Kokoso--the bird's words still clear in his mind, inspiring tales of the forbidden genres--made his way to an abandoned store of oddities, where he spent much of his time studying the old things that came before the rise of the city-nation--which was left unnamed as it was the sole city and sole nation, the people called themselves by the name of the current reigning dynasty--everything from books to movies across every style, genre, and faction seemed to reflect more varied ideas than those that were in circulation these days, anything that didn't contribute to the city was in the Forbidden class, along with anything that could corrupt the people.
The city had it's comedies and tragedies, from two who are brought together by pursuing the city's goal to the tale of two lovers who upset the city's goals, and paid dearly.
These were the common tales, envisioned and reinvented several times, painting different hues of severity with different strokes of sins, all highlighting the beauty of the city, in all it's mechanical perfection, how strange then that the words of people long passed should exist, hidden within the city itself, poisoning the populace, or a time bomb, as in those spy movies Kokoso found in this store of guilty pleasures.
His eyes lit up when he found the guiltiest of them all, in a closed off room that required a flashlight if one would peruse it, there was a poster of a man on a horse, a weapon known as a revolver held high in the air, sunlight glinting off the silver surface.
"Hmm, that's an awful lot of running...I do like the outfit, though." Kokoso turned the light to a mannequin in a corner, it wore the clothes depicted in the poster, "I'm going to be wearing the clothes in the poster." he thought wryly as he disrobed the mannequin.
Ten minutes later and his old clothes were in a sack he left here, the light clothes, heavy boots, and tall hat on his head. Fortunately no one knew about these clothes, or the genre they came from, the old building was forgotten, stranded in a timeless second, apart from the world, disconnected, adrift.
He set off for the city's prison when he heard shouting. He looked up to find three figures against the night sky, the two from earlier and a woman with white wings that seemed to have been dipped in ink before she left home, wispy gold hair flying behind her, "Are you angel?" he inquired as she landed before him, elegant and majestic as the fabric of her dress rustled in the wind, scepter at her side. She didn't seem to hear him, merely watched him with curiosity, a friendly smile seemingly sewed onto her face, "M-ma'am, are you an angel?"
"No, my dear, they call me Mother Goose, this hatchling and his friend are in danger, we must go now."
"I want to follow you!"
"Ha, after you saved us earlier!" the bird Animen scoffed, "I don't trust him, Cat, can we leave him?"
"I trust his naivety," Cat continued onward, "but if we don't decide soon, we're all in trouble."
"If you follow you must accept the consequences." Mother Goose warned, "This is a dangerous path." Kokoso nodded and went with them, turning to see Mother Goose, who had fallen back.
"Mother Goose!" the redhead bird Animen called out, as though in answer, an explosion and a wall of flame kept the soldiers at bay, Mother Goose rejoined with a satisfied smile, and the three fled, he followed the trio into the uncertain night.
They stopped at dawn, panting against the wall of an abandoned store where Animen were rumored to roam.
"I want to run with you." Kokoso bowed to the white feathered woman, looking up when she took his hat and set it upon her head.
"Hmm, a fan of the outlaw archetype?" Mother Goose wondered aloud.
"A-ah, well, not exactly-"
"I understand, an injustice committed spurs him to action, the region is steeped in violence and corruption...the trigger of fate is pulled, and fire spews forth as from a dragon's maw, a daring battle of wits and luck follows, running and chasing, back and forth, until one emerges from the smoke as the victor." she dropped the hat back onto his head and turned around.
"If it's not something I can win...I'd rather not fight." Kokoso looked away, losing himself in thought, "but if I had help, I would be willing to try."
"Then come along, I'll carry you and Cathryn here, and Byrd will try out flying." Mother Goose floated up on her wings with practiced ease and ivory talons slid from her toes, catching their pair's shoulders. She turned to Byrd and the four made their way across the ocean. Kokoso almost threw up several times on the way over, but somehow combated the urge.
He woke up, crouched on his feet, sweat running down his forehead, "Did we make it?"
Mother Goose smiled and nodded, "No need to worry now, you're safe."
"You said there were others like Byrd." Cathryn observed, "Is this one of them?"
"Yes," Mother Goose replied, "but so are you, hatchling, your cloaking spell just hasn't worn off yet."
"Wait, is that what happened?" Byrd wondered, "I had wings the whole time?"
"Yes...there was a danger here, so we sent you away, that same threat now rules the city you were to live in, I was warned to cloaked you before we put you on the boat, good thing, too...as for the wings, they were well hidden, I manipulated the space of the Pocket Zone to conceal your wings." Mother Goose confirmed, "I need to rest now, I have another mission tomorrow to scout for a few more Animen we left behind."
"Why don't we do that, Mother Goose?" Cathryn offered, "You somehow knew exactly where we were, surely you can make a list of Animen for us to find."
"Ah...that would be nice...my magic won't recover for a while yet, either way I'll be tired tomorrow." Mother Goose.
"Uh, what's this strange feeling?" Byrd groaned.
"That is raw magic you feel, it comes straight from the earth, but is only influential here, in the Wilds." Mother Goose explained, "You'll feel better soon."
