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Who Says You Need Wings?


by flufflepuff

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      Sun streamed through his window rousing him with barely a touch.

      The young one woke with the age-old ache in his muscles and bones, a sure sign that, on a very tiny scale, they were being torn apart and making themselves new.

      Today was different, somehow. A blooming, ripening sensation in his limbs. A sign that he was ready, perhaps. The Acara stretched and stepped onto the cool tatami mat, his feet sighing with the short-lived ease of pain.

      Uncertainty dared to stretch out a tiny claw against the surface of his brain, but the Acara, trained in the art, brushed it aside and scurried out the door.

      Not far from his humble home in which his mother still slept, mostly unaware of today’s doings, lay sprawled a giant chasm which the younger version of the Acara had seldom dared to look. The child had been warned never to go near the chasm, and of course, he’d disobeyed.

      It was a day far mistier than this one--the land looked almost otherworldly just after the rain, rivaling the mysteriousness and spookiness of the Haunted Woods. Tendrils of condensation stretched across the grass and churned in the valleys below him. The Acara had squinted, leaning over the edge to get a better look, and gasped at the ocean of heavy, steaming air.

      It was then that someone had grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, and that grip was all too familiar. Then the terrified yet stern talk, and the promise never to go leaning over the edge of the cliff, especially after it had rained.

      Then the words he had never forgotten:

      “What, do you think you can fly?”

      Clutching the paw of his lifeline, the Acara had dared one look back. Flying over the valley, cheating death, defying the air’s lack of mercy...that would be something, wouldn’t it?

      Since then, he had trained, unbeknownst to his mother. Daily treks up and down the mountain, scrimping every Neopoint he could find, struggling to find out where the Hidden Tower was--

      His goal of gaining wings seemed farther than the sky itself.

      There had to be another way to fly, he’d thought, as he walked in the valley covered in mist, wondering if this was what being inside a cloud truly felt like.

      There had to be some way, he’d thought, making his way up the rope ladder, groceries from the next village over in one arm. The Acara stared, huffing slightly from the one-armed climb, staring down at the thick woven strings hanging from the base of a tree.

      That was it, he decided. Rope was key!

      Day after day, he’d gone on longer and longer ‘walks’, until treks up and down the mountain were mere skips, and his arms and legs were strong as bricks.

      No one had taught him. No one had told him.

      He was ready anyhow, standing at the cusp of life and death, staring down at the earth’s gaping maw. The familiarity of it since childhood...it certainly didn’t change how small he felt compared to it.

      Whole villages, worlds, unknowns, were bathed in the Shenkuuvian mists.

      And every one of them would kill him at this height. The Acara tentatively kicked a small pebble, watching it drop through the abyss of the mountains, silently counting. 25...26....27...

      About thirty seconds until the pebble probably shattered.

      This was the place to begin. As he had done for several weeks, he sliced a decent length of thick rope and carried it off to a place a little farther than the day before.

      All of the trees in his path had ropes hanging from them.

      Presently the Acara was climbing the Last Tree, securing the lifeline to its fattest bough. There. That ought to do it.

      Making his way back to the First Tree, the Acara made the classic mistake of looking over the edge and marveling at the mists which contained the known and the mysteries alike.

      Uncertainty graced his mind again, tickling its edge. You may fall, it said, careful, it said, there’s no way you’ll get back up if you miss, it said.

      Its icy claw wedged itself deeper and deeper until spots flashed in the Acara’s vision. Soon, it seemed almost as if the mist from the floor rose into a towering shape, engulfing the little blue Acara in its shadow.

      “Do you really think you can fly?” the misty figure taunted, wobbling back and forth like a giant jelly wave, just ready to crash on him at any time. The mist continued to swirl and in the Acara’s breathless vision he could have sworn the figure was smiling cruelly--

      The Acara shut his eyes, the spots, the mist, the thoughts remaining.

      Enough.

      The Acara gritted his teeth, coiled his legs, and leaped at his adversary, belatedly remembering to clutch at the rope in front of him as he flailed in the air.

      His blood froze, his muscles strained in the emptiness, until, at last, his paw latched around something solid, sliding down with a blazing grip. His stomach dropped as the rope spun him and wrenched his shoulder, his one paw white-hot with gravity and the woven fibers combined.

      The Acara was not unused to pain in his training, but this was indescribable, his hand hot enough to toast marshmallows--and indeed, it made him think that holding one’s paw in the center of a fire could not be much different.

      But he did not let go.

      Spinning, sliding down to the dregs of his woven savior, the Acara shut his eyes to the danger around him, gripping the rope even tighter. He just barely felt the tufted fibers at the end of the rope...and there he stopped. Opened his eyes. Breathed.

      The once-ominous mists looked a little friendlier now.

      Clenching his stomach, the Acara climbed the rope as he had done over solid ground, paw over paw.

      His mind racing, he swung the rope and struggled to stay balanced, his eye fully trained on the rope hanging from a tree a short distance away.

      Without giving his thoughts the slightest chance to crawl over him again, the Acara leaped over a village and the ocean of mountain mist, latching onto the second rope this time, whooping at his success.

      Confidence brimmed in his heart as he continued to swing, not stopping until he reached the Last Tree, reaching solid ground at long last.

      Panting and sweating, the Acara finally looked back and down. For the first time, he had actually done it. Was it this difficult for faerie pets, or Pteri and Vandagyres? Most likely not. But they had to learn too, didn’t they?

      Perhaps he was not dissimilar from those born with wings, after all.

      As the Acara stretched his gaze across the long, heart-stopping gaps he’d just traveled, a crooked, exhausted smile etched his face. This first crossing indeed made him the first non-winged flying Acara in Neopian History.

      With that, he sailed across the trench once more, knowing it was but the first of many.

      But who is this Acara acrobat, you ask? He’s a blue Acara, yes, he could be anyone?

      Well, my child, you are exactly right.

      He could be anyone.

      The End.

 
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