It was midnight in the secluded village. Not a single light shone beside that of the full moon. The secluded forest was even darker because the trees obscured a lot of the moonlight. However, Nuttingham has experience being in the forest at this time. It was so dark that the trees that surrounded the area were pitch black. You could not see anything from afar and being within the boundaries at this time was literally walking in blindly. The best course was to stay in the open clearing of the forest, though the best advice was not to be in the forest at all but when Nuttingham had that inkling for adventure, he could not resist the calling for adventure. Lucky, on the other hand, was the opposite.
"Why are we doing this at night?" Lucky asked. "Why can't we go in during the day?"
"Because I don't want anyone to find out."
"If they find out I'm going inside a strange cave, they're going to get scared and close it up."
"Well I don't blame them. This is scary enough during the daytime, but nighttime is even worse!"
The two boys reached the hole where the cave was waiting on the bottom.
"It's so dark down there." said Lucky, "How are we supposed to see?"
"With this." Nuttingham pulled out a thick stick.
"Yeah, but dipped in nut oil."
"Nut oil? What for?"
"We're going to make a torch." Nuttingham grabbed two rocks together, one was white while the other was black. He placed the end of the torch on top of a tree stump and proceeded to struck the white and black rocks together. Sparks were flying about and one of them landed on the torch, which lit up. Nuttingham quickly grabbed it before it spread to the trunk. Not that it would burn the trunk as the fire took some time before becoming strong but he was just being cautious. Nuttingham then proceeded to climb down the hole with torch in hand. After a few steps he jumped down to the bottom.
"Alright Lucky, come on!" he called. Lucky proceeded to follow.
"Why am I doing this again?" said Lucky.
"Come on, hurry up!" said Nuttingham excitedly. Lucky finally climbed down to the floor of the pit.
He caught his breath and looked around his surroundings. "AAAAAAAHHHHH! MONSTER!" he yelled. Apparently he spotted the statue of the Raccoon's head that was set on the opposite side of the cave's entrance. Nuttingham quickly put his hand over Lucky's mouth.
"Shhhh. Don't yell. We don't want to wake up the village." He then freed Lucky.
"MONSTER!" Lucky kept yelling, "THERE'S A MONSTER BEHIND YOU!"
"Oh that. No, that's not a monster. That's the rock I was telling you about! Isn't it amazing?"
Lucky then calmed down a bit and realized that it indeed it was not a real monster. "I...guess".
"Well, let's go."
"I...I can't. I can't do this. I'm too scared! I'm going back up!" Lucky proceeded to climb back up.
"Oh that's a shame. I guess all the treasure will belong to me then."
Once again, Lucky was in a fix, for he loved shiny things. He has never seen treasure before but he has heard tall tales from the village stories and the idea of treasure was something he wanted to see. "GRRR...alright, alright! But there better be treasure in there!" And thus, the two boys entered the cave.
Within the catacomb of the mysterious earthly cavity, it was completely black. Even during the day you could not see a thing for there was no way for light to enter. From what little light the torch provided, the entire cave was a perfect rectangle. Two walls, a ceiling, and a floor. As if this cave was manufactured, not naturally made. The walls were lined up with dirt and tree roots and the floor was pretty much the same. It was like this as the duo kept walking forward.
"Wow," said Nuttingham. "Look at this cave. It's so long!"
"How can you tell? It's completely black in front of us."
"Do you think this cave was dug by somebody?"
"Yeah, some kind of monster!"
"If there really is a monster, that will be awesome!"
"What do you mean awesome? If there's a monster down here, it'll eat us both up for sure."
"You don't know that. Maybe it's a friendly monster."
"Well I don't want to meet any monsters down here."
"Relax, there hasn't been any monsters yet."
"Yeah but you never know."
"Well in any case, it will still be cool to see one, right?"
"I...I...I don't know. I don't know! I just want to get this over with."
The duo kept on walking forward. Apparently the same scene has been playing on their eyes as nothing was changing aside from the scenery of the walls.
"Man, if I knew about this cave sooner, I would've checked it out sooner."
"Oh relax Lucky. This is the great adventure we've been waiting for."
"I was hoping our first adventure would take place during the daytime."
"Adventure waits for no one. I can't wait to see what's at the other end. Maybe this cave goes around the world."
"Don't talk crazy. The world is like a billion miles. There's no way a cave can be that long."
"Well we'll see about that."
"You're not seriously thinking this cave goes around the world, do you?" Lucky was starting to relax a bit.
"Nuttingham, you have such crazy ideas on your head."
"That's because I'm an adventurer. Caves like these are nothing to me."
They kept on walking, with nothing changing at all. The trail was pretty much straightforward. Nuttingham did not keep track of time as he was content with the adventure of exploring the cave. However, Nuttingham started to look up in the ceiling. There was nothing to see up above them, and yet he kept on nudging his head up, as if something was calling him upwards, but he could not figure out why.
"How long have we been walking?" said Lucky, once again with fear in his voice.
