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Chapter 5 continued.... < GO BACK or Translation MENU

Ice smashed, ice crashed, and ice shattered!

The sounds bounced and ricocheted throughout the caverns.

The Squallhoots worked furiously on the new escape tunnel - their green eyes glowing from behind ice goggles like miners' lamps. The picks and axes swung wildly and chewed into the ice, eating a hole ever higher and higher through the frozen crystal. Every strike of the axes sent shards of ice flying through the air - bouncing off the helmets and goggles and sticking in the thick white fur of the diggers as they plowed onward and upward through the iceberg.

With loud scrapes, other workers scooped up the shattered ice with their shovels and filled the little trolley cars. Full to almost spilling, the trolley cars were released, and with the shove of a furry foot, they rolled wildly downward, with a clatter and a clickity-clack, taking the ice into the deepest holes and caverns.

Snort gave the orders. "Faster! Faster! Chop it up! Move it out!" he growled. "Faster! Faster!"

The tunnel moved steadily upward. Deep in the ice, where the sun never shone, the Squallhoots had been able to work all day, and as the tunnel got closer and closer to the surface, light began to reflect through the ice.

Snort growled his orders again. "Hurry! Faster! We're almost to the top!"

The flags of the castle had already been turned upside down, and now it was time to post more warnings. Throps shuffled down the castle hallway, their arms full of freshly carved signs. NO SINGING. DANGER - WEAK ICE. NO SHOUTING.

"Oh, good!" Ludi exclaimed as he rushed about. "Put one here! And put another over there! And one by the door, too! The walls have become very weak - any noise could make the castle fall apart! And remember - NO SINGING!" Ludi suddenly looked very sad. "Oh, how I will miss the singing."


"What? Who?" Ludi spun around as the sounds of hammering drifted down the hallway. "What is all that racket about?" he shouted.

A shout was returned. "We're putting up the signs! The signs that say 'No Shouting'! By your orders, Ludi! You said..."

"Yes! I remember!" The shouts echoed through the corridors.

If anyone had looked closely, they would have seen the tiny little cracks appear. With a faint tinkling, the miniature crevices began their fractured journey - each shout adding new crinkled tentacles as they crept up and down the weak ice - spreading like frosty cobwebs across the wall.

But the children didn't see the cracks. Its hard to notice such things when you are deep in thought - and there was much to think about. Bit by bit and piece by piece, they began to put together everything that they had learned that day. Athropolis had to go one way - north - that's where the Throps lived. They had to go the other way - south - that's where they lived. And if the radio beacon didn't get turned on soon - they'd be too far away for anybody to pick up the signal!

Sara realized it first. "Jason, we've got to save Athropolis - or we'll never get the radio beacon back!"

"Yeah! The beeper!"
"Yeah! The booper!" added Kevin.

"You're right! But HOW?"

Yes! How? How would they know where to go if the Squallhoots had the orb? And what could they build that the Squallhoots wouldn't break - and what could they build it with? They were running out of time - Athropolis was drifting further and further away and melting faster and faster! There must be something they could make. A paddle wheel? A sail? Everything was impossible! All they had was ice! What could they make out of ice?

Kevin looked up and down the hallway. "I'll find that blipper," he whispered to himself. "I'LL save us."

Sara spoke quietly. "The Squallhoots. They've - they've got to help us."

Jason heard her, but he was busy with his own thoughts. They needed a big tug boat - that's what they needed!

Crystal was doing some thinking of her own. Why wouldn't First Leader give the children their beeper back? If it didn't get turned on soon...

The ice glowed golden as the sun hung low in the sky. An evening breeze twisted through the castle windows and swatted at the propeller on Kevin's hat. The propeller began to twirl faster and faster, and Crystal noticed the whirring sound right away.

"What do you call that - that strange thing on your head?" she asked.

"It's my propeller," replied Kevin.

"Prop - peller?" Crystal tried to say the word.

"What is a - propeller?" asked Ludi, "And why is it on top of your head?"

"This hat helps me think! It's my thinking hat," said Kevin, stretching proudly to his full height.

Sara spoke very quietly. "Maybe we could make a propeller."

"That's it!"
Jason began his explanation. "A propeller is..." He suddenly stopped and shouted. "A PROPELLER! That's it! That's what we need to push Athropolis home! Like a ship! A big ice-ship!"

Sara smiled to herself. She was right. That WAS a good idea.

Kevin began to look worried and pulled his hat down tight over his head. Nobody was going to get his hat. They'd better not be thinking that! It was staying on his head - right and tight!

"Yes! We'll make a great ICE propeller!" Jason stretched his arms out wide. "Big! Bigger than this! REALLY big!"

THIS was a new idea and Ludi was very excited. "Tell me more! Tell me more!" he shouted. He grabbed a tablet of ice. "Let's chisel out some ideas right away!"

The excited voices carried down the hallway and around a corner where Fourth Leader sulked against the wall. He had heard every word. "I know what a propler is!" he muttered bitterly to himself. "I know all about - pellerprops! Humph! I could have thought of that!"


"YEEEIII!" Ludi's face froze with a look of sheer terror as a Throp ran down the hallway shouting so loudly its little blue face was turning pink.

"WHOOOOP! WHOOOOP! WHOOOOP!" The shouts could be heard spreading throughout the castle as other Throps passed the warning along.

"THE SQUALLHOOT ALARM!" Ludi's arms waved wildly above his head. "See! I told you, didn't I? Any plan is impossible as long as the Squallhoots prowl the ice - they make trouble wherever they go!" He rushed to the castle window and called down below. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"Ludi! Come quickly!" The call was faint from out on the ice. "The Squallhoots have opened a new tunnel entrance - RIGHT ACROSS FROM THE WEAKEST PART OF THE CASTLE WALL!"

"We'll be attacked! They'll hit us on the head! They'll grab us by the throat! They'll shake us up and down until we start to choke - and then they'll eat us up with JUST ONE BITE!" Ludi was already rushing down the hallway with the children and Crystal running close behind him. "That's what Squallhoots doooooo!"

Crystal's voice was quivering with fear as she ran. "Getting eaten up is - HORRIBLE!"

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