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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 18th day of Swimming, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 32 > Short Stories > After Dark

After Dark

by scriptfox

A dark figure looked up from the clearing as a huge red Eyrie, highlighted by the setting sun, circled and then came down for a landing. Beams of magical energy suddenly shot across the clearing, pinning the Eyrie in a fireball, which it shook off with an explosive whump! as it landed. Striding over to the figure which had not shown any visible reaction to the fireworks, the Eyrie's alto voice filled the clearing. "Ah, there you are. Some greeting, I must say."

"I am not concerned about your opinion," came the cold reply. "I am waiting for someone else, and you are simply an unwanted distraction."

"Strange, considering you asked for this meeting with me," mused the Eyrie with a glint in her eye. "Or did it occur to you that your defences were defeated because you made them open enough to let me- and only me- in?"

"You? MonoKeras is a golden male Uni. You expect me to believe a red female Eyrie is the same thing? You are foolish, indeed. Prepare to be incinerated." The dark form raised a hand, but was stopped by his visitor's reaction.

Bending forward, the Eyrie hissed, "Have you not heard of the Lab Ray, Rouge?"

"So. You know my name. I should be impressed? Prepare to be destroyed."

"Rouge? Ah, yes. Rouge, or red... could it refer to hair, or to makeup, hmm?"

"Insults do not delay your end."

"Ah, such a tone. Rouge, make up and be friends, will you?"

The muffled figure groaned and dropped its arm. "Mercy! You've convinced me. Only MonoKeras would face certain destruction and make such a dreadful pun. Come, follow me." The Eyrie watched as her host moved towards a doorway set in a rock wall, then cocked an eye tuft as Rouge realised his visitor was so unexpectedly huge that she'd never get through the door. "Perhaps a change in plans," he mumbled.

"No need to bother on my account," the Eyrie said, and instantly her huge form smoothly shrank until she was small enough to sit on Rouge's shoulder- which she promptly did.

"What? What was that?"

"Magic," the Eyrie's soft alto boomed through the clearing as loudly as before. "After all, that is what you wanted me for. Why be surprised? Lead on." She dug her claws into Rouge's shoulder to emphasise her point.

Rouge growled a bit, but refused to be baited into any other remarks. He went inside and down the tunnel to one of his operations headquarters. Three other Kyrii in dark robes were waiting. They instantly sprang to their feet and stood at attention when their leader entered.

"Tylendal, the clever. Reginell, the lucky. Wintrin, the agile. Sit down."

He got prompt obedience to his command, but one of his commanders looked at the Eyrie on Rouge's shoulder in open curiosity. "What is this? Have you got a familiar for our operation tonight?"

"This is MonoKeras, a magician who will be aiding us this evening."

"Looks too small to be of much help," grumbled another of the Kyrii present.

MonoKeras' soft voice boomed through the room. "Would you rather I filled this space with my body as well as my presence? I can, most assuredly- ask Rouge."

Rouge's form shifted a bit, but his tone remained smooth. "MonoKeras is an ally from some time back, and I am hiring her abilities now."

MonoKeras wasn't silenced quite that easily. "Yes, I taught him how to defend himself against some types of magical attack during and after the Tyrannian war."

"And I showed you not to take conventional skills so lightly," Rouge retorted.

MonoKeras looked around and saw the respect in the eyes of Rouge's people when they saw the leader whose wrath and power they (quite rightly) feared being nettled by this newcomer. She chuckled slightly to herself and said, "with that settled, then, just what is this operation?"

Rouge continued with an air of ignoring his mercenary ally- amazing, considering that she had dug her claws into his shoulder quite firmly. "Right. You three are the best combination I have for an extraction team. Uriel and Rowan decided to raid Krawk Island and steal a fortune in Dubloons- on their own time. They got themselves captured, and now they are trapped in the secret dungeon there. We need to get them out before those pirates find out more about the Society of Dark Kyrii than they need to know."

"Don't worry, chief, we can handle it," Reginell boasted.

"You'd better, or I'll nail your hide to the walls just like I'm going to do to those two idiots when you get them back here. But you're not going to stand a chance against the magical barriers around that prison. They've got the island surrounded with one barrier, and the prison surrounded with its opposite. You can't get past the second."

"That's where I come in, no doubt," MonoKeras interjected. "What is it, a dark-light combination?"

Rouge's expression was hidden behind the hood of his cloak, but that did nothing to hide his rigid annoyance at being interrupted. "No, it's a light-dark set," he replied.

"Hmmmm...." the room hummed with MonoKeras' huge alto voice. "So your society really IS a dark one now."

Rouge growled under his breath. "Not dark enough to avoid publicity."

"No need to worry," MonoKeras said soothingly, "that owner got a few things wrong- like your death."

Rouge's laugh was more of a harsh bark. "Obviously. So are you going to take this job or not?"

"Of course. I'll use my duo amulet and we'll get your team in there and out in a trice. It'll cost you twenty thousand points, though."

"Agreed. And if you back out, it'll cost you your life."

MonoKeras sighed. "Always the dramatic one. Well get on with your briefing. Just how is this plan going to work?"

Rouge's chuckle had a rather nasty edge to it. "Even better now that I know you're an Eyrie." He ignored the strange looks the others gave him at that remark and started to give out the details of his quickly revised plan.

The moon gave just enough light to show a glimpse of a black figure flying high above the ocean. Even the keenest observer, though, would have failed to see the three Kyrii huddled on the Eyrie's back.

"OK, you bunch, hold your breath, first barrier coming up," MonoKeras told her passengers. Her claws clicked on the black and white speckled amulet on her chest and her form became even darker as she called upon the powers of darkness to hide them from the light barrier ahead. Her passengers had no need for it, having sworn allegiance to the dark already. They dived through the barrier with nothing more noticeable than a catch in breath, and MonoKeras continued the slow dive down to the dim form of the island ahead and below.

