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Return of the Double Agent: Part One


by precious_katuch14

--------

Also by shadowcristal

The shady blue Zafara walked through the corridors of Meridell Castle, drawing her hood over her eyes. Every time a guard would stop her and ask what she was doing there, she would produce a written letter with the seal of King Skarl on it. Then the sentries knew better than to mess with her.

     Cylene was better known as the Double Agent. She had helped both Meridell and Darigan by sneaking around both kingdoms during the war. However, her loyalty seemed to lean more towards Darigan - especially Lord Kass - but the Skeith king was either too dumb or too preoccupied to notice that.

     Her cloak swept against the carpets designed with the usual color scheme. Blue, red, gold... sometimes the Zafara got a tad sick of it.

     When she got to the throne room, Cylene had no time to ponder on her color preferences. She found herself facing Skarl who was perched on his ornate chair. A chef was standing beside him, holding up a platter of the best roast beef and potatoes as the ruler munched greedily.

     "I say! What do you want with the great king?" demanded a nearby red Draik guard. He pointed at her with a long spear that nearly poked her chest. "You ought to have a good reason before I let you pass."

     "Here. Go crazy." The Double Agent pressed the official notice into his snout. A slight burn mark appeared on the parchment but she didn't mind. He and his comrade, a smaller blue Draik, stepped aside and made way for Cylene.

     The guards hovered together to look at the scrunched parchment for a second before they made a quick glance that turned into a stare at the Zafara.

     Cylene stood tall and proud, as immovable as the feared Terror Mountain. Her right foot, on the other hand, tapped slightly in annoyance as that fat, greedy Skeith wouldn't even look up from her meal to address her.

     When the chef had finally taken the platter away, with loud protests from the king and an "It's for your own good, my highness", King Skarl turned to look at the visitor that had turned up.

     "Err... Agent... " the King trailed off, not sure of what to address the somewhat strange Zafara that had appeared in front of him. He did not need to recall too much of what had happened during the war to know that this little pet was a handful.

     "I prefer not to disclose my name," Cylene said quietly.

     King Skarl groaned mentally. There she was, with all her mind games and such. But perhaps she'd be of use now. He looked around and saw the curious guards staring at him.

     "What?" Skarl mumbled, unsure of why the guards were staring at him. He stared down at his own royal garments and found ugly puddles of brown gravy inside the folds and creases. "Oh."

     "If we may talk alone, and negotiate... ?" the Zafara suggested, giving the curious guards a hard look. She gave a mental sigh, trying not to look too much at the king that was blinding her eyes rather nicely. Honestly, he really should've learned some manners... But for all that she was here for, maybe it was better for him to remain as he was, that dull, docile king... Cylene's lips curled into a smug, satisfied smirk as King Skarl roared out orders to for the pets to clear out the throne room.

     "Everyone, get out! This is a confidential meeting!" he yelled out.

     "Sire... " One of the Draik guards remained and stared sceptically at their leader.

     Skarl crossed his arms. "There are some things I'd prefer that you didn't know about," he explained abruptly. "Go on, move out! You and your brother can guard the outside of the room to make sure nobody else disturbs us."

     The agent watched with interest as everyone scrambled away. The chef dropped his tray with an alarming clang. A hurrying servant grabbed it as he followed the Ixi clad in an apron. In just a few seconds only two remained inside the king's domain.

     "I see you have gotten my letter," said King Skarl casually.

     "Yes, your majesty," replied the blue Zafara. She sank into a little curtsy. "You needed my services again? I thought you and Darigan Citadel are at peace."

     The Skeith nodded. "Well, I haven't been declaring any wars recently, have I?"

     She rolled up the parchment paper. "So I have noticed. Well then, let's move on. Why have you summoned me to your presence on such a peaceful day?"

     "I have another assignment for you, Agent," said the king frankly. "This isn't quite as serious as the last one. But I better not see you falling back on your duties, missy. I want you to go to Darigan Citadel and spy on…"

     "Hold on," said Cylene crossly. She used the scroll to gesture towards her client. "I thought you were friends!"

     "We are!" said King Skarl. "You haven't allowed me to finish. I command you to let me finish!"

     Gritting her teeth, the Zafara rolled her eyes. "Okay, fine. Come on, come on, time is Neopoints."

     "Well," King Skarl said, looking at the Zafara indignantly. "I need to keep an eye on Darigan. I mean, friends watch out for each other, right?"

     Cylene blinked, for a second stunned by this simple logic. She drew in a sharp breath and retaliated. "Fine, I get that. But what do you really want?"

     "As you'd like to call it, spying," the King said, eyeing the Zafara.