"I don't know. I haven't been keeping track."
"What do you mean you haven't been keeping track? What if we get lost?"
"Lost? We've been going straightforward. There hasn't been a turn at all."
Lucky then looked behind him. "Oh no! I can't see the doorway!"
"Of course not. We're deep into the cave and it's too dark to see anything."
"Oh Nuttingham, this is enough, don't you think? Let's go back."
"No. I want to see what's at the end of this cave."
The duo kept on walking with Nuttingham continuing to look up for reasons he could not explain. Now he had a feeling on his body. Something was doing strange things to Nuttingham. He felt a tremble and eagerness, but he did not know why. He just figured that he was just excited about the cave exploration, but at the same time, he felt that there was a message for him. That there was something he should notice. He thought and thought but he could not figure out for the life of him what that feeling was. Lucky, on the other hand, was watching his back, but unlike Nuttingham, he knew why he kept looking back: he wanted to leave.
"Nuttingham, I'm starting to change my mind."
"It's too late. We're already far into the cave."
"I don't care. I want to go back."
"We can't. I want to know what's at the end of this cave."
"I can't take it. The more we go in, the more scared I get."
"Calm down. There's nothing here. We've been walking for who knows how long and not even a cricket has been spotted."
"Yeah, now, but I have a feeling a monster's at the end of this cave. I can't do this, I got to go back."
"Well it doesn't matter because I got the torch and if you want to go back, you'll have to deal with the darkness yourself."
"That's not fair, Nuttingham!"
"Well the choice is yours."
Lucky was angry at what Nuttingham said. "Fine. Then give me the torch."
"No way. I need this torch to explore the cave."
"Well I need it to get out of here."
"Too bad. This is the only torch and I'm not giving it to you."
"Oh yeah?" Lucky then tried to pounce Nuttingham down but Nuttingham saw this coming and moved out of the way. Lucky hit the wall and fell to the ground.
"Calm down Lucky. You are worrying too much." Just then, Nuttingham noticed something ahead of him: a wall. "Hey, look." he said. Apparently the duo finally reached the end. However, that is not what Nuttingham was referring to. "Oh my..." he exclaimed, for on the floor in front of the wall, there laid a chest.
"Nuttingham, what is that?"
"I think...I think that's a...what was it called...a treasure...chest?"
"What? A real treasure chest?"
"Yeah! That's right! All the stories that were told on the bonfire. I've heard them so many times. It must be it. It's a real treasure chest."
Nuttingham pierced the torch on the soil as he and Lucky inspected the chest.
"Oh my goodness," said Lucky, "I can't believe it! A real treasure chest."
"This is amazing! I can't believe it! A real treasure box."
"Come on, let's open it up."
"Yeah, let's see all the treasure. Oh man, this is exciting!" Nuttingham and Lucky tried to open it but it would not budge. "ARGH! How do you open this thing?"
"Didn't the stories say that you gotta use a...um...a thing."
"A key. Yeah, I remember now. They always locked these things with something called a key. Well where is the 'key' to this chest?"
"I don't know." The two boys looked around the surrounding area but could not find anything. They dug up the soil all around them but all they found was more dirt.
"Maybe the key is somewhere else." said Nuttingham.
"OH NO! I am not going to search the entire cave in the darkness." The two were puzzled at just how exactly to open the chest. "Oh great," said Lucky, "we discovered a treasure box but there is no way to open it. How are we going to get the treasure now?" Nuttingham then got an idea. He grabbed the chest and put it above his head. "Nuttingham, what are you doing?" Then, he flung the chest against the wall. It crashed and hit the floor. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? Why'd you did that for?"
"Well that's how I always open stuff."
"But you could've broken it!"
"Well, isn't that the point?"
Lucky shook his head at this but then he saw the chest. "Look. It's open."
The two boys scrambled towards the chest to see it's contents. "What is this?" Turns out the only thing on the chest was some kind of roll with a wooden stick in the middle and outer end. The sticks were nicely decorative however, as if they were designed to be held by the ends. "Is that the treasure? The stories said that it shined and stuff."
"Yeah, but...what is this? It feels like burlap." Nuttingham grabbed the end and unrolled it. "Wow, it's pretty long."
"Yeah. What's with this thing?"
Nuttingham looked on the roll and it turned out there was a drawing on it. Suddenly, his eyes widened, his jaw dropped and he was very still.
"Nuttingham? Nuttingham, what's wrong?" Lucky was now concerned about Nuttingham's behavior. "Nuttingham? What's wrong? What's going on?"
"Bring the fire closer."
"What's going on? You're acting weird."
"Bring the light closer. I need to see this clearly!"
Lucky was starting to get scared but he complied. He grabbed the torch and brought it closer.
"Oh my goodness," Nuttingham said in an aspiring tone, "It is. IT IS!"
"What? What is it? What are you babbling about?"
"Lucky," Nuttingham turned to his companion, "this is a map. This is a map!"
