The days turned to weeks, the weeks turned to months but there still was no sign of General Jack. I developed the habit of looking to the Eastern Mountains expecting him to present himself as he did on the first day.
It was also odd that our Overlords had not yet returned.
THE EASTERN TRAIL
After six months, I received a strange report from the scouting crows of the Eastern Train. The train did not stop running until it reached the distant far eastern end of the Dark Land where the Great White Ice Lake begins. Exhausted, the elephants, the tigers and the cobras settled in different parts of the land.
Figure 8: The Eastern Train
The chief crow also told me that the land is not dark. On the contrary, it is colourful, with yellow areas, green areas, brown areas and white areas.
I did not dwell much on the information the crows gave me.
The crow also told me that he saw many erect two-legged creatures migrating westward. These were bigger versions of General Jack. This piece of news alarmed me. The habitual fear of the unknown seized me. What threat will these migratory creatures bring with them? As usual, I was ambivalent. I was scared of the attendant uncertainty. The mystery of their arrival would add to the dire uncertainty of these times. On the other hand, I was content, because that meant that General Jack was on his way back.
THE SOUTHERN TRAIL
Three month later, the scouting falcons of the Southern Train arrived. They gave me their bewildering account.
“The Southern Train was relentless in its run. The terrified gazelles/antelopes/zebras/giraffes/camels/hyenas/jackals led the run. These were hounded by the lions/cheetahs/leopards.
“The felines in the front part of their compartment were ferocious snapping at the heels of the pacesetting enemies; the felines in the middle hurtled on in a bewildered, intoxicated state consequent on the intense artillery bombardment they had been subjected to; The felines at the rear of the compartment were terrified, constantly glancing backwards at their stalkers in the following compartments
. The stalkers were two huge stamping regiments-the elephants/rhinos/hippos of the Southern Army, followed by the hopelessly disoriented elephant remnant division of the Western Army. A huge long sliver of pythons trailed them. These loathsome creatures struggled but always managed to keep up with the pack until the end of the months’ long run.
“Then, a wondrous thing happened. As the Southern Train plodded over the Great White Ice Lake, its tremendous vibrations split the ice. The cracks became progressively longer, wider and more numerous. The Ice Lake broke up everywhere in the wake of the train’s passage.”
Falco the chief falcon scout interjected, “You see Miaow, the Southern Train rudely woke up the Spirit of the Great White Ice Lake. Furious at having its peace disturbed so brazenly, the Great Water Spirit arose to swallow up the violators. The water furies the Spirit sent after the Southern Train almost but not quite managed to reach it. At all times, the train was one short step ahead. The name I gave this angry giant wave was Tsunami. I have never seen anything like it.
“Then a huge wave of water rose up and chased the bewildered train until they reached safety in the dry land. This tsunami became bigger and bigger, wider and wider. Wherever it flowed, the Great White Ice Lake ceased to exist. Instead, it was replaced by very high levels of water that almost reached us falcons in our flight”.
Figure 9: The Southern Train
“The Southern Train reached the dry land. One half of the land was yellow and the other lower half was green. The yellow part was too dry, there was no water, so the Southern Train continued running until it found the green land. The only exception was the Camel Division that had enough of this mad running. The camels were happy to remain in the yellow land.
“When the rest of the train arrived in the green land, they were too exhausted to fight anymore. The various divisions went off in different directions. They decided to settle in the New Land.
This news took me by surprise. It was so unexpected. Boy, did I need this happy news! That meant that the lions, cheetahs and leopards could not return to our land even if they wanted to. The miracle of the Great White Ice Lake had seen to it.
THE WESTERN TRAIL
Three months later, the Eagle Scout Division of the Western Train returned with an even crazier account.
The Western Train continued its trek even on the Great White Ice Lake. In the vanguard, there were the bears/horses/wild boar/wolves.
The bison/buffalo/cattle/reindeer /moose/coyotes followed these. Hot on their heels, were the cougars/jaguars/panthers.
The rattlesnakes that were not far behind, doggedly followed them. Here as well, the vibrations of this huge train split the Great White Ice Lake as the train rumbled on. A massive tsunami arose that was on the verge of engulfing the entire
Western Train. All members of the train were petrified. The Great White Ice Lake was gradually replaced by high-level water as far as the eagle scouts could see. The process of ice breakage was progressive.
The Western Train finally reached the dry land in the Far West after days of non-stop running. All the runners except the jaguars and panthers were dead tired. They collapsed motionless on the land.
The upper half of the land was white and the lower half was green.
Glider the chief of the eagles then continued, “Out of nowhere appeared giant green beasts. When they ran, the earth shook. We called them dinosaurs. The panthers and jaguars startled and took off south. All the other members of the train lay prostrate and unresponsive.
