Author's Note:

Greetings to all "Rio" fans that belong to this archive of wonderful literature! My username is OrangeMacawWorld, and as I am brand-new to this community, I will briefly describe myself; to put it simply, I am a 14-year-old Italian-American that enjoys engaging in the art of literary description, and to paint pictures with words, so to speak. Now, I present to you my very first "Rio" fanfiction story, titled "Don't Go." The origins of this work of mine date back to September of 2016, when the first draft was initiated. To say the least, it took a long while for me to perfect it.

As you almost certainly know already from the summary of the story, it will be divided into two volumes, though both will be published together as a single work on this archive. In the entirety of "Don't Go," the early lives of Eduardo, Mimi, Jewel, Roberto, and Felipe will all be covered. However, the respective reigns of both Felipe and Eduardo from the year 2000 until the events of "Rio 2" are subjects that are to be touched upon in another story that I have planned. The last thing that I should mention as of now is that this story is the first entry in a trilogy that I am planning to write, with the three stories being connected by a single character.

Now that I have explained all that is necessary to know before reading this story, I would like to encourage you all to provide me criticism, as it is a vital component in the improvement in all aspects of my literary expression. Without a further ado, let's fly!


VOLUME I - THE CALLS OF SORROW


CHAPTER I - A MESSAGE TO SEND

February 1st, 1991, Northeastern Amazonas, Brazil

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon, the yellow sun gradually crept out from behind the jungle that stood beyond the waters of the Amazon Basin, as it now performed its daily task of reaching its position in the sky so that its light could pass over all things below it. Not long afterward, it came to stand far above the green, leafy canopy borne by the vast rainforest, whilst the sun itself flared ever the more frequently.

As the light of the sun subsequently began to encompass all living and nonliving things that could bear light upon them, it touched the old bark of the trees, the placid waters of the Amazon River, the coarse fur borne by the wide variety of mammals, and the silky feathers possessed by the even-wider variety of birds. Within only a few moments from which the sun resumed its upward shift within the early morning sky, (of which displayed a wondrous combination of faint blue, pink, and orange) all darkness apart from the shadows created by the canopy then ceased to even come into contact with the jungle or its diverse assortment of fauna.

Populating the vibrant sky at the moment was a rather homogenous array of altocumulus clouds, which tended to amass together into large groups, though none of the clouds ever came close enough to one another in order to form a single large cloud. Also notable was that not a single cloud that hung in the sky as of now seemed to bear even the slightest hue of gray, which served as an indication to all creatures who had yet awoken that the morning and most likely the entire day would be absent of rain. This certainly differed from much of the weather that the rainforest had been experiencing for the past week or so, which had been quite ghastly, consisting of constant rain, lightning, and thunder.

Now in its final morning phase, the sun maintained its rapid upward advance until the pace at which it continued its rise significantly decreased in speed, before the sun itself finally came to an abrupt halt. It then began distorting, appearing to the eye as if it were a ring of fire that bore a dissolving circumference.

Complementing this marvelous sight was the early morning gloom, which now enhanced the sun's overall resemblance to any circular object that bore the capability of being able to melt. Following the passing of thirty odd minutes, the sun had completed the process of its aerial ascension, beginning to illuminate the entire Amazon as typical. Beams of light now seeped through the countless collections of leaves that were borne by the jungle's equally-as-countless number of trees, forming the Amazonian canopy.

In turn, a significant number of animals that had once had nothing more than mere shadows pass over them now bore light upon them, as the sunlight now touched the forest floor. Light subsequently entered every hollow, burrow, and insect nest that made its presence within the jungle, thenceforth resulting in an utterly stunning visual manifestation of the beauty provided by the rainforest.

Across the duration of the sun's ascension, an incalculable number of eyes of many colors had been set upon its elegance, these eyes belonging to tropical creatures of every genus, species, and sub-species that could be possibly borne by one's imagination. However, the most notable among the many creatures that had caught a view of the sun had been the many neotropical parrots that inhabited the jungle, especially the macaws, with nearly all of whom belonging to one of the six distinct Macaw Tribes. The birds themselves had gathered in groups that widely varied in size, averaging at around three to four birds per a branch that had been occupied in order for the birds to have obtained the excellent view that the Amazonian sun had offered.

Several minutes after the sun had begun holding its position within the morning sky, the time reached approximately 8:00 AM, an hour that held much importance within the Tribes – indeed, it was now the hour which bore upon it the initiation of patrols within each Macaw Tribes' territories, conducted on the part of many dozens of macaws from each Tribe. As an increasing number of macaws then began to arise from their slumber within their comfortable residences that composed the insides of the jungle's towering trees, a sense of alertness passed over all of those that would be held responsible for patrolling their respective areas.

Owing to each of these birds' routines that they carried out every morning however, it would not be until a further quartet of minutes came to pass when they finally made their swift departures from their hollows, thus beginning their patrols. Overall, the majority of these macaws' patrols lasted for only twenty minutes or so, and afterward, they would find a tree in order to observe the Tribes' borders, which was certainly a much more docile task than observing whilst also hovering, gliding, or flying.

Altogether, the territories that constituted the six Macaw Tribes that all called the enormous Amazon their home formed the shape of a clock, with each Tribal territory bearing great resemblance to every two hours that was marked on the face of a clock. Many falls, valleys, gorges, bodies of freshwater, and even the occasional mountain or two were present within each territory, which in turn meant that borders had been altered on a regular basis for the sake of the simplification of the Tribe's own customary policies pertaining to their borders.

Another aspect of the appearance of the Macaw Tribes' borders that looked quite similar to that of a clock was a small interval that lied in between the six wedges that composed the borders of each of the Tribes, the interval itself bearing great resemblance to where the hands of a clock would be positioned. This area was for the most part, devoid of dense foliage, making it the ideal location for meetings to be held among officials belonging to the six Tribes if serious matters were to ever arise.

A typical event that would take place in the area would amount to the rendezvous of two or more Tribal officials, where they would converse. Their discussions in the past had usually pertained to territorial or regional disputes. On the rare occasion, officials from the Tribes had also used the interval as a proper setting to put treaties into effect, as well as to abrogate them. In several instances throughout the history of the Macaw Tribes, it had even been used as a formal setting for use in the declaration of a state of war between two or more Tribes, though war in itself had not occurred between any of the Tribes for roughly half a century.

Though the area bore no formal name or even any sort of consistently-used designation, it had received one common informal title, and it was one that was given to the interval by all of the Tribes - because of its purpose, as well as the fact that it had been agreed upon many decades prior that not a single Tribe could lay claim to it, the area was often referred to as the "Borderless Gathering." However, thrice had occurred incidents in which a Tribe had made an unsuccessful attempt to integrate the Borderless Gathering into its own territory, with two of these attempts having been on the part of the Scarlet Macaw Tribe, in the years 1930 and 1936, respectively.

Concerning the lands that lied far from the Tribes that were of utmost importance to them in the matters of maintaining both their political and commercial influence outside of their own borders, the human cities of Manaus and Manacapuru lied to the east of the Amazon Basin. The Basin itself largely ran to the north of the Spix's and Scarlet Macaw Tribes, albeit the occasional gap in the terrain that accommodated more of the Amazon's waters, allowing the River to meander beyond the Tribal territories.

Also pertaining to the Amazon River was that within its waters that lied to the north of the Tribes, a relatively small number of riverine islands also served as important territories held by both the Spix's and Scarlet Macaw Tribes, with some of these islands holding the status of condominiums, while others were controlled solely by one of the two Tribes. What lied to the south of the Tribes where the River gracefully traced the edges of the Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaw Tribes before turning southward was an area of dense rainforest which contained a massive ravine, featuring stupendous falls whose waters contributed to the Amazon Basin.

