Atyur gasped as the bush split apart, only to reveal,
looking very bedraggled and worn, Zarrelian. The Halloween Ixi fell, panting,
at the Lupe’s paws.
"I’ve been running for the last hour! It took
me so long to finally catch up with you." He glanced around quizzically. "Where’s
Mr. Bronston?" Zarrelian asked. Poloroe plucked a twig from his paw and glanced
at the Ixi.
"He’s looking for you. He told us to stay here
until he got back," the Gelert replied. Atyur scratched his head.
"Yeah, but I think that he meant wait here
until I come back WITH ZARRELIAN. He didn’t say what we should do if Zarrelian
came back first," the Lupe retorted. Mrkrawk massaged his chin.
"So…" he slowly began, carefully hand-picking
each word. "…The most logical thing to do would be to go and find our own way
out of the woods," the Krawk proclaimed. Atyur nodded eagerly.
"Yeah! We have Buck here to guide us, don’t
we Buck?" He patted the Doglefox on the head. As if on cue, the petpet began
trotting off through the woods, cutting through a patch of sparsely spaced trees.
The pets hesitated a moment, waiting to see if Mr. Bronston would return, but
Mr. Bronston cursed bitterly under his breath as he hacked his way through
the thick underbrush, folding his wings tightly against his side to prevent
tears in the thin membrane. He had been searching for almost an hour, but had
still found no sign of Zarrelian.
"Zarrelian!" he called, his voice echoing over
the skyscraping treetops. Still no luck. The Draik glanced down and gasped,
jumping a full three paces back.
Bearog tracks! But these were no tiny, Petpet-sized
Bearog tracks. They were huge, NeoQuest Bearog-sized tracks. Mr. Bronston bent
down to examine them. The edges were still moist; they were relatively knew
prints. The Bearog could be anywhere. The Draik could feel his heart pumping
behind his scaly chest. Wild Bearogs were vicious creatures… If he ran into
one, then the outcome would be very nasty.
A sudden, heavy breathing sound coming from
behind caused Mr. Bronston to turn around. The Draik gave a strangled, "Eep…"
sound as he laid eyes on the biggest, angriest looking Bearog that he had
ever seen. The Bearog opened its three, cavernous mouths and released a horrible
roar that reverberated around the entire forest. Mr. Bronston screamed and broke
into a run, travelling faster than he ever had.
After ten minutes of tumbling through bushes
and dirt, Mr. Bronston finally managed to shake the Bearog off. He gave a huge
sigh of relief and leaned gratefully against a tree, panting and wiping off
his brow. Suddenly, the tree gave way, tumbling down into a large mud puddle
and taking the Draik with it. Mr. Bronston groaned as he became completely saturated
"Could this trip get any worse?" he howled.
Thunder boomed in the distance and lightning cackled menacingly overheard as
the once powder blue sky became of myriad of grays and blacks, and the clouds
split open to release a horrible torrential downpour.
Mr. Bronston gave one last miserable moan before
falling with a gurgle into the muddy pool, completely drained of any traces
Buck cut a winding trail through the trail, pausing every now and then to
sniff at a particular tree or leaf, his bushy tail wagging happily. Behind the
energetic Doglefox, the twenty or so students plodded dispiritedly after, wheezing
and coughing as they struggled to catch their breath. Zarrelian had just about
had enough. The Ixi put on a burst of speed and caught up to Atyur, who was
padding doggedly alongside Buck. Zarrelian rammed his head against the Lupe’s
orange pelt, gently enough so that he wouldn’t hurt him, but forcefully enough
so that he would grab Atyur’s attention.
"We’ve been following this fuzzball for hours!
How do we know he’s not leading us into a tar pit or something?" the Ixi demanded.
"Come on Zarrel, Buck wouldn’t mislead us."
The Lupe froze in his tracks and pointed a quivering paw at a limp, red shape
off in the distance. "Sweet mother of Juppie! What IS that?"
