Firejewel: Part Four
"Okay," I said once I was inside the cottage. "Where
are we headed?"
"West," replied Aly, "That's where Frey lived
after she left her friend, Tasson, and it's also where the League originated.
If there's anywhere that we're most likely to find the League of Purity's headquarters,
"Great." I absentmindedly gazed out the window
after answering her, realizing that I hadn't had any sleep since yesterday evening,
and it was only early morning. I yawned, but resolved to set out to the West
today, no matter how tired I was. I couldn't let Dayne die and Frey win.
"There are dense forests and a few rivers between
here and the Western villages, so it'll be tough going," warned Terzin. "Especially
for Dayne in that cage."
There was a snort from the Island Zafara in
question. "It stinks like Weewoo poop in here!"
"Spare me the details," I begged, wincing. "We
have to leave now. The sooner we find the HQ, the sooner Dayne can be rid of
that stupid necklace."
"Right," agreed the Lupe.
Aly also nodded in agreement. "Let's go."
The first leg of the journey was easy enough.
All we did was walk across clear meadows and fields for about two hours. Dayne
lay snoring in the birdcage for almost the entire duration of this.
I was soon tired of hauling my roommate around,
and both my arms felt ready to fall off from pulling the cage. Terzin offered
to help me, and so we used some rope that Aly had brought to hitch the cage
behind Terzin in a carriage-like fashion. This was easier for him as Lupes are
more used to walking on all fours over large distances than Zafaras are.
We eventually came to the edge of a forest and
proceeded to travel through it. You can imagine my sarcastic joy at the sound
of Dayne telling me that she hated me after every root she bumped over.
Finally, we stopped to eat. I glanced from Aly
and Terzin's small rations of travelling breads and jams to our pre-popped bags
of microwave popcorn, bags upon bags of cookies, and chocolate chip and peanut
butter sandwiches, and rolled my eyes, too hungry to tell Dayne that she was
a hog when it came to junk food.
As I stood up from finishing my unhealthy meal,
I was suddenly motioned by Aly to sit back down. I could tell that she sensed
something was wrong. "What?" I mouthed.
"Follower," she soundlessly told me. A follower?
Someone had been tracking us? Why?
Aly stood up and casually sauntered over to
our stack of food. "I'm still hungry," she practically shouted. There was the
sound of grass dancing in the wake of running feet as our follower tried to
flee, but Aly had sighted the other Neopet. She snatched a stone off the ground,
and whipped it through the shadows of the trees.
There was a squawk of pain from the underbrush,
and Aly darted over towards the source of the noise. Terzin and I soon joined
her, leaving Dayne and her cage back in the clearing. The intruder was a Shadow
Eyrie who was now sporting a fresh scrape from the rock Aly had thrown.
"Whaddaya think you're doing?" demanded Aly,
pulling a long dagger from the folds of her cloak. I'd forgotten that she normally
carried weapons on her person.
"Put that thing away!" snapped the Eyrie, and
I could tell from the creature's voice that it was a female. "Let me go!"
"Answer the question," snarled Aly, "Then I'll
think about it."
The Eyrie snorted stubbornly. "Just walking
through the woods - which wasn't against the law last time I checked!"
"What's your name?"
"Aillara, if it's any of your business! Now
will you leave me alone?"
Aly's eyes narrowed, probing Aillara's countenance
for any trace of a lie. "I don't trust you," she hissed after a pause.
"S'not my problem whether you trust me or not!"
"Aly," said Terzin, "Maybe we should listen
to her. I mean, she hasn't done anything wrong."
"Don't tell me you can't feel it, Terzin!" snapped
the Striped Zafara.
Aly sighed raggedly. "Just watch her. I need
to talk to Sisslio."
"Me?" I asked.
"Yes, you! Get over here."
She led me away from the scene and towards a
large birch tree that was a fair distance from the Shadow Eyrie. "Sisslio, I'm
getting seriously bad vibes from that Eyrie."
"Yes, vibes! She has a weird, twisted aura.
Terzin won't listen to me."
