Chapter 2

Written by: Sumanda Maritz
This quest for a new winter home wasn’t their first. But none of the previous winter homes they found had everything they needed; too small, not enough food, foreign smells that had them twitching in fear. This year was their first quest through the enchanted orchard. All of them hoped that it was the last quest to find the perfect winter home.
Although in his prime, Ramus, was getting a bit long in the tooth. Small aches appeared a little at a time. Stiff joints plagued him in the mornings and grey sprouted on his snout. In time he would not lead a quest, he would become a follower. His current companions couldn’t lead. But a wolfhound did not worry about things not yet here and Ramus’ attention stayed on leading his companions to a safe winter home. He had done this for the past five years when the hunters first appeared.
Instinct woke him before dawn. A new smell flicked his nose and set it twitching. Mustiness with a tang of something wilder than his group. He stifled a grunt as he softly got onto all fours to investigate. He followed his nose toward the scent as the dark pulled back from the wakening sun. At a thick tree, a young badger was furiously digging at a hole in the bark with his strong claws. Snorting the badger muttered to himself, “Just a bit more, just a little bit more.”
“What are you doing, young one?” Ramus’ curiosity made him talk. The badger swirled around and bared his teeth. “It’s mine and you can’t have it,” he snarled at Ramus. “I’m not scared of you either, big dog. If you want to steal my food, I’ll fight you… and I’ll win.”
Ramus huffed a chuckle at the young badger. He was three times the size of the young one. And even if the badger thought he could win, Ramus did not think so. “I am merely curious. I have never tried to eat something out of a tree.” The badger sniffed and returned to digging at the hole. “Just shows what you know. There is a honeycomb inside and it makes for the best eating ever.”
With a last grunted claw, a big piece came loose and with it a swarm of bees. They swirled around the badger and attacked almost as one. The young badger just shook his head then dug a claw into the honeycomb and started to eat with gusto. The bees widened their attack area and Ramus soon had to retreat from their anger. “Young one, you are welcome to your food. I find the idea of stings not to my liking.” He turned around and started back towards his companions.
“Wait,” the badger called, “my name is Roger.” He hurriedly shuffled after Ramus. “Can I join you? I heard Snark’s howling last night. I don’t want to stay on my own when his pack is this close.”


You either get into writing as a creature or you don't. Children's stories are a speciality and they always follow a well worn path of adventure, danger, a moral or lesson, and a warm cosy successful ending. I loved the way Sumanda has got into Ramus character and here we have the first little adventure introducing an addition to the gang. And everyone loves honey. With a hint of danger at the end, we cannot wait for the next chapter. Lovely chapter well written, Sumanda.
This chapter makes engaging reading. It has atmosphere and the characters are believable. Ray is right, your imagination has caught the story and like a firefly continued it on. Loved it!