Ahir took a seat on an overturned five gallon pail and leaned back against the wall. He cleared his throat and began. “The day that Bar’bou and I met was the day I was finally going to give up being a street performer. My parents were street performers as well, and I was trained to tumble and juggle right alongside of them. Perhaps you have heard of them, they were fairly famous. Alphonse and Melody Bohater were my parents.”
Trixie responded excitedly. “Yeah, I have heard of them. They used to travel across the country. Every venue they performed at was always sold out,” she lowered her tone and her eyes. “But then they passed away in that fire.”
“I would have too if I hadn’t gotten sick and had to stay home for that tour. I didn’t have any living relatives that wanted to take me in, so I ended up going to an orphanage. St. Michaels of Divine Mercy was the name of the orphanage that I lived at, and I hated that place. I use to try and do shows for the other kids, but they didn’t think that was a good use of my time. They sent me out daily to try and make some money for the orphanage.”
“I know Ahir, I was raised at the same orphanage.”
“You were at St. Michaels too? I’m sorry, but I don’t remember you being there.”
“I’m not surprised that you don’t remember me, I was a very quiet girl a couple of years younger than you. I remember you, though. Most kids get depressed and mopy when they lose their parents, but not you. You had a spark and spirit that refused to be defeated. I remember the day that you didn’t come back. Why did you run away? I know the orphanage isn’t what anyone wants, but at least they fed us and gave us someplace warm to sleep.”
“I left the orphanage because they were just holding me back. I knew that no one wanted to adopt a fifteen year old boy. Parents want cute little kids that they can adopt and raise as their own, not a rebellious teenager. That meant that I was just there as a source of income for the orphanage, and I felt that I could make better use of the money I was bringing in for myself. So I decided to take to living in the streets. I couldn’t bring in enough money doing street performances, so I started picking pockets to get enough to get a warm meal once in a while.
“After a getting caught and reprimanded a few times for picking pockets, I decided to try and earn a living like everyone else. I saved up money from my performances for over a year to be able to afford to buy a set of nice dress clothes, and I started applying at businesses all across town. I finally had a job at Earl and Dillards Deliveries, and was doing one last performance before starting my first day when Bar’bou came barrelling into my life…
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Ahir walked down the sidewalk toward Jeffery’s Park with a spring in his step. One last performance, and then over to my first day of work. After four decades of renown, the Bohaters will finally be saying farewell to the entertainment world. Ahir entered the park, set down his bundle of belongings, and jumped up onto a park bench, sucked in a big breath of air before bellowing out, “Come one, come all! This is an opportunity you will not want to miss! The final performance of the nationally loved Bohaters traveling acrobatic troupe! Come and be amazed as Ahir Bohater performs feats of balance, dexterity, and danger you could only dream about!”
A small crowd began to form around the park bench, Ahir counting to himself as he continued to shout. Thirty-seven, hmm, not my biggest crowd, but it will have to do. Maybe more will join as go through my act. “Ladies and gentlemen, for my first act, I will need some help from the audience! Could I please get eight volunteers?” Two little kids forced their way to the front of the crowd, and four men and two women joined them. “Thank you all for volunteering. With your help we can really make this into a great show!” Ahir dug into his pockets and pulled out eight small rubber balls. “Each of you take one of these balls, and then go back into the crowd. I will begin to juggle, and then at any time, I want you to throw these balls at me!”
Each of the volunteers took a ball and made their way back into the crowd except for the two little boys. They stayed up front. Ahir pulled out three more balls from his pocket and began to juggle them. After a few rounds, one of them men gently tossed a blue ball at Ahir. Ahir’s hand darted out, grabbed the ball and it joined the circuit with the others. “Please, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not interesting if you make it too easy for me! I will give thirty dollars to any of the volunteers that can make me drop these balls!”
The two little boys looked at each other and nodded. They pulled their arms back and threw their yellow and green balls at Ahir’s knees at the same time. Ahir kicked the yellow ball up into the air, and his hand darted down and scooped up the other, adding both of them into the circuit with the others. The crowd applauded and oohed at Ahir. “That is three of the eight, can any of you cause me to falter?”
