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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18. Ruinion

          Fens woke up, surprisingly dry and warm. Wary, he slowly opened his eyes and found himself covered in a pile of gray and white feathers. There were so many feathers he couldn’t see past them.

          Spitting out barbs, he pushed past the blanket to find out where he was. He blinked at the site of ice and rock everywhere. There was also a long glass window where he could see the faces of humans peering in. He gasped and shrunk back into the alcove beneath the feathers.

          Carefully peeking out again, it seemed no one had noticed him. He sighed in relief and watched as strange black and white birds waddled around, some showing off for the humans by diving in near the glass.

          Well they were birds after all. He could trust them, right?

           “Hello?” he chirped quietly. He swallowed the last bit of the word, wondering if it was a good idea to even speak. As a result, the only audible part was “heh.”

          But it was loud enough for at least one strange bird to hear. It turned slowly, its beady eyes scanning him. It opened it’s mouth and made a strange goose-like call and waddled over to him.

          Fens’ eyes widened in shock and fear. He shot back into the hole and held his pack against him, treating it like a shield. It was damp. Fear shot through him, replacing the image of the goose-noise bird.

          One of the wish energy bottles had broken. He only had two left now.

           “Hello?” a voice from beyond the feathers said. “Hey, it’s ok. We’re all friendly here.”

          The voice sounded friendly enough, and not anything like a goose. In fact, it sounded very warm and welcoming. He peered out from the feathers, still clutching the pack. But worry finally overcame him and he started to sob, right in front of the big white and vlack face.

           “Hey, hey, little guy,” it said. “What’s wrong?”

           “Pack wet…have to get home…must save…” he said between tears. He finally gave up trying to stand and just flopped down and sobbed.

          The black and white face blinked, then became concerned, its brow furrowing in worry. Gingerly, the strange bird picked Fens up and held him close to at least warm him up. It appeared that it felt rather awkward.

          The sound of a small bird sobbing drew the attention of the other three birds that had assisted earlier. Marshall raced over, skidding to a stop in front of the pair.

           “Is it okay? What happened?” Marshall asked.

           “What’s goin’ on?” Coach barked, waddling over.

          Kowalski shrugged and showed him the hummingbird. “He just started cryin’. I think he’s been through a lot.”

           “Well, he did land in th’ lake,” Marshall stated, knitting his brow.

          The small bird had stopped crying and was now puffed up in an effort to keep warm against the temperature in the display case. Kowalski was glad the humans outside weren’t very interested in their gathering. Sometimes it felt like they had no privacy.

           “Where did’ja come from?” she asked him.

          Now that Fens had calmed down enough to speak, he explained everything. He wasn’t sure why he trusted these strange birds so easily. Perhaps it was both that they had saved him and that he needed someone to spill everything to. He had been living the last few days with a tremedous weight on his shoulders and for some reason, these birds were just the perfect ones to talk to.

          After he was done, he felt rather stupid. He never talked to anyone about anything that was bothering him, because most of the time, he had everything under control. But this…this was not something he had ever had to deal with.

           “So this bag, you’re talkin’ aboot,” Marshall said, “you said it’s what?”

           “It’s wet. The bottles inside broke,” Fens explained, his eyes still pink from crying.

           “Is this it?” Nettles chimed in, supposedly appearing out of nowhere. He scooped up a small rucksack and held it in the air by a strap. Marshall and Kowalski started, but Coach’s expression remained neutral as if she expected it.

           “Yeah,” Fens nodded, his voice cracking.

          Nettles shuffled through it and then looked back at the hummingbird. “Nothin’s broken,” he said finally. “There’s three bottles with some gold-colored liquid, all full.”

           “Really?” Fens asked. He fluttered over to take a look himself. “I really thought they were all broken.”

           “Is that wish energy?” Marshall asked.

          Fens nodded.

           “So basically, we gotta find a way to get y’out of here,” Kowalski said. “Seems easy enough.”

           “You’d do that?” Fens said, stunned.

          All four of the penguins gave either a nod or a “yeah” as if it were something that they had been expected to do. Fens felt his lower beak shaking, trying to hold back another rush of tears, but Kowalski cut in.

           “Okay, okay, let’s get you somethin’ t’eat. You’re probably hungry, eh? What do little birdies eat?”

           “I think the proper term is hummin’bird,” Marshall stated. Nettles rolled his eyes, but Coach smacked the back of his head, annoyed with his disrespect, even if her expression didn’t show it. Nettles responded with an annoyed “ow,” but didn’t react otherwise.

           “What are you?” Fens asked.

          There was a moment of silence between the black and white birds before any of them realized what he meant.

           “Oh!” Kowalski exclaimed. “We’re penguins.”

           “What do hummin’birds eat, anyway?” Marshall asked, changing the subject.

          Fens blinked. “Well, mostly nectar, but sometimes juice.”

