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Vripp clambered over the tree's roots, her brow furrowed with concern. They had done it again. Those bullies Reppoh and Repmuj had taken her dolly and with hoots and jeers, loped away from her until they disappeared from sight. She could never catch up to them. Vripp sighed and started the search for her dolly. Again.
As she scrambled over a pile of boulders, one of the defenders appeared from nowhere and pointed her back toward village center. "Go on, Vripp," he said with a wink, "Thou cannot show thyself outside."
"What's out there, Breppo?" Vripp said, straining to stand on the tips of her webbed toes. "Why can't we leave Kugup?"
"That is not for me to say," Breppo replied more sternly. "If I see thy dolly, I will bring it to thee once my shift is over. Now return home."
Pouting, Vripp hopped down from the boulders and wandered into the village. She could see Reppoh and Repmuj chasing each other toward the farthest end of the hollow into which the entire village of Kugup nestled.
"Now that I've made Breppo angry, he won't tell me anything today," Vripp thought, making her way toward her uncle's tent. Uncle Kaorf might, though. With a grin, Vripp skipped off, intent upon surprising him.
Lifting up the back corner of the tent, Vripp was surprised to find many of the village elders inside. Here was a chance to find out everything that was going on…without having to ask anyone! She slipped beneath the canvas and sat quietly behind Pohpiks. The mage's bulky cloak would shield Vripp from the eyes of anyone who believed that froglok children should be unseen and unheard.
"We have not heard yet from the emissaries. Perhaps they have reached what cities remain and are returning with help," said Gropp. "I would wait until we hear back from them before taking any further action."
"That is precisely why we have remained secluded for so long," countered Euurp, the village teacher. "We must consider that our emissaries were unable to complete their mission. We must take another course of action, for we are alone in this."
Gesticulating wildly, Pohpiks exclaimed, "Nonsense!" This caused several frogloks to duck in case the forgetful magic wielder had had a spell prepared.
"Nonsense," Pohpiks repeated firmly. "We have prepared for many long years. Sensei Grrupin's finely trained students are everywhere! In fact, Sensei, you might speak to that rogue Freppen. The other day he was practicing in the market tent and…"
"Let us keep to the topic at hand, please," the village chief interjected firmly. "Once again we are faced with the choice of our ancestors: to flee or to stay. Our resources are somewhat limited on their own, but with reinforcements from beyond the hills, we should be able to…Vripp! Thou art not allowed to attend Council meetings!"
All heads turned toward the froglok girl who was desperately trying to make herself look even smaller. She bowed her head and said apologetically, "I'm sorry, Uncle Kaorf. I was looking for my dolly."
"Thou should not disturb the Council with such a trivial matter, Vripp." Chief Kaorf pointed toward the exit, then added in the warm tone he reserved for his favorite niece, "I will help thee search when our meeting is done." Vripp hopped dejectedly toward it and turned at the tent entrance to make an appeal, but her uncle had already returned to the Council's business.
"I don't like grown-up business," Vripp muttered, dragging her heels as she wandered toward the vine-covered ruins. "They're talking about moving or something stupid. We can't go anywhere until I find my dolly!"
Hugging her knees to her chest, Vripp sat with her back toward the cool stones and waited for her uncle to finish his meeting. All around her, the air filled with a soft humming sound of fireflies.
-- Source:[Official Website]