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The Tale of Carrot the Pigeon

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It was a normal day for Carrot the pigeon. Doing loop-de-loops, finding scraps to eat, and getting annoyed at the Pigeon-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (aka Larry, that thief). Honestly, did that glorified winged rat really think he was the best just because he once broke his beak in a fight? And he claimed to be the Pigeon King of Thieves, when any fool could see that Carrot was the most majestic, the best flyer (if his mother allowed him to compete in the stunt flying contests he knew he’d win easily), the most brilliant bird there was. That bird brain couldn’t compare. He was the best, the most wonderful, and nothing could stop that. 

 

Oh wait… was that Him down there? By the orange sticks (what are they called, again?) and leaves? How those wingless chickens can stomach those Carrot doesn’t know. And why does one of them smell like a raven? Weird beasts. They can’t even fly without massive tree trunks beneath them, unless what Pidgey claimed he saw at the place with all the massive paper houses was true. But if they can fly, why don’t they? They’re even worse than Him. At least He appreciates the glorious feeling of soaring through the air, the whole world beneath you, when he isn’t trying to brawl with common sparrows. They can’t even speak properly, with their common accents and strange slang. Proper Pedigree Pigeons are what he needs. 

 

The wingless chicken in the strange dress imitates a dragon and fires fire at The Thief. Now that’s the sort of wingless chicken he appreciates. Far better than those wingless chickens who run around like headless wingless chickens. They even screech worse than the bloody chickens who don’t know what the phrase ‘beauty sleep’ means. 

 

Unfortunately, the one who smells like a raven and wears the fleece of a red sheep (maybe they slaughtered it clumsily?) does some weird hocus pocus thing and stops it. Is The Thief’s Court expanding beyond sparrows to chickens? Next they’re going to summon a phoenix or something. Though why anyone would like those ugly turkeys who can’t spend all their time playing with fire Carrot isn’t sure. 

 

The dragon in a dress storms off, which is the appropriate reaction when near The Thief when his ill-chosen companion refuses to let him do to The Thief what The Thief deserves. Unfortunately, Carrot does need food to live (one of the basic necessities, other than squawking, flying and getting revenge on The Thief) and does not have the luxury of flying away. Besides, that would be too embarrassing, flying away in a huff just because The Thief was rude and got there first. He’ll just have to hope that the raven-chicken-sheep is just blind (she’s wearing some strange things on her face, she might be) or a slave to the pigeons instead of on The Thief’s side. There’s no other reason she wouldn’t recognise The Thief’s evilness. 

 

Though perhaps he should get some guinea-pig-eons just to make sure. Hoots, maybe. He might be an idiot obsessed with mouldy coverings for chicken feet, but he isn’t on The Thief’s side. Well. He kind of was, until he saw the light (both literally (when Gred and Forge the magpie twins shone some strange light in his face, which just proves that Hoots is no longer on that side as Carrot’s seen their brother/chicksitter hanging around The Thief) and figuratively), but he’s firmly within the Carrot Club now. Not firmly enough that Carrot would truly be annoyed if he got burnt, but firmly enough that any of The Thief’s allies won’t like him much. Getting reinforcements is of course nothing to do with being afraid. Of course not. He is Carrot, wonderful, brave, handsome etc.. 

 

He finds Hoots pecking at some flowers and all but drags him out of there. There is nothing more embarrassing than being either too stupid to know what food is or a girl that thinks she needs trinkets to look pretty. Just because they aren’t as handsome as Carrot doesn’t mean they can embarrass themselves like that. Hoots doesn’t know how lucky he is to have Carrot teaching him basic social skills. 

 

The Thief is still at the Chicken Coop (or maybe Sheep Pen?) when they return, as is the raven-chicken-sheep. As Hoots and Carrot fly down, Carrot remains just enough behind that they seem together (Hoots is poor company, but better than the riff-raff The Thief mingles with, and The Thief is too stupid to realise that they are allies unless they appear together) but far enough that he won’t be caught by any stray flames. It would ruin his feathers. The Thief has the nerve to smile - smile! - at Hoots as he lands nearby. Carrot lands gracefully, which shouldn’t need to be said. Far better than his not-cousin Honks could ever do (his not-aunt flew off with some pleb so of course she got tossed from the nest in disgrace). 

 

He helps himself to the highest quality fancy-sounding French food. Just because their birds are so arrogant and stupid does not mean he doesn’t acknowledge their superior food. Far better than the minced snails certain birds enjoy. The fancy sounding French food is the best thing since sliced bread. Apart from Carrot himself, but that’s hardly a fair comparison. On one side, the intelligent, handsome, brilliant, wonderful specimen of a bird and on the other, admittedly-tasty-but-not-quite-perfect food. He passes off the worst bits to Hoots as payment for his service (really, it should be Carrot getting paid, but he has to keep the underlings happy). 

