Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 155,374,082 Issue: 216 | 11th day of Storing, Y7
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Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Ten

by cpmtiger


Brutus charged first. He leapt straight at Ragnora, who responded with a loud roar and a swipe across his face. Ash darted toward the Gelert, but another one leapt in her path, baring its enormous teeth. The third Gelert leapt at Storm, who didn't draw his sword, but barked and dodged the Gelert's teeth.

     Scarback launched himself at Avalon first. The starry Kougra dodged the other Kougra, swiping at his back leg as he flew past. Scarback turned, slashing at Avalon with his huge claws. Avalon ducked, but felt a claw slash his ear. He hissed, standing to glare at Scarback.

     Scarback landed smoothly, crouched sideways. Avalon bared his teeth, then made a leap of his own. Scarback reared up to avoid the attack, and used his shoulder to knock Avalon to the ground. Scarback growled loudly and leapt toward Avalon.

     Silverdrop launched herself across the room, smashing into Scarback's side. Both Kougras landed upright, and Avalon scrambled to his paws.

     Scarback charged at Silverdrop, who raised a paw and slashed as she leapt to the side. Avalon broad-sided the Kougra from Scarback's left, knocking the cat to the ground. In a flash, the Kougra was up again, roaring angrily.

     Avalon stepped back, ears flat against his head. Silverdrop had slunk behind Scarback, claws drawn. Trying to distract the Kougra, Avalon taunted, "Had enough yet?"

     "I've just started, Guardian!" Scarback snarled.

     Silverdrop leapt, her front paws ready to slash the Kougra's already scarred back. In a whirl of black fur, Scarback turned, reared up, and smacked Silverdrop aside. He leapt toward her, and Silverdrop rolled away just in time.

     Avalon slammed into Scarback's side again. The Kougra stumbled, but didn't go down this time. He slashed at Avalon, who managed to dodge the blow. The starry Kougra launched himself forward, slashing at Scarback's face.

     With an angry hiss, Silverdrop leapt at Scarback again. She managed to sink her claws into his side, but Scarback reared up and Silverdrop lost her grip. Scarback prepared to smash her as he fell back to all fours, but Silverdrop bit his left leg hard. With a loud hiss of pain, the Kougra stepped backwards.

     Avalon suddenly realized that the best place to strike would be Scarback's injured leg. He'd noticed that it was twisted inwards, and hadn't healed properly. Avalon guessed that it would still hurt three years later.

     With a roar, the starry Kougra leapt at Scarback, as if to land on his back. Scarback stepped back, as Avalon had expected. Avalon hit the ground, and his head shot forward. His teeth latched onto Scarback's injured leg. As Avalon had guessed, it still hurt the Kougra.

     Scarback roared in pain and anger. He raised a paw to swat Avalon off, but the starry Kougra had already let go and moved back. He met the oncoming paw with his own, tossing it aside. Silverdrop slammed into Scarback's chest, causing the Kougra to stumble backwards. Avalon darted forward, slashing at the injured leg.

     Scarback hissed angrily and began backing out of the room. Avalon drove his back, swiping at the Kougra's face and leg. In sudden burst of speed, Scarback suddenly sprang forward, knocking Avalon over. The two Kougras rolled, clawing at the other's faces and roaring angrily, until Scarback stopped, pinning Avalon to the stone floor. The top of Avalon's head wasn't resting on the stone, however- he was pinned by the edge of the stair case!

     "Had enough?" Scarback snarled.

     "Will you knock that off!" an angry voice shouted. Silverdrop slammed into Scarback's side shoulder first. Hissing in surprise, the Kougra fell down several stairs, swiping at Silverdrop as he went. One of his claws snagged Silverdrop's leg, and she slipped down with him. Avalon reached forward and yanked Silverdrop out of Scarback's grip.

     Scarback was still tumbling when the first curve appeared. He yelped in surprise, and just barely managed to grab the edge as he fell. He quickly grabbed the stone stairs with both paws, but couldn't scramble up. His back paws had nothing to cling to.

