A Square Deal Chapter 6
Into the Dark
Recap- While Edgar rests, let's check up on what is happening to his returner friends who have just ventured off into a world of restored magic.
"Daaaadddddd!! Look what I found!!" Relm screeched from down the road.
"What is it?" Clyde asked his rambunctious teenage daughter.
"It's a funny egg... oh look! It's wobbling! I think it's hatching!!" she said, looking at it with wide-eyes. Clyde pulled her back by the shoulder, with his other hand on his dagger. The little pink, speckled egg wobbled some more, then it had a little crack. Suddenly, it burst open.
"Cooooooo!!" the little white creature that emerged said.
"Oh dad! It's so cute!" Relm said, kneeling down near the newborn creature. It was white and fluffy with a pink face, but otherwise unidentifiable.
"Don't touch it, Relm. It might be dangerous," Clyde told her.
"I've never seen something like it in all of my years!" Strago said, marveling at the creature. Relm moved closer, and it crawled closer to her.
"C'mere! You're so cute!" the creature perked up, and started flapping it's wings, which had been hidden in the abundant fluff fur. "Hey, it has wings, four of them! Little feathery wings," she said, baby-talking to it as it snuggled up to her. She smiled, and petted the creature's white head.
"Relm, it looks like it's imprinted on you," Strago said.
"What?" she asked, as it yawned.
"He means, it thinks you're it's mother. Well, it doesn't seem to be vicious," Clyde said frankly.
"Can I keep it? I'll take care of it!" she said, standing up with it cradled in her arms.
"Well, I guess. But if it becomes too much to handle, we'll have to get rid of it."
"'K. Oh, he looks hungry. I wonder what he he eats?"
They had been stopped for lunch anyway, so Relm took out some chicken, celery and bread from her pack. She held them in front of the creature.
"Here, you pick."
It eyed each food, then snatched the piece of chicken.
"I guess you like meat. Oh well, you still remind me of a little birdie. You know, that sounds like a good name for you. Birdie. Do you like it?" It fluttered happily.
Locke and Celes were on an expedition, looking for a great treasure. It was said to be the unending riches of an ancient kingdom that flourished long ago.
"Are you sure this is for real?" Celes asked him, while looking at Locke's map upside-down.
"Yes, I'm positive. I've been researching for months, and everything points to this place," he answered, taking the map from her, turning it the right way, then placing it back in her hands.
"Oh, that helps..." she said, but still confused.
"Don't worry; I know where I'm going. The records say it's supposed to be the greatest treasure in the history of the world."
"What kind of riches might there be?" Celes asked, with her face close to Locke's.
"Maybe.. Mounds of gold coins and silver rings! Ruby necklaces with platinum chains. Opal earrings and crowns made of diamond, all for you, my queen!" he said, while helping her down a drop.
"I'm not deserving of such names. But, if there was such treasure, think of the wonderful wedding we could have! We could invite everyone we've ever met! I could find a ring to out-do Terra's!"
"Isn't the ring I gave you satisfying? I'm sorry if I don't have the riches of a king..." Locke said, disappointment lacing his words.
"I didn't mean it that way.. I'm sorry Locke." she kissed him.
"It's alright. If this treasure is as great as the records say, we will have the riches of a king, maybe more. But, that ring of Terra's is strange, I've never seen a stone quite like that. I don't think I'll ever match something like that for you."
"I don't care about the riches as long as you love me. But..."
"I wouldn't mind having some spending cash on hand," she smiled at Locke.
"Then let's continue on, shall we?" They made their way down a steep ravine, which led to an old wooden bridge. Celes was right about to step onto it.
"No!" Locke yelled, stopping Celes in her tracks.
"What did I do?" she asked.
"I don't trust old wooden bridges with girls I love."
"Oh, yeah," she felt like telling him that she was a big girl, and that she could take care of herself, but knew to humor Locke about certain things, left it at a thought. "I forgot about what happened to Rachel. Go ahead, test it out."
