Lost Memories: Part One
It was a crisp fall morning in Tyrannia. Pteris chased each other through the air, Chombies grazed in the valley, and the shopkeepers were preparing to open their shops for the day. A golden sun peeked over the horizon, bathing the plateau in a warm, friendly glow. In a field of grass just under the plateau, a herd of Tonu mothers tended their eggs that were gingerly laid in nests formed from earth and stones.
But one mother’s egg was unlike the rest. Myrrta, the mother, had noticed the difference the day the egg had been laid. All the others were round, bright colored eggs, green, red, yellow, or blue. Hers had been a muddy brown color, faded, oblong, and smaller than the rest. Blue veins could be seen running through it, and one of the sides was dented.
“What could be wrong with it?” she had asked her friend, Lilean, distressfully.
“I have no idea. Maybe it was just a bad egg?” Lilean had answered. “You can always try again next year.”
Myrrta laid her head on her paws and sighed. Even though her egg was ugly, she still believed that there was something living inside of it. Her baby. She wasn’t giving up on it until it hatched. Gazing at the brown-mottled egg, she wondered what could be inside. She had heard rumors of mutant pets, coming from strange potions. Could her child somehow be a mutant?
“Eeeek! It’s hatching!” a Tonu from the other side of the field yelled, pulling Myrrta from her thoughts. Sure enough, her egg was hatching.
It rocked violently back and forth, and a pecking sound was heard from inside. A small horn poked out as it chipped pieces of the shell away. The baby pushed its head through, and squeezed the rest of its body through the hole, crushing the eggshell. The yellow hatchling snorted, and shook membrane from its thick mane of fur.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” the mother gushed, blissfully.
As the new mother licked the membrane off, another egg started hatching a few nests away. Soon, all the eggs had begun to hatch. All except Myrrta’s.
Watching all the others help their hatchlings out of the shell, she gazed at her own motionless egg. Her eyes filling with tears, she nudged it, getting no response.
Lilean walked slowly up to the nest, her new son following close behind. “Oh... Myrrta...”
“It’s okay,” she choked, turning away.
“No, its not,” her friend said firmly, then went and sat next to her. “I’m sorry... Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Not unless you can make it hatch...”
Suddenly, the small egg started rocking, not as rapidly as the other eggs, but a small thump was heard from deep inside.
Myrrta jumped up and rushed over to the nest.
“Mine’s hatching!” she squealed, ecstatically. A brown, speckled horn poked out of the thin shell, and it completely collapsed, revealing the new hatchling.
The Tonu was unusually thin, and its ribs could be seen through its brown-green skin. Its blue eyes were dull and cloudy, and its dark grey mane was thin and bristly. Long, razor sharp claws protruded from its paws, and the membrane covering it was pale pink, not the healthy purple of normal young Tonu. Growling, it flicked its long tail and lay down in the nest.
“Did you hear that? It just growled! Tonu don’t growl!” one mother piped up.
“What color is it?”
“I can’t tell; it's sort of blackish, brownish green!”
“Why’s it look so sick?”
“It has sharp claws, not blunt like all the others!”
“What’s wrong with its mane, the fur’s all thin and stiff!”
Ignoring all the questions, Myrrta picked her new son up in her teeth by the scruff of his neck, and carried him over to a patch of trees, away from the other parents. Soon, they were all consumed in their own children, and had forgotten about the unusual Tonu.
Not wanting to lick the strange membrane off, she grabbed a few pawfuls of leaves from a nearby bush and wiped the coating away. Her son growled again and snapped irritably at the leaves.
“What’s wrong with you? Why are you so different?” she whispered.
Always a good friend, Lilean walked over, and asked, “So, how’s he acting?”
“Strangely,” Myrrta replied. “He’s growling and snapping at me. But at least he’s alive.”
“Hmm,” Lilean agreed, nodding. “What are you going to name him?”
Myrrta stared at the angry looking Tonu. “I haven’t though about that. What did you name yours?”
Lilean smiled at her new son, who was playing with a pile of stones. “I named him Rhander.”
“I think I’ll name mine...” she said, pausing to think. “Firreter.”
The newly named Firreter growled in response.
