Sheldgoose put his hands behind his back and held his head up high as he made his rounds. As president of the New Quackmore Institute, it was his job to make sure that everything in the community was up to their high standards. One tail feather out of place on any of their residents made all of them look bad, and that was just unacceptable.
Unfortunately, one of their long standing residents had more than just a tail feather out of place. Clinton Coot probably had more strange things about him than everybody else in the New Quackmore Institute combined. If Sheldgoose could, he would have kicked the guy out years ago, but he really couldn’t. Clinton Coot had lived at the New Quackmore Institute longer than many of their residents had been alive, and Sheldgoose was legally unable to kick him out. He would know, he had tried.
But that didn’t mean that he had to tolerate his relatives.
Clinton Coot had always been a peculiar old duck. He spent most of his time away from his old cabana. Sheldgoose didn’t know what Coot was up to when he was gone, and he didn’t care, just so long as he was out of his feathers. Even when Coot was home, he usually kept to himself. His great grandchildren though were another matter.
“Come on, Donald, you can do better than that.” A duckling who couldn’t be older than six or seven teased in that loud and obnoxious voice that only children used. She was closely followed behind by her twin brother, who wasn’t nearly as loud and energetic, but had his own irritating quirks.
“I can’t, Della, you keep cheating.” Donald protested, and Sheldgoose scowled at the sound of his voice. He didn’t know what was wrong with the child, but his speech was all but impossible to understand, and it just grate on Sheldgoose’s ears. He had no idea how long the children would be staying with Coot for, but as far as he was concerned they couldn’t be gone soon enough.
Sheldgoose turned his nose up at the children and was about to continue on his way when the little girl ran right into him. The brat didn’t even apologize. She just glared up at him as though it was his fault.
“Watch where you’re going, mister.” Della put her hands on her hips. Sheldgoose glared back at her.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, you insolent little brat.” Sheldgoose’s words just irritated the girl even more. She looked about ready to attack him, and Sheldgoose was not impressed. He knew that allowing Coot to have his family over for a visit was a bad idea.
Donald ran up and pulled the girl back. “It’s your fault, Della, you ran into him.” Della shrugged her brother’s grip off.
“I wouldn’t have ran into him if he hadn’t come up right out of nowhere.” Della insisted. She put a hand on the necklace that she was wearing and held it out as though it was a weapon. “You’ll pay for this!”
“I’ll pay for this?” Sheldgoose was furious. This was the final straw. “Your great grandfather will be lucky if I don’t evict him for this.” If only he could. But the children didn’t need to know that.
Della didn’t seem to take his threat seriously, and if she did, she didn’t seem to care. At least her brother had more sense than she did. “Della, knock it off.” Donald gave his sister a shove. “The game’s over.”
Game? This was all a game for Della? What kind of little girl was she?
“Fine.” Della sighed reluctantly, though she still sent Sheldgoose one more spiteful glare. “You’re lucky my brother is such a wimp today,” She said to Sheldgoose, ignoring Donald’s insulted protest. “You see this ring?” Della lifted her necklace to show it off better and Sheldgoose saw that it was indeed a ring with a chain around it. “Grandpa Coot says that it’s magical. I was just about to use it, and then you would be really sorry.”
“Is that so?” Sheldgoose raised an eyebrow. He didn’t believe her ridiculous stories about magic, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the ring. There was something really familiar about that ring. A moment later Sheldgoose realized that he recognized the emblem on the ring. It was his family’s emblem. That ring belonged to his family. It was rightfully his.
Sheldgoose took a deep breath and forced a smile on his face. “I’ll tell you what. If you give me that ring, I’ll forget about evicting your great grandfather.” For now.
“Forget about it.” Della said as she drew her necklace back protectively.
“Deal.” Donald said at the same time. While his sister wasn’t looking he grabbed her necklace, slipped it back over her head, and held it out to Sheldgoose, who snatched it away before either of the children could think twice.
“Pleasure doing business with you.” Sheldgoose’s voice was dripping with with sly insincerity, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t there to make friends with the children. His rounds were done, he had his family’s heirloom in his possession, he was ready to go home.
As Sheldgoose made his way to the front door of the mansion, he took the chain off his new ring and slipped it on his finger.
Little did he know what insanity this simple act would bring to his life.
“It’s not fair.” Della stomped her foot and crossed her arms. “Why am I in trouble? Donald’s the one who gave away the ring.”
“Yes, and from what I’ve heard he wouldn’t have done such a thing if it weren’t for your behavior.” Clinton Coot crossed his arms as well and looked sternly at his great granddaughter. If he had known just how much trouble this one little girl would be he wouldn’t have agreed to watch her and her brother while their Uncle Scrooge was off on another one of his treasure hunting adventures. “You weren’t even supposed to have the ring in the first place, young lady, and you know it.”
“Donald gets a necklace.” Della pointed at her brother in frustration. “He doesn’t even like jewelry.”
“I’m sorry, Della, but I only have one necklace.” Clinton kept his voice calm. He should have known how upset Della would be. Even if she wasn’t fond of the necklace, and Clinton didn’t think she was, Della was only a child. Of course she would be upset that her brother was given a gift and she wasn’t. Clinton just didn’t know how to explain to Della that he hadn’t given Donald a gift, he had simply given him something that rightfully belonged to him.
“No, you have three of them.” Della said. What about the red and green ones?”
“I’m afraid those aren’t mine.” Clinton knelt down and put a hand on Della’s shoulder. “I’m just holding them for a friend.” Just as he had been holding onto Donald’s necklace. When Donald and Della returned to their Uncle’s manor, Clinton would take back the necklace and hold it for him until he was old enough to take up his ancestors mantel. If it weren’t for the protective barrier around the cabana, Clinton wouldn’t risk giving Donald his necklace. The amulets that belonged to the original caballeros needed to be kept safe.
Clinton had taken a major risk when he had taken the necklaces away from their resting place on the island of Crete. He believed it was a risk worth taking, as Donald and his fellow caballeros would need the necklaces when they were old enough to handle the responsibility. Clinton needed to keep the necklaces safe for them until that time.
“Della, I promise you, I will find something here for you to have.” Clinton said to calm her. “But even if I don’t, you can’t just take things that aren’t yours. I told you that ring was dangerous, but you took it anyways, and now it’s gone.”
“That wasn’t my fault!” Della shouted as she ran off behind one of the bookcases. Clinton was sure that if he had bedrooms she would have stormed off into one of them and slammed the door behind her. As it was, the best that she could do was pout, and Clinton let her.
Clinton sighed, stood up, and rubbed his forehead. It was absolutely exhausting to deal with these children. When Della wasn’t running around causing trouble and looking for treasure around the New Quackmore Institute, Donald was breaking things because of his clumsiness, or having a temper tantrum. The two children were a handful, and he would only have them for a couple of days. He couldn’t imagine how the children’s parents and Scrooge handled them for long periods of time.
“If I can make it through this weekend without that girl hating me, it will be a miracle.” Clinton muttered under his breath, but Donald heard him anyways.
“Della thinks she hates a lot of people.” Donald said. “She always changes her mind in a few minutes.” Well, that was reassuring. Clinton wondered if all seven year olds were as passionate with their emotions as Donald and Della were, or if it was just them. Donald looked up at Clinton with worry in his eyes. “Is the ring really dangerous?”
In the wrong hands it very well could be, and Clinton was almost positive that Sheldgoose was the very wrong hands that he had been concerned about. Donald and Della didn’t need to know this though, they were just children. They shouldn’t have to know about the dangers their family faced. Not yet.
“No,” Clinton lied. “It’s just a ring.” He would still have to do his best to get it back before anything happened, but as far as Donald needed to know, it was nothing more than a simple ring. Clinton himself didn’t even know if the ring was actually dangerous, he just suspected it was. He might be wrong though, and if he was then they had absolutely nothing to worry about.
How nice it would be if that were the case. Then, Clinton’s only concern would be about getting back on Della’s good side again. Fortunately, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Clinton wasn’t an expert in small children, but he knew that they were much more likely to forgive minor mistakes if they were bribed.
“Did you and your sister still want to camp outside?” Clinton asked Donald, though he raised his voice to be sure that Della heard him. Sure enough, no sooner had Clinton’s words left his mouth did Della poke her head out from behind the bookcase she had hidden behind.
“Will there be marshmallows?” Della asked, of course focusing on the most important thing about camping for a seven year old.
“Of course there will be marshmallows.” Clinton faked shock. “What kind of sleepover campout would it be without marshmallows?” Della smiled and ran out from behind the bookcase.
“And we’ll be able to sleep outside, in sleeping bags and everything?” Della asked loudly. Donald also looked excited. Clinton laughed at their enthusiasm. How was it possible that one second these children made him feel fifty years older, and the next they made him feel young again? It was just part of the anomaly that was small children.
“Of course.” Clinton chuckled. “I’m sure there are sleeping bags around here...somewhere.” He was ashamed to admit it, but his years of traveling and researching the original caballeros had made the cabana resemble a hoarder’s shack. Whenever Clinton convinced himself that he would get around to cleaning up, he would stumble upon a new piece of information about the lives of the three caballeros, and cleaning was pushed out of his mind again.
It took the three of them nearly an hour of searching, but finally they were able to find two sleeping bags, a large blanket, about a dozen flashlights (five of which had working batteries, and a telescope for stargazing. They took their findings outside and Donald and Clinton set up their little camp while Della went to look for firewood and sticks for roasting marshmallows on. Clinton had tried to tell her that he had plenty of wood behind the cabana, and she wouldn’t likely find firewood anywhere else at the New Quackmore Institute, but she was insistent, so Clinton let her go.
Besides, it gave him a chance to talk to Donald without feeling guilty about leaving her out.
“I hope that you didn’t give away the amulet I gave you as well.” Clinton said as evenly as he could. He didn’t want to scare the boy and make him feel like he couldn’t admit to doing something he shouldn’t have, but the amulet was far more important than Felldrake’s old ring.
“Of course not.” Donald rolled his eyes and pulled the amulet out from under his shirt. Clinton breathed a sigh of relief. Donald hadn’t taken it off, given it away, or misplaced it as he feared he had, he had just tucked it under his shirt. Smart boy. “Della kept on teasing me about it, so I put it out of sight.” Donald didn’t sound hurt by this, just annoyed. Clinton supposed he would be annoyed too if he had a twin sister who frequently coped with envy by teasing the very thing she was jealous about.
Donald looked down at the circular blue amulet and frowned slightly. “What’s so important about this thing anyways?”
Clinton sighed as he tried to figure out what to say. He had already told both Donald and Della that it was a family heirloom, and they had both guessed that it was magical, but neither of them were old enough to comprehend all of it. Still, he had to say something.
“That amulet belonged to your ancestor, Don Dugo.” Clinton said. “He was a great adventurer, along with his two friends.”
“Are they the ones that had the other two necklaces?” Donald asked.
Clinton raised an impressed eyebrow. “Very good, Donald. And just as this amulet is rightfully yours now, the other two amulets belong to the descendents of Don Dugo’s two friends.”
“But what’s so important about the amulets?” Donald asked, not one to let himself be distracted from his curiosity.
“Well,” Clinton thought for a moment. “I believe the amulets have powers. Individually, their magic can be rather impressive. But their true strength comes when they are together.” The amulets were a lot like the caballeros in that way.
“But why?” Donald asked, and Clinton couldn’t help but chuckle. He had heard that children were curious, but it had been so long since he had been on the receiving end of their questions. It was rather amusing.
“The true strength of the amulets isn’t their magic, but what they represent.” Clinton explained. “Don Dugo and his companions were more than just friends, they were brothers. These amulets represented their bond, and it does the same thing for you.”
Donald made a strange face. “What does a necklace have to do with my relationship with two people I haven’t met?”
When said that way, Clinton understood why Donald didn’t understand. He would though, one day.
“You’ll meet them eventually.” Clinton assured him. If there wasn’t such a massive distance between Donald and the other two boys, maybe it would happen sooner. As it was, it would be best to wait until they were all old enough to understand their destinies. “You’ll understand when you do. You may not know each other now, but when you meet you’ll know, the three of you are brothers. You’ll have each other’s backs, no matter what.”
“...okay?” Donald looked extremely confused. He likely didn’t understand Clinton’s words at all, and had only agreed to make him happy. Clinton didn’t mind so much. Donald was still just a child. He would learn for himself, given time.
Clinton went ahead and let their conversation die down. A few minutes later Della returned, and she had, in fact, found firewood and roasting sticks. It seemed she was better at foraging for wood than he had expected.
Clinton showed Della and Donald how to arrange the firewood and start a flame. It took some time for the flames to get hot enough for what they wanted it for, but that didn’t stop the children from trying to roast their marshmallows early anyways. The two of them burnt their marshmallows, but they seemed to be having fun, so Clinton let them be.
When it started to get dark out Clinton decided that it was bedtime. Della wanted to sleep in the middle of the yard, but Clinton knew that the magical barrier around the cabana only reached so far. He couldn’t say for sure where the barrier started, so he decided it would be best to be safe than sorry. They could still sleep outside, but their sleeping bags had to be as close to the cabana as possible. Della wasn’t happy about this, but when Clinton told her that it was either this or they were going back inside, she reluctantly agreed.
Clinton sat on the porch with the blanket and watched the children as they climbed into the sleeping bags. Della and Donald spent nearly half an hour teasing and talking with each other. They both spoke in whispered tones, as though they were trying to keep the fact that they were awake a secret. Clinton had to keep himself from laughing at this. He didn’t understand how they could think that he couldn’t hear them if they whispered, even when he was only a few feet away, but he found it charming.
Eventually, Della and Donald couldn’t fight their exhaustion anymore and they both fell asleep. Clinton watched them sleep for a few minutes before he went inside to grab a book. Clinton read by firelight for a few hours until he began to feel rather tired himself. He put out the fire, grabbed the blanket, and made it into a makeshift sleeping bag. Clinton situated himself between Donald and Della and within just a few minutes he was fast asleep.
When Clinton woke up the next morning, he was met with a sight that shook him down to the bones. It wasn’t his trashed cabana or his destroyed belongings. It wasn’t even the fact that Leopold the Horrible’s body was missing from its coffin. What truly upset Clinton was who else was missing when he woke up. Clinton had looked everywhere he could. He had asked all of his neighbors, and he had even called the police, but none of it did any good.
Donald was gone.
Leopold wasn’t an intelligent creature, but he was a loyal one. If anybody hurt his daddy, Leopold never forgave them, and he didn’t forget them either. It had been hundreds of years since his daddy’s enemies had trapped him in his own staff, but Leopold remembered it like it was yesterday. He remembered those caballeros, and their amulets too.
Leopold had wanted to avenge daddy the minute it had happened, but things didn’t work out the way he wanted. The caballeros weren’t as strong as he was, but they were smarter than he was. Leopold couldn’t remember the specifics, but one second he had been about to destroy them, and the next he was trapped and put into a seemingly never ending sleep.
Leopold had lost all sense of time when he was sleeping, but when he felt his daddy’s power calling out to him, he woke up. Everlasting sleep or not, nothing would keep him from his daddy. Leopold broke free and was about to fly off to answer his daddy’s call when something caught his eye.
It was one of those amulets. Leopold would recognize it anywhere. And he also recognized the one wearing it. This duck may look a lot smaller than the blue caballero had, but Leopold would never forget his face. This duck and his amulet were responsible for trapping his daddy, and he needed to pay for it.
What better welcome home gift could Leopold give his daddy than the capture of one of the caballeros that had imprisoned him in the first place? It was perfect. Without thinking twice about it, Leopold swooped down, grabbed the little caballero, and flew off to find his daddy.
The little caballero woke up and began screaming as soon as Leopold tried to fly off with him. Leopold tried to cover his mouth, but the little caballero squirmed around so much that it took everything that Leopold had to just keep a grip on the noisy little thing. When Leopold was finally able to get a claw over the caballero’s mouth, the little squirming beast bit him. Leopold didn’t want to be bitten anymore, so he just let him scream, kick, and punch as much as he wanted. They were almost there anyways.
Leopold had to fly around for a little bit before he could really get a sense on where to find his daddy. Finally, he was pretty sure that he had it and he quickly flew off to the roof of the building that he was positive his daddy was. Leopold could see a figure out on the roof, and it looked kinda like his daddy, but it didn’t feel like him. Leopold was confused for a moment, but then he saw the staff that his daddy had been trapped in, and all of his worries disappeared in an instant.
“Daddy!” Leopold flew down to greet his daddy. He couldn’t land while holding the little caballero, so just before he landed he let go of the little caballero and let him fall. The caballero stumbled as he was all but tossed to the ground, but he regained his balance far quicker than he should have. The caballero didn’t try to run away, which was probably smart as there wasn’t anywhere he couldn’t have gone. Instead the little Caballero turned around and tried to lash out at Leopold again.
Leopold flinched and drew back, he didn’t want to be bitten again, but there was no need. The man that looked kinda like daddy but wasn’t him grabbed the back of the caballeros shirt and lifted him up so he couldn’t do anything.
“What...I know this boy.” Not-daddy frowned. He glared at the staff he held in his hands. “Why does your monster have my neighbor’s great-grandchild?”
The staff that daddy was in couldn’t express all that much emotion, but Leopold could sense his daddy’s power from it. Daddy’s power often felt like this when he was excited about something. “I know this child too.” Daddy’s voice came from the staff. “He looks exactly like one of the caballeros. He must be one of their descendants.”
“So...he’s like me?” Not-daddy asked. At that second the little boy, who had been squirming in not-daddy’s arms managed to land a solid kick, which caused not-daddy to drop him. The boy tried to run away, but Leopold pounced and pinned the boy down. Daddy said this boy was related to the caballeros, so they couldn’t let him get away.
Daddy’s staff hit not-daddy in the head. “No. Unlike you, he’s actually something like his ancestor.”
Leopold had to agree. He remembered how feisty the caballeros had been, and this boy seemed very similar to them. He had guts, that much was for sure.
“Daddy, look.” Leopold adjusted his grip on the boy and used a claw to pull the amulet out from underneath the boy’s body.
“Is that...one of the amulets?” Daddy’s voice was quieter than it usually was. He was in awe. “We have one of the amulets?” Leopold smiled proudly. Daddy sounded so happy, and that made Leopold happy. “Good boy, Leopold.”
“What’s so important about this amulet?” Not-daddy asked. Leopold growled slightly. Not daddy seemed to be working for daddy, but he knew nothing about him.
“Moron!” Daddy’s staff hit not-daddy in the head again. “The original caballeros used these their amulets to trap me in this cursed staff. If I can get my hands on all of the amulets, I can undo the spell and get my old body back.”
Daddy sounded excited, and Leopold was too. If daddy was able to get his body back, everything would be back to the way that they had been before.
“So let’s just take the amulet and get rid of the kid.” The boy screamed and tried to get free, but it didn’t do him any good. The three of them ignored his efforts. Not-daddy bent down and grabbed the amulet. Not-daddy pulled on the amulet, but quickly yelped in pain and dropped it as though it had burned him. “What was that?”
“The amulet is magical, idiot.” Daddy said. “If it recognizes the boy as its true owner, we won’t be able to take it by force.”
“And I doubt he’s just going to hand us the amulet.” Not-daddy sighed. Leopold wondered if the little caballero would give them the amulet if they threatened to hurt him if he didn’t, or if that counted as ‘force’ and wouldn’t work. “So if we want the amulet, we’re going to have to keep the boy?”
“No!” The little caballero screamed and squirmed around so much that Leopold had to increase the pressure to keep him pinned. If they did keep the boy, he hoped that they had a plan on what to do with him, because he didn’t want to pin him down like this forever. “Let me go!”
“If you give me your amulet and tell me where the other two are, I’ll consider it.” Daddy said. Leopold knew that daddy wasn’t just going to let one of his enemies, or even their descendents, just walk away when he had them in his grasp. The boy didn’t need to know that though. “And I wouldn’t test my patience if I were you. I’ll be able to tell if you’re lying.”
The boy stopped screaming and looked down at his amulet. There was an odd look in his eyes. Finally, he spoke up. “Do you mean the necklaces that great-grandpa says belongs to his friends?”
Daddy shouted and his staff even changed expressions to one of anger. “The descendents of the other caballeros must have the other amulets.”
“Alright, so, where do we find them?” Not-daddy asked boredly
Daddy’s staff seemed to scowl. “I don’t know.” He said. “I was never able to find the caballeros with my magic. They were always the ones to find me.”
“So, what, the only thing we can do is wait and hope the other descendents come to us?” Not-daddy didn’t sound happy about that, which was just too bad for him.
“The caballeros are naturally drawn to each other.” Daddy said. “It might take a few years, but they’ll find each other again.”
“A few years!” Not-daddy gaped at the staff in his hands. “You expect me to wait that long?”
“Stop your whining!” Daddy said sharply. “I’ve waited for hundreds of years to get my body back, and my revenge. I can wait for a little longer.”
“Speak for yourself.” Not-Daddy muttered under his breath, but daddy heard him anyways. Daddy’s staff hit not-daddy in the head. “Ow! Fine, we’ll wait, just stop hitting me.” Not-daddy rubbed his forehead and scowled. “So, what do we do with the boy? I can’t keep him here. People will ask questions.”
“You have a hidden lair under your study, idiot.” Daddy reminded not-daddy. “If you didn’t know about it, neither will anybody else.”
“You’d better be right about this.” Not-daddy glared down at the boy. “Let’s get this brat downstairs before he alerts the whole institute that we’re up here.” Leopold tightened his grip on the boy so he actually had a hold on him rather than just pinning him down. If they needed to keep the kid in the house, he would get him down there.
Leopold wasn’t exactly familiar with this house, but he could sense a strong amount of magic that was a lot like daddy’s. He was sure if he followed the magic he would find this secret room. As he left, Leopold could hear daddy and not-daddy arguing behind him. Neither of them sounded happy with each other, but Leopold didn’t think that they were really all that angry with each other. If daddy was angry, he would have used his magic to punish or get rid of not-daddy. Leopold knew that his daddy was annoyed, but it had been so long since he had interacted with anybody, he was probably happy for the company, and Leopold was happy for it too.
It had been so long since his daddy had somebody around to actually talk to. It might be good for him.
Della pulled her knees up to her chest and leaned her head against the window. She sighed as she looked outside. There weren’t very many people walking around, but Della found herself glaring hatefully at every single one of them. She told herself that she was just suspicious of everybody she saw. That both Great-Grandpa and Uncle Scrooge were right about Donald being stolen away by somebody. If he had been, then anybody out there could be a suspect. Any one of those normal looking people could have her brother.
But Della knew that wasn’t why she hated everybody that walked past their house. No, the reason she hated all of them was because they all looked so normal. Here she was, her twin brother missing, and all of these stuck-up snobs were just acting like this was a day like any other. And here she was in her great-grandfather’s cabana, feeling like her world was falling apart.
Della felt a hand on her shoulder, and she leaned into it slightly, but didn’t turn away from the window. She didn’t have to look to know that her Uncle Scrooge was at her side, there to comfort her even though he probably felt worse than she did. After all, he was their uncle. It was Uncle Scrooge’s job to keep them safe, but he hadn’t been there, and now Donald was gone.
Della didn’t blame her Uncle Scrooge for not being here to stop it. And she didn’t blame Great-grandpa Coot for being here but not being able to stop it. She knew that it wasn’t either of their faults.
She was the kid here, so why were the adults the ones who insisted on playing the blame game?
“You said this dump would be safe.” Uncle Scrooge said harshly to Great-grandpa Coot. “You said there were ‘magical’ wards to keep the boy safe.” Della couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the disdain in her uncle’s voice when he mentioned magic. He hated magic, even though he knew it could be used for good.
“The wards only keep out very specific danger.” Great-grandpa Coot insisted. “None of his enemies should have been able to get past them.” Della frowned at those words. Donald was just a kid. He didn’t have any enemies. “You are the one that has dozens of enemies. How do you know one of them didn’t take him?”
The two of them had been going at this for hours, since Uncle Scrooge had arrived. He had been off treasure hunting in Asia, but when he had gotten word of what had happened to Donald, he had come home immediately. Della had never seen Uncle Scrooge come home early from a trip, especially without any treasure. Donald’s sudden disappearance must have really upset him.
It had upset all of them, and they were all acting strangely because of it. Great-grandpa Coot was being more cryptic and weird than he normally was. Uncle Scrooge’s temper was even fiercer than it usually was. Della hadn’t spoken a word since she had woken up the day before only to find her brother missing. And her parents, they had gotten extremely paranoid about her safety.
Della and Donald’s parents had always been rather lenient. They had known about Uncle Scrooge’s adventuring, and all of his enemies, but they had always been fine with Della and Donald staying with him. They had trusted Scrooge to keep them safe. What had happened to Donald must have been the final straw, and now they wanted Della home. Not just that, but from what Della could overhear from phone conversations, they planned on not letting Della stay with either Uncle Scrooge or Great-grandpa Coot again anytime soon.
Della didn’t want to be kept away from her relatives. She liked staying with them. But she couldn’t argue with her parents. She wanted to, she really did, but any of her arguments would just be ignored. The only thing she could do was wait for her parents to calm down enough to realize that she was safer with Uncle Scrooge than she ever would be with them.
Della wasn’t worried about herself or the fact that being at home with her parents smothering her was going to get real old real fast. Della was too scared for her brother to be worried about herself. Her parents were in denial that Donald had been taken by anybody. Their mother thought that Donald had just been sleepwalking and had gotten lost. Their father thought that Donald had run away, but he would come home soon enough.
Della didn’t know what she believed. She didn’t think her brother would have just walked away on his own, but she couldn’t imagine why anybody would actually take him.
It didn’t really matter why he was gone. All that was important was that Donald wasn’t home, they didn’t know if he was safe or not, and Della was helpless to do anything about it. She wanted to get out there and look for him, but she didn’t know where to begin. Even if she knew where to look, her parents surely wouldn’t let her go. That was the main reason why she wanted to stay with Great-grandpa Coot or Uncle Scrooge.
The two of them disagreed about who had taken Donald, but at least they both had ideas of where to search. Despite their accusations towards each other, Della knew that Uncle Scrooge had been making frequent calls to Duckberg to see if Glomgold or Ma Beagle had left any ransom notes. And she had seen Great-grandpa Coot packing up his camping gear, along with maps of South America. They were both doing everything they could to find out what had happened to Donald.
Della wanted to do everything she could to help, but she couldn’t do anything. Not when she was at home with her parents hovering over her all the time. Eventually they would calm down, her life would go back to normal, or, at least, as normal as it could be without her brother. When that happened, Della would help her Uncle and Great-grandfather in anyway she could.
Della hated that it would take time until she had the opportunity to help, but it didn’t really matter. Della wanted Donald back home as soon as possible, but it didn’t matter if it took a few weeks or months for her to be able to help, she would still do everything that she could. No matter how long Donald was missing, even if it took years, Della would never stop looking for him, and she knew her Uncle and Great-grandpa wouldn’t either.
It didn’t matter how long it took, they would find him, and if somebody had taken him, they would regret ever messing with the Duck family. Della would make sure of that.
I have no idea why I decided to have this chapter be in Leopold and Della's point of view, but it was kind of fun. I'm not entirely sure what Della's personality is, as she hasn't really been in Ducktales yet. I now have a newfound respect for the Gravity Falls fanfiction writers who wrote about Ford before he had properly been introduced as a character, and anybody else who has done something similar, because this is freaking hard. My strategy for Della is basically to write her as a mix between Webby and Dewey. Fair warning though, Della won't be a huge focus of the story. I don't know how much she'll be in here until the last third, which is when she'll become more prominent.
Donald woke up slowly. His head felt a little heavy, but he wasn’t too worried about it. Donald had gone on enough adventures with Uncle Scrooge to know that he would easily get headaches from magical residue, and this hidden basement was nothing if not chock-full of magic. Donald didn’t like the fact that he was constantly surrounded by magic like this, but it hadn’t really done him any harm, so he didn’t worry about it.
...at least, he didn’t worry about it much anymore. That was mostly just because he had been stuck in the house for nearly two months, and he had other things to worry about than a bit of lingering magic that belonged to someone who hadn’t been down there in weeks.
At that moment, Donald was mostly worried about how long he could go without food or water. Great-grandpa Coot had told him and Della that someone could live three weeks without food, and three weeks without water. So either Great-grandpa Coot had been pulling his tail feathers, or the magic in the basement was actually there for a purpose. Because as far as Donald could tell, it had been nearly a month since he had last ate or drank anything, and yet here he was alive and kicking. Not just that, but Donald didn’t even feel hungry.
Donald didn’t even have to guess that there was some kind of magic keeping him alive, but if there was one thing that Donald had learned from Uncle Scrooge, it was that no magic was without its limits. Whatever was keeping Donald alive, he didn’t have any guarantee how long it would last for. Sooner or later, the spell would fall. Donald just hoped that the mean man who had taken him would be back before that happened.
Donald yawned and picked up a stray rock he had found. He used it to scratch another line onto the wall, like he had been doing most every day since he had been left on his own. It took a few moments to make the mark, as a rock wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool, but soon Donald was done. He stepped back and looked at all of the other marks he had made. He counted them all, just to be sure. Twenty five. He’d been left alone for about twenty five days, though he could be wrong.
Donald didn’t have any way to keep track of time when he was stuck down here. He didn’t have a watch. The hidden basement didn’t even receive any sunlight, so he couldn’t tell that way. The closest way of telling the passage of time was his sleeping schedule. Donald had no idea how long he was awake, or hor long he was asleep, but whenever he woke up, he would count it as another day. It wasn’t perfect, especially since he hadn’t marked the first few days as they had happened, and he hadn’t slept at all for the first day or two after he was left on his own, but it was the best that he had.
Donald put the rock down where he had found it and glanced around the murky basement. The basement was huge and it almost looked like an ancient desert tomb, except made of a different kind of rock, and it wasn’t covered in sand, and there also wasn’t a dead mummy down there…at least, he didn’t think there was. And Donald had searched most every corner of the basement, as there wasn’t anything else to do down there.
Actually, there was an area of the basement that Donald hadn’t searched yet. There was a door at the end of the long corridor, and Donald didn’t doubt that it lead to somewhere important, but he didn’t dare check it out for himself. Anytime he even got close to the door, he thought that he felt his amulet drag him away from it. Whatever was through that door, it wasn’t anything good.
Donald grimaced and looked around the room. Even though he had been stuck here for at at least a few weeks on his own, and another few weeks before that man, Sheldgoose, had left, he still felt extremely uncomfortable here. Donald was just relieved that there were purple and clearly magical flames all the way down the corridor. It cast the room into a creepy and unsettling light, but at least it was some kind of light. If Donald was stuck in darkness for all this time, he probably would have gone crazy.
Regardless of his source of light, Donald thought that if he was left alone for much longer, he would go crazy anyways.
Donald sighed and put his hand against the marks he had made on the wall. He was feeling really homesick. Maybe it was weird for someone who had been kidnapped to feel homesick as opposed to terrified for their lives, but this wasn’t Donald’s first experience with being kidnapped. Since he and Della had started hanging around Uncle Scrooge, they had both been kidnapped by Ma Beagle so many times that they had lost count.
After being kidnapped so many times, it just became a part of Donald’s life. He knew that being taken by Sheldgoose was a lot different than being taken by Ma Beagle. For one thing, Uncle Scrooge had always saved Donald and Della within a few hours. But here, Donald had been gone for nearly two months, and he was starting to wonder if he would ever be saved.
Donald just hoped that he would be saved long before he ever learned what he would have to be saved from.
Sheldgoose hadn’t hurt him, and he wasn’t all that threatening either, but the same couldn’t be said about the weird staff of his. Donald had never seen a possessed item before, but he was sure that the staff was not just a regular inanimate object. For one thing, the staff talked.
A talking staff would be worrying enough as it was, but Donald was terrified of that thing. The staff never talked directly to him, but it constantly talked about him. The staff, which Sheldgoose called Lord Felldrake, frequently called Donald ‘Don Dugo’, and ‘Caballero’. It sometimes felt like Felldrake thought he was somebody else, and yet knew perfectly well that he wasn’t. It was incredibly weird, and sometimes scary.
Donald recognized the names that Felldrake called him. Great-grandpa Coot had told him that his ancestor had been a guy named Don Dugo, and even though his Great-grandpa hadn’t told him so directly, the man had mentioned these great adventurers that he had called ‘Caballeros’. Donald knew that Don Dugo had been a great adventurer, and that Great-grandpa Coot was obsessed both with the caballeros, and Don Dugo, as well as his two companions. They very well might be the same people.
Donald didn’t know who Felldrake was in relation to his ancestor, but it couldn’t be anything good. Great-grandpa Coot had never mentioned any enemies or evil staffs that his ancestor had met, but that didn’t mean that it had never happened. Donald may just be a kid, but he knew that adults often hid information that they thought might be too scary for kids to handle.
And maybe the staff would be too scary for some kids, but he had already seen so many things during his adventures with Uncle Scrooge that would give other kids nightmares for weeks. Donald could handle some pretty scary things, and he personally thought that it was much easier to deal with something that was scary if he knew exactly what to expect. With Felldrake though, he knew absolutely nothing, and that was what scared him.
Donald jumped when he heard some thumps upstairs, quickly followed by some shouting. He assumed that Sheldgoose must have returned. And even if it was somebody else up there, it wouldn’t make any difference. Even though Donald could hear things upstairs just fine, from up there, nobody could he a sound he made.
He would know, he tried.
Those first few days after Donald had been taken, there had been people coming and going all over the house. It had to have been the police. After all, Donald doubted that his family would have just sat back and done nothing when he just disappeared into thin air. Whoever was upstairs, they had to have been looking for him, and Donald tried to make it easier for them.
Donald screamed and shouted as loudly as he could. He hit at the ceiling at the top of the windy stairs to try to get the attention of those above him. Even when it sounded like the strangers were standing just above him, they didn’t give any indication that they heard a sound he made. Even if he could hear them, nobody could hear him. The basement was soundproof.
People came in and out of the house frequently for a couple of days, but after a few days the visits happened less and less, and by the end of the week they stopped altogether. It was at this point that Donald realized that nobody was going to come and save him, and it depressed him.
A part of him was still depressed and scared, but that had mostly been replaced with boredom. A few days after the cops had stopped coming around, Sheldgoose had left with the staff and the flying monster, and none of them had been back since then. Being left alone for so long was still scary, but when he knew that there was nothing down here to hurt him, it was easier to be overcome by boredom instead of fear.
It wasn’t fun, but Donald would take being bored over being scared for his life any day.
But now, Sheldgoose was back, and Donald wouldn’t be left on his own anymore. At the very least, he would have his kidnapper as company, and that had to make some difference, even if he didn’t know what that difference was.
“For the last time, it was not my fault!” Donald heard Sheldgoose’s voice loud and clear at the same time as he heard the tumbling of the floor in the study opening up. Sheldgoose had opened the hidden entrance, and he was on his way down. “How was I supposed to know how to make those machines function? I’m not an engineer!”
“I told you exactly what you needed to do.” Felldrake snapped. “And even if I didn’t, a child would have been able to refrain from pushing the one button that would cause the machines to self destruct, destroying two weeks of work in the process.”
Donald winced at the screeching of Felldrake’s voice. As lonely as he had been, he had not missed the sound of the staff’s voice one bit.
“Well, if that’s so, maybe you should just take the boy with you next time?” Sheldgoose sulked.
“You know exactly why I can’t.” Felldrake growled. “If we lose the caballero, we lose the amulet, and we won’t have anything.”
“The amulet doesn’t do us much good when we only have one.” Sheldgoose reminded Felldrake, as though the staff wasn’t the one who had told him so in the first place. “Have you figured out how to find the other two yet?”
“You know perfectly well I haven’t.” Felldrake said irritably.
“How do you even know that there are two others?” Donald asked against his better judgement. He usually didn’t go around provoking Felldrake, but more than three weeks away from the staff had made him careless.
Sheldgoose glared at him, but what really unnerved him was the way that the eyes of Felldrake’s staff seemed to be looking directly into his soul.
“There is never just one caballero.” Felldrake said in a low voice, and it sounded almost like a threat. “You’ve been chosen, just as your ancestor was. The other descendents will have been chosen as well, even if they don’t know it.”
Donald took a step back and brought a hand up to his amulet. Felldrake hadn’t said anything that could be considered a threat, but it still sent shivers down Donald’s spine. He felt more in danger at that moment than he had during this entire kidnapping. He wanted to say something about how even if there were two other ‘caballeros’, whatever they were, they didn’t have anything to do with them. He couldn’t say it though. He just...he couldn’t.
