CH1 From Lumber Jack to . . .
1k 14 28
X
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Width
Reset
X
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

"Is that a Flamingo?" Alex said to himself.

Taking a closer look at the bird, Alex noticed that it was still breathing. He had a lot of questions. Does this count as roadkill? Why would there be a flamingo in Canada? Should I try to save it or search for how to best cook it? Did it escape from a zoo or something? Should I contact a ranger? Does Flamingo taste like chicken?

Alex decided to follow his curiosity more than anything else because it seemed odd that an animal so far from its natural habitat should have been injured. The last time he had seen one before today was in a book about exotic animals found on vacation spots around the world. As he reached down to pick up the poor creature, he heard a strange sound coming from deep inside his pocket. His phone! It must be vibrating but why did no notification come up saying who it is? He took it out of his pocket and looked at it. For some reason it showed him pink text on a black background.

>New Quest: Save Fufi the Flamingo

Fufi has been hit by a truck. She needs help. Please save Fufi.

***

"A quest?!?" Alex said in a confused voice. "I must have got a virus on my phone or something." Alex shrugs. He found it odd that his phone knew that he had found a bird on the side of the street and knew her name. He decided to think about that weird happening later.

As he tried to figure out what to do next the flamingo struggled against him and let loose a loud squawk. Alex grabbed her neck to keep her from moving again until she stopped making noise and went limp in his arms.

"Okay, okay," said Alex. "I'll save you." He slowly lifted her into his jeep where she continued to lay limply across the front seat. She was surprisingly light for such a large bird. He gently placed her onto a towel he kept behind the passenger seats for this kind of thing then made a call to the vet. After talking for over thirty minutes they finally agreed to check out the bird he found. Most of the vets around here specialized in large animals. Rural areas tended to have large populations of cattle, horses, and sheep. So it didn't take long before Alex drove to town and entered the vet's office with the injured flamingo cradled in his arms.

"You know we don't get too many exotic cases down here," The doctor said as she walked toward him. The rest of the staff moved out of the way so she could see the poor animal. The doctor put her hand on Fufi's body just under her wings. Fufi shuddered at her touch but remained still. "What happened?"

"I found her on the side of the road when I was on my way back from work." Alex said. "She appeared to have broken a wing and is pretty darn banged up."

"I'll need to examine her further to make sure there isn't anything else wrong." She reached up and held one wing away from her body while trying to find a pulse point. "Good girl! Don't worry, your friend will be fine once we patch you up." As she finished saying that she pushed on the broken wing bone, which caused the flamingo to gasp in pain, though not much more than she had been already. It was then that the flamingo looked at Alex for help. The flamingo must have thought he would save her if it was needed. Alex couldn't believe it. Her trust was almost overwhelming.

The doctor pointed at the Flamingo's head. "I'm surprised that she is still alive. There is some kind of pink gem lodged into her head." The doctor asked him about it later after taking care of her other injuries and getting the bird fixed up with medical supplies. "How did you come to possess a Pink Pearl of Courage?" She asked.

"Pink Pearl of Courage?" Alex asked, sounding confused.

The doctor snickered, "I'm just kidding. This whole thing reminds me of an anime I watched when I was a little girl. There was a cat with a moon crest between the eyes. Who knows how it got there. Maybe you've discovered a new breed of gem Flamingo or some weirdo at the zoo decided to have fun with super glue."

Alex laughed at the joke before the doctor continued her explanation. "It is unusual to see a pink stone like this on such a beautiful creature." Alex was only half listening as his mind wandered.

Alex said, "I thought this might be some kind of a prank. I got this text saying to save Fufi right after I stopped on the side of the road." Alex then pulled out his phone to show the doctor the text but couldn't find it. He had checked three times but hadn't found anything since leaving home except for his mail app and maps.

The doctor chuckled, "Have you been watching too many Magical Girl Animes? Things like that don't happen in real life." She grabbed a tablet from her desk and began reading through her notes from their conversation. "As far as I can tell there is no reason that your pink gem should be embedded into your flamingo's head. I don't think it is a good idea to try to remove it. It appears to be fused with the head and might cause more damage if I try to surgically remove it."

"Well what are we supposed to do?" Alex asked frustrated at the doctor's reply.

