Fools and Children: Part One
GitchiManitou awoke with a jolt on what turned out to be a fated morning. He ran a hand over his sweat-soaked face and reran the vision that he had just witnessed. Was it a dream, he wondered? Did the Faerie Queen really choose him for this quest? Dream or reality, GM knew that this was a journey he had started a long time ago. The only question to be settled was whether or not he would succeed.
GM rolled out of bed and pulled on his knee-high leather boots, his grey tunic, and his black suede vest. He took his time as he methodically sorted through his wardrobe and selected as few pieces as possible to meet his uncertain needs. Where this journey would lead was a mystery thus far, but GM was a ghost Krawk who needed to be prepared. “Only fools and children,” he muttered to himself. Looking over his selections, GM rubbed his chin, nodded with determination, and proceeded to stuff his clothing into a duffle. He walked quietly through the Neohome, not wanting to disturb those who were still sleeping. With a quick stop in the kitchen for a loaf of bread and a chunk of hard cheese, GM strode toward the heavy back door. Next stop: the Armoury.
The wooden door whined quietly on its rusted hinges as GM eased it open. The gust of fresh air that greeted him finally cleared his head and he could focus on Fyora’s words still replaying in his mind.
“GitchiManitou,” began the Faerie Queen in his vision earlier that night, “You have been chosen from among all the loyal of Neopia to fulfill the ancient prophecy. It was said that the day would come when a new breed of hero would arise from the wilderness and bring Harmony to the Elements. As it is written:
‘Air turns the golden lock,
Fire burns the neopium rock,
Water churns the silver clock,
Earth spurns the Spectral Krawk,
Until balance returns to the flock.’
“You have been revealed as the One of Prophecy. I beseech you to complete my Quest for the well being of all of Neopia and the honour of your family. Once you have succeeded, my reward will be greater than all the coins in Coltzan’s Cache. You will earn the Shield of the Ancients: a secret artifact known only to the deserving few who merit its bestowal. Three Tasks will be revealed on your journey, and three Objects of great power will be presented to you if you complete these Tasks. But take heed: the way is filled with danger and confusion, and failure will imperil us all. Refusing this quest is not an option; you did not choose the path, it chose you.”
GM was running through that final line when he felt a hand on his arm.
“Where are you going, GitchiManitou?” asked Cavillace, the mutant Draik. “It looks like you have a long trip ahead of you by the weight of your pack. And heading for the Armoury? What do I need to know, and what should I bring?”
GM placed his own hand on top of the Draik’s and quietly replied, “This is a trip I must make alone, Cav.”
Early in his life, circumstances had led to a solitary existence for the Krawk. Now, two years after their first meeting, he was still reluctant to fully open himself up to his foster sister. He was certain that if she discovered the darkness he had buried at the root of his soul, Cavillace would spurn him as so many had before. Not to be deterred, the mutant Draik pivoted on her foot and planted herself on the path in front of GM.
“When will you realize, brother, that you are not alone anymore? When you joined this family, it was as if you were born into it. We were all alone in the beginning, and now we are whole. Where you go, I go.”
A rustling in the bushes behind him distracted GitchiManitou from his conversation. Spinning around, GM called out, “OK, you two. I guess I was wrong when I thought I could sneak off without explaining myself. You can come on out.”
Out from the bramble tumbled GM’s other sisters; YourFlyness, the darigan Buzz, and Briccriu, the pea Chia. Giggling and shoving each other out in front, the two girls aligned themselves in an approximate military formation and gave GM a mock salute.
“Yes, sir!” they intoned together with false solemnity.
GitchiManitou heaved a sigh but could not camouflage the grin that these two never failed to elicit. For the past two years, GM had felt the gravid weight he bore at his centre diminishing whenever his new family drew him into their circle. While he had tried to remain aloof in the beginning, the joy they exuded was contagious and eroded those defences he had spent a lifetime constructing.
GM coughed into his fist to conceal his look of amusement. He folded his hands behind his back and strode back and forth in front of the Buzz and Chia, “reviewing his troops”.
“YourFlyness,” he barked, “fold in those wings!”
The darigan Buzz failed to suppress a giggle, clicked her heels together, and refolded her glossy wings behind her back
“Briccriu!” continued the ghost Krawk. “Wipe that smile off your face, soldier! Do I amuse you?”
The pea Chia strained the muscles around her mouth but could not stretch them closed over her teeth. Falling to the ground in a fit of chortles, Briccriu blurted out, “Yes, sir! I mean, no, sir! I mean, oh, I don’t know what I mean. What’s the game, Gitch?”
With that, GM’s smile was erased and the sudden loss of levity cued the girls to the gravity of the situation. Briccriu stood up quickly. She approached her brother with the steadfastness the other three knew her to be capable of when required and asked, “What is it, Gitch?”
“Well,” responded GitchiManitou, “ ‘it’ is not a game, for sure.”
Abruptly, GM felt his limbs weighted with the burden of his quest. He plodded to the stump at the side of the path and seated himself. The three sisters arranged themselves at his feet and gave him time to compose his tale.
There was silence for several minutes after GitchiManitou had finished relating his vision of the night before. As was often the case, the others waited for Cavillace to speak first.
“Of course we have heard the prophecy before,” began the mutant Draik. “Although we have never discussed it, I have often wondered if you could be the Spectral Krawk foretold by the ancients.”
