CHAPTER TWO <--Chapter One Back
<p>A week later, Manny was less rich than when he arrived, alone, and sad. All seemed really a failure, but at least he never met Gaze again. Grodon was still looking for a job for him, but it seemed hard to find.
"Manny! Hey, Manny!" a voice behind him called. Grodon was running to him with a smile on his face. IronHeart seemed a bit upset indeed.
"Hi Grodon. Whats happened?" Manny asked curiously.
"Two beautiful news for you friend." Grodon said happily. "Theres a magician whos looking for an assistant. So I told him about you."
"What?" Grodon raised an eyebrow. "Howard isnt a magician anymore, I told you. This ones called Ahzi and is a grasshopper retired from his colony. Hes going in Asia. Actually he lives around the Old Boot Shelter. Just on this way"
"Well, so lets go, shall we?" Manny asked.
"Ehm... sorry Manny. Ill not come with you." Grodon said.
"What?! And why?" by now Manny saw Grodon as a sort of best friend.
"IronHeart and me just mated today." Grodon explained.
"What... are you saying?!" Mannys eyes opened wide. "But... but you know that all females... after marriage... they kill us..."
"I am not that style of mantis, Manny!" she laughed.
"We spoke about this. We decided we had to accept it but IronHeart promised me to dont kill me." Grodon replied, then he sighed. "However I dont want to leave my home right now. Good luck, Manny."
Manny looked at Grodon, he seemed more brother than his sister truely was.
"Ill miss you Grodon." he said. "Youve been my only friend in the city."
"Maybe a day youll return." Grodon said with a tired smile. "Good luck, my friend."
Manny squeezed his hand.
"Good luck to you too." he replied before turning and going encounter his destiny.
As he walked near the cafe, he suddenly remembered there was another people he wanted to see before leaving. He entered and saw Howard, and Gypsy, still sat at the same table. He was too shy to greet them: for him was enough to see Gypsy once again. He walked to the barman and ordered a drink, thinking to his next life as magician. The moment later, an hand fell on his shoulder.
He turned surprised and saw Gypsy in front of him.
"G.... G... Gypsy... hello..." he said blushing.
"I saw you entering. Do you want to sit with us?" she asked pointing her fathers table.
"T... thanks Gypsy... I would be flattered but... I cant." Manny nodded.
"You cant? And why?"
"Ive to go. A new job is waiting for me."
"What job?" Gypsy asked.
"Ill be the assistant of a magician in his trip in Asia."
"Asia?!" Gypsys eyes opened wide. "But its far..."
"I know... but its the only work Grodon found for me." Manny nodded sadly. "I... I just wanted... to tell you goodbye... maybe... maybe a day Ill return." he said before flying away. Gypsy sighed looking him going away.
"Ill wait forever for you... dear friend..." she whispered.
As he left the bar, Manny walked until when he found the Old Boot Shelter. He immediately recognized it: a very big, derelict and somehow spooky shelter, once high and straight but now limp. There were several bugs around, everyone was old and with sad, shining eyes. As he walked towards, he could feel they were gazing at him with a bit of sadness: he wondered how did they families sent them in such a sad place. But obiouvsly it could be a safe place just in case of rain, ice, or storm, cause he noticed many of the old bugs hadnt anymore their wings. It was all so heartbreaking, so difficult to bear. Manny was upset by all these almost crying eyes. He missed his far family, and wasnt in the city from long time: how much did the old bugs here miss their own relatives?
While walking in the shelter, he immediately noticed a very old-aged grasshopper, that was bringing some bags at the door. Bags seemed to be heavy and the grasshopper seemed in troubles: listening to his heart only, Manny walked to him and helped him raising a particular big bag on a pile of others.
The grasshopper raised his eyes on the young mantis, with coldness
"Thanks." he barely grumbled.
"Nothing to worry bout." Manny assured him with a nodd. Then, they heard a voice shouting firmly:
"Ahzi the Only! Wheres Ahzi the Only? Did he already left?"
