❯ Picking Up the Pieces – Starting from Scratch. ( Chapter 1 )

[ A - All Readers ]
Picking Up the Pieces.
An ‘Adventures of the Gummi Bears’ fanfic
By Niki « NeeP » ParadisThis story is to pick up from where Disney’s « King Igthorn » leaves off.  I just wanted to try my hand at a story from a cartoon from my childhood.  I am old enough to remember watching the Gummi Bears in 1985 and I hope that this tale keeps to the spirit of the series.  Please let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Niki P.
NeeP

Chapter One:  Starting from Scratch

« What a mess. »
The seven Gummi Bears stood at the entrance, surveying the damage to Gummi Glen caused by termite Igthorn have imported.  Gruffi Gummi’s statement had hit the situation on the nose and the others could only stare at the wreckage that was once their home.
« Ah, cheer up, Gruff!  It’s not that bad, » exclaimed Augustus Gummi as he tried to lighten the mood.  He waved a hand at the mess.  « A little paint and paper and the place’ll be as good as new! »
« Knock it off, Gusto!  Don’t you realize how serious this is?!? » demanded Gruffi.  « This place is our responsibility –our duty!  We’re supposed to look after it –And just look at it now! »
Grammi Gummi sighed.  « I feel like we’ve let the Great Gummies down. »
« Oh… »  Gusto didn’t know what to say.  He already apparently shoved his sandal into his mouth as it was.
The Gummies went forth through the room, trying to find and salvage furniture and decorations.
« Be careful, you two, » advised Grammi to the youngest Gummies of the group.
« Don’t worry Grammi, » said Tummi Gummi amiably.  « I’ll look after them. »
« Thank-you, Tummi dear. »
There was a bit of thumping coming down one of the mini tunnels from the surface.  A small portal opened above the remains of the fireplace and the toucan, Artie Deco popped through.
« Raaawk! » gasped the bird as he spat out some dirt he half swallowed during his decent.  « There’s damage on the topside too, » he reported after catching his breath.
« Oh, my. »  Zummi waved his hands in worry.  « What kind of damage are we looking at, Artie? » he asked.
« There are cave-ins through out the forest.  There are even two spots where the hallways are visible. »
Gruffi spun around at the news.  « Where are they?!? » he demanded.
« There’s one by the highway, south of the crossroads.  The other’s over by the old fallen oak. »
« Well, then that’s our priority, » said the dour brown bear as he picked his way over towards this tool shop.  « Gusto and I will take a look and see if there is a way to keep the humans from finding this place.
« Wha?  Me? » asked Gusto in a startled voice as he put down a chair with three legs.
« Yes, you, Mister New Ideas, » said Gruffi as he stomped out of his workshop with his tool box.  He grabbed the bright blue bear by his wrist and pulled him along.  « Don’t hold up supper for us, Grammi, » he called out behind him.  « This might take some time. »
« Later, all! » gasped Gusto as he was dragged along.

Sunni Gummi was overwhelmed by the wreckage in her room.  « Look what that thing did to my room! »
« I really don’t see the difference, » commented Cubbi Gummi.  « Your room’s such a mess most the time, I can’t see how a termite could make things worse. »  He grinned.
« That’s not funny, Cubbi, » shouted the yellow girl bear as she threw a shoe at him.
« Actually, » said Tummi, « things don’t seem too bad in here. »  He straightened a chair which has been knocked over and looked around the room.
He was right.  With the exception of the groove in the wood of the floor and half a bed post missing, Sunni’s room was practically untouched.
« Yeah, I guess I got kinda lucky, » she said as she remembered the main room.
« Let’s check out my room next, » said Cubbi.  The other’s nodded.
« Then mine, » said Tummi.
The other rooms showed a bit more damage.  In addition of the damage in the floor, Cubbi lost a few of his wooden plaques which Gruffi carved for him.  Tummi lost a shelf which he kept his model boats on.  Now there was broken glass and splintered wood on the floor under the spot where the shelves used to be.
« Oh! »  Tummi was near to tears.  He was very proud of his boats.
« Do you think you will be able to fix them, Tummi? » asked Sunni as she swept the broken glass into the dustpan Cubbi was holding.
« Not all of them, » sighed the teen-aged bear.
Cubbi smiled at the older bear.  « But now, once Gruffi fixes the shelf, you’ll have plenty of room to make new ones. »
« Hey, you’re right, » said Tummi as he brightened up.  He smiled at the small pink bear.  « I didn’t think of it like that.  Thanks, Cubbi. »

Gusto gave a low whistle.  « Now that is what I call a hole. »
The two Gummi Bears were standing on the side of the road, looking towards what was obviously a hole.  It wasn’t huge, but even from the distance they were at it was very obvious there was something of interest within the hole in question.
They walked towards it.
« Yeah, » Gruffi set down his tools.  « Now we got to figure out a way to hide this ‘hole’ until we can repair it. »
« Um. »  Gusto nodded. He watched as Gruffi climbed down the hole into the hallway.  « How does it look down there, Gruff? » he called down.
Gruffi’s voice floated up to him.  « It’s not at bad as I thought.  That termite of yours only chewed through one beam. »  He started to climb back out.
Gusto reached down to grab a hand.  « Excuse me Grufferino, run that by me again –‘My termite’? »
« Thanks, » said Gruffi once he was back above ground.  « I mean, you’re the one who made that pest a pet. »
« He was such a plucky li’l guy.  And it isn’t his fault he was dropped on us.  We can leave that part of the blame to ol’ Iggy.  Besides, he sure helped us in the end. »
« Yeah, yeah…  Now we gotta do something about this hole.  I don’t want rain getting in there either.  It will make the job much harder. »
« What’s wrong with camouflage? »
« It will need to be removed when we begin working on this section.  Then everything will be in sight of everyone. »
« So you need something more than camouflage…  Covering the hole’s no problem, We just need something to hide the work being done… »  Gusto was deep in thought.
Gruffi waited.  He hated to admit it, but once in a while, the nut was able to come up with some wild ideas –some which actually worked.  This is why he wanted to bring him along.
« I got it! »  The artist slammed his fist onto the palm of his hand.  « What this requires is –a Masterpiece! »
« What? »  Then again, sometimes Gusto’s ideas made no sense at all.
« I gotta get some supplies from my studio.  Be right back, and don’t fall down that hole! »  And with that, the bear went running into the woods.
Gruffi sat down on a log out of sight.  « Artists, » he muttered to himself.  « Go figure ’em. »

