Petpet Adventures: Reunited - Part Two
After a moment of studying her brother, Folfeux realised that he looked so much more different than she remembered. When she had first seen him, half her size larger than her with matted fur and battle scars, she had been terrified. But now the scars made him look defeated, and the fur made him look sad.
His eyes had changed too. They used to be bright and cunning, but now they looked duller. He stared at her, and she could tell he was studying her, even though he had had plenty of time while she was unconscious.
“You,” she spat, tensing her muscles.
“Hello, Folfeux,” he said, and she noticed his voice had lost the mocking edge it had when they had last met.
“Oh, are we being polite now?” Folfeux asked.
“It’s always best to be polite,” Malei said, and now his voice was mocking again.
“What do you want?” Folfeux demanded. She surveyed the room again. “And what did you do to Archilles?”
Malei took a moment before answering. “Archilles is fine...” He seemed to be thinking out his next answer carefully. “You know when we last met, Folfeux?”
Folfeux let the ghost of a smirk appear on her face. “You mean when I gave you that lovely scar?”
Malei shifted so that the side with the long scar was hidden from view. “And you told me that we were stolen from our parents?” he continued calmly.
Folfeux stared at him. “What about it?” she asked.
He gave a small ironic smile. “Well, you were right,” he said.
“Right about...?” Folfeux stopped. “Why are you telling me this?”
Malei moved toward her, and she determinedly stood her ground, though it was an effort. When he was less than half a metre away, he spoke.
“I told you because I thought you’d want to know that I’ve discovered where we taken from. It’s not far from where we are now, in Shenkuu.”
“You mean...” Folfeux finally gave in and backed away from the opposing Juma. “You mean our parents?” she whispered unbelievingly.
Malei nodded and sat down. Folfeux’s eyes flickered to the door, now unguarded.
“Where are all your minions?” she asked.
“Like who?” he asked, surprised.
“Like Zariam,” Folfeux said. “Someone spotted you and Zariam together yesterday.”
Malei gave a weak smile and shook his head slowly. “That couldn’t have been me. Ever since my last job – which of course failed, thanks to you – all the petpets that used to work for me left. I’ve been living it rough in the mountains. And then I found out that our parents live right here, in the city of Shenkuu.”
“So you came here and told me?” Folfeux finished for him. “Why?”
He gave her a sad look. “Because I’m sick of running away. I just want to find our parents and live in peace.”
Folfeux gave him an incredulous look.
“Listen, since you told me that we might have been stolen, it’s been gnawing away at me, and after the first few weeks I had to find out the truth. I thought you’d want to come with me to look for them.”
“You want me to help you?” Folfeux’s voice was disbelieving.
Malei stood up slowly, then stepped to the side, leaving the door straight in front of her if she had tried to bolt for it.
“I want you to. But I can hardly make you. Dragging you through the streets of Shenkuu when I’m a fugitive would hardly be inconspicuous. You can leave whenever you want.”
Folfeux took a few steps toward the door, but Malei made no move to stop her. So she stopped of her own accord. Despite herself, she gave a wry smile.
“You knew I wouldn’t be able to throw away this chance,” she said at last.
Malei just looked at her.
“I could turn you in now,” Folfeux added, taking another few steps.
“You could,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Her eyes narrowed in annoyance. “You expect Kiya to just let you live, what was it? ‘In peace?’ Are you crazy?”
Malei considered the question with a thoughtful look. “Yes. But I’m going to find them with or without you.”
Folfeux took a deep breath and began to pace, but the answer was already there, waiting for her to voice it.
“Fine,” she snapped. “When do we leave?”
“Whenever you’re ready,” Malei replied, and he lay down with his eyes half closed.
Folfeux took the last few steps to the door and found herself somewhere along the beach, with the port in the distance. She wondered whether Archilles was looking for her, then smiled. Of course he was looking for her. But if she told him about trying to find her parents, there would be a whole heap of explanations she didn’t want to have to explain.
She returned to the house and saw Malei still dozing in the corner.
“I’m ready,” she said. “I hope you’ve got some sort of supplies.”
He opened one eye. “Of course. I’ll carry them.”
He returned a few minutes later with some strange pet bag thing, which looked full. It fit quite well on his broad back.
