Investigations continued cautiously.
The Pettapedes lie in wait and observing every moment
Investigations continue into Ebuke’s devious mission. Waiting will be Eddie and Ollie. They awoke with so much excitement. They bolted their breakfast down. No standing on ceremony — straight to old Judas Hugglebottom.
They couldn’t wait to travel back into Thorsotania and be with General Gallisum and his unbelievable Pettapedes. Their fever heightened as they spotted the faint plume of smoke rising into the air.
Old Judas saw them coming, and he too couldn’t wait to take them on a journey that would only ever be made by them. After the boys had calmed down their dearest friend started.
“General Gallisum had thought long and hard during the last sleep. He had come to a decision. He’d planned to guide the Pettapedes along the route of the Thorsotate soldiers.
They had disappeared behind a promontory. A headland that stood blackened against the green grey sky. The investigation started by engaging his special charges into position, the next step commencing their exploration.
Balanced on their useful multi legs, with calm and level thoughts, they lingered for a while. Using their wits, they skirted around the unevenness of the terrain. Darting into hollows, using their acute hearing and listening for sounds of life. Their trained eyes were also ready to pick up any slightest movement.
So far nothing could be seen or heard. Investigations continued using extra powers of smell, sniffing and following the scent left behind of the Thorsotate soldiers. This gave them vital clues for their way forward. They inched around a jutting headland and suddenly General Gallisum stopped them. In the distance a rampart with pinnacles twisting and turning, rose into the sky. It monopolised the scape A deep gully surrounded this. It was a sprawling edifice appearing to be a defence fortification.
A roughened archway, with towers each side spanned the entrance. Castellated walls jutted back and beyond from the two towers. Threatening spear shaped spurs sprouted from the walls. General Gallisum guessed they were surrounding a quadrangle. A large apron of open gravelly ground lay afore-front the fortress, behind which was a gangway over the gulley which also led on up to a portal with huge heavy wooden ornate bolted doors.
General Gallium remained in hiding whilst awaiting reports from the Pettapedes. He was never far away from them. A hundred or more paces forwards, the Pettapedes had good view of six Watch Guards, three each
side of the gangway. They were standing to attention with legs astride, and with unrestricted view they were constantly sliding their eyes guarding the vastness all around.
The guards looked fierce. Armed with long spears held atilt they defended the heftily chained blackened wooden bar which secured good stronghold across the vast doors. They wore all-in-one grey hooded well-padded metal collared upper bodices, thick hide encasing their hands. There was a rough vivid green insignia of his Dictatorship “d-e” sprawled across the additional long wide leather belted red tunics. There was no escaping the fact they were part of Dictator Ebuke’s Guard. These over-tunics added further protection covering thick drawers tucked into thigh high heavy hide boots.
The Watch Guards were motionless. There was a stillness set within the eerie silence and green glow of the landscape. General focus was to seize the precise moment to enter the awesome fortress. The Pettapedes lithe bodies would enable them to encounter and tackle any potential hazard. They waited for any opportunity to grab.
The Pettapede army were ordered to rest between “watches” each taking turns. During investigation rest was essential to conserve the powerful energy they required to sustain their invisibility. No-one could see them, but their extraordinary waves of inner light meant they could see each other. Every half-moon orbit, from his hiding the General picked up on stirring of the atmosphere. There was action. Rhythmic stomping could be heard from a distance.
The Watch Guards were immediately alerted to this and joined in by marching on the spot in time to the background rhythm. As the increasing volume grew and grew, the Pettapedes noted six more figures dressed identically emerged onto the scene.
They marched towards the Watch Guards already on duty. Two by two Left right; Left right; Left right; they formed a line of protection down one side of the gangway. Marching on the spot in precise rhythm for twelve more beats, the former Watch then about turned, facing away from each other. The three Watch Guards that had flanked the left of the gangway turned about once again and marched down and around across the gangway to fall in ahead of their compatriots who had flanked the right side. In precise manner they marched away following the same route as the exchange Watch had marched in.
Three of the replacement Watch shuffled up into the vacated positions, the other three marching down and across the gangway to take up their positions on the other side. The Guards then marched on the spot for twelve more beats and then abruptly stamped to attention. The Shwig shwig; Shwig shwig; Shwig shwig of boots from the departing Watch could be heard echoing around the rugged black landscape which in time gradually faded away.
General Gallisum and his charges knew they must mark time with patience and wait. Investigations whilst keeping still, revealed Watch Guards remained on the spot, and witnessed change of Watch every half moon orbit for five more sleeps. Not anticipated and unforeseen, there was a general feeling of unrest in the atmosphere. The Watch Guards suddenly came into action, and with utmost precision and timing, begun drilling on the spot.
Left right; left right; left right; their eyes staring far out into the distance. The marching continued for twelve more beats, then stamped down to attention.
General Gallisum and the Pettapedes were swiftly aware of movement in and around the rugged rangy hillsides. Small figures surfaced from underground dwellings, out of crannies from chasms and craters, from behind hillocks, and down steep mountainsides, they emerged from everywhere.
Investigations at every turning point was filled with bustle, people scattering themselves and running wildly. Thousands upon thousands of Ebuke’s subjects-the Thorsotates swarmed with an automatic sense of direction heading towards the fortress. They thronged, pushed and shoved and eventually the horde quietened, and gathered with more calm. They’d congregated over terrain from the boundaries of the fortification right as far back and around as the Pettapedes eyes could see.
The Watch Guards remained stock-still. Although more subdued, the people appeared agitated. The dreary greenness of light that hovered over the backdrop and surroundings added to an atmospheric heaviness. It was overbearing.
General Gallisum ordered the Pettapedes to set to work with their investigations. Their eyes skirting every crag and cranny. They felt a crucial undertaking was imminent. The people of Thorsotania had been called.
No sooner these conclusions had been reached there was a sudden burst of action from the Watch Guards. They started to march on the spot with eyes focussed well beyond the horizon.
Left right; left right; left right; for twelve beats followed by stamp to attention. There would be an interval of inactivity followed by a repetition of the drill, the same rhythm repeating over and over. Further investigations revealed the busy actions of the Watch Guards. Between times, a hush descended over the valleys. The Thorsotate People were drawn into the strange quietude and waited.”
Eddie and Ollie were nervous and fearful of investigations into the situation. They clung to each other wondering what was going to happen. THEY wanted to be an important part of the equation. THEY wanted to be included in the Pettapedes vital mission. Whatever the outcome NOTHING must ultimately ever happen to the beloved Shamoshelimyticleletite, Protector of Cavenarea.
Stooping and exhausted he bent over them and in gentle soft tones was calmly bringing them back to him. Eddie and Ollie fought against coming back into the familiar surroundings. Squeezing and fisting their eyes, they tried to shut out the inevitability, they pleaded with old Judas to carry one.
Judas shook his head and told them that they must return home once suitably recovered from the intensity of his story telling. He would see them next day. With that thought he laid down near his fire. He drew the old tartan rug over his head, a hand slid from under and gesticulated a “do as your told — go away” wave and promptly fell into deep sleep. He was drained of all strength.
Eddie and Ollie accepted there was no chance and quietly left him to it. They looked behind and saw the gentle wisp of smoke from Old Judas’s burning kindling rising in the air. Would they be able to wait?
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