"Carina! Carina! Get up or we'll be late again!"
A groan escaped from the folds of the blanket
as it crumpled and parted, revealing a bleary-eyed red Kacheek. She rubbed her
eyes with her paw and gave a great yawn. What a night she had. Then one eye
caught upon the face of a small clock beside the bed. The hands pointed to 8:25.
Carina shrieked and jumped out of bed, tripping on her blanket, spilling it
and her on the floor. Hurriedly she got up and ran around her room, rushing
to get ready before she was too late. She stuffed her notes into her bag and
almost put her clothes on backwards. She brushed her teeth in a hurry and hurriedly
combed her red fur. Then she opened her door and slammed it shut, running down
the hall towards the front door. A yellow Scorchio with a scarf around his neck
stood in the middle of the corridor with a glass of milk.
"Thought you might want some milk before you
head off." Carina shook her head quickly.
"Sorry, not now Miles. Come on hurry up or we'll
be late!" Miles shrugged and gulped down the milk before setting the empty glass
on a nearby table. He'd clean up later but now he ran out the door, hurriedly
locking it, and chased after Carina.
The sun was shining and the Beekadoodles were
singing. It was a nice day in Neopia Central and Miles enjoyed the warm breeze
under his wings as he glided high over the morning crowd. He grinned as he watched
the red Kacheek that was Carina struggle and push her way through the rush of
people. Oh well, might as well give her a lift, Miles thought merrily.
Swooping down, he grabbed at Carina by the back of her jacket and lifted her
into the air. Carina let out a yelp and struggled against his grip.
"Miles put me down now," Carina protested as
she held tightly on to her bag. Miles' grin widened even more.
"Come on Carina, isn't this much faster?" Miles
replied. "Besides were nearly there. See." Carina huffed. She hated to admit
it but Miles did have a point. Allowing her arms to fall limply to her side
in resignation, Carina stared straight ahead as Miles flew closer towards the
complex of buildings that was the Neopian Times Headquarters. From the sky Carina
marvelled at the series of buildings; four small office blocks arranged in a
ring around the tall central administration building. Miles glided lower and
lower until finally dropping Carina right in front of the main doors before
landing right beside her himself. Carina looked at Miles and held her head high
in indignation, arms folded.
"Aw, come on Carina. Look I got ya here on time,
didn't I?" Miles waved a scaly claw at the Neopian Times Headquarters' main
doors. Carina finally gave a small smile.
"Okay, fine, but next time give me some warning
before you do that again," Carina said in mock annoyance. "Now let's get to
work before we get fired."
"Right behind ya Carina," Miles said while swinging
his claws in the air. Miles followed Carina into the large main lobby of the
headquarters. Miles waved at Carina as they parted ways. "See you at lunch!"
"Right, Miles I'll be seeing you," Carina yelled
as she headed for her part of the headquarters. Miles is always happy when he
goes to work, Carina pondered as she rode an escalator to the mezzanine. Still,
who wouldn't be happy working at the Comics section? Carina grinned to herself
but it didn't last long when her thoughts came back to the work ahead of her.
Moments later in the crowded office where Carina
worked, she was up to her neck in paperwork. 3 interviews and 5 minor articles
to write about and she was wishing an N-4 Information Retrieval Bot would wander
by so she could kick it to relieve some stress. Sighing, she decided to do her
first interview and dialled the number of the famed crytozoologist (expert in
hidden or unknown creatures), Dr. Wilberhunt Hunterton, so she could ask him
on the sightings of two new mysterious Neopets.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The Neopian Times Headquarters was settling down for the night. Many lights
were being turned off as the tired editors, writers and support staff (Petpets
included) headed for home. Through one of the few windows still lit, Carina
worked hard to finish editing an article on missing Kacheeks before she went
home. Her brow was furrowed and her paws were sweaty but still she laboured
on, even as the loud voice of Mr. Brintle the Blumaroo bounced out of the pressroom.
Giving a slight yawn, Carina shook herself and pressed on.
Then, just as she was writing the last sentence,
her pen ran out of ink. Angrily she shook the pen and willed the pen to somehow
spit out some more ink. Try as she might the pen was dry and Carina in her frustration
threw it in the trash.