One of the women threw her orange ball to the right of Ahir, and Ahir’s hand darted out once more adding the ball to the others.The other woman in the crowd threw her red ball right at Ahir’s face. Ahir’s hand darted out and smacked the ball down at the side walk. The woman began to celebrate until she saw the ball bounce back up and join the circuit with the others. “That is five of the eight. Surely these men can force me to screw up?”
Two of the remaining volunteers were standing next to each other in the crowd. They put their heads together and whispered for a while, before both nodded. One of the men tossed a purple ball high into the air. Ahir looked up to track the ball’s trajectory, and when he did that the other man threw his indigo colored ball as hard as he could at Ahir’s chest. Ahir snached the indigo colored ball and added it to the circuit, and headbutted the purple ball up into the air before grabbing and adding that one to the circuit as well. Ahir smiled at the crowd. “Only one left folks. Why don’t we give the gentleman some encouragement?”
The crowd started cheering and and shouting out encouragement for the last man. He took his rainbow colored ball in his hand and tossed it up into the air a few times. He threw the ball at the sidewalk in front of Ahir, causing it to bounce up and land perfectly in Ahir’s hand. Ahir continued to juggle the balls for a little while longer, and one by one made the balls disappear back into his pockets. He bowed for the crowd as they applauded and threw change onto the sidewalk.
Ahir looked around the audience again. About fifty-five of them now, guess I chose a good act to start with. Now for the next one. Ahir jumped up into the air and landed on the backrest of the park bench. “How about I give you a show of balance ladies and gentlemen?” The crowd clapped lightly, and a few cheers rose up. “Fear not, this is not my display of balance, this is!” Ahir bent over, grabbed the back of the bench, and slowly lifted his legs up into the air, until his body was perfectly vertical. The crowd cheered louder, and their cheers increased as Ahir slowly took one hand away, remaining balanced still, but wobbling a bit. Ahir smiled and waved at the crowd, and then something brown and hairy flew through the air and tackled Ahir to the ground.
Ahir wrestled with the brown thing, managed to break away from it, threw it away from himself, and discovered it was a monkey that had tackled him. Ahir stood up and brushed himself off. “Has anyone lost their pet monkey? Seems like someone should keep a leash on him.”
“I am no pet, I am Bar’bou, adviser to king Dar’duo of the Aureus’aevum, and my purpose here is to deliver this to the hero that will save my people.” Bar’bou took a sheathed sword off of his back that Ahir hadn’t noticed before and held it out to him.
“A talking monkey? This is just too weird. Seriously, who’s monkey is this? He’s interrupting my performance. Folks? Folks, please, there is plenty of my show left.” The crowd dispersed, muttering. Ahir turned back to the monkey. “You just ruined my last show as a performer you stupid monkey. Now get lost, I guess I made enough to get a hot dog for lunch.” Ahir bent down and started scooping up his change.
“My deepest apologies, it was not my intention to interrupt your performance, but it is of utmost importance that I acquire your aid in preserving my people. Now please, take the Gladio Protegat and save my people,” Bar’bou said thrusting the sword he carried out to Ahir once more.
“Listen, I don’t have any idea what half the things you are saying mean, but I have no time to help you. Now why don’t you go and bother someone else?” Ahir said walking toward the north side of the park where the hot dog vender usually set up his stand.
Bar’bou followed him. “But it has to be you. We searched all this world and found that only you have a courageous and selfless heart that can wield this sword.”
“Listen, I’m not interested, now leave me alone!” Ahir said taking off in a run.
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“Welcome aboard Ahir, we’re very glad to have you join our team here at Earl and Dillards Deliveries. Are you ready for your first delivery?”
“Oh I am Mr. Dillards. What am I delivering?” Ahir asked.
“You will be delivering this dining set to Mrs. Durmont. What is our first objective?” Mr. Dillards asked.
“Customer service with a smile,” Ahir said smiling.
“That’s right. Now here is her address, you had better get going!” Mr. Dillards handed Ahir a piece of paper with an address on it. Ahir walked out of the building to where a delivery truck was parked and waiting for him. Ahir started up the truck, backed out of the parking space, and took off on his delivery. Alright, this isn’t so bad. I get to drive for a living! This sure beats walking everywhere. And I get to listen to music that isn’t being made by other street performers! This is a pretty nice change for my life. Ahir turned on the music.
