Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 124,888,518 Issue: 252 | 11th day of Hiding, Y8
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True Sisters: Part Five


by im_smarter_then_you

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When we got back to camp, Aaron started a fire and began to boil a potion that he said was even better than the one he gave me. I had recovered in only one day; how fast would Tid? As it was boiling, I asked Aaron some of my most persistent questions.

     "Why did that thing attack us anyway?" I questioned, not giving him a chance to send me away. He sighed, tilting his head to get the fur out of his eyes.

     "My guess is that the Skeith sent it. I guess he's already heard about your coming, and he's not happy. It was most likely a mechanical model as well, so Tid shouldn't feel bad about taking it down. Sorry, no more explanations from me."

      It took Tid four hours to make a small recovery, and then we set off, even though it was dark. Aaron said we had to gain as many miles as we could, so we carried Tid in a sling between Morbid and Aaron again. She loved it, and seemed to have recovered very quickly.

     "Hey Fan! Look! It's a river! See, it's a blue line! Just like in the pictures!"

     "Yeah, Tid, just like in the pictures."

     "Oh! Pets! And their owners! You can actually see people from up here! Look, HI GUYS! HI! I'M FLYING, SEE? I'M FLYING!" she yelled, waving like a lunatic. Maybe it was just me, but the civilians on the ground seemed to pick up the pace a bit. I laughed as Tid slipped, almost falling off. She let out a small cry, but that mischievous look came to her eyes and the next thing I knew she was hanging off of Aaron's claws.

     "Wooooo! This is incredible! I pwn you! And you! And you and you and you! I pwn everybody! Woooooo!" she cried, letting go with one hand and swinging up onto his back. "Hey, Aaron! Isn't this cool! Aaron, this is cool, isn't it? Wooooo!"

     I flew up beside him. "Doing all right?" I asked, laughing.

     He grumbled and flew faster. "We have to make it to Cinpate before tomorrow night. This fooling around won't get us anywhere." He sounded serious but I knew he secretly like the attention. From on his back, Tid stood up.

     "I'm the KING OF NEOPIA!! YAHHHHH!" She didn't stop yelling until we got to camp for the night, and even then it was hard to stop her.

     "Okay," began Aaron, standing up. "Tomorrow's a big day, everyone, tomorrow we're going to meet with…"

     "Cinpate, right?" yelled Tid in her excitement. "And he's going to judge our character, you know, your morals, your personality, blah blah blah. Personally, I'm not worried. Hey, isn't it time to go? I'll get the sling ready…"

     "Tid," said Aaron softly.

     "And start packing food. We'll have lots of fun, you'll see. Oh! I better bring a pack of…"

     "Tid," Aaron whispered again, his voice high and sing-songy. I began to giggle.

     "Cards! You should see my magic tricks, even Kauvara says they're amazing. Oh, can't forget my potion…"

     "TID!" Aaron yelled. "Will you just let me finish?" Behind him, Morbid and I had collapsed into a fit of giggles. Tid grew silent, but I could see her biting her tongue to keep it from speaking.

     "As I was saying, tomorrow we are going to meet with Cinpate. Yes, he's going to judge you, but as Tid said, you shouldn't be worried. I know you'll pass. What you need to worry about is your attitude. Cinpate demands complete respect, and you need to be able to give it to him."

     Aaron spent the next hour or so coaching us on how to speak to, curtsey to, and walk up to Cinpate. It was a delicate art, full of tricks, one of which was when walking up to Cinpate, instead of bowing immediately, you must first comment on how lovely a house he had, or how simply gorgeous his flowers were, or something to that effect. He would then allow you to bow and make your greeting. By the time he was finished, we were all tired and just wanted to rest. Once again, Aaron saved us with his expert potion making.

     We strolled up Cinpate's walk to the broad oak doors and I knocked apprehensively. Immediately, the door opened, though seemingly on its own. Aaron padded ahead of us, urging us on with a whisk of his tail. I gulped, and followed him into the dark corridor. Aaron seemed to know his way around, and stopped at the third door on the left. He muttered something under his breath and the door swung softly open.

     Inside, an old Tyrannian Lupe sat on a wooden chair, glaring into the darkness. His eyes glowed, and he spoke softly.

     "Well, well, well," he began, his voice low and menacing. "If it isn't Aaron, my slippery friend. Seems like our last visit was only yesterday. I should have killed you, knowing you would return." My heart rate picked up at this, and all remembrances of our polite training left my mind, but I reminded myself that Aaron wouldn't let us get hurt. I looked over at him and saw that he was actually smirking.

     "Ah, but you didn't, dearest brother, and I have returned."

     Brother? Morbid gave a quick gasp, but regained her composure. I should have guessed; they did look somewhat alike.

     "Hmph," grumbled Cinpate. "What do you want, Aaron? To torture an old soul, torn apart by family and friends? Or maybe it has something to do with your new friends…"

     His yellow eyes snapped over to me and locked on mine. He stared deeper and deeper, until I felt bare, exposed. I looked away and his eyes moved on to Tid, and then Morbid. Morbid hung out the longest of us all, but eventually had to lower her eyes as well.

     Cinpate grunted, and we looked up at him as one.