           “That might be a bit hard to get in this display,” Coach explained.

           “Display?” Fens asked, tilting his head.

          Kowalski nodded. “We’re in the Ave. It’s a place people come and see us.”

           “Yeah, sometimes we put on shows for them,” Nettles nodded.

           “Shows?” Coach growled. “They aren’t shows! They’re professional events!”

          Fens raised an eyebrow.

           “We train fer them fer weeks!”

           “Okay, back away slowly,” Nettles said to Kowalski. Fens shrunk against her, suddenly concerned and confused.

           “Loggendale got a tail injury! Do you get tail injuries from shows?” Coach threw her wings in the air and continued ranting, but the other three had already shuffled away.

           “Let’s see if we can find ya some juice,” Kowalski suggested.

 

          It took a bit of work, but they managed to secure a slightly overripe mango half from the jungle sector through a Berta, a resident busybody and traveler within the Aviary. She was making his rounds, so it was really no trouble to help the Team out.

           “Hummin’birda?” The blue jay, Berta, asked. “Berta notta seen one ‘round here, but Berta did-a hear sometin’ goin’ on inna parrot cage.”

           “What do you mean?” Marshall asked, looking up from grooming.

           “Well, itta look like otha bird that-a looka like hummin’birda,” Berta stated, looking at Fens, who was sitting on Kowalski’s outstretched wing-fin. “He-a has same coluh as-a you.”

          Fens felt his heart leap into his throat. “Did you catch his name?”

          Kowalski must have caught the fact that his feathers pressed against his body so close, he appeared to have been dunked in water, because she asked him “What’s that all aboot?”

           “I didn’t think he would try and pull this off, but it sounds like something my son would do,” Fens said absently.

           “Huh?”

          The hummingbird looked at her and blinked a few times. “My son…he’s in training to be a Carrier.” He looked down, disbelieving of what he was about to say. “He might have come looking for me.”

           “But you said he’s just a chick. How would he come lookin’ for you?” Kowalski asked.

           “I don’t know, but if it is him, I’ll kill him,” Fens said, though more worried than angry. He looked at Berta, who was preening himself, waiting for a reply. “Berta, can you help me get to that parrot cage?”

          The jay looked up, tilted his head, then grinned. “Yeah Berta can getta you there, but gonna costa you lotta seed,” she explained.

          Fens turned to Kowalski, silently asking for assistance.

           “I’ll owe you one if you do this for me,” the penguin offered.

           “Berta trusta Kowahskis,” the jay nodded. “Okay, Kowahskis owe Berta some-a stuff latah.”

           “Deal,” Kowalski nodded.

 

          After a few goodbyes and thank yous, Fens and Berta set off. Fens insisted he would repay his new friends and allies someday, but they all told him it was all in a day’s work. They wouldn’t have it any other way. But in the back of his mind, Fens knew he would somehow pay back their kindness somehow.

          Berta lead him into a ventilation shaft, chattering the whole way about who was doing what and when and where. Fens was never one for gossip, so he just nodded and said “oh” and “okay” when appropriate.

          The vents, which usually flowed with warm air, were thankfully off right now. The warm early summer weather had activated the air conditioning, which was a different system altogether. Though Fens didn’t know this, if he did, he would have thanked Procne for his luck.

          They duo passed over a lot of cages, each filled with birds of varying sizes and climates. He saw some birds that looked like him, but with colors he had never seen before.

          They passed over a bald eagle’s cage and fens had to hold back a gasp of fear. Berta must have sensed his anxiety; she turned back to him and smiled.

           “Don’t-a worry. Tony issa very bigga birda, butta he issa nice,” she explained.

           “Berta, git outta that thurr vent!” a gruff, and heavily accented voice answered. Fens and Berta peered down to a grinning bald eagle. The hummingbird gulped and pushed past Berta.

           “Notta now, Tony-ny. I gotta mission to do!”

           “’Nother tahm then, little lady,” he said, more calmy, but a little disappointed.

          They reached the proper cage about twenty minutes later, after nearly falling twice down a wrong facing shaft exit. Berta drew close to the barred opening, but started when she saw it had been mangled and opened slightly. She approached it cautiously, but didn’t notice anything unusual.

          The first one to notice her was Juice, who made his observation known right away.

           “Hello. I see a bird that is small. A small bird. It is peeking through the vent. The vent up there is open. We opened that vent to let other small birds in. They are nice and small and colored. Do you like small and colored birds? I like them.”

          He would have continued if it hadn’t been for Lenore stepping in.

           “What are you going on about?” she asked, flapping over to him.

           “There are small birds in the vent. I see them. I like small birds. Do you like small birds? I hope you do. I would not like you if you did not like small birds.”

          Lenore didn’t reply, but looked up at the vent. She grinned at the familiar face. “Hey, Berta!” she called.