     The Agent furrowed her brows, thinking hard. Evaluating the options, she figured that there would be quite some danger in leaving now, seeing as Skarl might send some soldiers to follow her and see the headquarters of her operations. Now that would not be a good thing, but to accept? Her mind quickly jumped to the other agreement she had just sealed for less than a day ago.

     Well, that was why she was known as the best agent in Neopia. Sighing at having to work for this idle, food-loving Skeith, Cylene gracefully bent her head in submission.

     "So you will do it?" Skarl asked. He was a bit surprised.

     "Let us talk about the price first," the Zafara said, her eyes twinkling joyfully and her voice as whispery as dry leaves and silver flutes.

     The king cringed. He should have known that this assignment didn't come cheap. But he regained his composure and drew himself up.

     "Price, eh?" he repeated. "I think we should talk about it AFTER you spy on Darigan."

     "I think not," said Cylene. "I want to be paid now. If you don't pay me before I go on to do what you want... "

     "I will only give you the reward when I see what work you have accomplished!" King Skarl's voice rose with every syllable he enunciated. "I give the orders here; I am the ruler of this land!"

     There was a ringing pause. The Agent's eyes were wide with fear and anticipation.

     "Well... I'm sticking to my suggestion," he said firmly. "But there is one thing I can give you right now."

     "Name it," she blurted out. Her eyes seemed to harbor a hungry gleam.

     "A... " Skarl smiled ruefully as he produced something from his pocket, "A very special... potato!"

     The Zafara stared at the tiny item in his hand with disbelief. "You've got to be kidding," she said, staring at the potato that was even smaller than a pea.

     "No!" the king insisted. "This is our royal treasure, the smallest potato in Meridell!" He looked at her, and his eyes shone with an uncharacteristic confidence. "It's a hush-hush thing, though."

     Cylene felt like rolling her eyes, but if she wouldn't accept that, she probably wouldn't be paid. Slowly the Zafara reached out her paw and took the small potato away from the king.

     "Now, if you prove that you can keep it, I'll pay you fair and square. And if you don't... " His eyes hardened, and the Zafara backed a bit.

     "I shall try my best, King Skarl," Cylene said, though she could not suppress a giggle that was starting to bubble in her throat. How hard would it be to lose a small potato like that? And the king was giving her...

     Such an interesting idea! The Zafara curtsied as she pondered about the idea... Spying was a second skin for her, but this was something much more beyond just reporting information... It was withholding information... at a price.

     "Good. You are dismissed." Skarl waved her away, but the stubborn pet stopped halfway through the throne room and looked at the king.

     "I do get my own private suite, don't I?" she asked impertinently, impulsively getting the last word.

     "Whatever, just leave. I command you to leave!" the king spluttered, and Cylene turned around once again to walk over to the doors and open them in triumph.

     Ah, so many possibilities... but where to start? There were guaranteed to be things about King Skarl, but she couldn't just satisfy herself with one person, even if it was the king. No... With her mind brimming and thinking for all it was worth, the Zafara entered the main hallways to explore and discover.

     The Double Agent couldn't help but grin widely while nobody could see her. Not only was she back in business, not only was she going to be paid handsomely just for guarding Meridell's itsy-bitsy pebble they called a potato, she also got the opportunity to go around the castle... for fun.

     She walked through the corridors, gazing at the blue, red and gold tapestries and decor. It wouldn't hurt to have a little revamp of the place, thought Cylene as she continued on her way. The colors were starting to blind her by the time she ducked behind a suit of armor, watching a pair of Ixi sentries march past.

     Knowing from experience that the slightest suspicious movement could rouse a fit of chaos, she tiptoed away as quietly as possible. An Usul-in-waiting was chattering away with a Kyrii duchess nearby. Both of them were too preoccupied to see a sneaking Zafara stalk past them.

     "Did you just hear about the latest on Jeran?" the Usul was whispering. Cylene sharpened her ears to make sure she didn't miss a word.

     "No... Was that the old rumor that when Halloween is near, he tries on some stupid costume?" Her compatriot snickered. "I mean, come ON! Last year he was an asparagus, so I've heard from a friend who is a friend who is a cousin who is the sister of a friend of a sister of a friend of Lisha! I don't even know if he'll do the same thing again... "

     "NO WAY!" gasped the other lady, "But why such a crazy antic from the greatest knight of Meridell?"

     "Who cares?" interjected the Kyrii. "Maybe someday we could find out why. Perhaps it's for some kind of general entertainment."

     "Perhaps, perhaps, Matilda," answered the Usul. They walked away, their long skirts sweeping the floors. Cylene could finally breathe again after lurking by a corner.

To be continued...

 
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