The Quest for the Moonlit Orb: Part Three
“What?” Mysia stared at Nalina, who repeated her statement.
“I said I’m coming with you.”
“No! Just because we tell you what we’re doing, and because you lead us here, doesn’t mean you can just come along! This doesn’t concern you, and it’s a dangerous quest! I can’t just pick up every pet that comes along, now can I? The less pets going the better!” Mysia seemed speechless, but that didn’t stop her from screaming everything that came to her mind, until she finally ran out of things to say.
Nalina said smoothly, “You’re wrong; this quest does concern me. What if whoever stole the Orb found out about us? We’ve got a lot of valuable information that Goulart or whoever wants. It’s just as dangerous for us to stay as it is to go. I want to help you find the Orb.”
Mysia glared at her and snapped, “This isn’t some silly kids’ adventure; this is serious!”
Before Nalina could reply, Narros waved her over. Nalina walked away form Mysia and to her brother, who had gone considerably pale.
“What?” she asked impatiently.
“I’m not sure this is a good idea. Why do we need to come? What purpose does it serve? Why should we go?” Narros asked, trying to get Nalina to come to her senses.
“We go for the adventure, the excitement! We’ll go to help Mysia, Cleo and Ten, to help Fyora and all the Guardians! We’ll go to save Neopia!”
Narros could tell Nalina was not changing her mind. But he was afraid for her, and afraid for himself. He wouldn’t let Nalina go alone, but he didn’t want to go.
Meanwhile, Mysia was having a heated discussion with Cleo and Ten.
“What use could they be to us?” Mysia hissed. Cleo glared at her.
“Because Ankira can’t help us; we’re going to see Sylia, right? Have you ever been to the Lost Desert?”
“No,” Mysia admitted. “When I meet Sylia it’s always been somewhere else. But so what?”
Cleo smiled and said, “Narros has been there. He could get us there, show us a good place to stay, all that. He probably knows all the city’s secrets! And did you see the way Nalina led us here? I’d bet anything she could find Sylia’s home. And both of them know how to get food and NP fast. We should be begging them to come along! They’re the perfect pets for the job.”
Mysia had to admit, Cleo had a point. “I just don’t trust them,” Mysia said finally.
“I do,” Ten said softly but firmly.
“Fine! When they betray us, I’m blaming you.” With these final words she walked away, heading down the road to Narros and Nalina’s shop. Ten and Cleo ran over to Nalina and Narros.
“Mysia gave in!” Cleo cried exuberantly.
“You can come with us,” Ten told them. He wasn’t leaping into the air excitedly like his sister Cleo was doing at the moment (in fact, he rarely showed emotion, or got a word in edgewise when Cleo was around), but he was smiling broadly.
Narros’s face grew a shade paler. He had been counting on Mysia turning them down. He had no choice but to join his sister on this quest, and hope they didn’t get killed.
“Great,” he said quietly, hoping no one noticed the strain in his voice.
While Ten and Cleo began filling them in with all the slight details of the trip that they had previously excluded, the four pets headed to the shop, completely unaware that someone was following them.
The next few hours passed in a flurry of activity as the four pets and the Guardian ate lunch, packed their bags with provisions for their journey, and prepared for flight. It had been decided that Cleo would carry Nalina on her back, because all of their traveling was to be done in the air. If Cleo grew tired, Ten could take over, but Cleo doubted she would, because Nalina was so scrawny.
Mysia and Nalina were walking into the front of the shop when suddenly the shop door swung open, revealing a grinning Pteri, Ankira’s neighbor Blodeuedd.
“What are you doing here?” Mysia snarled, suddenly defensive.
“Ankira sent me,” the Pteri replied. “She wanted to apologize to you, and although she herself would be of no use to you, I would, so I’m coming with you.”
“What are you talking about?” Mysia said incredulously.
Narros, Ten, and Cleo came in just then, and stared at the little Pteri. Edd sighed.
“First of all, Ankira sent me to apologize. Second, she wants to help in any way she can. But she knows nothing of the Lost Desert or Mystery Island, where you must go to find the last two Guardians. I, on the other hand, have lived in both places, so I could be a great help to you. My owner doesn’t mind, so I followed you all the way here. I can help you even though Ankira can’t.”
Mysia let her breath out slowly, trying to control the rage boiling inside her. Mysia very much wanted to throw the little red annoyance out the door.
