Baery's Quest: Part Two
He was born from the smallest of Draik eggs, into a family of Draiks. He was always the runt and the smallest of his older brothers, but he also knew he was destined to be greatest of all of them. That was what he liked to dream anyway. While sitting at his desk in Neoschool, he would really be off in some foreign land battling evil and defending justice. It was not until he decided to set off on a quest however, that he began his destiny.
Baery snuck down the road on which his neohome was built, a handkerchief with his belongings in paw. Inside were his savings from when he was little, a few omelettes, and pictures of Clover and his brothers. The blue Draik was unsure of himself as he set out on his trip, but he did know where he would begin. That place that had started it all – Darigan Citadel.
Baery knew he couldn’t fly all the way from Neopia Central to the island in the sky, so he decided to get as close as possible. So, he went to the edge of Neopia Central, beside the sea, and boarded a boat that would take him to Meridell. The tired Chia that drove the boat stared blearily at him with curiosity, wondering what a small Draik like him would be doing in the middle of the night.
“Where you headed?” the Chia asked as the boat pulled away from the harbor.
“Meridell,” Baery answered shortly.
“I know that,” the Chia said. “But why?”
“Because I want to.” The Chia frowned but did not speak again.
Baery said good bye to the Chia right outside of Meridell and pretended to hurry towards the city. When he heard the boat rumble away, he crawled into some bushes and using his pack as a pillow, lay down on the earth. Restless, he pulled the picture of his family out of his pack and looked sadly at it. He ran a claw over the solemn smile of Landon, and sighed as Jake and Joshie grinned mischievously out at him. Clover’s half-smile was filled with love and laughter and Baery felt regret for the first time since sneaking out of his neohome. He could clearly see the Twins staring in wide-eyed astonishment at his empty bed, Landon comforting their distressed teenager of a parent. Suddenly, he felt a bit guilty. With a sigh he rolled over and clung to the picture.
His eyelids felt like anvils, and soon, his claws clinging to the frame of his picture, the young Draik fell into a deep and troubled sleep.
Voices snapped Baery out of his rest. The young Draik sat up and looked around tiredly. It was still dark in the sky and his bush gave good cover. The voices continued and he peeked through the leaves that surrounded him. A mangled looking red Meerca and a sly blue Acara stood right beside his bush, whispering.
“You have six days, Minto!” the Acara snapped at the Meerca. The Meerca’s face looked like it had been torn up by a Lupe, like mended shreds, and its left eye was clouded with blindness.
“I’m telling ye,” the Meerca said earnestly, his accent Darigan. “I need at the least a fortnight. Yeer cargo is getteen to be very rare to come by.”
“I don’t care,” the Acara snarled. “I’m paying you one million for every egg you get me – I’m not paying you to whine about it.” To add emphasis, the Acara swiped a paw at Minto’s chest, and the Meerca began to bleed, adding to his collection of scars. Whimpering, the Meerca fell back and looked fearfully at his employer.
“Six days it is, milord,” he said humbly, bowing his head and clutching a paw to his wound. The Acara sniggered.
“I’ll show you where to make the drop, and then you get back to work,” the blue Neopet said, and then padded away. Baery watched in openmouthed awe as the Meerca stumbled after. A moment later the young Draik had scuttled out of his bush, leaving his belongings safely behind, only the family picture of Clover and his brothers hanging forgotten in his claws.
The Draik followed the pair stealthily through the night, using all of the sneaking techniques that Landon had taught him.
“Step with your toes first,” his brother’s voice rang through his mind. “Keep your wings stiff so they don’t get flapped by the wind. Keep every muscle relaxed, and be ready for anything.” Baery sighed quietly and relaxed his shoulders, tightening his fist on his frame.
The Meerca and the Acara suddenly vanished. Baery blinked and hurried to where he had last seen them. A dark staircase in the middle of the grassy meadow dropped into the earth, leading to a doorway that had faint light coming from it. After a moment of hesitation, Baery stepped quietly down the stairs and placed an ear to the door that Minto and the Acara had disappeared into.
“Cemia will take the eggs from you here, Minto, and she’ll get them to me,” the Acara’s low voice instructed Minto with a touch of boredom. “She’ll also pay you. Twenty eggs or no payment. Six days.” Baery frowned. Eggs? “If you don’t get enough eggs... well, let’s just say Cemia has sharper claws than I.” Baery shuddered at the ominous impression in the Acara’s voice. He shrank away from the door and in his haste his paw stepped on one of the stairs with a faint creak.
There was immediate silence from inside. “What is it, Cemia?” the Acara’s voice asked quietly. “What’s wrong?” Baery froze and did not move a muscle, hardly daring to breathe. There were more minutes of silence for a young female said, “Nothing. Carry on.”
