Friends of All Sizes
I was waiting with bated breath in my usual spot under the counter. A blue Kau was buying a rather large load of lettuce; more than one small portion was bound to fall. When scavenging for scraps in the health food store a mootix like me must be very careful.
"Not too soon, But not too late," I reminded myself.
Scurrying out too soon for the spoils would lead to being discovered by the sharp-eyed Quiggle. One swipe of that sticky tongue, and you'd be gone before you even had time to blink. On the other hand, if you didn't get out there soon enough, the perfectionist shopkeeper would tidy it up before you got even the smallest nibble.
As I predicted, two lovely green bits of the leafy vegetable fell to the floor.
It was my lucky day. When the Kau walked out the door, the Quiggle was distracted by some disorganized red and green apples. Just when the massive amphibian turned his back, I rushed out to claim my prize.
That's when things went terribly wrong. Through an open window flew something I hadn't anticipated. With talons spread wide and red eyes dead on target, a terrifying black crokabek swooped down on dark shining wings. By some miracle none of the talons pierced me, but still gripped me tight enough to cause pain.
I was off. The dark beast was taking me far away from the life I had known. The flight made me woozy and being in the birds iron grip made it hard to breath.
"So this is the end?" I thought, as I dropped out of consciousness.
When I awoke the beast was landing in the place that most fear: The Haunted Woods.
"Am I to die here?" I thought with growing despair. "I had wished that I might at least die in a peaceful place."
The crokabek landed in a withered tree, making sure it would make no objection. I closed my eyes tight and prepared for the blow of a sharp curved beak.
A blow did come, but not the kind I had expected. Something had knocked the bird out of the tree and me along with it! The bird's grip loosened for a minute, and that was all I needed for an escape. I wriggled my way free, and although the fall was rough, I managed to kick off from the bird so that I could avoid landing on rock hard ground and instead into a pile of slightly less uncomfortable leaves.
Slowly I peeked through a gap in in the pile. It seemed that a cruel looking mutant Gelert intended upon poking fun at the now angry and grounded bird. Normally, I would have felt sorry for the thing, but it's hard to feel pity for something that almost had it in for you. Besides, it wasn't in very bad shape and would soon be off.
Just in case it decided to look for me, I decided it best to move on.
"Move on... Move on to where?" I wondered to myself.
I was in possibly the worst place I could be, so, without much of an idea about where I was going, I began my gloomy journey, with new danger at every turn.
In the Haunted Woods you must always be on your guard. The most innocent flower could have the most deadly venom stored inside fangs hidden from sight. Almost everything seeks to deceive you.
I dashed from one place to another, always taking care to stay out of sight, though it seemed I was always being watched.
After a while, I risked a short rest under a large dead leaf. It was then that I heard a sound that almost made me jump out of my skin.
The voice was deep and strangely hollow, and although it frightened me, I noticed something odd about it. It was like the frustrated cry off a trapped animal. It was a menacing, angry cry, but, it was also a reluctant cry for help. I knew the danger, and I knew it could well be a trap, but something inside of me told me to follow it.
Taking great care to stay hidden, I crept along through the underbrush and followed the strange cries. I found my way to a small clearing, when I found what was calling for help; a small gasp escaped my lips.
It was a shadow wraith, but no ordinary one, this one was smaller and a little less frightening. I guessed that it was one that had been captured at some point. It had been caught in an old net, and rolled about on the ground, only to become even more tightly entangled in it.
At the sound of my gasp, the wraith frantically looked about in all directions. When his white eyes settled on my hiding place, I noticed what a sad expression he wore. He may have looked scary, but I could tell he meant me no harm. Slowly, I approached. The wraith remained quite still.
"I'll get you out of the mess you're in," I said, "if, in return, you help me out of these woods."
The creature nodded slightly. The rope wound about his muzzle and horns, making it difficult to move his head much.
Skillfully, I chewed through the rope with sharp little teeth and soon he was free. He shook his short deep purple coat thoroughly and the looked down at me with a rather discomforting toothy smile.
"Thanks for that my friend!" he said in his strange echoing voice. "Thought I'd be stuck like that till the beasties found me."
Friend. He had called me friend. I decided right there that I liked the creature.
"Do you have a name or what?" he asked bluntly.
"My name is Lium."
"Mine's Wilfre, nice to meet you."
"So, can you help me out of here?"
"You sure you want to go?"
The question sounded ridiculous! Who wouldn't want to get out of here? Noticing my confusion and discomfort, Wilfre continued hurriedly.
"Now, I know what you're thinking, but, I have an owner, see? More of a friend really, that's probably worried about me, and, I know he'd not mind your company, so... If you'd like... You could maybe... become a member of our little group?"
After he finished, he looked nervously down at his feet.
I had never been a part of anything before; I asked him a lot of questions and gave it some thought.
"I've never had any friends before," I said. "I think I'd like it."
My new friend smiled wide and bent low to the ground.
"Hop on," said Wilfre.
Riding a being much larger than you for the first time is certainly a memorable experience. It wasn't unpleasant, only a little concerning. I had to hang on tight to avoid falling, but there's nothing quite like the wind in your face as you raced along at an incredible speed.
Wilfre stopped at an old hut made out of rubble on the outskirts of a place called Neovia.
"This is it," said Wilfre.
I was about to reply when someone came out from the dilapidated structure.
He was tall and thin, with black trousers and a handsome, dark purple jacket. His entire body was covered in slick red fish scales except for his face, which was pale. Although he had arms and legs, he also had a fish like tail and fin curving from the top of his red haired head down to his back. He had orange eyes, and two visible fangs. He was impressive looking, but, not of evil intent.
He ran over to us with a concerned look on his face. He sank to his knees, and looked Wilfre over. It wasn't long before he noticed me.
"Looks like you've made a friend, Wilfre."
The stranger (who I concluded must be a Halloween Koi) put a webbed hand towards me. I hopped on, and he observed me in closer detail.
"Cute little bug," he concluded after a while.
After he had set me down beside Wilfre, he introduced himself as Nebula_Vulpa, a name consisting of two Latin words: Mist and Fox. An odd name, granted, but I liked it. I liked the both of them, and in the years to come, we would take part in many great adventures, and our bonds of friendship would grow very strong.