"Here you go about auras again. What are they,
"It's the sensation of being that everyone naturally
gives off. Mages like me and Terzin can sense them. Like when I met you, I could
sense in your aura that you knew about Frey, so I suspected that you were the
Windstorm. I've always felt that my aura-sensing abilities were a little more
finely developed than Terzin's, so I guess he wouldn't understand."
"And I would? I didn't even know what an aura
was until now! Why are you coming to me?"
I could tell that I was irritating her with
my constant questions, although it was entirely unintentional. She fixed me
with a slightly frustrated look. "Because I trust you, okay?" she spat.
Now I was plain confused. She'd known Terzin
longer than she'd known me, and he was a more experienced mage than me, if I
even was a mage. I didn't think I deserved to be her confidante in this situation,
but I didn't want to get into an off-topic discussion, so I decided to listen
to what she had to say. "Okay, so she has a weird aura. What were you thinking
of doing about it?"
"I don't know. It's just…if she was following
us for a reason, then it could be dangerous. But if she was supposedly passing
by like she said, maybe she just has her own problems that I was able to sense.
I don't want to take chances, though. Maybe…we should take her with us, so we
can keep an eye on her."
"You really think she could be that much of
a threat? I can understand any concerns, but isn't keeping her with us a little
"Yeah, it is, but I just have this feeling that
we should. It's crazy, but it's how I feel." She gave a small shiver, as if
Aillara's bad "vibes" had just run through her.
I sighed, then gave her my answer. "Well, I
trust you too, so I'll go along with it. Funny feelings are often good to listen
too. That Eyrie won't like it, but she's coming with us."
Aly face adopted a relieved expression. "Thanks."
"Sure. Now let's get back over there and tell
"He's not gonna like it."
We did just that, and Aly was right to predict
the Cloud Lupe's dislike.
"But she hasn't done anything," he argued.
"Yet," retorted Aly.
"Well, if you're sure you sense something wrong…"
"I'm not quick to agree, but if you're certain,
I believe you."
"Good. Now, how can we keep her with us? Y'know,
so she won't run away?"
I thought about this for a moment and had the
answer in seconds. I began my proposition. "How about we put her…"
"…IN MY CAGE?! NO WAY!"
"Dayne, we can't do it any other way."
"I'm not sharing this tiny thing with someone
who could potentially kill us. Either she stays out, or you let me out."
I sighed in frustration, as I always did talking
to Dayne. "I know you won't fit together, but you both need confinement. Frey
could possess you again any minute, and I don't want to risk it."
Dayne rolled her eyes, but then lowered her
head, thinking. She then looked up and looked me in the eye. "How about I come
out of here and you keep me tied up and on a leash or something, and she moves
into the cage."
We ended up going along with Dayne's idea. We
didn't have enough rope for a leash, so we had to unbind her legs and gird her
waist with that rope. This allowed her to walk, able to travel with us, but
still remain unable to do anything dangerous.
Aillara was expected to be unpleasant company,
but she surprised us. For all the hours until evening, she didn't make a sound,
just remained curled up in her own company.
When the sky finally darkened, masked by the
cloak of night, we stopped for the day. Terzin, Aly, and I all settled into
our sleeping bags, and we tethered Dayne to a tree. As for Aillara, we placed
her cage nearby and put rocks near each wheel to prevent her from rolling away.
I gazed up at the stars, knowing that somewhere
under the same atmosphere the HQ of the League awaited us. If only we could
find it. I rolled over, and sleep overtook me.
The dream lasted mere seconds.
White walls of ice surrounded me, and behind
them I could see the silhouette of a Zafara, sword in paw. She was coming for
me. It was getting colder.
Her voice chilled my blood. "I am upon you,
I woke up suddenly; sweat stinging my skin like
acid. I began to take a deep breath to shake off my fear of the dream, but could
It was then that I felt the rope tightening
around my neck. I groped at my throat, struggling to rid myself of the strangling
length, but my efforts were frozen at the sound of Dayne's voice, horrifically
malformed by Frey's vengeance.
"I am here."
To be continued...