Sunshine and the Sphere: Part Four
With a flourish, Pouncer unfolded the piece of parchment for Emie to see. On it was an old ink drawing of a silver ball covered in intricate carvings and what looked like foreign words. Emie stared at it. “What...?”
“It’s called the Eternal Sphere. As you might have guessed, it’s extremely old and extremely valuable.”
The small Island Kougra squinted at it, tracing its outline with her paw. “It is beautiful.”
“And very, very dangerous,” Rae added. “Especially in the hands of the wrong people.”
“Queenie knows more about the Sphere than I do,” Pouncer said, beckoning his friend forward.
Val pulled a book out of the heap of paper on the table. “This is a record of folk tales from early Mystery Island. According to a story handed down through generations, the island was already occupied when the first settlers arrived. Geraptikans, we think. As usually happens when you put two groups of egotistical males together, they started a war. The natives had the advantage of knowledge of the land, but the newcomers had relatively sophisticated technology. According to the story, when the natives saw they were losing, they called up the power of their volcano, and created the Sphere.
“Things started to go very wrong for the newcomers after that. The Sphere has, according to legend, unlimited power. You just have to hold it and desire something, and it will happen. So the legend says, anyway.
“The chap in charge of the expedition, Erik Ornville, ordered one of his men to steal the Sphere. And so, late at night, this shadow Mynci dude snuck into the native’s camp and, finding the Sphere unguarded, took it. When the natives found it missing the next morning, they were understandably ticked off, and charged the newcomers. Erik, the captain, took the Sphere in his hand, and as the natives poured out of the jungle brandishing spears and clubs, they suddenly disappeared.”
An ominous silence settled over the room. Val seemed quite please with her story, and smirked at everyone.
“What happened to them?” Emie asked quietly. “The natives, I mean.”
“No one knows. It would seem they just disappeared off the face of the earth.”
“Is it true?”
Val shrugged. “It’s hard to tell anymore. It was hundreds and hundreds of years ago- no one bothered to keep accurate accounts back then, so all we have to work off is some old legend that’s been handed down by word of mouth. There’s certainly evidence on the island suggesting there had been a civilization there that had suddenly vanished, though.”
“But the Sphere... wouldn’t it still be on the island?”
“If only,” Val moaned. “As you can understand, it’s the only one in existence. With the natives gone, no one’s able to make another one. It was extremely valuable, and therefore it was only a few years before it was stolen by a thief called Mavock. Mavock was found facedown in a riverway only a few weeks after that, with the Sphere gone. Since then the Sphere has been lost and found and stolen so many times it’s hard to know where it is. Rumours pop up here and there, and we think once King Skarl’s ancestor even got hold of it, only to have it taken that night by a power-hungry official. However, one thing’s certain- it hasn’t been seen in the last two hundred and eighteen years.”
“It must be lost then,” Emie theorized. “Maybe dropped into the ocean or hidden somewhere.”
“Quite possibly,” Alden said. “Though, more likely lost than hidden. I’m sure if people could find it, they would.”
“And so,” Emie said, understanding dawning over the small Island Kougra’s face, “You’re looking for it, so you can harness its power.” She frowned, obviously thinking it would be better to let sleeping Lupes lie.
“No,” Pouncer said decisively. “We’re not trying to get it for ourselves. We’re trying to get it so other people won’t.”
Emie raised an eyebrow. “Explain.”
“Well,” the massive shadow Kougra scratched his chin. “I’d best start at the beginning. We- Queenie and I- first heard about all of this nearly two months ago. It was late, and we were trying to find some accommodation, when this Lupe chap came running out of one of the streets. When he saw us, he ran up and shoved a parcel into my paws, and said, quickly and quietly, ‘don’t tell the officials. There in your paws is the greatest secret the world has ever known’, and then took off like death was on his heels.”
Pouncer bowed his head briefly and sighed. “We never saw him again, but like he told us, we didn’t say a word about it, and kept low for a while. In that time we did a bit of research about what he’d given us.”
