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.


16. A Rough Night

         River fluffed up her sunset-colored feathers in annoyance. Zhe was browing rather upset with Lenore. It was a strange upset, but a familiar upset; Lenore was flirting with that cockatoo again. Why couldn’t she just stop? It’s like she was trying to her zher.
         The sun conure closed zher eyes and sighed. Maybe zhe wasn’t even worth Lenore’s affections. Lenore could easily find someone better. Zhe felt a tear trickle down her beak.
         Why was she crying? What was this? She grimaced. Crying was really not something zhe should do; it was weak.
          “Alright, thanks!” zhe heard Lenore say. River looked up. That didn’t sound like flirting. But who knows with Lenore. It could be.
          “River?” the umbrella cockatoo said, peering around the leaves that hid the conure from view. Lenore knew something was wrong because she had turned around just three minutes ago and could see zher sitting there waiting for her.
         River didn’t answer. She didn’t even look at Lenore.
          “River, babe, what’s wrong?” she asked, though she already knew what was bothering zher.
          “Nothing,” River replied, still not looking at her.
          “Are you upset because you think I was flirting with Juice again?”
         River turned to look at her, but then averted her eyes.
          “River, babe,” Lenore cooed, moving in closer to zher, “you know you’re the only one I love.”
          “Promise?” River asked, looking up at her.
          “Promise,” Lenore said with a nod and rubbed her cheek against zher face.
         A loud crash broke their moment in two. It came from the cieling and caused the entire display cage to go completely silent.
          “What was that?” another conure asked. Chatter ensued in the display cage, but the humans watching really took no notice. Instead, they kept laughing and pointing at the colorful birds excitedly.
          “Humans don’t notice anything, do they?” Lenore chuckled.
         River caught zherself smiling, but another crash drew zher attention back to the ceiling.
          “Help,” a small voice said through the vent grating.
          “Someone’s up there,” River said quietly. Lenore opened her beak to protest, but River was already flying up to the opening. Zhe landed upside-down on the grate and bent so she could speak directly into it. “Hello? Is someone there?”
         Chatter below of how crazy zhe was followed, but zhe ignored it. Lenore called to zher, concerned, but River didn’t answer. Instead she started prying at the grating.
          “Yes, hello! We’re here!” the voice came again.
          “I’m prying up the grating,” River explained to the voice. By the size of the chirp, zhe guessed it was a small bird - much smaller than even the parrotlet in the display.
         The clack of nails on metal followed her reply. How small was this bird? It came over to the grating and looked down, then chirped in surprise.
          “Wow, you are big!” it said.
          “Excuse me?” zhe paused.
          “No, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just, we all are really small, and…”
          “What are you?”
          “Well, I’m a Kiffy - I mean hummingbird. And the rest of my friends are, too. My name is humming - I mean Kiffy,” it said, chattering awkwardly. “We just got blown in from the storm. It’s really bad outside.”
         A hummingbird? River had heard of those, but never seen one.
          “What’s going on, River?” Lenore called.
          “Someone is trapped in the vent,” River explained without looking at her. “Help me get it off.”
         Lenore blinked a few times, but then lifted off to land upside-down next to zher.
          “Are you sure this is a good idea?” she whispered to her mate.
          “If I was trapped in there, I’d want someone to get me out,” zhe said, matter-of-factly.
         Lenore thought about it for a moment. It made sense. So much so that she set about helping zher. Prying away the screws that were rusty with age, she spat out the oxidized metal and made a face. River chuckled.
          “Guys, someone is helping us,” came the voice of the Kiffy hummingbird. River heard some other voices that sounded similar and zhe guessed it was the Kiffy’s friends.
          “Wow, they are really big,” a feminine voice said.
          “Larx, that’s not nice!” the Kiffy exclaimed.
          “Compared to us, they actually are, but it’s only because they’re a different species,” another new voice said.
          “That’s right, Artemis,” yet another voice said.
          “How many of you are there?” River asked, concerned. “There better not be like fifty of you.”
          “Only six,” the Kiffy said.
          “Well that’s a nice even number,” Lenore said with a nod.
