Missed the beginning? Start here.
Sabrina and Juniper moved further along the ledge and they noticed that the farther away from the waterfall they got, the wider the ledge was. They still move cautiously and slowly because the ledge hung over a very deep canyon.
After they had walked about a half-mile, Sabrina said, “Can you see an end to this ledge?”
Juniper looked as hard as she could and finally said, “I think there are some trees up ahead. The ledge must end there.”
Sure enough, after another five minutes they reached the trees as well as the end of the ledge. But unfortunately the trees were on a really steep mountain slope.
“I don’t see any path, do you?” asked Juniper.
“No, I don’t either,” answered Sabrina. “But we can’t stay here. The ledge just ends, but I think I could grab onto a branch of that tree. Then I could climb down. Can you follow me?”
“I can try,” said Juniper with noticeable hesitation in her voice.
“Look, maybe if I can get onto that branch,” she said as she pointed to a good thick branch on the nearest fir tree, “then you could climb onto my back. Would that be easier for you?”
“Oh, yes,” said Juniper with a sigh of relief.
“OK, then,” decided Sabrina. “Here, you take my backpack.”
Juniper grabbed the backpack and watched as Sabrina inched her way to the edge of the ledge. The branch was now within reach, and Sabrina was able to climb onto it.
“OK, I’m ready,” said Sabrina. “I have a good grip on this branch. Can you climb onto my back?”
Juniper moved closer to the edge and reached her front legs toward Sabrina. “I’m not sure I can do this,” said Juniper with a tremor in her voice.
“Sure you can!” said Sabrina encouragingly. “Just move slowly and stretch out toward me.”
“Are you sure the branch will hold us both,” said Juniper.
“Yes,” said Sabrina. “It is a strong branch and as soon as you are on my back, we’ll inch along to the main trunk and then climb down.”
Juniper took a deep breath and stretched as far as she could. She managed to reach Sabrina’s waist and then she scooted and climbed until she was on top of Sabrina. Once they were as comfortable as they could be, lying on top of each other on a tree branch, Sabrina began pulling them across the branch toward the trunk. Thankfully they didn’t have far to go.
“OK, now what?” asked Juniper.
“Have you ever climbed a tree?” asked Sabrina.
“No, I haven’t. I really don’t care for heights. That’s how I got into this mess in the first place.”
“Well, I haven’t done a lot myself,” admitted Sabrina. “But we have to get to the ground. Can you hang onto this branch while I lower myself to that one right below us?” Sabrina asked as she pointed to the next branch.
“I guess so,” said Juniper.
“Good, and when I’m on that branch I’ll help you down. You’ll see. This will work and we will be on the ground in no time.”
Sabrina put her plan into action and the two friends soon discovered a rhythm to the tree-climbing process. They had managed to climb down several more branches when all of a sudden a very large bird swooped down onto the branch right next to the one they were clinging to.
“What are you doing in my tree?” demanded the bird.
“We got caught on that ledge up there and we are trying to get down,” stammered Sabrina. This really is a very strange world. I’ve never heard a bird talk before.
“A likely story,” scoffed the bird. “How did you get up there in the first place?”
Juniper and Sabrina each told their story and Sabrina noticed that the bird settled comfortably on the branch and listened with growing interest as they related their adventures. When they finished, the bird said, “That is quite a tale. I believe you,” she said looking at Juniper, “because I know about dragons but you,” she said looking at Sabrina, “I’ve never heard of any other worlds.”
Sabrina said, “Well, I hadn’t either and I wish now I’d never gone through the cave wall, but I can show you some of my things to prove I come from another world.”
The bird nodded her head and Sabrina took the backpack from Juniper and opened it. She took out a protein bar and her flashlight, showing both to the bird. “Have you ever seen things like these in your world?”
“No, I haven’t. Well, this is a puzzle.”
“Can you help us,” said Juniper rather timidly.
“Maybe yes, maybe no. First, let me introduce myself and tell you a bit of my story since you have shared yours. I am Henrietta, and as you can see, I am a magnificent great horned owl. I have lived in these parts for my entire life, and I stay away from that human village down by the river.”
“I don’t think they like dragons,” said Juniper.
“They don’t seem to like most creatures, as far as I can see,” said Henrietta. “They hunt and kill even when they don’t need food. They have contests to see who can kill the most. I don’t understand them at all.”
“I want to go home,” cried Juniper. “I live on the other side of the river, and I don’t know how to get there.”
“And I can’t go home, but Juniper says there are humans in her village and that they are nice and work in harmony with the dragons, so I too want to go there,” agreed Sabrina.
“Well, you do have a puzzle to solve,” agreed Henrietta. “I can help you for a bit. If you get down out of this tree, I’ll guide you down from the mountain, but I won’t go anywhere near those humans. However, I might be able to find you some help once we get into the meadowlands. You are going to need someone who can get you across the river.”
“Thank you,” said Juniper and Sabrina.
Juniper and Sabrina climbed the rest of the way down the tree and found that the ground was very steep. Henrietta flew ahead to show them the easiest path, but it was still hard work and they slipped a lot. Finally, after hiking downwards for several hours, they reached more gently sloping lands.
“You’ll need to rest now, and I need to hunt. There is a small cave up ahead. Stay in there for the night. You’ll be safe, and I’ll be back in the morning to let you know where you should go from here,” said Henrietta.
“Thank you so much,” said Sabrina.
“You’ve really helped us a lot,” said Juniper. “See you in the morning.”
And with that, Henrietta flew off and Juniper and Sabrina walked ahead until they found the small cave that Henrietta had mentioned. As they made themselves as comfortable as they could, Sabrina shared the last of her protein bars with Juniper. I sure hope we find some food soon, she thought as she fell asleep next to Juniper.