"A MAP!" Nuttingham screamed, "IT'S REALLY A MAP!"
"AH!" This screaming took Lucky by surprise that he dropped the torch, however Nuttingham grabbed it before it fell to the ground. "Why'd you scream like that?"
"I'm sorry Lucky, but you don't understand. This is a map!"
"Well what is a map?"
"Lucky, don't you remember the stories? Maps are drawings of the surrounding lands."
"SO!? Lucky, don't you understand what this means? It means that someone ventured outside into the world and drew this. We can get an idea of what the outside world looks like."
"But I wanted treasure."
Nuttingham held his new found map proudly as he looked on with wide eyes full of excitement. "This is better than treasure. This is the outside world!"
"Still...HEY!" Without warning, Nuttingham started to leave the cave with the torch in hand, leaving a scared Lucky behind in the darkness. "Where are you going? Wait for me!"
The night faded away and a new morning came and as soon as Doubt woke up, Nuttingham was at his doorway. He was so excited that he wanted to tell someone about the map. He chose Doubt, however, because he needed something answered.
"This map is really well made." said Doubt, "I'm surprised that you found this in a cave. It's really detailed. I'm amazed."
"Yeah, isn't it?" said Nuttingham, "But tell me, what is it a map of?"
"I think this is a map of this area."
"Yeah. See, I think this is the cliff were you found me."
The map was surprisingly detailed. It was almost realistic in its appearance. The map had all the major landmarks drawn in from the area. Of course no one in the secluded village ever left the village and Doubt was unfamiliar with the area so there was no way to confirm how accurate was the map. Regardless, Nuttingham was excited to have it.
"This is great!" Nuttingham said, "I feel like the entire world is in my hands!"
"Well, I don't think it's the entire world."
"Well maybe not but you know what I think. I think there are more of these maps out there."
"Yeah. Somebody must have wanted to draw a map of the world, but it was too big, so he hid the maps so he wouldn't lose them."
"Yeah, I guess that makes sense."
"White Raccoonham, I'm going to find these maps. I know there are more out there."
"You really think that?"
"Yeah. Who knows how many maps there are in the entire world."
"Don't you think this is the only map there is?"
"Why do you think that?"
"Like I said, the guy wanted to draw the entire world but he probably figured that it was too big to draw on a single roll, so he drew each piece of the map and buried them around the world. This might be the great adventure I've been waiting for."
Lucky gave a smirk, "Oh, I see. That's why."
"You don't know if there are more maps, you just want to go on a adventure, don't ya?"
"Alright, alright, I don't know if there are more maps, but I have this map."
"You think they're going to let you go just because of this map?"
Nuttingham looked surprised. "How did you know that I have to get permission to leave?"
"The doctor told me that you have been craving an adventure for a long time."
"That blabber mouth. Yeah it's true. They won't let me leave the forest into the outside world because they say it's too dangerous. I'm hoping that if I show them that I have a map, that I won't get lost and that I can go home if I'm in danger."
"Well you know what Nuttingham, I think you should have the freedom to do whatever you want."
"You really think so?"
"Yeah. Why don't you tell the chief about this?"
"Yeah. I should do whatever I want, shouldn't I?"
"NO!? What do you mean no!?"
"Nuttingham, I've said it many times before; you cannot leave this forest. As the chief of this village-"
"But I got a map! I won't get lost and I can always come back!"
"No means no, Nuttingham. You can't leave the village."
"But that's not fair!"
"There are things in life that are not fair, Nuttingham, now cut out this nonsense."
"NO! I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU! I HATE YOU!" Nuttingham bolted out in a infuriated manner. The chief however was not afflicted at all but Dawn was as she bore witness to all of this.
"He did found that map," said Dawn, "and Doubt did confirm that it was of this area."
"Stop it Dawn. I don't care if he does have a map of this area or the world. I'm not letting him leave right now. The boy just doesn't learn that he can't take care of himself yet."
"Well I'm still saying that we should let him go."
"And I keep telling you that I make the decisions here."
Suddenly, Doubt appeared on the scene. "Sure is a nice day, isn't it?"
"Doubt," asked chief, "do you feel any better?"
"Oh yes," answered back Doubt, "I feel much better."
"Doubt," asked Dawn, "what do you think of that map that Nuttingham brought you?"
"Dawn," said the chief, "leave him be."
"Oh that map," replied Doubt, "Why it was a fine map. Really well made."
"Well I'm curious to know where he found it." said the chief, "Did he tell you?"
"Uhh...No, he didn't." Apparently, Doubt made a promise to Nuttingham. No one in the village was allowed to break curfew unless there was some kind of event. Though Nuttingham could easily get away with it because he slept on the granary, which was his job to guard, so nobody would've noticed if he left for no one in the village was awake in the night except for the guards but they were near the wall, which were far away from the granary. Lucky, however, was far too young to live on his own so he had to live with his parents. If his parents found out what he did, he would get punished and Nuttingham did not want Lucky to be in trouble because of him.
