One day, early in their career as adult Mooses, Magnar and Mjölnyr traveled through a vast forest, on a world far away from Moose Valley. Oaks, elms, and ash filled the terrain. Each standing hundreds of feet tall, forming a vast, green roof over the forest floor. The sunlight trickled down through the leafy boughs, cast a warm green light on everything below.

The two brave Mooses traveled on all four pooves. They were in no particular hurry, but they needed to make steady progress to arrive at their festival goal in time for the opening festivities. They maintained constant, moderate pace for this journey and they both enjoyed the easy run. The broad, slow, deep river sleeping quietly under the tall trees across their path, hardly slowed their progress. Water walking formed one of the required areas of study at their Moosiversity. Magnar took the more prosaic route, running along the surface of the water, while Mjölnyr chose to run on stepping stones formed of cloud which formed and dissipated as he went above the placid water.

Halfway across the river, an enormous, bass bellow shook the forest and startled both Mooses out of their concentration into the water. The lack lasted only a moment before they recovered and climbed back up to stand on and above the surface, exchanging startled, dripping glances.

The second roar that rang out did not even cause them to bobble, and the Mooses made it to the shore. More cautious individuals might have turned away to avoid whatever made such a din. But Mooses are too curious to not discover the identity of the bellowing culprit. Someone might be in trouble, after all.

Mjölnyr and Magnar took several steps apart and shook vigorously to throw the excess water from their coats. Then they cautiously made their way inland, moving quietly through the forest. They hoped to spy the bellowing creature before it saw them.

Without the need for discussion, the two Mooses set out on parallel courses through the forest. Even as they dodged tree trunks, rocks, and other obstacles, their individual paths always shifted to keep in sight of the other. A third roar rang out across the forest, louder now as they sped closer, but this time Mjölnyr and Magnar heard a snort mixed in with the louder sound. The two Mooses exchanged glances and raised eyebrows. That snort was a much smaller, not to mention different sound. Someone else might be out there.

Magnar swung wide to the left while Mjölnyr moved straight ahead. This way the two Mooses would approach the scene of the snorter and bellower from two sides. Mjölnyr paused for a moment, right beyond the edge of the clearing ahead, stalling to give Magnar time to get into position.

A silent message rang into Mjölnyr’s mind from Magnar through moosepathy, “I am in position and ready to go.” (Moosepathy, beyond just a basic level, was an elective at their Moosiversity, that they both happened to take.)

“I am going in now,” Mjölnyr sent back to Magnar.

Mjölnyr charged through the last, thin screen of underbrush into a wide clearing in the forest where a generous scattering of pure sunlight managed to reach the ground with Magnar keeping pace with him on the left. A mountain giant, taller than the other three people on scene standing on top of one another dominated the cleared space, but he did not seem to be in control of the scene. He stood awkwardly on one foot, cradling the other in his big hands with a great, gnarled club dropped on the ground nearby.

Facing the giant, and getting the better of the encounter at the moment, stood a small, blue quadruped with an impressive horn on his nose and boney plate edged with spikes extending up and back to protect his neck. The little combatant, no bigger than the giant’s foot snorted again, and this time the Mooses could plainly hear the amusement in the sound. The giant, being too wrapped up in his sore toes, did not notice the two new arrivals. The saurian, however, being still smaller than either Moose saw them both, but refused to be distracted from the larger, more blatant threat. He charged the giant, this time hitting him in the other foot, and bouncing away again before the enormous figure could think to stomp.

The giant bellowed with rage and pain, flailing his arms around, in a vain attempt to preserve his balance. For all his efforts, the giant could not stay upright. The giant fell down with a great thud that set all the nearby trees dancing. Both the Mooses took a few light steps to keep upright on the vibrating ground. The small blue stranger, however, stood so low to the ground that he barely shifted his feet during the small localized earthquake caused by the giant’s fall.

“Now, what’s all this then?” Mjölnyr asked, slowly circling around the two combatants with Magnar keeping pace with him, on the opposite side of the clearing, carefully out of grabbing or easy charging range. Mountain Giants are not usually the nicest of fellows, and the victor loomed by far smaller of the two, but it does not do to judge people by their exteriors. The Mooses had no way to tell, from what they had seen, which party started the hubbub.


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