Hammer was an armored beetle in the first fleet of the special guard who wore dark blue helmets. He had a special gift that allowed him to turn any bad situation into a good one. He had a friend named Jasper that was sent away to work in the second fleet of the gathers that made sure the kingdom had a proper food supply. Much of this work was precarious and daily missions were made to the great fields where the treaty that ended the bird wars was negotiated. Jasper was among the elite squad that scouted in the early mornings to make sure the fields were safe. Jasper was especially good at hopping great distances, which was quite handy. If the fields were safe, Jasper would rub his legs to produce a loud wave of music that reverberated throughout the kingdom. The gathers waited each morning as they washed themselves near the river for the Scouts Song, then they would go to the fields.
One day Hammer was conducting his routine checks of the outer parameter to their kingdom, The Wooded Burrow. This was a magical place that needed to be protected. Hammer marched quietly along a trail that skirted the edge of the great forest. He liked this shift because he rarely ran into trouble and it gave him time to think. The worst he ran into was a swarm of angry dust mites that had been misplaced and lost their way back to the pale lands where they fed on the giants. Hammer realized that they were becoming increasingly upset as their hunger for flesh continued to be deprived. Hammer began waving his warning sign at the swarm. Suddenly, the mighty dust mites began dive-bombing Hammer and tried to eat him. But Hammer’s armor was mightier and the dust mites just bounced off of him. After a short time, the dust mite king, Lord Klum ordered his legion to hold back. As the swarm swarmed into a ball, Hammer noticed the Lord advance alone to speak to him.
“You there?!” came a faint voice attempting in its best way to sound commanding. Even though the dust mites are invisible to the humans they feed on, Hammer could see Lord Klum approach and hear his squeaky voice as is common with dust mites on the fact that their voices are parched with dust and are squeaky, small sounding.
“Yes?” replied Hammer.
“Why can’t we eat you?”
“Because I am an armored horned beetle of the special guard commissioned to protect the kingdom of the Wooded Burrow.” Replied Hammer
“Well we dust mites are hungry and if we don’t find flesh, we will die.”
Hammer considered the predicament for a moment. Although he could ward them off, others from the kingdom would not be able to withstand a swarm of dust mites. “What is your name and title?”
Lord Klum realized that Hammer had no idea who he was. “I am Lord Klum – king of the mighty dust mites!”
“Well, you are close to trespassing on the lands of the kingdom of The Wooded Burrow. Lord Hardbark rules by the elements.” Hammer replied.
“That may be, however, we have somehow strayed far from our homeland and must eat.” Lord Klum eagerly advanced.
“Hold up there! You will not find what you seek here in this kingdom. But I might be able to help.” Hammer was determined to resolve this matter and make sure no harm came to his kingdom. It was his duty.
“Oh? And what could you possibly do for us other than remove your armor?” Lord Klum sneered.
“I can help you return to your home so your mites may eat. But I need you to wait here while I fetch supplies and I will return to guide you.”
“Fine, I will give you one half of the shadow of this blade but if you are not returned by that time then we will have no choice.” Lord Klum replied pointing to a slightly bent grass blade that was showing the first signs of its shadow begin to stretch into the dirt.
“Ok. I will get right back!” Hammer reassured Lord Klum as he slowly turned his large round black torso around. Naturally this took Hammer some time and on a normal outing served him well as he would carefully scan his parameters. It was a risky business. Even though Lord Hardbark had negotiated a treaty from the Bird Wars that saved thousands that lived in Wooded Burrow, there were always those rogue robins that liked to try and be sneaky with an occasional dive bomb. Hammer always had the feeling that the treaty was fragile but the birds stood fast and honor the treaty so all was quiet for now.
On his way back, Hammer ran into Jasper who was hopping high above the meadow that rose above and away from Bone Creek that ran through the kingdom. Grass pollen trailed behind his long legs whenever he burst through the tops, landing and bounding gingerly from their curved tops. Now and then, a blade would give him a little boost that sent him even higher. The grass blades were allies and had provided lots of hiding places during the war. Some of the blades found along Bone Creek served as weaponry to the special guard; it was a good relationship held in tact due to the cooperation of the colonies not to feed on their fleshy skin.
“Jasper, come quickly!” He could see Jasper’s antennae twitch and his large eyeball scan in his direction as he leapt through the air. Suddenly, Jasper appeared right behind Hammer.
“Hello Hammer!” Jasper glanced around always looking in several directions at once with his crazy eyes.
“Agh!” Hammer was startled with Jasper’s sneaky tricks but glad to see his old friend. “Jasper you should not go in that direction. There is a swarm of dust mites that have lost their way and they are hungry. Fortunately, my armor was able to ward them off, but they will swarm into the kingdom if I do not help them return to where they came from.”
Jasper had not heard this urgent tone in his friend’s voice in a very long time.
“Jasper, we must awaken the Stones. Tell Lord Hardbark there is a swarm of dust mites waiting at the entrance to the kingdom and they could potentially eat everything in their path. I am going for the Stick of Truth to carry with me for protection. But if I fail, then we will need to use the stones to protect the kingdom.” The stick was not ordinary though it was rough and natural looking. It was a pointer that could guide any who held it so long as their heart was pure because the stick could only lead in the direction of good. Once, the stick had been captured by pigeon pirates who tried to use the stick for a coup against the burrow but then they tried to do anything, the stick burned them. Finally, they returned the stick saying it was useless and had a dark spirit about it.
“Hammer! Should I call back the harvesters? They will be setting off for the fields any minute now.”
“Yes, Jasper, that is a great idea. Please make sure the other scouts know not to send the Scouts Song. I will try and hurry and let others know that I meet on my way back.”
“What about the council.” Jasper said.
“I don’t have time for them. Lord Hardbark will deal with them.” Hammer stammered as he waddled his armor up a slight incline and into the cover of foliage.
“I will do as you request just as soon as I alert the other scouts.” Jasper bounded off into the air and over the tops of the wall of wispy grass blades.
The Stones were smooth like moon cheese without any flaws and each represented one of the four elements – Water, Earth, Fire, Wind… Lord Hardbark vowed to forever protect the stones within the kingdom of the Wooded Burrow. When the stones were properly aligned, they could harness the combined strength of earth and bring great power to the wielder. In the wrong hands, these had the potential of controlling all life or destroying it. It is said that these were crafted deep in the mountains by an ancient man race. Sadly, greed brought down and demolished every last one. One of the Makers had managed to cast a shrinking spell and gave them to Lord Hardbark of the Ants and sent him away just as the last room under the mountain came under attack and fell to the evil that had come to steal the stones. That was the last time they were brought forth for any kind of use.
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