"Well it's very odd that he found a map like that." said the chief.
"Village Chief," asked Doubt, "don't you think you should let him leave the village if he wants to?"
"No, I do not."
"Because it is dangerous. There are monsters out there and he would end up being eaten by them."
"Well he told me that he fought a giant spider when it came into this village."
"That was pure luck. He was injured during that battle."
"Yes but the fact that he drove away a giant spider should garner him merit to leave."
"Stop it. You're an outsider. You don't know what this forest is like."
"Maybe I don't but I 've been outside my area in Fireheart. If it's the same situation here, he'll be fine."
"I will still say no to the proposal. Now let the matter rest."
"Come on elder. It's too cruel to leave him here if he wants to leave."
"If I let him go all alone into those woods, I'll be leading him to danger."
"But if he's as strong as he says-"
"It's not just about being strong. He has not matured yet. He won't know how to handle dangerous situations."
"Oh...yeah. I did...notice that." It just occurred to Doubt that, even though Nuttingham was of age for a raccoon, he was a squirrel and it takes a lot more time to mature for a squirrel than a raccoon and he did notice his childish demeanor. "Well...in that case...how about he comes with me?"
"What? You?" both the chief and Dawn were surprised by this.
"Yeah. After all, I feel a lot better now and I'll be going home eventually. He can come with me and explore the world."
"Such a proposition coming from a stranger?"
"I know it's too upfront, but I've taken a liking to his passion for adventure. I actually feel sorry for him."
"I don't know about this."
"This is a good opportunity." said Dawn, "He's been to the outside world, so he knows his way around."
"Yeah." said Doubt, "I can keep an eye on him. What do you say, chief?"
"I'll admit," said the chief, "it does sound good, and I do wish for the boy to do as he wishes, but I'm still doubtful. How do I know he'll be safe?"
"Don't you worry. As long as he's with me, he'll be perfectly safe with me."
"Well one thing does worry me. What about your mission?"
"Yes. You said you were on a mission, didn't you?"
"Mission? What mission?"
"You just told us yesterday that you had to stop some kind of monster."
"I don't remember saying such a thing."
"But you did. You said that there was some kind of monster that was going to destroy the world. I can't remember what you called it."
"Well whatever that was, it doesn't matter. The important thing is that I wish for Nuttingham to explore the world."
The chief thought for a moment. He did not anticipate this offer and it did sounded like a good idea. However he still had his doubts. "I'll have to think about this."
"So here you are, Nuttingham."said Lucky. Nuttingham was sitting on the rock of the secret spot, sulking.
"Leave me alone."
"I'm never going to leave this village, ever."
"What do you mean? What are you talking about?"
"The Village Elder refused to let me leave, even though I have a map. He wants to keep me here forever. I hate this."
"But he's always said that."
"But this time it's different. Interesting things have been happening lately and I can't be a part of it. With White Raccoonham and the cave and the map and I can't do anything about it."
"Don't think like that Nuttingham. You'll be able to leave someday."
"No I wont. Nothing is going to convince the Village Elder." Nuttingham then stood up with a stern look on his face. "I should just leave on my own. Just sneak out of here."
"You can't do that!"
"Because you'll get in trouble."
"That's why I would be sneaking out. So they won't find out."
"But you've tried many times and you've always failed."
"Well that's my problem. I gave up too easily. I'll try again. And again. And again and again and again until I leave this place forever!"
"No Nuttingham! Don't just leave like that!"
Nuttingham then fell onto the ground on his knees, "I'm so frustrated! I...I...I don't know what to do now!"
Lucky put his hand on Nuttingham's shoulders, trying to comfort him. "Cheer up Nuttingham. How about you go talk to the white raccoon. That might make you feel better."
Nuttingham looked up at Lucky. "Yeah, that might help me feel better." The two boys headed back to the secluded village. As they finally made it to the border between the village and the forest, there waiting was Dawn and the Village Elder.
"Look," said Dawn to the chief, "Nuttingham is here." The two walked towards the disgruntled squirrel. The village chief was the last person he wanted to see right now.
"Nuttingham," said Dawn, "there you are. We have something important to tell you."
Nuttingham was not in the mood to talk with the chief or his sister. "Leave me alone, I don't want to talk to the Village Elder."
"Listen to us for a moment."
"I said leave me alone. I just want to talk to White Raccoonham."
"You don't understand-"
"I know what you are going to say." Nuttingham was starting to get discontent with his sisters meddling. "I don't want to hear it."
"We've decided to let you go." interrupted the chief.
"Wha...what?" Nuttingham was blindsided by this. In fact, he probably didn't hear the chief correctly.
"I said that we have decided to let you leave the village, Nuttingham."
Those words. The words that Nuttingham has been dying to hear for all of his known life. It has finally been uttered in truthfulness by the chief, the very one who has kept him in the village. However, Nuttingham was in complete disbelief and still a bit confused.
