Habib wished that they were facing Trouble, the blue Babyca, now. Unfortunately, trouble in this case was three dark faeries.
The faerie Cobrall lay draped across his teenage owner’s shoulders. Her younger brother and his Tralbak stood behind them. Alone, Habib may have panicked. Now, he knew he had to be brave for the others. He reared up and hissed at the faeries.
The middle faerie raised a finger, sending a stream of magic at Habib, sending the Cobrall flying into the surrounding bushes. His entire body tingled painfully and he struggled in vain to move. He heard his owner’s voice raised in anger. He had to-Habib didn’t finish his thought as he faded to black.
Habib awoke to pain. His entire body hurt. It took a moment but he remembered how he came to find himself lying in some bushes. What had happened to the others? He couldn’t hear anything…
The Cobrall slithered out of the bushes to find himself alone in a place he didn’t recognize. Where was Aubrey? What if she were in danger? Habib felt nothing for himself, only for his beloved owner. He slithered in slow circles, at a loss as to what to do.
A piercing cry echoed through the trees.
Habib didn’t hesitate, immediately rising into the air, ignoring his aching body. It was the only thing he had to go on. He had no trouble finding the noise, for it continued on like an incessant alarm. It did take him a moment to find the source of the noise. At last, his sharp eyes picked out the familiar form of Zeenana, Odhrán’s green Tralbak.
Habib knew the first thing he had to do was calm Zeenana down. If he had found her, so could anyone else and they may not be good. The faerie Cobrall landed in front of the green Tralbak.
“Zeenana, it’s me, Habib,” Habib said gently.
Zeenana trembled, her eyes blank with fear. It took her a moment but then a flicker of recognition shone in her eyes.
“Is Odhrán with you?” Zeenana asked, her voice hopeful.
Habib winced mentally. Zeenana had only been with Odhrán for two years. She had always been closer to her owner but it had taken months for her to come around with the rest of the family, especially Habib. Now that they were completely lost, they only had each other to rely on. He hoped that they got through this experience in one piece.
Habib reluctantly shook his head. “No, Odhrán isn’t with me.”
Zeenana began to tremble and wailed once more. “We’re lost! It’s hopeless! We’re going to starve! I’ll never see Odhrán, again!”
“Zeenana, hush! Don’t do that! We will see our family, again.”
“We will? When?”
I don’t know. “Soon.”
Habib hoped that wasn’t too big a lie. At least Zeenana seemed to be calming down. He had been with Aubrey for over a dozen years. He had been bought straight from a Petpet shop when he had been small enough to coil in the palm of Aubrey’s hand. He had never been wild so he wasn’t quite sure where to begin to look for food.
There had to be food somewhere, of course. Habib could hear Petpets singing in the canopy above them. He figured they had to eat something. The faerie Cobrall rose up, scanning their surroundings. There!
“Look, Zeenana! Cackleberries!” Habib called, flicking the tip of his teal blue tail in the direction of the berries.
Zeenana followed Habib reluctantly, keeping her head low. Habib nipped off a few of the berries for them to share. He took a bite and noticed that his companion only nudged at the berries in a disheartened manner. She looked up at Habib.
“I’d really rather have Zeenanas,” Zeenana said.
“Yeah, I know how you feel. I’d love these Cackleberries more in speckle negg stew but this is all there is,” Habib said, taking another bite.
Zeenana sighed, nudged a Cackleberry and finally began to eat. After they finished eating, Habib felt much better. They could do this!
“I’ll just fly up to see where-“ Habib began.
“No! You can’t leave me, too! I don’t want to be all alone!” Zeenana’s green feathers fluffed up in alarm.
“OK, OK, Zeenana. Easy.”
“Father always says that the best thing to do when you’re lost is to stay put.”
By Father, Zeenana was referring to Odhrán and Aubrey’s father.
“Yes, that makes sense if someone knows you’re lost and they’re looking for you. That isn’t the case with us. Zeenana, we’re going to find our own way home. We can do this!” Habib forced confidence in his voice that he didn’t fully feel, for Zeenana’s sake.
