A sudden breeze caught him off-guard and he quickly lost stability, hitting a wall and being forced to do an emergency landing through some trees; an experience that scratched his fabric-like skin with tremendous damage, just to end up on somebody’s garden lawn, falling on his face. Fortunately, he survived; although pretty hurt.
He tried to sit up with a terrible headache and nearly screamed when he saw the baton a pair of metres away. He reached for it and sat down to take a breath, feeling guilty about his failure. Was Majorette right? Why would she give him the responsibility to choose a new Guardian for the baton… if he couldn’t protect it? It was stupid… HE was stupid, thinking that he could do it.
A tear ran down his bruised face and Pipoh felt disappointment for himself. Just then, a young voice reached his ears and he realized the place he was in; not safe, not far from Jester or any humans. However, this girly sound caught his attention.
“I really want to begin practicing our choreography with the baton. I just love the moves Agatha taught us!”
“Yeah, but I’m not so happy to march on the streets in december. It’s gonna be freezing”. Said another one, a little deeper in tone. “Can you imagine, wearing our uniforms in the cold?”
“Yeah, I know” answered the first one, “but I wouldn’t miss the chance. We’ll be at Christmas time, after all, and I wanna see the floats of the parade. I really love that part”.
“Yeah, it’s true they’re great. It makes me feel nostalgic though, like when we were kids”.
“I know, right?”
Pipoh peeped out from the bushes and discovered two teenage girls. One of them had henna-color hair… maybe a little darker; low-cut sweater, jeans, trainers, and looked like the oldest of both. The other one was a little shorter, light-brown hair, green eyes, and was wearing a cute t-shirt, jeans and what looked like black ballet shoes. And she was the one talking now.
“I hope we won’t wear our uniform. It’d be so much better to wear a disguise for the Majorette performance…”
“Mmh… don’t know… maybe like Santa Claus’ elves or the reindeer?”
They both laughed and kept walking along a street full of detached houses. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be the last time Pipoh saw them, for he had kept a part of the conversation in his memory. It’d be so much better to wear a disguise for the Majorette performance…
“Did she say… Majorette?” If there’s anything he knew for sure was that coincidences don’t exist. If something happens, there’s a reason for that, and he was completely sure that somewhere, somehow, his Majorette was sending him a sign. There were plenty of people in that world, but he found out someone who used what he considered a code word. It had to be.
Using his invisibility again, he followed the two human girls carefully, always carrying the baton. He soon found himself out of the quiet neighbourhood, wandering along a busy street full of window displays and more people.
The girls entered one of the shops and he rushed inside not to be left behind.
“Good afternoon!” The henna-hair one looked around and saw nobody.
“The owner must be in the back room” said the other one. “Let’s not call her yet, Mar, I wanna take a peek at the store before buying the baton”.
“Ok, BB, but don’t take long. I’ll be fast for my wristbands”.
The one by the name of BB walked along a corridor full of clothing hangers and ended up on a corner of the store with several items. Also batons.
I loved to wander around that shop. It was always plenty of beautiful things and color… made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Sometimes I’d even wished to live there.
That day, I’d been planning to take a simple look, leaving aside all the cute clothes and accessories, but my attention was caught by a pretty starred-pattern maillot before I could even reach the batons’ container, which wasn’t far away.
If I had been a gymnast, I’d have probably asked mom to give me an advance on my allowance to buy it, but looking at the price, it wasn’t worth it for now. However, that little moment I spent asking myself if I should save some money, I didn’t saw a certain item becoming visible behind my back. When I turned around after discerning a quick sound, my eyes spotted a strange baton I hadn’t realized was there, with the others.
“Hey… where did you come from?” I asked, as if it could hear me.
My hands took it from the basket and I checked it all out. It was beautiful, a real piece of craft. Not too light or heavy, maneuverable, neat details… I’d even say its poles looked like they were made of pure gold, but I knew that was impossible. Something so valuable would never be on sale in a place like that. However, I was really tempted to buy it… but in the end I changed my thoughts.
“Frankly… it would be a shame if I broke it while practicing” I said to myself. “And I can’t parade with a nicer baton than the others. It wouldn’t be fair for them and I don’t want to stand out either, so...” I left it on the basket again, took a simple baton and went away. “Maybe another time…”
That wasn’t the plan! Pipoh saw her walk away and knew he had to bring her back. The baton needed a new Guardian and this was probably the only choice he’d have to make things right. He couldn’t let her go. Not without it!
