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Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part One

by cpmtiger


A little confused? Read Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem in Issues 194 to 205. Links are on my spotted Kougra's petpage.

The sun rose slowly over the jungles of Mystery Island. A fine mist lingered along the jungle floor. Birds twittered and sang as the golden rays of sunlight illuminated the green jungles. Almost everywhere was silent, but for the bird calls.

      Atop a grassy hill in the center of a small clearing, however, two swords clanged together, shattering the morning's quiet peace. The sunlight continued to grow, and as the mist cleared, two Kougras were revealed to be behind the sword fight. Both were standing on their hind legs, using long gold swords.

     The younger Kougra, starry with bright golden eyes, swung his sword with a sudden burst of force. The bright green, sapphire-chained Noil Gem hanging around the cat's neck glimmered in the bright light.

     The other Kougra, an old one with odd tan fur and a shiny golden mane, countered the blow with his own sword, pushing the blade back towards the starry Kougra. "Take that, Avalon!" he said triumphantly, stepping forward.

     Avalon narrowed his eyes, concentrating on the old Kougra's sword. His mouth, however, widened in a proud grin. "No, Quaz-you take this!" And with a swift twist, a jump, and a swing, Avalon had Quaz on the ground, sword at his throat.

     But rather than slashing the old cat, Avalon put his sword in its scabbard and extended his paw. A wide grin spread over his face as he helped his mentor to his feet.

     "Beat you again, Quaz," he boasted, stroking the hilt of his sword.

     "Yeah?" the older Kougra growled back. "Took you the last two years to learn sword fighting properly. Took Ash only a year!"

     Avalon's smile faded. "Speaking of which," he asked, "where is Ash?"

     Quaz began inspecting his sword for scratches. "She said she was going out for a run."

     "How long can that take?" Avalon sighed in exasperation.

     "You know her better than I do," Quaz pointed out.

     Avalon nodded. Ash, a bold fire Lupe, had been his friend for almost three years now. He'd met her on his journey to Heartfelt Cave for the first time, when he'd been appointed the guardian of the immensely powerful Emerald Noil Gem.

     The Emerald Noil Gem was unlike any normal Noil Gem ever created. The Noil's head was a made of pure emerald, and the chain looked as though it had forged from sapphires. Avalon had found out three years ago that he was the next Guardian of the gem. He was only the latest in a long line of Guardians, all different species and colors of Neopet. The Noil Gem had been guarded for millions of years, the newest Guardians pre-appointed by the Guardian Faerie, a million-year-old fire faerie. The Guardians existed to keep the Gem out of evil hands.

     Or during Avalon's guardianship, evil paws. Avalon had gone face to face with Scarback in his first year as a Guardian, before most of his official training. Scarback was a menacing, red-eyed, part shadow part ghost Kougra, who wanted revenge on the world for a mysterious reason Avalon hadn't found out. He had decided that the only means of achieving his goal would be to steal the Noil Gem, with the aid of his self-created shadow-ghost Gelert pack.

     When Avalon had found out from the Guardian Faerie that he had been appointed, he'd left for Heartfelt Cave, the Guardian Headquarters. He'd met Ash during a swamp battle with Scarback's fearsome Gelert troops. Using a swamp path, the Lupe and Kougra had made it to Heartfelt. They'd met the old Guardian, Quaz, who'd been guarding the Gem a generation longer than he should have been. Later that year, the three pets had gone into battle with Scarback. Thanks to a surge of power provided by the Gem, Avalon had defeated Scarback, and severely wounded the hybrid's leg. Scarback had retreated, and had not been seen for the past three years, in which Avalon had completed his Guardian training.

     A fire Lupe appeared in the clearing, fur rumpled and dusty, a splatter of mud almost covering the flames on one leg. She stopped at the small pond for a drink, and when she looked up, Avalon pulled himself out of his thoughts to smile. She smiled back, revealing several shiny white teeth.

     Ash was a stray Lupe, or at least had been. Feed up with the life of a city stray, Ash had swum to Mystery Island when she was ten, about eight years ago. She now made permanent residence on the Island, at Heartfelt Cave with Avalon. Avalon still didn't know much about his best friend's life before she'd swam off. Even though Ash would never be a Guardian, she had completed the training along with Avalon.

