Petpet Adventures: Runaway - Part Five
“You sure we can get in there?” The speaker was a mud brown Pteri.
Folfeux strained her brain to understand what was being said. She saw her former pet slam his green paws down on the table.
“Of course I know. I wouldn’t have suggested it if I did, would I?” he growled.
The Pteri eyed him sceptically. “But it’s very risky,” he muttered almost to himself and Folfeux struggled to hear him.
A stout blue Kougra spoke up. “Well, we’re hardly going to march up to the palace gates and ask for them to let us into their treasury,” she argued fiercely. “If we want that dagger, we have to be sneaky. I agree with Scelaris on this one.” She indicated Folfeux’s former pet. “It may not be the nicest way to enter the palace, but it’s the only way we’ve got.”
“I doubt Scelaris would fit into that tiny vent,” the Pteri muttered, earning several dirty looks and also an encouraging one. “And who knows what scraps there’ll be in there? It leads to the kitchen for Fyora’s sake.”
“But you would fit, wouldn’t you?” Scelaris said slyly and the Pteri narrowed his eyes.
“I’m not going in there alone,” he spat.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be with you if you get too scared,” the Kougra taunted and all the pets laughed except for the Pteri, who sat still in his seat. “And Scelaris will handle the distraction.” She stole a glance at him while she said this, and he nodded.
Folfeux was fascinated. If she had been the Pteri she wouldn’t have just sat there. They were obviously planning something big. Archilles gave her a sharp nudge.
“Well, what are they saying?” he asked impatiently.
“Well,” Folfeux began. “They’re talking about stealing some sort of dagger from the treasury of the palace. And that they’re going to get in there via a vent that leads to the kitchen. They have to be talking about the royal palace.”
Archilles was deep in thought. “There are a lot of things worth stealing in the treasury. I think Sadeth might know about a certain dagger. And he might even know what vent they’re talking about. Hmm...” He lapsed into silence.
Folfeux jumped up. “We have to warn the palace,” she exclaimed.
“Well, can you actually speak pet? That’s the only way we can warn them.”
“No. But there’s sure to be a petpet in there who can help us,” Folfeux said.
Archilles sighed. “Let’s just talk to Sadeth first. And hurry up. Malei is returning.”
Folfeux saw the Juma approaching. His fur was a mess, but his eyes flashed with rage. He seemed to have the sense not to provoke the Blurgohs, and stood glowering at them. Folfeux used the distraction to pelt towards the staircase. She bounded down it and into the basement below.
She nearly crashed into Sadeth, who was waiting by the bottom of the stairs. He neatly took a step out of the way, and she crashed into the ground instead. When she picked herself up she saw Archilles standing over her.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m fine. Have you asked Sadeth about the palace?”
He turned to the Pandaphant and began talking to him. Folfeux listened intently.
“Yes, I have heard talk of a very peculiar dagger that arrived not a fortnight ago,” he was saying. “It’s rumoured to be made of pure gold, very valuable. But that’s not all. It came from Faerieland, so it has magical properties.”
He paused and thought. “Ah, yes. It can cut through almost anything, except Maractite. And it can give the holder the ability to see through walls.”
“That would appeal to thieves,” Folfeux muttered.
“Exactly. Now onto the vents. There is a vent leading up to the kitchen and the cooks throw their scraps down it. It’s large enough to accommodate a medium sized pet. But it smells, as you can imagine, and is very difficult to climb up.”
“How do you know all this stuff?” Folfeux asked in awe.
Sadeth smiled benevolently. “I make it my business to know. Beside, there’s nothing better to do.”
“So is there any cleaner way we can get into the palace so we can warn them?” She asked.
“Don’t think why you need to. That place is—”
“Very well guarded, I know,” Folfeux finished. “But they might succeed otherwise. And I really want to see the palace.”
Sadeth looked like he understood. “Easy. There’s a small hole under the west wing. It’s too small for any pet. But a small petpet might fit through it. Even Archilles could.”
Folfeux nodded enthusiastically. “Thanks so much,” she gushed.
The Pandaphant nodded. “My pleasure. Now stay here for the night. It’s getting late.”
Archilles accepted and Folfeux enjoyed talking with the Pandaphant, who seemed to know everything about Shenkuu. He was telling her about the royal family and how Shenkuu was founded, when Archilles insisted they go to sleep. Folfeux would have happily stayed up all night talking, but she succumbed to sleep and was soon dozing quietly in a petpet-proportioned bed that Sadeth had lent her.
