Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 132,843,258 Issue: 270 | 15th day of Celebrating, Y8
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Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Six

by ssjelitegirl


"I knew that this would happen," Shad snarled as they strode back through the woods. "First we risk our heads getting out of the Fortress without being suspected, then we risk our heads finding the Faeries while not getting blown up or something, now we risk our heads trying to get back in the Fortress and then we'll risk whatever will be left of us to break an unbreakable spell even the Faeries couldn't figure out. Whoo. Oh goodie. How do we always get into that kinda trouble?"

     "Guess we'll have to talk to Tsuki again," Saura muttered, fingering the knife the Faeries had given him in order to keep their cover. It was small and looked a bit like a dagger.

     "We'll just have to do a lot of thinking," the Lupe stated. "There isn't much, y'know. You saw what was in that room. We just need to figure out what exactly forms the Seven. There's no way we can miss too much with a few twigs and a stream and the torches."

     Saura pushed some branches aside, hopping over a mossy rock. "Oh yeah? They could be very, very small. Or buried under the stone plates, or immured into the walls, which would explain why blowing up half the room didn't do anything to the Seven. That will be hard, I tell you. And we have to work fast."

     "Without being suspected by anyone," Shad added. "Let's hope we'll get inside first..."

     The Fortress seemed as indestructible and powerful as before, but the gatekeeper recognized them at once and the gates slid open. When they crossed the courtyard, Renor the green Zafara came over to face them.

     "You shouldn't have gone out there all alone," he said. "We always have some free warriors who could've come along."

     "We really didn't want to cause any trouble," Saura replied with a regretful smile. "It wasn't far either, just took a while to find, small as it is." He showed the knife to Renor who glanced at it with curiosity.

     "Looks very new for a knife inherited from your father," he remarked.

     Saura nodded. "I keep it clean... it's more of a good luck charm, really."

     They were quiet all the way up to their room but as soon as the heavy door closed behind their backs, Shad sat down and stated: "The guy suspects something, I tell you."

     "He's smart," Saura agreed grimly. "Of course, as long as they have the Seven, we're no threat to them, but I doubt they'd like to take their chances. We gotta do more thinking than sneaking around, that's one thing certain... let's have a word with Tsuki again, shall we?"

     Tsuki listened quietly until the story was over. "Well, not that I can help you much. You may have allies now, but if you fail to help them, they'll all be destroyed and once you're revealed as their helpers, I wouldn't pay a bag of broken Neopoints for either of you. Let's see..." The two could hear some rattling. "I only managed to find this... the only thing that vaguely mentions the Seven. It goes like this:

     All rely on one another,

     But they all rely on one.

     Should be six, but there is Seven,

     and there isn't anything else as the verse ends on that page and the next page is already talking about something completely else." The Shoyru sighed. "Feel free to look it up yourselves, you have the same book, just with some extra pages at the end. Page 330, no idea if it helps you in any way."

     "Yeah, but..." Saura began while Shad dug the tome out again and opened it. "Hey dude," the Lupe called in a confused voice, "the text is all readable now."

     "Spellbooks can sometimes act that way," the voice from the mirror agreed. "Sometimes they don't want to be read. Bye for now and good luck."

     "Here it is," Shad said as his brother put the mirror away and turned to glance over his shoulder or whatever Lupes have for shoulders. "And the next page starts with 'than twenty years the Peophins roamed these deep waters' and so on. Apparently the extra pages we got weren't the extra pages we needed. There's still a page missing."

     Saura nodded mournfully, looking at the tome. Suddenly he blinked and grabbed the book from the Lupe. "Wait, not a page... well, yeah, a page! Look at the numbers."

     Shad looked. The page that ended with the three lines was number 330. The next page to the right was number 332.

     "There can't be anything torn out as then it'd be 333," Shad started but his brother wasn't listening, he had opened the mirror again. "Hey Tsuke, listen, one more little thing. The page next to the verse. What number is it?"

     Silence for a moment. "331, of course. Why?"

     "Nothing, thanks." The mirror snapped shut and Saura's dark blue eyes met Shad's.

     "Well, that's interesting," he said. Shad nodded slowly.

     "We need page 331," he stated. Saura nodded as well and started flipping the pages again, muttering "three three one, three three one" as he went.

     "Three plus three plus one," Shad said as absently as only someone who's just made a discovery and can't really believe it can say.

     Saura stopped. They both glanced at each other for ten very long seconds. Then the Zafara turned back to the book.