“She thought I could use a little Pteri instead of a highly skilled faerie?” she said, her voice slippery with malice.
“Yes,” Edd replied innocently.
“Whatever, tag along for all I care,” Mysia snapped irritably. She grabbed her bag and stomped out the door, muttering incoherently about “stragglers”. The others followed.
They moved through Neopia Central until they found a relatively safe, sheltered area to take off without being seen. Nalina climbed carefully onto Cleo’s back, and Cleo marveled at her weight, or, more accurately, lack of weight.
The five pets lifted themselves into the air and took off. Nalina could not believe the sensation of flying. It was unbelievable, indescribable, and utterly fantastic. She had never been so high in her life.
Suddenly Cleo cried, “Hang on!” Nalina gripped Cleo’s fur tightly, and Cleo flipped in the air, spinning them upside down for a few seconds that were sheer terror and pure joy all at the same time. The Zafara let out a delighted shriek as she clung to Cleo’s back, holding the Uni’s fur for dear life, but loving it at the same time. She had never felt anything like this...
“Stop playing around!” Mysia called from in front of them. “Save your energy for serious flying!”
Cleo slowed down slightly and flew normally to preserve her energy, because Mysia was right, even if she was infuriating.
Nalina looked to the ground below her. Behind them, the houses and shops of Neopia Central were fading. A few scattered clumps of buildings and a house or two dotted the outskirts of the city, but otherwise the bare green plain rolled out before them, with snow-capped mountains to the west. Kiko Lake would be coming up to the east; it would be the first time Nalina had seen of any place other than Neopia Central. Soon she might even glimpse the lake. She knew from an old map of Neopia she had seen in the back of one of her books that they were flying south, heading for the Haunted Woods and, beyond that, the Lost Desert, where Sylia lived.
Nalina craned her neck and looked up. They were so close to the clouds Nalina felt as though she could touch them. What is it like up in Faerieland, she wondered, a city in the sky? Narros had told her about it before, but she couldn’t imagine a city of faeries, suspended only by wispy clouds and thin air.
To her right, and a little behind her, she could just barely see the thin outline of Kreludor. The Orb was made from that? From fire too, and ‘fire faerie magic’, but what did that mean?
She closed her eyes and felt the cool breeze hit her face. She leaned gently against Cleo’s mane and fell asleep, dreaming of all the places she was going to see.
Meanwhile, Narros was flying ahead of them, mentally calculating their course. He put on a burst of speed and caught up with Mysia, who was flying further ahead.
“Mysia!” he called.
“What?” she asked, slowing a little.
“We’ll have to stop soon!” he said. “If we keep going at this rate we’ll be right over the Haunted Woods by nightfall. We can’t fly in the dark, so we’d have to land right in the heart of the Woods and sleep there. Instead, we should stop just before we reach the Woods, fly over them tomorrow, and be in the Lost Desert the day after tomorrow.”
Mysia did not look happy. “The further we get today the better!” she replied.
“But that would mean camping overnight in the Haunted Woods. It would be deadly!”
Mysia knew he was right. “How long until we reach the Woods?”
“Three or four hours.”
They lapsed into silence.
Ten was flying behind Cleo and Nalina, keeping an eye on his sister, when the red Pteri, Edd, startled him by saying, “So, who exactly are all of you? I know Mysia, and Ankira said you and your sister are looking for your owner, but who is everyone else?”
“Well,” Ten began, “the Zafara and the Shoyru are Nalina and Narros; they’re brother and sister. They’re coming along because they’re homeless pets, so they know a lot of skills that could help us. My sister Cleo, the Uni, and I are looking for our owner Jamie. What was your name again?”
The Pteri smiled and said, “Blodeuedd. Weird, huh? Just call me Edd. What about your full names? They’re strange too, right?”
“Yeah. Cleotheneis and Tenedos.” They laughed at the oddness of their names, and then the Pteri fluttered away.
The rest of the afternoon passed quickly, and soon trees appeared on the horizon just as the light began to fade. Mysia could have kept flying; it wouldn’t be completely dark for a while yet, but the Shoyru had been right. If they kept flying they’d be forced to land in the Haunted Woods. She gave the signal to land and the pets followed Mysia to the ground. They camped under a small cluster of dense trees. Narros and Nalina found food in no time, and Narros showed them how to make semi-comfortable beds out of tree leaves and branches. Cleo entertained them by talking all evening long about various subjects, and Tenedos and Mysia located a nearby stream to refill their water bottles.