"Are...are you serious?" asked Nuttingham.
"Yes. I've have come to a decision to allow you to explore."
It was confirmed. The chief had given his blessing to let the young squirrel leave. There was no room for doubt anymore.
"Y...ye...ye...YES! YES! OH THANK YOU! OH THANK YOU!" Nuttingham jumped for joy. He hopped, skipped and continued to do so. His ecstasy was so great, it would reach the heavens.
"Now settle down, Nuttingham. Before you get too excited, we're not allowing you to freely roam by your own. You'll be going with Doubt."
"Oh yes, yes." this news did not extinguish his joy, as long as he could leave the village, he would do anything asked of him. "I'll follow him. I'll follow him good."
"Of course, but there is also another condition that you must agree upon."
"What is it?"
"I'm allowing you to leave this village and explore, but you are only allowed to go as far as Doubt takes you. Doubt is going to fight off some monster but I don't want you involved. As soon as he goes home, he's going to get on a ship and prepare to battle, but he will drop you off before he reaches the monster. Do you-"
"YES!" Nuttingham wasted no time. He darted through the village, shouting in delight. "I can't believe it! It's finally happening! I'm going on an adventure!"
"Wait Nuttingham," the chief was chasing after the squirrel, "there is still much to discuss."
Nuttingham finally reached the doctor's shack where Doubt was recuperating in. "White Raccoonham! White Raccoonham!" Nuttingham ran up to Doubt. "Did you hear the news!?"
"Yeah, I've heard you yelling it just now."
"I can't believe it! It's finally happening! I'm finally going to explore the world! White Raccoonham, I'm going to be joining you!"
"Yeah, I know. I'm the one who suggested it."
"Yeah. I felt bad that you were forced to stay here, so I convinced the chief that you should come with me."
"Well this is great! I'll be able to do all the things you did!"
"Now hold on Nuttingham. All that stuff that happened to me were accidents. We got to be careful when we leave. There's danger out there, you know."
"Oh yeah! I'm ready for anything." As Nuttingham said all this, the chief, Dawn, and Lucky were listening from the outside.
"I can't believe it." said Lucky, "Nuttingham is finally leaving the village."
"Yeah." replied Dawn, "It's rather...sudden, isn't it?" She turned her head to the chief. "Thank you, Village Elder."
"Don't thank me, Dawn." said the chief, "As I've said, I've always wanted him to leave this village."
"But you've always rejected and said no every time me and Nuttingham asked you."
"As I've said, it was because he wasn't mature yet to deal with the dangers of the outside world. But Doubt seems to be mature enough to handle himself. I figured that Nuttingham can learn from him while they travel."
"So that's why you agreed." said Lucky.
"Though I fear something will happen to the young lad, I believe that Doubt will help him along his way to maturity."
"Well I'm just so happy that Nuttingham will finally leave the village as he always wanted." said Dawn.
"Yeah." said Lucky, "When he comes back, he's going to have a million stories to tell us about his adventures."
"Whoever said he's going to come back?" said the chief in a grim tone.
"What?" said Lucky in shock.
Dawn followed "But you said-"
"I know what I said, but you don't think he's actually going to follow my instructions, do you?"
"What?" said Lucky, "You're kidding. He has to come back, right Dawn?"
"I'm afraid to say this, " said Dawn, "but the Village Elder may be right."
"Think about it for a moment. Nuttingham has always had the desire to explore. I don't think he's going to stop where Doubt lives. He's going to attempt to explore the entire world."
"No. NO!" Lucky was now in a desperate mood. "Doubt will stop him! You told him that, right Chiefham?"
"I told him to keep an eye out on him but I doubt Doubt can watch him all day and all night. Nuttingham will sneak out eventually. Even if he manages to stick with Doubt throughout the entire journey, Nuttingham will realize that it will be time to go home and leave Doubt before he can be delivered back. And Doubt himself, even he feels that Nuttingham has a desire to adventure. If Nuttingham so chooses, Doubt would probably agree to parting ways."
"So...this means..." Lucky was now almost close to tears, "this is the last time we'll be seeing Nuttingham?"
"I'm afraid so." said Dawn.
"If you have anything to say to him," said the chief, "say it to him before tomorrow at high noon. That is when he will depart."
"Tomorrow!?" said Lucky. "Why so soon? I want to spend more time with him!"
"Be quiet. Here he comes." Then out of the shack, Nuttingham stepped out.
"Did you speak with Doubt?" asked Dawn.
"Yeah!" said Nuttingham, "We're ready to go! So long everyone!"
"Hold on," said the chief, "you're not leaving yet."
"The doctor said Doubt will be fully recovered tomorrow, so you will have to wait till then."
"Aw, I was excited about leaving right now."
"Nuttingham," Lucky suddenly barged in front of Nuttingham, "you got to promise to come back!"
"Lucky!" responded Dawn at this outburst from Lucky.
