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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6. Capture

 

          Fens flew swiftly, crossing the river north of Greenbrook. Some cloying scent seemingly popped out of nowhere and made him gag, but his curiosity got the better of him and he followed it. He didn't normally deviate from his route at all, but for some reason this scent was fogging his mind. He felt like part of his mind was doing battle with the rest of it, trying to decide whether to follow this scent or not. Eventually the curious part won.

          Banking left, he dove slowly down toward a colorful patch outside the woods. From the pattern, he guessed it was a garden. Humans often planted these to attract his fellow hummers and various other creatures, and since they were so close to Human dwellings, major predators tended to stay away, so this was like a free meal. Fens shrugged and swooped over. He could use a drink.

          The scent was so strong here, he nearly lost himself in it. What was it exactly? It was stronger than all these marigolds and lilies combined. Even the honeysuckles were masked by this scent. His tiny eyes scanned the garden, searching for something when he happened upon a huge flower that he had never seen before. It was massive and looked much like a lily, but the color was all wrong. Not only that, but it seemed almost unnatural.

          Still, the scent pulled him forward, almost as if he couldn't resist. He felt himself drawn in by the invisible hands of the wondrous smell. Who was he to resist so much? Maybe this could make him stronger, make his flight faster. Wait, how did he know that? What did it matter? The scent....

          He perched on the massive at the base of the bloom. It was hard and cold. But that didn't matter, did it? Just being here was enough. The scent...oh the scent....

          Suddenly, the sky went dark. The air was musty like the inside of a bag. Oh, it didn't matter. He had his flower. Fens and his flower, together....forever.

          Fens shot awake. He didn't know where he was, and all the smells around him were unfamiliar. His flower was gone. His flower! He opened his wings to find his flower but crashed into something instead. Shaking his head, he looked around and finally realized where he was. Bars surrounded him on all sides and the cackle of various other birds finally brought him to reality.

          "Ahaha! We got a live one!"

          "W-who? W-wheh? Oh, he's t-tiny. The Giant wiww have his w-wai wiff t-tha' one. P-poor f-fellow."

          Fens blinked and fluttered up to his perch. His bag plopped to the parchment-lined floor and the sound startled him. He chirped softly, which brought another series of cackles.

          "Where am I?" he asked. Now taking time to observe the room, there were at least twenty other cages surrounding him in a room dimly lit by sunlight. Shades covered the window, which appeared to actually be a windowed door. A few potted plants attempted to make the room nicer, and a dim floor lamp added to the sparse lighting. There was a large, wooden desk on the back of the room, farthest away from the door.

          "The Giant's house," a Quaker parrot squawked. He shared a cage with a lorikeet that didn't seem too happy to be there.

          "Youse been asleep fuh four days," a female kestrel added from the next cage over.

          "Four days?" Fens blinked, fluffing up his feathers apprehensively.

          "Nah, I'm jus' pullin' yuh leg!" she added with a chuckle. "Only been a few houahs."

          Kestrels. Fens rolled his eyes. "Okay, so, what's this Giant?" he asked.

          "H-he c-collects b-buhds," It was a magpie. A European magpie to be exact. Fens recognized the stutter from a few minutes before. "He'ww s-stuff us a-an' sell us, he wiww!"

          "Oh 'wiww' you shut up already, Rory?" the Quaker parrot mocked. "He's a little loopy, that one," he added, looking at Fens. "Been here a little too long, methinks. The name's Bond. Kiwi Bond."

          "Oi'm not lyin', I ain't!" Rory protested.

          "Shut it, pincushion," the kestrel screeched, tossing a seed at the magpie through the cage bars. Rory raised his wings in a protective shell around his head.

          "Oi, wotch it, Sparty!"

          "So, what is this place? And what kind of name is Kiwi Bond?" Fens said, interrupted their argument.

          "As for the name, I'm not sure," Kiwi replied. "And as for the place, I'm not sure either. I've been here longer than these idiots, and I still don't know what happens here. The Giant comes around and gives us food, then disappears until the sun sets and rises again."

          "That seems pretty boring," Fens observed. "But I've got things to do. I can't stay here." His reply was so calm and matter-of-fact, the room stayed in silence for a good five seconds.

          Then it erupted into laughter.

          "What?" Fens blinked and looked around.

          "N-nou one l-leyves o-once they get in hee-yuh," Rory chuckled, which was strange with his stutter.

          "Ahaha! Youse got a good sense-a humor!" Sparty said, wiping her eyes.

          "Yeah, so does your mother, naming you something like Sparty," Fens replied, raising an eyebrow.