In the morning Nalina was the first to wake. The others were exhausted from flying, but Nalina felt well rested after her nap the previous day. She made breakfast, and cleaned up so they’d be ready to go when the others awoke.
Mysia was having a dream, a strange one. Matarah was laughing at her. “I’ve outsmarted you!” she whispered in Mysia’s ear. “I told you I was smarter! But no one cared, dear older sister... All they cared about was that you had been born first! But now I shall show them all who the greatest is! I am the true descendant of Mysia the great Guardian and you do not deserve to bear her name!” She laughed again, a haunting, insane laugh that echoed in Mysia’s ears.
Mysia awoke in a cold sweat. “Morning!” Nalina said, noticing she was awake.
“What?” Mysia asked, trying to remember where she was. “Oh, morning,” she said. Nalina shot her a quizzical glance.
Mysia slowly stood. Her hands felt wet and clammy. She yawned and stretched, pretending nothing had happened. She helped Nalina, ate breakfast, and repacked her stuff. Then they woke the others, who still had not stirred. Finally, when everyone was ready to leave, Nalina climbed onto Cleo’s back and they took off.
They flew most of the day, resting only when they stopped for lunch. Nalina watched the Haunted Woods grow closer and closer, until they were flying right over the trees. From this altitude the Haunted Woods seemed small, only a speck of darkness against the never-ending green landscape.
In the late afternoon, just when Nalina felt tired, a loud snap filled the air as the strap on Cleo’s knapsack broke, sending it tumbling through the air into the trees below. At first everyone stared in silence, and then Mysia asked, “Can we go on without it?”
Cleo shook her head. “All of my supplies were in there, and about fourth of our food.”
“We can’t go down there!” Narros said. “Only evil lurks here.”
“Just for a minute!” Cleo insisted, and then flew down towards the trees. Ten and Narros flew right after them, with Edd close behind.
“You’re going to be killed!” Mysia called, and then, with a sigh, followed them.
Inside the woods, it was cold and dark. Leaves rustled in a nonexistent breeze. Nalina slid off of Cleo’s back. Everyone landed and began searching for the fallen knapsack. Ten soon spotted it on a tree branch. He soared upwards to get it, but fell at the last minute and hit the ground hard. When he hit the ground, it suddenly rumbled and caved in beneath him. Ten fell through the hole, landing hundreds of feet beneath the Haunted Woods.
“Ten!” Cleo screamed. “Ten!” She flung herself into the hole, despite their attempts to stop her.
Cautiously Nalina peered over the side. The hole was deep and dark. She took a deep breath and jumped.
Narros flew down right after her. Edd and Mysia looked at each other, and then, with a shrug from Edd and an exasperated sigh from Mysia, they jumped.
When Edd hit the floor, she searched the dark space for the others. She heard a thump just behind her.
“Some hole, huh?” Mysia said, standing.
The two of them looked around. There was a damp feel and a musty smell to the air. The floor and walls were made of pinched, moist dirt. Everything was pitch black, except a faint light up ahead, which had an eerie green glow. Where are the others? Edd wondered.
“Rule number one,” she said to Mysia, “never go towards the creepy green glowing stuff.”
“We’ve got to find the others and get out of here,” Mysia said.
Cautiously Edd felt her way along, realizing this was more like an underground one-way tunnel than a hole. After a few moments Edd’s wing brushed against something that felt like hair. She jumped backwards in alarm, crashing into Mysia, who fell with a loud thump onto the dirt floor. Chaos erupted. Voices suddenly surrounded Edd; she could feel people banging against her and brushing past her. Something large hit her with a particularly hard jolt, knocking her to the ground.
“Edd?” said Ten’s voice from where she had been standing. Edd could make out the thin shape of his outstretched paw. She lifted her wing and he took it gently, lifting her off the floor.
“Sorry, can’t see a thing,” he apologized.
By now, everyone’s eyes had adjusted slightly to the dark, and Edd could make out the general outline of Ten, Cleo, Narros, Nalina, and Mysia. She realized the others had been walking just in front of her, and the hair she had felt had been Cleo’s tail.