     "Well, Aaron, seems that you make good choices after all. You," he said, motioning in Tid's direction, "are full of fun, but spirit too, which will be useful in battle. It takes a lot to scare you, but when you do get scared, you run like a rabbit! Am I correct in supposing that you were recently wounded?"

     "Yes sir," she replied, her eyes lowered.

     "Hmph, well maybe you could stop jumping into things and start using your head! Ever thought of that, girl?"

      Cinpate then turned to Morbid and smiled approvingly. "You, girl, are one tough Scorchio. Hate to be in a battle with you, I would." His grin disappeared. "But you think too much of yourself. Tone it down a bit, and examine who you are, then you can reach your full potential. Seriously, the world does not revolve around you, no matter how high your sisters regard you."

      Finally, he turned to me. "You, you I can't put my finger on. Something's keeping me from getting in, from…" He stopped speaking abruptly, for he had just glimpsed the flute under my wing.

      "Could it be?" He reached out to grab it, but Aaron stepped between us.

      "No, Cinpate. She has been chosen, and is the reason that I came here."

      Cinpate frowned, and looked closely at the flute. He looked at me, his eyes shining with admiration.

     "Would you mind," he began, his voice shaking ever so slightly, "playing it for me? I have yearned so long to hear it."

     "It would be an honor, sir," I replied, and placed the flute to my beak. The sense of familiarity filled me once more and I played without hesitation. This time the song was full of life and strength, until a dark sadness hit. The notes were low and deep, so filled with sorrow that I almost choked. As the song continued, it grew into an angry fire, raging here and there, until coming to an acceptance, and finishing as low and wise. The notes flew from the flute, stinging and biting with their fierce truth. I knew without asking that I had just played the Symphony of Cinpate's life.

     I could tell from the faces of Tid and Morbid that they did not understand, though Aaron was looking at his brother with new light in his eyes. Cinpate's head was hung in sorrow. His life had not been easy, he had seen many things that hurt, but still he strove to help those in need. Someone had damaged him and left him lying in the gutter, yet still, he strove to lend a hand. How could he ever be repaid?

     As if answering my question, Aaron stepped towards Cinpate.

     "Dearest brother, forgive me. I have long judged you for that which you do not deserve to be judged. I beseech of you, lift your judgment from me as I have just now lifted mine from you."

     Cinpate's eyes flashed, but then grew misty with tears. Without saying a word, he reached out towards his brother and they embraced, sobbing heartily. I motioned towards my sisters, and we crept out quietly.

     ***

     We were waiting in the kitchen, when Aaron came whirling in, a new strength in his eyes. He looked at us and smiled, his bright white fangs exposed. "Cinpate must speak with you. Now."

     We clambered up and ran, flew, or, in Tid's case, skipped down the hallway to meet Cinpate. He smiled at us as we entered and I noticed that his face bore fewer wrinkles and more smiles than before.

     "Welcome. We have many things to discuss, bit first… I see you have not eaten recently. Will you join me for dinner?" He clapped his hands and a large table filled with everything a sane person would want to eat appeared in front of us. Without waiting to be asked, we sat and served ourselves. I pecked at a large selection of strawberries, melons, apples, bananas and other fruits, while Morbid hacked away at a large steak. Tid was voraciously attacking the muffins, her favorite being the evil and carrot muffins. Aaron was more composed, and he quietly gnawed on a large, raw, steak bone, while Cinpate ate nothing at all, just watched with satisfaction. After we had eaten our fill, Cinpate once again clapped and the table was filled with all the pies, cakes, and tarts you could eat. While we began to slice them, Cinpate cleared his throat and stood.

     "Thank you once again for coming. I would like to thank each and every one of you for helping me when I needed it most. You may not know it, but all of you will play a crucial role in my life from now on. Rest assured that you shall be rewarded. In the meantime, I have darker news. Fanteni has returned, but this time, she wants not experiences, but blood."

     A gasp ran around the table. Could it be?

     "But…" I began. "Isn't she dead?"

     "Apparently not. She and a large shadow Skeith are headed this way, attacking from the east. Fanteni feels that it is the fault of others that her grandmother died and that she was not able to save her. Apparently, they were closer than we guessed. Her revenge is now, and the shadow Skeith is helping her only because, and this is a guess, he wants to control all of Neopia, starting with the kingdoms of Meridell and Brightvale. Tomorrow, we shall set out on a journey to alert King Skarl and King Hagan, and to hopefully win their support. However, even if we do, all three of you must be prepared to fight. Your training will start tomorrow when we get to the castles. Do I make myself clear?"

     "Yes Cinpate," we replied as one.

     "But wait," interrupted Morbid. "Sir, how are they getting their armies? Who wants to support a band of insane losers?"

     "Why, isn't it obvious? Another band of insane losers!" cried Aaron, shaking his head. Who could ask such a question?

     "Now that that's cleared up, you best get off to bed, we have a big day tomorrow." Cinpate clapped his hands one last time, and the table disappeared, along with all the food. Unfortunately, the chairs disappeared as well, throwing us to the ground.

     As we limped up the stairs to our rooms, a thought struck me. We had never been rewarded for helping him.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» True Sisters: Part One
» True Sisters: Part Two
» True Sisters: Part Three
» True Sisters: Part Four
» True Sisters



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