Into the River

After a few minutes of desperate searching, Milo came across a vole. Move by Milo’s dilemma, he turned to give directions.

“By the river, further downstream, lives a wise kingfisher called Cone,” the vole paused. “But he is an imposing, aloof bird who is accustomed to being shown respect, so everyone calls him King Cone.”

Thanking the vole for his help, Milo took off. As he followed the route downstream, he could hear the sound of a weir in the distance. He arrived panting, barely able to speak. Glancing around, he caught sight of a bright blue and orange bird, perched regally on a branch. Assuming this creature to be the bird he sought, he approached cautiously and voiced his request.

King Cone gazed down his beak at Milo.

“If you have described the berry correctly, then you will find what you are looking for by the edge of the weir. You must dive into the river, under the willow tree and swim into a cavern where you will find some leaves. This will help your friend.”

Milo knew what might be lurking in that cavern. He hurried to the spot near the weir. Gripped by his fear, he considered the horrific possibility that he was about to dive to his death. But his desire to save Daisy far surpassed any fear. He plunged in. Searching the depths, he found the cavern. Swimming through, he located the leaves. Gathering a few in his little paws, he turned to swim back. He was confronted by a row of fangs. His worst nightmare loomed before him; a huge pike. This was the moment that his fate, and Daisy’s, would be decided.

In this desperate moment, a picture of Epic and the ‘miracle’ bridge flashed into Milo’s mind; and in that moment, he made a choice. He didn’t freeze. He swam for his life, with every scrap of strength and courage he could muster. He reached the surface still alive. How? He didn’t have to know the answer; that was part of the mystery. He could almost see Epic’s smiling face.

Elated, he crawled out of the river and rushed back to Daisy. He found her struggling to breathe and fading by the moment. He tenderly fed her the leaves, huddled up next to her; and prayed.

Exhausted, he fell asleep.

The next morning, Milo watched Daisy opened her eyes. Overwhelmed with relief, he asked her how she was feeling.

“Much better,” she assured him.

After gathering her some breakfast, Milo told her about King Cone and the pike in the river. Realising the great trial Milo had overcome to save her life, Daisy thanked him, tears in her large, dark eyes.

“You are the finest friend I have ever had.”

As she convalesced for the next few days, Milo was subjected to more of Epic’s river reflection exercises. To Milo’s delight, Daisy recovered swiftly and soon they were ready to carry on their journey. But first, Daisy wanted to visit the weir.

On reaching the place, Milo spotted a bridge. Previously, in his haste, he had not even noticed it. They were about to cross when suddenly King Cone swooped down and landed nearby. He addressed them in that regal manner he was known for.

“I see you are well. What have you learned from this incident?”

They were both taken aback by this, but Daisy managed to answer.

“I suppose, not to eat those berries again,” she replied rather sheepishly.

“Of course, but far more than that!” retorted King Cone. “Cast your mind back on the journey you have undertaken so far. On the barren lands, you ate little. How did you feel? Weak? Unable to concentrate?”

They nodded, never having considered this before. The bird flapped his wings, nodding his proud head.

“In the woods all those creatures were numbing themselves on rose syrup, unable to get better, choosing to stay trapped. First Doc’s herbs and now those berries!” King Crone ruffled his feathers adamantly, “Food affects your mood. You think what you eat and you eat what you think....Now, I am off to catch some fish! Fish oil is great for the brain. Remember it is how you, yourself, alone are affected by what you eat that matters.... Listen to your bodyRemember this bridge!”

With that, he was gone. Milo and Daisy were left feeling rather shocked, yet also privileged and thankful that King Cone had taken the time to advise them. They carried on past the weir and strolled along the river. Ahead, lay the bridge. No one greeted them and they crossed over unaided into what appeared to be a very unusual place. A sign stood at the end of the bridge. Carved boldly into the wood were the words ‘Land of Treasure’.

Scattered through this mystical place lay thriving undergrowths, quiet clearings and hollowed trees in which all types of creatures flourished; each one in pursuit of their own personal treasure. Surveying the land ahead, Grandma Tilly’s words reverberated in Daisy’s head. You will find a place with your treasure inside. This must be the place. But as the days passed, no treasure was found.

Chapter 9. Land of Treasure