The shout broke his concentration immediately.
He jumped, dropped his pen, and nearly knocked the notebook off the desk. After
a few seconds his heart stopped racing in his chest and he braced himself for
the next shout.
“ERIC!! You there?”
The person outside hammered on the door and
the Kougra quickly jumped to his feet, reaching over and unlocking it so the
person outside could tumble in.
“Eric, you won’t believe this,” he stammered,
“There’s a Gray on campus again! Her name is – “
Eric turned his back to the intruder, running
his paw through his spiky electric blue fur, his eyes suddenly stressed under
some unknown pressure.
“Payne Gray and she lives on the second floor
of Darrow. Yes, I know,” he replied wearily, “I helped her carry her stuff upstairs.”
The skinny boy blinked in surprise, then shut
the door behind him, eyes bright with excitement or fever underneath shaggy
yellow fur. Eric’s roommate, the green Lupe, raised his head from where it lay
on the pillow of the bed in interest.
“Then, are we going to go through with this?
We really going to let that miserable Cybunny-“
“Jonathon… calm down. Stop babbling.”
Eric rolled his eyes and sat down in the chair
again, picking up the Light Faerie Pen from where it had fallen.
“But there’s a Gray on campus. And, and.”
He stopped, just gesturing, spreading his hands
out wide and glancing out the window. It was dark out now, Sunday evening, bordering
on midnight. Still raining.
“The wind is gone, the rains are here. Rainy
days Eric,” Jonathon said meaningfully.
“I –know-. You don’t have to remind me,” the
other pet replied tersely, “Now, if you excuse me, we have classes tomorrow.
And I have to fill out this report for my RA duties. Now, scat. And don’t forget
– it’s quiet hours. Go yelling like that again and I’ll write you up.”
Jonathon gaped at him for a moment, then sniffed
in derision and made for the door, letting it slam behind him. The two watched
him go, then Eric sighed and returned his attention to the paper before him.
“We don’t have much time,” the Lupe spoke up
from the bed.
“I know. I know. Don’t worry, I’ve already got
a plan. As RA, I have access to the lockout keys. Plus, that door can be broken
into. I’ve heard Leslie talk about it before. No one has bothered to ever fix
“So are we going to go through with this? He
had a valid point. We really going to carry out our plan?”
He leaned back in the chair, staring thoughtfully
at the ceiling.
“Yes, we’re going to do this. I’ll write to
Grievm first thing in the morning. Tell him that there’s a Gray on campus and
see how he responds. In the meantime, we need to find out their habits, schedules,
and how much Payne knows. I want you to befriend her pet. Alright?”
“Good. Let me know what you find out.”
And he returned to his paper while the rain
continued outside, seemingly unending.
It was a dismal start to classes. Payne and
Maria heard all the grumbling as they ate a hasty breakfast down at the cafeteria.
Dour predictions, wannabe prophets. The wind wasn’t back yet and the rain still
continued to fall. The grass had already been bogged down and now the water
was developing into standing puddles across all the sidewalks and open fields.
There were rumors of flood, students citing the relatively low elevation of
the campus and the melting snow from the mountains, feeding the river that ran
“Beautiful. Just beautiful,” Maria sighed back
in their room as Payne packed up her bag for her first class.
“I’ll be back at nine-thirty,” she replied,
“Mia, you have anything today?”
“What kind of weapons?” BlazeFast inquired.
“The basic ones anyone with a Battlepedia can figure out?”
“Excuuuuse me?” Mia said, rolling an eye in
his direction. “I am quite proud of my major, thank you very much. Besides,
it’s fun. Not my money I’m spending.”
“Alright. Com’n BlazeFast. We’ve gotta get.”
And casting one last sour glance at the window
Maria snatched up her backpack and the duo vanished out the door, leaving it
open behind them.
“So,” Payne said, glancing over at Mia, “first
“Very. That book hasn’t helped matters.”
Both of them looked over at the desk where it
was stashed. Payne had slipped it under her jacket, not wanting to draw attention
to it by checking it out in the proper manner. She’d bring it back when she
was done. For now, it remained safely hidden in the desk drawer. Neither of
them had the time to look at it last night, and it appeared that they wouldn’t
this morning either.
“Well, I’d probably better get going too,” Payne
sighed, “Maria won’t be back for about an hour after me. Use your time wisely,
“And by wisely you mean reading that book.”
And Payne snatched up her backpack and made
her way for the door and the stairs to brave the weather yet again.
Class was everything she expected and more.
She was just another student to everyone, just someone else among them. They
did not care about her past, her name, or how much Neopoints she had. The only
cared how smart she was, and that she certainly showed them. And they welcomed
her for it. It was a gratifying change and she realized that this was her place.