As the pets drew nearer to the hulking red bundle
of scales, it became evident that the figure was none other than Mr. Bronston.
Atyur bent down to examine the unconscious Draik. The Lupe shook his head disgustedly.
"He’s fainted, probably from exhaustion," Atyur
diagnosed. Zarrelian snorted.
"And he was calling US out of shape!" the Ixi
spat. Atyur regarded Mr. Bronston for a moment.
"Well, what do we do now?" he asked. Zarrelian
rolled his eyes.
"Oh come on! As if it’s even debatable—we leave
him here!" the Ixi proclaimed. The other students shouted out their agreements.
Atyur growled menacingly, silencing the pets.
"What kind of dishonorable Pets are you? We
can’t leave Mr. Bronston here!" He crossed his arms over his chest. "We need
to have our teacher with us if we want to get our dinner, remember?"
Grudgingly, the students nodded. Atyur grinned.
"Good! Okay, now I think that the easiest way would be if the two strongest
carried him." The Lupe gestured at Muerte, "Me and Muerte are the strongest
ones here, so we’ll support him. Muerte, you grab his feet. I’ll take his head."
Muerte groaned as he hoisted up the Draik’s
legs. "He’s heavier than he looks," the Grarrl snarled through his gritted teeth.
Atyur smiled. He had gotten the lighter side. The Lupe turned around so that
he was facing outwards, and began marching through the woods.
"Go on Buck!" he barked. "Lead us out of the
forest!" Buck nodded happily as though he understood, and began trotting through
the forest, jumping over logs and rocks. Atyur and Muerte followed, not bothering
to watch where their unconscious burden’s flaccid appendages were swinging.
Within an hour of stampeding through the thickly
forested woods, Mr. Bronston had become ten times more injured that he probably
would have if the Bearog had caught him. His less-than-gentle bearers succeeded
in causing his head to bang countless times against tree trunks or rock faces,
and his wings, which were hanging limply at his sides, now sported numerous
tears and cuts from the many twigs and prickly bushes scattered about the trail.
Mr. Bronston gave a small groan as he slowly
drifted back in consciousness. The Draik was momentarily confused as to why
he seemed to be flying without flapping his wings until he noticed the death
grip that Muerte had on his feet.
"Hey!" he shouted, struggling against their
paws. "What are you doing? Put me down!" Atyur exchanged a confused glance with
Muerte, but complied, releasing their holds on the teacher and sending him tumbling
down to the ground. Mr. Bronston sprang back up and glared angrily at his befuddled
students, ruefully massaging a large bruise on his arm, most likely due to one
of the branches that had collided with it during the hazardous journey.
"Why were you carrying me?" he snarled, running
his claws down a nearby tree trunk. Atyur grinned.
"We were saving you! You fainted. We’ve been
carrying you back to the campsite for the past hour," the Lupe explained. Now
it was Mr. Bronston’s turn to look confused.
"The campsite? How do you know where it is?"
the Draik queried. Atyur chuckled.
"Oh, we have no idea. We’ve just been following
Buck!" He motioned with his orange-furred paw at the Doglefox, who was currently
running around in circles and chasing his tail. Mr. Bronston looked horrified.
"BUCK?! He has no idea where he’s going!" the
Draik cried. Atyur shook his head.
"Yes he does. We’re almost back, see?" The Lupe
pointed a large, nearby sign that read "Camp Crathsona", complete with a large
arrow. Mr. Bronston scratched his head.
"Oh. Well then, in that case… HEY! My wings!
They’re completely torn up!" he roared. Atyur scraped the ground with his paw
"Uh, yeah… they got a little ruffled while we
were dragging you through thistle-thorn valley."
Mr. Bronston sighed sadly as he gazed upon his
once powerful wings. They would take at least a month to completely heal. The
Draik glanced at his watch. It was seven thirty PM, NST, approximately five
hours later than two thirty PM, which was when he was supposed to return to
the campsite. Mr. Bronston heaved another great sigh and began the short trek
back, his students following somberly behind.
To be continued...