Chapter 15:

Big Baby Birds

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

Luna forced me to add the Golden Favrons to our party. There were three of them, and they all took up one party slot. They were all low level, but still higher level then me when I wasn't buffed by Luna's magic.

Within a few hours of taking care of them, they were literally growing before our eyes. Their sizes at least doubled. When we first saw them, they were about the size of a child. Now they were almost my height. Zumi said these things would be rideable once they were fully grown.

Needless to say, they ate a lot. Luna luckily located a fruit tree that we used to feed them. Boy, did they make a mess…

It was probably around noon when we realized these birds could walk on their own, following Luna like giant ducklings chasing their mother.

“What precious things!” She cheered. “Follow me, fowl of eventual gold!”

The Favrons all still looked fluffy and white. Not a single gold feather to be seen. I wondered when that luster would appear.

After messing around with the birds, we finally got back on our journey. We assumed that there was probably some kind of statue somewhere nearby, like in the last ring. Everyone split up and kept an eye out.

About an hour into searching, someone let out a call.

“Found something!” Charlie shouted, also speaking out his location.

He’d definitely found the statue, but this one looked a little different then the last.

It had two people, a man and a woman, like the last one, but locking hands and holding them up to the sky. The man had a sword, and the woman had a shield.

There was a plaque under it too, and Zumi got to work translating.

“It says that the two of you need to apologize to each other for your disagreement, then you’ll get the challenge.”

Had whatever been testing us this whole time watched us fight? If something was omnipotently watching us, it made me wonder what forces were at work here, leading us together.

“Do we not need to do anything else?” I asked.

Zumi shook her head. “It just needs you two to settle your differences so the test can continue.”

It wasn't like I had any bad blood toward her, and she seemed the same, but saying sorry for fighting would still be a good way to show trust. It took a little effort to swallow my pride, but I eventually decided to apologize.

“I’m sorry for fighting with you earlier.” I said with a breath.

"I'm not sorry in the slightest," She argued. "I said nothing wrong. I wanted to save them, and we did."

Her answer surprised me. She was going to make this difficult by saying things like that. Her princess pride was really showing.

"Luna," Zumi spoke up, "aren't you a little regretful that you two were yelling at each other in the first place?"

"I don't understand…"

"You were right to keep the birds safe, but yelling at each other is the only issue here. People fight. I’ve fought with my brother plenty of times in the past, but we always apologize for the argument, even if one of us was in the right.”

So it wasn’t really about either of us being right or wrong, it's just that we had to be willing to make up when it was all over.

People say mean things when they fight. Zumi was right that we argued all the time, and I know for a fact I’ve called her names I didn't mean when we were children. If you never ask them to forgive you for those words, then you’ve basically admitted to them being true.

Calling people names in a fight isn’t anything new to couples or family. I think it's a basic human need to devalue the other person when you’ve been challenged. For instance, Charlie calles me Pre-mage, and I call him Cougar Killer. We basically have a perpetual rivalry going.

"Alright." She gave a firm nod. "I do apologize for fighting, and calling you something so horrible.” Was rapscallion really that bad of a word to her? “But my belief has not changed. I hope you can accept that."

Fair enough. I wasn't going to force her to stop believing something when she was right, but I just hope next time she has a better reason than a simple gut feeling.

Clang! Clung!

The sword fell from the statue's hand, and so did the shield. A beam of light blasted out from the plaque and shot into a stone door.

The door vaporized, revealing a coliseum entrance.

"It says…" she bit her lip, "...the two of you need to work together to defeat a monster."

If her and I hadn't been able to fight that giant bird monster together, I'd have been a little more worried. But our chances were pretty good, especially if Luna shared her magic with me.

"It's a…Chimera," Zumi continued.

That part however, absolutely worried me.

"There will be an item you have to retrieve inside the coliseum too. Some sort of gem."

This reminded me of old gladiator stories. There were tournaments all over the world where people would have to do challenges like these. In times of old, they used to be life or death matches, but in modern times, they’d make sure everyone survived.

I felt like this was definitely of the classic variety. We’d need to be careful, or we could really get hurt. Or worse…

“Think we can manage?” I turned to her, taking her hand.

She nodded with a determined smile. “I believe we can manage anything together.”

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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