Twist was Rincham's walking stick for the journey back to
headquarters, but luckily they didn't have to go far. They were met halfway there
by Angle and Saf, who had, by then, realised the full extent of their discovery.
Twist told them everything that had happened. Jen's disappearance. The phone call
from the anonymous caller and Angel's rapid departure from the scene of the crime.
Saf, being more in the know, guessed what had
happened, and gathered up her pet Snarhook in preparation to travel back to
Mystery Island. But Twist stopped her just in time - it was best not to get
involved if something really had happened to Aren.
And it was a few more minutes still before they
realised that Rincham too had slipped away into the night …
The searing amounts of adrenaline and power of reprisal that surged through
her veins, through her mind, and through her heart was the only thing that kept
her flight sustained that night. With desperation and fear spurring her onwards
she flew farther and faster than she had ever flown before. All the way to Mystery
Island. And to her brother's cave.
The atmosphere was much the same as it was the
first time she went there. Yet this time there was no sound whatsoever. The
gentle drip-drop of water that once echoed in the background as a reminder that
this place was living… was gone. There was nothing - and that's what made it
all the more suspicious, and all the more ominous.
Amid the cave there was a very smoky atmosphere,
not unlike that of ~The*Eyrie*Oak~. The Darkgons' stench was unmistakable. It
was a smell that - although she didn't know it at the time - would be imprinted
in her mind for the rest of her life. The air was smothered in a mist of dust
and grime. The moss and beautiful plant life was ruined. The waterfall had been
blocked. Sid the Pinceron was panting exhaustedly. The Patocol Pool had almost
dried up, and all that was left was a slight thin puddle of glittering liquid,
over which an exhausted figure was lamenting, his side stained with blood. Angel
rushed forward to help him up.
"Aren! You're hurt!"
Aren squinted up at her, and, slowly, a gentle
smile snaked across his face. "This? No. Just a little scratch, I can assure
"Darkgons," he replied, his voice blemished
with hatred. "They tracked me down and tried to get me to tell them where the
key is. Then they --" His side gave a lurch suddenly, and he slumped to the
floor. "The leader, FiskMerrick, returned. He threatened me. I told him I'd
never tell him where you were. He said no matter, and that he had his sources.
Then he spun round, revealed a dagger he'd been hiding under his jacket, and…"
Aren couldn't go on. Instead he just moved his paw slowly from a point on his
chest, under which a broken shard of a blade was embedded.
Angel gave a gag of shock, her mind racing a
mile a minute. "Oh man, this doesn't look good. This FiskMerrick… was he a short
guy? All dressed in black?"
"He didn't… didn't track you down, did he?"
Angel nodded solemnly. "He has kidnapped my
owner. He said if I didn't produce the key to the Dragonmist, I'd never see
her again. What key?"
"The key is inside you! Never think that if
something cannot be seen or interpreted, it isn't real and can't make a difference.
You have the key, and you have always had the key. Just never give it to them.
If the Dragonmist is released from Denholm again… I don't want to know what
the consequences could be."
"Okay. I'll do as you please. Just have some
"Rest. Yeah, right." At that moment, there was
a rustle from outside, and Rincham appeared at the door followed by his pet
Neotrak 'R2'. A look of pure shock spread across his face as he surveyed the
scene before him - Aren's life was fading fast. Even he could sense it. But
Angel didn't want to believe it, or the prophecy would come true. She would
be the last of the Kumlaas.
The red Eyrie beckoned for Rincham, and he came
obediently, suspecting this could be one of his last wishes. "I just want to
say that I'm sorry," he croaked.
"Sorry for what? What do you have to be sorry
for? I don't know you… but if it weren't for you, we could all be gone by now."
"I'm sorry for ever doubting your family's love
and trust, and for taking them for granted."
"The Feeralls. If you see them again… tell them
that. Tell Keilani that I never hated her as much as I made out." Each word
was now a struggle for the poor Eyrie. "I want you to look after each other.
For my sake."
"No! Don't speak like that!" shouted Angel,
her voice cracking with panic. "You'll get through this. You said it yourself
- it's just a scratch."
Aren smirked. "I lied. Take care of each other,
guys. And never give in to the Darkgons' demands - you are the last hope of
the Kumlaas now."
And those were the last words Aren spoke. The
Patocol Pool gurgled and dried up almost instinctively. With the last ounce
of strength he had left in his body, he placed his paw over Rincham's and Angel's
together in unison … and then slipped out of consciousness, and out of this
For a moment Angel didn't say anything. She
just stared forward, unblinking, drowning in a sea of thought and memories.
Then, still saying nothing, she took to her heels and ran out of the cavern.
Rincham too tried to follow, but Aren's Ultra Pinceron Sid blocked his way,
shaking his head. "Yeah, you're probably right. Let's give her a moment alone."
Angel ran blindly through the night. She ran as fast as she could, tears staining
her cheeks, tree branches whipping her face. But she didn't care. No small pain
as that could compare to the pain she felt inside. Eventually she slowed her
pace and came to a halt outside a roaring waterfall, sat down, and just cried.
This was totally unlike Angel. She was usually
so happy-go-lucky and quiet… sanguine, if anything. But now emotion was pouring
from her like a river. When words at last found her, she looked up to the skies
and spoke in crackled, hesitant tones.
