My Year in Shenkuu: Part Five
Also by heeken
A slow creaking distracted them, and a beam of light hit the opposite wall. An unnoticed door opened, and a bright, fluorescent yellow Skeith stepped in, holding two small trays of what could have been but did not deserve the label ‘food’. Leaving them at the door, he left and closed the door again.
Tanny leapt at the food immediately, and despite the smell which indicated that it might have been well past the use-by date, she gobbled it up as quickly as lightning. She had not eaten for many hours.
When she finished, she stared at the other tray, and then at Aceliane, whose mind did not seem to be there. She waved a wing in front of the Acara’s face.
“Aren’t you hungry?” asked Tanny, holding up the tray. Aceliane waved it away impatiently.
“I’m not hungry. You can have it if you want,” she added as she saw Tanny’s expression change. ”Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the guy walked in, he kept the door open, right?”
“You’re pretty unobservant for someone like... you,” finished Tanny lamely. “Yes, it was open.”
Aceliane slowly circled around Tanny, inspecting her, muttering to herself as she did. Tanny only caught one phrase which was said slightly louder than everything else.
Tanny’s expression clearly had ‘what?’ written all over it, for Aceliane answered her unasked question.
“I think that for once, I’ll go with a more violent approach.”
Patting the Pteri on the shoulder, Aceliane looked outside the windows, commenting how rapidly the sky was darkening.
“Go to sleep, Tanny. The sooner we do, the sooner breakfast comes.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll just be playing with my wind-up Zytch and planning exactly how hard you’ll have to attack the guy.”
Tanny made a face at the mention of the creature, but listened to Aceliane anyway, and went to sleep.
The distant cry of a Lenny somewhere woke Tanny. She proceeded to rub her eyes, but there was no need – they widened as soon as they saw Aceliane pacing around. She did not seem to have slept at all.
Tanny was going to begin a civil conversation, but as soon as she opened her mouth, she was pushed into a corner by Aceliane, and told to shush.
“What?” asked Tanny, glancing around as if there was a crowd there, watching her intensely.
“I’m going to insult him and hopefully he’ll do something stupid. Just use your brains. If I can’t get out today, it’s your fault.” She hushed Tanny again as they heard some scratching noises from the outside. Tanny put her ear against the wall to listen better. Aceliane quickly pocketed her wind-up Zytch, and sat down in the centre of the cell.
Just as they expected, the door soon opened, and a Skeith stepped in, but this time it was a blue one. Tanny immediately recognised it as Phil, and remembering their strange meeting last time, she wanted to laugh. However, realising that their element of surprise would be gone if she did, she prevented herself from doing so.
“Hi... thing,” began Aceliane as he came in. “You mean they actually call you a Neopet? You certainly look like something entirely different.”
“Hi, the name’s Phil,” he mumbled as he set down the first tray. Aceliane stood up and walked towards him.
“Phil? What an ugly name. Just like you. Wait – no, I don’t want to insult ugly things.”
Ignoring her, Phil set down the second tray and stood up again. Just as he was about to go, Aceliane quickly grabbed his paw and held the door open. To his amazement, she was surprisingly strong.
“No, you don’t just go away. A proper Shenkese will defend their honour! You’re just going to let me insult you, aye? What a coward. And anyone that talks to you without insulting must be a real scaredy-Aisha.”
He turned to go, but Aceliane was not done. Tanny silently wished Aceliane could come up with better insults. She would have liked to have patience, except hers must have run away a long time ago to live with something like the Advent Calendar. She resisted the urge to just jump up and punch something.
“Never mind. I don’t talk to cowards. Coward!” finished Aceliane as she forcefully pushed the door against Phil, squashing him. He winced, and quite obviously, he finally had enough. He tried to pounce on the Acara, except Aceliane quickly ducked and spun out of the way, while quickly sweeping the hay away with her hind paws. Phil’s landing was a little hard for his liking.
He hastily stood up, looking down at his stomach. There was a large bruise there, and he did not like the look of it. Angrily, he roared and scanned around for Aceliane, who walked right in front of him at that moment. Delicately, she lifted her dress, inspected her shoes carefully, and kicked him where his bruise was.
“I hope that hurt, coward!” she said, hoping to hide her surprise at how slow the Skeith was.