The doctor smiled at Alex, "I'm assuming that you were not planning on making Fufi kabobs. It is illegal to hunt Flamingos, you know. Maybe get some fish and see if she'll eat it. You could call some zoos and see if any of them are missing a Flamingo with a gem in its head."

Alex made sure Fufi would be okay before heading back to his jeep with the supplies the vet provided him. After arriving at his cabin he immediately started searching the internet for answers about his gem and his mysterious quest. It was mostly articles like his which talked about people who went on quests because they received texts or emails telling them where to go or something like that. Most of the results he found were in fact light novels, manga, or anime. He searched the internet for mysterious quests and gems in forehead. What other results would he get?

He finally found an article that might have some clues as to what he had gotten himself into.

In Japan there is a series of books called Kuroshitsuji. The stories revolve around a young noble girl named Ryoko Watanabe. Her family is murdered when she is still very young. In order to avenge her parents and continue their legacy she trains herself to become a powerful vampire hunter. During one battle with another vampire her gem is struck by the blade of his sword. As the wound closes the gem embeds itself into her skull and acts as her own soul stone, giving her powers beyond the realm of mortals. The story ends with her going on many adventures and discovering many secrets throughout her long life.

Alex sighed and left the computer. "Fufi, trying to find information on you from the internet is just going to give results to fantastical stories." He then went back to the chest freezer he had in the garage and pulled out some frozen northern pikeminnow that he caught on one of his fishing trips with his buddies a while ago. He then set the vacuum sealed frozen fish in the sink and filled it up with lukewarm water. "Well, I guess we can find out is Flamingos eat raw fish after this thaws."

Alex sat down in his worn leather recliner and regarded the pink Flamingo. The blanket wrapped bird lifted her head and stared at him. "I suppose you can't tell me where you came from?" Alex half-asked the bird. Fufi just made a honking noise back at him like a goose. Alex spent the next 30 minutes calling the handful of zoos in the province. Most of them didn't even have Flamingos because . . . well why would a Canadian zoo need a tropical bird? Some of the people thought he was just making a prank call and seemed annoyed.

"Guess she wasn't born here," Alex said with a chuckle before hanging up the phone call. The fish had thawed at this time so he cut it out of the vacuum sealed bags and placed it into a bowl to feed to Fufi the Flamingo. He slowly unwrapped her wings, being sure to keep pressure off the injured area until they were fully free from the tight bindings. "Be careful, don't break any more bones." Alex said.

She attempted to flap her wings but only one moved correctly. The Flamingo stood up on her long legs and poked her head into the bowl of fish to inspect it. She looked back over her shoulder at Alex with an inquisitive look as if waiting for further instructions on how to proceed with dinner. Once again he found himself trying not laugh, the pink gem in the bird's skull seemed to flash with an inner light. Alex just chalked this up to him imagining things.

Alex tried to coax the bird closer by throwing pieces of fish into the air near her face. The flamingo eyed each piece of food curiously as if thinking about whether or not she should eat it then swallowed them. Eventually she began taking larger bites and appeared satisfied enough with her meal to let Alex wrap her wings back around herself.

***

The following morning Alex was walking around outside when his curiosity got the better of him and led him back towards the riverbed that ran along the southern edge of his property. In some places there were a few shallow areas where the water flowed across the ground and became a small pond-like feature. He noticed a couple diving ducks floating on the water and then disappearing underneath. They must have been diving into the shallows looking for food.

He went down to join the two birds enjoying a leisurely day out in the sun, which was uncommon during this season due to all the snow still present. Alex knew that the ducks probably wouldn't understand what he said to them, but he decided to try anyway, "Hey you ducks, wanna go fishing?" They continued bobbing on the surface of the water without paying any attention to him. "Okay . . . well just keep on doing your thing." Besided, from what he read on the internet, Flamingos mostly ate crustaceans. It is why their feathers are pink. He could likely catch some crayfish in the freshwater. However, things like krill and shrimp were a saltwater exclusive fare.

Alex headed home and finished up his chores before getting ready to head back to the forest for work. He expected he'd have to clean up some bird poop when he got back. Hopefully the Flamingo wouldn't destroy anything in his cabin while he was gone. Fufi watched him leave with her usual curious look. She followed close behind him until he came to the door. He stopped and blocked the way. "You stay here and recover for the day I'll be back after work" The little bird stared at him intently with her bright red eyes she seemed to want to come with him. "Alright, alright, fine. But you'll only be able to sit in the jeep all day. It will be boring.," Alex joked as he reached over and unlocked the deadbolt lock on the door.

