“There is a cave ahead. If we can get there, we will find cover and the spring.” Nonna explained. They moved along the cliff, focusing on the sounds of the world around them and staying in the deep shadow.
“Why are they searching so hard for you Nonna?” Hoopy growled.
“I have seen their city. I know where the entrance is. I have seen the Chief Narflbots head-quarters. That makes me dangerous. I am also the High King’s, priest’s daughter. They were intending to use me for barter and get information from me. I am ashamed. I hope you don’t think I was using you. I should have warned you, that you were in peril by befriending me. I need your help. I am cowardly, I have let my fear endanger you. You should wait in the cave. They will leave as soon as it is nightfall and you can go back to the forest where it is safer. “
“They had foto-plates of my family. Someone had given them to the Chief Narflbot. They recognized me.”
“We do not know about foto-plates. What are those and who is to say they won’t know about the cave and find us?” grumbled Bar-Thur.
“The cave is hidden, only a few know of it,” Nonna responded. “We will be safe there. A foto-plate has a representation of a person or thing that can be taken away to another place where that person is not.”
The Forest Beings became confused that part of the story had not been told and that someone could take a being away to someplace when the being was somewhere else. Nonna had not told them everything. They had never heard of something that was you, that could be taken away like this. They looked at each other with distrust showing on their faces.
“You have not told us everything. A foto-plate sounds very dangerous. Who would do such a thing?” Bar-Thur rumbled.
Then Pata-Pikki turned to Nonna and with a soft bark said, “The One told me we needed to help you. We still have that responsibility. I, for one, will continue with you.”
Hoopy and Flur-Ella looked at him. Hoopy whined, “If Pata-Pikki thinks this is right, we will follow.”
Bar-Thur looked put out at all of them. “This a perilous business, we could all be turned into skins if the Narflbots have their way. I’ll decide when we get to the cave if I will stay with you or not. I’m not sure I like this.” With a low grumble he continued along the wall. They followed him as he turned the corner, seeing nothing to indicate a cave at all. In fact, they now would have to cross in the sunlight on the opposite side of the canyon wall, as that was where the shadow now lay.
Pata-Pikki sunk into his deepest heart. I am confused, he said to the One down in the depth of his heart. Are we to stay with this Wilding girl or return to the forest? Are we to stay in the cave or to continue? A knowing came to him. Stay close, the One said in the depth of Pata-Pikki’s heart, cross here and follow her.
They crossed the dry river bed and continued along the shadowed wall that ran now to the North. “I know it is on this wall, this side, in this section. It is hard to see where the opening is.” Nonna said. In the distance they could hear a Strange Contraptor.
“We must find it quickly,” Flur-Ella whined. “The Strange Contraptor sounds like it is coming in this way.” They ran down the length of the wall searching behind every bush and at every crack.
“It looks like a crack in the wall. It is actually a slot wide enough for a Wilding to pass though.”
Bar-Thur looked surprised, “Can I get through it?” He growled.
“Let’s find it and we will know!” Pata-Pikki whined. “The One will surely help us in our need.” They continued to search up and down the wall looking for possible entries. Looking across to the other side, Nona said, “Maybe it is on the other side? I may be mistaken?”
They glanced across the riverbed and to their surprise there was a slot directly in front of them where a fallen slab of rock covered a dark recess. The whir of the Strange Contraptor grew louder.
“I …. I can’t see anymore. I will have to sit down until my eyes get used to the dark.” Nonna said.