Both Tribes that stood close to the ravine and the waters that its falls provided had expressed great interest in the territory over the years, though neither had claimed it as of yet, due to past tensions that had resulted in infamous border skirmishes. Although disputes between the Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaw Tribes over the disputed southern territory had been all but completely resolved, new tensions between the former of the two Tribes and the Spix's Macaw Tribe had begun simmering, as a direct result of complicated political matters that had recently taken place within the Scarlet Macaw Tribe.


Almost as soon as the time reached about 8:30 AM, the scraping of talons against the bark of one of the jungle's many trees could be heard by the rainforest's numerous inhabitants. The source of the sound lied with a young male Spix's Macaw that had been recently dispatched on his very first border patrol. He now leaned against the trunk of a tree whilst his talons retained their grasp of the long and thin branch that stood beneath his feet, positioned some twenty or so feet from off the ground. In addition to this, his wings were raised vertically, resting against the trunk of the tree, similar to the rest of his body. Only the macaw's tail feathers could be identified as such from afar, which came to bend as they met the surface area of the branch that he was now using to maintain his position.

Bearing a rounded head and a pair of peculiar brown eyes that frequently flickered in anxiousness, the Spix's Macaw named Neto Pereira had very recently camouflaged himself from his head feathers to his talons in mud, all in accordance to the instructions that he had been provided by the patrol squadron officers, of whom were now holding their own positions nearby.

As the branch was positioned horizontally, relative to the collection of trees that stood off in the distance, (of which bore smears of red border markers along their trunks) observing the border had thus far proven to be a much simpler task than Neto had originally anticipated. Much of Neto's nervousness concerning the situation lied with the rather sudden series of tense diplomatic relations that had come to exist between his Tribe and the Tribe whose territory came to a halt only some thirty feet from his position. As of now, he bore little to no knowledge whatsoever concerning the tensions themselves, though he still went on to contemplate about them for another five peaceful (yet fruitless) minutes.

Immediately thereafter, Neto released a heavy sigh from his mud-caked beak in boredom, though his thoughts that expressed this emotion were interrupted within only a moment's notice. An assortment of leaves that stood on the forest floor (some five feet beyond the border) began to shake wildly, prompting Neto to immediately direct his undivided attention towards whomever was concealing themselves within the rainforest's lush foliage. Due to the extremely short distance between the position of the creature and the edge of the border, he could only assume that the former of the two was intent on trespassing, which was not taken lightly, especially by the Spix's Macaw Tribe.

His heart then accelerated rapidly as he began to feel an utmost sense of uncertainty and fear at the nature of the possible culprit, desperately praying that whomever it was did not bear red feathers. At the height of the moment that was shared between Neto and the unknown creature that was causing the disturbance, the former of the two refused to alter his position in any way, with only his eyeballs daring to move whatsoever.

Only seconds afterward, the young macaw finally caught sight of the suspect's appearance, though he was only able to visually discern what at first appeared to be a flash of red. Instantaneously coming to the conclusion that the unknown creature was a Scarlet Macaw due to the colors that it had briefly displayed, Neto used his wings and legs to make his way several feet up the trunk of the tree, before beginning to peer down at the forest floor in order to fully identify the trespasser.

A short time afterward, a dumbfounded look then came to appear on his muddy beak, as the culprit he was in search for revealed itself at last, quickly scurrying forward from its past position within the safety provided to it by the jungle's leaves; indeed, it was not at all a Scarlet Macaw, nor was it even another species of neotropical parrot. Rather, it was an entirely different class of bird that featured maroon-and-bright-orange plumage, a pair of stubby wings, large brown eyes, a crest of distinctive crimson feathers, and a small beak that was not particularly narrow nor wide in appearance. Adding that to the fact that the bird's overall bodily shape was one that was quite spherical in form, Neto sighed in relief as he identified the creature as a marbled wood quail.

As a sense of relaxation came to be bestowed upon Neto over the fact that the culprit he had sought had just been discovered to be incapable of causing any harm to the Tribe, the quail itself scampered across the forest floor, whilst it happily chirped to itself in a completely carefree manner. After that, the macaw positioned in the trees began the process of reverting his position to the branch that he had stood along not long before. Despite having come across no threats of any kind thus far, Neto could not help but swallow rather hard at every sudden noise that resulted from the tree that he was using to climb down.

Following the passing of another minute or so, he once again let out a sigh of relief at his successful transition between the two positions deemed ideal for the task of observation, his talons now obtaining a firm grip of the branch that stood below him. Immediately thereafter, Neto pressed his wings against the bark of the tree in a manner that resembled an embrace of sorts, as to conceal himself from view as effectively as possible. Now intent on searching for any suspicious activity on the part of the birds that inhabited the leafy treetops, (as Scarlet Macaws in particular had been recently reported to have used the canopy as an area to easily trespass the border) his eyes gradually rolled upwards within their sockets as he resumed his clandestine observations, though his keen eyes met nothing of note.

Eventually, the macaw elevated the position of his head relative to the rest of his body along the tree's bark, providing him with a much better view of the life that inhabited the canopy. Unfortunately, this also meant that because Neto now displayed not only his eyes, but also his beak and the entirety of his face to whomever occupied the canopy, any trespasser could very easily take notice of him. On the contrary however, the only thing that he came to be greeted by as his head assumed its tilted position were the beams of light that penetrated the canopy's shade, passing over his muddy face that had been effectively hidden under the shadows provided by that very same shade.

As there were no creatures to behold as of yet, Neto released his grasp of the branch once again, lifting his legs upward whilst his talons quickly sank into the bark of the tree. The young bird subsequently began climbing once again, before coming to a sudden halt upon reaching a height of sixty feet, relative to the branch that he had occupied shortly before.

Thus, he continued his surveillance from below the canopy, but could still catch not even a glimpse of any possible trespassing suspect. Feeling that he would have to hold true to his virtue of utmost patience even in this case, Neto then aimlessly swayed his visual focus from one end of the jungle to the other for minutes on end. However, this process rendered unto him only a further sense of impatience, as he had borne witness of nothing more than a gorgeous blue-winged butterfly, combined with a pair of rambunctious tamarins that had scurried across the branches some one-hundred feet yonder from his position.

Out of the mere boredom alone that he was receiving from performing this task, Neto finally decided to revert his attention to the forest floor, as there was simply no other area where he could continue to perform tactical observations for the time being. Upon this sudden decision on his part, he lightly pushed the bark as to allow himself to lean slightly backwards, though the transition was still rather difficult, due primarily to the difficulty in balancing himself along the trunk of the tree with the aid of nothing more than his talons. Following this accomplishment, Neto mustered all of the strength that he now held within both his talons and wings, then pressing the latter against the leftmost and rightmost sides of the tree that his wings could bear to reach.

After managing to grasp these opposite ends of the tree at least somewhat, he made good use of his feet by using them to thrust his entire body against the surface area of the tree, before meeting a great amount of pain in his left cheek upon impacting the tree itself. As a result, Neto was forced to straighten his tongue within his beak and lightly bite down upon its uppermost surface for a number of seconds, as to avoid producing a cry of pain; such a cry was something that could indeed prove fatal if trespassers were indeed lurking within the borders of his Tribe, after all. Quickly recovering, he found himself more than able to retain a firm position along the bark of the tree yet again, though it would not be until the passing of another two or so minutes when he was able to render himself completely silent once more.

