Petpet Adventures: Runaway - Part Four
The port lay before Folfeux. It was built on a large cove to the west of Shenkuu and the water glistened dully in the late afternoon light. It had only taken a day to reach, but already the small Juma was tired. Archilles was still as energetic as ever, and he had pushed her on. Now she was glad; she had never before seen the ocean.
“It looks cold,” she commented.
“That’s because it is,” the Sandan replied. “My friend lives in an inn near the loading docks. Watch out for pets with big muscles; they’re the most likely to step on you, though not always on purpose.”
He led her down a steep slope of the mountain. As they came closer she began to gape.
“Th-that boat is flying,” she gasped.
Indeed there were at least half a dozen boats floating above the surface of the water. But Archilles just shot her a bemused look.
“Of course the boats are flying,” he said. “We’re in Shenkuu. But there are some water boats as well. Most of them are from other parts of Neopia.”
Folfeux was still staring at the boats. She was so absorbed that she didn’t notice Archilles stop, and crashed into him. The Sandan picked himself off the ground with a loud huff and turned to her.
“You really should watch where you are going,” he said sternly. “And close your mouth. It’s unbecoming.”
She snapped her jaw shut and looked ashamed. “I’m sorry,” she said.
But Archilles had already turned around and was beckoning her to follow once again. She padded after him and after a while they began walking along a wooden pier. Her claws tapped loudly on the wooden surface and she felt a small twinge of pain from her wounded paw. She had followed Jalla’s advice, and had smeared more of the ointment on but she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of bandaging her paw back up, and neither had Archilles. Now one frayed end flapped about with every step.
The pier began filling up with pets of all sizes and shapes. Folfeux had dodged the feet of a particularly tall Lenny when she spotted a green Gelert up ahead. She dived onto Archilles and an instant later a scrawny red paw landed where he had formerly been standing.
“Thank you, Folfeux,” he said, standing up and dusting himself off.
“I just saw my pet,” she hissed, ignoring him.
The Sandan quickly scanned the crowd. “Where?” he asked. Then he sighed. “Folfeux, we’ll deal with him after we’ve seen my friend. If he is really here, I’m sure he would have heard something about it.”
Folfeux looked around for a glimpse of green fur, but after a moment nodded. “Ok,” she agreed. But can we hurry up, please? I don’t fancy meeting Malei again while my paw is still healing, and with all these pets galumphing about.”
Archilles set off at a faster pace, and she struggled to keep up. But soon they had arrived in front of a rather weather beaten inn. It looked like three or four houses built next to each other without any room in between, and someone had knocked down a few of the walls separating them.
She began walking to the entrance, but Archilles steered her away to a small trapdoor hidden amongst some bushes that she hadn’t noticed before.
“Through here,” he said. “He likes the basement.”
Folfeux peered down and was surprised to see a set of steps in petpet-proportioned size. She ran down and took a look around.
She was in a small, low-roofed room. The far wall disappeared into the dark. Set in the space was a number of tables and chairs, all petpet-sized. Achilles joined her in the space of a few seconds and grinned around the room.
“He likes visitors, what can I say? His pet owns the inn.”
“Archie!” the exclamation came from the left and they both turned to see who owned the voice.
A plump Pandaphant stood before them. He had a huge smile plastered on his face that fit the face perfectly. The Pandaphant obviously lived a good life. And there was no doubt that he was the important friend. Archilles bounded up to him and gripped his paw tightly.
“Nice to see you again, Sadeth,” he said. “This is my friend Folfeux.” Folfeux nodded and smiled shyly.
Sadeth moved forwards. “Nice to meet you,” he said.
He looked like he was considering shaking her hand, but decided against it. Probably because it would have been difficult for her to shake his paw and not topple over. He turned back to Archilles.
“So what brings you here?” he asked.
“Folfeux is looking for a green Gelert with a Juma. Have you seen them?”
The Pandaphant frowned. “I believe I have. The Juma has a nasty temper, yes?”