"Promise me you'll come back!" pleaded Lucky, "Don't leave forever!"
"That's enough Lucky!" Dawn was now pulling Lucky away as Nuttingham watched at this display.
Lucky continued with his pleadings. "Please don't go! Don't go! Stay here with us!"
"Lucky! That's enough! Knock it off!" Dawn kept on pulling Lucky away, trying to calm him down until eventually they were out of sight.
"Wow." said Nuttingham, "I didn't realize just how much I meant to lucky."
"Not just him, Nuttingham." spoke the chief, "Everyone feels the same way."
"Of course I do. You are a part of this village as much as the next. The only reason why I never allowed you to leave is because I was scared that you were going to get hurt and I could do nothing about it. But I know, deep in my heart, that I can't keep you here forever. It's time I let you go."
"Thanks, Village Elder."
"Now go home and get ready."
"Ready? For what?"
"For your party of course. We are going to celebrate the last day you will spend with us in this village."
Meanwhile, not too far away. "Lucky!" scolded Dawn, "What is the matter with you?"
"You heard what Chiefham said." said Lucky, "Nuttingham is going away forever!"
"Yeah, I heard him. But you shouldn't have acted that way in front of Nuttingham."
"But aren't you sad that he is never coming back?"
"Of course," Dawn soothe her voice, "but that doesn't mean I'm going to cry about it. You know he's always wanted to leave this village. It's only natural he'd want to explore a little more." She got down on one knee and put her hand on Lucky's shoulder. "Look, Lucky, Nuttingham is probably never coming back, but that doesn't mean he hates us. He's going to miss us too."
"Sure. He might miss us so much, that he might even send us a gift."
"How is he going to do that?"
Dawn didn't thought about this. She just blurted it out trying to make Lucky feel better. "Well...Doubt will probably come back to visit us and send us a message from him. Are you feeling better?"
"No!" said Lucky frustratingly. He still wanted Nuttingham to stay. He always knew Nuttingham wanted to leave the village but he never figured it was actually going to happen. He probably assumed that Nuttingham was going to live in the village forever. The reality of the situation was a crash he was not prepared for.
"Don't let it get to you Lucky. Wouldn't you rather spend the last day with Nuttingham rather than crying?"
"Well we are having a party in honor of Nuttingham. How about you help us."
Lucky suddenly was brimming with life. "A party? OH BOY!"
"That's the spirit." And the two went off to help prepare for the festivities. Meanwhile, Nuttingham went back to the doctors shack.
"Did you hear that White Raccoonham? They're giving me a party tonight!"
"That sounds nice."
"I can't believe this is all happening to me!"
"I'm very happy for you Nuttingham."
"This is all happening so fast. Oh man. I can't wait to see what's out there in the world. I wonder what I will discover." His excitement started to boil up again. He started to jump up and down with joy. "Oh how I wish tomorrow will come already! I want to go explore now!"
"Don't be in too much of a rush, Nuttingham."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't forget, everyone in this village is going to miss you when you leave. Perhaps you should spend time with them."
Nuttingham calmed down a bit "Oh that's right. I got so excited, I forgot about how everyone feels."
"You only have one more day left. Perhaps you should spend this last day with them."
"Yeah. Today should be about all my friends. But what about you, White Raccoonham?"
"Don't worry about me. After all, we'll have more than enough time when we are exploring."
"No, I mean you should spend time with them too."
"Well the doctor says I should spend all this time resting and recover for the long journey ahead."
"The Long and Exciting Journey!"
"Ha ha. Yeah, I guess. But I'll be at the party later tonight, so go ahead and enjoy yourself."
With this Nuttingham agreed and left Doubt to rest. After all that has happened, his excitement has finally calmed down enough to realize that he should spend the last day with the village, and so he did. He helped out with the last day of chores, he played with Lucky in the secluded village to finish the adventure against the evil crab, he and Dawn went out to pick fruit for the festivities, and he helped carry the barrels full of fruit juices, for today it was all about the village. Soon enough, the night finally came and the celebrations were about to start. A bonfire was lit and everyone gathered to the area where they would usually be when it was time to tell stories. But tonight, they gathered for the beginning of a new tale starring Nuttingham the Squirrel.
The chief stepped forward in front of the crowd. "Tonight, we are celebrating the depart of our beloved citizen, Nuttingham, who has been a part of this community for many years. Tomorrow, he will leave this village to explore the world that we have been hiding from for so long. Nuttingham, would you like to say a few words?"
Nuttingham stepped forward. "Thanks everyone for this great party. I'm so excited about exploring the world, but I'm not going to forget-"
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a giant flash of light appeared. It engulfed not just the party but the entire village and the secluded forest, and probably beyond that. The light was so strong, no one could see anything. But just as quickly as it came, it disappeared. It couldn't have lasted longer than 3 seconds.
"What was that?"
"What was that light?"
Nuttingham regained his eyesight. "Man, today is full of surprises."
A few moments have passed and everyone seemed to regain their eyesight.
