Petpet Adventures: Runaway - Part Three
Folfeux froze, tensing her muscles in preparation to run, but the Ruki had not noticed either her or Archilles. The reason for that was that Jalla had immediately run over to his pet, distracting him from seeing either of them. She glanced over at Archilles, who jerked his head towards the chest of drawers.
Folfeux nodded and as quietly as she could, crept under the chest. It was a tight fit, and she could feel the wood above her pressing down onto her back. She couldn’t see Archilles from this position, but she could see the Ruki’s legs and arms playing with Jalla. She saw them stop and held her breath. Then she heard a loud yell, and knew that Archilles had been spotted.
“Folfeux, stay here.” His voice drifted down to her, a bit muffled because her ears were squashed flat against her head.
She saw the Ruki’s leg come towards the chest of drawers at a surprising speed and the sound of Archilles scrambling away, probably towards the window. Jalla gave a little cry of distress and hurried forwards. But he had hardly taken more than half a dozen steps when the Ruki was back.
“That will teach that stupid Sandan not to come around again,” the Ruki muttered and Folfeux heard him.
So Archilles had been here before, and had been seen. Jalla could obviously not understand his pet; he was standing forlornly by his pet. Folfeux stayed still and quiet, hoping for the Ruki to go away so that Archilles could come back.
After a few minutes the Ruki left the room and Jalla, with a furtive look at the doorway, hurried over to her.
“Are you okay?” he asked her.
“I’m fine,” Folfeux answered, wriggling out from under the chest.
To her annoyance, a thick layer of dust had decided to cover her fur and she began brushing off.
“I’m sorry about my pet. I don’t know why he doesn’t like any petpet other than me,” Jalla told her apologetically.
“Or maybe he just has a grudge against Sandans,” came Archilles’ voice from outside the window. “Is he gone?” His head popped around the edge and peered inside.
“Well, I’d hardly be out here grooming myself if he wasn't,” Folfeux pointed out.
Archilles sighed in relief. “Good.” He climbed back inside. “But I think we should stay out of sight, just in case.”
“Good suggestion,” said the Tomamu approvingly. “Make yourselves comfortable under the coffee table.”
Folfeux padded towards it and settled down under it. Her paw didn’t hurt at all any more. But the vial was a problem. It wasn’t heavy, but it was slippery and hard to grip even in her teeth. Jalla spotted her trying to hold it.
“Here,” he said.
He pulled out a bandage from behind one wing, and used it to fasten the vial to her side. It was uncomfortable, but it held the vial well. Folfeux nodded her thanks. Archilles plonked himself beside her and looked up hopefully at Jalla.
“So any chance of that snack you offered before?” he asked.
Folfeux scoffed and he looked affronted. “What?” he objected.
She shook her head as Jalla walked out of the room in search of food. She focused her attention back to the picture on the wall. The Sandan caught her glance.
“Yes, it is rather nice, isn’t it?” he commented.
“Have you ever been there?” Folfeux asked eagerly.
Archilles nodded. “Yes, I’ve seen it. It’s actually quite big in real life.”
“Could you take me inside sometime?” she asked.
Archilles looked shocked. “Inside. Good Fyora, no. That place is guarded better than... well, I can’t actually think of anywhere better guarded... and that’s exactly my point! It would be near impossible to get in there.”
“Even for a petpet?”
The Sandan thought. “Well...” he began slowly, “I have a good friend down by the port that might know. He knows all the strays in Shenkuu. He might have something, a building plan, perhaps.” He stopped. “I thought we were going to do something about your pet,” he said
“We are,” she assured him. “But after that...”
He sighed. “Fine. But after we’ve talked with Asmaral.”
Jalla returned with a packet of biscuits in his beak. He placed it on the ground and opened it with one swift peck.
“I’d offer you a drink, but my pet is in the kitchen,” he explained.
“No, it’s fine, thank you,” said Folfeux, taking a biscuit in her good paw.
