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The Treasured Diary: Part Eight


by twirlsncurls5

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"I-I had no idea I was interfering with Paladin business," Sheriff Jay stammered.

     Fenmere stood looking just as stunned as everyone else while the Sheriff removed his handcuffs apologetically,

      "You had no way of knowing," said Hayden with a grin. "We never told you."

      "Why? What's going on?"

      "We found the Diary."

      The strong, proud Lupe sank to the floor, and listened in shock and awe as Hayden told him everything.

      "Why didn't you tell me?" he whispered.

      "The less you knew, the less you could tell the Queen's Confidants when they found you."

      "The Confidants finding every Paladin, Hayden? Surely it hasn't come to that."

      The Nimmo paused for a moment. "Hasn't it? Before this we were just the treasure seekers and they the hiders. But now..." He shook his head. "Now we're in a time of secret revolution. Wouldn't they want to know who they were fighting against?"

      "No." The Lupe stood stubbornly, his arms across his chest. "That's not the way of things."

      "It wasn't the way of things to hold a King hostage or manipulate the police force," quipped Hayden, "or did you not know why you're here?"

      Jay's face crumbled. "How much do they know?"

      "Not nearly enough, or else they would be conducting their search in secret rather than on 'Wanted' posters." He scratched his chin. "No, the unblinking eye of the Gathow is still blind. They only know that Prince Fenmere has the diary, it's him alone that they're searching for."

      "How do they even know that much?" asked Jay.

      Suddenly all eyes were on Fenmere.

      "It's time we got to the root of this," said Hayden. "We at least need to know who we're dealing with." He turned to the Gelert. "Was there anyone who might have seen you walking around the palace with the diary?"

      Fenmere shook his head. "No, I hid it in my robes as soon as I came out of the passageway because Remmy-" His face paled.

     The butler had seen him come out of the secret tunnel.

      "Remmy," echoed Jay, making the same connection. "He was the supposed witness to King Frayinth's disappearance!"

      Fenmere shook his head in disbelief, feeling a knot of anger well up in his throat. Remmy had served the palace since before he was born; his father had treated the Quiggle like an equal, a friend. Was the King still alive or had the horrid traitor killed him in order to get to his son?

      "You don't think," Fenmere choked out, "that my father…is…"

      Jay shuffled his feet awkwardly and Hayden's eyes went to the ground. Lord Cyril's eyes misted over. They all knew how serious the matter was to both sides, how neither would let anyone stand in their way. Not even a King.

      "Fenmere," Sophia said softly, tenderly resting a hand on his shoulder. "Its fine, I'm sure…I'm sure things will all be fine."

      He shrugged her off callously. She was just trying to help but it was pointless, just like this whole wild search was pointless.

      "I don't think I can do this anymore," he said, trying his best to keep his voice from shaking.

      "You can't just give up on it, Fenmere-" Hayden started.

      "AND WHY NOT!" Fenmere wheeled around, his eyes blazing, fists balled. "Would you just kill me too?" He tore at Hayden's shirt collar. "You're just like them, sick and twisted inside so much that lives don't matter anymore, only Treasure matters, only this-" he lunged at Ramaya and tore the book from her hands- "only this matters! How can you ask any more of me!?" He opened the book, flipping through its mockingly blank pages before throwing it furiously to the floor. "How can you ask me to give any more for partridge and riddles!?"

     Ramaya fell to the floor, tenderly picking up the book and clutching it closely to her chest. Hayden's expression didn't change; he only stared right back into the, livid, sorrowful eyes of a Prince who thought he'd lost everything.

      "I'm asking on behalf of your Kingdom, Fenmere, your father's Kingdom-"

      "Oh, the Darkest Faerie herself couldn't spew up a greater lie!" spat Fenmere. "You know what I think?! There is no Treasure! Queen Arin wished turmoil upon her forsaken Kingdom and she got it! Generations of pets secretly fighting, infiltrating and corrupting every pillar of Gansvere's society! To what point, Hayden?" he said tiredly. "Where does it end?" He opened the door to the lonely thatch.

      "Don't you dare walk out on this, Fenmere!" shrieked an angry, tearful voice. The entire room, including Fenmere, turned to see Sophia, her hands balled into fists and her bottom lip quivering.

      "If you walk out on this, you're walking out on everything, the people of Gansvere who deserve better, your father who deserves better, and me," she said strongly, "because I deserve better!"

      Fenmere's proud eyes welled with tears. "I'm sorry," he was whispering, walking towards her, "I want…it's just-"

     She shushed him softly and held him for a moment.

     He broke the embrace and turned to Hayden. "He deserves vengeance."

      Hayden clapped a hand on his back. "And he'll have it, my Prince. I swear on Fyora's crown, on my life, that our great King will have justice."

