The Last Water Bird

The Last Water Bird

An Excerpt from Ryan Hsu

A May 2024 Monthly Story Challenge Winner 

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       Toot Toot. 

       A horn sounded in Tanor Wood. Toxic the hawk jumped off his favorite spruce log and onto his feet. Stretching his wings, he was ready for anything to happen. He was going to train so he could maybe become a Guardian of Tanor Wood!  

Tanor Wood was an ancient forest. It had a humongous mountain range that almost touched the clouds. The trees were populated with animals of all different sizes ranging from bears to ants and it was home to a couple of exotic animals. Especially one particular leopard. 

Toxic looked out to the Tanor Wood training field and sighed happily. He saw a huge battlefield with swords lined up along one side, ready to be chosen by their destined owner. The field stretched so far it was as if it touched the horizon. The sun was just rising and was a spectacular sight of blinding colors. He felt nervous as he noticed the other hawks, all big and mighty, strutting around with confidence. It made him feel extra timid and his heart started beating faster.  He took a deep breath and walked forward.

Sword, one of the two leaders of Tanor Wood announced, “If you would like to try to become a Guardian of Tanor Wood, please pick a miraculous weapon that suits you. Begin practicing against another hawk and I will monitor. Thank you.” 

Toxic began to choose a weapon. He was quite small for a hawk, about a head smaller or more that is, so there were not too many things that would be good for him. He picked up a gleaming glistening sword. That is way too big and bulky for me! He picked up a somewhat small thin shining silver dagger. Even though it was still a little heavy, he decided it was just right.  

Black, the second lead Hawk yelled, “Start fighting! Why is everybody taking so long to pick a weapon?”

Toxic started fighting against a hawk named Tangle. Toxic was not a very good fighter, so he probably didn’t have a good chance of becoming a Guardian of Tanor Wood.  Although he knew this, he still had hope in his heart that he would one day become one.  

As the day went on, he got more and more exhausted as the two lead hawks watched them carefully. Sword and Black already had Guardians of Tanor Wood, but they needed more because an evil leopard known as The Unstoppable Troll was trying to take over. Everybody wanted to become one because it was a job of honor, but a very tough one.

“By the way, The Unstoppable Troll has already destroyed many forests and habitats,” said Sword. 

“The Unstoppable Troll maybe the leopard that obliterated my village,” said Tangle under his breath.

“I doubt it. You don’t even have evidence,” Toxic whispered back.

“What other evil leopard could it be? I don’t even think there is another leopard that bad out there,” Tangle shot back.

“Stop bickering you two! It's getting everyone distracted. Plus you two aren’t listening,” demanded Sword. “The Unstoppable Troll has finally made his move after years and years. He strikes when nobody suspects it. He’s taken over Green Wood,  Sequoia County, even Fern Palace, a strong kingdom. When he’s by himself and surrounded, he easily takes a swipe at ‘em and they all get destroyed. Be warned.”

At the end of the day, Black warned, “For those who have come from the edges of Tanor Wood and beyond, I would like to warn you that even in this protected place there are still many dangers. For instance, do not go near the mysterious secret waterfall because there are dangerous crocodiles in and around it. Sword and I will discuss who will become a Guardian of Tanor Wood. We will post the results in a week or so. Training Dismissed.”

Toxic sighed deeply and said, “Gosh, the waterfall is my most favorite place to explore. This is going to be a very difficult year.” As Toxic moped back to his house, his friend Talk the squirrel lunged out of the bushes! He whacked Toxic in the face with his small bushy tail! Toxic jumped backwards in surprise.

“Scaredy cat, scaredy cat,” teased Talk.

“Don’t do that Talk! I could have seriously injured you,” retorted Toxic.

“Ha, I'd like to see you do that,” chuckled Talk.

“Well, anyways,” Toxic said. “Could you meet me early tomorrow morning near the waterfall?”

Talk replied, ” Sure, I’ll bring my small bow and arrow I always carry with me. See you there!” 

The next morning, Toxic met up with Talk.

“Let’s go explore the waterfall,” whispered Toxic.

“Sure,” Talk whispered back. The waterfall was also Talk’s favorite place to explore. They disappeared into and behind the waterfall. 

“Hang on, what is that?” asked Toxic, pointing at a hidden mysterious egg.

“I have no clue, but let’s go get it out of this place,” exclaimed Talk, who was always prepared for adventure.

As soon as Toxic touched the egg, he jumped back in astonishment and said, ”That egg is made out of ice or something like that!”

“Here, let’s put it on these sticks and leaves,” whispered Talk.

The moment they had rolled the egg on top of the sticks, Toxic screamed, ”A bask of crocodiles is on us!” He was right.

Toxic and Talk heaved the egg out as quickly as their arms and legs would carry them, but the crocodiles were nearly caught up. When they got outside, the egg’s shell melted faster than a blink of an eye.

“It's, it’s a Water bird,” staggered Talk.

