They stood for a moment looking at each other trying to adjust their minds on the curious encounter they just had. The girl seemed lost in her thoughts, but her big almond-shaped eyes looked calm and aloof, like she wasn't really surprised by what had just happened. Ovolon noticed this and spoke first.
“You seem like we didn't just met a God. Have you ever met one before?” he asked with a half-fake inspecting tone.
“I don't think so.” answered the girl.
“Aren't you surprised?”
“Well we met someone who claimed to be a God and who gave us a map to the end of the world. It is what it is.” said the girl and gave him a smile like all the cares and the burdens of this world were not enough to smother her optimism.
The map! He realized and looked at his hand, where a handful of answers probably waited for them to discover. The moment of truth. The old cloth that was holding the map was sticky - felt like rubber in his hand - as he unwrapped it from around the ancient papyrus. He pocketed it inside his coat's front pocket and opened the map before him.
“What does it show?” asked the girl in anticipation, but without making a move to look herself.
Ovolon looked shocked and puzzled as he kept staring at the map only managing a mumble in answer.
“It's.. chicken scratch”
“It's a bunch of chicken scratch, random ink scribblings on paper. That's all, there's no map.” This was an overwhelming joke to get. If there was a joke in this whole situation at all.
“Let me see.” said the girl and jumped right next to him.
The smell of flowers climbed inside Ovolon's nostrils as she leaned in front of him and he felt his heartbeat galloping momentarily. Reluctantly, he let his breath out and the enchanting aroma filled his head with a soothing sensation. Her hair had that indistinguishable color – something between brown and red and sometimes bright orange – and gently embraced her slender back. She inspected the text moving her head along the crooked lines and humming in between in a totally illuminated way.
“Just as I thought.” she said. “Completely incomprehensible.”
“Great” sighed Ovolon.
“But! I think I know someone who can maybe read this.”
“Mister Hummingbird! Where are you?” shouted the girl.
The area around them was filled with low bushes and spiked cactuses, some of them tall and arching above them. The blue bird was doing his thing – battling with a tiny yellow lizard who was poking him with thrusts of his tongue, when he heard the call and tactically retreated. He flew over to them and landed on Ovolon's head.
“Are we having a symposium here?”
“Yes! And we need your help.” said the girl “Could you read this chicken scratch for us, please? It's the only thing we can't figure out.”
The only thing sounded a bit exaggerated to Ovolon, but he let it slip with a toothless grin of whateverness.
Mr. Hummingbird hopped onto the girl’s head and closely inspected the text.
“Alas my friends! This here is not mere chicken scratch.” announced the bird in astonishment. “It's the ancient bird-writing! My ancestors used this writings to inform of great dangers and perform powerful magic. I could read these words to you, but there is no telling which face of the Great Serpent we would be confronted by.”
“Uh-mm, magic? Great serpent?” said Ovolon and slowly moved away his hands holding the papyrus like it was about to explode any second. “Could you elaborate a bit?”
“Oh the Great Serpent, the eternal all-devourer. It once took a bite of the moon and laid her eggs there. It's where most of the crawling and flying things come from. That's even before dinosaurs! It's funny you don't know this.” answered the girl and raised her finger at her chin to emphasize a skeptical face.
“Actually, I'm surprised that you do.”
“Well maybe it's not the first time I hear about a magic scroll.” she broke her seriousness and smiled.
“Alright let's suppose it's not. What do you suggest then we do? Should we read this?”
“I dunno” she said raising her shoulders “What do you think?”
“I thought you were the expert on all things magic. I have no idea”
“Ok. Ok . Look it's easy. Tim God gave us the map.” she air-quoted the map. “Do you think we can trust him? If yes, then we should use it. If no, then maybe... we should use this anyway, because it's something and right now we have nothing. And I guess it's better to have something than nothing.” she gave a thought on her last words and added: “At least some of the times.”
Ovolon looked at her puzzled, but in his heart he understood exactly what she meant. Sometimes they have to adapt and take risks in order to move forward. They were here now, in this curious place and it could be helpful to deal with each incident in a positive and optimistic approach; embrace the situations in the best possible way. Sometimes when life gives you ancient magic scrolls you let your fellow wise bird read them, if that's the way it goes, and you make magic happen!