Thinking fast, he spotted a big tray filled with gymnastics balls and had to take the chance, even if it was kind of stupid. He used all his strength to push the tray onwards, knocking it over and spreading all the balls around.
Bibiana looked back at the fuss and realized the mess. Although she was pretty sure it hasn’t been her fault, she bent down to gather the items and put them back into the tray.
That moment was crucial. Pipoh took his baton and sneaked it over her head, floating in complete silence, not to be seen. Extremely carefully, he waited for her to turn her eyes far away and fastly put the baton inside her bag. In a matter of seconds, Bibiana finished picking up and nearly caught him before he turned invisible for the third time.
Minutes later, Mar and her were already out of the shop and ready to go home.
“Time to go do some homework”
“Yeah…” Mar’s face shaded in anger “Thanks to Calero I’m gonna spend a whole afternoon doing some stupid Math exercises”.
“C’mon… It’s not my cup of tea either, but we have to do it”.
“Right… let’s go home, then. Oh!” Mar just remembered. “Don’t forget that we have training with the team tomorrow, first thing in the morning”.
“Don’t worry, I know. See you tomorrow, Mar”.
And so they parted ways.
Pipoh kept following Bibiana home and held on to her bag in order to stay as close as possible. When they entered the apartment, nobody came to meet them.
“Hello? Mom...? Dad...?” She suddenly remembered why there wasn’t anybody home. “Ah… right, they had to work ‘till late today…” She sighed and massaged the back of her neck. “Always out… having to do lots of extra hours to keep up the business. They’re working so hard…” Adjusting the bag to her shoulder, she began to walk along the hall to her room. “It’s true we live well thanks to that… but I’m a little tired of being left alone in the afternoon; even if I’ve homework to do…”. If only mom let me have a pet or something… she thought, entering her bedroom and leaving the bag on her desk, then opened it. “Oh well, I guess I’ll have to…” She soon stopped, with her eyes staring at a golden surface right next to the zip. “Wha…?” She pulled it out of the bag and discovered the baton. “How did this get into my bag? I left it at the...”
The girl let it fall off her hands with a scream as fast as she heard it talk, but when the baton began to float in front of her, she stepped back in fear, reaching the closet in the room.
“W-w-what the…?! WHAT...?!”
“Fear not, Bibiana” Said that strange voice. “I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to take the baton, please”.
“T-the baton…?” She blinked, still staring at it with a shaking body. “A-are you a ghost…? Is this some kind of poltergeist…?”
“I’m not a ghost, but you must do as I say. It’s very important.” Insisted the voice. “Take the baton.”
“And... if I don’t want to do it…?” She practically spoke in a whisper... and soon regretted it.
“For god’s sake, girl! This is serious! Take it already!”
“Kyaaa! Ok, ok!” Even if the voice sounded a little high-pitched —like one of those tiny gnomes in cartoons—, Bibiana didn’t want to find out how dangerous it could be to make it mad, so she stepped forward again, shyly, and took the relic with her bare hands. The baton began to shine.
“Now, say what I say.” Continued the voice. “I, BB, take and accept my place as the new Guardian of the Baton of Wind…”
“Actually, the name’s Bibiana…” She added in a teeny-weeny voice.
“Whatever, just say it!”
“Fiiiine” She cleared her voice a little and repeated the words without noticing that she was actually making an oath. “I, Bibiana, take and accept my place as the… what was it again?”
“The new Guardian of the Baton of Wind”, it groaned.…”
“Oh yeah… the new Guardian of the Baton of Wind…”
“...and I promise to protect it until my mission is over”. That was the last sentence she repeated.
Then, the light of the baton became brighter and turned into an explosion of light that lasted few seconds, forcing Bibiana to close her eyes with another scream. And when she opened them again, she found herself in front of a cute little buddy in a long patterned hat, floating as a ghost.
“What… who are you?” She was much more amazed than scared. The situation looked so unrealistic and yet, so magical, that she forgot her fear.
The pixie sighed with relief and tried to act as natural as he could, knowing that there was no turning back and that he’d have to work with a human.
“My name’s Pipoh and I’m going to be your assistant from now on.”
“Assistant?” Bibiana was shaking, all confused. “Assistant for what…? And where do you even come from…? T-this is so weird…”
“I know, I know”. He moved his tiny no-finger hands to try calming her down. “It’s a lot to take in and you’re scared now, but this is real and I need you to focus, Bibiana.” He tried to get near her as she flinched. “I promise I’m not going to hurt you “ he gently reached out for the baton in her hands and touched it. The relic shone for a second and he smiled. “You’re my chosen one and I really need your help”.