Agent of the Sway: Resistance - Part One
7 Years Ago...
The heat of the Tyrannian sun burned down on the back of the Ruki as he scrambled across the camp.
"Miss Fairweather!" he called. "Miss Fairweather! Lilian!"
He burst into a tent, disturbing the Xweetok from her work.
"What is it?" she asked, looking up from her papers.
"Greyfang's trench!" he struggled to get out as he caught his breath. "You'll have to see this, trust me!"
He led the Xweetok back across the camp, to the dig on the outskirts. There, a purple Lupe was busy dusting off a stone tablet.
"Greyfang?" Lilian asked. "What is it?"
The Lupe leaned back, revealing the tablet. It seemed to be filled with ancient Tyrannian writing.
"It's a tablet, looks to me to be standard Tyrannian, something about Mystery Island," he said.
"Something important?" she asked.
"Not by itself, but look at this," Greyfang answered.
Nodding at the Ruki, the pair of them hoised the tablet upright. On the bottom side, there was a similar display of Tyrannian writing, but it looked subtly different.
Lilian was on it in an instant. She gasped.
"I thought so," the Ruki said with a broad smile. "Murphy's dialect, isn't it?"
"My father's work..." she said. "His whole lifetime, validated at last. He'll need to see it. Greyfang, I'm leaving you in charge of the dig - this needs to get back to my father and the Seekers immediately."
The old Lenny stared across the Catacombs.
Neopia Central was a curious place, the Duchess considered. The various crime lords she allowed to run the place thought in such small terms, as if the entire city was the world and their small slice of it a country. The Sway tended to think in somewhat grander ways.
It would soon be time to change the way Neopia Central worked, she thought. She had candidates in mind - a Shenkuu exile seemed promising. But that was a matter for a different day. There were other issues that needed to be dealt with first.
She watched the brown Kougra approach across the cavern and take the seat opposite her. Clayton Moore, one of her best agents.
"We're meeting outside now?" he asked.
"Yes, Agent Rook," she replied. "Another measure I have decided upon in the wake of Lady Falmouth's purge. Too many agents making their way to my home may allow it to be located - and me, as a result."
Clayton nodded in response.
"While you were in Meridell a few years ago, Duke Hopesmeade carried out a little task for me," the Duchess added. "Stopping a crazed shaman on Mystery Island."
"He filled me in on what I missed," Clayton said. "Tura-Kepek, wasn't it?"
"Yes," she said. "He was never truly defeated, we gave him something of a verbal warning, and we have since been monitoring his movements in case he tried another grab for power. He appears to have located another method of summoning the caged beast within the island's volcano. He will require six magical wards that my predecessors scattered across the planet centuries ago. We have begun the process of recovering them ourselves to hamper his plans... The first ward we are searching for is in Tyrannia, I have an agent there posing as a archeologist. However, the excavation has thrown up a new avenue for us to pursue."
"You remember our old friend Dr. Sloth? Banished to the edge of the solar system to rebuild his fleet?" she asked. "Our sources suggest that he is only a year away from reaching his former power. At that point, we believe he will launch an attack on the Virtupets Space Station to retake it, and then attempt to mutate the population of Neopia as he did last time. We must be prepared for this attack, and if possible, have a counter measure to the mutation ray ready."
"How does this relate to Tyrannia?" Clayton asked.
She provided a little smile.
"I'm getting to that, dear," she said. "Dr. Sloth is an ancient being, and long before he used orbital space stations he had secret facilities hidden on the surface of Neopia. Most of these he destroyed, but a few he was careless with. One of his first laboratories was on an island, where he experimented on Petpetpets. The island is protected by a storm generator that shipwrecks any ships attempting to find port - but a few sailors tell tales of it. One in particular is known as Mad Tongue Murphy, who was shipwrecked on the island centuries ago and proceeded to write a journal of his experiences, before swimming out to sea far enough that he was rescued. The journal has been largely untranslatable until now, but he told tales of giant Petpetpets until his death."
"Until now?" Clayton asked.
"As part of the Tyrannian excavation, a tablet that details the dialect of Tyrannian that Mad Tongue Murphy spoke has been discovered," the Duchess said. "The Seekers have already translated it, and we believe they will soon launch an expedition to the hidden island. You will be aboard the ship - learn all you can of Dr. Sloth's research facilities on the island, and then report back to me."
Clayton nodded, and the Duchess handed over a file that contained all he would need to know.
"Excellent," she said. "I believe they are recruiting for the voyage on Krawk Island. Get there immediately."
