Oresetes Icetalon: Part One
Across the frozen plains of Terror mountain, and up higher
than the rocky crags, lies a forest. It is a thing of beauty. The dark pine trees
are constantly laden with the heavy blankets of snow. The temperatures can drop
to freezing and beyond, and the climate is unsuitable for any species of Neopet,
save one. The Eyrie. The brave, the proud and the strong. The forest is inhabited
by over three hundred wild Eyries, each one of them burning with the fires of
freedom. These Eyries have never known an owner of any kind, nor do they require
one to survive. The Eyrie live on a basis of simple law. Each Eyrie is independent,
even the kits, the young Eyries, stay with their mothers for only a few weeks.
There is, however, one Eyrie king. The sole ruler of the entire Eyrie population.
There is no royal family. When one king dies, another steps forward to take his
place. This goes undecided, the one who arises is always a suitable king. If not,
then his subjects will ignore him, until a new, more formidable king challenges
the unworthy. There has never been an unworthy king. Not so far, anyway.
The current king was a powerful bull Eyrie, with
wonderful crimson plumage. His title was Falstaff Oakwing. He was a wise king,
a good king. He protected his loyal subjects from the Draik invasions, which
seemed to be becoming more frequent. The last invasion had been deadly. Though
Falstaff was a perilous warrior, the hardships of many seasons and battles had
finally taken toll upon him. Though he had driven the Draik armies away, the
king's wounds had been too great for his age to sustain. Falstaff was dying.
Finally, on the eve of the twenty-third of the month of Storing, the great Falstaff
Oakwing, died. The Eyrie healers that had been present for the king's final
moments spread their wings and took to the sky, circling in a tight aerial display
and shrieking terribly. This was the sign that the king was gone. All across
the forest, Falstaff's Eyrie subjects bowed their heads and mourned, for Fafstaff
had been a valiant general and a kind ruler.
The Draik lord Stearoyx was a fearsome sight. His blood red scales glittered
eerily as the dancing firelight illuminated them. His upper lip was curved upwards,
kept in place by the two, jutting fangs pushing up from his lower jaw. This
seemed to fix his mouth in a permanent snarl. His blood-flecked eyes held no
trace of mercy or compassion, only battlelust and rage. Rippling muscles bulged
beneath his skin, he looked as though he could crush the entire Neopian civilisation
with one paw. The Draiks dwelled in the caves of Terror Mountain, miles below
the surface. The grubby atmosphere bred contempt among the Draik population,
and doubtfulness in their leader. Claws on hips, Stearoyx turned to his piercing
gaze to his head commander, with whom he was very displeased. When he spoke,
his voice showed no note of anger or impatience. It was perfectly level, and
dangerously soft. The commander shivered slightly, wringing his grimy claws
in anticipation of his fate.
"I understand that you led the charge against
the Eyries, commander."
"Err... yes, my lord." The commander gulped nervously,
his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "But we were overwhelmed. The Eyrie
king, Falstaff Oakwing... He fought like a score of Draiks. Our losses were
great, sire. But so were theirs."
Stearoyx blinked once. "Yes, our losses were
great. The Eyries only lost twoscore, half of our garrison was wiped out."
"Ah, but sire, we managed to mortally wound Falstaff.
He has not long to live; He could hardly even fly."
"And yet, we managed to lose yet another war
against our mortal enemies. And whose fault was that, commander?"
The commander began to sweat. "S-sire, I tried,
I really did. I promise I will not fail you a second time!"
Stearoyx blasted a jet of flame into the sky,
burning the air near the commander. "I want the Eyrie's land! I'm tired of wallowing
in this filthy cave! You will not fail me a second time, because there will
be no second time... for you."
