Here is Chapter 15 for all those who are still reading. My son-in-law, Nate Roberto, has done this most wonderful illustration. I hope you enjoy it.
Lama faced Launt
Polly and the girls, along with Little Tee, were found by Lao Hu’s scouts and escorted back to the camp. There they met Mr. Popper for an evening feast that celebrated the coming together of this band of dissenters, and marked the beginning of a most dangerous journey to the land of the Adnaca.
The group walked out into the night. There were tables set by candle light, with white linen and flowers. The flowers were Indian paint brushes, which are deep red with small black eyes that follow you while you eat; and honeysuckle, that fills the air with sweet aromas. The night sky was ablaze with stars and the moon was full, which cast a pleasant light on the event. The tables themselves had been placed around the most wonderful bon fire. The guests were seated at the table and the tigers began to bring in the food. There were roasted ground hogs and sweet potatoes, opossums with carrots and onions, bear stew, venison sausage, wild turkey, and boars head. There were ramps and potatoes, with speckled trout, branch lettuce, with fatback grease, tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese, fried okra, fried pickles, fried squash, fried apples, and of course, plenty of biscuits with butter. Then there were the desserts: pecan pie, apple pie, chess pie, key lime pie, butter milk pie, blackberry pie, and molasses pie. Coconut cake, red velvet cake, pineapple upside down cake, blackberry wine cake, and pound cake. Never had the girls seen so much food. They all ate until they could eat no more. For entertainment, there were tigers who danced and juggled, who blew fire from their mouths, and even rode bicycles. It was quite a show.
All this time Little Tee had been looking around nervously, for he had hunted these tigers, who were now treating him with such hospitality. No one seemed to hold any animosity toward him. As a matter of fact, they seemed to enjoy his company.
Lao Hu began to tap on his glass, signaling everyone to quite down. “This has been a most enjoyable evening. It has been our pleasure, as tigers, to have you all here as our guests and friends. Tonight we have taken the first step to change our world as we know it. Instead of just hearing stories about the Music Water, perhaps our children and grandchildren will swim in it. They will know the Water like we know the earth.” With this everyone stood to their feet and cheered.
As everyone began to sit back down, only Lao Hu and Little Tee remained standing. Lao Hu looked at Little Tee as he began to speak. “My name is Little Tee. I’m from the tribe of the Dilleyards. We have hunted you tigers fer years and years. I never knowed yuns was such kind critters. So I pledge tonight, before all yuns, that we Dilleyards will no longer hunt yunses, but we will fight along side youse to get this here Water Music to all the people of Midland and beyond.” The crowd once again stood to their feet and cheered with such exuberance, that the sound was deafening.
“Well said, my good friend.” Lao Hu said addressing Little Tee. “Tonight we make a pact with the Dillieyards to make them our allies. We will come to your aid and fight along side you, whenever you call upon us. And we will all work together to complete our mission, for the sakes of all future generations.” Once again the crowd broke into cheers. “Tomorrow we will begin our journey. I will be gone for an undisclosed length of time. I’m afraid all of us who are part of this team must get some rest, so we will leave you as we head to our rooms, but as is our custom, on important events such as this one, we must leave with a song. I have added a few small drops of the Music Water to the wine tonight, so we can all sing. As our newest ally and friend, I think it only fitting that Little Tee begin the song of hischoice. Choose wisely an anthem to start our journey by and solidify our pact.” he said as he looked at Little Tee.
Tee began to look pale, and then red, as everyone looked at him and listened. The crowd grew silent as Tee began rather timidly, “Rising up, back on the street.” he began, “Did my time took my chances. Went the distance now I’m back on my feet. Just a man and his will to survive.” Everyone was staring at him as he and Mr. Popper started the second verse, “So many times, it happens too fast. You trade your passion for glory.” Now Polly and some of the tigers began to join in, “Don’t loose your grip on the dreams of the past. You must fight just to keep them alive.” And with that last verse the whole crowd, tigers, shaman, tribal chiefs and priests began to sing with all their might. “It’s the eye of the tiger. It’s the thrill of the fight. Rising up to the challenge of our rival. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night. And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger!”