“Well,” Mysia said when everything was calm, “where are we?”
“We can’t be anywhere good,” Narros theorized, “seeing as we’re in an underground tunnel in the very center of the Haunted Woods, with absolutely no light except for something glowing green up ahead.”
“Well, aren’t we optimistic,” Edd muttered sarcastically.
“Should we move toward it?” Cleo asked.
“There’s no other way to go. After I came in, I was feeling around the tunnel for the knapsack.
“The walls of the tunnel were smooth and rounded. No way out. And the tunnel’s too narrow to fly back up; we wouldn’t have room to spread our wings. There’s only one direction to move in, and that’s forward,” Ten informed them. Edd noticed for the first time that he held the broken knapsack.
With no other option, the six travelers advanced towards the light. When they reached it, they could see it was actually a strange lantern. The metal was a dull bronze, but the glass was beautiful and unusual. It was pure and translucent, like crystal, but yet... different. Nalina longed to touch the glass, to feel its perfect smoothness. The light inside the lantern was most intriguing—it danced and leaped around like flames, yet it was not fire, for it did not burn. It filled the damp space with extraordinary brilliance. Nalina’s eyes moved from the light to the area in which they were standing.
The tunnel had opened into a large stone room with a bizarre décor. Rows of cabinets, made of pale, tarnished wood, lined the walls. A table, made of the same wood, sat in one corner along with two matching chairs. In the opposing corner, beneath some of the pale cabinetry, was a soot-black cauldron from which thick plumes of smoke were rising. In the center of the room, a circle of emerald-green armchairs surrounded a large table, which was piled high with thick books. A scroll rack and a bookcase, both stacked high, leaned against the third wall. The final wall had three doors, one of which they had just walked through. The other two were closed. Another strange lantern, exactly the same as the one they were standing beside, hung above the table and chairs in the corner.
“This place reeks of witchcraft,” Edd whispered. Mysia was still staring at the lantern. Gently she reached up and touched the glass with her fingertip.
“The Acara Crystal,” she whispered in awe.
“Very good, Mysia, you’re correct,” said a mysterious and powerful voice from nearby. Everyone turned at once and saw that one of the doors had opened. Standing in the doorway was a tall Aisha. She was green, and clothed in silk indigo robes. Everything about the Aisha standing before them was mysterious and elegant, yet there was an aura of power about her that sent shivers up Nalina’s spine. As the group stared at her in awe and fright, she laughed, as though she found them amusing.
Suddenly Edd felt something crawling over her foot, and she leaped backwards.
“Oh, don’t mind the Meepits,” the Aisha said nonchalantly, and indeed it was a pink Meepit that Edd had felt. “They inhabit this area, but they’re harmless, I think.” While she was speaking, she walked across the room to the simmering, smoking cauldron. She examined its contents and murmured, “A little dash of salt,” before opening one of her peculiar cabinets, removing what was evidently a saltshaker, and sprinkling a white powder into the cauldron.
“Who are you?” Cleo asked.
“Oh, how rude of me. I am the sorceress, Nicosia. You may have a seat there if you like, but if you prefer to gawk in my doorway feel free to do so. You must have many questions, stumbling upon my home like you have. I will attempt to answer them, I suppose.”
Cautiously, Narros, Nalina, Ten, Cleo, Edd, and Mysia crept in and seated themselves in the armchairs in the center of the room. After once more examining the cauldron, Nicosia the sorceress sat in the last armchair. Nalina looked at the thick books stacked on the table before them. There was “Gwydyon’s Guide to Magic”, “A Beginner’s Guide to Advanced Sorcery, Including the Fine Arts of Transfiguration and Potion Brewing”, “16 Quick-Fix Potions”, and “Agatha’s Easy Enchantments”.
“Well,” Nicosia said in the tense silence, “ask away.”
Talkative Cleo was, of course, the first to speak. “What do you mean, ‘sorceress’?”
“Well, I am just that. I can perform a myriad of magical spells, create potions, that sort of thing, just like witches, wizards, faeries, magicians, warlocks, and others of that ilk. I am not as skilled at potion-making as Kauvara, but I try.”
“How did you know my name?” Mysia asked accusingly.
“I have what you might call a crystal ball. It’s not exactly the same as the thing you non-magical creatures imagine, but close enough. In the language of Magic, it is called a kamuolys kristalas. I saw your arrival within it, and the kamuolys kristalas told me your names as well. And before you ask, Mysia, I know about the Orb, whether Fyora intended for me to know or not.”
