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Roberta's Bet


by theneogoddess

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Tor crouched in the wild Chokato brush, trying desperately to peer through the overgrowth. The air around him was charged with dark mote magic, yet he couldn't locate the source. As quietly as he could, he lifted his muzzle toward the sky and sniffed. He could smell the mustiness of the ground beneath his footpaws. Far away, he could smell the metallic pang of Mortogs in a small stream. A myriad of smells came to him, but none of them were from a dark creature. Even so, everything about him was still. Far too still. As he scanned the sky above him, he noted the lack of Pteris winging their way across the sky. Moments before, he had spied a herd of Unis carving lazy circles just above him, but even these larger creatures had deserted. Slowly, ever so slowly, Tor reached for his sword over his right shoulder, the fur on his neck standing on end.

     "Crrrrrrreak," groaned Tor's new leather armor.

      Aw, man! thought Tor desperately. Now I'm spied for sure! Tor gathered his courage, gripped his shield more tightly, and leapt from the bushes. There, directly in front of him, was a creature-something Tor had never seen before. For a moment, Tor dropped his guard, overwhelmed by the sheer monstrosity of the creature before him. With a soft grunt, it turned its massive purple, black-spiked head toward him. Large, coal-red eyes blazed from within its skull, locked on Tor. Both creatures froze for a moment like this. Then Tor bolted.

      "Draconaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Giant draconaaaaaaaaaaack!" screamed Tor, running along the path as fast as his legs could carry him. Just behind him, the Draconack was trailing him at a lope-and gaining on him. Tor desperately fumbled in his rucksack, his mind reeling. "Ah, c'mon, where'd I put that-ah! Here it is!" Tor frantically ripped the stopper from the potion and threw the little Meerca figure back into his bag. "Here goes nothing," Tor cried, and threw back his head, downing the entire contents of the potion bottle.

      Tor had never felt anything like it before. His heart raced, faster than ever. He pumped his arms, trying to propel himself even further onward. Except for a slight buzzing in his ears, he wasn't sure anything had happened. As he glanced back over his shoulder at the Draconack, he noticed the distance between them was growing-it was actually growing! Heartened, Tor whipped his head around and put on the speed even more, not stopping until he was well back within the walls of Meridell. Tor, bent over and gasping for breath, didn't notice Roberta the Acara leaning against a fencepost at his left elbow.

      Roberta was reeling with laughter. "Told you they existed. I heard you crying like a little pup from here. You owe me 15 neopoints, Tor. Now, cough it up."

      Reaching into his rucksack in awe, Tor handed over her winnings, while musing, "Roberta, I've lived this close to Draconack Ridge all my life, and I never knew they could grow so big! You live all the way in Brightvale-how'd you know about them?"

      Pocketing the coins, Roberta helped her friend stand up. "Oh, Tor. I read in the royal library, of course! I know all sorts of things."

      "So Draconacks get really, really big. Anybody could know that. Tell me something not everyone knows," Tor challenged his pal.

      Looking over his shoulder, Roberta laughed. "Well, it looks to me like you've made a new friend! How's that?"

      Tor turned slowly around….and looked up. Standing a good two stories, the giant Draconack sat on its haunches, panting and begging not unlike a Puppyblew. Curious shop owners peered out at the unlikely trio, and the rest of the town stared on from the streets. "Uh……hi?" gasped Tor nervously to the Draconack.

      At that, the Draconack dropped back down to all fours, causing the ground to shake. Tor, trembling out of fear as well, fell to the ground from the force. The Draconack bent its massive head to Tor, and Tor watched its giant, razor sharp teeth come toward him. "Roberta, it's gonna eat me!" screamed Tor. Sure enough, the Draconack opened its huge maw and ran its tongue over Tor's head…again, the Draconack tasted Tor…and-"Hey, it DOES like me!" laughed Tor as the creature continued to lick his face.

      Roberta bent down and peered at Tor. "You're weird, Tor. Go clean up-we should get moving. Make sure you fix your fur-you look like you've been sleeping for weeks."

      Tor leapt up, pushing the head of the creature away, and looked into the clear water of the moat surrounding the castle. "Oh, haha, I guess my fur is a bit mussed now. Well, we can go anytime, I guess. But Harvey's coming, too," demanded Tor.

      "Whaaa? You can't possibly mean you want to haul this beast along with us?" objected Roberta. Tor grinned and said, "It's your fault anyway, Roberta. You're the one who told me creatures like Harvey exist! Now, I want one. This one."

      Roberta rolled her eyes, walking along next to Tor. "You're completely crazy, Tor. I think that-wait a minute…Harvey? Tor!" gasped Roberta.

      "It's my pet. I can name him whatever I want," declared Tor stubbornly.

      "Grrumph!" grunted Harvey happily, and wagged his tail. Looking up at the beast, Tor smiled a lupine grin and leapt deftly onto its back. Seating himself comfortably between a couple of the Drackonack's spikes, Tor grinned down at Roberta. "Well, suit yourself, Roberta. Harvey and I will be in Werelupe Woods by sunrise tomorrow. I guess we'll be seeing you sometime next week, then?" Tor patted Harvey's side, and he took off at a rather stupid lope.

      "Tor! Tormund, get back here!" screeched Roberta. "You can't possibly leave me to fend for myself! There are bandits along the path! And what about werelupes? And-and….Tor! Come back!" Roberta chased Tor out of Meridell, heading north.

      "Young'uns," laughed a rickety old Techo, who had been watching from across the cobbled street. "I can't wait to hear about the troubles those two get themselves into. I'll bet there will be stories about those two. Ballads! Why, I'll bet those two weasel their way into the Gallery of Heroes!"

      A faint and familiar snuffling noise at the Techo's right foot caused him to look down. A half-toothless smile crossed his face, and he bent down to pet the small greying Draconack. "Well, I'm not sure about Harvey. Maybe nothing will come of that friendship. We'll just have to wait and see if he makes his way into the Neopedia or something like that, old friend."

      The Drackonack turned its eyes up to its owner, its paling purple-grey skin wrinkled. "Oh, my pet. How do I know all of this? Well, my dear creature…those two have been expected for a long, long time. It's been nearly a thousand years since-well, old friend, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?" With that, the Techo cast his watery eyes skyward, noting the movement of the large purple clouds in the distance. Leaning on his cane for balance, the Techo scooped up the small old Draconack. "Let's get inside, dear one…The Darkest Faerie's clouds will be upon us in just a matter of days…."

The End

 
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