"Get up, boy! There's work to be done!"
Nathaniel groaned, opening his sleepy, gold-green
eyes to greet another sunrise on the quaint little village that was his home.
The small Ixi shook the cobwebs out of his head and stood up on short, stocky
legs. His green fur was matted and stuck up in funny places where he had slept
Nathan looked up shyly to meet the cold, gray
eyes of his owner. Their poor family worked as a team to run their house, which
served as a Bed-and-Breakfast for traveling passersby on the dusty road to Meridell
Castle. The town was small, consisting of a few houses and abandoned barns,
with rolling, green hills in all directions as far as the eye could see.
Nathan and his three brothers worked for their
owner, who was a hard master in many ways. His short temper and greedy personality
resulted in his pets underfed and overworked lives. Nathan was the youngest
of them all, so he was the one most picked on and given the most time-consuming
tasks that his brothers thought they were too important for. They called him
'Baby' and 'Runt' because he was so small, and he was often pushed around.
His owner turned a blind eye to all his older
brothers bullying because he did not care how he got his Neopoints, or how the
job was done, only that it was done.
Nathan trotted to the kitchen, his tiny hooves
clopping on the cold, stone floor. His job in the mornings was always the same,
repetitive job as it always was. Nathan actually didn't mind his jobs that much.
He was very quiet, and he hardly ever spoke. When he did speak at all, it was
only to sing. Singing was Nathan's favorite thing to do, but he only did it
when no one else was around. Being so shy and reserved was how he dealt with
all of his emotions. He kept them inside until he had a chance to sing again.
He sang of many things, it just depended on
his mood. If his brothers had been picking on him, he sang a sad song, one of
longing for a better life. But if he was happy, his sweet melodic words would
fill the fields with his joy. When Nathan was singing, he was so caught up in
what he was doing he never noticed the way all the creatures within hearing
distance stopped what they were doing to listen. Or the way the little Whinnies
in the field next to his would crowd around their fence, aching to get nearer
to him and his sweet voice. Nathan knew nothing of his mysterious power over
every being who heard him sing.
Life in the small village was very dull, doing
the same exact things over and over again the next day. They rarely got any
interesting customers at the Bed-and-Breakfast, only dusty, old travelers and
passing soldiers headed to the castle. Due to all of these things, Nathan woke
up expecting nothing more than the usual chores and uneventful day. But that
was not what he got.
Nathan scrubbed a pot at the sink, balanced
on two hooves on a little stool so he could reach it. One of his older brothers
came in, his tail flicking back and forth by itself. The blue Eyrie was obviously
"Hey! Runt! Did you know that after you went
to sleep we got a customer? Master was so flustered; he didn't know what to
do! We finally got her room set up upstairs, no thanks to you. You're so lazy!"
Nathan's ears perked up, but he kept scrubbing
the pot, looking like he was ignoring his brother, but really hoping his would
continue describing their visitor.
"I guess you'll never know what she even looks
like, runt! She just left! Ha ha!" his brother said as he walked out, very proud
of himself, slamming the wooden door of the kitchen behind him.
Nathan hung his head miserably. He knew he couldn't
leave the kitchen to go and catch a glimpse of the guest. A tear slid slowly
down his cheek. Things just weren't fair for him. He never got to do anything
exiting of worthwhile. Nathan thought about how his brothers picked on him just
to make them selves feel better. Then he began to sing, hoping no one could
hear since the door was closed. His mournful voice slowly raised in volume,
until the very wood floors hummed in time with his song.
"The mocking bird cries mockingly,
At the pain upon my head
The hawk above, the sighing dove,
Not joy, but grief instead.
I deal with a loss that no albatross
Could ever expect to bear.
The blackbird and the bluebird know
The bruises still are there.
Cardinals are red with blood
That came from my bleeding eyes.
With cranes and crows and condors
Filling their mouths with lies.
Vultures fly right over me,
Circling in for the kill
Owls could certainly save me,
Even though none of them will."
Unbeknownst to Nathan, the guest from last night
had not left as Ben had told him. While his brothers and master were busy, the
traveler had been drawn to the kitchen door by his singing. She stepped softly,
not knowing where she was going. The beautiful Aisha's ears twisted as they
heard the song, starting faint, but growing as she came nearer to the source.
Her silky yellow coat of fur was smoothly brushed, and she wore fine garments,
marking her as high-class, or even royalty.
Her blue satin dress matched a veil and headband,
and glittering jewels sparkled in the weak candlelight of the house. She pressed
her ears to the kitchen door, listening in wonderment.
Myrah was a handmaiden for the Princess of Meridell.
She was sent away from the castle to get a very rare and expensive type of perfume
for her Princess. She went alone so no one would suspect anything, and she had
a fake story to put off any questioners she encountered along the way. Myrah
was also a very trusted advisor for Princess Ethema, and one of her good friends
Myrah gathered up her courage and pushed the
Nathan didn't realize she was standing in the
door way as he let the last note ring in the air until she started clapping
madly. He jumped so high in the air in surprise one could have mistaken him
for a Cybunny.
"Oh, bravo! Bravo! That was wonderful! You have
an excellent voice! I've never heard anything like it!" she said excitedly.
Nathan scrambled away from his stool, tripping
over himself in his haste. He leapt up and backed away, eyeing her like she
was going to attack him.
The Aisha stepped toward him, a kind smile on
"Oh, please don't be scared. I didn't mean any
harm. I'm sorry I startled you," she spoke gently.
Nathan blushed, looking down at the floor and
drawing little circles in the wood with his hoof nervously. "It's okay," he
Myrah knelt down in front of him, holding her
paw out to shake. "Hello, I'm Myrah. What's your name?"
Nathan hesitated, and then carefully gave her
his hoof to shake. "I'm Nathan. Nice-Nice to meet you." He smiled hopefully
up at her, and she beamed back.
"You know Nathan, you have a very extraordinary
voice. Why are you here washing pots and pans when you could be out in the world,
making Neopoints with that voice?" She said, sitting down on the floor so they
"M-Make Neopoints?" he squeaked. "I had never
thought about that…"
"Oh, yes!" Myrah gushed happily. "Why, you could
even sing at court! Like for banquets and royal balls, that sort of thing. I
know for sure that the Princess would be happy to employ you for the job!"
Nathan gaped at her. "The Princess? Are you
sure?" he had never even dreamed that his voice could make him prosperous. His
owner frowned upon silly things like daydreaming of riches and a better life.
"Of course! I assure you, Nathan, there will
be an open spot at the castle waiting for you, if you ever decided to get out
of here." Myrah stood, dusting herself off, glancing at the door. "I have to
go now, but I promise that if you come to the castle, you will get the job.
When you show up, just ask for me, okay? The guards will let you in."
Nathan's eyes glowed with wonder. He hadn't
ever thought something this good could happen to him. The idea of an adventure
Myrah walked out, hoping the little Ixi would
take up her offer and come to the castle. She packed her things and stepped
out the door, but she hesitated for a moment when she heard tiny hooves scrabbling
madly for a foothold as Nathan came galloping down the stairs, a small sack
full of his meager possessions on his back. As soon as he regained his balance,
he trotted up to her, a huge grin on his face.
"I thought you might want some company for the
trip back to the castle, Myrah."