Just as he had done before when he had observed the canopy, Neto's visual concentration of the area that he was observing constantly transitioned from left to right. To his great disappointment, another five odd minutes or so went by, and had been devoid of any creatures at all to be seen, other than the occasional flying insect or two. Overcome with tedium at the moment, thoughts concerning the immediate abandonment of his post began racing throughout his mind.

Fortunately, however, Neto soon thereafter discovered that he was no longer required to maintain his position, upon his ears catching the sound of wingbeats, all of which had pounded upon the air in tune to a distinctive rhythm that was used by the Tribe's patrol leaders, indicating that permission had been given for a rotation on the part of the birds that were now on patrol to be carried out.

Heaving yet another sigh of relief, the young macaw set his eyes upon the ground one last time before initiating his own departure from his position. Inhaling slowly, he leaned backward a second time whilst jamming his talons as deep into the bark as possible, all the while he kept his grip of the left and right sides of the tree for a short while longer, in the same manner that he had done only minutes prior. After Neto came to somewhat stabilize himself in this position, he immediately retracted his wings and began flapping them at a rapid pace. The macaw continued hovering in this uncomfortable position for a brief while until he proceeded to violently prise his talons backward, thus freeing himself from his very own attachment to the tree.

Instantaneously, Neto began hovering in a much more conventional fashion, now exerting much less force upon the surrounding air with his wings. Now oscillating these very same wings rather slowly, he found himself some five feet away from the position of the tree within a matter of seconds. Eventually, he came to bear the strength to suddenly lean forward within the air, whilst frantically flapping his wings upon doing so as to keep himself aloft. Following on this action by elevating his right wing and depressing his left wing, he was able to make a southward turn, allowing him to begin his flight back to the center of the Tribe.

Proceeding forward for some eight odd minutes within the dense jungle, he always maintained a level of caution within himself, occasionally swerving to either the left or right if either a tree or a cluster of vines happened to cross his path. Once or twice, he would find himself dodging protruding branches, and there were a number of other instances in which he had to perform a special aerial maneuver, as to avoid the numerous fruits that were hurled at him by the mischievous squirrel monkeys that inhabited the treetops, of whom often sojourned in the territories of one Macaw Tribe to the next.

Following the passing of those eight minutes, Neto decided to alter his course significantly, abruptly turning rightward in the direction of a small waterfall named the Cachoeira Propícia, contained within the outskirts of the Spix's Macaw Tribe's central region. After all, he was hardly the slightest bit recognizable to anyone but his patrol leaders at the moment, considering the sheer amount of mud that still encompassed his body. Once he had successfully completed his turn to the east, his flight course gradually became one that was quite linear for the most part.

Though the amount of foliage varied considerably over the course of the flight itself, both the species of foliage and the terrain that he encountered never strayed into heterogeneity. At long last, after Neto had flown for a further six-and-a-half minutes or so, he came to a halt and began hovering within the air after managing to catch sight of a sudden increase in dense vegetation that was positioned to his left, the foliage of which being scattered all over the ground. However, it did not seem to press against the trunks of the trees, indicating that the foliage to come would not be too dense for Neto to avoid.

Although the foliage was indeed not as thick as Neto remembered having seen when he had rendezvoused with his training officer at the waterfall some three months ago, he was certain that the area he was about to enter held the waterfall within its leafy boundaries. Carefully adjusting the position of his wings ever so slightly as he resumed flying, Neto promptly initiated the leftward turn that would serve as necessary for his own cleansing.

Upon turning leftward, the soft morning breeze suddenly came about; many of the taller trees' leaves proved to submit to the wind, as the whistling produced by the wind pressing against the leaves could be clearly heard even by Neto, a macaw that had only passed his standard patrol hearing test by a very small degree. Pressing onward for another brief moment, the macaw glanced at what little of the sky could be seen from below the obstructing canopy every now and again, as he found himself rather unsatisfied with simply engaging in a flight that was absent of observation.

Once that brief moment passed, he came to bear a rather flabbergasted look upon his beak after having reverted his visual and mental focus to the terrain, which had radically changed around him within such a brief period of time, despite the fact that the area remained unchanged from when he had last visited it.

Now hovering as his brown eyes scanned the entirety of the rather unorthodox environment that he had come to arrive within, he now focused upon any noticeable features of the jungle as to determine the best possible site where he could safely land. Unfortunately, the forest floor was all that he could view as meeting the singular condition that he had provided to himself, though he still visually absorbed all that stood before him, prior to even the mere thought of enacting his own landing coming to appear within his mind.

Though the ground showed little to no elevation itself, a pair of enormous boulders could be seen at a distance of around thirty feet, situated atop a forty-foot-high clay wall, of which was accompanied by another clay wall to its right that was perpendicular in form, relative to the position of the two large boulders. What lied beyond the clay walls to both their left and right were columns upon columns of trees that were too numerous to count, and too clustered to even imagine what stood behind them.

The fall itself ran in between the space that existed between the two boulders, its waters also coming into contact with the small clay wall as they plummeted towards an array of other boulders that stood directly below the fall. These waters then formed a small stream that stood before the boulders, which was where Neto intended to begin preening himself.

The stream in particular was certainly not one to behold, though the volume of water that comprised it, as well as its complexity concerning its overall form still rendered it a stream, nonetheless. It continued its advance for only another twenty feet or so before tilting backward by an enormous degree, with the only waters borne by the stream that passed beyond that sudden tilt running towards the rightward cluster of trees, albeit very slowly. Once it made its way to the trees, the small stream then entered and slithered its way out of the view of the macaw who now set his eyes upon it, whom simply did not bear the time to conduct any further observations of any subject matter. Even though he had been dismissed from his post far earlier than many of the other patrol birds, he hardly bore enough time as to even preen himself.

Yearning for a body that displayed the color of blue rather than that of brown, Neto at last began to proceed with his own cleansing by hastily swooping down to his desired landing position that lied at the edge of the stream. Instantaneously outstretching his set of sharp talons as they dug into the ground upon his landing, the inertia that he had bestowed upon himself made him advance slightly further along the ground than he had intended, which in turn meant that a very fearful look came to appear on the young macaw's beak. Fortunately, he was able to maintain his balance along the ground and did not at all lean in a forward direction by any more than a couple of inches, preventing him from accidentally exemplifying an aquatic landing.

Letting out a chortle of relief, Neto's posture then became one that was upright in nature, whilst the leaves that stood behind him rustled as his tail feathers lightly brushed against them. After that, the macaw bent over by several inches over the stream as to inspect its depth, murkiness, and the nature of any of the creatures that possibly inhabited its waters, as well as the speed at which any given current was now traveling at. To his surprise, he came to reckon that the stream's waters themselves were only deep enough to reach the midway point of his abdomen, rendering them shallow enough for a bird to step in without fear of possibly drowning, while they were also not shallow enough for bathing to be considered impractical.

The waters were also vivid enough for one to see the bed of the stream quite clearly and did not bear any sort of rapid current that could potentially pose a threat to the safety of Neto. As extensively as the macaw could observe, not a single fish that appeared dangerous swam about within the stream; as a matter of fact, only a single leporinus or two could be seen. Overall, the waters' conditions were nothing short of ideal for being used in the manner in which the patrol bird desired.

He then followed on his decision to use the stream to preen himself by slowly placing his right foot onto the surface. As his foot then broke the surface, the tepid waters now encompassing it produced a sensation of utter relaxation and satisfaction, all the while Neto constantly inspected his foot every few odd seconds, as to ensure that the water erased the mud from even the short spaces in his foot that lied in between his toes. After immediately repeating this process with his left foot, he used his right foot to continue wading, though this time around for the purpose of relaxation rather than cleansing.

