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Night Walker: Part One


by ruin_star

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At first I was resentful of being turned into a Zafara. Just a normal, old, run of the mill, blue Zafara. Just blue, nothing unusual, just stinking blue. I had been a Maraquan Draik before, what glory, Maraquan and a Draik. I always blamed Hryre for the change, even though it was my fault. Hryre takes the blame without question, I don't know how she deals with my malicious barbs and and insults to the fact. Once I came downstairs at night and I thought I heard her crying. That made me cry, made me want to belt my heart out.

      But slowly my resentment and irritation with my new species died away. I noticed that with the body of a mere blue Zafara I went unnoticed by others. At first I hated not being noticed but I then realized that I could turn such things to the advantage of a talent that surfaced with the new shape. An ability that has made me one of the most feared pets in all Neopia. Things came to light that, as a Draik, I had never dared to dream of before.

      Confused? Allow me to explain, it was a normal late Sunday morning breakfast. Everyone had slept late, and no one was really even awake. Ealdor_StormLife the electric Eyrie's fur all stuck up on one side. Scinan_DarkShine the shadow Lupe was leaning on the table top, head on his paws, crystal eyes half closed. Maestitia_SunSorrow, the purple Shoyru was poking half-heartedly at the omelette that Hryre had cooked. And I was leaning on my elbows staring out the window. It was a typical Sunday morning.

      Hryre let out a groan as she stood up. "Eck, I have to go to school tomorrow." She shuffled toward the door to get the paper. None of us said anything, but I saw Maestitia quickly dispose of the omelette through the open window. Hryre wasn't much of a cook, but she tried her best so we all kept our mouths shut. Hryre came back stifling a yawn and sat down, opening the paper.

      "Anything new?" Maestitia asked. She got up and placed her dish in the sink. I followed suit. Ealdor poked Scinan to make him wake up and gestured that we were putting our dishes away, yawning Scinan did the same.

      "Well," Hryre said rifling through the pages. "They still haven't caught the Night Walker yet."

      "They got any leads?" Ealdor asked curiously. He peered over Hryre's shoulder to read the article.

      "None," Hryre replied. "They don't even know what species of neopet he is."

      "What if he's not a Neopet?" Scinan asked. "If no one ever sees him, how can they know what kind of creature he is?"

      "Or if it's a he at all," Maestita chimed in. "How could they possibly know its gender? What's the most expensive thing he's stolen now?"

      Hryre scanned the article. "Last night I think, he stole a silver and emerald necklace from a rich Neopian in Faerie Land."

      "Emeralds," Eal whistled, "expensive stones," I slid off my seat at this point and stalked upstairs. This was not unusual so my family thought nothing of it. I crept on to the landing and slid into my room. I shut the door behind me and leaned against it sliding to the floor.

      Loki, my Gruslen, whimpered and walked slowly over to me. He rubbed his head against my leg. The petpet looked at me with huge pleading eyes when I didn't respond. I shook my head and put my face in my hands. "They don't know Loki, they can't know." My shoulders shook. "But I'll have to face them one day." I drew a deep ragged sigh. And Loki made a questioning sound.

      With a silent laugh, I reached under my bed and pulled out a small box. It didn't look like it could open anywhere, but I fiddled with it a bit and the lid slid off. Inside it, nestled in deep black velvet, was the silver and emerald necklace, glittering in the morning sun. My family had no idea that I, Leoht_ShadowLight was the Night Walker.

     ~*~

      It was supposed to be simple, ,ust an easy break in, steal a few glittery things and get out. Why did I have to choose that night of all nights? That one simple job got me so entangled in a great conspiracy of danger, betrayal, and hatred that I feared for a long time that I would never get free of that putrid web of deceit. But it was not only the present that I brushed shoulders with in this adventure, it was the past, and legend that I would tangle with this time.

      But I'm getting ahead of myself. It was around midnight and I was circling the mansion. The security system was top of the line, but it had one flaw. It was aimed chiefly at the doors and windows. That didn't prevent me from going in underneath. The house was old, there was a drain that ran under the basement. It was just big enough for me to crawl through on my stomach.

