In Chronological Order?: Part Two
"Phoenix, how much longer," I asked.
"Not long," the fire Eyrie called over his shoulder.
Phoenix didn't slow his pace and the jungle continued to press in around us. Finally, I knew I would collapse if I went any further.
"We have to stop! I can't go on," I cried.
Phoenix growled, pacing forward for a few more steps. With one swipe of a massive paw, he pushed away growth and revealed the bustling Trading Post.
"You want to rest, you can rest now. I'll just take my fee and leave," Phoenix growled.
"Fee? What fee? Roger didn't mention a fee," I exclaimed.
I tried to walk past but that lead weight paw slammed down on my shoulder. Phoenix took all of my Neopoints and flew away. I was now back where I had started, except now I had no NP. I was hungry, thirsty, exhausted and lonely. I looked at the many goods up for trade.
There was no way I could last for the next two weeks with zero sustenance. I had no other choice but to steal. I integrated myself in the crowds, looking for something quick and easy to pilfer. I had to wander for quite a bit before I found a small booth that looked promising. With only trail mix, apple juice and a Fire Blumaroo Plushie on display, it didn't attract a lot of attention.
That was the first reason. The second was that it was next to two very busy trades and the crowds were loud and spread out. A brown Moehog would hardly be noticed. I made my way close to the goods, doing my best to look casual. The blue Kyrii gave me a shrewd look.
I turned my back, feigning interest in the busyness around me. I leaned nonchalantly on the table, looking at ease. It took a few moments but finally the Kyrii looked away. Now was my chance! I scooped the goods in my arms and took off running, back into the dense jungle.
I heard a startled shout but the jungle soon swallowed all civilized sound. I stopped running only after I felt my already tired body give. I dropped the nabbed items, debating whether to take a nap or eat and drink first. Suddenly, a familiar figure appeared out of the gloom. Night came early in the jungle.
I studied the fire Eyrie as he pawed at my booty. "Trail mix, apple juice and a plushie? That's all you could steal?"
Phoenix snorted disdainfully. I grabbed at my items, hoping he wouldn't steal them from me.
"Get some rest. In the morning I'll take you to Roger. He wants to have another chat with you," Phoenix explained his presence.
I felt a thrill run through me. Phoenix flew into a tree, settling on a thick branch. He was asleep almost instantly. I frowned at the ground, soft with leaf litter but I wasn't convinced it would be comfortable. You'd be surprised at how quickly one can get used to falling asleep anywhere because that is exactly what I did.
A rough nudge awakened me the next morning. "Get up! Roger is expecting us!"
I yawned and winced as my aching body complained. I held tightly to my Fire Blumaroo Plushie, whom I called Aggie. Phoenix was already disappearing from view and I forced myself to keep up. I tore into the trail mix bag and was dismayed to find half of it gone.
"Who ate my trail mix? It must have been some Petpet," I said.
"No, it was me. We always share what we have, looking out for weaker members of the group," Phoenix explained.
Phoenix grunted and we continued on in silence. Joining the Eyrie seemed ideal to me. They gave what I longed for: acceptance. To my great surprise-achy though my body was--I could go longer without tiring than I had the day before. This time around, the trip didn't seem as long; I even got used to the silence between Phoenix and myself.
This time, when the shack came into view, no other Eyrie were in sight. I gave Phoenix a questioning look.
"Roger is inside," Phoenix told me.
I entered the shack as Phoenix disappeared into the jungle. Roger was standing this time, looking at me intently.
"Phoenix tells me that you stole something from the Trading Post. Was that your first theft," Roger questioned.
"Yes, it was," I said.
"How do you feel about breaking the law?"
"My NP was stolen from me. With nothing else, I needed to do it. Otherwise, I'm not going to last for the next few days, let alone the next two weeks. Roger, I-"
"You're on trial. From now on, you address me as Boss. Understand?"
Boss walked past me and I followed. He led me deeper into the jungle. It didn't take long for my red Eyrie leader to stop. Bicker stood to greet him.
"They just finished," the Tyrannian's voice rumbled, like falling rocks.
Five other Eyrie stood back to reveal a large steamer trunk. Using a claw, Boss opened the trunk, the lid snapping upward. The others had stepped back, keeping a respectful distance. Boss removed something from the trunk and turned around. In his paws he held Beautiful Glowing Wings.
"These are for you. You'll need them, to keep up with us," Boss said.
I gasped in shock. The wings deserved their name. They were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Extending them to me, I reached out and took them.
"Thank you! I'll take care of them. The only problem is I don't know how to fly," I said.
"No issues there. Manny, Scorch and Brownie will give you lessons, after they've put the chest back," Boss said, flicking his tail to a skunk, spotted and brown Eyrie in turn.
The three didn't look excited at either prospect but they did as they were told. At least they weren't hostile. Boss and the others left. I waited patiently for my teachers to finish. With three of them, it didn't take long.
Scorch approached first. Almost at once, I noticed that these three Eyrie were scrawny and unkempt, much different from their sleek furred, muscular, higher ranked group members. After all of their hard work, their paws were muddy. To say the least, they did not have my vote of confidence.
"Lets get those wings of yours on, then," Scorch growled.
I suspected he was supposed to sound intimidating but he failed. He didn't sound five years older than me. I studied the wings closely, at a loss. The Eyrie crowded around me, puzzled as I was. After a long moment, I drew one finger down the middle of the wings.
At once the wings came apart and floated up, aligning with my spine. I could feel invisible straps fit securely on my torso. Manny and Brownie had backed up at this sudden development. Scorch and I were frozen in place, awestruck.
"Cool," Scorch breathed, his eyes shining.
"Do they work?" Brownie asked.
