The Peophin Incident: Part Eight
The Peophin glided through the dark icy waters of the pond,
hope dawning in him as the light of the surface drew nearer and nearer. Then,
a black shape appeared, growing larger as it descended into the pool. Teirryn
frowned. The shape looked familiar....
"Kaerhas! Chaelian!" Teirryn called, suddenly
recognizing his two companions. If they heard him, they didn't respond. Teirryn
sped up, fear lending him strength. Were they injured? Dead?
Catching his friends and slinging them across
his back, the Tyrannian Peophin swam on, the water growing brighter rapidly.
Struggling with his heavy burden, Teirryn managed to break the surface, gasping
as he threw his companions onto the marble floor. They were back in the huge
chamber, and, unfortunately, so were the ghosts. They floated towards the small
group of adventurers, sightless eyes fixed on the pendent that hung around Teirryn's
neck. The Peophin had taken what they considered theirs, and the spirits were
determined to get it back.
I can't fight them, Teirryn thought, panicking
as he watched the ghosts come towards them. I can't escape, not carrying
both Chaelian and Kaerhas. Yet the idea of leaving the brothers behind was
A voice from behind him caused the Peophin to
turn sharply. "Kaerhas?"
"What's up? Did you get that... thing you needed?"
The Bori had regained consciousness and was struggling to his feet, shaking
the water from his fur.
"Yeah, but I'll tell you about that later," Teirryn
replied, feeling vastly relieved that Kaerhas was okay even as he faced forward
again, glaring menacingly at the crowd of ghosts that had paused, seeming somewhat
reluctant to attack. "What happened to you and Chaelian? Is he okay?" The Peophin
looked toward the Xweetok.
Kaerhas grimaced. "I don't know... he used this
spell, and now-" The Bori drew in his breath sharply. "Look! The scroll!"
Teirryn turned his head, focusing on the sopping
wet and torn piece of parchment that the Xweetok, though unconscious, still
clutched in his paw. The words of the spell had disappeared, used up when Chaelian
cast it, but the aged paper was still giving off a very faint white light.
Kaerhas bounded over to his brother's side. "He's
still maintaining the spell," the Bori said, wonder in his voice. "It's why
the ghosts haven't attacked us yet. But... if this keeps up, it'll probably
finish him off...."
"Take it," Teirryn said, casting another worried
glance behind him at his friends.
"What if... what if it fails?" Kaerhas faltered,
his paw hovering near the scroll. "I'm not good at this sort of thing... magic,
"If you don't, Chaelian will die." Teirryn looked
to the spirits again. They were slowly drawing nearer as the light dimmed. "His
life is being drained to keep the spell working. He's unconscious, so he no
longer has any control over it. But if you can take it, and maintain the spell
at the same time...."
Teirryn paused meaningfully. Kaerhas nodded,
a determined expression on his face. "I'll try."
The Bori reached down, and, hesitantly, closed
his paw over the scroll. White light flared, the same beautiful light that Kaerhas
had seen his brother holding. The spirits pulled back, desperate to get away
from the light that hurt them so. Teirryn tossed his head back gleefully, the
light shining on his thick auburn mane.
"Yes! You did it!" the Peophin crowed, casting
a triumphant look at the retreating ghosts.
"Great... now can we please leave?" Kaerhas gasped.
"This magic stuff really takes it out of a person...."
Restraining his elation, Teirryn picked Chaelian
up gently, then turned back to Kaerhas. "Lead the way."
The Bori obliged, walking hastily across the
chamber, followed by Teirryn carrying his brother. The ghosts parted, resentment
apparent in their every motion, but nevertheless allowing the companions to
cross, leading the three toward the double doors that was the only way out of
the room. As Teirryn stepped across the threshold after Kaerhas, the marble
doors swung shut again, once more leaving the chamber and its treasures to the
specters that haunted it. The Peophin couldn't repress the feeling that the
spirits were rather glad to see them leave.
* * *
Five days later, five weary days in which the
three companions had journeyed out of the dreadful corridor (this time without
having to face curses or ghosts), back up the waterfall and around the traps
(which had been reset, unfortunately), through the Tyrannian mountains (dodging
wild Lupes and vicious Cybunnies the whole way), and back into civilization
(or at least to a small, out-of-the-way Tyrannian village), Kaerhas finally
had a chance to ask Teirryn about the pendent that hung around the Peophin's
"Of all the things," Kaerhas said skeptically,
eyeing the necklace. "According to you, there were rubies and diamonds and all
sorts of amazing treasures, and, after all the trouble we went through, you
take an old and rusty brass locket."
Teirryn smiled, that roguish, mischievous smile
that reminded the Bori vividly of their first meeting. "Well, I have to say,
this one caught my eye the most. Besides, I'm no thief. I would never think
of taking anything that doesn't rightfully belong to me."
