The Rhinoceros and the Elephant

I was walking through the woods on a lovely sunny day when I noticed a rhinoceros talking to an elephant.  They seemed very agitated and they were conversing in low voices.  Now that seems an unlikely pair, I thought to myself, as I walked over to them.  “Pardon me, I was just wondering what was the matter.  Can I help?”

The  rhinoceros said, “I’m not sure anyone can help.”

“What’s the matter,” I continued to inquire.

The elephant stared at me for a few minutes, trying to decide just how trustworthy I might be.  Finally she said, “Have you noticed anything unusual around here?”

“No,” I answered, figuring he meant something more unusual than a rhinoceros  talking with an elephant.  “What kind of thing do you mean?”

“Well,” the rhinoceros hesitated.  “We’re new here, just traveling around the world exploring new places, but when we walked into this forest we were overcome with a sense of wrongness.  I can’t explain it any better than that.”

The elephant continued the explanation. “We had heard that there was a cave here where a beautiful golden dragon lives, but we have been unable to find her  and now we are very worried that something has happened to her.”

I thought for a minute and then remembered that there was a cave at the center of the forest.  I mentioned this to them but said that I had never heard of a dragon living around here.  “I could show you the way to where I think the cave is if you like.  It is quite a hike though.”

“Thank you,” said the elephant, “and if you would like you could ride one of us and we would progress much more quickly.”

Hmm, I thought.  It would be rather fun to ride one of them, but which one.  The elephant was rather tall but the rhinoceros had that horn.  As if sensing my dilemma, the rhinoceros said, “Why not climb up on my back? I am shorter so it would be easier for you to get on and you are most welcome to use my horn as a handle.”

That settled it.  I climbed onto the rhinoceros and off we three went in search of the cave.  We hadn’t gone far when I too began to sense what the others had felt.  There was a decided wrongness about this part of the forest.  After tramping through lots of underbrush and working our way between the tall trees, we finally arrived at the spot where the cave should be.  But it had vanished!  How can a cave just vanish, I wondered.

The elephant and the rhinoceros were conferring and I listened.  It appeared that they had encountered similar occurrences in other places on their travels.  Finally, they looked at me and said, “We know what must be done.  Will you help us?”

“Of course,” I answered without hesitation.  “What do I need to do?”

“We need to encircle the cave, chanting as we go, moving as quickly as possible.  We will need to circumnavigate the cave nine times.  And each time, you will need to switch from one of us to the other without our stopping.  Can you do this?”

I was horrified!  It wasn’t enough to have ridden the rhinoceros.  Now I had to do some sort of circus act switching animals while we were all moving.  I must have looked completely terrified because the elephant quickly added, “The switching isn’t really difficult because we will slow at the spot where the entrance to the cave should be for a few extra chants and we will be right next to each other.  I’m sure you can do this!  Please help us!”

I thought of all the times I had wished for something exciting to happen and now it had.  Was I going to pass up the chance?  No, I decided.  “I’ll try,” I answered.

Soon we were in position and I was on the rhinoceros.  Off they galloped around where the cave should be, and I held on for dear life.  When they got back to the starting point, true to their word, they slowed and got next to each other, and I found that it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined to transfer over to the elephant.  Their chanting grew louder and louder, and we did this eight more times.  On the ninth trip as we approached the place where the cave entrance should be I noticed some shimmering.  We slowed to a stop and before our eyes, the cave reappeared!  As soon as the cave entrance was fully visible a golden dragon stuck her head out.  When she saw us she bowed and said, “Thank you so much!  An evil sorcerer cast a spell on my cave and I was unable to get out.  You have broken the spell and I am forever in your debt.  Is there anything I can do for you?”

The rhinoceros and the elephant looked at each other and then at me.  Then the elephant said, “I think our human companion here would like a ride.”

The dragon looked at me and rather sheepishly I nodded.  Without another word, the dragon came out so I could climb on her back and then she took off up through the trees and into the clouds.  It was incredible!  After a few loops of the forest she returned to her cave.  The rhinoceros and the elephant were still there and they offered to take me back home.  I thanked the dragon again for the ride and then got onto the back of the rhinoceros.  They stopped at my home to let me off and to thank me again and they promised they would keep in touch and let me know what other adventures they had as they traveled around the world.

NOTE: I am using an iPad app called Inspiro which has very fun writing prompts.

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