I cried into my paws, screaming whenever my cracked voice had the strength to do so. How long had it been? Three hours? Four? I didn't actually know. Honestly, I didn't care. "Why?"
Rumbling noises came from behind. I heard Ren and Cody coughing. The sounded like they would be fine. Though at this point, I truly didn't care.
Cody stepped in front of me. "What hap--" His eyes bulged.
After wiping my eyes and steadying my nerves, I looked up to see my two friends staring down The Monster while it rose to its round feet.
"Be careful, Nephew!" After baring his teeth, Cody growled.
Ren stepped forward.
I spat. "All of you … just shut up!" My stomach grumbled. I had burned the last of my fish to save everyone and destroyed another toy in the process.
The Monster roared, and then in a harsh--metal against metal sounding voice--it said something like, "Thank you."
I started. "You can talk?"
The Monster held its head down. It didn't respond.
I guess not ... . I walked towards The Monster. "But ... you can understand us, right?"
The Monster bobbed its head.
I sniffled. "I'm glad you're--" My chest thumped. My heart ached. "--alright." Unable to maintain my composure any longer, I began to weep once more.
The Monster nuzzled its head against mine. It seemed to be concerned.
Cody rested a paw on my shoulder. "What's wrong, Nephew?"
While pointing at the cave, I couldn't stop my paw or voice from shaking. "I ... failed. The ... Ancient Tanuki toy is still inside, encased in a mountain of rubble." I swallowed. "Maru's going to kill Mom!"
Next: Part 29