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The Treasured Diary: Part Three


by twirlsncurls5

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The blue Quiggle fingered his silver ring imprinted with the shape of a Gathow. It was well known that the sinewy catlike petpet never blinked, even when sleeping, as if it was always poised and watching.

      "Just like the Queen's Confidants," he thought. The thought made him scowl; the group that was supposed to keep its eyes forever open had completely lost sight of what they were supposed to be guarding.

      He walked down the dark halls of Gallion's Keep, past servants who were tied and gagged in several corners, and entered the library.

      A fire Kougra emerged from the shadows, his Gathow Ring twinkling. "We're still searching the castle, but I don't think it'll do us any good," he said sounding very worried.

      The Quiggle's lips were pressed into a furious thin line. "Then it's gone."

      "Yes." The Kougra looked as if he expected to be hit.

      The Quiggle slammed his fist down on a marble table. "200 years of guarding wasted!" He wheeled around to face the other, his eyes blazing. "How could you let this happen? I was flawless! My ancestors were placed here to watch over the diary and I did just that. As soon as I saw that the passageway had been infiltrated and the diary had been taken I informed the other Confidants. And what did you do? You let it slip right through your fingers! We've got nothing!"

      The Kougra winced. "We do have something, sir," he said shakily.

      "It had better be a miracle," he mumbled.

      The Kougra led him further into the unusually darkened library where a figure was bound to a stone chair.

      He held up a lamp, revealing the stony face of King Frayinth, his bright eyes glaring menacingly at the Quiggle. The fire Kougra untied the cloth that was wrapped around his mouth so he could speak. There was a silent pause as the King sat motionless, his features set and angry.

      "You were my loyal servant, Remmy," said the King at last, his voice a mix of sorrow and anger, "how could you betray me like this? You'll be hanged for treason."

     The Quiggle shrugged. "Some things are more important."

      The King looked up at him incredulously. "Like what?!"

      Five more figures stepped into the library carrying torches. A green Blumaroo stepped forward. "They're not in the palace, sir," he said.

      Remmy turned back to the King, a sinister grin across his face. "I'm afraid I don't have time to explain, your Highness." He pulled out a gleaming dagger, its hilt set with two gleaming Gathow eyes, from his pressed tuxedo.

      "Now," he said, "where is your son and that little servant girl of his?"

     ==========

      Prince Fenmere sat at a wooden table in the underground lair of the Paladins of Strain with a very old leather bound book in his paws.

      "So you're saying that if I read this diary, the Confidants will kill me?" His tone was one of amusement. "I'd like to see them try."

      The brown Ixi, who had remained silent the entire time, turned to him with fiery eyes. "Your ignorance is approaching the point of idiocy, your Highness," she emphasized the title mockingly. "If the Confidants wanted you dead, then I don't think we'd be speaking right now. They're just like us; their members have secretly infiltrated many major positions in major organizations too. How did you think they knew you found the diary?"

      Fenmere's eyebrows furrowed in thought. How did they know?

      Ramaya answered for him. "They have members that work in the palace."

      At that moment, all the Paladins turned towards Sophia who was still sitting wide eyed and startled on the dirt floor.

      "What?" she asked in a small timid voice. "You don't think I'm the spy, do you?"

      Fenmere shook his head. "Impossible. I'd only showed her the diary minutes before your henchman over here snatched us away."

      "Excuse me," Jase interjected. "I'd prefer winged deliveryman."

      "I don't know, your Highness, what if she told them before-" started Hayden worriedly.

      "That's enough!" Fenmere stood up abruptly. "Not a thing more about it! I consider Sophia to be my most trusted servant; I'll not have you all accusing her of betraying me!"

      Hayden nodded, signaling the end of the discussion.

      "About me reading the Diary…" Fenmere started.

      "Ah, yes. We just want to make sure that you understand the consequences that would follow," said Hayden.

      "Besides being killed?"

      "Yes, well," he looked down, "you would have to go into hiding."

      "We would help, of course," added Jase, who was starting to crawl back up the burrow hole in order to make sure the perimeter was secure.

      Fenmere looked at them puzzled. "Why? You have the Diary, what do you care what happens to me after?"

     Hayden grinned as if the answer were obvious. "'If the reader is worthy,'" he quoted from the poem on the inside book cover. "You're the worthy descendant Queen Arin intended to find the Treasure, or at least we think so."

      "Some of us more than others," Ramaya muttered.

      Hayden glared at her and went on. "How else could you have found the Treasured Diary? We think Arin wrote the clues so only her offspring could decipher them. That's why the Diary was hidden in the palace."