          "'Ey, it's short for Spartacus!" she snapped, pecking through her cage bars. "An' don't you ferget it!"

          Fens chuckled and shook his head. Kestrels.

          Talking to the other birds, of which consisted various parrots, grosbeaks, and non-native sparrows, Fens learned that this collection had been growing for years. None had left a cage since they had been put in one, but sometimes a bird would disappear mysteriously overnight. Rory was convinced that the Giant, as Fens soon found out was a tall, old man that fed them every day. He sometimes talked to them, but never said anything meaningful. The rest of his day, as reported by Janet, a northern oriole by the window, was spent in the garden, tossing coins into the fountain, or setting traps for more birds.

          "Why does he do this?" Fens asked.

          Kiwi shrugged. "Not really sure. Maybe he's a hoarder. You know, like a squirrel."

          "But squirrels don't horde birds...." Fens said.

          "I don't know why humans do some of the things they do, but these cages are locked - nothing much we can do."

          The door creaked open to allow for the man to walk in. He was rather tall with a wrinkled face that normally might be friendly, but now appeared somewhat bitter. He was tossing a coin in the air as he always did, walking around the garden. The fountain had gathered quite a collection of his change.

          "Silly birds," he said, leaning his nearly unneeded cane against the wall. "Someday I'm just going to stuff you all."

          "I tould you!" Rory screeched. But to the man, it just sounded like some loud chirping.

          The man replied to it with a wack on the cage. "You be quiet," he grumbled. Rory shut up and covered his head with his wings, shrinking to the back of the cage. "That's better," the man smiled. His teeth sent chills down Fens' spine. "Now if only you had some better use." Absently he flipped the coin in the air and it landed in a mug on the desk with a watery plop. "I wish I could sell one of these feathered pests."

          A small shimmer appeared in the bottom of Fens' cage. Kiwi's eyes shot toward it, but the man remained unaware. He grumbled a few more times and went through a door next to the desk. The light switched on and some rattling of glass indicated the fridge was opening.

          However, the shimmer grew brighter and suddenly a small piece of parchment unrolled itself near Fens' bag. Fens dropped from his perch to pick it up. He felt the eyes of many birds on him as more took notice. He picked up the paper and blinked at it as if he didn't know what it was. It read "I wish I could sell one of these feathered pests. ~Carl Jenkins."

          "W-wot is that?" Rory hissed as if keeping the silence was required.

          "It's the Giant's wish," the ruby-throated hummingbird replied simply.

          "Why do you have his wish?" Kiwi asked, concern in his voice.

          "Because I'm a Carrier." Fens replied, looking up. "The head Wish Carrier of Greenbrook."

          The eyes of every bird in the room began to bore into Fens' chest. He looked down at the scroll on the cage floor if only to escape the stares. The room was completely silent, but he wasn't sure if it was in confusion, awe, anger, or any combination of the three.

          "What the heck is a Wish Carrier?" Sparty asked, raising an eyebrow.

          Fens let his breath out, grateful for the silence breaker. He didn't really feel like explaining, but he reasoned it was in order anyway.

          "When humans make wishes, sometimes they throw coins into wishing wells," he explained, receiving nods from some birds who had experience with humans. "When the coin hits the water, it turns into a wish scroll, which are delivered directly to me. And if the scroll is delivered to the human that made the wish, it comes true."

          "So what d'youse get fuh servin' doze giants?" she snuffed in contempt. Kiwi gave her a sideways glance that appeared to be a silent defense for humans.

          "Well," Fens continued, "in exchange, we get Wish Energy, which helps flowers and plants grow, which feeds us as well as powers Greenbrook and other cities in Herald."

          "So you have a pretty important job then," Kiwi observed. "How did you manage to get yourself caught in some place like this?" he added with a chuckle.

          "It was th'flowa! Oi tol' yew! Th'flowa traps yew! Maikes it sew yew can't escape!" Rory shrieked, flapping his wings around. Feathers flew everywhere, landing both in and outside his cage. Protests chirped from the cage next to his - a family of sparrows.

          "Will you relax, Rory?" Kiwi grumbled.

          "But, yes, I do have an important job, and if I don't get out of here, Greenbrook, and maybe the whole of Herald will be in trouble." His voice was much calmer than he felt, but his eyes hid nothing.

          "What about ya' othuh carriers?" Sparty asked, ruffling her feathers. She began preening, but still paid attention, ignoring Rory's neurotic ranting. He was still flapping about saying things like "th'flowa" and "it's a trap," but most of the residents were used to this by now. "Youse the head, but what's that mean?"

