Searching For Paradise: Part Six
"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
"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
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
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
Allehya shook her head. "The only ones who steal
over there are either alley pets taking food, or pets with houses who steal
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?"
Once again, Reno ignored her. He turned to Allehya
instead. "And the Kougras' Allehya."
"What're you talking about?" Allehya snarled,
"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
"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
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
"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...