After the Dance: Part Four
"Ouch - what's this? Ah, it is the new issue of the Neopian
Times!" The shadow Eyrie grabbed the large roll of newsprint that had collided
with his face quite painfully after August the innkeeper chucked it right at him.
"Sorry," said the yellow Lupe sheepishly. "I'm
just a little moody because business is still kind of down."
It was true. Even a few days after Allan the
Eyrie had revealed the secret of his friend Callie, only very few would spend
a night or two in the inn at the distant Meridellian village, which was so distant
that it barely suffered any damage from the ongoing war between the kingdom
and Lord Kass. The Darigan Aisha had finally consented to tell August that she
was the Court Dancer after a lot of coaxing from her comrade. He too, swore
to secrecy. Meanwhile, Callista would wear her hood whenever in the company
of other boarders, not entertaining any snoopy questions.
"Read the headline, you nut!" said the Lupe impatiently.
He jabbed one part of the front page which Allan began to scan. That morning,
they were the only ones on the table.
"'Treaty of Meridell and Darigan formed. King
Skarl and Lord Darigan forge friendship'. What now?"
August smirked. "That means the war is over!
I don't think anyone actually won, but I bet it would have been Meridell - no
offense, of course, Callie." He jerked his head towards the Darigan Aisha, who
had been free to leave her cloak off after the last guest - a flustered blue
Aisha who delivered dire news about Jeran the other day - had left.
She looked up from her breakfast. "The war has
ended? That's great news!"
"Quite right," said the shadow Eyrie. The sunlight's
rays struck the valuable medallion hanging around his neck. "So, Callie…would
you want to return to the citadel now? Everything's happened already…in fact
soon your little issue would become old hat. You can't undo what's been done,
but you can try to change the future to cover up what HAS been done."
The yellow Lupe scratched his head. "I've never
had a head for proverbs," he commented. "But old Allan here knows how to cheer
a guy up."
"And I've got something else to cheer Callie
up," said the Eyrie with a grin. "Lord Kass has been overthrown by the newly
returned Lord Darigan. If you remember, he has made peace with King Skarl and
both of them will soon forget about all this chaos that ensued between them."
"Kass…is finally gone," said the Aisha. She breathed
a sigh of relief. "Not that I totally loathed him…oh, okay, so maybe he does
deserve whatever punishment he'll be getting. But I'm glad our real leader is
back. I'm even more excited to come home…"
Allan felt the sudden pang in his heart that
made him think of his own family.
Meanwhile, the innkeeper gave them a longing
stare. "It's been such a pleasure knowing you, miss," he said, giving Callista
a pompous handshake.
"Would I also be missed?" said the shadow Eyrie
jokingly, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, I'll be leaving too. After helping the
lovely lady with her little problem, I may fly back to Faerieland and show my
face around after a few weeks."
August frowned. "Oh well…it has been nice knowing
you. At least business may bounce back after all this fiasco."
"Were you just being friends with us so you'd
have customers?" said Allan, jabbing his arm.
"Of course not!" said the Lupe irritably. "I've
never had a proper chat with my customers like this! No, no, no tips!" He shook
his head as the Eyrie drew a small back and began to pull out the last of his
"Are you sure?" said the Aisha. "Okay…we're going
to miss you. Thanks so much for taking me and Allan in." She gave August a nice
He gave them a little smile. "I do wish you would
drop by again soon," he said. "Well…better get ready."
"I couldn't be any more ready," said Allan. He
turned towards Callista. "And you?"
"I…I don't know," she whimpered. "I feel as though
I want to crawl somewhere and hide for the rest of my life."
"Don't say that again," he said. "Everything's
going to be all right. You'll see your mother again, be reunited…how hard could
* * *
It wasn't long before Allan and Callista found
themselves in the shady but somewhat now-peaceful Darigan Citadel. They walked
through the winding, cobbled streets and past excited residents yakking about
the battle aftermath. All the while, the Darigan Aisha looked as though she
were about to be thrown from a great height.
