Tangled Up in Blu: Part Three
Kicking fiercely and shrieking through her gag, Blu fought against her captor. The hulking Maraquan Grarrl held Blu securely against his side as he swam deeper into the ruined city. Despite her best efforts, Blu knew that she could not escape from her captor, who was clearly more powerful than her. Sighing into the cloth over her mouth, Blu ceased her futile struggle. The Grarrl sighed in relief when the island Gelert finally stopped her annoying fight.
Okay, just got to think of a way out, Blu thought, Maybe if I could give him a good, hard thwack on ‘round the head, I could escape while he recoils. Blu shook her head. There was no way she could do that, not with her arms tied uselessly behind her back. Guess I’ll just have to wait until he unties me. Defeated, Blu hung her head and let the Grarrl carry her to their destination.
“TO WAR!” The cry of the captain rang out in through depths. Hundreds of neopets charged at each other with the signal from the captain. Swords clashed with knives and cutlasses clanged against spears. All the warring pets were Maraquan, some scarred, some not. Outfitted in armor, they fought mercilessly against the opposing party. Blu was amidst the chaos, fighting valiantly with her stolen weapons. Helmet covering her flowing green mane, she fought furiously against the pets around her. Sapphire eyes ablaze, she swung her cutlass with all her strength, sending the water around her flying at her enemies. Smirking, she deflected a blow with her shield, and countered with another swing of her sword. As she focused on taking out a fierce, discolored Maraquan Hissi, she failed to notice a Maraquan Buzz come up behind her. Grinning with sinister pleasure, he swung his mace towards Blu’s exposed spine and-
Blu awoke with a start. Eyes wide in fear, she glanced around at her surroundings. She was in a stone room, dungeon-like in its terrifying silence and solitude. Standing on her shaky legs, she rushed over to the door.
Steel bars stopped her from exiting, and she grasped them with her white furred paws.
“Let me out!” she cried desperately. Her voice rang out in the solitude of the dungeon, echoing her shaking, petrified voice. A Maraquan Elephante, scarred like the rest of the kingdom, stalked up to the bars of her cage. An irked expression on his aging face, he spoke.
“Do you honestly think I’m agonna free a prisoner from this ‘ere cage just acause she asked me to?” His voice was deep and its tone made Blu’s fur stand on end. “I mean, really! Meh job is ta sit in this ‘ere dungeon wif the prisoners all day an’ all nigh’ long. I’ve been doing it fo’ years! Do ya honestly think I’m agonna let you out?” Blu flinched, moving back away from the barred door. Grinning, the Elephante showed off his rotting teeth.
“Did I scare ya, poppet? My apologies. You’d be a lady, an’ I should treat ya’ like one. Lemme give you a proper introduction. Meh name is Mephtik, an’ I’m ta prison guard ‘round these parts. I sit down ‘ere all day an’ all night long, watchin the prisoners. Not tha we ‘ave many ‘round here anymore. You’re the first major ne’er-do-well ‘round ‘ere in qui’ a while, poppet, qui’ a while. Now, whass your name?” Mephtik pressed his filthy face against the bars off the door. Blu, unable to tell if he was to be trusted, hesitated.
“Oi, now, don’t be shy! Ol’ Meph won’t bite. And asides, I’m not gonna go off and give out all yer precious information.” Mephtik smiled at the wary Gelert. There hadn’t many prisoners in the kingdom since that day, unless you count the neopet captured thrown down here before she caused the cataclysmic events that ruined the kingdom. He had gotten lonely sitting down here with no one to talk to. There was that Maraquan Korbat, but let’s just say he was a few notes short of a song. And that was putting it mildly. It was nice to have a new neopet to chat with, especially one like the island Gelert in the cage before him. He wasn’t sure why, but he trusted the strange little pet. Her appearance was a bit off but somehow familiar. She seemed to mean well and obviously had no idea why she was here. He decided to enlighten her if she chose to cooperate.
“So now, poppet, are ya gonna tell ol’ Meph whatcher name is?”
Blu hesitated. Should she just tell this Elephante her name? She didn’t know much about him after all. He could be lying to her and could give all her responses to people in higher places. Still, if they really wanted me to talk, they would use much more forceful methods. Blu’s logic made sense; at least it did to her. She figured she could trust “ol’ Meph.”
“Blu,” was her simple response. Mephtik let out a low rumble of a laugh that shook his whole frame.