      The damp narrow hole was pitch dark and filled with gooey lichens. I think I might have stepped on a Slorg some way along or something, or I just pushed my paw into something particularly nasty.

      I was glad it was dark in the basement, or I probably would have screamed at the state I was in. With a sigh I brushed the Vernax from my coat, as long as I'd gotten this far I might as well try to get something.

      I ferreted around for a little while, thankful that the owner had built her Neohome from marble instead of wood as many preferred. Marble couldn't creak and my footsteps went much quieter. I found a safe behind a picture in the study. Typical, I thought rolling my eyes. The safe was a scroll lock, the turning kind.

      Placing my ear to the lock, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the faint clicking sound. I heard a snap, grinning I turned the lock in the other direction. There was another snap, carefully I changed directions again, there was a loud click and the door to the safe swung open.

      Inside were several paint brushes, a couple codestones, a morphing potion, and a hefty bag of Neopoints. I took everything, placing them in a bag around my waist. I relocked the safe scrambling the combination in the mean time. Then I crept up the large spiral stair case that wound its way to the upper levels.

      The bedrooms were on the third floor, I slipped into the human's room. It rather surprised me that there weren't many valuables in there, a few pairs of earrings, some bracelets, but nothing really fancy. The girl was sound asleep, she didn't look like the regal snobbish type of rich person that I'd always heard about. But what did I know? I spent as much of my time avoiding the upper class as I could.

      Silently I left the girl's room and proceeded down the hallway. There were several guest rooms, nothing interesting. It was then that I came to the Neopet's room. The human had only one pet I knew, a Zafara. When I slid in through the door I was facing a circular room with a domed ceiling. The walls were a soft periwinkle blue, and the floor was white shag carpet. There were a few book shelves along the right side of the room. They were all filled with well used books. There were posters and couple paintings along the walls but not many. There was a desk and a beanbag chair. It was all lit up by the pale glow of the moon.

      I began to search but stopped dead as I heard a sigh from the bed. She was awake! But facing away from the door so she hadn't seen me come in. Cursing myself I slunk back to the door, only to hear, to my horror, heavy footfalls coming down the hall. I was not the only intruder here tonight.

      I sucked in my breath and leapt lightly to the bookshelf. Not making a sound as I scrambled on top of it. The door burst open banging off the wall. The Zafara sat bolt upright and whirled around. Her eyes flashing with alertness rather than fear.

      I watched as a Skeith and Techo bounded in. The Techo leapt at the Zafara and pressed a wet cloth to her mouth and nose. She thrashed for a moment, then her body went limp. The Skeith threw her over one shoulder and turned toward the door. Only to meet the wild eyes of the owner.

      The girl cried out and lunged at the kidnappers but they were too quick. The Skeith and the Techo were out the open window before she'd even so much as gotten a foot closer. The girl ran from the room to try and follow.

      Shakily I slid off the bookcase. My legs hardly held my weight and I stood there shaking. The moonlight felt cold and clammy against my back. I noticed suddenly that the Techo had dropped something, there was an empty bottle lying on the carpet. Gingerly I picked it up and sniffed at it.

      The room spun, and I felt dizzy. I swayed on my feet and sat down hard. My muscles turned to jelly and I flopped on my side. With and enormous effort, I threw the bottle away from me. Slumberberry potion, I thought with a shudder.

      It was about a minute before I regained control of my limbs. I made a very rapid decision, maybe it was crazy, and it was definitely stupid, but I was going to do it. I bounded over to the window and hauled myself out onto the sill. It was a long way down, I was three stories up after all.

      From what I knew of Skeiths, they were lazy. I figured that this one wouldn't fly unless it had to. I was fairly certain that the kidnappers had gone on foot. With ease I jumped from the sill and grabbed the edge of the roof. I dangled for a moment, suspended by my grip on the gutter. Then I swung myself up onto the shingles.

      Trotting along the gutter I searched for the drain pipe that would provide transportation to the ground. I found it quickly, the metal pipe was cool and quite new, so it was easy to slide down. I came gently to earth and began searching the area below the window.

