FR EN ES PT

The sounds were slightly muffled, but he could still recognize peeping and chirping. He loved them already, those "piwi piwi piwi" sounds he knew nothing about. That he barely understood… But he understood enough to appreciate their humor and tone.

The life of a young Tofu egg isn't as easy as you might imagine. It is full of danger. Yes, danger… Few survive long enough to hatch. Many are eaten, stolen, or crushed long before that… Before they can break out of their shells with a sharp rap of their beaks. Before they even get a glimpse of this magnificent and hostile world with their own eyes. Before they can spread their small, fragile wings and mark the ground with their three-toed footprints…

This particular little Tofu was, more than any other, eager to discover what was happening outside his egg. But he was going to have to be patient until the big day arrived. Until then, each instant, each sensation was an opportunity for him to put his imagination to work. He already had a very specific image of what was waiting for him in mind. Was he going to be disappointed? Decidedly not… For him, every day was an excuse to sketch a new aspect of the World of Twelve in his little brain (which was almost as small as a Iop's, and that's saying something!). Even so, he was certain that the world had a lot of unexpected surprises in store for him. And he was completely right…

As this afternoon began, the little bird had just woken up from a very long nap. In his current stage of development, he needed lots of rest. His little body was working hard to turn him into a strong, energetic Tofu.

Usually, his parents' chirping is what would pull him peacefully out of his dreams. But this time, his awakening was disturbing. He felt light as a feather, almost weightless. His heart was fluttering in his chest. Was the feeling nice or not? He couldn't say… It was disconcerting, for sure. He could see shadows through his paper-thin shell. They were not the same as usual. A leaf. Then another. And yet another… He was at the top of a tree. Odd… The nest where his parents were raising their eggs was not nearly that high off the ground. How did he know? The ripe fruit he could hear falling to the ground was a good clue. The Tofu was already a scientific genius-in-the-making, able to evaluate distances and orient himself in surroundings that, until then, he had only experienced blind. All that, just with his sense of hearing. The sun's rays started to shine through his shell, nearly blinding him. That was unusual, too… The only times when the sun struck his nest that strongly were early morning and the end of the day. Odd…

Suddenly, he heard a cry. Or more accurately, two cries merging into one. The terror and heartbreak in them were palpable. His parents! Despite the distance, he'd recognized them. But where were they? Why so far away? Unless… Was he the one who was far from them?

"Friiiz!! Friiiiiiz! Friiiiiiiiiz!!"

The flapping of those wings… He didn't recognize it. Those wings were much smaller than his parents'. And they were somehow cold. Almost metallic.

"Tzzzz! Kkkk… Gzzzeeeuuu… Tzzzz! Tziii! Friiik!"

It was the first time he'd ever heard those sounds. They were chilling. Inside his cocoon, well protected from wind and storms, the little Tofu shivered with his whole being. Even though he was only on the threshold of his life, he already had a highly developed sense and apprehension of danger.

The bird was starting to understand. And starting to panic… He was being torn away from his parents. But for what purpose? Why him? And above all… by whom? His kidnappers were small but numerous, he could tell. They were swarming around outside… A swarm of something. A small army with extremely precise choreography. Like a mechanical mechanism. Infernal, without the slightest doubt.

Suddenly, the small Tofu realized he was flying, despite himself, and his entire being was flooded with terrified panic. Just how far off the ground was he? Just how far was he from his parents?? He couldn't breathe. He needed air. AIR! But that was impossible! Unless… His shell? No! It was too soon! Much too soon! And yet… Wasn't this an extreme emergency? The little Tofu had to trust his instincts. His parents weren't there to decide for him. He could only count on himself… It wasn't time for thinking. He was getting ready to hit his shell with his beak hard, without really knowing what he'd do next, when suddenly…

"PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIWWWWWWWWWWWWWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!"

A new cry. Even though he'd never heard it with such intensity before, this one was one he'd recognize out of thousands. His shell shook. The bird was tossed around in every direction, thrown against the shell's fragile walls. Luckily, his thick coat of down softened the blows. From this infernal roller coaster ride, the little Tofu reached what seemed to him to be the most credible conclusion – he was being fought over… He could imagine the pitched battle between his father and his kidnappers going on outside. To be entirely honest, he had always imagined his father to be a bit soft, slightly pudgy. Perhaps he had been wrong all along… He revised his image of his father: still small, but stocky, with wide shoulders and a strong chest. However, for the first time since his consciousness had taken form, his imagination failed him – he couldn't picture those who were after him. Their sharp cries and the metallic rustling of their wings gave him the deep certainty that they came from elsewhere. His fear that his father might not come out of the fight unharmed made them all the more sinister…

Another cry. Decidedly, all the inhabitants of the surrounding trees were joining the fray.

"HIIIIYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!"

His mother. His mother?? Once again, he figured his imagination had played tricks on him. He had imagined her as frail and delicate. But the cry of a determined warrior that she let out as she threw herself at those who were trying to steal the fruit of her body said she was anything but…

A merciless battle was raging. Then sudden, brutal silence… And stillness. Who had won? Who had him now? His heart beat wildly. He had to know. Would he meet his family? Or would he start his life among creatures that, clearly, sought to do him evil? The little Tofu risked it all. A tiny scratch against the wall of his shell. The light filtered into the egg as an almost disturbing intrusion. He couldn't see anything.

Then everything darkened. Went black.

Oh… More like brown. Or yellow? Yes, dark yellow. And soft… so soft… The Tofu pushed his cheek against the small opening he'd just made and through which a few feathers emerged, bringing a comforting, familiar scent… He bumped his head gently against what was neither more nor less than his mother's stomach. A most moving embrace, one that included his father whose presence he could feel on the other side of his shell.

His two parents were cradling him. They had won the fight… Something that already hinted at the difficulty of his life to come. But against whom? Against what? Az would only learn the answers to those questions much later on…

Without knowing it, and in his infancy (it would be hard to be any younger, wouldn't it?), Az had faced the cruel Noxines and their master Nox's insatiable thirst for power. Perhaps the Xelor's time magician skills had given him an inkling of the little Tofu's potential before he had even hatched? Perhaps the bird was already an incredible source of Wakfu? Perhaps Nox had detected, in this little chick, what many years later would make him the inseparable companion and valuable ally of the most famous Eliatrope in the World of Twelve…