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“Splash! You little nuisance, where are you?” Olivia called to her pet parakeet. The blue and yellow bird had gone missing again. After searching every room he would have gone, she was left with one last one. The living room.
Suddenly, a yellow blur flashed in before her glistening, hazel colored eyes. She dashed after it in hopes of finding her lost bird. Finally, Splash perched on a low hanging branch of her mother’s flowering house plant and squawked, “Hello.” Startled, Olivia jumped back. Again, Splash spoke, “What! Never seen a talking parakeet? Come with me.” Splash began to slowly fly away. He paused and said, “Well, come on then!” Hesitantly, she followed.
“I’m not allowed to cross the ring of rocks around the house. Ma says it’s dangerous out in the forest.” Olivia argued. They had been fighting here for over ten minutes, Splash getting more annoyed by the moment. His blue and yellow feathers were ruffled and he was tempted to just fly back into the forest and forget about her. She, on the other hand was very intrigued by this ‘flock’ of his.
“I know why,” teased Splash as he flew back and forth over the boundary to the forest, taking a new tactic of persuasion. “It’s because we’re out there.”
“Who’s ‘we’re’? I thought you said you there were only one of you!” inquired Olivia.
“You’ll have to come and see!”
“Fine! I’ll come,” sighed Olivia. There was no predicting how this would turn out.
Splash fluttered from tree to tree and then finally he stopped. “Welcome to Terrevia.” His voice seemed to echo. Then, in an instant, the trees around him were filled with birds of every kind and color.
“I am the songbird of this flock, which means I am second in charge. Our leader, Melony, has been waiting for you.”
Then a huge black bird with red tipped wings approached her. Her voice boomed as she spoke. “I am Melony, leader of this flock. You see, we were all once humans like you. Recently one of our members got hold of the spell to turn us back into a human, so we are short one bird. We have taken you prisoner to replace Symba.”
“What do you mean prisoner?” yelped Olivia.
“I mean,” the word was extended, “What type of bird would you like to be?” Melony chirped in a sickly sweet voice.
“I don’t want to be a bird. I want to stay a human!” Olivia ran back to the ring of rocks and prepared to jump across, but when she leaped she was shocked with such force that she was thrown back against a tree, the necklace her mother had given her when she was small swinging at her neck. Olivia started to cry. The tears streaming down her face felt hot and salty, but she didn’t stop.
Suddenly Melony was behind her. “Are you ready to come with us now?” she said as her beak twitched cruelly.
“I-I’ll be a finch, I guess,” Olivia stuttered sadly, her voice quaking with tears.
“Good, Good, Excellent, in fact!” Melony twittered. “We will have the ceremony immediately.”
“May all birds gather here beneath the High Tree for a Flock meet!” Melony’s caw rang out over the hollow. “Our ‘friend’ has made a wise choice to become a bird.” As soon as those words left her beak, she started muttering something.
Suddenly Olivia started shrinking. Yellow and black feathers spouted from her arms and legs. Olivia screamed; it faded into a caw. She shut her beak and looked down at herself. She was a bird, but one thing had not changed. The stone necklace was still hanging about her neck.
Melony’s word brought her back to the present. “Sophie, Anthony, will you how her to her nest?” Two blue jays flew up from the crowd of birds and hovered in front of her.
“How do I fl-“Suddenly, she was pushed from behind. Olivia was plummeting toward the forest floor, but then her wings caught the air. She was gliding. She gently flapped her wings until she caught up with her guides.
“This will be your nest,” said the one called Sophie. As she saw her nest, she grimaced. It had to be the filthiest thing she had ever seen. “This was Symba’s nest,” cooed Anthony. Olivia stared in horror as maggots started to crawl out through the twigs and down. Slowly she stalked toward the so-called nest. Just then, there was a fluttering of wings behind her. She turned around just in time to see the ends of Sophie’s and Anthony’s tail tips disappear behind the tree. She stared angrily at where they had gone for a moment. Then she turned around and began picking her nest apart.
