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Plumtuggle
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 13


Larf and Jix sat on a rocky ledge, looking down into the valley. “There’s a fire. Sort of an odd place for someone to camp, isn’t it?” Larf pointed in the direction of the camp.

“Do you think it’s one of the others? I wonder if they’re having any better luck than we are at finding any jewels,” Jix said, whittling at a piece of wood with his knife. “What have we got so far?”

Larf leaned to the side and grabbed his pack. He opened it, reached inside and pulled out a gold nugget. “This is what we have so far. We’ve got enough gold to keep us rich for the rest of our lives, but I doubt if we’ve got the rarest and most precious thing in the Land of Waterberry.” He scratched his arm and several fleas hopped off, landing on the ledge.

“Why don’t we go down there and see who it is? If it’s Tupi and Smov, maybe they’ll allow us to share a meal, if you want to eat.” Jix stood and slipped his pack over his shoulders. “Come on. I’m curious to see who it is.”

“Right you are, Jix. I saw a trail leading into the valley. It’s dark. We’ll have to be careful with our steps.” Larf grabbed his pack.

They hiked down the trail, zigzagging back and forth through the trees. Never losing sight of the campfire, they used the light of the moon to guide them to the bridge that crossed the river. Crude as it was, the stones and logs held together. Standing on the other side of the raging water, they made their way along the banks until they came within a few feet of the camp. “Will you look at that. It’s not Tupi and Smov. It’s that orphan boy. What’s his name?” Jix nudged Larf with his bony elbow.

“Something like Ander, or Sandy. What do you think he’s doing down here in the Valleys of Armon? What’s that with him?” Larf saw nothing but a furball.

“It’s a plumtuggle. I’ve seen them before. They’re no danger to us. The boy’s got a pack. I wonder what he’s got in it.” Jix pushed the bushes aside and crept closer to the fire.

Whispering to his partner, Larf said, “Looks like they had anprim fish for supper. Let’s see what’s in his pack.” He opened it and looked inside. “Well, well, well. It looks like our little friend here’s gone and found himself some jewels. I see an amethyst, a piece of topaz and a diamond. And what’s this?” He lifted the Goobagog crystal orb out of the pack.

“Let me see that,” Jix said, yanking it out of Larf’s filthy hand. “Goobagog crystal. It does exist then. I’ve heard legends and tales about this. I think we’ve found the most rare and precious thing in the Land of Waterberry.” Jix crept back toward the bushes. After Larf stuffed the other jewels into his pockets, he followed Jix. They walked a few hundred feet away. “We might as well head back to Appleworth. We’ll never find anything better than this.”

“This is great, Jix. We’re going to win. That boy and the creature aren’t going to be too happy when they wake up and find they’ve been robbed. Come on. Let’s get going. We can cover a lot of miles before sunrise.” Larf led the way north.

                                    *  *  *

The sounds of panic woke Toast in the morning. She sat up and saw Xander tossing things from his pack. He looked at her. “They’re gone. All of them are gone.”

“What’s gone, Xander?” Toast wiped the sleep from her eyes and crawled closer to the boy.

“Our jewels and the Goobagog ball. Someone came in the middle of the night and stole them from my pack.”

“Who would have done such a thing? I didn’t hear anything.” Toast picked up the pack and rummaged through it. “You’re right. Nothing’s in there.”

“It must have been Deji, or Larf and Jix. We saw them yesterday when we floated across the sky, remember? We’ve got to find them. I can’t return without my Goobagog crystal,” Xander cried.

“I guess this means we’re not going back home after all.” Toast sighed and held her chin with the palms of her hands.

“I know you’re disappointed, Toast. I wanted to go back to Appleworth too, but things have changed. I don’t care that much about the diamond, amethyst and topaz, but Toast, they stole our rare and precious Goobagog crystal ball. We’ll explore the Valleys of Armon and if we can’t find them, then we’ll just give up and go home. We can even take a short cut through the center of the land instead of going the long way, but I’ve got to try at least one more time.”

Okay, Xander. I’ll go with you and we’ll look for our jewels. Whether we succeed or not, we should think twice about going through the middle part of the Land of Waterberry. I don’t know if you know this, but blarkees live in the desert. Do you know what a blarkee is?”

“Of course I do. I’ve even seen one before. Their fangs are sharp and long and they slither across the land like a big, fat snake. Let’s not think about that right now. I know Larf has been here. There were fleas all over my pack this morning.” Xander  kicked dirt over the fire. “Let’s go.”

“What about writing in your journal?”

“I’ll do that later on. Right now I’m too angry to write. Come on. The sun’s rising and the heat will be upon us soon.” Xander walked into the forest, followed by the plumtuggle.

 

Glossary:

Blarkee – live in the desert in the center of the Land of Waterberry, long sharp fangs, slithers across the ground like a snake, no legs, arms, fat body, leathery cow-hide type skin


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