Reporting live from Neopia Circulation: 98,096,637 Issue: 194 | 10th day of Relaxing, Y7
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Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Part One

by cpmtiger


Avalon sat glumly on the park bench as a cool evening wind ruffled his fur. Neopia Central Park was empty, except for the lone starry Kougra. Avalon sighed and looked up at the darkening sky. He was always alone. His mother and father were always at work, or in the locked house business room. He had no friends and was the only kid in his family. Avalon didn't even have a petpet.

      Avalon checked the park's clock tower and groaned. Almost 7:30. His parents would be home at about eight. They'd wolf down the dinner Avalon had made, and then lock themselves in the business room without a word to their son. It was the same every night, even on Saturday and Sunday. Reluctantly, Avalon leapt off the bench and left the park.

      He was about two thirds of the way home, about to leave the abandoned roads and enter his subdivision when Avalon's boring life changed forever.

      There was a thunderous BANG, so loud that the needles from the nearby pine trees ricocheted off of the trunks. Avalon ducked, paws over his head, peeking through a small gap.

      A foot or two away from Avalon, a large circle of fire colored light brighter and larger. A shadow was moving inside the ring. Seconds later, the whole circle flashed vibrantly, and a fire faerie emerged as the circle faded.

      The faerie wasn't wearing the usual garments most faeries wore. She had on a long, ruby red robe, embedded with small sapphires and diamonds. Her hair was long, and combed neatly back. A large pocket on the side of the robe bulged slightly, suggesting something was inside it.

      By now, Avalon had removed his paws from his eyes. Faeries had never brought him bad luck before. Still, this one looked frightened, and was out of breath. Her orange eyes fell on Avalon, who didn't say anything.

      "Are you Avalon?" the Faerie gasped.

      Avalon sat stunned for a second. "How do you know my name?" he asked.

      "There's no time to explain!" the faerie hissed, reaching into her robe pocket. Her eyes were darting all over the place, as if she expected something to attack. "I have something to give you." She pulled the thing out of her pocket and placed it in Avalon's paw.

      Avalon looked at it with a frown. "A Noil Gem?"

      "No, it's the Emerald Noil Gem," she said breathlessly. "You're the next Guardian."

      "I'm supposed to guard a Noil Gem?" Avalon asked suspiciously.

      "Listen, I can't tell you everything. There isn't time. You'll need to go to Heartfelt Cave, on Mystery Island. There's someone there who can answer your questions."

      Avalon looked at the necklace. It did look a little different from other Noil Gems. The Noil was made of emerald, and the chain looked like it had been made of sapphire. There wasn't a single print on the glimmering surface, and it felt oddly warm in Avalon's hand.

      "Why does it need a Guardian?" he asked.

      "Because if it gets into the wrong hands, all of Neopia is in danger."

      Suddenly a loud, grinding CAAA-RUNCH echoed through the path of trees. Avalon whirled around to see a pack of black Gelerts leaping from a churning black circle. The lead Gelert's read eyes narrowed as it saw the faerie. It crouched, ears back, and leapt, jaws wide open.

      The faerie, however, raised her palms, and twin jets of fire leapt from the center and struck the leaping Gelert in the chest. He fell to the ground, and didn't get up.

      The other Gelerts, silver teeth bared, stalked menacingly toward the Faerie, bodies lowered, ready to pounce. The Faerie didn't wait for them to make a move; she swung her palms forward, flames erupting at the Gelerts, who jumped back.

      "RUN!" the faerie shouted to Avalon as she blasted a Gelert in the face.

      Avalon threw the gem around his neck and began running. Over his panting, he could hear the sound of heavy paws. As he rounded a corner, Avalon caught sight of a large Gelert chasing him, its large teeth bared. "OK, then, you want to dog me?" Avalon thought angrily, "Well, I've got some tricks up my paw!"