If Zeenana didn’t believe then that would make what lay ahead of them all the harder. The green Tralbak looked around, as if hoping to see the familiar face of her young owner. Then, she looked at Habib, her teal eyes brimming with fear.
“What if we never find our way home?” Zeenana asked, with a low mournful whistle.
“We will,” Habib responded firmly.
They spoke no more but Habib began to slither in a random direction, Zeenana trotting beside him. Habib didn’t know how long or how far they traveled but he was ready to take a break.
“Habib, I’m hungry,” Zeenana said.
Habib looked at Zeenana. She looked as tired as he felt. Suddenly, her eyes lit up and she began to move quickly forward. Habib followed her gaze and saw a strange food on the ground that he had never seen before. Suspicious, he followed slowly after his companion and circled the food warily.
“What are these?” Habib asked.
“Arnapples! I used to eat them all the time when I lived on Mystery Island,” Zeenana chirped, eagerly beginning to eat.
“Yeah but we’re not on Mystery Island now. So, what are these doing here? Zeenana, stop eating those. This may be a trap.”
“Don’t be sill-“ Zeenana began before freezing.
Once more, Habib followed the Tralbak’s gaze. He saw hazel eyes staring back at them. A cloud Kacheek stepped out of the bushes that had concealed her and crouched low, one soft hand extended.
“Hello, little ones. My name is Siona. I’m here to-“ the Kacheek began to speak in a low soothing voice.
Zeenana gave a shrill whistle of alarm, turned and ran away as fast as she could. Habib flew after her, catching her up.
“Zeenana! You didn’t have to run away! That Kacheek seemed nice,” Habib said.
“No! She was a stranger! Strangers are scary!” Zeenana shrilled.
“At least slow down.”
Habib hissed in exasperation. Zeenana was still going full-tilt. He looped his tail across her shoulders and slowly applied pressure until the terrified Tralbak came to a halt. She crumpled to the ground, looking utterly defeated. It had been a long day for both of them.
Carefully, Habib curled himself around Zeenana’s still form and hoped that everything would look better in the morning. The Cobrall awoke to delighted cries nearby. He raised his head and unloosed his body from its sleeping curl. As he did so, Zeenana awoke. Curious, Habib headed towards the happy sounds, Zeenana trailing after.
They walked through some bushes and halted at the edge of a meadow. There, some Shoyru girls were playing, others setting up a picnic. As the food was pulled out, Zeenana brightened.
“I’m hungry!” Zeenana shrilled at the top of her voice.
Habib winced and saw all six of the Shoyru girls turn to look towards them. Two of them came zooming over and the only reason Zeenana didn’t run away was because the camouflage Shoyru held food. The other Shoyrus trailed behind. The two girls crouched in front of the two Petpets. Zeenana let out a whistle, eyes on the food.
“Wow! I’ve never seen a Petpet like this one,” the spotted Shoyru said.
“Well, I’ve never seen such a pretty Cobrall,” the camouflage Shoyru said.
Habib hissed softly at being called pretty.
“Are you hungry?”
Zeenana whistled again and the camouflage Shoyru extended a biscuit towards the green Tralbak. She took the treat eagerly.
“We’ve got loads more food to share!” the camouflage Shoyru said, standing up and beckoning to Zeenana and Habib.
Zeenana followed willingly and Habib flew slowly after. The other Shoyru girls watched him fly curiously.
“He looks kinda like a dance ribbon,” one of them, a split Shoyru commented.
Zeenana was already eating some grapes the camouflage Shoyru had offered. Habib delved into the picnic basket and gave a hiss of delight when he found a Cheese Negg. All six Shoyru girls settled on the checkered blanket, enjoying the food and the sun. As children do, they chattered amongst themselves and Habib learned all about them. When they were finished eating, they brought out a Frisbee.
“Come on, Dancer,” Goldie, the oldest sister at thirteen years old and a gold Shoyru, called to Habib (Dancer being the name they had decided to give him).
