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


by cpmtiger

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At the tornado shaped tower, the thunderstorm had stopped. However, inside was a storm that many Gelerts would've stepped into a bolt of lightning to avoid.

     The Crokabek had returned with news for Scarback. The Kougra sat at a small stone table, leaning on his hind legs. There were four other Gelerts at the table as well, all looking worried. Scarback read the return paper silently, his red eyes emotionless. But when he reached the end of the letter, the shadow Kougra hissed loudly, and crumpled the paper in his left paw. The Gelerts shot each other apprehensive looks.

     "They had him," he snarled, unsheathing his claws with a soft hiss. "They had him right where they could get him! And he got away, due to…"

     Scarback growled here, and the Gelerts could imagine puffs of steam issuing from his nostrils, and his long scar burning bright red. They waited in fearful silence for him to continue, looking down at the stone table rather than the angry Kougra.

     After a moment, Scarback went on. "He got away because of the apprentice. An untrained, underage apprentice, defeating the sister of Zeth!" Slamming a paw onto the table, he added, "And at dawn, they were all asleep, and my spy got two of the scrawniest Gelerts in the pack and attacked. And lost!"

     The Kougra threw himself onto all fours, with a roar, pacing angrily. Despite his limp, it was still a fearsome maneuver. Scarback's muscles rippled under his thin fur, and his eyes glowed the way they always did when he was angrily, glowing a bright red, then darkening, then brightening again.

     "Sir," one of the Gelerts said hesitantly, stepping forward. He was a large Gelert, in charge of the dungeon near Scarback's Tower.

     "What?" Scarback snapped.

     "What are we gonna do?"

     The Kougra sat down, leaning forward slightly. Silence stretched as the question hung unanswered in the air. Suddenly, Scarback lifted his head up, his expression thoughtful. The Kougra headed back to the table and took a two pieces of paper and a quill from the table. He scrawled something on them both, and gave one to the Crokabek. He whistled, and a Pirakeet entered the room, landing nervously on the table. Scarback handed the second note to the Pirakeet, who took it in its beak and flew off.

     Scarback turned toward the puzzled prison guard. "Here's what we're going to do, Brutus," the Kougra said. He grinned, revealing his long, glistening teeth to the assembled Gelerts.

     Avalon, Ash, and Silverdrop were running. They entered the marketplace and began weaving their way through the crowds of pets already gathered on the streets.

     "How much farther?" Ash panted. She was running fast, leaping over things and pets that got in her way.

     Avalon, in the lead didn't answer for a moment.

     "Where're we going?" Silverdrop asked. She was running a few paces behind Ash, silver pelt gleaming in the sunlight.

     "Ash," Avalon gasped, "Did Quaz say how many days our pick up's arriving in?"

     "No," the fire Lupe growled. "But it's been long enough, I'm sure whoever's picking us up is there already."

     "Are we heading for the docks?" Silverdrop asked.

     Avalon nodded. "Yeah," he said. "We need to get out of the desert fast, before the Gelerts catch us."

     "You know how to get there, right?" Ash called up.

     "Yes," Avalon replied. Ash looked dubious.

     A fork appeared ahead of them. There were no signs marking which path led where. But Avalon turned left without hesitation. As he rounded the corner, Ash saw two beams of red light shinning from the Emerald Noil Gem's tiny eyes. She smiled slightly, realizing that Avalon had been using the Noil Gem's power to guide them through the Lost Desert streets.

     The smell of salt water reached Avalon's nose. He turned the final corner, expecting to see the wooden docks in front of them. The starry Kougra careened to a halt, his ears flattening and claws extending.

     Ash and Silverdrop turned the corner and also stopped, growling angrily. On the beach in front of them were the docks. They were empty of Neopets, and the water was clouded in an odd mist.

     But blocking the docks was a pack of shadow Gelerts, standing in a neat line. They were all crouched, snarling and barking at the Kougras and Lupe.

     Brazen was in the center of the line, her teeth bared in a grin. "Your mission ends here, Guardian!" she shouted.

     "When the Snowager flies!" Avalon retorted, tail flicking angrily.

     The pack leader stepped forward slightly. The rest of the pack also stepped closer. "Try and get to the docks," Brazen called, "And we'll rip you to pieces!"

     Avalon's frown deepened. "Any ideas?" he muttered to Ash.

     The fire Lupe looked around quickly. "No trees," she muttered. "Not even a tent pole to climb."

     "Then what do we do?" Silverdrop hissed.

     Avalon narrowed his eyes. "Gang up on one?" he suggested. "If we tear a hole in the line-"

     "But if whoever's picking us up isn't here, they'll be able to get us!" Ash said.

     "They can get us on this side, too!" Avalon reminded her.

     Silverdrop studied the Gelerts a moment, then looked around the beach.

     "What're you doing?" Ash hissed.

     "Looking for rocks," the Kougra replied. "Ah!" She picked one up inconspicuously. "Now you two find one!"

     Avalon dug his paw into the sand and felt a hard seashell. He clutched it. The shell would have to do.

     "Alright," Avalon said. "I'm guessing we chuck these at three different Gelerts and cause pandemonium?

     Silverdrop nodded.

     "When Brazen starts talking again," Avalon hissed, "Go for one."

     Brazen called, "Well, Guardian? Are you going to - ahgh!"

     The three pets hurled their rocks in unison. Ash's rock, a large gray one, hit a Gelert near Brazen in the side of the head. He stumbled back, then fell stunned into the sand. Silverdrop's black rock collided with a lean Gelert's leg, which instantly gave out. Avalon's shell hit a thin, ragged looking Gelert's chest, winding him and knocking it down.

