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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 30th day of Storing, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 67 > Continuing Series > The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part Four

The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part Four

by meratocat

I probably should have guessed that Zarrel Charmain was up to something earlier, considering that she was pacing around back and forth like a disgruntled Kougra, but my wits must have been slow, for it took me until that night to figure it out.

     The night had darkened about us, and I had lain down to sleep, though I could find none. Kirin, and Zana Taru were breathing softly with sleep, while Zarrel was lying down next to Kowl who was shivering even though the night was hot. We all worried deeply for his health.

     No matter how hard I closed my eyes, and no matter which way I turned, I could not get myself to sleep even though I was weary of heart and mind. No rest for the weary I guess, bet even so it prevailed in the end. Upon not being able to sleep, I got up, preparing to just go get a drink of water from the lake which was only a short walk from here, but my plans changed abruptly.

     As I walked past Kowl I realised that Zarrel Charmain was not near him as she had been before I closed my eyes. I perked my ears, and managed to catch the soft sound of her feet trampling through the foliage a ways off, and being curious, I decided to follow.

     I jumped up into the air, and took flight, flapping as silently as I could. I scanned the underbrush below me for a sight of Zarrel's red flank, and though my eyes are not close too as good as normal in the dark, I managed to make out a shadow. A shadow heading for Laxcorna.

     I smiled to myself, guessing her game. She was going to head off for a healers, but she did not go off in secret because she was too proud to admit that she could do nothing for the green bundle of fur, Kowl, but instead she had slunk off alone, for she did not wish to put any of the rest of us in danger. I was lucky to have her as a friend.

     I let the small gusts of wind lift me higher into the sky, for now that I knew where she was headed, I could head her off. She wasn't going into danger without her partner at her side! Even if that danger was only as a sly cats danger when crossing a vicious sleeping dogs yard to steal his meat-bone. As long as we were careful, and kept silent as we trod the grass nothing would happen, but then again, there always was the chance of the dog suddenly waking up, and chasing us over the fence.

     I veered to the right flapping my wings, and making my direction towards the general course of Laxcorna. I tried to take my time, for even though I knew that Zarrel would be heading there with all speed, upon the wing I was must faster.

     Finally, from above Laxcorna's Eastern side I closed the distance between the ground, and myself. As I closed in, I saw Zarrel's dim form appear out of the thickets of the forest. She looked right, left and behind to check for followers, but she didn't look up, so because of that I practically lost my beak when I landed at her heels.

     With a big swoop, and a wave of flying feathers, I landed right behind her. "You are not going anywhere without me," I said, but upon landing I had triggered the defence mechanism inside of Zarrel, and with a flash of her cape she had turned, and had her dagger in my face.

     Stopping inches from my face, she let out a sigh of relief. "Never! I mean never do that again Dorono! I thought that you were some flying menace sent from the mountains, and next time I might be a little quicker with the blade, and not manage to stop in time, and end up slicing your beak in two!"

     "If that does happen, I'll hold you accountable for getting me a new beak."

     "And I'll hold you accountable to fix any notches you beak gives my blade."

     "If your blade doesn't notch upon steel, I doubt that it will notch upon my beak," I said with a slight chuckle. I always did wonder what substance her blade was made of. She never had to sharpen it, or fix up the blade, for it was always razor-sharp, just like a newly foraged blade. I asked her once, but she did not know for it had been a present to her from Kirin while she was still a young Zafara. Upon asking Kirin, I found that he didn't know either, for he had found it in the deep marshy regions of Talakamar.

     "You know why I didn't want to bring you here... don't you?" Zarrel said looking into my eyes. Most can't stand her gaze very long; looking into those icy eyes, not even Kirin can stare very long. Though I found it to be no problem for me. "I did not want to put you into danger, I already do that enough."

     "No problem, now let's go." And then with that, I followed Zarrel as she led the way through the dark streets, and twisted alleys of Laxcorna.

     Soon enough, we saw the building looming up ahead of us. It was silvery in the moonlight. Though in the suns burning light it would be white. It had large pillars carved at the entrance, and stone statues of pets on the edges of the stairs that led to the front door, which was a story in its self. It would have taken me a year to spot out each carved figure upon that door, each wrote with bits of colour, to make them look like they were alive.

     Zarrel tapped me upon the shoulder as I stood gawking at the door to the place. "Come on Dorono, we can't enter through the front door. We might as well just run up screaming our names." And with that we went around to the side.

I looked up the large buildings face, and then turned to Zarrel, "They really overdid themselves here."

     "Yes they did. Too bad for them, it isn't even close to being impenetrable, and they believe that they have no reason for guards either, so we don't have to worry about archers and that sort." She took a long gray coiled up rope from her pack. "I guess that with you I won't need to use this." And she stuck it away back in her bag.

     I bent my knees down, and then Zarrel slung a leg over my back, and upon her grabbing hold of my mane, I took flight. It was a short silent flight up to a balcony filled with plants of many types, some medicinal, others not. It was around the third floor of the place, somewhere near the top. More of a temple then a healer's sanctuary.