The faerie Cobrall sighed. If only it were a Yooyuball, he thought to himself. However, these girls had been nothing but kind to them and he did like to play. He looked at Zeenana. The green Tralbak was lying next to Dally, the spotted Shoyru and the youngest sister at six years old, who had opened up a notebook and was scrawling away in it.
Habib took to the air and played a rousing game of Frisbee. He still ached inside, missing Aubrey. He knew he needed to get back to her. He felt sure the Shoyru girls would help but how to tell them that he and Zeenana were lost and not wild Petpets? Distracted, Habib no longer felt like playing.
A voice sounded below. A male voice. He was calling for the Shoyru girls. Bernie, an orange Shoyru, aged twelve, caught the Frisbee and ended the game. With excited cries, the Shoyru girls flew down to meet the young green Shoyru that came out of the forest.
Habib slowly spiraled down after them. He slithered over to Zeenana, who had stood up as Dally snapped her notebook shut and ran to meet the male green Shoyru with the rest of her sisters. The girls crowded the green Shoyru, all talking at once. He seemed adept at untangling their jumble of words because he looked up and studied Habib and Zeenana. Then, he strode towards them.
Habib curved his long body around Zeenana, wondering how she would handle this stranger. She glanced at Habib but didn’t run. The green Shoyru placed his hands on his hips as he looked down at them.
“You two aren’t from around here, are you?” the green Shoyru asked.
Habib felt a rush of hope. Could this Shoyru help them?
“Gyro, they don’t look wild, do they?” Goldie asked.
Gyro, the green Shoyru, shook his head. “No, they don’t.”
“So I was right! I knew they had to belong to someone!” Speck, a nine-year-old Christmas Shoyru, crowed.
Gyro knelt, proffering his hand to Habib. The Cobrall didn’t climb up but stayed beside Zeenana. He didn’t let anyone hold him except Aubrey.
“Faerie Petpets only come from Faerieland. Tralbaks come from Mystery Island. Faerieland is closer. So-“ Gyro was cut off by Bernie.
“We’re going on a field trip!” the orange Shoyru yelled.
“To Faerieland!” Juppie, the eight-year-old camouflage Shoyru exclaimed.
Gyro shook his head in exasperation and rose to his feet. “Yes, we are. I’ll hold…Feather Belle as we fly.”
Feather Belle was the name the girls had given Zeenana. At Gyro’s words, Zeenana backed away but Habib touched her gently with the tip of his tail. This gave his companion pause. He could see the fear in her green eyes.
“Zeenana, Gyro is the girls’ older brother. You’ve heard how highly they speak of him. If anyone can help us get home, it’s him. He’s going to take us to Faerieland!” Habib kept Zeenana’s gaze.
“I want Odhrán,” Zeenana said in a low voice before she allowed Gyro to pick her up.
“My sisters say they call you Dancer because you look like a dance ribbon when you fly,” Gyro said, addressing Habib.
Habib rose effortlessly from the ground. The entire group took off for Faerieland, arriving a few hours later. It felt wonderful to be back in a familiar place.
“I know how to get home from here, Habib!” Zeenana said excitedly.
“So do I but Gyro and hi sisters have been good to us. They got us this far, Zeenana. The least we can do is allow them to see us reunited with Aubrey and Odhrán,” Habib said.
As Gyro and his sisters walked through Faerieland, Habib and Zeenana were on the lookout for either of their owners. The faerie Cobrall was the first to spot a familiar green Ogrin. His heart twisted as he saw how dejected Odhrán looked.
“Zeenana, look!” Habib hissed, using his tail as a pointer.
The green Tralbak followed the direction of his tail and her eyes glowed. “Odhrán!”
Odhrán’s head jerked up as he heard the oh-so-familiar whistle. It took mere moments for him to spot Zeenana. His yellow eyes lit up and he broke into a run, coming to a halt right in front of Gyro. A normally shy child, his reserve was gone, completely focused on his Petpet. At once, Zeenana hopped lightly into her owner’s open embrace.
The pair snuggled close for a moment before Odhrán looked up at their Shoyru audience. “Thank you. Zeenana is very important to me, more than words can express. I am truly grateful that you’ve found her.”