"I don't have time to find another pen!" Carina
said loudly to herself. Then she remembered something she preferred to forget.
Carina's eyes became clear as she reached into one of her shirt pockets. Her
paw shook as she slowly withdrew a slender gold tipped fountain pen. The pen
brought back many memories, both good and bad.
Silently she leaned back in her revolving chair
and looked at her gold pen in the yellow glare of the lone desk lamp. Memories
of her childhood rushed before Carina and she couldn't stop a stray tear from
falling down a furry cheek. She held the pen to her heart and closed her eyes
as memories of the Light Faerie, the lost Doglefox and Billy all came back to
her. She smiled slightly when she recalled the moment she graduated from Neoschool,
when she first got hired for the Neopian Times and when she met Miles covered
in letters in the Mailroom. Her smile faded and tears welled in her eyes when
the single most painful memory surfaced in her mind; the memory of her father
disappearing when he entered the Lair of the Beast and never came back out.
Yes, the golden pen, a gift from a Light Faerie,
was a painful reminder of her past. Fifteen years had passed since the pen came
into her possession and she wanted and tried so much to forget her past but
she always had the pen to remind her of them. And Carina knew that she couldn't
just throw it away.
'And I promise to keep my promise to you and
that I'll do better, Miss Fairy, as long as I can.' The words echoed in her
mind as freshly as it happened yesterday. And keep my promise I shall, Light
Faerie, Carina now thought, if only I didn't have the past to relive every time
I look at your 'gift'.
"The pen is mightier than the sword." Those were
once the words of her Literature teacher and Carina saw how true the meaning
of the sentence was to her. Carina carefully placed her pen on her desk and
stared at it in the light of her desk lamp. Its flawless surface glittered back
at her as she continued to wander through her memories, oblivious to the time.
"Hey, Carina what're you doing?" Carina's shoulders
jerked and she spun quickly around in her swivel chair. Miles was staring at
her from behind a small divider wall, a quizzical and concerned look on his
face. "Carina it's six o'clock. Time to go home," Miles said in a concerned
tone. Carina shook her head slowly as she spun around. "Come on Carina, you've
been working too hard. You're still young and now you look as old as Edna. What
would your father have -" Miles snapped his claws to his mouth when he realised
what he was saying. Carina flinched involuntarily and turned around, shaking
her head slightly. "I'm sorry Carina. I didn't mean, I mean, I didn't want to
"It's okay Miles," Carina said without turning
to him. She sighed quietly. "Okay, let me finish this last sentence then we'll
go home." Miles nodded furiously and started tapping his foot and whistling.
Carina though ignored this and focused her attention on her papers. The gold
pen was still lying on top of them. Carefully she wrote the last sentence with
the pen. She agonized over every word, every glowing word that appeared on the
paper where the gold tip touched. Finally she added a full stop and breathed
a sigh of relief as the words faded into a normal black colour. She kept the
pen in its pocket, threw the article in her Outbox (a robot Petpet would pick
it up later) and turned towards Miles, giving him a wan smile. "All done. Let's
go home." She got up to leave but Miles was still staring at her. He pointed
to one of her pockets.
"What was that? Wasn't that a gold pen? Cool.
Can I see it, please?" Miles begged but Carina only shook her head. "Why not?"
Miles looked into Carina's eyes and saw that they were still wet with tears.
"Err, never mind Carina, I'll look at it some other day okay? Let's just go
home. The janitor is already complaining about us." Carina nodded silently and
followed the Scorchio out the door of the pressroom. "Come on, I'll fly us home.
Is that alright with you?"
"Yes." Was all Carina could muster. Later she
was soaring over the dark streets of Neopia Central towards her home, where
she would spend a sleepless night because of the Light Faerie's gold pen.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
In the darkness between two Neohomes, a spectral figure watched as the two
Neopets soared overhead and cackled quietly to itself. The space between the
two Neohomes was suddenly illuminated by a soft purple glow. The glowing figure
spread its purple wings and flew up into the air, a purple streak of light zooming
across the night sky. A wicked smile lit up its face, the face of a malevolent
Dark Faerie, as she speed off after Miles and Carina.
