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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
The sun shone brightly, and the warn rays attacked the iceberg without mercy. The castle was falling apart!
Crumbling ice fell from the ceilings, the walls, the towers and the battlements. Rooms became smaller and hallways became narrow passageways as the fallen ice was pushed aside to clear walkways through the castle. Throps tip-toed about, whispering their worries and greetings, afraid that any loud sound might cause something else to break.
A crack appeared at the top of the library wall, already straining under the weight of the chronicles. The crack began to spread, in little fits and starts, both down toward the floor and sideways across the wall. It crept almost noiselessly - and unnoticed by Ludi, Toot and the General as they talked down below.
"It must be a trap!" the General said loudly, completely forgetting to whisper.
"But maybe Jason hasn't been eaten up after all!" replied Toot.
"We're still looking for him! Maybe we'll find his bare bones at the mouth of a cave - all that will be left of him after a big feast!" The General brushed the eight stars shining on each of his shoulders.
"Yes. We've never known anybody to be captured by the Squallhoots and live to tell about it!"
The General slammed his fist down on the table. "Because we're too smart to fall into their traps! That's why!"
"Yes, that could be true," agreed Ludi. "But what are we going to do?"
Sara and Kevin sat impatiently on the wet floor outside the library door - drops of water dripping down upon them like rain. The sunlight coming through the window created a rainbow, but it did little to lift their spirits. What were the Throps going to do? How long would it take them to decide?
And what were THEY going to do? They didn't know where they were, and nobody could find them because the radio beacon wasn't even turned on! Even if somebody found them now - they couldn't find Jason. He was double lost!
All they could do was sit by the door and wait.
"I'm gonna find the bleeper," was all Kevin could think to say. But where could it be? He'd looked everywhere he could think of. "Yeah. The booper."
"I don't like it! I just don't like it!" The General waved his hands in the air.
"But it was Jason's handwriting! Sara told us that!"
"And he called you 'General'. Only Jason would do that."
"And the Squallhoots used HIS knocking signal - Sara told us that, too!"
"Maybe they FORCED him to do those things - before they chopped him into little pieces!"
Everything was so confusing - nobody knew what to do. Maybe it was a trap! Maybe it wasn't! Maybe Jason had a plan! Maybe he didn't! But they had to do something - they couldn't save Athropolis on their own!
"But work with the Squallhoots? It's UNTHINKABLE!" bellowed the General. "It will be a sorry day in Thropdom when we have to..."
"But what CHOICE do we have, General? What choice do we HAVE?"
The very loud discussion, which some might even call shouting, hid the sounds. Nobody heard the creaks and scrapes, or even felt the shudders and the tremors. The zig-zag pattern of the crack lengthened and widened, until a beam of sunlight finally broke through at the top of the wall. Nobody noticed that either.
|"Well, I -
I'm not sure."
"Well, I - I'm not sure."
Ludi tried as hard as he could to make his head think, but something inside the little blue dome wasn't working. He wasn't used to thinking about more than one very important thing a day - there had never been any need before. But then, there had never been problems like THIS before. His little blue noggin was beginning to hurt inside! Was the room starting to tremble - or was it just the pounding in his head?
"We KNOW what Squallhoots do! They'll attack us - without a doubt - the very minute we turn our backs!"
"But - if something isn't done right away, Athropolis will just - fall to pieces!"
"That's right! The whole castle will..."
A grinding sound filled the room! The whole room trembled! The wall shuddered, and then it shuddered again! Then it was just - GONE!
The wall was gone! The shelves were gone! Many important chapters of the chronicles were gone! Everything just disappeared from sight!
SMASH! CRASH! Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle. The wall finally crashed into the ice far below.
The Throps stood in stunned silence as the room was bathed in sunlight. They looked out to the ocean and the drifting icebergs beyond. What a view!
The door to the library finally scraped opened.
"Well? Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do?" Kevin shouted impatiently.
"Please tell me you're going to meet the Squallhoots! You've got to go and get Jason!" Sara added, somewhat more politely.
"We can't make up our minds. We don't know what to do." Toot held his head low.
"But you've GOTTA go!" Kevin insisted. "You can't let my brother be eaten by the Squallhooter guys!"
"It just might be a trap. It could be a trap, you know!" The General threw his hands up in the air in frustration.
"But then again - it might not be a trap," Ludi said. "Oh, I wish we knew what to do!"
Sara had heard enough! They couldn't sit around while her brother was in danger! She'd let other people do things for her for far too long - it was time for a change! She wasn't a stupid person! She was going to start doing things for herself - starting right now! She exploded in anger.
"You silly Throps! Look around you - everything is falling apart! It won't be long until you're all up to your blue ears in water! Now get your butts off the ice and go and find Jason - or I'll go and find him myself!" Sara stomped down the hallway. "I'm not afraid of a furry old Squallhoot! I'm not afraid - not one bit!"
Everyone stood frozen in shock by Sara's sudden outburst. Was that SARA who said that?
Kevin was the first to regain his composure. "And I'm - I'm not afraid one bit, too!" he shouted as he ran down the hallway after Sara. No, he wasn't afraid one bit - he was afraid two bits - or maybe even three bits - maybe even more. And, he had a feeling that things were never going to be the same at home ever again - IF they ever got home.
"B - b - but..." the General stammered.
"W - w - we..." added Toot.
"I - I - I..." Ludi couldn't think of anything to say either.
"Wh - what are we going to do now?" asked the General, managing a full sentence.
Finally Toot made up his mind. "Sara's RIGHT! We're going to meet the Squallhoots! That's what we're going to do!" He began to run down the hallway as fast as his wobbly blue legs would carry him. "Sara!"
"Sara! Wait! You're right! Wait for us!" Ludi shouted.
"I don't like this," muttered the General. "I don't like this at all."
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