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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Hunting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 119 > Continuing Series > All The Colours: Part Eleven

All The Colours: Part Eleven

by hot_pink_lizard

RedBeard's Legacy

It took us several days to repair the gliders, but in the spare moments, I wrote. I won't write down here what I was writing. They were letters, in case of an emergency. That is all you need to know.

     We caught a twenty-four hour weather window of perfect weather, which I think a certain large snowy serpent may have had something to do with, even indirectly. Gliding down to Krawk Island was surprisingly easy, and we found someone waiting for us.

     The Pirate Kyrii introduced herself as a friend of Immacolata's. She had a ship, quite a sizeable ship, might I add, and allowed us to leave our hang gliders there while we planned our underwater escapade. She even leant us some magical water breathing gear. I wasn't about to ask how Immacolata had met her, but even I had overheard a few references to smuggling ships in the time I'd had the Aisha. And of course, it's bad manners to ask your captain what she's bringing in under the Pfish.

     This Kyrii, going by the name of Spritz, also knew a lot about the article we were after, the Ethereal Compass.

     "Okay, long time ago, right? There was this captain. Called RedBeard. Was an Eyrie, if I remember the story right… okay, so Captain RedBeard, he wasn't exactly popular. Did a few things that the authorities didn't like much, if you catch my drift. So they sent him a little message. That little message being about half a dozen mines. Now, normally, good Captain like RedBeard would have been able to avoid them, right? But his crew, they were a nasty lot. Only took one bad apple to ruin the barrel, if you catch my drift, and they jumped overboard. So Captain RedBeard went down, with the one thing the authorities really wanted their hands on. The Ethereal Compass. Now, there's this thing about that Compass… apparently, only RedBeard's descendants can use it. His mother was a sorceress, right? And a paranoid one at that. So, to answer your question, if you dive down there, you'll probably find that Compass, but you ain't gonna be able to use it. O' course, some say RedBeard survived, but if you believe that then you'll believe anything."

     It wasn't heartening, but we strapped on our gear, anyway. The end of her tale lacked conviction, and I suspected that Spritz knew more than she was letting on. I glanced at the Kyrii before we jumped overboard.

     "I don't even know why we're doing this, if we can't use it. Any last minute advice?"

     "Yep," Spritz gave me a wink. "Watch out for sharks." And then the annoying little minx grabbed one foot and hauled me overboard. Well, too late to back out now.

* * * * *

Waterlily was reading an interesting passage on summoning swarms of Scarabugs opposite Anuina's glare when Nightwing fluttered in.

     "What?" the Faerie snapped, obviously irritated.

     "The previous owner of that Ixi is still on our trail. She has hunted down three pieces of the Spectrum and is currently in search for an article known as the Ethereal Compass."

     "NO!" Overturning the table, Anuina was on her feet. "This is intolerable! She cannot complete the Spectrum, at least." A self-satisfied snicker at that, and one of the Faerie's craftier looks. "But I'd rather she didn't get close. Deathstrike! Where is that useless Uni?"

     Deathstrike appeared at high speed, skidding to a halt. Anuina didn't wait for her to catch her breath.

     "You are to go to Maraqua immediately… I'll summon a few sharks to go with you. Find this owner, and her pets, and the current guardian of the Ethereal Compass, and destroy them. NOW!"

     Anuina swept out; followed by a despondent Nightwing, probably to summon the sharks she had spoken of. Deathstrike gave Waterlily a look of mingled despair and helplessness, then turned to follow. The Ixi ignored the sudden, empty feeling in her stomach. Chrissy wouldn't lie down and die that easily.

     "Better run along, Fabi. I'm sure your OWNER will get annoyed if you don't go." The Ixi sneered. Deathstrike paused, looking slightly hurt, then trotted to the door.

     "It's Fabialla," the Uni replied, with an indescribable expression. Then she turned and was gone.

