This is really the second part of my short story from this series for children called Battle . In this stage there is a scene with a made up language, checking the story through just now, I am so not sure about it now, but like I said earlier, everything in writing is a learning experience, I think (for now) I’ll leave the made up language in but suspect it may be my only ever scene with a made up language!
Dino-story – Strange Shrews
The night after Acorn and Twig escaped from the Raptor Queen’s cage was a wonderful night. Although still far from home (they had just made it to the edge of the forest before night fell) it felt good to be back amongst the leaves and the trees, to feel the moss on their backs. Acorn especially, who had been in the cage longer than Twig was incredibly excited. He gorged himself on nuts and berries and rolled around in the fallen leaves.
When they finally fell back happy and exhausted in an empty knot hole they had found in a tree. Twig turned to Acorn “So are you going to tell me how you ended up in that cage, big brother?”
But Acorn sleepily shook his head “I’m tired little brother, we’ve got a long journey ahead of us, plenty of time for story telling.”
Acorn and Twig curled up together in the tree hole and had the best nights sleep both of them had had in a long time. When the sun rose and it’s rays tickled Twig awake, Twig found that Acorn was no longer there. Twig paniced, he could not of lost his brother already? Twig looked out of the hole and breathed a sigh of relief, Acorn was sitting outside on a branch looking over this strange new forest. The expression on Acorn’s face though was one Twig had never seen before, Acorn looked serious and worried, it was like his brother had grown up whilst he was away.
“Acorn? Are you ok?”
Acorn, whose mind had been wondering else where was shocked into the present by Twig’s voice, he shook his head as if to shake whatever he was thinking about out of his mind and then smiled “I’m fine little brother. I’m just planning our route home, it’s a long journey and we better get going soon. We’ll find some berries on the way.”
With that, Acorn and Twig started their long trek through the forest, forever climbing upwards knowing that their forest was on the other side of the valley slopes. Whilst they walked Twig tried to talk, keen to hear of his brother’s adventures.
“So you must know this forest like the back of your paw then Acorn?”
“I know up the hill means home Twig, other than that it’s a big forest”
Twig, feeling brave and confident in the presence of his brother asked him if he had seen any of the tree monsters they had heard tales about as they grew up.
Acorn laughed, somewhat nervously “No, no tree monsters, little brother”.
Twig glanced across at Acorn, what wasn’t he telling him? Twig spent the rest of that day’s journey peering more cautiously through the branches and the undergrowth but the day’s journey was completed uneventfully. Acorn and Twig found another knot hole to sleep in that night but they were woken in the dead of night by a strange eerie cry. Twig was confused at first, not sure why he wasn’t in his comfy hollow at home but Acorn sat bolt upright, yanking Twig into full consciousness.
“Twig! Twig! Wake up! We have to get out of here now! I knew we shouldn’t of slept in this tree!”
With that Acorn pulled Twig out of the knot hole, Twig, confused about what they were running from made to run along the nearest branch, hoping to be able to make it to the next tree but Acorn held him back.
“We’ll be safer on the ground!” shouted Acorn above the increasing loud cry arising from the trees around them.
Twig looked at Acorn, now even more confused, to a Shrew trees always meant safety and they tried to avoid the ground if they could.
“Trust me! We have to get out of these trees” yelled Acorn.
Acorn’s head suddenly turned to the right, Twig followed his gaze, a shadow had moved in the darkness, getting closer.
Acorn grabbed Twig by the paw “Run now!”
Acorn and Twig hurtled head down along the tree trunk, swerving this way and that to avoid the branches, the ground invisible in the darkness below as more dark shapes rustled amongst the branches, that eerie cry all around them. Suddenly there was the ground rushing up at them, they jumped the last metre and as their paws landed in the soft leaf litter, the eerie cry stopped.
Twig and Acorn paused, catching their breath, Acorn gasped “They got what they wanted”.
“Who?” cried Twig.
“We haven’t got time to talk. I’ll explain at daylight but for now we have to keep running!” and grabbing Twig’s paw again they raced off climbing further up the hill towards safety.
It was difficult trying to hold paws together, running along the bumpy, slippy forest floor and Acorn and Twig soon settled into just running alongside each other, happy as long as they could see each other. That was until they came to a large section of bushes.
