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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Running, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 104 > Short Stories > Balthazar's Rosebush

Balthazar's Rosebush

by xpadfoot

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 past.

     . . .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.

Flashback

"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 west.

     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 likely."

     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 this time."

     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.

End Flashback

     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."

The End


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