"I used to think that it would be easy to face
my mom, no matter what," said Callista. "But then again, since when has Lord
Kass made things easier? All he did was mess everything up."
"Hear hear!" agreed a nearby Darigan Zafara.
Allan rolled his eyes. "Let's not talk ill about
anything," he said soothingly. "You need your mind cleared and quiet, not full
of rants about something that has passed."
She clammed up, but not before she could point
and say, "There it is…or at least, I think it is."
The house where she had used to live with Morguss
was slightly disheveled and ruined, thanks to the war. Miraculously, it was
still standing. Feeling that something horrible was just around the corner,
Callista closed her eyes as she reached out to knock on the door.
It swung open a little too soon for her to think
of something to say. The two of them walked inside, wondering how the outside
looked so woebegone and the inside seemed less affected by the war. Allan paused
to observe an old skull perched on a small table when someone interrupted their
"May I help you?"
The shadow Eyrie cleared his throat. "Greetings,"
he greeted the Moehog approaching him. "My name is Allan, and I'm - "
Morguss stopped in her tracks. "What…Callista?"
She sidestepped the Eyrie and opened her arms to embrace her long-lost daughter.
However, before the Aisha could complain, the
Moehog spoke first.
"Callista…I'm so sorry about what has happened
between us. I can't believe I have been swayed by Lord Kass to put my only daughter
into the face of danger! I was so blinded by the prospect of a better life without
anything meddling, but then…Oh, I was so worried sick about you!" Tears began
streaming down her cheeks - quite a weird yet touching sight - and down the
dancer's cloak. "The true leader of the citadel has returned, and I know that
he can set everything straight…we'll start a new life…"
The Darigan Aisha raised a paw to silence Morguss
for a while. "I have to tell you something."
"What is it?" The mage looked mortified.
But her face changed into a grateful gaze as
Callista swept her arm before the shadow Eyrie standing beside her. "I owe it
all to Allan. Mother, I would like you to meet my good friend Allan. When I
was lost in Meridell, he and an innkeeper named August made my life easier.
Still, it wouldn't compare to my life with you. I missed you so much."
"I'll never let anything like this separate and
harm us again," said Morguss. "Lord Darigan will see to that. He deserves our
loyalty, not that terrible failure called Kass." She turned to Allan, who was
still standing there with a half-happy-for-his-friend, half-goofy grin on his
face. "Thanks to you, Callista has returned. Name your reward, my boy, and I
shall see to it that it be granted."
"Your happiness and Callie's happiness is reward
enough," he said. "If you'll excuse me, I myself have a family reunion to go
"So…I guess this is goodbye?" The Aisha shuddered,
suppressing a little sob.
His smile faded. "Yeah…I can no longer be separated
from my parents. I'll be going." He gave a little wave as he left, closing the
door behind him.
Morguss turned to Callista. "Callie?"
"It's a long story," said the Aisha. "I'll tell
you all about it over one of your pumpkin cakes."
* * *
"Get the door, Armand."
"I don't want to. Get it yourself."
A female fire Eyrie rose from the sofa where
she had been reading a book on faerie magic. Smoothing out her navy robes, Arlene
walked towards the doors of their mansion in Faerieland. She gasped so loudly
that two other Eyries stuck their heads out from a nearby hall to see what was
"Sweet Fyora, Allan, is that you?" Another fire
Eyrie came out and stared at him with wide, wide eyes.
"Armand! Aiden!" said Allan excitedly. "Everyone's
here? How about our parents?"
"They'd be real happy to see you right now, brother,"
said Aiden, who was a shadow Eyrie like Allan. They were twins, sometimes discerned
only by the silver bracelets at their wrists. "This calls for a celebration!
Bring out the cake!"
Arlene shot him a reproachful look. "There's
no cake, Aiden."
Armand laughed. "Who said we couldn't make one?
Hang on…what HAVE you been doing while you were gone?" He turned to his sibling.
"Oh, nothing really," said Allan nonchalantly.
"I stayed in an inn, made good friends, and helped one of them realize the importance
of family and unity…"
"What's that last one?"