15 Years Ago
"But why did our Queen not choose you, most dark one?"
Jhudora sneered, hands delicately folded before
her as she sat on her throne, at the purplish glow before her. She waved one
hand impatiently at the figure. "Who knows why that Fyora would want to hand
such a powerful item to a worthless Kacheek?" Jhudora growled, anger and frustration
evident in her voice.
"But couldn't we, I mean, you take back the pen,"
the lesser Dark Faerie said calmly. "Surely a Kacheek would not be too hard
to beat." Jhudora waved her hand impatiently at the Dark Faerie.
"No Mourindyn, don't you think I have not tried
that approach?!" Jhudora said in contempt. "The Queen never told any of us who
has that wretched pen, only that it was a Kacheek. Even worse the artifact does
not radiate any known aura so I can't use scurrying to find it! Be bother that
Fyora and curse that Kacheek whoever it is!" Jhudora threw a goblet on her throne
side table into a nearby bookshelf, narrowly missing lesser Dark Faerie. Mourindyn
got up slowly from the floor and turned to the pouting figure of Jhudora.
"Perhaps I could search for the artefact," Mourindyn
began. "You know that I am by far the fastest among our kind and possess the
keenest eyes, uncontested by yours of course o' dark one," Mourindyn added quickly.
"I can easily scour the lands below for that artefact and retrieve it for you."
Jhudora tapped a thin finger against one cold
cheek. Perhaps this one would suffice. This fool, this rogue Mourindyn, might
prove to be useful. If she gets caught then no one will believe this idealistic
and naïve one and she'll make an excellent martyr to my cause. And if she succeeds
then I get the artefact and can easily 'write her off'. Jhudora snickered at
her thoughts and turned again to Mourindyn, regarding her with what the foolish
lesser Faerie thought was respect.
"So be it. Mourindyn," Jhudora picked her words
carefully. After all she didn't want to incriminate herself. "You are free to
do as you please but remember the price of failure, and betrayal." Jhudora added.
Jhudora's eyes, fine-tuned to through any guise, didn't fail to detect a glint
of greed in Mourindyn's eyes. Mourindyn nodded gleefully and raced as fast as
she could away from Jhudora's Cloud.
Indeed, Mourindyn did want to find the pen, but
not for Jhudora, of course, but for herself. She could forge mountains and shift
cities and with it she could even rival Jhudora or even, Mourindyn thought gleefully,
the Faerie Queen Fyora herself. Yes, she, Mourindyn would possess power, power
beyond her imagination, and all she needed to do was find one Kacheek. How hard
could it be? How many Kacheeks could there be in the world?
The haggard form of Mourindyn flapped into the moonlit sky, fast falling behind
her quarry. She cursed under her breath and cursed her torn wings even more.
No matter, Mourindyn thought as she looked down on her blighted self. I'll soon
be beautiful again, beautiful AND powerful, as soon as I get rid of that Kacheek!
With thoughts of power swirling in her head, Mourindyn found fresh resolve to
flap her worn-out wings. Power will soon be mine!
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Miles twisted the knob and the door swung open silently. A shaft of light streamed
in and fell over the sleeping form of Carina. The yellow Scorchio smiled. Good
night Carina. Yawning, Miles was just closing the door when he heard a sound
from inside the room. Straining his ears he heard Carina mumbling in her sleep.
"Dad, don't do it … please come back … I want
to go with you … all my fault."
Miles looked at the floor and thought sadly about
Carina. Miles knew that Carina's father had disappeared near Tyrannia and left
the Neohome and all his belongings to Carina and never had he seen Carina show
any emotion for him. Ever since he had rented a room in Carina's Neohome he
had never questioned her about her parents though Carina never offered in return.
Now he knew why. Poor Carina, Miles thought. She still blames herself
for all that. Hmm, that pen of hers must remind of her father. I'd better not
ask about it. Miles shut the door quietly and proceeded to go to his bedroom,
shaking his head.
Then he stopped. Something was not right he could
feel it. Slowly he looked around him but saw nothing out of the ordinary and
yet he couldn't shake off the niggling feeling that something was watching him.