As she did so she retched. This was worse than cleaning her brother, Leo’s, room. She wondered what her two year old brother thought of her disappearing like this. A wave of sadness washed over her when she thought about her family. She even missed her monstrosity of a brother.
Olivia was resting in her new nest. Melony and her sister, Harmony, had sent Olivia and a great grey owl called Alex with her to collect new twigs and down. As she had put together the nest, she had hidden her necklace in a small woven basket toward the center of the nest. She thought there was some reason that the stone hadn’t changed with her. Olivia kept it in case it became of some use. Just in case.
There had to be some way out, there had to! Olivia thought.
The one bird that she thought she trusted had betrayed her. Splash had betrayed her. She still couldn’t believe it. She was flapping about in the midst of Melony’s cave. Her wingtip brushed something along the wall. Olivia went closer to investigate. There were three small indentations in the wall just large enough for three small rocks to fit in. Harmony had trapped her in Melony’s cave for punishment for flying into the Great Marsh. She regretted it. Now she was stuck in this smelly old cavern.
As she thought of this, she stumbled upon something that felt cold like her Da’s crowbar. She grasped it in her talons and hopped over to the back wall. Olivia sat down to think. There must be something at the Great Marsh that they don’t want me to see. Olivia was saying this to herself when she noticed a thin beam of light shining across the floor. She looked up to see a small crack in the Stone that was thrust across the entrance. Then she looked at the crowbar. She did not think to wonder what a crowbar was doing in a cave in the middle of the forest, she just knew what she had to do with is. Suddenly there was a voice outside.
“Shh, I’m Heidi. I’m here to help you out.”
“Why should I believe you?” grumbled Olivia inside.
“I-I-I don’t know, but have you found the hard thing?”
“Good. Put the slightly curved end in the nook in the rock. Then push.”
“O-Ok.” Suddenly the rock tumbled away, leaving a path of gravel. Olivia blinked as the light poured on her. Olivia’s eyes adjusted and she saw a white cockatoo with a yellow crest perched on a dead stump. She looked down at what she had just used to free herself. What she had thought was a crowbar was no more than a long rock lying at her feet.
“Thank you so much, um…”
“Heidi. No need for thanks. Now you need to get out of here!”
“The Great Marsh, it’s . . . huge.” Heidi, Ukie, and Olivia were gliding over the great river of Zoomahaa catching the updrafts caused by the flow of the river.
“Here we are,” said Ukie, brining Olivia back to the present. Heidi had picked up the hyper seagull on the way to the border.
“What’s here?” inquired Olivia.
Completely ignoring her, Ukie began to speak. “You have to – to . . .” Her voice trailed off. For once she was solemn. “You have to – to dive into the water and pick up that glowing rock. Then let’s put it . . . over there in that abandoned nest.”
“I have to WHAT!” screamed Olivia.
Then Heidi spoke. “You are the chosen one, Olivia. No one else can do it. You have to do it! We’re begging you! Please!”
“All right, all right! I’ll go, but why am I the chosen one?”
Before she got an answer he was plummeting toward the quickly flowing water. It roared around her as she increased downward. There was silence. Water poured into her eyes and mouth. She squinted. There it is! She thought as she saw the glowing grey, black and white polished stone glimmering on the riverbed. The chain rested delicately on the algae-covered seaweed. She paddled forward and grasped the chain in her talons. Olivia thrust herself upward, the current attempting to push her back down. Her heart pounding she broke the surface. She filled her lungs with fresh clean air. Weakly, she trudged over to the abandoned nest and dropped her prize. Olivia clasped on the moss beside her.
“Good! Only one more to go!” Olivia jumped. She winced as water dripped onto her eyelid.
“What do you mean ‘only one more’? I thought I was done!”
“No. There is one more task. You must find the small cave behind the dead tree in the canyon of the dried up lake.”
Olivia pumped her wing. Circling above what used to be Sibbaile Lake, looking for the dead tree that Ukie had referred to. As she completed her fourth round, she spotted the leafless stump. Her heart thumping, she sailed toward it. Gaining speed she began to look for a sturdy branch for a safe landing. She stiffened her wing, slowing her down. Steadily decreasing in speed, she aimed toward a long thick branch. Ungracefully, she crashed onto it. Olivia Teetered a bit then looked around. There were no caves in sight. The thought occurred to her, was this the right tree?
