Return of the Double Agent: Part Seven
Also by shadowcristal
The Double Agent grumbled under her breath as her foot
nearly tripped against a step she could not see through the dim light, but managed
to hold her tongue and reach a doorway with light gleaming from its edges. The
Zafara heaved the door open, feeling lucky to have slipped successfully from
the dark depths of the Darigan dungeons.
As her feet once again touched the floors of
the citadel corridors, she observed her surroundings carefully. Had she just
come out into a different part of Lord Darigan's domain? The curtain doors that
led to Morguss' room were not there anymore.
But it was probably a good time to see if there
was any more juicy gossip around. Her footsteps echoed throughout the hallways,
making her wince and wish with all her might that they stayed deserted.
A couple of guards passed by her, but paid no
attention to the blue Zafara. Apparently they were debating on whether to make
Non-Cellblock Week into Non-Cellblock Month.
Her first instinct was to duck into the nearest
open door. There was a large purple counter that was perfect for hiding behind,
and a smell of sweet things tickled her nose.
Was she in a KITCHEN? That was definitely the
unmistakable smell of some kind of pastry.
By the faint scent that the item emitted, Cylene
figured that it had to be a pretty good piece of bakery. She managed to suppress
the growls that her stomach so desperately wanted to make, while wondering what
amazing secret she had stumbled upon now.
Secrets are always there... if you just look.
Reminding herself of this rule in the Code of Spies, the Zafara slowly raised
her head to look above the counter.
The reflected light that thing emitted almost
blinded her. It was so sparkly... Blinking twice, the Agent discovered that
her eyes hurt.
All that pinkness! When she had gotten used to
it, Cylene realized that she was looking at cascading layers of pink marzipan,
sprinkled with silvery, edible little bells and various colored bits and pieces
of the sugary stuff children enjoyed putting on an ice cream. Not too far away
from the delicate work of art, there was a pre-made cake bottom, layered with
three different kinds of jam.
But the prettiest thing of them all was a perfectly
made figure, a young yellow Usul that Cylene thought she had seen briefly, but
she could not find a name to connect with the girl.
The rattling of a door made the Zafara alert,
and quickly she withdrew her head and waited below the counter, curious as to
whom it was.
When she slowly raised her head to take a look,
the Agent could not believe her eyes. There, right in front of the cake-to-be,
a certain bat-winged, misshapen figure was starting to put the cake together.
There was no doubting that the hunched figure
fussing over the cake was none other than her superior - Lord Darigan. But she
had never thought of him as a baker, let alone a good cook. There WERE more
hidden things around the citadel than she thought.
Cylene stared in disbelief and surprise. The
cake was actually turning out pretty well. Suddenly, the door opened and a frantic-looking
Darigan Zafara barged in.
He stopped in his tracks, still clutching his
spear. "My lord... it's a lovely masterpiece!"
"All in a day's work," said Lord Darigan with
a slight smile. "This is my hobby, after all."
"May I... taste it?" asked his subject hopefully,
eyes gleaming at the sight of the huge hunk of pastry.
The ruler of the citadel shook his head. "No,
no! Not yet! I must first perfect the last few details..." He raised a knife
and started smoothing out the icing on some parts. "Ah, this was much better
than the strawberry-grape frosted muffins I made when I made peace with Skarl!"
Strawberry-grape frosted muffins? Cylene shook
her head as she scribbled away on her notepad. Apparently her boss had been
baking for a while now. This was one piece of gossip she couldn't miss.
Then again, for a spy, no piece of gossip could
be missed. Her job done, she crept towards the door and slowly slipped away.
Thankfully neither the Zafara nor Lord Darigan heard the door creak or her feet
echo throughout the empty corridors.
Cylene wandered around the corridors until dinnertime,
trying not to let her grumpy stomach get any worse while listening to the court
gossip. Besides the shocking secrets she had already uncovered, there wasn't
really anything else of that magnitude.
Recalling the delicious cake in the kitchen,
the Zafara returned to her room to put on a dress before going to dinner. After
all, she wasn't only a spy. Sometimes standing out would be less conspicuous
than trying to hide in a dark, depressing corner. Besides, she would be out
of here very soon.
Looking around the magnificent court, another
thought formed in the Agent's mind. The two parties she was spying for probably
would not dare to reveal the precious information she had uncovered, with an
equilibrium that could turn into straining relationships between the two countries... but
Grinning, Cylene realized that all this work
was for her superiors, but also for herself, if she could just blackmail all
The Zafara noticed that the food had been served
and started stuffing herself, hoping that she did not resemble the fat, blue
king of Meridell in table manners. But she was so hungry!