“We have to go through!” panted Acorn “Try and keep close” and with they hurtled straight into the thick tangle of branches, roots and leaves.
Twig soon lost sight of Acorn, running through the bush but he thought he could still hear the sound of him crashing through the bush so he was sure he was still nearby somewhere. All Twig knew was that he had to keep climbing up and up this slope and eventually this bush was going to end. Twig was right and soon he came crashing through the other side, back into the moonlight, but where was Acorn? There was no comforting rustling coming towards him, signifying his brother was on his way. Twig waited, panting, staring at the bush willing his brother to emerge, but he did not. Twig debated whether to call out, frightened to bring attention to himself, so in the end he opted to whisper in urgent tones.
“Acorn! Acorn! Where are you?”
Acorn still did not emerge. Twig really did not want to go back into the bush, he could hardly see a thing in there and doubted he would see well enough to find his brother. Twig paced the edge of the large bush, still no Acorn. Twig opted for the only safety he knew, he would find his brother better in the morning so he started to climb a nearby tree and as he set his paws against the trunk the forest suddenly filled with the same eerie cry. Twig panicked, the trees were dangerous, all he wanted to do was to get home, he’d bring his dad back to help, he just had to get home and with that he ran and ran and ran, forever uphill. Twig’s legs were tiring and his breath coming in ragged, raw gasps and still the sun would not rise over this strange forest. “How long can this hill go up for?” thought Twig desperately as he ran on and then the ground appeared to give way beneath his paws and even the faint light from the moon disappeared and Twig was surrounded by darkness as he fell and then nothing.
The first thing Twig became aware of was his head pounding, his first thought was that he was back in the Diplodo saddle bag again, which had been the whole disasterous event that had started this mess in the first place. But this time he could feel that he was sitting on a simple wooden chair, with his front and back legs bound to it. He wasn’t sure that would happen in a Diplodo saddle bag but he still was not sure where he was, wherever he was it was pitch black, he could not see a thing. Twig sniffed the air, it smelt earthy and forest like which was at least a comfort for him. Twig vaguely remembered falling, but what into? Twig’s ears pricked up as he could hear a distant scuffling on a soil floor, it was getting closer and then the scuffler spoke.
“Rascon, va com ba criso reeq”.
Twig shook his head, he must still be concussed as his hearing obviously was not working properly.
“Rascon, par com va knom reeq?” said the stern voice.
Twig, not even sure if this strange person was even talking to him stayed silent.
“Frambot na!” yelled the voice.
Twig’s muzzy head was clearing and he was beginning to feel increasingly frightened. A calmer, different voice stepped in “Ma knot tum fe cra balcre”
“Van lalt fe cra balcre, fe’s t Rascon, bily Rascon’s knoo sa cri la balcre sut freely” said the cross voice.
“Cafty fe cra tu som, fe crat coo cra fe, fe’s t Rascon, sil tuff fem tha ram” replied the calm voice and with that there was some rustling and suddenly a little ball of light erupted into life in one corner, a pile a flickering twigs. Twig could see who these strange creatures where and when he could he almost wished he was in darkness again as he had never seen such strange, menacing looking creatures. Twig’s first thought was “Dinosaur!” as all nasty creatures in his eyes tended to be dinosaurs but he quickly realised they were not, they were too small, only slightly bigger than him and they had a trimmed fur coat which was the darkest of black. They were shielding their small wrinked eyes from the small flickering flame with their small stubby arms, they did not seem to like light. On the end of their paws were large white curled claws which Twig did not want to get too close to. “Who are you?” squeaked Twig. The two strange creatures looked at each other confused.
“Fe knat freese Rascon” said the calm creature. The creatures shuffled towards Twig, sniffing the air around him. Twig shrunk back in his chair.
“Fe’s t Rascon gra” said the cross creature “Las solta som ve sase fils, fet ham ss wuh barty”.
“Tis ha vet palty po kno sam fee wun?” said the calm creature questionly.