The flamingo seemed pleased by Alex's promise as she hopped into his jeep through the window once Alex was done securing the cabin. Her injured wing was held away from the front of the vehicle so it couldn't hit any obstacles. Once everyone was in the jeep and had fastened his seat belt they set off for the logging camp.

***

A couple hours later they arrived at their destination where they unloaded their supplies and began cutting wood for use in construction projects around the city. Fufi spent the time hiding out in the jeep. It wasn't long before her curiosity got the best of her and she wandered outside towards a pile of lumber stacked beside a loading dock. Alex called out to warn people about her presence, but it didn't seem like anyone paid him any attention, "Hey, don't run into traffic okay?" One man saw the Flamingo coming and quickly shooed her back towards the forest saying, "Stay back, stay back." She gave him a loud honk back as if he were scolding her or something then continued on her way.

Once again, he thought that perhaps Fufi might have some kind of mind-control power that compelled them not to harm her despite how strange she was acting. As he was walking past the same group of workers one guy asked him why he was worried about an animal, "I found her on the side of the road. I thought she might have been lost from zoo. I called a few places yesterday but didn't have any luck contacting a zoo that was missing a Flamingo." Alex replied with a blank look in return. The other worker shook his head and went back to work with a smile and said something in reply to Alex's words as they walked away.

As Alex picked up another load of logs Fufi ran up. "How did you even get the doors on the Jeep open? I thought birds were supposed to have simple bird brains, you know?"

The Flamingo just stared at him intently.

"You know, I expected you to be more like a goose. You are about the same size and Canadian Geese are mean," Alex said to Fufi. Fufi just shook her head. Because the bird had a long neck he wasn't sure she was disagreeing with him or just shaking in a bird-like manner.

Alex stopped for lunch between cutting wood for half an hour when Fufi hopped over to observe him. She looked around the area for several minutes before settling down next to Alex's feet as if waiting for something. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a sandwich, but before eating it offered it to the little pink gem encrusted creature. "Want some food?" Fufi eyed the ham and cheese sub curiously but made no effort to take it. "Come on now, don't tell me that isn't delicious." He handed her the wrapped sandwich. "Here . . ." she began nibbling on the corner of the sandwich without taking any bites of it.

After watching her eat one of his sandwiches he took another one out of its plastic wrapping and placed it near his hand where she could see it. Then he waited while she watched him bite into his own meal. After a couple minutes of this she finally seemed interested enough in the sandwich to approach and attempt to steal a bite off the edge of Alex's bread. Once again, Alex was forced to pull back a piece of meat from what would have been her first ever human handshake. "I guess you do understand how to interact with people." The Flamingo gave Alex a curious look as she continued to watch him with an intense stare.

Once they were done eating they got ready for more work. The flamingo came running up to him as soon as they started cutting wood once again. Alex finished his workday with Fufi following him around like he was the mother duck and she the duckling. It was weird but none of his coworkers teased him too badly for it. They probably assumed he was a big softy and was taking care of someone's bird. Some people would bring their dogs to work but if they were not trained well it could be a problem because of all the heavy logging equipment in use.

***

That evening Alex returned home after the day's work to find that Fufi had found some new perches on top of the shelves in his cabin. She spent much of the afternoon there staring at herself in a nearby mirror while cleaning her feathers and preening. She had already removed her towel and her pink feathers were looking a lot better. Alex said to the bird, "Fufi, I don't know where you came from but this is not the right environment for you to be long term. When your wing is better maybe we can get you back to your home. If you are a wild animal I'm not sure why you came so far north. Did you get mixed up while migrating? Flamingos should be in South America or somewhere similar." Fufi just stared at him as she always did when he spoke to her. She hopped down off her shelf and walked over towards Alex as he was using the kitchen table to sort through some stuff.

The flamingo was standing close enough that he could smell the strong scent of fish coming off of her feathers. He reached out and gently petted her head with one hand and stroked the length of her neck with the other hand before saying, "You really need to give yourself a bath." Something unexpected happened at that moment as his hand brushed against the pink gemstone on Fufi's head. It flashes bright pink and his cell phone starts ringing. It played a really sickly sweet song of a high pitched girl's voice singing in what he thought might be Japanese. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and similar pink text flowed across the screen.

