Secret of Silver Crest: Part Five
“Give me the medallion,” Tiran said, holding out a paw hurriedly. The Snowager didn’t look like it could hold out much longer. Wordlessly, Lyara complied, slipping the silver chain over her neck and handing it to him.
Despite the urgency of the situation, he couldn’t help turning it over in his hands and inspecting it carefully, hopefully for the last time. The face of the monster within the design was obvious now, and he couldn’t help but wonder how he had ever missed it. It snarled at him with a fury that almost matched that of the real monster’s, as if it knew who he was and hated him for it. Tearing his eyes away, he covered the figure with his paw, then strode quickly towards the flat stone with runes, hunching against the snow and wind, with Lyara hopping at his heels.
It was simple, really. In his panic, he’d overlooked the best solution to the situation, one that Lyara’s aunt had mentioned, but he’d never taken into account. The original Bori – his ultimate great-grandfather – had been offered three choices. Let the monster run loose, give up one of his relatives to it every generation or so – or give up all he had gained, in exchange for banishing the monster for good. Though his family might look at it differently, for Tiran, the choice was simple. Since the medallion was supposedly the symbol of the deal, all Tiran had to do was break it at the place of the summoning in order to revoke the deal.
He hoped so, anyway. If not, they were in for a world of trouble.
The pendant grew hot in his paws as he walked towards the stone, starting to vibrate and hum as he walked forwards. He set it down on the flat stone with a feeling of relief, quickly cut off as the monster roared, as if in pain or anger and started to run towards him, only to be blocked by the Snowager once again, who scored a hit with its fangs on the monster’s flank. The monster roared, throwing itself full force into the fight once more.
“What are you doing?” screeched his mother from across the plateau, but Tiran ignored her, turning back to the stone and the pendant. Now that he was here, he realized that he had no idea how he would go about breaking the thing. He still had his dagger, but it was nowhere near strong enough to cut metal, much less enchanted metal. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of light come from the direction of his family, the beginnings of a spell quickly cut off. They knew better than to use magic on him now, afraid of hitting the monster and turning their wrath onto them, but he knew it wouldn’t be long before they decided it was worth the risk. He had to act.
Picking up the medallion – already hot enough to burn, he struck it against the obsidian stones of the table, rhythmically and powerfully, the way he would strike a hammer at the forge.
The monster roared again, this time with more pain than anger, stumbling back a few steps under the onslaught of the Snowager’s renewed attacks. But it was by no means beaten. The medallion itself looked a little battered, but nowhere near broken, and Tiran snarled with frustration and bafflement, wondering if the thing could be broken at all.
Hearing a whistling noise, Tiran glanced behind him, ducking just in time to avoid a clear jellylike substance that whirred over his head to splash on the ground ahead of him. His family had clearly decided that stopping whatever he was doing was worth the risk of throwing spells at him. It was disturbing that the thought of his own flesh and blood trying to kill him again only irritated instead of upsetting him. Any family feeling had been completely eradicated by the events of the last two days.
Tiran stopped short. Flesh and blood. If blood was what tied him to his parents, it was what tied him to the original Bori as well – and maybe that was what he was missing. Slowly, he turned his attention back to the medallion, sitting precariously on the edge stone slab as if it could shake itself off and escape somehow.
“I don’t think so,” Tiran muttered, pushing it back to the center of the rock. It leered at him scornfully, but the Bori ignored it.
“My ancestor made a deal here once,” he said, looking at the face within the medallion, his voice resounding in the sudden stillness. “He brought this monster into the world in exchange for wealth and power. I’m here to undo his mistake. Take back what you gave, and return this creature to the place from which it came. By my heritage and by my blood, I revoke the deal.” With a swift gesture, he drew his dagger, slicing his paw lightly. A few drops of blood welled up, falling on the medallion.
With a tinny screaming noise, the pendant twisted and writhed, the silver melting and bubbling, the obsidian designs sliding off like cheap paint in a rainstorm. This was quickly drowned out by another howl from the monster, echoing off the stones of the plateau, as the shadows that held it together unraveled like worn threads. Its red eyes still glowed with fury, however, and it started towards Tiran and Lyara, intent on one last futile act of revenge.
