Masks and Roses: Part Four
Kat and Rose took an Eyrie Cab to Neopia Central Harbour, then a ferry from there to Mystery Island. They sat in the corner of the boat, on the upper deck, where it was open. It was a cold day, so most of the other passengers hunkered down where it was enclosed, but Rose was edgy being around so many other pets. Despite the fact that she was baiting herself to be captured, Kat figured her mum at least wanted a couple more hours of freedom, away from the crowds and the watchful eyes. So she didn’t complain.
Still, Kat was freezing, despite wearing long trousers and a thick sweater. The Wocky had left her duffel back at Rose’s house, because her mother had said it’d be taken from her when they were captured, anyway. Now, Kat was wishing she hadn’t listened. She’d stuffed a blanket into there when she had packed, and it would be useful on the frigid ferry, no matter if it was soon snatched from her. But again, Kat didn’t complain.
When Kat and Rose arrived to Mystery Island around noon, Rose seemed as if she did not even want to get off the ferry. She sat stiff on the bench seat for a while, staring vacantly down at the dock. When she looked back at her daughter, Kat could see the fear dancing in her eyes. Rose was terrified. There was no question about it.
“Mum,” Kat said eventually, “we should get going before the ferry goes back to Neopia Central with us still on it.”
“I suppose we should,” Rose said vacantly, and with that, she stood.
Kat stood, too, and then the two of them walked down to the ferry’s main level and out onto the boarding ramp. Slipping past a group of chattering tourists, Kat and Rose strolled silently for a bit before Rose sat down on an empty bench. It was on a main Mystery Island road, next to a stand that sold tacky tourist gear. Crowds of pets shuffled past it, dozens of them each minute.
“What do we do now?” Kat asked, sitting down beside her mother.
“We wait,” Rose murmured. “We wait for them to come.”
And wait they did. It didn’t take very long for Gwendolyn’s minions to show, but to Kat, it seemed like an eternity. She blankly focused in on the crowd, watching the flurry of tourists and locals, trying to pick out who might be a minion of Gwendolyn, who might be coming to get she and her mother soon.
In the end, it was no one Kat had honed in on. Rather, it was six plain looking pets, dressed in ordinary clothes – they were a variety of species and a variety of colours. They hardly looked wicked, but when they jerked Kat and her mum up from the bench and dragged them away into the crowd, Kat knew.
These were the people Rose had been hiding from.
Kat and Rose didn’t speak as they were led away from the main part of Mystery Island and out into a more secluded area. They didn’t struggle, either, but if they had, the minions had come prepared; each of them carried a spool of thick rope, and some were also toting an assortment of different blindfolds and gags.
Eventually, after perhaps a kilometre of walking, the minions came to an abrupt halt. Then, one of them, a blue Mynci with a scar above his eyebrow, gestured towards the others. Kat had not the faintest clue what the signal meant, but Gwendolyn’s other followers replied quickly. Before the Wocky knew what was happening, the minions had put the blindfolds and gags to use. A thick bandana was now tied around Kat’s eyes, and the minions had taped shut her mouth. Kat could only assume her mum had befallen the same fate.
As the minions continued their trek across Mystery Island, Kat began to grow nervous. Being blindfolded was a nerve-wracking feeling, especially because she was being forced to walk. Back at Rose’s house, the idea had been so alluring – infiltrating Gwendolyn’s camp as prisoners, gaining her trust, defeating her. But now Kat realised how ludicrous the entire idea had been. It didn’t matter if she was grown, if she looked pretty in her mother’s dress. Gwendolyn was a villain, an evil being. Kat, on the other hand, was just a naïve girl from Faerieland, a little child who couldn’t even properly wear a blouse.
But it was too late to go back now.
Eventually, the walking grew monotonous. The ground was fairly flat, and even when Kat stumbled, she was immediately brought back to her feet by one of Gwendolyn’s followers. Behind the blindfold, the Wocky soon closed her eyes, and she simply listened to the crunching dirt and rocks below her. At first, the sound was irritating, but ultimately, it grew to comfort her. It was something familiar in this new, warped world she’d forced herself into.
After what seemed like forever, the minions finally stopped, just after the ground below them turned from the typical dirt to something smoother and harder. Taking a deep breath, Kat listened as one of the minions pounded heavily on what seemed to be a metal door. They waited for just a few seconds before it creaked open.
