Hoopy uttered a woof of surprise. “Look a Wilding!” The shape was easily identifiable. “I haven’t seen many of those. No wonder it is in a cage, I have heard that you have to be careful of them.”
Pata-Pikki looked at the shape of the creature who was long and thin and wrapped in a blue case. The Wilding was caught by something other than the bars of the cage and the blue case. Gradually the Presence of the One warmed him. He lay silent and listened deeply to his heart, even though Hoopy was saying something. Pata-Pikki seemed to have a knowing now. This was a special creature who needed help. The One had much regard for him. How could they help him? Gophers, came an answer into his heart.
Pata-Pikki suddenly realized, if the Wilding disappeared, then the Narflbots would uproot the trees in the forest looking for him. The creatures that fill the forest would lose their homes. The One acknowledged, yes, this would be true. Tears formed in Pata-Pikki’s eyes and he felt a sob come up from his throat. This was the end of this forest. It would be no longer! Where will we go? Pata-Pikki asked the One. There was no answer, which Pata-Pikki knew meant, he needed to be patient. The One would give him that answer when he need to know.
Pata-Pikki turned to Hoopy, “Hoopy, we are going to have to help this Wilding.”
Hoopy looked back at Pata-Pikki in surprised horror, “Are you mad? The Narflbots will destroy us.”
“They will anyway,” Pata-Pikki woofed. “That is what they do. They can’t stand forests or creatures. They will cut down the trees and put their stone road all over. We will all have to find new homes and move to a different forest. We will go further East. They don’t like the East for some reason.”
“Hoopy, you know I speak truly. We will have to call the Forest together in a council. We will all have to help this Wilding escape and then prepare to go. You give the signal. It has not been used for many seasons but now we must gather. “Hoopy howled into the night air a high pitched almost silent sound. The Forest became alert as it heard the sound and began to gather at Rocky Nob.
Into the late night all the creatures gathered talked. Finally, after giving back stories and thoughts, High-Horns of the Deer Folk spoke. His long willow cape flowed out behind him.
“I believe that Pata-Pikki has heard correctly.”
“But our homes!” Whistled Thrush.
“Yes, think of next year’s nestlings!” Cried Hatch.
The leader of the Cat-folk wrapped around with a soft moss jacket stood and purred, “Pata-Pikki has heard. We must help this Wilding, despite the cost. The One will guide us and it will be better where the Narflbots are not.”
Then suddenly they all seemed to realize, the Narflbots destroyed forests and creatures within them, and that is what they would do to this forest.
At the end of the council Pata-Pikki cautioned the others. “Take only three days’ supply of food with you as we will need to move quickly. If you must and bring a change of wears. The One will help us and direct us. We must be ready at dawn or before. Other Narflbots may come in the new day. They do not usually come until the Sun is high or after. Go now to your homes and gather your things. Tie them into a cloth so you are ready to travel at a moment’s notice. We may have to split up and leave at different times and in different directions so as not to draw attention to ourselves.”
“The Gophers will all dig together starting at Hatch’s tree where they will not be seen by the Rovers. They will tunnel under the cage. Bar-Thur the bear, Hoopy and all who are larger diggers, will need to remove the loose dirt to make a large enough passage that the Wilding can be moved through it. Bar-Thur, yours will be the final clearing, as you are a digger and the largest among us.”
“There is something that holds the Wilding on the ground. We must be careful not to touch him. If the hole is big, he will fall through and be released from it. I believe it is the Cold Hurting Light, of which I have heard. It has been told to me that if a being is removed from the line of the machine that makes it, the pain is relieved and the one afflicted is no longer held. As he falls away from it into the hole, he will be freed. We may have to drag him at first through the tunnel, this may cause some pain to the one or ones that begin to drag him, until the beam is out of contact.” They nodded in sad agreement, but this seemed the best plan.
Bar-Thur, pulled up his bark pants which tended to slide down and growled in assent, “I will dig, and clear.” Hoopy barked in excitement,” I am an excellent digger! We will all work together to accomplish the freedom of the Wilding.” The red fox smiled from ear to ear, to think they would have such an adventure, the rabbits thumped in excitement. The Gophers of which there were many, begin to chitter eagerly to one another.
“When the first star dims and before the bright star shows in the sky we will meet at Hatch’s tree,” Pata-Pikki directed.
The Forest-Beings separated and went in different directions to gather what was needed for their journey. Clothing was important to them in the cold of winter. Generations of Forest-Beings had passed down the memory of a strange fire engulfing their world in which every creature’s fur was singed off.
Clothing became a protection from the elements. Wears were made of plant fiber from the forests and meadows which had emerged afterwards. A guild of weavers, birds and animals, created clothing which protected them from the elements. What had been front leg paws in former generations of animals, now were more useful digits, for the constructing of things important to their well-being. They began to walk upright rather than solely on four legs as their ancestors had done, to protect and make of more use their front paws. Their survival depended on this adaptation. Standing gradually became a formal and correct way of behavior.
In a short time, they gathered again under Hatch’s tree and began to work, even before the first star had finished its journey across the sky. The Gophers had made a large hole and were already out of sight. Several of the rabbits joined in the smaller phase of digging.
Hoopy jumped into the hole and dug with all his might, growling all the while. Dirt was flying everywhere. After a short time, his head stuck out of the pit. His tongue was hanging out and he wore a smile on his face. “Bar-Thur,” he barked. “There is a lot of loose soil in here. Can you bring it to the surface?”
The bear crawled into the hole and pulled piles of dirt out of the now sizable hole. They were all amazed at how much was being removed. In this manner they continued until the chief Gopher came out and spoke to them. “It is ready. We judge the cage floor to be a short distance above. We have enlarged the hole to have space for you and Hoopy. We don’t dare do more without the Wilding falling through.”