Zakariah looked up at the single Star in the sky. There was only one, now that his fever was gone, and it was moving. Zakariah answered her, “With your family blood line of magma-tism, I don’t know.” Athena shook her head and said, “With nothing special but a Will. A want. A need. When I heard The Six Storks talking about you in the Great Hall I had to follow them... I had to know, to see if you were okay.”
Zakariah angrily said, “ Well now you see Athena. You can go back home, now. I am doing just fine.” He picked up the Bundle in his beak, ran towards the Star, flapped his wings, and gave it all he had, but his running feet never left the sand. Concerned, Athena came running beside him. I know what I’m doing, the frustrated Zakariah said. He flapped harder but it made no difference.
“I can help. We all need it sometimes. Let me help you,” Athena insisted and took part of the Bundle in her beak. They beat their wings in unison and lifted the Bundle into the air together.
“Okay,” Zakariah said, “I can make it on my own from here.”
She laughed and said, “I’m not gonna’ steal your Bundle, so relax. And let’s switch to our feet.”
They grabbed the Bundle from their beaks and carried it together with their feet. “That’s better,” she said. Zakariah said nothing. “This is your Bundle. You’re the only one who knows which way to go from here, Zak,” she said.
Zakariah and Athena found an oasis filled with flickering fireflies and they rested under a palm tree as the sun went down. Zakariah had already told Athena about the Star he was chasing but she could not see it. What mattered most to him was that Athena believed that it was there, despite the fact that she could not see it. “I wish I could,” Athena said. “Where is it, Zak?” He pointed to it and said, “This is going to be a very good story to tell everyone when we get back home.”
Athena looked away from the sky and turned to Zakariah and said, “When you get back home, Zak. I can not continue this journey with you. You must finish this on your own. This is your story and it won’t be complete until you come home to tell it.”
Zakariah felt sad to hear this from Athena. He wanted to spend more time with her. I think I will meet a girl like Athena one day. My friend is laughing at me because I just said this part out loud to him and he says that we will be old men before we leave the desert and will never meet girls ever again! If that is true, I am glad he is with me. He is a good friend.
Zakariah touched his wing tip with Athena’s and said, “I will come home, and maybe you will tell me of your first journey on your own.” Some say the fireflies swirled in a light-show of mini-tornadoes when he said that to Athena.
She stood up and said, “You had better be on your way and I have to get back to The Mountain of Victories.”
“I’m glad we met, Athena,” Zakariah said to her and picked up the Bundle in his beak. “So am I,” she said.
Zakariah put his wing around Athena and hugged her. “Thank you, Athena. I guess I really did need your help,” he let her know.
“Anytime, Zak,” she said. Zakariah followed the Star over yet another desert. He realized with surprise that he could adjust to the different types of heat, and that he could now pick out the different types of landscapes. Up until then he had been looking at the massive openness before him as an endless oblivion of no return. With his newly trained eye he spotted two rows of four camels pulling a sleigh over the sand dunes far below him. This was certainly something he had never seen or heard of before, so he swooped down for a closer look even though the Star continued its movement.
Circling above the caravan, Zakariah saw a man sleeping in the sleigh on top of great bulging bags and jittery little men who looked like children on top of the camels. One of the little men smiled up at Zakariah and then threw a half-eaten Prickly Pear at him. The desert fruit climbed so fast that Zakariah had but moments to wonder why the little man wanted to share it with him. Well, it turns out this was no generous offer. The fruit thumped off Zakariah’s chest and as he gasped the Bundle slipped from his beak! It plunged straight down and landed right on the head of the sleeping man, who jumped up and started punching the air. “Who did that?” he yelled. “Show yourself! Do you know who I am? I’m Santos Klaus! The best thief in the world!”
Santos looked at the little man who had thrown the fruit. “Was that you?” The little man pointed at Zakariah, who was circling down to the desert behind the sleigh. “Was it you, little bird? You wish to join my band of thieving half-men? Lucky for you I’m hiring. There used to be forty of these thieves.”
Surprised, Zakariah could barely get the words out. “You have my Bundle.” Santos gave a great laugh, “Ho-ho-ho!” holding his tiny belly. “Why resist the inevitable? It will all be mine sooner or later. I will not stop until I make it to the top of the world! Far north!” Zakariah watched with worry as Santos and his caravan continued over the dunes with the stolen Bundle.