Redemption: The Circle Closes
Cavillace, the mutant Draik, jumped to her feet when she heard her name being called from across the courtyard. She grabbed her haversack of healing potions and ran to the doorway of her room, nearly knocking over her sister Briccriu, the pea Chia, who was entering to fetch the Draik.
“What is it?” demanded Cavillace. “Who’s hurt?”
“Take it easy, Cav,” insisted the Chia. “It’s YourFlyness. She was apparently blasted by the Snowager. That was two days ago, and she hasn’t been conscious since.”
“Take it easy? But... but how did she get home if she’s not conscious?” asked the confused Draik.
In response, Briccriu pointed to a figure who was just disappearing into the woods, saying, “That Krawk says he found her, and before she passed out, YF asked him to bring her home, to you.”
Cavillace stared after the retreating figure, and although something about him seemed very familiar to the Draik, she shook her head to better focus on the task at hand. She turned back into the room to shove a few more items into her bag and then followed Briccriu to where their sister YourFlyness, the Darigan Buzz, lay pale and barely breathing.
“Is it very serious, Cav?” asked the Chia.
“I’ll know better when I take a closer look,” the Draik responded. Although Cavillace tried to maintain a composed façade, Briccriu noted her anxious gestures, and felt her own breath catch in her throat, an involuntary hiccup of panic.
Cavillace removed a Warm Green Blanket from her haversack, and wrapping the Buzz up in its soothing cocoon, said, “This just might be the worst case of Neomonia that I’ve ever seen.” With a scornful tone she added, “And all in the pursuit of treasure.”
The Draik laid her forehead against her sister’s abdomen, and focusing on the curative light within herself, Cavillace’s mind was transported back to when she first met this Buzz, this sister, the one who delivered her from her own solitary and miserable existence. ***
Once, Cavillace had lived a very different life than the one she now enjoyed with her sisters in the woods of Brightvale. Instead of belonging to a family, the mutant Draik had been kept as a gladiator in the Mystery Island Arena. Although pacific by nature, she had been forced to battle with the likes of the Ghost Lupe and the Lava Ghoul. She was taken on travelling expositions to other arenas where she was entered in contests against Meuka and the Black Pteri. Being well matched against such challengers, she often bested them. But when she discovered one evening that she was pledged to combat the Meerca Henchmen, Cavillace knew she had to make her escape. These brothers had a dreaded reputation that struck fear in the hearts of even the most intrepid warriors, and the Draik did not count herself among their dauntless ranks.
She lay on her straw bed that night and tried to calm her pounding heart, to listen for the stillness that would signal her opportunity for escape. Finally, the footsteps in the hallway abated and Cavillace eased herself to the floor and crept out of the arena’s dormitory. By the light of the moon alone, she found her way to the Lost City of Geraptiku, hid herself away in the Deserted Tomb, and pledged never to fight again.
The mutant Draik lived essentially alone in the tunnels of the tomb for many months until one day, a stranger entered.
“Hello!” called the stranger. The voice echoing through the chamber startled Cavillace into the shadows, where she pressed herself against the stone wall.
“I’m not here to hurt you,” called the voice again.
“Wh-what do you want?” answered Cavillace, knowing that hiding was hopeless since the intruder could no doubt hear her rasping breath. “Are you a bounty hunter?”
“No, no, no! I came here seeking treazzzzure, but I’m afraid all I have found are some skull-shaped berriezzzz.” The stranger chuckled, and then added, “Yourzzzz, I prezzzzume?”
“No, actually,” said Cavillace, easing herself slightly away from the wall to get a better look at the uninvited visitor with the buzzing voice. “Those belong to the Lizarks who share these catacombs with me.”
“Oh, I see. I’ll just leave them here. We should get going, then. We have a long journey ahead of us.”
“I-I-I don’t understand. You said you’re not a bounty hunter.”
Cavillace pressed back into the wall and squeezed shut her eyes, for she knew there was no escape. Suddenly, she felt a gentle breeze from pulsing wings against her skin and was compelled to open her eyes. She saw the kind face of a Darigan Buzz hovering in front of her, and in that face she detected compassion and goodwill.
“I am not a bounty hunter, but azzzz I said, I am a treazzzzure seeker. When I first came to this island, I vizzzzited the Mystic who foretold that the treazzzzure I sought would be found in the Dezzzzerted Tombzzzz. He also said something cryptic about being chased by Kyriizzzz. Ha ha. Now I see that you are the treazzzzure, and I want you to come back with me to Brightvale.”
