The Plot Thickens…
"It's not a real sword, dufus! It's a hypothetical sword.
Like the sword of justice."
Jakeio and Angle had been arguing this for what
seemed like an age while Saf sat silently in the corner, thinking deeply. All
of her sudden her eyes flicked in realisation, and she sprung from her seat.
"No it's not - it's a position!"
"Don't be silly, Saf…"
"No, it is! Seriously! Do you remember where
we all first met?"
Angle and Jakeio quietened down a little, becoming
nostalgic. "I do. It was on the other side of Kiko Lake, at Krawk Swamp. But
that's all closed down now."
"And do you remember who was third on the council
"Hmmm… it was Jen, wasn't it?"
"And what position did she hold?"
"Bronze Blade. Wait a minute… Bronze Blade!
Copper Sword! It's another synonym!"
"And it also says it's never wielded, which
is also true. It's a sword that can't be wielded because it's a person!"
"Yeah, but what in Neopia would she have to
do with this?"
"So, what, you couldn't get in contact with her or anything? Not even Rincham?"
"Not once. And I tried for hours. I even had
to cut my mini-break to Meridell short when she didn't answer."
"Well, in all honesty, I think you're overreacting.
She'll be fine. Just wait and see."
Angel thought she heard Twist mutter something
to the effect of 'Famous last words' as they plodded along the track, nearing
the Oak. The bustle of noise usually accelerated at round about this point,
since although the bookshop rarely got any customers, it was usually teaming
with insect and bird life. Yet now there was nothing. It was frighteningly odd.
Suddenly, a high-pitched rhythmic screech started
to echo through the air. Twist and Angel quickened their pace and came into
view of the Oak - it's magnificent green branches colored by the Autumn - where
the gate was hanging open and screeching as it dangled there, quarry to the
wind. The odd duo, Eyrie and Acara, wandered down the garden path wearing identical
dubious expressions. Angel rose onto her hind feet and reached out her arm to
open the front door… and a light gust of wind blew it open.
This sent alarm bells ringing through Angel's
mind. "Why is the door open? Surely Jen should have heard the gate squeaking
Twist gave her a meaningful 'no duh' look, and
ventured into the house.
Silence. The whole room had been plunged into
darkness for quite some time now. No sign of their owner running towards them
to greet them home. No sign of Rincham skulking in the corner. There weren't
even any Tigermice running in and out the bookshelves and trying to bite their
tails when they walked in the room.
"What the heck is going on?" murmured Angel,
fumbling around the walls for a light switch. She flicked the switch, illuminating
the room, and was faced with a shocking sight. The place had been trashed. Totally.
The bookshelves had been thrown down from their places and smashed up, ruined.
The beautiful hand-carved picture frames had been torn apart, and the pictures
inside gashed and split beyond recognition. Pages had been ripped from books
and were scattered across the floor like a smooth sheet of snow. A few broken
chains of yellow and black teeth were dotted here and there like ominous calling
cards. And across the walls in black paint was scrawled the taunting and badly
spelt message: 'DARCGONZ ROOL'. A stale, smoky, familiar smell hung in the air.
Angel was speechless. Her life's work. All gone. All destroyed in some ruthless
act of violence. And where was Jen? And Rincham? What had they done with her
owner and brother? She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists, feeling a deep
down rage suddenly bubble to surface …
After a few minutes of staring at the battle-induced
scene Twist found her voice and spluttered, "What happened here? Where's Jen?
Angel tried to shush her, but it was too late.
There was a shuffle of movement from somewhere in the room, and a book was displaced
from the top of the pile. Angel slunk towards the source of the room and delicately
tried to move one of the books to identify the intruder. There was another stir
of muscle from underneath, and Angel was face with a pair of enormous, bleary
amber eyes and a familiar face, now distorted with pain.
"Rincham! Oh my goodness, are you alright?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," he stuttered, "just
- er - can the t'ree of yoose help me stand up?" The hologram that projected
his true form and masked his current lab ray body flickered a couple of times.
If the situation hadn't been so bad she could've
cried, Angel would have rolled her eyes at that comment. Triple vision. Fantastic.
Rincham wasn't in the right mind to be explaining anything. She clicked her
beak in annoyance, retrieving the vial of Patocol Potion from her bag, and brought
it close to his head.