The cross creature just shrugged, he looked at Twig as if Twig was less of a threat to him now and with that the two strange creatures shuffled out again, thankfully leaving the small twig fire still burning, although Twig looked at the fire, he did not think it would last long. Twig used the light that was left to look round his prison. The walls and floors and ceiling seemed to made out of soil, Twig thought he could see a root sticking out of the ceiling at one end of the small chamber, Twig shuddered, he was underground. The light from the small twig fire was just about to flicker out when Twig heard a commotion down the corridor leading to the chamber he was held in. There was lots of shouting in the strange language he had heard the two creatures use and then a light appeared to be heading down the corridor towards him and in burst two Shrews Twig had never seen before. “Hurrah! Rescue!” thought Twig. However the two strange Shrews looked surprised to find Twig there, whilst one of them guarded the entrance to the chamber, the other studied Twig closely and then untied Twig from the chair. Twig stretched his legs, they felt stiff after having been tied up. Twig’s rescuer studied Twig some more and then said something which to Twig’s surprise he could not understand, “What was it about this place?” thought Twig “Why couldn’t he understand anyone?” The Shrew was talking like he was deliberately talking in a funny voice, really quickly. The Shrew near the door said something to the Shrew who had helped Twig, the Shrew who had helped Twig sighed and then tried to talk to Twig again, this time he started to talk slowly.
“You’re … from … the … other … side … of … the … hill … arn’t … you?” the Shrew spoke with a thick strange accent but Twig could just about understand him.
Twig thought about and guess that he was so replied “Yes”.
“You’re … strange … Shrew’s … you … lot … over … the … hill. You’re … not … in … league … with … the … moles … are … you?”
“Moles?” asked Twig.
“The … black … creatures” replied the Shrew.
Twig shook his head vigourously. The sound of fighting appeared to be getting closer and the Shrew by the door was looking worried, he said something quickly to the Shrew by Twig and the Shrew nearest Twig grabbed his arm.
“We … better … get … out … of … here. Stick … close … to … us, this … might … get … messy” Twig and the other two strange Shrews cautiously left the underground room and peered into the gloom of the small earthen corridor that lead from it, there was another Shrew in the distance, standing at a bend in the corridor, holding a flickering twig. The sound of the fighting was getting closer. One of the Shrew’s with Twig called out to the Shrew in the distance, the Shrew in the distance checked around him carefully and then beckoned them forwards. As they got closer the Shrews with Twig could talk more easily with the Shrew at the corner, Twig was beginning to get used to these strange Shrews way of talking and their thick accents and was beginning to understand what they were saying amongst themselves.
“Who’s this?” the Shrew at the corner nodded towards Twig.
“We found him tied up down this corridor” replied one of Twig’s rescuers.
“Doesn’t look like one of us, but we better get him out of here, better we deal with him than the Moles” said the new Shrew.
The sound of fighting was now getting even closer and Twig was not too happy about them standing around and talking.
The new Shrew pointed around the bend “The exit is down that way, we’ve got it reasonably clear but the Moles are trying to break through our defences so be careful.”
The Shrew passed Twig’s rescuers another twig which they lit from his twig which was already alight, they wished each other good luck and then Twig and his two rescuers made their way carefully round the bend. The tunnel that they had been walking down turned out to be one of many, all linking to one long tunnel that they were now on, at the end of the tunnel their seemed a distant glow of daylight. Shrews guarded the tunnels leading off the main tunnel, just like the Shrew they had just talked to. Some of the tunnels seemed quiet, dead and black whereas others had Shrews rushing down in great numbers to quell uprisings that seemed to be developing else where in the maze of tunnels. Twig and his rescuers approached each new tunnel opening with caution, so far they had passed each opening with no problem and the welcoming circle of light was getting closer but just as they passed the last tunnel opening before getting to the exit they heard a great collective roars of seemingly a hundred angry Moles all rushing at them down the corridor. Shrews rushed from everywhere, in an attempt to hold them back, Twig’s two rescuers looked like they wanted to go and help to but another Shrew hurriedly pointed them on to the exit, it looked like they wanted Twig out of there. The Shrews and the Moles collided in a giant clash, the Shrews fought them off bravely but some Moles got through and those Moles did not want anyone leaving. They spied Twig and his rescuers hurrying to the exit, which Twig could see as he got closer was a hole in the ceiling. When Twig and the others realised the Moles were hot on their heels they started to run through the tunnel as fast as they could. Twig could hear the large sharp claws of the Moles hitting the earth tunnel behind him, he did not want to look behind him but he could easily imagine the menacing black creatures running behind him and he thought he could feel them trying to grasp at his ankles. One of Twig’s rescuers reached the exit first, he tried to grab a hold of the earth around the opening but he could not reach. The other rescuer soon caught up and helped by letting the first rescuer climb onto his back, that way he could haul himself up into the sunshine. As he did so the second rescuer called out to Twig to climb onto his back to, the first rescuer above waiting to help pull him up, but just as Twig was balanced precariously on the rescuers back, about to reach up to be pulled out the Moles charged. The great big muscular body of the Mole that charged them sent Twig flying off the other Shrews back, the Shrew waiting above cried out in frustration, unable to do anything to help them. Twig’s rescuer still down in the tunnels with him swiped bravely at the Moles and nashed his teeth.