Locke went out onto the bridge and across, then came back, testing it for sturdiness. He took his rope, and tied it to the other side, then tied it around Celes' waist.
"Can I cross now?"
"Yeah, go ahead."
Celes stepped on, then went across. Locke watched her, then when she reached the other side, he took out his map.
"Hmm, the map says that the entrance should be around here somewhere.. But I didn't see any sign of any sort of door." he put the map away, and crossed.
"Maybe you have to find some sort of lever or trigger," Celes said, feeling along the walls.
"I dunno, it usually gives some hint. The only thing it said that on the written instructions for the map, that the entrance falls where you get off of the wooden bridge," he looked at the map again, not noticing that he was still standing on the bridge.
"What was that noise?" Celes said, hearing a slight creaking noise.
"Like a very faint creak..."
All of a sudden , the boards broke beneath Locke, and he fell. He caught the side with one hand.
"Locke!" Celes dove to catch his hand, but it was too late, he had already slipped off, and down. "No!!" she cried, looking down the crevasse.
Clyde, Relm, Strago, Interceptor, and Relm's new pet, named Birdie, had stopped for the night in the Figaro caves. It was safe, now that there were few monsters anymore. Clyde and Strago had killed the only monster that they could find in the cave, which was a very large gold bear. They had set it aside, so that they might have some bear meat for breakfast and to salt and dry. Little Birdie had been hungry since it hatched, but Relm was sleepy and had fallen asleep, so the creature had to go and look for food by itself. It had a keen sense of smell, so it could find it's way to something tasty in the dark quite well. It happened upon the carcass of the huge bear, which had already been skinned.
Smelling something possibly good to eat, Birdie made it's way to the beast, and nibbled. It wasn't as good as the chicken that Relm had given it before, but, it would suffice. Interceptor, Clyde's canine companion, had been awakened by the sounds of Birdie walking, and he followed the creature. The dog was the only one of the group to notice how fast the thing was growing, because it was bigger than him now, and that threatened him. He also didn't like how it was taking Relm's attention away from him. He noticed him eating the bear, and growled. Birdie saw Interceptor, and offered him a piece of bear meat as a peace offering. Interceptor sniffed it, then took a bite, accepting it, and he joined Birdie in eating the rest of it.
When morning came, Clyde awoke with the sun.
"Ahh," he said, then noticed that his trusty dog, Interceptor was not in his normal resting place, namely at Clyde's feet. "Where's interceptor? Interceptor!" he called quietly. He whistled, and heard some panting and followed the sound to the part of the cave where the bear's carcass was. Interceptor was lying down beside it, his stomach bulging beneath him.
"Interceptor! That was not for you," then he noticed the bear body; it was stripped clean to the bone -- not a scrap of flesh left. Even most of the innards and entrails were eaten. Relm, who had since waken up, followed her father in.
"Woah, what ate the whole bear up? Where's Birdie?"
"I don't know, and I hope it didn't eat that poor little thing as well," Clyde said glancing about. Interceptor got up sluggishly, and led his master around the corner. Clyde saw a big shadow from the other wall. He fingered his dagger again, and turned the corner. There he saw Birdie, cowering in the corner, now about seven feet tall.
"Birdie! Wow! You sure grew fast!" Relm commented, approaching it slowly.
The creature came out from the corner at the sight of Relm, nuzzling its head up to her. Clyde declined further discussion about what had happened in the cave, and got to packing up. The three of them, and Interceptor had to help push Birdie through some of the more narrow passages in the caves. Soon, they made it out on the South Figaro side, about a half-day's walk from the city.
"Clyde, about Birdie.." Strago said along the way.
"What?" Clyde asked.
"I've heard of creatures that will keep on having a voracious appetite until they're fully grown. Birdie might be of that sort."
"What are you suggesting?"
"The thing will be eating our food, and wanting more. I think we should go on a monster hunt, and bring the creature along so it can get it's fill."
"That's a good idea. I'll tell Relm."