"What's that?" asked Twist, who was still sifting
through the trash and torn literature that littered the room for clues.
"Just something Aren gave me. He said it might
become useful in the future." The Patocol Potion started to swirl and glow,
then a very small image of Rincham's memories came into focus.
She saw everything through his eyes. It was
mid-afternoon. The sun was streaming through the open window, jewelled by the
flitting silhouettes of moths and spiders and other such creepy-crawlies - a
direct contrast to what it was like now. The Oak was swathed in this golden
glow, accentuating the beauty of the carvings, which were currently splintered
and scattered across the floor. Jen was dressed casually and was sitting at
the desk, catching up on her English project on Oscar Wilde and bursting into
laughing fits every few seconds. Slowly Rincham's eyelids started to droop,
and he fell into a deep sleep. The next time he woke up was to the gentle ring
of a bell drifting through the air. He opened his eyes. It was a few hours later
and Jen had a customer. Several customers, in fact. All clad in dark robes with
their faces covered. A smaller, squatter one was deep in conversation with her.
Rincham watched them through slit eyes as their conversation turned rapidly
into a debate, then into an argument. Then suddenly, at the command of the smallest
one when he snapped his fingers, one of his followers, obviously a Skeith, strolled
forward and seized Jen roughly by the arm. Rincham was lightning-fast to react,
and before Angel could blink she was watching herself - through her brother's
eyes - standing protectively in front of Jen, with a very beat up Skeith slumped
against the wall. All the Skeiths attacked at the same time. Rincham fought
off most of them, his claws whirling like the deadliest of weapons, but altogether
they were way too much for him to handle. Especially when one of them picked
up a rather large vase and slammed it across the back of his head, knocking
him out cold. The last thing he could remember was his slipping out of consciousness,
his owner's desperate screams echoing in the back of his mind …
Angel barely had time to talk things over with
Twist before yet another ringing filled the air. But it wasn't the ringing of
the doorbell. It was coming from the desk. Jen's mobile phone.
"Answer it," urged Twist. "It could be Angle
at the HQ. Maybe they've managed to track her down already."
She grabbed a handheld memo recorder from off
the floor and held it up to the receiver. Not without hesitation, Angel pressed
the button on with a talon, raised the phone to her ear and spoke in slow and
solemn tones: "Hello?"
"How do you know my name?"
The voice on the phone snickered eerily. ~We
know a lot about you, Angel. We have many sources. Some don't even know they
"You've got her, haven't you? You've got Jen."
The voice gave a sight satisfaction. ~Clever
girl, Angel. You're smart. It looks like the negotiations will take even less
time than I had anticipated.~
"Listen, psycho, if you've harmed a hair on
her head, I will never listen to any of your requests!" growled the Eyriess,
emotion wavering the stability of her manner.
~Don't you worry, Angel_72_21. She's fine. Now
we have something you want, and you have something we want. Let's do a swap,
"What do I have that you could possibly want?
Our shop? What little money we have? Some badly-written poetry?"
~Give us the key to the Dragonmist, and Jen
will go free. Fail… and you will never see her again.~
Angel's eyes darted to all corners of the Oak
in panic. "I really don't know what you're talking about."
~Oh really?~ taunted the voice. ~I would've
thought the last of the Kumlaas would want to know everything about her past,
and her destiny …~
"Last?" Angel coughed. "I'm not the last."
~Are you?~ scorned the voice before hanging
up, leaving Angel to ponder that last thought. And the sinister, boding feeling
that she knew what the voice was implying hit her like a ton of bricks. Her
face became pale and wan, and her beak hung open. When she at last found her
voice, it was crackled and shaken.
"Twist? I want you to listen carefully. Take
Rincham and the tape to Angle at the HQ and get him fixed up. Tell Angle exactly
what happened. And tell them not to come after me."
"Where are you going?"
"I've got a score to settle," muttered the Eyriess,
her eyes glinting in a flicker of spite.
As she stormed out the door, Rincham suddenly
croaked to her: "Angel? Wait! There's something you should know." But she didn't
listen. He was dazed. He didn't have anything relevant to say …
Author's Note: *sniff sniff* Is that a plot twist I can smell?
Read the next issue to discover what has happened to Aren.
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