A brief whispered conversation took place between them after they landed in the undergrowth not far from their target, then three smaller shadows slipped out one way, and a larger one went the other.

A thumping sounded through the door to the dungeon as the huge white form of three-legs showed up at the entrance. The pirate guard looked up in some surprise. "Threelegs! What's an old swashbuckler like you doing up this late?"

"Arrrhhh, matey, do I look like one ta waste me time on foolish notions? I gots business down below with some of our scurvy captives."

The guard looked doubtful. "Well, OK, but I can't provide you any escort at this time of night. You'd better head straight for Cap'n Hooker's office and talk to him."

The old white Eyrie winked as he stumped through the door. "Wouldn't think otherwise, me hearty. I know Hook's ways."

The guard didn't look up as the thumping faded down the hall. It was just as well for his peace of mind that he didn't, or he would've seen Threelegs take the opposite turn, and see both white colour and wooden leg fade as MonoKeras resumed her normal colour and appearance. Scampering quickly down the passage, it took her only a matter of seconds before she reached the control room for the magical barrier guarding the dungeon. She opened it, and got a rather nasty shock when the light from the one small window revealed a sleeping form.

It wasn't sleeping for long, though, as the creak of the opening door roused the stout pirate within. "Arrrhhh, what?" He grunted as he blearily flicked on the lights. MonoKeras rushed him, but she wasn't quite fast enough for her opponent, who rolled out of the way and came up with cutlass in hand.

"Hah! Invade us, will you, you black-hearted knave? Taste the steel of Cap'n Hooker and meet your end!"

MonoKeras wheeled around to face the pirate who was advancing upon her. With a sizzling sound, she withdrew a flowing black sword of force in her left claw. She parried the pirate's advances with an almost bored air.

"Ya think you kin take me with that? Ain't no darkness more powerful than mine!" he grunted.

In answer, MonoKeras' force sword flicked her opponent's blade to one side, and a thrust to his chest brought about the sound of cracking crystal. He jumped back and pulled out the remains of a Dark Faerie amulet with a look of near horror. "What! You think to outdo me? Hah! You've lost already! Ain't no one that black going to take this engine down."

"Oh?" was the only reply he got. A higher pitched hissing sounded through the room, and MonoKeras now held a gleaming white sword of force in her right claw. The pirate screamed as she turned and brought it crashing down upon the magical apparatus behind her. In desperation, he plunged forward, cutlass tip angled straight for the huge red Eyrie. A casual backhand flip with her Sword of Light left his weapon clattering on the floor, and he fell back wide-eyed as he realised his hand was still clutching his dropped weapon. Another scream of tortured machinery sounded as he grabbed at the stump of his right wrist and MonoKeras brought her weapon of light down upon the generator again. Black ribbons of magic flew about the room, threatening to maim or destroy anything in their way. The Sword of Darkness in her left hand easily deflected or absorbed any of them that came too close to her, and another blow or two saw the machinery reduced to rubble.

MonoKeras looked back at her former opponent now crouched in the corner and spoke for the second time in their encounter. "Looks like you'll be able to live up to your name now, Hook."

"You gutter-bilge!" Captain Hooker snarled. "You'll never get out of here in one piece. Listen!"

MonoKeras theatrically cocked an ear tuft as she listened to the sounds of shouts and running feet. Sure enough, the alarmed pirates were about to descend upon the room in force. But she also heard the muffled clinks and thumps that signaled a quick and expert break-in job being done on the back where the prisoners were being held.

"Very interesting," she said calmly. Then, both swords of force whirled in her claws, shooting out ribbons of white and black magic that spun through the door into the halls outside. Screams indicated that they had found their mark, and she soon wove a web of combined Dark and Light that covered the door.

"Fool!" snarled the pirate captain. "That won't hold forever, and even if it did, you're trapped in here now! I told you you wouldn't get out of this," he added in a gloating tone.

MonoKeras settled back and eyed the former guard with amusement. "Think so? Well we can only wait and see, can't we?" With that, she sat down and pretended to ignore everything while she listened carefully for any more sounds from the Dark Kyrii team. After several minutes she was satisfied. Muffled shouts on the other side of the door indicated that the pirates there were still baffled as to how they could get in, and silence in the back of the prison indicated that the team was out safely. Nodding in satisfaction, she stood up, held both of her weapons aloft, and let them sizzle out of existence.

"So long, sucker!" she chuckled, and waved a sarcastic half salute to the pirate captain. With that, her huge form quickly shrank to the size of a sparrow, and she flew out between the bars of the window into the dark night beyond.

The extraction team was in the process of bundling their two wayward members into the waiting boat when a huge red fireball filled the sky. A loud shriek split the night air, causing everyone to look up to see the huge form of MonoKeras, streaming magical fire, flying away from the island in the other direction.

"C'mon you two," Tylendal said. "That light show is costing Rouge twenty grand, and he's going to be even more furious if it goes for nothing- if that's possible."

Reginall snickered. "He's gonna take it out of your hides, kids. He really hates it when someone else decides they can do their own robbing and pillaging without asking his permission first."

Uriel and Rowan only whimpered as they realised that the pirates would have been more merciful than the leader who was waiting for them back at their Society's meeting hall. But it was too late for that now. They could only gaze at the huge red fireball that MonoKeras had left in one last titanic explosion, and hope that it's resemblance to a setting sun wasn't an omen for the end of their own careers.

The End

With special thanks (and apologies) to Daverboy for Rouge and his Society of Dark Kyrii.

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