Author's Notes

Hello, everyone, welcome to the fifth arc, also known as the "Path of the Thief" arc, this is probably the story that has gotten the most mixed opinions, with the most common criticism being that this doesn't focus on Blu x Jewel, but instead focuses on Rico. Rico's story is an important piece of the puzzle as he'll be a major player in upcoming events, especially within the "Divine Emperors" Saga, which is an original sequel series that I have been planning for quite some time.

He, of course, is Rose's love interest, and what wasn't made clear during this story's original run was that he is connected to Marco and Sabrina. His fate ties directly into their plans, and that makes Blu a little uneasy. So, this filler arc, is supposed to get Blu to sympathize with this stranger.

I hope you'll continue to enjoy the ride, and get ready for the sequel series coming soon…


CHAPTER ONE

The final day of autumn drew to a glorious start as the sun rose upon the horizon, enveloping the treetops in a soft golden veil. The wind swept through the jungle, forcing the trees to sway in unison, like some glorious dance. The branches and leaves rustled in every direction, properly choreographed by the very forces of nature themselves. The day ahead promised to be a scorcher with very little humidity or chance of rain to offer some relief from the tropical climate. As the sun rose higher, peeking over the treetops, it soaked through the canopy of trees and filtered a cloud of golden dust down into the jungle below. The birds all drew from their hollows, singing their songs to greet the dawn, which fueled the legends of the tropical paradise of Rio de Janeiro.

The first few rays of the morning sunlight shined in through the opening of the treehouse, which served as the new home for the Spix's Macaw family. Jewel formed a peaceful smile as she nuzzled Blu with her beak. She instinctively drew to his neck, kissing his cerulean feathers, and secretly hoped for some kind of reaction from the slumbering bird. She got her wish as he moaned and wrapped his wings around her, almost as if he instinctively tried to feel any reassurance that she still lay there on his chest. She opened her eyes a crack at the thought. She could not really blame him after what she'd put him through. All the while where he had gone training with Amber to save everyone, she'd been with someone else. She closed her eyes and sighed, her head bobbed up in down with the rhythm of his breathing and still found herself genuinely surprised that she could even hear him breathing. She listened to his heartbeat. These were signs that he was alive… something she cherished even more after seeing him fall at the hands of Marco. It was these small intimate moments that made her feel safe within his wings. They had not changed positions all night. They had covered her like thick fur blanket, which provided the right amount of warmth to allow her comfort.

From everything that had happened between the two of them lately, this moment seemed to pass as some kind of wonderful dream. She could not help but let her smile deepen. She did not need to worry anymore. Blu's evil half would never return, Marco and his Dark Robed Society had been beaten and all of them now rested within the afterlife, the New World Order had been destroyed and even Sabrina with all of her promises for a legendary battle with Blu had disappeared without a trace, going silent like a phantom. Even the world seemed to remain still and relished the newfound peace as it stood frozen in time… all because of the bird she loved. From all aspects in her mind, she could be at peace… relaxed… and content with her lot in life. She could finally be happy.

"Life is perfect." She sighed, "Absolutely perfect."

Blu moaned once more and let his eyes open a slight crack. Forming a sly smile and having heard every word of what Jewel had said, he pressed his wings tighter against her back and leaned in to kiss her passionately. He longed to feel her beak against his every morning. It filled him to the brim with happiness and made him look forward to each dawn. Awakening next to her proved to be the greatest feeling in the world. He knew only too well that the feeling was mutual between the two lovebirds.

"I love you, Jewel." He smiled.

Before Jewel could respond, Rose and Rico fluttered into the hollow. They hovered in place for a moment before coming in for a landing. They stood in awkward silence as they both peered at the intimate look on their parent's faces. They didn't really acknowledge their arrival, they just stared wide-eyed and sort of shocked by the sudden appearance.

"Did you two just get in?" Jewel arched a curious eyebrow.

Rose nodded her head and lowered her glance to avoid her mother's stern expression. A large lump of anxiety formed deep within the back of her throat.

"I am so sorry, mom, I thought you would want an evening alone with dad," she explained, "I thought I would show Rico some of the sights since he has not been in this section of Rio for a very long time. I guess we got a little carried away and lost track of time."

This time Blu arched a curious eyebrow. He peered at the strange colored macaw with a sort of mistrust. He felt a surge of overprotective fatherhood flow through his being. He could not trust Rico, not until he knew beyond any doubt whose side he really was on. There seemed to be a certain suave manner about him, something that warned Blu that the newcomer could sweet-talk his way out of any situation. He already knew that Rico held the status and position of a thief, but could there be more to him than just that? Could he be a master manipulator? Could he be working for Sabrina or another evil that had yet to make itself known to them?

"I see." Blu played along for the time being. "How long have you known him, Rose?"

Rose could sense her father's mistrust. She held up a wing and shook her head in open defiance. She didn't want to answer the question, because she knew it would only expand the tension between her father and her new boyfriend. She lowered her head further and spoke, changing the subject.

"He's agreed to share his story with us. Please, give him a chance. I think he'll be able to answer all of your questions."

"How do we know that what he tells us is the truth?" Blu protested. "How do we know he isn't pulling the same trick Jollo did when he lured us to the blood orchid, or Marco did when he captured you?"

Rico nodded. "Very valid questions, but please, Blu. Can you listen to me for a little while? I will do my best to answer all of your questions. If you still have any left after I have finished, then I will answer those as well. I don't want to start things off on the wrong foot, and I genuinely care about your daughter."

Blu nodded his head and let out a defeated sigh. He could not deny him the right, to be honest. He also found himself curious about the macaw's origin story.

"Alright, but if I think you are lying, you'll be out of here faster than you can open your beak. If we're going to listen to your story, then I want nothing but honesty. Do I make myself clear?"

Rico smiled and spread his wings wide. "I understand sir, I will not insult your intelligence by giving you anything other than the truth. You deserve to know everything since you are the heroes of heroes. However, it is fair to warn you that the story I am going to tell you is heartbreaking. My life has never been easy, and I've suffered much. However, I also feel the need to unburden myself. My story is about a great evil that haunted the land. It tells of a time of hardship and pain for the birds who dwelled on the borderlines of Rio de Janeiro… these were my people… the hawks."

Blu's eyes widened as he thought about the species for a moment. He only knew of two hawks right off the bat, the leader of the Dark Robed Society, Marco, and his sister, Sabrina, both of whom held no problem with trying to wipe him off the face of the planet and slaughter his family. He swallowed a large lump in his throat as he asked the first question which came to his mind.

"Hawks… you mean the same species of bird that Marco was?"

"Yes, that's exactly right," Rico nodded. "You see, this isn't the first time that I've run into Marco. He is my brother. My story begins many years before I was born, just north of the borderlines where our tribe lived in secret. But for now, enough of the questions let me share with you the path of a thief."