Secrets of Shiryoku: The Gift - Part Six
So, yeah, Nikkou’s dream was the last thing that we wanted to hear.
The story went like this: Nikkou saw a vision of Xandra morphing into one of Hanso’s colleagues—Kanrik, I believe he was—and sneaking into our hideout while we were still there. She then managed to sabotage our whole group as Kanrik and turn us into Mortogs so we were useless, slimy, and, to be brutally honest, disgusting. She then sold us to the people in Meridell who run the Kiss the Mortog booth. Xandra then reverted to her original form and hurried over to Neopia Central to retrieve the first of many artefacts that she would use to achieve world domination. The end. (Doesn’t sound like a very happy story, now does it?)
We knew that we had to leave. We still had a chance to change this alternate reality if we did. We quickly threw the books and all of their contents into my messenger bag and left immediately. Hanso managed to get us away from the annex quickly and safely. After that, we needed to devise a plan. “Nikkou, what was the last major thing that you saw in your dream again?” Brynn asked as we stood outside the hole that lead to Hanso’s hideout.
“I saw Xandra going to a bunch of different lands to retrieve specific artefacts. After that, she combined them all in the Mystery Island cooking pot and created a scepter that she then used to brainwash the minds of all Neopians, so that she could convince them that she was the queen of Neopia,” my light faerie friend explained. “I didn’t really see anything after that.”
“What was the order of the places where she searched for the artefacts?” I asked.
Nikkou thought long and hard for a moment, trying to recall the thefts in her vision by memory. “Hmm,” she pondered, “Neopia Central... Haunted Woods... Lost Desert... Altador... Shenkuu... and lastly Mystery Island.”
Brynn had a plan (which was good, because I couldn’t think of anything). “Okay, so you say that in each of these lands is a different artefact.”
“Correct,” Nikkou confirmed, although she could not understand where Brynn was going with this. “The artefacts are all sparkly, crystal balls with a wispy, coloured smoke in them. Each land’s crystal ball has a different colour smoke inside of it.”
“If we leave now, then we can head to each of these lands and snatch the artefacts before she can get her hands on them. Then, once we’ve rounded them all up, then we can destroy each object before Xandra can combine them,” Brynn suggested.
Hanso remembered something. “But wait, shouldn’t we return the items to Fyora first? As much as I enjoy stealing and breaking stuff, it is our job to redeem these sort of things for her.”
“Good point,” Brynn agreed.
Nikkou was infuriated by the sound of Fyora’s name. She hated that Hanso brought up that they should hand the artefacts over to Fyora. The Faerie Queen was the last person she wanted near the items, with the exception of Xandra, who nobody wanted to get a hold of the items. “You’re saying that we should just give the Faerie Queen the artefacts? I mean, the last time she tried to guard an artefact, Xandra still stole it.”
“What are you talking about?” Hanso asked. “I was the one who stole the artefact from Xandra. She didn’t steal it from me until after I stole it from her.”
“But you didn’t get a first-hand view of Xandra’s corruption!” Nikkou argued, her tone stentorian and coercive. “I taught her! I showed her the artefact in the first place—and before I knew that it would cause an issue, I must add. She tried to eliminate me right before she stole the object. Once I managed to teleport to Fyora’s castle, I tried to explain the situation to Her Highness. What did she do? She didn’t listen to me! She denied my powers! She didn’t believe that I had Shiryoku! She was ignorant! Idle! Single-minded! What happened after Fyora ignored me? Xandra escaped the Hidden Tower with the artefact. If ‘Her Majesty’ just took my warning into account, then we wouldn’t be here right now. Xandra wouldn’t have caused Faerieland to go plummeting into the ground. Xandra would have been punished right on the spot. The whole world would’ve been shrouded with peace and harmony. But look at what happened: Faerieland’s a wreck, Xandra’s back, and now we have a whole other problem to deal with! Why? Because Fyora’s a lousy, arrogant, prideful, ignorant leader!”
Brynn was enraged by Nikkou’s accusations. “Impossible!” she disagreed. “Fyora’s a better leader than that. She probably had her reasons for ignoring your pleas.”
