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Proof of Courage


by blackghoulmon

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     I landed on the edge of the drop-off that led down to Giant’s Pit. Normally I come to this terrifying place on my own. That way, I only have to worry about my own life, and success or failure in my tasks rests on my shoulders alone.

      I’m Urasina, the Speckled Uni, and I’m a Huntress.

      But today, I wasn’t alone. Riding on my back was my very good friend Ven, a female yellow Bori who works as a translator at the Royal Museum in Sahkmet.

      I glanced back at Ven. She was staring down into Giant’s Pit with a look of worry on her face.

     “How did I get talked into taking you along on this hunt?” I sighed.

      She flicked her tail, causing the fire on the end of it to waver.

     “Shadow dared me to prove I’m braver than he is,” she also sighed. “Believe me, all the stories you’ve told me about Giant’s Pit are more than enough to make me not want to go down there. But Shadow is Shadow, and he’d never let me live it down if I said no.”

      Shadow is Ven’s older brother, a shadow Shoyru who is a real jerk at times.

     “Well, no sense delaying the inevitable,” I said, taking to the skies again. “Let’s find a giant beast to defeat and take some proof of your bravery, Ven.”

      In Giant’s Pit, a strange substance is trapped between the sand grains. It escapes to the surface as an oddly-scented vapor. This vapor is harmless to humans and Neopets, but if a Petpet breathes it in, it turns into a giant, vicious, mindless monster.

      I hunt these deadly beasts as my career. And I can safely say, without bragging, that I’m the best of the best at my task.

      As Ven and I flew over Giant’s Pit, I began to think about what would be the best giant Petpet to defeat in order to get proof of Ven’s bravery.

     “What would prove to Shadow that you’ve come with me on a hunt?” I asked the Bori on my back.

     “Anything, really,” she replied. “Just so long as it’s recognizable as a part of a Lost Desert Petpet.”

      She sniffed at the air.

     “This vapor is getting on my fur…” she mused. “Will Bite be safe if I touch him before I wash up?”

      Bite is Ven’s Spyder.

     “He’ll be fine,” I reassured my friend. “I hug Pegasus after coming home from a hunt all the time, and he hasn’t been affected yet.”

     Pegasus is my Christmas Alabriss.

      I decided to change the subject.

     “Now, the easiest Petpet to deal with here in Giant’s Pit is the Pyon. Even though they have a poisonous tail pincher, they cannot shoot poison from it. If we stay airborne, a Pyon is nothing more than a big easy target.”

      Ven nodded.

     “If we take its pincher, that should be proof enough for Shadow,” she commented.

      I nodded too.

     “Then, let’s go find one,” I announced, turning my gaze to the sands below.

      Not even two minutes after I said that, I saw something promising on the ground. I quickly swooped down to take a better look.

     “There, Ven,” I said, gesturing with one front hoof. “See? Those are Pyon tracks!”

      We both looked in the direction that the tracks were going.

     “So, now we just chase it down?” Ven asked.

     “That’s all there is to it!” I replied, flying in that direction.

      But after maybe five minutes of flying, the tracks ended with the signs of a fight. There was blood and poison sprayed everywhere, along with the telltale mark of giant wings.

     “Huh,” I mused, examining the marks in the sand.

     “What happened to the Pyon?” Ven asked.

     “Something beat us to the punch,” I answered. “Judging by the marks on the sand, the Pyon got attacked and carried off by a Horus.”

     “These Petpets fight among each other, too?” the Bori asked, perplexed.

     “Sure,” I responded. “Food is very scarce out here, and water can only be gotten from a few oases scattered here and there.”

      I looked closely at the mess on the ground.

     “The Horus went that way,” I said, pointing off in one direction. “They’re extremely tough to fight, since they can fly faster than I can. And I don’t want to risk having you fall off my back as I try to evade it.”

      I turned to face the opposite direction.

     “So we go this way,” I finished, moving forward again.

      Some distance on, Ven’s ears perked up. She had heard something.

     “What do you hear?” I asked, slowing down.

     “Something grumbling up ahead,” she whispered. “Sounds like a Sutekh. What are they like to deal with?”

     “Another easy target,” I whispered back. “All they can do is flail around, scream, and throw rocks. But they have terrible aim. Would Sutekh wrappings be enough to convince Shadow?”

     “I think that would do,” Ven answered.

      I nodded and sped up again, flying towards the sound. Soon enough, we found the Sutekh.

      I drew my bow and made sure the string was tight. But just as I got ready to fire, the Sutekh began to run, screaming in a rather fearful way.

     “What on Neopia?” I asked, watching as it fled. “I don’t think it noticed us…”

     “It wasn’t us it’s running from,” Ven said, sounding panicked. “It was running from THAT!”

      I spun around as a loud buzzing noise filled my ears. A giant Scarabug was heading right for us!

     “Oh, by Fyora,” I groaned. “Well, I guess we can defeat this brute and take either a wing or a piece of its shell as your proof. Hang on tight, Ven!”

      I ascended to meet the incoming Petpet. As soon as I was in range, I drew back my bowstring, summoned a magic poisoned arrow, and fired. The arrow went straight into the beast’s forehead. It shrieked in rage and shook its head violently, trying to dislodge the arrow. But all that did was cause blood to begin to seep out from the strike point.

      I could also see the sickly purple of the poison mixed with the blood. It would soon reach the Scarabug’s eyes, and effectively blind it. But it was raging mad, and came barreling straight at us.

      I quickly flew higher as it charged towards me, causing it to pass harmlessly beneath me. As it passed, I put another poisoned arrow right into its thorax, causing it to shriek again and spin around, trying to see where I was.

     “It’s working, Ven!” I whispered to my friend. “My arrows are beginning to affect it! It should take only a few more shots to bring it down!”