Felldrake stared at him for a few more tense moments before Sheldgoose rolled his eyes and made his way back up the stairs. “Hey, hey, where are you going? I wasn’t done with him!” And the staff was back to sounding non-threatening.
“I’m going to bed.” Sheldgoose said as he began to make his way back up the stairs. “I let you see that your magic held and the kid’s still alive. I’m not going to stay down here for another minute just so you can intimidate him. You can do that tomorrow.”
Felldrake began to shout a response, but at that point they were at the top of the stairs and the secret entrance was closing underneath them. Donald was left on his own again, and he felt even worse about it than he had before.
Donald sat down on the ground and drew his legs close to his chest. He clutched tightly to his amulet like it was a lifeline, but at the same time he cursed its existence. It still looked like just an ordinary old necklace to him, but Great-grandpa Coot and Felldrake were both obsessed with it. Donald had only been taken in the first place because of this stupid amulet, and he would have gotten rid of it if he wasn’t terrified of what would happen to him the second that Felldrake had what he wanted.
Donald looked down at the amulet and rubbed a finger over the surface. He wondered just what was so special about this stupid amulet. Great-grandpa Coot had said that it might be magical, and that it represented a bond that he supposedly had with two other kids he had never met before. And Felldrake seemed to believe the same thing.
Donald might believe the magical thing, but he didn’t think the bond was real. Great-grandpa Coot had said that the other two descendants were his ‘brothers’ and that they would always have each others backs, but that couldn’t be true.
Donald had been taken away from everything that he knew and loved. How was he supposed to believe that there were two strangers out there who were his brothers.
If they truly had his back, where were they now?
Is anybody else absolutely ecstatic to be seeing Panchito and José when the second season of Ducktales comes out? I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself. I wonder if they will already know Donald from back when he was doing adventures, or if it will be more like The Legend of the Three Caballeros and it will be their first introduction to each other. I don't even know which option I would prefer.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Ya-hoo!” Panchito couldn’t help but cry out when they finally crossed the border. He was finally in America, and he couldn’t contain his excitement. The other passengers on the bus weren’t very pleased with his enthusiasm.
“Keep it down, chico.” A grumpy American said.
“Ah, lo siento.” Panchito put his hands over his mouth and giggled. He had never been to America before, but he remembered his cousin Romero telling him once that Americans were both louder and quieter than he was really used to. Maybe they didn’t like noise on their buses, because Panchito had never been on a bus that was as quiet as this one. It was like everybody was afraid to talk to each other.
The American didn’t seem happy with his apology. The man muttered something under his breath that Panchito couldn’t understand, but he got the feeling that it was something that his mamá would never have translated for him.
Panchito kicked his feet and looked out the window to get his first real look at America. It was his first time out of his home country, and he couldn’t be more excited, though he was also a little nervous. He had picked up a little bit of English here and there, but he knew that it wasn’t a lot. Panchito just hoped that it would be enough for him to make the delivery that he had come here for.
Panchito tightened his grip on his backpack. He didn’t know for sure what his family business was, it was too complicated for him to really understand, but he knew that it involved frequent trades in goods with a family in America.
In the past, Panchito’s papá had been the one to make the deliveries, but the past few years Panchito’s cousin had been the one to do the back and forth. Romero had been joining his father on deliveries since he was just six years old, and had been doing them all on his own since he was eight.
Panchito was already nine years old, and he had never helped out on even a single delivery. It wasn’t fair. His parents told him that he was still too young, but Romero had been even younger when he had started helping out. Panchito wanted to prove to his parents that he wasn’t, in fact, too young to contribute to his family’s business.
And he wanted to prove to Romero that he wasn’t too stupid to help either.
Panchito watched the desert landscape as they drove. As exciting as it was to be in America, Panchito knew that his journey wasn’t over yet. According to Romero, who was always bragging about going to America, the family they traded with lived in a Calisota city called St. Canard, which was a few hours away from the border. He still had a ways to go.
Panchito yawned and drew his backpack close to his chest. He rested his chin against the bag and closed his eyes. He had been on this bus all day, and it left him absolutely exhausted. Panchito wanted to be wide awake and professional for the delivery exchange. He may be here without his parents permission, but he was still here representing them. He had to uphold his family’s good name.
Panchito slowly nodded off until his exhaustion caught up to him and he fell asleep. He didn’t plan on sleeping for that long, after all, it wouldn’t be very good if he slept right through his stop. He must have misjudged just how tired he was, because when Panchito slowly began to wake up, the first thing he noticed was that it was already dark out. Panchito snapped awake when he saw this, a nervous feeling built up in his stomach.
Panchito had never made this journey before, but he knew that whenever Papá or Romero went to America, they always left early in the morning before anybody else was even awake, and they did this specifically so that they wouldn’t be late to their destination. Panchito may not know what time it was, but something just felt wrong.
Panchito looked out the window just as they were passing a sign that said that a place called New Quackmore Institute was just a few miles away. Panchito hadn’t necessarily memorized the route map, but he didn’t even recognize the name of this place. That couldn’t be anything good.
Panchito fidgeted in his seat as the bus drove closer to the New Quackmore Institute and slowed down to a bus stop. Panchito didn’t know for sure where he was, but he was pretty sure that if he was past his destination, he wouldn’t want to stay on the bus. He needed to figure out exactly where he was, and then he would figure out what he would do.
As the bus stopped Panchito jumped to his feet and made his way to the front of the bus. The bus driver gave him a curious and bored look, but it wasn’t an entirely unkind one. “You lost, kid?”
“...¿Qué?” Panchito felt like he should understand the words spoken to him, but the words went right over his head. Was this what it was going to be like whenever anybody spoke English to him? That...that wasn’t good.
The bus driver sighed. “Whatever, good luck.”
“Gracias.” Panchito waved cheerfully at the busdriver as he slung his backpack over his shoulders and hopped off the bus. He watched as the bus drove off, and once it was out of sight he turned around to look at where he was. It didn’t look much like a city or a town. It looked to Panchito like a cross between una biblioteca, una universidad, and unos palacios. It reminded him of some of his mamá’s telenovelas.
Panchito let out a deep breath and went on his way. E mansion-like house that he passed had all of the lights out. It was like he was in a ghost town or something, though Panchito knew that everybody was probably just asleep for the night. While Panchito had never been shy about talking to people, he didn’t want to walk anybody up.
Panchito walked all around and began to think that he may have to just wait until morning before he could ask for help when he saw a light on in what had to be the biggest house that he had ever seen. Panchito had no idea who in the world would live here, but at least it looked like somebody was, indeed home. Maybe they would be able to help him.
Panchito ran to the enormous house and began to rapidly knock on the door. Panchito knew that it was late and he was probably bothering whoever lived here, but he just wanted to know where he should go from here. Surely the stranger would understand that.
Panchito didn’t get an answer right away, but he continued knocking. The lights were on, so the owner had to be there. Maybe they didn’t want open the door up to some strange kid in the middle of the night, but he wouldn’t take up that much time. He just wanted to talk to them.
Finally the door was opened by a grumpy looking man (was everybody in America grumpy?) wearing a strange robe that had a hood that hid his eyes and carrying a strange staff. “What do you want?” The man’s tone was angry and annoyed, but Panchito didn’t immediately understand what he had said. He knew what the words meant, but it took him a moment to mentally piece it together.
“Hola.” Panchito waved. “Yo soy Panchito Romero Miguel Francisco Quintero González el tercero. Estoy perdido. ¿Usted me puede ayudar?”
“...What?” The American still looked confused, but also very confused. Panchito thought for a moment before he realized that the man probably didn’t understand a word he had said. The man probably only spoke English. Panchito searched his memory and tried to think of the words he needed in English.
“Lo siento, uh, sorry.” Panchito said clumsily. “Yo...I am…” What was the English word for ‘perdido’? Panchito tried to remember it for a moment, but eventually he decided to take a different approach. “You has a...a mapa?” Panchito knew that he should know the English word for mapa, but it escaped his mind.
The American stared at him like he was a disgusting insect before he answered. “No, I don’t have a map.” He sneered. The man was about to close the door in Panchito’s face when a second voice shrieked at him to stop. The stranger glared at his staff in annoyance. “What is it now?”
“He’s one of the caballeros.” The voice said. Panchito perked up when he heard those words. He didn’t understand most of them, but he definitely knew the word caballeros. It was Spanish, afterall. Panchito just didn’t know why it was said among all the English.
The strange man’s annoyed expression immediately turned to confusion. “Are you sure?” Panchito looked back and forth from the man to the staff that it looked like he was talking to. He knew that he should understand the words being said, but they were going much too quickly for him to follow.
“Of course I’m sure, you idiot.” The second voice screeched again before the man swung his staff to hit himself in the head. Panchito giggled slightly when he saw that. He didn’t know what was going on, but this strangely dressed man was having a fight with his staff. Maybe the man was a performer or getting ready to go to a costume party or something.
“Alright, alright, I get it.” The silly man grumbled before he turned his attention back to Panchito with a kind smile on his face. “I’m sorry, would you like to come in?” The man stepped to the side and opened the door wider. Even though Panchito didn’t know what the man had said, he recognized the invitation.
“Gracias.” Panchito cheerfully went inside. He marvelled for a second at how huge the house was, but the man then put a hand on his shoulder and guided him upstairs. Panchito didn’t even consider that he might have something to fear or be cautious about. After all, he was in a strange country, with a strange man who had a strange staff. He didn’t really know what to expect. Panchito wasn’t as cautious as he probably should be, but he was too grateful for the potential help to think about that.
They went up so many stairs and down so many hallways that Panchito was beginning to feel like they had been walking around for forever when they finally entered a room that looked like a study.
“If you would just follow me.” The man did something or another that Panchito couldn’t see and suddenly part of the floor moved away to reveal a hidden staircase.
“Wow.” Panchito completely forgot about the fact that he was lost as he went to go get a closer look at the hidden staircase. It looked like something from a movie. Did all Americans have crazy secret passages in their house?
“Why don’t you get a closer look.” The man said and suddenly Panchito felt a shove at his back that made him lose his balance and onto the stairs. Panchito yelped in surprise and slight pain as he instinctively curled up into a ball to minimize the damage. Panchito ended up tumbling entirely down the entire staircase, and he grunted in pain when he slammed on the ground at the bottom.
“Ow, ow, ow.” Panchito slowly uncurled and winced as his body complained in protest. He was sore all over, and he would probably be extremely bruised, but he didn’t think that anything was broken, and he wasn’t bleeding, so he thought he would be okay.
“Wha-who are you?” Panchito blinked and looked up to see a kid that looked a year or two younger than him holding a hand out to him. “Are you okay?”
“...¿Qué?” Panchito looked around to see that he was in a dark scary looking room. “Quién eres tú? Dónde estamos?”
“What?” The kid looked at him in confusion, and Panchito knew that he hadn’t understood him. Panchito would have tried to say it again in English, but he was too sore, shocked, and scared to think of the English words.
“Don’t say I never do anything for you, Donald.” Panchito stiffened when he heard the strange man speaking. He felt the other boy, Donald, he assumed, grab his hand and pulled him to his feet. Donald then placed himself between Panchito and the strange man. “Maybe now you’ll stop complaining about being lonely.”
“You’re seriously crazy, you know that, Sheldgoose?” Donald glared at the strange man that he had called Sheldgoose, though Panchito could feel his hand shaking in his own. “What’s with you and kidnapping kids?”
“Hey, don’t blame me.” Sheldgoose complained, sounding more like a child than a scary grown-up that had kicked him down the stairs. “I’m just following orders.”
“You’re following orders from a stick.” Donald said. Panchito tapped his feet anxiously as he began to get more and more scared. Somehow, not being able to understand what anybody was saying made Panchito even more nervous.
“Enough, you two.” The strange voice said, and the sound caused shivers to go down Panchito’s spine. He knew that Donald wasn’t talking, and neither was Sheldgoose, but he didn’t know who the owner of the voice was, and it was unnerving. “We need to see if this boy has an amulet like his little friend does.”
Sheldgoose’s staff glowed purple and suddenly Panchito felt a sudden force drag him away from Donald’s grip. Panchito cried out in panic as this same invisible force seemed to drag him to a kneeling position on the ground, and it completely immobilized him. He couldn’t move at all, and Panchito had no choice but to look into the eyes of the scary glowing staff.
“Tell me, boy, do you have you amulet?” The strange voice seemed to come directly from the staff itself. Panchito whimpered and fought to get away from the staff, but he couldn’t move an inch. “Answer me!”
Panchito didn’t want to say anything at all, but he felt compelled to answer the question truthfully anyways. Of course, Panchito didn’t understand the question, so his honest answer probably wasn’t the one that the staff was looking for.
“No entiendo.” Panchito whimpered. “No entiendo.” ‘I don’t understand’.
The staff and Sheldgoose stared at him in confusion before the man pulled the staff away from Panchito and the boy was finally able to move properly. Panchito scurried back to Donald’s side and cowered behind him. Donald was quick to take his hand again. This time, Panchito was sure that the hand that was shaking was his own.
“I don’t think we’re going to get answers from the Spanish brat.” Sheldgoose said. “I don’t think he even speaks English.”
“”We’ll just have to fix that.” The staff growled. “You, boy!”
Panchito flinched, but Donald was the one that answered. “My name is Donald.”
“I don’t care.” The staff said irritably. “It’s your job to teach him English.”
“What?” Donald protested. “How am I supposed to do that?”
“Figure it out.” The staff said. “It’ll give you something to do while we’re gone.”
“...Fine.” Donald said reluctantly. Apparently satisfied, Sheldgoose went back upstairs, and Panchito was relieved that he took that cursed staff with him. As soon as they were gone Donald sighed and looked at Panchito. “I’m sorry you got wrapped up in all of this.”
“...¿Qué?” Panchito tilted his head at Donald who rolled his eyes.
“You really don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?” Donald asked. Panchito’s confused expression must have been enough of an answer for him because he sighed in a defeated kind of way. “Great. How am I supposed to do this?” Donald shook his head. “At least we have a few days to figure it out while they’re gone on their latest scheme.”
Donald tried to smile reassuringly at Panchito, though it looked more pained than anything. “I’m Donald Duck.”
“Yo soy Panchito Romero Miguel Francisco Quintero González el tercero.” Panchito said automatically. “Mis amigos me llaman Panchito.”
“Panchito it is.” Donald laughed slightly, though it didn’t sound like the kind of laugh that was in response to something particularly funny. “I feel really bad about thinking this, but I’m glad that I’m not all alone anymore.”
Panchito grinned slightly when he realized that he recognized just enough of the words that Donald had said to understand the gist of it. “Yo también.” He was still really scared, but Panchito felt better knowing that he at least had a friend here with him.
Some of you may notice that I'm missing one of Panchito's last names, Junipero. It felt really weird to leave it out, but if you watch The Legend of the Three Caballeros you'll notice that when Panchito introduces himself, he actually leaves out Junipero. It sounds kind of wrong, and it threw me off when I was writing this, but it''s what happened in the show, so it's what I went with.
Also, uh, I hope you like Donald and Panchito interacting with each other, because José's not going to be introduced for another five or six chapters. I don't even know why that's how I planned things, but it just is. For any Della Duck fan, she's going to be in the story again before José's introduced at all.
Donald frowned and anxiously tapped his foot. Just a few feet away, his fellow captive, Panchito Something-or-other was alternating between whistling and talking to himself in Spanish. Since Panchito had been brought here two or three days ago he had frequently been doing this, and it was driving Donald crazy. Before Panchito had come, Donald had wanted companionship more than anything. And now he had it, but it wasn’t quite what he wanted. Panchito was just so loud, and didn’t understand the concept of a personal bubble, but the biggest problem was just that they couldn’t understand each other.
Fortunately, with a lot of hard work and patience on both of their parts, they had been able to figure out at least some kind of communication. Panchito talked a lot, and he always spoke very quickly, but Donald had noticed that he had a tendency to repeat himself, and between the repetition and wild gestures on Panchito’s part, Donald was eventually able to get the gist of what Panchito had to say.
Donald wasn’t quite as repetitive as his new friend was, but it didn’t take him long to figure out that Panchito actually knew a fair bit of English. And if he didn’t know what a word meant, the two of them would play a frustrating version of charades until they both knew what the other was trying to say. Donald hated doing this, especially since Panchito often forgot words that he already knew, but if it was what was necessary to understand each other, they would do it.
Despite the frustrations, Donald and Panchito did enjoy talking to each other. Language barrier or not, any kind of companionship was better than nothing. Panchito probably would have done little more than talk to Donald, but the young duck insisted that they take frequent breaks. He just wasn’t used to the constant noise and high energy that Panchito seemed to thrive on. Donald couldn’t fully get away from it, as they were both imprisoned in the same room, but that didn’t mean that he had to directly deal with Panchito’s energy every hour of every day.
Donald had already talked to Panchito for a few hours that day, and he was ready for a break. He thought that he would have enjoyed having some time time to himself, because he knew from experience that even if he liked being around somebody, if he spent too much time around them he would lose his temper. It had happened more times than he could count with Della, but Donald didn’t want it to happen at all with Panchito. They were both being imprisoned in this creepy secret basement against their will. It was a bad enough situation as it was, and Donald didn’t want to make things worse for the both of them by losing his temper.
So when Donald felt he needed his space, he gave himself space. It felt a little weird to look for privacy when he had no choice but to stay in the same room as Panchito, but he had to do what he had to do.
Donald probably would have been more than happy to be on his own for a few hours, but when Panchito’s quite ramblings to himself got quieter and sounded more emotional than it had before. Donald listened to Panchito talk to himself for a few minutes, hoping that he would eventually calm himself down. Even though Donald couldn’t understand Panchito’s words, he could tell by his tone that the young rooster was just getting more and more distressed.
“...Panchito?” Donald asked cautiously. He didn’t normally consider himself the comforting type, but he didn’t want to just leave his fiend alone when he was so obviously upset. “Are you okay? ¿E-estás bien?” Donald didn’t know nearly as much Spanish as Panchito knew English, but he had picked up a thing or two from Panchito, and it was definitely coming in handy. Donald had noticed that Panchito had a harder time understanding English when he was upset, which me most definitely was at this point.
“...No.” Panchito was sitting on the ground, which made Donald feel even more concerned. Ever since Panchito had been brought in, he hadn’t stopped pacing around. He was always moving, but now he was just sitting there. Donald sighed and sat next to him.
“What’s wrong?” Donald asked slowly. He didn’t know how to ask it in Spanish, but he hoped that Panchito would understand his words better if they were spoken slower.
“Estoy...extraño…” Panchito whimpered and clutched at his head. “I-I want mi mamá.”
“Oh.” Donald grimaced and nodded empathetically. Panchito was homesick. Donald understood the feeling, but, unfortunately, there wasn’t anything he could do to make it go away. “I miss my family too.” Donald didn’t know what he could say to make his friend feel better. The only thing that he could think of was that his own homesickness really made him want to talk about his family. He wondered if Panchito felt the same way.
It was worth a try.
“What is your family like? Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Donald asked.
Panchito shook his head. “No. No hermanos. Solo yo y mis padres.” Panchito drew his legs close to his chest.
“...your parents?” Donald asked for clarification. Panchito nodded, and Donald sighed in relief that he had understood Panchito’s words. Still, this was going to be an incredibly long conversation if they continued to speak different languages. “Do you think you can try to think of enough English to talk, because I don’t know a lot of Spanish.”
“O-okay.” Panchito nodded. “I, uh, don’t have any...any...siblings?” Panchito looked at Donald curiously for confirmation that he used the right word. Donald nodded and Panchito continued. “Yeah, no siblings, but I have a cousin. Romero. He’s a little like a brother.”
“A cousin? That’s cool.” Donald grinned. He had a couple of cousins himself, but Panchito had said that his cousin Romero was more like a sibling, so that was what Donald would talk about. “I have a twin sister, Della.”
“...Twin?” Panchito tilted his head in confusion. “What does that mean?”
It means she, um…” Donald tried to think of another way to explain what a twin was. “She’s the same age as me and we have the same birthday.”
“Oh,” Panchito’s eyes widened. “She is your, uh, hermana gemela?” Panchito put his hands together and then separate them. It seemed like Panchito had gotten the gist of it.
“Yeah, that.” Donald nodded.
“She is a lot like you, no?” Panchito asked.
Donald made a face like he had tasted something sour. “No, not at all.” He shook his head insistently. “She is loud, and brave, and doesn’t know how to keep her opinions to herself.”
“...That sounds a lot like you.” Panchito giggled, which turned into full blown laughter when Donald scowled and shoved him.
“Alright, what about you?” Donald asked. “What’s Romero like?”
“Oh,” Panchito’s teasing grin fell away and he looked just as upset as before. “He’s...nice.”
Donald raised an eyebrow. “Doesn’t sound like he’s very nice.” Panchito’s tone suggested that even though they were cousins, his relationship with Romero could be as complicated as any siblings relationship was.
“He is.” Panchito insisted. “He is just...a little mean sometimes?” Panchito looked incredibly guilty for even thinking this, even though he really shouldn’t. Donald had never met a pair of siblings that didn’t hate each other at least some of the time. It wasn’t fun or nice, but nothing to feel guilty over.
“Was he a little mean before you came here?” Donald asked.
Panchito flinched slightly and looked at the floor. “...A little.” Panchito admitted. “But he was right.”
Donald frowned. Panchito’s disappointment was almost painful. Donald wanted to make him feel better. “What did Romero say?”
“...He said I was too stupid to help our family the way he does.” Panchito said quietly.
“W-what?” Donald felt slightly sick at Panchito’s words. “Why would he say that?” Donald and Della had teased each other a lot, but nothing that they had said was anywhere nearly as bad as what Romero had said. It was just crossing a line, and it was obvious that his words still bothered Panchito a lot. “More importantly, why would you say that he is right?”
“I do not know.” Panchito whimpered slightly. “I came to America to show he was wrong, but I got taken.”
“That’s not your fault.” Donald scowled. “You never asked to be kidnapped.”
Panchito buried his face in his knees. “I came to this house to look for help. I followed the strange man inside. I just let him take me.”
“Hey,” Donald gave Panchito another shove. The young rooster looked at him in slightly hurt confusion. “You didn’t let Sheldgoose do anything. It’s not your fault he’s a child kidnapping creep.”
“But I...” Panchito began, but Donald wasn’t going to hear it.
“Nope.” Donald put his hand over Panchito’s beak. “It’s not your fault. And you’re definitely not stupid, got it?”
A small smile crept onto Panchito’s face. “If you say so.”
“I do say so.” Donald said confidently. “You can’t let people talk badly about you like that. You need to stand up for yourself. Tell Romero that he can’t talk to you like that.”
Panchito’s shy smile brightened slightly. “I will do that when I see him.” Both Panchito and Donald flinched at his words. ...If I see him.” It was the first time that either of them had mentioned the possibility that they might never get out of here, and it was a terrifying thought.
Donald had definitely considered it, he was far too much of a worrier to not think of the worst possibility, but he didn’t think Panchito had ever thought about it before.
Donald frowned and put a hand on his blue amulet. After only hesitating for a moment he slipped the amulet off and put the chain over Panchito’s head. “My great-grandpa gave me this amulet. He said it would protect me. Maybe it can protect both of us. Get us both out of here.”
Panchito looked at the amulet almost in awe. “For both of us?”
“For both of us.” Donald nodded. “We can share it.” If Donald was being honest with himself, he didn’t believe in the magical protective powers of the amulet, but if wearing it made Panchito feel better, he was more than happy to share the family heirloom.
Besides, Donald remembered what Great-grandpa Coot had told him about the other amulets, that they belonged to the descendants of the other caballeros. Donald still didn’t completely understand what a caballero was, but Felldrake seemed confident that Panchito was a descendant just like Donald was. If that was true, then one of the other amulets rightfully belonged to him. If...when, when they got out Donald would make sure Panchito got one of the amulets. It was the least he deserved after all of this mess.
In the meantime, they would have to make do with the single amulet they had. Even though Donald wasn’t completely confident in the amulet’s magic, he still hoped that the old necklace would still have enough protective magic in it to keep the two of them safe and alive until they could get out of there.
He just hoped that it would be enough...it had to be enough.
...Why can't I ever write a story that doesn't have a single chapter that is, like, half as long as any of the others? I hate having shorter chapters, but when I finish writing a chapter, it's ridiculously hard to go back and drag things out when it's already completed. Hopefully the next chapter will be better.
“Come on, hermano, try the move again.” Panchito encouraged. Donald just groaned and let himself flop down on the ground. He didn’t see the point in getting up when he knew that he was just going to be thrown back down to the ground again.
“But I’m tired.” Donald glared at Panchito in exhaustion. “Why do you want to teach me mucho libro anyway?”
Panchito laughed out. “It’s called lucha libre.” Panchito had said as much nearly a dozen times, but Donald just didn’t care enough about it to remember the proper name. “And you learn because it’s fun.”
Donald sat up and rubbed his sore tail feathers to try to get some feeling back in them. “I know it’s boring down here, really, I do, but there are better ways to pass the time. Ways that won’t break my tailbone.”
“You won’t break your tailbone.” Panchito scoffed. “A leg, maybe.” Donald hated it when Panchito talked like that. It was impossible to tell if he was being serious or not. “Do you want to try again?”
“Ugh,” Donald groaned a whine. “No more.”
If Panchito was disappointed, he didn’t show it. “Okay, hermano.”
Donald rolled his eyes. “What does that mean anyway? Hermano.”
Panchito sat down next to him. “In English it means, uh, brother.”
Donald tilted his head and looked at Panchito in confusion. “We’re not brothers.”
Panchito’s constant grin fell away to a more cautious, concerned look. “You said your, uh, good grandpa?”
Donald snicked. “Great-grandpa.” Donald corrected him. “He’s my dad’s grandpa.”
“Oh,” Panchito nodded in understanding. “Bisabuelo.”
“Sure,” Donald said, though he didn’t understand the word himself. He just assumed that ‘bisabuelo’ meant great-grandpa.
“Okay, so you said your, uh, bisabuelo gave you the amulet, yes?” Panchito began.
“Yes.” Donald nodded, wondering where Panchito was going with this.
“And he got it from the first caballo, right?” Panchito asked. Donald nodded in response, feeling slightly impatient. What was with all the questions? “What did your bisabuelo tell you about the other caballeros?”
Donald frowned slightly and tried to remember what Great-grandpa Coot had told him about the other caballeros. He had been frustratingly vague about it. “He just said they were brothers...oh.” Donald hadn’t even considered that if the original caballeros had been brothers, then the new caballeros might be too.
“If you don’t want us to be brothers…” Panchito began almost shyly, but Donald cut him off.
“Hey, if you want to call me hermano, go ahead.” Donald said. He himself didn’t understand how somebody could call someone they weren’t related to and barely even knew a ‘brother’, but if it made Panchito feel better than Donald didn’t see the problem with it.
Panchito looked so relieved that Donald was glad he had given him permission. “Gracias, amigo.” And now Panchito was back to calling him a friend. Was the title of ‘hermano’ just going to be a sometimes thing? Was there going to be a significant difference between ‘hermano’ and ‘amigo’, or were they just two different terms that meant basically the same thing in terms of how they were used?
Donald remembered hearing once that English was the hardest language to learn, but it wasn’t like Spanish was a walk in the park to learn.
The two boys flinched when the secret entrance at the top of the spiral stairs opened up. Sheldgoose didn’t come down very often. After Sheldgoose and Felldrake had left Donald on his own for nearly a month and had learned that Felldrake’s magic would keep him alive, even without food, they had stopped bringing him food unless they had to.
It was a little scary to be left alone for so long without food, but Donald wasn’t going to complain. His fear and distrust of Felldrake and Sheldgoose was worse than the unease he felt about not having food. Sheldgoose only came down with food once every three days, just to be safe. Because they had gotten food yesterday, Donald knew that Sheldgoose had to be bringing them food because he was about to leave with Felldrake on one of their schemes, and they wanted to be sure that Donald and Panchito had something to eat as soon before they left as possible.
Sure enough, as Sheldgoose came down the stairs Donald saw that he was wearing that ridiculous robe again. He didn’t understand why Felldrake insisted he wore it, but Donald had a lot of fun teasing him for it. “Is it Halloween already?” Donald hadn’t always been really sarcastic but spending so much time with Panchito was rubbing off on him.
Panchito looked at Donald in slight awe. “You think he looks like going to a costume party too?”
Sheldgoose was not amused. “Laugh it up you two. You won’t be laughing when Lord Felldrake’s plan finally gets realized.”
“If.” Donald fake coughed.
Panchito tilted his head. “Your lord might have an easier time realizing his plans when he realizes why they never work.”
Donald raised an impressed eyebrow at his friend. “Nice word play.” Once again, Panchito’s delivery had been completely neutral, and it was hard to tell just by his tone alone if he was being serious or not. Donald knew that he was just messing around though.
“Gracias.” Panchito grinned. He was really proud on his progress of the English language.
“You-you…” Sheldgoose looked like he wanted to shout at them, but his words were getting caught in his throat.
“Us?” Panchito asked innocently. That was Sheldgoose’s breaking point.
“Listen here, boy,” Sheldgoose dropped the plate of sandwiches and stormed over to them. He grabbed the front of Panchito’s jacket and lifted him so that his feet were just barely grazing the ground. “I wouldn’t mess with me if I were you.”
“Or what?” Donald got to his feet and glared in defiance at Sheldgoose. He was fairly confident that the man wouldn’t hurt them, as aside from pushing Panchito down the stairs he hadn’t done anything to them yet. “You’ll kidnap us? Lock us up? You’ve already done that.”
Sheldgoose turned his gaze to Donald, who refused to back down, though he was beginning to feel a little nervous. “Felldrake may be biding his time to deal with you two, but he has no such qualms about your families.”
Donald felt his legs go weak and he couldn’t help but take a step back from Sheldgoose. On his own, Sheldgoose just wasn’t an intimidating game, which was why Donald had been so defiant. When he wore that cloak with the hood that covered his eyes, and spoke in a tone that sounded so much more like Felldrake though, he was kinda scary, and Donald couldn’t help but take his threat seriously.
Panchito also seemed to realize that Sheldgoose’s threat was a real one, but unlike Donald he didn’t react by backing down. “Leave our families alone!” Panchito swung his dangling feet and wrapped his legs around Sheldgoose’s arm. What happened next happened so quickly that it seemed like a blur to Donald. One second Sheldgoose was holding Panchito in the air, the next Panchito was safely on his feet and Sheldgoose was on the ground unconscious.
Panchito looked as stunned as Donald felt. “What just happened?”
“It looks like your lucha libre came in handy afterall.” Now that Donald had seen how useful the strangely acrobatic form of wrestling could be, he made a point to remember what it was called. Maybe he would start paying attention when Panchito tried to teach him how to wrestle like he did, but that would have to wait until later. At that moment, a window of opportunity had just opened up for them.
“Look.” Donald nudged Panchito’s arm and gestured to the top of the stairs. Sheldgoose hadn’t closed the secret entrance. “Now’s our chance.”
Panchito took Donald’s hand and the two of them scurried up the stairs. They didn’t know how long Sheldgoose would be down, or if Leopold would be up there waiting to stop them, but they had to at least try to escape.
Donald was beginning to feel fairly confident about their getaway when he was stopped in his tracks so quickly that it forced the breath right out of him. Panchito, who hadn’t faced any such problems, yelped in shock when his hand was pulled away from Donald’s.
“What are you doing?” Panchito asked. He was already in the study, but Donald couldn’t get past the stairs.
“I can’t get up.” Donald tried to push his way up, but it felt like his chest was hitting a barrier or something. He could get his head and hands past the floor, but his chest wouldn’t move. He immediately knew that Felldrake’s magic had something to do with this, but he didn’t understand why it just stopped his chest, and hadn’t affected Panchito at all.
“What are we going to do?” Panchito asked anxiously.
Donald looked behind him and frowned. They were wasting time. “...you need to go.”
“W-what?” Panchito looked a little sick at Donald’s words. The young duck turned and looked at him firmly.
“We don’t know how long we have. If you can get out of here, you need to go.”
“I won’t just leave you.” Panchito insisted, but Donald was just as determined as he was.
“If you get out, you can get help,” Donald said reasonably. Panchito still looked incredibly conflicted. “Look, Duckburg’s not far from here. Go there and find Scrooge McDuck. He’s my uncle. He can help us.” Donald knew that Great-Grandpa Coot lived just next door, but he also knew that his great-grandpa wasn’t always home. And if Panchito was going to be getting away from their captors, it wouldn’t be smart for him to stay so close. Especially if there wasn’t any guarantee that he would find help.
“...But-” Panchito trailed off, because he knew that Donald was right, he just didn’t like it.
“Just get out of here.” Donald growled slightly. “I’ll be fine.” Panchito fiddled his fingers and he looked extremely hesitant, but he did as Donald said and ran right out of there. Donald was relieved, but we he watched Panchito leave without him he felt his chest tighten in a way that had nothing to do with Felldrake’s magic.
Donald sat down on the steps and drew his legs to his chest. “I’ll be fine.”
Panchito whimpered as he ran as quickly as he could. He didn’t even know where he was going. He just knew that he had to hurry. He ran as though there was somebody following right behind him, because for all he knew somebody was. He didn’t let himself worry about what might have stopped Donald, or what Felldrake and Sheldgoose might do to punish Donald because Panchito had escaped. All the young rooster could allow himself to think about was getting away from danger as quickly as he could.
Panchito was safely able to make his way outside and he immediately shuddered when he felt chilly night air and cold rain hit him.
“Hace muy frío.” Panchito shivered and wrapped his arms tightly around himself. He wasn’t used to chilly weather, as it didn’t get all that cold where he lived in Mexico. He couldn’t stay put and warm himself up though. He had to get going.
Panchito continued running. He didn’t know where he was going, he just knew that he needed to be anywhere rather than where he was. Panchito began to run down the streets. He didn’t bother paying attention to where he was going, his main goal was just to go as quickly as he could.
Panchito ran as long as he could before he was so out of breath that he was forced to stop. Panchito felt his legs give out beneath him and he just collapsed on the sidewalk. Panchito tried to gasp for breath, but it wasn’t coming easily to him.
As Panchito tried to catch his breath he looked around and tried to figure out where he was. He didn’t recognize any of his surroundings, and he was beginning to realize just how much trouble he was in. How was he supposed to get to Duckburg if he didn’t even know where he was?
Panchito wished that he had paid attention to where he was going. He felt like he had just run around in circles, but because he hadn’t bothered to notice his surroundings when he had started, he really had no way of telling.
Panchito groaned and crawled over to the the grass next to where he had collapsed and he just laid down right on top of it. The wet grass and feeling of rain hitting him felt surprisingly nice. Panchito closed his eyes and just let the rain soak him. He knew that he should be going, that it might not be safe to stay in one place for so long, but he was just so tired. If he could just rest here for a few minutes, he would be fine.
“Hey, are you okay?” A little girl’s voice said from just above him. Panchito opened his eyes and was surprised when he saw a familiar but still unfamiliar face leaning over him.
¿Quién eres...quién…” Panchito blinked as he reminded himself that the girl probably just spoke English. “Who are you?”
The girl took his hand and pulled him into a sitting position. “I’m Della.” Della. Panchito felt like he should know that name, but it just wasn’t coming to him. “Are you okay? What are you doing out here in the middle of the storm?”
“Yo...I had to...to…” Panchito blinked. He couldn’t think of what to say, not just in English, but in Spanish as well. He just couldn’t think.
Della smiled gently and pulled Panchito to his feet. You’re going to get yourself sick if you stay out here. Why don’t you come inside with me? My Great-Grandpa is making some hot chocolate.”
Panchito knew that he shouldn’t be wasting time, that he needed to go find Donald’s family in Duckburg, but maybe Della and her bisabuelo could help him get there.
Besides, it would feel really nice to warm up a little bit, just for a few minutes.
Scrooge tapped his foot impatiently and looked around Clinton Coot’s old cabana. This little shack was a goldmine of antique treasures and magical artifacts. One of these days Scrooge was going to have to come back here and have himself a look around, see if Clinton would be willing to part with any of his findings. That wasn’t what Scrooge had come here for at this time, so that would have to wait until later. Tonight he was here for something more important.
“Have you found any leads on who took Donald?” Scrooge asked bluntly as Clinton bustled around the cabana trying to look for some tea bags and hot cocoa powder. Scrooge had done his best to wait for Clinton to sit down so they could have a civilized conversation, but the old duck hadn’t stopped moving around from the moment that Scrooge had arrived with Della.
