As Feruli made his way back toward their NeoHome, he
saw that Rorro, Toragi, and Brenner were now gathered in the street together.
He realised that they must have been awoken themselves by the sounds of the
speeding van and of him and Silviana chasing after it. They looked at him curiously
as they spotted him approaching.
"What's all the commotion about?" Rorro asked
"Toragi... Brenner," Feruli panted as he trotted
up to the threesome, "I need you to go... and get Dantam.... Tell him... Tessa's
"That's it?" Toragi asked as she and Brenner
turned to start off toward the junkyard.
"I'm not much... for talking... right now."
The Eyrie continued to gasp for air between words. "That'll... be enough...
to get him here.... Then... I'll explain." The Lupe and Kougra nodded and hurried
off on their mission, while Rorro went to find some water for Feruli, his interrupted
sleep forgotten in the face of the urgency in the Eyrie's voice and manner.
Dantam opened his eyes wearily, wondering as
he looked around at the quiet darkness of the junkyard if he'd only been dreaming.
But then he heard the call again--a bit louder this time and now it was distinctly
a howl: "Dantam!" Recognising Brenner's voice but hardly familiar with the emotion
behind it, Dantam pulled himself to his feet, shaking off his sleepiness, and
headed out toward the junkyard entrance, his pawsteps quickening with each new
howl he heard.
Finally, on the little hill outside the junkyard,
he nearly collided with Brenner and Toragi as they came running for him. "What
are you two doing here?" Dantam asked, still feeling a bit as if he'd woken
from one dream and into another somehow--and hoping that it was true because
of the sense of dread that crept over him when he saw the looks on his friends'
"Feruli sent us to get you," Toragi stated simply,
already turning to lead the Gelert back the way they'd come.
But Dantam still didn't move after her. "Why?
What's going on?"
"He says Tessa's in trouble!" Brenner blurted.
"Tessa!" Dantam repeated, turning to Toragi,
who nodded her head in confirmation. Before either Kougra or Lupe could say
another word, Dantam had already sped by them, and they both turned tiredly
to run after him, struggling to catch up.
"Feruli!" Dantam called out as he slid to a stop before the Eyrie, who was
pacing back and forth in the middle of the street now that he'd caught his breath.
Feruli stopped and looked up at the sound of his friend's panicked voice, watching
as Brenner and Toragi pulled up behind Dantam, both looking exhausted. "Feruli,
what's going on? Where's Tessa?"
"It's her owner--that man--"
"Tom? What about him? He's not in trouble, is
"No, he is the trouble, Dantam. Silviana
and I watched him throw her, muzzled, in the back of a van and drive off. And
he was talking about selling her."
Dantam's face was blank for a moment as he tried
to let this information and its implications work its way into his brain. Then
suddenly he exploded. "That lying scoundrel! He was never Tessa's owner! He
must have just been listening in on our conversation about Tessa that night
from next door!" Dantam shouted, sounding just as angry with himself as with
Tom. "And I believed him! How could I be so stupid?"
"Love can make you do funny things," Rorro piped
up from behind him. Dantam spun around and glared at the Kacheek until he held
up his spotted paws in surrender. "All right, all right, I get it--this isn't
"Feruli," Dantam said, spinning his head back
around to face the Eyrie, "where'd they go? How do we find them?"
"Silviana's with them, wherever they are," Feruli
answered, and Dantam noticed suddenly that the Zafara was missing. Something
had felt odd to him when he'd first come running up, but he'd been too caught
up in his worry for Tessa to realise what it was.
"Come on," Feruli continued, motioning down
the street with his head. "The van went this way." Before he could say another
word, Dantam was running ahead of him down the road. Feruli trotted after him
under the muted light of the streetlamps, leaving the others behind as Toragi
and Brenner continued to catch their breath.
After they'd gone a few blocks, Feruli stopped
in the middle of a cross-section of streets and called out, "Dantam, wait!"
The Gelert turned around and asked impatiently,
"What is it?"
Feruli looked around uncertainly. "This is the
farthest that I saw the van go before I turned around and headed back. From
here they could have kept going straight like they were, but they could have
turned left or right too."
Dantam spun around, looking anxiously at the
three choices as he realised their problem. "There has to be some way to tell..."