“Climb onto my shoulders!” he cried out to Twig.
It felt like one of the hardest things he had ever done, fighting to keep his balance as well as fighting to dodge the blows of the Moles but he made it, wobbling onto the Shrew’s shoulders. Twig’s other rescuer was dangling as best as he could through the hole.
“Grab my paws!” he shouted. Twig reached out as far as he could, his rescuer stretched a little further, their paws met with great relief and Twig was tugged out of the darkness and into the sunlight. This left Twig’s remaining rescuer, outnumbered at the entrance to the tunnels by the Moles, Twig and his other rescuer reached down as far as they could but they could not reach him. The Moles were charging at him, sending him bouncing off the walls of the tunnel.
“I have to go back down there” said Twig’s rescuer and with that he jumped back down into the hole to join the fighting. Twig was left at the surface wondering what to do when another troop of Shrews raced over to the hole, two Shrews grabbed him out of the way as the Shrews descended into the hole, they pulled him quickly away from the fighting.
“You’re the stranger” one of the Shrews said to Twig.
“We better take you to be questioned” said the other. And without saying another word they both took hold of one of Twig’s paws and marched him through the forest and up into the trees. They clambered from branch to branch, tree to tree until eventually they came to a large, ancient tree, that looked much older than the other trees in the forest of this side of the hill. The tree was greatly aged and there was a large hollow chamber in the middle, open to the sky, this is where they took Twig. At first the chamber was empty, but soon Shrews started to gather on the leafy branches overlooking the chamber and then more important pompous looking Shrews started to enter the chamber itself. Finally a very important looking Shrew entered, Twig could tell this particular Shrew was important as the other Shrews bowed their heads as he arrived. The very important Shrew strolled, relaxed up to Twig, who was being guarded by the two Shrews who had found him outside the Mole hole.
“You are not from here” said the very important Shrew.
“I’m from . . . .” Twig was interrupted by a dismissive wave from the Shrew’s hand.
The very important Shrew pointed at a nervous looking Shrew amongst the crowd in the chamber. “Raptor-foe, speak!” the very important Shrew commanded.
Raptor-foe stepped forward nervously “Your honour, I saw the stranger in the forest last night when I was on guard duty, your honour. The stranger and another strange Shrew attempted to climb one of the trees, so I issued the alarm call.”
An official sounding Shrew stepped forward “We have reports from Barkclaw, your honour, who can not be with us at this time your honour because he is leading the current fight against the Moles, but he has reported to me that the strange Shrew was discovered along with another strange Shrew sleeping in one of our trees last night. They were successfully frightened off, it was believed we would not see them again, I am dreadfully sorry sir that those assumptions appear to be false.”
The very important Shrew stroked his whiskers thoughtfully, “This other strange Shrew he was seen with. Raptor-foe, you say you saw him? Did you get a good look at this other Shrew?”
Twig shifted nervously, although he did not want to be held by these strange and slightly alarming Shrews he was glad that it was just him, he did not want them to find Acorn to, wherever Acorn was and Twig desperately hoped it was not with the Moles.
Raptor-foe was speaking to the very important Shrew “Yes, your honour, I saw him”
“Did he look anything like this?” the very important Shrew looked up to the crowds on the branches above and motioned a Shrew out of Twig’s view to come down to the chamber. The crowd fell silent as the Shrew from the branches strolled into the chamber.
