Ax's New Friend 3: Homecoming
Disclaimer: Animorphs belongs to K.A. Applegate, and the Magic Shop series belongs to Bruce Coville. I am not making any money.
Leaving my Hatcher and his friends hurt. I felt as if my heart was being torn out. I didn't want to go, but the old man, Mr. Elives, told me that dragons had no place in this world now, that I couldn't stay. Besides, didn't I want to meet my family, see my own world, and get to know my own kind? Didn't I want to learn the wonders of magic?
Yes, I did. Just not for the reasons that he thought. I told my Ax-man and the Animorphs goodbye, and walked through the gate.
On the other side, I was met by wonders. Volcanoes erupted in the distance, sending colorful smoke into the air. Crowds of dragons were waiting for me, and I saw a jade green female, and a male with gold webbing on his wings. They were my parents. I rushed to greet them, and was overjoyed to be with my people. I smiled at them, and they sang a song of love and togetherness, a song without words. They felt my pain at leaving, and told me that the pain would fade. Mortal creatures die quickly, they said. My attachment to them would fade when my Hatcher left his mortal form. Come, learn our ways, and forget. We are safe here. You are loved.
I heard their encouragements to leave Earth behind me. I felt their desire for me to forget my friends.
No. I told them. They are at war with a powerful enemy. They are special, and I love them. They could use my help.
Forget, they urged. They are only humans.
We felt the gate close again with a crashing of magic.
Besides, my mother added. There is no way for you to go back.
My heart sank, but as time went by, I still learned what I could use to help the Animorphs, and harbored the hope that I might someday return.
As I saw the portal close, I cried out. Loren and I had been together for such a short time, yet she had been as close a shorm as Tobias. I could not grieve the way I wished, so I morphed to human. I wanted to cry. (Warm liquid extruded from the eyes.)
When I was morphing, I turned around and saw that my friends were also crying. Cassie came over and put her hand on my now-human shoulder.
"It's all right," she said. "She had to go. We all knew that."
Her face was covered in tears, too.
Time went on. I grew listless, and could not interest my self with anything. Not the war with the Yeerks, not avenging my brother's death, because all that mattered to me was that Loren was gone.
My friends tried to cheer me up. They took me to the mall, and said I could have all the cinnamon buns that I wanted. I wasn't interested. I did search the mall, feverishly, for the magic shop, which I never found. When we returned to my scoop, I was followed by the worried stares of my teammates.
It has been years since I left my Hatcher. I am learning amazing magic, creating my own horde of jewels, and am utterly, utterly bored. I have never forgotten the Animorphs, and I still search for a way to return.
I love my family. They are very good to me, yet I still feel like an outcast. I feel like a freak.
I suppose that my time with Ax has made me different from others of my kind. Whenever I begin discussing the geometric designs found in the crystal formations that we guard, they look at me like I have grown another head or something.
Don't get me started on the time I mentioned z-space.
I watch, wait, and learn, and hope that I will not forget the place that I left.
Weeks have past since Loren left. I am doing the best I can, but I really don't care anymore. We have had some battles since then, and if it wasn't for Rachel and Marco, Visser 3 would have had my head by now.
Tobias had gone hunting, and I had some free time. I decided to go to the library.
When I got there, I found some of the classics that Cassie had suggested. Beowulf, Hamlet, and L'morte de Authur.I started to check them out, when the librarian mentioned that I should go to the magic shop at the mall.
I stared at her with my human eyes, and my human mouth hung open. I started running awkwardly on my human legs, and completely forgot the books, as I ran for the door.
I got on the bus, and was at the mall far more quickly than I should have been. Once in, I raced to the place I had last remembered the shop. It wasn't there. It wasn't there!
I felt adrenaline flood my system, and I opened my human mouth to bellow. I never got that far, because a hand tapped my shoulder. I spun around, something humans do better than normal people, and faced Mr. Elives. He ushered me into the shop, which was behind me now.
"So, youngster, you are pining away for your dragon more than most. That is sad, but you must let her go. She can't come back. She needs to be among her own kind. She has a right to learn her own culture, and see her family. She was little more than a baby, did you know that? Dragons mature physically faster than humans do, but they remain immature mentally for a long time. They won't be the mental equivalent of your age until they are your age. They aren't allowed to be out on their own until they are in their mid twenties.Would you deprive her of a childhood?" he practically shouted.
I nodded no, because a lump had formed in my throat. I realized how selfish I had been. If I had truly loved Loren, I would have let her go, without the pain I had felt.
I demorphed in the magic shop, remorphed, and left. I returned to my scoop, and still felt apathetic toward life in general.
I can barely remember now, the green place I had hatched in, but I want to. I know it is important. I am now about twenty, and have grown a great deal. I am about the size of a car.
What is a car?
I tried to pursue these phantom memories, but my family discouraged me. The only help I got is from Tiamet, my aunt. She wants to me to remember, and tries to help. I wish it would get me anywhere.
What? I asked, craning my neck around to see where the voice had come from. I bated my wings in frustration when no one was forthcoming.
SURELY, YOUR FRIENDS TOLD YOU OF THE ELLIMIST? HOW RUDE OF THEM TO FORGET.
I think any of my friends would have told me about a big, loud, voice in the head, I told it.
I MEANT YOUR HATCHER AND HIS FRIENDS.
My what? I exclaimed, and a flood of images come rushing back to me. My first impressions after hatching. Learning to hunt, with Tobias. Learning about animals, from Cassie. Learning about science, from Ax-man, my Hatcher.
I also remembered my parents putting a forget spell on me. They meant well, but I couldn't forgive them.
No, they never mentioned you. But since you know them, is there any way for me to get back to them? I asked, feeling a sudden, agonizing hope.