The broken wood was placed on one side of the great room.  The furniture had been replaced with other pieces from storage.  Still there was so much work to be done.  There were a few other hallways collapsed from where the termite ate through the beams.  The kitchen still needed to be cleared out and some areas of the floor in the upper levels were now weakened and unsafe.
Grammi was cooking stew in the fireplace.  Once the broken pieces of moulding were removed, the fireplace was usable.  Zummi went up, checked and made certain the flue was cleared.  The orange bear sighed.  It will still be months, if ever, to get the Glen back up to fully livable conditions.  Good thing it was still spring.  If it was fall, then the seven of them would have to seriously consider relocating for the winter.  Then who knows what other damage could occur to Gummi Glen over the winter months.  As it was, she would not be able to stay in her own room tonight.  The bed was mostly gone and so was the door.  Good thing some of her clothes were still clean.
But her kitchen…  She sighed again.  Her poor kitchen.  From what she heard from Gruffi and Gusto, the final confrontation between bug and bear had happened in her kitchen and it showed.  Almost all of her spice shelves were gone, the glass bottles broken, and the contents mixed with wood shavings, dirt and spilt gummi-berry juice.  It will take a month alone to clean that up.  She didn’t know who caused more damaged, the termite or Gruffi, trying to catch the darn bug.  But that was a thought for another day, when Gruffi was back to answer it.
« What would the Great Gummies think of us? » she asked herself softly.  All of the years of hard work destroyed in one day.  And everyone had pitched in to make the place the way it was.  Gruffi did most of the construction type of work.  And Sunni and Cubbi helped with pulling unwanted plant shoots from the floor.  Tummi would fill in cracks to prevent leakage.  Zummi would help with the dusting and sweeping.  Even Gusto helped out since he joined them –he made the new cupboard doors for instance.  And everyone helped out with the polishing and waxing of all of the wood which made Gummi Glen.
But at the moment, who could tell that there had been a lot of work and love put into the place?

There was a soft knock on the door to Cavin’s room in the castle.
« Cavin? » called a soft voice.
The young page was getting ready for bed, it was a hard day of cleaning and repairs and he was tired.  But at the sound of the Princess’ voice, he got up and answered the door.
« What is it, Princess? » he asked her.
« Shhh.  Wait. »  The princess of Dunwyn slipped inside and closed the door.  She didn’t want anyone to overhear her.
« Have you heard from Cubbi, Sunni or the others in the last few days? »
Cavin blinked.  He wasn’t as sleepy as he was a few seconds before.  « No, I haven’t.  But everyone’s been busy for the last few days since Duke Igthorn has left.  Why do you ask? »
« Because Sunni sounded worried before she and the others left Dunwyn. »  Kala sighed.  « I hope nothing has happened to them. »
« I think the Glen was under attack at some point, but all of the Gummies came out of it all right.  Um.  But I remember that the place was a huge mess.  But if you’re worried, we can go pay the Gummies a visit before we turn in for the night if you want.  We still have some sunlight. »
« So you don’t mind, Cavin? »
« They’re my friends too, Kala. »
« Good.  Let’s go. »  The girl walked over to a simple tapestry on the young page’s wall and moved it aside.  She pressed a stone and it moved in.  A slight opening appeared with the barest of sounds.  She slipped in.
« Coming, » said the boy as he stepped in after her.
The opening in the wall closed and the tapestry fell back into place.

« Voila! » came the cry of the wild artist from within the woods.
Gruffi stared at the painting Gusto just made.  It was of the woods.
« Is it not fabulous, Gruff? » asked Gusto as he put down his brush.  « I think I’ve outdone myself!  Again! »
« Yeah, it’s a nice painting, but how is that going to help? »
« You’ll see, » said the artist.  « Now, just grab one end of the canvas.  Just be careful, the paint’s still wet. »
« Okay… » Gingerly, he and Gusto picked up a side of the painting.
« Now move it over here… »
The carried the painting over to the hole.
« And set it down. »
« Okay, now what. »
« Now go over to the road and tell me what you see. »
Gruffi did so and was surprised to find all he could see was woods, no hole at all.  « Well, I’ll be darned.  It works. »
« What did I tell you? »

Cavin opened the door to the Great Room.  « Hallo?  Anyone here? »
« Hello? » called out Kala.  « Sunni?  Grammi? »
« Come on in, Cavin, Kala dear.  Just mind where you step.  There’s still a lot of work to be done. »  Grammi waved them in from the nook with the fireplace.
The two children stepped into the room, looking around at the destruction.
« What happened? » asked Kala.
« Oh, Kala! » cried out Sunni as she ran up to her best friend.  « It was awful.  Cubbi and me came back from Dunwyn a few days ago and found this. »
« It was a termite, » said Tummi who was roasting an apple on the fire.  « It had a bigger appetite then I do. »
« A single termite did this? » asked Cavin disbelievingly.
« Bard to helieve, I mean, hard to believe, isn’t it? » asked Zummi.  « Duke Igthorn brought it with him when he came back from wherever he’s been for the past year. »
« That’s terrible! » exclaimed Cavin.
« We’ll help out however we can, » promised Kala.
« Thank you, Princess, » said Zummi, « but Dunwyn still needs to be looked to.  Igthorn caused a lot of damage there too. »
« But there must be something we can do, » asked Cavin.
« I don’t know about the others, » said Grammi.  « But since you asked, I could do with some new spices.  I have lost all mine.  And my herb garden won’t be ready for some time yet. »
« And I guess I could use a new pen and some ink, » said Zummi.  « I have yet to find the rest of the stationary supplies. »
« That will be no problem, Grammi, » said Kala graciously.  « I will be happy to get some for you. »
« I can get you some ink, Zummi.  It’ll be no problem, » said Cavin.
« Thank you, » said both bears.
Cubbi stood up.  « Let’s go to my room, Cavin.  It wasn’t damaged much. »
« Okay, » said the boy as he followed his best friend.
« Be careful, you two, » said Zummi.  « We haven’t inspected everything yet. »
« We’ll be careful, » chorused the boys.

