Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Two
Avalon stared at Quaz, alarmed. "My apprentice? Already?"
"But he just completed his training!" Ash protested,
Quaz replied, "That doesn't matter. What does
matter is the reason Avalon must find his apprentice now." The robeless royal
Kougra gave Avalon and Ash meaningful look.
Avalon flicked his tail. "I'm guessing this has
something to do with Scarback," he stated.
Ash rolled her eyes. "Amazing prediction, Avalon,"
she said sarcastically. "Go on, guess what Scarback wants to do."
Avalon glared at her, and turned back to Quaz
and spoke. "Scarback's trying to kill the next Guardian to create another gap
in the cycle."
Quaz nodded, his eyes hard. "Just like he did
to the Guardian after me."
Avalon blinked. He'd known that Quaz's apprentice
had never been trained, but he'd never known they had been killed. "Your apprentice
Quaz sighed. "We found blood near the spot she
disappeared. There was no body, but the Gelerts aren't stupid."
Avalon shook his head. "So I need to go out and
get my apprentice, and bring them back here, before Scarback finds him, I got
that. But how do I know when I found my apprentice? Do we have the Guardian
Quaz shook his head, looking thunderstruck. "We
don't get the Guardian Faerie's list! Are you crazy?" Ash nodded vigorously,
and Avalon stepped on her paw with an impatient hiss.
"Knock it off, Ash! So, what, I'll find him-"
"Or her," Ash put in.
"Fine. So I find him or her, and I just know
who it is?" He was skeptical, but had come to learn that in the world of a Guardian,
anything was possible.
Quaz nodded. "That's right. Now, you and Ash'll
have to start looking for the apprentice." He walked over to the oak desk, and
pulled out a large map of Neopia, dotted with red 'X's.
"WHAT?" Avalon yelled in alarm. "You mean, we
just pick a place-At random?"
"Well," Quaz said, "Only if shadow-ghost Gelerts
aren't enough proof for you."
Quaz pointed to a large cluster of the red 'X's
in the Lost Desert. "We've gotten word from the Lost Desert that there was an
attempted raid of Coltzan's Shrine. The intruders were fended off, and one of
our pets saw the Gelerts retreating. Bet you could predict their eye color,
Avalon," Quaz added with a grin. The starry Kougra rolled his eyes and didn't
Becoming serious again, Quaz continued, "We believe
the apprentice is somewhere near the Shrine. The group we saw was probably a
little troop led by Brazen, just to get some treasure."
Avalon's fur bristled at the mention of the shadow-ghost
Gelert pack leader. Brazen was a fierce, merciless female shadow-ghost Gelert.
She had been known to take a small group from the pack just to kill someone
Scarback had been tailing. Quaz believed that Brazen was a Changed pet, a pet
who'd been captured by Scarback, and turned into a shadow-ghost Gelert. When
Quaz had described it, he'd mentioned that when a Changed pet realized they
weren't a shadow-ghost, their false appearance faded away, and they were usually
killed by the Gelerts. A few Unchanged ones had been helped to freedom by the
But Brazen, according to Quaz, couldn't accept
that she wasn't a shadow-ghost, and so was stuck in Gelert form. But Quaz said
her rebel acts were a sort of revenge for whatever Scarback had done to her.
Avalon hadn't understood it then, and he still didn't get it. All he knew was
that Brazen often went on raids alone, usually to kill other pets. Both of the
Gelert's brothers, Mange and Zeth, were killed. Mange, by the mysterious fire
faerie known as the Guardian Faerie, and Zeth by Quaz.
"So we've got Brazen raiding the Shrine, which
means Scarback can't be too far away," Quaz finished.
Avalon tried to think like a Guardian would.
"Does Scarback know we saw Brazen?"
Quaz shook his head. "I highly doubt it. Now,
what you two need is a fast boat." He opened a smaller desk drawer, and pulled
out two thin slips of paper, as well as a pen. A few minutes later, he handed
one slip to Avalon, and the other to Ash.
The slips looked like real tickets. Quaz's penmanship
was amazing. " 'Admit One: Desert Island Ferry, at Dorset Dock. One way trip
to The Lost Desert,' " Avalon read aloud. "How're we getting back?"
"I'll send someone to pick you up. They'll wait
a little off the docks, and stay until you've gotten back with your apprentice."
"So when do we leave?" Ash asked, tucking her
ticket into a pouch on her sword belt.
"This afternoon. The ferry leaves tomorrow evening."
"How're we going to get there by tomorrow evening?"
Avalon asked. "It took me three days to get here from the coast!"
