There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 119,635,638 Issue: 241 | 26th day of Hunting, Y8
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Nothing is As it Seems: Part Three


by estantia

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It wasn't so bad really; even if Darigan had complained about the weight of his burden at first, he had quietened immediately when Pete had diverted their path over the swapped area of wood, and the distinct lack of any faerie whatsoever. He explained as they flew, Darigan's face getting darker with each sentence.

     When they touched down at the Citadel the huge Korbat strode towards his chambers, robes rippling behind him like a dark cloud with a face similar to Lisha's when she had stormed away from Skarl, though Darigan wasn't blowing doors off like his student. Instead they just crashed into walls as he made his way up.

     They found the Grarrl waiting in his chambers. "You have a report from Faerieland?"

     The advisor looked surprised at his Lord's question. "Yes sir, but how..?"

     "No time, what does it say?" Darigan was pacing across the room and back, the other pairs of eyes following him.

     "It says to release Illusen, sir," he said shakily as Darigan came to an abrupt halt.

     "So they think it was us."

     "Or to tell them who you were working with; if not, they will attack."

     There was a silence as the dinosaur rolled up the scroll. No-one knew what to say, how could they give names or a prisoner they didn't have? Lisha bowed her head and turned her wand over in her paws as the Tuskaninny clenched his flippers, glaring at the stones like it was their fault.

     "Nothing is as it seems... " he whispered, "nothing is as it seems... the Darigani will be in the right and the faeries in the wrong, the neopets will follow the faeries."

     "Has anyone considered telling them the truth? Fyora will listen!" Rance said hopefully, desperately. "She has to!"

     "Even if the faeries DO pull back, what of the other Neopians? They'll be attacking us or Jhudora," Darigan snarled, gripping the window edge as a shadow Pteri swooped by and dropped a message into the room. Darigan caught it and opened the message.

     "And here is the icing on the cake for their accusation, an invitation to an alliance with Jhudora, who has been similarly accused. Anyone who sees these messages will automatically assume we are in on it. Botheration!" He hurled the message at a wall where it dissolved into ink.

     "Perfect, just prefect," he spat. "We'd best get ready for a war."

     "Wait, wait! We're being too hasty!" Pete intervened. "What if some of us went and tried to find Illusen? That would prove it wasn't you if you helped us!"

     "Or that we were returning the prisoner we had!"

     "Fine! I'll just go on my own then! Defeatists!" Pete shouted, colour rising in his cheeks and anger clouding his vision as he half turned to leave.

     Suddenly he found a paw holding his arm and he turned, jerking it out of Lisha's grip, meeting her eyes furiously, "Looks like I'm not the only one with a temper," she commented. "I never thought you'd be the type."

     "I hate being helpless; there must be something we can do, there must be, it can't just be the end of the story that the goodies are punished! It can't end like that! The story has to be resolved! It has to be!"

     There was a silence after the Tuskaninny finished when everyone just looked at him. After meeting their eyes defiantly he found himself studying the floor, wondering whether it would swallow him up quick enough to avoid being blasted first.

     Instead he was surprised when he found himself wrapped in a hug from the Aisha, "That's right, we have to do this and work to a solution, not wallow in hopelessness." Pete started blushing hotly as Lisha pulled away and turned to the others. "Pete and I are going to find her."

     "And me!" The red Lenny came to stand with them. "You're my brother, I can't let you go on your own."

     "Touching, I'm sure," the brother in question drawled sarcastically.

     "Much as I'd like to join this heroic band," Lord Darigan said with a light sting in his voice, "I have to defend this place, and have a mind to accept that alliance, we'll need all the help the other can offer."

     Pete nodded an acceptance, suddenly feeling equal to this powerful neopet. "Good luck."

     "Same to you."

     There was a silence as the people were still. Eventually Pete broke it.

     "We'll see you later then."

     None of them needed to hear the rest of the sentence.

     -If we survive.-

     ++++

     "Theoretically all we should need to do is find which bit of forest has been swapped in the Haunted Woods... that should lead us to the faerie, right?" Pete asked the others as they walked towards the castle again, aiming to go quietly to Lisha's rooms and get what they needed before they slipped away unnoticed...

     "Lisha what the HECK did you think you were doing?" came the shout as the Aisha was lifted vertically upwards by a blue paw. The little sister struggled to escape his grip until he was forced to drop her onto the floor, where she landed with an "ow!"

     "Serves you right, where have you been? I was worried sick! Not to mention Skarl being in an absolutely foul mood thanks to your door prank!" Jeran didn't seem to have noticed the other two pets, who were doing their best not to be noticed.

     "With Darigan; he actually listens to me when I have a warning!"

     "With Darigan!" His eyes were wide. "Sis, that place has been declared an enemy for kidnapping Illusen!"