It was much nicer than what her pet usually fed her and between the three of them, the packet was eaten in less than half an hour. She sat contentedly as Archilles and Jalla exchanged pleasant chat about what the Sandan had been doing since they had last seen each other. She was surprised at how many pets Archilles had assisted in just a few weeks. He was telling his friend about Folfeux when she suddenly realised that it was way past dusk.
“Um... Archilles. I think we should be going now,” she said.
The Sandan jolted and glanced out the window. “Yes,” he agreed, and stood up.
Jalla accompanied them to the window, where he and Archilles said elaborate farewells. Folfeux felt a little left out, when Jalla turned to her.
“It was nice to meet you,” he said graciously. “You can visit anytime. If I remember you,” he added as an afterthought.
“Goodbye,” Folfeux responded.
She leapt lightly down onto the grass and headed towards the hedge with Archilles behind her. Once they were through she left him to lead the way. Very soon they had left Jalla’s house behind and she found herself in front of the house she had loathed for two years. Now she was rid of it. There was no sign of Malei, or her pet: The lights were switched off.
“That’s strange,” she commented out loud. “He’s usually in that room at this time of the day. She pointed towards a window on the second level.
Archilles frowned beside her, peering into Asmaral’s garden. After a few moments he scooped something up with one paw and showed it to Folfeux. It was a black rock, but scratched on the surface was a message.
Sorry. I have to go to another petpet contest. Be back in a few days. Asmaral.
“That’s just great,” sighed Folfeux. “Two households abandoned in less than twelve hours.”
“How do you know your house is abandoned?” Archilles asked her.
“My former house,” she corrected. “Anyway, it’s not that late, and he should at least be awake. But I am not going in there to check.”
Now it was Archilles’ turn to sigh. He turned to the fence and began climbing. “Just to be sure,” he called down to her.
She watched as he topped the fence and carefully lowered himself down into the garden. Then he hurried over to the door and began banging on it.
“What are you doing?” Folfeux shouted.
“Just checking that they definitely aren’t here,” he called back. “I’m pretty sure that if Malei was still here, he would come rushing out here to check on the intruder,” he explained.
After a few minutes he returned and scrambled over the fence.
“I don’t think there’s anyone home,” he confirmed. “And Asmaral isn’t here either.” He groaned loudly. “Why didn’t she tell us this morning?”
“Maybe she forgot in the rush of excitement,” Folfeux said. “But that doesn’t matter. We need to find out where they’ve gone. Or we could go visit your friend and go to the castle instead. Asmaral isn’t coming back for a while.”
Archilles’ face crinkled as he thought, then he started. “My friend. That’s it,” he exclaimed loudly.
“What’s what?” Folfeux asked, confused.
“If anyone knows where your pet is...” He cast a glance at her. “Um... former pet is, it will be him. He has a lot of authority at the port.”
Folfeux’s eyes glistened. “That’s great,” she said. “If he doesn’t know where Malei is, he can help us get into the palace.”
Her companion looked sceptical, then he sighed. “I guess there is no way to change your mind,” he said, shaking his head. “To the port. But first we have to find somewhere to stay the night. I know someone who—”
Folfeux cut him off firmly. “No. We’ll stay here for the night. It’s a good a place as any. And now we know that we aren’t going to be disturbed.”
“I thought you were never going to climb that fence again.” Archilles grinned.
“You thought right,” Folfeux replied tartly. “But I’m sure Asmaral wouldn’t mind us staying in her backyard for one night.”
She launched herself over the metre high fence into the Kazeriu’s garden and settled down underneath a large bush. After a moment the Sandan joined her. He looked uncomfortable.
“Relax,” Folfeux soothed. “Asmaral wouldn’t mind, I know.”
“It’s not that,” he replied. “I’ve just got a huge rock sticking into me.”
“Oh.” Folfeux moved over and smiled and, laying her head down on her tail, fell promptly asleep.
To be continued...