Roaring again, he charged at Aceliane. Nimbly, she skipped out of the way. Tanny, sensing that she could do something, bent herself into a ball and rolled right across Phil’s path. The accurate timing coupled with the Skeith’s clumsiness sent him flying nicely into the corner. Aceliane and Tanny approached him carefully, in case he was playing tricks. However, as they saw the non-existent stars which were circling around his head, they concluded it was safe.
Smiling happily, Aceliane took off her hat, and ripped the ribbon off it. She twisted it into a long rope.
“What’s that for?” asked Tanny confusedly as Aceliane approached Phil. She lifted his arms and legs, and tied them together. After doing about three knots, she moved on to securing his wings. When she had done all the necessary knots, she noticed there was still plenty of material left, and wrapped it around and around the Skeith, bandaging it like a mummy.
“What’s that for?”
“Oh, nothing, just something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve seen it in those street shows, and it looked really cool. Ever since the bullies came for me, I wanted to just tie them up and laugh.” There, she mimicked the stereotypical ‘evil’ laugh.
Tanny nodded nervously, and shot Aceliane a suspicious glance.
“Don’t worry, I won’t eat you. Come on, let’s go,” said Aceliane, grabbing Tanny’s wing and dragging her out the door, but not before she quickly picked up all the food with her claws and devoured it.
They found themselves in a little yard, with a large tree in the middle. To their left was a large room with open windows, and as they listened carefully, they found out that the other Skeiths were playing a game of Cheat. Luckily, they were so loud they apparently did not hear anything that happened with the prisoners.
“Their windows are wide open,” whispered Tanny. “Maybe we should hide in the tree, considering you can’t fly...”
“And what, hope they eventually all leave? What are the chances of that?” replied Aceliane. “I say we should just take a risk and run past here.”
“Well...” began Tanny, but saw there actually wasn’t really a lot to do. Nodding, Aceliane took off her shoes, and they ran silently across the yard. However, luck was not on their side – one of the Skeiths, who was bored and conveniently looking out the window just at that moment, saw them.
“Hey, them!” he said, interrupting the game and pointing.
“Don’t interrupt our game!” replied his friends rudely.
“No, the prisoners!” he said again, gesturing wildly. At once, all the Skeiths jumped up and gave chase. They made the ground rumble so much that Tanny and Aceliane could almost feel the Neopets chasing them.
“Oh, that wasn’t too lucky, was it?” Aceliane said lightly, increasing her speed. Tanny tried to catch up, but ended up half-dragged along. In a few minutes, she was almost flying like a kite behind the Acara.
How amusing it would be for little kids, thought Tanny irritably. What might they say? Oh, probably something along the lines of, “Hey, mummy, I want a kite just like that one!”
They had a good start to the chase, except the rest of the bad luck came when Aceliane tripped on a rock and twisted her ankle badly. They stared at the oncoming Skeiths, and then at the two paths they could take – one into the trees, or the other over the waterfall. Aceliane liked neither of them, and tugged Tanny’s wing urgently.
“You go first! One of us has to leave, or else it would have all been for nothing.”
Tanny turned to go, but then stopped and returned to Aceliane’s side. Against the Acara’s will, she was roughly pulled onto the Pteri’s back. Then, Tanny began running at the edge of the cliff.
“Are you CRAZY?!” screamed Aceliane in shock as the edge came closer and closer. “I meant it as in we should escape and stay alive!”
“Don’t you worry,” replied Tanny reassuringly as she jumped. Not that the Acara was reassured at all. In fact, she became even more frightened, and her strong grip on Tanny’s back feathers caused more pain than before.
An ear-piercing scream rang through the peaceful air of Shenkuu. They dropped for a while, but soon, Tanny began flapping her wings powerfully. Slowly, they began rising again. With a little more effort, Tanny turned a little to the east, and straightened her wings, intending to glide down to town.
“Oh, you can fly, can’t you,” commented Aceliane sullenly. “I forgot. Well, look, now we’re safe!”
“What?” The Acara looked down. “Yes, maybe it would be a little painful if we did fall...”
Tanny pointed backwards with a little difficulty. Aceliane looked in that direction, and gasped at what she saw. The Pteri continued.
“You see, contrary to your belief, Skeiths can actually fly.”
The Acara pursed her lips. “And unfortunately, far better than you do.”
To be continued...