     "WHAT??" The Aisha looked aghast. "Then we need to go as soon as possible; come on, guys." She started to run with the other three pets following her, Jeran demanding an explanation. Pete and Rance glanced at each other and stayed quiet.

     When they arrived at Lisha's room she hurriedly threw some magical supplies into a bag at random along with a few fruits and some chocolates. "Where do you think you're going?" Jeran demanded as he watched the activity.

     "To find Illusen and prove Darigan and Jhudora's innocence," she said calmly, not paying much attention to her brother who froze, eyes wide.

     "You mean that?"

     "Yup."

     "So you really do believe those pets you found? With no evidence?"

     "We do, I'll give you the co-ordinates of the piece of forest if you want; we flew over it."

     "We've found a place where if we try to walk in one side we appear about half a mile away, is that what you mean?"

     "Yup, get the Unis to fly over it."

     "There's fog covering it entirely."

     "Bother, they must have realised when we went over," she said hotly as she frowned, "I think that's everything, let's go."

     "OH no you don't." Jeran shut the door, "You're not going anywhere until you've explained properly." He was faced by a calm look from his sister.

     "I already have explained to Skarl what's going on, and he didn't listen, so I'm taking things into my own paws. Now move, please," she asked politely, tapping one paw against the floor.

     "I have orders to take you down to the King," Jeran said sternly, meeting his sister's gaze. Her next words were frank.

     "We don't have time for that; we need to go now."

     "I can't let you."

     There was a silence as one pair of siblings stared at the other. The tension once more stretched to an unbelievable level. Lisha then broke it with a false smile and turned around to face the window and open it.

     "I'm sorry I have to do this to you, brother," she said quietly, facing the window.

     She then spun, wand pointed out before saying something that sent a blanket of purple towards her brother and sank into his skin, causing his eyes to roll up and him to fall, only being caught just in time by the two brothers, who sagged before taking him to the bed, staring at the resolute Aisha as they made him comfortable there. She crossed and locked the door before turning to the window.

     "If you carry me on your back, Rance then I can levitate Pete down alongside us."

     "How could you do that to your brother?"

     Lisha looked at him sadly. "He would have stopped us, you know he would, and we can't stopped; we have too many people counting on us. All I did was send him to sleep for a day so we would be long gone by the time he woke."

     Pete looked at her with new respect. "You did the right thing."

     "I know. Now let's go."

     ++++

     On the way they stopped by the brothers' neohome and picked up some more supplies, noting that their owner still wasn't there, despite her words about being back before it was dark. "She's working overtime, then; she'll be back tomorrow, I guess," assured Rance as he scrawled a note to leave on the counter of the kitchen, where they always left notes for each other.

     They then set off, walking towards the Haunted Woods, at dusk. After a while it was full night before Rance spoke. "Are either of you slightly worried that we're entering this place at night?" he asked nervously. The other two glanced at each other, then at the approaching trees and nodded without hesitation.

     "Oh good, I'm not the only one, then!" Rance burst into laughter, but it was short-lived as the others didn't reply with anything but shadowy smiles.

     Lisha was going to light her wand when Pete shook his head. "We need our night-sight," he said, voice dropping to a whisper almost unconsciously, "and we don't want to attract attention."

     "Right," she replied, voice also a whisper as she lowered her wand.

     The three pets wandered through the woods aimlessly, avoiding looking at the woods around in too much detail and drawing together as time passed, stepping over roots and avoiding the low thorny braches of trees and the bushes that stretched up to meld with the trees to muffle sound around them completely and eerily.

     Eventually they had settled into a formation of sorts, Pete slightly ahead in the centre with Rance behind to his left and Lisha behind to his right, though at times it seemed more like a cluster of pets, one or the other of the brothers gently pushing the other away, which reminded them all not to walk so close to each other, though whether they were doing it instinctively for warmth or safety was questionable.

     Suddenly there was a crumbling noise and the warm presence at Pete's right shoulder vanished downwards, the Tuskaninny turning and lunging down to catch the Aisha's paw in his flipper before he realised he had no anchor. He too felt the ledge crumble beneath his body as he slid forwards, then sighed with relief as he felt feathers grab his tail as it slid over the edge of the hole, bringing them to a halt with a jerk.

     "Everyone ok?" Rance's voice floated down from above, sounding lost.

     However, Lisha's sounded shaky, fine, but shaky. "Yes, Pete?"

     "Right here." They hung there for a moment before he asked, "So what are we going to do?"

     "I could try and pull you up. I don't think I can hold on for long; your tail's slipping."

     "That doesn't sound good..."

     Then they heard the crumbling soil.

     "That sounds worse," Pete replied as they started sliding again, this time with Rance following and, predictably, screaming.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Nothing is As it Seems: Part One
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Two
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Four



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