Slowly he crept off into his bedroom.
Finally that pesky Scorchio is gone, Mourindyn
thought. The Dark Faerie, looking very much like a nightmarish Darigan creature,
crept silently along the ceiling of the darkened Neohome, her Shroud spell enhancing
her stealth. Still, her Night Vision gave her a crystal clear view of the home,
and slowly but surely she crept up to Carina's room. Just like Miles, Mourindyn
opened the door and entered the room silently. A smile crept on to her sinister
face as she walked slowly towards Carina's prone form.
"Miss Fairy … I don't want it anymore … give
me back my father … please."
Oh you'll be joining him soon little Kacheek,
very soon. Mourindyn paused over the bed and raised her sharp-clawed hands.
"Danger lurks before you … awake … why?" Carina
mumbled. Mourindyn leered and prepared to drain the life force out of the helpless
Kacheek but Carina's eyes suddenly snapped open. She saw the spiteful face of
Mourindyn, screamed and quickly rolled out of the way. The Dark Faerie was temporarily
stunned by Carina's sudden awareness and reacted too late. Her claws stabbed
forward with lightning speed but only managed to shred a long gash in Carina's
jacket and tear up her bed. Carina made a dash towards the door but Mourindyn
was already loosing another spell.
The door banged open and Miles stepped into the
room, a sword and shield, one normally hung on the wall above his bed, in his
"What the h -" Miles snarled and quickly pushed
Carina aside. Then everything around him seemed to swirl and Miles felt his
body turn to jelly. Mourindyn cursed when her Temporal Leak had hit the yellow
Scorchio instead but smiled when she realized that there was one less foe. Enraged
she leapt at Carina but Carina was ready this time. She had picked up Miles'
shield, which had dropped to the floor, and swung it at the dark figure.
"Aarrghh!" Mourindyn screamed as she careened
backwards into the bed, stung by the force of the shield in her face. Spitting
a curse, she smiled evilly and suddenly a globe of darkness filled the room.
"Carina where are you?" Miles shouted, shaking
off the lingering effects of the fading Temporal Leak, his sword swinging blindly
by his side.
"I can't see! Miles help me!" Carina shrieked
"Oh, but I can!" Mourindyn snarled. Carina ran
about the room, blind as a bat in the artificial darkness. Then the darkness
dissipated and Carina saw the Dark Faerie in the corner of the bedroom, Miles
kneeling on the floor next to her, his face contorted in apparent pain. Mourindyn
smiled wickedly as Carina. "I have your friend, Kacheek fool, and if you do
anything stupid I'll drain his health dry." And with that, the fight was over.
Carina looked apprehensively at Miles, who was struggling to remain on his feet,
and lowered the shield.
"What do you want?" Carina squeaked nervously.
"Let my friend go."
"I'll let him go all right, right after you hand
over that golden pen." Mourindyn had used this trick before and each time she
was confronted with blank looks from her victims. She smiled when she saw Carina's
fearful expression change to recognition then to shock and Mourindyn knew this
was the one. "That's right you heard me. Now give it or else your friend…"
"Don't do … it Carina. Ignore … me," Miles said
in pain. The Dark Faerie shifted a little and Miles fell face first on the floor
with a shout as Mourindyn drew on his life force.
"Brave, yet foolish," Mourindyn stated dryly
to Miles. "You think you can stand against me?" Mourindyn turned to Carina.
"Let go of him you Dark Faerie!" Carina said
with tears in her eyes. "Go away!" With that Carina threw the shield at the
Dark Faerie. Mourindyn laughed wickedly this time as the shield passed right
"You fool! I cannot be hurt by normal weapons!"
Mourindyn laughed at bewildered Carina. Carina's eyes narrowed in anger.
"Why don't I just unmake you Dark Faerie?" Carina
said in a low tone. "I'll just unwrite you." With that, Carina grabbed a spare
sheet of paper that was lying around and took out the gold pen. Mourindyn chuckled.