* * * * *

Malania propelled herself through the graveyard of ships with lazy beats of her wings. The feathers were small and close set, like a penguins, and the same colour too; the only difference between her and a penguin was the shape, that of an Eyrie, and her bright red chest, like a robins. She was one of two living specimens of the rare Red-Breasted Aquatic Eyrie, an unusual subspecies of the Maraquan Eyrie. The other one happened to be her twin brother.

     "Oi, wait up!"

     Ramei skidded to a halt, turning a perfect back flip with a twist to land facing his sister. Always the acrobatic one, that Eyrie.

     "There are a couple of pets and an owner coming down here… I think they're looking for you. They keep talking about the Compass, at least."

     Malania blinked, glancing at the golden circle on a chain around her neck, which glowed with an unearthly blue light. "Well, they're not the first. Okay, you can pull the good old 'sea monster' trick on them while I run ahead and set a trap. After we stick 'em in a cage for a few hours, dancing around and talking about how we're going to eat them, they'll forget all about it."

     "Cool," Ramei grinned, picking up his trident. "There's a great 'monster lair' in that old reef, the one with all the shipwrecks, you know? It's this open space just in front of a big black rock arch, and there's coral and timber all round. There's really only one way in, it'd make a great trap."

     "I know the place. Go on then, Sea Monster One. I'll see you when we have four fine meals in front of us!"

     "Roger that, Sea Monster Two. I'll get the Kelp Sauce!"

     With another grin, the two Eyries parted company, Malania swimming towards the old Ship's Graveyard, and Ramei towards a handy patch of seaweed and four figures who certainly weren't very good at swimming.

* * * * *

"May I point out, for the record, JUST how much I hate water."

     I twisted in the water with some difficulty. "Oh come on, Immacolata, this was your idea. Hina, how're you doing?"

     "Just cruising, dudette, just cruising." At least Hina, out of all of us, had some experience in swimming, mainly because his fixation with anything Extreme had lead him to wakeboarding during one of our visits to Mystery Island. I hadn't touched more cold water than I could fit in a glass since First Year swimming lessons and the closest Elenna came to aquatic exploration was computer games set underwater.

     "I'm not going to be able to swing a rapier properly down here." She moped, wings flopping almost uselessly. Her feathers were made for flying, not swimming.

     "It doesn't matter," I replied, diving a few feet to hover over a field of kelp. "Because…"

     Because what, my pets never had the pleasure of finding out, for at that exact moment a large clawed paw shot out of the seaweed and grabbed my ankle, dragging me down into the green depths. With a strangled meow, Hina dove after me, Immacolata on his heels.

     "And everyone roll for initiative." Muttered Elenna, snatching up her sword and plunging into the mire, slashing kelp out of her way.

     Ramei glanced between his two attackers. It was hard to say whether the spear-wielding Aisha with the earring or the dagger brandishing Kougra with the loud shirt was worse. It was understandable that they would be looking quite aggressive, given that he was sitting on their owner, who was wriggling like a fish and muttering some unprintable phrases, and was draped in shells, seaweed and a driftwood mask. With an affected snarl, he jabbed his trident at them.

     "Keep ye back, ye scurvy knaves, or ye all be fish bait! For I be the ghost of RedBeard, and ye be trespassing!"

     "Oh, you're that RedBeard dude." The Kougra shifted his dagger to the other paw. "Well, that's cool, 'cus, like, we're after that Ethereal Compass of yours…"

     "Begone, ye salty land-lubbers, before I… Unk."

     Elenna grinned and shifted her rapier so she could talk. The last syllable of the ghost's monologue had been the result of her cracking him across the skull with both front hooves.

     "Okay, let's see who you really are, RedBeard, if that is indeed your real name, which I doubt." Leaning over, the Uni yanked the driftwood mask off the creature, which Immacolata had sensibly pinned with her spear. A rather embarrassed Eyrie glanced round at the four heavily armed beings surrounding him.

     "Err, could we call this a draw?" he offered, as Elenna pointed her sword at him.

