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Both young ones shrieked in terror when Bagnose, who had (as it turned out) taken the shortcut tunnel to the pool, sprang out from the shadows. He grabbed Vaccar by the tail. "Yahahaharrrr, goin' someplace, ploppypaws?"

Vaccar took off running again, his sheer desperation tapping into some undiscovered reserve of strength. Bagnose was caught off guard; he skidded and stumbled across the damp tidal cave floor, still grasping his quarry's tail. He dug his heels in, yanking backwards. "Stoppit, ye fool....unghk!"

Vaccar had put on an extra burst of speed, jerking his tail free; the force sent the would-be assasin slamming back-first into a huge stalagmite. For a second, he stared through wide-open eyes at Vaccar; then, he slowly slumped down to a sitting position, completely unconscious.

Vaccar, with a gasp of relief, dashed over to the sailboat, lifting Little Flower from his shoulders and depositing her in it. "Hurry, get t'rope! I grab the paggles, we might need 'em f'weapons!"

He had just reached them when Little Flower cried out to him; he turned, to see her struggling with a slimy aquatic mass that seemed to be all legs. The unfortunate octopus had been hanging on to the small anchor when she unexpectedly pulled it up; the frightened creature had grabbed onto her chest and torso.

"He'p! Veetee, he'p me!"

Vaccar, like Little Flower, did not know what an octopus was. He sprinted back across the cavern, the oars forgotten. "Don't move, I get it! Stay calm!"

Vaulting aboard the boat, he grabbed the creature's bulbous head, pulling hard. "Leggo, ye slimy thing. Leggo!"

Little Flower pulled in the opposite direction, trying to get away. The octopus was stretched out taut, like a slippery mass of ropes; unable to hang on, it suddenly snapped free, sending Vaccar stumbling backwards and sailing out of his paws, over his head, and through the air.

It was unlucky for Bagnose that he chose that particular moment to regain concsiousness; hearing Vaccar's voice, he drew his knife and sprung to his paws.

SHPLAKK!

The airborne octopus struck him full in the face, grabbing tight to his head and muzzle with its tentacles.  


For a second, Bagnose went rigid as stone, totally frozen and unable to move; then the panic set in. The young weasel's screeches reached a nearly inaudible pitch as he commenced hurling himself wildly about the cavern, careening off of rocks and ledges, and flapping all four paws like windmills in the general area of his face.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Yaaaaieeee-heeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaarrrgh!"

Had they not been in such a hurry, the two fugitives would have found the whole scene ludicrously funny. However, the sound of other voices approaching spurred them to increase their efforts at getting away speedily. Vaccar shoved the boat hard and sprung aboard; the lowering tide immediately pulled them towards the exit hole, and freedom. While Little Flower struggled to open the sail, Vaccar siezed the wheel, hoping to keep on course. "Hurry, Liddle one, we gotta get out of here!"

Little Flower, now that they had reached the middle of the pool, felt a bit less frightened. She took a look back at the leaping and whooping Bagnose, still struggling with the octopus, and giggled naughtily. "Heehee, dat stop 'em a while!"

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