All got to their feet and gathering their possessions, they swallowed a hasty breakfast. Hoopy filled in the hole he had been sleeping in and then went from place to place pulling the growth that had made their beds into an upright position so by the time he was through, one would not have known anyone had been there. Taking a last drink from the stream, they began to move. The Sun was making its way into the sky by the time they descended from the edge of the mountain range in which they had been traveling. Ahead of them were sparsely vegetated low rolling hills.
They heard a familiar chirp behind them and looking up, they saw Hatch. “Here you are!” she chirped. “You have come a long way. Most of our group has gone South.”
“I will tell the others. They were all concerned about each of you and send their greetings. If you search for us go South for a day, and a day into the forest to the West. We have you in our hearts.” Hatch whistled.
“Thank you for looking for us, Hatch. Thank you and the others for your care of us. Perhaps we will see you soon again.” Pata-Pikki whined, as Hoopy and Bar-Thur nodded in agreement.
With that, Hatch flew into the sky and back into the forest.
Pata-Pikki looked at Nonna and at the landscape that lay in front of them and asked, “Is this country familiar to you?”
Bar-Thur uttered a squeaking sigh, “There are no trees here!”
Nonna laughed, “These are trees, but there are not so many of them.” She pointed to the low growing scrub pines that dotted the landscape. “Yes, I know this country, these are the Rolling Hills. Those are the Rockliffs, that you see in the distance. That is where we go. I think this is out of the range of the Strange Contraptors and their owners. We perhaps don’t need to travel as fast.”
The Scrufflings and the bear looked relieved that this was not a flight path of the Strange Contraptors.
Pata-Pikki gave a low bark, “Where does the Farmer Man live from here?”
Nonna pointed to the North. “He lives close to the round hill you see in the distance. That is about a day’s march from here.”
“Do you want to go to him and get the part that you need?” Pata-Pikki asked. “I would like to meet him.”
Nonna was still a moment, “No, I feel that may be a trap. I don’t know that the Narflbots know he is there, but I feel that is the wrong way to go. We should go straight towards the Rockliffs.”
“Does the One tell you this?” whined Pata-Pikki, “I have no sense of it.” It was very still, there was no wind in this place.
Nonna looked at Pata-Pikki and the others, “Yes.” She answered. The Forest Beings nodded in understanding.
They traveled over the Rolling Hills and suddenly Nonna stopped and spoke to them. “If we can find the Deep Road from this point it will be better for us. Let us go North.”
They made their way in a northerly direction for a time and a space and Nonna exclaimed, “The Deep Road!” Pointing, she saw something in the landscape that was different, that they did not detect.
Puzzled, the Forest Beings were not sure what she saw.
She led them again East. Before them the hills cut abruptly into sharp cliffs and dropped into a narrow dry river bed. Climbing down into the deep pocket they were amazed at the sandy roadway that lay before them through a rock lined corridor. Traveling as easily as on a road they followed the dry water course. The sun began to climb in the sky and heat began to bounce off the walls.
“There is a spring where we can get water in this canyon.” Nonna announced.