“Took you long enough,” said a gruff voice.
The minion closest to Kat, the one who had been holding onto her for the duration of the walk, snorted. “Cut us some slack, Marty. We haven’t been here in a long time. You’re lucky we even remembered how to get here.”
“Whatever. Come in,” replied the first voice, Marty.
“Will do. I’m dying to get out of this cold. Since has Mystery Island become Terror Mountain?” said the one who was holding Kat, and with that, he pushed her inside.
Kat staggered a bit, but before she could fall, a strong hand brusquely yanked her to her feet. It wasn’t the pet who had been leading her all this way – she knew that. He was a green Gelert, and his paw was warm and clammy. This paw, on the other hand, was scaly and cold, like that of a Grarrl or Skeith.
Before Kat could contemplate much more on the identity of this particular minion, he began to lug her down the hall. Kat couldn’t keep up the pace, and eventually, he seemed to tire of dragging her. So the Grarrl or Skeith or whatever he was picked up Kat and slung her over his shoulder, as if she was a sack of potatoes.
Kat’s head felt dizzy, and she clenched her fists. With each step the minion took, the Wocky bounced up and down, and it was sickening feeling. Kat hoped wherever Gwendolyn’s follower was taking her wasn’t far. If it was, she’d surely pass out.
Fortunately for Kat, the minion stopped walking after just a minute or two, and he dropped her sharply onto the ground. She landed with a thud, but before she could register any type of pain, the minion tore the tape off her mouth and removed the blindfold from her eyes.
Kat blinked, struggling to adjust her eyes to the brightness of the room. She’d been shrouded by darkness for so long that the intense light actually hurt. She shielded her eyes with her paws and let out a pathetic murmur, to which the minion who had carried her laughed.
Kat squinted up at him now and found that she’d been right in her hypothesis; he was a red Grarrl, with dry, scaly skin and razor sharp teeth. Both his shirt and trousers were black, and so were his shoes. He wore a navy blue stocking cap.
As the Grarrl laughed at her, Kat glanced fleetingly around the room she’d been set in. It was, in all senses a dungeon cell, with mouldy stone walls and a thick metal door leading inside. There was a bare mattress in one corner and a wobbly chair in another. High upon the back wall was a narrow slit window.
Kat looked back at the Grarrl, and it was then that she realised something: Rose wasn’t anywhere in sight. Kat hadn’t seen or heard her mum since they’d been blindfolded and gagged, and that was a long time ago. With a lump in her throat, the Wocky realised that, for all she knew, Rose wasn’t even in the same building as her. She could have been taken to a different place, and Kat wouldn’t have even known.
“Where’s my mum?” Kat asked the Grarrl before she could stop herself.
“You have no right to be asking such questions,” the Grarrl replied smoothly. “I’m in charge here, not you. I tell you when to speak.”
Kat took a deep breath. “Just tell me where my mum is,” she pleaded.
The Grarrl shook his head. “You don’t need to know.”
“Please. I won’t ask anymore questions. I just want to know that.”
“Your mum is Rose, yes?” asked the Grarrl.
“Yes.” Kat nodded. “Rose is my mum.”
The Grarrl smiled at Kat then. “Rose... she’s in a different place. A special place. Gwendolyn wanted to deal with Rose herself. She didn’t want the pet who had the chance to ruin her go to our common dungeon.”
“Common dungeon,” echoed Kat. “Is that where I am?”
The Grarrl crossed his arms. “Such questions are not allowed.”
“Please,” whispered Kat.
The minion sighed then and said, “Yes, you are at a common dungeon. Rose is at our... main... headquarters. With Gwendolyn herself.”
“So Gwendolyn’s not here?” said Kat.
“Stop with the bloody questions,” the Grarrl demanded.
“Sorry,” Kat replied, but she didn’t mean it.
The Grarrl just shook his head. “Some more of us will be in here with you later, to ask you some questions. I’m not supposed to give advice to prisoners, but I recommend you answer them if you want to stay well.”
Kat just nodded, and with that, the Grarrl left. He shut the metal door behind him, and Kat could hear him fasten the lock. Soon, she listened to his heavy footsteps outside, but he was walking fast, and quickly, they disappeared.
Once the Grarrl was truly away, Kat drew her knees up to her chin and leaned back against the cool stone wall.
She couldn’t help herself then; she cried.
To be continued...