>Fufi has found you to be a maiden pure of heart and would like to form a contract with you. Do you agree to enter into this contract?

Yes / No

"Uh . . ." Alex was trying to figure out if this little creature could read minds or something. The Flamingo gave him an inquisitive look then stood next to him waiting for him to finish looking at his cell phone while occasionally glancing down at the glowing pink light on her head. Finally, after looking at the strange text for a couple minutes, "I'm not a maiden but I guess I can press this yes button and see what happens." Alex tapped it quickly with a finger, but didn't hold up any hopes that anything could happen. Maybe there was something wrong with his cell phone. The idea that a pink Flamingo could communicate with him was just too crazy to consider.

The first thing he noticed when he looked back towards Fufi was the reflection of her in the window behind her where she seemed to be growing bigger. Her wings were spread wide as she stared right back at Alex as she began squawking at him in a cute tone and spoke in English as clear as day: "You have been chosen by my fair lady!" The flamingo then took flight, circling around once before landing on one of his bedposts. Then, almost like a human woman dressing herself up, she walked over towards one of his windows, turned about three times so that every angle on her body was facing outwards before moving over to stand between two of his shelves and continue preening. She'd done this sort of thing many times already since he had arrived home earlier that evening.

Alex went to take a shower to wash off the dirt from the work site and after a moment he did a double take. "Wait, did Fufi just talk?" He couldn't help himself from talking aloud. As soon as the words left his mouth Fufi started squawking again, speaking in another high pitched girl's voice, "Yes, you heard me correctly." Alex just stood there as the warm water from the shower washed over his naked body. Fufi said, "Puri Puri Portal!" The bird flew into the shower with him. Pink hearts and iridescent bubbles trailed around her. Alex thought, "Wow her wing sure healed fast. What kind of animal can heal a broken bone in a day? Wait... what?! That's not important right now, what is with this cute tornado?" The flamingo seemed to ignore the question entirely and instead wrapped both of her wings around him tightly until he could barely breathe or move. Her wings felt like feathery ropes all pressed against him to create an extremely tight hug.

With the sound like a chiming of glass bells he was teleported to another place. It was nighttime and a beautiful woman was standing in front of a pink and red ribbon covered throne. He gasped as he glanced around his new surroundings. He was standing naked next to Fufi the Flamingo who seemed to be dipping her head and holding out her wings as if bowing in supplication to the woman before him. The room has sickly-sweet decorations. There were several glass display cases with dolls in frilly dresses. There were small cute plushies sitting in alcoves on the wall. There were oversized plushies seated at a table in the corner with an elaborate tea party set up. There were what looked to be tiny fairies flying around with wands in their hands. Their butterfly wings fluttered as they chased each other along the ceiling between chandeliers giggling in an apparent game of tag. A large sunflower sat in a vase by a window. Instead of looking like a normal sunflower it had a face like a yellow and black smiling emoji. The flower bobbed up and down as if it was dancing to its own little tune.

"Welcome to my humble abode, I am Luna" the fairy princess said. She wore a simple gown made from layers and layers of silk with a short train trailing behind her. She stepped off of her throne and walked towards Alex, taking his hand into hers. "You have chosen wisely, Alex! I will lend you my power." The bird nodded her head enthusiastically, her wings gently caressing his body while she continued talking in that high pitched girl's voice. "You are the one Fufi has chosen. I would like to make your contract official as soon as possible so we can move to the next step." As she spoke she ran her fingers through his hair which felt pleasant against the skin. Fufi also kept her wing around him for support as he struggled to maintain his balance.

Alex felt himself a little overwhelmed. Contract? Official? Next step? What was this all about? He just smiled at Luna who seemed to enjoy watching him smile at her in return. Her dress rustled softly as she moved away and returned to sit upon her throne once more. "Well now that is out of the way, let us get started with the ceremony," and then the pair were standing in another world entirely. This new room looked almost identical but there were several other figures sitting on the same thrones facing each other with glass display cases on the side with what looked like a few stuffed animals or dolls inside each case. A couple small plushies stood nearby holding scrolls or books.

Luna began speaking again, addressing everyone present: "I will begin the bonding ritual!"

28