As they all continued to sing the journeyers left the table for their rooms. In the fire light with all the singing and merry making, no one saw a dark figure get up from the table and make his way in the dark to his horse. The singing muffled the horses hoof beats as he galloped into the night.
The next day the company rose early, saddled their horses, and followed Lao Hu out of town.
“Where are we headed, my friend?” Mr. Popper asked as he rode along beside Lao Hu.
“We must head to the Toe Lakes to find the one who can show us the way to Percy Toeringer’s. There we will purchase one deforestation frog, which I hope and pray will do it’s job when we finally reach the tree of life.”
“Who is this person we seek to show us the way?”
“He is a powerful shaman from the sprat-jowl tribe. It is said that he can make healing water that can cure diseases and restore health.”
“How will we know it is him when we find him?”
“He lives in the land of vineyards and rolling hills. He walks with a cane and wears strange hats, and has the features of a lama.”
“Could this be lama faced Launt?” Mr. Popper said with a sudden shock.
“Yes. Have you heard of him?”
“I have not only heard of him, but we have been companions and friends through many lives. We were once high school friends, many lives ago. In one life I was a frog and he was a turtle. But in the last life I was a guinea pig and he was a lama. I would ride on his back in the Peruvian mountains. We were such good friends and had so much fun together, until one of the natives caught me and had me for supper. I haven’t seen him since, but I’ll know him by his lama looks. And he’ll know me by my guinea looks; you see, when you are born again into this world, you take with you a resemblance of who you used to be. It will be good to see him again.” said Mr. Popper as they rode on into the day.
The journeyers rode for the better part of three weeks. The land had gradually begun to change. They were now out of the tall mountains and into foothills. The trees began to change colors, as early fall was setting in, and they started to see great vineyards of dark purple grapes and beautiful pale green ones.
They made their way to the top of one of the largest foothills, and there below them, in the distance was Honeoye lake, as the natives called it. It was beautiful to behold. The lake was maybe five miles long and a mile across. The reflection of the fall colors made it look as if it were on fire. The trees had begun to turn dark reds, and vibrant yellows, and deep oranges. Then there were the blue and purple trees mixed in that gave it a sort of story book look. Like a painting. They were all overwhelmed by such beauty.
The girls had all gotten down from their horses to look. Far off in the distance there appeared to be a large bird floating on the breeze. No one noticed it except Una who was fascinated by the way it seemed to rest on the air currents. She walked closer to the edge of the foothill to get a better look. It now seemed as though the bird had seen her and was moving in her direction. Still no one else had noticed it. As the bird got closer Una could see just how big it really was. It appeared to have a wing span of maybe twelve feet. Polly was getting a drink from her water bottle and enjoying the cool breeze in her hair when the sky suddenly went dark. She looked up, expecting a rain cloud, but instead saw the underside of a huge bird. It had its talons splayed and before she could scream, it swept down and lifted Una up in it’s claws.
“Una!” screamed Polly, as the bird lifted her into the air. “Someone do something!” she cried.
But all they could do was look on and cry, as the giant bird carried her off in the direction of the Toe lake.
“I’m sorry Polly, but all we can do is ride after her.” said Mr. Popper, who was physically shaken.
“Where will we look?” asked Lao Hu, “We need to know what kind of bird this is and where it nests.”
From behind them a voice said, “That’s a Koi hawk. They usually just go after the Koi fish, but they’ve been known to carry off a child every now and then. We should look for her at Sandy Bottom. It’s a stretch of beach on the lake. The Koi hawks have nests there. There’s no time to lose. Follow me.” the man said as he turned his horse and began to gallop after her.
Mr. Popper and the rest turned to follow, and as they did so, Mr. Popper could see the cane in his saddle bag, the wild hat made of peacock and ostrich feathers, and as the man turned and smiled, he saw the face that still resembled a lama.