Deciding not to do the same with his other foot as he did not bear all that much time on his wings, he then used this same foot to immediately lunge toward the water, thus entering it. Within a matter of seconds, the water rose up to the lower portion of his abdomen, making it slightly shallower than what Neto had initially predicted upon examining it. Still, as he made a number of steps forward, all of his tail feathers became submerged as they too entered the water. Unfortunately, as the waters immediately washed away much of the mud that the macaw had been covered in, they became quite murky, forcing Neto to wander toward the boulders at the base of the clay wall as to avoid having his body accumulate the very same mud that he desired to rid himself of.

At every splash or so that was created by the movement of the macaw's wings whilst he continued treading through the water, he would make good use of them by scooping up the water that stood around him, before subsequently allowing it to descend upon himself once his wings came to rise past his flattened head feathers. Instantaneously, Neto would shut his eyes as to deter any mud that came to pass down his face, occasionally even submerging his head in the water for several seconds whenever he doubted that it had been cleansed thoroughly-enough. As the water now produced a cooling sensation whilst it seeped into his plumage, the true colors borne by his feathers were finally no longer concealed from view at all.

Indeed, like the majority of the male inhabitants of the Tribe, he bore vibrant cerulean plumage with small hints of turquoise here and there, though his plumage was certainly not as light as that borne by most of the females when discerning the nature of the feathers' overall hue. The colors of his beak were now also revealed, which consisted of primarily a lighter shade of gray, as could be expected from most Spix's Macaws that belonged to the Tribe. Still, the fact that he had hardly surpassed the moment of his life when he had become an adult was quite apparent, as a crisp stripe that was white in color ran down the surface of his beak. It was a feature that was borne by nearly all youthful Spix's Macaws, provided that they did not belong to exceptional families that featured different genetic traits from the rest of the Tribe.

Oddly enough, most macaws in the Tribe came to lose most of what had composed the white stripes along the surfaces of their beaks by the time that they reached the adult age of seven years, though Neto's beak still retained the entirety of the stripe for reasons that were largely unclear. As a matter of fact, the mere prevalence of the white stripe along his beak had at times led to trouble, especially concerning that which had surrounded the process by which he had enlisted in what was formally known as the Spix's Macaw Army about three months prior.

However, the Army was hardly a unified army at all, and was more a less an assortment of warrior, sentry, border patrol, clandestine, and observation contingents. Because of the decline that had befallen the Spix's Macaws' legions not so long ago, many members of the Tribe hesitated to even refer to it as a proper army at all. Instead, they referred to it as the Defalho, a portmanteau of the Portuguese words that went by the names of "defesa" and "galho," which when combined, translated to "twig defense," denoting the Army's perceived weakness.

After the young macaw's body had finally reverted to its original color, he turned his head towards his right wing and then his left soon afterward, proceeding to use his beak as a tool to not only assist in the preening that he was now bestowing upon himself when pertaining to the feathers of his that required more attentive cleansing, but also to help repair any feathers of his that happened to have been damaged.

Small amounts of mud subsequently disappeared from his wings, and fortunately, his keen eye sight had been able to discern only a few feathers that were either ruffled or in need of repair. The few feathers that had held this status only moments prior were now all up to standard for use when in flight.

Eventually, Neto felt that it would be better for him to hasten his return to the center of the Tribal territory than to not do so, and with that, he turned towards the edge of the stream, his focus being directed towards the same collection of vegetation that he had entered the stream from in particular. Then beginning to tread through the water yet again, he promptly froze as he came to remind himself that the waters that lied before him now bore the mud that had once covered him.

As a result, he turned in the opposite direction, making his way to the rightward side of the stream until he reached its edge within a short while. Upon accomplishing this, he flapped his wings whilst still holding his place within the water, as to rid his feathers of the water droplets that would prove detrimental to the flight he was about to resume. After that, he flapped his wings again, only this time he actually became airborne within only a moment's notice. However, he landed upon the ground that stood only inches apart from him just seconds following the continuation of his flight. He then pondered on for a further minute, with the subject within his mind regarding the exact wording that he planned to eventually use in his report regarding his uneventful patrol.

Finally, Neto redirected his attention towards the sky and finally took off from the ground, immediately assuming a horizontal streamlined position once his feet parted with the ground beneath him. Now finally in flight, the young macaw soon afterward returned to the flight course that led into the central area of the Tribe, with the intent of providing his report to the ruling Patriarch of the Spix's Macaw Tribe, César III.

As the nineteenth Patriarch of the Tribe who belonged to the reigning Torres Family, (which had been reigning continuously since the founding of the Tribe in 1534 by Jacinto I) he had garnered himself a rather controversial reputation among even some of the most loyal members of the Tribe, due to his bombastic and occasionally mean-spirited nature. As well as that, many of the leaders of the Tribe's Army had resigned during the past years of his incumbency, due to his prioritization of substantially increasing commercial trade with other Tribes, rather than maintaining a strong fighting force.

Because of César's overall tendency to bear within himself a short temper that could be actuated quite easily if given the right time of day and conditions that effected his attitude in one way or another, Neto was not keen at all on providing his report personally, though he nevertheless attempted to remain optimistic about the situation that he could possibly find himself in.

Following the passing of another twenty-two long minutes composed of nothing but persistent flight, the flight course itself that Neto had chosen to follow had been little more than linear for the most part, with only the occasional swerve or dive to deviate from the flight course's rather monotonous nature. Shortly afterward however, the macaw spotted what appeared to be an entire column of trees rather than a small grouping of trees that were scattered about along the forest floor, indicating that he had indeed reached the center of the Tribe.

The foliage surrounding the trees had also become significantly lighter, and what lied above the canopy was now quite visible. Also notable was that the pathway of trees then became progressively wider as every row of five odd trees was passed, before Neto managed to reach another portion of the Tribe's territory that was much more open. Here, the locations of the trees were largely diverted to the far-right and far-left of the pathway. The pathway on its own was covered in slightly thicker foliage than that borne by the tree columns that Neto had already passed, though this noticeable density of the rainforest's foliage was not held for long.

It seemed that nearly every tree that populated this part of the jungle bore within it at least one hollow, though a number of taller trees held two or more residences as a measure of accommodating the Tribe's large population in an efficient manner. Almost immediately after making his way into this particular area, countless Spix's Macaws of every variety came into view.

Most of whom were flying in either circular or vertical runs, searching for desired fruits that the trees possessed in order to provide breakfast to both themselves and their families. Unfortunately, this also meant that Neto could hardly hear anything apart from the chattering and conversing that the hundreds of macaws were engaging in at the moment. Because of this, the bird would have to stay vigilant in order to avoid any accidental collisions he could potentially make with another bird, as well as to rely on his eyesight alone in order to do so, as his hearing was effectively rendered useless in a situation such as this.

As Neto kept pressing onward, he eventually came to pass by an enormous, yet shallow pit that was approximately two-hundred feet in diameter, forming what almost appeared to be a mouth that even bore lips, as sloped stones traced the circumference of the mouth from within the pit. Hardened dirt composed the pit's floor, and atop it stood a ring of one-hundred large stones that served as seats, as well as a tall stone perch that was placed in the center, with every seat in the mouth facing the perch.

It was called the Great Mouth, (its title owing to its appearance) and was used for important Tribal gatherings, announcements, funerals eulogies, and for remembering dead Patriarchs and Matriarchs. In addition to this, it also held customary dances on the rare occasion, especially those that took place during a wedding, or as was often formally called, a "mate bonding ceremony."

