In This Together: Part Two
"Voltare?" I stared for a moment.
"Oh, come off it. They're just making wild guesses,
She didn't seem convinced. "Voltare was gone
last night. And he matches the description exactly, even down to the scratch
on his ear." Now she was sitting in her favourite armchair, clutching the armrests
as though they would keep her safely tethered to the ground.
"Fi, get a clue. You know he would never
do a thing like that. If my brother ever thought about doing so much
as throwing snowballs at a Bruce, then I'm the Snowager's mother." I waved a
hoof at the sketch of Voltare that Fiona had drawn a few days ago, to amuse
herself while I was at Neoschool. "Even that scratch on his ear. He got that
in the only fight he's ever been in, do you remember?"
We both remembered only too well. The scratch
was the only souvenir remaining out of the dozens of cuts and bruises he'd suffered
in his unexpected battle. It had been during the scuffle in the Ice Caves; climbing
Terror Mountain to check on the icebound Taelia, he'd come across a young Grundo
being menaced by a Snow Beast. Voltare being what he was-- kind, foolish, impulsive
and never one to let someone get hurt-- he had had to intervene.
"I know," Fiona murmured, dabbing at her eyes
with a tissue. "I know, Novella. But I can't face talking to them again."
"Then I will!" I shouted and ran outside.
The Defenders, a few doors away, were questioning a young Peophin. I grabbed
the nearest pet, a sturdy Bruce, and began to babble in his ear, telling him
everything I'd told Fiona. He had to believe me. He had to...
"Didn't he believe you?" asked Fiona as I came
"Well..." I sat down on the rug by the fire.
"He said that I'd got something of a case, but that it wasn't going to stop
them watching out for Voltare. I'm not sure he even listened properly!" I was
yelling now, making the little house echo with the sound of my words. "My big
brother is not a criminal!"
The Defenders and their agents tried to be helpful.
Fiona asked them if they'd considered all other possibilities. "It could've
been someone impersonating Voltare!" I put in. "Or Voltare might've been hypnotised
by... a dark faerie or something!" They listened politely, but it was clear
that they had already made up their minds. Apparently, even the darkest of faeries
could only take possession of a pet or human with that individual's consent--
and Voltare, we all knew, would never have submitted to control by any evil
Eventually there was nothing to do but nod and
tell them we were taking note of their ideas. I knew that my brother couldn't
have done such a thing. And yet I could see all the evidence that he had.
Something truly awful has happened...
I deliberately didn't stay home.
Running through the long grass towards the track
road, I found my place and waited. The sunlight cast flickering shadows on my
face as I sat watching the horizon, waiting for any sign of movement.
Eventually, just when I was on the verge of giving
up, I saw the familiar shadow of a Kougra, flapping his wings as he flew nearer.
Jumping to my hooves, I sprinted towards him.
"Voltare, oh, Voltare," I gasped, throwing myself
against my brother's fur, clasping his paws. "You can't stay here. They're going
to arrest you." But he seemed not to be listening. Brushing past me, he headed
down the track in the direction of our house. I followed him, my heartbeat racing
To my intense relief, the Moehog and his minions
had gone when we reached the house, my brother lazily flapping towards the door
as I dashed after him, trying my best to keep up. Fiona was sitting in the back
garden, contemplating her clasped hands and obviously in the depths of serious
thought. We came in without bothering to disturb her.
I gave Voltare some of the chocolate milk I knew
he loved. He lapped it thirstily, without a word to me, and his face changed
to a genuine smile of pleasure. Then, to my surprise, he sprang. In one movement
that reminded me of a hungry Lupe sighting a Chia, my brother leapt smoothly
out of the window and was gone.
I yelled his name until I was hoarse, but there
was no reply.
Ricky, it's worse than I thought.
I've got today's newspapers in front of me,
brought by the post Blumaroo this evening. Darigan Kougra robs National Neopian.
Darigan Kougra steals magical cauldron from Soup Faerie. Darigan Kougra terrorises
Uni at Adoption Centre... And you know what? They all have the same description.
Voltare's. If the stories are to be believed, he's been on a crime spree worse
than the Pant Devil's.
I know he hasn't... at least, I think he hasn't...
that is, I hope with all my heart he hasn't. Not my big brother.
