Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Eight
The dungeons were empty and quiet so Shad got to the chamber
of the Seven without seeing anyone. The door was unlocked as before and when he
opened it, nothing had changed. The water still flowed into the soil, the torches
were still burning. If anything had changed then the little Spyder web in the
corner had gotten bigger.
The Lupe looked around and then sat down. The
room, so quiet and mysterious, was unusually relaxing. The quiet chatter of
the water and the whisper of fire were the only sounds there. What's the
secret of this room? Shad thought to himself. What could the soul and
secret of this magic be?
The door screeched behind his back, making him
wince and jump up. When he turned around, he faced an old green Lupe who was
staring back at him in equal surprise.
The old Lupe recovered first. "Are ye the guest
with the accursed fur?" he asked with a voice that sounded as old as the door
he had just opened - and just as creaky and mossy.
Shad nodded. "And you're the janitor," he said,
now noticing a bucket of water with a mop and a basket with firewood behind
"What are ye doing down 'ere, younglin'?" the
janitor asked, limping in and starting to stuff one iron holder with firewood.
His joints were stiff and he moved slowly but apparently he didn't need help
even for reaching towards higher holders.
Shad's ears drooped a little. "Just, you know…
plain curiosity. Wanted to see this place."
The other Lupe limped to the next empty holder.
"Aye, not much to see 'ere. Nobody even comes 'ere lately, this place's deserted
by ev'ryone but me. This door's so rarely opened, I ain't sure where that dust
comes from. Even bugs won't come 'ere."
"There's a little Spyder up there," Shad grinned.
"True," the janitor agreed. "Dunno why it lives
'ere… it sure has no bugs to catch, methinks. But the Fortress has many Spyders,
a population as old as the castle itself, aye."
"Do you live down here, in the dungeons?" Shad
asked, watching as the old Lupe went on with his simple chore.
"Aye, washing the floors of the dungeons is
the only task o' mine," the janitor replied. "I'm too old fer working up there.
And it's nice and quiet here, I like me job."
When Shad went upstairs again, there was something
buzzing in his skull that wouldn't let his mind rest. Something's not right
in that chamber…
Saura was standing by the window when Shad got
in and closed the door. "The Barbat came a few minutes ago," the Zafara said,
showing a small light purple card. "It brought this from the Faeries."
Two small pairs of eyes were watching them,
remaining unseen for both, as Shad took the card. The handwriting on it was
fair, yet firm. The message was short: "Thank you. Be alert, break the spell
"Easy for them to say," Shad muttered as the
card disappeared in a puff of purple smoke, then told his brother what he had
seen at the chamber. When he finished, Saura seemed just as puzzled as him.
"This isn't taking us anywhere," he said, sitting
down. "We need to hurry, if the Faeries replied that fast and told us to be
alert…" He threw himself down on his bed with a sigh. "And I'm telling you,
those guys don't trust us. I hate being a double agent. You'll never know when
and where we're overheard."
"So far we haven't learned enough to be a threat,"
Shad grumbled. "Unless we manage to break the spell, we're powerless."
The day passed without any further incidents
and when the two brothers went to sleep that evening, they could hear the test
battalion march out. Their sleep was restless and grim.
Not to mention short.
"What's that noise?" Saura asked, sitting up.
The sky outside was pitch-black but there was some light emerging into the room
from somewhere below. The Zafara wrapped himself in his blanket and trotted
to the window. The room was cold now as the fire in the fireplace had ceased
and the narrow window had no glass but so he could at least look outside and
prick up his long ears.
"What's going on?" Shad demanded, hopelessly
lost in the darkness as his brother was now blocking both the light and all
possibilities of seeing outside.
Saura squinted. "Looks like the battalion returned.
They're all at the gate… and Neopets are flowing out of the Fortress… would
you keep it down, I'm trying to listen!" Saura's ears were as good as Shad's
nose, once you sorted out all irrelevant sounds like the Barbats' squeaking
at the top of the tower.
The shadow Lupe waited patiently, his eyes shimmering
in the dark. Eventually Saura crawled back from the deep windowsill. His eyes
were full of fear, surprise and worry.
"Looks like they brought back a Faerie," he
Shad's jaw dropped. "What - as a hostage? But
that means that their tactics work!"
Saura, already half way across the room, nodded
grimly and pulled the heavy door open, letting in another chilly breeze. The
Fortress was extremely cold at night, the ancient stones didn't warm up easily.
