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Message in a Bottle


by philodox

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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 more.

     *****

     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 fa├žade 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 answer.

     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.

     ---K.

     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.

The End

Author's Note: This takes place before Altador's discovery/return to Neopia. Thanks for reading.

 
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