     Several panicked whimpers echoed from the room behind Avalon and Silverdrop. They whirled around to see the three Gelerts, bleeding and limping, race out of the room, ran past them, and barreled down the staircase.

     "Get over here, you stupid dogs!" Scarback roared, "And help me up!"

     Brutus screeched to a halt and pulled Scarback up. As soon as the Kougra was on the ledge, he turned and ran back after the others.

     Without his Gelerts, Scarback didn't seem as eager to attack them as before. The Kougra growled, "You may have won again, Avalon. But this is far, far from over!" With a hiss, the Kougra disappeared in a burst of smoke.

     "Where'd he go?" Ash demanded.

     "That'll be his safe zone," Ragnora said bitterly. "A magically created world where he's safe from pursuit. The only disadvantage is that he's stuck there for twenty-four hours."

     "How do you know all this?" Ash exclaimed.

     Ragnora grinned wickedly. "Twenty years' worth of eavesdropping," she said.

     Avalon sighed. "And there goes our chance to capture him." He stared at the spot where Scarback had disappeared for a moment, then said, "Come on. Let's go back to Mystery Island."

     Avalon led the way down the stairs. This time the trip was a lot faster, and a lot more nauseating.

     "I'm going to lose my lunch," Ash complained.

     "But we didn't have any lunch," Silverdrop pointed out.

     "And it's about time we did," Avalon muttered. "I don't think there's enough for everyone, though."

     "Arr, there's food on me ship!" Storm announced. "Whoops… there goes me hat!"

     Avalon pushed open the heavy door leading out of the tower. He took a few steps forward, and froze.

     "What is it?" Silverdrop hissed.

     "Over there," Avalon whispered, "Out on the water. Ash, is that…"

     Ash slipped over to her friend's side. "Yep. That's the Desert Ferry."

     "With tha' scoundrel Caiman steerin' I'm sure," Storm growled, eyes narrowed.

     "And down there," Ragnora said, pointing with her right paw. "I think that's Brazen's little rowboat."

     Avalon nodded. "Looks like they're talking."

     "Well," Ash said, flipping her tail. "Let's go see what it's all about. Follow me." Silverdrop and Ragnora watched Ash uncertainly.

     "She knows what she's doing," Avalon assured them. "She's lived in Neopia Central as a stray for a long time." And he and Storm trotted quietly after Ash. Silverdrop and Ragnora, still looking a bit doubtful, hurried after them.

     Ash was a master of stealth when it came to having only buildings as cover. She used the shadows to her advantage, and mapped out routes in seconds. At last, they came to a stop in the shadows of one of the buildings closest to the shore. The ships weren't far out, and with their good hearing, Avalon and friends could make out most of the words.

     "You were supposed to be in the water when we blockaded them on the beach!" Brazen's unmistakable voice snarled.

     "Well, I can't help it if I didn't get the message in time! Is it my fault that my stupid Pirakeet got lost?" Caiman shouted back.

     "Scarback doesn't care why you missed the message!" Brazen retorted.

     "Think we can get out in the boat without them noticing?" Ash asked.

     Avalon frowned, looking around the tiny island. There wasn't much they could use. As he turned his head, the Noil Gem clinked softly and glimmered a soft gold.

     "They can't notice us," Avalon said slyly, "if they can't see us."

     Ash caught onto his plan and grinned. The others seemed confused.

     "What's that supposed to mean?" Silverdrop asked.

     "Remember what I did with Storm's boat earlier?" Avalon asked.

     "Yeah," Silverdrop replied.

     "Arr, ye can still turn tha' visable, right?" Storm interrupted. Nobody answered him.

     "You turned it," Silverdrop went on, "Invisi…" A look of understanding came over her face.

     Ragnora frowned. "You can turn us back again?" she asked.

     Avalon nodded. "Yes. How many times do I have to say that I can turn it back?"

     Ash shrugged. "Alright. Let's hurry this up. Unless you want Brazen to catch us first…" She eyed the others suggestively before stepping closer to Avalon.

     Avalon smiled. "Thanks Ash," he said, holding up the Noil Gem. He hung it at about Ash's eye level, and focused the Gem's energy. Ash glowed green for a few seconds, then vanished.