Scrooge’s words made Clinton finally stop in his tracks. “Unfortunately, no. I’ve extinguished all of my current leads.” Clinton took the old kettle off of the camping stove that was the only kind of stove he had in his cabana. Clinton brought the kettle over and poured some heated water in three mugs that he had previously set out. Clinton put a tea bag in two of the mugs, and then began to put some cocoa mix in the third mug.
Scrooge sighed and glared out the window. It was raining really badly out there, and he hoped that his nephew wasn’t out there somewhere. That he was safe. “I suppose it’s my turn now, is it?”
Since Donald had gone missing Scrooge and Clinton had been spending any spare moment they had in trying to find the boy. It had been months, and they were no closer to figuring out where he was and who had taken him than they had been that first day. At first Scrooge and Clinton had worked separately, but when Della and Donald’s parents had finally allowed the little girl to stay with them again she had pointed out that since they were both treasure hunters who frequently dealt with the supernatural and magical, that maybe they should work together.
Since then Scrooge and Clinton took turns in researching where Donald might be, and actually looking for him. Between their searches the two of them would meet up and share their findings, or lack thereof.
“What leads are you going to follow this time?” Clinton asked.
“Della insists that I go bather some bad luck spirits.” Scrooge shrugged. At this point, it was the best that he had to go off of. “What about you? Still looking into that Felldrake fellow?”
Clinton scowled slightly. “I lost that wizards ring, and his demon spawn pet vanished the same night that Donald did. It’s just too much of a coincidence that these things connected to the boy’s enemies disappear just before he does.”
“I still don’t believe that my brother has enemies.” Scrooge and Clinton both turned towards the front door when they heard Della come inside. Scrooge felt mildly panicked to know that Della had been outside. He hadn’t even noticed that she had gone out, and by Clinton’s alarmed expression he could tell that the older duck hadn’t either. Scrooge opened his mouth to scold the girl for going out when she should know better, but stopped himself when he saw a young rooster about her age come in behind her.
“Uh, Della, who is this?” Scrooge asked slowly as he got up from his seat and went to grab a blanket or something, because that poor boy looked chilled to the bone. Clinton also took notice of how cold the boy might be, so he went to grab another mug to make some more hot cocoa.
“Yo soy-” The boy began, but Della cut in before he could introduce himself.
“Wait, can I do it?” Della asked enthusiastically. The boy grinned and nodded. “Awesome. This is Soy Pancho Romeo Meghan Francis Quinze Gondala Trees.
Scrooge grimaced at the absolute butchering of the poor boy’s name. “Della, I really don’t think that’s what his name is.”
Della pouted and looked ready to argue, but her new friend spoke up before she could say anything. “Actually, I am Panchito Romero Miguel Francisco Quintero Gonzalez the third.”
The rooster said all of this so quickly that Scrooge thought he might have better luck interpreting Della’s absolute butching of the name. He was about to ask the boy to repeat himself, a little slower this time, when there was a sudden sound of shattering glass. Della flinched and instinctively took a step back, but if she was startled it was nothing compared to the young rooster’s reaction. He nearly jumped out of his feathers and dove behind Della, whimpering slightly.
“Ah, sorry, I’m sorry.” Clinton knelt on the ground and began to pick up the pieces of the mug that he had dropped a moment before. Clinton’s hands were shaking, and he soon gave up picking up the shards. Clinton just got to his feet and cautiously took a step towards the children. “E-excuse me, young man, but...can you repeat your name?”
The boy frowned slightly and slowly stepped away from Della. “Yo-yo soy Panchito Romero Miguel Francisco-”
“-Quintero Gonzalez the third.” Clinton finished in a quiet, almost awe filled voice. Panchito, Della, and Scrooge looked at him in shock.
“Do you...know this boy?” Scrooge asked slowly, though he seriously doubted it, if the boy’s shock and slight fear was to be believed.
“Yes!” Clinton said loudly before he blinked and shook his head. “Well, not personally, but I know of him.”
“You’re being creepy again, Grandpa Coot.” Della said cautiously as she held her arm out to push Panchito slightly behind her again.
“I know, I know,” Clinton looked like he felt bad for not wording his thoughts well, but his excitement seemed to be stronger than his guilt. “I just...my boy, have you ever heard of the three caballeros?”
Panchito’s eyes widened almost comically. It was clear that he had, in fact, heard of the three caballeros, but Scrooge wasn’t convinced that whatever knowledge Panchito had about his ancestor was anything good. The poor boy looked torn between sharing Clinton’s enthusiasm, and running right back out into the storm.
“Why don’t we leave talk of fairy tales for another day?” Scrooge suggested as he knelt at the boy’s level and draped the blanket over his shoulders. Panchito shuddered and clutched tightly at the sides of the blanket.
“No fairy tale,” Panchito said quietly. “Scary. Bad.” Scrooge frowned. He didn’t know if the boy meant that he didn’t want to hear any fairy tales because they were scary, or if he didn’t believe that whatever he knew about the caballeros was a fairy tale because it was bad and scary, and he didn’t think that was what fairy tales should be.
“No more fairy tales.” Scrooge promised as he sent a glare Clinton’s way before the older duck could argue or complain about it. Panchito was obviously shaken up about something, and Scrooge didn’t think it was right to scare him further with stories about things that he really was far too young to learn about.
Scrooge led Panchito to the couch and encouraged him to sit down. “Now, why don’t you tell us why you were out there in the storm?”
“Why aren’t you in Mexico?” Clinton added quickly. Panchito blinked rapidly and looked around the old cabana.
“I am...stolen?” Panchito made a funny face and shook his head, like he knew that wasn’t what he wanted to say, but the right words just weren’t coming to him. “A bad stick takes me and...and...and I has to get my brother!” Panchito quickly got to his feet and he was halfway to the door before Scrooge caught him.
“Slow down, lad.” Scrooge dragged Panchito back to the couch. “You can’t go out there on your own.” Scrooge didn’t entirely understand what Panchito had said, but he thinks he had understood enough. Somebody, or something, had ‘taken’ this boy, and possibly his brother as well. “Let us help protect you from your kidnapper.” Panchito looked relieved that Scrooge had understood what he had been saying. “And we can help your brother too.”
“But...Panchito doesn’t have a brother.” Clinton said thoughtfully. Scrooge was about to tell him just where he could stuff his beak when he realized that if Panchito was a descendent of one of the original caballeros, then Clinton would most likely know everything there was to know about the boy’s family. But in that case, why did he say he had a brother?
“No brother brother.” Panchito said in a slightly calmer voice than before. “He’s a friend brother.” Ah, a brother in arms, so to speak.
Della watched their exchange with a confused expression on her face. “Wait...you guys actually understand him? His English sucks! And even if it was good, I still can’t understand a word he’s saying.”
“Della.” Scrooge glared admonishingly at his niece. He had thought that the little girl would know better than to say such a thing about something that one might not be able to help. Della frequently got into fights at school with people that made fun of the way her brother spoke, so why would she think that it was okay to say pretty much the same thing about somebody else?
Panchito frowned slightly. “¿Mi inglés no es bueno? Lo siento. Yo pensé que había mejorada”
Della, Scrooge, and Clinton all looked at Panchito in slight shock. Despite Scrooge’s displeasure with his niece’s blunt way of speaking, he had to admit that there had been a bit of a speech impediment there, but it was completely gone when he spoke in Spanish. Scrooge had heard people struggle to speak English when it wasn’t their native language, so he didn’t think that it was the reason behind Panchito’s difficult to understand way of speaking English.
Scrooge knew that when children learn how to speak languages, they pick up on what they hear. Perhaps the one who had taught Panchito had to speak English was someone who had a speech impediment, and Panchito was just following their example.
That made Scrooge stop and think. Panchito’s pronunciation of English words, it very distinctly reminded Scrooge of Donald’s manner of speaking. What were the chances of two of the three caballeros being kidnapped within just a few months of each other? Scrooge didn’t know if he bought this whole caballeros mess, but what if…
“¿Ustedes tienen comida?” Panchito said quickly and suddenly. Scrooge wasn’t fluent in Spanish, and he most certainly had a difficult time following the words when they were said so fast, but he did catch the word ‘comida’, which he recognized as the word for ‘food’. He didn’t have to be a linguist to have a guess to what Panchito was asking for.
“I imagine you’re hungry.” Scrooge looked at Clinton, who took the hint and went to find some food to eat. Scrooge would have gotten it himself, but he had no idea where Clinton kept food in this run down cabana. As far as he knew, Clinton just materialized it out of thin air.
“Sí,” Panchito nodded eagerly. Scrooge frowned slightly as he eyed the child. He looked healthy enough, but if Scrooge understood Panchito’s words right, he had escaped from his kidnapper, and he thought that it must have happened just recently, which was why Panchito was so jumpy and why he had been out in the rain.
“When was the last time you had something to eat?” Scrooge asked slowly, though he hoped it wasn’t in a patronizing way. He just wanted to give the boy time to understand his words.
“Uh...ayer?” Panchito put his hands in front of him and then moved them to the side.
“Yesterday?” Scrooge scowled when Panchito nodded and confirmed his guess. It was evening. If Panchito hadn’t had food since yesterday, it had likely been more than twenty four hours since he had eaten anything. Even if Panchito hadn’t been kidnapped, he clearly still needed help. “Don’t you worry, lad, we’re going to do everything we can to help you.”
“Most definitely.” Clinton joined them with a plate of sandwiches. Clinton handed the plate to Panchito, and then he looked at Scrooge. “Can we talk for a minute?”
“Funny, I was about to ask you the same thing.” Scrooge put a hand on the boy’s shoulder in a supportive way before he went to join Clinton behind the nearest bookcase. The cabana didn’t have much room for privacy, but if they were in a corner and spoke quietly they probably wouldn’t be overheard.
“Is it safe to assume that we now agree that the one behind Donald’s disappearance is an enemy of the caballeros?” Clinton asked quietly.
“I admit, I’m more convinced than I was before.” Scrooge admitted. Despite the way that he had wanted to blame Clinton and Donald’s enemies for what had happened, Scrooge had believed that one of his own enemies had been responsible. He had enough dangers to deal with, so why would he choose to believe in enemies that had been around hundreds of years before? “Tell me I’m not the only one that thinks that the the brother that Panchito was talking about is-”
“Donald.” Clinton finished. “We still don’t know who took Donald.”
“But now we have something to go off of.” Scrooge clenched his hands into fists. Finally, finally, they had a lead. They just had to talk to the boy and see if he knew where he had been kept, or who had taken him. It had to be something more than a ‘stick’ as he said.
“You really need to eat something.” Clinton and Scrooge exchanged concerned glances when they heard Della’s voice. The boy hadn’t eaten in more than a day, and he wasn’t eating the food they had given to him? Why not? Clinton and Scrooge both looked around the corner of the bookshelf to see Della and Panchito on the couch.
“No gracias.” Panchito said weakly. Della smiled gently and grabbed one of the sandwiches. She ripped it in half and offered one of the halves to Panchito.
“You’re worried about your brother, aren’t you?” Della asked. “I get it, really I do. After my brother went missing I didn’t feel like eating anything either. I just felt sick, thinking about my brother in danger while I’m just sitting here doing absolutely nothing.” Della shook her head and put her hand on Panchito’s.
“I promise, Panch, my family will help you save your brother.” Della swore. “In return, will you help me save my brother?”
“Por supuesto.” Panchito nodded.
“But neither of us will be able to do anything if we don’t keep up our energy and eat.” Della said gently. She then took a small bite of her sandwich, encouraging Panchito to follow her example and begin eating his own food. The two kids finished their sandwich halves in near silence. Neither of them said a word, but Scrooge could heard some quiet sobs from Panchito, and he could swear that he saw some tears in little Della’s eyes.
Clinton had made multiple sandwiches, but after she finished just a single half Della curled up close to Panchito and just hugged him tightly. This triggered something in the young boy and he soon began bawling into Della’s shoulder, and she let him, finding comfort in his company as well.
Clinton and Scrooge exchanged brief glances with each other and made an unspoken agreement. They needed to talk to Panchito, the sooner the better, but tonight really wasn’t the best time. He was far too emotional, and he had already been through so much. Whatever they needed to talk to him about, it could wait until morning.
Panchito whimpered and cuddled closer to the soft blanket somebody had laid out on him. It was too soft and warm to be his own blanket, but his head felt too heavy to think too deeply about it. He didn’t care whose blanket this was. He didn’t care that his location smelled very unfamiliar and he had no idea where he was. All he cared about was that he felt very cozy and comfortable, and he didn’t want to move.
“He’s been asleep for a long time.” A girl’s voice said. Panchito felt like he should identify it, but he really couldn’t. He also felt as though the words being said were ones that he knew, but he just didn’t understand them.
Panchito felt someone moving his blanket a little, and he whined slightly when the blanket was pulled away from his face. He relaxed when he felt a hand brush back the feathers at the top of his head. The hand felt cool, and Panchito couldn’t help but lean into the touch.
“I don’t blame him.” These words sounded very weird to Panchito. It was an adult talking, but his voice sounded really funny. It was an accent that Panchito was not at all familiar with, and it made his head hurt even more to try to decipher the words being said, so he didn’t bother. “We don’t know what he’s been through, and it seems on top of everything else that he’s got a temperature too.”
“Ah, pobrecito pollito.” A second adult said, and after a moment Panchito realized that he recognized those words. They were speaking Spanish. “Will he be okay?” Wait, that wasn’t Spanish. Why had they switched to English? Or had Panchito just imagined the Spanish words? He really didn’t know.
Panchito just wanted to go back to sleep, but the longer he was awake the more uncomfortable and stiff he felt. He didn’t think he could actually go back to sleep, even though he really wanted to. Panchito reluctantly opened his eyes and turned to stare blurily at the three before him.
“Hola.” Panchito said tiredly. The short figure that had to be the little girl, came closer to him. Maybe it was because Panchito was half asleep, but when he saw the little girl he could have sworn that she was actually a boy...a boy that needed his help. “H-hermano.”
The girl took his hand and helped him to sit up, which just made Panchito’s head swim even more. “Hey, I promised that we’d help you find your hermano, didn’t I?” Hearing the voice again Panchito knew for sure that the girl was in fact a little girl, even though all that he could see when he looked at her was Donald. She had different hair, but other than that she looked remarkably like Donald, it was almost scary.
Or maybe he was just imagining things because he really wasn’t feeling well.
Panchito blinked and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. His vision became clearer, though not by much. “...¿Qué?” Panchito looked at the three ducks in front of him and then looked around where he was. It took a moment, but he was able to vaguely recognize his location. He had come here the night before after running away from the one who took him.
The oldest duck that Panchito recognized as the one who made him feel slightly uneasy, as he seemed to know about the caballeros, approached Panchito. “¿Entiendas inglés ahora?”
Even though the duck was speaking in Spanish, it still took a few moments for Panchito to realize what he was saying. “Ah, no.” Panchito admitted. He could barely understand spanish words being said to him, forget about English.
The other adult, the one who spoke in the funny accent that was impossible to understand, looked at the old duck in shock. “Since when do you know how to speak Spanish?”
The old duck grinned proudly. “I’m far from fluent, but a lot of my research has taken me to South and Central America, so I learned some Spanish and Portuguese.”
The adult with the strange accent raised an impressed eyebrow. “You’re really obsessed with the caballeros, aren’t you?”
Panchito whimpered and leaned away from the two adults. He still had a hard time understanding English, but the word ‘obsessed’ sounded a lot like ‘obsesionado’, and Panchito really didn’t want to deal with any other crazy birds who were obsessed with the caballeros.
The two adults both looked guilty about Panchito’s reaction. “Hey, we’re not going to hurt you.” The one with the accent said. The old duck didn’t say anything, but he looked like he got an idea. He backed up and went behind one of the bookcases. Panchito didn’t know what he had left for, but a second later he came back, and the little rooster gasped when he saw what he brought back with him.
“Un amuleto.” Panchito said breathlessly. He put his hands out and took the necklace. It looked incredibly similar to Donald’s, except it was red and in the shape of a triangle. “¿Es para proteccion?”
“Yes,” The old duck smiled. “This amulet will protect you from danger.” Just like Donald’s. Panchito slipped the chain over his head and let the necklace hang on his chest.
“Gracias.” Panchito said quietly as he fingered the amulet. He knew that Donald doubted the powers of the amulets, but Panchito was willing to cling to any kind of protection he could find. Besides, something about this amulet just felt right. A little like Donald’s, except like it was meant for him.
Panchito knew that the adults were still talking, but he didn’t hear them, let alone understand what they were saying. His entire focus was on his amulet. Panchito only looked away from it when he felt a small hand on his arm. He looked up to see Don-the girl looking at him.
“Hey,” The girl smiled and Panchito smiled right back at her. “Does your head hurt?” She put a hand to her head and looked concerned, so Panchito was able to figure out what she was saying.
“Sí.” Panchito nodded.
The girl held up a finger and backed up. Panchito took this as a sign that she wanted him to wait, so he did. He watched as she went to the small kitchen area and grabbed a bottle of water. She grabbed something else too, but Panchito didn’t see what it was. A moment later she came back with a water bottle and a pill in her hand.
“This should help.” The little girl opened up the water and dropped the pill inside. She put the lid back on and shook up the bottle. The two kids watched as the pill dissolved, and when it was finished she handed the bottle to Panchito. “You need to drink all of this.” The girl opened her arms wide to indicate that he needed to take a lot of it, or all of it.
Panchito did what the girl said and drank all the water. It tasted really funny, but Panchito was so thirsty that he didn’t even care. When he was finished the girl took the bottle back and put it on the floor. She then sat down on the couch next to him and pulled the blanket up over them.
“You still look really tired.” She curled up against him. “Get some more sleep. We’ll save you hermano when we wake up, I promise.”
Panchito hummed and closed his eyes. The couch was back to feeling really comfortable. Maybe he’ll feel better after he gets some more rest.
Panchito didn’t feel like he had gotten any sleep at all, like he had just closed his eyes for a few seconds, but when he opened his eyes again he immediately noticed it was dark out. At least a few hours had passed. Panchito was slightly nervous about just how much time had passed. Donald had been alone for a full day, and their kidnappers had probably not been very happy. Donald was in danger, and he had to help him. He had to go back. He had to...he had to…
He had to stop that knocking on the door.
Panchito frowned and slowly got to his feet. The little girl was still sleeping next to him, and he didn’t want to wake her. He looked around and didn’t see either of the adults in sight, but the knocking on the door kept on continuing. Whoever was out there, they were desperate.
“I’m coming.” Panchito muttered. It took him a moment to realize that he had spoken in English. He hadn’t even tried to do so. This was the first time that he had ever spoken English without having to think about it first. He hoped this meant that he was getting better and it was becoming more natural. He was tired of his understanding of English turning on and off.
Panchito went to the front door and opened it. There was a tall man out there, and something at the back of Panchito’s mind told him to slam the door and get out of there as quickly as he could. He couldn’t figure out why he felt like he needed to do that, so he held his instincts back.
“H-hello, young man.” The visitor grinned in a way that made Panchito feel slightly sick. Rude or not, he was just about to close the door when the man took a step inside the house. Panchito took a step back, away from the man. “My name is...I mean, I’m the president of the New Quackmore Institute. I’ve been told that you were separated from your family. I believe I can help reunite you with them.”
Maybe Panchito’s English wasn’t as good as he thought it was, because he only caught every other word of what was being said. He thought that the man was saying that he was going to help him, but he felt uncertain.
“I...can’t leave.” Panchito said softly. “I need to help my brother.” At least his English words were coming to him.
“Ah, yes, Donald Duck, right?” The man grinned and Panchito froze when he heard the familiar name. “I can take you to him.”
All of Panchito’s worries vanished when he heard the man’s words. “You’ll help me?”
“Most certainly.” The man put a hand on his shoulder, and Panchito shuddered slightly, because it just felt so wrong. He wasn’t going to complain though, because this man was going to help him find Donald. “If you’ll just come with me back to my house.”
If that was where Panchito needed to go to find Donald, then he would go with him. “Okay, but maybe I should tell-” Panchito looked back to the little girl, but the man pulled him to the door.
“Come now, we need to get going.” The man said. He practically dragged him out the door, but Panchito barely cared. He knew that he had a tendency to get really forceful when he got excited or nervous, so it wouldn’t be fair to judge somebody for doing the same thing.
“Okay.” Panchito said, even though he was a little uncertain. Walking into unfamiliar situations was really scary, but he had to be brave, for Donald.
Panchito walked with the man outside and they went right next door...kinda. The house was so big that the little cabana that he had been at what found right in the middle of the house. Panchito didn’t think he had ever seen a house so big, except maybe once before.
Panchito faltered slightly in his steps, but the man continued to pull him along. They went right into the house. The man slammed the door shut behind him, and a second later panchito felt the man’s grip on his shoulder shift closer to his neck. Panchito whimpered and pulled away slightly, but before he could the man slipped his fingers into the necklace chain and pulled.
Panchito squawked when he felt his amulet get pulled up to his neck. His cry got cut off when the amulet began to dig into his neck. He couldn’t get a sound out. He couldn’t breath.
“You kids really are a lot more trouble than you’re worth.” The man said in board disgust as he lifted the chain. Panchito had to stand on his toes to try to ease the pressure around his neck, but it wasn’t helping. “At least this little escape of yours has brought us another amulet. Just one more, and Lord Felldrake will be back to his old self again.”
Panchito felt like his insides froze. Felldrake. He knew that name. That was the stick that had taken him and Donald. Then this man had to be Sheldgoose, and Panchito hadn’t recognized him at all.
Panchito felt tears come to his eyes, though he didn’t know if it was from pain or fear. “Por favor…”
“Stop your whining.” Sheldgoose snapped. He pulled the chain up again in emphasise, and for a frightening moment Panchito was lifted off the ground by his amulet. Panchito opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out. He grabbed at the necklace chain to try to pull it away from his neck, but he couldn’t get a good grip on it. “I told you I’d reunite you with your friend, didn’t I?”
“N-nh…” Panchito struggled. He twisted around and kicked as much as he could, but Sheldgoose didn’t let him go. The man, still keeping a tight grip on the chain, pulled Panchito further into the house. He tried to struggle, but he quickly realized that Sheldgoose wasn’t loosening his grip. If Panchito kicked and squirmed, or if he tried to resist at all, Sheldgoose would just continue to pull him along, and the pressure around his neck would just get worse. So Panchito tried to cooperate, just to make the pain less, but it didn’t do him much good. Sheldgoose was gripping the chain in such a way that even when Panchito tried to walk, his toes just barely brushed the ground. He couldn’t do anything to make it stop.
Panchito tried to gasp for air, but nothing was coming in. The amulet pressed against his throat prevented him from breathing properly. He continued to try to pull the amulet away, just to ease the pressure a little, but Sheldgoose’s grip was stronger than his was. The heavy feeling in Panchito’s head that had gone away after his nap came back with a vengeance. A moment later Panchito’s vision began to swim. He struggled to keep his eyes open, but everything hurt, and he was tired. So, so tired.
Finally Panchito couldn’t resist the darkness dancing at the corner of his vision. The last thought he had before giving into the darkness was;
‘I’m so scared.’
Donald whimpered slightly and fidgeted slightly to try to find himself a more comfortable. Just that little movement made his back flare up in pain. Leopold, the huge flying creature that worked for the evil staff, saw Donald’s shifting as an escape attempt, so he tightened his grip on the poor boy.
“H-hey.” Donald whined as Leopold’s claws dug into his back even more than they already had. He knew that Leopold wasn’t trying to hurt him. The creature may be evil, but he wasn’t exactly cruel. Leopold just did what he was told, and all he had been told to do was make sure that Donald didn’t escape the way that Panchito did.
Being held down by Leopold was really uncomfortable, and a little painful, but at least Donald wasn’t being punished or tortured...yet. He was pretty sure that the real pain was coming, just as soon as Sheldgoose came back from looking for Panchito.
Donald hoped that his friend had been able to get enough of a headstart on Sheldgoose to be able to get to Duckburg. Donald knew that if Panchito could just tell Uncle Scrooge where he was, that this whole nightmare would be over. Donald knew that his Uncle would save him, no matter the cost, he just hoped that it would happen before anything really bad actually happened.
Donald had an unlucky streak and he frequently got captured, hurt, or otherwise bruised up during adventures. Despite this though, he hadn’t been hurt any worse than a sprained ankle that had taken a week to heal, and Donald really didn’t want to know just how much more a worse injury would hurt.
Donald was just starting to adjust to his new position when he heard the secret entrance from Sheldgoose’s study open above them. Donald couldn’t help but hold his breath as he looked up and waited as he heard someone coming down the stairs. His position made it impossible to see who was coming down, but Donald didn’t have very high hopes for who it was. After a very long minute that felt like an eternity Donald saw Sheldgoose coming into the room, and he wasn’t alone.
“Panchito!” Donald began to squirm again as he felt an overwhelming feeling of horror and anger build up inside of him at the state that his friend was in. “What did you do to him?!” Panchito was completely limp, and when Donald saw that Sheldgoose was holding the young rooster up with what looked like a chain he was pretty sure he knew why his friend was so still. Sheldgoose was suffocating him! “Let him go!”
“Now, why should I do that?” Sheldgoose’s tone was dangerous. It sounded like he was trying to stay in control, but he wasn’t doing very good at it. Donald usually found Sheldgoose’s desperation for control really funny, and sometimes tried to get a rise out of him just for the fun of it. When Sheldgoose had this grip on Panchito, suddenly his out of control mood was no longer a laughing matter.
“You’re killing him!” Donald felt tears gather in his eyes as Sheldgoose tightened his grip on the chain. Donald closed his eyes so he didn’t have to see the necklace dig into Panchito’s neck. “We’ll behave, I promise.” Donald meant his words. It wasn’t worth it to risk another escape attempt that would likely fail, not if this was the punishment. “Please, just let him go.”
Donald kept his eyes closed as there was silence for a few moments. Finally Sheldgoose sighed and said, “Leopold.” Donald stiffened at the creature’s name, but relaxed when the pressure on his back disappeared. Donald cautiously cracked his eyes open just in time to see Sheldgoose harshly throw Panchito to the ground.
“Panchito!” Donald scampered to his friend’s side. He barely noticed that Sheldgoose and Leopold were leaving the lair. He vaguely heard Sheldgoose say something about having Lord Felldrake deal with them later, but he really didn’t care at that moment. All Donald cared about was making sure his friend was okay.
Donald turned Panchito over so that he was lying on his back. He hoped that this would help his friend breath better. Being choked by a necklace couldn’t be good for one’s breath. Donald didn’t know how to do CPR, or if it was even needed, but he hoped that that Panchito would be alright anyways.
With Panchito lying on his back, Donald’s gaze was drawn to the necklace around his neck. Donald wanted to take that stupid necklace off, but he froze when he took a good look at it. He knew that necklace. It looked so much like Donald’s own necklace, except it was a red triangle, and the chain looked more golden than the bronze chain of Donald’s own necklace. There were a lot of differences, but they just felt incredibly similar. This necklace was the brother to Donald’s amulet.
Donald couldn’t take his eyes off of the amulet. Even if it didn’t remind him of his own amulet, Donald would have recognized it. Great-Grandpa Coot had three amulets that he claimed belonged to the Three Caballeros. He had given Donald one of the amulets, but had kept the other two hidden. Great-Grandpa Coot claimed that the other two amulets belonged to the other two caballeros, so Donald didn’t have a problem with Panchito having the amulet itself, but what was nagging at the back of his mind was where did Panchito get the amulet in the first place?
Panchito groaned and seemed to be waking up. Donald frowned and backed up to give his friend room. It took some time, but Panchito eventually became aware of his surroundings. “¿Q-que pasó?”
Donald was relieved that Panchito was okay, but from the moment that Panchito had been brought back here, Donald had been feeling primarily two emotions, anger and concern. Now that he saw that Panchito wasn’t too hurt, his anger took complete control, like it frequently did.
“What the heck happened?” Donald asked in a tone that was much harsher than he intended. “You were supposed to go to Duckburg and find my Uncle Scrooge. Did you even try?”
“Uh, no,” Panchito sat up and winced as he brought his fingers to gently feel at his neck. “I-I got lost.”
That much was clear. It was annoying, but that wasn’t what really got under Donald’s skin. “Where did you get that amulet?”
Panchito flinched and looked cautiously down at the red amulet around his neck, like he was worried that it was going to attack him. “Un pato viejo-”
“Speak English!” Donald snapped as he felt his face beginning to heat up.
“Lo siento, ah, sorry.” Panchito apologized quickly. “A-an old duck g-gave it to me.” Donald had experienced lightheadedness caused by a lack of breath. He knew how hard it was to focus in that state. If Donald was calm, he would be impressed by Panchito’s English, especially when he was probably feeling really unwell, but he was far too flustered and angry for that.
“You mean the old duck that lives next door?” Donald asked, though he was fairly certain that he knew the answer.
“Um, sí.” Panchito fidgeted his fingers. He looked really sheepish and embarrassed. “I tried to get far, but I got lost and kind of went in circles.” Donald swore that only Panchito would try so hard to get away from somebody, and just end up closer to them than before.
Donald’s face scrunched up in frustration, and he knew that he was about to completely lose it. “That old duck is my great-grandpa.” Donald growled.
Panchito frowned slightly in confusion. “But, you told me your bisabuelo lived alone.”
Donald felt shocked and cautious about Panchito’s words meant. “He wasn’t alone?”
Panchito shook his head. “No, there was a duck with a funny accent that I couldn’t understand, and a little girl that actually looked a lot like you.”
Donald felt his breath get caught in his throat. Della and Uncle Scrooge. Panchito had met Donald’s family, and he hadn’t even noticed. That could have been the key to getting out of here, and Panchito had just screwed everything up. He had ruined everything!
“You...you didn’t…” Donald clenched his hands into fists. He felt physically sick.
Panchito frowned slightly.” Donald, are you okay?” The rooster put a hand on Donald’s arm, but Donald just slapped his hand away.
“No, I’m not okay!” Donald shouted. “That was my family, and you didn’t...you just...ugh!” Donald shouted in pain filled frustration. “We could have gotten out of here if you’d just told them where we were! How could you be so stupid?”
The two of them fell into an uncomfortable silence. The only sound heard was Donald’s harsh breathing as he tried to get over his frustration. Panchito didn’t say a word, and if Donald was in his right mind he would have realized just how much of a problem that was. Panchito wasn’t a silent kid. He was always talking rapidly in Spanish, or singing one of those ridiculous songs of his, and yet here he was not saying a word.
Donald didn’t necessarily want Panchito to speak, but his silence was just frustrating him even more. Deep down Donald felt bad for getting mad, he always did, but those feelings were still buried so deeply beneath his anger that there was no way that he would listen to his conscience, not yet. The best that Donald could do at that moment was to just walk off before he gave in to the urge to hit something, because as furious as Donald was at Panchito, he knew that he would never be able to forgive himself if he hurt him.
Uncle Scrooge had been trying to encourage Donald to either use his anger to his advantage, or take himself out of the situation that was making him angry until he was able to calm down. Donald didn’t know how he was supposed to use his anger in this scenario, as there was nobody around to fight, so he went for the second option and just stormed off to the other side of the room so he could have some space.
Panchito didn’t call out for Donald to wait. He didn’t even reach for Donald’s arm in an attempt to stop him and ask what was wrong. Panchito just let him go.
Donald frowned as he sat down on the ground near the door that he usually avoided at all costs. He still didn’t know what was in there, and he didn’t think he ever wanted to know, but this end of the room was the furthest he could get from Panchito. Donald turned so his back was on his friend and drew his legs close to his chest.
Donald buried his head in his knees and shut his eyes tight in a vain attempt to keep those stupid tears from coming back again. It wasn’t going very well. Donald thought he heard a short sob, but it happened and was gone so quickly that Donald honestly didn’t know if the sound had come from him, Panchito, or if he had just imagined it.
As Donald’s tears finally escaped and wet his cheeks he wondered what the difference was. What did it matter which one of them was crying, if either of them? He didn’t need tears to tell him that he was devastated. After all, they had finally gotten the chance to escape from this place. Donald hadn’t even been able to leave the room, and Panchito really hadn’t done much better.
Donald was beginning to worry that neither of them were ever going to get out of there. Clearly they couldn’t save themselves, they couldn’t save each other, and Donald had no reason to believe that anybody was going to find them here.
They were on their own.
Della drew her legs close and glared as Great-Grandpa Coot ran around packing bags and suitcases. He was planning on going on another one of those trips of his, even though he had just gotten back from one. Della understood the need to be productive, as she felt the same way. After all, this was now the second time that a little boy had gone missing right under their noses.
First Donald, and now Panchito. Della was starting to consider stealing an anti-sleep potion from Uncle Scrooge. Things just kept on happening in this cabana while she was fast asleep, and she really didn’t want to be caught off guard anymore.
Great-Grandpa Coot also seemed interested in stopping bad things from happening, though he was taking a different approach. Della didn’t usually understand things that grown-ups did, but even Uncle Scrooge didn’t understand Great-Grandpa Coot’s reasoning.
“Would you mind running by me again why you think it necessary to travel to Brazil of all places?” Uncle Scrooge crossed his arms and raised an unimpressed eyebrow. Della had seen this exact look make the strongest of men waiver, but Great-Grandpa Coot barely took notice of him.
“I told you, I need to find the third caballero before he gets taken too.” Great-Grandpa Coot said as he stuffed a dozen books in his suitcase and struggled to close it. “If the one that I suspect truly is behind Donald and Panchito’s disappearances, then it is in all our best interest that the fiend doesn’t get his hand on the last boy as well, or his amulet.” At this, Great-Grandpa Coot held up a square green necklace with a silver chain.
“I don’t care if this Felldrake fellow was the one that took the boys or not.” Uncle Scrooge said, and Della found herself nodding in agreement. The only reason why she would care who took her brother was if the information would make it easier to find him, and make it so that she knew who deserved to be punished for the crime. “But even if he did, are you honestly going to give up on finding the lads just so you can go on adventure to find another boy you can put in danger?”
“That’s not what I’m doing!” Great-Grandpa Coot said, and he sounded so hurt and insulted at the accusation that Della felt a little bad for agreeing with her uncle. Not bad enough that she was about to change her mind, but still bad. “The thing you must understand about these amulets is that when they’re in possession of their caballero, they can actually lead the boys to each other.”
“So the amulets are drawn to each other.” Uncle Scrooge didn’t look happy about this new information, and Della understood why. Uncle Scrooge hated magic of all kinds, and supernatural amulet magnets/compasses definitely fell into that category.
“But only if the boys have them.” Great-Grandpa Coot clarified. “But essentially, yes.”
“So if we give this amulet to whoever, they can lead us to Donald or Pancho?” Della was really beginning to like this idea.
Scrooge didn’t look nearly as convinced. “Or we’ll make it possible for the kidnapper to be lead right to this poor boy.” Right. Della hadn’t thought that the magical magnetic connection worked both ways.
“Well, yes, of course that’s a possibility.” Great-Grandpa Coot admitted. “But our foe has already made it clear that he can find these boys even without help from their amulets.”
“Eh, true.” Uncle Scrooge agreed reluctantly.
“And if we can find Donald and Pancho, then don’t you think the risk will be worth it?” Della asked. She was really starting to side with Great-Grandpa Coot here. They would never be able to find the missing boys if they decided to play it safe.
“Aye, you’ve got a point.” Uncle Scrooge sighed. “Alrighty then, when do we leave?”
Della grinned excitedly. She knew exactly what he meant when he said ‘we’. Della and Scrooge were going to be joining Great-Grandpa Coot on his trip to South America. Della was always excited to go on new adventures, but this one just might lead to her getting her brother back.
Della hoped that those Brazilians were ready, because they were on their way.
It's kind of really hard to write Donald getting mad and losing his temper without writing him as a complete and total jerk. I think I did it okay though. I mean, he's a scared little kid, I think he can be allowed to get angry every once and awhile.
Starting next chapter, I promise I'm going to start being nicer to Panchito. He's just been having a really hard time lately.
Donald slowly opened his eyes. He felt tired and a little grumpy, like he had been woken up, but his body wasn’t ready to be awake. He couldn’t remember falling asleep though, and he definitely didn’t feel like he had gotten any sleep. But he didn’t usually feel this tired unless he didn’t get enough sleep, not when he didn’t get any sleep at all.