"Like that map?" Chaelian asked, walking up to
the other two with a meaningful look at the bag that rested next the Peophin.
"Like I said before, we're only borrowing it."
Teirryn closed his eyes, enjoying the scant shade provided by the scraggly tree
on the outskirts of the village the three friends were sitting under. "But if
it bothers you that much, we'll go return it now. I'll just go thank the villagers
for their hospitality, even if they most likely won't understand a word I say,
what with all their "Ug-ugga-ing." The Peophin stood, starting to head back
into the village. Chaelian stopped him.
"Hang on. I want to know what's so special about
that locket." The Xweetok regarded Teirryn what he hoped was a stern look.
"Why, could it be that you still don't trust
me?" Teirryn replied with an air of mock disbelief.
"You're kidding, right? I mean, after Kaerhas
and I both risked our necks so you could get your little trinket, you'd better
give us a good explanation!"
Kaerhas laughed, standing and grabbing the bags
before heading back to the village behind his friends, watching Chaelian chasing
Teirryn the whole way and demanding an explanation. Just before entering the
village, however, Teirryn dropped his pretense and turned back to face his companions.
"All right, all right! Since you two are so persistent,
I'll tell you. But-" Teirryn forestalled Chaelian before the Xweetok could speak,
"Not now. You'll see when the time comes. Now come on, we've got a few more
stops to make before our adventure is complete. I'm sure Chaelian will be glad
to see the map's safe return to its rightful owner." Teirryn smirked.
Chaelian sighed, knowing he'd get no more out
of the Peophin for the time being. "Oh, fine. But this time, can we please travel
by a more conventional method?"
* * *
Early one morning, the Usul was roused by a scratching,
"All right, boy, I'm coming." The mapmaker crossed
the hall of his snug cabin, coming to stop in front of the Tasu that was clawing
at the door. At his approach, the Petpet turned and looked at his owner, growling.
"What is it? You need to go outside?" The Usul
turned the handle of the cabin door and pulled it open, admitting a blast of
cold air and snow. Grumbling about the weather, the mapmaker peered outside
through the flurry of snowflakes and was rather surprised to see a tightly wrapped
package on his doorstep.
"What's this, now?" the Usul wondered aloud to
no one in particular as he bent down to pick it up. The Tasu whined, and his
owner obligingly closed the door, shutting out the wind. Stumping back down
the hall, the Usul unwrapped the oiled cloth that covered the outside of the
package and tore through the paper on the inside, revealing the contents.
It was his map of the Tyrannian Jungle, the one
that he had discovered missing a few days ago. Staring at the map in amazement,
it was a few minutes before the mapmaker discovered the scrap of paper that
had fluttered to the ground when the parcel was opened. Picking it up, he discovered
it was a note, written in several handwritings.
Dear Mr. Mapmaker:
We're sorry for any trouble we've caused you, stealing
borrowing your map and all. We hope that we didn't ruin it or anything. Any
damage to it was unintentional, and we extend our deepest apologies.
Sincerely, Anonymous Adventurers
Shaking his head, the Usul grumbled. "Well, it's
not the first time someone's come in here nicking my maps, and it probably won't
be the last, either. Although it would have been nice if they'd ask first...."
The mapmaker looked out his window at the three sets of tracks that marred the
otherwise untouched snow with a smile. The falling snow was already beginning
to cover the prints.
"Well, I wish you good luck on your travels,
adventurers. May you find happiness at the end of your journeys." The Usul left
the window, heading into the kitchen for a cup of hot coffee, still muttering
to himself. "Just don't take my maps the next time you get it into your heads
to start some crazy adventure."
* * *
"And here we are, home sweet home," Teirryn announced,
striding forward rapidly towards the dilapidated little cottage so that his
two smaller companions had to jog to keep up. Taking a key from his bag, Teirryn
unlocked the door and stood aside to allow Chaelian and Kaerhas inside.
Entering the tiny cottage gratefully (it was
pouring rain outside), Chaelian looked around curiously. It had the gloomy,
neglected feel of many of the dwellings of the Haunted Woods, which wasn't surprising
since it was right on the border. Apparently someone had attempted to make the
rooms more welcoming and habitable, with what had been bright, cheery curtains
and vases of flowers, but now the fabric was tattered and stained, the flowers
dead and crumbling. Much of the furniture was smashed or broken, and everything
was covered in a thick layer of dust.
"Well?" Teirryn said to Chaelian as the Xweetok
turned to him.
"Well what?" Chaelian responded. Teirryn smiled
"You've forgotten, haven't you? And after all
the trouble you went to to get him back." Teirryn tossed another key to Chaelian,
who caught it handily with a mystified expression on his face. The Peophin motioned
to a set of drawers. "Open them."
