“She doesn’t look dangerous,” wuffed Hoopy.
Pata-Pikki sniffed her face and touched her with his paw. “No,” he snuffled, “We will need to carry her though, and Bar-Thur that means you.”
“Can we strap her on my back?” Bar-Thur asked.
Pata-Pikki looked in his bag. “I have some ropish here.”
With Bar-Thur standing on all four legs, the three of them were able to slide the Wilding onto his back and wrap the grass ropish around her many times, knotting it to itself. She seemed secure.
Flur-Ella whined, “Dawn is not far away.”
The Wilding began to make low moaning sounds.
“Do you think she is all right?” snuffled Flur-Ella with concern.
“Keep moving,” barked Pata-Pikki with concern, “We need distance!”
On they ran until they reached the other side of the Boggish Brack. They stopped and rested in a viney place.
Suddenly they saw a bright light followed by a loud ‘Ker whoomph’. They couldn’t see behind them because the vines were so thick overhead.
Pata-Pikki felt a great sadness overwhelm him. He knew the forest was no more. His beautiful home in the tree was a smoldering stump or gone completely. They looked at one another and tears filled their eyes.
“Where to now?” Bar-Thur finally said gruffly.
“We need to keep moving,” Pata-Pikki whined in sorrow.
Hoopy stretched out toward the sunshine that lay on the straggly grass beyond. He walked carefully to the edge and looked out and above. “It’s clear,” he growled.
“Follow the sun!” Pata-Pikki barked.
As Bar-Thur got to his feet, the Wilding moaned again. “Be sure the ropish is still tight enough to hold her,” Bar-Thur grumbled.
Hoopy checked it and nodded with an affirmative growl. As he began to move into the sunlight, they heard a Strange Contraptor overhead. Freezing in place, they watched it fly over the meadow and into the trees in front of them. It made a wide circle and flew back in the direction it had come.
Pata-Pikki uttered a low growl as Hoopy stretched out into the light again to see where it was going.
“We had better stay under the vines for cover,” Hoopy growled in a low tone.
“We can follow the line of the bog and go towards that hill,” Flur-Ella pointed out.
Pata-Pikki nodded at the wisdom of this, and in a zig-zag fashion they dropped down into the valley below the Boggish Brack. To their joy, a stream issued forth from the Brack and a line of trees grew along its edges with high cliffs on either side. Making their way along the trees, they followed the stream which ran a distance into a waterfall, pouring into a deep forest stream. They climbed down its edge along the waterfall, glancing nervously at the sky.
The Wilding on Bar-Thur’s back began to make sounds and start moving.
“We will have to stop. Perhaps she can walk now?” Flur-Ella snuffed.
Bar-Thur lay down on the grass beside the stream as the three Scrufflings untied her. She slid off the bear’s back to the ground.
“Water?” she said, distinctly. The Scrufflings and Bar-Thur looked surprised that she knew their language. “May I have some water?” she asked again.
“Of course!” Flur-Ella barked. Flur-Ella reached into her sack and pulled out a cup of hollowed wood. Walking to the stream, she dipped it in and brought water to the Wilding.
“Thank you,” The Wilding said in a soft voice that sounded like a bird singing. She turned towards them. Her mouth moved up into a curve and her eyes lit up, “Thank you for helping me.”
“Are you all right?” Pata-Pikki whined with concern.
“I don’t know if I can walk,” she said in the same chirpy voice pushing herself to a standing position. “Yes, I think I can. I need to walk up and down,” she said stamping her feet.
Bar-Thur got to his feet. “Thank you for carrying me!” She said to him, patting his nose. “Where are we?”
“I live in the East,” the Wilding said. “My name is Nonna.”
Hoopy stood up and bowed low, introducing each of them.
“You are welcome to come to my home and my people," said Nonna. "I understood all your talk about your forest. You and others have given up a lot to help me. Perhaps I can help you. Will you come with me?”
“We have nowhere to go, I think I speak for the others. We will come with you,” Pata-Pikki whined.
The Scrufflings and Bar-Thur nodded in agreement.