"Silviana didn't have anything with her to mark
the trail for us." Feruli frowned. "Well, maybe if we look around, we'll figure
Dantam didn't look hopeful at that idea, but
he had no other choice and was feeling more desperate by the minute, so he peeled
off to sniff around on the left while Feruli went to examine the right.
Suddenly, Feruli exclaimed victoriously, "Haha,
that's my girl!"
"What? What is it?" Dantam asked, running over
to the proudly-smiling Eyrie
"If you don't have anything else, just use the
hair on your own back!" Feruli explained, pointing a claw at a small green tuft
of fur that hung from the twigs of a bush. "The bush is on this street, so this
is the street we go down!"
Dantam examined the strands of fur skeptically.
"Are you sure it's Silviana's fur, Feruli? And even if you're sure of that,
how do you know that she put it there and it didn't just end up there by accident?"
The Eyrie held up a paw. "Trust me, Dantam, I
know. Now, come on!" And without another word he headed off down the street
in the direction that the minuscule clue had implied, leaving Dantam to run
after him, hoping that Feruli was right and knowing that they didn't have anything
else to go on anyway.
The two pets made their way through Neopia, stopping
at each crossroads to search for the little tufts of fur that Silviana had left
behind for them on everything from bushes and trees to stop signs and mail boxes.
Finally, they seemed to be nearing their destination as a piece of fur stubbornly
clinging to an old wooden sign post directed them toward the hilly dirt road
that led down to the docks of Neopia Central.
As they neared the docks, suddenly a whispered
voice called out to them from beneath the shelter of bush. "Guys, over here!"
"Silviana!" Feruli exclaimed as well as he could
in a whisper as he and Dantam dove into the bush alongside her just in time
to be missed by a man dressed all in black who appeared to be walking around
the perimeter, keeping watch.
"Yep, it's me. Didn't get too used to not having
me around I hope, you old featherbag?"
In a rare show of affection, the normally stoic
Eyrie rubbed Silviana's cheek with his beak before allowing her to climb back
up to her normal perch. "Not if you didn't, you overgrown rodent. Now, what's
"Seemed like the van was slowing down here,
seeing as how there wasn't much place left for it to go," the Zafara explained.
"And it's a good thing too, or I might be in danger of going bald! I tried to
stay with Tessa as long as possible, Dantam, but I figured I wouldn't be much
help to anybody if her owner and his friends found me, so I made this my stop."
"You did a good job, Silviana," Dantam assured
her. "Now, what do we know?
"From what I've been able to overhear, they're
planning on taking her to Krawk Island."
Dantam nodded gravely. "I've heard stories about
a black market centered there--painted and rare pets being bought and sold
"Right. And this 'Tom' fellow must be one of
the people who helps keep them supplied with pets to sell. As strange as I thought
he was, I never would have imagined he was involved in this."
"So, he tricks me into just handing Tessa over
to him and turns around and sells her to these, these--petnappers!" Dantam
growled. "And they take her to Krawk Island and sell her to the highest bidder."
"Who, based on his methods of getting a new
pet, will probably be more of a trophy keeper than a good owner," Feruli added
"Well then, we've got to stop them," Dantam
concluded resolutely. And with that he crept out of the shelter of the bush
and down closer to the docks, with Feruli and Silviana following hesitantly
They crouched together in the shadow of a stack
of crates near the dock where all of the activity seemed to be centered. The
black-clad humans moved quietly back and forth, loading cages containing various
rare and painted Neopets onto a small barge. As Dantam scanned the scene, he
suddenly spotted a familiar figure--Tom. The blonde man, a smile on his face,
was holding out his hands as a burly fellow handed him a bag full of Neopoints.
Dantam growled at the sight, and before Feruli
or Silviana could stop him, he went charging out of their hiding place and toward
Tom. The Gelert's shadowed coat helped him to move easily through the busily
working humans, undetected. Tom was just turning away from the other man and
clutching his money lovingly when Dantam came flying out of the shadows at him,
knocking him to the ground and sending his Neopoints flying into the darkness.
As he stood on top of Tom's chest, pinning the startled human to the ground,
Dantam saw the other man running off out of the corner of his eye, but he was
too concerned with his current quarry to think anything of it.
"Dantam!" he heard Feruli yell as the Eyrie
and Zafara came running up after him, but he refused to be distracted as he
growled menacingly at Tom, whose eyes were screwed shut in order to avoid facing
the incensed Gelert "Dantam," Feruli repeated, moving around in front of him,
To be continued...