Banner by Penny Klostermann
If you have arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE
Happy, Happy Birthday to our Erik of This Kid Reviews Books.
Erik Faces the Ogre:
“I think we need to keep on to the mountain, Benton,” Erik said. Benton snorted. He would have skittered sideways as he eyed the wolf-ogre in front of them, but the path was too narrow.
Erik flicked the reins, and nudged Benton with his heels. “Come on, boy. The path goes past the ogre. We can do this. Just gallop as fast as you can.” Another flick of the reins, and Benton flew along the narrow trail. Erik fixed his eyes on the ground just ahead of him, not daring to catch the monster’s eye.
A thunder of hooves, a whoosh of breath, and they were past. Daring to look over his shoulder, Erik saw that the creature -- whatever it was -- had not moved. “How very odd,” Erik said to his pony. “Maybe it wasn’t real at all.” They didn’t go back to take a second look, however. That might be what the ogre was waiting for.
There was a single hoof mark on the ground. “I don’t know how her horse only leaves one hoof mark, but at least we know we’re on the right track,” Erik said aloud. It made him feel better to talk out loud. This forest, so dank and dark, was a spooky place.
For a few moments they were able to trot along easily, then Benton neighed and stopped in his tracks. Prickly brambles crossed the path. There seemed to be no way through them, but there was no other path but the one that disappeared under the thorny branches.
The wind -- or something -- made a sound as it whistled past them. Zzzzzigggg, it seemed to say. “Did you hear that?” Erik asked. As if in answer, Benton skittered to the left -- and they saw that there was a way around the first brambles. Then the wind came again. Zzzzzagggg. Benton skittered to the right. As the wind directed them, they zigged and zagged their way through the bramble patch.
“Phew! I wondered if we’d ever get out of there,” Erik said.
Benton shook his mane, and bent to crop some grass from the side of the path. Erik held on tight this time, to make sure he didn’t slide off as he had before.
“Okay, that’s enough grass. You’ll get your bit all icky,” Erik said. “I may have to make you clean your own tack when we get back.” Benton just snorted.
Again they were able to trot... for a very short time. Again, wild growth across the path forced them to stop.
“Ewwwwwww!” Erik said, pinching his nose together with his finger and thumb. “That smells awful.” Benton sneezed, a huge slobbery horse-sneeze. “Ugh,” said Erik. “Why don’t horses use tissues?”
Strange fronds formed an impenetrable barrier across the path. Oddly shaped pods hanging from the fronds seemed to be creating the odor. The fronds undulated in the breeze, seeming almost to ooze.
Erik shuddered. “This is disgusting.” He and Benton stood waiting for the wind to tell them to zig or zag or whatever was needed to get around, over, or past the barrier. Silence.
Benton nickered, and nodded his head to the right of the path.
“A sign!” Erik exclaimed. “How come you saw it and I didn’t? I didn’t know horses could read!”
Benton wondered if horses would ever be recognized for the superior creatures that they are. He nickered again and tossed his head, to explain what the sign said to him, but there was that pesky language barrier again. All children should be taught Equine as a Second Language from the time they were foaled, he thought.
Erik read the sign aloud, figuring Benton needed to know what was on it. He was pretty sure Benton knew at least a few English words.
“This way to speak with Greta, Greatest Gossip in the Great Forest.”
Erik patted Benton’s side. “What do you think, Benton? Try to get through this stinky mess, or go and talk with a gossip who might know everything?”
Benton nodded his head up and down, vigorously, but Erik didn’t know whether he was saying yes, go through the stinky mess, or yes, go and talk with the gossip. Once again, Erik would have to make the decision himself.
To attempt to pass the pods, go HERE.
To seek information from Greta the Greatest Gossip, click HERE.