     Zarrel Charmain and I made our way past all the plants to the door without steeping upon a single leaf. We walked up to the door, and upon testing it, Zarrel let out a sigh. "Locked, as I expected." She reached into her pack, and pulled out a small crimson silken bag. She upturned the bag, and let drop into the open palm of her hand several lock picks, and then begun to try them one by one on the door.

     "So have you taken up with thievery now?" I jeered at her.

     "I just find that their tools can be very helpful for the job. AH! Here it is." And then with a satisfying click, the lock gave way, and we were able to slink into the building as Zarrel packed away her tools.

     It was dark and all was silent inside. Upon the walls we could make out small statues of different creatures, and things. There were many paintings upon the walls too. Paintings of white robbed creatures holding up the sick, or of creatures mixing remedies. In a way, the whole place reminded me of a cathedral.

     We ascended down the large golden stairway towards a large airy room. We tiptoed across it, cringing with each steep as we listened to the echoes of our footfalls upon the marble floor. We were able to finally able to tread the ground with a little less worry as we walked onto a large soft rug. Whatever material it was made of must have long since left our knowledge, for it was as soft as a feather, yet as brilliantly coloured as a rainbow Kougra's coat.

     It was as we were walking across this carpet that we saw it. A small flickering of light, accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet.

     Slowly, Zarrel and I made our way towards the light, careful to make no sound save that of our breath, which even so was as quiet as mist in a cold night. Soon we were able to get a clear view of the light wielder. He appeared to be an elderly Gelert, and the light was that of a torch.

     Zarrel Charmain and I looked into each others eyes, and understood without words as to what to do. As Zarrel slowly crept into the shadows behind the Gelert, I walked ahead in front of him, and upon counting to ten I showed myself to him. He looked at me, but before he could let out a gasp, Zarrel had wrapped a hand around his mouth, and I jumped forward, catching his torch before it could hit the ground with a clash.

     "I am going to uncover your mouth old one, and you best answer my questions, unless you wish to fell the cold steel of a blade. Now you mustn't scream or make any noise whatsoever. Hear!" Zarrel Charmain said in her dreariest of tones, and then upon seeing the Gelert nod his head, she loosened her grip.

     "O-o-okay," he said in a shaky voice. "W-w-what do you w-w-want."

     "Nothing much," said Zarrel Charmain. "Just show us where the master of this place can be found. We will not cause any harm as long as you don't retaliate."

     The Gelert looked at us, and then upon looking at our blades, he quickly said, "F-f-follow m-m-me!"

     Keeping a hand upon his shoulder, Zarrel and I followed him across various rooms, and finally up to a large door. "H-h-he is in t-t-there," said the Gelert, and upon walking in, Zarrel took out her blade, and twirled it dangerously close to the old Gelert, and with a wail his eyes rolled over, and he fell down unconscious at our feet.

     Zarrel Charmain and I raised an eyebrow at his act, but then we both spun around quickly as a voice sounded behind us. "Who is there?" We spun around, blades in hand, only to be met with a very elderly looking Mynci still in his nightdress.

     "We request information," said Zarrel Charmain walking up to him, blade still in hand.

     "Well, then. We give information freely here, you need not sneak in, or bring weapons if you do not wish to steal anything of ours." I had already placed my blade back in its scabbard, and then upon looking into the wizened old Mynci's face, Zarrel too placed her blade away.

     "Watch out master Yodok!" and the seemingly unconscious Gelert jumped upon Zarrel's back, knocking her to the floor. Quickly springing into action, I jumped forward, knocking the Gelert into the far wall, this time really rendering him unconscious.

     Zarrel quickly stood up, pulling out her blade, and facing it towards the old Mynci, Yodok, who was kneeling down next to the Gelert "Apparently I waylaid more trust in you then I ever should have!"

     "Please do not fret my young Zafara. I did not ask him to attempt that foolhardy attack. He is lucky that he got out unhurt for attacking you, for I do know whom you are. Most do." Zarrel growled at him, not lowering her blade one inch. "Like I said before. Please do not fret Zarrel Charmain, for I mean no harm. As long as you come here with good intentions, you should be allowed to do as you please. Whether or not you be an assassin. Here, follow me; I shall lead you to our hall of records. Perhaps you can find the information you desire there." And then he started to hobble off.

     I looked down upon the Gelert on the floor, and then turned to Zarrel. "Perhaps your rope will turn out useful after all."

     Leaving a bound and gagged Gelert upon the floor, Zarrel and I quickly hurried off after the Mynci who moved with much speed for his great age. We followed him down a flight of stairs, down to the lowest level of the building, and towards a vast hall of records. There were many books there, and even if we had ten years to spend there just reading, we would not have even finished digesting half of that information.

     Zarrel Charmain and I each chose out a book, and sat down to begin looking through it. I skimmed through a book called 'Plagues of our People' and then one called 'Danger from the Mountains' and found not one thing that I was looking for. Basically I only found stuff on old wives tales, and natural disasters. I could find nothing with any relevance to the disease with which Kowl was affected.

     Zarrel and I sat there for hours, going through many different books, with the old Mynci looming always over our heads. As Zarrel finished looking through another fruitless book, she slammed it down with a curse. "We shall never find anything this way! There are enough books here to keep us occupied for years, and yet we may never find anything that is on Merikao's Illness!!!"