Clyde told Relm about their little idea.
"Ok! Let's go!" she shouted, already grabbing her paintbrush and fighting outfit.
"No, you stay here and guard the stuff while we're gone," Clyde said.
"Aw, I don't get to have any fun."
While they were gone, Relm took her paints out and wondered what she should paint next.
Relm's powers had grown so now she could make solid objects as long as she had paints or pencil. Of course, the pictures that would become solid had to be incredibly detailed, for if one small dot was left off, it would fail to become real. Another proviso to her enhanced power, is that there had to be a possibility for the real item to be made by conventional means, so she couldn't just go making anything.
"I wish I had a way to talk to Birdie," she said to herself. Suddenly, an idea popped into her head: she had a book on magical artifacts in her pack that Locke had given her on her thirteenth birthday. It had thorough of descriptions of lost and ancient artifacts of all sorts. She flipped to one page, and found a description of an item that would be of use to her. It was a pendant that could project the thoughts of an animal into the minds of humans, allowing communication between the two.
So, she brought out her canvas, and began an attempt at painting a replica of it by the description alone. she spent about an hour putting meticulous detail into the work, when with one final shading stroke, the pendant popped off of the page.
"Schweet... Now I need a chain."
She flipped around again and came to the page about "The Oroborous chain" which was supposed to grow and contract to the wearer's neck and never break. Luckily, this item had a picture of it inside the book, which she copied quickly, making for an easy score.
"What luck! Let's see what else this book's got..."
She continued to flip through the book, looking for whatever would be useful. She finally came across something that caught her eye: it was a small drum that was once used to call a friendly dragon from anywhere in the world.
"Hmm... If I try to apply the same principal to a new artifact, knowing that it is possible... it should work! Ha ha! Relm Arrowny, you are a genius!"
Right away, she set to work on a picture of a pennywhistle, except that when she drew it, she focused her magic into it, setting a spell that would call out to Birdie whenever it was played in a certain combination of notes. Underneath the flute, before she implemented it into reality, she wrote in its function, just for posterity. "Play, 'C-D-E-B-C to summon Birdie." She added the finishing touch, and held it in her hand.
"Better not try it now, but I'm going to need to test it one of these days," she said, placing it in her pocket.
Clyde and Strago returned late in the day. Relm had painted some new clothes for her father and Strago.
"We kept on finding monsters, killing them, and Birdie would eat, and grow. We did that all day, until it didn't want to eat anymore. I think it's reached it's full size," Clyde said as Relm gave him and Strago something to eat.
"So, Where is he?" she asked them.
"Birdie should be coming any moment," Strago said.
On the horizon, a fuzzy white shape came, steadily getting closer. It flew all the way to them and landed right in front of Relm.
"Birdie! My god, you can fly!" she said, holding her arms up to his cute face. "You're huge."
The creature's head was bigger than her, about the height of her father.
"I have a present for you," she said to the happy creature, still feeling compelled to baby-talk to him. She took the pendant on the string, and strung it around the neck of Birdie. "Can you understand me now?" she said.
"Yes, I understand you, Relm," Birdie said into her mind, sharing her excitement.
"Dad, my pendant works! We can talk to Birdie now."
"Oh, really?" he said, a bit skeptical.
"Go ahead, say something."
Clyde walked up to Birdie.
"Did you have your fill of food today?" he asked with a sarcastic tone to his voice.
"Yes, I did. Thank you for finding food for me, but now I can kill my own when I need it," Birdie said to him. Clyde was astonished.
"I'm proud of you, Relm," he hugged his daughter. "You've gotten very skilled with your magic, just like your Mother..." he trailed off there, knowing to stop. Relm smiled at her father, then went up to Birdie.
"Birdie, could you give us a ride to South Figaro?"
"I'd be happy to do anything for you, Relm, and any of your friends. Get your stuff!"
"Thank you Birdie! Dad! Birdie's going to give us a ride to the city!"
They got on, and Birdie took them in the direction of the city, into the dark of night.