     "Nope. Who are you, what do you think you're doing, and explain anything relevant while you're at it."

     "What are you wearing?" he replied, stalling for time. "You look like you just stepped out of that new RPG, the one set in an Alternative Renaissance Era. The one with the weird animal people."

     "You mean 'The Mouse King'?" Elenna put her head to one side. "That's what I was going for, you played it? I completed it about a fortnight ago."

     "Yeah, I'm on level seven. Do you know how to get past those white crocodiles and the Rat Assassin to get to the Sewer Lord, because I've been stuck on that for…"

     "Can I interrupt this sparkling conversation with sometime a tad more serious?"

     "Immacolata's right." I put my hands on my hips. "Who are you, anyway?"

     "It's not that." The Aisha was looking over my head at something. I blinked, non plussed.

     "What is it, then?"

     "Not that I want to break from my usually calm demeanour, but… SHHHHHAAAAAARRRRRRKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Deep Black Sea

Kunila opened his eyes lazily. The spotted Kougra was sprawled on the sand, all four paws in the air. There was someone small and grey blue, but wearing black and white, running towards him. He shut his eyes again, bored already.

     "Luaunoau is here," he mumbled sleepily, twisting to get a better position. Perilo and Keeragh, the only other residents of the beach, sat bolt upright. Perilo snorted, tossing her head and making her beaded mane clatter.

     "That Kyrii better have something useful to tell us." The Island Peophin sniffed, letting the Babaa she'd been treating for some strange Babaa disease scamper away. "Because I still haven't forgiven her for hunting down those Primella. They're endangered, you know!"

     "We know." Keeragh scratched his ear, the Island Eyrie dropping the stick he'd been using to doodle in the sand and picking up a sword as the Pirate Kyrii skidded to a halt in the sand.

     "Well, well, well, if it ain't me old shipmate Cap'n Spritz. Whatcha doing here, Luaunoau?"

     It took her a few breathless moments to reply, given that she was close to asphyxiating on each word. "Malania. In trouble. Must help. Dark Sharks."

     "There are Dark Sharks after Malania?" Instantly Kunila went from sleepy to hyperactive. "We gotta help! Where is she, Lu? Where's my sword? Is she hurt? How do you know, anyway?"

     "You know how I know." Lu tapped the side of her head. "C'mon, she's in real trouble, and so is Ramei!"

     Perilo nodded, a grim look on her face as she dove into the ocean. "Right, Lu, get on my back. We'll talk about those Primella later. Kunila you come with me too, Keeragh, you've gotta swim as hard as you can. Find Ramei, and then go on to Malania. You two are the best fighters anyway, you should be able to hold the Sharks off until we get there."

     Keeragh nodded, diving with his wings folded. Ramei and Malania were practically his siblings, and there was no way he was letting any shark mess with them!

* * * * *

It was headed strait for me. Or maybe it was just because I was between it and my pets. Now, generally I like sharks, especially with fries and a side order of Seafood Salad. But this one was ugly. It was big, and black, with a weird symbol drawn in red on its forehead.

     Some kind of weird, manic energy shot through me. The Spectrum leapt into my hand as I dove and twisted, avoiding it's jaws by a hairs breadth. Slamming both feet into the sandy sea bottom, my shoulder caught it hard in the gills, the Spectrum's blade slashing across its side for good measure.

     If you didn't know already, sharks have to move to keep breathing. It's essential to their well being. So, whacking one in the gills and stopping it from moving effectively kills it.

     Except this time, it didn't work. And I would have been in serious trouble if the black Eyrie hadn't stabbed it through the eyes with his trident.

     "Stupid thing, that's supposed to kill them," I mumbled, floating a few inches higher. The Eyrie looked distraught.

     "This is a Dark Shark! They're all magic, they're not really that much of a threat because they only last a few weeks before they start twitching and dissolve, but they never travel alone! If there's one here, it means that someone summoned them, and that means…" he finished on a wail. "That means that my sister's out there and she doesn't know about them!"

