Sophie's Return: Part Four
Part Four: The Castle Siege
It turned out that Mr. Slytri’s castle was rather well-hidden for a castle, and much closer to Neovia than any of them previously thought, including the one of the three that had actually been to the castle. In his defense, he was blindfolded and hog-tied when he was led to the castle, and had no sense of direction when he was prohibited from the sense of sight.
It was simply available if you went down the alley by the Crumpetmonger, and then you found a small house, opened the door, went down the stone corridor. (Reginald determined the right way by remembering the feel of the stone underneath his feet, which of course led to several dead ends and U-turns before eventually they found their way.) And that would lead out to the forest, which would in turn have a door just a few feet away, which was the door, of course, to the castle.
It did, however, take a bit of extra planning when Sophie saw that there were two burly Halloween Skeiths and three Werelupes guarding the door.
“They’re too big and keen to let anything get past them,” the swamp witch whispered to her companions, as if stating the facts would change them for the better, “and I can tell that they haven’t been subjected to the jade eye enough to hypnotize them. Their eyes would be bloodshot and they would be more rigid if so. Any sensible witch, after all, knows that if you hypnotize anyone either with an artifact or with your own magic, there would be two physical ways of determining; your eyes would be bloodshot, as hypnotization makes the hypnotized pets lose sleep, and their movements are rigid because only someone fully in control would slouch, and they are clearly on the verge of being hunchbacks. There’s only one way the three of us can get past.”
“And what way would that be?” asked Reginald, hoping that it didn’t involve him running around like Prisoner Five, that maddened Lupe, in order to let the others sneak past, and then run through the gate as fast as he could when they are still stunned.
“Okay, so I know this pack of Gelerts who lives by. They’re pretty scary at first sight, but nice. And I was planning...”
An hour passed, and then they came. They marched as one as they flashed across the night ground. They had nothing with them except their own heightened senses and sharpened claws, but the Skeiths and Werelupes were easily distracted by them, nevertheless. The five guards ran after the pack, which promptly ran rinks around them, confusing and dazing the guards until they slumped over, stunned.
“Thank you! If we find anything worthwhile in there for your pack, we will!” Reginald promised them as the three heroes went into the castle.
With a quick salute from the leader, they were out of sight.
As the three walked into the castle, Reginald suddenly became less sure of himself, but as Bainsley and Sophie kept bravely walking on, and never looking back, he kept his ground, as he knew the most about what the dungeon held and the power of Mr. Slytri.
It took a long walk through a corridor filled with suits of armor, Lost Desert daggers, and oddly a hat rack, from which there hung a fedora, to get to the first set of stairs. There was a set going up and a set going down. Sophie, of course, began to lead them down, before Reggie pulled her back.
“No, he wouldn’t think of something so obvious. I remember going up several flights of stairs, still blindfolded, before they led me into the room. There, I could see out for miles, but the windows were too thick to get through, and were glued shut. The torture of seeing the world around you but being unable to go there. Plus, of course, the fact that we were in cages.”
So they climbed all the way to the top and got into the cage room, (Reginald declared ‘dungeon’ to be referenced to being underground, and therefore inappropriate for the current situation.) It was just as Reginald described it, where they were in cages, and there were stuck, thick windows placed in front of every cage.
Bruno was gnawing on what used to be a Whole Roast Chicken but now was little more than a bone when he sensed a presence. He turned around quickly to see them.
“Brother! Sister! I thought you’d never come back!” he said, spreading out his arms wide for a hug before remembering that they couldn’t slip into the cage.
“Hey, who’s the little squirt?” he asked, looking at Bainsley.
“She’s my new apprentice,” Sophie said boldly. “Her name is Bainsley, and she’s the one who first told me about this Lutari in the first place; the one who captured you.”
“Well, that’s good, now we need to get everyone out. I bet that Bainsley could slip behind the cage to get to the keys with her size, and then she can let me out. I can bend the bars of the other cages, but not mine, because he knew my strength compared to everyone else’s.”
She didn’t need to be asked twice; in a flash, the little brown Kougra slipped behind the cage and snagged the keys, slipped out from behind, and unlocked it. “There you go!” She beamed.
“Thanks!” He had an odd-toothed grin as he stepped out. After three blinks, his eyes returned to normal. It was as if being out of the cage got rid of whatever mind control Mr. Slytri was using.
Bruno, as quickly as possible, bent the bars of every other cage in there, even the empty ones (just to make sure,) and everyone returned to normal, after, yes, three blinks.
“Well, this is our happy ending, right?” Amery, still shaking in her gypsy vest. She was not a gypsy, of course, but she had spent some time with them before, and they had declared that she would make a fashion statement in it. “I mean, we didn’t have to meet that crazy—”
Reginald clapped a paw over her mouth, knowing that if she said that they DIDN’T have to meet him, they would, but it was too late.
“Did someone call my name?” The wizard stepped into the room, supporting a golden staff and looking, overall, like a Mr. Krawley who had been a victim of the Secret Laboratory, and, of course, had gained a jade eye.
“Oh,” he said, pretending to gasp as he stared at the sight, “Tsk tsk. You escaped. Oh, what will I do now?” He dramatically posed by staring off to the side with one arm across his forehead. But then he smirked, and pulled out a dagger, specifically a Dagger of the Lost Sands.
“Of course!” Sophie facepalmed. “It was the only dagger missing from the main corridor! How could I not have thought?”
“Oh dear, it’s not that bad to make a little slip up, considering either way it falls according to my plan. If you save them, I round you all up and can finish everyone at once. If you didn’t, you would feel enough guilt that you would wander right into my other trap. And even if you realized that the dagger was missing, and therefore with me, you would have found the door barricaded. So say goodbye, swamp witch.”
“I think there’s something you’re forgetting,” a voice came from the shelf behind him.
“What?” he asked, turning around to see Bainsley perched up there, looking down on him with a sly look on her face.
She pulled out the vial of potion from up her sleeve and poured it right into the eye, announcing the spell that would ultimately win over them.
As soon as the final drop landed, the jade eye rolled around in its head, flip-flopping and becoming liquid, eventually falling away to reveal a hazel eye like the other.
“You wretched Kougra!” he said, raising the dagger. “You have cost me my last grip of control over these Neopets. Now do you know what your fate must be for this?”
“I think that it ends with me being a Neovian hero,” she said, boldly defying the Lutari, and pulling out from a belt that hung around her dress, an Altadorian Initiate Sword. She lunged, and he leapt out of the way, knocking into a chandelier that was the only source of light in the room, and knocking himself unconscious. Bainsley landed cleanly on her feet and put the sword back into its sheath.
“That was amazing, little kid!” Reginald said.
“I can tell you’re a fitting apprentice.” Sophie grinned. “I was sure we lost when I couldn’t find the vial. And the sword, genius! I knew you wouldn’t try to hit him, so you must have planned where he would get knocked unconscious.”
“Hey guys,” Bruno said, “maybe we can get to the congratulatory celebration later, but I think that first we need to get this guy over to the mayor and tell him everything.”
As they walked down the corridor, Bainsley grabbed one of the daggers, an Intricate Qasalan Dagger, and placed it in her paw.
“What was that for?” Reginald asked.
“Remember? The Gelert pack? This is something worthwhile, obviously.”
“Intelligent, agile, and you can keep a promise. Sophie certainly did a good job picking you. If only she can handle a younger pet in the house.” The two laughed, and Sophie gave them a false scowl before joining in.
To be continued...