Petpet Adventures: Reunited - Part Seven
“Malei!” she cried, but a paw went over her mouth before she could say anything else.
“Be quiet,” he whispered as she removed the paw and then let go of her.
She scrambled to her feet and stared at him, suddenly unsure of what to say. He noticed, and smiled.
“Well, this is awkward,” he said, keeping his voice low.
Folfeux nodded. “I’m sorry... but—”
“Yes, I should have told you from the beginning,” Malei finished off for her. “But would you have believed me back then?”
He stared Folfeux in the eye, and she tried hard to meet his gaze. But she failed miserably.
“Probably not,” she admitted.
He grinned, and then his head snapped around, looking for any pursuing petpets.
“We should move,” he said. “It won’t do any good for Zariam to find us.”
Folfeux followed him up the slope, not even thinking about the dangers of climbing higher, into full view of those below. Fat raindrops plonked down on her nose and streamed down her back, and she saw that Malei was the same. How miserable they must look now. But she felt far from miserable.
She caught up to Malei and he turned his head to look at her.
“I’m sorry, if I hadn’t said that enough times,” he began, but she shushed him.
“Some of it makes sense now,” she said. “You couldn’t have taken out Archilles and caught me by yourself, so you must have had help. But did you know that our parents had moved when you came to find me?”
He shook his head. “No. I had no idea. Zariam knew, but he didn’t tell me until we were in the mountains.”
Folfeux stared at him. “When did you speak to Zariam?” she growled.
“Well...” Malei said. “The day when you saw that petpet, you know how I offered to go find it?” Folfeux nodded. “I knew it was Zariam, but before I could talk to him you caught up. And then I fell down the hill and you went to find a way down to me. Zariam came then and told me that they were planning an ambush. He said next time I saw him I had to follow him.”
He let out a growl. “I told him all I wanted to do was find my parents. But he laughed, and I was too dazed to do anything to him.”
“Not that you could have anyway,” said a snide voice.
Both Jumas spun to find the source of the voice. Zariam sat on the slope, tail flicking lazily. Around them the rest of his group of petpets appeared, cutting off any escape.
“You really should have thought before you went up the slope into clear view,” the Biyako continued. “Looks like you’re both trapped now. And you won’t get away this time.” His eyes fell on Malei. “The plan would have worked perfectly if it wasn’t for you! It was the perfect way to get revenge, but you ruined it. And why?” He was almost shouting. “Why didn’t you want to get back at those worthless petpets?!”
Malei looked at him calmly and said with deadly calm. “Because all I want to do is settle down.”
Zariam snorted. “Settle down. Well, Malei, I can make sure that you settle down permanently.”
The petpets closed in and Zairam was already sailing through the air towards Malei, but the sound of fierce barking and snarling broke through the pounding rain.
Two large brown blurs and a red one burst through the circle. One of the brown blurs rammed hard into the leaping Biyako and crashed with him into the ground. The second brown blur knocked two petpets off their paws and then stood, chest heaving, next to Folfeux.
Folfeux took a good look at her and gasped.
She was a magnificent Juma, tall, strong and with a fierce face. What made her more magnificent were the streaks of grey in her muzzle that showed her old age, but made her look that much more impressive and powerful. Malei was watching the other Juma as he pinned down Zariam with ease. He was a bit larger, and much bulkier than the first, and with less grey in his muzzle but more in his soaking wet tail.
“You,” the Juma snarled to the Biyako pinned beneath him, “will never come near my children again!” His voice was full of venom as he shook the terrified Zariam. “Have you got that?!”
“Yes, sir,” Zairam squeaked in a high-pitched voice.
His captor turned his head to study Malei and Folfeux, and a smiled broke out on his face. “You look so much older,” he whispered. “Who would have thought? What are your names?”
“I’m Malei,” Malei said, then looked at the stunned Folfeux.