* * *
Early the next morning Folfeux woke and soon they were on their way. Her paw was almost healed, and had stopped hurting so she had left the vial with Sadeth. It was a relief to be rid of the uncomfortable weight.. Very soon they were out of the port. Folfeux felt relieved; the port had been a bit too crowded for her liking. They were just making their way though a quiet side street when a voice spoke up.
“Well, fancy seeing you here, Folfeux. I thought you’d be somewhere a bit more exciting.”
“Asmaral!” Folfeux spun around and saw her friend perching on a low wall. “What are you doing here?”
Archilles hurried over. “Yes. I thought you had a petpet contest.”
The Kazeriu nodded. “Yes, I did. But on the first day a couple of pets barged in and ransacked it. They began taking some of the other competitors so I thought I’d make myself scarce. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get back to my pet.”
Folfeux was thinking. “Was there a blue Kougra or a brown Pteri amongst the thieves?” she asked.
Asmaral looked surprised. “Well, yes, there was, come to think of it.”
“My former pet was helping them, I think,” Folfeux said. Quickly she explained to Asmaral everything she had seen and heard in the inn, apart from the Blurgoh story.
As Asmaral listened, surprise and disbelief appeared on her face, then amusement. “Well, because I can’t find my pet, and there is really nothing else for me to do, I think I’ll join you.”
Archilles opened his mouth but Folfeux cut him off.
“Good. We need all the help we can get, and it would be more fun if you came along.” She glared at Archilles, daring him to contradict her.
He didn’t look fazed. “You really should say less,” he chastised. “And I agree with you.”
“Oh,” said Folfeux. “Well... um, let’s go.”
Asmaral hopped off the wall and followed the two petpets. Folfeux was wondering if they would they would ever reach the palace when suddenly the top of it appeared above the mountain directly in front of them. Over the next hour it came closer and Folfeux could see just how beautiful it really was. Even Asmaral was impressed. But Archilles wasn’t as interested as her, having seen it before.
When they had reached the base Archilles led them to the west of the building. They began searching for the hole, but none of them could find it and Folfeux feared that the royal family had closed it up. She was beginning to lose hope when a Quilin suddenly appeared in front of them.
Folfeux stopped and stared at it, and it stared back. She felt as if it was sizing her up.
“Who are you?” The Quilin spoke in what was unmistakably a female voice.
“Um...” Folfeux paused, not sure what she was supposed to say. “My name is Folfeux,” she said at last.
The Quilin stepped forward and studied her intently. “You don’t look like that nasty Juma who comes here often,” she said at last.
Folfeux jolted. “Is the Juma’s name Malei?”
She was surprised when the Quilin crouched down and tensed her muscles. “You know him?” she hissed.
She hadn’t realised just how well known Malei was. He obviously did a lot of stealing.
“Yes, we know him. But we’re no friends of his,” came the voice of Archilles, and the Sandan appeared at Folfeux’s side.
The Quilin eyed him. “Anyone else?” she asked.
“There’s me,” said Asmaral, padding up.
“We’re here to warn you about some pets that are going to break into your treasury,” Archilles began to explain.
The Quilin looked dubious. “No pet can break into the treasury,” she said. “I can assure you that it’s quite safe.”
Folfeux spoke up. “But what about petpets? We know for a fact that Malei is with these pets.”
For the first time the other petpet looked worried. “Oh,” she said. “That’s Different. He’s stolen quite a few artefacts already.”
She broke off and Folfeux could see she was thinking hard. She looked up at them after a while.
“Well, I think you had better follow me and tell your story to Dio,” she said
Folfeux wondered who Dio was. It didn’t sound like a very important name. But she followed the Quilin all the same through a small hole. The hole had been well disguised by a strange bush that she had never seen before, and was only just big enough for the Quilin. It felt strange and cold, and Folfeux could feel a smooth rock under her paws, no doubt made smooth by countless petpets.
She heard Asmaral breathing behind her, but she couldn’t see a thing because it was so dark. The Quilin was just ahead, from what she could hear, and Folfeux followed carefully, not wanting to be left behind. When at last the tunnel ended, she wasn’t ready for the bright light at the end. She hadn’t even seen it approaching because the Quilin had blocked the light.
The light blinded her and she stopped and covered her eyes with her paws. When she opened them again she was inside the palace of Shenkuu.
To be continued...