A pile of coins and crumpled up dollar bills sat in the middle of an upturned old orange crate. Ahir and Bar’bou worked on separating them into stacks of the different denominations. Ahir leaned against the wall with a sigh. “Only fifty dollars and thirty seven cents. I can’t believe we only made fifty dollars from a crowd that size and stunts that good. At this rate, we aren’t going to be able to pay Larry back in time. I should go back out and try to do a show or two, but I can’t leave the girl here alone, and we definitely can’t let her go without making sure she doesn’t tell anyone about us.” Ahir stood and turned to look at Trixie who was lying passed out on the only real piece of furniture in the apartment, an old stained mattress.
Bar’bou smiled at Ahir. “I will look after the female and ensure that she is informed of our predicament, and the paramountcy of her cooperation and silence on the matter. You go ahead and, how would you phrase it, ‘bring home the bacon.’”
“One of these days Bar’bou, I’m going to get you to talk normal. In the mean time, I’m going to go do a couple of shows. Try to not make her faint again.” Ahir zipped his backpack shut and put it on his back.
“Where will you be performing? In case another portal opens.”
“Let’s see, it’s four thirty now. I can get to the business district in time to do a show before they go home for the night, and then to the gardens. That is a popular after-work destination. I might even be able to grab a piece of fruit or two for us while I’m there.”
“Oh, an apple would be most appreciated, Ahir. Apples almost make my exile in this Simian form a boon.”
“In that case I might have to stop by a fruit stand on my way home if they don’t have anything growing in the gardens. I hate to make this situation any worse for you than it already is.”
“Of all the mortals in this realm, it is most fortuitous for me that the sword judged you to be worthy.”
“Maybe I’ll just get some bananas and grapes,” Ahir said. Bar’bou glared at him. Ahir smiled and started backing toward the door. “I’m just kidding Bar’bou. I’ll bring you home some nice juicy apples, I promise.” Ahir opened the door, waved and walked out into the hall, and closed the door behind him.
Bar’bou jumped onto the counter, landing on top of a pile of bills, all of them with big red letters across the top saying ‘Past Due’ and then jumped up to a little hammock he had hung up near the ceiling. “Humans. Harumph.” Bar’bou lay in his hammock, rocking it side to side until he heard Trixie stir.
Trixie sighed and said sleepily, “I had the strangest dream about a talking monkey and a giant monster.” She looked around at her surroundings and her voice turned to panic. “Wait, this isn’t my bed. Where am I? What’s going on?”
Bar’bou dropped from his hammock to the ground next to the bed. “Please remain placid. I know this is an unusual occurrence for you, but I will explain everything to you presently.”
Trixie’s eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped open. “So the talking monkey wasn’t a dream. Was the rest of it real too? Where am I? Who are you?”
“Yes, you did see Ahir combat a creature. Ahir brought you back to his domicile in order that we may ask for your secrecy on the matter. I am Bar’bou, adviser to King Dar’duo, and councilor to Ahir.”
Trixie frowned. “I thought Ahir was just a street performer, what else has he gotten himself involved in?”
Bar’bou bowed his head before answering. “I’m abashed to have to disclose to you that the dimension that I hail from is dragging your world into our affairs. Ahir has been chosen to thwart those dark designs and is the only entity preventing the beings of my dimension from being enslaved and your world being cast into darkness.”
Trixie groaned. “Ugh, I know that this is all serious and everything, but I feel like I need a thesaurus just to understand what you are saying. Can’t you try speaking in plain English?”
Bar’bou raised his head up and frowned at Trixie. He muttered to himself, “Uneducated brutes. If the fate of my world wasn’t in the balance I’d say let Lang’kahn have them all. It wouldn’t be any real loss to society.” He cleared his throat before continuing, “What I’m trying to say, miss, is that there are plans in my world to for an evil sorcerer to use the people of your world to take over our world, and the only one that can stop him is Ahir.”
Trixie gasped. “Ahir is the only one that can save your world? He’s just a street performer, what can he do?”
“It’s not so much what he can do, as it is what is in his heart.” Trixie’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Let me see, what would be the best way to explain this? I’ll have to go back to the beginning. Yes, that would be most beneficial for this young female. Make yourself comfortable, miss. I’m about to explain the history of my people to you, and why we need Ahir’s aid.
