[Aq] Week 203: Keep Your Eyes Peeled

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Pho

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Mar 13, 2009
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New Zealand
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[1080 words]

The morning after family dinner, Mille packed his things and made his way along rope bridges from tree to tree to another house nearby. Here, a slightly older, slightly taller male with green plumage awaited him, leaning against their door. He had a green and red crest with a few blue streaks through it. The avian pushed himself off the doorway and said, "Well, well, well, looks like someone made it out of bed!"

Straightening up his backpack, Mille replied, "Yeah, yeah, shall I call you 'Mister Always-Ready'?"

Mille's senior started making his way towards the ledge and said, "I'd rather be called Sharpy than anything stupid like that," then leapt straight off it. The slightly younger avian followed suit, and the two spread their arms and coasted downwards, gliding around trees almost effortlessly before landing on another platform. Sharpy then resumed, "Well, everyone else will be calling me Erit."

They made their way down another staircase before launching off again, eventually reaching ground level. As Red and Sharpy made their way along a winding path at the base of the trees, they came upon a group of Enlil busy repairing fishing nets before heading out for the day. One of the fishermen looked up and spotted Mille and yelled out "Hey! Our prize catcher is escaping!"

A chorus of laughs rolled around the group, and a lady wandered over and patted Mille on the shoulder and said, "If you ever get homesick, just remember we always have a spot for you on the crew."

The rainbow-streaked avian turned to her and said, "Thanks. I'm gonna miss you guys while I'm gone."

Overall Mille was excited to go on an adventure, but his eyes gave away just a hint of sadness, because he really liked his home.

Sharpy then interjected, "Don't you worry, I'll make sure he comes back in one piece."

He then turned back to his younger cousin and said, "Come on, we've got places to go."

The pair said their goodbyes and then headed out along a dirt path approximately parallel to the shore, about twenty metres in. Once they settled into a rhythm, the blue-streaked man asked, "So, you remember why we're heading out eh?"

Stepping carefully over some fallen branches across the track, Mille replied, "Yeah, Grandpa said that staying isolated isn't the best idea nowadays, so it's good to go see the world." He paused for a moment, hopped back down onto the track and said, "Oh and I realized there might be tasty food out there too." The leading avian looked back to his co-traveller, expecting a deadpan face glaring right at him, but those eyes were pointed straight past him. He then asked, "Uhh…?"

"Shh!"

Sharpy pointed the finger he was named after further along the track. He then whispered, "Do you see that in the marshes over there?"

Red turned back around, looked a bit closer and whispered back, "What, you mean the water horse over there? That shouldn't be a problem."

"No, just behind it."

"The cooling leaves?"

The questioner just glared in response to that useless answer.

"Wha… oh. I didn't notice that Moss Barb. Sorry, I should've looked further ahead."

"Good thing there's two of us. Let's head a bit further uphill so we don't disturb them."

The cousins quietly made their way back along the track to a fork, and headed along a more inland path to avoid the marsh fauna. As they made their way within the edge of the forest, Mille said, "So, just double-checking. We're walking along the coast for a while because it's cheap, taking the ferry across to the Isle of Zephii, walking across the island to the city, and then taking a super expensive airship straight to Terminus?"

"Yep."

"And we're going straight there because it's kinda the centre of the world?"

"Yep"

And it's located almost at one of the ends of the world?"

"Yep."

"Heh, I think I'm learning already."

Just as the variegated avian made his little remark, there was a rustling sound off to the side. Their pair paused, looking into the bushes to see what it might be. Mille spotted a red cap in amongst the bushes, and two green eyes. He whispered, "It's..." and was promptly cut short by Erit, who whispered back, "I can see at least five, so they might be surrounding us. On three, run to the left. One, two, three!"

In a sudden flutter the pair sprung from their position and ran full speed, jumping, leaping, springing off everything they could. Dodging vines, ducking under branches, leaping over hollows. Leaves rushed past as man-sized mushrooms lumbered out from their hiding places, cutting off escape routes one after another. Speed doesn't matter if your prey has nowhere to go.

Ducking and dodging their way along an upward slope, the racing cousins scraped past a pair of smaller, faster Aseroe, and launched themselves straight off a cliff. Arms outstretched, they floated down towards ground level with their hearts pounding. The final push as the pair landed disturbed some dry leaves, which swirled around before settling back onto the ground.

As soon as he caught his breath, Mille said, "Okay, okay, I totally need to work on noticing things."

Erit smiled and responded, "You took the words straight out of my mouth."

Now a safe distance from the hungering mushrooms, the pair resumed their journey. After a few more days of avoiding hazards and roosting in carefully chosen treetops, Mille and Erit made it to the ferry, and had a peaceful trip across the channel to the Isle of Zephii. Of course that never stopped Sharpy from scanning his gaze across the water as they went.

After landing ashore the pair continued their ground-based journey, admiring the local flora and fauna - from a distance, where necessary. After about a week, the lights of Zephii appeared ahead.

Red's steps took on a sprightly character as he saw the illumination ahead. As he started walking just that little bit faster, he exclaimed, "We're almost there!"

Sharpy, keeping his standard pace said, "That was my thought the first time I got here too, but it's still a while away yet. If we find somewhere to roost tonight we'll get there at a reasonable time tomorrow."

Mille, a little disappointed, said, "Oh, tomorrow then."

A bit further along the path, the travellers found some suitable trees far enough off to the side, and settled down for the night.
 

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