Chaelian inserted the key in the lock and, hearing
a click, pulled the drawer open. With a glance at Teirryn, who was now answering
a barrage of questions from Kaerhas, the Xweetok looked inside. The drawer contained
only one item: a very familiar-looking bag.
With a rueful grin, Chaelian pulled the bag out
and opened it. Sure enough, there was Neji, the poor Griefer still broken in
three pieces. Shaking his head, the Xweetok went back to join his brother and
Teirryn. The Peophin had been right; he had forgotten.
"What'd I tell you?" Teirryn said, gesturing
at the bag. "I said I'd return him, and I did."
"Yeah, thanks," Chaelian responded, smiling.
"So? Now what?" Kaerhas asked excitedly, jumping
up and down around the Peophin.
"Follow me." Teirryn left the other two, walking
towards the back of the house. Chaelian, after giving his brother a perplexed
glance, followed the Peophin. Teirryn was opening the back door and stepping
outside, despite the steady downpour. Kaerhas, trotting after his brother and
the Peophin, found himself in a garden that was as derelict and ramshackle as
the rest of the house. Dead bushes and trees added to the dismal view. Even
the weeds were dead. In the middle of the garden, however, was a large, flat
rock that looked very out of place. It had inexpertly-carved words upon it that
were worn from exposure to the elements, and was made of smooth, polished green
stone: the only color in an otherwise gray scene. A lump rose in Kaerhas' throat
as he realized it marked a grave.
Without a word, Teirryn walked over to the stone,
holding the brass necklace he'd taken from the ghosts almost reverently. The
Peophin paused, examining the stone gravely, then slowly and gently set the
necklace at the base. And, seemingly from the stone itself, a spirit arose.
It was a ghost, but not a ghost like the companions
had seen in the caves below Tyrannia. It took the form of a lovely Peophin with
a sweet smile. A soft white light shone from her spirit, and Kaerhas felt a
sense of peace and tranquility come over him. She hovered above the ground,
her lips moving, speaking words that only Teirryn could understand, apparently,
for the Tyrannian Peophin answered, though neither Chaelian nor Kaerhas could
hear him. Then, with one last smile, the ghostly Peophin seemed to rise up and
vanish, as a mist disappears, evaporated by the sun.
Bowing his head, standing in front of the gravestone,
Teirryn stood there for a few minutes. Then the Peophin turned and, motioning
to his companions, went back inside.
Back inside the dry house, Kaerhas found his
voice again. "That was...."
"My sister," Teirryn finished, a wistful note
in his voice. "She was... taken... by the ghosts that you saw in the caves in
Tyrannia." The Peophin paused, then continued, his thoughts far away. "After
she was gone, I left this house and started traveling, in search of some explanation,
or some way to bring her back. It took two years, but I finally managed to piece
together old legends and stories, and had an idea of what had happened to her.
I discovered that ancient song I recited to you, and I figured out that her
soul was trapped in the locket that she always wore, for the ghosts had taken
it, along with her life. And I realized that I'd have to bring it back if she
were to ever rest in peace." Teirryn smiled a melancholy smile, seeming to come
back to the present. "Now, after so long, I've finally achieved my goal, thanks
to you two."
"So what will you do now?" Chaelian asked, touched
by the unusual solemnity of his friend. "Now that your sister is at peace...."
Teirryn shrugged. "I thought of maybe fixing
this place up a bit and staying here, but I have no desire to live here any
longer. I suppose I could take up traveling again, since there really isn't
anything else to do."
"You could always come stay with us," Kaerhas
interjected enthusiastically. "Kyrinn wouldn't mind, I'm sure."
"Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll pass,"
Teirryn replied, smiling, looking a bit more like his old self. "Still, if you
give me the address, I'll stop by sometime." His golden eyes glinted with mischief.
"When I've got another grand adventure for us to go on...."
The three friends made their way to the front
door as Kaerhas and Chaelian prepared to leave.
"You sure you won't stay awhile?" Teirryn asked
as the brothers gathered their things. Chaelian shook his head.
"Quite frankly, I can't wait to see our house
again," the Xweetok said. "Not only that, but I've got some long-overdue repairs
to make on my Petpet, not to mention what my boss is going to say when I show
up to work after missing for over a week with no apparent explanation." Chaelian
sighed. "Not that he'll believe me, anyway...."
"Bye, Teirryn!" Kaerhas said cheerfully. "That
was a really fun adventure. You really should visit sometime!"
Teirryn smiled. "I'll be sure to."
Exchanging their farewells, Chaelian and Kaerhas
stepped outside and started down the road to Neopia Central. The rain had slowed
to a drizzle and the sun was peeking out from behind the thick gray clouds,
lighting up the rainbow that arced across the sky. Kaerhas took a deep breath
of fresh air and grinned.
"Just wait till Kyrinn hears about this."