          "Well, I do have others that assist me, but as the head Carrier, all wish scrolls come through me first, and I assign them," Fens explained.

          "So why'dja go if youse the only one that gets da scrolls?" Sparty asked with a smirk.

          Fens glared at the kestrel, then his expression softened.

          "Thought this job was too big for someone else?" Kiwi smiled.

          Fens just nodded.

          Further discussion was cut off by the door creaking open. The Giant entered, saying nothing, but came over to inspect Fens' cage. As the new member of his collection, he wanted to make sure his new prize was adjusting. Soon he would sell him off for a nice profit...hopefully.

          As he walked away, however, the scroll at the bottom of Fens' cage shimmered away. A chill ran up Fens' spine. The wish had been delivered.

          A young man promptly appeared at the back door and walked in without so much as knocking. He rang the bell on the desk multiple times before the Giant finally replied.

          "Yeah, what is it?" he shouted from the kitchen.

          "Sir, I would like to buy one of your birds!" the young man replied.

          At first there was silence, then the inner door creaked open and the Giant came in with a very pleased expression.

          "Oh, you would, would you?" he said with a large grin as he clasped his hands together. His Canadian Tuxedo was a little out of place, but it never-the-less made him at least look decent. "Which one?"

          The younger man thought for a moment, then pointed toward the cage containing a budgie. "That one!" he exclaimed. The bird ruffled her green and yellow feathers in protest, but the Giant was pleased.

          "Excellent choice!" he said, trotting over to pick up the cage. "She's a beauty! Only $20!"

          The poor budgie chirped slightly, but the man was not dissuaded. He quickly gave the man exactly $22.50 and told him to keep the change.

          The Giant grinned from ear to ear, pleased with his sale. For a moment, he disappeared inside and re-emerged with a can of beer. He then proceeded to kick his feet up on the desk and sip it in celebration as he flipped one of the quarters. When he was done, he slammed the cam on the desk and flicked the coin across the room in an attempt to make it land in the bird bath in the middle of the room. It landed with a plop. Apparently there actually was water in it. He shrugged, thinking nothing of it and left the room, the smell of alcohol going with him.

          "I wish I could have more sales like that one," Fens heard him say.

          All eyes were fixed on the hummingbird now.

          "Oh no," he sighed as another shimmering scroll appeared at the bottom of his page. "Here we go again.

 

          Fens was spared for about two hours, but he reasoned that soon enough, the Giant would have to get close to his cage again. It happened the next morning as he was feeding all the birds. This time, the sale was even faster, and the family of sparrows next to Rory was gone. He put up a huge protest, insisting that he was next, but Sparty calmed him down by pelting him with sunflower seeds and a dead mouse. That kept him quiet for a while, at least until the next wish was cast.

          The Giant still hadn't realized it, but his wishes were all coming true. He thought it was all coincidence, or he had hit a lucky streak. Either way, the bottle of champagne he wished for after his fifth sale of the day made his face someone red, and the margarita he wished for after lunch made it ever redder. Fens just prayed that he wouldn't catch on.

          That evening was rather quiet. A large bunch of birds had been cleared out, leaving only Fens, Kiwi, Rory, Sparty, and a smattering of falcons, sparrows, and a grosbeak or two. The Giant had gone to sleep hours ago, but the male hummingbird simply could not sleep. He ruffled his feathers anxiously, thinking of all the work he was missing. He also felt guilty about breaking his promise to his son. He wanted to be there for Liffon's graduation, but by now, there probably wouldn't be one, let alone even a Greenbrook left from the lack of wish energy.

          "Youse still awake?" hissed Sparty in the cage next to his.

          "Yeah," Fens answered plainly. "The stress is literally killing me. I feel sick."

          "Youse gotta be worried about'cha Greenbrook," Sparty observed. "And ya family."

          Fens started at the mention of this. He hadn't expected the kestrel to even think about it. He looked over at her, but she was watching her toes, her eyes sparkling with understanding.

          "I's gots no family, y'know," she continued. "Lost 'em all when I got myself capchuh'd. Havn't seen 'em fuh yee-ahs."

          "I'm sorry," Fens replied soberly, looking down.

          "Don'chu worry," she grinned, looking up. "We gonna get'chu outta hee-yah soon enough!" Fens couldn't help but smile. "We awl gonna escape one-a deez days. I gotta plan."

          "A plan?" Fens was curious now, eagerly listening.

          "Yeah, but it's in duh woiks right now. Give it some time!" She ruffled her feathers and yawned. "But right now, ya betta get some sleep, y'crazy."

          Fens sighed. He hoped she was right.

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