Feeling drowsy, and dealing with a heavy head, Donald rubbed his eyes and looked around. He felt devastated, scared, and really horrible, and at first he didn’t really understand why. When he heard a short sob from the other end of the room, it all came back to him, and he felt even worse than he had before.
Panchito, he had been caught by Sheldgoose again, dragged back here by his own amulet, and Donald’s reaction had been to yell at him. He was a horrible friend. Donald hated having such a temper, but this was the first time that he knew that he had really hurt someone else because of it, and the guilt made him feel sick to his stomach.
He had to make things right.
Donald pushed himself to his feet and slowly walked back towards the stairs. He didn’t actually see Panchito there, but he could hear him loud and clear, so he knew that the young rooster was there. It was just a matter of finding him. Considering they were locked up and there weren’t really all that many places to hide, it made searching for him pretty simple.
“...Panchito?” Donald asked quietly as looked under the spiral staircase to see his friend curled up under them. Panchito was crying, but he seemed to be trying really hard to keep himself from doing so. Donald felt guilty all over again. “Are you okay?”
Panchito didn’t answer. He just turned so his back was to Donald and kept his head buried in his knees. Donald sighed and knelt down on the ground. When Panchito didn’t react to the movement Donald crawled forward and situated himself next to Panchito.
“...I’m sorry.” Donald said as he reached out and put his hand on Panchito’s arm. Donald flinched when Panchito stiffened. It was clear that Panchito wasn’t ready for that kind of contact, and that was...fine. It was fine. “I shouldn’t have gotten so mad at you...and I shouldn’t have said you were stupid.”
Panchito sniffed and somehow managed to curl up tighter around himself. “It’s fine.” He said so quietly that it was nearly inaudible.
“No, it’s not fine.” Donald insisted. “You know, when I said that nobody was allowed to talk badly about you, that means me too. I shouldn’t get away with saying you’re stupid anymore than your cousin does.”
“Pero...but you’re right.” Panchito said, and even though Donald was usually pleased and proud when Panchito switched from Spanish to English mid-sentence, it just felt wrong. Donald had been pretty harsh with him earlier when he had tried to speak Spanish. Was Panchito just too scared to speak in his native language? “I-I followed Sheldgoose. I just let myself be taken away by him...again.”
Donald looked at the floor and brought his knees to his chest. So Sheldgoose had tricked Panchito to walking right back into imprisonment? How had he been able to manage that a second time? Why would Panchito follow Sheldgoose after already being kidnapped by him once? Panchito knew Sheldgoose the second time around, and he knew not to trust him...didn’t he?
Donald felt even more guilty when he realized something that he should have noticed earlier before getting so mad at Panchito. “Before yesterday, had you ever seen Sheldgoose when he wasn’t wearing that stupid cloak?”
Panchito weakly shook his head, and Donald felt like such a jerk. “You didn’t know what Sheldgoose looked like without that thing. You can’t get mad at yourself for not recognizing him when he’s been wearing a disguise this whole time, and the whole point of disguises is to keep a secret.”
Panchito shuddered and still didn’t bring his head away from his knees. Donald’s face scrunched up and his eyes began to itch as tears began to gather. He was getting upset all over again. “Will you look at me...please?” Panchito shook his head. “You’re really scaring me.”
Panchito whimpered slightly. “Lo sien...sorry.”
Donald winced. “Don’t apologize.” That just made him feel even worse. “And don’t speak English for my sake. Just...just speak whatever you want.”
“...D-duele.” Panchito said quietly. Donald frowned slightly. He had said that Panchito should go ahead and speak Spanish, but now he didn’t understand what he was saying. “Mi cuello...lo duele.” Donald didn’t understand what Panchito was saying, but his voice sounded a little funny, kind of raw, like Panchito had a sore throat. Donald’s eyes widened when he remembered just how Sheldgoose had brought Panchito back.
“Your neck, it is okay?” Donald asked quickly as he grabbed the sides of Panchito’s head and lifted it so he could take a look at the young rooster’s neck. He couldn’t help but let out a cry of alarm when he saw Panchito’s neck. The feathers on his neck were rustled, and some of them looked bent and broken. Donald could see a thin line where the amulet’s chain had dug into Panchito’s neck, and that was even with his feathers there. Donald didn’t know for sure, but he thought that he could see the skin under Panchito’s feathers, and that just wasn’t supposed to happen.
“I’m...fine?” Panchito said, though he really didn’t sound all that sure, which just concerned Donald that much more.
“Let me look.” Donald turned and knelt to get a look at the feathers on Panchito’s neck. It didn’t look there was blood on the feathers, but Donald was still worried that being choked by the necklace had done some real damage to his neck. He had to get a better look, but to do that he had to get those feathers out of the way.
Donald very carefully brushed his fingers against Panchito’s neck. The young rooster flinched, but didn’t do anything to get Donald to stop. Some of the feathers were bent out of alignment, which didn’t look pretty and could cause problems, but it was fairly easy to fix. Donald still hesitated for a moment. He had never preened someone else’s feathers before, not even Della’s. Donald and his sister had been preening themselves for years, and if they ever needed preening on their back or another area that they couldn’t reach, their parents would help them. It was just such a personal thing, that Donald didn’t feel comfortable letting anybody else preen his feathers, but if that was what he needed to do to help Panchito, then he would just have to deal with being a little uncomfortable.
“Please, say something if you want me to stop.” Donald said, and he meant both if Panchito was in pain, or if he was just uncomfortable. Panchito nodded, and Donald began the preening. He gently ran his fingers over Panchito’s feathers, straightening them out one at a time. He was relieved to see that most of the feathers were just bent. With a little bit of work he was able to fix most of the feathers. There were a couple of stray ones that were just bent beyond repair and looked like they were just barely holding on.
Donald frowned and took Panchito’s hand. “This is going to hurt.” Panchito nodded and grabbed Donald’s hand with both of his own. He was tense and bracing himself, but Donald couldn’t wait until he was ready. It would just be better to get things over with. Donald used his available hand to grip the tip of one of Panchito’s feathers, and without giving him a warning he pulled it out.
Panchito flinched and cried out in pain. He squeezed his eyes shut tight, and squeezed Donald’s hand just as hard. It hurt, but Donald knew that his own pain was nothing compared to Panchito’s, so he bore through the pain.
“I’m sorry.” Donald said sincerely. “Tell me when you’re ready to continue.” Donald needed to get the other feathers out, but he wasn’t going to hurt Panchito more until he was ready for it. Panchito sat there for a few tense minutes, trying to catch his breath, before he nodded.
Donald gripped another ruined feather and pulled it out. Panchito, again, needed a bit of time to recover from the pain, but he never told Donald to stop. They repeated this slow process until Donald was able to pull the last feather out. They both slumped in relief when it was all over. Panchito let go of Donald’s now nearly numb hand and just began sobbing into his knees again.
Donald grimaced and did the only thing he could think of to calm Panchito, by preening the feathers on his back. It was something that Donald’s mom did whenever he’d had a bad day, or when he was sick. Having his feathers preened by somebody that he loved and trusted was probably the most soothing thing Donald could think of. An hour ago Donald didn’t think he would ever feel close enough to somebody to preen their feathers without feeling like he was overstepping his boundaries, but things were different now. He’d already preened Panchito’s feathers, and if the rooster trusted him enough to let him rip out feathers, then he probably trusted him enough to preen his feathers to soothe him.
Donald had no idea how long they stayed like this. He was relieved when Panchito calmed down enough that he had stopped crying. Donald was pleasantly surprised when he noticed that he found the repetitive act of preening his friend’s feathers was just as relaxing for him as it was for Panchito. It made them both feel safe, cared for.
Their relaxed mood vanished in an instant when they heard the secret entrance of the study open up above them. Panchito, who had begun to doze off, stiffened and quickly sat up, a look of panic in his eyes. Donald wasn’t in much better of a state.
“It-it’s okay.” Donald said as he got to his feet. He grabbed Panchito’s hand and pulled him up. They were prisoners down here, but Donald really didn’t want to find himself backed into a corner. “It’s okay.”
Before Donald could drag Panchito away the young rooster pulled back and leaned down to pick up his amulet that Donald hadn’t noticed was on the ground. Panchito seemed insistent on getting his amulet, but he seemed reluctant to pick it up. Considering what had happened to him, Donald really didn’t blame him. Even though Donald believed that these stupid amulets had done them more harm than good, if Panchito really wanted them amulet, Donald would just grab it for him.
Donald picked up up the red amulet and draped it around his neck so that it would rest against his chest with his own amulet. He tucked both of the amulets underneath his shirt and then pulled Panchito away from the stairs. The two of them were able to dash halfway to the other side of the room when Panchito seemed to be pulled away from him. Donald stopped abruptly and turned to see Panchito curled up on the ground. Donald didn’t know why he had stopped, but then he looked up and saw Sheldgoose holding Felldrake, and the staff was glowing purple with magic.
Donald instinctively took a step back. He had no idea what Felldrake was capable of, but he really didn’t want to find out. Donald was pretty sure that Felldrake had used his magic to stop Panchito, but he had no idea why the stupid staff hadn’t used magic on both of them.
“You two are a lot more trouble than you should be.” Felldrake’s dangerous voice came from the staff.
Donald clenched his fists and glared at the staff. He felt scared, and angry, and it was always a lot easier for him to show his anger than to show that he was scared. “Then why don’t you just let us go?”
“Because you both have something that I want.” Felldrake said. “Now, where are the amulets?”
Felldrake’s staff was glowing with magic, and Donald assumed that he was using his power to compel them to answer his question, but he didn’t feel any such force. He shook his head. He may hate the amulets, but he really didn’t think that it was a good idea to let Sheldgoose have anything that he wanted so much.
Panchito whimpered and Donald was alarmed to see a slight purple glow in his eyes. Again, the magic wasn’t affecting Donald, but was hitting Panchito with full force. What was going on?
“D-Donald has them.” Panchito stammered, like he didn’t want to speak, but he didn’t have a choice.
Felldrake looked at Donald, who met his gaze easily. He had never been afraid to look bad guys in the eyes, and Felldrake wasn’t even a living being. He was just a staff. What was so scary about looking at a staff? “Show them to me.”
Donald was about to refuse when Felldrake glowed again and Panchito groaned and flinched slightly. It seemed more like a movement of discomfort than one of pain, but Donald got the message. For whatever reason, Felldrake’s magic was working on Panchito, and if Donald didn’t do what he wanted he wasn’t afraid of hurting the young rooster.
“...Fine.” Donald growled as he reached under his shirt and pulled out the two amulets. Felldrake’s expression didn’t change much, but Donald could swear that an almost hungry look came into those emotionless eyes.
“Take them off.” Felldrake said. Donald glared at him, but reluctantly did as he said. Wearing these necklaces just wasn’t worth letting Panchito get hurt. Nothing was worth that. Donald dropped the amulets on the ground, and then put his foot on them, just to make sure that Sheldgoose couldn’t come grab them from him.
“Now, tell me,” Felldrake began to glow again, and this time Donald felt the magic wash over him. He didn’t know why it was working on him this time when it hadn’t before. The only thing Donald had done differently was that he wasn’t wearing the amulets before, but those stupid things had only caused them trouble. They couldn’t actually be responsible for protecting Donald from Felldrake’s magic...could they? “Where is the last amulet.”
Donald tried to avoid answering this question, but he couldn’t hold his tongue. “Great-grandpa Coot has it.”
“Coot?” Sheldgoose finally joined the conversation. He looked at Donald in shock. “Why would he have the amulet?”
Donald scowled in frustration as he felt the pull to speak the truth hit him again. He was being forced to answer Sheldgoose’s question too. “He had all of the amulets. It’s where me and Panchito got ours.” He really hated that he was being forced to share this information.
Felldrake seemed pleased with what Donald had told them. “The final amulet is so close.”
“Well, it may be farther than you think.” Sheldgoose said boredly. “Coot and his family are on their way out of the country.”
Donald’s eyes widened. Was Sheldgoose spying on his family. “How do you know that?”
Sheldgoose looked annoyed with the question “I’m the president of the New Quackmore Institute. I make it my job to keep an eye on what the residents are up to.” That just couldn’t be legal.
“If Coot has the last amulet, then wherever he is, that’s where we’ll go.” Felldrake said. Donald was relieved by this. He hated that Felldrake was going after his family, but Sheldgoose had said that his family was going with Great-grandpa Coot. If Uncle Scrooge was there too, he’d be able to take care of himself. And if they were lucky, they’d be able to get the upper hand on Sheldgoose and Felldrake.
Donald’s relief vanished when the staff stared coldly at him and Panchito as he began to glow with magic again. “Of course, we’ll have to keep the two of you from running off on us again.” Donald found himself frozen with fear as he felt Felldrake’s magic come over him. He couldn’t look away from the staff, but he had the feeling that Panchito was experiencing this same frozen terror.
Donald tried to fight the magic, but he slowly found his body betraying him. He seemed to go limp, like his body was shutting down on him, and his mind wasn’t far behind. Donald struggled to keep his eyes open. He was in danger. He couldn’t afford to lose consciousness. He fought it as much as he could, but before too long Donald couldn’t handle it anymore. He closed his eyes and whimpered quietly as the darkness came over him.
I just can't seem to give Panchito a break, can I? He's just getting hurt all the time, and I'm not even done doing that yet. He should get a break next chapter. Also happening next chapter, we're finally going to bring in our favorite green parrot. Digital brownies to anybody who guesses how old José is going to be in this story.
Speaking of José, apparently he's been in quite a few comics. I would love to include stuff from the comics, but I'm just not familiar with any of that stuff, and I'm having a really hard time finding information and details about it so I don't want to try it. I would much rather not portray something at all than to misrepresent it.
Eleven chapters in a Three Caballeros story, and I'm finally introducing José as a character. All I have to say is, well, it's about time. I've missed the suave, probably magical, Brazilian parrot. I ultimately decided to not really talk about stuff from the comics. I've just already got a vision of what José is like, and apparently he's different in the comics, so I'm just going to stick with what I know.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Donald hated being forced into an unconscious state by the use of magic. Despite what a lot of people seemed to think, unconscious and sleep is not the same thing. Sleep was relaxing and peaceful, and if one got enough of it they woke up feeling refreshed. Magic induced unconsciousness felt like being trapped in a state of limbo, and when it finally ended it left one feeling invaded and vulnerable. It was not a fun experience.
As if the whole thing wasn’t bad enough, when Donald was snapped back to his senses the first sight he was greeted with was the glowing purple eyes of that dragon-like serpent.
Donald yelped in alarm and dragged himself away from Felldrake. The sudden movement made his head spin, but Donald prefered the dizziness to being vulnerable to the sorcerer’s magic. Donald was starting to see why Uncle Scrooge hated magic so much. He didn’t want to be under Felldrake’s control again.
Donald groaned and closed his eyes. He rubbed his forehead in an attempt to get rid of the magical residue. It didn’t work very well, as the lingering feeling of magic only went away with magic or with enough time. Donald kept his eyes closed tightly until he heard a terrified shout. Panchito. Donald snapped his eyes open and turned to see Panchito cowering next to him, his hands held up over his face in an attempt to protect himself from Felldrake, who was glowing in front of him.
“Back off!” Donald growled. Panchito had been hurt and scared enough by these jerks. Couldn’t they give him a break? In a moment of unexpected boldness, Donald forced himself to his feet and slapped Felldrake’s staff away. Donald couldn’t help but smirk when the force of his hit knocked the staff right out of Sheldgoose’s grip, forcing him to drop the staff to the ground. Just that little bit of revenge was so satisfying, even if he knew that he would probably be in big trouble for it.
Donald forced himself to not worry about what Felldrake may do to punish him. He focused his attention on Panchito who looked slightly embarrassed.
“Are you okay?” Donald held out a hand to pull Panchito to his feet.
“Sí,” Panchito said sheepishly. “Just startled.”
“Yeah, it’s not very fun to wake up to that jerk’s ugly mug.” Donald smiled, and Panchito easily returned the look with a grin of his own.
“Stop messing around, you two.” Sheldgoose scolded irritably. Donald raised an eyebrow, and Panchito giggled slightly, though he quickly stifled it with a hand over his mouth. Sheldgoose tried really hard to be as intimidating as Felldrake, but he wasn’t very good at it. Donald knew that Sheldgoose could be scary and threatening, as he was the one who had kidnapped the both of them, and the one who had tried to strangle Panchito, but he was just such a goofy guy. Unless Sheldgoose was in the middle of doing something terrible, Donald just wasn’t scared of him.
“I’m serious,” Sheldgoose whined, which made him sound much more like a child than an evil villain. Donald and Panchito shared an amused glance, but they stopped laughing anyways. Sheldgoose may act silly, but Donald had already likely angered Felldrake. He would probably be pushing his luck by provoking Sheldgoose anymore.
“Shut up, idiot, and pick me up.” Felldrake screeched. Sheldgoose glared at Donald and Panchito before he bent down and picked up the staff. Felldrake’s expression didn’t change often, but his glare was more intense than it usually was, which meant that the sorcerer was really not happy. “Do you really think it’s smart to be so insolent, Caballeros?”
“...no,” Donald said reluctantly as he shied away from Felldrake. Panchito took his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Donald still wished that Panchito had been able to escape successfully, but there was nothing they could do about it now. But now that Panchito was here, Donald was glad for the company. He didn’t think he would be able to have the courage to stand up to Sheldgoose and Felldrake if he was on his own.
“What do you want with us?” Panchito asked. Donald stared at his friend in shock, not because of the question, but because of his tone. Panchito didn’t even sound scared at all. He sounded much bolder than Donald felt.
“I want the amulets.” Felldrake said, and that was nothing surprising. Felldrake had made that much clear from the start, but Donald knew that couldn’t be all. Donald didn’t even like his amulet, and Panchito’s had been used against him. If Felldrake really wanted their amulets, but for one reason or another he couldn’t just take them for himself, Donald and Panchito were almost at the point where they would be willing to hand it over if it meant getting their freedom. Felldrake had shown no sign of making such an offer, so Donald believed that the sorcerer had something else in mind for them.
Donald didn’t know for sure what Felldrake was planning, but he knew that if the staff got his metaphorical hands on all three amulets, he would somehow be able to get his body back. Once that happened, Donald was afraid that Felldrake would have the power and opportunity to get rid of his old enemies. Donald and Panchito weren’t the caballeros that had trapped Felldrake in the staff, but he didn’t think the sorcerer really cared about that little detail. He would still be out for revenge.
“And we’re so close to getting the third amulet.” Sheldgoose said excitedly. Panchito and Donald exchanged concerned glances.
“...How close?” Donald asked, though he wasn’t sure that he wanted to hear the answer. He was scared that Sheldgoose had captured his family and was threatening to hurt them if they didn’t hand over the last amulet.
“Well, we’re in the same country.” Sheldgoose waved it off. “And we know who we’re looking for, so we’re closer than we were before.”
Donald’s eyes widened. “The same country?” He asked weakly. Panchito seemed to be alarmed as well.
“Where are we?” Panchito asked quietly. Had they really been unconscious for so long that they had been moved all the way to another country entirely? Just how long had they been out for? Donald had been kidnapped and forced away from his family, but at this moment he felt more alarmed about it than he had before. It just felt so much more real now that he was so far from home. He wondered if this was how Panchito had been feeling this whole time.
“That...that is none of your business.” Sheldgoose said sharply.
“No, it’s not.” Felldrake agreed. Donald flinched when he saw the way that Felldrake’s eyes glowed. They had just woken up from his magical spell, they didn’t need to be magicked all over again. “The only reason you’re here is because we can’t risk you running away again, so…” Panchito and Donald whimpered and drew close to each other. They both closed their eyes tight as Felldrake’s magic came over them.
Donald shuddered as a cold feeling came over him. He felt as though he had just jumped into a freezing lake, except that he wasn’t wet. He could feel Panchito’s hand shaking in his grip, so he believed that the young rooster was experiencing the same thing as he was. A moment later the feeling passed and Donald cautiously opened his eyes to see what Felldrake had done to them.
To Donald’s confusion, he looked fine, and he felt just fine too. He looked to Panchito and opened his mouth to ask him how he was feeling, but no sound came out. Felldrake had used his magic to silence them. That was annoying, but not that bad.
Donald squeezed Panchito’s hand and mouthed reassurances to his friend in a way that he hoped would calm him.
“Well, that’s certainly an improvement.” Sheldgoose said in relief. “It’s bad enough that we’re going to be stuck wandering around this dump of a city, at least we don’t have to listen to these brats whining.”
“And yet, I’m still stuck listening to your whining.” Felldrake said lowly, like he was just a few moments away from casting the same spell on his descendent. “Now, get going!” Felldrake snapped. Sheldgoose rolled his eyes, but with the staff in hand he began to walk towards the door of the rundown shack they were in. Panchito and Donald watched him go, wondering just what was going to happen to them. Was Sheldgoose just going to leave them here?
Just before Sheldgoose reached the door Donald felt a pulling sensation, almost like a rope had been tied around his waist and somebody was tugging on it. He staggered forward, and Panchito did the same. Donald looked down to see if there was something around his waist, and he saw something like a purple wisp fading away.
Donald looked up in alarm to see Felldrake looking incredibly smug. The stupid staff had used magic to prevent them from running off again. And they couldn’t even cry for help either. How was it that they were so close to freedom, but more trapped than they had been before?
“Keep up, brats.” Sheldgoose said impatiently. Donald growled silently as he and Panchito caught up with Sheldgoose, though they were careful to stay out of arm's reach of him. Donald knew that they would get dragged along if they fell behind too far, but he wasn’t about to give Sheldgoose any chances to hurt them. Never again.
When Sheldgoose opened the door, he let bright sunshine in. Donald had been stuck in a dimly lit basement for so long, he had nearly forgotten how bright the sun could be. He squeezed his eyes shut tight and would have whimpered if he could. Donald wanted to draw back, but he could only be so far from Sheldgoose.
Donald flinched when he felt Panchito grab his other hand. He let Panchito drag his hand up over his eyes to block the bright light a little more. Panchito also tightened his grip on Donald’s hand and gently guided him along.
Donald, blind to his surroundings, put his trust in Panchito. His friend wasn’t going to let anything happen to him. It was scary and strange to be walking around in an unknown location, forced to follow a villain, but he tried to keep calm by telling himself that this was just a game...a game that he didn’t like, but was forced to play anyways, but a game nonetheless.
It wasn’t that hard for Donald to pretend. He frequently used to be stuck playing games he didn’t like with Della. What he wouldn’t give to play one of those games he despised again, to be with his twin sister.
Donald and Panchito walked for nearly fifteen minutes, following behind Sheldgoose, when Donald walked right into somebody. He went toppling down to the ground, and dragged Panchito down with him.
“Ah, desculpe,” A little kid said. Donald brought his hand away from his eyes and reluctantly looked to see a young green parrot who looked a year or two younger than him standing in front of him. “Você está bem?”
“Wh-what?” Donald asked. His eyes widened in shock when he realized he had said something. Had Felldrake’s magic warn off?”
“You can talk?” Panchito gasped when he heard his own question. “I can talk? ¡Eso! I have my voice back!”
“Oh, you’re American.” The parrot held out a hand and pulled Donald to his feet. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
“N-no, I’m fine.” Donald looked around. He saw Sheldgoose in the distance, but he was pretty far from them, and was still walking. Why had that pulling force between them worn off? How long would it take for Sheldgoose to notice that they weren’t with him? Would he even notice at all. Could...could this be their chance to escape. “He-he’s gone,” Donald said in quiet disbelief as Sheldgoose walked right out of sight. He couldn’t believe this. He was dreaming. This just couldn’t be real. “He-he’s really gone.”
Panchito blinked and looked around. When he didn’t see Sheldgoose his eyes widened. “Oh...he is.” A smile slowly spread on Panchito’s face. “Esto es un milagro.”
“Um milagre?” the parrot looked at Panchito. Donald looked at both of them. He didn’t know what a milagro, or a milagre, or whatever they were saying was, but the meaning wasn’t what he was thinking about. Panchito and the parrot sounded like they said the same thing, but Donald heard the little differences, and he wondered why that was.
“What language are you speaking?” Donald asked the little parrot. “It’s not Spanish, right?” Panchito spoke Spanish, but even though the parrot’s words sounded similar, they weren’t quite the same.
“Um, Português, claro.” The parrot said. Donald and Panchito looked at each other. Portuguese? Well, at least that narrowed down where they were.
“So, are we in Portugal, or Brazil?” Donald asked.
“You do not know where you are?” The kid tilted his head in confusion. Panchito and Donald shook their heads. “You are in Brasil, my friends. How do you not know that?”
“We were kinda brought here against our will.” Panchito rubbed the back of his neck. He flinched when he accidently rubbed one of his newly repositioned feathers. Donald glared slightly at Panchito’s injury. He would make Sheldgoose pay for that, sooner or later.
“That jerk we were with, he kidnapped us.” Donald said coldly.
“Nos secuestró.” Panchito nodded.
“Sequestrou?” The parrot looked slightly ill. “Porque?”
“Because he’s a jerk.” Donald wiped at his eyes. He refused to admit that he was so relieved that he was getting emotional. His eyes were just wet because the sun was so bright. He wasn’t crying. “But he’s gone. He’s finally gone.”
“But how?” Panchito asked. “I thought he used magic to make us stay close?”
“Magic?” The parrot smiled. “Well, I’m glad I bumped into you.” The parrot gave a little bow. “Meu nome é José Carioca.”
Panchito grinned broadly. “Yo soy Panchito Romero Miguel Fransisco Quintero González the third.” Donald couldn’t help but grin when he heard his friend’s name. It was just so long, so him. And it was nice that Panchito was starting to say ‘the third’ in English. He was getting really good at his English, and it was starting to come more naturally to him.
“Donald Duck,” Donald introduced himself. “Now why are you glad we bumped into each other?”
José looked around almost nervously. “Mi siga.” José took their hands and pulled them into a side street that wasn’t as crowded as the one they had been on. When they were alone José took off the little hat that he was wearing and held it out to them. “This hat, minha mãe gave it to me. It protects me from magia negra.”
Donald automatically took a step away from José.” Why would you need protection from black magic?”
“Just in case.” José shrugged. “Mãe knows about magic, so she doesn’t want me to be hurt.” So whoever this Mãe was, the only reason she believed in magical protection was because she was familiar with how dangerous magic could be. She might be a witch herself. Donald didn’t feel completely safe accepting magical help, but what was he supposed to do? Tell José that he didn’t accept the magical help that had gotten them away from Sheldgoose? Donald was cautious about magic, but he wasn’t an idiot.
“Bueno, gracias, amigo.” Panchito shook José’s hand so enthusiastically that the little parrot’s whole body starting shaking.
“Glad to help,” José laughed. “But what if he comes back?” Donald and Panchito froze. They hadn’t really wanted to think about what they would do when Sheldgoose came looking for them again. Maybe José’s magical protection could protect them from Felldrake’s magic, but would it protect them from just being grabbed by Sheldgoose or Leopold? This was a temporary solution, at best.
“I don’t know,” Donald admitted reluctantly. They weren’t out of the woods yet, and it was scary.
José smiled reassuringly and took his hand. “Minha Mãe can make you enchanted protection too. Minha família can help you.” Magical help. Uncle Scrooge would be furious if he knew that Donald would be accepting magical protection. Donald had lost count of how many times Uncle Scrooge had warned them that magic always came with a price, and most often that price would be paid by the one who was looking for protection in the first place.
But Uncle Scrooge wasn’t here, and right now magic was the only choice he had.
“Enchanted protection sounds pretty great right now.” Donald laughed slightly. Panchito nodded.
José grinned broadly. “Come, I can take you to my home.” Donald was just throwing everything he’d learned away. His uncle taught him to not to use magic, and his parents taught him not to trust strangers, and here he was, about to go to the house of a boy he barely knew to get some enchantment.
But Donald didn’t see any other option. Sometimes, one had to go against their deepest instincts to survive, and this was one of those times. He had to get magical help. He didn’t really have much of a choice.
I didn't share how old José is in this chapter, so I'll just say so here. Our favorite little green parrot is...six years old. Yep, three years younger than Panchito, who for some reason, I decided should be the oldest.
I hope the Portuguese was okay. Unlike with Spanish, I haven't really learned Portuguese, so I'm just using online translations. Hopefully, it's good enough, if it's not, then I hope it wasn't so bad that I've insulted everybody who knows this language.
José whistled and tightened his grip on the hands of his new friends. Panchito smiled broadly and started tapping his foot and humming along with José’s little song. Panchito’s little tap lead him to stagger slightly in their walking. José laughed and leaned back to help Panchito get his balance back. Panchito, in an attempt to regain his image of control, did a little dance as José pulled him back, to make it look like he had tripped on purpose.
“What are you guys doing?” Donald asked irritably.
“Dancing,” Panchito laughed in response.
“Whistling,” José said simply.
“We don’t have time for music,” Donald scowled as he pulled on Panchito’s other hand to keep him standing in place. “We just got away from Sheldgoose. If you guys keep on drawing attention to us he’ll just find us again.”
José smiled encouragingly at Donald. “You really haven’t been to Rio before,” José gestured around them. “Everybody sings and dances here.”
“...Maybe,” Donald said reluctantly as he looked around fearfully. “Can we just get wherever we’re going quickly?”
“Don’t worry,” José said. “My home is close.” He started running, and the other two ran right next to him. Every once and awhile the three of them would have disagreements about which way to go. From their location, there were a number of ways they could get to his home. Donald frequently tried to get José to take them the fastest way, but he also wanted to stay out of sight all the time, but it wasn’t really possible to do both every time. Especially when Panchito was desperate to stay out in the open, in crowded areas. Panchito got really nervous when they weren’t crowded by those around them.
Two or three times, José had to intervene between the two of them before they really started fighting. He didn’t really like conflict, and even though he had just met Donald and Panchito, he could tell that they were close friends. He didn’t want to see them fighting with each other.
It wasn’t too long before the three of them got to José’s neighborhood. “Look, that’s my house,” José said excitedly. Donald finally lightened up a little and smiled when he heard that.
“And you’re sure this mãe person can help us?” Donald asked, and he actually sounded cautiously optimistic.
“Claro,” José lead them to his front door. “Mamãe’s really good at magic.”
“Mamãe?” Donald frowned slightly. “That sounds a lot like mommy. Does mãe mean mom?”
José laughed. “Sim, mãe is Português for mom.”
“Oh,” Panchito exchanged glances with Donald, looking like he was trying to keep himself from laughing. “I thought Mãe was a name,”
“Me too,” Donald chuckled too, which just got Panchito fully laughing at the slight miscommunication.
Still giggling, José went to the front door and opened it up. “Mãe! I’m home!” José looked at the other two. “You can’t come in unless you’re invited.”
“So why can’t you invite us in?” Donald crossed his arms.
José pouted. “I’m too little,” He turned back inside and looked around for his mother. “Mãe!”
“Ei, pintinho, what have I told you about shouting in the house?” José grinned when his mother came in. He ran up to her and pulled her closer to the door.
“Me desculpe, mamãe.” He gestured at his friends outside. “They need help. Can my friends come in?”
“Oh, of course, please,” José’s mãe bent down and held her hands out to them. Panchito grinned broadly and ran through the front door. Donald seemed more cautious, but Panchito was still holding his hand, so he didn’t have a chance. “What help do you need?”
Donald looked around cautiously, before leaned closer to José’s mom. “We need magical protection,”
“Like what José has.” Panchito added. “We were...were…” He turned to Donald. “How is it said?”
“Kidnapped,” Donald provided for Panchito, not unkindly. He turned back to José’s mãe. “We were kidnapped by a sorcerer.”
“They ran into me, and my magic protected them from his magic so they could get away.” José said.
“But he might come looking for us again,” Donald said anxiously.
“Don’t you worry,” José’s mãe said gently. “You’re safe here,” She stood up. “There are a couple of things I need to gather. José, why don’t you show your friends around?”
“Sim, mãe.” José took Panchito and Donald’s hands and pulled them further into the house. “What do you two want to see? The house is small, but there are bedrooms, and a kitchen, and-”
“A kitchen?” Donald gave a small, almost pained smile. “Food sounds good.”
“We haven’t had a lot of food lately.” Panchito said.
José frowned slightly. Their kidnapper had kept food from them? Why would somebody be so mean? What was the point? “Why did the sorcerer take you?”
“That’s a good question.” Donald grumbled.
“He wanted our magic amulets,” Panchito said.
“You have magic amulets?” José’s eyes widened as he looked at his new friends in near awe. “What kind of magic?” They seemed so surprised when they had heard that he had magic, and yet they had their own.
“I have no clue,” Donald pulled his hand out of Panchito’s grip just so he could cross his arms. He looked like he was trying to be grumpy, but he looked more scared. “My Great-Grandpa told me that they would protect us, but…” Donald tensed and dug his fingers into his arms. “We still got taken. And Panchito...Panchito still got hurt by his stupid amulet.” Donald clenched his eyes shut, though not before José saw some tears.
“You were hurt?” José looked at Panchito in concern.
“Un poco,” Panchito shrugged, like it wasn’t that important, but José had older brothers, he knew when somebody was just trying to be brave. When José wouldn’t stop looking expectedly at Panchito the young rooster grimaced and gestured to his neck, where there were slightly twisted and loose feathers that José hadn’t noticed before.
José frowned sympathetically as he looked at the healing injury. He didn’t want to imagine what had caused it, but he still felt the need to ask more. “Did the magic do that?”
Panchito slowly shook his head. “I do not think so,”
“It wasn’t the magic,” Donald said coldly. “It was the chain.”
“Oh,” José fiddled his fingers. “Well, if your amulets are magic, they might just protect you from other magic, not non-magic.”
Donald frowned slightly and looked at Panchito. “...So the amulets might not do anything when we’re being choked or kidnapped, but if there’s magic involved, the protection will work?” Donald tapped his fingers against his arms. “I...I think I noticed that. Sometimes Felldrake’s spells didn’t work on us. Maybe that’s because of the amulets.”
“Probably,” José felt somewhat excited. They wanted magical protection, but they already had some. Maybe Mãe could build up on the magic already in their necklaces. “Where are your amulets?”
Panchito and Donald looked at each other with wide eyes as they both felt at their necks. Panchito then checked his pants pockets while Donald looked up his own sleeves. It became clear after a moment that they didn’t have them.
“Felldrake has them,” Donald said in a quiet voice. “He has to have them,”
“And if he gets the last one…” Panchito his arms around himself. José felt bad for asking about the amulets in the first place, because now his new friends were even more upset than they had been before.
“Mãe can help get them back,” José said. He didn’t know this for sure, but his mãe was really powerful with her black magic. He was confident that she would be able to find them. As far as José was concerned, there wasn’t a lot that she couldn’t do.
The three of them went into the kitchen, where two of José’s older brothers, Luiz and Matheus, were sitting at the table. Luiz grinned when he saw the three of them, and José braced himself, because he knew what was coming.
“Ah, pintinho, back so soon?” Luiz said in a teasing, almost mocking way. He effortly picked up José. which the younger parrot was not happy about.
“Don’t call me that,” José glared at his older brother. Only Mãe could call him ‘pintinho’. Luiz knew how much he hated being treated like a baby just because he was the youngest, which was exactly why he did it. “Put me down,” José kicked out his brother irritably, but Luiz just chuckled and put him back on the ground.
“Calm down, Zé-Zé,” Luiz ruffled the feathers on José’s head. “I’m just messing with you.”
“Quem são seus amigos?” Matheus asked quietly. He was two years older than José, but he didn’t know nearly as much English. Despite how much their parents encouraged them to be familiar with English, just in case, Matheus prefered to stick with Portuguese.
“This is Panchito and Donald,” José introduced his friends. He then climbed up onto the counter so he could reach the cabinets. He didn’t know what the others wanted to eat, but he thought that he could find something. After a moment of searching he found a hidden package of biscoitos. Usually, Mãe didn’t want him to have too many sweets before lunch, but Panchito and Donald had been kidnapped, he thought that they deserved a treat.
José sat down at the counter and opened the package of biscoitos. He held some out to his friends, and they rushed to join him. Panchito jumped onto the counter with him, while Donald was happy to just lean against it.
José could eat a lot of these biscoitos, but Panchito and Donald were just devouring them. “You two sure seem to be hungry,” Luiz commented as he grabbed a few biscoitos, two of which he handed to Matheus. “What are you doing here anyways? Zé-Zé never has friends over.”
“Don’t call me Zé-Zé,” José muttered.
“Look, irmão, it’s either Zé-Zé or pintinho, it’s your choice.” Luiz just smirked at him.
José pouted. “Zé-Zé’s fine.”