"Should we look into it?" asked Dawn.
"Don't be foolish." said the doctor, "It could be dangerous."
"Besides," said Forest Fire, "it looks like it took place outside the village."
"In that case," suggested Nuttingham, "I'll look into it."
"Don't be crazy." said Lucky, "Its scary out there."
"Don't worry," said Nuttingham, "I'll take White Raccoonham with me."
"No way!" said Doubt, "It's way too dark out there."
"Enough of it." spoke the chief, "Let's not let that spoil our party. Let us all enjoy ourselves tonight for it is Nuttingham's last day with us."
Everyone agreed to this notion.
"Okay," said Nuttingham, "I'll look into it tomorrow." And with that, the party began. Everyone started to celebrate. For this special occasion, the chief told stories, one raccoon started to sing folksongs and everyone danced, they all played games, ate the fruit that was picked, and drank the juice from the barrels. Everyone was having a good time, especially Nuttingham, who knew deep in his heart that, even though he was anxious to adventure, he knew he was going to miss the secluded village.
The sun shone brightly on the top of the sky. Everyone in the village gathered at the east wall. The gates that were closed for centuries, they were now opened for the first and final time. The gates were so old, they were lost in the vines that grew over them and no one, not even the village elder, knew of them. They thought they were going to have to break the wall in order to make an entrance, but luckily the gardener was chopping off the vines that were directly in front of the gate, so the wall was spared. The gate was rusted shut and they could not open it, so they decided to break down the gate doors. Since no one was going to leave the village sans Nuttingham, there was no need for this gate to exist anyway so they were planning on blocking the path as soon as Nuttingham left. Everyone, including Nuttingham who helped with the breaking of the gate, were present when the opening was made. When the gates were pulled down, the villagers witnessed the sight they were never going to see, ever again: the outside. There wasn't much to see however: a corridor of trees lined up with a pathway that lead forward as far as they could see. It appeared that at one point, this village was open to the world. Everyone watched in amazement but not one dared to step forward. Nuttingham's eyes glowed as he witnessed a sight he has always wanted. That was all in the morning. Now it was high noon and Nuttingham was ready to go.
"Oh what's keeping the Village Elder?" said Nuttingham, "It's high noon already."
"Calm down Nuttingham," said Dawn, "We stayed up all night and the Village Elder isn't young anymore."
"Look!" said Nuttingham as he witnessed the chief walking forward, "There he is!"
The chief finally made it to the departing. "Village Elder," said Dawn, "You shouldn't get up this early. You should rest."
"I would not miss this moment for anything." said the chief, "Nuttingham, you are finally leaving this village, aren't you?"
"Yeah." replied Nuttingham, "I couldn't sleep all night long. I was just so excited! I can't believe I'm finally going to explore the world! I feel...so tired!"
"Come on, Nuttingham." poked Doubt, "It's your big day. Show a little more enthusiasm."
"Oh yeah." Nuttingham stood up straight again.
"Nuttingham," said Dawn, "I have something I want to tell you."
"What is it, Dawn?"
"I didn't had a chance yesterday but I think it's important you should know." Nuttingham was not expecting this. He embraced himself to whatever it was Dawn was going to tell him. "Nuttingham, you are not a raccoon."
Nuttingham suddenly was puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
"I know you think you are one but in truth, you are actually a squirrel."
"A what?" Nuttingham was even more confused.
The chief intervened "Yes, it's true. You are not one of us. You are an entirely different species."
"You actually thought you were a raccoon?" said Doubt, as he found this both amusing and strange at the same time.
"Wait a moment." said Nuttingham, "What is this all of a sudden? What do you mean I'm not one of you? Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner? Why are you telling me now?"
"We didn't figure it would matter." said the chief, "We've always believed that you were going to live with us for a long time."
"Yeah," said Dawn, "it was no big deal."
"What do you mean no big deal?" Nuttingham said, who apparently did not accept the situation. "All my life, I've been told I was a raccoon. Now you are telling me I'm not?"
"Sorry Nuttingham," said Dawn, "We didn't want to make you feel lonely."
"Are you sure you aren't mistaken?"
"Well think about it. I mean, haven't you noticed you run faster than all of us?"
"I was told that was a special ability I had."
"You never thought about why you had red fur?" asked Forest Fire.
"I was told I spent too much time in the sun!"
"What about your big, bushy tail?" asked the doctor.
"I was told that it's what made me special!" Nuttingham took a small pause, then he continued, "So...if I'm this squirrel thing you mentioned, then why am I living with raccoons?"
"That is a good question." said the chief. "You see, Nuttingham, one day, we heard a monster right outside of the wall. It was a startling noise of some beast attacking. Suddenly, a big white ball made out of cloth was flung onto our village. We ran towards it and unwrapped it and we found you as a baby inside it. We have no idea who left you or why. We decided to take you in as one of our own and gave you the name Nutting, as that is what your kind eat."
