Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Six
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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..