"You and I both know you cannot simply use it
like that," Mourindyn muttered dangerously. She was hoping and betting that
Fyora had put a restriction against using the artefact. And she was right. Carina's
paw shook furiously as she tried to put the pen on the paper before slumping
to her side in defeat.
"That's right, now hand it over and I'll release
your friend -"
"Over here! The screams came from over here!"
Mourindyn and Carina both turned to the door and heard a commotion downstairs.
The Dark Faerie's face split into a sneer as she whirled back to Carina.
"I'll be back, Kacheek," Mourindyn hissed as
she grabbed hold of one of Miles' leathery wings. "And you'd better hand me
that pen when I do for the sake of your friend here." With that Mourindyn smashed
through a window and flew out into the night. Carina shook with fear as the
commotion downstairs became louder. Then she fell to her knees, slamming her
fist to the floor, sobbing fiercely.
Not again, Carina thought, the sounds
around her fading away. Oh please not again. Now Miles is gone. I can't do
this anymore! This is all my fault!
She barely heard the Defenders of Neopia coming
into her bedroom and hardly took notice when one of them picked her up and carried
her downstairs where they let her rest on the sofa. Carina cried softly to herself
as she thought of Miles.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"What … are you going to do … with Carina … you fiend?" Mourindyn smiled wickedly
at the chained figure in the corner of the dank room. Miles cursed and tried
to move but he was securely bound and chained. He sat upright and looked around
He was in a dimly lit room, more of a dungeon
in fact but much cleaner, empty except for a few tables, chairs and a chest.
Miles observed the Dark Faerie with hatred as she sat on a low stool before
him, looking at him in a measuring glare.
"What are you … looking at?" Miles snarled at
the Dark Faerie before him. Mourindyn just continued staring at him, a smiled
in the corner of her mouth.
"Funny, you don't seem like a hero to me," Mourindyn
snickered. "In fact, I don't understand why you want to help that Kacheek? When
you saw me, a Dark Faerie, why didn't you run like most people?" Miles shifted
in his place and glared at Mourindyn.
"Because Carina is my friend, that's why," Miles
said quickly, painfully aware of the cold chains biting into him. "And because
I saw the weakling that you are, Dark Faerie." Mourindyn's eyes narrowed instantly
and she leaned closer to Miles.
"No one calls me weak," Mourindyn said in a low,
dangerous tone. She pointed a sharp finger at Miles' face. "I am Mourindyn,
soon to be the most powerful Dark Faerie in the world. Your life is in my hands
so remember your place, fool." To emphasize her words she drained a little of
Miles' health. Miles winced in pain but continued to glare defiantly at Mourindyn.
The Dark Faerie sneered. "We'll see how tough you are when your friend hands
me the artefact." With that, the Dark Faerie strode off to a dark corner of
the dungeon, where the shadows swallowed her.
Miles again tried to struggle against the chains
and restraints. We'll see about that, Mourindyn, Miles thought. Carina's
a lot smarter than you think; just you wait.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Thank you, young lady, for your report," Judge Hog said to Carina. "We'll
soon get to the bottom of this break-in. I suggest you get some rest." Carina
nodded slowly and watched tiredly as Judge Hog and the rest of the Defenders
streamed out of her Neohome. Carina once again put her head in her paws. She
had used the ruse of a robbery to cover for the real problem. She didn't like
lying to Judge Hog, but she also didn't need or want any help finding Miles.
She would do it herself.
This is my fault … No! Carina thought,
anger starting to well up inside her. It's about time I stopped blaming myself.
Before this I was too small, too young, too weak to help and now it's time I
started helping others, and myself. Carina wiped the tears away from her
eyes and looked down at the gold pen in her paw. No longer will I put all
blame on you. You are no longer the cause of my problems. I'll find Miles myself;
I owe my life to him.
Now where do I start?
Carina got up and started pacing around the living
room, trying to think of something to do. Then she got it. The reports! The
missing Kacheeks! I got to get to the office. Carina jumped and grabbed her
coat. She rushed out of the Neohome, locking the front door in the process,
and ran off in the direction of the Neopian Times Headquarters.
To be continued …
Author's Note: What has Carina just thought of? Will Miles get away? Stay
tuned to find out.