Wish Carriers

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Liffon Foxglove, the youngest in the Foxglove line, travels to Greenbrook to become a Wish Carrier. Upon arriving, he finds his father, the famous Fens Foxglove, has gone missing on a very important mission. Where has he gone? It's up to the young hummingbird and his new friend Lissa Gentian to find out what's going on. What they find may even be a threat to the Carriers, let alone Greenbrook and perhaps all of Herald itself.

Please feel free to comment. I have divided the chapters up according to basic word count, so they are rather long. When I totally finish everything, it will probably look a bit nicer.

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21. A Found Connection

         The day dwindled away from story to story, but no bird complained as they listened to each one. The night came and every bird settled down, each snuggling close to one another to keep warm. The lights went out and slowly Liffon drifted off to sleep, content that his father was now near him.
         The next morning was a sad one, but a happy one at the same time. River and Lenore gave them seeds and fruits to fill them up before they left. They didn’t have much carrying space, so they put whatever they could into Fens’ bag. Liffon grumbled about his own bag being ruined and his father promised to make him a new one.
          “Well, I know that where you’re going is northwest of here, but I would take a look at a map before you go just to be sure,” Lenore explained.
          “What’s a map?” Liffon asked.
         They all shot him a surprised look.
          “It’s not like you to admit you don’t know something,” Lissa grinned.
          “Well,” he mumbled, looking down. “I want to get home!” He frowned, embarassed.
          “Is that a big piece of paper with a picture of the land?” Artemis asked. Liffon was grateful for the focus to be off him.
          “That’s right,” River nodded. Sometimes they’re on signs too. To find out where you need to go, I think you’re best off at a tourist information center.”
          “Those are only on highways,” Lenore cut in, with a worried frown. “I wouldn’t go. Those loud cars and trucks are really fast there.” She fluffed up at the thought. “I may not have traveled much, but I know how to listen to what’s going on from the people that visit.”
          “I think I can pick up our destination,” Artemis nodded. “I have a pretty good idea of where we’re going.”
          “And don’t forget, I got an A+ in geography back in lessons,” Fens pointed out. “I may not know everything about the land around here, but with both of us, we should be ok.”
          “Then what are we waiting for?” Kiffy said, stomping eagerly. “I’m ready to get home!”
          “Just follow your instincts,” Liffon suggested. “Our wings know where we’re going before we do.”
         There were a few long goodbyes. Juice raced over just in time to throw in his own version.
          “You are leaving. That is not good. That means that you will not see me anymore. I am Juice. I will not see you anymore. This is very bad. You must come back. Yes. Come back and see me. I will see you when you come back. That is required.”
         Fens opened his mouth to reply, the thought better of it.
          “Yes. Juice is your name. I will call you Juice. This is sad that we are going. But, we will be back someday. Someday we will not be going so that you will see us again. We are going now. You will be here when we come back.”
         Every eye fell on Cirrus who had just performed this monotone monologue. Juice was even surprised. The smaller bird turned and started at the audience.
          “What? I think he’s pretty cool,” he frowned.
         Artemis snorted, breaking the silence, which promptly melted into laughter.