Her jeans were soaked up to the knee by the
time she got back to the dorms. The pelting rain, the puddles, everything seemed
to contribute to getting her wet. In a way, it was appropriate. Her middle name
was Rain, and apparently that had some significance here in the Neopian University.
But somehow, she hoped that it was just coincidence. She was tired of being
singled out, tired of being told she was special.
There were puddles just inside the door leading
into the dorms. She shook off her jacket, vainly trying to rid herself of the
standing water, than carefully climbed the steps, feeling her paws slip on the
damp surface. Even the dorms were wet now, nothing was safe from the rain. She
waved to a couple people as she walked along the hallway, glancing in each room
as she passed. It was always interesting to see what each room looked like –
almost all of them had themes. There was the Twisted Roses room, the petpet
room, and of course: hers, the Meridell room. She dropped her backpack in the
corner by her dresser and closet, glancing around to see Mia laying on the bunk
bed, one hind paw and tail dangling off the end, her head propped on a Jeran
pillow and the book open before her.
“You’re back,” she said in a monotone.
“I’m back. I still don’t understand how you
get up there.”
“But I have trouble getting up there!” Payne
replied, shutting the door with one foot and stripping off her soaked clothing.
“Paws like ours aren’t meant for climbing.”
“I’m talented,” she replied, leaning her head
over the edge and staring down at her owner. “I met someone today.”
“Yeah. Remember that guy, that RA that helped
you carry your stuff up here on move-in day? His roommate, the green Lupe, came
“Yeah. He’s really nice, doesn’t talk much,
but nice. Name is VerdeVer.”
Payne couldn’t help but laugh and shake her
head. Mia looked at her questioningly.
“Verde – means green in a different language.
Green and Gray.”
“Huh. Anyway, we went to an early lunch in the
cafeteria. So you’ll be eating on your own today.”
“Not a problem. I’ll just bring it back to the
room. You find anything interesting in that book?”
Mia nodded and turned her muzzle back to the
“I sure did.”
“Alright. Let me hear it.”
Mia cleared her throat and folder her paws in
front of her, letting her eyes close and her ears fall before her face to drift
over the book.
“Legend says that the early years of this college
were plagued with floods. The founders did not realize that they were building
in a flood zone, and they soon discovered their error the hard way when the
snows melted and the rains came. However, they did not want to move the campus
after all that work of building it, so they appealed to the faeries. An Air
Faerie took pity on them and agreed to help. She placed a very powerful spell
across the campus, creating a wind that blew constantly and kept the rains moving
so they wouldn’t stay too long and flood the university.”
“That certainly explains this wind everyone
talks about,” Payne replied, settling down in her chair, “They say it brings
the storms and chases the storms away.”
“Yeah. Anyway, this wasn’t enough apparently.
The storms came, and the wind was gone. Just like it is right now. The university
was threatening to flood, and the officials were afraid they would have to evacuate
and that there would be a lot of damage to the books and buildings. But someone
found this legend, and believed it was true. He appealed to the faeries once
more, and the Air Faeries gifted him with a sword that had the power to summon
the wind and get rid of the rain. Now here’s the wild part.”
Mia moved to hang half over the edge of the
bed, staring directly at Payne.
“The legend continues on to say that this sword
is bound to the family of the NeoPet that wielded it. Only they can take it
up and summon the wind, because he was an honest person and that they trusted
him and all of his kin. This person, the one that wielded the sword, is none
other than the one you get your middle name from: Rain Gray. The legend says
that the Gray that bears his name is the rightful owner of the sword. That would
be you Payne.”
Payne sunk lower into her chair. Just when she’d
thought that all her problems would be solved, that she could live in obscurity,
something has to prove her wrong.
“Alright. So the rainy days are here and someone
has to summon the rain. But what if this is just a legend Mia? What about that?”
She shrugged delicately and Payne could tell
by her stance that Mia didn’t believe the legend was true. For her part, neither
did she. It seemed a bit far-fetched and there were a dozen other plausible
reasons for the rain and the Gray’s apparent significance on campus.
“Then there’s nothing lost if we look. I mean,
the sword is supposed to be in the library,” Mia suggested.
“That scary little Techo said that Jerome library
was a friend of the Grays,” Payne muttered.
“Let’s look after dinner tonight. Maybe VerdeVer
can come along – he seems to know campus pretty well.”
“Yeah. Sure. We can waste our time doing that.”
Mia let out a shout of joy and leapt off the
bed, landing on the floor with a shudder. She then skipped from the room, her
ears blowing behind her as she tore off down the hallway for the stairs.
“Summon the wind and chase away the rainy days,”
Outside, the rain still fell.
To be continued...