Once upon a time, there was a large, dark, and beautiful cave, in the side of a hill, located in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.
It was surrounded by a sea of flowers, and pear-filled trees, and a calm and soothing wind swept across it's mouth.
A stream of water had curiously been dug out from a large nearby pond, and led down into the darkness.
Paw prints were scattered about the entrance.
This cave was inhabited by over one thousand wolf-like creatures called Wajas!
It was evening, and just outside, they had built a large bonfire, and were sitting around it, entertaining each other with stories, and talk of the day's events.
As the fire died down into a few remaining embers, a voice broke out, "I wonder where Wajas come from"?
Everyone fell silent as the question weighed in on their minds.
When the final glow of the fire had left the pit, the Wajas rose from their seats, and led by the soft illumination coming from fire Waja's feet, they padded deep into the cave to where they had a large sleeping chamber.
As they settled down, and curled up next to each other, there suddenly came a great shout!
"I have decided to go on an adventure, to find out where Wajas originally came from!"
It was Abiqua Falls, a pale blue fire, with a chalky white back swirl!
He stood up, with his white tipped wings outstretched in excitement.
"I have no parents that I can remember... The first memory that I can recall is opening my eyes, and looking up to see the Lady of the Cave. Even then, I was full grown!"
Then came a softer voice, cracking with age. "I found something the other day, that may be of interest to you".
The voice was that of the oldest, most respected Waja in all of the cave. An ancient Plushie by the name of April Showers.
She rose from her designated spot in the cave, and then turned and retreated into the remote depths of the cave.
Finally, when Abiqua thought he could stand it no more, she reappeared carrying a tattered beige-colored scroll in her mouth.
She dropped it at his feet without a word, and returned to her sleeping spot, where she flopped over, and seemed to drift away to a land of dreams.
Abiqua excitedly snatched up the old scroll, and bounded over the other sleeping Wajas, and out of the cave, where moonlight splashed over the landscape.
He found his favorite flat basking stone, and climbed up on top of it, brushing the debris away as he plopped onto the cool, hard surface.
Gently, he unraveled the scroll, and gasped in excitement.
It looked like an old treasure map!!!
His quest to find where Wajas came from was forgotten as his curiosity grew and grew.
He had never been far from the cave, and the drawings on the map boasted of strange and wonderful places.
First thing in the morning he would set off on his new adventure, he decided!
And so morning came with the first rays of the sun peeking over the horizon, and they found Abiqua licking his mate goodbye, and climbing up the rock face, to the top of the mountain that the cave was set in.
Once he reached the peak, he leaped from the edge, and spread his magnificent wings, catching the first breezes of daylight among his feathers, as the rising rays of the sun sparkled, and danced in his fur.
He had taken a glance at the map by the glow of his flaming feet, just before dawn, and had noticed a drawing of a familiar cloud, which he had suddenly recognized as something he had often seen looming in the distance over a nearby mountain.
This mountain was much higher than the mountain which Abiqua lived in, but he bravely stretched out his wings, and caught an updraft which took him high into the sky.
He flew and flew towards the peak of the mountain, which was ringed by an enormous cloud, of which he was certain, was one and the same as the one illustrated on the map.
Just as he thought that his wings would give out, he entered the fluffy white mist, and came to a quaint little ledge.
He decided to sit down, and rest a while, before deciding what to do next.
Just as he landed, a shadow passed over head. He looked up, but try as he might, he could not see through the thick fog.
Moments later, a head popped through the cloud. It was an Aerial!
"Hello!" it said. "I am Frost Feather, and this is my territory!" it barked out.
Abiqua quickly explained that the elder of his cave had found a mysterious treasure map, and he was adventuring out to find what was at its end.
"However," he said, "I don't have any idea where to look for this next place that is located on the map!"
Frost Feather glanced at the map, and said "Ah! That is the Sleeping Forest! You can find it just on the other side of this mountain!".
And so, after a bit of idle chat and rest, Abiqua once again took to the sky, and just as promised, the Sleeping Forest soon came into view.
He landed with a small thunk at the edge of the treeline, and proceeded to walk into the underbrush.
He quickly located a trail that looked as if it was often traveled by animals. Animal trails often led to sources of water, and where there was water, there was sure to be someone to ask about the next marking on the map!!!
The trail ended somewhat abruptly at the edge of a hill, which gently sloped down to a river bank.
