The students huddled in the misty light outside the library.
The rain was still coming down hard and the light from a lone lamp wasn't enough
to banish the shadows. Strange patterns flickered on the walls, eerie shadows
that added just another element of unreality to this gathering. Faces were concealed
under jackets and hooded cloaks, pale white faces and nervous gestures, watchful
eyes for anyone that would chance upon this impromptu late night meeting. They
were all in grave danger here.
"So you were originally founded to help protect
the campus," Maria was saying, BlazeFast huddled by her side. "What went wrong?"
"Grievm went wrong," Jessica replied, scanning
the darkness around them for any humans or Neopets, "but we did, too. There's
a lot of resentment against the rich families of Neopia."
"I know," the Ixi said, her tone harsh, "Mia
told me of how she had to fight off those that would hurt Payne after school
because she was a Gray."
Jessica winced and continued staring off into
the darkness. There was silence between them, the noise of the rain in the soaked
pavement and grass a sound that they were all used to by now. The rustle of
clothing, scuff of paws on pavement, and an occasional cough. And the constant
metal on metal of an Acara doing his best to pick the lock leading into the
library. A sudden click and a hiss of triumph.
"No security systems, right?" the Acara asked,
his hand on the door.
"None," someone confirmed.
He nodded and pocketed the lockpicks and then
slipped into the building, absently ducking his head low in a furtive manner.
Maria watched as others entered, noting that they all cast about nervous glances
or otherwise tried to hide as best as they could. She made sure to enter the
library with her head high, pretending that they weren't committing a crime,
that they weren't breaking and entering scant hours after midnight. It's
for a good reason, she told herself. We're saving the campus. They won't
catch us and if they do I'm sure they won't expel us cause we're saving the
campus. It wasn't much of a reassurance.
Jessica led the group up the back stairs, winding
through the hallways and occasional bursts of shelves and conference rooms until
they reached a narrow hallway with only a couple doors. The lighting was non-existent
here and someone brought out a lantern, the yellow glare giving the entire scene
and unreal sense to it, as if they had just crossed over a boundary and were
now walking in the land of dreams. Perhaps they were.
"Okay, here it is," Jessica breathed, "It's
locked but I grabbed the keys from Eric's room. He told me where he kept them
She produced a couple keys from her pocket and
quickly rattled them in the lock, easing the door open with her shoulder.
"Payne?" she whispered, "You okay?"
Silence, except for someone shifting slightly
in the dark. A couple people blocked Maria's path to the door so she stood in
the hallway, fuming in silence as she heard a couple whispers, one of which
sounded like her roommate.
"What? Why on Neopia would I help you?"
Payne's voice was loud and clear this time and
the members of the League of Rain standing outside quickly looked down at their
feet or away as the small blue Gelert elbowed her way out into the hallway,
looking more than put-out.
"And whoever tied my paws needs to be more careful,"
she snapped, holding up one red and raw wrist. "It was way too tight."
A boy near the back muttered an apology while
a nearby Pteri glared up at him and said, "I told you so."
"Maria?" Payne asked, seeing her roommates.
"What's going on?"
"I'm just as lost as you," she replied, BlazeFast
hugging close to her.
"I want Mia."
"Right, this way," Jessica interjected, moving
on to the next door and opening it, "Uhhh, you go on in and let her know she
doesn't have to rip us all from limb to limb like she was threatening."
Payne slipped into the room and found Mia bound
in the middle of the floor, all four paws trussed up and her jaws in a muzzle.
She was growling, until she sniffed, and feel silent at Payne's scent.
"Hey," she said gently, removing the muzzle.
"I'll kill them," the Gelert growled, watching
Payne untie her paws, "I will."
"No, you won't. Something is going on and I
want to know what. Let me see what it is and then we'll decide if someone needs
to be maimed or not. Did they take the…?"
Mia stood and shook herself, her tail and ears
snapping with the movement.
"No. Still there, under the bandanna. Glad I
"Me too," Payne replied quietly. "Now let's
go find out what is going on."
Jessica gave Mia one wary glance in the hallway
and then hastily looked away, back to the other group.
"Where's VerdeVer?" Mia asked quietly.
"Taken," a Blumaroo replied, "With his owner.
We're going to rescue them."
"Please," Jessica implored. "You must understand
the situation. Follow me, I'll explain as we go."
She started back down the hallway, taking the
lantern and leading the way, a shade of some sorts in this strange dream-like
"You know the legend of Rain Gray, right?" Jessica
asked, her voice floating amidst the footsteps of a myriad of pets.
