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


by cpmtiger

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Avalon stared at Quaz, alarmed. "My apprentice? Already?"

     "But he just completed his training!" Ash protested, frowning.

     Quaz replied, "That doesn't matter. What does matter is the reason Avalon must find his apprentice now." The robeless royal Kougra gave Avalon and Ash meaningful look.

     Avalon flicked his tail. "I'm guessing this has something to do with Scarback," he stated.

     Ash rolled her eyes. "Amazing prediction, Avalon," she said sarcastically. "Go on, guess what Scarback wants to do."

     Avalon glared at her, and turned back to Quaz and spoke. "Scarback's trying to kill the next Guardian to create another gap in the cycle."

     Quaz nodded, his eyes hard. "Just like he did to the Guardian after me."

     Avalon blinked. He'd known that Quaz's apprentice had never been trained, but he'd never known they had been killed. "Your apprentice was killed?"

     Quaz sighed. "We found blood near the spot she disappeared. There was no body, but the Gelerts aren't stupid."

     Avalon shook his head. "So I need to go out and get my apprentice, and bring them back here, before Scarback finds him, I got that. But how do I know when I found my apprentice? Do we have the Guardian Faerie's list?"

     Quaz shook his head, looking thunderstruck. "We don't get the Guardian Faerie's list! Are you crazy?" Ash nodded vigorously, and Avalon stepped on her paw with an impatient hiss.

     "Knock it off, Ash! So, what, I'll find him-"

     "Or her," Ash put in.

     "Fine. So I find him or her, and I just know who it is?" He was skeptical, but had come to learn that in the world of a Guardian, anything was possible.

     Quaz nodded. "That's right. Now, you and Ash'll have to start looking for the apprentice." He walked over to the oak desk, and pulled out a large map of Neopia, dotted with red 'X's.

     "WHAT?" Avalon yelled in alarm. "You mean, we just pick a place-At random?"

     "Well," Quaz said, "Only if shadow-ghost Gelerts aren't enough proof for you."

     "Huh?"

     Quaz pointed to a large cluster of the red 'X's in the Lost Desert. "We've gotten word from the Lost Desert that there was an attempted raid of Coltzan's Shrine. The intruders were fended off, and one of our pets saw the Gelerts retreating. Bet you could predict their eye color, Avalon," Quaz added with a grin. The starry Kougra rolled his eyes and didn't answer.

     Becoming serious again, Quaz continued, "We believe the apprentice is somewhere near the Shrine. The group we saw was probably a little troop led by Brazen, just to get some treasure."

     Avalon's fur bristled at the mention of the shadow-ghost Gelert pack leader. Brazen was a fierce, merciless female shadow-ghost Gelert. She had been known to take a small group from the pack just to kill someone Scarback had been tailing. Quaz believed that Brazen was a Changed pet, a pet who'd been captured by Scarback, and turned into a shadow-ghost Gelert. When Quaz had described it, he'd mentioned that when a Changed pet realized they weren't a shadow-ghost, their false appearance faded away, and they were usually killed by the Gelerts. A few Unchanged ones had been helped to freedom by the Guardians.

     But Brazen, according to Quaz, couldn't accept that she wasn't a shadow-ghost, and so was stuck in Gelert form. But Quaz said her rebel acts were a sort of revenge for whatever Scarback had done to her. Avalon hadn't understood it then, and he still didn't get it. All he knew was that Brazen often went on raids alone, usually to kill other pets. Both of the Gelert's brothers, Mange and Zeth, were killed. Mange, by the mysterious fire faerie known as the Guardian Faerie, and Zeth by Quaz.

     "So we've got Brazen raiding the Shrine, which means Scarback can't be too far away," Quaz finished.

     Avalon tried to think like a Guardian would. "Does Scarback know we saw Brazen?"

     Quaz shook his head. "I highly doubt it. Now, what you two need is a fast boat." He opened a smaller desk drawer, and pulled out two thin slips of paper, as well as a pen. A few minutes later, he handed one slip to Avalon, and the other to Ash.

     The slips looked like real tickets. Quaz's penmanship was amazing. " 'Admit One: Desert Island Ferry, at Dorset Dock. One way trip to The Lost Desert,' " Avalon read aloud. "How're we getting back?"

     "I'll send someone to pick you up. They'll wait a little off the docks, and stay until you've gotten back with your apprentice."

     "So when do we leave?" Ash asked, tucking her ticket into a pouch on her sword belt.

     "This afternoon. The ferry leaves tomorrow evening."

     "How're we going to get there by tomorrow evening?" Avalon asked. "It took me three days to get here from the coast!"