“That’s what I thought,” Luiz said. Matheus chuckled, and José glared at both of them in annoyance.
“Can you leave us alone?” José pleaded.
“Oh, let them stay,” Panchito kicked his feet and laughed. “They’re just having fun,”
“You have no idea how much I want to hear my sister tease me like that again.” Donald said quietly.
“Y mi primo,” Panchito frowned slightly.
Just...you’re lucky to have your brothers here,” Donald insisted. José looked at the ground. They were right. He was just complaining about the very thing that they wanted to go back to.
“Well...you’re lucky that you have each other,” José said quietly. Donald and Panchito looked at each other. Panchito grinned broadly.
“He’s got a point, hermano,” Panchito leaned forward and rested his head on Donald’s.
“Yeah, I guess he does,” Donald took a step forward, making Panchito nearly fell forward, but Donald turned and pushed him back before he could.
At that moment the five of them heard a knock on the door. Panchito and Donald’s eyes widened in fear as they took each other’s hands. José frowned and hopped off the counter. Luiz gave them an odd look.
“My friends, they’re in trouble,” José looked at his older brother. Luiz frowned slightly and nodded.
“I’ll go see what’s going on,” Luiz went back to the table and put a hand on Matheus’ shoulder. “Keep an eye on them for a minute.” Matheus nodded, and Luiz made his way back into the hallway. José, Donald, and Panchito all looked at each other.
“Follow me,” José said quietly. He looked at Matheus, “We’re going to our room,” His brother nodded and stood up. The four of them made their way out of the kitchen towards the back rooms of the house. They had no reason to think that whoever was at the door was a threat, but it was always better to be safe than sorry. The entire house had magical protection over it, but the bedrooms all had additional enchantments.
When they got to the bedroom that José, Matheus, Luiz all shared with their oldest brother, Victor, who was sitting back on his bed, playing his magical umbrella like a flute. When Victor saw the four of them enter, he lowered his umbrella and looked at them in concern. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” José admitted as he climbed onto his own bed, and both Donald and Panchito were eager to join him. Matheus stayed by the door and leaned against it. “But can my friends be here, just in case?”
Victor smiled gently. “Of course, make yourselves at home,” He picked up his umbrella again. “Música?”
José nodded in appreciation. “Por favor,”
Victor brought the handle of his umbrella to his mouth and began to play a catchy tune on it. Donald stared in awe at the fact that Victor was playing an umbrella like an instrument, but Panchito just smiled and nodded along with the music. As the minutes passed all of them began to relax a little more. Eventually, there was a knock on the door, quickly followed by Luiz addressing them.
“It’s just me,” Luiz said. Matheus quickly opened the door for him.
“Hey, Mãe wants to see you three,” Luiz said, looking at Victor, Matheus, and José. “Actually, our guests want to see you guys. I don’t know what they want, but I don’t think they’re dangerous. Just kinda weird.”
José frowned slightly but got up. If he needed to see their guests, then he would. He wasn’t worried about himself, but he didn’t want to leave his friends on their own.
“Go on, Zé-Zé,” Luiz bent down a little to be closer to José’s level. “I’ll stay up here with them.”
“Why do they want us and not you?” Victor asked as he got to his feet.
“Whatever they want, it’s not me,” Luiz shrugged. “They already checked.” You looked back towards the door. “Look, I don’t know who those guys are, but one of them is kinda scary, so I’d get down there.”
“Sim, sim, we’re going,” Victor handed his umbrella to Luiz and took José’s hand to drag him to the door. Matheus had already made his way out. Before leaving, José took one last look at his friends, and when he saw that they looked worried he smiled in what he hoped was an encouraging way. He knew that he was going to be just fine, he just wondered what their mysterious guests could want with them.
I took creative liberties with José's family and gave him three older brothers. This is both for the plot, and because according to my dad, the average Brazilian family had 4-5 kids (at least, that was his experience when he lived there for two years). He said that they can also have fairly small houses, which is why José shares are room with all of his brothers. I didn't have a lot of Portuguese in this chapter, but I was focusing more on trying to write José as a little kid (little kids are ridiculously hard to write), and portray what I showed about his home life accurately, so I hope it's okay.
Della knew that her great-grandfather and uncle didn’t exactly get along with each other. They had very similar interests in treasure and adventures, but they had very different ways of doing things, and very different reasons for doing it. Della didn’t really care about who was right and who was wrong, she knew that there were a lot of things that she could learn from both of them, and then she could decide for herself what she thought was right.
Della just hadn’t realized how annoying it was for them to both try to teach her at the exact same time.
“Oh, Della, look at all these artifacts,” Great-grandpa Coot excitedly pointed out the Brazilian pieces in the front entrance of the Carioca house. “I haven’t seen so much signs of Macumba in one household before.”
“Sim, my family is very devoted to practicing Quimbanda,” Ana Carioca, the motherly green parrot who was the head of the household said. She didn’t seem very eager to have them in her household, but she was a more gracious hostess than Della thought she would ever be if she ever had three strangers show up at her home and demand to investigate her children.
“Bah, Quimbanda,” Uncle Scrooge said the word with as much disgust as he could muster, which was a lot. He put a hand on Della’s shoulder and held her back firmly. “Don’t touch anything, lass, you never know what to expect from black magic. It’s dangerous.”
“Isso é ridículo,” Ana waved aside Scrooge’s concern. She grabbed a mask off of the wall and held it out to Della. The little girl hesitated for only a second before she accepted the mask. It felt extremely normal, nothing supernatural or scary about it. “I have four children living at home, and one of them is younger than you are. If this was truly dangerous, I would not have it in my home.”
“I still don’t trust it,” Scrooge muttered angrily. He grabbed the mask from Della and handed it back to Ana.
“Don’t mind him,” Della said. “He doesn’t trust any magic.”
“Bem, if you won’t allow me to have your child handle my magic, then how can you expect me to let you test your magic on my children?” Ana crossed her arms and eyed Uncle Scrooge critically.
“She’s got a point, Scrooge,” Great-grandpa Coot said absently. He was only half paying attention to their conversation, as he was busy looking at everything around the house. Great-grandpa Coot very reluctantly turned to look at Ana. “Would you feel better if we let you see the amulet?”
Ana relaxed slightly. “Sim, por favor.” Great-grandpa Coot took the green necklace and offered it out to the Brazilian woman. She took it and observed it carefully.
“This contains some very old magic,” Ana said in quiet awe. “You say this amulet is meant for only one?”
“One of the original caballeros,” Great-grandpa Coot said, though it didn’t mean a lot to anybody who didn’t know just what a caballero was. “He was your ancestor.”
“I feel the connection,” Ana said. “If possession is transferred through blood, then it may just belong to one of my sons.”
“We just have to figure out which one it is,” Great-grandpa Coot said.
“You know, you claim to be an expert on the caballeros,” Uncle Scrooge glared slightly at the older duck. “Shouldn’t you know which one is the caballero?”
“It’s a little complicated,” Great-grandpa Coot said. “Donald and Panchito were easy enough to figure out, but they’re both only children. It was hard enough to narrow down the search to just this family. Now, I’m ninety percent certain that one of these boys is the third caballero.”
“But you don’t know which one,” Della frowned slightly. “So, what, are we just going to give the necklace to all of them and hope that one of them just tells us that it belongs to him?” Della didn’t know how well that would work. When Donald had first been given his amulet, he hadn’t said anything about feeling a connection with it, and neither had Panchito.
Still, Della’s great-grandfather had dedicated his life to learning more about the Caballeros. If anybody knew how the necklaces worked, it was him.
“Well, we’d better test the amulet with the other boys,” Della crossed her arms and looked around, though she knew she wouldn’t see who she was looking for. “Where are they anyways?” How long did it take for one boy to get three other boys?
Ana looked towards the back rooms and frowned slightly. “Filhos, come out here!”
“Nós estamos vindo, Mãe!” A boy’s voice responded. A moment later three boys came out to join them. The oldest boy looked like he was nearly a teenager. He entered the room confidently and grinning broadly. He made eye contact with Della, and winked at her. Della just blinked in response. She really didn’t know what to think of him.
Standing just behind the older boy was a parrot who looked about Della’s age. He was hunching his shoulders slightly, and looked a little unsure. Della didn’t think that he was necessarily scared, or even nervous, but he definitely didn’t want to be there.
Clinging tightly to the oldest boy’s arm was a little parrot who looked a year or two than Della was. The boy was practically hiding behind his brother, but he kept on peeking out at Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot cautiously, like he was expecting the worst from them. When the boy caught sight of Della, he looked visibly shocked. He looked at Della with wide eyes, and then back towards where he and his brothers had come from, and then back to Della.
“You’ve already met Luiz,” Ana said, talking about the parrot who had been at her side when she had answered the door. “These are my other boys, Victor,”
“Olá,” The teenager gave a little bow. He seemed to be going out of his way to be charming and make a good impression. Della wasn’t completely convinced that it was sincere, but she had to admit, his charm was fun.
Ana gestured to the withdrawn boy in the back. “That’s Matheus. He’s quiet, so don’t take it badly if he doesn’t talk to you.” The boy winced slightly, but sure enough he didn’t say a word.
“And that pintinho is José” Ana knelt down and held an arm out to the youngest boy. He quickly ran to his mother’s side, keeping his gaze on Della the entire time. He was weirding her out a little bit.
Uncle Scrooge cleared his throat. “Alright, lads, we’re looking for two lost boys, and are hoping you could help us.” José’s eyes snapped right back to Della’s uncle at this point. He looked terrified, and he wasn’t the only one. Victor raised an eyebrow and looked desperately at their mother. Matheus looked slightly ill. Della had no idea what their problem was.
“You boys have nothing you need to worry about,” Great-grandpa Coot said gently. He nodded at Ana, who held up the green amulet. “All we’re asking is that each of you put this amulet on, and tell us if you feel anything unusual.
Victor glanced briefly at his younger brothers before he stepped forward. “I’ll go first.” He volunteered. Ana smiled encouragingly at her son as she handed him the necklace. Victor fearlessly slipped the amulet chain over his neck and let it rest against his chest. They were all frozen, waiting with bated breath for a moment. Finally Victor put his hands around the necklace and lifted it so he could get a closer look at it. “É mágico?”
“Yes, the amulet is magical,” Great-grandpa Coot said. “Did you feel anything?”
“I just felt magic,” Victor said. “But I feel magic in a lot of things.”
“Victor has always been perceptive about magic,” Ana said. “If the amulet was his, he would know it.”
“Yes, I didn’t think it was him,” Great-grandpa Coot admitted. “He’s so much older than the other two.”
“In that case, perhaps we should try Matheus,” Uncle Scrooge looked straight at the boy in the corner of the room.
The boy’s eyes widened slightly. Matheus looked over towards his older brother with uncertainty in his eyes. Victor smiled and tossed the necklace to the boy. Matheus caught the amulet and hesitantly put it on. The necklace had rested on his chest for barely more than a moment before Matheus took the necklace off again and held it out.
“Não senti nada,” Matheus shook his head. So he wasn’t the caballero, and neither were Luiz and Victor. That left just one boy. They all turned to look at José, who looked somewhat cautious. It was normal for little kids to be scared of the unknown, but Della didn’t think that was what was going on.
“Eu...how will the amulet help find those boys?” José asked. He didn’t sound nearly as scared as he looked. Della wished she knew what was going through that boy’s head.
“Oh, well, that’s quite simple,” Great-grandpa Coot said. “That amulet is connected to two other amulets that belong to the boys we’re looking for. If the ones who truly own the amulets are wearing them, they will be drawn to each other.”
José looked around. “...What if they don’t have their amulets?”
Della frowned slightly. That was a very strange ‘what if’. José knew something. Della didn’t say anything, because Uncle Scrooge kept on telling her that she was too quick to act and really paranoid (not like he was one to talk). Still, she swore to keep her eyes on the kid.
“Well, lad, in that case, the amulets won’t be drawn to each other,” Uncle Scrooge said, though he looked to Great-grandpa Coot for confirmation.
“Right,” Great-grandpa Coot nodded. “But you should still feel it if the amulet is yours.”
“Uh,” José glanced towards the back rooms. “I...I forgot something.” The boy looked briefly at his mother, an odd look in his eyes, before he hurried out of the room towards the back. Della scowled and glared towards where the kid had run off to. Her brother was missing, and so was another boy. They might be scared, or hurt, and Della needed to find them before something happened. This little boy might be the key to finding them, and José wouldn’t do something as easy as putting on a stupid necklace.
That was not okay. Della had waited long enough to get Donald back, and she refused to wait another second. Whatever was so important for José to do, it could wait a minute. Della was going to get some answers, whether José wanted to give them to her or not.
Della narrowed her eyes in determination and followed behind José. As she passed by Matheus she snatched the amulet from his hands. She clutched the necklace tightly in her fist as she made her way to the back rooms where José had gone. She heard her uncle and great-grandfather call for her, and Victor was saying something too. The teenager sounded pretty angry, but Della couldn’t care less. She was sick and tired of waiting around. She was finally going to do something to bring her brother home.
When Della got to the back rooms she saw José about to enter a room. When he saw her though he quickly shut the door and turned to face her with an obviously forced look of innocence on his face.
“O-Olá,” José smiled. He was trying really hard to look sincere and innocent, and with a few more years of experience he would probably be even more charming and calm in the face of danger than Victor was. Because José was just a little boy, he still had a ways to go. “What’s wrong?”
He sounded sincerely concerned, and that just frustrated Della even more. He did not get to act like he was worried about her when he wasn’t going to help her. Della clenched her fists and acting completely impulsively she dove right into José and tackled him to the ground. José yelped in alarm and slight pain as the two of them crashed on the ground.
“Zé-Zé?” Della heard Luiz’s voice from inside the room that José had been heading for. “Você está bem?” He sounded concerned, and Della knew that she was just seconds away from an angry and protective older brother seeing her attacking José, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to hurt the kid, she was just desperate for his help.
“Please,” Della said quietly. She hated how her voice got caught in her throat. She didn’t want to cry, not right now. José’s scared eyes softened slightly in compassion. “I’m just trying to find my brother.”
José opened his mouth to answer her, but before he could say anything the door was thrown open. Della didn’t even have time to look up before she was pushed off of José by Luiz, who had reacted in anger the second he had seen her on top of his brother. Della groaned slightly and had to take a moment to get back the breath that had been knocked out of her. She wasn’t used to kids that were older and bigger than her knocking her around. It made her feel a little bad for tackling José the way that she had.
“O que você está fazendo com o meu irmão?” Luiz practically growled at Della.
“What the heck’s going on out here?” Della felt her breath catch in her throat, and this time it had nothing to do with being tackled from the side. It was unmistakable, she knew that voice. Della snapped her gaze to the room that Luiz had just come out of and she found herself making eye contact with somebody that she had feared she would never see again. The boy’s eyes widened so much that it might have been funny if the circumstances were any different.
“D-Della?” The boy’s voice cracked horribly, which was common for him. Della used to laugh at him all the time because of it. Now, she still felt a bit like laughing, though that was more from relief and disbelief than humor.
Who here is ready for a reunion chapter that is full of feels?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Donald and Della were both completely still, staring at each other in shock. Neither of them moved, or even dared to breath. They just looked at each other in disbelief. Donald didn’t want to say anything. He was scared that this whole thing would end up just being a dream, and if he said anything it would all disappear.
Della was the first to recover from her shock. She slowly, almost cautiously, got to her her feet. Della took a step towards Donald, and he instinctively took a step back. Della flinched and froze, a wounded expression on her face. Donald felt bad. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. He didn’t know why he had stepped away from Della. She was his sister, and he had missed her more than anything. He shouldn’t be afraid of her.
“Hermano,” Donald hadn’t realized just how tense he was until he relaxed at Panchito’s touch on his arm. Panchito had always been a pretty good grounding presence for him. “Estas bien?” Donald swallowed stiffly and nodded.
“Pancho? That you?” Della smiled. Any of her previous hesitancy seemed to disappear in an instant. “You’re here. You’re both here. You’re both okay.” Della dashed forward and threw her arms around both Donald and Panchito. Donald was thrown off for a second, he still had a hard time believing that all of this was really happening, but actually feeling his sister’s physical presence, it made it feel much more real.
Donald held tightly to his sister, telling himself that he would never let go of her again. Della’s embrace was just as tight. Donald barely noticed when Panchito pulled back to give him and his sister some space. Donald was just glad to have the chance to embrace Della with both arms, though he was also grateful that he could still feel Panchito right at his side. His friend was giving him space, but he wasn’t leaving him alone. That was all Donald needed.
After a few long moments Donald noticed that his neck feathers where Della was burying her face were getting wet. “You...you crying, Della?”
“Sh-shut up,” Della sniffled and pulled away from Donald just enough to wipe at her eyes. “You’re one to talk. Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot can probably hear you from all the way down the hall.”
Donald felt his breath get caught in his throat. “They...they’re here?” He didn’t know why he was surprised. He wouldn’t put it past Della to try to wander off to a foreign country on her own, but Uncle Scrooge was usually so protective whenever they traveled with him, and Donald didn’t think that his kidnapping would have made his uncle any less protective. But it had been so long since Donald had seen his uncle. He would never say it out loud, but he had seriously started to believe that he would never see them again.
Della’s eyes widened. “Oh my gosh, they don’t know,” She quickly took Donald’s hand and dragged him into the hallway. Donald staggered and instinctively grabbed Panchito’s hand to steady him, pulling the young rooster after them. The three of them ran down the short hall towards the front entrance of the house.
“Uncle Scrooge!” Della shouted as they ran. “Uncle Scrooge!”
“Della?” Uncle Scrooge’s voice came from right around the corner. Donald felt his breath quicken and his throat tighten up. His uncle was there, he was so close. “Are you alright, lass?”
“U-uncle Scrooge?” Donald stammered. His voice was quiet, but loud enough to carry into the front room, because all the casual chatter happening in there stopped immediately. A moment later Uncle Scrooge ran around the corner, a wide, desperate look in his eyes. When Uncle Scrooge saw Donald he froze and stared in disbelief. Donald’s tears had calmed slightly from when he had seen Della, but they were gathering all over again. His uncle was there, right there.
“Uncle Scrooge!” Much like Della had done just a few minutes ago, Donald dashed towards his uncle. Donald knew that Uncle Scrooge wasn’t that fond of physical contact and affection, but he didn’t care. He had been away from his uncle for far too long, he needed hug, desperately.
Uncle Scrooge recovered from his shock just before Donald reached his side, and he knelt down to return the embrace. Donald whimpered and sobbed as he nuzzled as close to his uncle as he could.
“You’re okay,” Uncle Scrooge held Donald as though he planned on never letting him go again. “You’re okay,” Uncle Scrooge ran his fingers through Donald’s head feathers, brushing and preening them.
“Donald...and Panchito!” Great-grandpa Coot laughed. “What are you two doing here?”
“I don’t care what they’re doing here,” Della said. “I want to know where they’ve been. Unless you’ve been hiding out here this whole time, and if that’s the case then I’ll have to kick both of your tail feathers into next week.”
“We just got to Brazil,” Panchito said casually, like they had just come here on vacation, not as though they had escaped from their kidnapper. “You’ll never guess where we were before.”
Still clinging tightly to his uncle Donald turned his head to look at Della. He couldn’t help but laugh slightly when she saw her exasperated scowl. He had missed her so much. “If we had a guess where you guys were, we would have found you a long time ago.” She had a point, and Donald felt his chest tighten up all over again. This time it wasn’t because of overwhelming sentimentality, but because of horror.
“You guys are in danger,” Donald said. Not that he and Panchito weren’t, but Donald didn’t plan on leaving his family’s side, so if they were safe, then he would be as well. “Felldrake knows you have the third amulet, and he wants it.”
“Felldrake?!” Great-grandpa Coot sounded fairly scared. “He’s back?”
“Well...not physically,” Donald said. “He’s still a stupid stick, but if he gets all of the amulets, he’ll be able to get his body back.”
“He already has two of the amulets,” Panchito said. He sounded serious and nervous, and Donald almost wished that he would go back to acting goofy, like the situation wasn’t as bad as they thought it was.
“Y-you lost the amulets?” Great-grandpa Coot’s tone made Donald flinch and draw closer to Uncle Scrooge. He didn’t sound quite angry, but he definitely wasn’t happy. “How did that happen? The amulets can’t just be stolen, they have to be given freely.”
Donald shifted his feet and swallowed stiffly. “I-I had to give them our amulets. They would have hurt Panchito again if I hadn’t.”
Great-grandpa Coot’s eyes softened and he turned his gaze concerned gaze to Panchito. “Again? Had you been hurt before?”
Panchito winced and rubbed his neck. “It’s not that bad,”
“No, Panchito, it was really bad,” Donald reluctantly pushed himself away from his uncle to go back to Panchito’s side. He took the young rooster’s hand and pulled him closer to the adults. “Look at his neck,”
Uncle Scrooge frowned and gently fingered the feathers at Panchito’s neck. “When did this happen?”
“Right after I saw you earlier,” Panchito said quietly.
“Does it still hurt?” Uncle Scrooge tried to push the feathers aside to take a look at the skin underneath. Donald hadn’t been able to see the injury after it had had more than a few hours to heal. He had no idea how bad it was, or if the pain still bothered Panchito, and it really bothered him.
“Un poco,” Panchito admitted.
“Well, it looks like it’s healing okay,” Uncle Scrooge said. “Your feathers aren’t even misaligned.”
“Oh, that’s because of Donald,” Panchito grinned. “He fixed them.”
Uncle Scrooge put his hand on Donald’s shoulder and smiled proudly. Donald shrugged, feeling pretty pleased with himself, but also a bit embarrassed. He had just done the only thing he could think of to make his friend feel better. He was just glad that it had actually done something.
“Hey, what happened to you anyways?” Della asked Panchito. “You just disappeared on us.”
“Oh, uh, there was a visitor to your home,” Panchito shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. “I didn’t know who he was, but he said he could help me find Donald, so I...I followed him.”
“And let me guess,” Della crossed her arms. “He was your kidnapper?” Panchito shyly nodded and Della’s expression darkened. “That was really stupid. Why would you just walk away with your kidnapper?”
“Hey!” Donald scowled and pushed Della slightly. “Don’t call him stupid, Dumb...I mean, Della.” His sister stared at him in shock. Donald knew that Della was more than used to his anger, so that wasn’t what had thrown her off. Donald was pretty sure that Della was more surprised that he had changed his mind and stopped himself from calling her Dumbella. He had never used to hesitate to call her the nickname that she hated so much, but that was before he had seen how much it hurt Panchito when his intelligence was insulted. Donald would be a big hypocrite if he just talked to Della in that way even while he was getting at her for saying something like that about Panchito.
“Donald, it’s okay,” Panchito said, though Donald could tell by his tone that he did appreciate the backup.
“No, it’s not,” Donald insisted. He didn’t care how many times he had to say it, he would say it another hundred times if it meant getting Panchito to not just roll over and let others walk all over him.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” Della said quickly. “I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s fine,” Panchito said cheerfully, and Donald could tell he was being sincere. “It’s not your fault you have a crazy neighbor.”
“Neighbor?” Della’s eyes widened in alarm. Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot both narrowed their eyes, in suspicion and anger. “Who took you?”
Donald scowled and crossed his arms. “It was that crazy old bird, Sheldgoose. Apparently he’s Felldrake’s descendent.”
“I knew it!” Great-grandpa Coot said, sounding angrier than Donald had ever heard him be. “You went missing right after...how could we have missed it? His house was checked dozens of times.”
“He has a secret lair under his study,” Donald said.
“And all the magic,” Panchito added. “That probably didn’t help.”
“Bah, magic,” Uncle Scrooge growled. “No good can come from it.”
Donald glanced behind him. He could see José and his brother behind them, just watching them quietly. “You know, it’s because of José’s magic that we were able to get away from Sheldgoose and Felldrake in the first place. His protective magic counteracted Felldrake’s.”
Uncle Scrooge frowned. Donald could tell how conflicted he was, almost like he was fighting with himself. Finally Uncle Scrooge’s eyes softened and he walked closer to José. He took the boy’s hands and knelt on the ground to be closer to José’s height. “In that case, I owe you my gratitude,”
José smiled shyly. “It’s actually mágica de minha Mãe.”
Luiz smiled and put his hands in his pockets. “Our mother doesn’t trust magic a lot either, but she believes that the best protection against magic is magic.”
“At least she’s willing to admit it,” Della muttered to Donald, who couldn’t help but snicker. As much as Uncle Scrooge hated magic, he definitely invested a lot of money in magical defenses. It really was almost hilarious how hypocritical it was sometimes.
Uncle Scrooge glared back at them. “Alright, that’s enough out of the two of you,” He sounded like he was trying to be angry, but Donald knew that he wasn’t actually mad. He had seen Scrooge when he was angry before, and this definitely wasn’t it. Donald was almost glad for Uncle Scrooge’s annoyance. It made everything feel that much more normal. Della and Uncle Scrooge may thrive on adventure, but Donald had always wanted a normal life, especially now.
“Can we go home now?” Donald asked. Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot exchanged glances, and though Donald didn’t know what the look meant he already knew that he didn’t like it. “What?”
“Felldrake and Sheldgoose are still out,” Great-grandpa Coot said patiently, but Donald didn’t need or want his patience. Nobody knew better than Donald did about how much danger they could possibly be in. “Felldrake will be desperate to find the last amulet now that he has the other two. We have to stop him.”
“No, no, no, please, no,” Donald rapidly shook his head. He could feel his chest tightening, though he didn’t know if it was from panic or frustration. “I don’t want to try to fight a crazy sorcerer, I just want to go home.”
“I know, Donald, I know,” Great-grandpa Coot knelt and put his hands on Donald’s shoulders. He squeezed them comfortingly. “We’ll get all of this sorted out, I promise, but it’s not safe to just go home and pretend that these things aren’t happening. We’ll keep you boys safe, but you have to give us the chance to sort this out, okay?”
Donald wanted to say no. He wanted to throw a fit and refuse, but instead he found himself nodding his head, and he actually meant it. As scared as he was, he trusted his family. If Great-grandpa Coot promised to keep them safe, then Donald knew that he would do everything in his power to protect them.
They would be fine. They would be just...fine.
I was tempted to write more, but I ultimately decided that these characters deserved a break. I'll wait until next chapter until I mess things up for them again.
On another note, do any of you guys know how to put pictures onto this story? I've received some fanart from some awesome people, and I want to share it. I just don't know how.
José yawned and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. Normally he would be ecstatic about staying up past his bedtime, but it was way too late, even for him, and he was ready for sleep. He knew he couldn’t rest yet though, it was too risky. His mother had asked him to stay with their guests. Donald and Panchito were still possibly in danger. They had to be kept safe.
José knew that if this Felldrake guy came around then he wouldn’t be of much help for them. José had only just started to learn magic. Victor had been learning for years, and he would probably be hopeless against a full fledged sorcerer. José knew they wouldn’t have any chance of beating Felldrake at his own game, but that wasn’t why he and Victor were here.
José’s mother had taken Luiz and Matheus out with her to help Donald’s Great-grandfather and Uncle look for Sheldgoose and Felldrake. As long as the sorcerer was around, Donald and Panchito were in danger. For this reason, Donald’s family refused to leave Brazil until they made sure that the problem was taken care of. José had no idea how long that would take, or what exactly it would mean, but he knew that they were too stubborn to change their minds.
Which meant that Donald and Panchito would be staying with them for a little longer. José didn’t exactly mind the company, but he he was worried about the safety of his new friends. He may not have known them for very long, but Donald and Panchito seemed really nice and fun. He didn’t want them to get hurt. Especially when the sorcerer only wanted them because of their amulets, not because of anything they had done. So José was going to do his best to keep them safe, even if the only thing he could do was keep his friends from running off and doing something stupid because they were getting restless.
“That’s it, that’s it!” Panchito laughed cheerfully, even as Donald’s sister, Della pinned him to the ground, holding his arm behind his back. “You are much better at wrestling than Donald is.”
“He’s never been one for fighting,” Della said as she playfully glanced over at her brother. Panchito took advantage of Della’s distraction to flip her over and get the advantage.
“I can fight,” Donald objected with a pout.
“Well, sure, when you really have to,” Della rolled her eyes. “But if nobody’s life is being threatened, you like to just roll over and take it.” Della looked ready to say more, but Panchito had gotten bored of their talking and wanted them to get back to focusing on their wrestling match.
José watched the two of them in amused curiosity, but he didn’t feel the smallest bit of temptation to join them. He had never been one for rough housing. Maybe he could like it, but his most frequent playmates were his brothers, and they were so much older and bigger than he was. Even Matheus, who was probably the most gentle and quiet of the four of them, could, and had, easily beat José in a physical fight. Maybe when José was bigger he would be able to take them on, but for now he was content with just sitting out and letting others get themselves hurt for the sake of a game.
Just as Della had said, Donald seemed as reluctant to join the wrestling as José was, though that only seemed to be partially because of his dislike for rough housing. Donald just seemed tense, like there was something else on his mind.
José wanted to know what was going on with Donald, but before he could ask him about it Victor came in from outside and frowned when he saw them all still wide awake. Victor had been given the task of keeping an eye on the kids. Victor had agreed to leave them on their own for the most part and keep an eye on things outside, but now he looked like he was regretting that decision. “I thought you guys said you didn’t need a babysitter.”
“We don’t,” José said in a tone that was just barely whiney enough to probably prove Victor’s claim.
“Do you guys have any idea how late it is?” Victor put his hands on his hips. He was usually the most calm of José’s brothers, but when he was put in charge of the others, he could be really serious.
“We’re not tired,” Panchito spoke for all of them. Victor didn’t look convinced, and José didn’t blame him. He could barely keep his eyes open, and he had a hard time believing that the others were really doing much better than him. Either there was something magical about turning eight years old that gave one the magical ability to stay up later (which would definitely explain why Matheus’ bedtime was extended by a whole hour the day that he had turned eight), or they were better at faking it than he was.
Victor sighed and brushed his longer head feathers out of his face. “Hey, I know that things are scary, but if you guys are tired, it’ll just be easier for you to get caught again.” His words scared all of them, but considering Panchito stepped away from Della, ending their little wrestling competition, Victor’s words had definitely done the trick.
Victor smiled gently and sat down on the ground. He pat the pile of pillows and blankets that they had previously brought out into the family room. With all of the guests over, the amount of people in the house had doubled. José and his brothers had agreed to let Donald’s great-grandfather and uncle stay in their room while all of the kids had a bit of a sleep over in the family room.
“Come, how about some music to get you all to relax?” Victor took his umbrella that he always carried with him and brought the handle to his mouth. He began to play a quiet tune with his umbrella flute. José smiled and curled up close to his brother. He loved listening to Victor play his umbrella. It was something that he had been wanting to learn how to do for years, but Victor had kept his secret very well. Nobody else knew how to do it, not even their mother.
Panchito visibly relaxed. He took Donald’s hand and began to pull him towards the pillow pile. Before they got very far Donald pulled out of Panchito’s grip and went to join his sister, who was staring at the umbrella like it was about to bite her. “I wouldn’t question the magical flute too much.”
“But...they’re acting like it’s so normal.” Della protested.
“Not everybody is as afraid of magic as Uncle Scrooge.” Donald said. It was strange for José to hear the young duck defend his family’s magic when just earlier that day he had seemed so cautious about it himself. “It’s just music.”
Della glared at Victor, though she reluctantly let Donald pull her towards the group. “If this guy turns out to be a wannabe Pied Piper who hypnotises us, I get to tell you I told you so.”
Donald laughed cheerfully, which, for some reason, made Panchito stiffen. “Deal.” Donald and Della sat down on Victor’s other side, holding tightly to each other the entire time.
Panchito stood where he was for a moment, a strange look in his eyes as he looked at Donald. After what felt like a few tense moments that Donald seemed to be completely oblivious to Panchito just sat where he stood. He was apart from the rest of their little group, but he wasn’t that far from them, and still on the pile of blankets and pillows, so José didn’t think a lot about it. Maybe Panchito just took up a lot of room when he slept.
José had been feeling sleepy even before Victor had come in, but with his brother there and his soothing music he soon found himself falling asleep. José could have easily slept the night away, but he had never been a very heavy sleeper. He could easily sleep while listening to Victor’s music, or while his family talked to each other, but when there was a noise that he wasn’t expecting, he woke right up.
When José woke up, at first he couldn’t tell why. He had no idea how long he had been asleep for, all he knew was that it had been long enough for the others to be fast asleep. Victor was lying right next to him, a protective arm over José’s shoulder. The boy thought it was safe to say that they weren’t in danger, because if the sorcerer was anywhere nearby Victor would have sensed it. Unless this Felldrake had used his magic to put Victor under a sleeping spell, but José didn’t want to consider that option.
Della and Donald were also asleep, and probably for the first time since José had met either of them, perfectly calm and relaxed. They were clinging tightly to each other, even in their sleep.
It didn’t take José very long to notice that he couldn’t immediately see Panchito. José felt panicked for a moment. He stood up and scrambled to his feet. He intended to search the house really quickly, but before he could make it very far he found himself tripping because one of the piles of blankets was a lot lumpier than he was expecting it to be.
José let out a short cry of surprise as he fell on top of somebody. The blankets moved and through the darkness he could see Panchito’s form.
“There you are,” José let out a breath that he hadn’t even realized he was holding in.
“Estas bien?” Panchito asked urgently but quietly. He sounded so worried that José felt bad for tripping over him. “Did I wake you?”
“No, I...wait,” José looked at Panchito in concern. Had Panchito already been awake when José had tripped over him? Why wasn’t he asleep? José then realized that Panchito’s voice had sounded a little bit raw and strained. “Are you okay?”
“I-I’m fine,” Panchito said too quickly. The way that he wiped at his eyes told José that he was pretty far from being fine. “I just...I’m just a little homesick.”
“Oh,” José frowned in sympathy. It made sense. Panchito was so far away from home. So was Donald, but at least the young duck had his family right here with him. “Do you really miss your family?”
“Sí,” Panchito said quietly He sat up and curled his legs up close to his chest. What really worried José though was that Panchito had also started to scratch lightly at his neck. Donald had said that Panchito had hurt his neck. Was it starting to bother him again?
“How long have you been away from home?” José asked.
Panchito shrugged. “I don’t really know. It feels like a long time.” Panchito was quiet for a moment before he continued, though it felt like he wasn’t exactly talking to José, but to himself. “I’ve always been a little homesick, but it’s never this bad.”
“What’s different?” José asked.
Panchito looked over towards the others. “Before, it was just me and Donald. We only had each other. But now he has his family here, he has his sister. He doesn’t need me anymore...but I still need him.” Panchito had been getting progressively more distressed before he began crying, and José realized that it was Panchito’s crying that had woken him up.
José felt his heart ache for Panchito. Now that the rooster had mentioned it, José remembered how Panchito had tried to bring Donald to listen to Victor’s music, but Donald had immediately left him to be with Della. Panchito was probably looking over at Donald and Della sleeping side by side, keeping each other safe. José hadn’t thought twice about seeing the siblings sleeping next to each other, and he doubted that Donald had meant anything by it, but it clearly meant everything to Panchito.
José didn’t know what he could do to do help Panchito. All he could do was sit next to Panchito and give him a shoulder to cry on. Eventually Panchito seemed to cry himself out as he fell into a restless sleep. José frowned as he pulled one of the blankets over Panchito’s shoulders. Even when he was sleeping he looked upset, and José had no idea what he could do to calm him.
Even though José had been so tired before, he found himself wide awake and unable to sleep. His chest was hurting slightly. His mom had always said that he was so sensitive to the pain of those around him, but this was one of the few times that José’s empathy actually hurt him.
José had no way of knowing how long he was sitting next to Panchito, trying to think of what he could do to help his new friends. He was only pulled out of his thoughts when he heard a small shout from Donald.
José grew tense and felt his feathers become ruffled. He saw Donald sit up, and look around in slight shock and discomfort. He probably just woke up from a nightmare. Donald immediately looked towards his sister and relaxed slightly when he saw her right next to her. He probably had a nightmare about being back with his kidnappers. Seeing his sister was probably doing wonders to calm him down.
Donald still looked around in concern, though it was much more casual than it had been before. After a moment Donald’s eyes widened in alarm as he looked around more anxiously than he had when he first woke up. “Panchito?” Donald whispered loudly. José suddenly understood why he was so nervous. If José hadn’t seen Panchito when he had first woken up, then Donald probably couldn’t see him either.