 

A while later, when Carrot is getting bored enough that he’s tempted to start a fight with The Thief even though The Thief fights dirty and it’ll ruin his feathers, the dragon in a dress returns and throws something at the raven-chicken-sheep. (Carrot definitely does not flinch.) Ah. It’s one of those bags that the idiots who don’t watch where they’re going get stuck in. He’s probably trying to suggest that the raven-chicken-sheep is one of those idiots. True, but no pigeon (apart from those mannerless-commoners) would ever do something as rude as that. Chicken traditions are weird. 

 

Well, it at least gets the raven-chicken-sheep to disappear, which is good. He’s still not entirely convinced that she isn’t just another of The Thief’s lackeys waiting to pounce. She does return, but only temporarily, before the dragon in a dress does the chicken’s disappearing trick. Ah, finally. Carrot is not in any way afraid that the dragon in a dress might start shooting fire around or something but he would very much like him to go even if he’s good at scaring away The Thief’s maybe lackey. 

 

The Thief is still smiling that annoying smile of his, while Hoots is practising his glare on the ugly things that go on chicken feet. He needs more practice, but it’s an admirable effort. With some work he might even become passable. 

 

Given that the Chicken Coop or Sheep Pen is a real treasure trove for food, risk of fire or not, Carrot returns a couple of days later. It would be perfect if The Thief wasn’t still lurking around. Doesn’t he have brawling with sparrows in the mud to do? 

 

Carrot spots one of the magpies sitting in a tree. Ugh. The Thief’s Squawkers (aka spies with no sense of decorum) must have spread the news. Soon the place will be overrun with riff-raff. No Proper Pedigree Pigeons (apart from Hoots, but he barely makes the mark and only because the riff-raff have pushed the bar so low) around. 

 

For a while he watches the raven-chicken-sheep nervously (on behalf of poor Hoots, of course, he himself has no fear at all), but all she’s doing is drawing some weird wingless and even legless monsters. Whatever weird hocus-pocus chickens can do, it’s not dangerous, or even interesting. Food, however, is (probably) safe and very tasty. Can even be fun when the dragon in a dress throws things at the riff-raff. Carrot himself stayed perfectly safe. Sadly, so did The Thief, but he’s a cheater. 

 

The chickens continue looking excited doing boring things, but the small creatures with long ears and handing round free food. He’d known when he’d come that this place was going to be great. It’s his find as well, completely. (The Thief does not count.) 

 

One day, he finally persuades Pidgey and Pidgey’s hanger on whose name Carrot can’t quite recall. Barnaby? Something like that. They’re boring, but they are pigeons of Proper Pedigree so he has to suffer with them. It’ll rub it in the beak of The Thief, who’s still cheerily smiling but has occasionally attempted to exchange insults with Carrot (he suggested that Carrot has no friends which is true, as nobody is worthy enough, but he still has to ‘prove’ The Thief wrong). Barry flaps around looking useless but Pidgey is semi-intelligent, at least. Why he hovers around with Bob Carrot still doesn’t know. Maybe it’s out of pity. 

 

Wait… is that chicken meat the chickens are eating? Huh. Of course they’re cannibals. Carrot would never stoop so low as to eat his own species (not even The Thief deserves that, and he probably wouldn’t taste nice anyway). He is sometimes partial to chicken, but that’s entirely different. Food is food. Pigeons are not food. For chickens, neither pigeon nor chicken should be food. It’s simple enough even that random bird Hoots brought along today can understand it. She’s talking with Billy, who at least has a more memorable name than her. He’d thought he’d heard Hoots call her ‘Knee’ or something, but that doesn’t sound like a Proper Pedigree Pigeon name. Well, Knee it is for now. 

 

On the plus side, there are the delicacies sometimes known as waffle sandwiches. These chickens have occasional good taste, and not even seeing The Thief get to them first (and then spitting them out, what a waste) will bring him down. 

 

On the other hand, seeing one of those fancy-schmancy puffed up featherbrained owls (seriously? They think that they’re Stephen Squawking?) can. Lucky that it isn’t carrying one of those bright red (redder than the raven-chicken-sheep’s sheep coat) things. They frighten the feathers off him. Not that he’s ever scared, of course. No, of course not. Never in a million migration cycles. 

 

Later that night, when Boris and all the others have left to go wreck havoc - that is, find as many ways to scare chickens as possible - elsewhere (Carrot is not bitter about not being invited, given it was obviously all a plot by The Thief), Carrot returns. The dragon in a dress and some other random chicken are drinking that strange thing that makes it impossible to fly. Some of the other young pigeons like it, but he, most certainly, does not. But whatever The Thief claims, he does not have nightmares about tall metal things that have bright lights. Carrot is scared of nothing, he meant to do it, and anyone that claims otherwise has been spending too much time in the pig enclosures. Got that? 

 

He doesn’t stay too long. He does not want his mother to think that he is out flying with those hooligans. He pushes down any foolish hopes of joining them, and takes off. It is nothing to do with the appearance of the raven-chicken-sheep, though perhaps slightly to do with strawberry seeds being too scratchy. It might be fine for the scum, but not a Proper Pedigree Pigeon. 