Folfeux nodded and he continued. “They’re staying here as a matter of fact. That Gelert has met up with a few pets I know are a bit shifty.”
Folfeux nodded again. “Are they up there now?” she asked.
“Don’t know. You can check if you like,” Sadeth replied. “Take the stairs at the other end of the room. They lead to the restaurant.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“Nothing to it,” Sadeth replied.
Archilles turned to her. “Do you want to check now? I’ll join you in a few minutes.’
“Okay,” she said, nodding.
Folfeux threaded her way thought the jumble of tables. Most of them were occupied by petpets chatting amiably. The stairs were the perfect size and she climbed them with no great difficulty. They ended behind a huge pot plant in the level above that hid them from view. She crept out from behind the plant as inconspicuously as she could and peered around.
She spotted her former pet straight away. He was sitting around a table with half a dozen other pets less than ten metres away. Crouched under his chair was Malei. The Juma was staring around suspiciously and she shrank back. She stayed that way until he looked in another direction and quickly took shelter under another table. A noise behind her made her jump and she turned around.
She found herself face to face with five or so Blurgohs. The largest one snorted and eyed her. He was missing his nose ring, she noticed, and that was probably why he wasn’t so happy at being disturbed. Folfeux backed away, crouching down, but the Blurgoh stayed where it was.
Another noise behind her heralded the arrival of Archilles.
“Thought I might find you here, what with that Malei laser scanning the entire room,” he said, grinning.
He froze when he spotted the Blurgohs staring at him. He paled under his fur and took a step backwards. Folfeux glanced at the big Blurgoh, which began pawing at the ground as if getting ready to charge.
“Do you know these petpets?” Folfeux asked.
The Sandan answered with a brief nod. “These were the pets that were after me,” he whispered. “And I still don’t know why.”
“You stole my nose ring,” the large Blurgoh snarled.
Folfeux burst out laughing, and her paw panged. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” she cried, but she looked at Archilles and saw realisation dawning on his face.
“I see,” he said. “Folfeux, you should stop laughing. Blurgohs are very serious about their nose rings.”
She stopped just as the Blurgoh charged. Archilles shot away from out under that table, and Folfeux followed him. They passed a surprised Malei, who sat stunned for ten seconds before standing up and sprinting after the Blurgoh.
Archilles raced into a wide hallway and all three pets followed. Malei was growling angrily and the Blurgoh’s eyes flashed with rage. Then Folfeux had an idea and skidded to a stop. Archilles stopped as well and looked at her desperately. The Blurgoh stopped a metre away and Folfeux stepped forwards.
“He didn’t steal it,” she told the Blurgoh, indicating Archilles. “He did.” She pointed triumphantly at Malei.
She hadn’t expected it to work. But the Blurgoh obviously possessed fewer brains than she had originally thought, because he spun around and cannoned into the approaching Juma without even stopping to think.
Folfeux didn’t stay to watch and shoved Archilles hard in the back. “Let’s go,” she hissed.
The Sandan obeyed and together the raced back down the hall, not stopping to watch the two petpets fighting. The other Blurgohs were still under the table, and Folfeux skirted around it, finding a table right next to her former pet’s one. It was occupied by a pair of Ixi, but they didn’t seemed to notice the two petpets crawling between their hooves.
She stopped, panting and turned to Archilles, who was smiling.
“Quick thinking. I didn’t expect the Blurgoh to be so gullible.”
“Did you steal the nose ring?” she asked.
He snorted. “No. Even I’m not that naïve.” He smiled wider. “Thank you.”
“Well, now we’re even,” she joked.
She turned to listen to what the pets were saying, and was surprised when the Blurgoh trotted past and settled down with his friends. He now had his nose ring back.
“Well, look at that,” she said, astounded. “Malei really did steal it. I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Archilles grinned. “Nice coincidence. But I don’t plan on meeting him here. Listen to what you can and then we’ll scarper.”
Folfeux nodded and turned back to her former pet, listening hard.
To be continued...