“Panchito’s over here,” José said. Donald immediately got up, being careful to not wake his sister, and he scurried over to José’s side. Donald sighed and drooped slightly in relief when he saw Panchito sleeping right next to José.
“What’s he doing all the way over here?” Donald asked. He sat down on Panchito’s other side and put a hand on the rooster’s shoulder. Panchito immediately relaxed, though he still seemed upset.
José fiddled with his fingers nervously. “He said he was homesick.”
Donald’s brow furrowed in concern. “Why didn’t he tell me?”
“I don’t think he wanted to bother you,” José said reluctantly. “He thought you wanted some space to be with Della.”
“He said that?” Donald’s voice cracked noticeably more than it usually did. “Why would he think that?”
“Well...you were sleeping right next to her.” José said quietly. Donald’s eyes flashed.
“Well, yeah, she’s my sister,” Donald said defensively. “I haven’t seen her in forever.”
“I know,” José said quickly. He wasn’t trying to accuse Donald of anything, and he knew that Panchito didn’t hold any resentment towards his friend. “He’s just a little on his own right now.”
Donald flinched slightly. “Yeah, I guess so.” He didn’t seem to completely understand, but he seemed worried about his friend. Maybe this meant that Donald would put more effort into making sure that Panchito was doing okay.
Donald sighed and grabbed a nearby pillow to squeeze. “He probably misses his own family right now. It’s not fair that I get my family here and he’s still away from them. They don’t even know if he’s okay.” Donald scoffed slightly, though he sounded more distressed than amused. “I don’t think they even know that he was kidnapped. They probably just think that he ran away.”
José winced slightly. There was just so much pain that his new friends and their families were going through. None of this was fair. The very fact that this had happened was horrible, but it was really sad that it still wasn’t over yet. None of this would be over until they stopped Felldrake, or at least until they were safe from them.
José suddenly remembered it being mentioned that Panchito and Donald had amulets that would protect them from magic. The sorcerer Felldrake had taken the amulets. Apparently if he had three amulets he would be so much more powerful, which was why it was so important that they stop Felldrake now. It was just too dangerous to wait. But if Panchito and Donald had their amulets back, not only would they be protected from Felldrake’s power, but it wouldn’t be as urgent that they stop him immediately. Maybe they would be safe enough to at least go home.
“What If I went to get your amulets back?” José suggested. Donald looked at him in alarm, but there was a look of cautious hope in his eyes.
“You...you’d do that?” Donald asked quietly, like it was almost too much to believe. Donald’s question was what made José feel more sure of his idea. He finally knew how he could do something to help his friends.
“Don’t tell Mãe, but Luiz has been showing me how to pick pockets,” José said quietly. It wasn’t something he was exactly proud of, but their Mãe could only do so much to support them on her own. They all did their best to help out how they could, but sometimes when they were really desperate they had to resort to slightly questionable ways of getting by. At least José could finally use these skills for something good. “I can take your amulets back without even being noticed.”
“But...no, it’s too dangerous,” Donald said, though José could hear the disappointment in his voice. Donald really wanted José to go, but he didn’t feel right about letting his friend go close to the ones that had kidnapped him and Panchito.
“I have magic to protect me,” José said. His hat had protected him before, it could do it again. “And if they catch me, they’ll just think I’m a kid.” There were plenty of poor, desperate children on the streets of Rio. José was sure that he wouldn’t stand out.
Donald was quiet for a moment. He seemed to be fighting with himself. Finally he looked down at Panchito, who was still sleeping, and sighed. “...Promise you’ll be careful?”
José grinned. “I promise.” He would help his friends. He didn’t care if he would probably be in danger, just so long as Donald and Panchito weren’t hurting so much anymore. They had suffered long enough.
Donald smiled, clear relief and gratitude on his face. “Thank you,” José just nodded. Donald laid down next to Panchito and pulled the blanket over himself. José curled up right next to them and closed his eyes, finally ready to go to sleep. He was tempted to just go out right now to find Felldrake and Sheldgoose, but it was so late and he had barely gotten any sleep. It would be risky enough as it was, and José would just be begging to get himself in trouble if he went out when he was tired.
Besides, if he disappeared in the middle of the night his family would worry about him. They wouldn’t think twice about it if he was gone during the day though. José didn’t exactly want to wait anymore, but it really was for the best. Besides, it was just for a few hours. Once the sun came up he would go out, get Donald and Panchito’s amulets back, and they would finally be able to go home.
José was a little scared, but he was more concerned about his friends then about himself. He was willing to go looking for a kidnapper if it meant that they could be happy and safe again. They deserved it.
Panchito really liked José’s family. Even though they were a lot different from his own family, there was something incredibly familiar about it. José’s family was clearly close. He and his brother’s were frequently teasing each other, having fun at each other’s expense, but it was from a place of caring. It reminded Panchito of his own relationship with Romero. And José’s mom was really nice, but not a pushover. She acted like she was everybody’s mom, not just José’s and his brothers’ Panchito’s mamá was a lot like that too. When Panchito saw José interact with his family he felt extremely at home, safe.
Panchito hadn’t figured out how he felt about Donald’s family. They were always fighting with each other, and not listening to each other. José and Panchito’s family’s fought, but not like this. If Donald hadn’t frequently told him otherwise, he would think that his great-grandfather and uncle hated each other. They just couldn’t agree about anything, and they were really aggressive about disagreeing with each other. It was almost scary.
Their sister was really aggressive too, but in a different way from Donald or Scrooge and Coot were. Panchito knew that Donald had a bit of a temper, and after meeting his uncle Scrooge it was clear where that temper came from. Donald’s great-grandfather was a lot calmer than Donald and Scrooge were, but he was easily excited, and could be a little scary about it. Della didn’t seem to be all that prone to shouting, but if she was mad at someone, she wasn’t afraid to show it. She pushed, she punched, she pulled on tail feathers. Panchito didn’t mind those things exactly, because he did them all the time just for fun, but there was a big difference between play fighting, and actually fighting.
Panchito tried to tell himself that this was why he kinda didn’t like Donald’s family, but he knew that wasn’t it. He had liked them just fine the first time he had met them. Donald’s great-grandpa Coot had been a little intense, but he understood Spanish and had given Panchito, a total stranger, an amulet that would protect him. Donald’s Uncle Scrooge had been a little hard to understand, but Panchito had felt safe with him. And Della had connected with Panchito, related to him because they had both had a brother that they were worried about and felt useless to help.
It was only now that Panchito knew that this nice duck family that he had met was Donald’s family did he want to find any excuse he could to not like them. He knew he wasn’t being fair, but he was...jealous. He didn’t want to admit it, but there was only so long that he could hide from it. He was jealous. The weird thing was, he wasn’t jealous of Donald because he had been reunited with his family, he was jealous of Donald’s family because that was exactly what they were. Della, Scrooge, and Clinton were Donald’s family, and Panchito wasn’t.
Panchito still felt like Donald was his family, his brother, his hermano. Donald had never really said that he had thought of Panchito in the same way, but he hadn’t said anything to contradict it, so Panchito had just pretended. Now though, Donald’s family was here, and Panchito could see for himself just what Donald was like around his family, and it was a lot different from how he was with Panchito. There was no pretending anymore. Donald didn’t see him as a brother, and he never had.
The first day that Donald’s family had been there, that had been the hardest. There had been no transition period. At one moment, Panchito and Donald were practically clinging to each other because they didn’t have anyone else. All of a sudden, Donald’s family was there and Panchito felt like he became just an afterthought. Donald didn’t really ignore him, it would be really unfair to claim that he had, but Donald had definitely prioritized being with his sister. Panchito didn’t blame him for it, but it still hurt.
That night had been really hard. It had probably been one of the worst nights of his life. Panchito thought it might even be worse than the night that he had been taken by Sheldgoose again, when he had messed up so badly that he had been scared that Donald hated him. That night had hurt so much at the time, both physically and emotionally, and Panchito had been so scared, but the hurt from that night had healed. Panchito’s neck was getting better, Donald had forgiven him, and now they were both away from Sheldgoose and weren’t in immediate danger. Seeing Donald sleeping at his sister’s side shouldn’t hurt more than that, but it did. He felt like he was being replaced, which made him feel mad at himself. Della was Donald’s twin sister. They had practically been born to be best friends. If anybody was the replacement here, it was Panchito.
When Panchito had woken up his head felt a little heavy, though not in a painful way. He was a lot calmer than he had been the night before. He remembered why he had been upset, and he remembered how much it had hurt, but his mind wasn’t connecting the memory of pain to the feeling of pain. He just felt blank, in a really okay kind of way.
“Oh, he’s awake,” Panchito suddenly felt inexplicably less okay. Was he really so desperate to be the center of Donald’s attention that he felt bitter just hearing Della’s voice? Panchito groaned and rolled over, pulling the blanket up over his face. He had felt better immediately after waking up. Maybe the same would be the case again.
“Let him sleep, Della,” Panchito forced his eyes opened when he heard Donald’s voice. He rolled over and looked up at his friend.
“Donal’,” Panchito’s voice slurred tiredly. He sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. What are you doing here?” Panchito had thought that Donald would be running off and spending time with his sister. Yeah, they were both here, but why was Donald sitting right next to him, his hand resting against Panchito’s arm? Was there really nowhere else he would rather be?
Donald looked at Panchito in confusion. “What do you mean? Where else would I be?” He didn’t understand what Panchito meant. That was okay. Panchito didn’t think he wanted Donald to know.
“I don’t know,” Panchito pushed the blanket off of his lap. He stood up and stretched. “What time is it?” Panchito had always had a hard time keeping track of time after waking up. Sometimes, he slept for just a few hours. Sometimes, he could sleep for half a day. He could feel exhausted in the middle of the day, and wide awake during the late hours of the night. Back at home he always had to rely on his parents to keep him on a regular sleeping schedule, but ever since leaving Mexico his sleep had been anything but normal, even on his own standards.
“It’s almost noon,” Victor came over to join them. He rested his arm on Panchito’s head and leaned on him. “You all slept the morning away, except for José”
Panchito’s eyes widened. He remembered completely losing it in front of José the night before. Maybe other people would be embarrassed about showing their emotions so plainly to someone who was little more than a stranger, but Panchito felt oddly refreshed about it. He was the kind of bird who always wore his heart on his sleeve, but that didn’t mean that he felt comfortable showing all of his feelings to everybody he met. Even when he felt safe around someone, like Donald, that didn’t mean that he wanted to get so upset in front of them. Not only did he feel safe around José, he also felt okay about being vulnerable around him. He may not know José all that well yet, but he felt really connected to him anyways.
“Where is José?” Panchito asked, looking around for the younger parrot.
“He said he wanted to go out,” Victor rolled his eyes. Based off of Victor’s reaction, Panchito didn’t think there was anything to worry about. Then he took a look at the way that Donald fidgeted slightly, like he knew something that Victor didn’t, and he felt himself getting nervous anyways. Donald didn’t say anything though, so Panchito kept quiet too. “I tried to tell him that it wasn’t the right time to go exploring, but he snuck out.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Della said. She seemed oblivious to her brother’s discomfort. Della fell back onto the pile of pillows and blankets. “What I wanna know is where Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot are. They’ve been gone forever.”
“I’m sure they’ll be back soon,” Victor said. He had taken it upon himself to not only keep the three of them safe, but also to keep them happy. Panchito had no idea how he did it. Victor wasn’t actually that much older than he was, but he still seemed so in control of the situation, so calm, and Panchito had no idea how he did it. “We can play a game while we wait, if you want.”
“A game?” Della raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. She looked extremely skeptical, but Panchito could see a hidden curiosity in her eyes. She was interested, but she was trying really hard to not let anyone know. “What kind of game?”
Victor grinned. “How would you guys like to learn about magic?”
Donald’s eyes widened in alarm. “Magic? But magic is-”
“It’s something that your enemy can do really well, from what I’ve heard,” Victor said, which shut Donald right up. “If you know about magic, you can do something to protect yourself from it.”
“What’s that got to do with a game?” Della asked. She certainly seemed to have her personal priorities figured out. Then again, she had never met Felldrake before. She didn’t know how dangerous he was.
“I’m getting there,” Victor laughed. They hadn’t even started, and he was already having so much fun with this. First, we have to see if you can play this game.” Victor took his umbrella and rested it across his shoulders. “Now, I’m going to use magic to try to get you to do something. You won’t be in any danger, I promise. But if you feel unsafe, just say the word ‘pinguim’, or ‘penguin’, and I’ll stop right away.”
“Why penguin?” Panchito asked.
Victor smiled cheerfully. “It’s my family’s safeword, because it’s not something that any of us will normally say. If any of us want one of us to stop doing something, we just say ‘pinguim’ and the family rule is that we have to stop, no matter what.”
“That’s really cool,” Della nudged Donald’s arm playfully. “Maybe we should have a safeword.”
Donald frowned. “I don’t know what’s wrong with ‘stop’.”
“Nothings wrong with it,” Victor said quickly. “But with me and my brothers sometimes when we say ‘stop’, we don’t really mean it. So we use ‘pinguim’ when we really, really mean it.”
“You guys are weird,” Donald muttered, but it didn’t sound all that harsh. He turned back to Victor. “So, you’re gonna use magic on us.”
“Yes, see, the thing about magic is that it’s all about will power.” Victor said.
“So it’s kinda like forcing your will onto something or someone else?” Della asked. Victor winced slightly and frowned.
“A little,” Victor said slowly. “But it’s not as scary as you make it sound. Sometimes that ‘force’ of will can be a desire of protection. You want someone to be safe, so you use your will, turn it into a magical spell, and give them protection.”
Panchito nodded. It made sense to him. Magic could be used for bad, or it could be used for good. It depended on the desires of the person using it.
“It’s easier to understand if you feel it for yourself,” Victor took his umbrella and pointed it at them. “You all remember the safe word?”
“Penguin.” Della and Donald said, while Panchito went ahead and said the Portuguese version. “Pinguim.”
Victor nodded. “Good, now, I’m going to use my magic to try to make you do something. When you feel what I want you to do, try your best to not obey. And don’t feel bad if you can’t fight it. Not everybody is able to resist magic. It says nothing about you, or about your willpower. I mean, my will is strong enough to use magic, and I can’t resist it for the life of me. So just see if you can do it, sim?”
Panchito, Donald, and Della all nodded. Victor smirked as he gripped his umbrella tightly. His eyes flashed red, and Panchito knew what was coming a moment before it hit him. “Jump.” Victor’s voice sounded completely normal, but Panchito’s body reacted before he even realized what was happening. Panchito felt his legs bend in preparation, and he did the only thing he could think of. He did his best to lean back. If he could just sit down, then he wouldn’t be able to jump. His body was fighting with him though. He didn’t know that it could be so hard to just sit. Panchito tried as hard as he could, but it was like trying push his way through a wall. It just wasn’t budging.
To Panchito’s disappointment, he felt himself jumping. The moment that his feet left the ground, the rest of his body seemed to stop fighting with him in an instant. Panchito hadn’t stopped trying to force himself to sit down, so as soon as his body was his own again he found himself leaning back. While it had been what he had wanted, Panchito definitely hadn’t wanted it to happen when he was midair.
Panchito yelped as he found himself falling backwards. He tried to brace himself, and yet he still got the air knocked right out of him when he hit the ground. Panchito groaned and tried in vain to get his air back.
“Oh, that wasn’t supposed to happen,” Victor hurried over and helped Panchito to his feet. “You were fighting pretty hard there for a minute. Are you okay?”
“I-I’m fine,” Panchito rubbed the back of his head, grimacing. He felt a little ridiculous. How could he hit his head so hard by jumping?
“What happened?” Donald pushed Victor out of the way and put his hands on Panchito’s shoulder, looking him over in concern.
“He pushed against the magic, and when it stopped pushing back he ended up falling.” Victor said. It was a strange sounding explanation, but Panchito couldn’t think of a better way to say it.
“He tripped over air?” Della barely stifled a laugh.
Donald glared at his sister in annoyance. “Don’t laugh at him,” Donald said irritably. “Just because you could resist the magic first try doesn’t mean doesn’t mean that everybody can.”
Della crossed her arms. “You’re just mad that you couldn’t fight off easy magic at all.” Donald’s face began to go red. Victor stepped between the two of them.
“Hey, no fighting,” Victor’s tone was strict. “There’s no shame in not being able to resist magic. It can be dangerous to try to fight against magic that is too strong for you, as you already learned.” Victor ruffled Panchito’s feathers.
“Can’t you teach us how to do it?” Donald pleaded desperately. “If Felldrake comes after us again, we won’t have any way to protect ourselves. I can’t resist magic, and Panchito can’t do much better.”
“I told you, I’m not good at it either,” Victor frowned and rubbed the back of his neck. “If you really want help, ask Luiz.”
“Ask me what?” Luiz asked as he came through the front door, carrying an unconscious Matheus on his back. Their mother came in with them, with an annoyed looking Scrooge and Coot following just behind. Victor’s eyes widened in alarm as he went to see if Matheus was okay. Luiz waved off his concern. “Don’t worry, he’s just asleep. We were up all night.” Luiz looked pretty tired too, but he was trying really hard to hide it.
“Did you find them?” Donald asked quickly. “Can we go home yet?”
“I’m afraid not,” Donald’s Great-grandpa Coot said. “It wasn’t that hard to find Sheldgoose, he’s not exactly someone who blends in around here, but we thought it would be best if we didn’t confront him.”
“But why?” Donald asked, his voice quiet. He was scared, and Panchito was too. “You guys can take on Sheldgoose.” It was strange for Panchito to heard Donald, who was normally more cautious when it came to Sheldgoose and Felldrake, trying to convince his own family to take on a powerful sorcerer and his weird monkey-bat-donkey-rat thing. Donald must be really desperate.
“We don’t know how strong this sorcerer is,” Donald’s Uncle Scrooge said. “And Felldrake knows that we’re your family. If we go after him and he gets wise to it, he may realize that you’re with us, and we’ll lead him straight back to you. We didn’t want to take the risk.”
“Why couldn’t the Cariocas have gotten the amulets back?” Donald asked. Panchito looked at him in alarm. “Sheldgoose wouldn’t have known that we’re staying with them, and they have magic to protect them from Felldrake.”
“Lad, we can’t ask strangers to put themselves in danger for us,” Scrooge scolded. “They have nothing to do with this.” Donald shifted uncomfortably again, just like he had when Victor had said that José had left for a bit. Donald knew something.
“Scrooge, you know this family is just as involved in this as we are,” Clinton Coot said. Nobody looked surprised by his words, except for Donald and Panchito.
“What do you mean?” Donald asked. “What do they have to do with anything?” Donald, like Panchito, just thought that the Cariocas were a nice family who were doing a lot for them. They didn’t think the parrots had anything to do with Sheldgoose.
“Oh, yes, of course,” Clinton Coot laughed slightly. “We never told you, did we?”
Donald sighed, glancing at his great-grandpa in annoyance. “Never told us what?”
“You two know how there were three caballeros?” Clinton Coot asked. Donald and Panchito nodded. “Well, we believe one of your new friends is the third caballero.”
Donald looked slightly ill. “W-who is the last caballero?” He sounded completely terrified, though Panchito didn’t know why.
“Is it José?” Panchito asked. He had no way of knowing for sure if it was José or one of his older brothers, but it just felt right. Panchito had formed an almost instant connection with José, and he had made this same connection with Donald back when he had first gotten taken.
The adults all looked at each other. “We don’t know for sure,” Coot said, “But yes, we think so.”
Donald let out a noise that sounded like a whimper. Panchito didn’t think anyone else noticed, but Panchito did. He looked at his friend in confusion and slightly concern. What was bothering him so much?
“We’ll figure something else out,” Scrooge said. “But for right now we need to come up with a plan, not jump right into things because we’re getting impatient.”
Donald scowled and glared at the ground, but he nodded. His uncle ruffled his head feathers before he and Coot headed for the kitchen, probably to find some lunch and come up with a plan. José’s mom took Matheus from Luiz, and then started talking to the boy in Portuguese, probably telling him that he needed to get some sleep too. At least, that was what Panchito would say if he was her. Luiz tried to argue with his mother, but she wasn’t hearing it. Before too long he was reluctantly following her to the back rooms.
Once it was just the four of them again, Della turned her attention back to Victor. “So...you said something about a game?” Panchito didn’t understand how Della could just jump right back to their previous topic as though the others had never come home at all.
“Right, well, you can’t really play this game unless you can resist magic,” Victor looked at Donald and Panchito apologetically. “For the game, I tell you to do something. If I don’t use magic, you have to do it, but if I do use magic, you can’t do it. It’s like o rei manda.”
“It sounds kinda like Simon says,” Della muttered to her brother, who didn’t react at all, like he hadn’t heard her. There was something on his mind, and Panchito was really bothered by it. He needed to talk to Donald.
“Why don’t you go play?” Panchito suggested to Della. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to play the game, even if he wanted to, and from what he’d heard Donald didn’t seem to do any better at resisting magic. But if Della could resist it, there was no reason for her to not play.
“Are you sure?” Victor asked. He didn’t want to make them feel left out.
“We’re sure,” Panchito smiled, answering for both him and Donald. Panchito grabbed Donald’s arm and dragged him closer to the front door, leaving Della with Victor. The front entryway wasn’t actually a completely separate room from the living room, but at least it was a little more private. Panchito waited until Della and Victor had begun playing their game before turning his full attention to Donald.
“Where is José?” Panchito asked quietly, so that no one else could hear. Panchito didn’t really care if others heard or not, but he thought that Donald might appreciate not having everyone know about what was on his mind.
“He went into town.” Donald said automatically. Panchito was about to bug him for more information, but Donald sighed and flanced to the side before he could make a sound. “...He went to get our amulets.”
“What?!” Panchito said louder than he meant to. He quickly covered his mouth, though he didn’t really know why. The others should know where José was, especially his family. Maybe it was because Donald seemed to want to keep it a secret, but Panchito really didn’t want to fill the others in. He looked around to make sure that no one was listening to them before continuing in a softer voice. “Why would he do that? And how do you know?”
“He told me so last night.” Donald said. “I woke up in the middle of the night because of a...because of reasons, and we stayed up for a bit and talked. We didn’t know he was the last caballero. We thought he’d be safe.”
“Since when is anybody safe around Felldrake?” Panchito asked urgently. He was trying really hard to keep his voice down, but it was making his tone sound more distressed than usual. “He’s dangerous, Donald.”
“I know, okay? I know,” Donald pulled his hand away from Panchito’s grip and began to quickly scratch at the feathers on his head. He sounded really frustrated, but Panchito knew that frustration was more towards himself than anybody else. “I just...I wanted to go home. I wanted you to be able to go home.”
Panchito sighed and sat down on the ground. He wrapped his arms around his legs and just watched as Donald began to pace around anxiously. “...Maybe Felldrake won’t know who he is?”
“I doubt it,” Donald scoffed. “That stick recognized me immediately, even before he saw my amulet.”
Panchito thought back to when he had first been taken. At the time he hadn’t understood enough English to follow the conversation between Felldrake and Sheldgoose, but he remembered Felldrake mentioning the caballeros. “Yeah, me too.” It would probably be too much to hope that the same wouldn’t be the case for José. “What are we going to do?”
“ We?” Donald stopped his pacing and looked at Panchito in confusion. “We shouldn’t do anything. If we go out there, Felldrake might get us.”
“But he might get José if we don’t help him,” Panchito said. “He needs our help.”
“No, he needs help,” Donald said in that tone that he used to use when he was correcting Panchito’s English, even though Panchito had no idea just what Donald was correcting. “ We don’t have to be the ones to help him. Let my family, or his family take care of it.”
Panchito frowned. “That’s not right. He’s out there because he wanted to help us, and you want to sit back and do nothing?”
“What do you want us to do?” Donald hissed, though it was more out of fear than irritation. “If José needs help, it’s because he’s already found Sheldgoose, and...and I don’t want to go anywhere near that guy again.” Donald hugged his arms to his chest. “He took us from our families. He hurt you. And he’s probably mad that we ran off. If he gets us again…” Donald trailed off, but he didn’t have to continue. Panchito knew what he was saying, because he was afraid of the same thing. However, the thought of leaving José on his own scared him even more. Panchito had been terrified when he was taken, and he’d had Donald for company the entire time. Not to mention that Panchito was a few years older than José was. José was just a kid. He didn’t deserve to go through the pain that Panchito and Donald went through, especially not all on his own.
“Donald, we have to help him,” Panchito pleaded, desperate to reach his friend. “José’s our hermano, and he-”
“No, he’s not.” Donald said in a tone so serious that Panchito was too stunned to say anything for a moment, giving Donald enough time to continue. “He’s not my brother.” Donald closed his eyes tight, though not before Panchito saw some tears gathering in them. Donald’s head was lowered and his shoulders were as stiff as a board. When Donald continued his voice wasn’t any louder, but it was fiercer, almost like he was shouting without making a lot of noise at all. “I don’t have any brothers, okay? The only sibling that I have is Della, and I’m not going to let myself be taken away from her again!”
Panchito flinched as he processed just what Donald had said. It hurt, it actually hurt a lot more than he thought it would, but it wasn’t anything that he didn’t already know. “Lo sé, her...amigo.” If Donald didn’t think of them as brothers, then maybe he wouldn’t like the reminder that Panchito did see him that way.
Donald’s head shot up and he looked at Panchito in alarm. “I didn’t...ugh,” Donald groaned in frustration. He walked over to Panchito and sat next to him. “I didn’t mean it like that, you know. If you see me as your brother, then you can go ahead and call me hermano. I really don’t mind.”
“But...you don’t…” Panchito trailed off. He didn’t know what he was wanting to say.
Donald sighed and leaned against Panchito’s shoulder. “I don’t know. I like you a lot Panchito, you’re probably the closest friend I’ve ever had, but I’ve never had a brother before. The only sibling I’ve had is Della, and I know that I don’t feel the same way about you as I feel about her.”
“It’s okay,” Panchito said. He didn’t want his own feelings to make Donald feel like he had to change the way that he thought about Panchito. It just wouldn’t be fair, for either of them. It wasn’t Donald’s fault that Panchito’s feelings were trying to make everything complicated. “Really, it is.”
“No, it’s not,” Donald frowned. “If it was okay, you wouldn’t look so upset.”
“I’m fine,” Panchito tried to insist, though his voice cracked and wobbled far too much for it to be the least bit believable. “I just...want to be alone right now.” Why had he said that? Panchito didn’t want to be alone. He already felt really alone. Why would he want to make that worse by asking Donald to leave?
Donald sighed and reluctantly let go of Panchito’s hand. It took all of Panchito’s self control to keep himself from clinging to Donald’s hand and never let go again. “Okay, Panchito.” This was the only thing that Donald said before he left, probably to rejoin Della and Victor. Panchito whimpered and tightened his grip around his legs. He felt like he was going to be sick, and he didn’t even know what he was mostly upset about, because a lot of bad things were swirling around his head.
Panchito was worried about José. He was scared of Sheldgoose and Felldrake. He missed his family. He wanted Donald to see him as a brother, even though he knew that he probably never would. Panchito was feeling overwhelmed about all of these things, and sitting around was just making it worse. Panchito had always had a hard time with doing nothing. It only ever made him feel much worse. Panchito knew from past experience that he would feel better if he got up and did something, especially if that something improved his situation.
Panchito couldn’t just stop being afraid, or homesick. He couldn’t make Donald change the way that he felt about him. However, Panchito knew that there was something he could do about his concern for José.
Panchito lifted his head and glanced over to where Donald and the others were. None of them were paying attention to him. Panchito looked towards the kitchen and bedrooms, and felt both relieved and terrified when he didn’t see Donald or José’s families coming back. Panchito knew this little window of opportunity, where he could slip out unnoticed, wouldn’t last very long, so he had to take advantage of it while he could.
Panchito got to his feet and went to the front door. He grabbed the door knob, and then froze with hesitation. He didn’t really want to go. He was scared, there was no denying that. But he was more afraid of the possibility that José might be in danger than he was of Felldrake. Panchito took a deep breath and, with one more glance back to make sure no one was looking, he opened the door and slipped out. Panchito was careful to close the door as quietly as he could, so as to not alert the others to where he was.
It was only when Panchito was outside did he realize that he didn’t really know where to begin looking for José. He figured that if he didn’t know where to start, then maybe somebody else did. Panchito saw one of José’s neighbors, and he immediately went over to ask them if they knew which way José had gone. Panchito didn’t know if José’s neighbor knew English, and he himself didn’t know Portuguese. However, Portuguese and Spanish were somewhat similar, so Panchito just asked them in Spanish. Fortunately, José’s neighbor seemed to understand him just fine and quickly pointed him towards the crowded streets.
Panchito thanked José’s neighbor before running off. He still didn’t know where he was going, but Panchito quickly learned that José’s family was well-recognized in this neighborhood. Almost every vendor that Panchito asked had seen José earlier and were able to point him in the right direction. Panchito had to ask a lot of people, and he ended up getting lost more times than he could count, he eventually he saw a familiar little green parrot.
“José!” Panchito called out and waved eagerly. He was relieved to see that his friend didn’t seem to be hurt. This relief quickly turned to horror when he noticed the tall, broad, and cloaked person right next to him. The adult’s back was to him, but Panchito didn’t have to see his face to know for a fact that it was Sheldgoose. He was there, and José was right next to him.
Panchito felt his chest tighten anxiously. He dove into the nearest alley, hoping desperately that Sheldgoose didn’t get him back. Panchito cowered in the alley for a moment before he remembered that José was still out there, and might be in danger. Panchito’s legs were shaking so much that he was surprised that they hadn’t just given out on him, but despite this he was able to move himself to the edge of the alley to peek out from behind the corner. José was still there, and he looked as scared as Panchito felt.
Sheldgoose had turned, so Panchito could see his face now. He looked furious, and was holding José’s arm tightly. Panchito hadn’t seen what had happened, but he saw as Sheldgoose pulled his and Donald’s amulets out of José’s hands. Sheldgoose was shouting something about how José was a little thief, and it didn’t take very long for Panchito to realize what had happened. José had tried to steal back the amulets, but he’d been caught. Fortunately it seemed that Sheldgoose didn’t think that José was anything more than just a simple pickpocket. Hopefully it would stay that way, that Sheldgoose would have no reason to think that there was anything more to it.
Then Panchito noticed Felldrake in Sheldgoose’s hand, and he knew that hope was a useless one. Felldrake would recognize José immediately, just like he had recognized Panchito and Donald. Felldrake would have Sheldgoose take José away, and he couldn’t let that happen. He had to do something.
Panchito didn’t know what he was thinking he could do, he just knew that he had to protect José. Panchito ran out from behind his corner, even though his legs were still shaking, and grabbed José’s free hand. Panchito pulled José back towards him so harshly that he pulled him right out of José’s grip. Panchito pulled José behind him and glared up at Sheldgoose, even though his every instinct was screaming at him to run away and hide.
“Leave him alone,” Panchito growled.
Sheldgoose’s eyes widened in surprise. “You….what are you...ha!” Sheldgoose laughed and turned to the staff in his hands. “Lord Felldrake, look, I found the caballero,” Sheldgoose quickly grabbed Panchito’s arm and pulled him in front of Felldrake, as though the staff hadn’t noticed him there.
“He’s the one who came to you, idiot,” Felldrake snapped at Sheldgoose. “And he’s only one of the two caballeros that you lost.”
“ I lost?” Sheldgoose scoffed, giving Felldrake his full attention. “ You’re the one whose magic failed.” Panchito wished that when Sheldgoose began arguing with Felldrake that he had gotten distracted and loosened his grip, but that wasn’t the case. Sheldgoose’s grip on Panchito’s arm was as firm as ever. At least he didn’t have José, the considering the young parrot wasn’t doing anything to get away from them, that wasn’t doing a whole lot.
“It doesn’t matter whose fault it was,” Felldrake said really quickly and loudly. “All that matters is that we fix this blunder, get the last caballero back, find the last amulet, and get me my body back.” Panchito felt shivers run down his spine. Felldrake said the ‘last’ caballero, which means that he recognized José as a caballero, and considered him in his grasp. That was not okay.
“José, go home and get the others.” Panchito said quietly, even though he was close enough to both Felldrake and Sheldgoose for them to hear him anyways.
“Oh no you don’t,” Felldrake’s eyes glowed purple with magic. Panchito winced, expecting to feel Felldrake’s magic come over him, but it never came. José seemed to be unaffected too. Panchito was confused for a moment before he noticed that José was wearing that enchanted hat of his. It was shielding them from Felldrake’s magic, just like before. There wasn’t any magic holding José back, and nobody physically holding him. José could leave. Unfortunately, he wasn’t taking the opportunity.
José looked at Panchito with wide, scared eyes. “I-I can’t just leave you.”
“Actually, you can,” Sheldgoose said, and it was one of the few times where Panchito was actually intimidated by his tone. “And I think it would be in all of our best interest if you did just that.”
“What are you doing, you idiot?” Felldrake shouted, his voice grating on Panchito’s ears. Sheldgoose didn’t pay any attention to him. Instead Sheldgoose dragged Panchito further away from José, making it so that he wasn’t affected by the magical protection anymore. At first Panchito thought that Sheldgoose had done this on purpose, but then he felt that monkey-bat-donkey-rat creature grab him, and he realized that Sheldgoose had just been passing on the job of keeping him restrained to Leopold.
“You’re friends with, uh, Panchito, aren’t you, boy?” Sheldgoose looked down at José, who looked anxiously from Panchito to Felldrake to Sheldgoose. After a moment José swallowed harshly and nodded. “And I bet you don’t want anything bad to happen to him, do you?” At these words, Sheldgoose looked back at Leopold and nodded. Panchito briefly wondered what was supposed to be communicated through that nodd when Leopold’s grip on him tightened so much that he could feel his claws digging into his arm. Panchito couldn’t help but let out a cry of pain.
“Por favor, stop,” José whimpered. Panchito thought he saw a strange, sparkling glow at José’s finger tips, but he might have just imagined it.
“If you don’t want your friend to get hurt, then you’ll do exactly what I say,” Sheldgoose said coldly, looking far too pleased with himself, like he had already won. “You know where Donald is, don’t you?” José hesitated for a brief moment before nodding. Sheldgoose looked far too happy with this answer. “Good. Now, what I want you to do is go and get Donald, and then both of you will come back to me. Do you understand?”
José fiddled his fingers a bit. He looked scared and extremely nervous, but there was a dedicated look in his eyes. “Sim,” José nodded.
“No!” Panchito struggled in Leopold’s grip. “No, José, you can’t-” Panchito froze when Felldrake’s staff glowed purple again and he felt a slight pressure at his neck. It wasn’t anything too strong, as Panchito had worn scarves that were tighter around his neck, but Felldrake’s magic wasn’t a cozy scarf, it was dangerous, and it was at his neck, and they were going to hurt him again, and Panchito felt like he couldn’t breathe.
“Hey, I said I would do what you said,” José complained. He sounded completely calm, but Panchito could see that his hands were shaking. José was scared, he was just good at pretending he wasn’t. “You can’t hurt him anymore, or...or I won’t get Donald,” As confidently as José tried to say it, they all knew that it was nothing more than an empty threat.
“If you really don’t something unfortunate to happen to Panchito, then I suggest that you hurry and do what I said,” Sheldgoose said. “Oh, and do try to bring the last amulet with you.”
Panchito and José met startled gazes. How did Sheldgoose know that they had the last amulet? How could they know that they’d met up with Donald’s family?
José recovered from his shock sooner than Panchito did. “A-amulet?” José laughed weakly. He was trying to play dumb. “What amulet is that?”
Sheldgoose wasn’t buying José’s little act. “It’s one that looks a lot like these ones do,” Sheldgoose waved Panchito’s and Donald’s amulets in front of José before he paused and just looked at them for a moment. “...Actually, to make sure you don’t forget, and so that Donald has no reason to not believe you, take these.” Sheldgoose tossed the amulets to José, much to his, Panchito’s, and Felldrake’s shock.
“What are you doing with my amulets?!” Felldrake shrieked. His magic flared, and Panchito flinched and felt his eyes begin to water as the pressure around his neck increased even more. He was still able to breathe, but there was no way of knowing just how long that would last for and he just wanted it to stop.
“Trust me, boy, you do not want to know what will happen to your friend if you don’t bring those back to me,” Sheldgoose said, and for once he actually sounded scarier than Felldrake did. “Now go, before I get impatient.” José looked desperately at Panchito, a pained look in his eyes, before he turned and ran off. Panchito watched him go, feeling both horrified at the thought of being left alone, and grateful that his friend was okay.
