Tales of Dark Mountain: Moonlight - Part Two
Part Two: Hidden Stories
Alex slid out of bed. It was the day after his trouble with his teacher. Elise had told him that he would be confined to his room for a week, except for school and other important matters. He groaned as he rubbed the sleep out of his bleary eyes.
Then he remembered the strange event from the previous day. He looked at his birthmarks in turn. “What’s so scary about them?” he wondered aloud.
“Alex! Hurry up! You don’t want to be late for school, do you?” Elise called from down the hall.
Alex groaned and jumped out of bed, quickly packing his bag and slinging it over his back. He pushed the thought of the strange shadow Shoyru out of his mind as he bounded down the hall.
Elise was in the kitchen. A cold omelette was on a plate on the table. He picked it up in a hurry. “Thanks, Mom,” he said, and then bounded out the door with the omelette in hand. Elise called a farewell, but Alex barely noticed it.
Alex jumped into the air and began to fly to school. As he did, something stirring in the shadows caught his eye. He stopped and looked to the bushes. He thought he could see a flicker of movement. However, it was gone so fast that he wasn’t sure if had been real or just his imagination playing tricks on him. With an indifferent shrug, he flew on towards school.
“Alex!” Mrs. Chez yelled. Alex dragged himself out of his daydreams and stared up at his angry teacher. “Alex, you’re sixteen years old! You should know how to pay attention by now! Didn’t Elise have a talk with you about that?”
Alex looked away and snorted. “Yes,” he said. Maybe you should stop being so boring, he thought bitterly at his teacher. In his opinion, she was the most unexcitable math teacher he had ever had. In fact, anger seemed to be the only emotion she showed. He had a feeling he wasn’t the only one whose mind drifted; he was just the only one who didn’t hide it.
Mrs. Chez looked at him crossly. “Then act like you didn’t let your mind drift then, too.”
“I didn’t!” Alex shot back, angry that she accused him of something he was innocent of.
“Don’t talk back to me in that tone, young man!” Mrs. Chez snapped.
Alex glared at his teacher defiantly, but he knew enough not to give back a sharp retort. Instead, he replied grudgingly, “I’m sorry.” He almost literally had to choke the words out.
Mrs. Chez seemed unimpressed. She pointed to the door. “Out. Now! I’ll have a talk with you after class!” Alex groaned under his breath, but got up and walked out the door.
As he sat, waiting, he heard a noise. It sounded almost like the rabid beat of wings. He looked around, but saw no one out in the halls other than him. He frowned and looked down at the floor, trying to let his thoughts drift back to his daydreams. However, he thought he saw a dark shape out of the corner of his eye. He looked up but, once again, the halls were empty.
He had no more time to ponder these strange events, however. The bell rang, and doors opened up as neopets rushed out of them to their next classes. Mrs. Chez stepped out into the hall and said, “Back inside.” He waited until the rest of his classmates had passed out of the door before heading in. Mrs. Chez followed in behind him and pulled the door shut.
Mrs. Chez’s eyes were filled with a cold fire. Her foot tapped rapidly on the wooden floor. Alex braced himself for the lecture that was sure to come next. He didn’t have to wait long for it. “Alex, you need to pay attention in class! How am I supposed to teach you anything if you don’t pay attention? You need to stop letting your mind drift and return to reality. And another thing, don’t ever talk to me like that again, or any teacher, for that matter! It’s disrespectful and rude. Hasn’t your mother taught you anything? Or have you just paid no attention to what she said?”
Alex felt a prick of anger rising within him, but he kept his tone level as he said, “She has taught me, and I’ve listened.” Then, unable to resist, he added, “It helps that she’s not as boring as you.”
Mrs. Chez’s eyes flared with anger, and Alex knew now that he had just dug himself a deeper hole. “I’m going to have a word with your mother, young man!” she said. She stomped out the door, leaving Alex alone in the room.
It was the last period of the day, and since Mrs. Chez didn’t have a class that period, she wouldn’t be missed that much. However, that wouldn’t keep her from causing problems at his home. He sighed, and headed out for his last period class.
Alex walked deliberately slow down the sidewalk. He wasn’t sure he was ready to get home and face Elise and, most likely, Mrs. Chez.
That’s when Alex heard rustling in the bushes that bordered the sidewalk. He looked over. At first, he saw nothing. Then, a black shape shifted slightly. He narrowed his eyes. “Who’s there?” he called cautiously.
The shape stepped out into the open. Alex realized that this was the shadow Shoyru he had met the previous day. Alex snorted and began to walk away. He was in no mood for this Shoyru. “Wait!” the shadow Shoyru cried after him. “I have a question about your birth marks!”
Alex stopped and turned to face the Shoyru. He walked up to Alex. Slowly, he unwrapped the bandage around his left arm. Alex gasped in surprise at what he saw. There, a light blue crescent moon showed. The Shoyru let it show for a little longer, and then quickly wrapped the bandage back around his arm so that it was hidden from sight. Then, he hesitantly asked Alex, “Have you ever heard of the Lirse and the Sorsay?”
“What?” Alex asked in reply, bewildered.
The Shoyru sighed and looked away. “Then I guess you don’t know about Scorgan, either.”