Cavillace raised herself to her full height and tried to muster a frightening inflection.
“I will not be owned again. I will not battle for you or anyone.”
“Fiddlesticks! I’m afraid I’ve messed this up. Let me start over. I was drawn to this island by a mysterious and nameless force. I only knew that there was a treazzzzure beyond value that my heart would recognizzzze when I found it. And I have found it in you. I don’t want to own you; I am asking you to join me. We could be a family.”
“Family?” asked the Draik.
She stepped from the shadows and into the illumination of the stranger’s lantern.
“Do you not see my face?” Cavillace continued, “Where I come from mutants are hidden away until others need a laugh or, or, a thrill. ‘Look at the horrible mutant Draik, Mommy, isn’t she just awful?’ ‘Oh, yes love, you better eat your vegetables or else she’ll get you.’ What do you really want with someone who looks like me?”
The stranger drew nearer still.
“And do you not see my face? After I was expelled from the Darigan Citadel following the Battle for Meridell, I travelled all of Neopia, seeking only a place to belong. I was mistrusted everywhere, and eventually, my only meanzzz of support was to become a treazzzzure seeker. A mercenary. A loner. My heart pulled me here, and now that I’ve met you, I can feel that you complete me. I have long felt that I am meant to start the family that I have never known, and I know that you are the first piece of that puzzzzle. I have the phenomenal vizzzzion endowed to all of my species, and in you I see a shining beauty at your core; a power that could make you a masterful healer. Look into your own heart, and I know you will see the truth there.”
Cavillace did not need further prompting. When the Buzz had come so close, the Draik had felt as though a lamp had been lit deep within her and its warm glow was pulsing through her body. She had no option but to follow the stranger who had liberated this hidden force within her. The Draik held out her hand and said, “My name is Cavillace.”
“Wonderful! My name is YourFlyness, but it can be YF to family.”
Cavillace drifted in and out of sleep, memories of being rescued from loneliness by YourFlyness interrupted by a strangely insistent, recurring dream. In it, Queen Fyora, massive and forbidding, stood on the very peak of Terror Mountain, holding in her hands a balance scale. In one of the pans, Cavillace sat, weighing down her side of the scale, afraid of falling from her perch to the frozen wastelands below. In the other pan, Fyora placed an obscured being, and with this placement, the scales reached equilibrium. The satisfaction of being perfectly balanced was frustrated by Cavillace’s inability to unmask the identity of the one who sat opposite her, the one who brought the harmony. Whether the Draik verbalized or merely thought the confusion, Fyora magisterially gestured downward, toward the Ice Caves.
And so Cavillace drifted, fitful starts of memory and dream; the Island Arena... the balance scale... the Deserted Tomb... the obscured being... the Krawk disappearing into the woods after delivering YourFlyness... Fyora’s gesture...the Ice Caves...the Krawk...the Krawk who seemed so familiar...
Cavillace sat upright in the hard wooden chair beside YourFlyness’ bed in which she had fallen asleep; the wooden chair upon which she had kept vigil for nearly a week.
“The Krawk,” Cavillace muttered to herself excitedly. “I’ve dreamed of him before. That’s why I knew him. I must find him, and Fyora has shown me the way.”
At one time, GitchiManitou, the ghost Krawk, was at peace with a home in the Ice Caves and had learned to accept his cloistered way of living. A lack of visitors helped him forget that others disdained his companionship, and it was easy for him to believe that this was his preferred existence. Until, that is, he found YourFlyness. The Darigan Buzz had been visiting the Snowager on Terror Mountain when it fired at her, hitting her with an icy blast. GM found her where the Ice Worm had knocked her against a stalagmite of rock-hard ice, barely conscious and nearly frozen. Having an inexplicable attraction to the poor creature, he took this stranger into his home and attempted to nurse her back to health. When she was warmed enough to speak, through chattering mandibles she begged the Krawk to bring her home to her family in Brightvale. Before GM could protest, YourFlyness passed out, and the Krawk, contrary to all previous experience, felt he could not deny the obligation.