“Yeah, she did,” Nikkou mocked, “and her response favored her beliefs rather than my facts! I would never want to give a traitor like the Queen the artefacts. Not if it’s just going to cause another near-apocalypse—or worse, a full-blown apocalypse.”
To stop the fight, I interjected, “How about this: Nikkou and I search for the artefacts ourselves, and you and Hanso go and search for them as well. Whoever obtains the most by the time both of our groups reach Mystery Island will decide what to do with them.”
No arguing... yet. It was a good sign. “It’s not a bad idea, to be honest,” Hanso admitted. “Competition’s a whole lot of fun. Especially when it involves stealing stuff.”
Brynn shrugged. “I guess it could work,” she considered.
Nikkou even seemed to agree, too. “Nice call, Sibunai,” she praised.
“So it’s settled, then?” I asked. “We’ll compete to decide who will get their way.”
In sync, everyone nodded their heads in agreement. As we did so, I convinced myself, We can do this. We will beat Hanso, Brynn, and Xandra. We will save Neopia from danger. We will take down Xandra once and for all.
Most importantly, we will win.
Nikkou ended my fantasy by pointing out, “It’s getting late. We need to hurry up and leave as fast as we possibly can. If Xandra’s on our trail, then we obviously need to hurry--especially since she’s incognito. For all we know, she could have transformed into a Symol! We need to be extra-vigilant, extra-stealthy, and extra-prepared for any surprises that show up along the way. Now, let’s go before she finds us and its’ too late.”
“Right,” the rest of us agreed.
Then, we exchanged friendly handshakes with our opponents. First, I shook Hanso’s hand. “May the best thief win,” Hanso declared to me as we shook hands.
“May the best thief win,” I agreed. After that, I told him, “Don’t steal too much, okay? We don’t need more of these hidden Symol hideaways all over Neopia. Not only would it give Xandra the idea that we were at a specific place, it would just detract from the landscape. “
“Got it,” he agreed, “but you’ve gotta agree to not steal too much as well.” The blue Ixi gave me a sly wink.
“Consider it done.”
We let go of each other’s hands. After that, Nikkou and I switched rivals. This time, I was standing in front of Brynn. For a moment, the two of us hesitated. After that, we exchanged a friendly handshake. “Look,” she told me, “I know you’re a thief and all, but—”
“I know,” I moaned, thinking that she was going to repeat what Hanso had told me, “don’t steal too much, blah, blah, blah...”
“Well,” she said, “there’s that, but I was going to say that I’m sorry for making Fyora’s guards chase after you earlier. Even though the book was stolen from the Queen’s library, you had good intentions, and I wouldn’t have gone all berserk on you if I understood your motives. Okay, I would’ve gotten a little bit ticked off, but still...”
“Oh.” I understood, somewhat embarrassed that I had misinterpreted the point that Brynn was trying to get across. “Well, thank you, I guess. Good luck to you and Hanso.”
“As with you and Nikkou,” she replied.
After we all had finished shaking hands, both teams backed up from each other. Nikkou and I then turned our heads to each other and exchanged glances. Hers was filled with hope and determination. Mine was filled with timidity and insecurity. I don’t know, I thought. Can we win? Do we stand a chance against Brynn and Hanso... or even Xandra herself?
However, as Nikkou stared me down with her enlightened smile (pun not intended), she instilled a feeling of hope into me. The feeling merely lingered, but it was there. Suddenly, my confidence raised. To answer my prior internal conflicts, I thought, Perhaps we can. We need to hurry, though. Hurry before it’s too late.
“We need to leave,” Nikkou pointed out, “now.”
Both teams went their separate ways. It was sad to think that our newly-formed alliance had to be put on hold for some time, but I was glad to think that it was for a good cause.
For the good of the world.
And this brings us back to where this story began. I was exploring the area surrounding Neopia Central while Nikkou was exploring the suburban city’s interior. We moved as fast as we could in attempts to find the artefact—a crystal ball that shone brightly in the daylight and was filled with a wispy, sky blue smoke. Although Nikkou was the one who had the dream predicting where every crystal ball was, she had no idea where any of the artefacts were. This made it very hard for us. However, I knew that the two of us would prevail.
Besides, after all that searching on the outskirts, I had an idea as to where it was. I was surprised that Nikkou hadn’t thought of it sooner.