After driving for five minutes, something brown crashed into Ahir’s windsheild and Ahir slammed on the breaks. The brown thing slid down off the truck and Ahir ran out to see what he had hit. The same monkey that had tackled him in the park was shakily rising to his feet. “Hey you, talking monkey, don’t you know that running in front of moving cars is a bad idea?”
‘I beg your pardon sir, but my trajectory wasn’t caused by me, it was the individual over there that caused me to hurtle through the air,” Bar’bou said pointing away from the street.
“What are you saying? I don’t understand…” Ahir’s turned to look at what Bar’bou was pointing at, and his mouth dropped open. A man-sized lizard was standing ten feet away, it’s tail swishing back and forth, drool dripping from its fangs. “What the heck is going on in this city? Talking monkeys, now giant lizards?”
“That individual is Mard’soluz, a member of my race whose purpose is to come and lay claim to the sword I brought with me, but I will not allow him to do that,” Bar’bou said. He charged at Mard’soluz only to be met with a slash from sharp claws that pounded Bar’bou into the sidewalk.
“No!” Ahir shouted out, reaching his hand toward Bar’bou. A fireball formed in Ahir’s hand and shot across the distance between him and Mard’soluz, sending Mard’soluz flying onto his back five feet away. Ahir stared at his hand in disbelief.
Bar’bou shouted, “No, you must not use magic Ahir! It is evil! The sword is the only thing that can hurt him any way.” He Pointed at a bush that had a sword’s hilt sticking out of it. Mard’soluz got up onto all fours and glared at Ahir, hissing at him. “I will taste your flesh for that, human!” He charged at Ahir. Ahir ran toward the bush and dove over it, grabbing the sword hilt as he passed over it and pulling the blade out of it’s sheath.
Mard’soluz dove at Ahir, and Ahir brought the sword up in a clumsy swing, a golden glow forming around the blade, cutting into Mard’soluz’s side. Mard’soluz doubled up in pain and Ahir swung the sword once more, beheading the creature. Mard’soluz began to disintegrate into a dust that was blown away by an unfelt breeze.
“Thank you for coming to my aid, Ahir. Now do you see that blue patch of air over there that looks kind of fuzzy? Thrust your sword into it, that should prevent anymore of those creatures from coming through.” Ahir thrust the sword blade into the blue patch and it collapsed down around his blade before it winked out with a blue flash of light.
“What just happened here?” Ahir asked.
“I thought you didn’t want to be involved,” Bar’bou said with a smirk.
“I think I’m already involved, and I want to know what I’m involved in. Listen, I have to finish this delivery for work, get in the truck with me and you can tell me what just happened.”
“You just took your first step toward defending the human race, is what happened, but I will explain it to you in greater detail while you work.”
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“After that I ended up quitting my job. Having a job where you don’t set your own hours and can’t drop everything at a moment’s notice makes it hard to make sure these monsters don’t hurt anyone. Fortunately Bar’bou can sense where and when a portal opens up, so we manage to stay on top of it pretty well. It’s nice to have someone else know about what we are doing, but you can’t tell anyone else about us. In order to prevent a panic, we want to keep this as quiet as possible,” Ahir said.
“What about other people that have seen you? I can’t be the first person to stumble across one of your fights,” Tixie said.
“You are the first human witness that we were apprehensive about recognizing our persons and inform the authorities of our activities. Such an event would greatly hinder our movements and reduce our efficiency.” Bar’bou said around his last mouthful of apple.
Ahir and Trixie stared at Bar’bou blankly for a few moments before Ahir said, “I think he said that you were the first one that we thought knew who we were and could tell others about us, but I’m not entirely sure.”
Bar’bou sighed, “Being around those with such insufficient intellect is quite trying. Yes, that is, in effect, what I said. Now I trust that you will remain quiet about our battles?”
“I’ll remain quiet, that’s for sure. Because I’m going to help you. I want to be a part of this too,” Trixie said. Bar’bou and Ahir looked at each other, and smacked their hands into their face and sighed.