Duke Igthorn, ruler of Drekmore, slogged through the remains of his domain.  Beside him, his faithful footstool –um, flunky trudged with him.
« What am I going to do, Toadwart? » he asked.  « I was a king.  I had it all, and now I don’t even have a home to go back to. »
« Don’t worry, your Dukiness, » said the ogre runt, Toadwart.  « Things will look better in the morning. »
Igthorn stopped walking and glared and the small ogre.  « You’ve been saying that for days, flea-brain.  What makes you so certain things are going to be better? »
« Because, your most Irritated-ness, loyal ogres will definitely come back to you. »  Toadie paused for a moment as if trying to find more words.  « You are our leader, our inspiration for great evil and dirty deeds.  We lowly ogres love you, your Dukiness. »
Igthorn stopped and stared at the runt.  « So what are you trying to tell me, Toadwart? »
« Dukey will be king again, » Toadie said loyally.  « Loyal Toadie knows it. »
The villain sighed.  « Thanks, I think.  But I need a plan now to rebuild my powerbase. »
« Toadie knows something will be coming to you soon, your Dukiness. »
« I hope you’re right. »  Then Igthorn sighed again.

It was dark when Gruffi and Gusto returned to the Glen.  Grammi was knitting by the fire and Zummi was reading.  Tummi and the youngest Gummies were sleeping.
Grammi stood up as the two other bears came into the firelight.  She shook her knitting at them.
« For land’s sake, look at you two, » she whispered harshly.  « You’re absolutely filthy.  Good thing Cavin and Kala have gone home and didn’t see you in such a state. »
« Hurmph!  The reason we’re like this would be because the ceiling collapsed on us while we were working, » muttered Gruffi.
« But at least we were able to fix that little problem, eh Gruff? » said Gusto cheerfully as he knocked some dirt out of his ear.
« Little problem, my backside, » grunted Gruffi.  « It was the trapdoor that fell in over there, and the wooden ceiling. »
« Yeah, but we were lucky there was a wood storage room over there and you were able to reinforce the ceiling. »
« I guess so, but that other hole is going to be a pain to fix.  I don’t think we have enough bear-power to get that part fixed. »
Zummi interrupted the banter between the other two.  « Is the damage beally rad  –I mean, really bad? »
« It’s not good, » sighed Gruffi as he accepted a bowl of stew from Grammi.  « Thanks…  One of the support beams is gone and there are no supplies handy for making another. »
« Unless you count the forest, » said Gusto as he took a bowl of his own from Grammi and nodded his thanks.  « Just cut down a tree of the right size and use that for your support. »
Zummi and Grammi looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
« You and your shortcuts, » growled Gruffi.
« Hey.  You said time was of the essence. »
« But shaping the wood takes time… »
« Just give it approximately the right shape and you can pretty it up once it’s in. »
« Gusto… »
« Hey, » interrupted Tummi’s sleep-heavy voice.  « Could you two keep it down?  Some of us are trying to sleep. »
« Tummi’s got the right idea, » said Grammi.  « We all should be getting some sleep.  Finish up, you two and clean up.  We’re all sleeping in here tonight, where we know it’s safe. »
« But… » interrupted Gruffi.
« No ‘buts’, Gruffi Gummi.  That is an order. »  Grammi turned her glare over to Gusto, who was trying not to chuckle.  « Do you want to challenge my decision, Augustus Gummi? »
Gusto’s eyes went wide at the use of his full name.  « Uh, no ma’am!  You’ll get no challenges from me. »
« Good. »

Breakfast was a simple porridge made in the pot in the fireplace.  It was also very late.
Cavin stepped in while the dishes were being cleared.
« Hi everybody.  Sir Tuxford gave me a day off since we got most everything cleaned up.  So, I thought I could come and help.  Um, if you don’t mind, that is. »
« Mind? » asked Grammi.  « Why should we mind the help?  You’re most welcome to join us, Cavin. »
« Actually, » said Gruffi.  « We can use your help over where we have to patch up the opening.  We’ve got a beam on a cart ready and we could use your help getting it over there. »
« And we need your help getting the new beam in place, » said Cubbi.  « We’ll need your super human strength. »
« I don’t know about that, Sweetheart, » said Grammi disapprovingly.  « I don’t like the sound of you going.  It sounds awfully dangerous. »
« Aw, he’ll be fine, Grammi, » said Gusto as he started to pick up the shovels.  « We could use all the help we can get, and it won’t hurt to have a lookout while we work. »
« All right then. »
« The rest of us will start cleaning out the kitchen and library, » said Zummi.  « It’s going to take a quite a bit of work to get those usable again. »
« Oh! » exclaimed Cavin, reaching into his pack.  « That reminds me –Kala wanted me to give this to you, Grammi. »  He pulled out a heavy square object in brown wrapping paper.
Grammi took the object carefully and unwrapped it.  « It’s wonderful, » she exclaimed.  « It’s a new spice rack, with a dozen different spices in it too.  Thank you very much dear, and thank the Princess too. »
« Will do, Grammi, » said the boy.  « Oh!  And Zummi, here’s the pen and ink you asked for. »  He handed the items over to the older grey bear.
« Ah!  My thanks, Cavin. »

The sun was shining overhead when the duke of Drekmore woke up.  He was stretched out on a hard piece of ground, littered with small pebbles.  He grimaced at the sun as he got up, momentarily blinded.  With his hand clasped over his face to keep the sun out, he managed to crash into a tree.
« Where the blazes are we?!? » he demanded his flunky –and the world in general.
« Forgive poor Toadie, your Most Forgiving-ness, but Toadie is lost. »
« Lost?!? » roared the villain as he grabbed the small ogre by his ears without looking.  « What do you mean lost?? »  He shook Toadwart vigorously.
« Toadie meaning not knowing where we are, your Dukiness.  However, honest Toadie knowing this place looks very familiar. »
« Then figure out where we are! »  He swung wildly at the small ogre and missed.