      I caught the acrid smell of sweat and fear making me sneeze. A second later I saw the footprints in the damp earth. With a grin and a thrash of my tale I bounded off after them.

      I caught up the kidnappers sooner than I had expected to. They were obviously not professionals. As they blundered through the undergrowth of a forest close to the Haunted Woods. We were not in the Haunted Woods yet, the woods always let you know when you were.

     "Flint, my feet hurt." The Skeith was whining.

     "Shut up Jarrol!" the Techo hissed. He flexed his lime green claws. "You know the bounty placed on these pampered pets. He'll give us a hefty sum for this one." He indicated the burlap bag that was thrown over one shoulder.

     I followed them in silence, analyzing their strength. I gritted my teeth, even if they were untrained as fighters, they could still easily overpower me. I wouldn't be able to rescue the Zafara until they made camp, and I fervently wished that they would.

     They didn't, Jarrol complained a couple times about being hungry and sleepy, but he was silent after Flint smacked him across the face. They continued on into the night, the morning mist rose from the Haunted Forest. Pale specters twisting through the trees, binding travelers within their depths.

     I shivered and shook dew from my fur. It was still early morning, but I knew if Hryre found me missing that she would worry her head off and tear my room apart. I couldn't have that, maybe it would be safer to turn back.

     Just as that though crossed my mind I saw our destination. It was a gigantic old warehouse. The stones were covered with moss, and the roof was hung with ivy. I watched to be sure and saw Flint and Jarrol enter the building. I then leapt up to a window and pressed my nose against it. I saw a pair of guards come in dragging the green Zafara who was bound, gagged, and blindfolded. They threw her next to about four others and left.

     I unsheathed the dagger that I always kept lashed to my wrist and leapt down from the window; resignedly I started back the way I had come. I made sure to mark things with my dagger so that I could find my way back.

      When I clambered through the window of my room and dropped to the floor, I got a good look at my appearance in my long mirror. I hardly looked blue anymore, more brown mixed with green. Panic shot through me, how on Neopia would I explain my state to Hryre?

      My horror doubled when I heard my owner coming up the stairs. She opened the door and poked her head inside. The girl's eyes widened with shock, as she saw my mucky fur.

      "Leo what?" I looked away, refusing to meet her eyes. Hryre frowned slightly but then she shook her head. "I guess that where my Mud Mixture went, your prank backfired did it?" I quickly nodded. "Oh well go get cleaned up, breakfast is ready." I smiled slightly as she walked out and shook my head. My owner was a complete airhead, but I loved her.

      I came down for breakfast five minutes later. Everyone else had not bothered to wait for me and were already engaged in eating. I sat down and pulled an empty bowl toward me and poured some cereal.

      Hryre shook open the Neopian Times and scanned the headline. "Oh my," she murmured.

      "What is it?" Maestitia asked looking up.

      "Last night five pets belonging to rich owners were kidnapped all around Neopia. The Defenders can't find any leads to what's going on. One owner, kjk2411, actually saw the kidnappers take her pet, Takara_33. She says that they were a green Techo and a red Skeith. The other pets that were kidnapped were Priscilla, a pink Shoyru, Brittany, a faerie Kacheek, Veronica, a striped Uni, and Aaron, a shadow Peophin. Any information concerning the missing Neopets or the kidnappers would be greatly appreciated." Hryre sighed and folded the paper. "Neopia's just getting more and more dangerous these days."

      "I wonder why their targets were only rich Neopian's pets," Maestitia wondered aloud.

      "Who knows," said Hryre, setting the paper on the table. "At least they won't come near us, and we won't have to have anything to do with this whole scandal."

      My stomach churned I was already involved. And I was planning to dig myself deeper into the hole. A nagging part of me wondered why I was so intent on rescuing Takara_33, I was putting myself in unnecessary danger. I pushed the irritating voice of reason to the back of my mind and shut off those thoughts. If I was going to take action, I had to do a bit of research first.

To be continued...

 
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