Night Walker: Part Eight
I saw Kara go limp and turned to glare coolly at Cyan_DarkBane.
Something didn't feel right to me. Even if he was only ghost blooded, there was
something entirely too ghostlike about him. "What do you want from me?" I asked
The Kougra melted away leaving a ghost Zafara
in its place. "I want you to cross over." She hissed. "You belong with us, with
I blanched. "What in the name of faeries are
you talking about?" I demanded. She smiled an evil smile and I put my guard
"I am Tayal, the princess of Salus. You are
Hemayant the heir of the throne and my betrothed." My mouth dropped open and
I took a step back staring in horror.
"That's impossible, I - I can't be that! My
name is Leoht_ShadowLight as you already know!"
She smiled nastily. "That is merely the name
that good-for-nothing human gave to you. It does not change who you are."
"You're talking crazy Tayal" declared a strong
familiar voice. I turned to see Nova walking toward me. His crimson eyes flashing
Tayal sucked in her breath. "Novarus! Impossible
you were imprisoned with the rest of them!"
Nova hissed. "We are no longer bound, the removal
of your sorcery has given us freedom. Now you will pay for your betrayal." He
reached toward the cowering Zafara but I got there first.
Pressing the blade of my dagger against her
transparent throat I hissed. "Go, you have denied your time long enough." She
went, her body fading to gray mists. I turned to Nova "What's going on here?"
Nova sighed. "Leo, the story of Salus is a long
and complicated one. There was a group of pets who were sworn to seize our city.
They wanted the ultimate power legends swore the city held. Their leader put
up a resistance against the king, he was defeated though narrowly, and the king
was killed in the process." Nova smiled wryly, "and I am the son of that king.
Tayal, is my sister, and she betrayed us all by placing the Beacon in our tower.
It made Salus a prison for all of its inhabitants.
"Tayal was restless in her death, and was still
trying to seize a city now dead and gone. She has been waiting for a long time
for someone such as yourself to come along, one who could survive the gift of
ghost blood. She used the story of Cyan_DarkBane and tried to manipulate you
to her best advantage. But you proved very hard to manipulate." Nova shook his
head. "We are free, but Salus is gone forever. It seemed the Beacon is what
was holding the city together against advancing time. The moment you left through
the gates we felt our binding lift, and all of Salus turned to dust." I lowered
my gaze, not wanting to see Nova's face. I had destroyed his home, I had destroyed
his peoples' sanctuary.
"And the Ghost Lupe? He gave me the ghost blood,
what's his part in all this?" I asked bewilderedly.
Nova sighed. "For that answer you will have
to ask him. Though I suspect that it has nothing to do with this at all." He
was silent for a moment then said quietly. "Leo, do not weep for Salus, it has
seen so much glory in the days when it was inhabited by the living. It is a
fact of life that all, in time, must come to an end." Nova's body began to thin,
twisting like pale vapors.
I shook my head. "I don't get it."
Nova chuckled. "Neither do I, perhaps the secret
will one day be revealed, I believe it is locked within the Beacon and the dagger.
Salus is gone, its shining towers have faded, its time is over. But now I wish
you happiness Leoht_ShadowLight, unlike me, your time is just beginning. After
your battle with the forces of the ghosts, you have earned the right the right
to enjoy life."
"A right I intend to take full advantage of,"
I said with a grin.
Nova smiled and bowed his head. " Farewell Night
"I trust we shall meet again?" I asked his fading
The Eyrie nodded. "Yes," said a distant echoed
voice. "I believe we shall." Then he was gone.
Hastily I turned off the machine and Kara opened
her eyes. She looked right through me. "Leo! Leo where are you?"
"I'm right here," I said, confused.
"Where? I can't see you at all!" Her voice sounded
as if she was on the brink of tears. I thought for a moment then realized what
had happened. The cloak, an invisibility cloak, had burned into my fur. Now,
I was invisible when I wanted to be.
"Eh, that's helpful," I murmured aloud.
"What's helpful? Leo, what's going on?" Kara
"Just a sec," I closed my eyes and willed myself
to be visible again. There was a rewarding gasp from Kara. I opened my eyes
and grinned. She was staring opened mouthed at me, though I had no idea why.
Hurriedly I unhooked Kara from the machine.
Shaking her tingling limbs, which had fallen
asleep due to the amount of time she had spent in an uncomfortable position
while hooked up to the machine, she looked bewilderedly at me. "When he started
the machine, I didn't see anything, there wasn't anything frightening at all."
"So you are one of no fear?" I asked her slyly,
grinning in spite of myself. She looked at me for a moment then threw her arms
around me, squeezing me tight. "Oh Leo, I do have fears. I thought you were
gone, into the fire pit. I don't know what I would have done if you were gone."
She drew away her eyes glistening with tears. "You're my best friend Leo, I
don't care what you think of me. But you're the most honorable person I've ever
met, even if you are a thief. How you came to rescue me the way you did, and
even though you didn't want to, took the other pets with you. You stayed with
me all this time trying to stop DarkBane," she trailed off, sniffing. "You didn't
I smiled. "Did I not tell you that I would hold
fast to my promise no matter what happened?"
She laughed shakily through her tears. "Indeed
you did." Kara paused for a moment then looked at me, a strange emotion filled
her eyes. "You said before, that friendship isn't a part of your world. But
I think it was friendship that drove you fight Cyan for me tonight. Friendship
that made you defy the call of the ghosts, and the death that the fire wrought.
It was all friendship..." her voice trailed off. I wondered for a moment how
she knew about the call of the ghosts, but then dismissed my pondering. If there
were more secrets of my ghost blood, and of Salus, I had no doubt that friendship
would uncover them.
Darren was waiting for us outside the fortress.
