“Dear ones, come sit here by the fire and warm yourselves.” He motioned with his metal arm to the small fire and sat again on a log next to it. He patted the log next to him and said, “Flur-Ella, come, sit here.” As he patted the log, beautiful green moss gently began to curl up and spread on its surface, covering it like a cushion.
Flur-Ella looked astonished and a little afraid. She looked at Pata-Pikki. He nodded to her, affirming trust in the Oldling. Hoopy and Bar-Thur looked at each other and then sat together on the opposite side of the fire. Pata-Pikki sat next to Flur-Ella on the log.
“You have come a long way.” The Oldling said softly. “You will find places that you will like to live in that direction,” he said nodding to the right. “Homes that will be just to your liking. You must wait here just a moment as someone is looking for you. She will soon be here.”
“You must be the Farmer Man?” said Pata-Pikki.
“How did you know?” The Oldling asked.
“The One tells me this, and I think the moss would not do that for just anyone.” Pata-Pikki smiled at the Farmer Man. “Nonna has told us about your ability to grow things.”
“Ah, you have found me out.” The Farmer Man laughed.
“You are away from your home?” Hoopy asked.
“Yes, the Narflbots came and burned my home and fields,” the Farmer Man replied.
“You don’t seem unhappy about that.” Bar-Thur growled.
“The One has something else for me to do,” the Farmer Man said with a smile, cocking his head to the side and shrugging his shoulders. “The One will show me his desire.”
“I know you are not hungry, or I would have offered you something to eat, but I think you might be thirsty. There is a small basin by the stone wall there, it holds sweet water. Will you not help yourselves to some of that? Your friend will be here shortly.”
The Scrufflings and Bar-Thur perked up at the thought of water. They each got cups from their packs and walked to the stone outcropping. In a hollowed stone basin was pure, crystal water seeping from the rock. As each filled their cups the water flowed back into the bowl so there was more for the next one. They returned to the fire to sit beside the Farmer Man.
“Who are we waiting for?” Hoopy asked.
“In due time you will see,” the Farmer Man replied with a gentle smile. “Rest now while you have the chance.”
“What are the homes you spoke of?” Flur-Ella asked with sweet note in her snuffle. She so looked forward to a new home.
“You will have to look and find the place that appeals to your hearts, but
There was a flutter of sound above them and before they knew it Hatch perched on a branch above them. “Oh dear, I wasn’t sure that I would find you in this wilderness of rock! I am so glad to see you! We need your help Pata-Pikki, and all of you! The Forest Beings are in trouble. High Horns, the leader of the Beings sent me. The Narflbots have found us and we are being hunted by them. Already we have lost some of our number! One of the Cat-Folk has disappeared, and we fear we will all be found. We don’t know where to flee to safety. I don’t know how I have found you. I couldn’t fly any further and this seemed like the right place to perch, and here you are. Oh, dear, oh dear!”
Pata-Pikki jumped to his feet. “Of course, we will help, perhaps we can all live here in peace,” He turned to the Farmer Man. “Will that be possible?” He barked.
“You must ask Far Mitrophan,” The Farmer Man responded quietly.
“Please forgive us, but we must hasten to help our fellow Beings. We thank you for your hospitality.” Pata-Pikki bowed low in front of the Farmer Man.
“The One be with you and grant your return in safety with length of days before you.” The Farmer Man stood and bowed low also to the Forest Beings. “I will be here when you return, I hope, and we will live here in peace. My prayers will be with you.”