“Folfeux,” she whispered. Immediately the Juma standing beside her – her mother! – bent down and touched muzzles with her.
“Folfeux,” she murmured. “What a beautiful name.”
Malei’s face broke out into a huge smile, and Folfeux was shocked at how much stronger and healthier he looked. “Ellyana?” he whispered as he took a step closer.
The Juma smiled and bent down to him as well. “You can call me Mum, if you like,” she said.
“Well, this is all very well,” said Kororr from his place nearby. Folfeux started as she noticed him. Where had he come from? Then she realised that he must have escaped Kiya and gone to find her parents. The Dandan continued. “But what will we do about those fugitives?”
“I think I can tell you that,” said Kiya’s crisp voice. She and Archilles had finally reached them. “They’re all coming back to the palace so they can learn a lesson about breaking the law.”
The Juma holding down Zariam backed off and faced Kiya. Gaefio, Folfeux reminded herself as she recalled his name. Her father!
“You are from the city?” he asked.
The Quilin eyed him. “Who are you?”
“Kiya, Archilles,” Folfeux said as she stepped forward. “These are my parents, Gaefio and Ellyana.”
“Yours and Malei’s parents?” Kiya said, eyeing the former thief. She stepped closer to Folfeux and whispered in her ear. “You do realise that we’ll have to arrest Malei as well,” she said. “He needs to be punished for his former crimes.”
Folfeux’s breath caught and she looked at Kiya. But the Quilin was being deadly serious. Folfeux was about to protest when an idea came to her head. She whispered something in Kiya’s ear, and after a thoughtful silence the head of the royal petpets nodded her head.
“Very well,” she said. “But make sure he stays.”
Archilles cleared his throat. “We’ll need help to escort these petpets back to the others.”
Folfeux looked at her parents, and they nodded. She fell into step beside Malei, who looked at her, eyes wide.
“What did you say to Kiya?” he asked, sounding desperate. He had just met his parents, and he didn’t want to lose them already.
“You’ll see,” Folfeux said.
I saw Zariam today in the dungeons of the palace. He didn’t look very happy. I’m glad Kiya let you go into exile. How are our parents? I’ve only been away for a week, but I really miss them already. Has anything new happened yet?
I spoke to Kiya a few days ago as well. She asked me if you were okay, which came as a surprise to me. I guess she figured that I’d rubbed off on you and that you won’t be doing anything naughty from now on. Which you won't be! I told her that you were fine.
And you were right about Kororr and Archilles. They get along extremely well. I didn’t know Kororr had such a large appetite! But they went through a meal that would have fed our whole family at the lodge.
That reminds me, how did Sam act when you spoke to him in pet? Not like that ridiculous Eyrie that we asked for directions, I hope. I wish I had been there, but Archilles really wanted me to visit.
I can imagine why Zariam wasn’t too happy. I hope he asked about me. Thanks for asking Kiya if I could go into exile. I think she knew I wouldn’t go wandering off anywhere now that I had found my parents. Gaefio’s been teaching me how sled down the slopes of the mountain. It’s almost winter, so there’s plenty of snow. The only bad thing is having to walk all the way up the slope again with wet fur. And there’s something up with Ellyana. She says she has a surprise for you, but she wouldn’t tell me. Gaefio told me, though. He said that we might have a new brother or sister soon!
Are you serious about Archilles and Kororr? I had no idea that he ate that much either. Maybe Sandans and Dandans just have large stomachs naturally. They are cousins, after all. How odd.
Sam was quite good, actually. He went kinda white for a few seconds, and then he had to sit down, but after that we had a nice long conversation. He’s a much better Gelert than Scelaris, I can assure you. But now Ellyana wants me to teach her how to speak pet, which takes away a good chunk of sledding time. And I told them about my past, and they said they didn’t care at all. It made me feel so sad and happy at the same time. It’s odd, calling them by their names, isn’t it? But one day I hope I can call them Mum and Dad.