There was a Normal Waja sitting down by the water, seemingly talking to himself.
As Abiqua drew nearer, he realized that the Normal was in fact not alone, but speaking with a Water Waja, whom was rolled over on her back, sunning herself in the shallows.
"Pardon me!" called Abiqua, "Would you mind taking a look at this map? I could use some help finding my way, as I have never ventured far from my cave, and these markings are unfamiliar!"
"Of course!" Smiled the Normal, and he gently received the map from Abiqua, and unraveled it atop a sandy stone.
"Oh no, I won't be of any use to you, because the next marking is across the river. My mate, and I have pups in a nearby burrow, so my hunts are limited to this forest alone. However, my mate knows the river like the back of her paw, you should ask her!"
The Normal sat there, as if waiting for something, and then finally broke an awkward silence. "Well, aren't you going to ask her?" He said, gesturing toward the Water Waja.
"THIS is your mate?" Abiqua's mouth fell open. "My apologies! I was expecting someone with four legs!"
The Normal appeared a bit ruffled by this comment.
"Well, she used to be an Earth Waja, until a time came when there was so little food, that she had to venture outside of the forest to hunt for our pups. You should continue your own story my dear..." He said, flashy a smile, and twinkling eyes to his mate.
She sat up with a grin, and continued "As you know, there was little food in the forest that year. The trees failed to produce an acorn crop the year before, which is highly depended on by the other forest animals. Most had been driven to starvation during the winter.
I was forced to come out to the river, where I thought I may have the chance of finding salamanders or crayfish along the banks.
As I walked, out jumped a fat juicy frog! I snatched him up eagerly, and gulped him down, planning to regurgitate him for the puppies later, when suddenly I felt rather odd. My bones wretched, and before I knew what was happening, my two back paws had fused, and become a full blown fish tail! I howled for my mate, and he came running as fast as he could, only to find me writhing on the sandy beach.
He helped roll me to the water's edge where we have been somewhat separated since. However, on the bright side of things, he learned to swim, (she chuckled at this) and there were more than enough fish in the river to feed our pups.
I've been sitting here trying to convince my mate to become a water along side of me.
There are plenty of frogs in this river, and we would never again have to worry about separating our pups at birth, and all of those other complications between species."
"I wish you luck!" Said Abiqua.
"Thank you," She said. "Now let's have a look at that map of yours! She pushed her body up out of the water, and gave her fur a good shake so that she wouldn't drip all over the map, before coming any closer.
As she leaned over the map, she said "Ah yes! I know of this place! It's just up the river a bit. That cave belongs to a rather odd couple, but I'm sure they would be more than happy to help you on your way!".
I really appreciate it! Abiqua said. "And I hope that you find everything that you are looking for!"
With one bound, he flapped his wings, and glided just above the water's surface all the way to the other side of the river.
After about an hour of walking up the river, he was starting to worry he had missed the cave when it finally came into view. Just then something came crashing through the brush in his direction! Whatever it was, it seemed to be growling, and cackling all at the same time!!!
Abiqua was a bit unnerved, and sank down in a submissive position, to show that he meant no harm, when out jumped a Bane!
"Oh darn, you aren't something to eat!" He cackled with what seemed slight insanity.
"You'll never find anything to eat if you keep scaring away the prey with your snarling, and laughing." came another voice that seemed a bit exasperated.
Out of the treeline rose a beautiful female Divine.
"Oh!" She exclaimed. "You most certainly are not edible! But you look weary, would you like to rest in our cave a bit, before continuing on your way? I assume you are on a journey, with that map hanging out of your mouth" She winked, and suddenly Abiqua suddenly realized that his maw was hanging open.
"It would be my pleasure!" he said, and followed her back to their den, where he set fire to a pile of sticks, and he and the Bane sat down to rest. "I'll be right back! She turned to leave".
"You're leaving me with him?!" Abiqua was a bit worried, as the Bane had been eying him ever since they came into the cave, as if he was still trying to decide whether or not Abiqua would make a suitable meal.
"Oh don't let my mate get to you, he's just got a bit of low self esteem, when it comes to other males hanging around."
"Oh, I meant no disrespect in being here!" said Abiqua. "You are indeed beautiful, but I have a mate of my own back home". The Bane seemed relieved by this statement, and visibly relaxed.