"Well," Quaz growled, "There'll be no swamp shortcuts
this time, then." Avalon smiled at the memory of the swamp Ash had led him through,
so they could loose the Gelerts on their tails.
"So where's Dorset Dock?" Ash said, digging through
her bedding for her canteen.
Quaz showed Avalon and Ash a blue circle on the
map. It was right on the coast of Mystery Island, northeast of the small star
symbol of Heartfelt Cave. Ash looked the area over, tracing routes with her
paw. She nodded.
"I know the way there," she said.
Ash, canteen hooked on to her belt, had opened
the sword case and pulled out her Lupe Sword. She sheathed it, and the iron
made a noise like a claw dragged across smooth metal. Avalon took his own sword
from the case, putting it into his own scabbard with the same sound. He headed
to another cabinet and opened the door. Around forty types of helmets crowded
the shelves of this display case. Avalon rummaged around until he found a bright
violet Kougra helmet. Digging through the pile of helmets, Avalon withdrew an
ash colored Lupe helmet and tossed it toward Ash.
She missed it. "Watch where you're throwing stuff!"
she growled, massaging the spot the helmet had hit.
Avalon grinned ruthlessly. "Watch where you put
your head! C'mon, let's go."
Still grumbling about lousy aim and disrespectful
Kougras, Ash jammed on the helmet and followed Avalon to the Cave exit. They
waved to Quaz, then stepped on the mud puddle. The mud sucked them down, and
they were in the tunnels, ready to head to Dorset Dock.
The first time Avalon had left the Cave, he'd
been distracted by the sounds and smells of the outside. Since Scarback had
been injured, most of Avalon's training was held outdoors. So now he wasn't
as tantalized by the bird calls and summer breezes. He was eager to begin
the trip. It had been a long, long time since he'd gone farther than the clearing
the Cave was in. Ash and Avalon stopped at the small pond to fill their wooden
canteens, then entered the jungle, off the path so they couldn't be followed
Avalon's endurance for rugged traveling had increased
since his first trip through Mystery Island. Even so, he lagged a bit behind
Ash. The fire Lupe had lived in the jungle for bout ten years, traveling through
steamy forests and dark marshes. She was also a skilled fighter, and had made
several of Scarback's shadow-ghost Gelerts sorry they'd tried to attack her.
"Would you hurry up?" Ash grumbled. Avalon glared
at her, feeling self-conscious. Unlike Ash, he'd spent almost all of his life
in Neopia Central. Even if his parents hadn't seemed to care about him, he'd
lived a life of fluffy couches and fancy chocolates. Not exactly the most physically
"Look, Ash," Avalon grumbled. "I'm doing the
best I can. You said yourself I'm faster than you'd expect a city pet to be."
Ash frowned, twisting her face as if she regretted
saying it. "Yeah, yeah, whatever, Av. But Quaz said we have to get to Dorset
by tomorrow night."
"Speaking of the dock," Avalon said, "is this
place in a village or something?"
Ash nodded. "There's a village called Dorset.
They're a trading place, they sell petpets and food and stuff to the other pets
around Neopia. Dorset's got one of the biggest docks in Neopia."
"Think we'll pass Geraptiku?" On their last journey
across Mystery Island, Avalon, Ash, and Quaz had passed a deserted, ruined village
called Geraptiku. According to Quaz, it hadn't always been a village. A pet
farm had once been there. The pet farms had been set up by Humans in the early
days of their arrival into Neopia. It was, in all respects, a black market trade
in pets. The owners of the pet farm had been discovered, however, and a huge
attack had been launched on the farm. Years later, the village had been resettled
by peaceful humans and their pets.
But something had destroyed the village again.
Nobody knew why, and few even went near the village, due to fear that whatever
had destroyed the village still lurked there, hidden in the shadows of crumbling
houses and dark, brown leafed trees. Avalon wanted to see for himself what the
village looked like.
But Ash shook her head. "Nobody's crazy enough
to build a village near Geraptiku."
"You don't actually believe that whatever
destroyed the village is still there?"
Ash stopped and looked Avalon in the eyes. "I
don't think he's still there. But I think he was behind it."
Avalon gave her a dubious stare. "Why would Scarback
destroy someplace like Geraptiku?"
Ash shrugged. "Just because we don't know of
a reason doesn't mean there isn't one."
Avalon and Ash walked for the rest of the day
in silence, stepping over thick, luscious plants and fighting through swarms
of tiny insects with fuzzy antenna and glittery wings. By nightfall, Avalon
could make out a dark mass of water ahead of them.
To be continued...