But the Snowager, finally sensing weakness, sank its jaws into the monster and pulled it back with renewed strength. With a shake of its powerful head, the Snowager flung its foe into the air, and the monster simply dissolved, as insubstantial as the shadows from which it was made. A furious snarl rent the air, like clawed tentacles in the darkness, before fading away as well, leaving only the snow and the daylight.
There was a moment of stunned silence. Then the Snowager threw its head back and roared in triumph, king of the mountain once more. Around it, the storm gently abated, the wind dying down, and the snow drifting into flurries.
Tiran smiled with relief, leaning against the stone slab for support. It crumbled at the touch of his paw, its power spent, until nothing was left but a pile of gray dust and rubble. Tiran sat down in the snow instead, his brain still unable to grasp the fact that it had actually worked, that they had actually won.
He noticed Lyara sitting a couple feet away, staring at him oddly. He grinned at her. “What?”
“You look... different.”
Tiran blinked. “How?”
The Cybunny shook her head. “I don’t know. It’s not anything obvious or anything. You just look... friendlier, or something. I mean, the first time I saw you, I was scared that you’d be one of those pets that would yell all the time, and always give orders, and I was really happy when you weren’t. But I wouldn’t have thought that if I just met you now.”
“An automatic air of authority must have been one of my family’s gifts; but I guess that went away when I revoked the deal.” He fingered his purse, only a little lighter. “Looks like whatever it was only took back the original gold as well, not what we’ve accumulated since then.”
Suddenly reminded, Tiran jumped to his feet, glancing around as he did. He had completely forgotten about his family in the excitement – and he doubted they would be pleased.
They stood where they had been before, looking dazed, but more importantly, looking like an ordinary group of Boris. His mother was no longer so beautiful, his uncle so impressive, his cousin so handsome. In essence, they were returned to what they would have been without the monster’s gifts. And they did not look happy.
His uncle spotted him first. “How dare you?” he roared, his face a mask of fury. He started to walk forward – but clearly had forgotten the Snowager, who still lay coiled in the area between them. It gave him a wide Snowager-brand grin, exposing all of its fangs in the process, and Tiran’s uncle stumbled backwards, pasty beneath his fur. Hesitantly, one of the Boris in back turned and headed towards the caves again, and the rest quickly followed suit.
His uncle turned at the mouth of the cave, his eyes meeting Tiran’s. “This isn’t over,” he threatened, his voice carrying impressively across the plateau.
Tiran shook his head. “I think it is,” he said, but not loud enough for his uncle to hear. Slowly, his uncle left as well, fading into the darkness of the cave. Tiran stared after him for a long time, savoring the odd sense of freedom he felt, finally freed from the constraints of a family with whom he had never fit in. The world had never seemed more open, the possibilities more endless.
But first things came first.
He headed towards the Snowager, who was uncoiling itself painfully, clearly ready for a long rest.
“Thank you,” he said simply, touching its icy hide gingerly. “You saved our lives so many times, I don’t think I can ever pay you back. I’ve never seen anyone more brave.”
The Snowager actually ducked its head as if embarrassed, giving him a half smile before gliding away silently, back into the cave mouth.
Tiran watched it go as well, then turned back to Lyara, who was looking at him expectantly. “Still want to come with me?” he asked.
“Yes!” she said enthusiastically, her eyes lighting up.
He sighed. “I was afraid of that. Listen, we need to go back to your home – No, listen to what I have to say – ” he said, as she opened her mouth to argue. “We need to go to your home first and tell your parents where you are, and get their permission for you to come with me – wherever it is I’m going. We’ll try a month or so. Afterwards, you’ll have to go home for a while, but if it works out well, you can come with me again. Deal?”
Lyara looked reluctant for a moment, then smiled. “Deal!” She held out her tiny paw, and Tiran shook it with a wry grin, wondering how he had been outsmarted by such a small Cybunny.
The moment they finished the handshake, Lyara bounded away, looking back at him with scarcely concealed impatience.
“Are you coming or what?” she demanded. “Neopia’s a big place, and we gotta be quick if we want to cover it all in one month...”