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"I KNOW they're not spies! I've got to say something - but who'll listen to me. I'm just a Throplet!"

Crystal paced nervously up and down the hallway outside of the library. She had taken food to the children while they were locked in the tower. She'd heard them talking. They weren't spies and she knew it! She just had to do something - but what?

The door to the library was partly open and she could hear the talking inside. The "spies", still guarded by other Throps, were being questioned by Ludi and Toot.

"People! People! PEOPLE! People - people - people! Hmmm. We've never heard of people before!" Ludi carefully picked up a fragile tablet of ice and read from top to bottom. He couldn't find any mention of "people".

Jason was astonished by what he saw before him. The library shelves held the chronicles - tablets of ice upon which the entire history of Athropolis was chiseled. This was a great discovery! "Look!" he whispered to Sara. "The story of a lost civilization! I'm going to be famous!" He paused and looked around. "If we ever get out of here," he added.

The questioning continued. "You - people - are you like the humankind?" asked Toot. He scratched his chin under his long white beard.

"Yes, that's right. We're humans," Sara replied.

Ludi remembered reading about the humankind. He searched the chronicles. "Aha! Here it is!" He read aloud. "The legends say there are creatures - almost like us - but with skin of funny colors. Are there more humankind like you?"

"MY skin isn't a funny color. YOUR skin..." Kevin began, but Sara grabbed him. "Mmmph." This was becoming a full time job.

"There were LOTS of people like us when you go south. That's where its warm." Jason suddenly became very excited. "THAT must be why Athropolis is melting! Athropolis is drifting SOUTH!"

The Throps had gone south before - but never this far! On the top of the world - everywhere they went was south! But now there was east - and west - and north! They'd never had NORTH before!

And nobody on Athropolis had ever heard of a place where it was warm! Why, they'd never even heard of other PLACES! What would happen if Athropolis drifted into somebody else's place? What new dangers could there be? Did such places really exist?

"Tell us more! We need new ideas!" Ludi looked puzzled, but he was learning more things every minute. "If it's warm, what happens to the ice and snow?" asked Toot.

"There is none," replied Jason. "Some people have never even SEEN ice and snow!"

"But that's impossible!" interrupted Ludi. "What would they stand on? What would keep them from falling into the cold water?"

"They stand on the land."

"LAND?" Ludi frantically looked through the chronicles. He'd never heard of LAND either!

"Preposterous! How can this be true?" Toot shook his head in disbelief. "First Leader thinks that you are spies, and I..."
"But they're not spies!"

Crystal had heard enough. She rushed into the room. "But they're NOT spies! They ARE lost! I heard them talking and it's true!" she shouted.

Sara recognized the face and jumped to her feet. "That's who brought us the food!"

"That wasn't food," Kevin mumbled. "That was YUK stuff."

"Tell us what you have to say, Crystal," commanded Toot.

"They were drifting in their floater boat and they came here by accident! They don't know who we are!"

"But..."

"Maybe they can help us!" Crystal continued. "Ludi said we need new ideas!"

"Yes! I DID say that!"

"They need our help - and we need their help - and I think we can trust them!"

"You DO?"

"Look! Here in the chronicles!" Ludi read the story. Long, long ago, a group of scouts had wandered far from the castle during a storm, and they met a creature - much like the children. It was pulled in a sleigh by other slave creatures - furry beings, like Squallhoots, but with four legs! It seems that those creatures had meant no harm - or so it was reported. He looked the children over very carefully, then he read the chronicles again. "Hmmm. Maybe you're not spies after all," he finally said. "And we DO need new ideas!"

"Yes," agreed Toot. "We must do something - and do it in a hurry! As Athropolis melts, the caverns will begin to flood. When they fill with water..."

The guards looked terrified. They hadn't realized this until just now. If the green-eyed furry ones were driven from their caverns, they'd need somewhere to go! There would be too many Throps - too many Squallhoots - and not enough ice!

"We'll be ATTACKED!" the guards shouted. "They'll come out and GET US - and EAT US UP! There could be a WAR!"

Well, putting it that way, the children didn't seem so dangerous after all. "Crystal is right!" shouted one of the guards. "The pee-ple creatures can help us!"

"We'll go to my laboratory and talk about new ideas." Ludi still had many questions. "We..."

"Yes, we know," shouted all of the Throps together, "WE NEED NEW IDEAS - and FAST!"

Kevin had a question, but he made sure Sara wasn't standing too close to him. "Are those Squallhooter guys gonna try and eat us, too?"

END OF CHAPTER 4
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Athropolis: Iceberg - the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots. Copyright 1994-2001 Athropolis Productions Limited.