A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 112,409,164 Issue: 224 | 20th day of Sleeping, Y8
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Searching For Paradise: Part Six

by cpmtiger


"Think it's safe?"

      "Yeah, that last light just turned off."

      "You're sure about this?"

      "Trust me, Tye. I know what I'm doing."

      Tye and Allehya had reached the village on the river. They were now peering through the dark bushes surrounding the small, wooden buildings, waiting until they could sneak in without anybody seeing them.

      Tye squinted in the darkness. She could barely see Allehya in the shadows. The only things on her that weren't black were her jade eyes and golden bands. The shadow Kougra was crouched low, ears flat as she watched the dirt path of the village for a sign of movement.

      Allehya flicked her tail suddenly, and crept forward. Tye, feeling uncomfortable in her own crouch, plodded after her, wings pressed tightly to her sides. Allehya stood straight on the path, looking around at the small, family owned shops. Tye felt a wave of hunger as she stood next to the Kougra and saw shops selling meat and bread and Neggs.

      "I'll get another bag," Allehya whispered. She pointed one black paw at a general merchandise shop. "We can carry food in one bag and the rest of the supplies in another."

      "I'll get the food," Tye volunteered, resisting the urge to lick her lips. "This bag's bigger, and I think we'll need a lot of food, for two pets."

      Allehya considered for a moment, and Tye watched as the moon appeared from behind a cloud, dappling the shadow Kougra's fur silver. "All right. Meet me back here. And remember, keep quiet and in the shadows."

      Feeling a little annoyed at the warnings, Tye turned and headed toward the food shop. She paused at the door, feeling guilt at what she was about to do. This was all the family had to live on. No matter how Tye tried to justify it, she couldn't avoid the fact that she was stealing.

      Then she remembered the thieves, the ones Allehya had seen in the gang neighborhood. They were the reason Tye and Allehya were here in the first place. Anger replaced guilt, and Tye suddenly wanted to track down the real thieves and punish them for what they'd done to Allehya. And what they'd done to her.

      Tye opened the door slowly and quietly. The old door creaked slightly as it was pushed open, but Tye doubted anyone could hear it. The one-roomed store was dark and eerily silent. Tiny dust particles floated in the moonlight entering the shop's windows. Tye could make out wrapped turkeys and bags of fruit near the front of the store. Putting as little weight on each leg as possible, Tye slunk toward the food. She grabbed two of the turkeys, and about four bags of Loveberries, and stuffed them into the sack. Looking around, she spotted a large barrel of unfamiliar, tiny nuts. Tye grabbed a bag and filled it with the strange nuts, and stuffed that into her knapsack as well. With a final look around the store, Tye slipped out the front door, closing it silently behind her.

      Allehya was already waiting at the path. She had a dark, green pack on her back, which was stuffed with odds and ends Tye could only guess at. The faerie Ixi set down her own bag, and looked at Allehya in amazement.

      "How did you beat me?" Tye asked. "You got about three times as much stuff as I did."

      "The first thefts always take a long time to do," Allehya explained, trying to sound casual. "It takes a while to get used to it. Now, let's go before someone wakes up."

      The two pets walked back into the dark trees. All was silent for a long while as they plowed though the forest. Finally, Tye had to ask.

      "Would you have stolen that orb if you had the chance?"

      Allehya turned to look at Tye with a mixture of puzzlement and annoyance on her feline face. "No. I don't steal things just to resell them. I already told you, I steal to eat and live. You know, Tye, you seem to think all strays are alike."

      "No, I don't!" Tye protested. "I was just…I don't know, I was just thinking about what I'd do if stealing was the only way for me to live."

      "So you wanted to know if I would steal something for money."

      Tye tossed her head angrily. "I was just thinking about stealing so you don't have to steal."

      "You lost me," Allehya said.

      "Like the thieves who took the orb. If they're strays, maybe they did it so they could sell the orb and get money to pay for food with."

      Allehya shook her head. "The only ones who steal over there are either alley pets taking food, or pets with houses who steal for kicks."

      Allehya opened her mouth to say something else, but immediately shut it again.

      "What?" Tye whispered.

      Allehya pointed to something on a tree nearby. "These are picnic grounds," the Kougra whispered. "Take a look at that sign."

      Tye leaned closer to the white paper, her stomach tightening with foreboding. Sure enough, there was a sketch of Allehya, and large letters spelling "WANTED: One stray shadow Kougra for the theft of the Air Faerie's Orb. 50,000 NP reward".

      Tye looked back at Allehya, who glared at the sign, then growled, "Come on."

      The two pets began running through the trees, Allehya nimbly leaping over obstacles, while Tye lowered her head and slammed them out of the way. They were running through a small break between forests when something on the barren hillside to their left caught Tye's eye.

      She skidded to a halt. Allehya looked back, and turned around. "What?" she hissed. "We've gotta go!"

      Tye wasn't listening. "Over there, on the hillside…" She pointed to the spot she'd seen it.

