Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Seven
Shad didn't disappoint him. As soon as the door closed behind
them again, the shadow Lupe sat down in the middle of the carpet and announced:
"I think I know what at least six of the Seven are."
"I was hoping that," Saura grinned. "Talk."
"The clans," Shad stated and waved his paw to
shush Saura, seeing that he wanted to say something. "Yeah, that part is obvious.
Six clans. But it goes deeper than that. Think what we have - Fire, Water, Metal,
Wood, Soil and Stone, right? Now think of that chamber."
Saura thought. Torches in iron holders. The stream
running over the stones and feeding the tough twigs. All rely on one another.
Like the warriors in the hall.
Light burning on wood, in the iron holder...
Water feeding the plants...
Soil growing the plants, while the plants also
feed the soil...
Stone supporting the water...
Fire giving light to the plants... and so much
more. An eternal circle and connection of nature.
"That explains the first line," he said quietly.
"So these are the six. Simple, yet hard to see."
"But they all rely on one," Shad said with a
frown. "Should be six, but there is Seven as it is in all of them. What could
be inside both stone and fire? It makes no sense."
"Indeed," his brother grumbled. "Eh, let's just
go to sleep and think about it in the morning, eh? A clear head can help a lot
and besides, it's getting late."
They both curled up in their beds, trying to
forget the complicated task they had gotten so unexpectedly... completely unaware
of two pairs of small eyes watching them from a corner of the room...
The next day was as cloudy yet windless as the
day before had been, and the brothers learned another rule about the Fortress:
only dinners were in the great hall. Otherwise everyone had to go to the kitchen
themselves and get food whenever they desired. The cooks were constantly working
and there was always something to eat. As a Scorchio by the oven explained,
the guards came from their shifts each on their own time and one can't work
with an empty stomach.
The kitchen was, just like the library, partly
under the ground - the staircase from the courtyard led down for a few dozen
feet before it reached the floor. Shad and Saura found a nice peaceful spot
by an oven and ate their breakfast there, looking around curiously. The kitchen
was huge, yet crowded and always filled with voices and sounds of cooking. Saura,
being his family's cook and generally preferring the kitchen to any other room
of a house, found the place really relaxing.
"Hey, did you hear? Melor finished his plans,"
a voice emerged from the general chit-chat. The brothers looked up at once.
"About time too, took him a while... but they say that the plans are very thorough
"Well, good!" It was a Techo talking to a blue
Ixi as they now saw. "Now we can finally root these monsters out from the forest."
The Ixi nodded and sipped from his mug. "Yeah,
as soon as the council finally decides upon that troop question."
"Didn't you hear?" The Techo grinned widely,
throwing a bone into the fireplace. "They decided upon that last night. No idea
why they were in such hurry but apparently they're done now and this afternoon
we'll all start intense training. Three more days and we'll attack."
Shad and Saura exchanged quick glances. Nobody
seemed to be paying attention to them, unless you counted those usual curious
looks due to their painted fur.
"Not good," the Lupe hissed. "Not. Good. We gotta
work fast now. And find out as much as possible about those plans... you didn't
pay much attention to them at the library, didya?"
"I'll go talk to Melor again as soon as I can,"
Saura replied quietly, then stood up and put his mug of juice down. "Hey guys,"
he called out to the two soldiers, "what exactly is that plan then? Melor said
that the council couldn't decide how to form those troops of seven."
The Techo nodded. "Yeah, but now they decided
that the troops would all form battalions, with seven troops in a battalion
so that a different clan is doubled in every troop."
"Took them long enough to come up with that,"
his buddy added with a scowl. "Then again, it gave us more time to practice
and get to know the woods. Three more days and we'll finally get rid of those
evil creatures, leave this old dump and get to see our families again."
"You're planning to move east then?" Saura asked,
reaching for a cupcake. "That Acara, Melet, said something about that." The
two guards nodded in agreement.
"I don't like all this sneaking around," Shad
muttered as they left the vast kitchen. "Nobody to trust, nobody to rely on
and nobody's the bad guy either. And according to the Faeries these castle people
here are not supposed to move east, remember?"
His brother nodded, frowning in concern. "Listen...
you go back to the room, okay? Stay there and wait. I'll go to the library."