“My people are known as the Aureus’aevum, and where your people have life spans of decades, we live for millennia. Unlike you humans, our lives are dedicated to science and architecture, creating advances unrivaled by any other race in all of existence, while you humans focus on finding better ways to kill each other.”
Trixie interrupted Bar’bou in an outburst of anger. “That’s not true! We have come up with all sorts of advances in medicine and other sciences that makes our everyday life better!”
“Forgive me, miss, I do not mean to condemn your race, but you have to admit that every advance you make eventually ends up making its way into the hands of your military and gets turned into something that aids in spreading war and destruction. As I said, pointing out the shortcomings of your people was not my intention. Admittedly, as violent as your race is compared to mine, it is my race that is threatening the enslavement of both of our peoples.
“As I was saying, our land was a place of peace and prosperity, all ruled over by Dar’duo, our king. He, as his fathers before him, led our people, making sure that no one lacked anything. Under his leadership, our people discovered advances that allowed us to visit our neighboring planets and improve the lives of others, methods of instantaneous travel, and synthetic food production.
“The Aureus’Aevum are beings that cannot be slain by any weapon but one, the Gladio Protegat, forged by our master smith Laz’krit. The idea of his people killing one another horrified Dar’duo, and he ordered that no other such weapon should ever be forged and the Gladio Protegat should destroyed, but a seer foretold that the sword would be the salvation of our people, so it was locked away in the royal vault instead.
“Dar’duo had a son, named Lang’kahn. Lang’kahn, being a great scholar, discovered magic and how to bend it to his will. Many of our people came to learn from him, and through this our land experienced even greater prosperity.
“Lang’kahn felt that this discovery showed that he was more fit for leadership than his father, and he grew bitter and tired of waiting. As his heart grew darker by the day, so did magic. As its discoverer, his heart and the heart of magic were connected, and soon, everyone who channeled the magic was transformed into Lang’kan’s obedient slaves. It was then that Lang’kahn started to form a plan. He would take the Gladio Protegat and use it to take over the kingdom. I learned of this plan and told Dar’duo of what his son schemed, and he gave me a task. He cast a spell over the sword, that only the hero with courage and selflessness in his heart could wield the blade, and then he opened a portal and sent me through to your world. Traveling through the portal changed my form so that I look the way I do now, because the portals change your form to reflect whatever is in your heart.”
Trixie snickered. “You have a monkey in your heart? Do you really like bananas or something?”
“Bananas are a most foul and disgusting food, and I don’t understand how you human’s can stand them. Apparently the attributes I hold closest in my heart are similar to that of a simian’s, yes, but while this form is humiliating, it has helped me to blend in and move amongst you humans without too much commotion. It was after I arrived in this world that I met Ahir.”
The door of the apartment opened up and Ahir walked through, a brown paper bag in his hands. Ahir smiled, reached inside of the bag and pulled out an apple, which he tossed to Bar’bou. “We are in luck, while they didn’t have any apples growing at the gardens, they did have lots of grapes, peaches, and oranges growing there, and I was able to sneak away with some of those. I also made enough at the shows that I was able to afford to get you some apples, so eat up buddy.”
Bar’bou eagerly caught the apple and bit into it, tears of happiness streaming down his face. “You are a good man, Ahir. No matter what else I say about you, I want you to know that.”
“I will try to remember that, Bar’bou. I see that our guest has woken up. Can I get you something, miss Trixie? Perhaps a nice freshly-picked peach?”
Trixie shook her head. “No thank you, but if I might trouble you for a glass of water?”
“Coming right up.” Ahir picked up a tin can that was sitting on the counter, and slid the window next to the kitchen sink open. He grabbed a larger tin can half full of water and poured some of it into the smaller one. He handed the tin can to Trixie.
“What is this?” Trixie asked taking the tin can from Ahir.
“Rain water. We try not to use the sink as much as we can, to try and keep the water bill down. So, how have things been going here?”
Trixie set the tin can aside without taking a drink. “Bar’bou was telling me about his world, and was about to tell me about how the two of you met.”
“Ah, I see. well, he’s going to be busy with that apple for a while, so I suppose I can take over the story from here.”