"Then...that means my parents are somewhere out there?"
"Precisely." said Dawn, "This is why I wanted to tell you. You're family could be out there."
"My family? But...you're my family."
"I feel the same way, but I'm just saying that you should take this chance to look for your parents." This new revelation came as a shock to Nuttingham. He was speechless as was the village.
"I knew it was a bad idea to wait until now." said a random raccoon.
"We should've told him earlier." said another.
"No, no..." said Nuttingham, "It's fine...I understand now." All that was said to him had now settled in. "So my real family is somewhere out there. Actually...this is great! This is turning out into a great adventure already!"
The entire village started to laugh, including Doubt. "There's the typical Nuttingham attitude." said Dawn. After a good hearty laugh, Dawn then said "But seriously, Nuttingham, I hope that you find your family along your travels."
"Oh I will. I will search far and wide for them."
"That's the spirit." said the chief, "I'm sure your family will welcome you as much as we have."
"Yeah, this is getting exciting!"
"Now then," said the chief, "Now that we have settled that, it's time to say our last farewells. Nuttingham, the time has come for you to finally live out your dream to explore the world. But never forget your humble beginnings in our small village."
Then Lucky said "Nuttingham, no matter where you are going, always remember us. You can always come back whenever you feel homesick or you just want to take a break."
Then Dawn said "That's right, we'll always be here whenever you want to come back. We'll always welcome you with open arms, Nuttingham. Even though you are a squirrel, you'll always be welcomed in our village as one of our own."
And finally Nuttingham said "Thanks guys. You mean so much to me. Let's hope that someday we will meet again and I can tell you guys the stories of our adventure out in the open world."
"I guess that's everything." said Doubt, "Are you ready Nuttingham?"
"Yeah! Let's go!" And thus, with those words, the two stepped out of the gate. The crowd started waving and shouting their farewells as Nuttingham looked behind and waved back. He kept on waving and they kept on saying their farewells as Nuttingham and Doubt walked the corridor of trees. Nuttingham and Doubt were getting smaller as were the crowd to Nuttingham as they kept on walking forward until there came a point where both parties were small dots, and then finally, they vanished from sight. The crowd that waved Nuttingham goodbye was now silent for a moment. And then "Wow, so that's it." said a commoner. "He's really gone."
"Yeah," said another, "It's strange, isn't it."
The chief started walking back to the village.
"Well, I'm pretty tired from the party last night. I'm going back to sleep." Not too long, the rest followed.
"Things won't be the same, right?"
"You got that right."
"Well who gets his house?"
"That's not his house. That's the granary."
And in no time, the villagers began their daily task. However there was one raccoon who continued to stand where she was#awn. She stood there, staring at the corridor of trees that Nuttingham has passed through, into the wild world that she did not want to go. Even if she longed for Nuttingham already, she knew she could never step out of the forest.
"Good bye, little brother." With this, she turned around and walked away to begin her daily duties.
999,962,158 words left.
And thus ends the prologue. My how long it took, but that is nothing compared to the overall goal. To those who have read up to this point, I thank you sincerely but this is only the beginning. The prologue barely scratched the surface with a almost measly 40,000 words. That isn't nearly one percent of a billion words. So you are probably wondering why is the goal of this story one billion words? Well it all started back in around 2010 when I wanted to make a comic strip. However, I wanted something unique to set it apart. I decided that the comic would have a goal of 1 million strips and managed to make 200 of them in a course of a year, which was the prologue that you just read, but each strip took so long to make, even when the comic was as simple as could be. I decided to quit the comic strip eventually but the idea of a long adventure was still with me because I love adventuresome stories that have the heroes journey to new and exotic places. Come 2013 and I decided to work on the idea once again. I decided to try my hands at making a video of it. I was ready to get to work but then I remembered that I once discovered online fiction. I decided to try and make the story into a narrative instead and I managed to finish the first chapter. I based it on the comic that I drew long ago and turns out that what took 14 strips easily translated to 1 chapter of text. It was great and I decided that this story was now going to be a novel. However, the goal of a million strips had to transfer as well because it was what made it unique. After some thought, I figured that 1 billion words was just right for a long narrative. Now you may be thinking why even bother making a word limit. Could I not just make the story without one? Yes, it's true but I want to make a very, very, very long journey. A journey full of adventure, suspense, thrills, and I want it to last as long as possible. But at the same time, I do not want it to drag on and on that it feels like it's going nowhere. That is why there is a word limit. Not only does this assure me that there is an apparent goal that must be reached so that the story has no time to hang but it also creates anticipation. As the story progresses, the numbers will chip away little by little. The adventure will prolong but there is also the counter ticking down, giving a sense of mystery but at the same time, assurance that the story has a goal to meet and that will create tension in trying to figure out how the adventure will unfold as the numbers begin to drop. That is my ultimate goal with this story.
So that is all I have to say. I hope you stick around and see how Nuttingham's adventures unfold and what awaits him in the one billion word challenge.