In a crystal in an elegantly appointed room, a lone woman stared at the scene.  She watched as the misplaced villain stomped about.
« Poor Duke Igthorn, he lost everything, didn’t he? »  The voice was low and rich with malice.  « I wonder what he would do to get back into power? »
Lady Bane sipped at her goblet of expensive wine.  Duke Igthorn did not realize it, but when he stumbled into her realm, he was in a domain where she could see everything that was happening within it.
« I wonder what I can get him to do for me… » she chuckled.
She stood up and raised a hand in an imperious manner.  « Go retrieve that idiot for me, » she demanded of her troggles.
« Idiot!  Idiot! » agreed the lackeys as they scampered out of the room.

« So why couldn’t we just cut the beam at the site? » asked Gusto as he helped pull the ropes to the cart carrying the beam.  He was panting heavily with the effort.
Because of the fact that Gummies had to remain hidden, the cart was being bear-handled through the woods to the location of the hole.  But dragging the cart over roots and through bushes was no easy task.
« Because, » panted Gruffi, « it would mean more time risking having the hole exposed. »  He grunted again as he gave another pull.  « That’s too risky.  I just want to get this in, secure it, cover it and be done with it. »
« I guess you’re right, Gruff, » replied the blue artist.  « But we got to get this thing there first. »
« We’re almost there, » gasped Cavin, who was pushing from behind.  « It might be a better idea to save your breath instead of arguing. »
Cubbi was ahead, removing rocks from the path of the cart.  « C’mon guys, you can do it! » he cheered.
« Come on, men!  Put some backbone into it! » commanded Artie who was flying above the bears and human.  « Move it! »
« Keep your feathers on! » snarled Gruffi.  « Or I promise I will find a way to make a bird harness for this thing. »
Cavin and Cubbi chuckled.  Even Gusto had to hide a grin.
« Rawk! » squawked the bird indignantly.  « No need to get so nasty about it! »
A few more tugs and pushes and the heavy cart made it to a point just a couple of feet away from the hole.
« We made it! » gasped Cavin.
« Good, » replied Gruffi as he grabbed a shovel from the cart.  « Let’s get to work. »

Igthorn was leaning against a tree eating an apple he had ‘stolen’ from it.  Actually he didn’t know if the tree belonged to someone or if the fruit was free for the taking, but he felt better believing he stole it.  He was watching Toadie pace around in worry.  He was somewhat enjoying the show.
« So, have you figured out where we are, mush-for-brains? » he asked casually.
« Almost, your Most Patient-ness, » said the small green ogre.  « Knowledge is almost on the tip of Toadie’s brain… »
« What brain? » snorted the bad guy as he threw his apple core at him.  It nailed the flunky in the back of his head.
Toadie spun around, to woefully look at his lord.  His eyes opened wide as he stared at what was coming around the corner towards them.
« Toadie is thinking maybe we’re in nasty Lady Bane’s land. »
« You think so? » asked the Duke.  « Why? »
Instead of replying, the small ogre ran away.
Igthorn looked behind him and saw the hyena-like creatures come bearing down on him.  « Oh, » he replied lamely and tried to take off after his flunky.  But there too many and it didn’t take long for the troggles to overpower him.

The troggles deposited the unshaven Duke and his flunky onto the stone floor at Lady Bane’s feet.
« Why Duke Igthorn, what a pleasant surprise.  How nice of you to drop in, » she said.
« My dear Lady Bane, » said Igthorn as gallantly as he could as he stood up.  « It’s always a pleasure to see you.  However, I am afraid you have caught me at an unfortunate time. »
« I am sorry for your losses, » lied the sorceress.  « But I am fully confident that you will rise to power once again, my dear Duke. »
« Your kind words warm my heart, dear lady. »
Toadwart and the troggles were trying not to gag.  The atmosphere was getting to be rather cloying.
« Perhaps, a temporary alliance would be beneficial to the both of us.  What do you say, Duke Igthorn? »
The evil duke paused to stroke his beard.  « What do you have in mind? »

Zummi stood at the door of the library.  He sighed.  It was going to be a chore and a half to get the place decent again.  He pushed up his sleeves and started to pick up the books scattered about.  Some of them needed extensive repairs.  A few were completely destroyed.  He sighed.  Some of the books were irreplaceable.
There was damage to the floor as well.  Deep grooves and broken floorboards were all over the place.  A lot of the shelves were completely gone, eaten by that dratted termite.
Well, there wasn’t much point in bemoaning the obvious.  It wasn’t going to help things at all.  It won’t replace the ruined books, or repair the others.  He went to work, stacking the books, putting the smaller pieces of wreckage aside.
Tummi opened the door the library.  « Zummi?  Grammi wanted me to come tell you lunch will be ready in a half hour. »
« Oh?  Oh!  Thanks Tummi. »  Zummi turned to a larger piece of shelf lying in the middle of the floor.  « Oh!  If you have a moment, would you mind helping me out? »
« Sure thing, » replied Tummi as he stepped inside.  « What do you want me to do? »
« Just grab the other end of this broken shelf, here.  I want to put it into the hallway to be taken away later.
« Okay. »  The two bears each picked up an end and carefully carried it through the door and set it against the hallway wall.
« Thank you Tummi, » replied the older bear.  « Tell Grammi I will be down in a bit. »  He turned to go back into the library.  His foot fell through a weakened floorboard, and he crashed heavily.
« Zummi?!? » gasped the bigger bear.  « Are you all right? »  He helped Zummi up and out of the hole in the floor.
« I think so, just give me a moment to catch my breath… »  The older bear started to stand up.