Both brothers ran down the stairs as fast as they could to get a little warmer.
The main gates were wide open and Neopets were
flowing out into the courtyard, many of them carrying torches to light the night.
They all headed out of the gates onto the narrow plain between the castle and
the forest. The noise smacked Shad and Saura like a hammer - everyone was shouting
something or just chatting with the others, trying to get more info on the happenings.
"Yeah, they caught her." One Aisha was explaining
eagerly as the brothers passed him. "Completely powerless, the troops just surrounded
her and she could do nothing. And she can't get through the gates, see?"
There was more room between the gates, the crowd
wouldn't near the short-haired Air Faerie who was standing right outside the
Fortress, held by Renor from one hand and a yellow Shoyru from the other. The
Faerie's eyes were flashing with fury and apparently she being powerless had
nothing to do with she being weak - Renor had already gotten a black eye.
Shad and Saura exchanged quick glances. They
recognized the Faerie: she was the one who had told them about the Fortress
folk's plans to take down the forest. The Faerie had already noticed them as
well but didn't give any sign of recognizing them.
"Would you stop it already, you fools?" she
screeched as the Zafara and the Shoyru pushed her forward. "Can't you see that
I can't get through these gates?" Indeed it looked like she had been pushed
against an invisible wall. The Seven were working.
When the Faerie took a step back, away from
the force field, the crowd started cheering. If that could be called cheering.
"Yes! It works!"
"Now we can finally get rid of them all!"
"Let's start with her!"
As the cheering rose into a massive roar, Renor
of Fire raised his free hand to calm the people down. "Everything at its own
time, calm down now… calm down… SHUT UP ALREADY!" The voices lowered a little.
"We will need her to gather information. She'll be interrogated in the morning."
The two brothers stayed there for a short while,
watching as the Air Faerie was shackled against the outer wall of the Fortress,
as one troop of seven warriors was set to guard her, as the crowd started getting
bored and falling apart… and eventually they went off to their room again, worried
and buried in thoughts.
The two Aishas who had told them about the dinner
gong once passed them on the staircase. "Tomorrow will be fun," one of them
"Yeah," the other one agreed, "hopefully the
interrogation won't last long."
Saura's dark eyes were full of deep concern
when they got back to their cold room. The sky was getting lighter though the
sunset was still far away. The words of the two Aishas, or actually the gaps
between the words, had told him clearly enough what would happen after the interrogation.
"Show's over, Shad," he said. "We must save
this Faerie and we most likely need to leave the Fortress tonight, as I have
a little plan but we won't be able to pull it off without revealing ourselves."
Shad's eyes narrowed. He may have been a happy
airhead for most of the time but the thoughts in his brain always made sure
to be sharp, clear and as straightforward as an axe, just to protect him from
anything being an airhead may bring along. When Shad's serious side developed
full speed, the neighbors preferred to hide under their tables.
"Grab the bag then," he said. "What do you have
Saura had already grabbed the bag and was stuffing
their blankets in there, just in case. "First of all, we're going to the kitchen."
The kitchen was almost empty, only a few sleepy
cooks were slouching by the table, playing Cheat and trying to keep their eyes
open. When Saura marched in, throwing a dry "don't mind me, just cooking up
a little mixture for my brother who can't get any sleep," they barely nodded
at him before getting back to the game.
Shad had stayed in the courtyard with the leather
bag, hiding in the corner between a wall and a pillar, quietly blessing his
shadow fur and looking at the night sky that was now getting lighter. He had
spent his puppy days running around at night and causing trouble, usually by
digging up other Neopets' gardens. He knew some things about nights - like the
fact that the time before sunrise, when the sky is already light and you can
see everything, is the quietest time of the day. Wind never whispers before
sunrise, water stays calm and still. And nobody is awake, including the guards.
It just is the time of silence.
That time was nearing now. Shad became more
and more visible in that corner. Luckily there wasn't anyone to see him there.
The Lupe would've loved to sleep but the nerves and adrenaline crossed that
thought out in seconds. Let's hope we can at least get outside…
The sky was purplish blue and absolutely cloudless,
predicting the soon sunrise as Saura finally exited the kitchen, holding a glass
bottle that was filled with something hazy. Many knew that he was an awesome
cook - not that many remembered that cooking doesn't only mean food.
"Let's go," the Zafara said and they hurried
over the silent courtyard.
To be continued...