Message in a Bottle
A shadowy figure approached the docks. In his hands, he
held a sealed bottle containing a rolled piece of parchment. With a soft splash,
the bottle dropped into the water, and the figure became one with the night once
Many years passed. The message floated along,
victim to the whims of the currents. Finally, it washed up on a distant shore.
Kanrik walked along Terror Mountain's icy beach.
He was lost in thought - with the horrible events initiated by the Bringer (and
the resulting change in leadership), the Thieves' Guild faced a questionable
future. What were they supposed to do now? Galem had been dedicated to the pursuit
of power, egged on by his advisor, Masila. But the Gelert had no interest in
that - he had felt ambition's sting before. On the other hand, the Guild could
not sit idle much longer. As it was, Valen was almost done with his service
to the Snow Faerie. Much of the Guild had been spending time helping the formerly
lost and frozen Boris enter the modern Neopian world. The task had not been
an easy one, as natural Bori curiosity caused numerous problems. He emitted
a soft laugh as he recalled one of the many incidents where a mishap occurred
due to a Bori wanting to understand the way something worked. What now? Neopia
had accepted the Boris, and they no longer needed the Thieves' Guild's guidance.
He stopped to stare out at the northern sea, as if its ever-changing façade
would hold an answer for him. The only answer that it held for him was one telling
of change - the Guild would have to shift and evolve to survive. But to what?
As Guild Leader, he needed to have an actual reply to that, other than 'time
will tell'. Sighing, he turned to go back up the beach and return to the Guild,
still lacking a solution. Something glinted in the chilly sunlight, catching
the Gelert's eye.
Kanrik walked over. The glint was from a nearly
buried bottle - the sun had struck it at just the right angle for him to have
seen it. Carefully, he took the bottle out of its sandy tomb, examining it.
Inside was a rolled parchment.
Kanrik broke the seal and opened the bottle.
He was immediately confused by the message's language. He had never seen words
like those used in the message. He hid the message and bottle, returning to
the Guild to inform them that he was going on a quest of sorts to determine
their future. Until he returned, they were to stay there and offer their assistance
to the denizens of the mountain.
The only place he could think of which might
help him in his efforts was Faerieland and Fyora's library. He wasn't sure why
he was so determined to translate this message, other than he had been looking
for a solution to his dilemma, and in someway, this had been provided as an
It took a little bit of time to get unrestricted
access to the library - he hadn't want to tell anyone about his mission; it
had just been too personal. The library was very large, with many books that
seemed to fit where he wanted to start. Undaunted, he searched for a book or
two to help him translate it. He found one - Learning Ancient Languages the
Fun Way. Finally, one evening, the message was released from its arcane
tomb, and lay before him in words he could understand.
To whom ever finds this,
My words may mean very little, but I write
them anyway. I do not hope for fame or even to be remembered. But I do not want
my ideals to fade with me.
Yes, I am a thief. I take what does not belong
to me and use it. I have never questioned my role in society, accepting what
I am, for that is the role which Fate gave me.
You may laugh. After all, what ideals can
a cutpurse have that are worth saving? Simple - one of sympathy, empathy even.
For those like myself and my adopted family, yet not like us. Those who struggle
to make ends meet, who barely have enough to feed themselves. That is correct
- the working poor.
I will admit, they are an easy target for
a band like us. They cannot afford any great protection and are often too tired
to be on their guard. It would not be fair for me to say that I never preyed
upon them - I did in my youth. After all, it is rather hard to be idealistic
when you are starving and you see an easy mark.
But I have changed. And I have forced my
brothers and sisters of the guild to change with me. No more do our poor walk
the streets, fearful of the night. Okay, that's not entirely true. Just because
my guild has changed doesn't mean the darkened streets are completely secure
- they are merely safer than they had been.
It was a good thing for all of us. The poor
would occasionally leave out little thank you gifts for our help. They would
also conveniently forget seeing any of the guild when guards would come looking
or chasing. Not that I want to brag, but I was rarely the target of those searches
as I was rarely seen.
I have heard them call me a light from the
darkness. Am I really? For I am still a thief. Just a thief with a code. Which
may be the difference between myself and others. I hardly think it elevates
me, but others seem to believe so.
But what is this ideal I didn't want to fade?
Find something, and defend it. Maybe not with a sword like the legendary warrior
Torak does, but you can still defend it. My choice was the working poor.
The blue Gelert stood and stretched as he looked
over his handiwork. Yes, it had required many long hours in Fyora's library.
He tapped the name at the bottom of the paper, wondering who it was. Learning
Ancient Languages the Fun Way had called this writing Altadorian. He had
never heard of a place with that name - but that didn't necessarily mean anything.
He hadn't heard of the Boris or their civilization until his guild had brought
the Bringer to Terror Mountain and reawaken them.
Yes, he had translated it from Altadorian to
modern Neopian, yet the Gelert was not sure he had fully "translated" the note.
After all, he of all Neopians understood how tricky a thief could be, and often
messages were rarely what they appeared to be.
It all depended on who this "K" was. What type
of thief was he? Cat burglar, mugger, pickpocket? Then again, Kanrik had no
grasp of the original language or culture, which made it nearly impossible for
him to catch the subliminal message, even if he could guess the type of thief
(he suspected that this K person had been/still was a pickpocket). With a sigh,
Kanrik scanned the message once more.
Sometimes, he thought, a message might just be
a message. After all, why put a canted note in a bottle and toss it out to sea?
With that thought, the Gelert carefully folded both the original and his translation,
tucking them away in a hidden pocket.
A message might just be a message.
Except when it was from one thief to another.
Author's Note: This takes place before Altador's discovery/return to Neopia.
Thanks for reading.