Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 120,207,245 Issue: 243 | 9th day of Relaxing, Y8
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Shad and Saura: A Week in Bogshot - Part Two


by ssjelitegirl

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Time went by. As Bogshot was always dim and foggy, it wasn't easy to tell if it was evening already or not but it was definitely closing in. The water was cooling down, the cake was half-eaten and Saura was getting a bit worried.

     "Say... Clopsy," he finally asked, feeling that he would go insane if he had to sit quietly for another minute, "how exactly does Sophie usually find lost people?"

     The Meowclops looked up and trotted out of the kitchen. As the Zafara stepped into the living room, he could see the petpet rubbing himself against the warm cauldron in the middle of the room. Saura came closer and looked inside. The glowing liquid was bubbling quietly, always in motion.

     "Let me guess." The Zafara looked down at the Meowclops. "She uses some spell to get images on the surface of this thing?"

     The petpet's purring got louder.

     "Great," Saura grunted. "I'm no magician, little buddy." He looked at the petpet who had now hopped on a book that lay on an armchair. "Do you think that will help? One of my brothers is a mage; I know what it's like. Mispronounce one word and you'll risk spending the rest of your life with a pair of extra legs." He opened the book. "Whoa, what language is this?"

     The Meowclops whined quietly. Saura looked around and then went back to the cauldron. His eyes narrowed when he looked inside. The liquid was still in motion... but it wasn't random. Bright green waves rolled over the surface towards the Zafara, curled around, faded and then started over. Saura frowned in great surprise. It knows that I'm here!

     "Listen," he said firmly. The order in the waves changed at once. "I don't have any spells or rituals. But I have a part of you. Shad ate some of you. You know where that part is. Find it. Show me."

     The Meowclops backed away a little as the glow grew stronger and the liquid started bubbling viciously. Saura waited. He had learned a thing or two about magic and knew that there were many types of it. Rough, wild magic like the one the Faeries used was unpredictable and fierce, not to be used by anyone who didn't know it. Sophie most likely wasn't as powerful. She had to use softer, nicer magic - tamed magic. The type that obeyed.

     The liquid became still, waved a little and suddenly an image appeared on it. The Zafara leaned closer. The picture had a greenish shade and was blurry but he could still recognize Shad. The Lupe was hanging almost upside down, wrapped in thin strong vines. He seemed to be asleep... Saura didn't even want to think of the alternatives. He focused on the vines, trying to figure out what plant they were supposed to be. They seemed awfully familiar...

     "Sophie is a swamp witch," he declared so suddenly that the Meowclops fell over backwards and the image on the liquid went blurry for a moment. "She must have loads of books about plants and herbs in here. Let's see... "

     Saura spent a few very energetic minutes dashing around and pulling out books from the shelves. The Meowclops hid under the armchair - he was familiar enough with the symptoms. The last time Sophie had dashed around like that, it had resulted in a brand new potion that flew away and almost blew up the Deserted Fairground.

     "Ha!" the Zafara exclaimed eventually. The Meowclops peered out to find Saura sitting next to the cauldron with his legs crossed and a huge old tome in his lap. The petpet sneaked closer and sniffed the tome. It was one of Sophie's most commonly used ones - titled "Swamp Plants of Bogshot", of course. Saura concentrated on reading...

     "The Sleepyherb is usually a small dark green plant with thin leaves and long vine-like stalks that have a strong pleasant smell. That plant is often used to cure insomnia and it is believed that tea made of its blossoms will show the future of the drinker in their sleep. However, the damp foggy climate of Bogshot has proved to have a very strong effect on the Sleepyherb, causing it to grow very fast and become a serious threat for random travellers. As it doesn't get much food in the swamp, it has learned to feed on the energy of others. This parasitic plant can blend with the roots of any other plant and drain nutrients from those. If any Neopet was to step on any of its vines, the small thorns in it would poison them at once, causing them to fall asleep and thus letting the plant to wrap them in, draining their energy out of them. The victim can only be awakened and saved with a specific potion... "

     The Zafara quickly read the recipe and got up. It was nothing hard, providing that Sophie had the right ingredients. For one terrifying moment he thought that perhaps he would need one of those items the witch had gone searching for in the first place... but then again, everyone has a couple of jellied eyeballs and a Tongue Wrap in their fridge, right?

     According to the book the mutated Sleepyherb was never in a hurry and Shad had always had plenty of energy to spare so Saura took his time. Evening turned into night and the glow of the cauldron grew brighter but most of the light still came from the small kitchen where the Zafara stirred, cut, measured and poured. The Meowclops was watching him from the cupboard, yawning widely from time to time and the wind whispered in the silent trees outside but Saura was completely tireless. He finished when the sun was already rising and the fog outside turned lighter.

     "Hey, Clopsy," he called, pouring the bubbling purple liquid into a small bottle, "breakfast is ready."

     The petpet woke up, peered at him and disappeared under the table. Witches' Meowclopses learn fast. If it's bubbling, don't drink it. All those stories involving extra legs and doormats have to start from somewhere.

     Saura crouched down. "Don't be stupid. You and I both need to drink the antidote so that the Sleepyherb wouldn't get us. And I need you to come along because I don't orientate here. Move it, kitty."