"I hoped it would never come to this. My owner's
gone. My brother's gone. And it's all my fault."
She dissolved into tears yet again. But as she
did so, a voice suddenly echoed from the mists around the waterfall: "All because
you're the last of your kind, eh?"
Angel looked up, her vision still blurred through
tears. There was no one near. She answered anyway. "What's it to you? It's none
of your business! Go away."
"Cold, aren't you?" the voice continued. It
was a nice voice, gentle and sincere. "You've never changed."
"How would you know? I've never seen you before
in my life."
"Well, how do you know unless you turn to face
For some reason, Angel felt like she could trust
the voice, and she turned towards the edge of the river. And there, half in
the water and leaning against the side of a rock, was a Faerie. Very small,
like most faeries, but her very being seemed to radiate regard and respect.
She had flowing blonde hair, pointed ears like Jen's and half of her body -
the half that was in the water - was that of a fish's, like a mermaid.
The Faerie rose up out of the water to take
a seat on the rock. "Nereid at your service. I knew your mother."
"My mother…" Angel paused. "I've got to admit,
I haven't met many people who knew her. What was she like?"
"She was noble, loving and virtuous. She didn't
deserve what fate had to hand her. That is part of the reason why I gave her
the Tear, I suppose."
"You gave her Thyora's tear?" Angel dried her
eyes quickly on her wrist. "Then you must know exactly what happened to the
Kumlaas. Tell me, do you know where the key and the Dragonmist are?"
"Woah, woah, slow down Angel. It's true that
I played an important role on the day the Kumlaa Clan were attacked. But I'm
still just a Faerie - I didn't know everything. Still don't. And that is why
I had to piece everything together … like a jigsaw puzzle, you might say."
"What do you mean?"
"Tell me, what do you know of your life before
the age of three?"
"Well, until I met Aren, I knew nothing. I was
adopted into a family of Acaras in Sparklestream Creek. But Aren told me the
story of our family… how great they were… and how they were destroyed …"
Nereid straightened up and looked her straight
in the eye. "You can agree to this, or you can ignore my advice. Either way,
I have taken the liberty of inviting some people into our company who can finally
tell you what happened in your past. No one has been present at every part,
so each one of them tells a different part of the story. Please don't be alarmed.
You can listen to what I have to say… or you can neglect your responsibility
as the last of the Kumlaa Eyries."
For a moment Angel was once again silent. She
did have an opportunity to run away from her responsibility here. But what if
she did? If she did, and FiskMerrick got a hold of the Dragonmist, they could
all be doomed. There was no question about it. She had to carry on with the
mission. She had to think of it like a long-forgotten story finally being told.
She nodded her head.
Nereid waved her hand gracefully. As she did
so, the waterfall started to thin out, and the haze of water died down. Slowly
the outlines of two figures became fuller and more distinct, and when they could
jump through from behind the waterfall, they did so, one by one.
The first figure who came into view was very
tall and lanky, covered in exuberant tattoos and paint. He wore a large poncho
of seashells and feathers, and draped around his neck was a large necklace of
animal teeth. It took a few seconds for Angel to register that this was the
Island Mystic that had interrupted the unveiling of the Kumlaa scrolls in the
Neopian Museum. Of course he would have at least some information to give -
he was famous for having many connections within the Island, and he did have
psychic powers too. If he didn't see anything personally, he would at least
have seen something in visions or dreams.
Next a very small, squat creature wearing a
revolting dress hopped unnervingly over the waterfall, and brushed herself off
neatly. It gave Angel a shock to see her, for she was someone she hadn't spoken
to for years. Not since she had found her locket - which this person had hidden
from her - and barged out of the home, vowing never to return. She was named
Ruth2185, and she was Twist's birth mother, and Angel's adopted mother in the
earliest years of her life. She had to know something. She was, after all, the
one who took Angel in after the Kumlaa tragedy.
Then a horrible thought crossed Angel's mind.
Her thoughts went back to the last time she was at Mystery Island, when she
found herself facing Malkus Vile. He had said something frightening and prophetic
to her that day, words that were so clearly planted in her mind that they could
have been spoken yesterday: 'Think of me as a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. The
missing piece that you've been searching for, for a long time now …' - What
if Nereid had brought back Malkus? She just couldn't deal with that. Meeting
the criminal genius was bad enough the once, but again?
Angel held her breath and scanned the veiled
mist of water that hung ominously across the waterfall. 'Let's see what's behind
curtain number three,' she thought jokingly. But no one came. She shot a sideways
glance at the Water Faerie who looked back at her under her fringe, her eyes
twinkling with the encrypted knowledge, as if to say 'I know something you don't
She cleared her throat and spoke:
"Okay, Angel. Yesterday you had no idea what
happened two years after you were born. Your life was a scattered jigsaw puzzle,
a shattered frame; a maze of twists and turns, odds and ends, clues and innuendoes.
But as soon as you come with grasp of finding one piece of the puzzle, it is
violently snatched away from you. Until now. But before anyone comes forward,
I must put your mind at rest. You were expecting Malkus Vile to provide a piece
of the puzzle. Well, I'm not that cruel. Vile isn't anywhere near here. The
one that will provide you with your final piece of information is… me."
To be continued...
Author's Note: What happened to Angel so long ago? Find out next week!
I love to know the audience's opinions on my stories, so if you have any
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