Soon the Divine returned with a freshly killed deer. "Help yourself! She said, and they tore into it, and ate their fill, Abiqua respectfully leaving the rumen, and vital organs, for the dominant Bane.
With fat bellies filled to bursting, they all flopped down on the floor of the den, with happy grins on their faces, as they licked their chops of the last drops of deliciousness.
"Would you like to tell us what brings you to our territory?" inquired the gentle Divine.
"I am on an adventure!" replied Abiqua. He quickly explained about his journey, and the recent things he had been through, and unrolled the map in front of the Divine to see if she recognized the next mark on the map.
"Oh yes, I do recognize this place!" She said. If you head west from here, you will come to a grassland, and in the middle of this plain, you will find a gigantic stone African Waja.
"Oh boy" muttered the Bane. "You're sure to run into a pack of Affies, and boy are they a bunch of nutty lunatics, dancing, and rolling around that rock!"
"Nutty lunatics..." Chuckled the Divine. "You're certainly one to talk!".
They both giggled at this, and Abiqua decided to take his leave, and bowed his head in gratitude as he once again set out on his expedition.
As he reached the grassland, he indeed found the giant rock at its center, and sure enough, there were a pack of Affies dancing, and laughing, and partying their little hearts out in what seemed to be a ritual circle.
As Abiqua drew nearer, he was finally able to see what they were dancing about. A Corsie waja who was dressed in traditional clothing, with a painted face, and markings was dancing about with his tongue lolling out.
The Corsie yipped happily, as they all settled down, and an elderly African began to speak to him, about something that Abiqua could not quite discern.
Just then, a voice spoke up from behind him. "This is a ritual for bringing about the induction of a new African waja to the world."
Abiqua nearly jumped out of his skin, as he whirled about to face a smiling grass green Affy. No Wonder he hadn't spotted him before with his great camouflage!
"Bringing a new African into the world?" Abiqua asked.
"Yes, that giant rock Waja is an ancient magical stone. Just sit back and watch, and you'll see just what I'm talking about," He winked.
Jus then the elder seemed to finish his speech, and the Corsie strode forward to the giant rock and LICKED it!!!!
"EEEEEWW!" Abiqua sputtered. That's disgusting! ("I don't even want to know how many Wajas have licked that rock!")
Just then there was a poof of smoke, and out bounded an Affy looking identical to the Corsie whom had entered.
"Did that Corsie just turn into an African?" Asked Abiqua.
"Indeed!" Replied the grass green Affy. "Would you like to become one as well?"
"Thanks, but no thanks" Abiqua responded. "I like being a fire if it's all the same to you" he grinned.
The grass green Affy snorted, and asked, then can I help you, as far as your being here?"
"I happen to be on a journey!" Abiqua said, and once again explained himself away.
The grass green Affy seemed to be in a bit of a hurry to get back to the celebration, so he took a quick look at the map, and told Abiqua to continue West towards a small hill in the distance.
Abiqua said his goodbyes, and hurried off in the designated direction.
When Abiqua finally reached the hill, he was stunned by what he saw on the other side!!!
A sprawling desert lay out before him!
"It's a good thing that I'm a fire!" he thought to himself. "Or else, I'm sure that I'd be feeling this sweltering heat a bit differently!"
So he walked, and walked, passing cacti, and sand dunes. Over and over the dunes he went, trying to pay no attention to the mirages that flickered just above the ground.
He had gotten so used to ignoring them, that he almost dismissed what happened to be an oasis slightly to the north!
Turning towards the oasis, he decided to stop for a drink, for even though he was a Fire, he still needed water to sustain his body.
As he came closer, he realized that he was not alone.
Lounging by the pool's edge was a female Egyptian Waja who was seemingly entranced by a male Tempest, who's mistrals seemed to be ruffling both of their fur in a gentle breeze.
The Tempest reached over, and plucked a desert flower, and tucked it behind the Egyptian's ear.
They were so captivated by each other, that they didn't even notice Abiqua until he was practically next to them, and even then, the only acknowledgment that he received was a small glance, and the swivel of ears in his direction.
He bent down, and lapped up some of the soothing cool liquid, before he finally gave a fake cough in order to draw their momentary attentions.
"I was wondering if perhaps one of you would mind pointing me in the direction of the next, and last marking on this map", he said, unraveling it, and gesturing with his paw. "It uh.. seems to be a volcano or something."
