Tales of Dark Mountain: Moonlight - Part Four
Part Four: Soria
At first, Alex was happy to be heading out to sea. Then he realized that he wasn’t positive that Tamack was on board. Sure, the one neopet had said the one crate was heavier than usual, but that didn’t mean that Tamack was in it. It was entirely possible that Tamack had been put on a different ship, or that he had been discovered and prevented entry.
Nervousness filled Alex as he pushed himself up. “Tamack!” he called into the still air. He winced as his voice echoed loudly through the cargo hold.
He heard the sound of wood hitting wood. Soon, he saw a Shoyru stand up on the other side of the room. “I’m here,” Tamack replied, keeping his voice quieter than Alex had.
“Have any trouble getting on board?”
Tamack shook his head. “I was just carried on. Why, did you?”
“Yes,” Alex groaned. “The crate I hid myself in was supposed to go on a different ship. I had to push myself out of it to keep from being taken to Mystery Island!”
“So you were discovered?” Alex nodded. Tamack sighed. “Well, at least you weren’t caught.”
“Yeah, but being discovered wasn’t good, either.”
“I know. However, don’t let it bother you too much. We’ll both soon have more important problems to worry about.”
A horn sounded as the barge came to a stop. Alex figured they had made it to Altador. It had taken them a day and a half to reach it.
Alex heard the crewmembers rushing around on deck. “We should probably hide in some crates,” Tamack said.
Alex opened his mouth to agree when the hatch to the cargo hold opened. “Quick, hide!” he hissed.
However, it was too late. The Krawk had spotted them. He snarled and said, “I knew it! I knew that there were stowaways on this ship!” He raised his voice and called, “Intruders!”
A few crewmembers came down into the cargo hold. Their eyes widened in surprise at the sight of the two Shoyrus. However, they didn’t say anything as the Krawk signaled for them to move forward. Alex sprang into the air. He saw Tamack do the same out of the corner of his eye. He swiveled away from the Krawk as he lunged with outstretched claws. He flew over the heads of two of the others who were trying to catch him. He was relieved to see that the door had been left unguarded. He flew up out of the cargo hold and away; pausing only briefly to make sure that Tamack had escaped as well.
Tamack soon caught up with him. “Keep flying! Don’t stop for anything!” he said urgently to Alex. Alex nodded and beat his wings faster.
They were over a forest near the Altadorian Mountain Range when Tamack finally said they could stop. Alex’s wings ached, but at least they had lost their pursuers. Or so he thought. Not long after they slowed their pace, an arrow whizzed past, barely missing Alex’s wing. “What?” he yelped. Another one shot past, almost stabbing Alex in the nose.
Tamack jerked back and rammed into Alex when an arrow got so close to him that it almost pierced his skull. Alex let out a cry of surprise as he was knocked off balance and began to tumble. He managed to pull himself into a more natural dive, keeping his wings close to his body. Another of the arrows just missed him by the skin of his teeth. He yelped with surprise and tried to swerve away. However, since his wings were so close to his body, there was a side effect to this. He moved a bit away, but began to plummet rapidly to the forest no longer far below. He spread his wings to try and fly up again, but by the time he did, he had already tumbled through the branches. He managed an awkward landing on the ground.
He heard the sound of air rushing past him, and saw an arrow flash by out of the corner of his eye. He ducked behind a tree to avoid any more of the onslaught.
He heard a yelp of surprise, and a heavy thud. He peeked out from behind the tree. He saw Tamack holding down a yellow Kougra. A bow and a quiver of arrows lay off to one side. Slowly, he crept out from behind the tree. “What were you trying to prove by shooting at us?” Tamack growled at the Kougra.
She held his gaze steadily. “You could be spies for Scorgan,” she replied venomously.
Tamack’s eyes got a little wider in surprise. “How do you know about Scorgan?”
“You have no reason to need to know,” she spat.
Tamack narrowed his eyes. He let the Kougra up. She didn’t hesitate in jumping for her bow and quiver. “We are no spies of Scorgan,” Tamack replied. “We were just passing through. We are heading towards Dark Mountain, to try and stop him.”
Alex cocked an eye at Tamack. “Should we really be telling her all this?” he whispered to him.
“It may vote in our favor,” Tamack whispered back.