GM tried to protest, but Cavillace held her hand up in a sign that begged for patience.
“You must feel it, GitchiManitou,” she continued. “You were sent to us by Fate. These past two years must have been to prepare you for the quest that Fyora has now laid before you.”
“What I can agree with there, Cav, is that this quest was assigned to me. I will not risk bringing you with me.” Turning to YourFlyness and Briccriu, he added, “And before you offer, I will not risk bringing the two of you, either.”
Cavillace stood and placed her hand on her brother’s shoulder.
“GitchiManitou, how do you think I knew to look for you on this path this morning? A force beyond myself drew me here. I may not have shared your vision, but I assure you, I do share your fate.”
The Buzz and Chia jumped to their feet, and in a display of unity, placed their hands along with their sister’s on GM’s shoulder.
“I, too, was following a summonzzzze that I didn’t understand until now,” said YourFlyness.
“Me, too,” added Briccriu. “You will not leave without us. You have made us whole, and where you go, we go.”
GitchiManitou started to shake his head “no”, but recognizing the resolve in the eyes of his sisters, he capitulated and placed his own hand on top of theirs.
“Well,” said the grateful Krawk, “you better all go pack yourself a bag and meet me at the Armoury.”
Cavillace, the mutant Draik, along with the others, pressed her shoulder against the boulder that protected the entrance to the secret Armoury, grunting as she strained to make it move. The massive rock threatened to stay right where it was until, suddenly, it began to inch away from the smooth cavern face. The quartet dug in their heels to take advantage of the momentum and heave the stone away from the hidden threshold. One final thrust sent the massive boulder spinning in one direction while Briccriu, the pea Chia who was the smallest of the four, went tumbling backwards in the other.
Taking advantage of the break to catch her breath, Cavillace turned and offered her hand to her little sister. The Chia grasped the big Draik’s hand and giggled out, “Thanks!” After brushing the dirt off of herself, she and Cavillace turned toward the yawning cavern in the hillside, and together, everyone entered the Armoury.
GitchiManitou, the ghost Krawk, was the first inside. He hefted the weight of several of the blades and clubs before finally selecting a Golden Compass to slide into the pocket of his vest.
YourFlyness, the darigan Buzz, hummed around the racks and shelves before deciding on a Faerie Cannon. She had powerful vision that gave her great skill with aim, and this enchanted weapon could have its size manipulated, making it effectively portable.
Briccriu strode with determination to her favourite weapon: her Ramtors Spellbook. While she was not large or powerful, the pea Chia had her own special skill set. Briccriu was able to manipulate language in ways that could either amuse or cast spells with devastating efficiency. She ran her hand over the embossed cover of the book and was soon lost in thought; it had been a long time since she had required the tome.
At one time, Cavillace had been kept against her will as a Gladiator at the Mystery Island Battledome. Having escaped, pledging to never battle again, the mutant Draik now filled her pouch with an assortment of potions and creams. At her core, Cavillace had a warm glow of goodness and intuition that made her a powerful healer.
A clang and clatter beside Cavillace interrupted her focus. YourFlyness had knocked a bottle of Tickle Powder off the apothecary shelves, and she and Briccriu were rolling on the ground in a fit of helpless laughter.
“Alright, you two,” announced Cavillace as she straightened up the mess. “We need to get you out of here and brushed off before we all get infected.”
GitchiManitou turned around in the doorway and snorted mild disapproval before exiting the cave. The three sisters joined him on the path outside the entrance.
“I believe we’re ready for anything. Where do we begin our quest?” the Draik asked as she snapped off some leafy branches for dusting off the girls.
“Even though Fyora didn’t give me any specifics, I feel as though the answer lies where my journey began,” GM answered.
“Terror Mountain and the Ice Caves where we first found you?”
“No. We must go further back. To Krawk Island.”
Cavillace was bewildered. She hadn’t heard this part of her brother’s life story before and didn’t know if she should press him for details. Even though her shock had caused her to pause only slightly in her efforts to brush the Tickle Powder off of her sisters, the two girls noticed and passed a wordless message of concern between themselves.
Cavillace gave a jerk of her chin to signal GitchiManitou to follow her as she stepped off the path to throw the branches into the forest. When she was sure they were out of the others’ earshot, she spoke softly to him, “Do you remember what you said to me when we first met? When I told you I was sent to find you by a dream?”
“Heh, heh, yeah. ‘Only fools and children follow dreams.’ I’ve been thinking about that, too,” answered the ghost Krawk, “and I know that we are doing the right thing. The four of us, together, we ‘click’. It can not be a coincidence that we have found each other, that we perfectly complement each other. Fate has chosen a path for us.” Removing the Golden Compass from his pocket, GM tossed it in the air, caught it again jauntily and added, “Let’s just hope we can stay on that path.”
The mutant Draik nodded and searched her heart. Cavillace’s intuitive skills had never failed her. She felt the truth of her brother’s words and steeled her resolve.
Before leaving the approach to the Armoury, Briccriu opened her Ramtors Spellbook and found the words she was seeking. With a barely audible utterance, the huge boulder, which had caused them so much strain earlier, now rolled gently back to block the entrance. With a wave of the pea Chia’s hand, the access was utterly concealed.
To be continued...