Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 112,409,164 Issue: 224 | 20th day of Sleeping, Y8
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Midnight over Meridell - Chapter II: Part Two

by ratling_guardian


Part II: Failed Attempts

As the boat returning to Mystery Island pulled into the dock, I turned to Triy and Luun.

      "You know, you don't have to actually come with us," I told them. "This is technically our fight, not yours, and we'll probably be able to manage."

      "Shut up, Daddy, we need-" Eralta began, but I silenced her. Triy, however, thought differently.

      "No, Eralta is right," he said, "you do need us; this isn't going to be a walk-in-the-park sort of quest, this is actually hard stuff, and a single owner and his pets can't manage it on their own. Nothing on you, of course," he added as my pets opened their mouths angrily, looking affronted.

      "Well, whatever," I said, picking up our luggage and moving towards the boat through the small group of people. Very few had woken up yet, seeing as midnight was still holding, but there were those that had felt the call from Drow, yet were smart enough not to answer it, and thus were leaving as fast as they could. We settled down in the cabin that we had arrived in, and I pulled out 'Steal This Book' again.

      "All expenses paid," I told my pets as they returned up deck, "get some food for yourselves and bring me something, too."

      "What do you want?" Alkarasydes asked at the foot of the stairs.

      "Surprise me," I replied, opening the book to where I started. This time I didn't even manage to get a word in before falling asleep. I awoke some time later to the smell of something that most probably tasted good.

      "Ah, wonderful," I said, sitting up and seeing my pets standing around me, Triy carrying a well-laden dish for dinner, "what did you get?"

      "Oh, various stuff, chicken, chips, gravy, bit of pork," Luun said, indicating the food with her want as she said them.

      "Excellent," I said, politely taking the plate from Triy, opening my mouth and transferring the food from the plate to my mouth. The Draik siblings watched incredulously (and slightly disgustedly) as I casually chewed and swallowed the contents inside, and then gave a small burp and excused myself.

      "Uh…" Luun said, looking at my pets for an explanation.

      "Oh, don't worry," Eralta said offhandedly, casually passing me a napkin, which I accepted, "you'll grow used to it if you have a few meals with us."

      "And if not, you'll never want to have contact with us again," BUREUNIKONE said, as though this was the most normal thing in the world to do (which it probably was).

      "Wonderful," I said, cleaning off any bits of food that were still on my face, and then eating that, along with the plate, too.

      "Are you normal?" asked Triy nervously.

      "If you mean normal as in relativity to other Neopet owners and forward slash or their pets, then no, I am not normal in the slightest way possible," I replied, conjuring up a marching baton and officer uniform and marching around the cabin while twirling the baton.

      "Okay then," he said, raising an eyebrow at his sister, who shrugged.

      "So what do we do for the duration of the trip?" Eralta asked, hurling her Sinsi's Sword at me to get me to stop marching. I merely ducked and returned fire with my baton.

      "Anything that'll keep you busy enough from being bored," I replied, conjuring up another baton and resuming my marching. Eralta sighed and ignored me. A second later, the boat arrived in Mystery Island.

      "That was unexpectedly and ultimately impossibly and against all physical laws quick," Triy said, raising his eyebrows slightly.

      "You know, I never knew Draiks had eyebrows," I said, frowning mine slightly.

      "We don't, you just keep saying that we do," Luun replied, picking up the baton and dispelling it. I ran up to her and grasped her by the collar.

      "Quiet!" I hissed in her ear, "Our readers aren't supposed to know that I'm writing this!"

      "Oh, yes, because that makes sense," Triy replied, placing his swords back in their sheaths.

      "It makes all the sense in the world," I said indignantly, putting 'Steal This Book' back in my suitcase and picking it up, "and so we enter the Third Town."

      "Don't worry, you'll get used to it," Eralta muttered as we left the cabin.

      ~ * ~

      Ingibong crouched, catlike, on the rocky side of the Mystery Island Volcano, squinting out to sea. He had already recovered from his original squinting - ever since Drow had introduced the midnight to Meridell, even a small amount of light hurt his eyes. Now, he was just squinting to try and get a better view. He didn't have to wait long - only after a few minutes did the boat from Meridell appear on the horizon, sails aloft and billowing in the wind. Ingibong knew he had little over several hours before they would arrive, and that he would have to think out a plan to stop the owner and his pets before they could do too much damage to his Master's mission. His Master… the mere thought made Ingibong's insides boil; he wanted to destroy Drow and never let him have another peaceful moment again, but he knew that was out of the question. Instead, he pulled out an obsidian, runed bracelet and held it tightly.

