Archie the Matchmaker
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Archie opts to play the matchmaker for Frank. Word Count: 1804
Frank had a pretty sweet life, milling about amongst flowers just as bright and pretty as he was. Every once in a while he’d have a bit of a chat with Lisa. One could say she was a bit of a kindred spirit. However, today a visit with his friend was not in the cards. Tending to his equally colorful surroundings was what he wanted to focus on, and he was about to start on that very important task when he felt an eerie sensation of being… watched.
His eyes narrowed when his expansive collection of rosebushes rustled, their height rivaling anything a mere human could grow by reaching to his mid-chest. Any number of creatures could be hiding from within. A low growl began to erupt from within him, a warning as he reached out a claw to peel it back and face the intruder into his domain.
A… creature popped forth, its huge buggy eyes staring out in two different directions directly over a manic, beaky grin. Frank couldn’t help it, he cried out in surprise and kept himself from falling back only by the grace of his spaded tail catching him.
“Galyx preserve me, who are you?!?” Frank screeched, thoroughly unamused by the bizarre stryx. “And why are you in the rose bushes??”
“Look for you.” The Tyto’s speech was cheerful, but choppy, as if he was not a native speaker of the language.
“Why..?” Frank was almost afraid to ask.
“I uh.. sorry, but I don’t think I can help you there. You’re going to need to find someone far more skilled than I am to get you a date, pal.”
“Archie no need. Archie here for you. Find lucky ladies for Frankie.”
Frank bristled. “Literally, never call me that again. Also, I in NO WAY need your help in that department. Like, I have sired more than my fair share of-“
“Not a competition. No worries, Archie help anyways.” The bug-eyed Tyto slipped itself gingerly out of the roses. “Thorny flowers.”
Frank’s beak twisted as much as a beak could when he saw just what the Tyto was wearing. Brandishing a top hat from nowhere, he used his wing-claws to adjust his little red bow-tie. Was this guy actually for real?
“Come. Bird-chelorettes are waiting.” The typo reached out and grabbed Frank’s wing-claw to drag him along.
“By the Moon, he’s serious..” Frank murmured to himself incredulously, allowing himself to be dragged along for lack of the ability to respond to the absurdity of the situation.
By the petunias, the first lady waited, looking about as confused as Frank, and about five times as pissed off. For being a small Corva, she was actually intimidated. Her snowy feathers were flared out, and doubled up twice as big when she saw the two of them round the corner.
“ARCHIE.” She hissed. “You literally told me someone was in grave danger here. What in the name of Nokt do you think you are setting up, here??”
“Eency.” Archie gestured to the Corva, who hissed again. “This is Frankie. Eency like hunt for big piggies, fight, and be scary. Long walk on beach, follow by hunt giant sharkmonster. Best not get close without food.”
“It is Enceladus” She grated, raising her head proudly in an attempt to maintain some dignity after being accosted with such an insulting nickname. “And… wait, are you trying to set us up?? Archie, I’m going to kill you!”
Flaring her wings, Enceladus made a show of lunging for the Tyto, but he quickly snatched Frankie by the wing-claw again. “Time to go!”
Somehow, they managed to leave Enceladus in their dust. Or rather, the Corva quickly gave up and probably went back home to think up some sort of revenge. Either way, they made their way toward the greenhouse of open-air succulents.
A tiny hawk whose snowy pelt was the color of slightly yellowed bone was inside, admiring all of the variously sized plants. Hearing them enter, she turned her head to them with a curious turn of her head, her dark green eyes nearly lost within the skull-like markings over her face.
“This is a lovely little flower garden, Archie, I’m enjoying this trip very much… but who is this?” She turned her gaze toward Frank, who looked none too happy to be there.
“This Frankie. Handsome, good genes. Frankie, this Merry-ta. No babies, too shy to talk to males. Need Archie help.”
“Archie… oh my gods.” Muerta’s soft expression quickly disintegrated into abject horror. “I… I’m sorry but I had no idea he was going to do this. I’m so embarrassed. — Archie, how could you!?!?”
“Archie just help. Merry-ta like flowers and desert cactus and-”
“NO, Archie NOT helping, oh my gosh—Get out, both of you!”
“Technically this is my greenhouse so..” Frank started, but the hawk’s horrified scream as she flared her wings made him realize he really didn’t want to be in close quarters with the frantic, horrified little female and he quickly dipped out.
Archie followed along behind him, his portly little body waddling side to side as he caught up with the gryph.