Giant cogs and wheels moved about the observatory.  They were ignored for the small drama happening below them.
« Duke Igthorn, this is what I want… » began Lady Bane.  She started to unroll a scroll.
« Yes, my Lady..? »
« This here. »
Toadie looked towards the drawing made on the old vellum.  « It looks like a book, » he said finally.
« This is not just any book, you dolt!  This is — »
« –The Great Book of Gummi, » finished the duke.
Lady Bane blinked.  « You know of it? » she asked finally.
« If you were only with me last month, my Lady, you would have already had it.  I could not open the book, but those miserable bears were more than willing to make Gummi-berry juice to insure its survival. »
« Oh, really? »
« Would I lie to you, my dear Lady Bane? » asked Igthorn with a florid bow.
« No, you wouldn’t dare, » replied the lady in thought.  « What happened to the book, then? »
« Old gummi flew away on it while Dukey was in Dunwyn, » supplied Toadie.  « He was able to open big Gummi book. »

Grammi came running as she heard the cry of pain.  « What’s going on? » she asked as she ran up the hallway.
« Zummi hurt himself, » said Tummi.  « He fell through a bad spot in the floor. »
« Oh dear, » the Gummi Bear matron help Tummi get Zummi to a chair.  « How bad is it, Zummi? » she asked.
The old bear winced as he sat down.  « It really hurts, Grammi, » he said.  « I think my breg is locken, I mean, my leg is broken. »
Grammi sighed.  « Let’s get you back down to the main room for now.  I can make a temporary splint, but we’ll have to wait until Gruffi or Gusto to get back with the others to mix the plaster for the cast. »
Zummi moaned in misery and pain.  « I understand, Grammi. »  He sighed heavily and shook his head.  « What a week we have been having. »

It took a few hours to dig out the remaining dirt and boulders out of the collapsed hallway.  When they were done, the sun was high overhead.
Gruffi was in the process of untying the rope which secured the beam to the cart.  Gusto and Cavin were drinking from the flasks they were given.
« Heads up! » shouted Artie.  « Someone’s coming! »
« Who?!? » demanded the brown bear.
« Trolls, » clarified Cubbi as he dashed up to them.
« What do we do, Gruffi? » asked Cavin.
« We keep quiet and do absolutely nothing.  Maybe they will just pass us by. »
Behind the painted camouflage, the three bears, one human and one bird kept quiet.  The trolls walked down the road, carrying huge sacks over their shoulders and laughing.
« What should we do now, Boss? » asked one of the lesser trolls.
« Easy, dim-bulb, » snarled the leader, « we spread out and look for a good place to hide our loot. »
« Um, now what do we do? » asked Cubbi in a low whisper.
« We distract them and keep them from coming over here, » muttered Gruffi as he pulled out his flask of gummi-berry juice. »
« What about me? » asked Cavin.
« Do the best you can to keep those fools away from this hole. »
« Gotcha! »
« It’s show time! » laughed Gusto and he downed his flask of juice.

There was a rustle in the bushes.  Crossbows, slingshots, wooden clubs and other weapons were all brought to attention.
One of the lesser trolls whimpered.
« Who goes there? » demanded the leader.
There was another moment of rustling leaves.  Then there was nothing.  All weapons were lowered with many sighs of relief.
« Idiots! » snarled the head troll.  « It was a small animal.  And you guys call yourself trolls! »
There was another rustle…
The lead troll and his flunkies were surprised as the three gummi bears burst out of the bushes around them.
« Surprise! » shouted a short stocky brown bear as he bounced towards them.  Two members of the troll band brought up their weapons and fired on the bouncing bear, but he was too quick for them.  They ended up hitting each other in the face with their powder bag headed arrows.  The powder cleared quickly but the affected trolls were already asleep.
« Yaaa-Hoooo! » shouted a small pink gummi as he bounced around a few trolls.  « Try and catch me, Rocks-for-Brains! »  The small bear continued to bounce around the confused trolls until the green bandits were too dizzy to remain standing.
« Bonzaii! » shouted a skinny blue gummi bear.  He bounced off the back of one troll, pulling the hood over the bandit’s eyes, over the head of another, throwing dirt into its face and then knocking it down flat.
The other troll, noting the fate of his comrades went dashing through the bushes, heading to what seemed to be a clearing in the woods.  Instead he bounced off of something that had a slight give to it.  But before he could recover and think about what had happened, a shovel descended upon him.
« Gotcha! » exclaimed Cavin as the troll collapsed, unconscious.

The library was a large, but snug place, filled with dark wood shelves and well cared for leather-bound books.  There was a large fireplace with two large plump chairs on each side of it.
« The problem is, my dear Lady Bane is that I have no army, no soldiers to do my bidding. »  Duke Igthorn said as he sat down in one of the chairs.  « While I can come up with a brilliant plan, I haven’t got the manpower to carry it out. »
« I see. »  Lady Bane sipped at her mulled cider.
« But I was King!  I did it once, and I know I can do it again! »  The evil duke started to lean back, swishing the wine in his glass.
« Allow me to get you a footstool, Duke, » said the lady as she turned to yell at her servants.
« No need, » said the duke casually.  « I have brought my own…  Toadwart! »
« Yes, your Dukiness! » said the small ogre as he got onto his hands and knees and crawled over to his master.
Igthorn leaned back, planting his feet onto the back of the small ogre.  « Much better, » he sighed.
« Always happy to serve you, your most present-ness, » grunted the small ogre in a muffled voice.
There was a moment of silence while Igthorn enjoyed the quiet of the nice room –much unlike his draughty castle.  He sighed and sat back up.  « If it wasn’t for those blasted Gummi Bears, I would not be reduced to such lowly circumstances! » He threw the glass to the floor, shattering it.
« That was expensive crystal, you fool! » snarled Lady Bane as she started to stand up.  Then her complexion smoothed and she sat back down.  « But I can understand your reasons for being upset, » she finished in a calmer voice.
« My apologies, noble lady, » Igthorn breathed a sigh of relief, glad he wasn’t about to be blasted to kingdom come.  « I did not mean to cause you such distress.  I swear I will find a way to replace that. »
« Put that little worry aside for now, Duke Igthorn.  Instead let us come up with a plan to get you back into power and remove those annoying Gummi Bears. »
« You’re right of course, » agreed the duke calmly.