The Kougra was eyeing them curiously. “How do I know I can trust you?”
“I guess it’s a fair accusation,” Tamack said with a slight shrug. “However, I promise that we are not with Scorgan. We are going to try to help the Lirse and Sorsay defeat him.”
The Kougra didn’t look entirely convinced she turned around and walked a little ways off. She stood there for a moment with her arms folded before turning back and walking back to Alex and Tamack. “Ok, so when do we leave?”
“What do you mean ‘we’?” Alex asked.
“I’m coming with you. If you want to stop Scorgan, I’m going to help. I have a score to settle with him.”
“It would be wonderful to have you come along,” Tamack told the Kougra.
Alex looked at Tamack with wide eyes. “But she just tried to shoot us out of the sky!”
“Maybe so, but we need all the help we can get. Besides, her abilities with the bow and arrow may come in handy in the end.”
“Right, so when do we head off?” the Kougra asked again.
“Immediately,” Tamack replied, beginning to walk away. Alex snorted and followed. Not only were they being accompanied by their attempted-killer, but they were going to have to walk!
The Kougra walked on after Tamack and bypassed him. “I can probably get you to Dark Mountain quicker on foot. After all, I’ve been traveling these woods for a long time.” Tamack nodded acknowledgment.
There was silence for a time, in which Alex fumed angrily about having to travel with this Kougra. “I’m Soria, by the way,” the Kougra called over her shoulder, breaking the silence.
“My name’s Tamack, and this is Alex,” Tamack told her in reply.
Soria smiled sweetly and turned back to the path. Alex just snorted in frustration. This was going to be a long journey.
Two weeks of traveling on foot did nothing to lighten Alex’s mood. He wasn’t all that thrilled with Soria being around. If they had been able to fly, they would have been to Dark Mountain by now. Soria had sensed his dislike of her, a returned him with the same hostile feelings and actions.
A few days earlier, Tamack had finally tried to do something about it. “You two act as if you’re sworn enemies!”
“He’s the one who’s being difficult!” Soria cried in defense.
“Well, maybe if you hadn’t tried to shoot us out of the sky or slowed us down, I wouldn’t be!” Alex snapped.
“I thought you were Scorgan’s spies!”
“Oh, so you just try to kill everyone who goes by to stop Scorgan’s spies?”
“That’s enough!” Tamack cried, forcing the two squabbling neopets apart. “You both should know better! Now, we’re all traveling together, whether you like it or not! Of course, you can leave, if you wish.” Both Alex and Soria shook their heads, all the while glaring at the other. “I suggest you live with it, then! I don’t want any more of this or I’ll leave you both behind!”
That had gotten them to behave. It had also gotten them to start to work together a bit. For the most part, they didn’t speak to each other. However, neither appreciated being talked to like they were little kids. So, for a little time each day, they began to plan a little trick they would play on Tamack. However, these sessions usually ended when they got into a fight and one stalked off into the woods.
Now, trudging through the undergrowth, they were getting ready to set their plan into action. A mist hung in the air that morning. Everything was damp underfoot. Soria dropped back to walk at Alex’s pace. “You two had better not start fighting,” Tamack called over his shoulder.
“We won’t, don’t worry,” Alex promised. Then, to Soria, he added, “So, when are we going to get this plan into action?”
“Soon,” Soria promised, a mischievous glint in her eyes. They walked a little ways more before Soria said, “Hey, I think I see something up ahead!” she quickly raced forward, sprinting past Tamack and into the mist.
“Soria, where are you going?” called Tamack. He groaned and raced after her. Alex smiled. Phase one of their plan had begun.
His part was phase two. He sprang into the air and followed Tamack and Soria silently. He continued to fly until he saw Tamack’s stalled outline through the mist. He hid in a tree. His part was to startle Tamack out of his wits.
“Why did you go racing off like that?” Tamack asked Soria in frustration.
Alex got ready to jump out of the try with a wild cry until he saw Soria wasn’t paying any attention to Tamack. She was looking at a dark shape looming in the distance. Alex nearly fell out of the tree in surprise. He landed awkwardly on the ground. “Is that... is that what I think it is?” he asked.
Soria nodded slowly. “Yeah. That would be Dark Mountain.”
To be continued...