Scavenger hunt!

What is a scavenger hunt?“ Delma asked Sally the salmon urgently as they waited in the school assembly to hear their principal Olly the octopus announce rules of the scavenger hunt. But Sally simply shrugged. “Don’t know. This is the first time such an event is being organized.”

Finally, Olly appeared on the rocky platform at the edge of the cove and seated himself on the rough surface. “Good morning students!” the principal said smiling kindly.

“Today is an exciting day because we are going to do something we have never done before! Last week we had announced that the teachers of the Aquatic School were planning a scavenger hunt! The day of the hunt has finally arrived! In a scavenger hunt all the students will be divided into pairs. The list of pairs is put up on one of the cove walls. Each pair will then be given a list of things to collect in the next three hours. Each list has 12 items which can be found underwater or near this river bank. I realize that the river is very vast but the point of this exercise is that you will explore different nooks and corners of this river and appreciate the flora in these parts,” the octopus finished.

There was a buzz of animation. Delma nudged her way to the cove where the lists were tacked and was elated to find who her partner was. “Capri, the clownfish! Just perfect!” she cried in jubilation.

Capri, the fish with an incredible sense of humour, was equally delighted to have Delma as her partner, “We will nail this, Delma! I can’t wait to get started!”

Soon Olly and the other teachers signaled that the hunt had begun.

Delma and Capri collected their clue list from Luke, the lake trout, their Science teacher. “Best of luck, guys!” their teacher said to each pair.

“Every pair has a different list, right? What’s our first clue?” asked Delma.

Capri was peering at the list carefully. “It says, ’Pick a purple pebble off the river bed.”’

“A purple pebble!” Delma exclaimed.

“I know where we can find multicoloured pebbles! Near the beaver’s dam.”

“Let’s go!” Capri cried. When they reached the beaver’s dam, they encountered Dell, the mischievous beaver. “Why haven’t you come to school today?” asked Delma.

“I’m not well!” Dell grinned impishly.

“What are you doing out of school, Ms. Teacher’s-pet?”

“There is a scavenger hunt today,” Capri answered, “And we need a purple pebble from near your dam home.’ “Sure! Take as many,” Dell shrugged.

Capri selected a purple pebble off the bank and tucked it in a bag. Capri announced, “The next clue is, ‘Pick a weed which resembles a balloon,’” “It’s the balloon cotton bush,” Dell replied lazily as he chewed on a stalk of grass and floated in the lake water.

“Really?” cried the dolphin and clownfish in unison.

“Yep! These weeds grow near the valley, where the river flows into the lake,” Dell said suddenly springing up. “I’ll come with you! This game is interesting!”

So the three friends swam towards the valley and plucked a weed which had pink and white balloon-like flowers.

The next nine clues were simple enough and soon they could see the other students of the Aquatic School hunting around for their clues.

Olly the octopus who was also supervising the hunt looked at Dell when he met the trio of friends at the swamp where the lily pads grew.

“Dell, I thought you were absent today,” Olly said, unsmilingly.

Dell looked uncomfortable. “I woke up late,” the beaver lied. “When I met Delma and Capri I implored them to let me join. I’m sorry I should have taken your permission.”

Olly accepted his apology with a nod of his big head.

“Whew! That was close,” whispered Dell when Olly had swum away.

Delma and Capri simply shook their heads regretfully. “You’re lucky he didn’t scold you.”

“What’s the last clue?” Dell asked impatiently, changing the subject.

“’Pick a jewel from an underwater labyrinth,”’ Capri announced.

“The underwater coral caverns,” Delma said. “I know where the caverns are. Let’s go and we will win the hunt!”

Like lightening, the three friends made a beeline towards the caverns.

“Make sure you don’t go too deep into the caverns,” Delma warned her friends.

“The caverns get deeper and rockier as you go further in.”

“I found an orange coloured coral,” Capri announced excitedly. “Now, let’s rush back to school. I’m sure we are leading.” “What’s the hurry? I want more of these corals. The ones near the mouth of the cavern are so dusty. I’m going to go in and grab some more shiny corals. I’ll make a necklace for my mom out of them. She’s so fond of trinkets,” Dell said and before they could stop him, he had swum down into the dark caverns depths.

Fifteen, long minutes passed and still Dell had not emerged.

“He can’t remain underwater for more than fifteen minutes,” Delma said panicking.

Warily, the dolphin and the clownfish made their way inside the orange-coloured caverns. As they went deeper, the murkier it became. “I can’t see anything, Delma,” Capri said in a trembling voice.

“Dell! Dell,” hollered Delma, her voice bouncing off the coarse wall.

A feeble gurgling sound came from a nook in the cavern wall.

Delma squeezed her huge body through the bend and saw Dell lying on the floor, unconscious.

“Oh dear!” Delma cried. Without wasting another minute, she used her fin to haul Dell on her back and wound her way out of the maze. She swiftly emerged to the water surface. They were in the middle of the river so Delma put Dell’s motionless body on a rock jutting out from the water. She turned Dell’s body and thumped his furry back. She was so relieved when he started sputtering out mouthfuls of water. “Dell! Wake up!” Capri shook the beaver’s limp body.

“Stop shaking me, I’m fine,” Dell said indignantly, yet weakly. “I didn’t realize how long I was under water and suddenly everything went black.”

“You ran out of oxygen underwater, you silly cuckoo,” exclaimed Delma. “Let’s get you to school.”

Dell was placed on Delma’s back and before long they were in the sandy coves of the Aquatic School and the school nurse, Matilda the mackerel, was tending to Dell.

“Did we come first?” asked Dell even when he was being examined.

Delma and Capri looked at each other. “No,” Capri said finally.

Dell lowered his head in shame. “You guys lost all because of me. I’m sorry.” And for the first time since she had known him, Delma saw Dell’s eyes shining with tears of remorse.

Hastily, she went to him and hugged him, “It’s okay.

It’s just a game!

You are fine, that’s what matters!“

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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