I felt a great rush of laughter from the faceless entity.
I THOUGHT YOU WOULD NEVER ASK. GET SOME OF YOUR TOYS TOGETHER, LOREN, AND I WILL TAKE YOU HOME.
Home. That sounded so nice.
Tobias and I went to costume store. There is a peculiar Earth holiday that includes dressing as species other than their own. Tobias was invited to a 'costume party' with Rachel, and they were going as a Xena and Hercules. They are heroes from Earth myth.
I walked through the costumes, and found one that resembled a dragon. I touched the shiny material, and said my final goodbye.
I rushed to my cave, and started grabbing some of my horde jewels. They are powerful amplifiers of magic. I reached for an old drinking cup, when a rustling of wings made me turn my head. It was Aunt Tiamat.
Leaving without saying goodbye? she asked.
Oh, I, um... I stammered.
She smiled and handed me a bundle she had had wadded up in her fore claws. It was a human sized shirt made of dragon skin. I looked at her questioningly.
It is something I believe you will find valuable. It is nearly indestructible, and I want you to be safe, no matter what, love. She smiled at me. Hurry up.
I gave a dragon shrug, and quickly finished packing. I had little to pack, really.
Ellimist? I asked the air.
RIGHT HERE, LOREN.
Let's go home.
Halloween. Hallowe'en. All Hallows eve. The day before St. John's day. I hadn't forgotten the rhyme that Mr. Elives had told me, but I thought little of it. I was trying to get on with my life.
We were at the costume party at Chapman's. We weren't here just for the popcorn balls, which were a food I had not yet tried. We were trying to find out the purpose of the party.
Rachel was the first to find it.
"Of all the disgusting things," she spat. "They are infesting people with apple bobbing!"
The 'apple bobbing' was in a dark room. No one saw what they were actually putting their heads into. I had to wonder at the whole game, myself. What could be the point of grabbing fruit with your teeth?
Prince Jake came up with an elegantly simple plan. We would get into our battle morphs, and just walk in. They would assume that we were in costume.
Rachel's grin was feral." Let's do it!"
I was suddenly at Ax's scoop. In twenty years, the place had not changed much.
TWENTY YEARS HAVE NOT PASSED HERE, LOREN. IT IS A FEW MONTHS LATER, ON ALL HALLOW'S EVE. AS THE POEM SAID, GO MEND YOUR HATCHER'S HEART, AND SAVE THEIR LIVES.
OH, BY THE WAY...
He held out a blue box.
YOU DO KNOW WHAT THIS IS, DON'T YOU?
We were casually walking toward a back room when a hand grabbed my arm. I looked to see who the owner of the hand was. It was a human girl I had never met before.
She was of medium height, with golden brown hair that was just slightly curly. Her complexion was a soft tan, and her eyes were a golden green; to my surprise, they were slitted like a cat's.
She was dressed in a form fitting red scaled armor. She had on no artificial hooves.
"Ax," she hissed." Don't go in there. It is a trap!"
"Do I know you?" I asked cautiously.
The rest of the Animorphs had noticed what was happening and had started to surround us. The girl noticed this and smiled tightly. Without warning, she threw her arms around my neck, and whispered urgently," Midsummer's Eve will break your heart, and All Hallows Eve will patch it."
I stared at this girl, and I began to realize who she was.
"Excuse me, can we help you?" asked Rachel casually. I saw she was preparing to intervene.
As Loren saw the realization dawn in my eyes, she turned to Rachel.
"I am looking for some old friends, and I seem to have found them. I'm sorry you have forgotten me. My name is Loren, but you can call me Kitten, if you like that name better," she answered.
We all gaped at her.
Loren smiled again. "Can we talk outside?"
Prince Jake nodded.
We all headed out the door, and around back. Loren started muttering something under her breath, and grabbed both mine and Tobias' hands.
"Link hands if you don't mind. It makes the invisibility spell easier," she mumbled.
"What-" started Prince Jake.
"Who-" I continued.
"When-" asked Cassie.
"Huh?" finished Marco.
"Long story," said Loren. "Abbreviated version is that I went to Dragon World, learned a lot of stuff, met the Ellimist, and came back with his help. He, she, whatever, told me that I needed to come and stop you from attacking openly. He gave me the morphing power. I pulled a DNA mixing thing that you never told me the name of but that Ax did when he first got here, and walked in invisibly. He told me to play it by ear after that."
"So, you're back?" I asked.
She gave me a toothy grin, showing that she had managed to keep some of her normal teeth.
"Yep, I'm back."
The evening was anticlimactic after that. We went into the room where they were infesting people, and turned over the tub. Since we were invisible at the time, they never figured out who did it. Visser 3 and some Hork-Bajir came after us, and we left. We got into our battle morphs, and defeated them. Visser 3 retreated, and we went back to Cassie's barn. The battle had been fierce, but that wasn't important.
Loren was back.
She demorphed, and we all stared at how big she was. She was no longer a baby, but about our age.
She started hugging us, which was interesting, considering the size of her claws, and all hugged back.
I told you that you would never lose me! she crowed.
"Loren, do you have any idea what you have gotten yourself into?" said Prince Jake.
Yes, I do. The war with the Yeerks is a war everyone will have to fight, if they want to survive. My people were once of this world, and they still have a responsibility to it. I can be useful. I know a lot about magic, and can fight well. I have been training. Now I can morph, too. I know that I might also die. There is a good chance of it, in fact. However, I know the risks, and accept them. Prince Jake, may I fight beside you, as an Animorph? she replied.
"Oh, no," snickered Marco. "Ax, now you've got her saying 'Prince-this' and 'Prince-that'."
Prince Jake sighed, and shook his head. He put out his hand, and Loren took it.
"Welcome to the Animorphs, Kitten."