A Shadow in the Light: Knowledge and Remembrance - Part Seven
Dawn soon came, but not soon enough for Dizzconnie. She
had to tell Sovan about Manov, to get everything straight for the moment. She
waited until the castle's mighty portcullises were raised and the small sector
of knights began their march toward Direwood. She quickly filled her leather bag
with food on the table and awoke Jinni before heading across the hall. She rapped
on the white painted door, twirling a lock of her bright orange curls with her
"What is it?" Sovan grumbled as he opened the
door, clearly surprised to see Dizzconnie. "Dizz-"
"There's no time to talk, pack up and get Xiakil.
It will be best if Frauns and Shanmei stay here," she barked, hearing Jinni
emerge from their own quarters.
Jinni clearly wanted answers for being waken
at the daybreak hour, so she asked, "Why aren't Shan and Fauns coming?" She
held Kitty, the Angelpuss dozing in her crimson clad arms.
Sovan reclosed the door, and Dizzconnie uneasily
glanced to Jinni. "We're going back to Direwood, and we can't bring too many
people. Frauns is afraid of heights and I've heard of Shanmei's fear of the
dark, so it's best if we leave them behind for now."
"Go back? But the knights are going, it's not
like they need back-up," Jinni grumbled, yawning slightly as she spoke.
Xiakil was clearly thankful to be able to leave
early. "These people can't forget the past. They dwell on what cannot be undone."
"Why is it that you are a beast to them, Xiakil?"
Sovan asked softly, writing on a small parchment a letter for Frauns to read
when he awoke.
The Lenny sighed and said, "It was after the
time of the empire... the Neopians in this area had no one to blame their problems
on, and it's natural for them to not look at themselves. My race must have seemed
the most vulnerable, I suppose, for many of us were warriors at the time. Once
one of the prejudiced pets led an army through Direwood, killing many Lennies.
Of course no one would admit that it was they who struck first, but they said
that we caused only trouble from then on even though most of my kind moved on
to other kingdoms where there was no hatred shown toward us." He heaved another
sigh, but shook off the silence. "It's no matter, I hold nothing against them
even if they cannot overlook their own economic troubles."
Sovan folded the letter and placed one corner
under the fruit bowl on the table before slinging his own sack over his shoulder.
"Come on, then, let's see what Dizz wants." He opened the door once more, and
the Faerie pet grabbed his paw. "What? Did I do something wrong again?"
"No, but we have to get to the Saave before
those knights do. We have to get Manov," she answered.
The Fire pet jerked his paw away and crossed
his arms. "Why? He can stay with them; he deserves their punishment as much
as they do. Do you not understand that he now has accepted their ways as his?"
"No, he hasn't! Just listen to me for once!"
Dizzconnie hissed, the other two drawing up beside them. "When we were separated
I found the clearing and I saw Manov. He was fine then, but that necklace...
Ugh, I don't know exactly what happened, but that chain has something to do
with his condition!"
"That was why you tried to take it when we saw
him..." Sovan finished, voice low and somewhat hesitant. "What happened when
he received the necklace? Did he take it willingly or did they force it on him?"
Dizzconnie shifted her weight. "Willingly, but
he's a kid, he doesn't know any better! I tried to stop him, but Daene stopped
"What pendant?" Xiakil questioned, pools narrowing.
The two described the ruby and chain, and Jinni
seemed to get more confused by the moment. "I don't know who Manov is, but I
think we had better get going now if we are to get to him before the sector."
"She's right, you can explain everything else
on the way."
Kax watched as Manov paced the length of the clearing,
her mind searching for what seemed wrong. "Stop pacing, you're making me crazy,"
she muttered, standing and stretching her stiff back. "Only several more days
and we'll be able to get the Summoning over with." And with those words, she
became more uncomfortable. She had sent a scouting party back to Ovalon to search
for the real Summoner, but again and again they would return and say that had
seen no one with the right aura. 'But we have seen it! This Zafara was the Summoner!
How could we have been wrong?' she thought further, and suddenly a possibility
came to her. "Get Daiile, I need to speak with him," she spat at once, sending
the Zafara into the foliage.
