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Chapter 3 "A sand barrier"

The panda happily carried on his walk. His stockpile of food was so abundant that he spent three days on a full stomach.
Step by step, the landscape gradually changed under his eyes. Trees were becoming sparse, and a huge puddle of water began to appear on the horizon.
“There it is! The sea!” he exclaimed.
The panda started to run, but when he arrived in the sand he suddenly slowed down. His legs sank in the sand, and it was difficult for him to go on.
“How tiring!” he grumbled.
Further ahead, an armoured animal moved slowly.

Tartaruga marina

The panda reached it.
“Hey! Hi! I see that it’s difficult for you to move too. The sand slows you down, doesn’t it?” the panda said.
The sea turtle, frightened, withdrew her head into her house, and there she stayed.
“Knock! Knock! Hey you, come out! Come on, I’m not going to do anything bad to you. I just want to have a chat with you. Are you going to the sea too?” the panda asked.

The turtle shyly pulled her head out. The voice of that hairy creature was kind and reassuring.
“I’m sorry, but nowadays you can’t trust anybody. Yes! I’m going to the sea. I have just laid my eggs in the sand. And you? Who are you?”
“I am Panda”, he answered back.
”What are you doing here?” the turtle asked.
“It’s a long story, but if you want I’ll tell you about it”, the panda answered.
“Sure! I’d be happy to listen to you!” the turtle replied.

“I was banned from the tigers’ kingdom because they thought I was clumsy and slow. I got lost in the forest because I didn’t know where to go. There, I met a bat who told me about Abilian and led me to a clue in the wood to reach it. Then, I met a squirrel who, despite being in a hurry, spent some time helping me to gather a good amount of food in order to arrive here.”

“Why here? What did the clue say?” the turtle asked.
“It said that I should face a three days’ walk in order to reach the sea and look for the king of dolphins”, the panda said.
“The king of dolphins! But why him?” the turtle curiously asked.
“I guess he knows how to reach Abilian. Now that I’m here I wonder how I can find him. I can’t swim, and the sea is really vast”, the panda said.
“Don’t be afraid! I know the king, and as soon as we reach the sea I’ll go and call him for you.”
Slowly, the two of them made their way.

The panda observed the turtle with her odd shape and thought “How brave she is! It’s hard enough for me to walk in the sand; I wonder how difficult it must be for her, having to carry her house along with her.”
When they arrived by the sea, the turtle entered the water and started to swim fast.
“Goodness! You’re very fast! How do you do it? Until a few minutes ago, you were so slow and could hardly move. Now, you’re like a fish!”
The turtle explained “You must know that my legs are not suitable for walking on the ground, but they are suitable for swimming in the sea. As you can see, here in my habitat, I move quickly. Now, wait for me here. I’ll go and find the king of dolphins, and I’ll bring him here to you.”

The panda, exhausted and hungry, lay down on the sand and, while chewing on a bamboo leaf, waited for the return of his new friend.
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