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|Athropolis: Iceberg - the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots. Copyright © 1994-2002 Athropolis Productions Limited.|
"Double-click" any unlinked word in the story and a new window will open with the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at
In other times, council days were for meeting, talking and laughing. This was usually a time to talk about what the Squallhoots might have been up to, or where fresh tracks had been sighted in the snow. But this day was different. Almost everyone was aware that something was wrong, but nobody seemed quite sure of what the problem actually was. Broken pieces of ice littered the castle and the worry could be seen on the faces of the Throps as they talked and chattered about what was happening.
And, news travelled fast in this small icy place. Everyone wanted to hear more about the prisoners, captured by the brave scouts that very morning.
Without a word from behind their ice helmets, the guards gruffly escorted Jason, Sara, and Kevin from the tower. They were poked and prodded down the icy steps and through the long shimmering hallways. The guards had to give Jason an extra poke from time to time - he tried to stop and take notes whenever he saw something of interest. In this strange place - everything was interesting!
"Hey! Quit shoving!" Kevin wasn't going to let anyone push him around - icicle club or not.
At the end of the hallway, they climbed another stairway. At the top, the guards poked them through a doorway onto a balcony. The children stood speechless and wide-eyed with astonishment at what they saw.
They finally spoke softly and all together. "Wow!" was all they could say.
The Great Hall
The great hall loomed before them. Its ice crystal surfaces shone and sparkled as light streamed through the windows - bouncing off of the balconies, archways, pillars, stairways, and the ice crystal chandeliers.
But the wide-eyed stare of the children was soon broken - THEY had become the center of attention. Curious Throps began to crowd around - not knowing what to think of such strange creatures.
Sara grabbed Jason's arm as the Throps moved in closer. "See! They're BLUE!"
The children were inspected very carefully, from the top of their heads to the bottom of their boots. Kevin was not happy about this - a Throp even tried to look up his nose with an ice magnifying lens!
The Throps measured every arm, leg, head and foot - and then chattered among themselves to discuss this new information.
"Maybe we shouldn't touch them - we don't know where they're BEEN!"
"Aren't they peculiar?"
"This one has - ears - on the top of its head - that spin around and around!"
"How can those little feet walk on snow without breaking through the crusty surface?"
All of the information was chiselled down on ice tablets to be entered in the chronicles.
Down below, Fourth Leader was still boasting about his big capture, even as the last straggling Throps dashed through the entrances. The sounds of chatter and footsteps bounced and echoed around the great hall as everyone finally took their places and waited eagerly for the meeting to begin.
|Toot stood to speak.|
Toot sat in his chair at the head of the council table, looking very distinguished with his long silver beard and bushy eyebrows. He was one of the oldest and wisest Throps, and a hush fell over the crowd as he stood to speak.
"Just a very short while ago, the sun returned. The long dark winter night is finally over! After many months of darkness, we can see our shadows once again."
Cheers filled the great hall.
"Soon the sun will rise so high that it will not set, and the long summer of the never-setting sun will begin. This is OUR time to command the ice fields. The long dangerous winter night - when the Squallhoots rule the ice - will finally be over!"
"This has always been a time of great celebration. But THIS time - something has gone terribly wrong! We have a problem! We have a very BIG problem! WE CAN'T FIND THE ICE FIELDS!"
The cheers fizzled out to a low murmur. Ludi stood up to speak. He was the greatest thinker and inventor on Athropolis and the Throps always listened to what he had to say.
"Since Athropolis broke away from the ice cap after the big ice-quake, we have been just - drifting - drifting - drifting. Our home has now become an island of ice, floating in the currents of the Great Sea." The Throps waited in stunned silence for Ludi to continue.
Sara turned to Jason, hardly believing what she had heard. "Jason! We're on an iceberg!" she whispered.
"And the farther we drift, the warmer it becomes." Ludi paused for a moment as a drop of water bounced off his nose. "If we keep drifting - bit by bit and drip by drip and drop by drop - everything will all just melt away!"
Gasps and murmurs swelled from the crowd. Everyone began to talk at once.
"Throps! Throplets! Quiet! Quiet please!" First Leader jumped up from his chair. "What Ludi says is true. Why, just this very morning, part of the seaward wall cracked and fell into the ocean!"
Seaward? Which wall was seaward? Now that Athropolis was surrounded by water, EVERY wall was seaward. A Throp shouted from the back of the hall. "Wherever it is, it must be repaired quickly!"
"WATCH OUT!" A voice from above shouted the warning as a piece of a balcony broke away. The ice shattered and burst across the floor, sending the Throps scattering for cover. The castle was falling apart - right before their eyes! And it was melting away - right out from under their feet!
A look of panic swept the hall. If Athropolis melted away, everyone would fall into the cold, icy water! Everybody knew that Throps couldn't swim in water! They could swim in deep snow - and very well indeed - but not WATER! They'd drown in the cold, cold water!
"What are we going to do?" That's what every Throp was asking.
"Our only hope is to return to where the cold winds will make everything freeze again." Toot could hardly be heard above the crowd. "But, how do we get there from here? We don't know! And where is here? We don't know that, too!"
|"Are we lost?"|
The children looked at one other. Jason held his head in his hands. "Oh, no! More trouble!" he whispered.
"We've been found - by lost people!" Sara added.
Kevin had only two words to say. "Everybody's lost!"
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