Finally, once Neto surpassed the Great Mouth that had stood directly below him, the pathway evolved into a sort of valley, with the presence of more trees becoming abundantly clear within a very short period of time, as the canopy once again came to pass over the young macaw in flight. Two minutes afterward, the foliage became far denser, though the density of the population of Spix's Macaws hardly decreased whatsoever.

Because of this, the area that Neto had just recently crossed into was indeed much more hazardous than the sparsely-populated rainforest that lied thirty minutes behind him, as he was now forced into constantly performing complicated flight maneuvers in order to avoid making contact with not only trees and vines, but also approaching Spix's Macaws as well. As he had predicted right from the very outset of his entrance into the area, the time that he received in order to allow a passage over and under his fellow macaws amounted to very little. Several times within only mere seconds, he nearly collided with the macaws that were flying among him, including a young female and two middle-aged males.

Utterly exhausted as of now, Neto's eyes went on to meet a relatively small branch that extended outward from a medium-sized tree that lied to his right. He knew that the resident of the hollow would permit him to land upon the branch that stood outside, as that resident happened to be a close friend of his, named Couto. The macaw then used the remainder of his strength to turn towards the branch whilst still in flight.

Once he finally came to land upon the branch, he could only look down at his feet and pant for a short while. It was not long afterward when he began inhaling and exhaling quite audibly in his attempt to recover hastily, then returning to an upright stance before visually inspecting the inside of the hollow – Couto appeared to be absent from his home for one reason or another, leaving Neto somewhat disappointed due to the lack of any other friends that were flying about within his vicinity.

He promptly tucked his wings within the sides of his body, relaxing for some two further minutes along the branch. Although he went on to regain enough strength to be able to hover for several moments continuously, he was still nothing short of weary. After all, he had never carried out a single patrol before, and a macaw's very first patrol was typically an unpleasant experience all around.

Neto then shuffled his way to almost the very end of the branch whilst also turning towards the sea of macaws that were surpassing his position from both the east and west. Hoping that his eyes could land upon even a single familiar face, his thorough search bore fruitless results, even after his eyes constantly scanned the rainforest for a full three minutes. After deciding that he would rest for a short while longer, his body proceeded to droop ever so slightly over the edge of the branch, whilst also craning his neck backward and providing a glance at the tree ever so often in an attempt to possibly find an individual flying overhead that he felt the need to speak to.

These occasional glances yielded no results as well, bringing Neto a sense of further disappointment. He then continued to rest for a brief time along the branch, whilst also starting to inhale and exhale at a slower pace than before, all the while his visual focus came to be redirected to his feet and the surface of the branch that he was now perched along. About a minute later, he felt that it was worth his time to once again peer out into the crowds of macaws that were making their way past his position.

With that, his eyes then started to sway from side to side in his second attempt to find anyone of any interest to him, and for the first minute or so, he became increasingly agitated as the absence of those he wished to speak to persisted. However, once that minute eventually passed, a recognizable flash of blue that Neto could clearly discern from a distance of one-hundred feet suddenly came into view, bestowing a sense of utmost relief upon the exhausted patrol bird.

The male Spix's Macaw that had caught Neto's attention, now gliding from branch to branch (for the purpose of leisure) at a continuous rate could be described as being very tall in stature and quite thin, though his wings were slightly larger than those borne by the majority of the Spix's Macaw Tribe. The color of his plumage was rather unusual for a male of his species to possess, with the majority of his feathers that covered his head, abdomen, legs, and the undersides of his wings all bearing a magnificent turquoise hue that could easily strike any given individual with a sense of awe.

In contrast, his back, tail feathers, and the uppermost portions of his wings bore a darker hue, though the hue itself was still lighter in color than what most male Spix's Macaws within the Tribe exhibited. Along with that, a large array of soft downy feathers encircled his neck; most of these downy feathers' ends joined with the ends of the larger feathers that ran below his neck, though others stuck slightly outward.

Other notable features pertaining to the appearance of the macaw were his eyes and the shape of his beak; the former were emerald-green in color, while the latter was gray, also bearing a distinctive curvature shape that could really only be described as being similar in appearance to the menacing and extremely powerful beaks possessed by the Hyacinth Macaws.

Indeed, the Hyacinths were a distant species that now bore very little of a presence within the Amazon, though the Spix's Macaws had never forgotten them; over three-and-a-half centuries ago, the two vastly different species had once acted as components within the mostly Hyacinth-ruled Blue Macaw Tribe, a Tribal union that had also consisted of the Lear's and Glaucous Macaws. To say the least, the ancient Blue Macaw Tribe had gone on to disintegrate due to an eruption of strife and chaos among the whole of the union, as its one and only Patriarch had written no laws during his lifetime that would have indicated who was to have succeeded him in his position of power.

Fortunately for Neto, the radius of the other macaw's gliding was very tight, allowing him to maintain his focus upon the macaw in question. Then squinting in order to obtain a slightly better view of the bird, Neto came to recognize him as Alberto Guava; he was a close friend to not only Neto but also many other macaws and had been serving as the Tribe's premier messenger for about three years as well. Despite his rather long tenure in the position that he now held, Alberto was only little more than a year older than Neto and had in addition, also been bearing of enough luck to find a love interest some few months prior.

César considered Alberto "the bird" when concerning the delivery of messages over long distances and long periods of time; virtually everyone who served as an associate of either the incumbent Patriarch or Alberto was aware of this, and many who bore the assigned duty of delivering messages often used the latter of the two birds to their advantage in this regard.

Because of this, combined with the fact that Neto was in no way whatsoever energetic as of now, the only thoughts that appeared within the bird's mind were those that viewed the surrounding moment as one of opportunity. Only by resting and passing on his report to someone else Neto thought could he alleviate the weariness that his flight had bestowed upon the same bird who had carried it out. A short while later, the younger of the two macaws raised both of his wings and cupped them around his beak, ensuring that Alberto would take notice of him upon calling out his name.

As he shouted his greeting from off in the distance, he spoke in what was known in the Tribe as the Outer Accent, predominately spoken by the lower classes of society that lived apart from the heart of the Tribe, as well as the jungle that lied approximately a mile before it. The accent itself was characterized by its extensive usage of long vowels, in addition to its general informality.

"Alberto! Alberto! It's me, Neto! Ya know, Neto Pereira? I'm over here!" Following his call, it then took several seconds for it to not only reach Alberto's eardrums, but also as to register within his mind that a fellow macaw was requesting his presence within his vicinity.

Once the latter of the two was accomplished on Alberto's part, he immediately turned his head in Neto's general direction whilst still gliding. However, he ceased his gliding only a brief time afterward as he came to an abrupt halt within the air, then assuming a vertical position as he now began hovering. He was initially quite irritated at the fact that his gliding session had been interrupted, though his position within the air nevertheless transitioned from being vertical to horizontal in nature as he began making his way towards Neto.

Constantly avoiding incoming Spix's Macaws from every direction imaginable in a similar fashion as to how Neto had come to arrive at the branch only minutes earlier, a span of thirty odd seconds came to pass once Alberto finally reached that very same branch. He marked his arrival by outstretching his talons and then grasping the branch tightly, then turning towards Neto once he had fully stabilized himself along his new perch.

After that, Alberto began speaking in reply to Neto's call at last. In stark contrast to Neto however, Alberto spoke in the Inner Accent, which was considered the essential opposite of the Outer Accent in most regards and was easily recognized by its general formality, combined with its prevalent usage of short vowels as opposed to long vowels. It was used primarily by the upper classes of the Spix's Macaw Tribe within the circles of trees that stood around the Patriarch's very own tree and the Great Mouth, as well as the land that lied to the immediate north of the former location.