      But Ven wasn’t looking at the Scarabug. She was staring downwards, looking very scared. I looked in that direction, and my heart fell. A giant Anubis was staring up at us, watching the fight with keen interest. My heart fell further as it slowly raised its nose to the sky.

     “Ven!” I hissed. “Whatever you do, and whatever IT does, DO NOT let go of my back!”

      I rocketed upwards, ignoring the Scarabug as it turned to give chase. I had to get away from the Anubis, and FAST. Mere seconds later, it opened its mouth and barked at us. Giant Anubis have a supersonic bark that generates strong shockwaves, strong enough to knock me out of the air. But I was lucky this time; I was just far enough away that the shockwaves, though very unpleasant, were not strong enough.

      Ven had pinned her large Bori ears against her head as the Anubis barked, but she hadn’t let go of my back. I was happy to see that. And I was even happier when I looked down at the Anubis and saw it trotting away, no longer interested in us. So I turned my focus back to the Scarabug.

      The giant flying Petpet was hovering a short distance away, flailing its legs, shaking its head, and making an odd chattering noise. I realized that the Anubis’ bark had partially stunned it!

     “Now’s our chance to end this!” I cheered, flying towards my target.

      I swooped beneath the Scarabug and drew back my bowstring again. Two poisoned arrows appeared on the string, and I put both of them into the weak point where the brute’s abdomen joined its thorax. It bellowed in rage and pain, but its wing beats were faltering, and I could see its legs stiffening as the poison took firm hold of its body.

     “Nice shot,” Ven whispered, awed.

     “It’s almost over,” I whispered back. “Just hang on a little bit longer.”

      I flew up in front of the Scarabug, staying about ten feet from it. It glared at me with pure, unfettered rage. I was used to this kind of look, though; all my targets glared at me that way when they knew they were beaten. I put one final arrow right into its jaw, cracking the chitin plating, and the fight was over. The Scarabug’s wings ceased beating, and it curled into a ball as it plummeted from the sky. Ven and I watched as the giant Petpet slammed into the sand below with a terrifying THUD, throwing up a huge burst of loose sand. I flew slowly in a circle above the fallen brute, waiting to see if it was truly dead. And it was.

     “THAT’S how you do it!” I cheered, diving down to land in front of it.

      Ven was staring at the giant Petpet in sheer shock. She slid off my back when I landed and stood on shaky paws.

     “Terrifying…” she breathed. “I’m going to have nightmares tonight…”

      I nuzzled her comfortingly.

     “Catch your breath,” I said gently, sniffing at the air. “There’s no other giant Petpets around, so we’re safe for now.”

      I jumped up onto the fallen Scarabug.

     “What do you want from it?” I called down to Ven, pulling out my carving dagger. “Do you want part of its shell? Or do you want one of its wings?”

      The Bori was now walking around the big beast, sizing it up with interest.

     “I’ll go with a wing,” she called up to me.

      I nodded and dug my dagger deep into the joint of the nearest wing, then began to saw away at the chitin holding it in place. It only took five seconds for me to slice the wing free of the body, and then I slid off the brute and landed next to Ven, handing her the wing.

     “Look at the size of it!” I said. “It’s more than five times my length!”

     “And the feathers are so pretty,” Ven added, waving the wing around. “Shoy and I could make something out of these.”

      Shoy is Ven’s owner.

     “OK Ven, climb up,” I said, kneeling down. “It’s time to get out of Giant’s Pit.”

      She jumped onto my back, still holding the wing. As soon as she was settled, I took off, flying as fast as I could back towards the edge of the pit.

      As we flew up and over the rise that marked the edge of the dangerous area, we sighed simultaneously. For some reason, that made all my stress and tension melt away, and we both started giggling like little girls as I flew back to my owner’s Neohome.

     “Shadow is never going to believe this,” Ven giggled, looking at the wing she held. “He’s scared of normal-sized Petpets, so even seeing one of the brutes you deal with on a daily basis would make him freak out.”

      I landed in the garden outside my owner’s Neohome.

     “Do you want to get cleaned up before you head home?” I asked Ven as she slid down from my back. “It looks like the rest of the family isn’t here right now; they must have gone off to run errands.”

      “No thanks,” my friend answered. “I’ll clean up once I get home. And I’ll come let you know what Shadow says when I show him this wing!”

     **********

      A few days later, I was reading a book in the main room of the Neohome when the doorbell rang. My owner, an adult human male named BG, went to answer it, and I heard him talking to someone. Then he called for me.

     “Urasina,” he said. “It’s Ven.”

      I dropped my book and scurried into the entrance hall to greet my friend.

     “How did it go?” I asked excitedly.

     “Shadow admitted that I was the braver one,” Ven said with a perky smile. “And once Shoy got done scolding him for making me do something so dangerous, she made these!”

      She held up one front paw. Tied around it was an anklet strung with the feathers of the Scarabug.

     “That’s so pretty, Ven!” I said, admiring it.

     “I’ve got them on all four paws!” she replied, turning in a slow circle so I could see them all. “They’re my trophies of my first, and only, hunt with my friend!”

      I giggled and clapped her on the back.

     “That’s good that you say it’s your only hunt,” I said cheerfully. “I don’t want to put you in danger like that ever again. Shadow saw the light, so that’s good enough for me.”

      We started laughing. BG had disappeared, but now he returned with his camera and my bow belt.

     “Put your belt on, Urasina,” he said, handing it to me. “I want a picture of you two.”

      I quickly put my belt on, then struck a regal pose. Ven stood up on her hind legs and rested one front paw on my shoulder. We both grinned as my owner took his pictures.

     “I’ll send one up to Shoy once these are developed,” he said. “You can rub it in Shadow’s face if he ever gets on your nerves again!”

      We all laughed.

The End.

 
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