Not too far away, at that precise moment in time, a small
red catlike creature with horns fell over a log and landed, head first, into a
Ambron stood nearby, laughing… or squeaking…
hysterically. Safyre scowled at him.
"Hey, I'd like to see you get through this death
trap any better! Where are you leading me anyway?"
The Snarhook shrugged and continued to skip,
carefree, towards the opening of a cave with a very disgruntled Aisha trundling
along behind him.
Ten minutes into the conversation and Angel
still could not believe what she was hearing.
"I always thought I was alone in the world.
Having no blood relatives or people I could ask about my past. Where have you
been hiding all these years?"
"Here!" chuckled Aren. "This cave has been the
perfect hideaway. But I haven't been alone -" he patted the Pinceron named Sid
on the head "-and there's a Pride of Kougras that live nearby and keep me in
Angel narrowed her eyes. "Kougras? You mean
like the one you were fighting earlier before?"
Aren flushed a little.
"I'm sorry, but I've got to ask you why you've
been chasing people off the Island. I'm Agent 7221 of the Neopian Special Protection
Agency, and I've got to do my job."
The red Eyrie grinned cheekily. "You're much
more than that, Angel. Though you have come far since the attack on Denholm
Valley. Shall we start from the very beginning?"
Aren got to his feet and walked towards the
raised platform where the microcosm was placed in the middle of the room. Hesitantly,
Angel followed. Her eyes sparkled, being still quite overwhelmed by the beauty
of the pool, and brought her foot forward
Angel was given a start, and stood in freeze-frame
fashion, her foot hovering above the ground.
"Don't stand on any of the veins! They're what
feed the Patocol Pool!"
Angel glanced at the ground. Sure enough, tiny
veins of water had snaked their way from the trough of water from the waterfall
into the roots of the pool, where it soaked in the water and fed upon it.
"Aah, I see!" she chirped whilst dancing in
between the veins. "'Don't step on a crack, or you'll fall and break your back'!"
"It'd be a disaster if the pool lost its water
supply," continued Aren. "The pool would dry up. Completely. I don't know what
I'd do if that happened."
Angel cocked an eyebrow. "I know it's beautiful
and everything, but why would it be so tragic if it dried up? What's so special
Aren gave her one of those all-knowing looks
and, in a slightly hushed voice, said, "You'll see."
Slowly he brought his paws over the glistening
blue waters, his eyes focusing intently on the Patocol Pool. As he did, the
water began to mist and fog before it finally cleared in a marbled swirl of
colour. Then, suddenly, a figure appeared in the water. A beautiful Eyrie. She
stood in a field of emerald green, her head held high and proud. Her paws were
larger than a normal Eyrie's and looked clumsier, but she still moved with such
grace and fluidity that would put the catwalk's most prestigious Kyriis to shame.
Her vast wings - just like Aren's and Angel's - were tipped with a silver gloss,
and across her head there was an arrow-like stripe, not unusual for a Striped
Eyrie, but still prominent enough. If she weren't striped - if she were painted
electric - she would look just like…
Angel was mesmerised, half wanting to know how
Aren had made this image appear, and half wanting to know who this familiar
Eyrie was. Luckily he answered both for her before she could open her beak.
"Patocol Potion," he answered, puffing out his
chest proudly. "It's a rare gift. A liquid that can project a perfect image
of your memories when you get close to it. That Eyrie there is a memory. A memory
of our mother, Thyora."
"That's Thyora…" wondered Angel. "Hey, isn't
she the Thyora that Thyora's Tear was named after?"
A small smile snaked across Aren's face. "Wait.
I'm getting there."
The Eyrie in the Patocol Pool turned to face
Angel and Aren and winked cheekily before bounding off to join many other Eyries,
all with silver wing tips and large paws. Suddenly the pool itself seemed to
bound to join her, and suddenly Angel realised she was looking at her family
through the eyes and memories of her brother. As she watched, Aren started to
annotate the scene.
"Our family was called the Kumlaa Clan of Denholm
Valley. We were such a great family. As the first to transform into fully-fledged
Eyries, and therefore among the strongest and wisest of Ancient Neopia's residents,
we were entrusted with guarding an age-old secret from the world; to hide it
from whoever may wish to discover it, and to defend it with our lives - the
The very mention of the word sent chills down
Angel's spine. "What was it? The Dragonmist?"
