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In the long agone, the Emperor Bird declared a great gathering of all the bird spirits. They would gather to make important decisions about territories and foods and other concerns. Because of their luxurious plumage and beautiful songs, the Bird Festival was sure to be the greatest attraction of all time.Author's Notes
"I have just received important news. I must leave at once for the Bird Festival," said Pelagic Cormorant to Rockhopper.
"How exciting," said Rockhopper. "I can hardly wait to meet all the other birds!"
Pelagic Cormorant laughed. "How would you even get there?" he said. "Only fliers can make that journey."
"Oh," said Rockhopper, his crest drooping.
"Oh, indeed," said Pelagic Cormorant. He spread his long black wings and flew away.
Rockhopper watched him go. "Well, I suppose I'll just go as far as I can. At least that way I'll get to meet some new birds along the way," Rockhopper decided. Then he set off on his journey.
* * *
"Farewell, Furbird," said Little Shearwater. "I am going on a long trip."
"Where are you going?" said Furbird, hopping along behind.
"I am going to the Bird Festival," said Little Shearwater.
"What fun!" said Furbird. "I will come with you."
Little Shearwater laughed. "You cannot come," she said. "Only fliers are allowed to attend the Bird Festival. You flightless freaks are not even real birds!"
"That's not fair," said Furbird. "I am too a real bird! I lay eggs and I have feathers, just like you."
"Lizards lay eggs. Your feathers look like hairs. And you are nothing at all like me!" said Little Shearwater. Then she flew away, gliding just above the waves. Her feathers flashed black and white as she dipped and turned.
Furbird stabbed at the ground with her long, curved bill. "I don't care about that stupid rule," she said. "I am too a real bird and I am too going!" With that, she set off on her journey.
* * *
Red-Knobbed Coot said to Scythebeak, "You will have to eat fish and fur-bearers for a while. All the birds are going away."
"Where are they going?" said Scythebeak.
"We're going to the Bird Festival," said Red-Knobbed Coot.
"If all the birds are going, then I will go too," said Scythebeak.
"You can't, er, go to the Bird Festival," said Red-Knobbed Coot. He shuffled from foot to foot. "It is, um, closed to flightless birds."
"Is it really?" said Scythebeak, looking down at him from her towering height.
Red-Knobbed Coot backed carefully away before taking wing. "Yes," he said over his shoulder as he flew away.
"Closed, indeed!" said Scythebeak. She snorted through nares the size of seashells. "We will just see about that."
* * *
The sky overhead darkened with flying birds as they traveled to the Bird Festival. Far below, the green land sloped down to the ocean. There on a sandy spit, the three flightless birds met each other. They chatted as they went along. Scythebeak watched where she put her huge, clawed feet to avoid stepping on her new friends. Then they came to the water's edge.
"Well, this is a problem," said Furbird. "I can't swim."
"Neither can I," said Scythebeak.
"I can swim," said Rockhopper. "Don't worry, I have friends in the ocean. I'll ask someone for a ride." With that, he dove into the foaming water.
Some time later, Scythebeak squawked in surprise. "What in the world is that thing?" She was not used to seeing any creature bigger than herself.
"This is my friend Blimpfish," shouted a tiny speck on the thing's back. "Hop on!"
Scythebeak put Furbird on her own back and said, "Hang on!" Then she ran as fast as she could and jumped onto Blimpfish.
"Thank you for finding us a ride, Rockhopper," said Furbird.
"You're welcome," said Rockhopper.
Eventually they came to the island of the Bird Festival. There Blimpfish let them off, and they all climbed up the sandy beach. In the jungle, they ate and drank their fill. Scythebeak easily cut a path through the dense undergrowth. Then they came to a smooth white wall too high for her to leap over.
"Well, that's a problem," said Scythebeak. "How are we going to get over that?"
"We could build a catapult and launch ourselves over," said Rockhopper. "Then we'd be real flying birds!" He chuckled at his own joke.
"It's not the flying I'm worried about -- it's the landing," said Scythebeak.
"Over here," called Furbird. "Come see what I found."
Furbird had found a door. "They must have used this to bring in supplies," said Scythebeak. She tried the handle, but it was locked.
"Boost me up," said Furbird. So Scythebeak boosted her up.
"What are you doing up there?" said Rockhopper.
"Um icking uh glock," mumbled Furbird, with her long bill probing the door. Soon the latch clacked and the door swung open.
"You there! What's your business?" someone shouted at them.
"Oh, hello, Pelican," said Rockhopper. "We're here for the Bird Festival."
"Flightless freaks are not allowed in here," said Pelican. "I can't let you pass."
"I rather think you can," said Scythebeak, and stepped on him. Her big clawed foot pinned him to the ground. "Inside, you two!" Rockhopper and Furbird scurried through the door while Pelican scratched feebly at Scythebeak's armored leg. Then Scythebeak tossed Pelican outside the wall and kicked the door closed.
"That was very impressive," said Furbird. "I couldn't have done that."
"Well, I couldn't have picked the lock or swum across the ocean," said Scythebeak. "We make a good team."
"Yes, we do," said Rockhopper.
In no time at all, the three friends reached the heart of the Bird Festival. Colorful pavilions flapped in the breeze. Delicious smells floated past as birds snacked on skewers of chopped fruit or toasted insects. Up ahead, they could see Emperor Bird on his golden perch, with his emerald face and his long white flank plumes. Unlike a human emperor, he had no need of a crown -- his feathers were quite splendid enough.
Emperor Bird tilted his jeweled head and glared at them with one ruby eye. "No flightless birds are allowed in here!" he shrieked. "How did you even get here?"
"I convinced Blimpfish to carry us across the ocean," said Rockhopper.
"I picked the lock," said Furbird.
"I made Pelican let us in," said Scythebeak.
"I won't stand for this!" said Emperor Bird.
"Fine," said Scythebeak, and swallowed him whole.
"All hail Emperor Scythebeak!" shouted Furbird.
"All hail Emperor Scythebeak!" the terrified audience echoed.
Emperor Scythebeak peered at the golden perch. A single green feather stuck to it, fluttering in the wind. "This flimsy thing will never hold my weight," she muttered.
"Fetch a bucket of fish for Emperor Scythebeak!" called Rockhopper. Soon Pelagic Cormorant arrived, laboring to carry the heavy bucket. "Hang it right there," said Rockhopper. The perch made a perfect hanger for Emperor Scythebeak's snack.
"Rockhopper and Furbird, you are so wise that I can't possibly do without you," said Scythebeak. "I name you both my advisors."
So the flightless birds became the leaders of the Bird Festival, and the flying birds never dared look down on them again.
This story came from the March 2010 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by a prompt from LJ user msstacy13. This is one of the many animal fables.
Added on 12 July, 2010: This story has been sponsored for public viewing by Stacy Danielle Stephens!