"Alright. Well, before he graduated he formed
the League of the Rain. Their duty was to keep the knowledge of the sword alive
and monitor the situation on campus. If a Gray was needed, they were to bring
one here somehow. They were also to protect the Gray in times of emergency if
their pet couldn't."
"The Grays are very important and the sword
that you're bound to is very powerful. If someone were to try to use that for
themselves, well, someone has to protect the Gray who is currently bound to
it. However, you two being twins changes things a bit. Payne, you stand to be
the most powerful Rain Gray since the original. He was a twin also, and the
air faerie who created the sword blessed him and any other twins that came after.
Mist Gray and Rain Gray. And now: Payne Rain Gray and her guardian Mia Mist
"Why does Mia have to the be the guardian, though?
If the sword is so powerful, why can't I defend myself?"
"You'll understand once you see the sword,"
someone from behind her chimed in.
"Anyways, years ago this Cybunny named Grievm
was in charge of the League. He won over the loyalties of the members and continued
to lead even after he graduated, which is something that was not done. It's
supposed to be students only so that the League remains entirely campus based.
But Grievm was rich and powerful. He's retained hold in that he basically pays
for a vast majority of the member's education. Scholarships. I know Eric holds
"Bribery. He bribes you."
"Don't sound so disgusted," someone grumbled.
"You're rich. You understand, don't you Maria?"
"Yes," she said in a soft voice, "and if it
came down to it, I'd let someone give me a scholarship if I let them keep control
of some organization. But why did you kidnap Payne? And why is Eric in so much
"Because Grievm was going to backstab the Gray
family," Jessica continued, "One of the duties of the League is to educate each
new Gray about the sword and the wind when they came to campus. It's our job,
not the families. Builds ties between the League and the new Gray, the new head.
But Grievm wanted a change in power. See, if the Grays fail in their duty, the
faerie made it so a new bearer for the sword could be chosen. If the campus
floods and the floodwaters touch the sword all bonds are released. The sword
is free to be claimed by anyone and it will be then be bound to them and their
"So, Grievm wanted Payne to fail whereupon he
would take the sword for himself?"
"Exactly. Except we're sick of Grievm. We decided
to betray him in turn and take the sword for ourselves, giving it to Eric. He's
a good person, he deserves it."
"And I don't?" Payne asked softly.
Jessica hesitated, the lantern shaking a bit
in her hand as she led them down more stairs.
"We don't know you," she whispered, "and perhaps
we were wrong in this. But you wouldn't even have known it existed if not for
luck. Either way, it doesn't matter. Our plan fell apart. See, Grievm ordered
you killed. He wanted you gone and out of the way. He's developed a grudge against
your family apparently. We didn't want to do this obviously, so we decided to
kidnap you instead and just say you were killed. We'd release you after the
flood and after Eric took the sword."
"And someone betrayed and it's all blown up
in our faces," a Pteri finished. "Eric was taken by Grievm and we've got to
rescue him. After that we can summon the wind."
"How about we just summon the wind now?" BlazeFast
"Because Grievm will know Payne has the sword
and I doubt Eric's life will be worth much after that," Jessica said grimly.
"And why should we stick our necks out for you?"
Mia spat. "After all you've done?"
There was silence and Jessica stopped, one foot
on the stair below, her hand resting on the railing.
"Because only we know where the sword is."
"Like I care," the Gelert growled, pawing at
the bandanna until the knot came loose and revealing the Werelupe's claw. "One
way or another, you'll show us."
There was silence and a green Bruce moved closer
to Jessica, putting himself between Mia and the Aisha. Payne risked a glance
back to Maria and met her eyes, large, frightened, and tense with impending
"Stop it," Payne whispered. "You're not making
this any better. We'll save Eric for the sole fact that I don't want him on
my conscience. And besides… we're not that kind of people. And I don't want
to turn into one."
The members of the League looked away, all aware
that they were the kind of people Payne was referring to.
"So. Where's this sword?"
Jessica nodded and continued down the stairs,
faster this time. She stopped at a turn in the stairs, pressed close to the
wall, and with a grinding noise part of the brick slid away to reveal a narrow
and dark stairway. Another lantern was brought forth and they traversed this
single file until they reached a dank antechamber with an archway similar to
the one in the book at the end.
"Go on then," Jessica whispered, "both of you.
Go claim the sword."
Mia and Payne looked at each other, then into
the silvery shadows of the room, a strange incandescent light like water radiating
out from a statue in the middle, a statue of two Eyries holding up a single
object. A sword. A silver sword.
"I never wanted to be special," Payne whispered,
"I just wanted to be like everyone else."
"Fate never complies to our wishes," Mia replied
grimly. "Let's go, Payne Rain Gray."
And the two stepped forwards, side-by-side,
into the room.
To be continued...