Chapter 29:

King of the Stooges

Full Moon! Through the Rings of Love

These three birds might be the only way we get back to my world in time. That’s exactly what I feared Zumi’d say, because it meant we’d need to fly on them through space.

Low and behold, it's exactly what she suggested.

“Brother, these birds are powerful enough to fly through space. Taking one back would get us there long before Mond.”

“Is it safe?” I examined Moe, who seemed to be at the top of the pecking order among the three based on size.

“As safe as riding a horse,” Zumi replied. “They’ll get you there in time. The question is, how are we breathing humans getting through the airlessness of space?”

Luna had that Breath of Life ability that allowed us to breathe in this low air environment. We could just use that and hope it worked out there too. It was still active since she cast it earlier, so it wouldn't run out anytime soon.

The Emperor came up to one of the birds, then brushed its golden crest feathers.

“I’ve only heard legends of these fowl. My daughter, you found them?”

“We raised them after we found them as babies in the second ring,” Luna said. “They’re like our children.”

He gave an approving nod, then requested some of the men go and saddle the birds so we could mount up. Those guys were amazed to be so close to such majestic creatures.

Luna and I were riding tandem on Moe. Zumi got Larry, and Charlie sat on Curly. Curly didn’t seem very happy to have him on board.

“Hey!” Charlie was getting bucked all over the place. “Tarnish feathered fiend of gold!” Charlie shouted in anger. “Stop throwing me around! You’ll mess up my pristine hair!”

“Is that all you're worried about?” I snickered.

“He spent two hours this morning putting each hair in place instead of helping us escape.” Zumi shook her head in disappointment. “He justified it by calling it, ‘stress relief.’” She made air quotes.

This guy…what a dork.

Not that he was all to blame. Curly wasn’t cooperating with him much either.

It looked like Moe was getting testy with them, swatting Curly in the face a few times with his wing. Larry let out a chirp like laugh, then Moe also swatted him in the face.

"Alright, you three, enough fighting." Luna ordered. "Listen to your big brother."

Once they calmed down, it seemed like Charlie and Curly were more cooperative, begrudgingly so.

“Luna, you ready?” I looked behind to see her.

“Yes.” Her arms hugged tighter to me.

The birds might have been offering up themselves to lend a hand, or a wing, but it became very apparent that they didn't exactly understand what they were supposed to be doing.

They were flying us in circles around the station, then they'd land back in the garden and start munching on some of the crystal like fauna.

"This isn’t working…" I commented.

"Moe," Luna got his attention, “we must go back to Walden's planet. Can you please take us there?"

Moe gave as sad a look as a bird could, then turned to the other two and started squawking. They all started squawking together, and just made a cacophony of loud noises.

"That doesn't give me much confidence." I said.

Something had to be wrong with them if they weren’t doing what we’d asked. Maybe they were tired? They did just fledge, after all.

The Emperor shook his head. “You must be assertive! Do not suggest, command!” He threw his fist to the stars. “These are birds who follow leadership, blessing those they see as worthy of their loyalty. Only kings have tamed them in history, now prove to them that you are one too!”

I felt ashamed having to hear that peptalk, but I shook off the tension and realized that he was right. If I wanted to tame these birds, I’d have to prove I was worth the loyalty they’d give.

“A…Alright!” I announced. “Today, we head for our planet! Two very evil people wish to destroy the magical connection between these worlds, and we need to stop them! Moe, you’ll be leading the charge, get us there as quick as you can!”

“RAAAWW!” Moe stood on his hind legs, squawking into space. The others did the same. They were careful not to throw us off them in the process.

“Excellent!” The Emperor shouted. “Get going! Bring those fools back here so they may be properly punished for their insolence!”

Finally, we were able to take flight in the right direction. All three zoomed up into the air, aiming right at our planet. Would instinct lead them to the crystal temple we were looking for?

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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