Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Four
The door to the library was right by the outer wall of the
tower, making it seem that it was leading straight outside, but it wasn't so.
When Saura opened it, he saw a narrow crooked staircase leading down and right,
actually going under the main staircase of the tower and crossing it. The library
was behind it.
The circular room, though not very wide in diameter,
was deeper than they had expected. It was buried deep down into the ground,
protected not only by the guard tower above it, but also the rocky soil all
around it. The walls were bordered with bookshelves and deep down on the floor
there was a huge oaken table covered with papers and books. Only a ladder led
down to the bottom of the room and Shad quietly sent a mental plea to all good
spirits and forces that would happen to float about around there. Ladders weren't
Melor was right there behind the table, writing
something down on a huge strategic map. Though Saura had planned to get straight
to the point, he couldn't help staring at the tip of the Uni's hoof which was
pierced in order to form a nest for the pencil to sit in.
"Doesn't it hurt?" he asked.
Melor looked up from his work and smiled when
he recognized the two. "No more than cutting your nails hurts you. What brings
you down here?"
Saura carefully navigated his way past the papers
on the floor. "Just, you know, sheer curiosity... Melet mentioned something
about that mission of yours."
"Ah, I see." The yellow Uni shook the pencil
out and opened a scroll. "So you want to know something about it then? There
isn't much. Most of my work is focused on calculating out strategic points and
mapping the crucial areas of the forest so that we'd know what might be expecting
us. I'm almost done too. Two more days and we could attack. But the leaders
still haven't decided upon the troops... You see, it has been decided that all
the troops need to have seven warriors in them. That number protects us. But
we only have six clans as you know and they still haven't managed to decide
which clan should have the honor of being doubled in every troop."
"Can't they just have a different clan doubled
in every troop?" Shad asked curiously, shooting a glare at the ladder. I
wonder if I can dig myself out of here? There's no way I'm using that deathtrap
Melor snorted. "Of course, but they can't even
sort that out. Every troop starts complaining. When you put two of the Wood
clan into a troop, the others start whining. When you put two of the Stone clan
into a troop, the others start whining. When you put two of the Soil clan...
well, you get my point."
"The leader's word should be law; don't they
listen to him?" the Zafara wondered.
"We don't have a leader," Melor said. "We have
a council of all troop leaders, and they're all of different clans. Don't think
they'll ever agree on that. A pain, really. But if they ever decide upon anything,
at least then I'll be ready to present my work." He gave a proud smile when
he spread out his map again. "See, all nice and clear here. This is their land,"
he pointed at a red circle in the Haunted Woods map, "and this is our attack
plan." He pointed at some colorful arrows. "Though we'd have to test the power
of the seven-member troops first. This will be tricky..."
"We'll leave you to work then," Saura said, pushing
his brother off towards the ladder and ignoring Shad's frustrated moan. "Good
luck with that... must be hard for you to do this all alone."
Melor shrugged with a smile and took then pencil
again. "I'm one of the few who have the skills. Thank you for your interest."
It took them a while to get back to the room
in the tower, mainly because it took Shad ages to get up the ladder - "Whadda
you mean "going down is harder"? Now I know exactly how long I'll have to fall!"
- but they got there eventually and sat down to think about the matter. And
to open the Star Compact Mirror again.
Tsuki didn't sound too thrilled to hear their
story. "Shad may be right. If they destroy those Faeries, that might affect
the whole of Neopia. Messing in there may be very dangerous though, I tell you.
Faeries have always been powerful and the ones we see in our everyday life always
hold themselves back. And getting on the wrong side of that Fortress would be
an equally bad idea."
"Does the word Elversti ring any bells?" Shad
The mirror was quiet for a while. "Not really.
Let me check this book here..." Silence again. "Well, 'sti' is simply a very
old word for 'path', this I know, but 'elver'... can't find anything on that.
I'm pretty sure that it just meant 'white' but has deformed over the years."
The two brothers could hear him mutter words like "alver" and "albur". "Yeah,
can't think of anything else right now. Why?"
"White path," Shad said, gazing out of the window.
"I think I have an idea... say Tsuki, do you think we should go and talk with
the Faeries, to let them know what awaits them and generally be diplomats and
The mirror was quiet again. "It would be good
but..." Tsuki wouldn't have been a mage if he hadn't been able to understand
Shad's annoyed glare through the hazy mirror. "Okay, I think you should do that.
Just try not to get killed. And getting past the Seven's protection is up to
you as well, I know nothing about it and have no sources either. If you'll excuse
me now..." The mirror cleared and Saura glanced at his brother.
The Lupe's ears twitched. "We'll just have to
sneak out somehow... and that we cannot do in such a strong fortress. You're
better at talking, now sit down and think of an excuse to leave this place for
a while. A good excuse, if you don't mind."
A short while later they were slamming on the
front gate which looked just as impenetrable from the inside as from the outside.
There was a similar lid in the inner side of the gate which now slid open: "Yeah?"
"We'd like to get outside for a while," Saura
said. "When we came here through the woods, I dropped the knife I had gotten
from my father. I'd love to get that back... shouldn't take more than a few
"And the Lupe?" the owner of the eyes asked.
Shad, who had been glaring at his brother with
a mixture of disbelief and horror, grunted quietly. "Good nose. Helping him
to find the knife."
"Fine then, just don't go too far north or you'll
venture into the creatures' lands..." The lid closed and the massive gates slowly
slid apart. When they slammed shut again after them, both Neopets got an unnerving
feeling of being lost and forgotten in those strange lands forever and all eternity,
with nobody on their side any more.
"Let's hope they'll let us back in; I need to
get Tsuki's bag with the books," the Zafara muttered. "What?"
Shad was glaring at him as they entered the woods.
"Dropped a knife. Dropped a knife??? Aw come on, Saura, that had got
to be the lamest excuse in the history of going back to places. Not to mention
Saura grinned apologetically. "Back here that
excuse might not be that old, you know... at least we're out, aren't we? What's
your big plan then?"
The Lupe was still grumbling, slowly going down
the path with his head down and sniffing the ground. "Well, first I'm planning
to look like I'm looking for your knife and you should do the same, thank you,
I can bet my tail that they're watching us as long as we're still visible. Then
we go north and find the Faeries."
"And be surrounded by the immobilizing fear again,"
his stepbrother remarked.
Shad grinned at him in the dimness. If that set
of white fangs under the golden eyes hadn't belonged to his brother, Saura would
seriously have freaked out. "Ah-ha, but think about it for a second. What did
the Faeries tell us back there?"
The Zafara thought back. "Strangers cannot come
"Thassright. Now translate it," Shad said.
Saura frowned. "Strangers cannot come to White
Pa... ah, so that's your point."
Shad's grin got even wider, if that was still
possible. "Exactly. We're not going on the path. It'll take some wading
through the bushes and such but at least we'll live."
"If your theory is correct," the Zafara remarked.
"Fine then. Let's step on it, they might come looking for us if we stay gone
for too long and then we'll be revealed as double agents."
"And then we'll be in trouble," Shad added.
His brother nodded. "Exactly."
The two strode on in silence for a while, always
through the bushes, keeping towards north. Finally they came across the same
narrow path and stopped.
"You sure that this is the one?" Saura asked.
The shadow Lupe glanced at him.
"Dude... our three-hour-old footprints are practically
screaming into my nose. That's the one."
To be continued...