Welcome to the third part of this adventure =)
If you missed the previous two posts, here’s a quick recap:
In part one, you started your day by getting raspberry jam from the market for your sister’s birthday, but when you arrived home, Nan and Lily, your sister, were enduring a search by the Dog guard because rats had accused you of harboring a cat. After they leave, you find out that your sister is, in fact, harboring a kitten. You decide to head to the orchards to try and get the cat over the city wall.
In part two, you find the rats are watching you so closely that your chances of getting Paws over the wall are slim. But Maya the rabbit has offered to help make a deal with the Mole guard to sneak the cat under the city walls.
Now, let’s see how this deal goes =)
Tails of PaTail Option Bb. A Mole Deal
“I like your idea,” you say to Maya Rabbit.
She thumps the ground with both hind paws in excitement. “I know just the place,” she says, “follow me.”
As you pick up the basket, a soft voice whispers from the whicker. “You’re trusting a rabbit? What’s the world coming to?”
The entrance to the Mole guard’s tunnels isn’t a door or even a cave, but a simple hole in the ground near the city wall. You’re still in the orchards, so the earth is damp and soft.
Maya Rabbit disappears down the hole to find the guard on duty at the entrance. You eye the opening.
“I’m not sure we’ll fit,” you whisper to Lila.
Before she can answer, a small pink nose appears from the hole. “Ay um,” the mole’s face emerges with his nose twitching, “Miss Maya says—” he stops speaking with his head tilted. “Not on my watch, not a chance.” He disappears.
Moments later, the ground to your left sinks in a whoosh, large claws reach out and grasp the tail of a rat hiding behind the closest tree.
The rat shrieks as it’s sucked into the hole with the mole.
There’s a soft rumbling and then, farther back in the orchard, another hole appears. The rat flies from the hole, still shrieking, and disappears over the far orchard wall.
“And stay there!” shouts the grumbly voice of the mole from under the ground.
While you’re still staring at where the rat vanished, the mole pops up from the tunnel entrance at your feet again.
“Now,” he starts again, “ay um, Miss Maya says some strange things.”
The mole fully emerges from his hole and sniffs at your legs, then at Lila’s legs and, lastly, at the basket. He stands up on his hind legs and grasps the whicker in those same large claws that sent the rat flying.
You grasp the handle firmly but your hands sweat as the mole continues to inspect with his sensitive nose.
“I see, I see,” he mutters. “Furry cherries indeed. You want out?”
“Yes,” Lila says for both of you.
“Hmmm, ay, don’t see any harm in out, ay suppose. Follow.” And he vanishes.
“Umm,” you sink to your knees next to the hole, “Mister Mole, we’re too big for this hole.”
There’s a ‘harrumph’ from below and you feel the ground shudder beneath you. Before you can scramble away, there’s a whoosh and the orchard floor disappears from under you.
You, Lila and a screaming basket tumble into the tunnels below.
Although the entrance was tiny, the tunnels are not. You stand and find you can walk, a bit hunched, into the tunnel system.
“Fill it in, boys,” the mole hollers to several pink noses watching from the tunnel behind you.
“Ay, ay, ay,” they respond and start filling in the giant hole they just opened for you to fall through.
“Follow,” the lead mole says again, and this time you have no problem walking behind him as his giant claws leave gouges out of the tunnel walls.
With him turned away, you peek into the basket to make sure Paws faired the fall without any injuries.
The kitten’s green eyes glare from the depths. He licks at his very ruffled orange fur but otherwise seems unhurt.
“Where’s Maya Rabbit?” Lila asks the mole.
“Ay? Oh, says she and the family gonna play game with rats. Somethin’ about rat ball. Never heard of it.” The mole continues to grumble and you catch a couple words about never being included in the fun.
“Can you get a message back to her?” you ask, thinking that Nan will worry if you don’t get a message to her.
“Message?” the mole looks back over his shoulder. You can’t really tell if he’s looking at you or just scenting the air. “Sure.”
You give him a message for Maya to pass to Nan and, not long after, he stops at another hole in the ground. Late day sunlight streams through it.
“Here, human,” Mister Mole digs his claws into the ceiling around the hole. With a heave of his heavy shoulders, he opens the hole wide enough for you to squeeze out of the tunnels.
“Thank you,” you say to him after you’re out. “What’s your name by chance?”
“Ay um, me?” the surprise in his low voice is obvious. “Morese.” And then, like he’s embarrassed, he dives back below to repair his tunnel entrance.
“I like him,” Lila says.
“You like them all,” you respond.
“Not the rats,” she grins.
You give her that.
The mole guard brought you up just outside the city wall. You head for the tree line before setting the basket on the ground to release Paws.
“Think it’s safe here?” Lila asks, wringing her hands in the hem of her shirt.
“Nothing’s safe outside the city,” you say. “But it’s better than the dogs catching him.”
“Ick,” Paws says as he cautiously peeks his head from the basket, “dogs.”
“Maybe you can stay with the Beaver family for a bit,” Lila suggests. “They live up the river there.” She points to the river.
“It’s wet,” Paws complains.
“Anything make you happy?” you ask the feline.
He tilts his ears toward Lila. “A good scratch behind the ears,” he says as Lila follows suit on his nonverbal suggestion.
A low purr rumbles from his throat.
“The Beaver’s will take care of that,” she assures him.
“Show me the way?” he asks, only now a slight uncertainty entering his usually confident expression.
You start to protest, it’s late in the day, but Lila gives you a look and you know it’s pointless.
It’s her birthday. Guess you can deal for a while longer.
You debate the wisdom of your choice later, however, because by the time you head back to the city, it’s almost dark. Long tree shadows stretch like fingers from the forest toward the city walls.
A long, low howl comes from behind you. It’s not close but, seconds later, a second howl answers it.
The dogs close the gates at sunset. As you told Lila, it’s not safe outside the city, especially at night. You glance back as you quicken your steps.
You safely left Paws with the Beaver family but now you’re worried about you and Lila.
If you head to the gate, the rats might convince the dog guard that you’re suspicious and they’ll close the gates on you.
If you head back to the mole tunnels, you’ll have to negotiate with them to let you back in. Without their help, you probably can’t even get back into the tunnels.
Do you go to…
Bb1. The Dog’s Gate?
Bb2. The Mole’s Tunnel?
Leave your vote in the comments below. Next Thursday, we’ll see how this adventure ends!