The green Ogrin looked back down at his green Tralbak, humming happily in his arms. Then, something seemed to occur to him for his brow suddenly furrowed and he shifted his gaze back to Gyro.
“How did you know that she was from Faerieland? Zeenana and I know Faerieland and the surrounding area. If she had known where she was, she would have come straight home,” Odhrán said.
“Wait. Her name is Zeenana?” Goldie sounded surprised.
“We’ve been calling her Feather Belle,” Dally added.
“Though Zeenana is a cute name.”
“Her name is Zeenana because that is her favorite food. That’s how the two of us met,” Odhrán explained.
“Aw, then Zeenana really suits her.”
Gyro was used to how easily conversations got off track when all six of his sisters were together. He knew to jump in when he saw his chance.
“My name is Gyro. These are my younger sisters. We live in Brightvale. We found Zeenana with a faerie Cobrall,” Gyro began to explain.
Odhrán’s eyes widened and he finally noticed the Petpet in question. “Habib! Aubrey will be so pleased. She’s my older sister. I need to let her know!”
At once, the Ogrin turned on his heel and began to walk away with his long stride. Habib flew alongside him and the group of Shoyrus rushed to follow. As they did, Gyro continued where he had left off, with plenty of input from his sisters.
“Habib, huh?” Gwinny, the ten-year-old split Shoyru, looked quizzically at Odhrán.
“Habib is a Sakhmetian name, right?” Dally asked, looking at her older brother for reassurance.
The green Shoyru nodded. “That is correct, Dally.”
“Oh, I get it ‘cause Cobralls are common in the Lost Desert,” Goldie put in.
Odhrán nodded. Now that he had been reunited with Zeenana, his natural reserve had returned. Surrounded by all of these strangers, Habib knew that the Ogrin was completely out of his comfort zone. They entered Faerie City. At last, they rounded the last corner for home.
There was Aubrey, bouncing a Yooyuball against a wall of their home. Her usual energy and joy were gone and Habib knew exactly how she felt. He flew through the air, wrapping his muscular body around the Yooyuball and threw it back to his beloved owner. The expression on her face as she caught the Yooyuball could not be described. She let out a delighted cry and ran to meet her Petpet.
Habib felt the rush of joy as he once more looped himself comfortably around Aubrey’s shoulders. The faerie Zafara ran her hands along the muscled rope of her Cobrall’s smooth body, absorbed in having him back. It took a moment to notice their audience.
“Odhrán! Zeenana and Habib are back home! How did this happen?”
Odhrán told the little he knew, accompanied by all the Shoyrus. Habib wished he could tell his part of it all but, alas, the language barrier could not be overcome.
“I knew the moment I saw these two that they were well cared for and much loved. If I may ask, how did you all get separated from one another?” Gyro looked intently form Aubrey to Odhrán and back, again.
“We were attacked by dark faeries!” Aubrey began, eyes wide.
A collective gasp from the Shoyrus and Habib’s owner was off with her tale.
“Habib hissed right at them but one of them hit him with dark magic and sent him flying!”
“Terrified, Zeenana ran off,” Odhrán put in.
“When the dark faeries realized that they weren’t scaring me, they left, wanting to find easier targets.”
“We searched and searched but couldn’t find Zeenana or Habib.”
“I can’t believe they got all the way to Brightvale!”
“I’m just glad they’re safe.”
Gyro smiled as he looked at the reunited family. Then, he looked at his little sisters.
“We’ve accomplished what we came for. It’s time we were on our way home,” Gyro said.
Protests came from all sides.
“We can’t leave!”
“We just got here!”
“We’ve never been to Faerieland before!”
“Odhrán and I can show you around. We know all the best places.” Aubrey’s ice blue eyes shone with excitement. When it looked like Gyro was about to object, she hurried on, “Come on! It’s the least we can do since you returned Habib and Zeenana to us.”
Gyro looked at the eager faces surrounding him and heaved a sigh. “Oh, alright.”
Cheers greeted this statement and Aubrey began her tour at once. Habib looked around him and knew there was no other place he would rather be. Yes, he was finally home.