      "What is it?" the bracelet hissed.

      "They are in sight, Master," Ingibong said, struggling to keep his voice even, "As soon as they arrive, I will try and stop them."

      "Excellent," Drow said, "but just to make it harder for you, I'll cause the ship to arrive faster. That will teach you for not planning before arriving."

      The bracelet gave a mad cackle. Ingibong wanted to protest, saying that he had only been on the island for a few minutes and that he would have not had time to come up with a plan, but he knew it was a stupid idea - Drow would probably just appear beside him, punish him for questioning him and do the job himself. Furthermore, he'd get another poor pet to do his bidding. Finally, the bracelet was now completely stationary and silent - Drow had terminated the magical transmission.

      "Very well," Ingibong muttered to himself, "I reckon I'll need help with this…"

      He straightened up and held his arms aloft. The next second, a large portal appeared above his head, which he looked up into.

      "Dhestar? And you too, Karadier!"

      The next second, two Eyries slipped out of the hole. They were very misshapen. Their front and hind legs' fur was matted and torn in places, as was the fur on their body, and they had scars in various places. Rest assured, they weren't the nicest things to look at.

      "You called," Dhestar hissed, his beak clicking as he said it. "What do you want now, Ingi?"

      "Do you see that ship over in the distance?" Ingibong asked, indicating our ship, "There are six pets and an owner that I am ordered to exterminate. I want you two to track them as well as you can, but don't alert them to your presence, or they'll be much more on their guard."

      "Yes, Master," Karadier said, bowing at Ingibong. He frowned.

      "Don't do that," he said scoldingly, "Drow gets enough of that from me, but I certainly don't want it."

      "Which part?" Karadier asked, "The Master or the bowing?"

      "Both," Ingibong said, and Karadier straightened up. "Now, Drow has sped the boat up drastically, they'll probably be here in about ten minutes, so keep a watch on them, and like I said, don't let them see you."

      He put extra emphasis on the "don't let them see you" so that they knew it was very important. Nodding, the two mutant Eyries leapt into the air and soared down the Volcano. This left Ingibong to come up with a new plan. He returned to his cat-crouch, and began to think.

      ~ * ~

          I walked from the harbour with my pets, Triy and Luun, and saw, to my surprise, Trav standing there with his pets.

      "Hey!" he called, "How come ya didn't tell me you were going on holiday?"

      "Cause then you'd come!" I replied. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a flash of light on the Volcano.

      "Who are they?" he asked as Triy and Luun appeared at my side, dragging their trunks - Triy's was exceptionally heavy due to his armour and weapons, whilst Luun, being a Mage, had never had much time for physical training, and was thus struggling with hers.

      "This is Triy, and this is Luun," I said, indicating the Draiks in turn. They both nodded to Trav and his pets as I introduced them.

      "So what prompted you to bring them back?" Trav asked. "Uh… you still with us?" he added cautiously when I didn't answer for fifteen seconds. That reason was that I was sure I had just spotted two Eyrie-shaped shadows hurtle down the Volcano.

      "Wha…?" I said, staring at the Volcano intently, but I could see no sign of Eyries. "Sorry, thought I saw something, must have been a trick of the light. So what was that?"

      "I asked what prompted you to bring them with you," Trav repeated impatiently.

      "Oh, well, it's a kinda long story," I said. "Listen, let's go to your Neohome and we'll talk about it there - it's been rough; I could do with a cuppa."

      Trav nodded, and we followed him to his Neohome. Inside, he put a kettle on the table, apparently unaware that he had neither boiled any water, nor given us mugs. Luun solved the second problem by waving her wand, which caused eleven mugs to appear with teabags, and correct amounts of sugar in them for us, and she then tapped the kettle with it and it suddenly began to issue boiling water out of the spout and into our mugs. Giving her wand a final flick, milk appeared in sufficient quantities for each of us in our mugs, the water stopped, and the kettle lay quite still.

      "Impressive," Trav said approvingly. "I could do with someone like you around here."

      "Thank you," Luun said, going slightly pink. "I practice frequently."

