Lukus heaved a large peppermint limb into the fire. “If Ugleeuh doesn’t find us right soon,” he said, “I’ll go back into the woods and see if I can find some nuts and berries for
supper. I saw some when I was gathering wood.”
“Well why didn’t you just gather them in the first place? You just made more work for yourself.”
“Yea? Maybe, but the last time I ate berries in this forest I nearly strangled to death, so I had to think about it.”
“You tried to eat a choke oak fruit? What kind of crazy are you? Doesn’t matter, though. Things like that don’t grow here anymore. This is the Peppermint Forest and it’s different than the Chokewood Forest, or haven’t you noticed?”
“I could see that at once. But just what’s what, I need some time to sort out. So tell me, did Ugleeuh actually create all of this?” He gave a wide wave.
“She didn’t create it so much as change it, though perhaps whether she did or not depends on just what a person considers creation to be. But, you’re right if you think that all this forest was once identical to the Chokewoods. When Ugleeuh and I first arrived here it was really awful. We battled with the smallies and dorchadas and other awful things almost every day before she was through with all of her wonderful transformations of the
“Rose and I had the idea that she made this place out of part of the Chokewoods, but I’m surprised to hear about the dorchadas actually attacking you. Rose and I saw the chief
of the dorchadas and his heathens trembling with fear in front of her.”
“You have utterly no clue at all about the kind of sadistic wrath that Ugleeuh is capable of,” said Hubba Hubba, breaking into his first laughter of the outing. “The smallies are so terrified of her now that they’ll tramp each other to death, trying to hide if they see her. Same thing with the dorchadas. Hoo-wee! She taught them. Nasty, nasty old lady!”
“So, why were you so worried that the smallies might get you, if I left you to go for help?”
“Do I really look like Ugleeuh to you? Had she ever worked you over once, you’d never confuse us. Besides, if the smallies got me, there’d be no trace. No feathers. No nothing. They’d have a free bit of revenge on her and she wouldn’t be able to prove it at all.”
“You got that right, Birdo. Rose and I saw them take down a deer. It just vanished before our eyes. It gave out a good dying snort, and the next moment it was gone without any sign that it had ever been.”
“Yes, yes. I’ve seen it. It’s been years, but I’ve seen it.” he said with a shudder. “Let’s build up the fire some more, Lukus, just to be sure Ugleeuh doesn’t miss it. Let me come with you for the wood. I hope that hearing the mint owl doesn’t mean that the smallies are in this neighborhood.”
“Yea,” said Lukus, glancing about. “I think it might be good to stoke the fire a bit, at that, but I’ll hunt for fuel where you can see me from here. You stay off that foot unless we have no other choice but to move on.” And with that, he went to picking up sticks.
Hubba Hubba’s head spun as he trembled and inched closer to the fire, hoping that whatever might be in the forest would fear the crackling flames.
Ch. 12, The Collector Witch
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps