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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 10th day of Swimming, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 63 > Short Stories > Dragon Thieves: Count Von Roo

Dragon Thieves: Count Von Roo

by child_dragon

Some things are better left alone. We made the mistake of disturbing that which should not be disturbed, and tampering with something way too dangerous for us. I still wonder if our actions will have lasting consequences, especially once the sun goes down...

It was early morning when MiracleStar announced her latest scheme. I was reading a book, Jaix was out practising his pitching, Skyil and Taffin were who knows where.

     "I think we should head for the Haunted Forest tomorrow morning," she said.

     "Sure," I replied, not really paying attention.

     "I mean, on a trip. A thieving trip."

     My head snapped up.

     "And what on Neopia is worth stealing from that forest?"

     "Oh, nothing much," she said innocently, "just a small fortune. Count Von Roo."

     I laughed.

     "You're nuts. How do you know he's got a fortune?"

     "Simple logic, Nianso," she said testily, "Think about it. He's a vampire, been around for who-knows-how-long, he's got to have treasure. And besides, as long as we're out before sundown, we'll be fine."

     "I still think you're insane."

     "No, I'm not. Should be simple. In and out. We'll be fine."

     And so I found myself walking into the depths of the Haunted Forest, wrapped in my cloak and carrying my backpack and dagger. Skyil seemed unusually jumpy as we walked through the forest, although it was still barely morning. Taffin gave me a sly look, then teleported away. Skyil didn't even notice. I groaned inwardly, catching a glimpse of fire fur up ahead, in a tree. Sure enough, the Kyrii dropped from the branch, directly behind Skyil as she passed.

     "Yah!" he shouted, grabbing her tail.

     She screamed and bolted.

     "Wait, Skyil, it's just me!" he called, running after her.

     I trotted after them, seeing Taffin trying to apologise to Skyil up ahead.

     "Ouch! I'm really, ow!"

     "IHATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOU!" the Aisha was shrieking.

     "OW! Skyil! Quit hitting me so I can apologise!"

     I stepped forwards and grabbed Skyil's paw before she could slap the Kyrii again.

     "Now now children," I admonished.

     "Don't ever do that again!" Skyil hissed.

     "I'm really sorry," he whined, "didn't know you'd startle that bad. My humblest apologies."

     Skyil considered it for a moment, then lowered her fist.

     "All right. You're forgiven. But don't startle me anymore."

     He agreed, and we rejoined MiracleStar.

     "This can't be fun and games, Taffin," she said severely.

     "I know, I know," he muttered.

     "It could be very dangerous. We have to concentrate to get out of here by sunset."

     "I know, quit harping on me!"

     She shrugged and resumed leading the way.

     We actually did find Count Von Roo's lair. For a while, I had even doubted that MiracleStar knew where it was. I stared at the small castle in amazement. How on earth did it manage to stay hidden in this forest? But then again, it was the Haunted Forest.

     "All right, how'd you do it?" Taffin asked.

     "I have my sources. Now let's go, it's nearly noon and we need to be out of here by sundown."

     She led the way up to the castle door. Taffin took charge from there, inspecting the door, and finally announcing with a sigh that it was barred from the inside.

     "Then we take the alternate route," MiracleStar said calmly, pointing to a window.

     "Fine."

     I leaped into the air, soaring up to the nearest one. I landed carefully on the windowsill, inspecting the indoors. The window was locked, so I drew my dagger and broke the glass, reaching in to unlock it. It swung out, and I had a little difficulty managing that without falling off. Jaix flew a rope up to me, and I dropped inside to anchor it to something. The room was bare. I snarled in frustration.

     "Jaix. Come here. We're going to have to hold this for MiracleStar."

     "Fine."

     Taffin and Skyil joined us, and together we held the rope steady while MiracleStar shimmied up. She wrapped the rope up and returned it to her backpack.

     "All right, follow me."

     The castle was empty of everything. Nothing moved there, nothing at all. Yet no dust covered the floor, and what little furniture there was was in perfect condition. It was as if the castle was outside of time. We stayed quiet, speaking only when necessary. Even Taffin seemed affected by the unnatural stillness of this place. I was jumpy; there was an odd feeling of being watched. None of the others seemed to feel it though.

     Skyil found the passage first. It was hidden, almost invisible to those not looking. It was set between two pillars, very narrow. I'd already dismissed it as a shadow and nothing more.

     "Excellent work," MiracleStar murmured, "I bet we'll find something now."

     I followed, shivering uncontrollably. There seemed to be a cold wind coming from the tunnel.

     "Do you feel that?" I asked Jaix.

     "Feel what?"

     "Never mind."

     Our owner led the way, dagger out, her midnight blue cloak making her almost invisible in the gloom. But none of us wanted to risk lights. Soon we reached an area where the passageway branched out.

     "Skyil, Taffin and I will take left," MiracleStar instructed, "Jaix, you and Nianso take right. Meet back here if you don't find anything."

     "How much time do we have left?"

     "A couple hours."

     We nodded and started off down the tunnel. It was long, but our persistence had finally paid off.

     "Will you look at that," Jaix breathed in awe.

     Before us lay the biggest pile of treasure I'd ever seen. A vampire's lifetime of collecting magic items, Neopoints, and rare items had been dumped haphazardly in one room. I laughed giddily and trotted over, falling to my knees by the nearest stack.

     "Will you look at this?!" I crowed, picking up a mutant Krawk morphing potion, "We're going to be rich Jaix. Isn't this awesome? MiracleStar was right, hey, Jaix? Jaix?"

     I set down the potion and turned. The Acara was no where to be seen.

     I must admit, I panicked at that point. All thoughts of treasure were gone. My instincts screamed danger, and I took off running back the way I'd come, down the passageway MiracleStar had taken. I caught up with them easily, running at full tilt. MiracleStar stared at me in bewilderment as I jabbered out how Jaix had just suddenly vanished.

     "Oh, c'mon Nianso. He's probably just playing tricks on you, pets don't simply vanish into thin air.

     "Um, MiracleStar?" Taffin interrupted, "Where's Skyil?"

     We fell silent, looking around. The desert Aisha was gone. It was then I heard a soft laughter echoing through the hall.

     "What time is it?!" I hissed.

     "Still three... sun should still be up."

     "Well, something's not right here!"

     Taffin squeaked and took off running back the way we came. I followed, and our owner took up the rear. Up the stairs, back to the room we'd entered in. I skidded to a stop in the centre of the room, Taffin stood by the broken window in disbelief. For the window was no longer broken, and it was dark outside. A slim sliver of a moon rested in the inky sky. Behind us, I heard the door slam shut from an invisible hand.

     "Did you really assume that one such as I would not take precautions against such intruders as yourselves?" a sibilant voice murmured out of the shadows.

     I whirled around, drawing my dagger and dropping into a crouch between the shadowy form and MiracleStar. I could see Taffin doing the same, moving to stand near me.

     The figure laughed and stepped into the pale light of the moon. It was a Blumaroo, wreathed in a black cloak, and eyes glittering with malevolence. Count Von Roo was awake.

     He laughed softly, and I could see the fangs that marked him vampire. I gulped and tried to keep from shaking.

     "Where is Skyil and Jaix?"

     He gestured, and I could see my two siblings slumped in a corner, apparently asleep. At least they were alive.

     "You must not take this personally," the Count was saying, "but I cannot allow you to leave here alive. You have seen too much."

     Taffin snarled and with a soft pop, teleported over beside the Count. He raised his dagger to strike, but the Blumaroo simply gestured, and Taffin was flung across the room to slam into the wall. He slid to the floor, groaning. I shivered again, and fell to my knees. Something was at work here, I could no longer hear anything around me, or even see the room. Everything had narrowed down to just me, and the immense power bubbling out and changing reality as I knew it. As if a fog had been lifted, I stood. Count Von Roo was watching me in curiosity. I could see everything so clearly, even more than before. The pale light of the moon had been magnified a thousand times, my senses enhanced by the raw power that was at work. As if in a trance, I shoved off the ground with one paw, extending my wings to their full length. I hovered there in mid-air, power all around me as my talent manifested itself in a way of unheard magnitude. The moon started to fade, and the Count backed away from me nervously. I stared into his eyes.

     "You may have power over your home that can confuse time and the perception of it," I whispered, my words echoing across the small room, "but I have power over so much more. No, you will not prevent us from leaving here. For even now, the sun begins to rise..."

     The Blumaroo shot a nervous glance at the window, then gasped in surprise. For a faint golden glow could be seen over the horizon. He shrieked and fled, down to the depths of his castle, away from the coming sunrise. I, in turn, collapsed to the floor, the force sustaining me gone. I lay there, overwhelmed by the power that had just been unleashed. MiracleStar came over and gently helped me up.

     "That was incredible Nianso," she said, "what did you do?"

     "I did nothing," I replied, "it was my talent, not me."

     I heard Jaix and Skyil stirring.

     "Let's just get out of here," I muttered as the two woke groggily.

     MiracleStar hastily agreed.

     "But the treasure..." Taffin interrupted.

     "While you two were running like cowards," she said with a smile, "I took the opportunity to grab some stuff. We have treasure, don't you worry."

     As she smashed the window out for the second time and secured a rope to get down, I glanced over at Taffin who was staring at her in amazement.

     "I think she really needs to get her priorities straight."

     I could only nod in helpless agreement.

The End

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