The commander shrieked in shock and alarm as
he was dragged off to the deep catacombs of the cave by two surly guards. The
catacombs served home to the putrid dungeons, where water was scarce and food
scarcer. Stearoyx turned away, acting as though the whole affair was no concern
of his. He lashed his powerful tail against the cold stone floor, and stared
out over the wide expanses of his underground kingdom. He narrowed his eyes
and stroked his chin with his claws. If Falstaff Oakwing really was dead, then
the Eyries would crumble like a dead leaf, and the Draik race would reign over
all. Stearoyx grinned maliciously. He would bide his time, and strengthen his
army. But one day he would be ready, and then he would take the Eyrie kingdom
when they least expected it!
Galewing Stonebeak and Kenya Freefeather had been mates for many seasons, and
now, the two Eyries finally had their child. He was born a healthy male, icy
blue, but with a strange birthmark of a pure white snowflake on his right foreleg.
Galewing nudged his sleeping son with his beak. He snorted roughly, turning
to his mate.
"He bears the mark of winter upon his leg, he
shall be called Oresetes Icetalon."
Galewing gave Kenya one last nuzzle and soared
off into the sky, not to return until long after Oresetes was fully grown and
living on his own. Galewing would never lay eyes on his son again. Kenya allowed
her eyes to rove down to the brilliant snowflake on Oresetes' leg. She sighed
sadly, she knew that it was no ordinary birthmark. Kenya looked to the sky,
her emerald green feathers rustling softy in the wind. Oresetes awoke and yawned
quietly, opening his beak wide and staring into his mother's eyes, reflecting
pure trust and love. Kenya grabbed Oresetes with her beak, holding him gently
by the scruff on his neck. Flaring her massive wings, Kenya took to the sky,
circling among the breezes. Oresetes laughed happily, an Eyries first flight
is a feeling of pure elation and freedom. Kenya pumped her wings and took off
for the nest of Ternayro, the Eyrie sorceress. Her nest was a strange sight,
scraggly and large, it was occupied by numerous plants and berries, and all
sorts of strange items. Lupe hairs, Shoyru scales, powdered Uni horns, they
were all used for healing and fortune telling, complex spells and enchantments
that only Ternayro knew of. Ternayro was, if possible, even more strange a sight
than her dwelling. Her cloak made of bark, coupled with many bracelets made
of stones and claws, gave her a frightening appearance. Kenya stepped forward,
and dropped the kit at Ternayro's paws, bowing her head respectfully. Ternayro
nudged the squirming Oresetes with a gnarled claw, turning her gaze to Kenya,
her voice was cracked, and sounded like a beak being whetted against a stone.
"Why'd you bring this child to me?"
Kenya raised her head, and pointed her beak at
Oresetes' foreleg. "He has a strange mark upon him, it worried me, it is not
Ternayro grinned. "You're right there, Freefeather.
The kit is different," Ternayro stopped grinning, and lowered her voice. "My
advice would be to get rid of him. He's dangerous, and not of our kind."
Kenya's eyes watered, and her tone took a desperate
turn. "But he is my son! What will I do with him? He is only a kit, he cannot
live on his own!"
"Get rid of him! Fly over to the place called
Neopia Central, leave him there, and never return to him. Someone will pick
him up, and that will be the end of it."
Kenya sobbed, her voice choked with sadness.
"I understand, Ternayro. I will do as you have instructed."
Without another word, Kenya retrieved her child,
and flew off into the distance. Ternayro turned back to her prophesying, muttering
"Saw that one coming, he'll return, so he will.
Got a life of hardships ahead of him, that Oresetes Icetalon."
Kenya flew for a full day and night without stopping before she finally reached
the outskirts of her beloved forest, and Neopia Central. She stood on a high
cliff, bordering the Neopia's boundaries, saying her final farewells to Oresetes.
She held the Eyrie kit in her paws, trying to memorise his texture and image,
so that she could always recall it. Kenya looked out over Neopia, its many
shops and NeoHomes twinkling with electrical lights. Even though it was late
at night, she could hear the growing crescendo of voices, both Neopet and human.