Nalina found Nicosia’s voice mesmerizing, with sheer power dripping from each smooth, articulate syllable. She wasn’t sure if she trusted this Nicosia or not.
“Why are there Meepits down here?” Ten asked. Nicosia smiled, idly picking up one of the heavy volumes and flipping through it.
“They inhabit these old holes. Perhaps they dug them themselves, I don’t really know. I expanded this particular tunnel to make adequate living space. The Meepits ignore me as long as I treat them kindly enough.”
“Why do you live down here?” Narros asked, gazing around the underground room.
“When one has so much power, both sides, good and evil, want you to help them. Many years ago, I wished to be on neither side. I was a lonely Aisha who found that the world coveted her magic tricks. I was constantly pleaded with to join the fight for this or that, but I had no wish to fight. I publicly announced my decision to remain neutral, and then took refuge in the most abandoned place I could find. No one but a few stray adventurers ever come to this part of the Haunted Woods, and no one ever goes underground. However, I was desperate for intelligent companionship, and I knew that I should pass my magical knowledge along, or it would be lost forever. I found two twin girls with a talent for magic, brought them here with their permission, and made them my apprentices. It was about eight years ago when they left. They’re adults now. I taught them all I knew, and then let them go out into Neopia to decide for themselves which side to fight for.”
“Did they choose good or evil?” Mysia asked suddenly.
Nicosia smiled. “Oh, Mysia, don’t you know that everyone has a different opinion about what is good and what isn’t? I’m sure that some on the side that you consider to be evil think they’re doing the right thing. Who can tell which side is which? How does one tell? Which side should one choose? These were questions I pondered many years ago, when trying to make my decision. But you, Mysia, I know what you believe is good. You believe Fyora is good. Therefore, by your standards, Clover chose the good side. She helps Neopia Central authorities, doing what I don’t know. And, again by your standards, her twin sister Jasmine chose evil.”
“So you’re responsible for sending an evildoer into the world,” Mysia commented. “If my ‘standards’ are wrong, and it’s the other way around, Clover chose evil. Either way you trained and educated an evildoer and gave them immense power.”
“Not necessarily,” Nicosia said. “Both sides could be right or both could be wrong. Who knows? If, however, one is good and one is evil, then I am responsible for sending a hero into the world, as well.
“It was not my place to make a choice for them. If one is an evildoer, it is their fault, not mine. I taught them a skill and sent them into the world to help people, and most likely each believes that she is doing so. Are they really helping? No one can be certain. The fact that one of them could be wrong does not linger in my conscience, nor should it linger in yours.
“As I was saying, eight years ago when the twins left, I found myself a new apprentice. She was eight then, but now she is sixteen. Her training will be complete in two or three years. Her name is Stacia. She’s quite talented, but still has much to learn. Any other questions?”
When all were silent, she said, “Now I would like to ask you some questions. Why are you all traveling together, why are you traveling at all, where are you going, and what are you doing in the Haunted Woods?”
They took turns telling her a brief version of their story. When they finished, Nicosia stood up. “What a story,” she said softly. “You know, I just had an idea. I wonder if you might agree to having a sorceress as a guide on your journey?” Everyone looked at her curiously.
“You want to come with us?” Cleo asked.
“Oh, no, not me. Stacia. She needs one thing I can’t give her here—experience. All the knowledge in the world can’t prepare her for reality. She lived in the Lost Desert before—she can help you find Sylia just as well as Narros and Edd can. And she misses the heat, believe it or not. If you don’t mind having another traveler, and she agrees to it, I think it would be a great idea.”
Nalina expected Mysia to say no. She had a fit when Narros, Nalina, and Edd were coming. She would probably say, “No way, good-bye,” and walk out the door. But she didn’t. After a momentary pause, she said, “All right.”
Nicosia nodded and swept across the room through one of the doors. All was silent for a long time. “Why did you say yes?” Edd hissed at Mysia.
“I don’t trust this Nicosia. It’s best to do what she wants until we get out of here. Besides, a sorceress will be fairly good protection, and she knows the Lost Desert.”
A long time passed, during which they guessed Nicosia was telling Stacia their story. Edd couldn’t believe Nicosia’s apprentice was coming with them. It might turn out to be a good thing—but it might turn out to be a bad thing.