"It is quite lovely to see you, is it not?" Alberto asked cheerfully. Upon receiving no reply from Neto apart from a series of breathing and panting sounds that were made on his part, Alberto sighed, then transitioning the subject to whatever matter that Neto had summoned him for. "I must now ask: what is that you may want? Is it anything of note at all? Or did you simply want to be cordial with me?"

"Eh, not really… Or at least, not on that last part," Neto then answered. "Well, I guess the reason I need you right now is because I just completed my first real patrol. I'll be honest, I'm way too tired right now to even bother delivering my report to César or anybody else with a leader-ish kind of vibe. I guess I'm just worn out from the stress of being on the border with a hostile Tribe, not so much the two half-hour flights I went on to there and back. Anyway, I was hoping you'd give my observation report to the Patriarch."

"Very well then. I hope that you are not so weary as to be unable to provide me your report with haste – after all, I myself have to stand before César within only a few minutes. Moving on, proceed!"

"Let's see… I camouflaged myself in the mud like we're supposed to, I got to the border and climbed up and down a tree a couple times, and I looked for Scarlets. After seeing a red flash, I just knew it had to be a Scarlet, but it turned out to only be a quail. After that, I looked for suspicious activity a bit more before kinda doing my own thing. I just went off to one of the waterfalls and got myself clean. Then, I came back here, and I'm standing on this branch right now."

"You mistook a quail for a Scarlet Macaw? Interesting. It must have been sufficiently concealed within the surrounding vegetation as for its identity to not be clear to you. Now, I assume that as you did not mention anyone else within your report, you were alone during the entirety of this operation, correct?"

"Yeah, I was. I'll admit, not the best idea, especially when you're on the border. Either there were no Scarlets at all, or their camouflage is genius."

"Indeed, it was not a sound idea," Alberto chuckled, then concluding the discussion about the topic. "With that, I think that you have provided me a sufficient amount of detail for me to deliver your report to the Patriarch." Afterward, he began to turn away from Neto in order to carry out his flight to the enormous tree that belonged to César and the rest of the Torres Family, lying some ten minutes to the north of the position that he now held. However, Neto spoke once more to Alberto before he could extend his wings to begin flying.

"Hey, um, why does the Patriarch need you at nine-twenty in the morning anyway?"

"Oh, my utmost apologies!" Alberto began. "It is one of the many reports on the progression of Operation: Lend a Wing, concerning a coordinated effort that I was assigned to organize by César. This effort on my part is also one of extreme importance, no less. If I were to disappoint the Patriarch when pertaining to this assignment, he would almost certainly curse my very name."

"Operation: Lend a Wing? Never heard of it. Guess it's one of those things that only the best we've got have anything to do with."

"You are quite right about that. To begin, it is quite a complicated matter, though I will nevertheless explain the nature of our operation. Only slightly over a month ago, the inner circle of the Scarlet Macaw Tribe's leadership became rife with illicit practices, which in turn led to instability of the absolute worst variety. Eventually, Patriarch José was usurped by his brother, Caetano Vermelho. Nearly their entire council of advisers was purged as well to make matters far worse than they already were. Because Caetano wasted no time at all to begin carrying out horrific acts against his subjects, we shortly thereafter established secret negotiations with loyalists within that Tribe, agreeing to provide food to them as they are being starved by Caetano's corrupt, illegitimate council."

"Sounds like a pretty good deal. The loyalists will probably find their way somehow. But, why is this a huge problem to us if we've got the situation better?"

"Continuing on with that, I was one of the officers within the detachment of macaws that bypasses the Scarlet's borders and deliver the food. It was an extremely dangerous task without any assertion of a doubt, though we managed to maintain the operation's original course for a relatively long while – that was until one of our newer cadets accidentally provided information of the operation to one of Caetano's hundreds of informants that are settled all throughout the Amazon. Consequently, the illegitimate Patriarch has become aware of our operation. To our utmost surprise, he has never even attempted to rid the Scarlet Macaw Tribe of our presence. Rather, he announced it publicly to the entire Tribe's populous, as to manipulate his subjects into believing that any future famines are our fault exclusively."

"Hmm... Well, you've got to admit, that pretty much confirms that Caetano isn't some kind of crazy idiot; he's not good, sure, but he's smart."

"Indeed – unfortunately, he is our primary concern at the moment when regarding all of our diplomatic relations. It would surely be quite a pity if the loyalists starved – I risked my own feathers to support their cause, after all. The Tribe did in fact possess hunting companies that are supposed to have the likes of us eliminated, of course until Caetano dissolved them in order to guarantee the success of his very own strategy that was voted upon by his council. Another serious issue at hand that our own Tribal Council has faced is the question as to who should rule the Scarlet Macaw Tribe if Caetano is perhaps overthrown, provided that he either exiled or massacred the rest of the Vermelho Family. Concerning them, only the son of José is known for a fact to still be alive. Apart from that, I must make haste."

"Alright, good luck then. See ya later, Alberto! Obrigado!"

"Farewell to you, Neto!" Alberto finished the conversation at last, before finally resuming his preparations for flight. Thenceforth, he turned towards the passing crowds of macaws and spread out his wings before proceeding to leap forward, promptly taking flight as soon as his talons came to grip the branch for no longer. Neto's eyes then trained on the messenger for a brief while, until Alberto finally left his view some twenty seconds afterward.

Now that the majority of those that composed the crowds lied far behind him, Alberto began to adjust his altitude ever so slightly as to avoid any incoming natural obstacles that could be seen. The few sizable flocks of birds that surpassed him from either behind him or ahead of him were easily avoided this time around, as Alberto would ascend over the other birds' heads and then dive back down after he had passed over the entire flock.

Some five minutes after that, a sparsely-populated area of particularly dense foliage came into his view, which was known to serve as the barrier between the general population and the magnificent tree that belonged to the Torres Family. With that, Alberto rarely did anything more than simply adjust his altitude far more frequently than he had done before, albeit the occasional dive or two that he had to perform in order to avoid any vines that stood in his path.

Shortly thereafter, the surrounding jungle became much less dense and the sunlight far more prevalent, eventually leading into a largely open ring within the rainforest that bore few trees, called the Green Eye (with this name having been given by the famous Scarlet Matriarch Júlia II whilst she had been on a diplomatic visit to the area in 1940.) Only one of the trees within the Green Eye was now inhabited by Spix's Macaws, and that tree was indeed the aptly-named Tree of Torres, more often referred to by both the upper and lower classes as the "Torres Tree."

Ever since the very formation of the Tribe that had taken place centuries ago, the ancient tree had held the unique status of acting as the principle residence for the Tribe's Patriarchs and Matriarchs, as well as their offspring and occasionally their siblings. There had never existed a time in which the incumbent Tribal leaders' parents had lived with them, as according to customary law in the Spix's Macaw Tribe, a Patriarch could never abdicate.

Their death alone could mark the transition of authority to whichever of their offspring was deemed the most capable to succeed them. A Matriarch could only abdicate provided that their mate had died and that they had already borne children that were then of age to rule. In addition, if these two conditions were met, the widowed Matriarch would then have to seek refuge within one of the other trees that lied inside of the Green Eye, thus living apart from the incumbent leader of the Tribe.

The Torres Tree itself was not only among the tallest that the entire Tribe offered – as a matter of fact, it was also one of the widest by diameter, as well as one of the longest when discerning the overall length on top of that. As with every inhabited tree that the Macaw Tribes featured regardless of the owner's status in society, it bore a large hollow entrance that bore a shape that was reminiscent of that of an oval.

