I, Momo: Memoirs of a Winged Lemur
A/N: I disclaim that I own neither the characters nor the world, only perhaps the idea that Momo is particularly eloquent, but I still couldn't establish much of an intellectual property claim. As to thanks, my humblest go to my dear beta, Wolfish Inclinations.
I write now in the only language I know how, although there are few left fit to read it. I have faith that, somewhere, my race still lives. As for my people, however? I am the last of the winged lemurs of the Southern Air Temple. My generation was only males, and most of those died young from disease or hunger or fear. There is little hope on that mountain, surrounded by skeletons and armour, watching the population of your people dwindle.
I am sure I was alone for far too long, with little to do but think and the wheezing breath of Death, my only companion. It was with an eager heart that I heard voices on the mountain. Strange, yes, but even I, having never met a person, knew that they were human. Humans filled the legends of my people, once our protectors and friends, now just crumbling bones strewn with cobwebs.
A great thud. A powerful gust. And then three notes. I am sure they sounded louder to my ears than they truly were. I was so unaccustomed to the noise then, and so lonely, and so curious! As they say, curiosity killed the lemur. It was very nearly true. You would have thought the demise of all my family would have made me more wary, but I was young then, and there were no threats that I knew of on the mountain. Not anymore.
I followed the sounds, and came to the Human Room, which held many of our stories. Though we lemurs could enter through various passageways, we were not supposed to. It was a special occasion place, and I had avoided it since my last brother died. Knowing that it was humans who had come, it should not have surprised me so that they came to this room, I suppose. I was unsure, though trusting. My own mind did not tell me to doubt, and the Sky Bison had reassured me that I would face no harm if I happened to come across these tourists of my home.
I stood in the doorway's light, and despite the aptitude of my wide eyes for the dark, I could see no humans. Not living ones, anyway. Just the same dead figures that had always stood here, reminding generation after generation of lemurs of their stories. Though I could see no one, I still heard whispers and so, I took a chance.
"Hello?" I said cautiously. Three faces greeted me, the first with hungry eyes, the other two with a curiosity as strong as my own. Like myself. They spoke quickly, whether to themselves or to each other, it was hard to tell. I did not understand. I tried to ask for clarification, tilting my head from side to side, but when two of them came charging at me, there was no time for words. I arched my back, my fur stood on end, and then I hightailed it out there, shrieking instinctually.
I ran, and I ran, and I ran, the two following down those familiar halls, filling them with a sound and life I feel sure, in retrospect, they once knew. But at the moment, I knew nothing but self-preservation and old adages ringing in my ears about young lemurs and how they put themselves in such dangers. The hall ended in a balcony, and I perched momentarily, looking back. Now only one followed, but it was still one more than I wanted chasing after me so recklessly. Humans couldn't fly, right? I leapt.
It seemed, however, that my pursuer leapt to, but as he fell he let out such a sound, a ringing sound that filled the air. Later I would learn to equate this sound with amusement or happy times. Then, however, I did not know it, but it filled my heart and I was less afraid. Still, I skittered to the only other human place I knew. I normally avoided the place, but it was close and it had one of the last signs of the human race about the place: an airbender skeleton.
Still not wanting to be found, I ducked into a pillar and climbed up, perching myself on the edge of the sunken roof. I still wanted to know more about these visitors. This new sound frightened me more than the chase, though. Where that ringing sound had lifted my heart, this human shrieking…I did not know what to call it. It was pulsing and wrenching and breathless and heartbreaking and to think that from the Human Room to this skeleton, this cub, this pup, had managed to express both one and the other.
It must have been too much for him, for then he began to glow. It was unnatural, and my fear was even greater than before, but now, with such contradictions present in such a little body, I worried. Were humans accustomed to glowing? In our stories, only one human ever glowed: the Avatar.
If nothing else, this child was at least an airbender. As a small whirlwind began around his ankles, I fled, not wanting to risk the repercussions. But, it made me think. Maybe these humans just made a mistake when they chased me. Maybe the bison was right, and they weren't so bad. And maybe they even needed my help.
There was little I could do for a human glowing and creating spontaneous whirlwinds, but I could help that boy with hungry eyes that had chased me like a predator. I hurried around the temple to my favourite trees, collecting fruit. When I could carry no more, I went back to the Human Room, hoping that they would show up here in the place full of the faces of their own kind.
They were already there, and this time, they did not chase after me. Instead, they stood in silence. I caught sight of the glowing child. He was no longer glowing, though he seemed perhaps…downcast. Before I could learn more, however, I had to deliver my load. I hopped over to the boy with the hungry-eyes and dropped the fruit at his feet. It was no longer quiet. He cried out, in joy or appreciation I assume, and dropped to the ground, immediately digging in.
Satisfied in my work, I ran to the boy, wrapping myself around his neck and holding his head, which was bald and arrowed like the all the statues outside of the Human Room. I would stay with this one now, and hope that he was okay. He spoke. I don't know what he said.
"Hello," I replied, trying to sound calm and happy.
Shortly thereafter, the boy brought me and his two companions out to where the Sky Bison waited. I chattered a hello, though he did not respond. He seemed less willing to talk, now with the boy around. But the boy brought us three together, and treated us like a unit, and I wished that I could understand his words, but I could understand his spirit: we were the Southern Air Temple now, and we would be a family.
It was strange to be leaving the only place I had known, but I had companions now. Though not lemurs, they were my species natural companions, and I would no longer be lonely.
It seemed the hungry-eyed boy and the girl were a part of our new family, too. I had a new name for the boy though: the greedy boy. It seemed he had left no fruit for any of his companions, or for me, who had collected it! I snatched the peach right from his hands, and returned to my perch of the no-longer-glowing child's shoulder.
He smiled, and perhaps it is only in retrospect that I understood a word he said, but I believe I heard it then. "Momo."