Aren shrugged. "No one knows exactly. There
have been some theories. Some say it was a kind of evil magic. Some say it was
an answer to a long sought-out question, or a device created for taking over
Neopia. Some say that the Dragonmist never even existed - that it was a ploy
created to keep the imaginations of Kumlaa cubs amused. Baloney. I don't believe
them, nor do I have any theories myself. But all I do know is that the Dragonmist
struck fear into the hearts of even the strongest Kumlaa warrior, and that's
quite enough for me."
The misty picture on the water began to twist
and transform, so that an entirely new scene could be made out. The happy family
of Eyries disappeared. The sunny fields of Denholm Valley darkened and became
altogether more sinister, fearful and hopeless. Upon the mirror-like surface
appeared a small, yellow character with a shrewd and malignant expression, his
face scarred and blemished, framed by a pair of bushy eyebrows that were knitting
furiously. And around his neck on a yellow chain hung a large black tooth. Angel
scowled at the figure. He unleashed a kind of deep inner hatred within her -
a lust for revenge for years and lives lost because of his presence in her land,
and now in her mind, became known to her. She scowled at him with livid, but
not unreasonable, scorn.
Slowly the yellow Jetsam was flanked by a number
of darkly clad figures in similar dress to his own, and Aren resumed his tale.
"Of course, the burden of responsibility that fell upon the Kumlaa Clan was
not to be lifted easily. The fabled Dragonmist also held a high rank in Skeith
mythology. They believed it was an all-powerful device that someone some day
shall use to rule over others; preferably a Skeith. Many have tried to recover
the Dragonmist, and all have failed. That is, until this guy came along. "His
name is FiskMerrick. He is a criminal mastermind with many important links in
the underworld, including, might I add, Malkus Vile."
Angel's pupils narrowed in realisation at this
name. Malkus - when they had come face-to-face a long time ago - had said he
knew something about her past. Now it was all coming to light.
"He may not be a Skeith, but he is incredibly
smart and won't let even species stand in the way of world domination. Yeah,
he's one of these mad villain types. So upon hearing of the Dragonmist legend,
he rallied a bunch of the strongest Skeiths together and trained them in many
forms of claw-to-claw combat. He called these fighters 'Darkgons' - a really
poorly thought-out synonym for 'Dark Dragons' since they were dragons that always
dressed in black. I'm guessing your memory triggered when you heard that name
before - that's why you attacked me."
The Eyrie flushed slightly, embarrassed now
she knew that she had attacked her own brother. At that moment the scene changed
yet again to Denholm Valley at nightfall. The Kumlaas were mostly sleeping.
Aren's line of vision turned towards a smaller family of Kumlaa Eyries. Thyora,
their mother, was curled up and ready to sleep, her tail entwined with another
Eyrie. Fiery, handsome and with an air of absolute confidence about him, though
he too carried the Kumlaa traits of silver wing tips and large paws.
"Iagan. Yes. He's our predecesor."
Angel kept her eyes trained on this idyllic
scene. But as she looked carefully, she noticed something hidden under Thyora's
paw. She moved her paw slowly and gently, revealing the tiny form of a blue
Eyrie cub with a spearhead shape of a darker hue on her forehead and tiny, silver-tipped
sparrow's wings, and who wore a golden heart-shaped locket that was far too
big for her at that age. Looking into the eyes of the cub, she felt a sudden
twinge of recognition. "That's… that's …"
"That's you," Aren answered. "You were only
just two at the time of the attack. With two marvellous, doting parents and
a wonderful family environment. The 72nd of the 21st…"
"The 72nd of the 21st. Did you not think the
numbers after your name meant anything?"
Angel looked at him blankly.
"The Kumlaa dynasty - or ruling - that you were
born into was the 21st. And you were the 72nd cub to be born into that dynasty.
I was the 57th. You see, the Kumlaas had everything sussed!"
As they watched, the scene in the Patocol Pool
became darker and, without warning, and avalanche of Skeiths flooded over the
sides of the valley, trapping its inhabitants.
"But this wasn't to last. Almost seventeen years
to the day, a huge army of Darkgons waged a deliberate attack on the Kumlaas
as they slept. It was no accident. Led by FiskMerrick and his accomplice Malkus
Vile, they charged the Eyries, taking them completely by surprise. Many were
lost in the first attack. The Kumlaas were a peaceful race. They had no need
for violence, and had to use only their swift and cunning to escape the Darkgons.