     A short while later the two were on their way into the depths of the swamp. It was quite early in the morning but in Bogshot there was no big difference between night and day. The Meowclops refused to walk and tried to run back to the hut for five times so Saura had to carry him. Eventually he was struggling to keep himself safe from the petpet's claws, anything lurking in the trees or water and keeping an eye on the bag he was carrying. One sleepless night didn't exactly help either.

     "So much of housekeeping," he grumbled. "Let's hope nobody feels like stealing from a swamp witch. Show me the way now, you won't be able to get back any more one way or another."

     There was a path between the trees but it crossed with several others and it was easy to get lost. Shad's good nose had helped him through but Saura had to rely on the grumpy and scared little Meowclops. Huge tree roots and muddy streams blocked the way every now and then, curious pairs of eyes observed the two wanderers from the bushes and trees, the water rippled from time to time and it was impossible to tell if it was the wind or something else. It was a really wild and dangerous swamp, or at least succeeded in looking like that.

     "We don't know if Shad ran into anything else before the Sleepyherb," the Zafara muttered, peering around, "so keep your eye opened, will you?"

     The petpet grunted, sniffed the air and then meowed out loud. A narrower path led left and a few thin harmless looking vines were lying right across it. Saura frowned, going closer. Only one step on one vine and you were gone. Well, unless you were packed with antidote, that is. The Zafara went on carefully, trying to avoid the vines but it wasn't easy - some of them were very thin and still full of poison. Saura could feel a little sting once and carried on faster. He wasn't really sure how long the potion worked and he wanted to get his big brother out first.

     There he was, just like on the cauldron's image - wrapped in dozens of thin vines, upside down and in deep sleep. His left side had almost disappeared into the thick trunk of the plant and his wide chest moved weakly. No wonder too, he had been there the whole night.

     "Okay, so how are we going to get this thing between his jaws?" Saura asked more himself than the Meowclops. "This is gonna be hard... "

     He grabbed Shad's studded collar and pulled. The vines twitched at once, tightening their grasp. They weren't meant for fighting though as the poison usually did the trick and Saura had rather strong arms. He uncorked the bottle with one paw while holding Shad's collar in the other.

     "Here, dude," he hissed, bending Shad's head up and trying to pour a few drops between his fanged jaws. "Come on now, fight. Get your energy back. Shad! Can you hear me?"

     ... "Can you hear me?"

     ... Something pierced through the haze in Shad's brain. Some glistening, bright purple drops flashed somewhere... far, far away... fell into the misty, confused mess in his mind like rain... something started coming back... whose voice is this? What's he saying? Where am I? What am I doing here? I want to get OUT!

     Everyone who knew Shad had to admit that this Lupe had endless energy sources. While Saura was able to stay awake as long as he wanted to simply because he spent most of his free time sleeping, Shad just never grew tired when he didn't want to. As the antidote washed the poison away, Shad's pure will took over and the Lupe's huge yellow eyes flashed open. He took a deep breath, slammed his jaws into the nearest vine and wriggled out of his thorny trap, made two strong jumps away from the plant, turned around, growled viciously and suddenly fell over.

     "Ergh," he complained, struggling to his feet as Saura and the Meowclops hurried over to him, "hanging upside down like that can really make you dizzy!"

     "Feeling better now?" Saura asked, helping him up. "Here, eat something before we go on... we don't know how long it may take. This swamp is pretty unpredictable."

     "I hope you brought loads of potions then, we still have a long way to go," the Lupe remarked, gnawing away at the stale cake. The plant hadn't really affected him much. Shad was mentally invincible, there weren't many things in Neopia that could traumatize him and getting his physical strength back was already a smaller problem.

     "How long was I up there?" he asked, swallowing the last pieces.

     "All night; I couldn't get the potion done earlier," Saura replied. "Be glad that you drank from that cauldron, otherwise I would never have learned about the plant. What exactly happened?"

     They went on, exchanging information on the way. Shad heard about the mutated Sleepyherbs and Saura got the point of the plant's effect.

     "It wasn't really a complete blackout," the Lupe explained, looking around with his ears pricked up and his nose working at full speed as always. "It was more like... floating. I could still feel something but my mind was a complete mess, I didn't understand what was going on and I really didn't think about it either. I just... floated there. Really weird."

     "We're not prepared for anything else facing us so we'd better be careful," Saura agreed, listening carefully as well. Where Shad had his nose, Saura had his ears.

     "You can't prepare for that thing," Shad growled. "It had no smell, it didn't make a sound and I seriously don't check every little thorn on the road before stepping on it." Suddenly he stopped, sniffing the air. Saura stopped too, looking at him and then at the Meowclops whose hair had all bristled.

     "Hoo boy, this may not end well... " the Lupe snarled. "And they've already noticed us too... there is no wind down here, when I smell them, they smell us too."

     "What are you talking... oh." Saura's ears had registered numerous figures moving in the swamp. They were moving fast... and right towards them.

     "Who are they?" the Zafara asked, looking around quickly. Climbing the trees wouldn't probably be a very good idea. The ones on the ground can wait a lot longer...

     Shad's ears were twitching. His nose had recognized the lurkers in the swamp and that sharp dirty smell, though rare, wasn't easy to forget. That smell had haunted his nightmares when he was little.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Shad and Saura: A Week in Bogshot - Part One
» Shad and Saura: A Week in Bogshot - Part Three



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