Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part One
"Guys, I need you to do me a little favor."
It was a small gallery, dusty, dark and forgotten
between two huge houses in the middle of Neopia Central. Not many Neopets managed
to find the narrow door that led there and even if they did, they rarely noticed
Tsuki, the Shadow Shoyru who kept the place in order and also lived there. Even
though Tsuki's family had a perfectly good house in Mystery Island, the Shoyru
liked the gallery's solitude better and was happy enough when his siblings came
to see him every once in a while. Now two of his brothers, Shad the Lupe and
Saura the Zafara had stepped in on their way to the Lost Desert to do some shopping.
"If it involves finding you some rare and possibly
acidic potion for some of your weird tests, then I'm not in," Shad stated, knowing
his stepbrother well enough. Tsuki was a mage and alchemy was only one of his
Tsuki laughed. "No, no. I just promised a friend
of mine in Sakhmet's Royal Library I'd send him some spellbooks. I managed to
get two extra copies some months ago and don't really need them. Once you're
going that way, maybe you could take them along; they don't weigh much…?"
The two brothers exchanged quick glances. Spellbooks
were just as dangerous as acidic potions. Some of them had the tendency of reading
the reader back. Some ran around at night. Some blew up every once in a while
for no obvious reason.
"These ones are pretty harmless," the Shoyru
assured them, seeing their hesitation. "They do nothing when stuck in a leather
bag. Will you help me with that then?"
"I'm telling you, this thing will blow up the
minute we stop suspecting it," Shad grumbled, peering at the bag Saura carried
on his shoulder as the two left down the wide main street of Neopia Central.
It was a beautiful day, though cloudy, and the southern wind brought vague touches
of the Lost Desert's sand to the Lupe's sensitive nose.
"Tsuki knows what he's doing," Saura claimed,
adjusting the bag's belts a little. "When he says that the bag is strong enough,
then it is strong enough. Let's step on it now; it's a very long way."
The two accelerated and trotted quickly down
the road. They were stepbrothers - Saura was adopted - and hadn't really gotten
along at first. The shadow Lupe, though friendly and happy-go-lucky for most
of the time, had stated that there was no way he was going to tolerate some
sissy Zafara who looked like he had been kicked out from M*YNCI. Saura on the
other hand, though peaceful by nature, was sarcastic and tough enough not to
let the Lupe get to him. After spending countless days nagging each other, the
two eventually got so used to each other that they became inseparable buddies.
"The journey will take days," Saura remarked.
"You think we'll be back by Gadgadsbogen?"
"Don't scare me," his brother snarled. They had
already spent a week traveling from Mystery Island to Neopia Central and the
Lost Desert was equally far. But as they both considered their home island too
boring to spend more than a month in a row there, they didn't mind running around
every now and then - unless they were actually on the road, hungry and tired.
Once again, predictably enough.
"I think I once read about a shortcut," the Lupe
muttered hesitantly as they left the Central and turned towards south. "Somewhere
near the Haunted Woods… a few miles past Kiko Lake. It was a place called…"
he muttered to himself for the next fifty yards, testing the sound on the word
on his tongue, "'Alveree'? 'Altestee'? Something really weird-sounding like
that. Possibly a very old place, forgotten and stuff."
Saura glanced at him with curiosity. "Where'd
you hear that? I didn't know you read old geography books like these." As Shad
shrugged in his trot, the Zafara frowned.
"Now that you tell me, that word sounds familiar
to me too… 'aldersee'? Or something? No idea… do you remember where exactly
that shortcut is?"
Shad blinked in confusion. His brain felt… dizzy.
He gave a short suspicious glance towards the leather bag the spotted Zafara
was carrying. "Let's go towards Kiko Lake and see if we manage to find it. Can't
be that far, I think."
The northern border of the Haunted Woods wasn't
that far; it only took them about three hours to get the dark line of trees
looming in the distance. The sharp snowy mountain peaks, lost in the hazes of
fog and who knows, perhaps some long lost threads of magic, could still be seen
far behind the trees. There was a meadow in front of them, not really inviting,
though it was nothing but a wide plain. How a plain managed to look that ominous
was beyond the two.
"No wonder that people don't really know about
this shortcut," Shad muttered.
"Doesn't look like a shortcut to me," Saura stated
grimly. "We've already ventured farther west than we should have. Where's that
shortcut supposed to be in here? Through the woods?"
The shadow Lupe shook himself, looking a bit
confused. "I have no idea. Should be. My memory is hazy right now. But I know
that it should be in there somewhere."
"Let's go then," Saura said and the two crossed
the dark meadow. The sky was still cloudy, though there was no wind. The woods
were even quieter; only the quiet rustle of leaves and small branches was to
be heard. The center of the Haunted Woods was farther south so the forest was
more peaceful and less ominous in this region. The canopies waved above their
heads as they entered a narrow path between the trees.