This one in particular stood some forty feet below the tree's uppermost branches where its leaves amassed. Standing before the entrance to the hollow was a large, broad branch that was mostly linear in form apart from the end that stood opposite to the one that connected to the hollow entrance, being largely crooked in form. Several other branches of various lengths and diameters stood beside it, with the lengths of the gaps that each branch held relative to the position of the hollow entrance's branch also varying considerably. The tree's roots outstretched from the base of the trunk to several feet in front of it, these roots all resembling the appearance of lightning bolts due to their noticeably jagged form.

As Alberto continued his gradual approach towards the Torres Tree, the sound being produced by his wings constantly elevating and depressing as they pounded upon the air continuously did not at all go unnoticed by the most powerful macaw that resided in the entire Tribe, now standing inside the tree's spacious hollow – indeed it was César, the one and only ruling Patriarch. He was nearly forty years of age for the time being and had been ruling the Tribe for almost thirteen years, ever since the passing of his father had come in 1978. In spite of his age, his appearance still fared rather well. As with many Spix's Macaws in the Tribe, he bore cerulean plumage that was composed of silky and lustrous feathers, most of which taking a linear form that was quite typical in the Tribe.

These very same feathers tended to puff out somewhat, particularly those that ran vertically across both his abdomen and chest. As well as that, a cluster of five small head feathers were located at the back of head, with all of them pointing downward, enabling the lowermost of the fathers to partially rise above those that ran down the back of his neck.

Arguably the most menacing trait that César's appearance displayed was his large beak; the surface of its upper portion took the form of a downward slope, and a very steep one at that, almost bearing somewhat of a resemblance to the blade of a scythe. Another physical feature that was one of notability (though not one which was threatening) were his eyes, whose color could only be described as a rather odd shade of blue that possessed a minor tint of gray. Many birds within the Tribe held the spiritual belief that Selva himself (the central deity of the neotropical parrots' ancient religion) had bestowed upon their Patriarch a set of eyes that reflected the colors of the moonlight (under which he had hatched many years ago.)

As for the Patriarch himself, he had only awoken approximately half an hour prior, retaining some of the somnolence that had greeted him as he had arisen from his bed not long before. To say the least, he did not desire to speak to Alberto at all at such an hour, though a meeting in the Great Mouth would soon follow Alberto's report, regarding the situation surrounding the diplomatic crisis that was taking place within the Scarlet Macaw Tribe. As a result, he was left not a choice but to receive word from his most capable messenger during the time of day when he would be most sullen if any amount of stress was projected upon him.

César's gleaming eyes remained fixed upon Alberto as he was now in an aerial position that stood some thirty feet ahead of the hollow entrance. As the latter of the two birds grew ever closer to the Torres Tree, the former proceeded forward from inside the hollow, eventually reaching the lip of the entrance and stepping over it. Once this action had been done, the Patriarch stood upright as he took another step forward, now just hardly a foot outside of his regal hollow. He coughed as he awaited Alberto's landing, bearing in mind the advice that his mate had provided him not long before when he had first awoken, dictating that for the sake of holding his temper, he would exhibit as much additional patience as he could see feasible for himself.

As the bird approaching César was Alberto, the Patriarch chuckled to himself at the mere thought of losing his temper towards him. After all, he always seemed to hold much more patience with him than any other member of the Tribe that did not include his mate and his son and daughter, largely because he had practically raised Alberto as an adopted son for the duration of his adolescence, as well as for most of his childhood. The ruling Patriarch could not even bear to hold any thoughts that even did so much as to suggest any feelings of anger on his part to Alberto; he could not imagine ever becoming angry with the macaw who had sought him desperately, following the killing of his mother by a jaguar many ages past.

Finally, Alberto came to land upon the branch that César was stoutly perched along, his aerial position immediately transitioning to one that was vertical in nature as he locked his talons around the branch itself. Upon landing, Alberto made a number of steps towards who he saw as his adopted father, suddenly receiving a rather sullen look from César not long afterward. At this, Alberto could not help but display an expression of anxiety and nervousness, though he kept advancing towards his Patriarch nonetheless, all the while that very same Patriarch's look did not seem to change. Alberto could only assume for the time being that César was now prone to unleashing his temper if he dared upset him, an event that held its place among those that both birds desired least. Afterward, the Patriarch then began speaking to Alberto.

"I am afraid that you have forgotten to bow before me," he stated morosely in his Inner Accent. The expression on Alberto's beak then conveyed utmost confusion on his part, as César had never before mentioned to any of his subjects that the act of bowing to him was mandated. As Alberto then began to bow in compliance by focusing his eyes towards the branch and leaning forward, the Patriarch abruptly halted the bow by verbal means, now laughing merrily as he spoke. "You need not bow. It now seems that I have once again proven that you are quite susceptible to practical jokes."

Alberto then redirected his attention towards César and laughed along with him, whilst also bearing a sheepish grin on his beak that the Patriarch found quite amusing, leading the laughter of the two birds to last for quite some time. Afterward, the birds' amusement came to a sudden halt. César then felt rather guilty for even daring to waste his precious time as the rest of the day would run on a very constrained schedule, though he began speaking to Alberto yet again, only this time, he spoke of the primary reason that he had summoned his presence. "Your report, Alberto?"

"My men are scheduled to arrive within only a minute or so," Alberto then answered. "Though two of them could unfortunately not embark on this operation; a dreadful illness has beset Nora, and I was left no choice but to grant Trindade a period of leave as his cousin was recently injured in an accident."

"And the others?"

"As I said, they should be here soon. Unfortunately, they could not make their return until three days after the initial day that it was scheduled to take place. The only reason I am aware of my detachment's return is because of word I received from a nomad parakeet regarding the subject. I do not yet know any details concerning the goods that the detachment managed to gather, and I cannot disclose them as a result."

"Pity," César remarked. "Are there any other events that have come about today that relate to you?"

"Not necessarily. Rather, I just recently collected a patrol report from a good friend of mine."

"And who may that be? Costa?" César chortled, referring to Alberto's love interest. "Did you decide to advance your romantic relationship with her by providing her reports to me?"

"No, not at all. He is Neto Pereira, an individual that is not exactly one that I would call steadfast, but is someone worth speaking to, regardless. In short, he ventured out to the central border with the Scarlet Macaws and camouflaged himself as he began to search for any suspicious activity. The only thing of note that he found was a wood quail, and afterward, he preened himself and returned. Apart from that, we have a number of new recruits in our merchant escorting detachments that are to soon make their way to Manacapuru. The only one whose name I can recall is Luna, who found great difficulty in following my instruction. Everyone else seems suitable for the duties that the detachment is to carry out. That is all that I have to speak of."

"Good. It is about time that we establish some form of escorting force for our merchants – after all, the Scarlets may attempt to harass them in the near future. Let us hope that the goods that your men have gathered are sufficient enough to deter what I fear Caetano may try to initialize."

"In – my apologies – indeed," Alberto somewhat stuttered nervously. Abruptly, though expectedly, a series of wingbeats came to be heard from off in the distance, belonging to a group of six macaws that were now positioned some forty feet to the north of the Torres Tree. César promptly squinted at the two quartets of birds flying alongside one another, with each quartet carrying the left and right sides respectively of what appeared to be a large collection of leaves and branches tied together with vines, forming what was effectively a large basket.

As a cover of larger leaves existed over the basket, (as a rather ineffective method as to protect the goods inside from the jungle's abundant rainfall) the two birds standing along the branch were still eagerly anticipating the moment when the basket's contents were revealed. The six birds had carried their large and cumbersome merchant basket with them all the way to Manaus via the means of travelling aboard a human ferry, with the journey having lasted five days.