“The dinosaurs ignored them. They sidestepped them thinking they were dead. These green monsters unleashed an incredibly fierce hunt for the two Feline Overlord divisions. Each dinosaur has the combined strength of ten thousand King Roars. It gladdened my heart to see these felines finally getting a taste of their own medicine. You know Miaow, when I remember what your two sisters and many others went through, I considered this poetic justice. Though at times, I must confess I almost felt sorry for these petrified felines.
“The chase occurred on the coastline and under the weight of this huge army of dinosaurs, the coast started breaking up. The dinosaurs fell into the rapidly rising waters. The further the dinosaurs ran, the more they perished in the sea. More and more dinosaurs joined the southern chase of the remnant of the Western Train. Strangely, the
Figure 10: The Western Train
previous Western train had now become the Southern Train composed of terrified jaguars/panthers and dinosaurs with us eagles on top.”
“The new Southern Train arrived at a long narrow bridge connecting the Northern Land with an even greener large Southern Land. As the awesome dinosaurs charged madly, more and more of this bridge broke up under their collective weight. The bridge became narrower and narrower. Eventually, it became too narrow for the dinosaurs. Not one made it to the Southern land. All the others drowned. These monsters had brought about their own destruction. At last, the winded jaguars and panthers rested. They flopped onto the ground and lay prone for many days. They could not believe what they had just been through. Of all the members of the Western train, they had covered most ground. In due course, they settled in different parts of that land.
“On our return journey we were in for another surprise. The Great White Ice Lake was replaced by water throughout. We were even more surprised to see animals in it with no arms and legs. They had different shapes and sizes. It was all very fishy so we called them fish. We tried to befriend them. As we hovered just above the water level, we called out to them but they did not understand us.”
Glider said, “In fact, some of them were rude to us. There were these huge fish the size of a mountain. I descended on a hole in the roof of one of them.
“I shouted, ‘Hello! My name is Glider! Who are you? What is your name?’ into this strange mouth since most of his body was under the water. Do you know how he responded, Miaow?
“He spat a huge, powerful jet of water that threw me up into the sky. I was fortunate this animal was a water dragon not a fire dragon He would have roasted me alive. This must have been some kind of war signal, as his companions promptly shot water jets at us. So we took flight.
“One day in the middle of the Great Lake, I saw a small rock. I was tired so I went to rest on it. This immediately activated an inner mechanism inside the rock. A strange head popped out together with four legs. These legs paddled. The unsteadiness of the rock threw me into the deep freezing water. I even caught a cold afterwards. Damn it! We saw many of these moving rocks. You cannot rest on them. You’ll end up with the sniffles.
“On another day, I saw a large fish just below the surface with a triangular arm cutting through the water. His arm was pointing towards me. He must have been offering me a lift. I was tired. I appreciated the kind offer to rest and to cover ground at the same time. So, I rested on his offered arm. It was so sharp; it cut through my claws. It’s sharper than a lion’s fangs. ‘No thank you,’ I told him and I took off.”
Glider continued, “On another day, we saw some objects moving fast just below the surface. We flew low to investigate. They were fish. These big fish had flippers and they had a long beak. They jumped up and down at us. They were aggressive. They were fiercely defending their water territory from us. Miaow, I have reached the conclusion that these fish are no different to the lions. They are just as aggressive.”
Strange days. Strange days indeed!
The events of the three battlefields were more cataclysmic than we thought.
Listening to the account, I stood trembling with emotion. My heart fluttered. My peel bristled. My eyes welled up.
The news inflated me until I finally exploded, “We won! We won! He was right! General Jack was right! He was right in everything! Victory! Victory! He was right all along! The land is ours! They can never come back! We are free! Free! We won after all!”
I repeated this litany endlessly. I danced around like a mad cat. The news released the lifelong bottled-up tension in this one day. The triumphant message spread like wildfire all through the land. The wild cacophony of celebrations continued for many weeks. There were more casualties in the celebrations than in the crazy Battle of the Five Kingdoms!
Having recovered from this pleasant shock, I summoned as many birds as possible to scour Our Land and the Dark Land. Their mission was to seek out General Jack. We had to break out the good news and tell him to return as soon as possible. He still considered himself a loser and a fugitive. I spent as much time as possible at the W- shaped tree. I insisted on being the first person to greet him and to welcome him in this free land.
Us two, more than anyone else knew the significance of this victory. For us it was a double victory. Firstly, we had managed to overthrow the Feline Kingdom forever. Secondly and even more importantly, we had averted the inevitably interminable anarchic battles. We had unexpectedly achieved this through the permanent banishment of the aggressively powerful upper and middle classes of the other kingdoms. We secured this dual victory by conducting a peculiar battle. It was a battle that was never fought. As an additional bonus (for me at least), we rid ourselves of those odious venomous snakes.
All this called for a celebration! I coveted the moment. I needed to share this exhilarating experience with my closest friend. We had conquered the old world. Together, we had a bright future. A bright new world was opening up in front of us. It was gratifying.