      "You should see her back at the castle," Triy said. "Flicks her wand at the slightest thing; if it ain't one it's another, enchanting stuff when I'm not looking, or causing 'Kick Me' signs to appear on my back. Boy, you should have seen the time when she put a 'Bury Me Alive' sign there instead! I'll never forget that day…"

      There was a pause as everyone except him snorted into their tea. After everyone had finished clearing his or her noses, Trav spoke again.

      "So what are you guys doing here?" he asked politely, pretending that he had not just laughed.

      "Well, it all started when I woke up…" I began, but I stopped. Something in the window had caught my eye.

      "What is it?" Trav asked, staring at the window I was looking at.

      "Nothing," I said, "just thought I saw… anyway, so I woke up…"

      I told him the entire story, virtually unaware of the two mutant Eyries outside.

      ~ * ~

      Karadier and Dhestar both glanced inside the Neohome that the owner and his pets had gone in with another owner and his pets.

      "So what's the plan now?" Dhestar asked his brother, glancing once more inside the house.

      "We just keep tailing them," Karadier said, sitting down and leaning against the wall, "and of course, don't let them see us. If they do, well, we're in trouble then, Ingi will tear us apart."

      "Poor kid, I thought he was powerful as anything, but if Drow scares him, I hate to think what *that* guy can do to him," Dhestar said.

      "Or anything else, for that matter," Karadier added, and his brother nodded. If there was something odd about the two mutant brothers, it was that they were unlike all other mutants - polite, friendly, and, like Ingibong, a complete disapproval of violence. They would make a good pair in society would it not be for their looks. However, like Ingibong, they were once Neopets, but had been corrupted by Darkness much longer than he - thus, they were mutated more, yet were much more resistant to orders from their superiors.

      "Reckon we should have another look?" Dhestar asked after ten long minutes with no action.

      "I reckon so," Karadier agreed, and they both looked into the window, only to have an Ixi throw up on them.

      ~ * ~

      "…and then we ended up back here, and I reckon you can fill in the blanks from there," I finished, draining what was left of my tea. Trav, who hadn't touched his since he snorted, was watching my with a blank look on his face.

      "Wow," he said finally, "so now you have to… and if you don't… wow…"

      "Uh, I think something is wrong with Opessenc," Triy said, nodding to my Ixi. Sure enough, he had turned a delicate shade of green.

      "What did you put in that tea?" I asked nervously, as Opessenc swayed.

      "Tea?" Luun said, flicking her wand and causing a glass of water to appear, trying to hand it to Opessenc.

      "Too late!" he groaned, dashing to the window, and hurling up his dinner and tea. On top of two Eyries.

      "I knew it!" I yelled, jumping up, "That's what I saw!"

      "What are they?" Trav said, also leaping to his feet.

      "Mutant Eyries, they must be here on Drow's orders!" Luun said, summoning a globe of energy in her hand and pointing her wand with the other.

      "Uh-oh, we'd better get back to Ingibong!" one of them said, and before Luun could flick her wand or Triy to grasp the handle of one of his swords, they had both soared off, flecks of vomit flying off them as they flew.

      "That isn't good," Luun said, rubbing her forehead absently, "if they're here, then Drow already knows what we're up to… that really isn't good…"

      "But if he's here, or sent people after us, that means we have to get the Gemstone before he does!" I said, striding to the door.

      "Don't be thick, he doesn't know what the Gemstones are," Triy said confidently. "He probably just knows that we're still alive and he's sent some people to finish the job."

      "One," I said, stepping towards him, "if he sent them to destroy us, they would have leapt through the window and done so. Two, they appear to be reporting to someone called 'Ingibong', not Drow, meaning that he's sent people here for a reason. Three, you have no proof to prove your hypothesis, and so we can't trust it."

      "Do you have any?" he retorted defiantly.

      "A small amount, and mine is probably more reliable than yours," I told him. He opened his mouth to respond, realized that his argument was lost, and closed it.

      "So now what?" he asked.

      "We have to get to the Volcano," I said, "and retrieve the Gemstone. Before Drow does."

      "And this Ingibong character?" Luun asked.

      "We take him out if we get a chance," I said shrugging. "Of course, only if he gets in the way."

To be continued...

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» Midnight over Meridell - Chapter II: Part One
» Midnight over Meridell - Chapter II

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