     I hoisted the Spectrum onto my shoulder again. "Right! You lead the way, err… whatever your name is…"

     "Ramei. Call me Ramei. My sister is Malania, and, well; she's got the Ethereal Compass. We play tricks like this on anyone who tries to steal it from us, because it's really special. It belonged to my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great Grandfather, who was RedBeard, by the way."

     "How do you remember that?" Elenna sounded impressed as she beat her wings hard, struggling to keep up with the Eyrie as he swam.

     "I don't, really. I just say 'great' until the audience looks bored and then I add 'Grandfather' on whenever I feel like it."

     "Dude, can you hear fighting?"

     We paused. Ramei shot over a nearby ridge, however, and gasped.

     "Keeragh! Hold on, kid, I'm coming!" He glanced at us. "It's Keeragh! He's a friend of mine, he's a good fighter, but he's outnumbered. You, human lady, stay next to me and see if you can't pull off that clever dive again. The pretty Uni and the Aisha go for the sides, stay away from the teeth, and the Kougra, you try and dive on them and stab them in the eyes with that dagger of yours! Come on, move it!"

     I was taking orders from a cross between a penguin and a red-breasted lion. Just when I thought my day couldn't get any weirder. It made sense though, and the Island Eyrie looked like he was in trouble.

     Two furious minutes later, I kicked a dead shark off my legs and stood up. For the third time, the Spectrum had completely taken over my mind and body. The water around us was a thick, red haze, unpleasantly like walking in a cloud of redness. My mind was completely paralysed.

     "Ha ha ha," I smiled weakly, swaying slightly on my feet. "That was fun. Not. Somebody shoot me."

     "I'm sure you don't really want to be shot." Immacolata yanked her spear out of the flank of a dead Dark Shark, and then glanced at my side. "You're hurt."

     "It's nothing." I hadn't even noticed it. I had a dozen deep gashes in my side, and I hadn't even noticed it.

     "Thanks." The Island Eyrie clapped me on the back, almost causing me to overbalance. "I thought I was a goner for a moment there, you saved my life." He turned to look at Ramei. "Ramei… where's Malania? Perilo, Lu and Kunila have gone to get more help… there's thousands of these things! And someone's controlling them, a Fire Uni…"

     "A Fire Uni," Elenna repeated, pausing as she cleaned her rapier. "The same one that was with the Faerie that stole Waterlily, I bet it is!"

     "Eh? Who are you guys, anyway?" Keeragh frowned. I explained at top speed, as Ramei lead the way. When I was finished, the two Eyries looked at each other.

     "Fishy," Ramei muttered. Keeragh nodded. "Yeah, really fishy. But it sounds like this is the same Uni, just over the hill here, hang on, I'll check it out."

     While Keeragh swum forward, I glanced at Ramei.

     "Who are Perilo, Kunila and Lu?"

     "Perilo is an Island Peophin, though she'd really like to be Disco or Rainbow or something. Kunila is a spotted Kougra. Luaunoau is a Pirate Kyrii who likes to pretend she's a captain that doesn't need to know the rest of us."

     "This Luaunoau wouldn't happen to go by the name of Spritz, would she?" Immacolata narrowed her eyes when Ramei nodded. "I thought so… but then again, I never told her my full name, so I should not be surprised."

     "Don't ask." I muttered, as Ramei opened his mouth. "How did they know, anyway? Do they live near here?"

     "No… Lu gets these, well; I suppose you could call them visions. It's her Faerie Gift."

     "Her, like, WHAT?" Hina raised his eyebrows incredulously. The Eyrie explained.