It was a fat bee female, with large glasses, a walking-stick and twisted feelers. She was holding a beret and looked around with somehow nervous eyes. Manny believed she was someone with a strong and decided character, that could have been a warrioress for the Army, instead than a nurse, as she was defined by the Red-Crosss band on her arm
The old grasshopper raised his eyes as she spoke
"Im not gone. Im here" he grumbled.
"Oh my! You were almost forgetting this" the nurse said acidly, throwing to him the beret "I know youve already gathered your bargains but please try to dont forget your pieces in the Shelter!"
"Yessir" sarcastically the grasshopper replied
"Ahzi? Are... are you Ahzi?" Manny asked. Observing him better, he noticed the grasshopper was rather... strange. He has icy eyes with a strange sad light a bit different from every other he saw. As if there was something, in his eyes, he couldnt understand.
"Yes. Im." Ahzi replied briefly.
"I heard youre looking for an assistant." Manny said, slyly looking at the old grasshopper "I want that job. My names Manny"
"Oh yeah?" the old one didnt seem so interested "Well. I warn you now, I cant pay very much. Im not rich. Im rich only of memories."
"It doesnt matter." Manny replied nodding "I just need enough to survive."
The old grasshopper looked at him with his icy eyes
"Why would you want this job?" he asked a bit diffident "This is not so easy as it can seem. And well have to go in Asia, and..."
"A job as another." Manny replied. As he told this, the icy eyes seemed even more sad
"No... it isnt. Not always." Ahzi replied. Then he quickly changed subject "Have you already greet your family?"
"Ive not a family. Not anymore. I left my mother in the country time ago when I came in the city." Manny explained.
"Oh, yes. And your father?"
"My..." Manny stopped. "Hes dead." he brutally replied. "Im a mantis and..."
"Oh, yeah." Ahzi grinned "Now its clear. Yes, the green familys killer. Now I understand."
"We are not as you say!" Manny shouted, now angry "Its something used to do in our species and you cant blame me for this, old one! And then, what would be clear?"
"The reason why youre a stupid kamikaze whos saying goodbye to his life" Ahzi replied
"You are alive at your age! Ill too!" Manny growled.
"Huh! Dont bet about this, young one!" Ahzi grinned. Then, he asked: "Is the sky already bright?"
"But dont you see it by yourself..." Manny started growling. Before he suddenly realized what was the secret hidden behind those sad eyes "Youre blind" he said as he blushed
"I dont see." the old one corrected him with a growl. "Forever Darkness."
"How did it happened?" Manny gasped
"Surely its not matter for you!" Ahzi replied. "Courage, on your foot young citizen! Weve a long fly ahead of us! And Ill need someone to tell me where to fly."
The two of them flewn up saying goodbye to the Old Boot Center
"Here! To you!" Ahzi said as he threw Manny a old, almost cracked compass "Wheres south? Tell me" he ordered
"At your left." Manny replied as they flewn toward. Then, he saw Ahzis wings... if they could be called wings. One in fact was half-substituted by a wood piece, while the other was full of holes, and all derelict "For Heavens Goodness, but whats happened to you?!" he gasped.
"What?" Ahzi replied a bit confused
"Your... your wings..." Manny said
"Oh, yes..." Ahzi nodded "Its only the result of some... incidents. Ive been lucky"
"Lucky?!" Manny couldnt believe to his ears "Do you call it "lucky"???"
"I warned you" Ahzi replied. Then he shouted "And stop looking at me as if I was a zoos exposed animal!"
"Wha..?!!" Manny exclaimed "How do you know..."
"I dont see. But this doesnt mean Im blind." Ahzi replied "Try to understand this if you still want to work for me, arrogant one!"
Manny was a bit puzzled and angry at Ahzis words against him. But probably, he reflected, the old grasshopper was so rude cause of the adventures he surely lived. He still wondered how could happen that he lost his wings and his sight
"You still can head back." Ahzi muttered without looking at Manny.
"Ill not." stubbornly Manty answered. Ahzi laughed briefly
"You speak just as me when I had your age. Who knows, young citizen, maybe youll be luckier than me..." he said. Then he added, in a hiss "Itll be better... for YOU."
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