As the capital of Amazonas had gained the reputation among both humans and birds as a major commercial trade center, the two macaws could only imagine what sort of fortune that would be bestowed upon the Tribe's diplomatic situation if the goods in question managed to be delivered to the loyalists within the Scarlet Macaw Tribe. All six of the young adult macaws that bore the promising merchant basket (named Verde, Ornelas, Muniz, Gularte, Marianão, and Rostagno) did not take long at all to begin panting quite noticeably.

Worryingly, this started occurring at a time when twenty feet of air still lied between them and the branch that both their commander and their Patriarch stood along, still waiting excitedly for the delivery of the goods that they were convinced would ease diplomatic tensions.

The two birds standing along the branch then displayed concerned looks on their beaks as only a second later, they noticed that the six birds' wings were shaking sporadically. Alberto's heart rate then increased exponentially at the mere sight of this, extending his right wing into the air in utter dismay. The look on César's beak also turned to one of desperation, praying that the six macaws would simply increase their flight speed and make a crash landing inside his hollow.

His prayers went unanswered however, as when they came to hover at a position of only ten feet ahead of the branch, the two quartets of birds could simply bear to carry the merchant basket no more, the branches holding it together slipping through all of their talons. Alberto almost fainted at the sight of the basket plummeting towards the ground, and César could not help but release a trio of furious curses from his beak, all directed towards the six birds that had released their grip of the basket.

As the basket itself made impact with a large sloped rock that sat upon the forest floor, both the Patriarch and Alberto could only expect for it to break apart, releasing all of its contents that had been crushed by the mere force of the impact alone. Indeed, much of the leftward portion of the basket became severed from the central and rightward portions, and the cover of leaves that had sat atop the opening disappeared into the vast vegetation that lied amongst it. However, once the remains of the basket slipped down the surface area of the rock and reached the forest floor, not a single crushed fruit, vegetable, or even any other object that could be considered merchandise could be seen from above and at any angle – it appeared that the basket's supposedly valuable contents had been comprised of nothing.

Both César and Alberto were nothing short of dumbfounded at the sight of this, their beaks wide open and their eyes fixed upon the empty basket's remains that lied along the forest floor. The six macaws all hung their heads in shame, and Alberto could only shiver at what he could guarantee that the Patriarch would say to him if he dared turn in his direction. Out of nothing more than sheer respect for César, he did however muster the will to turn around along the branch, making direct eye contact with him.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE?!" César then bellowed, his face almost bearing a tint of crimson as to how much anger had consumed him. Despite anticipating for the Patriarch to have directed a great amount of anger towards him, Alberto was still rendered nothing less than aghast. His leader then proceeded to pace up and down the length of the branch with his wings clenched into fists, swearing at an almost-constant rate at him. Fortunately, it was only a short time later when Verde (Alberto's deputy) made the risky decision of intervening in César's fit of what seemed like utter madness, subsequently pleading in his Outer Accent that he receive the blame for the absence of goods and not Alberto.

"My Patriarch! My Patriarch! It's my fault! I looked all over the place in Manaus for the fruits, and the humans purchased everything!"

"YOU ARE NOT THE COMMANDER THAT PLOTTED THE COURSE!" César screeched in retaliation, then holding his position along the branch as he came to face Alberto once again. Upon doing so, he made a decision that he would never have ever thought of carrying out – he suddenly elevated his right wing and landed a swift punch to the left side of Alberto's feathered face, and with enough force to almost send him down to the forest floor. As a cry of agony came to be released from his most talented messenger, César instantaneously pulled back his wing, still clenched into a fist.

He stared at not only a trembling, desperate Alberto that pressed his left wing against his face, but also every individual detail regarding the fist his clenched wing had formed in terror. At this, he felt a sense of not only remorse, but further anger as well. On one wing, the Patriarch absolutely regretted the act of striking his adopted son, though on the other, he still viewed Alberto as being entirely at fault for the potentially catastrophic failure that had occurred in his attempt to quell the threats posed by the illegitimate Patriarch Caetano. As a result, he saw Alberto as being deserving of a punishment such as the one that he had proceeded with.

However, he could not help but repent this action on his part at least somewhat, due to not only the ominous glares that were provided to him by the macaws that Alberto commanded, but also because of the middle-aged female voice that abruptly squawked in an irritated fashion from behind him – the voice belonged to his beloved mate and the incumbent Matriarch of the Tribe, named Eduarda.

"What on earth is taking place out here?! Is this some sort of brawl that both I and the Council urged you not to take part in?!" César then froze in his position along the branch for a short time, before turning back towards the hollow entrance and staring into the eyes of his mate.

Eduarda, like the Patriarch, fared quite well concerning her appearance when considering her age. Her feathers were similar in color to those of her mate, though they were noticeably brighter in hue, albeit the vertically-aligned array of small feathers that ran down the back of her head. Her tail feathers rose several inches from off the ground, forming the shape of a slope, a similar shape that her light-gray also happened to possess. Her last notable visual feature was the pair of curious sea-green eyes that she bore, though the form that the rest of her feathers took were for all intents and purposes the same as those borne by her mate.

"Unfortunately, no, this is not a brawl, nor would anyone call it one!" César began his defense of his actions. "Alberto failed to direct his men towards a fruit market that was known to host little human activity, and with that, the majority of the Scarlet loyalists will now accept their leader and believe the utter lies that he has bestowed upon his subjects! I simply punished him for failing to deter the poisons that lie with Caetano's influence! A war could occur!"

"Well then, if you are going to provide me a lecture surrounding your foreign affairs, place the blame on the humans that bought the fruit. I never recall you ever instructing Alberto to conduct reconnaissance in Manaus to determine what markets would be suitable to acquire fruit from."

"It is a matter of common sense that I expect, not something that I am to order –" the Patriarch began.

"In all honesty, I do not want to hear your excuses for failing to provide sufficient instruction," Eduarda interrupted.

"Alright, as you wish," César uttered reluctantly. Afterward, he turned back around and was greeted by the sudden absence of the six basket-bearers. Alberto, however, was still trembling along the branch, utterly horrified at his leader's mere presence. Guilt suddenly struck the Patriarch, though not enough to bring him to accompany Alberto. Rather, feeling that he needed to immediately carry out his other necessary duties, César blinked rapidly in order to deliberately lose his focus over the sight of Alberto, before turning back around towards the hollow entrance once again. Almost disgusted at her mate's refusal to provide an apology, Eduarda immediately gave one to Alberto herself on César's behalf.

"I am terribly sorry, Alberto." The macaw in question that had received the apology still shivered in anguish and could not even bear to express his gratitude to the Matriarch by verbal means. He could only nod in reply, a gesture that was more than enough for Eduarda to understand. A number of seconds afterward, he managed to extend his wings, then turning around in the opposite direction of where Eduarda and her mate stood, promptly taking flight and thenceforth making his way back to his hollow.

Once he had left the Torres Tree, Eduarda immediately directed a stern look towards César with her wings crossed over her chest, her eyes then diverting between her mate and the hollow entrance. The former of the two let out a sigh, before going on to begrudgingly follow her as they both entered the hollow, preparing for a discussion over the events that had just taken place.

Indeed, a form of physical punishment was considered quite harsh as Alberto had only held an indirect role in the unsuccessful food-gathering operation, though just as César had stated, a war could easily ignite, now that Caetano wielded the ability to practice the complete manipulation of his subjects. To say the least, a keg that had before borne not a grain of powder along its surface area had suddenly come to bear a whole strand of it. Now, all that was required in order for said keg to explode in utterly catastrophic fashion, lay with a single match.