He trotted off, leaving Shad in the middle of the courtyard with a scowl on
his face. The shadow Lupe looked around, then glanced up at the northwestern
tower where their room was. You could see the Haunted Woods from the window,
the tower was the nearest to the woods. And it was old, practically ancient.
So at the very top...
Shad galloped off.
Melor the Uni was glad to see Saura again. "I
don't get many visitors these days." He grinned, putting an old tome back into
a shelf. "They all think that I'm doing important work and shouldn't be interrupted.
Okay, true. But that still doesn't mean that I can't talk to anyone."
"Shouldn't your work be over now?" the Zafara
asked, sitting down on a more or less stable stack of books as there weren't
any other things to sit on.
The yellow Uni nodded. "Yeah, but I'm still working
on every possible backup plan. You see," he opened the map with the attack plans
again and pointed at the colorful arrows, "first we're going to surround this
area so that whatever they do, they can't near the Fortress. Then we'll surround
the whole Elversti territory. Though yes, first the tactics need to be tested...
so the council is sending out one seven-trooped battalion this evening as I
Saura was buried in thoughts all the way up to
their room. "Hey Shad," he started, pushing the door open, "this is not good.
They're planning to test the tactics this evening and when it's successful...
The room was empty. Saura's nose wasn't comparable
to Shad's so he wasn't sure whether the Lupe had been there after they split
up or not.
"I swear, one of these days..." the spotted Zafara
grumbled, marching down the stairs and back to the courtyard where he spoke
to the nearest Neopet he saw: "Excuse me, have you seen my brother? That black
Lupe? No? Thanks anyway." He pondered for a moment, then headed for the kitchen
And he had luck. One of the guards having breakfast
there remembered Shad talking to a red Techo and asking for the way to the top
of the northwestern guard tower. After getting directions for finding that same
way himself, Saura ran off and up the stairs.
The stairs got narrower as he climbed higher,
and so did the small windows. The Zafara could see the Haunted Woods descend
and turn into a dark green carpet under the grayish blue sky. The wind whizzed
through the windows, getting fiercer as Saura got higher, and for the last few
hundred yards there were no doors in the walls any more, just a simple narrow
staircase that eventually ended with a small wooden door. He pushed it open.
The cone-shaped iron roof on top of the tower
was built directly on the tower's cylinder, supported only by several oaken
logs that formed a carcass for the roof. The cylindrical part was as high as
the door, the rest of the wannabe-attic was formed of the space under the heavy
roof. It wasn't dark as there were a few embrasures even though the tower was
so tall that Saura doubted these were ever used. Otherwise the place was empty,
not even used as an attic - but then again, there is no old junk in fortresses,
everything gets burned or used till turning into shreds and pieces. Shad was
sitting by one of the embrasures, looking up at the ceiling.
"Whatcha doing here?" Saura asked, closing the
"Negotiating," Shad replied, bending his neck
that was obviously getting stiff. "Look."
Saura looked. Several pairs of tiny eyes looked
back from the ceiling beams. When he squinted, he could see the purplish bodies
behind the eyes in the dimness. "Barbats?"
Shad nodded, his yellow eyes gleaming eagerly.
"Barbats are Faerie petpets, you know. And according to the legends they were
once evil Korbats turned into petpets with a curse. I thought that we should
let the Faeries know what the castle people are planning... and these Barbats
should be their allies, don't you think?"
Saura frowned. "This is an extremely blind shot..."
He looked up at the petpets who looked back rather curiously. "Then again, I
doubt anyone else but Faeries would be able to understand them anyway. Did you
tell them the story already?"
"Yeah." Shad stretched himself, trying to get
his joints flexible again. "Did you find out anything additional about the attack
"They're sending a battalion out tonight." Now
Saura's neck was getting stiff as well. "If that's a success then they'll surround
the whole Elversti in three days. That's all we know so far. Can you take the
message to the Faeries?"
The attic was quiet for a while. Then, just when
the two pets began to feel a little bit stupid, one Barbat stretched its wings,
slid down from the log and whizzed out.
"Pretty much everything we could do for them
now," Saura said when they went down the stairs together.
"Except for that mystery of the Seven, or the
seventh in our case," the Lupe replied. "I think I'll go down there for a while,
to look around. Maybe I can come up with something."
To be continued...