|With lowered eyes, he stands at the edge of the garden,
gaze locked on a small plant before him. You watch him, wondering what he's doing
here, at the one place where he can most likely be caught by the various faeries
that tend to the plants. The navy fur of the Lupe's back is streaked with silver,
muscles rippling under the skin each time he moves. It's obvious that this Lupe
is in very good shape, perhaps a Battledomer. However, all the same, age doesn't
care about what profession you are, or how well in shape one is, it's evident
that this Lupe is old, much older than yourself or any of your pets.
Curiosity heightened by this mysterious Lupe,
you rise to your feet, approaching him slowly and cautiously. He doesn't seem
to notice you, or just isn't the kind of person that acknowledges another's
presence. You survey his face quietly, before coming to a realization that he
is, indeed, the bounty hunter.
"Balthazar?" Your voice comes out as a shaky
whisper, awed by the silent presence of the giant Lupe. His head barely inclines
to his name, but enough to prove your guess right.
A butterfly floats near a bright purple flower
in bloom, bees swarm around the bright petals to gather the nectar. An occasional
buzz gardener rises from his work to look around, but there are no living creatures
near where Balthazar stands, except yourself. He continues to stare at the plant,
as if it held the meaning to life itself, brown eyes never moving.
You stand in silence, gaze shifting from him
to the plant, then back again. You cannot fathom what is so dear about this
plant to the Lupe, it's a rather ugly looking one at that. Thoughts race through
your mind as you attempt to remember what the gallery of evil declared as Balthazar's
. . .He somehow managed to survive in the
woods, living for years alone, and he never forgot what the faeries did to him
that day. . .
He doesn't speak as he continues to stare, eyes
still trained on the plant.
He won't tell you that the gallery of evil was
wrong in it's article. He won't tell you that the dark faeries weren't the first
faeries he had met.
He won't tell you that the one person he thought
he could trust betrayed him.
"Balthazar, if you don't hurry up, we're going to be late." The Earth Faerie
nearly dragged the Lupe away from the book. She had never been too kind with
the Lupe, almost always too stern, but cared for him like any owner would, providing
food, and books. Balthazar didn't know what he would do without his books, his
only source of comfort.
"Can I bring this along?" He held up the book.
"It's about Flotsams, and it's really interesting."
"Whatever." The Earth Faerie ran a hand through
her hair, and unfurled her wings, "I just have to be at the garden on time to
do my shift. Fire faeries are getting out of hand now, really. Rebellious my
foot, hazardous more like."
Balthazar didn't understand what was going on.
He only knew that a Fire Faerie had taken care of him before he was torn from
her and stuck with this earth Faerie. He didn't know that the faeries were bonding
with their own elements, and were becoming distrustful of the others, and that
Fyora wasn't powerful enough to do anything about it.
"Hurry up," she repeated, pulling the Lupe to
his feet, "Get your nose out of that book and get a move on."
He grabbed the book and followed his owner out
into the sunlight, blinking warily around. A moment later, they appeared in
a large garden, earth faeries patrolling every border, protecting every plant.
There was something wrong, faeries were screaming, and smoke billowed from the
At one point, the garden welcomed faeries of
every kind, from dark to water, but recently, the garden had been restricted
to earth faeries and their pets. They no longer trusted the other faeries, thinking
that all they wanted to do was destroy what little work they had left, unaware
that the other faeries thought the same.
"Myra!" Another Faerie flew towards him and
his owner, a panicked expression clear on her face, "The war is starting, they're
attacking!" Fire could be seen in the distance flaring up among the green forest,
bordering the field at the garden's edge.
"You're needed! Head out!" His owner nodded,
a grim expression tainting her fair face, and disappeared without a second thought.
Balthazar was left alone, in the midst of the
chaos of Earth faeries screaming war cries, gathering up all of their kind to
attack the offenders. Confused and frightened, he scampered to the only place
he knew, to the plant Fuhnah had planted for him long ago.
Wide eyes looked around in fear, he had been
torn from his owner, and cast aside, and it was obvious that Myra wasn't going
to return anytime soon. Sitting under the large oak tree, next to the rosebush,
Balthazar couldn't block out the yells of the faeries. He tried to concentrate
on the book about Flotsams, but the mood had changed from serene to frenzied
in less than five minutes, and he didn't know how to react. Even the small tranquil
blossoms of rosebuds in full bloom didn't offer any comfort.
Hours later, fire crackled at the top of a tree,
a Fire Faerie flitting past as Balthazar's head shot up, directing his gaze
at the sky. A sharp whimper fled from his throat, and he tossed his book away,
knowing he had to do something. He had been bound to the earth Faerie for over
a few years, and his loyalty to his responsible owner took over. Leaping angrily
from his bench, he rose, and snarled at the Fire Faerie above.
"Hey!" Her voice drifted towards him on the
winds conjured by the Air Faerie, "We've got a runt here! Earth Faerie pet most
Another fire Faerie drifted over, stared down
severely at the comical expression painted on the Lupe's face, and shook her
head, "C'mon, we're here to destroy the faeries, not the minions."
Tail lashing in frightened courage, Balthazar
flew from the small clearing his plant was in, hoping to find Myra and maybe
even aid her. Bounding from clump of smoldering flowers to the next, he barely
dodged the jets of water the scouting water faeries aimed at him, yelping as
one struck him savagely on his haunches.
The next thing he remembered before blacking
out, was the sneering face of a water Faerie as a jet of water blasted him full
force in the face.
When he came back to, he was surrounded by a
group of earth faeries, all staring at him pensively. Myra was among them, but
she made no move to offer him her help.
"He could be contaminated."
"Contaminated? What?" His voice was drowsy with
effort, but the others merely ignored him.
"Dark faeries bent him to their will, you think?"
"I'm not controlled by anything, I swear!" He
rose his voice slightly, on the edge of desperation.
"We don't know. I'm not taking any chances.
This one's getting dropped off at the haunted forest as soon as possible."
"No!" his last words came as a shout. "I can't!
I won't survive! No!"
Myra didn't even object. She nodded resolutely
and turned her back away.
"Myra!" He tried to leap after her, but was
caught and restrained, "Myra! Don't let them! Please!"
"We can get you a new Lupe if you want." The
nearest Faerie patted Myra. "It's not your fault your old one turned bad."
"Yeah." Myra strained a smile. "Maybe a female
There were no words to describe the utter feeling
of betrayal and despair that Balthazar suddenly felt. "No." His words came out
as a whimper, "Myra, tell them! Tell them I'm not infected!"
"Maybe a green Lupe."
How could she do this? Talk about replacing
him in front of his face, like he didn't even exist at all. Balthazar's last
strands broke, and he fell back, limply, no longer struggling, staring dejectedly
at the one he had been loyal to.
Turning around, you realize that Balthazar has
left, his looming presence no longer towering over you. Blinking, you notice
his back retreating in the distance, tail flicking from side to side, silent
composure still pressing. Sitting down on the bench near the plant, watching
it curiously, you don't notice a buzz gardener wandering closer to you.
The plant looks to be thriving, small emerald
leaves curling around the thick branches, glowing with health. Small thorns
spike up at odd angles, harmful to the touch, sharp and deadly, found in the
least obvious of places. Reaching out a finger to stroke a leaf, the buzz's
sharp voice cuts into your thoughts.
"I wouldn't do that, that plant's thorns are
known to be poisonous."
Instantly drawing your hand back, you stare
at the elderly gardener, face crinkling in confusion. "What else can you tell
me about this plant?"
"It's a rosebush," he answers flatly, barely
glancing at it, "only it hasn't flowered in over twenty years."