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"There MUST be a way to get back!" shouted a Throp. "Oh, there MUST be a way! Ludi! You're the greatest inventor on Athropolis - make your head THINK of something!"

"I'm the ONLY inventor on Athropolis, but my head can think of nothing." He tried to look hopeful. "We need new ideas. Does anybody have a new idea? Do you? Or you?"

Everyone tried to make their heads think, but it wasn't easy. Not only were they lost, but when the castle was drifting - it rocked back and forth! It was making their stomachs feel all funny inside!

"During the big storm my blue skin turned green!" a voice shouted from the back. "If we don't get a new idea soon - I'm going to be CASTLESICK!"

Toot suddenly sat up very straight. "But now, First Leader, where are the prisoners that Fourth Leader captured this morning? Bring them forward!"

"These spies were..."
The children were poked and prodded down a gauntlet of Throps.

Fourth Leader came forward very proudly. "These spies were..."

"SPIES?" The Throps hadn't thought of that! They'd never seen a spy that hadn't been a Squallhoot, and Squallhoot spies were never a real threat - who couldn't discover a spy when its face was all covered in fur?

"Why aren't they locked up? Throw them outside! Let the Squallhoots EAT them!"

"W - we're not spies!" Sara was horrified. "Tell them, Jason," she whispered.

"We're not spies! We're LOST!" Jason shouted as forcefully as he could.

"Don't call ME a spy!" shouted Kevin, "or I'll call you a - a big - GOOF FACE!"

Fourth Leader puffed up his chest and tried to look important. This was his big moment. "What kind of creatures are you?" he began.

"I'll ask the questions here, Fourth Leader," First Leader interrupted.

"B - b - but I captured them!

"You capture things - that's what Fourth Leaders do. I take the credit - that's what First Leaders do," was the haughty reply. First Leader glared at the children. "Where did you come from? Why are you here? You - the one with the twirling head - answer me!"

"We came from a ship! We're here because - because we don't know how to get to where we should be!" Kevin's feet were stamping up and down in anger. "And I don't have a twirling..."

Jason quickly grabbed Kevin's arm. "Our ship was wrecked in a storm. We were set adrift in a lifeboat."

Life - boat? Throps had never hear the word before. Was the floater boat ALIVE?

"Its ALIVE!" the Throps shouted in panic.

"It's harmless!" First Leader replied. "I have seen it myself!" He pointed to the supplies from the lifeboat piled on the floor. "This is what was in the - lifeboat!"

Suddenly, Sara's stomach felt all woozie. "Jason! LOOK!" she whispered. "The radio beacon!"

"And it's turned OFF!"

She tugged at his arm. "Maybe - maybe you should say something..."

"Food! REAL food!" Kevin whispered excitedly to himself. That's all he could think about when he spotted the lifeboat rations.

First Leader pointed to the supplies again. "These are the weapons of SPIES!" he shouted.

Jason looked startled. "Weapons! What weapons? We didn't bring any weapons!"

First Leader waved the flashlight in the air. "THIS is their weapon!"

"THIS is
their weapon!"
"That's not a weapon! That's..."

"That's a flashlight, you dumb..." Kevin began, but Sara grabbed him and covered his mouth with her hand. "Mphmm..". He was going to get them into even more trouble if she wasn't careful.

"That's right! It makes a bright light so you can..."

"Shoot Squallhoots!" shouted Fourth Leader. What a great idea!

"Hmmm." First Leader's eyes were wide with interest. "A bright light? I have a great idea! We can use this to shoot Squallhoots!"

The Throps were suddenly delighted and jumped up and down. "Oh, yes! Squallhoots HATE the bright light! Let's shoot it at those evil-eyed ogres! Yes! YES! Shoot those devils - right in their furry rumps!"

"This will be a WONDERFUL weapon!" First Leader held the flashlight high. If ever they needed a new weapon, it was NOW! Not only was the castle melting, but their weapons were starting to fall apart, too! Icicle clubs were getting smaller and smaller, and snowballs were becoming - slushballs!

The Throps were delighted with this great idea, but Jason didn't think it was a good idea at all. Besides, that wasn't the most important thing right now.

"NO!" Jason shouted. "The flashlight makes a light so you can see in the dark, or flash a signal - so that people can find you if you're lost - and WE'RE lost! PLEASE listen to me! We have a radio beacon - over there."

"The thing that was - flashing?"

"Yes! That's it! It sends a signal to..."

"To the SQUALLHOOTS!" the Throps shouted.

"NO! NO! To the searchers who are looking for us - but it's turned OFF! We've GOT to turn it back on or..."

First Leader stubbornly folded his arms. "NO! The flashing thing will not flash!"

"But - we don't even know what Squallhoots are!"

"Yeah," Kevin joined in, "and Jason thinks he knows everything almost - and he's never even heard of Squallhooter guys!"

The Throps wouldn't believe anything the children said. Those no-good Squallhoots couldn't tunnel into their castle - so they sent funny looking creature spies! They should take their weapons from them and never give them back. Better still - smash the flashing thing! Smash it with a big piece of ice!

Sara looked at Jason and she knew that he was very worried. He shook his head - he just didn't know what to do. If the radio beacon wasn't turned on, how would anybody ever find them?

But Kevin had a plan. He looked slyly around the great hall, and then at the lifeboat supplies. "When those thripity Throps aren't looking, I'll escape!" he said to himself. Then he'd sneak back and get that radio beeper! "Yeah, and I'll get that food, too!"

Unnoticed by the other Throps, Fourth Leader shuffled into the hallway outside the great hall. He moped along, muttering to himself. HE captured the prisoners! They were HIS prisoners! The new weapon to shoot Squallhoots was HIS great idea - but did anybody listen to him? NO! Did he get a big promotion? NO!

Tomorrow morning, where would he be? He'd be looking for Squallhoot tracks again - that's where he'd be!

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Iceberg - the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots. Copyright 1994-2002 Athropolis Productions Limited.