He was relieved to find us both well and alive. Though he stared at me for a
good long time as did many of the other pets. I had no idea why though. That
night, we struck out across the Endless Plains, across the very same path Kara,
Aaron, Brittany, Veronica, Priscilla, and I had traversed not days before.
"Why is everyone staring at me?" I asked Kara
quietly. She looked me for a while then gestured toward a stream we were camped
by. I leaned over the bank and peered into the water.
I almost didn't recognize my reflection staring
back. My fur had darkened considerably as though it had been scorched. Changed
from a bright, cheery, ocean blue, to a dark imposing navy color. But my eyes
were the strangest thing of all, they had turned from a dark blue to vibrant
reds, oranges, and golds. The colors were swirled together to look like the
embers of fire. The my trial of the flames and my brush with death had marked
me in more ways than I had realized, and I would carry that mark forever.
When I walked in the door of my home, Ealdor
looked up at me from where he was sitting on the sofa. His beak dropped open
in awed surprise. "Leo? Is that you?" I nodded and sank into a chair. The Eyrie
let out a whoop that must have been heard halfway across Mystery Island. "Hry,
Maest, Sci! He's back, Leo's back!" Ealdor bounded up to me and crushed me in
a huge hug.
Hryre, Scinan, and Maestitia came skidding into
the room. My owner threw her arms around me. She didn't seem as though she'd
been grief stricken when I had left. Scinan was looking at me oddly and Maestitia
was beaming. Hryre sat back grinning. "I knew you'd be back soon." she said
in a satisfied voice.
I frowned. "You weren't worried at all?" She
shook her head.
"No, you told me to trust you and I did. But-"
she said her eyes dancing, "your penalty is that you get to tell us the whole
I sighed, smiling slightly. "The whole story
is rather long and complicated."
"Good," Hryre said marching into the kitchen.
"We need something to do this morning." To my very great surprise Hryre accepted
the fact that I was the Night Walker without question.
"You don't seem surprised," I said eying her
"I'm not," Hryre said sipping from a glass of
orange juice. "I found this under your bed this morning." She held up the silver,
emerald studded necklace. I flushed, cursing myself for forgetting about it.
Grinning, Hryre laid the necklace down on the table. "I also found a letter
that revealed what you did with all your spoils." She smiled. "You're crooked
Leo, but you've got a good heart."
At that moment the chink of the mail slot echoed
into the kitchen. "Ah the mail's here." Hryre got up and went to the door.
Maestitia looked at me curiously. "So, you give
the things you steal to people and pets in need?" I nodded. She laughed, "It's
just like Robin Lupe and the Outlaws of Meridell!" The others laughed too and
I grinned sheepishly. Hryre came back into the kitchen rifling through some
Then she set a box on the table. "The package
is for you Leo, it's from Meridell." Frowning I reached forward and stuck my
paw through the box. My siblings and owner stared. Grinning slightly I withdrew
an object and a piece of paper from the box.
I was holding the Beacon Meridell, it gave off
a soft light that illuminated my fur. I looked at the paper, which turned out
to be a letter from Darren.
I am writing this letter to inform you that
you and Kara have been cleared of all charges by his Majesty and are welcome
at court anytime you wish to attend. I must also inform you that you did more
than was needed in your quest. There was no Beacon of Meridell, it was merely
a test to reveal whether you'd keep your word. His Majesty knew not what to
do with the Beacon so he entrusted it to me. And I in turn am passing it on
to you. Since you, as the one who retrieved it, are the only one who can claim
ownership over such a magnificent treasure. I wish that you and your family
are well and remind you that you and they are always welcome here at Everpeak.
I looked back at the Beacon of Meridell, but
not Meridell. It was the Beacon of Salus. I remembered Nova's words and ran
my fingers over the jewel's smooth surface. Had I truly been meant to find Salus,
and release its people? Maybe, someone was supposed to, but I had a suspicion
that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to do the right
Hryre noisily opened a copy of the Times. "Hey
listen to this!" she said excitedly. "The Nightwalker slips through the Defender's
fingers. The thief, known to publicity as the Night Walker, was in custody at
the Headquarters of the Defenders of Neopia, only to slip out right under their
noses. It is known now that the Night Walker has an accomplice who calls herself
the Phantom." Hryre peered over the top of the paper at me, raising an eyebrow.
I didn't say anything for a long moment. I had
not explained the greater part of my adventure to Hryre, and she didn't ask
how I'd managed to change my color. I got the feeling she didn't want to know.
My face cracked in a grin and I burst out laughing. The Beacon of Slaus pulsed
with my laughter.
The scream that echoed through the Neohome alerted the drowsy guard. The yellow
Grarrl hurried up to the striped Uni's room. She was sitting on her bed wailing
"Mistress, what has happened?" he asked as he
made his way into the room covered with pink and lace.
"It's gone!" she wailed. "My faerie paint brush
is gone! All that was left was that filthy piece of paper." The Grarrl picked
up the note which had fallen to the floor.
"Veronica," he read aloud, "taste
your own poison, next time you think of betraying someone for the sake of money
I suggest you think more carefully about it. As this paint brush, which you
bought with the reward for turning me in, is no longer in your possession, I
wish you good night and bid you to remember I'm never that far away. Yours truly,
Veronica wailed even harder and the Grarrl threw her a disgusted look she
didn't catch. He did not like his mistress one bit, but it was a job. He thought
she deserved what she'd got for betraying someone for money.
Something drew the guard's gaze to the ceiling.
He froze. There, stuck to the corner of the ceiling was a dark blue Zafara with
bright orange eyes. The Zafara grinned, waved the missing faerie paint brush
in a salute and winked, before vanishing through the wall. The Grarrl stood
motionless for a moment, then he smiled ever so slightly.
The Night Walker laughed and vanished into the
darkness with his prize.
To be continued...