     "This can take ages," he stated. "Let me think... the page to the right skipped to being an even number, right? All the previous pages to the right were thus odd numbers and all the following ones are even numbers." He checked the first and then last pages. "Ha. The last pages to the right are odd numbers again. So it has to be somewhere in between here..." more pages whizzed by, "and here..."

     Shad blinked in confusion. "Okay, you just keep it up and find the page..."

     That method worked indeed better and soon the spotted Zafara slammed the tome on the floor with a wide grin on his face. "Okay. Here it is.

     All rely on one another,

     But they all rely on one.

     Should be six, but there is Seven,

     As it is in all of them."

     "That made no sense," Shad remarked. "There are six and the seventh compound is in all of the six parts?"

     Saura nodded. "So it seems..."

     "It's a riddle, and I don't like riddles," the Lupe snarled, rolling over on the floor. "They make my brain itch."

     His brother smiled. "It's not that bad. Now we at least have the whole riddle. Apparently we're looking for six parts, not seven... but the seventh part is in the six parts and also crucial, seeing from the "but they all rely on one" line."

     "Tricky," Shad said.

     "Most likely ridiculously simple, but simple riddles are always tricky," his brother agreed. "Whoa, what was that?"

     A deep, long, dark boom of a bell or a gong echoed through the castle, penetrating though the walls and attacking their ears. The sound had only rung once but it remained tingling in their heads long after it had faded. Saura went to the door and opened it to see what had happened.

     "S'cuse me," he began, seeing two red Aishas hurry down the stairs. The Neopets smiled as they noticed him and slowed down a little.

     "You're the visitors, aren't you?" one of them asked. "Don't worry, it's just the call for dinner. Dinners are always held in the great hall. Just follow us."

     The great hall, apparently half the size of the whole Fortress, was big enough to host all the Neopets in it and still give the impression of being half empty. Shad and Saura were placed by one of the many oaken tables in the hall, though rather close to the table in the middle by which sat fewer Neopets than by other tables. The brothers figured that this was the Fortress's council - Renor of Fire was also there.

     I wonder if we're that close to the council because we're honored as visitors, or because they want to keep an eye on us? Saura thought sullenly before starting to eat. Probably both, he eventually decided.

     Shad looked around while eating. The room wasn't very high and it didn't have many decorations, let aside six rather simple flags hanging from the ceiling beams. They weren't as fancy and colorful as the Meridell or Brightvale flags; these ones were from a time far more rational and straightforward. The flags were linen and the paintings on them were probably made with ink, all already bleached in time. Reminding of the symbols on everyone's armor and yet more complicated as they were still the clan's flags. The clans were all mixed up, everyone seemed to sit where they wanted to. Cheerful laughter filled the vast hall as the inhabitants of the stronghold drank Blackberry juice and ate meat dripping with fat. Appetizers and desserts seemed to be out of the question. The cooks obviously knew that in order to guard a fortress, you'll have to have strong, nutritious, serious meals, not something you need to eat off a little stick.

     ... all mixed up?

     "Hey, that squishy fruit is pretty good, you should try," Saura stated with a grin, poking his brother.

     "Already tried, yeah." The Lupe stretched out over the table. "Wouldn't mind another piece though... or four or five..."

     Laughter rolled over the tables where Shad's remark was heard and both could feel the warm fuzzy wave of being accepted. Saura let his worries slide for a while and concentrated on having a good time. Even if some suspected them, they weren't planning to say anything. Yet. And the food was good. The spotted Zafara reached out to grab another funny-looking berry and glanced at Shad from the corner of his eye.

     Shad the Lupe had never been a mysterious type, despite his dark fur, studded collar and strange music taste. That had never stopped him from being carefree and happy-go-lucky, always seeing the bright side of life. He was as transparent as a glass of water. Yet even a glass or water can twist the shape of an object. And even Shad could hide things.

     That gleam in his yellow eyes, frantic and eager, was a gleam of a hidden secret. A secret that had just been revealed but forced to stay undercover for a little longer.

     Saura knew his stepbrother, and how a Lupe who always bursts out what's on his mind could remain so calm and seemingly undisturbed was beyond him. When they finished their dinner and left along with several other Neopets, the Zafara could barely hide his curiosity.

To be continued..

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Other Episodes

» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part One
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Two
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Three
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Four
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Five
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Seven
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Eight
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Nine
» Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Ten

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