      "How?" whispered Fenmere.

      "We will tear the down the very fabric for which Remmy stands. In finding the treasure we simultaneously destroy the Queen's Confidants. Remmy will live out his remaining moments knowing that he failed not only himself but Queen Arin Elise Bavarian, his fellows, and his ancestors who died protecting what he could not. And then if you still wish it," he said, his eyes flashing sadly, regretfully, "we'll kill him."

      Fenmere nodded slowly, staring off into the distance at something none of them could see.

      "Is it safe to start working on the next clue?" Ramaya asked softly, still shaken by the Gelert's violent outbreak.

      "No," said Jay, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "but it will be. I'll put out an order that this manor is off limits." He moved towards the door with smooth strides, his amber eyes burning tenaciously. "Anyone who approaches will have to answer to me and my sword of Skardsen."

      Hayden turned to Jase who was still casting a look of dislike upon the Lupe. "Jase, you should help Jay secure and guard the perimeter," he said.

      The Draik seemed taken aback by the proposal. "I should?"

      "With all due respect, sir, I think I can handle this on my own," said Jay.

      "Nonsense," said Hayden forcibly, "Jase has the eyes and wings of a Horus."

      At this Jase winked at the Sheriff and outstretched his enormous red wings.

     Jay looked as if he'd just swallowed a grackle bug.

      Most pets had a hard time understanding Hayden's motives: why he would send two people who disliked each other so strongly to work so closely together. But Hayden knew he had no use for bitter enemies.

      "And it would probably be best, Cayleb, if you went back to the manor and calmed down your servants," added Hayden. "You may consider you duty to the Paladins fulfilled."

      The Moehog nodded, seeming both relieved and saddened to be done with the search.

     Only Fenmere, Sophia, Hayden, and Ramaya were left.

     The Ixi sat down on the floor and pulled out the old, rusty metal box Fenmere had retrieved from the tomb of Henry Delore.

     "There's a small hole in the side of it, like the one Cayleb put his ring in to open the tomb door," she said in Fenmere's direction, pausing a moment as if hoping for some kind of reaction. The Gelert sat with his back to them. His shoulders were slumped and he didn't lift his head to make any kind of response.

     Ramaya went on. "But his ring didn't work this time. Then we found this inscription on the side." She turned the box over and read aloud:

      "To have made it thus far

     Your knowledge indeed must be grand

     But it's the worthiest reader's turn

     To extend his hand."

      She set the box back down. "We thought about this riddle for a long time before it came to us. The worthiest reader is you, Fenmere, much as I don't like it, and that's why Lord Cyril's ring couldn't possibly open the box." She held out a large golden ring bearing in its ruby gem the crest of Gallion's Keep.

      "Only the ring from your extended hand could."

      Fenmere turned his head slightly, eyeing the jewelry he used to wear. He'd almost forgotten the feel of fine garments and expensive things.

      He took the ring from Ramaya's hand and slid it on his finger. Slowly, he pressed it into the small hole in the box.

      The metal latch opened with a click.

      Ramaya slowly lifted the lid, reached in, and pulled out an old dusty book. She brushed it off to reveal a wordless brown cover that was faded and tattered. It was bound in a cloth that seemed to be woven by hand.

      She opened it and touched the pages gently; they were brittle and yellow.

      "Papyrus," she murmured.

      The writing on each page looked like scribbles, tiny hand written symbols.

      "Fantastic," grumbled Fenmere, "another meaningless clue."

      "It is NOT meaningless," snapped Ramaya, "this writing is an ancient Neopian dialect hundreds, maybe thousands of years old! This book could possibly be one of the first forms of written language in Neopia!"

      The Gelert rolled his eyes. "I love books as much as the next guy, okay? I get it, it's historical, influential, whatever. But right now, that really doesn't help us."

      He reached into the box and pulled out a paintbrush and a small glass jar filled with some kind of brown tinged liquid. His nose wrinkled in disgust.

      "So this is what everyone's dying to get their hands on," he said smiling cynically, "no pun intended." His face seemed darker, more shadowed. "You people are searching for a path and all you find are dead ends."

      "It's not a dead end," growled Ramaya. "There's a marker here." She held up a piece of maroon colored fabric stitched with a golden crown emblem that had been inside the old book. "Oh and in case you've forgotten," she firmly grasped the chain around his neck, "you're part of this search."

      Fenmere pulled the chain out of her hand. "I didn't ask for this."

      Ramaya's eyes narrowed. "No one asks for their destiny."

      She turned back to the book and flipped to the marked page.

      There was only one sentence.

      "I think I can translate it," Ramaya said, holding the book close to her nose.

      "Of course you can," muttered Fenmere sarcastically. "Who doesn't know how to translate a one thousand year old Neopian dialect?"