         Carl and Christi arrived at the National Aviary just as the church clock across the street struck twelve. The entrance was pretty open - white tiles on the floor and a big window in the front. A few potted plants were scattered around and people filed in for the lunch.
         The line for the tickets was a bit long, but Christi insisted they go in. Carl hadn’t wanted to pay, but he figured here would be a good a place as any to find some birds.
         The group ahead gathered for a guided tour, but Carl just grabbed a self-guided tour pamphlet and headed into the exhibit halls. Christi had to jog to keep up, having been distracted by the gift shop trinkets.
         Christi was much like the ten-year-old kids that were in the tour group ahead of them. She raced around to each display case, pointing at the birds inside. At first Carl was embarrassed and annoyed at his companion, but after a while he began to relax.
         There were tons of different kinds of birds at the aviary. They passed open air cages where the creatures flew around, landing on people and leaving presents on some shoes and toupees. There were closed cages where they could only see one side, almost like a display window at Swarovski’s. Most of these contained very rare or behavioral birds.
         The afternoon went rather fast. Carl, even though he hadn’t found what he was looking for, still felt better and was happy for the distraction. He hadn’t realized how pretty some of these birds were. There was plenty to see, and Christi was not inclined to go anywhere fast.
         They had a quick bite at Atria's Kookaburra Kitchen, glad they had gotten in before the storm broke. Outside it was now grey and black, rain pattering down across the pavement. Thunder rumbled as if daring them to come outside.
          “No thanks,” Christi said, taking a big bite of her turkey and alfalfa wrap.
          “What?” Carl asked, raising an eyebrow mid-bite of his own sandwich.
          “Oh, sorry,” Christi replied. “I was talking to the weather.”
         Carl wasn't sure what to say, so he just shook his head and concentrated on his roast beef and Swiss. It was pretty good, but it could have been better for $7. He complained to the cashier, who tried to explain that this was simply the prices, but he wouldn’t have it.
          “Seven dollars for a measly thing like this?” he had demanded. The manager came over and explained again, but Carl was not to be silenced. In the end, the manager offered free juices to the pair of them, and Carl finally agreed. Christi was too excited to eat to care whether her companion was embarrassing himself. At least he got a free juice out of the deal.
         Carl glanced toward Christi’s tray. She had left the edges of the tortilla on her plate. It looked like a scrunched up snake skin with bite marks in it.
          “What did you do that for?” Carl asked.
         Christi glanced around suspiciously. “Never eat the crust. They implant nanobots in it so they can track you.”
          “They plant nanobots in the crust?” he said. His tone was more of a statement than a question.
          “Yeah, you didn’t know? That’s how the CIA knows where everyone is all the time.”
          “Okay, miss secret agent,” Carl frowned, finishing his food. “Clean up the table and you can have the rest of my juice.”
          “What kind is it?”
          “Apple.”
          “Deal.”

         The duct was not an optimal exit, so the group headed through the feeding entrance. It was quite a bit wider, so they easily fit through. Making their way around a few hallways, they eventually made it to an exit. Liffon thanked his lucky stars the area under the door was large enough to walk under. Pushing the heavy door was not in his preferred itinerary today.
         After a bit of sidling under the narrow door, the group found themselves in a dimly lit hallway full of lit windows. Each window appeared to be some environment. Upon closer inspection, they were the display cages that Liffon and his friends had spent the last few days in. Avoiding the heads of the people below, the group fluttered about, trying to avoid sight.
         After the hallway ended, a more pleasantly lit atrium came into view. It was open, with large windows on either side of the area. It would have been a bit brighter had the weather outside been as pleasant as the inside. Liffon eyed the windows. Hoping it let up soon. There was no way they could fly in that.
          “We might be better off finding a place to rest,” Lissa suggested as they flew.
          “We’ve been resting for long enough,” Cirrus protested.
         The discussion may have continued if Fens hadn’t made a sound that sounded so un-bird-like he could have been choking on air for all they knew. He raced to a large potted tree and hid himself amid the leaves.
         The six younger birds were more confused than frightened, but Liffon felt his father’s uneasiness and it was worth paying attention to. Not much scared the General of the Carriers.
         As they gathered around him in the tree, they found he was staring at one of the humans across the atrium.
          “Who is that?” Kiffy hissed.
         At first Fens couldn’t reply. It was as if this human had caused him some traumatic horror. Liffon recalled his father’s story, and it suddenly came to him.
          “That’s Carl,” he stated.
         The other five all but shouted a loud simultaneous “Carl?” Cirrus growled and nearly shot across the room to attack the human. If it hadn’t been for Kiffy, he would have so. 
          “There’s no use trying to fight a full sized human alone!” Kiffy insisted. Cirrus grudgingly listened and fluffed himself up in anger. Larx did the same, but she seemed to increase twice her original size. Artemis had to calm her down again before her feathers began to pop out.
          “We should be safe unless he decides to come over here,” Lissa said with a frown.
          “I hope he does come over here,” Cirrus growled. “I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”
          “Shush!” Fens hissed. “He can still understand us.”
         Carl turned slowly, as if the sound of Cirrus’ voice really had attracted his attention. His expression was a cross between curiousness and excitement, as if he’d just found exactly what he was looking for, but he wasn’t sure if it was real.
          “What’s wrong?” Liffon heard the woman across from Carl say, polishing off the rest of her drink.
          “I thought I heard somethin’,” Carl said, standing up. He walked a few paces toward the plant they were hiding in.
          “Oh my Procne, he’s coming,” Kiffy breathed. It was too late to move now. Carl, in all his cranky glory, was staring right at them, a grin slowly spreading across his face.

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