“Lead the way,” Folfeux said.
She watched her brother easing himself through the doorway and wondered why on Neopia she was trusting him. The only reason she could think of was they were related, but was that valid at all, seeing as he had chased her out of her own home when they had first met? He had known back then. She frowned and caught up to him, closing the large empty gap.
“How long will it take?” she asked.
He shrugged, and the bag shifted uncomfortably. “I would take a day usually, because it’s mostly downhill. But you know,” a touch of sarcasm entered his voice, “with me being a fugitive and all, we’ll have to take some dark, hidden way.”
His tone annoyed Folfeux. “It’s not my fault you’re a fugitive. You built up your own reputation when you first started working with those horrible pets. You even learned their language so you could plan those little schemes of yours.”
“You can speak pet as well,” Malei said, looking sideways at her.
Folfeux frowned. There was nothing snappy she could say to that. They continued in silence for a long while.
Slowly she began to lag behind Malei, so that she could see him clearly. They were keeping to the low shrubs next to the beach, but she still managed to get sand streaked in her fur. She could see a few pets in the distance, and her instinct as a stray kept her as close to cover as she could get.
There were also a few petpets. She considered finding Kiya and turning Malei over, but then she realised there would be no way for her to find her parents if she did that. Unless...
“How did you find out about our parents?” she asked Malei.
He looked back at her, then slowed his pace so that they were even again.
“I have my contacts,” he said, then his voice became a growl. “Or I had them. It took me ages to find a pet who knew, and then even longer to convince him to tell me.”
Folfeux had a faint inkling that he hadn’t found out by asking nicely and dropped the subject.
“So how long now?” she asked. They had been trekking for well over an hour.
He gave a sly grin. “Oh, a very, very long time.” He smirked.
Folfeux wondered if all siblings were this annoying.
It was dusk by the time they had entered the actual streets of the city of Shenkuu. Folfeux was used to staying inconspicuous, but she had never skirted so much before. It took a lot more effort than she would have thought.
It was getting much cooler now, and she shivered, wondering for the umpteenth time when they would get there.
It had occurred to her that she might be walking into a trap. Sadeth had mentioned Zariam, Malei’s right-paw petpet, being seen with a Juma.
But then again, she could have been ambushed back on the docks. It didn’t make any sense. Maybe Malei was being sincere.
But she didn’t really know him at all, so why shouldn’t she at least give him some trust for now?
Something made her uneasy.
Or maybe it was because the sun was gone and the world had been slowly darkening. She forced herself to catch up to Malei so that she wouldn’t have to be alone on the unfamiliar streets.
“So why didn’t you ever try and visit them yourselves?” Folfeux asked Malei.
She didn’t specify who they were, but she figured that Malei would work it out. Which he did.
He shrugged, and the heavy bag he was wearing began to slide down one side of his back. He shrugged it back into place, looking decidedly nervous.
“I didn’t want to face them alone,” he whispered. “What if they didn’t remember me?”
“So bringing me along is so much more reassuring?” Folfeux asked incredulously.
He was silent for several long moments.
Then he stopped and faced a house.
It was very typical, with the terracotta roof and the wooden walls. But the garden was much bigger than her old neohome, with a few well-grown trees at the edges of the yard. She focused her attention on the house again, and felt a pang of disappointment as she noticed the lack of lights in the windows.
Beside her, Malei was gazing at the house with a puzzled expression.
Folfeux ignored him, leapt over the inadequate hedge that bordered the garden, and strode up to one of the window ledges, leaping lightly up onto the sill and pressing her ear against the glass.
No sound came from within. There was no movement.
She moved to the next window, then the next, until finally all the windows had been exhausted. She knew that there was something wrong with this and sprang back onto the grass, noticing that it was quite prickly.
Malei was still staring at the house, and she rounded on him.
“You lied,” she hissed through bared teeth. “There’s no one here. Why don’t you just put your little trap into action now and be done with it?”
Her whole body was tensed to fight, and all her senses were hyperalert for any movement, but Malei just stared blankly at her.
“But there is no trap,” he said quietly. “I came here once before I found you, and I saw them. I saw our parents.”
“Then where are they?” Folfeux demanded angrily.
Malei blinked slowly, once. “I have no idea.”
To be continued...