Petoskey Alexander George Herbert Xanderfeild was peacefully reading on the verandah of Xander House, stretched out comfortably in a hammock. It was a peaceful afternoon, and nothing much was happening.
Petoskey was just getting up to a terribly exiting bit in his book, when his neighbor and best friend Hexaldonn Jean Peter Stewart Zegreeves (who was nicknamed Hexagon because of his ample belly) running furiously up the path.
“Petoskey!” puffed Hexagon. “Petoskey!”
“What is the matter, Hexagon?” asked Petoskey, rather cross at being interrupted (everyone knows how irritating it is to be disturbed while reading, and this was a very interesting book too – all about a Snuzz-woggler who had such a long nose he could blow a song out of his ears).
“I saw a Jewelbird in the woods!” gasped Hexagon breathlessly.
Petoskey instantly forgot all about his book. He snapped it shut and attempted to jump out of his hammock. Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to jump out of a hammock, and Petoskey had to spend some time untangling himself.
"Where was it?" He exclaimed.
They ran off in the direction of the forest.
Now, if you should happen to see Petoskey and Hexagon (which I sincerely doubt), you would instantly perceive that they are not people, as you might have guessed. They are, as a matter of fact, Wollypogs.
Wollypogs are funny little people. They have large feet, short legs, and are not more than two feet high. They live in the land of Annerastis, (of which you will not have heard no matter how well you know your geography), in little villages scattered all over the place. And all of them have very long names.
Petoskey and Hexagon reached the Forest. It was dark and gloomy, yet the sun shone through the trees and made golden patterns on the ground.
As they went deeper into the forest, it got darker and darker. Petoskey was just beginning to wonder if Hexagon had been dreaming, when there was a sudden flash of gorgeous colors – red, gold, silver, blue – and there before them was the Jewelbird.
Petoskey and Hexagon stood and stared at the beautiful bird. The Jewelbird looked at them with glittering black eyes, cocked his head to one side and squawked.
Petoskey was suddenly struck by a thought. “It’s wonderful Hexagon…but whatever where you doing so deep in the woods all by yourself?”
Hexagon looked down at his feet. “Well” he said awkwardly, “I was looking for mushrooms and I sort of…er…got lost”.
Petoskey was not surprised. His friend was well known for his absent-mindedness.
“And then” continued Hexagon, “I saw the Jewelbird. And I was so excited I simply ran straight back.”
“But how…” began Petoskey, then grinned. “You are a nong, Hexagon.”
Hexagon indignantly opened his mouth to reply, but at that moment the Jewelbird, obviously bored, fluttered his wings and flew away.
“Quick!” cried Petoskey. “Follow it!”
They ran after the bird, dodging trees and jumping over logs. The Jewelbird apparently thought it was all a game, because when it was far ahead he would stop, wait for his pursuers to catch up, then squawked cheekily and flew off again. This game went on for some time, until Petoskey and Hexagon where completely exhausted. They collapsed in a heap, gasping for breath. The Jewelbird, not the slightest bit tired, landed in a tree and chirped inquisitively.
Jewelbirds, so called not only because their plumage shines like jewels, but also because they also take any jewels they can get their claws on. They are rarely seen, and are very intelligent. If a Jewelbird saw your favorite ring, you would never see it again - unless you happened to find its nest, and the only way you could do that is to follow one. For Jewelbirds hide their nests deep in the forest.
The residents of the village in which Petoskey lived (which was named Pettal, and was at the foot of a mountain) had lost many a precious item to this thief, but none had the heart to harm it, for Jewelbirds never mean to steal – they simply take whatever their beady little eyes fall upon.
Petoskey soon recovered his breath, but the rather fatter Hexagon did not. He lay on the ground, eyes closed tightly, gasping and spluttering. Petoskey felt a little concerned.
“Are you all right, Hexagon?”
His only answer was a moan.
Hexagon opened one eye. “I feel,” he said sadly, “as if I am completely made out of jelly.”
Petoskey simply could not help laughing. Hexagon was offended.
“I can’t see anything funny about it” he said crossly. “I shall never be the same again.”
“Of course you shall,” snorted Petoskey, still grinning. “Now stop moaning and get up, otherwise the Jewelbird will fly away and we’ll never find its nest.
Hexagon got up, moaning and groaning. The Jewelbird, delighted that the game was beginning again, flew off, and the chase was on once more.
About a quarter of an hour later Petoskey and Hexagon, utterly exhausted, came across a particularly large tree. The Jewelbird gave a squawk of delight, then flew up into the branches of the tree and disappeared.
Petoskey looked up at the tree. It was huge, the upper branches disappearing from sight.
“That must be where the nest is,” he said.
“Do you mean to say that we have to climb all the way up there?” said Hexagon nervously.
“I’m afraid so” answered Petoskey. “Or rather, I have to. It’s no use both of us climbing up there. You stay here, and I’ll throw the stuff down to you.
Hexagon did not argue. He was in no mood to take a perilous climb up a huge tree, especially as he was already exhausted.
“That’s fine with me,” he said, and sat down.
Petoskey walked around the tree, trying to find the best place to climb up. Luckily there was a huge vine coiling around it, which made climbing quite easy. Petoskey started his ascent. Up and up he went, higher and higher. Petoskey looked down – and wished that he hadn’t. Hexagon was the size of an ant, and he felt so giddy that he nearly let go. But he clamped his jaw hard and gripped on like a vice. He wasn’t giving up now. Petoskey climbed higher, and Hexagon faded out of sight. Still higher he climbed, then suddenly he came face to beak with the Jewelbird – who was standing on the edge of a huge nest.
Petoskey slid himself carefully over to the nest, looked inside, and gasped. The amount of jewels was tremendous! There were diamonds, emeralds, rubies, amethysts, turquoise, nuggets of gold and silver – and a lot of jewelry.
Petoskey reached out and grasped his mother’s engagement ring. Suddenly the Jewelbird, furious at this rude intrusion, gave a loud squawk of indignation.
“It’s alright, I’m only taking the stuff you stole” said Petoskey.
Unfortunately, Jewelbirds do not understand Wollypoggish, and this did not help the slightest bit. Petoskey started throwing down the jewelry – Mrs. Karxarlons necklace, the mayor’s daughter’s favorite earrings… All the while the Jewelbird jumped from branch to branch, screaming and scolding furiously.
“Well, that’s all, I believe” said Petoskey, and started his decent. The Jewelbird flew to the edge of his nest and sat there, making fussy little noises.
When Petoskey reached the bottom of the tree, he found Hexagon sound asleep. The jewelry was scattered everywhere.
“Hexagon!” said Petoskey, a little crossly. Hexagon muttered something in his sleep and rolled over.
“HEXAGON!” roared Petoskey.
“Help! Save me!” cried Hexagon, sitting up very suddenly.
“It’s only me, Hexagon.”
“Thank goodness!” said Hexagon warmly. “I was dreaming that The Beast ate you, and then ran off with me! It was awful!”
A cold chill went down Petoskey’s spine at the mention of The Beast.
“Come on Hexagon” he said hurriedly. “Let’s pick up the jewels and head back home.”
“But” said Hexagon rather nervously, “where IS home?”
At that moment Petoskey realized that they were hopelessly and utterly lost.
And the darkness was settling like a thick, dark blanket over the forest.
Please comment! Chapter II coming soon!