Eventually, only a handful of Kumlaas were left, and they took shelter in this
very cave beside the winding Kumlaa River."
As he talked, the raging battle in the pool
deadened, and a small number of Eyries were seen taking refuge in the cave.
With tears streaming down her face, Thyora broke away from the crows and rounded
the river for a spot of solitude.
"She lost her brother, didn't she?" whispered
Angel in a mournful tone.
"Yes. Her brother Ponfrie was felled in the
first attack. While Iagan and many others were still plotting their escape,
I watched her slip into a small dell on a meander of the Kumlaa River and cry
until her heart ached. Luckily for us, a passing Water Faerie took pity on her."
A tiny figure, fifteen - maybe twenty - centimetres
high, with long blonde hair and the appearance of a mermaid waltzed onto the
scene. As Angel watched, they engaged in a deep and truthful conversation, the
Faerie and Eyrie.
"Thyora told the Faerie, Nereid, everything
about the attack and how she lost Ponfrie, and that if they could not escape
now they had no hope of survival. Feeling a deep sympathy within her heart,
Nereid used a huge amount of her own magical energy to forge a beautiful crystal
talisman out of a single tear for her to wear which would protect her from all
harm, and named it 'Thyora's Tear'.
"But I thought the Thyora's Tear was mined only
in the deepest caves on Mystery Island, and the Thyora's Tear story was just
an Old Wife's Tale to go with it. Like Faerie Toadstools. Everyone knows Faeries
don't live in toadstools! They live in Faerieland, like any other respectable
Aren chuckled under his breath. "I like to believe
otherwise, and am convinced that our mother was the co-creator of the Tear."
Angel's eyes flickered towards the Patocol Pool,
where the Water Faerie was placing a beautiful glowing necklace around Thyora's
"Days later we were in further trouble. After
we had gone into hiding with the Mystic on the island, the Darkgons and FiskMerrick
turned Denholm Valley upside down looking for the Dragonmist, and since their
quest was to no avail, were taking their frustrations out on everything in sight,
slowly hacking the rainforest to pieces in search of the remaining Kumlaas.
A pride of Kougras named the Feeralls kept them back for a little while, but
not for too long. We had to act fast and I quickly volunteered to act as a distraction.
Of course my parents and other members of the Clan objected, but by then I had
already sent Sid here ahead with Thyora and Iagan."
Aren patted the Pinceron on the head and watched
the waters swirl as the host - a young Aren_72_21 - peered down upon a vast
sea of malevolent eyes, which rapidly turned to face him.
"It was my finest hour," he declared proudly.
"I stood upon that mountain and told the Skeiths exactly what they had done.
That the Kumlaas were the guardians of the Dragonmist, and therefore only they
held the key to its true location. They had destroyed their own prize! As I
told them of their great mistake, the rest of my family escaped into the north
and split up, flying to separate parts of Neopia."
"How did you get away?"
"I had the Thyora's Tear at the time. Our mother
gave it to me just before she left. Then, as soon as they were out of sight,
I took to the sky and flew as fast as I could in the opposite direction, destroying
the Tear before I went so none of the Darkgons could use it. It was a fierce
chase that ensued, but luckily I collapsed on the right part of the island.
The Feerall Kougras that had been fighting the Darkgons reappeared and attacked
again, protecting me against them. These Kougras - though they may have looked
slightly odd with spots instead of stripes - were incredible fighters and it
wasn't long before the Skeiths were run out of the area, and the Feeralls returned
with minimal casualties. "For the rest of my life I never stopped thanking those
creatures. Seeing the threat the Dragonmist posed not only to their own kind
but to others too, they protected me until the very end and tended to my wounds,
then took me in as family. Not long afterwards Sid returned with the news of
my parents' demise, and I assumed also yours, as the Feeralls really were the
only family I had. That Kougress you saw me fighting with was Keilani, one of
my closest friends. The reason she was fighting me…"
He stopped quite suddenly, pondering over whether
to reveal that information was such a good idea. Angel started to grow impatient.
"Why were you fighting, Aren? Why try and drive
people and tourists off the island?"
Aren gritted his teeth and sealed his eyes shut,
ignoring her savage demands until he finally cried out: "I'M DRIVING EVERYONE
AWAY COZ I DON'T WANT ANYONE HERE WHEN THE DRAGONMIST IS FINALLY REOPENED!"