           “’Ello, Nora. I founda friend for you - maybe you knowa him?” Berta replied, fluttering down to land. Though Berta was big for her species, she was still dwarfed by the massive umbrella cockatoo.

           “A friend?” Lenore asked, looking up. Fens’ head peeked through the vent and her eyes widened. “Another one?”

           “Thisa one say he hassa Liffanna inna tissa cage,” Berta explained.

           “Liffanna? Oh, Liffon!”

           “Datta whatta said,” Berta nodded.

           “Liffon is here?” Fens asked, fluttering down.

           “And you are?” Lenore was rather skeptical.

           “Fens. Fens Foxglove.”

          Lenore blinked, seemingly unable to speak. WHen her brain began working again, she nearly screamed.

           “Fens! Fens! FENS IS HERE! FENS!” She turned toward the trees where her guests had been resting. “Liffon! Fens!” Her crest was nearly straight up in her excitement. She flapped her wings excitedly and began to strut about. “FENS.”

          Without warning, a rush of feathers shot out of the trees. Six hummingbirds toppled out, landing in a pile, but one bird stuggled at the bottom. As if overcome by some kind of massive strength serge, it pushed itself out against the weight of the others and shot like a rocket toward the Carrier General.

          Fens didn’t have any time to react. The force of his son’s attack sent them both rolling backwards into the pond. They stuggled to get out of the water until Lenore and River, who had heard the racket, raced over to help them out.

The pair of wet birds sputtered excitedly, and then Liffon embraced his father, their feathers joining together in a wet mess of color.

 

          Sputtering and sopping, the two birds clung to each other, chirping and chattering in utter joy. Quickly, they ran out of breath and lay there breathing deeply.

          “Are they gonna be okay?” Kiffy asked, tilting his head. The others had made their way over to the scene, draw by the strange noises and splashing.

           “I hope so,” Artemis blinked, pushing up her glasses.

          Lenore gave the pair a gentle poke with her talon and that seemed to bring them both back to reality.

          Liffon stood up first, fluffing his feathers. He gave himself a quick shake like a dog and came out looking rather fluffy. He caught Lissa’s grin, but looked away, trying to hide his own amusement.

          Fens stood up, a grin pasted across his beak. Liffon was surprised. He had never seen his father so happy. The older bird shook himself as well, though it seemed much more practiced. But he, too, came out a feathery fluffball.

           “Not even years of practice makes it less silly looking,” he commented. “Now who are these lovely avians?”

          Liffon blinked, then started, realizing that he was talking about all his friends. He introduced them all, one by one, telling how he met them.

           “This is Lissa, my first friend in Greenbrook,” he stated, extending a wing toward her. She seemed surprised he had said “friend,” but she bowed respectfully to the Carrier General. She smiled broadly, happy to have reached their goal.

           “Then Kiffy, who I met in the bunks,” Liffon continued. Kiffy smiled nervously, expecting him to reveal that their first interaction was a fight, but he didn’t. He tilted his head, surprised, but Liffon just smiled at him.

           “Then Cirrus, Larx, and Artemis I met on my third test day,” the young ruby-throat continued. The each bowed in turn. “And last is Lenore,” he added, pointing to the Cockatoo, “River, and Juice.”

          Lenore and River both bowed, but Juice, who had wandered off somewhere, came to attention when he heard his name.

           “I am Juice,” he said, trotting back to the pond. He shoved his face right up to Fens, his giant eyes glaring into the smaller bird’s very soul. “That is my name, but only shortly. My real name is Giuseppe, but you must call me juice. This is my requirement for everyone.”

           “Well, hello Juice,” Fens said awkwardly.

           “That’s enough, Juice,” Lenore chuckled.

           “Yes, that is enough,” the eccentric bird replied. He withdrew his face and wandered off to find something else to do. Within seconds, they could hear him chatting the ear off another conure on the other side of the cage.

           “How did you end up here?” Fens asked, both stunned and proud that his son was here. His smile turned into a frown. “I told you to wait for me at the Carrier Plaza.”

          Liffon shrank at his father’s sternnes, but Lissa stepped in. “He was worried about you, and your absence has been hurting Greenbrook and the forest surrounding Herald. No one else was willing to go, so we had to do something.” The others nodded in response and Liffon looked to his father for some kind of response.

          Fens was silent for a few moment, his expression thoughtful. “You better fill me in on all the details,” he nodded.

          And so they did, each telling their own part of the story: their meeting, the test, discovering the wish energy drought, how they escaped, and how they ended up here. As they talked, Liffon watched his father’s expression change from worry and anger to happiness and pride. After they were done, the light outside the display cage was dark, and all the people had gone home.

           “Now, it’s your turn,” Liffon requested. “Will you tell us how you got here?”

          Fens nodded. “It’s only fair.”

          And so, Fens told his story, too, from the very beginning.

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