He carried the Buzz home to Brightvale, and from a hidden vantage in the woods, had watched as her family, with love and care, attempted to make her well. On his solitary journey back to his home in the Ice Caves, GitchiManitou meditated on the gifts that being a member of a family could bring, but also remembered how his own family had banished him in his youth. “If there are gifts,” he concluded bitterly, “there is also a price to pay. A price too dear for me to yield again.”
GM recommitted himself to his solitary existence but no longer felt at peace, and within days of returning to the Ice Caves, another stranger approached his frigid cavern.
Cavillace entered, introduced herself, and explained that Fyora had revealed GitchiManitou’s image to her in a dream, compelling her to find him.
“Only fools and children follow dreams,” countered the ghost Krawk.
“I am neither fool nor child,” retorted the Draik, “but I know that you are the one who brings balance. Join my clan and me in the woods of Brightvale. I assure you that all will be revealed in time.”
“What do you know? You do not know me,” said GM, and with a menacing growl added, “I have a core of darkness that separates me from all around me. Don’t be fooled by either my weakness in helping your Buzz friend or my glowing exterior. I am dark; a void; a pit.”
“Aha!” exclaimed Cavillace. “That just proves my point. If you are dark, then I am light. I have a luminosity at my core that can balance you.”
“But,” protested the Krawk, “I am a warrior. My only skills are with a club and sword.”
“Again, aha!” said Cavillace with mounting excitement. “If you can inflict pain, then I can heal it. It is balance. It is Fate.”
GitchiManitou’s head was reeling. He felt the same persistent pull from this mutant Draik that he had felt from the Darigan Buzz. Could this be his last chance for brotherhood? Could he dare to call it family?
Finally, with a note of resignation in his voice, he said, “I don’t know about balance and I certainly don’t know about Fate. I do know that something deep within me, a singularity within the abyss, is urging me to follow you. I... I don’t know if I can resist.”
The mutant Draik approached the Krawk, and when she laid a reassuring hand upon his shoulder, the faintest glow, like a single candle in the deepest cave, flickered to life at the seat of GitchiManitou’s dark essence.
Briccriu rubbed the Medicinal Soap into YF’s feverish skin like she had done every four hours, just as Cavillace had instructed her to do. The pea Chia worried that her sister’s condition was worsening the longer Cavillace was away. “Where are you?” Briccriu asked into the vault of the ceiling, and was startled to hear a response.
“Here, Bricc, and I have brought the one who will bring balance.”
The pea Chia spun toward the doorway and ran to hug Cavillace. Feeling her sister’s soothing embrace, Briccriu burst into tears of relief and began blubbering incoherently, but was jolted out of her hysteria when GitchiManitou drew closer to her. She suddenly felt dizzy, as though a realignment was occurring somewhere in her equilibrium. Cavillace steadied the Chia and motioned for GM to follow them to YourFlyness’ bedside.
The Chia, Draik and Krawk all laid their hands upon the Buzz, led by an instinct primordial and innate. As they did so, Briccriu, Cavillace and GM all had the sensation of the floor being pulled out beneath them, as though floating in a gravity-free vacuum, an experience outside of space and time. After an indeterminable period, the three felt themselves pulled back to the present; grim fingers of reality grabbing them from the ether and depositing them back at the intersection of their shared fates. A calm flooded their minds and they were overwhelmed by a shared sense of stasis, of harmony, of balance.
As Briccriu, Cavillace and GM meditated on the meaning of their experience, movement from the sickbed drew their attention. YourFlyness flickered her eyelids, blinked hard several times and began to speak with a voice gravelly from disuse.
“The... the treazzzzure,” managed the Buzz.
Cavillace leaned forward to respond. “You were blasted by the Snowager. You had to leave the treasure behind.”
YourFlyness shook her head slightly, and weakly raised an arm, pointing at GitchiManitou. “The treazzzzure of the Ice Caves. It’s... it’s family.”
Cavillace began to laugh, recognizing the truth of her sister’s words. She was overwhelmed with a sense of wholeness, fullness, and redemption. The completed circle of family. Looking at the Darigan Buzz, pea Chia and ghost Krawk who made up that family, the mutant Draik felt confident that, together, they could accomplish any task that Fate set before them.
Author’s Note: With this entry, the circle closes on the mythology of my family of pets. If you are interested in the rest of the epic, it begins with The Happiness Faerie's Tea Party in issue 348, continues in Redemption: Briccriu's Tale in issue 364, and concludes in the four part series Fools and Children beginning in issue 365. Thanks for reading!