“Anyways, please, Cemia, you must understand. There is a shortage of Pteri eggs these days and...” Baery had begun to move again, and he tripped over a stair. He let out a low grunt in pain. Once again the atmosphere froze.
“Someone’s out there,” the young female said, her voice musical yet deadly.
“Take care of it,” the Acara said with an air of dismissal. Baery did not hesitate as he turned to dash away.
As he ran he heard something chasing him. He did not dare glance back. He struggled to go faster, and he heard the something behind him growing louder. Desperately, he pumped his wings and leaped into the air. He pulled his paws to his chest, and held the frame to him. His wings carried him higher and higher. A wail of rage followed him and he shuddered.
Ahead of him he saw Meridell Castle against the night. He glanced towards the East. Dawn would soon be breaking and he was dead tired. Wearily, his wings began to beat slower and he drifted toward a lovely glade that seemed to glow with a friendly ambiance. Yawning, he landed in a warm pile of moss and closed his eyes, instantly asleep.
The Draik was jerked awake when a sunray fell on his face. Blinking tiredly, he rubbed his eyes and looked around with wonder. Where was he? he wondered. Where was Clover? And Landon? And the twins? The trees around him were rather comforting but extremely unfamiliar. Frowning, the young Draik stumbled to his feet.
He was in Meridell, that was for certain. Only Meridell could grow trees so green at this time of year. And then he remembered. The story of Draco, the boat rumbling in the night, the creepy Acara with his mysterious eggs. He was about to fly up to the Darigan Citadel to start tracking where Draco’s egg had gone. He looked into the sky and there indeed was the Darigan Citadel. His stomach rumbled and a tinkling laugh echoed behind him. Startled, he whirled around.
A beautiful faerie stood beside a thick tree and smiled down at him, her red and green hair whispering with the wind. She sank onto her knees beside him and her eyes smiled into his. “Hello, Baery,” she said suddenly, her voice all-knowing. Baery blinked and backed away. She laughed again. “Don’t worry,” the faerie told him. “I won’t hurt you. Are you hungry?” Pastries of every kind appeared in her hands. Baery’s mouth watered and he glanced from the faerie to the pastries. Finally, unable to help himself, he snatched one of the pastries and stuffed it into his mouth.
After a few minutes of chewing and studying the faerie, he spoke. “Are you Illusen?” he asked simply. She nodded, smiling wider. “How do you know my name?”
“We all know your name, Baery,” she said mysteriously.
“Don’t tell him anything, Illusen!” a voice suddenly interrupted from behind Baery. The blue Draik leaped around in surprise. The happy atmosphere sort of deteriorated. Jhudora sat comfortably watching them from an earthy armchair, a cup of hot borovan in her elegant hands. Illusen glowered.
“You’re completely ruining my fun, sister,” she said irritably. She began to twist one of her red and green braids around a finger, and stomped over to the armchair beside Jhudora where she threw herself down. Jhudora watched with regal grace and smiled. Baery blinked in surprise.
“I thought you two hated each other,” he said suddenly. Jhudora laughed and Illusen rolled her eyes.
“Of course not,” the dark faerie said. “We’re sisters. We fight of course but we mostly do so just to discourage pets doing both of our quests. It gets very complicated in our records. Fyora makes us share a filing cabinet.”
“Totally unfair, I’ve always said,” Illusen muttered darkly. Jhudora sighed.
“The pains of being a banished faerie,” she said.
“Banished?” Baery was confused.
“Not exactly banished,” Illusen admitted. “If anything we banished ourselves – those city faeries can get so smug and prissy – they just drive you crazy.” Jhudora nodded. Baery nodded slowly before deciding that he needed to go.
“I’m sorry, but-”
“Yes, we know, Baery,” Jhudora said with a sigh. “We’ll see you around.” Illusen smiled gently at him, before her eyes became clouded and she stared straight through him.
“Your journey will be strenuous, young Draik, but fear not for the power of the faeries will be with thee. Though some may attempt to impede your quest, keep close that which is dearest to you and thou shalt be safe,” Illusen’s voice was deep and monotonous, but as she spoke Baery felt the picture in his claws warm slightly. Suddenly, the earth faerie’s eyes returned to normal and she sat back in her armchair contentedly. Jhudora watched her with wide eyes, but Illusen seemed to have no memory of what she had spoken.
“Travel safe, dear,” she said sweetly, taking a mug of borovan and sipping it. Baery turned and hurried away from the glade.
After a few minutes of walking, he looked up at the Citadel. Now was the time. Now was when he would begin his quest.
He tightened his grip on his family’s picture as he stared into the sky. Taking a deep breath, Baery squatted and then launched into the air towards his target. His wings made powerful strokes and carried him higher and higher. With a determined look, he watched as the Citadel grew closer and closer.
To be continued...