« Did you get them all? » asked Artie, flying overhead.
« Yeah, » said Gruffi as he dragged another unconscious troll to where the others were tied up.  « I think we did. »
« That was a close one, » said Cavin as he checked the knots on another troll.
« Gruffi? » asked Cubbi.  « Do you think these guys saw anything? »
« I doubt it, » replied the older bear.
« Ha! » laughed Gusto.  « My painting fooled them.  I bet the one who ran into it still doesn’t know it’s there. »
« We got lucky, » grunted Gruffi as he tugged at the rope holding the last troll.  « And I don’t think the luck is going to last much longer.  Let’s get this job done and get out of here. »
« Right, » said Cubbi.
« Hey, Gruff? » asked Gusto as he stood looking over the pile of unconscious trolls.  « So what are we going to do with these guys?  You know how Grammi feels about pets, right? »
Cavin chuckled.  « Don’t worry about it.  As soon as we get the work done, I’ll go back to Dunwyn and have the knights come and pick them up. »
« Do you think they’ll be okay here? » asked Cubbi.  « Do you think they will notice us working? »
« We’re currently a half a league away from the hole, » said Gruffi.  « And they are still unconscious.  Besides, Artie will be watching them and making sure there’s no funny business. »
« Right, » agreed the toucan.

« Is Zummi going to be okay, Grammi? » asked Tummi in concern.
« He’ll be fine in a while, Tummi, » replied the Gummi matriarch.  « He just shouldn’t move for a while. »
Zummi sat in a chair by the fireplace, his foot raised on a stool taken out of storage.  « I feel really bad about this, » he said.  « How can I help now? »
« Don’t worry so much about it, Zummi, » replied Grammi.  « Everyone knows it is not your fault.  It was an accident.  It could have happened to anyone. »  She tucked a pillow in behind the old bear’s head.  « Once we get a proper cast on that leg, you can get right back to sorting and repairing the books in the library.  Just keep the weight off of that leg. »
Zummi laid back with a sigh.  « You’re right, of course, Grammi.  –It’s just frustrating right now.  How will we get Gummi Glen fixed up in time for the arrival of the Great Gummies? »
« Yeah, » interjected Tummi.  « How will we get everything fixed in time? »
Grammi sighed then turned to the eldest bear in the Glen. « See what you have done, Zummi Gummi?!?  Now you got Tummi worried.  We will be done when we get it done.  The Great Gummies didn’t give us a date of when they are coming.  There is no point worrying about it. »
Zummi drew back into the pillows behind him.  « Yes Grammi, » he said meekly.
Sunni came out of the hallway near by.  « Grammi, » she said.  « I found the buckets and cleaning supplies. »
« That’s good, dear, » said Grammi as she turned to the small yellow bear.  « Why don’t you start wiping the walls and floor in the kitchen?  That way, it will be clean for when Gruffi starts installing the new counters and cabinets. »
Sunni made a face and sighed.  « Yeah, I can do that. »
« Thanks, dear, » said the old female bear.  « I will get started on lunch then. »

Cavin downed the Gummi berry juice in one gulp, flexed his arms and picked up the heavy beam.  « Where do you want this, Gruffi? » he asked.
« Just bring it over here quickly, and be careful, » said the dour brown bear.  He was standing at the far side of the hole.  Gusto was in the hallway below, watching the progress.
Carefully, Cavin brought the heavy beam over and lowered it onto the supporting beams below.
« It looks good to me –How does it look from down there? » asked Gruffi.
Gusto’s voice came from below.  « It looks fine, just a little dull.  Are you sure you don’t want me to do some carving? »
Gruffi sighed.  « Later, Gusto.  We don’t have the time for this.  Let’s just secure it and get the rest of the ceiling in.  It’s gonna be dark soon. »
« Yeah, yeah… »  Gusto sighed as he climbed out of the hole.  Aside from the camouflage painting, Gusto hardly had a chance to do anything artistic for almost a week.  And by the way things were going, it looked like it was going to be some time before he would have a chance.

Battle plans were being made over a sumptuous dinner.
« First off, it would be a good idea to pool our knowledge about these bears, » said the gracious hostess.
« I agree, » replied the honoured guest.
« How many gummies are there in this area? » asked Lady Bane.
« I know of a few. »  Igthorn thought about it for a moment.  « There is the old lady Gummi, who makes the juice.  And there is that little kid bear –that one is disgustingly honourable  –Thinks that knights should keep their word and stuff. »
« Hmmm, » mused the sorceress.  « I remember a small girl gummi bear –still a child.  I had a lock of her hair once. »
« There is the fat one, » said Duke Igthorn.  « He’s easy to tempt with some food. »
« I remember the old bear with the medallion.  A poor spell-caster though. »
« I remember a short brown bear that was good with mechanics.  He has helped the Princess save her father once. »
« And the blue one with the mouth and quick wit, » mused the woman.
The ex-king and despot rubbed his chin as in thought.  « I think that one is more recent… »
« What do you mean? »
« Meaning I don’t recall seeing him until a while ago.  My ogres would get attacked by six bears then one day, there’s a seventh. »
« Toadie remembers, » interrupted the footstool.  « Once, when Toadie was in Gummi Glen, saw only six Gummi Bears. »
« Just six? » asked Lady Bane.
« So that means there aren’t very many Gummi Bears at all, » said Igthorn.
« Not around here at any rate, » replied the woman.
« But I have also seen some others, not like the ones we know.  Over by a ruined city…  They were dressed differently… »
« I remember an old fossil of a bear guarding the ancient libraries in the ruins of Ursalia… »
« I remember the Gummi captain of a flying ship… »
Lady Bane stood up.  « Bring me a pen and some paper! » she commanded some of her troggles, cowering nearby.
« Paper!  Paper! » whined the creatures in agreement and dashed off to get the items.
« I must write this down.  Maybe together, we can find the weakness of these bears. »

