Chapter 5

 

An Unexpected Meeting

 

 

 

They had been walking for hours when slowly the passage became wider. There feet grew heavier and heavier and it seemed to get hotter and hotter. A strange smell was in the air. From somewhere they heard odd noises. It sounded like the whirring of a pylon. The cave in front of them was as large as the market place of Aubachtal.

 

Oops!” Rosie uttered. “Whereabouts are we?”

 

Certainly not at some cosy holiday place”, Jenny replied. “Look, that big rock spur over there looks right like a giant skull!”

 

They all stared at the rock spur with a mixture of fright and curiosity. In its centre seemed to be an entrance.

 

Shan’t we better go back?” Rose asked in a trembling voice.

 

Back to the dragon? Pray you, I don’t want to have anything to do with that monster. For sure his breath smells nasty”, Bertha mocked. Slowly Elfrida walked on. Daisy and Jenny followed her.

 

A bluish light shone through the entrance in the rock spur and this had aroused Elfrida’s curiosity. When she stepped into the opening, she bounced back.

 

Ouch!” she groaned and Jenny was with her immediately.

 

What happened?”

 

I bumped against something, but I can’t see anything!”

 

It seems to be an invisible power field or suchlike. For sure the funny noise is the voltage”, Bernie said and cautiously approached the invisible border. Now he could look into a second cave which was behind the entrance. First he jerked back, but then curiosity won. There were two odd little creatures in the cave who tinkered at some device.

 

Let's go and talk this over before they discover us”, Daisy proposed. The friends walked back a short distance and set down on the cold rocky ground.

 

We should ask them if they’ve got something to eat. They will be happy to invite us for dinner”, Rosie hopefully said.

 

What if they are hungry, too, and we are to their taste?” Bertha snapped. “Your greediness once will be your doomsday Look at me. I am very frugal, but you…”

 

Shut up!” Elfrida said. “This way we cannot think things over. Well, it’s like this: We can’t go back, not without a weapon, however. The dragon bars our way. We can’t get ahead, there’s this invisible power field. Anybody any idea?”

 


 

We are indeed”, Mona agreed. “But together we’ll make it, won’t we?”

 

Do we have to pass the dragon, Mona?”

 

So it seems, because the lift is upstairs.”

 

It isn’t any longer”, Rosie said in a low voice and Mona excitedly asked:

 

So why don’t we go back with it?”

 

Rosie reddened: “Eh, Mona, that’s not possible, the lift is – eh – burnt out.”

 

Burnt out? Odd. Then we’ll have to climb up.”

 

Now they discussed for a long time how this should be done. Nobody had an idea how to pass the dragon. Jenny knew a lot about animals, but not very much about dragons.

 

On what does the dragon feed down here in the cave?”

 

Well”, Mona said, “as far as we know, he eats the moss from the walls.”

 

O, that’s the explanation why the walls close to the elevator are not as green as here.”

 

I’ve got it”, Elfrida suddenly shouted. “We have to lure him away. We’ll collect masses of moss and put it into the cave of Mona and Moyo. Of course we switch off the power field. Then we’ll hide in the crevices. When he comes for a meal, we’ll switch on the power field and he’s captured. Then the lift has to be repaired. We’ve got the duplicator and can produce spare parts.”

 

Everyone was enthusiastic and they immediately started to scratch the moss off the walls. It was a laborious work, but the hope to get out of the cave lent them strength. It took the whole day. Although down here there was no sun, they felt their inner clock which every being has. So it did not take long until they all retreated into the side cave and slept.

 

Daisy was the first one to notice that something was wrong. Half the cave was filled with chocolate bars.

 

I can’t switch off this silly machine, I don’t know how it works!” wailed Rosie who stood beside the duplicator.

 

That can’t be true! Mona, Moyo, we need your help, wake up!” Daisy shouted.

 

Moyo was the first to understand, ran to the machine, pressed some buttons and looked at the mess. “And who is to eat all that?” he asked.

 

Perhaps the dragon”, Rosie murmured and Elfrida cried:

 

That’s it! I’m sure he has his fill of moss! All right, stop scratching off the moss. I’m not keen on it anyhow, my fingernails are quite gone already. And why didn’t we take the duplicator for the moss?”

 

Because it doesn’t work with living beings”, Mona explained. “Plants are life after all.”