Kenya sighed. Was this the future that she was being forced to turn her only
child over to? Oresetes had fallen asleep, he was so well-behaved, he never
howled or cried, as most kits did. It broke Kenya's heart to leave him here,
but she had to. Otherwise, she may be ensuring the downfall of the wild Eyries.
After all, Ternayro was never incorrect with her predictions. The cold of winter
bit into Kenya's skin, she couldn't abandon Oresetes here, it was too cold,
he would surely freeze to death. Kenya decided to take a large risk. She grabbed
Oresetes, and ran towards the create-a-pet centre. Glancing fretfully around,
Kenya lay Oresetes down, and took off into the air. Young Oresetes awoke, and
looked around. Even though he was barely a day old, he could sense that he was
not at home. This was no forest, it was too industrial. And something was missing,
the presence of a large motherly figure, radiating love and kindness. The kit
began to panic, thrashing about on the ground, trying to locate his mother.
He shrieked loudly, and began to cry. He was making a huge racket, and was soon
sighted by two Neopian males, carrying briefcases. One of them, tall and skinny
in stature, stooped down beside Oresetes, and stroked his feathers softly, trying
to calm him down. The other one seemed to be checking him for some sort of identity.
He shook his head, and tapped the man that was comforting Oresetes on the shoulder.
"Look, he hasn't been registered."
The skinny one frowned. "Huh, you're right! He's
got no name, and no owner. What do we do now? We can't put him in the pound
if he doesn't have a name."
"No problem, he's still young enough for the
create-a-pet centre, we'll drop him off there."
"Good idea! But there? One problem..."
"Take a look at this."
Skinny motioned for the other man to bend down
in front of Oresetes. He pointed at the snowflake birthmark on his leg. The
man with the briefcase gasped.
"My gosh, what in the name of Donna is that thing?"
"I dunno, some birthmark. Don't worry Mark, we
can paint over it."
Skinny grabbed Mark's briefcase, and pulled out
a blue paint brush.
"This'll do. He'll look good in blue."
Skinny held Oresetes still while Mark pulled
the paint brush over his fur. Oresetes' eyes widened in fright and he squirmed
fretfully, trying to make Mark stop. Finally, it was over. Mark stood back up,
and stepped back to admire his work.
"Done! Not bad, either. At least we covered that
Skinny nodded in agreement. "Good, c'mon, let's
take him in," He bent down and tickled Oresetes under the chin. "I just hope
someone nice takes you, and gives you a good name. You deserve it."
Carrying the small bundle of blue fur and feathers
in his arms, Mark strode up the brightly lit steps of the create-a-pet centre.
In the daylight, its doors would have been mobbed by soon-to-be owners, most
of them newbies, but under the cover of the night, its limestone halls were
practically deserted. Mark approached the tired looking Kacheek at the front
desk, and placed Oresetes in front of him.
"Here, Tireeal, I got a new little Eyrie kit
for your kennels."
Tireeal roved his circled eyes over to Oresetes,
who was looking around curiously, taking everything in. He groaned softly as
he hoisted himself out his chair, and picked up the Eyrie.
"All right then, to the Eyrie stockhouse he goes."
Oresetes was dumped roughly in a pale white room
filled with other baby Eyries, all of them sleeping. Oresetes whimpered quietly,
staring out over the many multicoloured mounds of feathers, each one snoring
or twitching fitfully in their dreams. Oresetes didn't belong. These kits had
been born here, and this was all they ever knew. Oresetes knew more. He longed
to be back in the forest, to feel the natural wind ruffle his wings, to hear
the peaceful twittering of birdsong and the comforting crunch of snow underneath
an Eyries paw, to smell the rich residue of pin and fresh clean air, he longed
to be free. Oresetes half walked, half stumbled over to a small corner of room,
folding his wings to his side, Oresetes lay down his head, and was gradually
lulled to sleep by the soft sounds of the other kits surrounding him.
To be continued...