“Blu, eh? Wha’ an interestin’ name for ya. Guess it suits ya, lookin’ the way ya do an’ all.” Blu gave him a small smile in return, but Mephtik easily read into her nervousness.
“Don’t ya worry yer pretty lil head about it. I ain’t one to go tell that old scumbag of a king things he don’t need ta’ hear,” Mephtik reassured her. She didn’t know why, but for some reason, Blu believed him.
“Alrigh’, then! Now how did such a pretty lil critter get herself thrown in this ‘ere dungeon, eh?” Mephtik asked with genuine curiosity.
“I honestly don’t know. My alknenore, Liletia, was captured by a Maraquan mazzew, and it dragged her to the depths. Naturally, I followed it. But during my chase, I stumbled upon this place and the mazzew got away. As I was taking in the scenery, a hideous Maraquan Skeith came up and attacked me! Seeing no other option, I ran to find shelter. The first suitable building I found happened to be the weapons storage building. Apparently, no one is allowed in there, so a Grarrl guard captured me and threw me in here. To sum it up; I’m lost and all I want to do is to find my petpet and go home.” Blu recapitulated her tale to an attentive Mephtik, who nodded at all the appropriate intervals.
“Aye. So I see. Ya got a bit of bad luck righ’ there, wanderin’ into the weapons shed an’ all. That Grarrl’s just one o’ the king’s pawns; he ain’t got no mind ta call his own. He jus’ follows his orders; no questions asked. An’ ‘acause o’ that, you’re stuck ‘ere. I bet ya don’t even know where ya are.” Mephtik smirked. Blu shook her head. Mephtik chuckled.
“Why, you’re in the great kingdom o’ Dehytrezn! Well, the once great kingdom o’ Dehytrezn, anyways. After the apocalyptic - heh, big word there! - events o’ that day, the kingdom went downhill. We never recovered, an’ now we look like this.” Mephtik’s smile faded. His turquoise eyes clouded over as he lost himself in his memories. Blu felt a pang of sympathy for the Elephante; it seemed like he had never recovered either. An awkward silence settled into the room. Blu wanted to ask what exactly had happened on that day, but was cut off by a shriek.
“Blinded by the silence of a thousand broken hearts!!!”
Apparently, Blu wasn’t the only prisoner here. Mephtik rolled his big turquoise eyes.
“Lemme introduce ya ta yer prison mate, Treyirle. Poor soul lost his mind after that day an’ now he sits in his cell, shoutin’ out the strangest things ya’ll ever hear. Isn’t that righ’, Trey?” Mephtik called mockingly to the Maraquan Korbat.
“Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it!” he shouted back in reply. Blu couldn’t help but giggle. How did he think of these things? Mephtik chuckled along with her, but their moment of happiness was cut off as the prison complex’s doors burst open.
“Mephtik! Fetch the prisoner!” The booming voice of the Maraquan Grarrl guard rang out into the halls of the prison complex. Blu shrank back in her cage, afraid of what the guard might think if he knew she had been talking to Mephtik. Mephtik, however, seemed unfazed.
“Yea, she’s righ’ ‘ere. I’ll just go ahead an’ unlock the cage for ya.” Mephtik answered in a monotone, so unlike the tone he used with Blu such a short time ago. Fumbling with the key ring in his large, meaty hands, he slowly and deliberately unlocked Blu’s cage. The Grarrl tied Blu’s hands behind her back, and shoved her through the door. Sparing a helpless glance at Mephtik, she let the Grarrl drag her roughly out of the prison complex. The last thing Blu saw was Mephtik mouthing, “Good luck.” The last thing she heard was Treyirle’s crazed cry of “Tell the difference between thieves and crooks!!!” And then, the prison doors shut behind them leaving Blu alone with the guard.
Blu swam clumsily, trying to keep pace with her escort. With her arms bound uselessly behind her back, she was being dragged most of the way. He led her through winding paths that led deeper into the kingdom. The majority of the structures were in ruin, but a few seemed like they could serve as makeshift shelters or storage buildings. The building that was in the best shape lay in the heart of the kingdom and looked as if it had once been an extravagant palace that had seen better days. The exterior was a faded red in color with tarnished gold borders topping the battlements. The only proof that the rusting metal poles scattered across the castle were actually flagpoles were tattered, worn cloths that hung limply where the kingdom’s flag once flew. Remains of once beautiful stained glass windows clung to the window openings, and one of the faded gold-and-red doors hung off of its hinges. The golden doorknobs were tarnished and the hinges were rusted, but they still worked nonetheless. The Grarrl pulled Blu roughly through the antique door, yanking it open ruthlessly.