         A loud creaking caused the rest of the display cage’s residents to gasp almost simultaneously. The grating fell away with a groan and six small birds tumbled out onto the mulch below. A few knocks on the glass caused them to jump, but Lenore assured them it was just humans trying to get their attention.
          “What is this place?” the biggest hummingbird asked.
          “This is the National Aviary, as the humans call it,” Lenore explained, ruffling her cloud-colored feathers.
          “What’s an Avry?” the Kiffy asked, tilting his head.
          “It looks like a prison,” the biggest one frowned.
          “Cirrus, relax,” Artemis said, turning to him. “It’s just a place for birds to live where humans can see them.” She turned back to Lenore, pleased at herself for not being scared of her size. “Please forgive us. I’m Artemis, and this is Kiffy, the one that greeted you. Then we have Liffon, Lissa, and Larx.” She blinked a few times, surprised at her use of alliteration.
          “That’s a lot of L’s,” Lenore said with a smile.
          “Well, it wasn’t intentional,” Artemis replied, a bit embarrassed. She looked at her feet and fidgeted awkwardly.
          “Thank you for the help,” Lissa said, stepping in. “We really do appreciate it.”
          “What are you guys doing here anyway?” River cut in. Zhe was a bit suspicious, but tried to not show it.
          “We’re trying to find my dad,” Liffon blurted out. He didn’t realize he had until after he said it. The realization made him step back. But he stood firm and proud. “We have to find him. Herald is in trouble.”
          “Harold? Who’s that?” Lenore asked, tilting her head.
          “Herald,” Liffon corrected. It’s our region. We’re part of the Carriers.”
          “I have herd of them,” another voice said. Another cockatoo poked his head from around Lenore. He was a bit smaller than she, but still much bigger than the rest of them.
         River immediately frowned and looked away, zher face changing from interested to jealous. Zhe didn’t say anything else the entire time the new bird was talking.
          “Hello. My name is Giuseppe. I am a cockatoo,” he stated. “But you must call me Juice. This is required.”
         Liffon blinked, unsure of how to respond to such a strange introduction.
          “Yes,” Lenore said, as if reading his thoughts. “He talks like that all the time.”
          “Yes. I do talk like this always. This is how I talk. I like to talk. Sometimes I talk too much and then Lenore must tell me to be quiet. But even then I do not stop talking. It is something I like to do.”
          “Okay…” Liffon frowned.
          “So, you’ve heard of the Carriers?” Lissa said, stepping in.
          “Oh yes. I have heard of them. They are the ones that bring the flowers color and the trees their leaves, yes?”
         Lissa and Liffon both blinked simultaneously
          “That’s actually a rather good description,” she said slowly, looking at Liffon. She hadn’t expected him to know that much.
         Liffon cleared his throat. “Well, the point is,” he said, “My dad is the Carrier general and without him Herald is suffering. Have you seen any other hummingbirds around?”
         Lenore shook her head, and River, still in anger mode, didn’t even move. But Juice had other plans.
          “I have not seen any other birds that are of your size at all, but I think that if I did I would be able to tell you. You are very small, not like me. I am big and white and you are small and green. Also red, and sometimes blue. There are no blue birds in here.”
         Liffon sighed, crestfallen. River glanced at him, and even in zher jealous mood, she felt compelled to offer comfort.
          “I’ll help you find him,” zhe offered.
         The ruby-throat looked up, surprised that this bird had offered to help.
          “Sorry, this is River,” Lenore said, nodding toward the conure. “Zhe’s my mate. I’m Lenore.”
          “Zhe? What is a zhe?” Larx asked.
          “Well…” Lenore paused, looking at River.
          “It’s okay, I’ll explain,” zhe said, standing up. “I’m not…a hen or a cock.”
          “What? How is that possible?” Cirrus blurted out. Artemis gave him a mighty shove and he nearly fell over. 
          “Don’t be rude!” she hissed.
          “It’s okay,” River said with a nod. “A lot of birds don’t understand. It’s confusing but let’s just say that I don’t feel like a he or a she.”
          “Well, that’s understandable,” Lissa said with a nod.
          “Yeah, sometimes I don’t feel like a bird,” Cirrus offered. “Sometimes I feel like an armadillo.”