     "Hah!" came her voice from nowhere. "It worked! Hey, I can see Storm's boat!"

     "That's because when you turn invisible, you can see other invisible things," Avalon explained.

     "Really?" Silverdrop asked, stepping forward.

     Avalon shrugged. "That's what it seems like." He raised the Gem up to Silverdrop's eyes, which were a lot lower than Ash's. She too, turned invisible, as did Ragnora, and, most reluctantly, Storm.

     Finally, Avalon let the Gem drop, and focused the energy on himself. A moment later, he opened his eyes and saw the others. He smiled.

     "Alright. Let's go get Storm's boat," he said. Confidently, the group strode toward the now visible Storm Cloud Returns.

     "This is awesome!" Ash said. "I mean, we're walking right past Brazen, and she doesn't even notice! I could toss a rock at her, and she wouldn't know who threw it!" She began eyeing the loose rocks on the ground as if choosing her weapon.

     "Ash," Avalon growled, "Just because you can throw a rock doesn't mean you should."

     "Oh, alright," Ash muttered. "Just an idea."

     They set Storm's boat up, gathering the oars and ropes, and making sure there was enough room for everyone. There was just enough, but everyone was uncomfortably close.

     "Well," Avalon said in an attempt to sound optimistic as he stuck an oar in the water, "At least it isn't that far to Mystery Island. Right, Storm?"

     "Aye, it will be," the Lupe said, stopping his paddling. "There's no way out, remember?"

     "No problem," Ragnora said. "The portals open every time one of Scarback's ships go in and out. We just need to wait for a ship to leave or come in."

     "And how long's that gonna take?" Ash demanded. Nobody answered.

     "Wait a minute," Silverdrop said abruptly. "Ash, do you have some blank paper in that bag?"

     Ash nodded. "I snapped the lock of the other door," she admitted. "There was some blank parchment, and some ink. A quill or two, too."

     "Why'd you take them?" Avalon asked.

     Ash opened her bag and pulled out a jar of red ink, a black quill, and a stack of yellow parchment. "Hey, you never know when you'll need some writing equipment," the Lupe said, handing the things to Silverdrop.

     "I hope those are invisible, too," Ragnora muttered.

     Silverdrop dipped the quill in the ink and began writing quickly, pausing only to reload her quill.

     "Done," she said at last, passing the paper to Avalon.

     " 'Caiman,' " Avalon read aloud, " 'Meet me on Krawk Island AT ONCE to discuss you're missing presence in the Lost Desert. Come to the Golden Dubloon. Scarback.' "

     "No style, no dear or sincerely… sounds like a Scarback letter, all right," Ragnora commented.

     "Even the writing looks like Scarback's," Ash remarked, looking impressed.

     "And we just throw it up to Caiman," Silverdrop said, "and he'll head off, opening a portal to Krawk Island. We can follow, and Krawk Island's not too far from Mystery Island!"

     "Great plan, Silverdrop!" Avalon said, rolling the letter up. "Let's see how Caiman takes a flying letter."

     "Add a dramatic black poof," Ash suggested. "That's how a Scarback letter would appear."

     "Alright!" Avalon growled, focusing a gray beam of light from the Noil Gem onto the letter. The letter instantly flew into the air, then slowly floated over the deck of Caiman's ship. It dropped suddenly, with a loud, accompanying black poof.

     The voices of Caiman and Brazen stopped. The tiny brown figure that was Caiman turned away from the deck of his ship and stopped.

     "That's his desk," Avalon whispered. "I dropped the letter there."

     The Krawk read the letter silently. At last, he turned and shouted over the deck, "I hate to break off this argument, Brazen, but I've got a meeting with Scarback."

     And without another word, the Krawk turned around and began to steer his ship. With a loud creak, it moved forward. Avalon and his invisible friends followed close behind, disappearing into the portal after the Desert Ferry.

     The tunnel began its grinding rock noise. Avalon gritted his teeth, digging his claws into the oar. Once again, he had to squint his eyes against the wind. He saw Storm clutching his hat tightly.