Twig heard a familiar voice “Your honour”
“Is this your lost brother?” said the very important Shrew pointing to Twig.
“Yes, your honour it is.”
Twig turned to Acorn with a feeling of warm but confused relief. There was Acorn standing before him, alive and well and apparently very at home with these strange Shrews.
“Acorn? What happened to you?” asked Twig.
“What happened to you, you mean!” laughed Acorn
“I waited for you outside the hedge but you never appeared.”
“But I did to, I waited outside the hedge and you didn’t show up” said Twig.
“It was a big hedge, we could have got separated and one of us ended up one side of the hedge and the other on the other side of the hedge, we wouldn’t of had a chance in the dark. So anyway, when I realised I couldn’t find you, I realised I had to come to these guys for help, which was a risk in itself but I had to do something” Acorn stretched out his paws, motioning at the crowd of Shrews.
“Who are these Shrews?” whispered Twig to his brother.
“Not much different from you and me, brother, they just live somewhere different, that’s all. They’ve been having lots of problems recently, with the Raptor war nearby and problems closer to home to, with the Moles, now I know you met those” Twig nodded as Acorn continued “With their problems, they’ve become very suspicious of strangers, that eerie noise we heard that night, I knew it was them, as I had come across them before in my travels and that first encounter had not gone successfully, but when you disappeared I knew they wouldn’t want to leave any Shrew out in the forest alone when war surrounds us. So I came here and begged, His Highness for help”. Acorn bowed his head in respect to the very important Shrew.
The very important Shrew continued the story “Your brother was right, you may be a stranger but we knew we couldn’t leave you out there, specially when your brother has been of assistance to us before with the Raptors. Word was spread out amongst the forest that you were to be found. Our trees have eyes and news soon came back to us that you had last been seen near the vicinity of a known Mole set. When we received that information I gave the go ahead for an attack on the set to see if we could find you.”
Twig was awed at the number of Shrews that did not even know him but had been prepared to help in, all he could think to say though was a simple “Thank you.”
At that moment, another Shrew scurried into the chamber and whispered into the Very Important Shrew’s ear. The Very Important Shrew looked concerned, when the messenger finished speaking, the Very Important Shrew addressed the chamber
“As we stand here talking, the attack on the set is going badly, two of our Shrews have been held captive”, the Very Important Shrew turned to Twig “The two Shrews who in fact rescued this young Shrew from captivity, we need more Shrews to go and reinforce our efforts”.
Twig paled at the thought of the two Shrews that had rescued him now being held captive themselves, he had to do something he thought. Around Twig, many of the Shrews were now preparing to go and join the battle at the Mole set. Twig spoke out “I should go to, I’ve been in that set, I might have a better idea of where they might be held.”
Acorn looked shocked “Twig, I need to get you home, this is too dangerous.”
“This is all because I got lost, I need to help end this” said Twig.
The Very Important Shrew looked grave “Acorn, I think your little brother is growing into a man, you need to let him find his own path”, he turned to Twig “If you are serious with your offer then I gladly accept your help.”
Twig nodded, hoping that he looked more brave then he felt. Acorn picked up when the sharpened twigs that were being passed around “In which case” he said “I go to”.
The Shrews organised themselves into a narrow column and together they crawled silently along the branches of the forest until they got to the set.
The Very Important Shrew himself was leading the battle this time, he conferred with Twig. “Where were you held when you were captive?”
“It was in an earthen chamber at the end of a corridor, which turned onto the main corridor quite some way from the exit” answered Twig.
“Could you find it again? It might be where the Moles hold all their captives” said the Very Important Shrew.
Twig was not sure, his time in the maze of tunnels had been chaotic and frightening, he never thought he would have to go down there again so had not memorised the route, Twig tried to be honest “I think I’ll be able to help you narrow down your search.”
“In we go then. You’ll be guarded at all times Twig, I’m sure your brother will never leave your side and nor will I. Do not even think about the Moles, let the Shrews around you worry about the Moles. Do you understand?” asked the Very Important Shrew.
“Yes sir” replied Twig.