The authorities are everywhere now. Our house
is under 24-hour watch. Fiona, too; for some reason they don't think I'm worth
watching. People are already saying "Well, what do you expect of a Darigan
pet?" Ricky, what am I going to do?
Fiona's calling. What is it now?
"Novella, someone's spotted Voltare coming towards
Meridell," my owner said softly. "I'm going over there, to see if I can talk
him into being interviewed. Maybe that way we can prove it isn't him, if we're
I followed her, locking the door behind me. Surely
now we would sort this out, finally. Although it had only lasted a day's time,
the whole series of events seemed to have been haunting me forever. My memories
of carefree days with Voltare felt like a long-forgotten time.
With the Defenders hiding safely in the bushes,
Fiona and I stood in the clearing near to Illusen's glade, watching with held
breath. At last, we heard the beat of Kougra wings. Voltare was arriving.
"Voltare!" Fiona called, and I echoed her. My
brother landed elegantly, his four paws brushing the soft grass, and strutted
past the two of us as if he hadn't heard a thing.
"Where's he going?" I whispered, but the leading
pet signalled for the two of us to go with him. We followed Voltare, tip-hoofing
across the clearing, closer and closer to the grotto of the Earth Faerie herself.
Voltare stepped inside, brushing aside the beaded
green curtain of grass-reeds that separated Illusen from the outside world.
A moment later we heard a sound that sent a cold
shiver down my spine; the sound of a faerie screaming.
He tried to fly, but the Defenders of Neopia
were on top of him before he could even take off. Illusen, her wings bruised
and her forehead bleeding from a deep claw-slash, pulled herself into the open
with an expression of fear. She wasn't screaming any more. The high, terrified,
disbelieving voice that was echoing throughout the forest was... mine. I was
trying to fight my way through the Defenders to him, but I wasn't strong enough
to break through a ring of powerful Battledomers.
Why, Voltare, why?
"Novella, go home," Fiona said to me, as kindly
as she could manage. "I'll sort this out."
I couldn't look at Voltare. I did as she said
and bolted for home, trying to put as much distance as I could between myself
and Illusen's glade.
Voltare, big brother, what have you done?
It was raining. I heard the droplets beat against
the roof tiles as I lay on my bed, waiting for the sound of Fiona's steps on
the porch. Surely she would be home soon, with a sadder, wiser Kougra in tow.
She had to come soon.
Perhaps Voltare would have pawcuffs put on him!
I shuddered. Perhaps they would have repainted him so that he couldn't fly,
or given him a muzzle to wear... I didn't care, I didn't care, I just wished
that the two of them would be home soon.
At last, the blessed sound of human footsteps.
At last, Fiona's key in the lock. I waited until she called up to me. "Novella?
Are you all right?" There was something strange about her voice, something I
didn't understand, but I came.
She poured a mug of snowberry tea for herself,
then one for me. "Drink up, my darling..."
I sipped the hot drink and looked around. Voltare
wasn't home yet. Perhaps he was still in the paws of those awful Defenders.
Was this horrible day never going to end?
Fiona felt in the bag she always carried. "Here,
Novella, dearest. I brought you this." It was a beautiful plushie, the absolute
image of a rose-pink Poogle. I hugged it close.
"Fi, it's lovely." I turned to face her, and
saw how tired and sad she looked. For the last few hours, occupied with my own
selfish emotions, it hadn't even occurred to me how much of an ordeal Voltare's
arrest must have been for her, too.
"Love you, Fiona."
"I love you too, Novella," she answered, almost
"Fi?" I didn't want to get her ruffled, but I
had to ask. "Do you think it's worth staying up till Voltare gets home? If he
won't be back until morning, I can go to bed..."
I didn't expect her flow of tears. Sobbing as
though she'd heard the saddest story in the world, she grabbed me and held me
"N-novella... I have to t-tell you something."
Her shaking hands clutched me tightly."V-v-voltare isn't... isn't going to be
coming home any more."
"What?" I screamed. Had the Neopian authorities
jailed my brother for life?
"My little Novella..." Fiona was almost incomprehensible
in her grief. "I did it for the best, you must see that, I didn't want to be
b-banished from Neopia because what would happen to you?... So I went to Neopia
Central with the Defenders. And I... I abandoned Voltare. He's not your brother
To be continued...