“Next lady.” Archie declared, but Frank shook his head. “Look, guy… I guess you’re just trying to set all your female friends up so they can raise some eggs, but it’s obvious that none of them are interested, and I’m pretty sure I”m not interested either so I’m going to need you to-“
“Oh, I guess this is the one.” A rumbling purr of a voice had him stop short. A rather intimidating looking Harpia stepped out from beneath a giant weeping willow, her dark melanistic feathers helping her blend into the shadows. The rippling hue of her aurora head was hard to miss once she stepped into the sunlight, however.
“I guess you were right, Archie. He -is- rather impressive.”
“I don’t know if I like him.” A much deeper, but still feminine voice had Frank jumping and looking behind him. If he’d thought the first Harpia was big, this one was gigantic. Her Galyx feathers were marred only by the stark white spotting of frost, and her magenta-toned feathers were raised aggressively.
“Vespy, Larry” Archie named them in the order that they had arrived, gesturing with the tip of a primary feather.
The Galyx rolled her eyes. For all that she looked like she was ready to eat Frank up alive with a blunt rusty spoon, her expression for Archie was that of mild annoyance. “Larena and Vespera. Either way… I don’t know, what do you think, love?”
Vespera grinned coyly and flicked her tail. “I mean, he seems fine. I admit I was hoping for another harpia, or at least a Galyx that looked a bit like you, dear.”
Larena crooned. “Oh my tenderest darling, I am not so vain as to require it, but it would be nice. I would be fine with raising little Gryph babies though. Much easier on my conscience than raiding someone else’s nest like we’d originally considered.”
“Always good to take the moral high ground.” The aurora agreed, walking past Frank and Archie as if they weren’t even there.
Frank shifted uncomfortably as the two canoodled and crooned at each other. “Maybe we should leave…”
“I definitely should have left!” Enceladus barked, appearing from around the corner of the azaleas. “Archie, are you trying to set this poor guy up with every female you know?”
Larena looked up from doting on her mate, growing just slightly. “Is that what he did? By flock and feather, Archie, casting a wide net aren’t we?” She unfurled a giant magenta wing and rested it on Vespera’s back in a casual display of affection.
“Goodness… Archie, what were you thinking?” Muerta also appeared, though much less boldly as she walked down the cobblestone path lined by tiger lillies. She blinked in surprise when she saw the two female harpias. “Oh… you two don’t look quite so surprised. Are you looking to have a nest this year?”
Vespera thrummed pleasantly, leaning in against her mate as she regarded the timid little hawk. “Hmm yes, though we hadn’t found a male yet. When Archie told us he’d found someone, well..” The two harpies looked to each other with amusement. “Well, we decided to humor him. Curiosity and all that.”
“He was much less forthcoming with me.” Enceladus said snippily, clacking her corvid beak with irritation. “He literally told me someone was about to be eaten by a boar.”
Larena growled out a laugh. “I could see how he’d think that would be the only way for him to convince you to meet someone new.”
Before the two could bicker, Muerta piped in, looking a bit like a withered flower. “Oh, this is so embarrassing! He told me we were coming to a garden to look at flowers, you know, to help with my uh.. anxious energies. I would never have come if I’d known what he was up to!”
Enceladus turned her sharp gaze to the sheepish little Tyto. “What possessed you to do this, Archie? It’s not like you to lie.”
Archie finally had the decency to look ashamed, taking his hat off of his head and grasping it in front of him as if it would shield himself from their annoyance.
“Always… talk about babies. But no eggs. Archie so excite to be uncle Archie but still no eggs. Archie just help.”
Enceladus sighed, covering her face with a wing. “Oh, Archie…”
The delicate Muerta however, gasped and covered her beak. “Oh honey…”
Vespera and Larena gave each other knowing looks before the Galyx reached out to scoop the tiny Tyto up in a claw, preening his silly little head. He gave a sad, hatchling-like noise from their babying, his bulbous offset eyes half-lidded.
Frank, left in the lurch, had to just stand there awkwardly as the females descended on the shivering, seemingly well intentioned Tyto, preening the ridiculous creature’s feathers and giving him little pats on the head. Oh silly little Archie, poor little Archie. Finally, the Gryph scoffed. “Poor Archie? What about me?”
They all shot glares at the male, who withdrew slightly at their collective scorn. “How dare you? You don’t understand poor Archie. And if you can’t understand, then we’ll just find someone -else- to sire our eggs. Give us a call if you get a clue and are ready to apologize.”
And with that, the whole lot of them left, but Frank was quite sure he caught that bug-eyed little look that Archie gave him over his dumpy little shoulder, just a little bit of a smirk as he stuck his tongue out before disappearing around the corner. That little….
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