“That was your plan?!” Felldrake finally released the magic around Panchito’s neck, leaving his gasping for breath even though his air had not truly been restricted. “To let the caballero just walk away with my amulets?”
“Don’t worry, Lord Felldrake, he’ll be back,” Sheldgoose said calmly. He walked over to Panchito and grabbed his small comb, pulling on it harshly. Panchito screamed and felt the tears that had gathered in his eyes begin to fall. He didn’t want to cry in front of his captors, but he couldn’t help it. His comb hurt . Panchito’s comb had only recently started to really grow in but he had known from the start that it was really sensitive to touch. Romero sometimes poked at it, making it sting briefly, but that pain was nothing compared to this.
“I am curious to know if the two other caballeros are as sickeningly loyal as you are,” Sheldgoose said, making Panchito whimper. He was beginning to be more afraid of Sheldgoose than Felldrake. The sorcerer may have some powerful magic, and he may be the caballero’s oldest enemy, but Sheldgoose was the one who kept on taking and hurting him.
“You’d better hope your friends come to get you,” Sheldgoose finally let go of Panchito’s comb, but that was only so he could grip his chin and force him to look him in the eyes. “If they were smart, they’d just cut their losses and abandon you,” A part of Panchito desperately hoped that was what Donald and José would do, because that would mean that they would be safe, but he was also terrified of the possibility because he didn’t want to be left alone. A part of him really wanted them to come and save him, and he hated himself for even thinking that.
“If they don’t come back, well, I’m sure we’ll be able to find a way to turn that to our advantage, won’t we, Felldrake?” Sheldgoose finally turned to staff, who looked noticeably less angry than he had a moment before.
“Oh, most definitely,” Felldrake said, and Panchito wished that he would go back to shrieking and whining. It hurt his ears when Felldrake spoke like that, but at least it didn’t terrify him so much. “If I don’t get my amulets back, at least I’ll have a lonely, abandoned, impressionable young caballero to do with as I please.” Panchito didn’t like the sound of that. He really, really didn’t like the sound of that.
If Donald and José didn’t come back for him, Panchito didn’t even want to think about what would happen to him. But if they gave Felldrake all three of the amulets, then he’d be able to get his own body back, and if he was powerful now Panchito didn’t think he wanted to know how dangerous he would be at full power.
It was beginning to look like whatever Donald and José did, they would lose.
...And you guys thought that José would be the one in real danger. Nope, it's Panchito, because he's my favorite caballero and for some reason I like to make my favorite characters suffer. And boy, did he suffer a lot this chapter. All the little caballeros did, and they all deserve a hug because of it.
Donald felt sick to his stomach, like he was going to threw up any second now, and he didn't know how to make the feeling go away. Some of that feeling came from fear and a desperate desire to go back home to Duckburg. He knew that most of what he was feeling bad about was his own personal guilt.
He had messed up. He had messed up so badly, in so many different ways. It hadn't been his idea for José to go off on his own to get their amulets, but he hadn't discouraged it either. At the time, he hadn't seen a problem with it. He had honestly thought that José would be safe. It had been really stupid. Panchito had been right to scold Donald. Sheldgoose was dangerous, whether or not a kid was a caballero. Donald should have known better than to let José go anywhere near Sheldgoose and Felldrake.
Donald hadn't just messed up with José though, he was afraid that he had completely screwed things up with Panchito, and he didn't know if he would be able to fix things. Panchito was in a strange new country, and he was surrounded by others who were with their own family's while he had no way of knowing when he would be able to see his own family again. It made sense that Panchito would try to cling so desperately to Donald, who was his only source of safety and familiarity right now, and, of course, Donald had to respond by pushing him away and basically telling him that he didn't see him as family.
It was the truth, but Donald still felt like a jerk for it. He really cared about Panchito, and that would never change, so it really hurt Donald to see how upset he had made Panchito. Donald wanted to help Panchito feel better, but he really didn't know what he could do, so, like an idiot, he had left Panchito alone. To be fair, it was what Panchito had asked for, but Donald had been around Della enough to know that often when someone says they want to be alone, what they really mean is that they really wanted company, and yet Donald had left him.
He was such a stupid jerk.
Donald sighed and drew his legs close to his chest. He numbly watched Victor help Della to improve her resistance to magic, but he didn't truly see it, not really. At least, he didn't register it. His thoughts were too clouded for him to properly focus. Donald desperately wanted to go back to Panchito and talk to him again, but he couldn't bring himself to. Donald had already left Panchito on his own, and he was too proud to just turn around and change his mind.
Donald frowned and tapped his fingers against his knees. He tried to reason away his guilt, tried to tell himself that Panchito was just upset, but would be just fine after he'd had a few minutes to calm down. He tried to tell himself that José knew these streets, and he had protection from magic, so he would be fine too. There wasn't any need to worry.
Except he was worried, about both of his friends. He couldn't really do much for José, because that would involve leaving the safety of the house, and Donald wasn't about to do that when he didn't even know for sure that José was in danger. He could help Panchito though, the only thing holding him back was his own uncertainty and pride, but he could overcome that...at least, he should be able to overcome that. So why was it so hard for him to just go to his feet and walk the few feet back to his friend's side?
It took several minutes until Donald was able to force himself to stand up and get off his butt. Once he was on his feet, he was moving quickly towards Panchito, only to find that his friend wasn't sitting on the floor of the front hallway like he had been when Donald had left him.
Donald looked around anxiously, desperately hoping to see his friend, and becoming concerned when he saw nothing. Panchito wasn't there. Maybe...maybe he had just gone to one of the back rooms for some privacy. Somehow Donald doubted it, but he was willing to give it a try. He quickly made his way towards the bedrooms, almost tripping over his own feet in his rush. He ran into the room that José and his brothers shared, only to see Luiz and Matheus fast asleep, but no Panchito. He quietly left the room before running to check their mother's room. Panchito wasn't there either. He was just gone.
Donald's breath picked up, making his chest rise and fall rapidly in a way that had nothing to do with the running he had just been doing. It scared him that he didn't know where Panchito was, but what scared him even more was that he definitely had an idea of where Panchito had gone, and he didn't like it one bit.
Donald would eat Uncle Scrooge's hat if Panchito hadn't gone off after José. The rooster had been so upset and worried when he'd heard where José had gone, and had made it clear just how much he wanted to go after him. Donald had tried to convince him otherwise, but it wasn't enough. He should have known that it wouldn't be enough, and that Panchito would go after José anyways. Panchito wasn't exactly the most careful rooster when it came to his own personal well-being, and his sense of self-preservation went down even lower when his stubbornness really took over, as it was doing now.
Donald had already been worried about José, who was barely more than a stranger. It almost physically hurt to know that Panchito was gone too, and might just be in Felldrake and Sheldgoose's clutches even as Donald stood here freaking out. Donald had been scared and reluctant to go help José himself, but now, he was scared to leave Panchito to deal with this mess on his own. Panchito needed him, and Donald wasn't about to just sit around and hope for things to get better. Not this time.
Panchito hurried back into the main hallway and threw the door open, only to find himself face to face with a tearful José.
Donald's shock at seeing José momentarily pushed his concern about Panchito to the back of his mind. "You-you're here," Donald stared at José as though he was looking at a ghost. After learning that José was probably the third caballero, he had been sure that Sheldgoose would have him in his clutches, and yet here he was, not even a scratch on him. "You're safe?"
"D-D-Donald!" José let out a loud sob and buried his face in Donald's chest. "S-sinto muito, sinto muito, sinto muito…" José kept on muttering in Donald's chest. He was incredibly distressed, and Donald didn't really know why, but he didn't have a good feeling about this.
"José?" Victor came up behind Donald. He knelt and tried to pull José into his arms, but the little parrot wouldn't let go of Donald. Victor had to be content to just rest his hand on José's arm. "Irmão, pintinho, what's wrong?"
José didn't answer his older brother, he just continued muttered 'sinto muito'. Victor frowned in concern. "Why are you sorry?" Donald looked at Victor in confusion, and then back to José Was that what he'd been saying this whole time? That he was sorry? Maybe it was a big leap in logic, but Donald could only think of one thing that José could be so distressed and sorry about.
"Whe-where's Panchito?" Donald asked shakily. He felt his blood run cold when José just began to sob even harder than before.
"O feiticeiro," José muttered. He shook his head and pulled away from Donald. José looked down at his hands, and Donald noticed for the first time that he was tightly clutching at something. Donald hadn't even noticed before, but now he could see the chains slipping through his fingers.
"A-are those…" Donald fingered the chains and José opened his hands, letting the blue and red amulets slip out of his grip and into Donald's. The amulets, José had actually managed to get them back. Donald knew he should be ecstatic and relieved, but he had something else on his mind at the moment. "Where's Panchito?" Donald asked again, more insistantly than he had before.
"I-I'm sorry," José said tearfully. Now that José wasn't clinging to Donald he let Victor go ahead and hold him. Victor tried to reassure his little brother that everything was okay, but José didn't listen to him. "He...Panchito saved me, but he was grabbed. I didn't want to leave, I really didn't want to leave, but he said that he would hurt Panchito if I didn't...if I didn't bring you back to him." Sheldgoose...Sheldgoose had Panchito, and he was using him to try to get Donald back. "He- he just gave me the amulets, he said it was to make sure you believed me, and that I was supposed to bring them back, and another one."
Donald didn't know what Sheldgoose was playing at. He would have believed José anyways. There was no reason for Sheldgoose to risk losing his amulets. The only reason that Donald could think of was that this was all just a strange kind of cruel torture. Making Donald choose between his own sure safety, or Panchito's. It would be so easy to just take the amulets and give them to Uncle Scrooge, who knew better than anybody how to keep magical objects from falling into the clutches of bad people. Felldrake would never get his hands on the amulets and would never come back to full power. It seemed like such an easy decision to make, barely even a choice.
And it was easy. The alternative wasn't even tempting.
"We have to help Panchito," Donald said stiffly. He clutched tightly at the cursed, stupid amulets. They were supposed to protect them, but all these things had done was cause them grief and pain. Panchito kept on getting hurt because of these things. That was the opposite of protection.
"Donald?" He turned to see Della looking at him cautiously. "You're not going back to that creep who kidnapped you, are you?"
Donald swallowed and turned to face his sister with a grimace. "You don't get it, I have to go after Panchito, he...he…" Donald didn't know what to say. He knew what he had to do, that much was clear and obvious to him, but he didn't know how to explain it to his sister. He didn't want to leave her, but he couldn't leave Panchito on his own.
"Well, you're crazy if you think I'm going to just sit here and wait for you," Della smiled gently, and Donald knew that he should be worried about his sister joining him to confront Sheldgoose, but he was too relieved to have her help to be concerned for her safety. It had felt like so long since he'd had his sister at his side to watch his back.
"Okay, so, what's the game plan?" Della asked.
"We need the last amulet," Donald said. "Great-grandpa Coot has it, doesn't he?"
"Probably," Della stretched. "I'm on it,"
"Don't-don't let them know what we're doing," Donald said. It would be great for them to have help from Great-grandpa Coot and Uncle Scrooge, but they would much sooner keep Donald from helping Panchito in an attempt to keep him safe than help save him. Donald knew that it was their job to keep him safe, but right now it was his job to make sure that Panchito was safe.
Della smirked at Donald and retreated into the kitchen.
"You're honestly going to go after the sorcerer?" Victor asked, his voice tight in concern.
"I'm going too," José said. Victor and Donald were both about to protest, but José continued. "He said that I had to come. He wants me, Donald, and the amulets." Sheldgoose was really pushing his luck with this. He was asking for everything that he and Felldrake had been working for. And the absolutely horrible part was that Donald was about to give it to him, and he didn't even feel guilty about it.
Victor looked like he was just as pained at the thought of José going as Donald was when he'd realized where Panchito was. Victor looked like he was going to argue more about it, but after a moment his expression steeled. "I'm not letting you go...not alone."
José grimaced, a pained look in his eyes. "Sinto muito, Irmão," José said quietly. He put his hand on Victor's chest and his fingers glowed slightly. Victor's eyes widened in alarm, and he looked equal parts scared and shocked. There was a look of conflict in Victor's eyes before they slowly began to close, and a moment later he was slumping forward, looking like he was asleep.
"What...what was that?" Donald asked as José stepped away from his brother.
"S-sleeping spell," José said. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand, and Donald noticed that José's eyes were more of a bright orange color than the orangish brown that they normally were. Victor's eyes had changed color when he did magic too. "It's not strong, but Victor's not good at fighting back magic."
"Is that why you don't want him to come?" Donald asked. Why else would José have put his brother to sleep? "You don't want Victor to be near Felldrake's magic?"
"I don't want him to get hurt," José said quietly. Donald understood. He may be relying on his sister's support, but he knew that dragging loved ones to help with a dangerous situation wasn't for everybody.
"O-okay," Donald said. He would have personally loved to have someone who was skilled at magic to serve as backup, but he couldn't force José to feel okay about his brother trying to go toe to toe with a sorcerer.
A moment later Della came running out of the kitchen, an emerald colored necklace in her hands. She grinned and tossed it to Donald, who caught it easily and slipped it, as well as the other two amulets, around his neck. He didn't want to be touching these things, let alone be wearing them, but this was the easiest way to carry them around without risking losing them. Donald tucked the amulets under his shirt and turned to face José and Della, the latter of whom was looking down at Victor in confusion and slight concern.
"What happened to him?" Della asked, and her voice was tight, like she was really concerned but was trying to hide it. Donald had never heard her use that tone for anybody who wasn't family. It was really weird, but Donald had more important things to think about right now.
"A sleeping spell," Donald said shortly. "Can we go now?"
"Lead the way," Della said, that smirk returning to her face. She was way too laid back and casual about this whole thing. Donald wondered if she really understood the seriousness of what was going on. This wasn't like any of those adventures that they went on with Uncle Scrooge, this was actually dangerous. Donald knew that if Della wasn't going to be taking this seriously, then it would probably be better for her to stay behind. Donald was too desperate for her help to try to scold her for her usual recklessness. He just had to trust that she would watch her back and not goof off like she sometimes did when she got overly excited.
José fiddled his fingers uncomfortably. He gave his sleeping brother one more apologetic look before he lead Donald and Della down the street. José looked extremely nervous, and Donald didn't blame him. If it wasn't for his annoyance and relief with Della, and his concern for Panchito, he would be scared out of his wits, and probably wouldn't dare to do this.
Donald didn't really understand what was going through José's mind. José was just a little kid, he shouldn't have to deal with any of this, but he did, and he seemed to be handling the weight of the world on his shoulders pretty well. José was clearly terrified, but he was still willing to help Panchito, and Uncle Scrooge always used to say that true bravery was doing what you thought was right, even if it scared you, and that was exactly what José was doing.
If their positions were reversed, if Donald was the one who was involving himself in a situation that he had nothing to do with, all to help somebody that he had met just little bit ago, he didn't think he would be able to do what José was doing.
Della and Donald stayed close to José's side as they went down the streets. A couple of people called out to José as they went, just saying hello, but José ignored them. He was focused on leading them to Sheldgoose, no distractions.
The streets were crowded with people, all of them were cheerful and relaxed. Donald was ridiculously jealous of them. It had been so long since he had felt like a normal person who didn't have to worry about magic all the time. He would give anything to just be a kid again.
José never told them where exactly Sheldgoose and Felldrake were, but Donald knew when they were getting close. The crowds of people became smaller and smaller until the streets were empty. José shuddered. "A magical ward...we're close,"
"Yes, you are," Donald whipped around at the sound of that stupid voice that he had hoped to never hear again. Sheldgoose, and he was holding Felldrake's staff in his arms. They both looked smug and arrogant, like they had already won. Donald was scared, so much so that he felt like he couldn't move. His every instinct was screaming at him to run away, but then he saw the way that Felldrake's eyes were glowing.
Felldrake was using magic, continuous magic. Donald had heard about protection wards from Uncle Scrooge, who'd said that wards were created with just a single spell, and no other power was used, so that couldn't be what Felldrake was using magic on. Donald himself didn't feel any magical pull, not even the smallest tug. Maybe it was because of how close he was to José, who had that hat of his that protected against magic. But Donald really didn't think that was the reason why. José's mom may know a thing or two about magic, but there was no way that her own magic was just as powerful as Felldrake's . If Felldrake wanted to use his magic on them, Donald was pretty sure that they would be feeling it. So if Felldrake wasn't using his magic on them, then what?
Donald forced his gaze away from Felldrake and Sheldgoose. He saw that monster, Leopold was lying on the ground a few feet behind Sheldgoose. Donald hadn't had a whole lot of interaction with Leopold, but he found it really odd that the creature was just sitting there, watching them, but not showing any sign of violence. Leopold had never struck Donald as the kind of creature who would just sit around, not unless it was something that Felldrake had directly ordered him to do.
"Where's Panchito?" Donald asked, keeping his eyes glued on Leopold. "And what are you doing to him?"
"The Caballero is fine," Felldrake said.
"Forgive me for not believing you," Donald clenched his fists. "Let me see him."
"Give me my amulets first," Felldrake ordered. Donald glared at the staff, but he wasn't about to take any risks with this guy. Donald reached into his shirt and pulled out the three amulets. He slipped them away from his neck and tossed them on the ground a few feet away. Sheldgoose didn't hesitate before going after them. Donald took that opportunity to run towards Leopold, leaving Della and José's side.
"Let me see him," Donald all but growled at Leopold. "Now!" The creature glanced down at his wing, a conflicted and confused look in his eyes. Leopold frowned, but he stood up and made his way to Felldrake, revealing Panchito lying on the ground, having been hidden underneath the creature's wings. Donald wasted no time in rushing to Panchito's side, kneeling next to him.
"Pa-Panchito," Donald held tightly to his friend, like he would just disappear if he didn't hold on to him. "Come on, Panchito, just...just answer me." But Panchito didn't move. He seemed to be unconscious, and yet he looked like he was in pain. Donald just knew that this was Felldrake's doing, but what exactly was he doing? Why couldn't the sorcerer just leave them alone?
Donald clutched his friend's arms. His shoulders were stiff and he felt the blood rushing into his head. His breath picked up. He could feel his fury building up inside of him. Panchito didn't deserve this, none of them did. Who did Felldrake think he was? This wasn't okay. None of this was okay.
Donald turned his head and glared hotly at where Sheldgoose and Felldrake were. He was so sick of this. He was sick of running away. He was sick of hiding. He was sick of being so scared of Felldrake all the time. He was sick of it all, and he wasn't going to take it anymore.
Felldrake had messed with the wrong Duck, because Donald was done with just letting Felldrake ruin his life. He was going to start fighting back.
Things are just about to get real.
Here's an interesting and random tidbit of information for you guys. At some point I began to kinda pre-ship Della with Victor. I don't even know how it happened. I just wrote Victor as a bit of a flirt, and Della was a bit confused and intrigued by him, and suddenly I'm kinda shipping them. Obviously it's not actually going to go anywhere in this story, because this story isn't about either of them, and they're just a couple of kids, but, I don't know, I just thought I'd share this little thing.
Donald was used to feeling raw fury and anger, because it along with stress was an emotion that he felt more than most others. Despite all of his experience with anger, it still caught him off guard just how overwhelming anger could be. It clouded his thoughts and better judgement, which just made him feel even more frustrated. When Donald was angry at something, it was usually because something had happened that he wasn't happy with and wanted to change. But he couldn't change anything when his anger wouldn't allow him to do anything other than seeth quietly or punch the nearest thing. His uselessness just frustrated him even more, and it was all just a ridiculous, annoying cycle.
Fortunately, most of the time when Donald got to this level of anger, Della was right there with him. She wasn't very good at calming him down, but she was great at figuring out what he wanted, and she was always willing to do her best to do it for him.
"Are we getting ready to fight these guys now?" Della asked quietly as she crouched next to Donald, looking ready to pounce at a moment's notice. Donald scowled and nodded.
"I...don't know," Donald said. He could barely get himself to focus enough to say that much. "Panchito…"
"You want to help your friend. Okay, we can do that," Della smirked, the wheels in her head turning and coming up with a plan. "...How are we going to do that?"
Donald knew that Panchito was being kept in a probably painful state of sleep by Felldrake's magic. He knew it would be simple enough to explain it to Della, but he couldn't get his mouth to work enough to form the words he needed. Fortunately, he didn't have to because José recognized magic when he saw it.
"He is sleeping," José said, which, while true, sounded much more innocent than it actually was. "Maybe..those are your protective magic amulets, yes?" José gestured to where Felldrake and Sheldgoose were. Donald nodded, and José's eyes brightened slightly. "They have strong magic. They may protect Panchito from the magic and he'll wake up."
Donald didn't like the plan, and only partially because Sheldgoose currently had the amulets and it could be dangerous to go closer to him. Donald just didn't like the amulets. He didn't like the thought of using the very amulet that had hurt Panchito to try to save him. But Donald didn't have a better idea, so he would have to take a bit of a leap of faith here.
Donald took in a deep breath, his hesitancy and fear about the amulets cleared his mind enough to say something more understandable. "If you can only get one, get Panchito's first." Panchito's amulet had to be their first priority.
"I'm on it," Della dashed forward before Donald could think of anything else he should say to her. She was completely fearless, like she always was. Della didn't try to be subtle, she just shouted and ran right at Sheldgoose, jumping onto his back.
"Wha-hey!" Sheldgoose said angrily. He twisted and turned as he tried to get Della off his back. Della's grip was strong, and she was incredibly stubborn. Della climbed from his back and onto his arm. She jumped at the amulets that Sheldgoose held in his hand. Della was able to get a grip on the amulets, but Sheldgoose didn't release them. Sheldgoose tried to lift the amulets away from Della, but she was just as unwilling to let go of them as he was so she was lifted into the air along with them.
Donald felt like he should do something to help her, but he was afraid that something could happen to Panchito if he left his side. He couldn't leave him, not again. Because José was there though, and he could watch their backs too, Donald wouldn't have to.
José ran up to Sheldgoose and, to Donald's shock, grabbed Felldrake's staff. Sheldgoose had been so focused on Della that his grip on the staff must have loosened, because José was able to pull it right out of his hands.
"No!" Sheldgoose cried out desperately. He reached for José, but while he was distracted Della pulled herself up so she could reach Sheldgoose's hand and she bit into his fingers as hard as she could. Sheldgoose yelped in pain and surprise and accidentally let go of the amulets he had been clinging to so tightly. Della fell harshly to the ground, but she didn't seem hurt, and she had their amulets in her hands.
"Catch!" Della threw the amulets towards Donald. The amulets all separated from each other and clattered to the ground at different distances between them. Luck finally seemed to be on their side though, because Panchito's red amulet was the one that landed the closest to Donald. He still had to step away from Panchito to reach it, but he didn't have to go far, and it wasn't long before he was back to his friend's side.
"This had better work," Donald muttered. He took the stupid amulet and slipped the chain over Panchito's chest. As soon as the red amulet was on Panchito's chest it seemed to glow subtly and, to Donald's relief, Panchito relaxed. Now it really did look like he was just asleep. A moment later Panchito shifted his head and slowly opened his eyes.
"H-hermano?" Panchito sat up and rubbed his head. He looked confused. "What-"
"You're okay!" Donald threw his arms around Panchito so suddenly that he almost knocked them both down to the ground. He didn't care though. Donald just clung to Panchito, promising to himself that he wouldn't let go of him ever again.
"What happened?" Panchito pulled away slightly. "Where…" Panchito trailed off and Donald could feel his body stiffen. Donald turned to see what Panchito was looking at and scowled when he saw Sheldgoose chasing after Della, who had the blue and green amulets in her hand again. She must have picked them up while he wasn't looking.
Felldrake seemed to be pretty desperate to get the amulets, so Donald wondered why Leopold wasn't going after Della too. Donald's question was answered really quickly. He saw Leopold circling around José, who still had Felldrake's staff in his hands. Leopold reached towards José, but when he was about two feet away from José there was a strange looking spark, which caused Leopold to cry out in pain and pull back in alarm. What had happened?
"Is it his hat?" Panchito asked. "It protects him, right?"
"Oh, yeah," Donald said, though it didn't reassure him as much as he would want it to. José's hat had been enchanted by his mother to protect him. It seemed to be doing it's job okay, not letting Leopold get close to him, but Donald couldn't shake the feeling that José was still in danger.
"What's wrong with him?" Panchito asked, and it took Donald a moment to know what he was talking about. He had a bad feeling about this, but that didn't necessarily mean that something was wrong. Then Donald caught a glimpse of José's eyes, and he felt shivers go down his spine. José's eyes were glowing with magic, and it was so bright that Donald could see the glow so clearly even from this distance. The glow reminded him of a fire, not in a warm, comforting way, but in a dangerous way that made him feel like he was about to get burned. What really unnerved Donald though was the color that José's eyes were.
José's eyes were normally a welcoming orangish brown color, leaning more towards a bright orange when he used magic. At that moment though they were clearly maroon, an odd mix between brown, red, and purple. Donald didn't know what it meant, but then he saw the way that the eyes on Felldrake's staffs glowed the same exact color, and he knew that whatever this was, it wasn't good.
"I think...their magic might be fighting for control," Donald said shakily. On his adventures with Uncle Scrooge he had seen conflicting magic at odds with each other. It was never a very pretty sight. Donald didn't know how strong José's magic was, but he was just a kid. Felldrake may be trapped in a staff, which limited his powers, but he was still a sorcerer. Donald didn't think that José's magic could stand up to Felldrake's for too long.
"We need to help him," Panchito said, and Donald agreed with him. He looked at the red amulet around Panchito's neck. He may not want to admit it, but the amulet had really worked to protect Panchito from Felldrake's magic. If José really was the third caballero, maybe it would do the same thing for him too.
"I have an idea," Donald said. "Do you want to distract Sheldgoose, or get the amulets from Della?"
"Uh," Panchito took one look at how furious Sheldgoose was and flinched. "I'll get the amulets,"
"You need to get close to José and put the green one on him," Donald said. "Can you do that?" Donald didn't want to ask Panchito to do more than he could handle. Panchito seemed to be terrified of Sheldgoose and didn't want to be anywhere near him, which meant that Donald didn't want him near Sheldgoose either. If Panchito was too scared to get close to Felldrake, then Donald would figure something else out.
"Oh, I can do that," Panchito said without a moment's hesitation. Donald didn't know whether he was relieved or concerned that Panchito showed more fear towards Sheldgoose, who was just a bumbling, incompetent mortal, than he did towards Felldrake, who was supposedly their worst enemy.
"Let's go," Donald said. He and Panchito both ran towards Della and Sheldgoose. Donald shook his arms out and just tackled Sheldgoose from the side. Sheldgoose was so much bigger and heavier than Donald was, but he was also running and didn't have the best balance in the first place. Donald's momentum was enough to upset Sheldgoose's balance, knocking him over. Donald didn't risk looking at what Della and Panchito were doing, he had to take advantage of the fact that Sheldgoose was down.
Donald remembered one of the lucha libre holds that Panchito had tried to teach him. He had certainly been put in the hold often enough, with all the times that Panchito had put him in it himself. It was an effective hold, but Donald wasn't sure how well it would work, because there was so much of a size difference between them, but he wasn't afraid of giving it a try.
Donald grabbed Sheldgoose's arm and pinned it under him as he straddled his shoulder, keeping his leg's grip tight. This wasn't exactly like how Panchito's hold was, but Sheldgoose was so much larger than Donald was, so he had to adjust. It was the same basic idea that Panchito had told him though. Make sure the arms can't grab or hit you, and stay away from the hips, because hips are really strong.
Donald tried to use every pound of weight that he had to keep Sheldgoose on the ground, but it wasn't working too well. Just when Donald started to think that Sheldgoose was going to get up from his grip Della jumped in and pulled Sheldgoose down again. She wasn't holding the amulets anymore.
Now that he didn't have to focus so much on keeping down Sheldgoose, because Della was there to help him with that, Donald could afford to look up and see how things were going. He looked up just in time to see Leopold striking at Panchito. Donald wanted to call out a warning, but before he had to Panchito dove right out of the way and got to José's side. Because Panchito was right next to José, he was no in that protective circle around him, so Leopold couldn't get him. Both Felldrake's and José's eyes flashed brightly, like one or both of them were trying to use additional magic, but as far as Donald could tell nothing had happened. If Felldrake had just tried to hurt Panchito again, his amulet had probably protected him again.
Maybe these things weren't all that bad after all.
Panchito quickly slipped the green amulet over José's neck, and just like before the result was immediate. A wave of power came out from José, pushing them all back. The wave was so strong that it knocked Della and Donald right off of Sheldgoose, but that was nothing compared to what it did to those who were closer to José. Panchito got knocked back several feet, causing him to fall and hit his head for the second time that day. Even Leopold was pushed back.
"Wh-what was that?" Della asked. Donald shook his head. He didn't know, and at that moment he didn't care. He had other things to worry about, like the fact that Panchito had his his head again. Donald ran towards his friend and helped him to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Donald asked, looking over Panchito in concern. "You're not hurt, are you?"
"I'm fine," Panchito waved off his concern. "What about José"
Donald felt guilty for a moment. He hadn't actually thought about José or what could have happened to him because of...whatever that was. Donald turned to see that José was on the ground. He wasn't unconscious, but he looked exhausted and extremely dazed. Donald, Della, and Panchito ran to his side.
"What happened?" Della kicked away Felldrake's staff, which José must have dropped at some point.
"Uh, my magic was being held back, and then the barrier went away and my magic just went out." José rubbed his head.
"Kinda like what happened to Panchito earlier?" Della asked, who tone light and teasing. Donald remembered how Panchito had fallen when they had tried to resist Victor's magic. He had pushed as hard as he could against the magical resistance, and it had caused him to fall when that resistance went away without a warning. That wave of power must have been José's restrained magic all being pushed out at once.
It looked like José's amulet had worked just as well for him as Panchito's had.
"You will pay for this!" Felldrake screeched, making all four of them jump. Donald instinctively moved closer to Panchito and José as he turned to see Felldrake's staff glaring at them from a few feet away, looking more furious than Donald had ever seen him look before, which was definitely saying something. "I will get my old body back, and I'll see to it that all three of you caballeros regret ever having been born."
Donald flinched and cried out in pain when he felt a strong presence of darkness just hit him, making him feel both in pain and completely helpless. From the way that Della grimaced and shuddered next to him it seemed like she had felt the same thing. Panchito and José seemed unaffected.
José looked down at his amulet and took his hat off. He put it on Della's head instead. She sighed in relief. The pain must have come from Felldrake's magic, which the amulets and José's hat provided protection from.
Panchito frowned and looked at the blue amulet that was still in his hands. He then looked at Donald, a conflicted look in his eyes. "I-I know you don't like them, and don't think they do anything, but…" Panchito trailed off and offered Donald's amulet to him.
Donald winced as he felt a particularly sharp pain in his head. He didn't know what Felldrake was trying to do, but he wanted to make it stop, even if he had to trust the stupid amulet to do it. And after what he had seen with Panchito and José, it was hard to deny that these things really did provide protection, at least from Felldrake's magic. Donald reluctantly accepted the amulet, which he put on.
The cold feeling in his chest and pounding headache went away in an instant, like they had never been there at all. Donald had thought that the amulets would just weaken Felldrake's hold on them, but he couldn't feel even the smallest pull from magic. If their ancestors, the original caballeros, had had these amulets when they'd fought Felldrake it was no wonder they were able to defeat him.
Wait a second...how exactly had they defeated Felldrake? Donald didn't think he had been told, or if he had he didn't remember it. All he knew was that somehow the original caballeros had transferred Felldrake's spirit into his staff, and that he could somehow undo that if he got all three of the amulets. Donald didn't know all that much about magic, but he thought that the way to undo something should be incredibly similar to how it happened in the first place.
Had the original caballeros somehow used the amulets to turn Felldrake into a staff? Donald thought that the amulets just had defensive magic. Could they do more than that?
Maybe someone who was more familiar with magic would know.
"Hey, José, what kind of magic is in these amulets?" Donald asked. José frowned and looked down at the green amulet.
"I...don't know," José studied his amulet, a curious look in his eyes. "The strange old duck said that the amulets would be drawn to each other if the ones who the amulets belong to have them." Donald had never heard that before. All he knew was that these amulets were supposed to keep them safe, and apparently they did protect them from magic. It was extremely helpful, but it wasn't all that they needed. Donald knew that they had to actually take action if they wanted to get Felldrake off of their tails once and for all, but he didn't know how to go about doing that, even with these amulets. He didn't know how to use these things.
"What are we supposed to do?" Donald asked, mostly to himself.
Panchito looked towards Felldrake. "I can't think with him yelling at us so loudly," Indeed, Felldrake had not stopped screeching angrily at them. Donald just hadn't been paying much attention to him. "He seems cranky. Do you think needs a nap?"
Donald, Della, and José all looked at Panchito in confusion. "A nap?" Della raised an eyebrow, her tone just shy of scoffing. "This guy isn't tired, he's just a jerk. He doesn't need a nap, he needs to be stopped." Donald glared slightly at his sister, because he recognized her tone as the one that she used when she thought that an idea was particularly stupid. Fighting with her over this wouldn't get them anywhere though, and Panchito seemed oblivious to the implied insult, so Donald let it slide just this once.
"Well, yes, but mi mamá says that I'm always grumpy when I'm sleepy," Panchito said matter-of-factly. Donald didn't really understand where Panchito was going with this, and he was just about to remind Panchito to focus on the task at hand when his thoughts caught onto a word that he had said.
Was that the solution? Could they just make Felldrake fall asleep, put him into an inactive state so he wouldn't be a problem anymore? Donald knew that this was something that could be done with magical items, because almost the entirety of Uncle Scrooge's adventure collection in the garage was just inactive, or sleeping, magical artifacts. And Donald knew that Felldrake could be put to rest because he had only just started to become a problem recently. Even as a staff Felldrake was still capable of doing a lot of magical damage, so why would he have waited so long since his original defeat to try to get his old body back?
What if the original caballeros hadn't just turned him into a staff, but also put him to sleep, at least for awhile. Maybe...maybe this could actually work.
"Panchito, you're a genius," Donald wrapped his arms enthusiastically around Panchito before turning and looking at José. "You know how you put Victor to sleep? Can you do that same thing on Felldrake?"
"I-I don't know," José admitted quietly. "My magic is not too good. It lasts for only a little time,"
Donald looked at José's green amulet. "Can the amulet make your magic stronger?" Donald may not know a lot about magic, but Uncle Scrooge had mentioned once that a lot of people who are magical like to use magical objects to make their powers even stronger. Donald didn't know if the amulets could do that, just that they might. He was willing to cling desperately onto that small possibility.
"Um, I think so," José frowned, though it seemed more thoughtful than before. Of course, that didn't mean that his doubt had completely disappeared. "But what if it's not enough?"
Panchito tilted his head slightly. "Maybe you can borrow power from our amulets too?" Donald shook his head. He didn't think that would work. The amulets may be connected, but Donald knew that they only really worked right in the hands of their respective caballero. Donald and Panchito's amulets wouldn't do much good in José's possession, and it wasn't like José could borrow the magic while they were wearing the amulets. It didn't work like that...did it?
Donald suddenly remembered what Great-grandpa Coot had said about the amulets and the caballeros when he had first told him about them. Donald couldn't remember it word for word, but he knew that Great-grandpa Coot had said something about the amulets making each other stronger, and how they represented the bond between the caballeros...the bond between him, José, and Panchito.
Donald didn't know exactly what that bond was, but he knew that it was something, and maybe that would be enough.
"...If you can't borrow power from the amulets, maybe you can borrow power from us." Donald said quietly. He looked at Panchito, who grinned shyly at him. The both of them turned to José, who still looked a little lost and confused, but not nearly as concerned as he had been before.
"I don't know how to do that," José said.
"Oh, we can help," Panchito took José's hand eagerly, and then took a hold of Donald's hand with just as much enthusiasm. Donald didn't know if this was how it would work. How would holding hands make their magic work? Donald didn't even know if José could draw magic from his own amulet, let alone from theirs. He didn't know if this would work, but he also didn't know that it wouldn't work, and maybe he should cling more to that uncertainty.
"I-I don't know how magic works…" Donald said quietly. He didn't even know if he trusted magic or not, but at this point he didn't know what else they could do. "But can we try...please?" He returned the tight grip that Panchito had on his hand and looked at José, who closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"...Okay," José closed the fingers of his free hand around his amulet and seemed to be focusing pretty intently. It wasn't long before Donald could see José's fingers glowing slightly. He was using magic, but Donald didn't know if it would be strong enough to do what they needed.