“Water birds aren’t real though,” replied Toxic.

The water bird had blue wings more smooth than silk, eyes deep green the color of sea glass, a small fluffy head, and a pretty small body. Toxic guessed it was going to become bigger though. 

THUD!

A very unhappy Black landed beside them. Magic flowed through Black’s sword. 

“You are not allowed out of the waterfall!” screeched Black. The crocodiles turned, and scattered wildly.      

Toxic started, ”It wasn't..."

Black interrupted, "Water bird! I would have never thought I'd see one again. Quickly meet me in my lair.”

They walked into a comfy home with walls smoother than silk, and weirdly, there was a trapdoor visible under the…

Before they could look at anything else, Black explained in a serious tone, “To defeat The Unstoppable Troll you must find the Misty Stone. The Misty Stone is a stone that heals and destroys dark magic. Unfortunately, we’ve figured out that The Unstoppable Troll has cursed animals and they are under his control.” 

 “Can we figure out which are his spies or which are going to help us?” asked Toxic.

“Yes,” replied Black. “His thugs, I'll call them, have yellow eyes. Therefore, they can be told apart. Here, I have some gifts for your adventure.” He handed Talk a bow and arrow made of very fine wood.

Talk exclaimed, “Wow! Thanks, Black. I could shoot faster than the speed of light. I can’t believe you gave this to me.”

Black then handed over a gold, gleaming, glistening, lightweight dagger. 

“Gosh! Thank you so much, Black,” said Toxic. “This is lighter than a cloud.”  

Black said, “Please take this map. It will show you where the different pieces of the misty stone are. I am not sure how many pieces there are. Pack food and drink. Good luck. Also, bring your water hawk along because, if anybody beside a water hawk touches the stone, your hand or paw will go right through.”

The next morning, they saw a glowing spot on the map that looked like a small, jungle-like island.    

That’s where we are supposed to go,” realized Toxic. Toxic put the map in his bag with the water and food. “Let’s walk toward the side of the water that is closest to the island.” 

When they reached the shore, Toxic said, “Oh no, how are we going to get through the water to get to the island?” He scratching his head.

“Just fly me over there,” said Talk. 

“You're too heavy. Plus, with Rocket that would be impossible. I'm also guessing Rocket can’t fly,” sighed Toxic. 

“You named him Rocket?” exclaimed Talk.

“Yep, but we still need help,” said Toxic.

“Did someone say help?” asked an eavesdropping dolphin. 

“Yes, please help us get to that island in the distance,” pleaded Toxic.

“Peep peep,” Rocket agreed.

“Wait, is that a Water bird?” asked the dolphin. 

“PEEP PEEP!” Rocket scolded, flapping his wings.

“Hop on my back,” said the dolphin, after realizing he totally was one.

They finally landed on the land and the dolphin dropped them off.

“Just call me by my name and I will come. My name is Tetchro,” said Tetchro.

“Thank you, Tetchro,” Talk called out. 

As they headed into the jungle, Toxic said, ”We should get a drink of water. Hang on, where is the water?”

Suddenly, they heard a cackling laugh. An elephant with yellow eyes had stolen their stuff!

“Give us our water or else,” yelled Talk, loading his bow and arrow.

“SQUAACK,”said Rocket as blue light streamed from her mouth. The elephant disappeared in a matter of seconds! 

“Wow! Rocket you really got us back our water in fashion,” exclaimed Toxic.

“Peep,” Rocket said, pointing his wing at a whirlpool in the distance.

“Maybe part of the misty stone is in there?” wondered Toxic.

“Only one way to find out,” answered Talk. 

As they arrived at the whirlpool, Talk asked Toxic and Rocket,” could one of you fly over the whirlpool to see if the Misty Stone is in there?” 

“I will fly over there since probably Rocket cannot fly,” sighed Toxic. He flew over it for a little while.

When he came back he said sadly,” I can see a piece of the Misty stone. I don’t think we will ever get it because it is in a whirlpool.” As Toxic and Talk were discussing what to do, Rocket walked toward the whirlpool and teetered in on accident! Toxic and Talk lunged and stopped before diving in. But, it was too late. 

“It’s all over,” wailed Toxic.

“No, it isn’t..." Talk’s voice trailed off. Just then, Rocket came flying out of the Whirlpool with a piece of the Misty Stone in his beak!

“You're alive and you can fly and you got a piece of the misty stone,” cried Toxic, as he ran over to hug Rocket. There was not much time to celebrate, so after a little while, Rocket pointed her beak at the map. It was glowing! 

Talk exclaimed, "A glowing point on the map. I guess that’s where we are going next.”

“Quest one completed, but more to go,” laughed Toxic. 

The three friends headed back toward the beach, talking and laughing. In the distance there was a pond where their next adventure awaited them.

The end. (For now.)

Author's note: Hello, fellow readers! Thank you for reading my story. Please give me any suggestions you have. Thank you again and the next adventure awaits you…


To be continued...

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