All four squinted from the map then tried to see out over the Island. they had moved from the blackberry bush to the top of the banana tree because it was the very highest point in the grove.
“Blackberry, can you see the spot Grape is talking about?” Watermelon asked.
“Errr, kinda,” he replied, trying to focus his glowing purple eyes. “But it’s so far away, I can’t really tell if it’s the right dark spot. Maybe it’ll improve when we get closer.”
“I can tell the rest of us are going to need a light. That’s why I’m bringing this!” Kiwi pulled a lantern out from under the banana leaf they were sitting on. “Vulpes gave me this really shinny stuff called foil. I added it to one side of my lantern, and put in a beeswax candle instead of a glow worm, and Bam!” she lit the candle with a glowing stick from the fire she’d brought with her and a beam of light shot out like a search light.
The others gasp at the lantern’s brightness.
“Isn’t it great?”
“Good job!” said Grape enthusiastically.
“I have more candles in case this one burns out, and the lantern has a cover to keep the wind from blowing this one out. I can carry everything on my trusty new gear belt that Blueberry helped me sew.” She lifted he wings so they could see the brown belt with all it’s pockets. “There’s even a hook to hang the lantern from while I fly so my toes are free for landing!” She lifted off the ground and wiggled her green toes.
“Well, it looks like we’re ready. BlackBerry! Lead us in the general direction, and we’ll use Kiwi’s new search light when we get closer!”
And so, Watermelon, Grape, Kiwi and BlackBerry flapped off into the night in search of the fallen star.
As they got closer to the dark spot it was as they suspected, the moon, high in the starry night, lit the forest around it and made it easier to see the landing spot of the star. Tiny plants had began to grow from the burnt foliage. They had been flying for just over an hour and ere very tired, because the wind was blowing in their faces making forward flight harder. Huffing and puffing, they landed in the low brush. Kiwi aimed her lantern around them. There was no sign of the star.
“I’m sorry to say it, but it must have been moved!” Grape reluctantly observed.
BlackBerry yawned. “We flew all that way for a dead end?”
“Maybe there’s a trail, like if someone saw it land and came and got it and we could see their footprints,” suggested Watermelon. Grape looked at him doubtfully without comment. He was thinking that such a thing was highly unlikely, as the star had landed months ago.
Kiwi groaned. “What do we do now? We can’t just give up, we’ve flown so far.”
“I don’t think we should either, but I could really use a nap,” BlackBerry said.
Watermelon looked at his disheartened away team and nodded. “Okay, I say we sleep a few hours, wake up at dawn so we can keep working. we need to get back before dusk or Mandarin will definitely notice something is up. The others nodded. Together they flew to the edge of the burnt clearing and clustered in the lower branches of a tree.
Meanwhile, back at the grove, the party had started winding down. Mandarin secured his CupCake Bat in his bakery and curled up in an empty orange peel to sleep. The rest of the Bushel whispered together, wondering how Watermelon and the others were doing on their quest. They know they would have to distract Mandarin as best they could while the foursome was gone.
Watermelon woke to sounds of rummaging coming from the ground below the tree. His ears twitched as he listened to the noise, his eyes still closed, alf asleep. Suddenly, his eyes popped open wide as something huge wrapped itself around him! He squeaked loadly in alarm, trying to flap his wings. They were stuck under the python-like grip what enfolded him!
“Wake up!” he yelled to his friends. Grape, BlackBerry, and Kiwi awoke to his call, dropping from their branches and flapping around him in alarm. whatever it was, its skin was thick and didn’t react to Blackberry’s thorns as he pokes and scratched. Grape flew down the long thing holding his friend hostage. It was toasty tan in the early morning light. Then, at the bottom, there was a mouth! Grape retreated in alarm, as it was obvious the thing was huge and he’d never see what it really was from so close up. From several feet back he could see that the thing was a massive creature, and it held Watermelon was its long nose!
“It won’t let go! It won’t let go!” Watermelon told them, straining this way and that. The trunk brought him down, closer to one of the thing’s small eyes. It blinked at him. From somewhere farther into the forest, a loud trumpeting noise blasted. The creature looked in the direction of the sound, still holding Watermelon Bat aloft. After a pause, it lowered it’s nose and then curled it under, Watermelon still in it’s grip. He looked like a green and pink sprinkle stuck in the curl of a cinnamon roll. The giant began to lumber in the direction of the trumpeting. Kiwi, BlackBerry and Grape frantically followed it into the trees.
“We’re coming, Watermelon!” Grape called, “We won’t abandon you!”
As they followed, Grape noted the features of the bat-napper. It walked on four thick legs. It was all toasty tan colored except for a big reddish pink splat on its back and top of its head. It had big flappy ears, each shaped like half a slice of bread. It’s tail was long and thin with a tuft of fluff on the end that matched the purple splats. It was certainly a curious creature, but what in the world could it want with Watermelon?
While he studied the weird animal, the group emerged from the tree line in a bif open field. Across the field stood a brother or sister of their captor, only this one had purple splats instead of pink. The tow walked toward each other, then turned and crossed the field, all the while the FruitBats squeaked in distress. There was a cottage in one corner of the fiild, and the creatures headed towards it, the purple splat trumpeting with its nose. As they neared the little house, the dorr swung open.
“What’s all this racket about, you silly Jellyphants! You’ll wake up the whole island before the sun is even up properly!” a figure in the doorway said. Though the words were chastising, the tone wasn’t harsh. “What’s that in your trunk, Raspberry Jam?”
Watermelon gave the loudest squeak he could. The Jellyphant (apparently) extended its trunk and held Watermelon out to the stranger, who stepped from the cottage to receive him. Kiwi, BlackBerry and Grape flew forward to grab him as soon as he was released.
“I’m sorry the Jellyphants scared you,” the stranger said, as Raspberry Jam opened its trunk and placed Watermelon into her waiting hands. The other Bats, sensing she meant no harm, landed on her arms rushed to help Watermelon up. The stranger had very long, arms, they were covered in long red hair.
“Who are you?” Watermelon asks between gasps.
“Well hello to you too,” she said. “I’m called Meringutan. But you all can call me Meri.”