The Wise Whoot: Guardian of the Elements - Part Two
Blaze watched his sister, unsure of what she was saying. “A secret?”
“Shh! I told you to be quiet!” Rivulet scolded playfully. “Now, do you want to know or not?”
Blaze hesitated, then nodded eagerly, wanting to get his attention off of Zihark for a while. The Wise Whoot could always take care of himself, so what was Blaze all worried about? “Yes, I’d like to know.”
“Great!” the little Blue Doglefox exclaimed. “Okay, then. Get ready to do some exploring!”
Blaze was forced to follow his sister out the door, calling out to his father that they’d be out for a while. A soft breeze blew in their faces as they stepped outside. Summer was a wonderful time of year... but sometimes Blaze believed it just got too hot. Zihark had laughed last summer, when Blaze had complained about the warm weather. When Zihark had been teaching Blaze about summoning motes, and about how each creature had a certain element inside of them, he told Blaze that his element was fire. Perhaps this was why he got too hot in the summer, because of his element?
“Where are we going?” Blaze asked as he and his sister came upon the edge of the Petpet Village. Set before them was a forest that led from Uni Meadows to another meadow, though no one knew what meadow for sure. When Blaze had been growing up, he remembered the many warnings his father had told him, about how forests could hide creatures you’ve never seen before. Blaze, on the other hand, found the place quite fun, and just by going for a stroll in the forest, back when he was little, encouraged his love for adventure.
“We’re going into the forest, okay?” Rivulet mumbled, keeping her voice low. “I want you to keep this a secret! Alright?”
Blaze nodded. “But what’s-”
“Big Brother! I’ll show you when we get there!” Rivulet shook her head, as if impatient. Blaze smiled as he followed after her.
The forest was just as Blaze remembered it as they walked through. There were Buzzers flying here and there, sending a hello to the two Doglefoxes. A couple Weewoos and other winged Petpets were chirping all around, making the atmosphere full of sound. The trees gave enough shade from the warm summer sun. Every now and then Blaze would sink into some mud, but he’d enjoy the cool feeling it had compared to the heat. He hoped that wherever this ‘secret’ was, he hoped it was far away from the heat.
When Blaze passed a large oak tree, which he remembered climbing up once pretending he was an explorer on Terror Mountain, he stopped. He remembered this area being active with other creatures, such as Petpets and Petpetpets. Plus, hadn’t there been some more trees on this path they were on? It seemed as if some of the trees had just vanished in order to make something else move there.
He stopped his sister. “Rivulet, wait. I remember this place. It’s not what it used to be.”
The Blue Doglefox smiled at him. “I know, it’s really weird, almost like magic...” Her voice trailed off as she continued along the path. Blaze cocked his head, but didn’t say any more as she continued to lead the way.
Blaze was right, some of the trees had disappeared from sight. As he was pondering what Rivulet had said about magic, suddenly all the trees in front of him disappeared into thin air. Blaze blinked as the sun’s light blinded him for a few moments. He finally was able to see what was in front of them. The forest had strangely opened up to a clearing, and there were no trees whatsoever in this clearing. No trees, except for one. A giant one, much larger than the oak tree that they had passed earlier, stood in the middle of the area. This tree overlooked the whole clearing, and it leaned over a small pond. Blaze was awestruck. He had never seen a tree so big before, not even when he had traveled all over Neopia. Everything was completely silent here, as if the forest didn’t want to disturb this tree.
When he heard Rivulet, her voice was surprising low in a whisper. “Blaze, this is my secret place. No one else knows about this, not Mommy, Daddy, or even our sisters!” She smiled. “You’re the only other one who knows, okay? So don’t go telling others! Promise?”
Blaze nodded. “I promise.” He paused. “Riv, you know this place wasn’t here before, right? I used to know every corner of this forest, but....”
Rivulet took a step forward. “I told you earlier, it’s like magic took over this area of the forest. It was just here one day. So, do you want to go swimming or not? The water is always the perfect temperature, and we can even climb the tree too!” She looked as if she had been waiting for the moment to tell someone about this place.
Blaze agreed and the two of them raced to the pond, the big brother letting his sister win. Blaze jumped into the pond after her, and realized she was right. It was the perfect temperature, not too cold, not too warm. It felt nice too, with the summer heat pouring onto them. They spent some time swimming, then after that climbed the giant tree. There was a limb that hung over the pond, and Rivulet wondered if they could jump from there into the water. Blaze took the challenge and leapt off the branch, landing in the pond with a splash. Rivulet followed, giving a cry of delight.