Before they had even set foot in the palace, Blu could feel the eyes on her. Each gaze sending her skin prickling, she felt the intensity of the stares she was receiving. She wasn’t sure how many eyes were staring at her, but it was enough to raise goosebumps on her flesh. Blinded for a moment by the extreme change in lighting (it had been dark outside and the castle was extremely well-lit), she tried to make herself invisible to the eyes. Blu had never been one to draw attention to herself; she loathed feeling pairs of eyes focused on her. Maybe it was because she hated being looked at as different from anyone else due to her appearance or her dreams. Therefore, standing as the center of attention with a room full of strangers wasn’t exactly a relaxed situation for Blu. She felt herself break out in a cold sweat as she was given a shove by the Grarrl guard, stumbling forward as the eyes followed her every move. Looking around, but avoiding making eye contact with anyone, she found that she was in the throne room of the castle. Dozens of neopets stood on both sides of her and a prominent looking Techo sat on a gold throne with a red velvet cushion. He was Maraquan, but his scales were sliced with crude scars. The purple of his webbing was a deep, royal purple; almost black in its extreme hue. Blu gave his face a quick once over, chancing a glance at his eyes. They were a hypnotizing yellow, the kind of eyes that could scare you into any task. The beady black pupils were hard and unforgiving, especially set in the harsh yellow of the rest of the eyes. His “ears” were the same blue-green of his body, and webbed in royal purple. Tattered in places, he had obviously been injured in some battle. His tail was the same way. It flicked lazily in the water, its webbing torn but its power evident in the amount of muscle it boasted. The Techo's mouth was set in a thin line and his hands were folded on his lap as he scrutinized Blu. Turning away, she took note of the figure at his side.
It was a Maraquan Hissi. His body was covered in scales, but instead of the welcoming turquoise that most Hissis of the color wore, his were indistinguishable in color. Scars covered every inch of his scaled form. The should-be tickle-me-pink fin that ran down his back was covered in blood red scars as were the two fins on either side of his head. Speckled in grey spots, his body was thin and bony. His pale yellow underbelly was a shocking contrast to his otherwise mutilated body. He sat coiled on a gold and red velvet pedestal, his flippers crossed over his chest. His face was twisted into a frown, yellowing fangs drooping from either side of his mouth. The Hissi’s face had several pale scars, very unlike the ones coating his body: one running diagonally across his left cheek, one just below the right side of his mouth, and one running through his eye like a jagged lightning bolt. His eyes were not yellow but were the same blood red of his fins. The black pupils bored into Blu, causing her to look away. She focused instead on the intricate patterns of the floor tile which were blackened with dust and destruction.
“All rise before the presence of King Grauhre!” the booming voice of her Grarrl guard rang out in the hall. Everyone rose from their seats, bowing their heads slightly. Blu, sensing that it was proper etiquette, did the same.
“Thank you, Xaize, but I believe that’s my job.” The Hissi’s voice dripped malice. “Now, all bow before his highness, King Grauhre.” The neopets immediately dropped to their knees, bending over. Arms over their heads and hands on the floor, their faces were directed at the floor. Blu again followed the example of the others. The Techo on the throne, who apparently was King Grauhre, rose gracefully from his seat.
“Thank you, Kwahre. All may rise.” The Techo’s voice was surprisingly calm. “Now, for those of you just joining us, we're here to discuss the newest plague to our fair kingdom of Dehytrezn.” The king shot an icy glare at Blu, who quickly diverted her gaze. “As you all know, the events of that day have left Dehytrezn in ruins, a shadow of its former glory. To think that so much destruction could’ve come from the one source! It’s beyond comprehension. Even more so is the fact that the perpetrator could ever dare to show their face here again. And yet, they have.” Grauhre descended the few steps in front of his throne and came over to the trembling Blu. He leaned in close so his face was mere inches from Blu’s fear stricken face. Grinning in a way that sent chills down Blu’s back, the Techo laughed humorlessly.
“And ladies and gentlemen, here she is.”
To be continued...