      Avalon turned again, sharply this time, into the forest. The Gelert paused a moment, but then crashed into the forest. Avalon almost wanted to laugh at the Gelert. It tripped over every rock, hit its massive head on every low branch and got stuck for a second or two in every mud hole. Avalon had spent lots of his time exploring this forest. The Kougra Lily Woods were full of obstacles to stop those who weren't familiar with the terrain.

      Looking to his left, Avalon saw a gray, Pteri shaped boulder. As soon as the boulder was behind him, Avalon leapt.

      The Gelert was not so quick. When it saw the large chasm, it tried to skid to a stop, but to no avail. It howled as it plummeted toward the bottom of the canyon. Avalon, who was clutching the other edge with his front paws, closed his eyes as the howl died away. He heard a faint splash, and knew that the Gelert had landed in the narrow river. It might be able to swim to safety. If it hadn't died upon impact. Maybe it would live. But maybe Avalon had killed it. Avalon winced with guilt, and pulled himself up. Peering back down, he saw no sign of the Gelert.

      Avalon looked at the Gem, still hanging around his neck. Its tiny eyes glowed a warning red. Avalon turned around.

      He ran all the way home, even when he was back on lit streets. He kept glancing over his shoulder, looking for Gelerts. The only noise he heard was his own panting, and the occasional chatting of a carefree family. When his own, neat white Neohome came into view, Avalon slowed to a walk. His paws ached, and at the moment he only wanted to curl up on his bed and sleep.

      At the door, he paused, as always, to glare at the neat rows of flowers by the door. His parents had hired their own gardener to come to the house every day to weed the garden and keep it neat. The burly Skeith could be seen every day at noon, sweating over the rows of red, white, and yellow flowers. Avalon had never liked the neatness of the flowerbeds, especially since he was used to the wild, random beauty of the forest.

      Avalon had started to reach under the welcome mat to grab the spare key when something made him stop. He paused, staring at the Welcome mat as though it would explain his sudden sense of foreboding. On an impulse, he looked at the Gem around his neck. The two round Noil eyes were glowing red, and when Avalon touched it he felt a stab of heat. Paw shaking, Avalon turned the gold knob and opened the white oak door.

      The door should not have been unlocked.

      Avalon stepped inside, his paws muted by the thick green carpet. He looked around the front hall. Nothing unusual, just a pair of sofas that looked unused, a small coffee table with two decorative mugs and a candle topping it, a Brightvale window. Yet Avalon couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right.

      "Mom?" he called, voice shaky as it echoed through the house. "Dad?"

      Avalon entered the hallway, peering in every room. Nothing in his parents' room. The bathroom was dark and empty. He peeked into his own room, knowing all he would find was a mess of books and plushies. He stopped for a moment outside the closed office door, trying to control his breathing. Avalon put his ear to the door. The only sound was the music coming from his parent's Jazzmosis speaker. Putting his paw on the doorknob, Avalon called softly. "Mom? Dad?" The music went on uninterrupted.

      The door opened easily, with a soft creee-ak. Inside the workroom were two desks, one white, and the other black. His father's desk, the black one, held the speaker. A large pile of papers sat unused in the corner, next to a jar of black pens. A plate of dry toast sat next to a large box of paperclips and thumbtacks. Sitting in the large swivel chair, Avalon examined the papers. His father's signature was written all over the place, sloppy and rushed.

      Pushing the chair toward the white desk, Avalon noticed an official looking letter. He scanned the letter, blinked, and read it again. He couldn't understand the letter. Avalon had never understood business lingo. Avalon peered into a mug of cold coffee sitting by her own stack of paperwork. Annoyed, Avalon hopped out of the swivel chair.

     As he put it back at the black desk, Avalon realized something. The seat was warm now, but only because he'd sat in it. If his parents hadn't gotten home yet, the seat would be cold. He set one blue and gold paw on the white seat. It was warm. Avalon's heart speed up, and the knot in his stomach tightened. His parents had been here, but now they were gone.

To be continued...

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