Panchito flinched slightly and tightened his grip on Donald's hand. "What's wrong?" Donald asked.
Panchito shook his head. "Do you not feel it?"
"Feel what?" Donald asked, but just then he felt a slight tingling in his hand, the one that was holding Panchito's. He recognized magic when he felt it, but this was different, somehow. The power didn't feel threatening, but it was strong. It also felt like the magic was within him, even if that wasn't where it had started.
José opened his eyes, and Donald was shocked to see that though the inside of the iris, the part closest to the pupil, was glowing orange, the outside was a bright green, the exact color of his amulet. If this wasn't a sign that something was happening, Donald didn't know what was.
José let his hand fall away from his amulet, which was glowing as brightly as his eyes were. "Vá dormir." He said quietly, his tone shaking and echoing slightly. Had his magic changed his tone somehow? A green flash of light came out from José's amulet. Donald felt his own amulet vibrate slightly before a blue flash came out from his own amulet, and a red one came from Panchito's. The colored flashes swirled around each other as they headed straight towards Felldrake's staff. Felldrake had finally stopped shrieking at them, and the face on the staff reflected one of pure terror. If Felldrake was afraid, maybe this really would work.
Felldrake cried out as the flashes of light hit him. The sound was so loud and raw that Donald could almost feel it in his bones. He closed his eyes and curled slightly inwards, feeling Panchito doing something similar next to him. He just wanted it to stop. And then, suddenly, it did.
Everything was silent, but Donald didn't dare to open his eyes. He was afraid to hope for what he would see. He heard quiet movement next to him, but he still didn't open his eyes. It was only when he felt his sister shaking his arm did he dare to crack an eye open, just to take a peek.
"Look," Della said quietly, gesturing to the staff. Donald cautiously looked, and his eyes widened when he noticed just how still and lifeless the staff was. It wasn't talking. Its eyes weren't glowing. It didn't have that terrifying aura of being possessed by a powerful sorcerer. It was just a staff.
"He...he's gone?" Donald couldn't believe it. It just seemed much too good to be true. "It's over...it's finally over."
"No!" Donald flinched when he heard Sheldgoose's shout. He had nearly forgotten about the old goose who had caused them just as much pain as Felldrake had. "Lord Felldrake!" Sheldgoose and Leopold both ran to the staff. As Sheldgoose passed them Panchito yelped and cringed back as far away from Sheldgoose as he could. Donald put his arm in front of Panchito protectively. Sheldgoose wasn't going to lay one more finger on Panchito, not if Donald had anything to do about it.
Della looked at how scared Panchito was, and how furious Donald was, and frowned. "Is this guy going to be a problem?"
"Probably," Donald said. He looked at José, planning on asking him if he could use that magic of his to make Sheldgoose and Leopold go to sleep the way that he had to Felldrake. José was leaning against Panchito, his eyes closed. Donald couldn't tell if he was unconscious, but at the very least he was exhausted and not in any state to do any more magic. They had to figure out something else.
"Donald, Della!" he turned to see Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot running towards them, with a tired looking but otherwise unharmed Victor right behind them. Great-grandpa Coot came up to the four of them, looking them over to make sure they were alright. Uncle Scrooge put himself between them and Sheldgoose.
"Ye will not harm these kids again, ye great, walloping beast," Uncle Scrooge growled. Donald didn't know if he was talking to Sheldgoose or Leopold, but he would believe either case.
Sheldgoose fumed as he bent down to picked up Felldrake's staff. A flash of red magic, different from what had come from Panchito's amulet, came from behind them and hit Sheldgoose's hand. He shrieked in pain, and while he was distracted Victor rushed forward, his glowing red eyes indicating just where the magic had come from, and picked up the staff which he threw back to Uncle Scrooge.
"It looks like yer not the one who has the magic anymore," Uncle Scrooge smirked. Victor drew back, joining Uncle Scrooge's side. Victor wielded his umbrella like a weapon, looking much older than just twelve years old. "Why don't ye make things easy for yerself and surrender now?"
"Never!" Sheldgoose turned to look at Leopold, who was looking at the inanimate staff in horror. "Leopold, take Daddy away,"
"Daddy…" Leopold sniffled, a look of conflict and pain in his eyes. He looked so pathetic that Donald nearly felt bad for him, and then he remembered that this creature was the one that had grabbed him in the first place and any pity that he felt vanished without a trace. Leopold stiffened and crouched slightly. Donald thought that Leopold was giving up, too upset about what had happened to Felldrake to put up a real fight. Suddenly Leopold roared and bounded forward as though to attack them.
Scrooge glared at Leopold and tightened his grip on the staff, likely getting ready to use it as a weapon. It didn't come to that though, because before Leopold could reach them he suddenly turned around, leapt into the air, grabbed Sheldgoose, and began to fly off.
"Hey!" Victor scowled and used his umbrella to try to shoot magic at them as they retreated but they were already too far away. His blast of magic fell short. Donald felt his heart sink lower and lower the farther away Sheldgoose got. It seemed like things weren't as over and done with as he had wanted them to be.
"He's going to come back," Donald said quietly. Uncle Scrooge finally turned back to him, his glare softening into a sympathetic glance. Uncle Scrooge sighed and knelt down in front of Donald. He dropped Felldrake's staff and put a hand on Donald's shoulder, then he held his other out to invite Della in.
"Aye, he will," Uncle Scrooge said. "But we'll be ready for him,"
Great-grandpa Coot scratched the back of his neck. "What about Panchito and José? If Leopold and Sheldgoose are still out there, none of these boys are safe." Donald froze and looked at Panchito in alarm. He hadn't even considered that before. Donald trusted his family to keep him safe, and maybe José's family's magic would be able to keep away their enemies, but what about Panchito?
Uncle Scrooge looked at Panchito and José, a strange, determined look in his eyes. Donald knew that look well. Uncle Scrooge already knew exactly what to do about Panchito and José. "We'll figure something out." Donald didn't know what Uncle Scrooge had in mind, but he seemed so confident that it was hard to not trust him. "For now, let's go home."
Home...that sounded really good to Donald. He knew that their troubles weren't over, that Felldrake wouldn't stay asleep forever, and that Sheldgoose would come back sooner or later, but at least right now, he was ready to take a break. They definitely deserved it.
Just one more chapter left, to tie up a few loose ends and stuff like that.
I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter, because I always feel like I'm not too good at action and fight scenes, and this is the big climax. I don't know how else I could have written it, but as it is it just feels a bit anticlimactic. I don't know.
Even though this particular story is almost over, that doesn't mean that it has to end. I have a couple of ideas about how to do more with this story. I have a few one-shots in mind that could be put together to make a kind of a sequel (including introducing Xandra), and I have a longer story in mind that is kind of an au of this story. Basically a 'what if' where Scrooge doesn't let Donald and José go off to help Panchito after he gets taken by Sheldgoose and Felldrake. So Donald and José are safe, and they have all three of the amulets, but Panchito...anyways, would you guys be interested in reading these things?
I think I may have confused some people and made them think that the previous chapter was the last chapter. Nope, this is the last chapter. Like I said earlier though, I'll still probably write a series of one-shots that follow this story, a kind of a sequel. This particular story though, it's finished, and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Donald had been flying more times than he could count. Uncle Scrooge had his own private jet, and he always took it out when he went adventuring. Donald had never been afraid of flying, but he hadn't necessarily enjoyed it either. It was no different than a drive in the car. Just a way to get from one destination to another.
Flying home though, after being away for so long, it made the airplane one of Donald's favorite inventions in existence. It was getting him home quickly.
"Alright, kids, buckle up," Great-grandpa Coot called out to them from the front of the plane, which he was piloting. "We're landing soon,"
Della shifted slightly and mumbled into Donald's shoulder. She sat up groggily. "Are we home yet?"
"Not yet," Donald pat his sister's arm. "Go back to sleep," She'd been clinging to his arm and sleeping during the entire flight. Donald wondered just how much sleep she'd been able to get while he was gone, because she never slept during their flights. "We have a small detour to make, remember?"
Della grumbled and snuggled closer to Donald's shoulder. He had been more than happy to let her sleep on him for all these hours, but at that moment he didn't want her on him anymore. For one thing, his arm was asleep and he wanted to stretch it for a bit. The more important reason was that for the past hour or so Panchito had been pacing around anxiously, his feathers ruffled. It didn't take a genius to see that he was upset. Scrooge had tried to talk to him, but Panchito had only responded to him in Spanish. Donald knew that he would be the only one to really figure out what was going on with Panchito.
"Go," Victor, who was sitting on Della's other side, took her arm and pulled her onto him. Victor also held a sleeping José close to him. "I'll keep an eye on her."
"Thanks," Donald muttered. He stood up and stretched a little bit before making his way towards his friend. Panchito was muttering under his breath. Donald sighed and as Panchito walked past him he took his hand. "Hey, you okay?" Panchito didn't answer, he just tugged his arm and continued muttering to himself in Spanish. He sounded nearly frantic.
Donald remembered when he had first met Panchito, how the rooster would struggle to speak English when he was especially distressed. It hadn't been too long since it had last happened. If he instinctively speaking Spanish, then maybe he would have a hard time understanding English right now. Donald could deal with that.
"¿Oye, amigo, estás bien?" Donald said quietly. Panchito finally paused.
"No...no puedo…" Panchito made a noise that sounded like a cross between a groan and a whimper. "I can't do this."
Donald frowned. It seemed like Panchito was up for speaking English after all. "Do what? Why are you so nervous?" Panchito grimaced and brought a hand to his neck. Donald quickly grabbed Panchito's hand before he could irritate his neck. He didn't know why he was trying to touch his injury.
"Well, maybe...maybe we should just leave now," Panchito said quickly, so quickly that Donald could barely understand a word he had said. "You've been waiting to go home for so long, to see your fami...I just don't think you should have to wait anymore. You should go home now."
Donald stared at Panchito in shock. "You can't be serious," Except he could tell that Panchito really was being completely serious. He just didn't understand why. "Panchito, we're so close, don't you want to see your family?" It was the whole reason why they were stopping in Mexico before going back to Duckburg.
Panchito flinched and pulled his arms away from Donald's grip. "No...I mean, sí, pero…I don't know…" Panchito whimpered and sat down on the ground. He buried his head in his knees. Donald sat down next to him.
"What's going on?" Donald asked. He knew that they were technically supposed to be sitting in seats and buckling up, but Panchito didn't seem up to moving right now. If things got really rough, they could move and get buckled up. That wasn't necessary right now though.
Panchito let out a slow breath as Donald began to preen his feathers, just like he had done the day that Panchito had been taken by Sheldgoose for the second time. Panchito didn't say a word for a few long minutes. As the plane began to descend Donald ground his feet to the floor and tightened his grip on Panchito to keep him steady. Even after they had landed, Panchito still hadn't opened up to Donald. If anything, he seemed to be even more upset than before.
"Alright, are you lads ready?" Uncle Scrooge walked over to them when they were secure on the ground. Donald looked at Panchito, who shook his head, and then looked up at Uncle Scrooge.
"Not yet," Donald said. Uncle Scrooge looked at Panchito, and a moment later his expression softened in understanding, which Donald didn't understand. Uncle Scrooge hadn't said a word to Panchito, and yet seemed to know exactly what was going through his head? How?
"Come on you two," Scrooge bent down and took Donald and Panchito's hands, pulling them both to their feet. "Let's take a walk, get some fresh air."
"...Okay," Panchito said quietly. At that one word, Donald, who hadn't been sure that Uncle Scrooge's plan was such a good one, was eager to get out. Maybe if Uncle Scrooge knew how Panchito was feeling, he would know how to get him to talk about it.
The three of them exited the plane and made their way out of the small airstrip that they had landed in, just outside town. Panchito didn't say a word, he just clung tightly to Donald's hand as they followed Uncle Scrooge. Panchito seemed really closed off, but as they walked into town he gradually began to relax. Panchito began to look all around, his eyes brightened. A few minutes later he looked completely relaxed and comfortable.
"Does it feel nice to finally be back home?" Donald asked with a grin. Panchito grinned excitedly and nodded.
"It feels great," Panchito said. "I really missed Mexico."
""If it feels so great to be back home, why are you so reluctant to actually go home?" Donald asked. Panchito flinched and looked to the side.
"I don't know," Panchito muttered, though Donald knew that he did actually know. He didn't want his friend to get upset all over again though, not when he had just started to relax and look more like his normal self.
"Hey, I'm feeling a little hungry," Donald said. "Do you know any good food places around here?"
That broad smile immediately returned to Panchito's face. "Oh, there is a great churro place a few streets down. My cousin used to take me there every weekend after work was over."
Donald frowned slightly. "Your cousin? You mean Romero?"
"Sí, Romero," Panchito smiled fondly, but Donald just scowled. Panchito hadn't told him a lot about Romero, but what he'd heard hadn't been all that great. Romero's teasing had gone too far, and that was what had caused Panchito to leave his home in the first place, which had made him vulnerable to getting caught by Sheldgoose.
Maybe it wasn't fair to make brash judgements about someone that he had never even met before, but Donald couldn't help it. Panchito had gone through so much crap, and none of that would have happened if Romero had just learned when too much was too much.
"I've never had a churro before," Donald grumbled. He didn't want to think Panchito's stupid cousin anymore.
"Let's go," Panchito smiled and dragged Donald along to a small but nice looking churro cart. Donald was more than happy to get pulled around by his cheerful friend. As they went though Donald saw something out of the corner of his eye that made him pause to look twice. There were plenty of roosters and chickens around, but one in particular caught Donald's gaze.
The rooster looked shockingly like Panchito, except taller and with a little less baby fat. This rooster, who was probably a few years older than them, seemed to be heading right towards the same churro chart that Panchito was dragging him towards...the churro cart that Panchito had said he often went with his cousin.
"Uh...Uncle Scrooge?" Donald looked back towards his uncle, who had followed them. "What day of the week is it today?"
"Saturday," Uncle Scrooge said immediately. Panchito suddenly froze in his tracks, his eyes wide. He started scanning the crowd almost anxiously until he laid eyes on the same young rooster that Donald had noticed before. Panchito let out a small noise and drew back slightly. Donald tightened his grip on Panchito's hand, partially to support and ground him, and partially to keep him from running off.
The other rooster, who Donald was almost positive was Romero, hadn't noticed them, but when he turned his head vaguely in their direction Panchito flinched and pulled his arm so sharply away from Donald that he was able to get out of his grip completely.
"Wha-hey!" Donald turned towards his friend, but it was too late, Panchito had already turned tail and started running in the opposite direction. "Panchito!" Donald growled to himself and ran off after his friend,dodging Uncle Scrooge's grip when he tried to grab him.
"Stop," Donald shouted. "Panchito, Stop!" His friend didn't do as he said, but he somehow ended up tripping over his own feet. He didn't fall, but he faltered enough in his steps that Donald was able to catch up to him. Donald took advantage of this and tackled Panchito down to the ground, because he knew that if Panchito started running again then he might just get away from. Panchito was taller, faster, and more desperate than Donald was right now.
"What is wrong with you?" Donald snapped, harsher than he probably should have. "Why are you running from your family?"
"I...I didn't…" Panchito whimpered and Donald was startled to see that his eyes were wet with tears. "I didn't try to…" Panchito trailed off into tears and started sobbing. Donald, shocked and feeling slightly guilty, crawled off of Panchito. Donald sat awkwardly as Panchito lay crying next to him. He didn't know what to do.
After another minute Panchito calm down enough to continue speaking. "I left them. I didn't want to be gone for so long, but I still left. Wh-what if they're mad at me for leaving? Wh-what if they don't want me t-to come home?"
"Th-that's ridiculous," Donald said. He had no idea what to say to Panchito. Before he could think of anything Donald was pushed to the side, but not harshly.
"Idiota," Romero pulled Panchito into a sitting position. "Por supuesto que te extrañamos."
"R-Romero?" Panchito whimpered weakly. Romero shook his head and tightened his grip on Panchito.
"Estúpido idiota," Romero said. At this point, Donald thought that enough was enough.
"Hey, don't call him that," Donald scowled as he shoved Romero slightly. He may not be a fluent Spanish speaker, but he knew enough to know that Romero was calling Panchito a stupid idiot, and that was not okay. "And can you please speak English so that we can all understand you a little better?"
"Lo siento, pero…" Romero paused when he saw Donald glaring daggers at him. "Who are you?"
"He's mi herm-migo...amigo." Panchito took Donald's hand and squeezed it. "No fighting, please. Donald, it's fine,"
"It's not fine!" Donald shouted. Uncle Scrooge, who must have followed them, put a hand on Donald's shoulder. "He can't say things like that to you when it's what caused you to run off in the first place."
"Tha-that wasn't-" Panchito began, but he stopped what he was saying and looked at the ground. "It was more than just that."
"E-espera," Romero said weakly. "You left because of me?"
"No!" Panchito said quickly. "...maybe," Panchito pushed Romero away. "I don't know...there was more but...I don't know, I was stupid."
"No you weren't," Romero and Donald said together. Donald looked at Panchito's cousin in shock.
"Wait a second, you just said that he was stupid," Donald glared at Romero in distrust. "Why is it suddenly not okay?"
Romero gave Panchito a cautious look. "I can say it, but he cannot think it."
Romero really didn't understand the difference between friendly teasing and harmful bullying, and yet he called Panchito the idiot. "Have you never heard that if you're told something enough you start to believe it?"
"Alright, lads, that's enough," Uncle Scrooge pulled Donald to his feet before moving on to Panchito and Romero. "Instead of throwing accusations at each other because we're scared," Uncle Scrooge gave Donald a sharp look. "Why don't we all calm down and talk about what's really bothering us. Panchito's already shared what he's afraid of," Panchito shuffled his feet and kept his eyes glued to the ground. "So, Romero, what's bothering you?"
Romero frowned at Panchito. "How do you know these guys? Why...why didn't you come home?"
"Ah, that's a long story," Uncle Scrooge said. "Of course, we'll tell you everything, but it would probably be best for us to explain it to the rest of your family as well, right?" Panchito and Romero both nodded. "So why don't we go back to the plane and get the others before going to your home?"
Donald swallowed thickly. "Yeah, let's do that." He followed as Uncle Scrooge took the lead, pulling Panchito behind him. Donald knew that Romero was going to follow them, but he was still slightly surprised and a little annoyed when he put his arm over Panchito's shoulder and held him closely. Donald knew that if their positions were switched he would probably be doing the same thing, but he still wasn't happy with it.
When they got back to the airstrip they saw Great-grandpa Coot standing in front of the plane. He looked tense, but as soon as he saw them he relaxed. "How was your walk?" Great-grandpa Coot asked. "I see you found a new friend.
"Soy Romero," Panchito's cousin somehow pulled the younger rooster even closer to him. "Su primo,"
"Panchito's cousin?" Great-grandpa Coot smiled warmly. "That's great! I'm Donald's great-grandfather. You can call me Coot."
"I'm pretty sure everybody calls you that," Della stepped out of the plane, rubbing her eyes. She walked right past their great-grandfather and right up to Donald. She promptly punched his arm. "And you, stop running off on me while I'm sleeping."
Donald flinched. That punch was a lot harsher than her hits usually were. He must have really scared her. "There was something I had to do," Donald said. "And I didn't run off the first time, I was kidnapped."
"Kidnapped?" Romero tilted his head curiously. "¿Qué significa eso?"
"Se-secuestrado," Panchito said quietly. "Yo también,"
"Tu…" Romero looked like he was going to be sick, which Donald completely understood.
"Hey, we said we'd go over this later with the rest of your family," Uncle scrooge looked sternly, but not unkindly, at Romero and Panchito. "Let's get the others and we can go."
"Others?" Romero frowned and looked at Panchito and Donald, a worried and protective look in his eyes. "How many of you are there?"
"In the plane? There's five more," Donald said. "Kidnapped? It was just the two of us."
"He wanted José too," Panchito said, his voice shaking in scared anger. It wasn't a tone that Donald liked to hear.
"But we stopped him, lad," Uncle Scrooge tried to say encouragingly, though the stern look in his eyes told Donald that though he was trying to encourage them, he didn't completely believe his own words. "He's not going to hurt any of you ever again."
"H-hurt?" Romero's eyes seemed to flip between fear and anger when it finally settles on anger. "You got hurt?" Panchito squeezed Donald's hand and drew closer to him. Panchito was the kind of person who downplayed his pain. Donald was usually really frustrated with Panchito when he did this kind of thing, but this time he kept quiet about it. Uncle Scrooge was right, talking about this should wait until a little later, with Panchito's parents, not his older cousin.
"I'll go get the Carioca's," Great-grandpa Coot said as he retreated back into the plane. A minute later he returned with Ana and her sons. José was still fast asleep, with Victor carrying him on his back. Luiz trailed behind his older brother, a tired look of mistrust in his eyes, like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Matheus clung tightly to Luiz' arm, keeping his eyes on the sky. None of them looked particularly happy to be there, even though they had all volunteered to come.
Not that Donald could blame them. He would be pretty upset too if he had been told that Della would have to leave her family and begin living with people who were little more than strangers, even if he knew that it was for her own good.
Uncle Scrooge and Great-grandpa Coot both believed that none of them, Donald, Panchito, or José, would be completely safe while Sheldgoose was still out there. At least while he was still a threat, they would all be safer if they were all safe with Uncle Scrooge, who had a lot of experience dealing with this kind of thing.
Ava hadn't been sure of this at first, but Victor, who had seen Sheldgoose for himself, had convinced her that it was for the best. Ava definitely wasn't happy with it, but she still insisted on coming with them to Duckberg, at least for a little bit. She wanted to make sure that her little boy was okay.
"Let's get this over with," Uncle Scrooge said. "We need to get you three back to Duckberg soon."
"Will you be okay with seeing your parents?" Donald whispered quietly to Panchito. He didn't want to see his friend get overwhelmed and freak out again.
"I-I don't…" Panchito looked uncertain. Romero smirked and ruffled Panchito's feathers.
It'll be fine," Romero said confidently. "Te prometo." Panchito relaxed slightly at his cousin's words, which somehow irked Donald slightly. Panchito had been so scared to see his family, but with one simple reassurance he now he seemed to be feeling okay about it. Romero had also been the one to calm him down earlier. He may be Panchito's cousin, but Donald was the one who had been with Panchito through this whole kidnapping mess. He had seen Panchito freaked out and scared, and had also been the one to cause it once or twice, but he still couldn't do anything. Why was he so useless right now?
Donald held onto Panchito's hand, relying on it to ground himself. It was the only thing that he focused on as they walked. He was vaguely aware of Romero talking rapidly in Spanish to Panchito, saying something about what had been going on at home while he'd been gone. Donald couldn't follow the conversation all that easily, and he didn't put a lot of effort into trying. He didn't want to listen to Romero talk about their home or family. He just wanted to get this over with and go home.
...Get it over with? What was wrong with him? They were here so that Panchito could reunite with his family. That shouldn't be a chore. Donald may want to go home, but that wasn't any reason to steal that same thing from Panchito. He deserved to see his family, and he definitely deserved to be happy about it.
Donald stayed in his own mind until he felt Panchito squeeze his hand tighter than he had that day. Donald blinked and looked up from the ground to see that they were standing at the front door of a house. Panchito's home.
Romero seemed oblivious to the return of Panchito's anxiety. Romero finally pulled away from Panchito, but only so he could open the door and lead the way inside. Panchito flinched and drew back slightly like he was wanting to run again, but Donald held firmly on to him this time. Panchito may be scared, but this would be good for him. Donald wasn't going to let him run away this time.
"Tío Miguel, Tía María!" Romero shouted into the house as he looked back towards his younger cousin. Panchito drew in a shaky breath and lurched slightly, like he didn't know whether or not to run inside or leave and never return.
"Romero, no grites en la casa," A woman's voice scolded from in the house. Panchito's eyes widened. He relaxed so much that his hand practically went lax in Donald's.
"M-mamá?" Panchito said so quietly that it was barely inaudible. "Mamá." Panchito's eyes filled with tears and Donald could feel his hand shaking in his own. "¡Mamá!"
"...Mijo?" A red chicken came running to the front door. Donald barely got a good look at her before Uncle Scrooge pulled him back, just before the chicken would have pushed him aside as she pulled Panchito close to her, like she would never let him go again.
Panchito whimpered and clung tightly to his mother. Both of them were sobbing and muttering in Spanish. It took several minutes for either of them to calm down enough for them to begin speaking coherently.
"¿Dónde estabas?" Panchito's mother, María, pulled away just enough that she could look him in the eyes. She gently brushed away some tears away from Panchito's cheeks.
"Lo siento," Panchito closed his eyes and shook his head desperately. "Yo...no pude."
"Cálmase, mijo," María leaned down and kissed Panchito's forehead. "Cálmase. Está bien." Panchito's mother began to quietly hum a tune that sounded familiar to Donald. He had heard Panchito humming it a couple of times when one of them had felt especially lonely. After calming Panchito for a few minutes María finally turned her attention away from Panchito and looked at the other people standing at her doorstep.
"¿Ustedes hablan inglés, sí?" María asked. All of them nodded. She could likely tell partially because none of them looked like they were from around here, and partially because most of them looked a little lost in what she had been saying, even though it had been fairly simple Spanish.
All of them nodded, and María continued. "You found my Panchito?" Donald shrugged, because they may have been the ones to bring Panchito home, but they hadn't exactly found them. Donald and Panchito had just stumbled into each other, and then they'd both stumbled into José's family, and then Donald's family. Panchito's family were the first ones that they had actually 'found'.
Great-grandpa Coot didn't seem to be thinking about the details the same way that Donald was. "More or less,"
"Can we come in?" Uncle Scrooge asked. "We have some things we need to talk about."
"Ah, por supuesto," María stepped into the house, pulling Panchito in with her. "Please, come in." Donald frowned as his sister, Uncle, and great-grandpa went inside after her. He felt his stomach twist up nervously. It felt like something was wrong, but he didn't know what. It was like a mix between the nerves he felt when it was the first day at a new school, and the boiling hot rage he felt whenever somebody was picking on him. Donald hated feeling like this.
"Hey," Donald jumped slightly when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Victor looking at him in concern, with José looking at him tiredly from over his brother's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"I-I'm fine," Donald shook his head in an attempt to clear it. Everybody else was already inside.
"You look like Panchito," José brushed the sleep out of his eyes.
Donald stared at José in confusion, and Victor turned his head to look at him too. "What?"
"That night you stayed with us," José fidgeted slightly until his brother bent down and put him on the ground. "He was upset,"
Donald remembered that, and he still felt guilty about it. Panchito had looked so upset even in his sleep, and Donald had felt horrible that he hadn't even noticed that something was wrong until José had told him so. "He was homesick, right?"
"Ah, a little," José said, his eyes uncertain. "He did miss his family, but he missed you too."
"Missed me?" Donald frowned. "I was right there."
"It didn't feel like it," José said bluntly. "You were with your sister."
"...So?" Donald said, though he had a pretty good idea of where José was going with this. Donald remembered the inexplicable anger he'd felt seeing Panchito interact with Romero. The two of them had just been acting like cousins,protective, teasing, comforting, and just overall familially. There was no reason for Donald to get upset like this, but he did.
Donald looked at the ground. "...Panchito felt like this?"
José nodded. "He thought you didn't need him anymore."
Donald flinched. "...what?" Donald didn't think he had done anything wrong, but he felt absolutely horrible anyways. He felt like if it weren't for him, Panchito wouldn't have felt so lost and hurt. How could he hurt his friend like that? How could he hurt his bro-
"Donald?" Uncle Scrooge came back out of the house. "What are you doing out here?"
"I don't...I don't know!" Donald shut his eyes tightly and clenched his hands into fists to try to get them to stop shaking. He wanted to stop feeling so horrible about what had happened before, but he couldn't. He completely understood why Panchito had been jealous that he was with Della. Panchito had been calling him hermano from the start, he had felt like they were family. Panchito's feelings made sense. Donald's, though, didn't. He had insisted really harshly that they weren't brothers, and yet here he was, feeling hurt in what was apparently the same way. What right did he have to feel like this?
"Lad," Uncle Scrooge took Donald's hand and pulled him down to sit on the patio. "What's on your mind?" Donald shook his head harshly and still didn't open his eyes. He felt Uncle Scrooge put his hands on his face, steadying him. "Donald, look at me," It wasn't very often that Uncle Scrooge used this gentle but stern tone with him. He slowly opened his eyes to see Uncle Scrooge kneeling in front of him, concern in his eyes. "Don't get frustrated with your frustrations. It's okay to be upset about something-"
"No, it's not!" Donald tried to knock his hand against his leg, but Uncle Scrooge stopped him. "I shouldn't be jealous. I-I shouldn't…"
"Do you think that Panchito wasn't allowed to be jealous of Della?" Uncle Scrooge asked gently. Donald flinched slightly.
"O-of course it's allowed," Donald frowned. But he...Panchito sees me as his hermano. I-I don't...I don't see him like that." Donald's voice faltered at the end.
Uncle Scrooge raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you sure?"
"I-I don't," Donald insisted weakly. "I-I love Panchito, but it's different then how I feel about Della."
"Well, of course it is, lad," Uncle Scrooge said with a small smile. "Compared to how long you've known your sister, you haven't known Panchito very long at all. You're close to him, but time does change the nature of relationships."
"What do you mean?" Donald asked. Uncle Scrooge hummed thoughtfully.
"Well, you love your great-grandfather, don't you?" Uncle Scrooge asked. Donald nodded quickly. "Do you love him the same way you love me, or your sister?"
"I...no, I guess I don't." Donald's eyes widened in realization. "So I don't have to feel the same way about my sister and my…" Donald swallowed thickly. "My brother?"
"Of course not, lad," Uncle Scrooge ruffled his feathers. "Trust me, I love both of my sisters equally, but I do not love them in the same way."
Donald felt a shaky smile slip onto his face. It was one thing to hear Uncle Scrooge's reassurances, and another to hear that he actually had experience with this kind of thing. "O-okay." Donald brushed some stray tears away from his eyes with the palm of his hand.
"Come on," Uncle Scrooge stood up and pulled Donald do his feet. "Let's go inside now, okay? I promise, we won't be here for long. Coot has already started telling Panchito's family about the situation.
Donald nodded and let his uncle pull him inside. He noticed that Victor and José weren't out there anymore. They must have gone inside when Uncle Scrooge had first come out. Donald didn't feel quite ready to rejoin the whole group, but he didn't want to avoid them anymore. He could do this.
Uncle Scrooge immediately lead Donald to the main room, where everybody had crowded in. Donald could tell immediately that Great-grandpa Coot had already told them what had happened. Panchito's mother seemed really distressed, and she was holding Panchito close to her. There were two more roosters in the room, one of them had his hand on María's shoulder and was looking sternly at Great-grandpa Coot. The other rooster was standing just behind Romero. Their fathers.
"We just got mi pollito back," María's voice shook, but she was fierce. She wasn't going to let her little boy go so easily. "I don't want to lose him."
"I understand," Ana took María's hand. "I'm struggling with letting my boy go too, but we have to put our boys first. If they're in danger, and letting them go is the only way to keep them safe, then we have to do what's best for them, no matter how much it hurts."
María let out a short sob and held Panchito closer to her. She looked up at her husband. They both looked upset, but there was a strong look in their eyes that Donald saw all the time in his own parents' eyes, and even in Uncle Scrooge's. Nothing was going to stop them from doing what they thought was best for their child.
After a tense moment María nodded and kissed Panchito's forehead. "Mijo...mijo…" María looked up at Great-grandpa Coot, and then moved her gaze over to Uncle Scrooge. "If anything happens to him while he's with you-" Donald felt shivers go down his spine. Protective mothers were scary.
"We'll keep him safe," Uncle Scrooge promised. "Nothing's going to happen to any of our boys, not if there's anything I can do about it."
Panchito looked up at his mother and then over to Donald with an almost shy smile. "Hola, her-mico." Donald flinched slightly. This was the second time today that Panchito was stopping himself from calling Donald 'hermano'. Did he still think that Donald didn't want him to call him that? Donald had never had any complaints about the nickname, not ever, and he really didn't want Panchito to stop.
"Hola, b-br-brother." Donald stammered. This would take some getting used to.
Panchito's eyes widened and for a moment they just stared at each other. The moment went on for so long that Donald was almost worried that he had said the wrong thing, and that Panchito would want him to take it back. He was about to do just that when Panchito leapt to his feet and pushed past the crowd in the room. Panchito ran right up to Donald and practically tackled him into an embrace.
"H-hermano," Panchito laughed shakily. "Hermano,"
"Yeah," Donald agreed as he leaned closer to Panchito. "Hermano," Donald and Panchito held on to each other, even as the conversation continued on around them.
"How long until you have to leave?" Panchito's father asked. "You said it wasn't safe for too long,"
"The sooner the better," Uncle Scrooge said. He put his hands on Donald and Panchito's shoulders, encouraging them to pull away from each other. "Why don't you say goodbye to your family?" Uncle Scrooge looked at Panchito, who nodded stiffly and turned back towards his family. He walked towards his parents, but then paused and looked at his uncle in slight confusion.
"Where'd Romero go?" Panchito asked.
"Aquí," Romero came back into the room, a guitar in his hands. Romero walked up to Panchito and held it out to him. "I couldn't let you leave without this,"
"...Tu guitarra?" Panchito looked up at his cousin in disbelief. "But-"
"No arguments," Romero shoved the guitar into Panchito's hands. "You were always better at it than I was. You should have it."
Panchito held the guitar almost reverently. He looked reluctant, but he didn't make any more arguments. "Gracias, primo," Romero gave Panchito a small smile and pulled him into a tight hug. Donald watched them for a moment before he turned away. He felt like he should give Panchito some privacy. He turned and looked towards José's family instead, and was surprised to see that the youngest parrot was holding Victor's umbrella in his hands. Donald hadn't seen that umbrella leave Victor's hands.
It was entirely possible that Victor had just given José the umbrella to hold for a moment, but the way that José was clutching it, staring at it like it was the most important thing in his life, told Donald otherwise.
"I guess your brother had the same idea as Romero did." Donald commented as he come over to José.
"He thinks it will keep me safe," José said. "It makes his magic stronger, and Victor says I can figure out how to do the same thing,"
"That would be cool," Donald said. He looked over his shoulder towards Uncle Scrooge. "Just be careful about it around my Uncle." It would take more than just the Carioca family's magic being used to save them to convince Uncle Scrooge to let go of his stubborn hatred of magic. "Why's Victor giving it to you now instead of when we're in Duckburg?"
José's grip on the umbrella tightened as he looked up towards his family. "Minha mão has work tomorrow. They have to go home." Donald winced sympathetically. It was hard enough that José had known that he would have to say goodbye to his family, and now it was happening a lot sooner than he had thought. That was tough.
"Don't worry, you're not going to be away from them forever," Donald said. "And at least we'll be safe, right?"
"Right," José said, though he didn't look entirely convinced. Donald didn't blame him. José was being dragged into this whole thing in a different way than Panchito and Donald had been. He also wasn't as close to Donald and Panchito as they were to each other, so he probably felt like he couldn't rely on them nearly as much as they could on each other. Donald felt really bad for him, but he didn't know what else he could do for him, other than be there.
Who knows, maybe Panchito was right when he'd claimed that José was their hermano too. Now that Donald was starting to feel okay with having a brother that he wasn't exactly related to, he could see himself being open to accepting another.
Great-grandpa Coot came closer to the two of them and knelt down in front of them. "Are you two ready to go?"
Donald looked at José before turning to look towards Panchito, who was approaching them, a somber look on his face. Panchito slowly looked up at Donald, who smiled slightly at him, trying to be encouraging. Panchito gave him a slow smile in return.
"We'd better get going if we want to get home before dark," Uncle Scrooge said. Donald knew that Sheldgoose would be just as likely to go after them in broad daylight as he would in the middle of the night, but he knew that he would feel a lot safer if they were back at Mcduck Manor before dark.
"I'm ready," Panchito fingered a chord on his guitar, thought he didn't actually play a note. José didn't say anything, but he nodded. Donald took a deep breath and put his right hand on Panchito's left, and his left hand on José's right. They were leaving their families. Donald had to be strong for them.
"Yeah," Donald said as he looked up at his Great-grandpa Coot and Uncle Scrooge. "Let's go home."
There is some fanart for this story that I've been hoping to put up. I wasn't able to figure out how to attach it to the chapter, but I'm going to try to edit it in later. I just didn't want to wait until after I'd figured it out to post this last chapter.