Needed: Part Eight
FOR A WEEK, the junkyard pets did nothing. The Soup Faerie
stayed with them and helped them to bury Cap just outside his little cave, but
other than that, they ate little, spoke little, and slept as much as they could
through the pain of their loss. Feruli had silently laid down on top of the
grave and refused to move, and of course Silviana had remained loyally beside
him. On the night of the seventh day though, it began to rain, and she was finally
able to convince him to get up and seek shelter.
After Feruli left his vigil, things began to
get back to normal. Without much thought or planning, Feruli and Dantam became
leaders, Feruli because he had been the first one that Cap had taken under his
claw and Dantam because of the final words that Cap had spoken to him, both
of which the other pets respected without question. The other Neopets continued
to wake up every morning as soon as the first hints of the sun were visible
and receive their orders for the day from Allegra, who was as efficient as ever.
They went out into Neopia and did their jobs, bringing back food and goods to
share with each other as they continued to survive. But there were no more stories
at night to lull them to sleep, and Dantam found the silence as twilight fell
to be almost smothering.
It was at these times that he was always most
aware that although they had gone on with their lives, things were not the same.
There was a certain sense of despair that hung over the once lively encampment
in the centre of the junkyard. It seemed to him that the others were willing
to continue with their old routines in order to stay alive, but they hurt too
much to really feel alive any more. Dantam was saddened by the thought that
they had lost the most important part of themselves in more ways than one.
After a month of living in this way, Dantam became
desperate to find a way to fix things, to bring his friends back to the way
they had once been. He laid awake each night, thinking about how the loss of
Cap had mad him feel, hoping that if he could understand their wounds, then
perhaps he could mend them also. His revelation came late one night as he lay
halfway between sleep and wakefulness. The picture of Cap that swam before his
mind's eye suddenly blurred and became another face, one that he had not allowed
himself to think about in a long time-- Madison.
He realised that while he was experiencing the
pain of loss for the second time in his life, it was rawer and fresher for the
They had never quite felt this pain before because
they had never been loved before they had met Cap. They had been hurt by the
abandonment of their former owners surely, but they hadn't been hurt with the
same depth that Dantam had when Maddy had left him, because their owners had
not really loved them. And Dantam had been able to move on after the loss of
Maddy because he'd found love elsewhere, with Cap and his new friends. But after
Cap was gone, the homeless pets had no one left to love them, no one to lessen
their pain. After many sleepless nights in turmoil over the situation of his
friends, Dantam finally felt himself drifting into a peaceful sleep. As he closed
his eyes, the old, gnarled Skeith floated before his vision again and he remembered
Cap's last words to him. As the comfortable darkness of sleep engulfed Dantam,
he knew what he needed to do.
The next day, Dantam approached Feruli and Allegra
and informed them that he'd be going out with one of the teams on duty that
day. The Eyrie and Lenny both gave him puzzled looks at this announcement. For
the past month, the three of them had always stayed behind in the junkyard in
order to arrange things, organise, and plan for the next day while the others
went out. But neither seemed to have the strength to really question his decision,
so Dantam was free to go on scavenging duty with his old team, which was now
led by Rorro.
As they walked through the streets of Neopia
Central, Dantam found himself examining every passer-by that he saw, utilising
his observant nature. Before long he was lagging behind as he often paused or
slowed to watch someone more carefully. Finally growing impatient, Rorro snarled
back at him, "Excuse me, oh great leader, but you're slowing us down!"
Dantam didn't even bother turning his head to
face the exasperated Kacheek as he focused on a certain human walking by. Still
not looking at Rorro, he replied, "Go on without me Rorro. I know your favourite
alley. I'll catch up later." With that he headed off in the opposite direction
after the human he'd been watching. Rorro gritted his teeth, miffed over having
his authority as team leader ignored, but he soon turned back to his route and
led the party onward.
Dantam reappeared around noon, greeting the others
nonchalantly as though he hadn't been missing at all and joining them as they
sorted through a particularly fruitful dumpster. Rorro put his paws on his hips.
"And where have you been all day? Did you find a bone you had to bury or what?"
"Don't worry about it, Rorro," Dantam said,
putting just enough of his new authority into his voice to shut the huffy Kacheek
This became the pattern of Dantam's days. In
the morning, he always joined a team whose duties would keep them in Neopia
Central, and he always kept an eye out as they walked the streets. Most of the
other pets didn't bother questioning him when he wandered off, and after a while
they even began to simply expect it. Only Dantam knew where he went and what
he was doing in those missing hours before he returned to the group, but they
still placed a trust in his mysterious behaviour.
Although they still had no idea of his reasons,
none of them were terribly surprised to find that one morning Dantam even set
aside the pretence of going out on duty with one of the teams and simply left
the junkyard by himself without a word to anyone. Dantam arrived at the Soup
Faerie's humble cottage just as the sun had fully come up the mountains east
of Neopia. He scratched at the door and when the faerie appeared in the doorway
and looked down at him, he stated, "I need your help." The Soup Faerie nodded,
the corners of her mouth turning up just barely as she moved back to allow the
Gelert into her tiny home.
Dantam had hardly finished explaining his idea
before she had agreed to go along with it. They worked all day to implement
his plan, with the Gelert dictating while she wrote letter after letter and
then handed the stack of parchments to him. Dantam was surprised when the Soup
Faerie actually pulled him into a warm hug as he started out the door, but he
relented gladly. "Good luck Dantam," she said, "I know this is what Cap wanted
you to do." Dantam felt his eyes misting up, but with his mouth full of papers,
all he could do was nod in response. He turned away and set out to deliver his
letters all over Neopia.
It was late at night when Dantam finally returned
to the junkyard. Without a word to anyone or a bite to eat, he laid down exhaustedly
in his old barrel and fell asleep right away. Feruli, Silviana, Allegra, and
Brenner had stayed awake waiting for their friend, and they breathed a sigh
of relief when they finally made out his shadowy coat against the shadows of
the evening. Still they did not ask him where he had been all day, used by now
to the Gelert's strange behaviour.
Dantam slept in late the next day. When he finally
awoke, he noted that his friends seemed relieved that he decided to stay in
the junkyard rather than go out for once. He wondered how they would react when
they discovered what he had planned for that evening. The day went on normally
enough, although Dantam was restless and nervous, constantly wandering the junkyard
looking for something to do. Soon enough, the end of the day approached, the
other Neopets began to return from their hard day's work, and Dantam was able
to occupy himself with helping Feruli collect and distribute the food that they
brought home with them. Although his body seemed to have found something to
do with itself, however, the others noticed with a mix of concern and curiosity
that his mind still seemed to be wandering. He acted strangely and kept gazing
over toward the east entrance to the junkyard, where pets were still filing
in and being checked off of Allegra's list. Feruli finally resolved to talk
to Dantam later that night and find out what was going on.
Suddenly, a startled squawk sounded from the
east, and everyone turned, alarmed, to see Allegra come running into their little
encampment. The normally calm and reasonable Lenny's feathers were ruffled as
she ran into the centre of the camp, still screeching incoherently. "Allegra,
what is it?" Feruli called, running up and trying to calm her.
To be continued...