In a voice deeper and bigger than his entire body yet still pleasantly controlled, the small, blue, horned saurian answered. “I am not certain if he was hungry or just testy, but he certainly seemed intent on smear me across the landscape. Now that he has been laid low, do you know what should be done with him? I am not overly familiar with these woods and their denizens. Does one leave him to lick his wounds and menace again another day, or are there those about who  keep the peace for the more gentle folk from beings of his ilk?”

Magnar lifted one poof up to scratch his chin, a sure sign of deep thought. Mjölnyr chuckled to himself as he watched. Magnar looked just like Marius the Librarian, one of his older brothers, when he did that. Of course, Magnar would deny it. As a relatively young and untried Moose, Magnar was eager to establish himself, but he was so much like his brothers.

“To my knowledge, there is no policing or defense force in these woods, but I am more familiar with it from study and lecture than direct experience,” Magnar said eventually in a very serious tone, dropping his thinking poof back to the ground.

“That leaves the ‘What now?’ decision up to us,” Mjölnyr said as he leapt over the massive club, hastily snatched up and swung in his direction as the (marginally) closest of the three.

While the mountain giant focused on Mjölnyr, the other Moose jumped onto the broad shoulders with his fore pooves on the back of the great, shaggy head. Magnar, who’s name means strength, kept the giant’s chin pressed to the great chest on the theory that it is harder to attack unseen people. The giant immediately started trying to grab the Moose on his back, but Magnar’s antlers grew broader and pointier than he usually sported. Just as quickly as the giant grabbed, he snatched his hands away again, to suck at his sore fingers.

“I was going to suggest trying to talk to our belligerent friend here, but he does not seem conversationally inclined,” Magnar said much more naturally, hopping along in Mjölnyr’s poofsteps to avoid the club swung where fingers feared to go. The giant fell face first on the ground, momentarily stunned by his blow to the back of his own head.

“If we just leave him, eventually he is going to hurt someone other than himself, no matter which reason prompted his attack on me,” the little, blue saurian pointed out.

“We could take his club away, but we are in a forest. He would have a new one in a matter of  moments,” Mjölnyr responded, frowning at the sprawled figure.

“And even if we get him to talk to us and promise to be good, there is nothing to say that the next time he gets hungry or grumpy enough he will not be right out trying to bash people again,” Magnar said sadly.

“It must take a lot of food to keep someone so big going,” the saurian said with a touch of awe. Even sprawled out on the ground, the giant still loomed taller than his stocky vanquisher.

“That is it!” Magnar shouted, his voice so loud with excitement that even the groggy giant started in surprise.

“What is it?” Mjölnyr asked, rubbing first one ear and then the other against his shoulder.

“We need to make the giant not so giant! Then, if he is dangerous because he is hungry, he will have an easier time finding enough food. And if he is dangerous because of attitude problems, he will not be able to pick on many people smaller than he,” Magnar said almost prancing in place with excitement.

“That would, indeed, help with the problem,” the little, blue figure said slowly.

“But how do we make the giant less giant?” Mjölnyr asked, thoughtfully scratching, “EAT ME” on the ground with a poof. “We can change our own sizes, but I would not know how to do it to someone else; fetch him a snack from Wonderland? How would we know how much to give him?”

“That would take too long,” Magnar said with a frown. “And as you said, the results are somewhat unpredictable. I was thinking of shoving him through the slide Miltin designed to allow Max and our less height-flexible friends to visit the Valley Squirrels’ underground enclaves. I am certain that I can get the network looped around correctly with the squirrel gate spliced in,” Magnar pulled a long, narrow, rubbery green strip of something from somewhere and holding it out towards Mjölnyr.

“It is worth a try,” that worthy said with a shrug. “But do not forget to put things back the way you found them when you are done.”

“Of course.” Magnar stretched his strip a time or two. Then he put one end in his mouth and started to blow. The strip swelled up with a rainbow shimmer and grew in length starting just on the other side of his poof and curling away in a loose spiral as wide as himself until it stretched away across the clearing as long as the prone giant.