 

Yesterday’s moss was now piled up together with the chocolate bars. Then Elfrida, Jenny and Bernie took as much moss as they could carry and walked in the direction of the lift. There they threw the moss into the dark passage to lure in the dragon. The others had already hidden between the rocks. Now they had to wait. Elfrida, Jenny and Bernie put some of the chocolate bars from the passage up to the small cave behind the power field. Then they hid, too. Here they were safe, for the thick head of the dragon could not reach them. The time of waiting was hardly bearable and their nerves were strung to breaking point. One hour after the other passed, nobody dared to say a word. Sometimes they thought the dragon was coming round the corner, but each time their nerves had played a trick on them. But then it happened: Slowly the dragon moved round the corner. He sniffed the ground and ate one chocolate bar after the other. Step by step he approached the switched off power field. Then it happened. Rosie who had suppressed a sneeze for quite a while, could not longer hold it back.

 

Achoo! Ouch!” heard her because she bumped her head at the rock when sneezing. Hissing dangerously, the monster slowly approached the hiding place of the poor pig. With his big claws he tried to widen the fissure to get at Rosie. More and more rock crumbled off and the claws came closer and closer to their prey. Her friends had to watch the progress of the monster helplessly. When Bernie just searched his pockets for some firecrackers, something unexpected happened: the gigantic dragon suddenly howled, turned and ran into the trap. The next moment Mona and Moyo had activated the power field and the monster was imprisoned. Then they all ran over to Rosie, who was the only one still sitting in her hiding place and trembled. Bertha helped her out and asked in a relieved voice: “What was the matter with that dragon?”

 

 Rosie did not answer but looked ashamed to her feet. Then Bertha understood. “I think I know it. Poor dragon”, she said, wrinkled her nose and took a few steps back. With a very red head Rosie scrambled out and went over to her rucksack to put on clean clothes.

 

Did she…”, Bernie began.

 

Yes”, Bertha replied, “she poohed her pants. As I said – poor dragon. That stink’s too much for any pig!”

 

In the meantime the dragon had settled down comfortably and enjoyed a big meal. Our friends collected their belongings and walked back to the lift. Now Mona and Moyo showed how well they knew technical matters. After a few hours the elevator was repaired. But how were they to get up? First they tore at the rope, but the lift only moved a tiny bit upwards. Then Bernie had an idea: “How about using the power field as drive?”

 

The others did not understand Bernie, so he explained: “If we mount the power field generator in the lift and switch it on, the lift is pressed upward, you see?”

 

Daisy shook her head.

 

A few metres perhaps, but not more. That’s useless.”

 

Bernie persisted.

 

Now it’s Mona’s and Moyo’s turn. Somehow they have to amplify the power field.”

 

That might work”, Mona said happily. “We amplify the power field, the lift with the generator will be pressed upwards. I hope the batteries have enough power. Let’s start immediately!”

 

Mona began to adjust something at the generator. Moyo assisted her and then carried the generator to the lift. Now he drilled a hole into the floor of the lift and placed the power field generator so that the ray canon aimed through the hole. When all had boarded the lift, Mona cautiously switched on the unit.

 

We’ll start slowly, otherwise we’d dart through the pit too fast”, she explained. Cautiously she turned several knobs and the elevator started to move upwards. “It works, hold on!” Mona shouted and pressed several buttons. When the lift glided upwards, they all cheered loudly. Only a few metres were to go, when the lift slowed down.

 

What’s the matter, are we too heavy?” Elfrida asked.

 

No, the weight is not important, but the power is. I’m afraid the batteries are empty, we’ll go back down. What a pity, we almost made it.”

 

Mona was close to tears and the others looked at her terrified. By now the elevator had come to a standstill and very slowly sank down again. Crestfallen, they all looked up. Such a short distance to their goal! Freedom had be in sight and now they had to go back into the dark cave with the dangerous dragon. Desperately Elfrida thought of a way out, while Rosie in her fright nibbled at her fingernails.

 

You know that I detest nibbling”, Bertha scolded. “So stop it.”

 

But I’m so frightened in the darkness!” Rosie yammered.

 

Then lend the torch from Jenny, but stop this silly nibbling!”

 

Why, of course, the torch! Elfrida snatched it from Jenny and was not interested in her piqued glance. She took out the battery and asked Mona: “How about this?”

 

Mona immediately understood, took the battery and sat down beside the generator. One, two adjustments and the lift changed direction. Now it went upwards again. Nobody cheered for they only could hope that the battery had enough power to take them to the exit.

 

Do all help here”, Daisy said and gripped the rope. “We’ll tear ourselves up!” Suddenly the lift jerked and stood still.

 

We made it!” Mona cried. “Quick, fasten the rope somewhere, so that the lift doesn’t crash down!”

Hastily Jenny and Bernie fastened the rope, while Elfrida and Daisy opened the door. They were in safety!