“No, I haven’t,” Alex replied, confusion etched in his features.
The Shoyru sighed. “Then you have a lot to learn about, don’t you?” He shook his head. “My name’s Tamack, by the way.”
“I’m Alex,” Alex replied, extending his hand.
Tamack took no notice of the gesture. “I can tell you about those birthmarks of yours, but not here. Too many could overhear the words.” He turned towards the bushes. “If you wish to learn about them, come with me.”
Alex hesitated. He was already in enough trouble. Should he really risk getting into more? Seeing his hesitation, Tamack said, “I guess you’re not ready to make that decision right away. All right, I’ll give you until sunset tomorrow. If you wish to know about your birthmarks, meet me in the bushes here before this time, and come alone. What I have to say is not for all ears.” With that, Tamack walked into the bushes.
Alex just stared after him in bewilderment. He wanted to learn about his birthmarks, but he wasn’t sure about Tamack. Alex sighed and began his slow walk back home.
As he slipped in the house, head down, he heard the steady tapping of a foot. He looked up and saw Elise and Mrs. Chez standing before him. “Well, Alex?” Elise asked, a stern look on her face.
“Uh, well...” Alex said, not sure how he could get out of this one.
Elise gave him a cold stare. “Alex, I thought you said that you’d pay attention!” she snapped.
Alex glared back at her. True, he chose to let his mind drift, but Mrs. Chez was so boring! However, instead of arguing that point, he simply said, “I said I’d try, not I would.”
Elise scowled, and Mrs. Chez made a clicking noise. “To your room. Now!” Elise told him, pointing down the hall. Alex shrugged and walked aimlessly down the hall.
Alex made it through the next day of school without to much trouble. He decided that he’d better pay attention in math class, so he didn’t get in trouble again. He walked down the streets towards home.
However, he stopped at the place where Tamack had disappeared into the undergrowth. He had said he’d give him until sunset today to make up his mind. Alex looked around to make sure no one was watching, and then walked into the bushes.
He walked some distance before he heard a voice say, “I thought I’d see you again.” From the shadows stepped Tamack. “So, I assume that you’re here to learn about your birthmarks?”
“Yeah,” Alex replied, “but I also want to know why you offered this. Is it because you have one of the same birthmarks I have on your arm, or something more?”
Tamack sighed. “Yes, there is more to it than that.” He took a deep breath, and then said, “The story starts one hundred years ago. Two bands of Shoyrus, known as the Sorsay and the Lirse, lived in harmony in Neopia. The Lirse were distinguished by a light blue crescent moon on their stronger arm, while Sorsay had red-orange sun birthmarks on their stronger arms.”
“What?” Alex exclaimed in surprise. “So, you’re telling me I’m a Lirse and a Sorsay?”
“Yes. Now, please let me continue. As I said, these two bands of Shoyrus lived harmoniously together. However, my band, the Lirse, discovered a dark secret about the Sorsay; one that would force both bands into battle.”
“What was it?” Alex asked quietly.
Tamack’s gaze darkened. “That the Sorsay had found a power source that they would use to become stronger. Afterwards, they would destroy all of the Lirse, whom they felt were worth nothing in this world.” A forlorn expression was in his eyes as he continued. “A great battle was fought after a great storm. Many lives were lost during it. Then, while the fight raged on, a Draik with bright red scales appeared. He gave a call to everyone, Lirse and Sorsay alike. The battle stopped as everyone tried to hear what this Draik was saying. He told us that there was sanctuary someplace. He could show us where it was, and allow us to live there, but for a price. He would become both bands’ leader, with the original leaders as second in command of there respective bands. A Lirse named Ash and a Sorsay named Cloud both supported him, telling us that it would be worth it. And so, we followed this Draik to the place.”
Tamack’s eyes filled with sadness as he continued. “But we were wrong to believe him. The Draik, Scorgan, was a cruel ruler. In fact, he still is. He never let us out of our new ‘sanctuary’. And still, he never has.”
“Where is this?” Alex asked cautiously, curious despite himself.
“Dark Mountain is its name. The mountain is deep within the range of the Altadorian Mountains. It is made entirely up of a dark colored stone that seems to drain away all light and all hope.”
Tamack’s eyes glimmered as he looked directly at Alex. “Yes, there is more reason than just to tell you of your heritage. I want you to come with me to Dark Mountain, to help the Shoyrus of the Lirse and, possibly, the Sorsay, beat Scorgan.”
Alex’s eyes widened in surprise. “What? Why me?”
“Because you are the first of either bands I have seen out of Dark Mountain. The only reason I escaped was because I snuck out with others covering my back, who probably lost their lives.” His eyes were shadowed. “We need all the help we can get to defeat Scorgan.” Desperation was etched in his every feature. “Please help us.”
Alex looked at this Shoyru, a Lirse, as if seeing him through new eyes. Much as he wanted to help, how could he? And besides, he was, much as he hated to admit it to himself, scared. “I... I don’t know,” he said finally, being unable to accept or reject what Tamack proposed just yet.
Tamack sighed. “I understand,” he said, turning away. Before he went back into the darkness of the bushes, he looked back over his shoulder and said, “I will not force you to do anything, Alex. This is your choice, and yours alone.”
To be continued...