The Tempest rolled his eyes, and lifted a paw, and stuck out a toe towards the north.
His attentions immediately returned to the Egyptian, and Abiqua sniffed in disdain at the young lovers.
"Bah, puppy love!" he muttered to himself, and decided to return to the sky on his well rested wings.
The air became hotter and hotter as he flew. The flames on his feet swelled up, and licked at his sides, as he arrived at the base of a large volcano. He couldn't believe the size of it!
Embers, and ash floated through the air around him, and there was a thick smoke rolling about the top.
There were figures that seemed to be frolicking around inside of it, and Abiqua decided to investigate.
He began the climb up the mountain, and when he reached the base of the rolling cloud of smoke, he bravely poked his head through at the nearest figure. It was a Fire Waja!
"Hello cousin!" It barked in greeting. "Are all of these shadowed figures other Fire Wajas?" Abiqua asked.
"Indeed they are!" answered the Fire. "All 405 of us live here on the side of this volcano. Here we can run and play among the flames of our heart without having to worry about anyone getting burned!"
Abiqua was amazed. "I was led here by what seems to be an old treasure map" He said, and spread out the map before the other Waja.
"I've seen this map before!" The Fire said. "A human woman with long brown hair once ventured here, following this same map. She was a strange human, and seemed to enjoy the company of all types and colors of Wajas.
They explored the entirety of this volcano, and found their treasure and left with it, after visiting us for around a week. It was a happy time, and though we were shy at first, we all became fast friends, and dined, and danced together.
The woman showed us the treasure she had discovered. It was a large chest, and inside it was a large gold saucer with a picture of a Fire Waja carved into it."
Abiqua was devastated.
He had come all this way for what? Nothing! The treasure was gone, and he sulked.
"Please join us, for dinner, and you are more than welcome to stay the night as well" said the Fire.
And so the disheartened Abiqua took him up on his offer, and enjoyed the company of his own species throughout the evening, until he fell into a deep slumber atop a lava heated rock.
In the morning, Abiqua woke, and stretched his legs, and wings, and proceeded to rub the sleep from his eyes.
He thanked the Fires for letting him stay with them for the night, and began his long journey home.
Back across the desert...over the grassland... past the den of the strange couple... on the other side of the river... through the sleeping forest... up over the tall cloudy mountain... and finally home.
Abiqua couldn't help being depressed, even when he was greeted joyfully by his mate, whose name was Wonderwall, and the rest of the clan upon his return.
Wonderwall barked happily to him "You made it just in time! The Lady of the cave is visiting with us today!"
Abiqua padded into the cave, and there he found me! The narrator! Surprise!
"Why are you feeling so dejected?" I asked him.
He replied to me "I went on a long and tiring adventure, following this stupid map, and when I reached the end, there was no treasure there to find."
He growled, and tossed the map to the ground, and pounced on it in a small temper tantrum.
I had to giggle.
"Abiqua this map is mine." I said. "Nearly two years ago, I found it, and went on this very same journey!"
His eyes lit up, and the other Wajas in the cave perked up their ears, and gathered around us to listen to my story, a few with their eyes sparkling in recognition.
"So you found the treasure!?" He barked excitedly. Why have I never seen it here in the cave, among all of the other animals, and items laying about? I Have never seen a gold saucer engraved with the image of a Fire here!"
I smiled gently, and patted him on the head lovingly. That is because that saucer was you, and you are my treasure.
Abiqua was very confused at this point, and so I explained to him that Wajas were born of an item called a "Token" when a human came across, and activated it.
"So I am... just a creation?" Abiqua asked me.
"No, no!" I assured. "You are gifted with your own very special life. I just decided what you would look like, not on your personality, or who YOU are."
Abiqua seemed satisfied with this answer, and trotted back out to the cave entrance, where he stood with the wind blowing through his fur.
He seemed to have grown a lot during this adventure.
Soon he was joined by April Showers, and the old Plushie asked, "Did you find what it was that you were looking for?"
The sun set that evening, as it does every evening, the last rays glistening on petals of flowers in the meadow. It sparkled from the stalactites, and the stalagmites near the entrance of the cave, and shined on the surface of the moon reflecting water that led down deep inside.
"Yes" he replied, "I did."
LadyAshley #34075 & 34092