     But the plan hadn't worked. The other Gelert's didn't panic. They took another step forward, heads lowed, growling angrily.

     Avalon stepped back, feeling in the sand for a rock or shell. Nothing this time.

     Suddenly, something boomed loudly, and several Gelerts dove for cover as something round and black made a crater in the sand they'd just been standing on. The Gelerts whirled around, their eyes wide, as more cannon balls pelted the beach.

     A voice echoed from the mist. "Take tha' ya measly Gelerts! An' that there! Din' 'spect I'd bring a cannon, now did ye?"

     Avalon smiled, and shouted, "Come on!" to Ash and Silverdrop. As they neared the cannon pelted section of the beach, the Gelert Avalon had hit with the rock charged at him. The starry Kougra raised a paw and smacked the Gelert's muzzle. The Gelert stumbled back, and Avalon recognized him as the one who'd attacked him in the clearing.

     With a loud bark, the Gelert swiped at Avalon again. Avalon dodged the blow, and barreled forward, striking the Gelert in the chest again. The Gelert fell back, glaring at Avalon as he struggled to rise.

     Avalon turned back toward the water and ran forward again. He saw the mist lifting, and a wooden ship appeared in the water. It was a fairly large ship that looked like an overgrown rowboat. In the sunlight, Avalon read the name on its side. "The Storm Cloud Returns"

     "Let's go!" Avalon shouted, his paws touching the water. The ship wasn't far out, and Avalon, Ash, and Silverdrop reached it quickly.

     A pirate Lupe with a red captain's hat was operating the cannon. The Lupe operating the cannon turned, smiling broadly.

     "Welcome aboard!" he said loudly, rocking the boat as he turned. Ash gave Avalon a doubtful look, but the starry Kougra ignored it and climbed over the side. The pirate waited until Ash and Silverdrop had gotten in, then scanned the beach, which was devoid of all Gelerts.

     Satisfied, the pirate Lupe turned back to Avalon. "Well, it's been a lon' time, Avalon, since I seen ya last."

     Avalon smiled back. "I like the new ship!"

     The pirate grinned slyly. "Aye, I stole it from the Gelerts, afer I got 'em away from the Island."

     "Who is this?" Ash asked, obviously unable to stand it any longer.

     "Sorry, Ash, Silverdrop, I didn't introduce you. This is my friend, Captain-"

     The pirate Lupe stood, rocking the boat again. "Arr, I be Cap'n Storm, former commander o' the Storm Cloud!" He tried to strike a heroic pose, but it was ruined by the wind blowing the captain's hat off his head. The Lupe dove for it, and managed to catch the hat, nearly flipping the ship over in the process.

     "He took me to Mystery Island after my parents disappeared," Avalon explained after everyone had gotten their balance. "He's a good friend of Quaz's." He remembered when he had first met Storm, on the beach in Neopia Central. The pirate Lupe had then owned a tiny rowboat called The Storm Cloud. He had taken Avalon to Mystery Island, but had been unable to accompany him to Heartfelt. The tiny Storm Cloud had been destroyed in a fight with Scarback's own ship-bound Gelerts.

     "An' who're these two, Avalon?" Storm asked, sitting back down.

     "These are my friends, Ash, who's lived on Mystery Island most of her life, and my…my apprentice, Silverdrop."

     Storm smiled at the two pets. "Arr, I'm glad to 'ave yer company!"

     "You're the one who's supposed to take us back, right?" Ash asked.

     Storm nodded. "Aye, tha's what Quaz told me ta do. An' it's lucky I did show up, or ye'd 'ave been Gelert meat!"

     Ash gave Avalon a puzzled look. Avalon whispered, "He's not the best pirate."

     "I 'eard tha', Avalon," the Lupe growled. "I know, I be useless with a sword, but…"

     He trailed off, staring at the beach. Avalon, Ash, and Silverdrop whirled around, and saw several Gelerts, including Brazen, coming after them in a stolen rowboat.

     "Ye filthy dogs!" Storm shouted, rearing up. "Why don' ya stay on land like yer supposed ter?"

     "And why don't you just quit interfering with my plans!" Brazen snarled back.

     Storm laughed. "I be a pirate! It's me job to spoil yer plans!"

     "Hey, Storm!" Ash hissed.

     "Aye?"

     "We're outnumbered and only two of us can use swords."

     Storm sat down, reaching below his seat and grabbing four oars. He passed one pair to Avalon, the only other pet who'd rowed a boat before, and took the second pair himself. The two pets paddled hard and fast, quickly outrunning the Gelerts.

     "Storm, they're going to be able to follow us," Ash said, breaking the long silence. "We've got to hit land soon."

     Storm frowned. "We still got a long way ter go afore we reach the Island," he said, frowning. "An' the water from the 'aunted Woods ter the Island is clear all through. No place ter hide…"

     "The Haunted Woods?" Avalon asked, loosening his grip on the oars.

     "Aye, some of the roughest sea ye'd ever sail," Storm said. "Waves a mile high, an' mist like ye wouldn't believe-"

     "Mist?" Ash interrupted.

     "Aye," Storm said, giving Ash a puzzled look.

     "The Gelerts couldn't see us in the mist." The fire Lupe said.

     Storm's puzzled look changed to one of worried understanding. He shook his head. "Thar's no way we ought ter be in the woods," he said firmly.

     "We don't have to go in," Silverdrop pointed out, speaking for the first time. "We can just sail on the water a bit, then head to Mystery Island."

     Storm's frown deepened. After a moment, he sighed and grabbed the oars. "I'm goin' ter regret this," he muttered as they steered course for the Haunted Woods.

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 Two
» 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 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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