Finally, Nicosia emerged from the room. Following her was a tall teenage girl with pretty chestnut-brown hair and dark brown eyes that seemed to see right through them all. Her piercing eyes settled on each of them one by one, as though she was trying to figure them out even before she met them, or as if she was memorizing their every feature. She didn’t have the same intimidating presence as Nicosia, but she had an unexplainable sense of confidence.
“Stacia, this is Mysia the Guardian Fire Faerie, Narros the Blue Shoyru, Nalina the Starry Zafara, Tenedos the Red Scorchio (he goes by Ten, I believe), Cleotheneis the Shadow Uni (who answers to Cleo), and Blodeuedd the Red Pteri (who is called Edd). Everyone, this is my apprentice, Stacia.”
Stacia smiled warmly and sat down in an armchair. Nicosia went back to her cauldron. Mysia began explaining their plans and their recent attempts at recovering the Orb in greater detail so that Stacia would fully understand. As they were finishing their conversation, Nicosia left the room. When she returned, she informed them that the heavy rainstorm they had encountered in Neopia Central had reached the Haunted Woods. Because they couldn’t fly in bad weather, Nicosia agreed to let them stay the night.
Mysia realized they had another problem. How was a human girl going to travel with them? Nicosia said she had not yet taught magical flight to Stacia. They tried having Ten lift Stacia, and it worked, but Ten would tire easily. Narros was too weak to carry her, and Edd was too small. Edd suggested that Cleo and Ten could switch riders whenever the one carrying Stacia grew tired, but Ten refused, insisting that Cleo was not strong enough, and added that it would be nearly impossible to switch riders in midair, and it would slow travel time considerably if they had to land each time.
Finally, to solve the problem, Nicosia produced a scarlet-and-silver potion from one of her cabinets. She told Ten that it was designed to let him take long and difficult flights without stopping to rest as often. He needed only to take a small drop every day before the flight.
With the problem solved, Stacia led them through one of the doors into her room. As with the main room, the predominant color was green. There were two bunk beds on opposite walls, covered in green bedding. There was an ivory desk beside the door, as well as chair with scarred wood and green upholstery. Along the back wall was a long forest-green sofa. In each corner beside it were emerald-green armchairs beside two small tables. Each table was stacked with heavy books like the ones outside, which were probably Stacia’s study materials.
They each selected a place to sleep, and one by one began to doze. Stacia was the last member of the group to fall asleep, preferring to do a little reading before she slept. Before she knew it, the clock struck midnight. The others had been asleep for a long while. Narros tossed and turned in his sleep, the thin worry lines beneath his eyes illuminated by the eerie green light. Nalina looked even smaller and younger than she was when she slept, but she seemed to be having peaceful dreams, for she looked relaxed and calm. Ten and Cleo did not stir either, but both exhausted from the journey and worn out from the stress and worry. Mysia was flailing about alarmingly. In the faint light Stacia could see that cold beads of sweat had appeared on her face. She must be having a nightmare. Stacia thought about waking her, but decided it would just embarrass them both. Maybe she wouldn’t even remember the dream in the morning.
Edd was by far the most interesting. She seemed generally panicked, rolling over again and again, occasionally crying out softly. Poor Edd was just a little Pteri. She was probably just as scared at the idea of this quest as Stacia was. If she were Edd she would probably have frightening dreams too.
Stacia rolled over so that she was facing the wall. She closed her eyes, but she couldn’t sleep. She decided to recite the exact directions for making an Icibabwe Potion. That was so boring it would most certainly put her to sleep.
“A dash of cinnamon stirred with eye of newt. Add a pinch of salt and mix counterclockwise exactly twenty-eight point six times. Chop eleven carrots and five tomatoes. Add one at a time and stir once clockwise after each,” she thought, and didn’t get much farther into the recipe, because the boring list of specific directions had put her to sleep.
Soon afterwards, one of the creatures in Nicosia’s home awoke, and went into the main room. He or she began quietly searching through the cabinets with an insane fervor, looking for something deadly. There was a voice in the back of that creature’s mind urging him or her onward, nagging them for not having acted sooner. However, there was nothing deadly in the cabinet. Spooked by a noise, the creature hurried back to bed, having failed once more.
To be continued...