Chapter four in which a prophesy is revealed
Jasper, Bear and Maggie marched for three days and nights with very few breaks. This amount of walking without long breaks or naps was more than Maggie was used to, so when they stopped alongside a creek she was relieved. Jasper appeared to be slowing a little, too. Bear had a glisten of perspiration on his fur, but adrenaline and purpose were driving him on.
"We'll stop here for the night," Jasper said. "You'll need your strength tomorrow, Maggie."
They found a large, spacious bush to sleep under. Maggie curled against her brother, resting her head against the fur of his chest. Jasper stretched out closer to the front of the bush. He puffed his fur a little as if to send the message to anyone who stumbled upon them that they don't want any of this fight.
The next morning the three began their hike again, following the creek upstream. Maggie enjoyed watching the dragonflies dance along the reeds growing on the banks of the creek, the frogs swimming in the current, and the schools of tiny fish. These were all calming distractions from Jasper’s words last night: You’ll need your strength tomorrow.
They walked for about an hour before both Huggy Bear and Jasper suddenly stopped. Bear let out a low growl toward the ground and stepped back a few paces. Jasper puffed his fur and turned sideways, making himself appear large and imposing.
“What is it?” Maggie asked, looking around confused.
“The grass is flicking at my feet like flames,” Bear said, his words rolling out in a growl.
“There are figures in the air, appearing, disappearing, quickly,” Jasper said, turning his body to check his blind spot. He sidled back toward Bear. “This is where we stop, and you continue on,” Jasper said to Maggie. “Hear the rush of water? Go toward the waterfall.”
“But I don’t understand,” Maggie said.
“This land is protected,” Jasper explained, still looking around cautiously. “There are visual tricks to confuse us, to keep uninvited guests out. But you can pass. You have just one eye and are able to see through the tricks. The elders knew this, and expected this, which is why they sent you to us.”
Maggie nodded, now understanding a little more. “So this is my mission?”
“Part of it,” Jasper confirmed. “Follow this path, under the waterfall.” He indicated a spot on the map. Then Maggie turned and headed off, alone, nervous, looking for the flaming grass and figures floating in the air that she could not see, that really weren’t there, but she felt should be there now. She walked a short while longer, waiting for some surprise that never came, and followed the creek as it widened and bent until she came to a moderate waterfall, about 20 feet high.
The mist of the waterfall beaded up on her short hairs and rolled off. “Water,” she said in disgust. Then she saw a small path, barely wide enough for her small frame, and slick from moisture and moss. She extended her claws, raised her tail for balance, and carefully followed the ledge that lead under the waterfall. About halfway under the water she saw a small opening, squeezed through, and entered into a cave lighted by a blue glow, seemingly coming from nowhere.
She looked around, this time seeing figures in the corners, in the air, appearing and disappearing. A trick, the thought, but then she recognized faces from her past, old neighbors and villagers that had crossed the Bridge when she was younger. Familiar faces, as real as they were intangible, welcomed her deeper into the cave. Then one cat came forward, one Maggie had never seen, never known, a gray and white cat, with long fur.
“Maggie,” he said in a strong, knowing voice. “It is good to see you. I am Fluffy. I advised your parents long ago. And I alone was entrusted with the prophesy.”
“Prophesy?” Maggie asked, confused.
“A long time ago, a prophesy foresaw the Meezer Trinity’s coup,” Fluffy explained, “but we still failed to stop them. But there was a second part to the prophesy, that the four would reunite, and return order to our lands. There is much for you to understand.” And then the figure of Fluffy placed a paw on Maggie’s forehead. Despite appearing as little more than air, the paw felt solid too. Maggie shivered, then her eye twinkled as the plan was shared in an instant.
Thirty minutes later she was following the creek back, nearing where she left Bear and Jasper. The boys raised up, excited to see her again. Maggie flicked the remaining water from her fur, then said, “I know what we need to do.”
A little about this chapter... Dad said he could have easily doubled this chapter. He liked the idea of a place where Maggie could go to interact with the cats who came before, like Mom's Fluffy. He had to reign himself in to keep the chapter from getting too long, though.