Sunni was still scrubbing the walls when she was called to dinner.  As she entered the den area where the old stew-pot simmered, she saw Tummi putting out plates retrieved from storage, Grammi stirring the (hopefully) bland stew in the pot and Zummi dozing fitfully in a chair nearby.
« I’m glad to have the break, » she said to Grammi.  « My arms were starting to look pruney. »  She shook out her still damp arms to illustrate her point.
« Sounds delicious, » said Tummi.
« I know dear, and I appreciate the work you’re doing.  Hopefully, the repairs won’t take as long as we first thought. »
« I hope so too. »  Sunni sighed.  « It’s at times like this when I wish there were more Gummies around.  It’d be great to have the help. »
« I know what you mean, » agreed Grammi.  « Maybe soon, we will have a few more Gummies around to help with the place.  But until then, we will have to make do on our own. »
« I hope the others are done soon, » said Tummi.  « It’s almost dinner time. »
« They should be fine, Tummi, » said Grammi soothingly.  « Don’t you worry about them.  And keep your fingers out of the stew pot! »

The trolls were starting to stir and strain against the ropes.  From his hidden perch in the treetops, Artie watched them nervously.
« Why is it we keep getting attacked by Gummi bears? » asked one of the disgruntled trolls.
« That’s because you’re stupid! » snarled the leader.  « Gummi bears should pose a threat to no troll. »
« But you got caught too, » cried out a third.  « Does that make you stupid too? »
« Only to lead you louts! »
There was a lot more straining at the ropes as tempers flared and the captives really tried to hurt each other.  But the ropes held and after a few moments of helpless wiggling, the trolls laid panting.  Artie breathed a sigh of relief.  He closed his eyes for a moment, only to snap them open again as he heard the sound of heavy footsteps.
« What this? » came a dumb sounding voice.
« Not Dukey, » said another voice.  « These trolls. »
Artie’s eyes flew open as he watched a bunch of ogres start up the road.  « Oh no! » he squawked to himself.  « I gotta go tell the others! »  He flew towards the hole.

The hole was not really a hole anymore.  Cavin and the Gummies were busy shovelling dirt onto the waterproofed tarp which covered the new ceiling.
« I am so starting to get sick of dirt, » complained Gusto as he worked.  « I may never be clean again. »
« You and me both, » agreed Gruffi.  « But we’re almost done out here, then tomorrow, all that’s left to do is the plastering on the inside. »
Gusto stopped shovelling.  He punched the air.  « Yes!  A chance to do some art! »
« Yeah, yeah…  As long as you don’t get carried away, » said the other bear.
« No problem, Grufferino.  I think I know what I am going to do… »  Cheerfully, the blue bear began working again.
Cavin chuckled.  He found it funny watching the two bears interact.  They were complete opposites in personalities.
There was a squawk from above.  « We got more problems, » called Artie as he came in.
« More problems? » echoed Gruffi.
« There’s ogres on the road. »
« Ogres? » asked Cavin.  « Duke Igthorn is here? »
« Nope, » said the toucan.  « Just the ogres.  They seem to be looking for their boss. »
« Oh great, » grumbled Gruffi as he put down the shovel.  « Just what we needed. »
« Gruffi, » said Cavin.  « What should be do?  We’re out of gummi berry juice. »
« Let’s just go and see what they want, and deal with it from there. »

The bears and the boy crouched behind yet another bush as they spied on the ogres.  One of the hulking creatures seemed to be the leader and was poking and prodding the hapless trolls while asking questions.  He was of a greenish cast with bright orange/red fur.
« You, troll.  Tell Gad where Dukey gone, » demanded the Ogre.
« I don’t even know who ‘Dukey’ is, » growled the leader of the trolls.
A large purplish ogre tapped his comrade on the shoulder.  « Zook say, trolls stupid, not know where Dukey is.  Just stomp them and let’s go. »
« Stomp?!? » said the leader of the trolls.  « Wait, on second thought, I do have an idea of where your ‘Dukey’ is.  Why don’t you untie me and my friends here, and we will take you to ‘Dukey’.  But you would have to do what I say, understand? »
« You know where Dukey is? » asked Gad again.
« Yeah, sure.  But you gotta untie us first. »
« Is Okay? » asked Gad to Zook.
« Is Okay, » said Zook.  The ogres started to tear through the ropes.  « But if you lying, we stomp you. »
« Right, » said the troll leader, shaken.  « Just follow us and do as I say and we will be able to find your ‘Dukey’.
The trolls and ogres stomped off.
Behind the bushes, the gummies and boy groaned.
« Man, » moaned Gusto, « what a pickle. »
« Gruffi? » asked Cubbi.  « What do we do? »
« I dunno kid.  But we can’t do much right now.  We are out of Gummi berry juice and we still have a job to finish.  The best we can do is keep an eye on things. »
Cavin was visibly upset.  « But what if the trolls and ogres start to attack people? » he asked.
Gruffi stopped.  « Good point.  You better go let the knights know so they can look out for them.  We can finish up here. »
« Right, » nodded the boy.  « I will see you all later. »  He got up and jogged towards Dunwyn.
The older bear turned to what was left of his work crew.  « We still have some landscaping to do.  Let’s get it done and go home before it gets too dark. »
« Right! » chorused the other bears and bird.

The two humans were still in the library, comparing their lists of Gummi artefacts and trying to figure out a way to use that knowledge against the bears.
« One of the things that we both have noticed, » said Lady Bane, « is that there aren’t that many Gummi Bears around here. »
« That’s true, » muttered Igthorn.  « I remember now…  When I was trying to take the Gummiscope away from them, they were trying to make contact with other Gummies. »
« Toadie remembers, it was very important to old Gummi to make the contact, » piped up the small ogre.  « Very important. »
« Is there a way to use this knowledge against them? » asked the duke.
« I wonder, » mused Toadwart, under his lord’s feet, « do the Gummi Bears ever get lonely? »
« Huh? » asked Igthorn.
« What did you say? » demanded Lady Bane.
« Toadie means, since there are lots a humans, and ogres and not so many Gummi Bears, do the Gummies ever wish to find more Gummies? »
The sinister duo stared at the small ogre in shock.