      Decipher ancient clues? Fenmere wondered if he was the right Prince for the job.

      "Just think," urged Hayden, sensing his doubt, "Gansvere's greatest treasure. It belongs to the Kingdom, your Kingdom. It's your duty to find it."

      Fenmere didn't think getting caught between two deadly rivals was in his job description.

     "Not that that wasn't a truly inspiring pep talk," he said, "but I'm quite certain I want to stay alive for a couple more years."

      Ramaya shook her head with a sarcastic smile. "Life or death, eh? You really think it's that simple, that everything just comes down to those two choices? How about good or evil? Right or wrong?"

      "Right or wrong?" he repeated incredulously. "You mean what you think is right and what you think is wrong! What if I don't share the same moral ground as you people? What if I don't want to help?"

      The Paladins simultaneously lifted their tunics to reveal the hilts of shiny silver daggers, each engraved with the image of an open book.

      "We may seem nice at the moment, my Prince," said Hayden, leaning in close, "but don't think you can come between us and 200 years of searching without a fight."

      Fenmere's eyes widened but he knew it was important not to show fear. "What about the Queen's Confidants? Aren't you worried about them finding you?"

     Ramaya laughed harshly. "Why do you think we're underground?"

      "We're opposing factions," explained Hayden. "One believes in hiding the treasure and the other in finding it. We've been fighting secretly from generation to generation for 200 years; we know how to handle it."

      Fenmere took their word for it.

          ==========

     King Frayinth looked up at his former butler with a noble smile. "Even if I knew where my son was, and I don't, do you really think I would tell you?"

     Remmy scowled and stormed out of the library with the fire Kougra trailing behind. Somehow the King's demeanor still commanded an undeniable respect.

      Five pets were waiting in the darkened hallway, poised and ready for commands.

     Remmy immediately gave them some.

     "I want every lowlife thief and bounty hunter this side of Meridell looking for that brat of a Prince!"

     The Confidants nodded, silver rings gleaming.

      "Oh, and kill the little monster once you get the Diary back," he added casually.

     ==========

     Jase circled over the huge field, his wings beating methodically against the wind. His excitement was almost overwhelming. He'd been a police deputy before all of this, a good one. Most pets go through life without having any idea of their potential, what their body can do, how far it can run or stretch. Jase on the other hand knew every limit to his being. He could blend in with anything around him. He'd often been used to infiltrate thieves and capture their leader just when he'd gotten enough evidence to incriminate him. Jase had intercepted assassinations, attempted food poisoning, and most recently, on the orders of a secret society he'd only thought of in his wildest dreams, a Prince.

     When he'd first been asked by Hayden to join the ranks of the Paladin's he'd been utterly shocked. You usually had to be born into the secret society, it wasn't something just something you were simply inducted into. Their reasoning was clear to him now.

     The pets back in that burrow had a kind of brotherhood, a kind of devotion to something Jase couldn't even imagine. They would lay down their lives for a book.

     A rustling noise suddenly broke the silence of the night. He dove down to investigate, landing silently in the tall yellow grass. He heard voices coming from the brush and he ducked down to listen closer.

     "…'Ay, lookin' fer some Prince they said, quite a price on his 'ead too," a coarse voice said.

     Jase knew this wasn't good; if these obvious lowlifes were looking for Fenmere it meant every other crook and criminal was too.

     "Don't even know why they call him a Prince," said another voice, "there ain't no royalty in the blood o' Gansvere."

     The other roared with laughter. "Wretched Kingdom ain't even on a map!"

     Jase's claws bit into his palm and his heart beat furiously. He knew what they were talking about, how Neopia didn't recognize the ancient Kingdom despite its great Kings and past. Gallion's Keep was true to its name; it had acted as an impenetrable fortress during every Meridell war. But yet it received no glory or credit for one reason and one reason alone: the Kingdom of Gansvere had no written documentation of its Royal line of ancestry. The ancient family tree was lost long ago. And without proof that a King or Queen's blood was truly passed down from the Royal family, the rest of the world would see them as common.

      "His blood line'll be the least of his worries once we get to 'im," said the other with a hoarse chuckle.

      That was all Jase needed to hear. Lord Cyril would not be pleased that he'd have to fulfill his duty. The Moehog seemed so completely unsuited for all of the action, as if he was only participating in it because of some kind of obligation towards his Paladin ancestors. But still, he wouldn't disobey Paladin orders, even if it meant hiding a prince on his manor.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Treasured Diary: Part One
» The Treasured Diary: Part Two
» The Treasured Diary



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