Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Twelve
The dinner was the same as usual, with the Neopets laughing, chatting and eating endless amounts of fried meat. Jokes were exchanged, several hands patted on the brothers’ shoulders, several voices told them how heroic they were – and yet both Shad and Saura could notice cold, aggressive glances in dozens of pairs of eyes. The dinner passed like a play on a stage where both sides needed to perform at the very top of their skills – but the two brothers had so much more to play for. And the cold glances they received suggested that they weren’t exactly the best actors.
“How are we going to get away from here?” Shad asked as soon as they were back in their room, both feeling strangely relieved to have escaped the invisible menace. Saura frowned and looked outside. The sun was setting; they didn’t have much time. He took the leather bag once again.
“From the other exit,” he said. “Let’s go.”
The room behind the small wooden door on top of the tower was nothing but a miserable-looking balcony now, only a circular wall and some remaining ceiling beams above the floor showed where the Light Faerie had crashed the roof down. The horizon was still red but stars already shone above the tower, making the small Barbats seem like black statues against the sky.
“We need help,” Saura said to the petpets. “Please call the Faeries...”
The tiny statues turned their heads, looking at each other and then at the brothers, but then a small petpet spread out its wings and whizzed off.
“And now we wait?” Shad asked, sitting down.
“And now we wait,” Saura agreed, shuddering as the tall tower attracted fierce cold wind. “And stay quiet. If any of them finds out that we’re here, they have us cornered. I don’t really feel like jumping down from here.”
“What if the Spyder gets back to the chamber?” Shad asked quietly. “Then the spell would work again and the Faeries couldn’t help.”
Saura nodded. “I know. I’m just hoping that it’s a long way for a small petpet... and they were planning to move away afterwards so eventually it doesn’t matter.”
They waited. The Barbats looked at them as they didn’t have much else to look at one way or another. Shad pulled the door open just a little to sniff the air.
“Someone’s coming,” he whispered. “That same Renor guy and two others, can’t remember who they are right now.”
“Let me, I can hear better,” Saura hissed, leaning over. The cold top of the tower remained silent for a short while.
“Well, they’re sneaking behind the door of our room,” Saura breathed so quietly that Shad got most of the words only by the moving of his brother’s mouth. The Zafara frowned in concentration, and then Shad could understand by a slight grimace on Saura’s face that the sneakers had broken in. Another few moments passed. Then Saura pulled away from the door.
“They know that we can’t escape through the courtyard,” he hissed. “We gotta hide.”
There weren’t exactly many places to hide. The pets pushed themselves against the wall, Saura trying to get lost behind his brother’s dark fur. He could hear the footsteps rush up, even the pounding of his own blood in his ears didn’t cover that.
The door smashed open and three dark figures dashed in, only a few yards away from the two brothers. Renor, being a Zafara, looked straight at the two. His ears were no worse than Saura’s.
“Why, if these aren’t our guests,” he said in a voice that underneath a thin layer of friendliness had an acidic puddle of grim bubbling hatred. Not that he could be blamed: the brothers were still traitors and those old dark times didn’t treat traitors nicely. But that knowledge was far from comforting.
“Just looking at the stars, thank you very much,” Saura snarled. Shad’s ears had pricked up and his nose analyzed the other two warriors Renor had brought along. He could smell iron. A lot of cold sharp iron.
“How lovely,” Renor growled. Nothing threatening had been said yet and still the two sides could understand each other perfectly. Wouldn’t have expected my life to end like that, Shad thought grimly while another part of his brain wondered whether his fangs could deal with all the enemies. Stuck on top of a tower of an old fortress from centuries ago, soon to be either pushed down or taken to the dungeons... and I ain’t sure which way I’d prefer.
“Get me some light,” the green Zafara ordered, his eyes flaring in the darkness.
“Right away, sir!” a clear voice echoed through the night.
A blinding flash of bright white light struck into the floor of the room a few feet away, completely blinding them for a few seconds. The wooden floor caught fire at once, reflecting back from Renor’s surprised eyes which now turned to look at–
The Light Faerie was fluttering above the floor, holding a sizzling lightning bolt in one hand, partly to give light and partly to point at the three Fortress warriors. The Earth Faerie with bluish green hair showed up behind her, her eyes narrowed and flashing.
“Despite everything you’ve done, we have nothing against you,” the Light Faerie said coldly. “Come on, you two.” It was only then that the brothers noticed the small Barbat fluttering by her head. They didn’t have much chance to think about anything else, as the Faeries were carrying them off already. Shad could still feel a cold sharp descendant of death whizzing past his ear, then the arrow fell into dark depths and the Faeries disappeared into darkness as well. The last thing they could spot about the Fortress was a long, strong vine emerging from the ceiling beam and wrapping the three warriors up – the Earth Faerie’s counterstrike.
The night was warm and the Faeries flew fast. Shad was already getting sleepy when they suddenly landed on a plain, or at least a bit more open spot in the woods. It was lit by a few fireballs floating in the air, yet those didn’t give much light. The plain was enfolded in dim light and the gleaming eyes of several Faeries were hard to see in the shadows. They didn’t seem surprised. Well, true, the Barbat had brought word after all.
“You can spend the night here,” the Earth Faerie said, waving her hand absently. Some bushes reformed themselves by the border of the plain, turning into pretty decent beds.
“You forgot to take the blankets this time, didn’t you?” Shad asked with a scowl as they settled down for the hopefully last night in that strange restless land.
“Oh, shaddup,” his brother snarled and fell asleep at once. The tension had ceased and now the only thing left was the overwhelming feeling of weariness. The Faeries remained watching the plain. Whether they ever slept was unknown, as was the fact where they slept. But they were all still in place when the brothers woke up in the morning.
“I think it’s time for us to go,” Saura muttered after light breakfast of berries and some juice. It tasted strangely, reminding of something the two had forgotten ages ago, but it was refreshing and gave a lot of strength.
Shad just nodded and they started off at once, feeling that they were treated like friends and allies but yet with vague caution. It was no wonder, as the Faeries had never learned to trust Neopets but nevertheless the brothers preferred to leave as soon as they could. The black-haired Dark Faerie came to send them off.
They went in silence. The forest didn’t seem so thick any more; Saura suspected that the plants were simply keeping away from the Faerie’s way. Shad trotted on with a strangely prancing pace, a manner which usually showed that he had something on his mind and was trying to find the best way to say that.
“Say,” he eventually asked, peering at the Faerie, “why exactly is this Elversti so important?”
The Faerie smiled a little. “It’s our land. The very, very first piece of land the Faeries walked on when they came here. They made this path and this is why we guard it.”
”That had to be ages ago,” Shad burst out before remembering how Faeries treat the ones who mention anything about their age... The Faerie didn’t even blink.
“Indeed,” she said.
The rest of the way passed in complete silence. When they finally came out of the forest, both brothers could understand without words that this was where the strange land ended and their original way to good old, well-known and boring Lost Desert continued.
“Good luck and thank you,” the Dark Faerie said.
Shad still had something that bothered him. Before crossing the line, the border of space and time, he turned around to ask:
“What does it mean?”
The Faerie raised her eyebrow before smiling and saying:
“It’s just a very, very old word for Faerie Path.”