Hugo Fairweather appeared to be the head of the research into Mad Tongue Murphy's journal. 'Head', in that he was the most senior member of the Seekers involved. In reality, there were only three people interested. Hugo, his daughter Lilian who had found the Tyrannian translation, and the pair's assistant, Werther.
The rest of the Seekers considered Murphy's journal a joke, and Hugo too, by the quickness with which they dismissed his ideas during the Seekers symposium on Krawk Island.
"Oh no, not this stupid island again!" one shouted.
The Tonu giving the lecture blanched.
"Er... Umm.. Yes, well..." Hugo hesitated, looking through his notes. "With some careful analysis of the syntax, I believe we could discover the location of this place. An island such as the one spoken of in here could be the find of the century!"
"You mean the hoax of the century!" a Lenny mocked.
"Stop dabbling with myths, old coot!" a Skeith agreed. "It's starting to get to your head!"
"The journal speaks of terrible wonders to be found!" Hugo tried to make himself heard over the heckling. "This island could be a veritable treasure trove of historical artefacts and scientific phenomena! I would like to organise an expedition to prove its existence-"
"Expedition!?" someone called. "Ha! You mean fools errand!"
People were getting up to leave. From the shadows at the back of the room, Clayton could see that all hope of a large scale Seekers operation was gone. Fairweather would have to operate outside of their organisation for this one.
"No one would want to go chasing after a madman's rumours!" one of them said as a parting remark.
"I'll go," a new voice said from the doorway.
An orange Lutari was leaning nonchalantly against the frame, dressed ready for an adventure in the deepest jungle.
"Roxton A. Colchester, the third. Adventurer," he introduced himself. "If there's an inch of Neopia that I haven't explored, then I want to be there."
"I am most grateful for your enthusiasm, young sir," Hugo said, stepping down from the lectern. "My name is Professor Hugo Fairweather. This is my daughter Lilian and my assistant, Werther.
Clayton noted the Xweetok, Lilian, and the little JubJub that could only have been Werther.
"Pleased to meet you all," Roxton said. "No need for thanks, Professor; I should be the one thanking you. I live for opportunities like this."
"Splendid!" Hugo said, shaking his hand. "We shall set off as soon as we can find passage!"
Clayton followed the four of them as they left the Seekers meeting house, keeping a safe distance of course. They made their way to the port, and tried a string of likely looking sailors. All of them seemed to decline when they heard of their destination - the island from Murphy's journal. Some believed it didn't exist, others still that it was cursed.
At last, they were directed towards a tavern away from the main docks, where they were told they could find a captain who would take any job provided it paid enough.
"Excuse me," Hugo said, sitting down in front of an Ogrin in a thick rain coat. "Are you Captain Rourke?"
"Depends on who's askin'," the Ogrin grunted in response, taking a swig of his grog.
"I am Professor Hugo Fairweather," the Tonu said. "My expedition and I are seeking passage to the mysterious island spoken of in this journal..."
He placed Murphy's tome on the table.
"I've heard tell of that island," Rourke said simply. "If I'm Rourke, what makes you think I'd want that ol' curse on my head?"
Roxton gave a little smile as Hugo floundered. The Lutari moved forwards a dumped a sizable bag of Neopoints on the table.
"We're willing to make it worth your while," Roxton told him.
"And you forget the more positive part of the legend," Hugo added. "The 'rich wonders'."
Rourke seemed to consider this, before scooping up the bag of Neopoints.
"Meet me by the SS Primella at sunrise tomorrow," he instructed. "Don't be late."
Clayton wasn't late. In fact, he arrived quite early. As soon as Hugo and the others left the tavern, Clayton made his way towards the Primella - a fine and sturdy looking ship. He stowed himself away in the cargo hold below deck and settled in for the night.
Early in the morning, before the Captain or Professor arrived, he noticed another stowaway creeping aboard the ship - a young Gnorbu. He didn't have time to investigate, as before long the Professor's party and the Captain arrived.
Once their cargo was loaded, the ship was off, and stowaway or not they were set on their course.
The Gnorbu had been foolish enough to hide on deck in some barrels. Werther soon toppled into them and revealed him.
Rourke was all for throwing him overboard, but Roxton managed to convince him otherwise, suggesting that he join the expedition.
Rourke agreed, on the condition that the young boy, Scrap as he was called, was put to work on the ship.
With that, the crew was set, and the voyage began. Following the charts in Murphy's journal, Rourke set the course.
To be continued...