      "I don't see anything!" Allehya grumbled in exasperation. "Now let's-"

      But Allehya had seen it too. A brief, surging white glow that died as suddenly as it had appeared.

      "Tye," Allehya groaned. "We really shouldn't…"

      But the faerie Ixi was already climbing the grassy hillside, heading for the large, dead tree the light had come from. With a groan, Allehya followed Tye up the hill, catching up quickly.

      "Well," Allehya remarked as they reached the small ledge the tree was on. "I see nothing. Just a dead tree."

      "Humph! Just a dead tree, eh?"

      Allehya and Tye jumped back. Something hanging from one of the trees spindly branches was unfurling and climbing to the top. Tye took a step closer, and saw a striped Korbat perched on the branch.

      "Who're you?" Tye asked.

      The Korbat turned to Tye, and the faerie Ixi saw with shock that his eyes were pure white. Allehya growled softly.

      The Korbat ignored Tye's question. "You need to look more carefully, Kougra, if you want to find things."

      "What the-" Allehya shook her head.

      "Who are you?" Tye repeated.

      "My name's Reno," the Korbat answered, turning back to Tye. "And of course, you'd be Tirana. The Ixis' Tirana."

      Tye stepped back. "How'd you know my name?" she demanded.

      Once again, Reno ignored her. He turned to Allehya instead. "And the Kougras' Allehya."

      "What're you talking about?" Allehya snarled, teeth bared.

      "Oh, nothing, nothing," the Korbat replied. "I believe you've seen the Wanted signs, Allehya?"

      "Huh? The signs? Oh, yeah."

      "Well, then, you know what you should worry about." The Korbat took a moment to study the sky above, and Allehya leaned over and muttered to Tye, "Does he only talk in puzzles?"

      Tye shrugged. To the Korbat, she asked, "How did you know we saw the signs?"

      Reno blinked slowly. "I'm a psychic," he explained, as calmly as if they were discussing a trading post deal. "I got a vision of you two seeing the Wanted signs, then one of you running, and I needed you here."

      "What for?" Allehya asked, stepping backwards.

      "Relax, Allehya," Reno said, smiling slightly. "I have seen something you two will want to know."

      "What is it?" Tye asked.

      "I've seen the thieves who took the orb. I know where they are and where they are headed."

      Allehya gave the Korbat a suspicious look over. "Alright," she said at last. "Can you tell us?"

      The Korbat shifted his wings slightly, then said, "There are three of them, a Kougra, a Kau, and a Wocky. They are heading north, to Terror Mountain. They have the Orb with them, but you'd better hurry, or they'll have already sold it."

      "Why're you telling us this?" Allehya snapped. "If you know all this, why don't you follow them yourself?"

      Reno turned his blank eyes on the shadow Kougra. "I'm very old," he said. "I would never make it out of this small forest, let alone Terror Mountain.

      "Besides," Reno added. "You two have a destiny to fulfill. A gap to close. A part to play out."

      "What?" Tye asked, raising an eyebrow.

      The Korbat sighed and shook his head. "That's something you'll learn later. But remember, they are heading to Terror Mountain with the Orb. That Orb represents your freedom, both of you. I wish you luck and good speed, Allehya of the Kougras and Tirana of the Ixis."

      Reno suddenly vanished in a flare of white light. Tye blinked, then gave Allehya a puzzled look.

      "Looks like there's more to your name than you thought," Allehya said, looking at her golden bands, as if puzzles by their glimmering surface.

      "Yours too," Tye pointed out. "That was weird, the way he addressed us. 'The Kougras' Allehya'. Like the word Allehya's not a name, like it's a thing."

      "Sounded like that with yours," Allehya agreed. "And what was all that stuff about destinies and gaps?"

      Tye shrugged. "I don't know. It doesn't really matter, anyway. What does matter is getting to Terror Mountain and getting that Orb back!"

      Allehya shook her head. "Are all rich pets this sure of themselves?" Tye was too stunned to answer. "I mean, these are thieves. Professional, adult thieves. How're we supposed to beat three experienced robbers?"

      Tye narrowed her eyes. "At least I'm going to try and get that Orb back. You heard what Reno said, that Orb represents our freedom."

      "OUR freedom?"

      "There was an Ixi thief, remember? You're in trouble because one thief was a Kougra. I'll be in trouble because one thief was an Ixi."

      Allehya looked Tye straight in the eyes. "You know it's because I'm a stray."

      Tye shook her head. "I don't care! You're the only friend I ever had! And I'm not going to let stereotypical police haul you off to jail for something you didn't do!"

      And with that, Tye grabbed her duffel bag, and headed back down the hillside. Allehya threw hers over her back, and paused to look at the tree.

      "I hope you're right," she muttered, then descended the hill, catching up with Tye.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Searching For Paradise: Part One
» Searching For Paradise: Part Two
» Searching For Paradise: Part Three
» Searching For Paradise: Part Four
» Searching For Paradise: Part Five
» Searching For Paradise

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