     "Well, every time a pet is born, a Faerie appears. And the Faerie always give the newly born pet a gift, because it's thanks to that pet that the Faerie exists at all. You've got to be careful, though, because although some Faeries will give you nice gifts, like Malania's great singing voice, or being really smart, or really strong, or even being able to do magic, some will give you slightly weirder gifts… like Lu getting visions, or Perilo being able to change her looks whenever she feels like it, or Kunila being able to speak to animals and petpets. And if you're unlucky enough to get a slightly mischievous Faerie, they can give you pretty horrible gifts… I knew an Acara who could turn water into milk, which when you live underwater, is not great. Then there was this Zafara who could summon up Jade Scorchios, but only if she held a bit of jade and said a particular poem backwards with her eyes crossed. Poor girl ended up wearing glasses… and had the poem engraved backwards on a piece of jade which she wore around her neck at all times. Or sometimes, they make you go on quests to get particularly powerful Gifts… but that's really rare, and the Faeries who give you those are usually, like, Uber Faeries or something by the time you get to do the quest."

     "Scary," I replied. "But it makes sense. What's yours, then?"

     "I don't know," he admitted. "I'd say I didn't have one, but I must… I just haven't found it yet. It's probably that if I put my foot in my mouth on a hill in the Haunted Woods at full moon with half a salmon in one paw and a branch from the Brain Tree in the other, I'll receive great knowledge about strange and wonderful things, like just how they get the jam in donuts. Or something."

     I chuckled. This Eyrie had my sense of humour. Before I could reply with another, equally silly suggestion, Keeragh dove over the ridge again.

     "Hurry!" he yelled, sword out. "They're everywhere! Malania is in real trouble; they've blocked the only exit… we're going to have to smash through the coral to get to her! Hurry, everybody with me!"

     I leapt up to follow, taking in the scene in a single glance.

     In the centre of the reef, a jagged mass of pale coral of all colours, including a large white variety that turned the water into honeycomb and prevented us from getting anywhere quickly, was a great arch of pure black rock. Around this, thickly covered in the latticework coral, was the skeleton of a huge ship, bleached white by time and sea. There was a small, open space inside the belly of the ship, and crouched in that space, ringed by dozens of sharks, was a small, black bundle of feathers and fur, surrounded by an unearthly blue glow.

     "Malania!" Ramei lashed out with his trident, smashing several pillars of coral and attacking the next layer with frenzied activity. "I'm coming, Malania! Hold on!"

     A few sharks had turned our way. I say a few; because 'a thousand' would sound overly melodramatic and you would think I was exaggerating. I'm not prone to exaggeration, but when you're surrounded by Dark Sharks with sharp coral at your back and three angry spirits taking over your body, your perception gets a little distorted.

     "We'll hold them off!" Elenna yelled, drawing her rapier. "You get through to your sister!"

     Keeragh nodded, grabbing Ramei's shoulder. "Ramei, listen to me! Curl up small, we can use you as a cannonball!"

     "I feel so wanted!" Was the Eyrie's reply, but he did as his friend said. Keeragh flung his full weight behind him, sending Ramei tumbling down the earth slope, smashing coral as he went, like a giant marble alley. It worked; leaving the black Eyrie sprawled at the bottom.

     "I can't feel my bones!" he howled, and then realised he was attracting the attention of a large number of Dark Sharks. Keeragh landing on top of him didn't help.

     "Oh dear," he mumbled, as the Sharks moved in for the kill. Fifteen feet away, we weren't doing too well either. I slashed out, left and right, as a pair of Sharks tried to circle me. There were too many. We were outnumbered fifteen to one. We were doomed.

     "TALLY-HOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

     "Sweet mother of Wombats, what is THAT?"

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

All The Colours: Part One

All The Colours: Part Two

All The Colours: Part Three

All The Colours: Part Four

All The Colours: Part Five

All The Colours: Part Six

All The Colours: Part Seven

All The Colours: Part Eight

All The Colours: Part Nine

All The Colours: Part Ten

All The Colours: Part Twelve

All The Colours: Part Thirteen

All The Colours: Part Fourteen

All The Colours: Part Fifteen

All The Colours: Part Sixteen

All The Colours: Part Seventeen

All The Colours: Part Eighteen


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