Pouncer held up the parchment with the Sphere drawing on it, and also a faded letter. “This was a note addressed to a chap called Armada Reynolds. It says that the Sphere was tracked to this very town, and the last mention of it is in a museum called the Hall of Memories. We’ve looked everywhere for this place, but couldn’t find a thing, until Queenie saw the name in some records of ex-buildings.” Pouncer grimaced. “The Hall of Memories was knocked down shortly after the last sighting of the Sphere... a little over two hundred years ago.
“So we now have this Reynolds chap who will apparently stop at nothing to get the Sphere. When Queenie and I managed to dig up some of the stories about it, we began to realize just how important it could be. With the Sphere someone could easily wipe out an entire nation. So, we decided the simplest thing to do would be to get the Sphere first, and hide it where no one would ever find it again.”
“Why couldn’t you just tell the police, or something? Or open it up to the public?”
Pouncer gave a wry smile. “We would, but the risks are just too great. Greed is a strong force, and all it would take would be for one power-hungry pet to touch the Sphere, and we’d be doomed. It’s too dangerous to even let a mention of it out into the public. When Sunshine accidentally stumbled into one of our meetings, we had to do a complete history check on him to make sure he was safe to take into our confidence. That’s why he and you are sworn to secrecy. You remember me telling you about Armada Reynolds? We call him Copper. And for a reason, too. His full title is Inspector Armada Reynolds. I have no doubt that telling the police what we know would only end in our deaths.”
Emie turned pale and stared at the drawing of the Sphere with new respect. “The leader of the police is after the Sphere? What can we do?”
“We?” Val jumped forward. “What do you mean, ‘we’? There is no ‘we’. There is only us, and you. And YOU need to leave now, and never tell anyone what you’ve heard.”
Emie took a step back, looking hurt. “But I want to help.”
“Chill, Val,” Rae said defensively. “She doesn’t mean any harm.”
“You know we need all the help we can get, Queenie,” Pouncer growled. “She seems like a nice girl. Give her a chance.” The giant shadow Kougra paused to regard the three Kougras and the Bori. “We’re a team. You know that. Now, Twinkletoes, you wish to help us. Am I correct?”
The small island Kougra coughed politely. “My name’s Emie, actually.”
Rae grinned at his friend. “He’s delegated you a nickname. There’s no escaping now.” Pouncer simply regarded Emie smugly until she sighed and answered.
“Yes, I want to help. If I can.”
“Good. So, Twinkletoes wants to help. We need help. I’d be the last to admit it, but we do. Copper’s moving faster than I thought he would. I suggest we have a vote. All in favour of Twinkletoes joining, raise your paw.”
Rae and Pouncer raised theirs, and after a brief pause Alden joined them.
“And,” Pouncer continued, “all against it, recite the Neopedia backwards.”
“No fair!” Val laughed, jumping at Pouncer and wrestling him to the ground. Pouncer flipped her off easily, and pinned her paws behind her back, grinning.
“Okay,” he said, “Now that’s sorted out, we can get back to business. As I was saying before we were interrupted, I’m sorry I had to call you all here tonight. I thought we had time to take a break, but Copper made a move before I expected him to. He hired a group of labourers this morning, and has had them start to dig around the Arcane Park tree.”
Rae glanced at Emie, who obviously had no idea what they were talking about. “Val, as the researcher, has been able to narrow down the possible places of the Hall of Memories to two places; the northern side of Arcane Park, or in the Weistchester Park. Both places are old building sites.”
“Narrowed it down?” Emie frowned. “Wouldn’t it be easy to find?”
“Surprisingly, no,” Val said. “Remember, the Hall of Memories was destroyed over two hundred years ago. In its place other buildings were created; all of which have been since knocked down as well. The records from around that time were dodgy to say the least, and what with time and negligent care, many have been lost or are in such poor condition that you can scarcely read them.”
“We’re pretty much going by guesswork,” Pouncer added.
Understanding was starting to dawn on the small island Kougra’s face. “So all of these nights, you were searching possible locations of the Sphere?”
“Yup.” Rae sighed ruefully. “It’s proving harder to find than we thought, but we’re hoping this lead proves useful.”
Pouncer glanced at his watch. “It’s late. We need to get moving. You coming, Twinkletoes?”
Emie nodded firmly. “I’m coming.”
To be continued...