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Ummagine: Part Three


by shadowcristal

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If he did. Mistakes were easy to make, Stan reminded himself, and envisioned all the times he had been caught. Slowly but surely he snuck forward, dropping those impulsive, quick movements. It wouldn't be good if he was reckless now, to ruin this chance of a lifetime.

     He couldn't help but to think of the irony... The same chance that he had dismissed as impossible for the Aisha was now a chance fully in sight for him. If he could just accomplish this... Dropping down to the ground, nevermind the stink, trampled fruits and such on the street, Stan moved forward yet again and stopped when he had cover.

     From here he was close enough to see. That fat blue Skeith Jamaar had been a fool, holding the white Ummagine in his hand. His buyer, who looked rather uninterested, was a pretty, slender Acara with nails painted in blood-red color, black hieroglyphs adorning those shiny, crimson surfaces.

     "It can be yours," he heard Jamaar say enticingly.

     By the tone of the conversation, Stan knew he hadn't got much time left. Quickly he swung himself up on a make-shift roof of a fruit stand, peering down at the pair of pets from his new position. He mustn't hesitate, the Kyrii realized, or that chance, that futile little hope, would be lost.

     There was only one way Stan saw how to steal the white Ummagine, given the precious seconds of time he had left. There was no way he could ponder, and this was the best plan he could come up with on such short notice.

     Not elaborate by any means, the Kyrii threw a rope across to the other roof, and hitched himself down, swinging in the air with tremendous speed as he passed Cienté. Only a few nanoseconds more... Passing by Jamaar, dangerously near the crowd, Stan stretched a trembling paw down to grab the white Ummagine.

     It took only a few seconds for the Skeith to discover that his precious item had been stolen. With a shriek of rage, he stomped around, calling on the Elephante Guards.

     Stan had landed on the ground and braced himself, but received a few scrapes and cuts from the rough landing. He had stolen it, and it had been surprisingly easy...

     His heart beaten and spelled doom, for he had never really believed himself capable, but tried. The coldness that seemed to permeate him suddenly vanished, and nervously he tottered a few steps, before running away.

     His mind was still rather numb, and half filled with joy, excitement... Elated happiness rushed inside him, before the Kyrii remembered the dangers of the streets, and the fact that Guards were approaching. Still, he could not tear his eyes away from the white Ummagine in his hand, and remained staring at it, as if he was bewitched.

     He had done it! Chanced the impossible, that faraway chance at the brink of something to a legend... To be able to achieve something so great, and yet it was so small, lying there in his hand... He couldn't believe it!

     But there were things better to do than to stand there and gloat. Stan ducked into an alleyway just as the Guards arrived at the place, and grinned at the confusion. The Kyrii decided that it was way too risky to put the Ummagine in some pocket, for his, like many others, were often slashed open by those petty thieves.

     Now that he had done it, what was he left to do? Of course. Moral Lesson Number Twenty-Seven. The Kyrii quickly left the city, and once again he found himself on the same path he had taken yesterday, if paths could be distinguished in those dunes of sand.

     His feet moving by themselves, Stan was left with more excruciating time to think. His mind had still not overcome the fact that he had done something so removed from reality, yet he had done it. And the result was there... and it had all been so simple. Just a swing, and a grab...

     So simple, like a usual steal, but yet so much more.

     Once his feet had reached the ground, his mind had been clouded, but his body reacted out of habit, moving and ducking, only a little bit thinking as he doubled back and forth, avoiding the guards. Surely it was luck granted from above!

     Stan smiled at the reminiscence... Apprehensively he touched the Ummagine in the pocket for security, and quickened his pace, excited once again, and recalling every detail in the image in his mind to polish and perfect, for the best steal in his life...

     He hadn't pondered through his options until he discovered with not a little bit of panic that he had arrived at the same place he had been yesterday.

     The door opened slowly, almost as if it had been expecting him. In the doorway stood the Desert Aisha, and her look was one of sadness, but beyond that exterior, he could see a multitude of feelings tangling and wrestling with each other.

     "Back so soon?" she asked wryly, but stepped aside as if to welcome him inside.

     "Couldn't bear to miss you and your beautiful sister for so long, little flower," Stan said with a sweeping, over-dramatic gesture, stepping inside. Quickly he strode towards the room where Nadine was resting, past all those furniture, passing the rooms in a blur.

     Hurriedly the Aisha followed, worrying more than ever. Why was this stranger here? His face had seen troubled enough... Only he didn't do something!

     Suddenly she saw him reach into his pocket, and the Aisha stiffened. But when he took the item out, she gave a strangled gasp of delight. "Impossible!" Nadine's sister exclaimed, wide-eyed.

     Stan had reached for that fruit without thinking, but when he had brought the white Ummagine up, he realized that the Aisha was still in the room. Only now did he have the time to examine this new steal, only to discover that it was the most perfect, symmetrical Ummagine he had ever seen.