A protective guard surrounded Twig, Acorn and the Very Important Shrew. Together they all run at the entrance, jumping into the hole in the ground, into the darkness. The Shrews at the front had the benefit of surprise and the benefit of numbers as the large group of Shrews stormed the entrance, the guard Moles were quickly swept aside.
“Tell me where you think the tunnel branches off Twig” yelled the Very Important Shrew above the hub bub of fighting.
“Not yet sir, it took us a long time for us to escape to the entrance, so we have to make our way down quite a bit of this tunnel.”
“Onwards” shouted the Very Important Shrew.
Moles, alerted by the new attack were rushing down the tunnels onto the main tunnel to try and attack the Shrews but the Shrews penned in the Moles, preventing them from accessing the main tunnel. But as Shrews were taken away to guard the many tunnel entrances leading onto the main tunnel there were less Shrews to guard the Very Important Shrew, Twig and Acorn and soon Acorn was joining in with the fighting and Twig and the Very Important Shrew were drawn closer together.
“Are we closer yet, Twig?” shouted the Very Important Shrew over the noise of the fighting.
“We’re closer sir, we need to start checking the tunnels, the tunnel I was held down was long, straight and only had one chamber, the one I was being held in and that was right at the bottom of the tunnel.”
The Very Important Shrew nodded, he instructed the Shrews around him and the Shrews began to check the tunnels as they came across them, the tunnels were too bendy, or too short or had more than one chamber leading off it. And then there was a tunnel that looked like it could be it, what made it look even more like it could be it was the large group of Moles standing guard in it, not rushing forward to attack, like the other Moles did, but standing there, waiting for the Shrews to come to them. The Shrews turned into the tunnel and came to a standstill when they saw the guarding Moles blocking the tunnel. There was a moment of silence, all Twig could hear was the rapid breathing of the tiring Shrews.
“I think this is it” whispered Twig.
The Very Important Shrew nodded slowly, he looked at his Shrews waiting for his command and then looked into the small wrinkly mean looking eyes of the Moles, “Light every single fire twig you can Shrews, on my command” whispered the Very Important Shrew.
The Shrews who until that moment had been trying to preserve their fire twigs, using only just enough to see, reached into their supplies and readied their twigs. On the Very Important Shrew’s command light burst into luminescene in the tunnel, the Moles sensitive eyes, accustomed to the dark , temporarily forgot their duties as they shrank back, shielding their eyes from the bright light.
“Charge!” yelled the Very Important Shrew. The Shrews baralled down the tunnel, the Moles fleeing before them, not wanting to get too close to the light. Together the Moles and the Shrews burst into the chamber, the Moles trying to shrink into the darkness of the shadows at the back of the chamber. In the middle of the chamber, bound just like Twig had been, were Twig’s two rescuers looking very relieved to see the Shrews. They were quickly untied and the Very Important Shrew gave the order to retreat. The Shrews packed themselves into a tight a group as possible, with the rescued rescuers, Twig, Acorn and the Very Important Shrew in the middle. They raced back down the tunnel and onto the main tunnel, knocking down any Mole who dared approach them. As they reached the entrance, Twig was worried that they would be caught again, just like last time as they tried to climb up through the hole, they got closer and closer and Twig could just see in his minds eye the Moles watching and waiting in the darkness but suddenly the Very Important Shrew, racing next to him let out a loud piercing whistle and down through the entrance appeared two ladders made from bound together twigs. Twig breathed a sigh of relief as he scrabbled up the ladder along with the other Shrews. Not wanting to risk anymore problems the Shrews did not stop running until they got back to the big old oak tree again.
When the Shrews had all recovered their breath and examined their wounds and counted their numbers, they assembled again and waited for the Very Important Shrew. Twig and Acorn waiting in the centre of the chamber for him. The crowd of waiting Shrews stiffened to attention as the Very Important Shrew walked in with the two rescued Shrews, looking fit and happy to be back, they both smiled gratefully at Twig. The crowd quietened, waiting for the Very Important Shrew to speak.
The Very Important Shrew cleared his voice “Today, is a day that will be inscribed in our legends forever more, the day Shrews from both sides of the hill united in the face of a common threat. Twig and Acorn are strangers no more to us and I hope sincerely that we are strangers no more to them.”
© JSS 2007