Carefully holding the near end with one poof, Magnar worked the far end closer until he could shove the still flat bit left dangling into the inflated beginning. When Magnar released the two, no perceptible join remained. Magnar dragged the new loop over to the giant. Working the twists out as he went, Magnar eventually managed to encircle the entire giant with the inflated loop though Magnar was careful to slide the club out of the enclosure.

“Are we ready?” Magnar asked, glancing at the others.

The little saurian blinked several times in surprise, trying to find something to say. Luckily, Mjölnyr found words enough to answer for both of them.

“This is your show. Go on as you see fit. If we think of anything, I am sure we will let you know.” Mjölnyr glanced at their new companion for confirmation, and received a relieved nod in return.

“Righty-ho,” Magnar said, then he stomped on his inflated circle with a fore poof, producing a noise like a kicked pillow. With no fuss and little flare, the circle sank down until it formed only a green stripe on the ground. When the circle stopped sinking, the giant took up the downward motion.

Half-sunk in the ground, the Mountain Giant startled awake. Somehow, he dragged himself to an upright posture, sunk to the waist in the ground. As one might expect, the giant panicked, clawing at the ground, trying to find purchase to pull free. No matter how he tried, the giant could not get even the tip of a dirty fingernail past the circle at any altitude, and his hands passed through the ground inside the circle like water.

As soon as Magnar saw the giant’s distress, he nudged the circle with a poof and the giant dropped from sight. For the span of three slow breaths, only the sound of an energetic, invisible stream filled Magnar’s circle. Then the not-so giant bobbed back into sight, no taller than his erstwhile opponent.

Magnar nudged his circle again. It rose out of the ground and deflated like an untied balloon animal until the Moose could scoop up and disappear his original rubbery, green strip of something.

At the reduced size, the not-so giant’s bellows came out as more of a squeek. Without comment, Mjölnyr escorted their new, saurian friend around the distraught, diminished humanoid.

“We did not remember to have introductions earlier, being somewhat distracted by other matters,” Mjölnyr apologise. “I am called Mjölnyr, and this is my friend Magnar. We are on our way from Moose Valley to the Fabulous Four Footed Festival, but we would gladly see you on your way first, if you would have the company.”

“I am called Toro, and before you ask or grow confused, I am neither one of the popularly known Triceratops nor the less well-known but larger Torosaurus, no matter what my parents named me. Both of the former have three horns. I have only one and spikes, so I am a Styracosaurus,” that worthy explained in the tone of a speech given often.Then, he stretched out one short leg and bowed his nose almost to the ground. “I have never been to a four-footed festival before, fabulous or otherwise. I think I would like to go with you there, first. I should be well-suited to the occasion, having four feet myself.”

“You would be most welcome,” Magnar said, making his own bow, and accidently knocking over the not-so-giant during an ill-considered assault. Before Magnar could help the poor being up, the not-so-giant charged off to tug at the club now several times his size.

“Perhaps, along the way, you could tell me about Moose Valley. I have heard wonderous things from some frog friends about that place,” Toro said as the new trio trotted off under the trees.

Just after their voices faded from the clearing, but before the not-so-giant gave up trying to shift his club. Magnar ran back into the clearing. With a pitying look at the not-so-giant, Magnar dropped a generous, quilted bag of nuts, dried fruit, and jerky that he carried as a snack for the journey. The food should last until the not-so-giant got the hang of foraging at his new size, and the bag would make a good sleep sack while he sought out a home. Mooses know how very not nice it can be to go hungry.


One thought on “Bellows Beneath the Boughs (Part 2 of 2)

  1. 🤓

    On Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 2:26 AM Moose Valley Tales wrote:

    > Cody E. Tower posted: “In a voice deeper and bigger than his entire body > yet still pleasantly controlled, the small, blue, horned saurian answered. > “I am not certain if he was hungry or just testy, but he certainly seemed > intent on smear me across the landscape. Now that he has” >


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