     Suddenly the old Mynci leaned forward, putting his face right up to Zarrel's. "Did you just say that you are looking for information about Merikao's Illness?"

     "Yes," Zarrel said, slitting her eyes towards Yodok. "What do you know of this illness?"

     "I know little, but what I know may be of help. Why do you wish to know first?" Yodok said leaning over on the table.

     Zarrel looked down towards the ground, her eyes watering up a bit, but then she stifled away the tears, and looked back up towards Yodok, "It is for my son... Kowl. He has come down with this disease. I will do anything and everything in my power to save him."

     Yodok looked over at Zarrel, "Though most creatures would shun you for being an assassin, I shall help you, for you have a good heart." And with this I smiled. "Recently, Merikao's Illness has been spreading across Laxcorna, and we have found no true cure. But..." he added hastily as he saw the lament look upon our faces, "There have been several cases of creatures recovering when they eat a remedy made with a certain rare herb. Most of these cases come from explorers who have traveled far enough to come across one of these flowers. Golden stemmed, with violet blossoms. There is no sure proof that this remedy works, but I am almost positive that it does."

     Zarrel was onto Yodok in a second. "Where can I find this flower?!?"

     "From the reports I've heard, it is found in the Northern areas of coastline and swampland. Even so, those swamps stretch for miles in either direction, and are quite dangerous."

     Zarrel Charmain turned, and was starting to walk away, "Come Dorono. We must prepare, for we shall leave on the morrow to find that flower."

     "Trinifucus," Yodok the healer said. "The flower is the blossom of Trinifucus, but this time my daughter, you may use the front door, and remember you are welcome here anytime." Zarrel just rolled her eyes, and then upon taking her rope back from the unconscious Gelert, she made her way for the door.

     As she laid her hand upon the golden handle of the door the Mynci spoke up. "Wait! I forgot to tell you something about the illness!"

     "What?"

     "It is about who it mainly affects. From what I've seen, it seems to affect Usuls, Gelerts, and Zafara's the most, and the disease is spread by touch, so you should be careful of handling you son. Otherwise the sickness may spread to you. In most cases this is deadly, but it seems to work faster among the pets that I listed." Then Yodok turned to face me. "It is quite strange, but I do believe that you are in luck my son. There has not been a single reported case of any Eyries getting this disease. Same with Kougras, so I do believe that your two species are immune to it somewhat."

     "Thank you for your help healer," I said, and Zarrel nodded, then we walked out the door to find that the morning sun had already started to creep out. "Quickly! On to my back!" I said, and let Zarrel hop on, for we did not want to be caught out in the city in daylight. Well, not without some sort of disguise.

     As we were soaring high over the city, Zarrel said into my ear. "I do not trust him, that Yodok, but he is all that we can go by."

     "I think that his words are true enough," I said truthfully as I circled above the trees that hid where we resided.

     "Even so, I have learned to never trust anyone but a select few," she said as we landed. Zarrel then looked up into the sky. "I guess that we will give it one more day before we go. After all, we have not had a full nights sleep in a couple of weeks." And with this I nodded.

     The first thing Zarrel Charmain did was to walk up to Kowl and lay a hand under his head. The spots upon his fur had dimmed. If fact, his whole body had dimmed, or darkened as I should say. His green fur seemed to have a blackish tint going through it. "Remember the healer's warning!" I said to Zarrel as she performed this.

     "I do not care about that old Mynci's warnings. He provided us with what we need, on a cure for Kowl."

     "But you will do him no good if you too get sick with the Merikao's Illness." And to this Zarrel just nodded.

     The rest of the day slowly went by, and basically all we did was rest ourselves for the upcoming journey, until night set in, then we slept.

     The night was dark, perfect for a full night of sleep. I closed my eyes, and let the weariness of my adventures send me right into a dreamless sleep. Soon, I awoke to the fine dew of the morning, and the first thing that came to my mind was, "Where's Zarrel Charmain?" She was always up around this tie cooking up a breakfast. Oh well, I thought, she must be getting her well-deserved rest, but was I ever wrong.

     I stood up, emitting a long yawn, and then I walked over to where I saw Zarrel Laying, and there was Kirin standing over her. "Is everything okay?" I asked slowly trying to get a look at my partner.

     Kirin looked at me sadly, and then slowly said. "She... she has the illness."

     With this I let out a squawk of dismay. "It can't be!!!"

     "It is," Kirin said again ever so sadly.

     A sudden look of determination spread across my face. "Then I must go myself to find the flower of Trinifucus. Even if I have to travel halfway across the world." I spread my wings wide. "Kirin. You can stay here with Zana Taru and Kowl and... Zarrel Charmain. I shall go alone. I shall travel light!" and with that I jumped into the air, letting my wings catch the morning breeze, and lift my up high into the sky.

     As I went higher into the sky, I saw the saddened look upon Kirin's face, but I did not worry. For I would not let my partner, my friend, diminish.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part One

The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part Two

The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part Three

The Zafara Assassin 3: Upon the Wings of Fate - Part Five

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