Concept art for the original Disney series The Wishing Map
The Wishing Map is a full-length fantasy that is being posted episodically at this site. To read the previous episode, click here. To read the entire novel, begin here.
Still a nearly weightless cloud shepherd, Zack had come to solicit the immense bird Aviar’s help in finding his sister. Instead, Aviar had attacked!
“Plea don’ kill be!” Zack spluttered as the bird ground his face into the frozen sod. “I habbu fide by sibser!” With Aviar’s colossal claw holding him down, he’d been unable to explain why he’d come back. “Plea—pluffa-pleh-pluffa…” He spat out snow, dirt, and alpine grass. “Plea—big birrr…”
He was about to give up when he noticed his own flailing arm. Was it just his imagination or was his jacket turning red again? Did this mean he would start sticking to the ground?
“Speak, manlet!” Aviar removed the claw-cage from around his body.
Zack pushed himself up onto his knees…and began to float. “Oh, no!”
“Not done yet? Uol’s beak!” Aviar snatched Zack out of the air and slammed him back onto the earth.
“Thamgks, big birrrr…plethhha-pleh-pleh…” Zack’s mouth was full of soggy soil again, but this time he noticed, after swallowing some of the mud, that his arm looked a little less cloudy and a little more human. So he did something desperate: he bit into the tundra, chewed, and then purposely swallowed a glob of the stuff.
“Crazy manlet!” Aviar’s Raptor Cadet class snickered in the background, then moved in closer to see how the great master hunter would handle this human interloper. They were excited to see, Zack gathered, if their teacher would cut him in half and spread his entrails out in the sun!
Still, he wasn’t floating anymore. “Yettthhh!” Zack exulted, and began to swallow more mud.
The Cadets snickered even more loudly.
“Cadets, remember where you are!” Aviar scolded. “This is the Sacred Eyrie of Uol!”
It took forty-three mouthfuls of frozen dirt, but in the end Zack was completely earth-bound. And completely nauseous. He was pretty sure he’d never eat anything again, and he felt a strange sense of loss. The thought he would never see Liulah again made him inexplicably lonely.
Still, he had to find his sister. But how could he? Where should he even begin? Ismara was an entire world! His only hope was this gargantuan creature “Aviar.” But he was pretty sure the only thing Aviar wanted was to de-limb him!
Zack rose to his feet, burping uncontrollably, and attempted to address the immense bird and his “cadets.” “Please, I just want…oh, guh!” He stumbled over to the edge of the cliff and started to heave. It was all so surreal, barfing over a 9,000-foot-high cliff while being watched by birds taller than his house! His nose ran like a waterfall and his eyes grew blearier and blearier, yet the dirtbarf just kept coming.
He lost his footing, but for some reason didn’t fall. He suddenly realized that Aviar had the back of his jacket in his beak. “Get it all out, manlet, and don’t ever try to become a cloud shepherd again!”
Half an hour later Zack staggered to his feet, the worst of the ordeal finally over. “So, you knew I turned into a cloud shepherd?” he asked the winged giant.
“A bird learns a few things in a thousand years.” Aviar dismissed his Cadets, and then turned to Zack and said, “Now, Shak, tell me about the Map!”
“You’re not going to bite off one of my ‘talons’?”
“I’ll bite off both your talons and feed them to you if you don’t answer me!” So far, Aviar, said, he’d learned that Zack had come “from another world” by way of a magical Map. Surprisingly, Aviar did not reject this as nonsense; in fact he took it extremely seriously. “You will not harm the Prime Regent!” he roared.
“Um, OK, I promise.”
“If you try, you will wish I had killed you!” Aviar searched Zack’s eyes for signs of deceit. Then he gave Zack the condensed version of the prophecies which, being a member of the Great Council, he explained, he knew by heart:
“‘In the Time of an End and a New Beginning, the true ruler shall be revealed.’ And that will forever be the Prime Regent Melcarhassen! So if you’ve brought the lost Objects, manlet, then your purpose is fulfilled and you must leave!”
“I haven’t brought any ‘objects.’ I just came to find my sister.”
Aviar’s basketball-sized eyes grew even larger. “‘Yet before that time, two Strangers must come,’” he recited. He bent down, twisted his head sideways, and said, “Put your arm in my beak.”
Zack slid his arm inside the massive proboscis. Had Aviar decided to amputate a “wing” after all? “‘Shwear on ‘ur ‘shoul ‘u wull ‘ev’r ‘b’tray th’ ‘rime ‘egent!”
The bird released his arm and repeated, “Swear on your soul that you will never betray the Prime Regent!” He took Zack’s arm back into his beak.
“I swear on my soul.” It seemed sort of sacrilegious, but Zack felt he could trust this creature with his soul. Although maybe not with his life.
Aviar released his arm. “Good.” Then he reached behind Zack with his thirty-foot-long wing and scooped him up into the air.
Zack slid down Aviar’s wing onto his back and landed just behind his head. “Hold onto the brown feathers. If you touch the silver ones, I’ll drop you like a festering wuckle!”
“To find your sister, you empty-headed manlet!” The monstrous bird plunged over the edge of the cliff, and with one tremendous sweep of his wings thrust himself and Zack…
A mile away!
Thoughts: Have you ever lost a part of yourself, and struggled to get it back?
To read the next episode, click here.
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