That's what he opted for at the time.
Subconsciously though, even then he knew he had succumbed to the ticklish touch of curiosity the girl had put him under. Later when he would rethink the situation, he’d realize that this is potentially a very effective way to get at the least killed
Nevertheless, they agreed on invoking the primordial beast's magic.
The hummingbird kept singing in a weird deep voice much different to regular bird’s chirping. His tone seemed demanding, but while words seemed to form, these peculiar sounds resembled nothing they’d heard before. The scribblings on the scroll were now lit up with an eerie flame and started to come off forming multiple strands of blue light which moved towards Ovolon. Before he could react, from his pocket the little piece of cloth, which was previously wrapped around the scroll, flew away and floated mid air between them. As the strands reached and engulfed the cloth, it started stretching and expanding. It grew with a vexing screeching sound like someone rubbing his hands along the surface of a balloon, getting broader and thinner with each movement.
Ovolon and the girl took some uneasy steps backwards, while the thing kept getting bigger and bigger to a point where it seemed like a gigantic rubber napkin, thin to the point of transparency and probably about to explode with extreme force all over them.
Then abruptly, the bird finished singing.
And the growing sound of the thing stopped.
They held their breaths and half-closed their eyes. Whatever happened now, there was no way they were getting away.
A loud deflating burst of sound boomed and the rubber napkin started to rapidly fold and crease and double over. With spastic moves, formations and patterns appeared as each fold conjoined with another to create a huge origami figure.
Within a couple of seconds the creation was complete.
Through the fading blue light, an extremely detailed origami eagle emerged. To their surprise it was big enough to carry both of them and in fact had two seats on its back - all big and comfortable - behind what seemed like a small control board.
“Whoa! That was amazing!' cheered the girl and jumped towards the eagle contraption.
“It was definitely some fancy magic” admitted Ovolon in disbelief, still not having realized what just happened. “I guess I must get used to extraordinary things suddenly happening out of nowhere.”
“You should and you will. You’ll see how everything tastes better if you let it.” the words came out of her cherry lips in a gleeful singing voice.
They took some circles around the big bird-plane and carefully examined it. The feathers looked and felt real, so did its sharp claws and raptorial beak. The wings were lowered to provide footing for climbing on. It didn't move ;didn't even breathe. It patiently waited.
* * *
They were both seated on the comfy chairs on the back of the eagle with Mr. Hummingbird curled in between them.
“I'm not feeling very good about this.” he said with a trembling chirping.
“Don't tell me you're afraid of heights.” joked Ovolon.
In front of them a metal plate armed with gears and buttons was strapped around the eagle's neck. Around the board under each instrument were inscriptions of what seemed like instructions to the thing's operation. They both were in a state of constant elation mixed with the crippling fear of what is about to happen, that they remained unmoving with fingers piercing against the seat arms and wide-eyed frozen faces. The desert all around them, vast and filled with endless motes of dust, might be the remains of something once tall and powerful, but now they were leaving it behind having revealed none of its secrets. Their destination was far away from here. Towards where, they couldn't know. The need to press on when things unfolded was always urgent and compelling in order to move on. Let the momentum drive them with sudden steers of the wheel when determined appropriate, so to speak. And deciding on that is probably one of the hardest initiatives to take.
They both shared these thoughts at the time and they both let the flow guide them.
Once more, with the indispensable help of Mr. hummingbird, they patiently deciphered the odd symbols on the control panel. It turned out to be all intricate and complex just for the sake of elongating their anticipation as the orders pointed from one button to another just to end at a partially hidden switch they hadn't even noticed. It bore the inscription “Farewell and be Airborne!”
The mental image of God Timotheus speaking these words with a smile so big that touched his ears, struck the girl and she laughed so hard that both Ovolon and Mr. Hummingbird couldn't resist but join her in a dissonant delirium of merry sounds.
* * *
The giant eagle took off, shuffling the dust below its claws and flew towards a cloudless sky with a high chance of unorthodox flying objects bolting passengers to the so-called glorious End of the World.
“Oh my! What a rush!” shouted Mr. Hummingbird in excitement. “And I don't even have to drive!”
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