Just then she spotted a very tiny, little cave, just beneath an old, cracking branch that was resting on the edge of the cliff. She flitted up to the cave and perched on the edge. It seemed as though it was an endless tunnel. The blackness stretched on forever and ever and ever. Tentatively, she stepped into the cave. Olivia hopped to the end of the tunnel. At the end there was a cavern, dimly lit by a shred of sunlight. On a small mound of soil lay a glittering stone attached to a thin silver chain. She walked over to it. That was easy, she thought. Too easy.
At that moment, there was a terrible cracking. The rocks from the ceiling began to fall around her. The whole cave was coming down. Quickly, she grabbed the necklace in her beak and looked around. A stream of light came from the tunnel and flashed across the floor. She dashed toward the entrance but a boulder the size of a small shed fell in her path. A stone shaved by her beak. She ran to a small ridge in the boulder and thrust herself inside to hide from the shower of rocks. Olivia, after a smaller rock hit her head, blacked out.
Olivia awoke to the sun streaming on her. The cave was completely gone and all that remained was rubble. Where was the stone? She looked around. A single silver link shimmered in the sunlight. She hopped over and gently tugged. Four more links came loose. She had just given a hard yank and pulled out the battered rock from the shambled cave when Ukie and Heidi alighted beside her. Heidi held the yellow and white glowing stone that Olivia had rescued from the Zoomahaa River. Ukie then took the grey and white stone from Olivia. It was then, she realized, that the stones were the same colors as their owners.
“Quickly! Get the third stone!” Heidi shuffled Olivia along the oak tree trunk. Olivia pumped her wings and lifted into the air. She grasped the edge of her nest with her talons. On the edge of her nest and began searching for her beloved yellow and black stone. She spotted the gold chain as it glimmered in the moonlight. The leaves had shifted and the moon shone through the canopy. Hastily, she grabbed the stone and fluttered down to meet Ukie and Heidi on a lower branch.
“We must get to Melony’s Cave,” whispered Heidi. “There is a secret tunnel through the hedges.”
Ukie did her best to whisper. “Ok, let’s go,” agreed Heidi. Silently they flew to the bush.
“Ouch!” Olivia complained. They were creeping through the prickly bush beside Melony’s cave. Finally they reached the entrance.
“She must be out. Quickly get the rocks out.” Gently she got out the three stones together. “Now Olivia, You must take the spell stones and put it in that little nook you felt when you were in here before. Olivia took the stone and began to fumble around the wall. There, she thought, as she felt an indentation. Quietly she rolled the rock into the gap.
Suddenly a humming came from behind her. She turned her head to see a gaping black hole in the floor. The three birds circled the blue-black dungeon deciding whether to jump in or not. Just then, there was a clattering behind them. They turned around.
“Trying to escape, eh?” In the entrance stood Melony, the evilest of the evil. The three of them stood frozen in fear, but it only took a minute for them to recover. Immediately, they together jumped into the gloomy hole. Melony was right on their tails.
“You won’t get away so easy! We let you go this far, thinking you would die like the others, but you are better than the rest, but now you will die to. It’s too late for you and your so-called friends. I am not afraid to kill them, for they betrayed my flock.” Melony called, panting between words. Then she, Harmony, Anthony, Ally, and Splash followed Ukie’s tail down the pit. There was a sharp curve in the tunnel. Behind them, Harmony was gaining on them.
Splash called, “You never meant anything to me!” Then she saw why. Ahead of her a ball of growing light glowed. She, Heidi, and Ukie burst through the end of the tunnel. The portal opening shrank behind them. Olivia turned just in time to see Splash fly out and fly through the force field. She turned back to Ukie and Heidi.
“How did you know I found the hole in the wall?”
They grinned at each other. Then they muttered something and as quickly as she had come she was human again. Then, the feathers on Ukie and Heidi began to fall off. Their wings turned into arms. As they grew, she saw a witch hat perched on one and a wizard hat on the other.