Deep Within the Caves (Fraggle Rock story)


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Jul 29, 2023
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The deadline had been looming for weeks, and now it was here. It had been exactly thirty days since the Philosopher returned Ash and Fernway to Fraggle Rock, and that meant that, if what he had said was true, he would be returning today.
Neither Ash nor Fernway knew whether they had adequately fulfilled the Philosopher's request. They had seemingly discovered the "other world" that the Philosopher had mentioned, but they hadn't found the Gorgs whom he claimed lived there. The Fraggles didn't know whether the Philosopher would be satisfied with their explanation. Perhaps he would think they were lying, since they had no evidence to prove their claims. Perhaps he would kill them anyway.
All morning long, Ash and Fernway paced anxiously around their caves, awaiting the Philosopher's arrival. But as the morning drew to a close and the afternoon began, the two explorers began to feel that they had better go into the Gorgs' garden to await his coming. For all they knew, he was already there waiting for them. Maybe he was displeased at them for taking so long to arrive. They certainly didn't want to keep the Philosopher waiting...
Ash and Fernway stepped out of the cave they were in and began to walk slowly, side by side, down the long and winding tunnel that led from their small cave system to the large and majestic garden. As they walked, Fernway grabbed a Doozer construction and ate it slowly, savoring the taste. It might be the last food he would ever taste.
However, as the two drew nearer to the garden's entrance, they began to hear something. It sounded like footsteps in the distance, as though someone were walking down the tunnel from the garden.
"What is that?" asked Fernway, terrified. He was trembling from head to toe.
"Relax," said Ash, though he was scared too. "It couldn't be - him. He's too big to fit inside the tunnel."
But then, who could it be? Was it merely a regular Fraggle returning home after collecting radishes in the garden? Or was it a messenger sent by the Philosopher to carry on his message... and do his work?
Then, just as the hole to the garden came into view ahead of them, Ash and Fernway saw with great relief who was walking toward them.
"Well, there you are," said a familiar-sounding raspy voice. "I've been looking for you two for a long time." It was Fratch the Willowtoad!
"Fratch!" cried Ash, running forward to greet his friend. "How did you get here?"
"I walked," grumbled Fratch. "It took me a whole month to get back here."
"What happened to you?" asked Ash excitedly. "The last time we saw you-"
"I know," said Fratch slowly, a hint of fear in his voice. "You met him. The Gorg who calls himself 'The Philosopher'".
"How did you know?" spluttered Fernway, unable to contain himself any longer.
"I've seen him before," replied Fratch. "He's the only other Gorg who lives in these parts. But we Willowtoads know to avoid him."
"Why didn't you warn us about him?" shouted Ash, growing slightly angry now. "If you knew about him all this time-"
"I didn't even think he was still alive," said Fratch. "He's an extremely old Gorg. And I didn't think he even knew the Fraggles existed."
"So what happened to you?" asked Ash, turning the conversation back to the topics he wanted to discuss. "And where are the others? Are they okay?"
"I don't know," said Fratch sadly. "When I saw that huge Gorg coming, me and the rest of the Fraggles all hid in some trees. We were too late to rescue you two. Hours later, I went to follow the Gorg, and the others stayed behind. I never saw them again."
"But what happened? When you tried to follow them?" Ash was turning red by now.
"I made it to his cottage. I snuck in, and believe me, I heard everything."
"You were there? So you know that the Philosopher-"
Fratch cut him off. "Yes. I know." There was a long pause. "But I wouldn't worry."
"What do you mean?" cried Fernway. "We're in serious danger here!"
"I'm not so sure. You see, 'the Philosopher' is something of a legend among Willowtoads, because some of us have encountered him. McMooch, who I told you about, he was on his side for a while. Anyway, the Philosopher's obsessed with the idea of finding the rest of the Gorgs, even if there really aren't any. He's kidnapped Willowtoads before and told them to find the Gorgs or he'd kill them. He never did."
"But he's coming here!" said Ash.
"No, he's not," retorted Fratch. "He just said that. He's going to sit in his cottage and wait for you two to come and tell him all about this strange place that he wanted you to find."
"But we-" began Ash, and suddenly stopped. He had been meaning to tell Fratch about him and Fernway's discovery of "Outer Space", the land with the strange creatures, but suddenly, he wanted to keep it a secret. Ash subtly turned to look at Fernway and mouthed the words "Let's not tell him what we found".
"So, uh, what should we do?" said Fernway awkwardly, trying to cover for Ash's sudden pause during his speech.
Fratch didn't miss a beat. "You know what I think?" He pointed his thumb in the direction of the garden. "I think we should get right back out there and find our friends. Those three are out there somewhere, and they're the ones who should be worrying about the Philosopher".