Saura gave a final glance towards the meadow
over his shoulder… and froze in the middle of the step.
"Shad!" he hissed. "Look!"
The Lupe looked back as well and his yellow eyes
widened. The two ran out of the forest and looked around.
The meadow had turned into a complete prairie.
The mountains were far away and the Haunted Woods were all of a sudden bigger,
darker and grimmer. The trees looked old, literally ancient. And when Saura
squinted towards the distance, he could clearly see a stronghold.
"Oh boy," Shad stated with his ears drooping.
"It's the Meridell syndrome. We've landed in the distant past!"
Zafaras have good eyes. Saura tried harder to
see better. "Then it's an even more distant past than Meridell's existence as
that fortress seems ancient. But it can't be a time warp. Look around. The land
has… spread out somehow. Like a crumpled piece of paper that got stretched out
as soon as we entered the woods."
"How do we get out?" Shad sat down, looking at
the odd land they had run into. Saura sat down too, looking around with vague
nervousness and, as the Lupe noticed, quite a bit of curiosity.
"You know what I think?" he finally asked. "It's
a piece of dimension that got crumpled together like that sometime long ago
and is constantly sitting here, forgotten by the rest of Neopia as nobody ever
ventures here… then how did you know about it anyway?"
They exchanged glances. Then turned to look at
the leather bag.
"I swear to Fyora, one fine day that Shoyru will
hear a few things…" the shadow Lupe snarled, digging the tomes out of the bag.
They seemed completely harmless when the two opened them but both, having known
the world of magic long enough due to their stepbrother, knew very well that
spellbooks often leak magic. If the magic is strong enough then leather only
helps at certain occasions. And the books were obviously old, like all good
spellbooks. The two bowed over the yellow pages.
Two minutes passed in complete silence.
"You can't read that either, eh?" Shad asked
"I'm no mage, okay?" Saura grumbled, sitting
up and flipping the pages. "I can recognize some words but the writing is so
odd… hello, what's that?"
The two looked at the object that had appeared
between the pages.
"It's a Star Compact Mirror," Shad said, raising
his eyebrows. "I didn't know those were magical."
Saura turned it in his hand. "I don't think it
is. Remember that Phila recently complained that her mirror got lost?" Phila
was their little sister. "I guess this is the one. She goes to the gallery all
the time and fools around there, she probably stuck the mirror between the book
and forgot all about it."
The Lupe nodded slowly. "You may be right. Okay,
open it. Let's contact Tsuki and see if he can help us."
Saura glanced at him in confusion. "Say what?"
"Everything that's been held close to something
magical starts acting funny. Everything that's been to some place for a while
becomes a piece of that place and when it's taken away, a part of this place
is taken along." Shad rarely talked that seriously but Saura knew him well enough
to know that the Lupe, though seemingly an airhead, had a lot more common sense
than many of his siblings.
"Fine, let's try," he said, opening the mirror.
"If I had any idea how that's supposed to work… Tsuki! Tsuki, can you hear me?"
The mirror went blurry, then all of a sudden
wet and then their stepbrother's surprised voice emerged from it. "Saura? Ever
since when do you know about mirror magic?"
"Got lucky," the Zafara grumbled, leaving Shad's
theories for another time. "Listen, we got stuck in some odd piece of land,
or dimension, or something towards the matter… I think that those books you
gave us leaked magic and told us where to go."
There was a quiet sigh from the other side of
the hazy mirror. "I'm sorry, I didn't see that coming. Apparently the versions
I gave you have some extra pages and aren't exactly the same as my copies. But
I'll check my books and see what I can find… I've read about the place a little.
It's like a crumpled piece of paper, right? Small on the outside, big on the
"Exactly," Shad said by his brother's side. "What
is this place?"
Tsuki frowned - it was easy to understand even
though they didn't see him. "I don't remember. It's not all that safe, so be
careful… but it's not impossible to get out, that I know. Just cross the land,
when you reach the border, you'll easily step out. It only takes longer than
it would've taken you to cross these lands outside the place you entered."
"But it's not safe," Saura said.
"True," the voice in the mirror agreed. "Be careful,
guys. I'll see what I can find. Go ahead now, I can't talk any longer. That
mirror magic always gives me a gigantic headache."
The mirror, though still wet, became clear again
and Saura stuck it in the bag along with the books. "Let's go then," he said,
getting up and looking around.
Shad got up too, sniffing the breeze coming from
the strange stronghold in the distance. "It's not empty, that much I can tell.
Should we go through the woods? I personally don't like the idea of being spotted
from some fortress."
Saura nodded. The two looked around once more
and disappeared into the woods. The narrow path led straight into the forest.
It hadn't been used often; it looked more like a path made by wild Unis.
To be continued...