     It glowed pearly, milky white, with a promise of peace. The white Ummagine radiated calm, and it was firm and solid in his hand, yet as ephemerally ethereal as a distant, fleeting dream. Holding that precious, fragile dream in his hands, Stan took a good look at the poor little soul in front of him, the soul that had given him food and a shelter, if only for a moment.

     What was he to do? This Ummagine was the most rare thing he had ever held, the best and simplest catch he had ever made... To give it away, to someone who desperately needed it to save a sister close to heart? Or keep it himself?

     His cold and relentless voice, the one that had been nurtured in the shadier alleys in Sakhmet and grown with each steal told him to keep it... But then, then why had he walked over here, if not intending to give it away? To surprise her? To gloat, and tell her that he had accomplished a feat so easily, the very same that she had perhaps spent a lifetime laboring upon...

     "Please," he heard her plead quietly.

     There was a sorrow, but a joy, too, a rekindled flame of hope that burned him with two small syllables like that. Stan took a look, and realized that in front of him stood a different Aisha than the one that had greeted him so gravely and solemnly for just a day ago. This Aisha looked alive, her eyes with a profound dream that had taken hold, a wish about to come true...

     Who was he to ruin her joy, to crush those dreams and shatter them as easily as a glass could shatter, hitting upon the floor? He held the cure in his hands, and he alone decided another's fate...

     "For Nadine's sake," the Aisha said, and once again he saw that selfless spirit inside her, the one that had so effortlessly and lovingly grown Ummagines in hope of getting a white one. The Kyrii cringed. He was not familiar with the feeling, and little had he recognized when he first saw the torrent of feelings sweeping away the facade she had worn.

     Once again Stan looked at the Ummagine, and the whiteness, the purity that told of something far beyond what he could see... And the Aisha, she was like the white Ummagine, pure and honest.

     Not able to stand it anymore, the Kyrii shoved the item into the hopeful Aisha's hands. He had always taken his prizes, taken pride in them, but what was pride against happiness? As the little desert flower ran across the kitchen to enter the room of the sleeping beauty, Stan was once again shocked at his behavior.

     He had broken several rules in the Code... He had given that item, out of attachment, and not asked for one single thing in return. Was this what they meant when they said that emotions made fragile pets? Stan knew for sure that his cold, manipulative manner had been blown away, and through hard work, perhaps he would recover some of what he had lost.

     Then again, perhaps he hadn't had that all the time... Maybe he had just hid himself, and that himself had waited until the right moment to spring upon him...

     A few heavy breaths snapped Stan out of his train of thoughts, and he too rushed over to see what was going on. Not surprisingly enough the Zafara, Nadine, who had been asleep for long, now stood on the floor with all those Ummagines and beamed at her sister.

     Stan felt as an outsider, as he watched the sisters hug each other, a deep bond re-established. He had never felt more forlorn, even when he had been sitting around in the city with those bustling pets, feeling lost, wondering he would do next.

     The Kyrii realized that he simply did not have a place here, and stepped into the shadows. For the whole world, for the titles he held, for the pride he had, being the Thief of Ummagines, it was nothing compared to the heartfelt but simple event that was occurring here.

     Finally the two let go of each other, and after a quiet exchange of words, the Zafara turned around and immediately spotted Stan. He noted that the older sister's eyes were wily and intelligent, and that she was no less dangerous than the lady Cienté with those creepy nails in the marketplace.

     "Thank you," the two sisters said in unison. Then Nadine laughed warmly and said, "Thanks a lot, Stan. Didn't think you really cared."

     Stan twitched, and stared. Of course! To have forgotten that rainy evening... When a clever, beautiful Zafara had snuck up to him to offer him an Ummagine, to chase his hunger away...

     "Stan?" the Aisha said. "Do you know each other, Nadine?"

     "Not really," the Zafara replied, brushing it away. "But you know, you should learn from him... He's the world's best Ummagine thief!" she smiled at her little sister. "And like he showed, sometimes you'll just have to go out of your way to do things."

     "That's him?" the little Aisha said in disbelief.

     "Yup," Nadine said. "I guess you've changed, Ummagine Thief."

     Stan did not reply on that teasing comment, but looked at the little Aisha. "Little flower," he said, with an uncertainty in his voice, "I hope you're happy." The Kyrii was surprised at his own words, but realized that she had given him much happiness and a purpose, and it was only fair that he should inquire about hers.

     "I am," the Aisha said with a smile. "And sis is right... I should learn from you."

     With a pang, the Kyrii once again noted that it was too late to restore himself to that cold, calculating creature he had been, always able to improvise and never sweating, until recently... But in return, he had learned to live, to live more than just stealing, but still, to live to steal.

     Looking at the neatly half-eaten, white Ummagine on the table, Stan realized that perhaps it wasn't so bad. After all, he did have some of the prize left, and besides that, he had gained an insight... into the life he had never been given. And it was all because of Ummagines, his favorite fruit.

The End

 
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» Ummagine: Part One
» Ummagine: Part Two



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