Chapter three in which a great warrior joins the quest
“I take it you recognize Bear,” Jasper stated the obvious.
Maggie pounced atop the black knight, playfully, lovingly wrapping her paws around his head and giving him a big wet lick across his head, quickly followed by a kick to the chin and a laugh. “Bear? Huggy Bear is more like it,” she said, a flood of memories coming back.
“No one calls me Huggy Bear anymore,” Bear growled, but couldn’t help smile with the reunion of his sister. “I have a reputation to uphold, you know.” This time, his voice sounded a little softer, kinder, more playful, a tone Jasper had not heard since Bear had joined him at the cottage shortly after his family had been sent away.
Huggy Bear used his imposing size and strength to build a reputation as a great warrior and dropped the “Huggy” to empower that reputation. But deep inside, Huggy Bear remained, the playful big brother of Maggie, who used to watch out for his little sister, and take her on tomboy adventures.
“Maggie, it’s good to see you,” Bear said, “but your timing couldn’t be worse. I’m preparing to leave to rescue Josie.”
“We were just waiting for you,” Maggie exclaimed.
“We?” Bear asked, glancing at Jasper. “A retired warrior-turned-scholar and my one-eyed little sister? No offense, but for your safety you should stay here.”
“I can hold my own,” Maggie argued. “I have for most of my life.”
“With neighbor cats protecting you all the time, without your knowledge,” Bear said. “You’re my sister, and I can’t bring you along. This isn’t just for fun this time,” Bear stated, remembering the games they would play in the old woods and along the babbling stream, and the trouble they would get in when they returned wet, or muddy, or covered in brambles.
“I would agree with you,” Jasper spoke up, “if it weren’t for this.” And he revealed the map that Maggie had followed to the cottage. The cottage was just one stop along the map, a midpoint on the way to what appeared to be a waterfall and a cave.
“Bear, you know this place, as do I, and you know she has to come along.”
Bear shook his head, resigned to the fact, but not happy about it. “Maggie, you can come, if you must,” he said, “but you do as we say. Deal?”
“Deal,” Maggie said, hardly able to hold in the joy trying to explode from her chest.