After the Agent had stilled the worst of her
hunger and slowed down to merely chewing upon the desserts, a group of musicians
and various other artists ascended onto the dais to entertain everybody present.
But Cylene's quick eye had spied Darigan leaving
the room, and with quiet excuses she made her way through the amused nobles
who were attentively watching and not paying her much attention at all.
Slipping through the doors, for the guards had
also grown relaxed, the Zafara caught up with the Lord.
"We need to talk," she said.
"Hmm, okay... I guess."
Cylene twisted her paws behind her back, feeling
the lump in her dress pocket which was the notebook of secrets. Her stomach
seemed to flip-flop as she voiced her request. "I... have some unfinished spying
on Meridell, sir," she said politely. "I think I have to go back there."
Lord Darigan nodded. "I see. Well, I'm glad you've
had a good rest up here, so I'll ask some of my subjects to take you back down
there. Old Skarl wouldn't know what hit him... again. Keep up the good work,
"You know me, sir."
* * *
Cylene once again found herself facing the majestic
castle of Meridell, where the two usual guards stood on duty and threw her cautious
"No, no, let her in," said the voice of King
Skarl as the doors began to open. "I'm expecting the Agent. It's a good thing
you have returned," he said to her as the sentries reluctantly ushered her back
"We have a lot to talk about," she said in a
"I can imagine," said the Skeith, his mouth twisting
into a mischievous smile as he led her into the blue and red-splashed corridors.
"Let's go. I do hope you've done your duty well, Agent. Have you been digging
up any dirt like I told you?"
The blue Zafara gave the thumbs-up sign. "Let's
see... I got Lord Darigan, Master Vex, Morguss, the Court Dancer... yeah, most
of the big shots in the citadel. Good enough? I can always go back up there
and see what other secrets they have to hide."
The king shook his head. "No need. Four victims
are enough for our little prank." He took out a golden key from his pocket and
opened the throne room, nodding over to the Draiks who kept careful watch, even
as they bolted the door locked after entering.
Cylene deftly accompanied King Skarl as he sat
down on his comfortable throne. She took out her notebook and began leafing
through the pages.
"Have a seat, Agent." He gestured towards a cushioned
golden chair nearby.
After making herself comfortable, the Zafara
began to divulge all the hidden treasure she had collected. "Let's see... I think
Morguss was my first victim... spotted her applying all this horrible stuff on
her face in front of a mirror. Then she began to swell like the bubbles that
form whenever I try making gravy."
Skarl raised his eyebrow and said, "Go on."
Taking her cue, Cylene took a deep breath and
continued. "And her daughter, the lovely Court Dancer..." She noticed a strange
emotion simmering fleetingly in the king's eyes for one second, before that
majestic and controlled part of him locked it away again. "The Court Dancer...
She was practicing her dance in the most frivolous dress I've ever seen, with
more shrill, screaming frills than the puffy hair stuff they do at the Grooming
Parlor. The dress was, of course, supplied by mother dear."
Giggling quietly for herself, the Zafara hoped
that Skarl would share her amusement. When he did not laugh, Cylene went on
with her report.
"As for Master Vex... Well, he isn't quite the
master, not when they have the lovely Non-Cellblock week. He seems to be very
awful at the game Shapeshifter, if not anything else. Imagine... one of the
best Cellblock players in Neopia!"
"And the grand lord himself?" the king asked,
finally showing a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.
"He likes cakes... No, likes isn't the right
word. He makes cakes... the kind that you buy in a special confectionery shop,
with pink layers of marzipan and stuff. That's his clandestine hobby."
"I see," King Skarl said. "You've done well,
"It is my work," she replied nonchalantly, remembering
the idea that had popped up in her mind during that interesting stroll in the
citadel. "May I retire?"
"Of course, you have the same room as before."
After watching him wave his hand in dismissal, Cylene curtsied and tried to
find the way to her rooms, wondering why architects had to build so many corridors
and rooms in castles and citadels. It was as if they did it just to annoy her
and poke fun at her failing memory when it came to large areas to cover.
And another thing, the hallways seemed to taunt
her whenever she passed through them. The Zafara could have sworn that they
were calling her name... enticing her to lurk and uncover even more facts under
smoke and mirrors.
To be continued...