     "And," the starry Kougra thought, "finished two months before I did."

     Despite his lack of skill compared to Ash, Avalon preferred this life of action to his neglected one in Neopia Central. Avalon's parents had always been too busy for him, more concerned with money than the welfare and happiness of their only cub. But he'd still felt fear the night his parents had disappeared without a trace. Shortly after, Scarback himself had burned down the house. As he was racing for the exit, the Chia police had delivered news about Avalon's parents. Under the circumstances, Avalon had been forced to leave the paper they'd left for him to burn in the inferno. Even now, years later, Avalon regretted that forced decision, wondering if he should have gone back for the solitary white paper.

     "I don't know about you two," Ash said cheerfully, her tail swishing happily, "but I am STARVING!"

     Quaz laughed. "I know I am, Ash. C'mon, Avalon. You can boast about your victory over breakfast."

     The three pets walked casually down the hill to Heartfelt Cave's entrance. The tunnel that lad to the inside of the Cave was a long, dark rock tunnel, full of twists and turns that were easy to get lost in. Actually entering the Cave required getting slurped up through what felt like mud, but looked like solid ceiling. By now, Avalon was used to creating light with the Gem, by summoning a will for light, as well as going in and out of the mud ceiling. It's amazing what you can get used to.

     The stone halls echoed with talk and laughter as Avalon, Ash and Quaz walked toward the large white marble staircase leading to the mud ceiling. The talking stopped briefly as they passed through. If you struggled while being sucked up, you'd be kicked out of the tunnels and locked out forever.

     Avalon looked around happily at the large interior of the Cave. Both long gray stone walls were packed with at least forty glass cabinets. Each cabinet was marked with a shiny plaque displaying the species the weapons, helmets, and armor inside were made for. Past the Lupe, Kougra, Eyrie, and Buzz cases was a large case marked "Guardians". At the moment, all that was in the case was Ash's modified Iron Lupe Sword. Her old Iron Lupe Dagger had been stretched out, so she could fight in long distance battles. Avalon and Quaz put their special, Guardian Faerie granted swords in the same glass case. Avalon's sword had once been a Golden Pteri sword. Now the wings on the hilt had become elegantly curved designs, and a small sapphire star was imbedded into the hilt, right above where Avalon gripped his sword. Quaz's own Golden Pteri sword was broader, the wings replaced with copper royal Kougra heads, and a gold and red tassel hanging from the bottom of the hilt.

     They walked through the field, full of real plants, in the center of the cave. The light coming through the hole in the Cave's ceiling provided plenty of light for the thriving grass and flowers. Avalon, Ash and Quaz were heading for the right corner of the Cave, furnished with the three beds for Quaz, Avalon and Ash, a long oak desk, and a circular table for eating at. Everyone poured a bowl of Neoflakes and dug in.

     Ash was telling Quaz about a strange animal she'd seen in the jungle, and Quaz was trying to figure out what it was, when Avalon happened to look past his coconut bowl and at the Noil Gem. He leapt up, spilling his bowl of Neoflakes. Ash yelped as the milk slithered across the table toward her.

     "Watch out, Avalon!" she growled, leaping to her paws to get a towel. "Look what you did to-" Ash's mouth dropped open. Quaz's face showed surprise and concern.

     "Hey Quaz," Avalon said in a false casual tone, "Why on Neopia is the Gem glowing PURPLE? What's that supposed to mean?" Ash shrugged, and looked at Quaz.

     "That's interesting," Quaz muttered, standing and beginning to pace. "Very interesting…"

     "What is?" Avalon asked.

     "It's too early… unless…"

     "Quaz," Ash growled, "What's interesting?"

     "But if he is…"

     "WHAT IS IT??" Avalon and Ash demanded in unison.

     Quaz looked at Avalon, the same mixture of worry and shock on his face. "It's very, very rare for this to happen so soon. Usually the Gem doesn't do this until you're about thirty-five, sometimes forty."

     "Okay, Quaz, skip the lecture." Ash's tail swished impatiently. "What's a purple glow mean?"

     Quaz shook his tan head in confusion. "It means that it's time for Avalon…to find his apprentice."

To be continued...

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