 

The next morning, Hoots seems strangely happy, but Carrot does not think it has anything to do with whatever they got up to last night (nothing interesting, he’s sure). The others don’t really seem that excited. Hmm. He himself cares nothing for romance, but perhaps Hoots has his eye on someone? As he’s somehow become Hoots’ designated chicksitter, he’ll have to make sure it’s someone respectable. Not many fit the standards required for a Proper Pedigree Pigeon like Carrot himself, but Hoots doesn’t need someone quite so good. As long as he stops his random obsession with chicken feet, he’ll be fine. 

 

At least he isn’t forced to keep pigeon-herding for the rest of that day, even if his mother’s company (among other less desirable companions) isn’t preferable. But, well, needs must. If he impresses enough of those medium (too high and it gets too cold, too low and there are whatever-groups-of-chickens-are-known-as of chickens, so the best place is medium) in the bird world, he’ll be successful. How they don’t appreciate his brilliance (handsomeness, intelligence, etc) he doesn’t know, but that’s their problem, not his. Well, it is his, when they don’t give him what he deserves, but those fools are the ones to blame. 

 

That night in the nest (alone, despite his mother’s constant nagging that he find a nice bird-lady (not a lady-bird, because those are useless), but being alone is fine and he flew the nest as soon as he could), he wonders just where The Thief’s lackeys ended up. Apparently those who went over to the Chicken Coop haven’t returned. What fools don’t have the navigational ability to return to the nest? Feather-brained idiots. Dunderheads, as Prince Snip (weird name, given pigeons are sensible and recognise no monarch) calls them. (Why do all the half-way intelligent ones have to be those not of Proper Pedigree?) 

 

Unfortunately he’s pressured into attending yet another event, with even more dreary pigeons. He’s almost missing the weird cheeriness of The Thief (who might actually be here somewhere, but he would never talk to him by choice). Better than these empty words and barely passable insults of these pigeons. No bird his age likes talking to him (overwhelmed by his brilliance, perhaps), so all he can do is (with the most impeccable manners) nibble on some crumbs. As Proper Pedigree Pigeons, on occasions like this they do not need to scrounge in the rubbish. The Chicken Coop provides it for free so that does not count. 

 

He catches the eye of The Thief (how he of all pigeons gets invited Carrot doesn’t know) on the other side of the roof. The Thief doesn’t even smile his not-at-all creepy smile. He seems worried by something. Well, anything that worries The Thief must be good for Carrot. With his renewed happiness, Carrot almost misses an agitated Hoots flapping in his face. But he isn’t as blind as the raven-sheep-chicken, so he does not. 

 

But honestly, does that bird know what ‘manners’ are? He might have it in himself to excuse it, if it gets him away from this nest of boredom. Maybe. Then again, his reputation (because those fools do not appreciate his perfection) will not survive if gossip flies about him being seen with a squawking, feather-ruffled bird barely of Proper Pedigree, so he leads Hoots into a chimney that he knows no one ever goes into, even though it is mostly absent of soot. Not completely, but only Hoots needs to get soot-covered. Carrot would never risk his own feathers getting dirty, so he perches on one of the few clean places. He’ll be fine even if green fire starts shooting up as it sometimes does. Why chickens bother with changing the colour (and they only ever make it green) when fire is already dangerous enough Carrot has never worked out. It just shows what he’s always thought: chickens are weird. Useful for their food, but weird. 

 

From the mad squawking he manages to make out something about Bilbo, Knee and the others at the Chicken Coop disappearing. And maybe something to do with another bird invading? A parrot, apparently, if Hoots is right about it being a ‘green beast’. Well, Carrot will not let a parrot invade his space. Those fluffed-up creatures think they’re so great just because they’re colourful. They are not Proper Pedigree Pigeons in any way at all. How dare one of them invade his space! How dare they steal his food! 

 

On the plus side, no one can blame him for defending his honour. He can freely abandon the ‘party’. The idiot bird won’t know what’s coming for him! And best of all, if even The Thief’s lackeys have disappeared he’ll have it all to himself! No bird will dare invade his territory again! 

 

He shoots off in the direction of the Chicken Coop, regretting that he can’t do the chicken disappearing trick. He commends Hoots for his bravery at following, but Carrots is the best flyer of all pigeons. Other birds cannot even compare. Hoots is squawking loudly (maybe complimenting Carrot) but by now he’s too far ahead to hear it clearly. He doesn’t need those compliments to know his own amazingness anyway. 

 

Carrot reached the Chicken Coop in record time. Hoots is either no longer screeching or he’s just too slow. Or he’s realised that the birds who really need to hear Carrot’s praises are the ones at the party. Having minions is surprisingly useful, if annoying. There’s no sign of any parrot so he stops to preen his feathers. Completely unnecessary for someone as handsome as him, but it is better than looking completely gormless. As the most brilliant, most handsome, most wonderful, most amazing, most elegant, most graceful pigeon around, he will not look like a chicken. 

 

Wait. 

 

Where did that snake come from?