Manov seemed unsure as he made his way to the
clearing he had been taken to the day before, but before he reached the area,
a form began to follow him. He swiveled around, eyes widening as he saw Daene
with the pendant. "Why do you have that?" he snapped, taking a step forward
and pointing to the necklace.
"I picked it up from Daiile. I'm still pondering
whether to give it to you."
The Zafara kept back a growl. 'Stupid creature!
What did Chanook see in this crazy fellow?' He calmed himself and pressed further,
"Why think about it? I didn't know you knew how to use your brain."
The Krawk emitted a snarl and drew an older,
curved short blade. "You can continue to think that when I'm finished with you."
"And I still stand correct." Manov ducked as
the blade whistled over his crania, the metallic song becoming silent as Deane
began to twirl the pendant's chain on one of his clawed fingers. "You'd give
it to me if you held life dear."
Daene soon began to lose interest, which he
usually did, and flicked the necklace toward the Zafara, who caught it. "I have
no use for jewelry," he snorted, sheathing his short blade. He lifted his hood
over his face once more and veered around Manov, heading back to Chanook's clearing.
Swiftly Manov put the chain back over his neck,
but then he reconsidered and placed it in his ebonite cloak's pocket. The rest
of the way was uneventful, as it should have been anyway, and he instantly spotted
Daiile within the crowd of cloaked pets since he rarely covered his face. "Daiile,"
he shouted, causing heads to turn across the area. No one moved; however, Daiile
did come forward. "Kax seeks you," he hissed, eyes not leaving the others, whose
faces filled with distaste.
"Alright then, I'll see the ugly banshee..."
Daiile rolled his eyes for some unknown reason and followed Manov, who led him
back to the alabaster tree. "Aye, m'lady?" the Wocky asked, hiding his dislike
Kax growled and leapt from the cave's mouth,
staring him down. "About that Lupe! What were you going to say about him? You
said that you had seen him somewhere, but where? He knew the Zafara, but who
cares? Many probably knew him, the Lupe most likely had no time for the youth."
Her voice was a roar, her patience dissipating with every second that passed
with Daiile's silence.
"You assume too much, Lady Kax, for the two
were close by my many observations. Every day they were together, and that time
you saw the brat, the day you went to Ovalon with us, you only saw an aura in
his 'ome. But there were indeed two pets inside that 'ome, and if this kid is
not who you think 'e is, then it is the canine you seek!" His face was red in
a fury by the time his voice rose to a shout, and his fists were clenched. Yes,
now she knew that he had been listening to her when she would sneak off and
think aloud. How she had told him without knowing that she had made a mistake
that she could not fix... until he told her...
The Kougra was dazed, and, for the first time
since the Saave had gained its first follower, her auds drooped to the sides
in submission. If he knew that, he might know other things. She was on the chopping
block for blackmail. "Indeed... it is he whom I must find." She glanced to the
rim of trees, seeing Daene emerge. "Magus, fetch the Lupe from the dungeons!"
Daene jumped at the command, but bowed his head
before stampeding into the cave. The three outside could hear him give a yelp
of pain as he tripped on the last stair and tumbled to the ground.
Kax sighed. "Is there anyone in this wretched
forest who can do anything without making themselves look like a fool!?"
Manov was quiet. What were they talking about?
He was not the Summoner? No, that wasn't right. Mistress was just misdirected.
Chanook would never have let a flaw such as that occur in his days of glory.
His breath caught as Daene tore from the cave again.
"He isn't there!"
"Must stop," Sovan whimpered, burying his face in
Dizzconnie said firmly, "We're nearly there,
Swia flexed her wings, overlooking the area.
"So, we're close, correct? All day and night of running surely drew us to the
clearing much faster then you walking on foot would have."
"Of course, Swia, that's why we're along with
them! Oh, but I do wish we could stop for a good grooming..." Ti's weary voice
trailed off as Dizzconnie nudged him to slow his smooth canter to a walk.