“That’s a good name.” Lilean smiled. “I think he likes it.”
The next day, while all the other Tonu were grazing in the meadow, Myrrta discovered her son was missing.
“Have you seen Firreter around anywhere?” she asked Lilean, as she walked up.
“Not since this morning,” Lilean replied, glancing around. “Why, did you lose him?”
Suddenly, Firreter trotted up, covered in scratches, and matted fur.
“Ahhhhh!” Myrrta screamed. “What happened to him?!”
Firreter licked his claws and ran off toward the treeline.
“Follow him!” Lilean said, chasing after him.
By the trees, Firreter stopped at a Warf. As his mother approached, he held his prize in his jaws, tail wagging proudly.
“What the...” Myrrta uttered, speechless.
“He’s... eating it,” Lilean observed, mortified.
Myrrta looked closer to examine it. “But Tonu can’t eat meat!”
“Apparently he can,” her friend replied.
Snarling, Firreter grabbed the Warf again and ran off to a nearby cave, glancing back to make sure no one was following him.
“I’m worried about him,” Myrrta said sadly as they walked back to the meadow. “I wish I knew why he’s so different.”
Lilean replied, “So do I, Myrrta. So do I.”
During the next few years, it didn’t get any better. Firreter growled and scratched at other Tonu, continued to hunt and eat meat, and avoided contact with everyone by hiding in his cave, or the treeline all day. Sometimes he would go missing for days at a time. And when he learned how to talk, he spoke rarely and still avoided contact with others, including his family.
One day, Myrrta went to go talk with him.
“Firreter?” she called, stepping into the cave.
He didn’t answer, but glanced at her with cloudy, grey eyes.
“Well...” Myrrta asked quietly. “I just came to ask you if you would come to the meadow today for a few hours. Your new brother or sister is ready to hatch, and I’d like you to be there to see them.”
“Are you sure you want me to come?” he asked in his dark voice. He smirked mockingly. “Who knows what could happen.”
Nervously, Myrrta edged toward the entrance. “S-stay away if you're going to be like that.”
Firreter’s upper lip curled back in a vicious snarl. “Get out of here! I thought I told you last time not to visit me again!” Retreating back into a shadowy corner, he curled up next to the wall and hissed, teeth flashing. “Next time you come back, you’ll regret it.”
Myrrta ran out the opening into daylight, past the meadows, farther than she’d ever been before. She didn’t care where she was going; she just had to get away from Firreter.
“Why?” she whispered, stopping at a stream by a patch of trees. “I’m your mother! I’ve raised you since you were a hatchling, fed you, sheltered you, cared for you, and you reject me!”
Her eyes filling with tears, she collapsed in the grass. “Firreter! I love you! What do you have against me? What happened to you in that egg to make you like this?”
Wiping her eyes, she stood weakly, and breathed, “I don’t care what you say to me, I’m not giving up on you yet.”
“Myrrta?” Lilean said, emerging from behind a tree.
“I saw you from down in the meadow. What happened? Are you okay?” Lilean questioned, nervously.
“I... I’m fine,” Myrrta murmured, shakily. “I went to ask Firreter if he would come down from his cave to see the eggs hatch.”
“He got all angry at me and told me that I would regret it if I ever came back...” the disheveled Tonu said, breaking into tears again.
Lilean gave her a sympathetic look. “Why do you keep putting yourself through this? You don’t have to keep going back to him, you know.”
“But he’s my son!” Myrrta wailed. “I can’t just pretend like he’s not here!”
“Why not? He doesn’t want to see anyone, and as far as I know, no one wants to see him.”
“Because he needs a friend,” Myrrta answered. “Someone who really cares for him.”
“You’re getting yourself into a bad situation,” Lilean pleaded. “Firreter’s dangerous! I don’t want you to get hurt!”
“He’s still my baby! If Rhander was like this, wouldn’t you try to save him?”
Lilean looked across the field to her own son. “Yes.”
“Then why shouldn’t I try to help Firreter?”
Sighing, Lilean responded, “I guess you’re right. But take care of yourself. He may be your son, but Firreter’s not a good neopet. Stay safe.”
To be continued...