The two of them relaxed on the water, letting the current swish them this way and that. Blaze glanced toward the tree when he said, “I think this place needs a name.”
Rivulet looked at him. “A name?”
Blaze nodded. “Yeah, it doesn’t feel right just calling this clearing the ‘place’. Why don’t we think of something to go with it?”
The two of them thought in silence. Blaze looked up at the tree again, trying to think of a good name. As he was watching the leaves blow, he cocked his head. There was no wind in this place, so how could a bunch of leaves move? Blaze took a closer look. He couldn’t sense another presence, so no one was up in the tree. He wondered if the tree could be alive, like the Money Tree or the Brain Tree. Still, he hadn’t seen a face earlier. As the leaves stilled, he grew a strange feeling that this tree was indeed special. Was it truly magical?
“The Guardian of Magic,” Rivulet suddenly murmured.
“Huh?” Blaze turned to her.
She was looking up at the tree. Blaze noticed her eyes had a strange glow to them, as if she had just taken a trip around the world in one day. Without looking away from the tree, she continued, “The tree... I think its name should be the Guardian of Magic.” She turned to Blaze. “What do you think?”
“How did you come up with that?”
Rivulet was quiet as she thought for a moment. “I’m... not sure. I just felt something strange inside.”
Blaze looked at the tree again. Was it having an influence on Rivulet? Or did Rivulet just come up with that name? He shook his head, confused. “Well, I like that name, Riv. Let’s stick with that. The Guardian of Magic, huh? Sounds mystical.”
The tree seemed to stir again, and Blaze looked at it quizzically. He did feel something inside... something like this wasn’t just an ordinary tree. This place was special, that was one conclusion he knew was true.
“Let’s call this place the ‘Hideout’, for now. This is our Hideout, right, Riv?”
It seemed as if Rivulet was in a trance before she replied, “Yeah, our Hideout....”
The two of them arrived home not a moment before lunch was being served. Rivulet said that there was a huge chance that Plum might make something. They took their spots at the table, after washing their dirty paws from their adventure. Thankfully their fur had dried up before they had gotten home, or else they would’ve had to answer questions on how they got so wet.
Blaze was a little surprised, seeing his mother sitting at the table with them, waiting for the chef to set the food in front of their spots. Blaze turned to find Plum placing macaroni and cheese into nine bowls.
She set the first bowl down in front of her mother, then to her father. The next went to Blaze, who smelled the bowl with delight. After Plum was finished placing the bowls, she grabbed some silverware and gave one spoon or fork to each Doglefox. It wasn’t long after that when they ate.
Steam was still rising from his bowl when Blaze took his first bite. The macaroni and cheese had a very good taste to it, especially the cheese. He loved it immediately. It was different from what Jewel usually made, because she was a professional. This meal was just plain and simple, to Blaze it was perfect.
“This is good, Plum,” Snowdrop said.
Plum looked at her. “Really? I think I should’ve added a little more milk, or maybe some salt.”
“Mmm! I like it!” Rivulet and Rosa both exclaimed.
Plum blushed as the meal continued. Blaze found himself eating the whole thing, and he asked for more. Plum smiled as she got up to give him a refill.
“So,” Dusk broke the silence in his gruff but gentle voice, “what did you do after breakfast, Rivulet and Blaze? You ran out of the house as if you were late for something.”
Blaze and Rivulet exchanged looks and giggled. “We went to our Hideout,” Blaze said truthfully.
“You have a hideout?” Forrest asked. “Can I see it?”
“And me?” Rosa asked.
Rivulet shook her head and looked serious. “No. You can only be invited to see the Hideout, by either me or Blaze. We can’t just let anyone see it.”
“Well, why not?” Snowdrop asked.
Rivulet shrugged. “Those are the rules.”
“Then we’ll just follow you next time you go out, then!” Sunshine shot back.
Blaze shook his head. “I’m sure you’ll see it one day, but now’s not the right time. I promise we’ll invite you one day.”
His sisters hesitated, as if they didn’t want to lose the fight. Blaze and Rivulet winked at each other. This was a secret that they wouldn’t dare give up so easily.
Suddenly Blaze felt a strange pain come from his left shoulder. He flinched in pain and heard a cry that wasn’t his own. Zihark? he thought. What was going on? Was something wrong? Did it have anything to do the Whoot?
Fear seemed to engulf him as his eyes began to close. He wasn’t sure what was happening as he became unconscious.
To be continued...