"I hope so...wait, if that was magic back there-"
"It was, I carried a little bit with me as a side effect of my Pocket Zone, but it was draining fast, I will recover it here."
"What's a Pocket Zone?" Kokoso asked as the three followed Mother Goose.
"It's a dimension that exists within ours, we can harness it because it conforms to gravity, so...say you push down on a mattress, the resulting impression is where your gravity influences the world, your Pocket Zone falls around your impression, you carry it around you like a shroud." Mother Goose informed, leading the trio into the large hut.
"So...how do you carry magic in a Pocket Zone?" Cathryn inquired.
"You just do," Mother Goose sighed, settling into her chair, a makeshift throne, "it's something you carry with you, proportional to your aptitude with magic."
"Well, we can bombard you with questions later," Cathryn bowed, "Byrd's looking a little ill., and you probably want to get some rest."
"And you three may want to find your families."
The next day Kokoso and his new allies went back to the city to find the Animen before the cloaking spell wore off, though some were more incredulous than others.
Among the last he was sent to was the most difficult to approach, there was nothing on her, she wasn't known as a sympathizer to either side, known only as Maria and "the lone wolf", who was fond of the beach before the ocean was tainted with death.
He hadn't always been so interested in meeting another Animen, he usually tried to keep some distance between the others and himself, part out of guilt, part out of fear he wouldn't be accepted, as he was not an Animen.
On the way his thoughts were everywhere at once, he wondered how she'd be, if she'd be very pretty, nice, if she'd like sweets or favor more savory foods, what her favorite color would be.
He was ecstatic about the meeting, but somehow anxious, as though this meeting was somehow of great import, "This is the last Animen on Goose's list...what if she's really angry?" then he had a thought, "And what if she doesn't like yellow?! Not liking yellow should be a crime! Yellow is so happy, and basically goes with everything if you try-"
He snapped himself out of his thoughts and chided himself, noting that, even if his mind was racing at a million miles a minute, he had to remember his main objective. He was trained in loyalty, once, even if he was a lone ranger now. He couldn't let any of the Animen down, his loyalty belonged to them, he was going to be a hero, however he could.
Suddenly he stumbled over something and fell to the ground, taking stock of his situation he found that he'd collapsed a sandcastle, sand was, he realized, heavier than he imagined, it bore down its fluid weight on him legs and made his movements sluggish as he crawled out of captivity.
Sitting up on his knees he turned to his left, and was glad Cathryn and Byrd had been working out her schedule for the last few weeks, she was just where they said she was: On the beach, kicking up sick yellow sand.
Acting before thinking, he ran up to her and took up the younger's hands in his. Her stoic face was plain, he wondered what she'd look like in yellow. He came to the conclusion that she'd look brighter.
"Join me on a quest to save the world!" from her stunned expression, he realized that that was not the right thing to say, as for taking her hands, he shouldn't have done that, but he did mean it, every word, every gesture, him, her, and the others would be saving the world, together.
Her face broke out into a smirk and she gave him a nudge, "Are you hitting on me?"
"H-huh...what?" he's brows furrowed and she covered her mouth as she laughed. He frowned and glanced at his hands, still holding hers, and fell backwards, she laughed harder and shook her head.
"You're a trip...and a fall, too, I guess!" she caught her breath and extended her hand, "You should still be proper and introduce yourself first."
"U-um, yeah...I'm Kokoso." he sheepishly accepted her help and after tugging on the back of his shirt to rid himself of the sand therein, he turned his attention to the Animen, wondering now what type she'd be, Mother Goose wanted it to be a surprise, for some reason.
"I'm Maria, and if you fall on my sandcastle again...we're going to have trouble," she threatened teasingly, "but I'll let you off the hook, since you're such a card."
"I thought I was a trip." Kokoso quirked his eyebrow and she grinned.
"You are, you're also a card," Maria started back to town, casting a glance back at the "hero", "since they, too, fall."
"Isn't that a line from a poem by Relia Cordelia?" Kokoso recalled hours spent reading one of the more recent texts in the old store's shelves.
"Yeah, so you're the one who disorganized my setup? I thought for sure I'd been found out!" Maria chuckled, giving him a light blow to the shoulder, "I can tell we'll get along fine."
"Two Animen-hater haters." Kokoso chuckled.
Maria turned to grin at him and they made the rest of their journey in silence.
Silence, disturbed only by a light hiss followed by a light, metallic thud.
"You're name?" a commanding voice inquired.
The smaller form before the king looked up cautiously, alarm crossed her face as she noticed the expression of the one before her, swiftly she brought her head back down and stared fearfully at the floor, as though a thousand spears could be summoned from the surface of the cold steel, "Eternia, Your Majesty! Eternia-" she yelped and fell to the floor as a thousand yellow beams formed and vanished around her, leaving her stunned, "I...I am the End, Your Highness, for thou to summon."
The man nodded and waved his hand dismissively, the gesture sent her flying back into the capsule from whence she came, and as she fell out of it, the cold, hard glass observation window caught her, but it also sealed her capsule and as she turned her eyes to the king, darkness encroached her vision.
"Project E.N.D. will proceed as planned."612Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡUBPZYlY5IO
The last words she heard before her ears followed her eyes into the abyss.ns 22.214.171.124da2