     "Well," Quaz growled, "There'll be no swamp shortcuts this time, then." Avalon smiled at the memory of the swamp Ash had led him through, so they could loose the Gelerts on their tails.

     "So where's Dorset Dock?" Ash said, digging through her bedding for her canteen.

     Quaz showed Avalon and Ash a blue circle on the map. It was right on the coast of Mystery Island, northeast of the small star symbol of Heartfelt Cave. Ash looked the area over, tracing routes with her paw. She nodded.

     "I know the way there," she said.

     Ash, canteen hooked on to her belt, had opened the sword case and pulled out her Lupe Sword. She sheathed it, and the iron made a noise like a claw dragged across smooth metal. Avalon took his own sword from the case, putting it into his own scabbard with the same sound. He headed to another cabinet and opened the door. Around forty types of helmets crowded the shelves of this display case. Avalon rummaged around until he found a bright violet Kougra helmet. Digging through the pile of helmets, Avalon withdrew an ash colored Lupe helmet and tossed it toward Ash.

     She missed it. "Watch where you're throwing stuff!" she growled, massaging the spot the helmet had hit.

     Avalon grinned ruthlessly. "Watch where you put your head! C'mon, let's go."

     Still grumbling about lousy aim and disrespectful Kougras, Ash jammed on the helmet and followed Avalon to the Cave exit. They waved to Quaz, then stepped on the mud puddle. The mud sucked them down, and they were in the tunnels, ready to head to Dorset Dock.

     The first time Avalon had left the Cave, he'd been distracted by the sounds and smells of the outside. Since Scarback had been injured, most of Avalon's training was held outdoors. So now he wasn't as tantalized by the bird calls and summer breezes. He was eager to begin the trip. It had been a long, long time since he'd gone farther than the clearing the Cave was in. Ash and Avalon stopped at the small pond to fill their wooden canteens, then entered the jungle, off the path so they couldn't be followed easily.

     Avalon's endurance for rugged traveling had increased since his first trip through Mystery Island. Even so, he lagged a bit behind Ash. The fire Lupe had lived in the jungle for bout ten years, traveling through steamy forests and dark marshes. She was also a skilled fighter, and had made several of Scarback's shadow-ghost Gelerts sorry they'd tried to attack her.

     "Would you hurry up?" Ash grumbled. Avalon glared at her, feeling self-conscious. Unlike Ash, he'd spent almost all of his life in Neopia Central. Even if his parents hadn't seemed to care about him, he'd lived a life of fluffy couches and fancy chocolates. Not exactly the most physically challenging environment.

     "Look, Ash," Avalon grumbled. "I'm doing the best I can. You said yourself I'm faster than you'd expect a city pet to be."

     Ash frowned, twisting her face as if she regretted saying it. "Yeah, yeah, whatever, Av. But Quaz said we have to get to Dorset by tomorrow night."

     "Speaking of the dock," Avalon said, "is this place in a village or something?"

     Ash nodded. "There's a village called Dorset. They're a trading place, they sell petpets and food and stuff to the other pets around Neopia. Dorset's got one of the biggest docks in Neopia."

     "Think we'll pass Geraptiku?" On their last journey across Mystery Island, Avalon, Ash, and Quaz had passed a deserted, ruined village called Geraptiku. According to Quaz, it hadn't always been a village. A pet farm had once been there. The pet farms had been set up by Humans in the early days of their arrival into Neopia. It was, in all respects, a black market trade in pets. The owners of the pet farm had been discovered, however, and a huge attack had been launched on the farm. Years later, the village had been resettled by peaceful humans and their pets.

     But something had destroyed the village again. Nobody knew why, and few even went near the village, due to fear that whatever had destroyed the village still lurked there, hidden in the shadows of crumbling houses and dark, brown leafed trees. Avalon wanted to see for himself what the village looked like.

     But Ash shook her head. "Nobody's crazy enough to build a village near Geraptiku."

     "You don't actually believe that whatever destroyed the village is still there?"

     Ash stopped and looked Avalon in the eyes. "I don't think he's still there. But I think he was behind it."

     Avalon gave her a dubious stare. "Why would Scarback destroy someplace like Geraptiku?"

     Ash shrugged. "Just because we don't know of a reason doesn't mean there isn't one."

     Avalon and Ash walked for the rest of the day in silence, stepping over thick, luscious plants and fighting through swarms of tiny insects with fuzzy antenna and glittery wings. By nightfall, Avalon could make out a dark mass of water ahead of them.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part One
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Three
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Four
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Five
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Six
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Seven
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Eight
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Nine
» Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Ten



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