Scorch and I exchanged a look. Good question! I thought for a moment and I felt the wings flutter. I figured out that they worked when you told them what to do using your mind.
"Now what do I do?" I asked, looking at my young Eyrie teachers.
They spread their wings and I followed suit. At least their wings are in good shape, I thought to myself. Manny and Brownie flapped their wings and took flight. They make it look easy, I thought with a twinge of envy.
"Go on, do what they did. I'll be there if something happens," Scorch urged.
I took a deep breath and flapped my wings. I was amazed when I actually rose in the air. Then, I panicked.
"Now what," I asked, my emotion clear on my face and in my voice.
"Relax, I'm here. Keep flapping. We need to get above the trees. Flying amongst them takes skill, which you don't have," Scorch said.
I kept flapping and Manny and Brownie were on either side of me. Scorch hovered below me.
"Good flying today. No wind," Manny said.
"Go ahead, take the lead. Brownie, you stay at Aamina's side," Scorch ordered.
We fell into formation and I practiced flying forward, up, down and side to side. Thankfully, I was a quick study and learned this new skill without too much trouble. AS it began to get dark, the Eyrie suddenly dived back into the trees. I followed them, as I had been doing all day. Unfortunately, one of my wings caught on a branch and I plummeted to the ground, landing on something soft, furry and blue.
In a flurry of feathers and an ear splitting screech I was flung off of the Eyrie that I had landed on. I lay dazed as the infuriated Eyrie towered over me. He looked down at me with hate. I watched, helpless as he raised a paw and-Another commanding shriek sounded.
My nemesis paused and looked. I couldn't see a thing but I knew who it was.
"Get away from her now, Sky," Boss snarled.
Sky hunched his shoulders and stalked away. I got to my feet, pleased that I was unscathed. Boss was looking at me.
"I was told you did well," was all the red Eyrie said to me before turning away.
My new group mates seemed to be settling in for the night. They all perched in trees. Exhausted, I lay on the ground, falling asleep instantly. It took a week of constant flying to master flying in the jungle. Manny, Scorch, Brownie and I became friends; Sky despised me.
The others ignored me but I felt constantly watched. It was the first day of my second week when Boss spoke to me once more.
"You've progressed enough that I can now take you along when we travel," Boss said.
Thus began my life of bad behavior. We would steal, bully and destroy. Then, it was time for me to leave. I stood on the dock, looking at the ship I was supposed to board. Boss had given me things I longed for.
Frankie didn't love me. Why return to that life? I turned my back on the harbor and flew back to the group. In the evenings I would stargaze or listen to the waves crashing on shore. I would hold Aggie and talk to the plushie as if it were alive.
I was one of these times that Boss came to join me. He sat beside me and I wondered what he wanted.
"Citrus told me I would find you here. Why," Boss asked.
"To think, unwind. Even in the group, I get lonely," I confessed.
"A Petpet could do wonders, or…"
I didn't get an answer as Boss left me. I didn't get an answer until the next day. It seemed that Boss had something else to show me. He had five Eyrie dig out the trunk. Once more he rummaged through it and procured a Fire Blumaroo Morphing Potion.
"You can earn this or a Petpet, Aamina, not both. Make your choice and stick to it," Boss said.
"I'd like the potion," I said.
"Very well. It shall be waiting for you."
It took a month more before I was able to earn the potion but before I could get it, Frankie showed up! Turns out she had been looking for me and finally found me. I was in the Trading Post when she caught me. She grabbed my am and began to drag me to the harbor, blathering about how worried she had been and how much I had been missed. I was bewildered and not sure whether to believe her.
Then, Citrus and Roddy showed up. They carried us to the shack, where Boss was waiting. He stood stone still; he seemed to be sizing Frankie up. He made her talk, telling her story.
"Aamina, do you want to go back?" Boss asked me.
"You… you don't love me, Frankie. Boss gives me what I want," I said.
Frankie looked puzzled. Did she really have no idea what I was talking about?
Frankie shook her head. "I don't understand. I never knew you felt that way… If you want to be zapped that badly… then you can be zapped."
"Really," I asked.
I waited for Frankie's affirmative nod before smiling. I looked at Boss.
"I'll need the wings back. Have a good life, Aamina," Roger growled, but there seemed to be a reserved look in his eyes, as if he was holding something back.
I removed the wings and handed them over. Then, I went home. Being zapped felt quite odd. I changed color, species and gender more times than I could count. It was disorienting at first but, eventually, I got used to it.
Then, one day, I got zapped into a fire Blumaroo. Buddy had predicted my outcome and he was right. The next day I was traded for the first time. I felt ultimately betrayed. I never stayed in one place for more than six months.
At first, I tried to make friends but it was useless. None of it lasted."
"Then, you came here," Lofty guessed.
I looked up into the baby Yurble's large blue eyes and smiled. He had guessed right.
"I want to be a part of this family, if you'll have me," I said.
"Of course," they all chorused.
Things were starting to look up.
One Year Later
"Momma, X has Aamina pinned, again," Lofty cried out.
I looked out of the front window and saw my spotted Gelert pinning my fire Blumaroo to the grass. I knew X wouldn't hurt Mina but if looks could kill, my poor Gelert would be dead. I could just imagine what he was telling her.
"Say it! Say it or I won't let you up," X growled, though his eyes shone with a good light.
"Never," Mina growled back.
They stayed that way for a long time. X was a very patient Gelert.
"X, Faerieland's a… good team," Mina finally managed to spit out.
"Why, thank you. I'm sure Roo Island will reach their level eventually," X said, looking quite pleased with himself.
"I'm sure, too."
Off they headed to Altador. The Yooyuball season had begun!