      "A librarian is a researcher, Fenmere," she said in exasperation. "Our occupation doesn't merely consist of telling people to 'shush'."

      Fenmere grunted and crossed his arms over his chest.

      Everyone else crawled towards Ramaya, reading over her shoulder with wide eyes.

      A frown crossed the Ixi's face. "I don't get it."

      "What?" urged Hayden, "what does it say?"

      She set down the book. "It says 'Every blank canvas holds an unpainted picture'."

      Hayden's shoulders slumped. "Well, it has to mean something. Queen Arin marked it for a reason."

      Fenmere, who had been lying on his back making paintbrush strokes in the air, sat up with a start. He picked up the small glass jar and twisted the lid, releasing the pungent smell of chemicals into the room.

      "Give me the diary," he ordered Ramaya.

      The Ixi grinned in understanding and she opened it to the first blank page. Fenmere dipped the brush in the brown liquid and began smearing the top of the page with it.

      "What are you doing?" asked Sophia, as Hayden, who also caught on, moved in closer.

      Fenmere looked up. "I'm finding the unpainted picture in the canvas."

      Their eyes all went wide.

     Slowly, elegant black letters scrolled across the page as if the ghost of Queen Arin Elise Bavarian was writing them.

      "The Queen wrote the clue in invisible ink," murmured Sophia.

     They all leaned in around the diary as the riddle appeared line by line.

     Fenmere and Ramaya read in unison:

     "Where the greatest of rulers

     Should learn the rules of their world

     Rests the place I have chosen

     For my clues to unfurl."

     Their eyes all met confusedly.

     "The greatest of rulers," murmured Hayden, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Well, the greatest of rulers is obviously-"

     "The King," interjected Ramaya.

      "Right. But what about the second line of learning 'the rules of their world'?"

      Ramaya's large eyes looked up like they always did when she was trying to think, almost as if she was peering inside her own brain to retrieve the useful information from her expanse of knowledge.

     "I suppose it could be interpreted as to where the King learns how the system works, like how to govern his Kingdom based on the successes and failures of others before him," she said.

     Hayden nodded but still seemed dissatisfied. "And where is that?"

     Ramaya frowned, unable to answer.

     "Well how about a library?" Sophia suggested. Everyone turned to look at her. "Well, I don't know," she said, blushing, "if you need to learn something…"

     "No, I think you've got something there," said Hayden softly. He looked worried.

     Sophia looked at him with concern. "What?"

      "Nothing," Hayden shook his head. "Perhaps I'm wrong. Let's just read the next line."

     Fenmere nodded and painted the page just below the first stanza and read aloud:

     "I owe you a fair warning

     For what my Confidants have amassed

     Be prepared for a fight,

     They won't want you to pass."

     The Gelert took in a deep breath before standing an walking over to where his royal garments lay piled up in a corner. Ramaya read the lines over and over while Hayden rubbed his jaw as if coaxing the shocked expression from his face.

     "At last," said Fenmere as he slowly drew his purple robes around him.

     "What?" asked Sophia, looking worriedly at those around her. "Why is he putting those clothes back on? What's going on? What's the clue mean?"

     Hayden massaged the bridge of his nose. "The greatest of rulers learn the rules of their world in a library, Sophia; you said it yourself. And what other library would a King visit other than his own?"

     Sophia brought a hand to her face. "But that's where-"

     "Yes." Hayden's eyes met hers, his face dark and grave. "The next clue is in the palace itself, the very place every Confidant in Gansvere is operating from."

     Fenmere, vaguely aware of the conversation taking place, grasped the dagger Hayden had rested on the floor, and watched his own twisted and vengeful reflection in the silver.

     Ramaya shook her head, obviously thinking of the sheer impossibility of it. "To find the Treasure, we'll have to do it in plain sight of those trying to protect it."

      The voice that came from the Gelert was one nobody could recognize. It was evil and heart wrenching at the same time.

     "Then we'll blind them."

      "Fenmere," Sophia looked at him, appalled. "What is this horrible thing you've become?"

     He pulled away from her. "The fight is inevitable Sophia. They will stay in my palace no longer." He gently placed a jewel incrusted crown on his head. "I'm done hiding."

     Sophia turned to Hayden. "Tell him," she urged, "tell him this is not the answer!"

     "Would you have me lie?" The Nimmo stood up slowly, as if carrying an enormous weight on his shoulders. "We must return to the palace. The Prince will have his fight."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Treasured Diary: Part One
» The Treasured Diary: Part Two
» The Treasured Diary: Part Three
» The Treasured Diary: Part Four
» The Treasured Diary: Part Five
» The Treasured Diary: Part Six
» The Treasured Diary: Part Seven
» The Treasured Diary: Part Nine
» The Treasured Diary: Part Ten



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