"Stick in this area, but stay out of sight,"
Dizzconnie said as she and Jinni slid from Tiger Moon's back. "Xiakil, did you
see the tree from up there?" she called as the Lenny descended into the canopy
and perched on one of the lower branches of a nearby tree.
"No, not the tree itself, but there's a faint
dome of shadow over where it should be. You'd be surprised how close we are
"How on Neopia did we get here so fast? It took
us weeks to get out of here!" Jinni exclaimed as they began walking. Kitty was
left behind in Ti's saddlebag.
Xiakil laughed. "Sioxet only keeps the swiftest
of Unis, anyway, this time I flew the whole time and we didn't veer off course
like we probably did before." He released the branch and landed next to the
group, looking to the east. "This way."
They split up and slinked between the trees,
each as quiet as possible. Soon, the familiar voice of Kax reached them, though
her words were distorted by her shouting. The nervousness they each held seemed
to grow as they neared, the overhanging branches of the white tree slithering
into the canopy above.
"I want him found!"
"M'lady, Daene's already gone. You told 'im
to leave nearly an entire twenty-four hours ago, and 'e left! You cannot tell
IM to find the pet if 'e's already gone!" Daiile snapped back, clearly annoyed
by her ranting.
"If it were not for you telling me of this,
I would make sure the rest of your life was spent eating Slorgs," Kax said flatly,
glancing to Manov as she was starting to do more often. He had given up on trying
to ask her what was happening, so he had returned to his tree 'bed' and lay
Sovan shifted his course and began to make his
way around the clearing, to where Manov was settled. Dizzconnie had given him
the dagger for use, and he held it calmly. He hoped that his friend wouldn't
mistake him as his enemy. He saw Jinni's bright aqua wings from where she and
Dizzconnie hid in the foliage, and he held his breath, hoping they would not
be discovered. He was nearing Manov... 'Only a little further... nearly there...
no!' The Zafara instantly shot up, gaze landing on Sovan, who still held the
Manov watched Sovan advance slowly, but he made
no attempt to move. The chain was once more around his neck, but only the pendant
was visible as it was not covered by the cloak like the chain.
"Don't speak..." Sovan warned softly, stopping
near the tree, though the Zafara was only a couple feet above him now. He replaced
the dagger to its sheath, which he had kept, and held up his paws in surrender.
"We're only here to help you."
"The Summoner and the fraud cannot help one
another," Manov said bitterly, not identifying who was the real Summoner.
Kax instantly looked to Daiile and they both
slowly crept to the tree, revealing the Lupe. 'Get him, kid, don't let him get
Sovan started again, "I only-"
He wasn't able to finish for Manov leapt to
the ground beside him, sweeping his foot towards Sovan's ankles, which buckled
at the sudden impact. He grabbed the Lupe's blade and stood triumphantly above
"Bravo!" Kax praised, motioning with her eyes
for Daiile to aid Manov in binding the Lupe. "Now everything will not fall on
me... it will be Daene's burden for bringing the kid to me in the first place."
Manov glared at Kax, suddenly losing interest
in watching Sovan. What had she said? 'She is no longer my mistress if that
is how she will speak of me... When will Chanook return?'
Sovan saw his chance of escape since Daiile
had refused to come forward; he repeated Manov's own attack, bringing the shadow
pet to his back. He leapt to his feet, gathered the dagger from the ground,
and ran as quickly as his four paws would allow him. The other three reacted
just as quickly, loping to the Unis with haste. 'There is nothing we can do
for him. If the knights kill him... so be it,' he thought, sadness gleaming
in his orbs as he spotted Swia ahead.
'Keep running...' Manov willed himself, catching
sight of two other running figures, and another taking flight. Then Kax's words
came back to him, and he pulled to a stop. No, her Summoner could go free. 'If
I am no Summoner, then Chanook will not find out from me.' The three made it
to the Unis, and they sprinted from his sight, but no emotion was present on
the Zafara's face. The Summoning was but two days away by what Kax had told
him... he would perform his task and whether the outcome was what Chanook wanted
would determine the Kougress's fate.