders inside it.” Basil gave Samul a warning glance and he fell silent.
As they neared the end of the great room that held the wonderful plants, Nonna suddenly cried out, “Mama and Papa!” Running through one of the sun-filled doorways they saw Nonna embracing a tall man in a black robe. He had black hair and eyebrows intermingled with gray and a long gray beard. His face was filled with joy at seeing his daughter. Beside him was a small woman with a beautiful face and graying red hair.