     All of a sudden, the tunnel spat them out. The pets with oars began working furiously to keep the ship from being pummeled by the Desert Ferry's waves.

     They stayed on the water without movement until Caiman's ship had entered the docks. A burst of green light shot from the boat, and everyone in it, back into the Noil Gem. Avalon sighed slightly. All the work with the Gem's magic was wearing him out.

     "Now we've got to start rowing," Avalon groaned. "Again."

     "Or maybe not!" Ash said excitedly. "Look!"

     She pointed to a large ship heading their way. The gold writing on the ship's side proclaimed it the Sinker. On the deck, waving frantically, was a purple Lupe with a scar across his muzzle.

     "I'm glad I found you guys!" Valor said, rolling up the ladder. "I though Scarback had gotten you guys!"

     "He couldn't do it when I was an apprentice," Avalon pointed out with a grin. "I think a full fledged Guardian is a lot more than he can handle. Especially if they have an apprentice to help them out."

     He smiled at Silverdrop, who smiled back shyly, then looked at the ground.

     "Arr, where'd ye get this fine ship?" Storm asked admiringly.

     "Borrowed it from Caiman," Valor admitted. "He dropped me back off on Mystery Island, but when Storm didn't come back and we heard about the Gelerts attacking on the beach, Quaz told me to use one of Caiman's boats."

     "Well, don't worry about returning it," Ash growled.

     "Why not?" Valor asked.

     "He's a spy," Avalon said tiredly. "He was working for Scarback the whole time, which is why he didn't tell you about Shag, that other Gelert, following us."

     Valor stood speechless for a moment. "A spy? Caiman? I never…"

     "Well, he is," Ash said shortly, shifting from one paw to the other.

     "Arr, are we gonna stand 'round talking, or are we gonna get this ship movin' back ter the Island?" Storm asked from the steering wheel.

     Valor quickly regained his composure. "You all head down and rest. There's some rooms down there." He turned to the pirate at the wheel. "Storm," he warned.

     "What? I wasn' gonna touch it! I just wanted to look, tha's all…" Storm suddenly slipped, and grabbed the steering wheel for balance. The ship whirled around in a huge circle.

     "STORM!" Valor shouted, striding toward the wheel. "Do you mind?"

     "As a matter a fact, I do!" the pirate Lupe replied indignantly.

     Ash rolled her eyes. "Let them battle it out," she grumbled. "I'm heading to bed."

     Avalon nodded his agreement. The four pets headed down the stairs, leaving the arguing voices of Storm and Valor behind. The rooms were furnished with red fabric, but other than that, the rooms were exact copies of the ones on the Desert Ferry.

     Ash slipped into the first room, and Ragnora the second. Avalon paused at the third door. Silverdrop stopped too, looking puzzled.

     Avalon smiled. "I just wanted to thank you, Silverdrop," Avalon said. "For all that help back at the Tower."

     Silverdrop shrugged, looking down. "Anyone could've done it."

     "Doesn't matter. The point is you did it. I think you're going to make a great Guardian."

     Silverdrop looked up hopefully. "Really? Do you think I can ever get good enough?"

     Avalon laughed. "You should've seen me when I became an apprentice. I couldn't fight off a Gelert if it stood still and exposed its stomach."

     Silverdrop's smile widened. "Thanks, Avalon!" she said. "I can't wait to get started!" And with that, the silver Kougra darted into her room.

     Avalon shook his head, remembering the circumstances he'd gotten the Gem under. With a sigh, he entered his room and looked out through the porthole at the water. He still didn't know what had happened to his parents. Perhaps he never would.

     Just like Silverdrop and Ash. He realized that he felt closer to the two than he had his parents. And while he did want to find out what had happened on that mysterious night, the night his parents disappeared, the night his house caught on fire, Avalon knew he had an apprentice to train, and until then, a Gem to guard.

     The investigation would have to wait.

     And so begins the apprenticeship of one of the Guardians of the Emerald Noil Gem.

The End

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Other Episodes

» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part One
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Two
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Three
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Four
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Five
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Six
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Seven
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Eight
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Nine

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