Angel felt her heart jolt, and she took a step
back. "What? Aren, you're not thinking of telling them the location of the Dragonmist,
Aren snickered. "I'd rather die. But somehow
it is going to be opened. I can feel it. The son of the Mystic who helped out
parents is still around, and he feels it too. All we can do is try and stop
the big ugly Jetsam from doing so, otherwise we're all goners." He looked at
her confused expression and seemed to read her mind. "How do I know it's FiskMerrick?
Simple. He has been much more active in the crime syndicate recently. I heard
rumours not too long ago about him reinstating Vile to a higher position of
authority and attempting to steal the strongest wild animals he could find to
train in preparation for a fight - the only other time I've seen this kind of
preparation was when folks were preparing for the war a few months ago. You
can't just dismiss something like this. It's too big."
Angel fell silent for once. From being a gentle-mannered
investigator on her holidays she had become entangled in this web of secrets,
legend and deceit, at the centre of which was FiskMerrick and this elusive Dragonmist,
whatever it was. She just replied with the only thing that was still nagging
in the back of her mind: "How do I know I can trust you?"
With the gentlest look she had ever seen him
give, Aren gave her a gaze that bore deep into her with sincerity and said,
"Do you know that you can trust me? Are the fates of so many lives so small
a risk you are willing to take just because you don't trust me? Look inside
The Eyrie gently rested his paw on her shoulder,
and Angel felt the recognition of his reassuring touch. She could definitely
trust him. Whether they hadn't seen each other for seventeen years of seventeen
minutes, he was still her brother, and the only family she had in the world.
"Y'know what?" she asked, as her voice gave
a calypso of laughter. "I always thought being 'the last of your kind' was really
cheesy. But I guess it's much more tragic than I thought."
At that moment a bright red blur whizzed around
Aren and stood between him and his sister.
"Hey! You're the one that caused all that commotion
outside! Thanks for finding him, Angel. You - er - whatever your name is, I'm
arresting you for --"
"Leave it, Safyre."
"The Halloween Aisha gave Angel a funny look
whilst fighting Ambron for space in between the two Eyries."
"Since you haven't been at work for a while
I'll excuse you for that comment. Now if you'll just come with me, Mr. Eyrie
"Saf, he hasn't done anything wrong! He's told
me his side of the story and it's totally justified."
"What?! He has been scaring tourists off the
island and ruining the business. Justify that!"
Angel shot a look at Aren, who glared savagely
at her, not wanting his secret to be revealed. She sighed ruefully. "It's justified,
alright? Just take it from me."
Saf looked slightly worried. "O-kay. But at
least tell me who you are." "With pleasure. My name's Aren_57_21…"
"57_21? Bit unusual. It sounds a lot like you,
The Eyrie tossed her head and laughed. "Well
of course it would! He's my brother."
Saf blinked. "I thought you were an only child."
"Well, I also thought I had no family ties or
history at all, not in the least one that spans all the way across Neopian history.
Safyre crossed her arms, giving a look that
was a cross between concentration and bemusement. "Well, you two have got a
lot of explaining to do…"
The new-found siblings told Safyre part of what they had learnt in that small
space of time. They missed out a few details, but all in all, Angel reassured
Saf that the case had been solved, and the Aisha returned to file a report at
the NSPA headquarters that night.
Angel, however, stayed with Aren for a few more
days, desperate to find out any more information he had about the Kumlaa Clan.
But after a few days she decided it was time to leave. She was missing her friends
in Bunbury Acres and - to be honest - didn't trust her owner with ~The*Eyrie*Oak~
for much longer.
"It's been great seeing you again," mumbled
Aren, his voice giving a twinge of melancholy gentleness, "But before you leave,
I have something for you."
He picked up an empty clear vial from the floor
and walked over to the Patocol Pool, which looked as bright and radiant as the
first day she clapped eyes on it. With careful precision, he placed the vial
into the kaleidoscopic waters and drew out a measure of Patocol Potion.
"But I thought this stuff meant everything to
you, Aren," the Eyrie whispered. "Why are you giving it to me?"
"It's not all of it. And besides, you'll need
it more than I do."
"What do you mean by that?"
Aren bristled. "I don't really know. I just…
To be continued...
Remember that riddle inscribed in the Kumlaa Scrolls? Keep in mind - it
*may* have a distinct relevance in the next issue…
I love to know the audience's opinions on my stories, so if you have any
compliments, criticisms, whatnot, send
'em on in!