The last bush was just planted and the last bit of turf was rolled into place.  Artie came down to take a look.  He sat on a branch in a tree and cocked his head sideways as he considered the work done.
« Hmmm…  It looks a little plain, » he commented finally.
Gusto stood up from packing the dirt around the bush, stood up and brushed some dirt off his tunic.  « I happen to agree with you, buddy.  But Gruff didn’t want anything fancy. »
« I just didn’t want to give anyone any reason to come over and wonder why this piece of land looks different from the rest of the forest. »
« Well, in that case, » commented Artie, « you’ve done a good job. »
« Yeah, I guess, » said the blue artist as he took off his shapeless yellow hat and knocked the dirt out of it.  He brushed more dirt out of his forelock before putting the hat back on.
« Can we go home now? » asked Cubbi as he sat down with a tired thump.
Gruffi shook his head.  « Not yet.  We have to water the plants here or else they will just die out. »
Both the pink and the blue bear groaned.
« C’mon, you two.  It won’t take long. »  The dour brown bear handed each of them a bucket.  « The river isn’t that far from here. »

« So the Gummies are lonesome, hmm? » murmured the evil sorceress.  « Now how can we take advantage of that? »
The two humans were looked at a growing list of Gummi artefacts.
« I remember a time, I found a Gummiscope. »
« I’ve been meaning to ask…  What in the world is a Gummiscope? »
« It is a Gummi device, originally intended for some sort of long distance communication.  It also made a great weapon. »
« What happened to it? » asked Lady Bane.
« Those dratted Gummies washed out the mountain from under it, just to keep it out of my reach. »
« How thoughtless of them. »
Igthorn looked up, he thought for a moment that Lady Bane was making fun of him.
« Right…  But I know where there is another.  But it is guarded by another bunch of Gummi Bears »
« Hmmm… » mused the sorceress.  « I wonder if there is an instruction book on how the device worked. »
« I’m sure there is, but it’s most likely buried under the rubble with the Gummiscope itself. »
« Perhaps, if you can show the way, I can provide the labour for digging the book out. »
« Well, sure.  But whatever for? »
« I think I have an idea on how to get those Gummies. »
« Oh? » The duke’s eyes glowed with malicious interest.  « Do tell, my dear Lady…  Do tell… »
« They’re late, » grumbled Grammi, as she cleared the other supper dishes.  « Those two better have a good reason for being this tardy. »
« I’m sure they’re fine Grammi, » commented Zummi from his spot by the fireplace.  « Gruffi isn’t the type to dally when such important work has to be done. »
« I know, but with such a risk to exposure, I can’t help but worry.  What if some human saw the worksite? »
Tummi was eyeing the remaining stew.  « Maybe Gruffi and Gusto got into one of their discussions, » he suggested.  « Sometimes those can go on for hours. »
Sunni giggled.  « That’s true. »  New ideas against tried and true ones…  She has witnessed a few of those ‘discussions’, and they were very capable of going on for hours.  And often, the discussions could end up either way.  Sometimes Gusto could point out a merit in a new idea, and sometimes, Gruffi could point out the flaw.  Or Gruffi would say, « That’s the way it has always been done, » and Gusto would reply, « I know, Gruff, but how about… »  It can be funny watching the two of them go at it.
Grammi grunted.  « Hmmph.  Well, even Gruffi and Gusto knows how important it is to get the job done quickly.  So they just better have a good excuse –that’s all I have to say about it. »

« So much for the river not being too far away, » muttered Cubbi as he refilled his bucket for the seventh time.
Gusto yawned right behind the cub.  « Well, we’re almost done.  This should be the last of it. »  He waited until the small bear was out of the way, then stepped forward towards the bank while rubbing the exhaustion from his eyes.
« Raaawk! » called out Artie.  « Watch where you’re going! »
« Huh? » asked Gusto as his sandal hit a muddy spot on the bank.  His foot flew behind him and the blue bear ended up making a modified swan-dive into the shallow water.
« Gusto! » shouted Artie as he flew to his friend.
« Gusto!  Are you all right? » said Gruffi as he moved towards the sputtering artist.
Gusto spat out a mouthful of water as he got up on his hands and knees and pushed his dripping hair out of his eyes.  « I’m wet and I’m freezing, but otherwise fine. »  He reached up for Gruffi’s proffered hand.  « Nothing bruised but my pride. »
« Good, » replied Gruffi.  « This should be the last trip, then we can go home. »
Gusto sneezed.  « I’ve been waiting all day for you to say that. »
« At least you got a head start on your bath, » giggled Cubbi.

It was dark when the Gummies and birdie made it back to Gummi Glen.
Grammi was furious.  « You have been away too long! » she shouted.  « I was sick with worry over you.
« Well things happened, and it took longer than I thought. »
« What kind of things? » asked Zummi, from his chair from the fire.
« Trolls, and ogres, » grumbled Gruffi.  He explained the day’s events, while Gusto was mixing plaster.  The other Gummies listened with horror.
« Then Gusto fell into the river, » laughed Cubbi.  « So he’s cleaner than the rest of us. »
Gusto sneezed.
« What? » said Grammi.  She stomped over to the blue bear and laid a hand on his shoulder.  « Gusto Gummi, you’re soaked.  There’s clean pyjamas in your room down the hall.  Go change and get into bed. »
« But, » started Gusto in a slightly stuffed up sounding voice.  « I still have to finish Zummer’s cast. »
« Now, Augustus! » commanded Grammi.  « You got the plaster mixed and Gruffi has plenty of experience making casts.  So, go! »
Gusto sighed as he stood up and put the plaster pot down.  He knew better than to argue.  But it just wasn’t fair.  His full name shouldn’t be used against him like a weapon.  Yet, Grammi welded it like a pro.

Duke Igthorn laid in the comfortable bed in one of Lady Bane’s guestrooms.  Toadwart was curled up on the carpet nearby, under a tattered blanket, snoring softly.  The villain sighed.  It’s been some time since he was in a warm bed, surrounded by walls and a ceiling.  Mind you, this cozy snug room was nothing like the unsophisticated yet lordly décor of his old suite back at Castle Drekmore.  It was nice to have such a powerful and beautiful ally to help him get back into power, but it hurt his pride to be accepting charity.  He had to get his powerbase back, his ogres, and soon.  Besides, this fancy comfort will soon spoil him.