         Artemis gave him another shove and this time he landed on his bottom with an annoyed “hey!” But Lenore and River both laughed and it soon eased the awkwardness between them.
          “Where did Juice go?” Larx asked, looking around for the strange bird.
          “Probably off to explain to someone else that he is a cockatoo,” Lenore suggested. “He does that.” 
         River opened zher beak to spit something jealous, but Lenore cut her off with a few affectionate preens to zher head feathers.
          “I was trying to talk,” River protested.
          “I know. Now let’s make our guests comfortable so they can decide what to do next! There’s no use rushing off again when there’s a storm outside.”
          “Fine,” River conceded.

         A low rumble of thunder traveled down the vents into the display cage. Liffon nestled into his makeshift bed in the crook of a branch and looked around. The cage was a lot bigger than he had intially thought. Trees lined the outside with branches leaning inward to make a suitable jungle environment. There were plenty of places to hide, and it was safe to walk around on the mulch- and moss-covered ground. 
         There were humans around, but only on the other side of the glass. They couldn’t touch him or any of his friends, and food dropped from the cieling at regular intervals in the form of fruits and seeds. For the first time since leaving Greenbrook, he actually felt safe.
          “How is everything?” Lissa asked, fluttering over with a piece of mango in her claws.
          “This isn’t bad,” Liffon admitted. He watched as she pecked a small bowl-shaped indent into the fruit to collect the juices. “If we weren’t on a mission I would suggest we stay here for a while.”
          “I think that’s the longest sentence not about your dad I have heard you say since…” She tilted her head thoughtfully. “…ever,” she added, raising her eyebrows.
         Liffon rolled his eyes and fluffed himself up.
         The lights on the outside of the glass dimmed. If what River said was right, the humans were all going to their nests. He wondered if humans slept in dried grass and twigs like he did.
         He glanced down and spotted the other four hummingbirds picking at some of the fruit on the ground. They seemed to be having a rather good time. Kiffy and Cirrus had now seemingly become best buds, so naturally they were sharing their own massive hunk of apple. Artemis was doing the same with Larx, but it looked like Larx wasn’t hungry. Instead she was pacing around nervously, unable to sit down and Artemis was following close behind.
          “What’s wrong with Larx?” Liffon asked, leaning closer to Lissa.
          “Not sure,” she admitted. “She’s been a little uneasy since we landed in here.”
         Larx was rather nervous right now. So nervous in fact that she had started plucking her feathers. Artemis watched as her friend paced back and forth, looking around as if she was expecting some creature to jump out of the shadows.
         The lights above the display cage dimmed, indicating it was artificially night. Larx jumped and chirped in alarm. A few feathers she had loosened from her neavous plucking flew off her like she was a feather pillow that had developed a hole.
          “Larx?” Artemis said quietly. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
         Larx was only briefly aware that Artemis was speaking to her. All she heard was blood pumping in her head. Her breathing was shallow and she felt lightheaded.
         It wasn’t until the lights dimmed that the panic attack set in. She had been nervous before, but not like this. Images of thick glass and a huge face looking at her flashed in her mind. She had tried to fly, but the ceiling was too low. She screeched and screamed, but the face just cooed loudly and grinned, exposing its wire-covered teeth. 
         Something in Artemis’ voice shatted through her flashback. Her pupils shrank, her breathing slowed. She felt her heart relaxing.
          “Larx are you ok?”
         The white eared hummingbird blinked as if she was waking from a dream. She looked at her friend and turned bright red in embarrassment.
          “Larx?” Artemis repeated.
         Larx said nothing. Instead she leaned into the other bird and slowing lowered herself to the ground, fluffing into a ball.
         Artemis sat down next to her and began preening her head feathers in silence. They stayed like this for some time until Kiffy and Cirrus paced over.
          “Everything okay?” the larger bird asked.
          “I think so,” Artemis said. She looked toward Larx for an answer, but the white-ear was already asleep. Artemis knew they couldn’t stay here much longer. “We should head out early tomorrow.”
         Larx was barely aware of the words Artemis said, but somehow she knew everything was going to be okay. Somehow.

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