Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 180,846,367 Issue: 386 | 3rd day of Eating, Y11
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New World: Part Three


by kirednb

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I ran my hands under the tap. I was still mystified with what Runner deemed plumbing.

     After dinner I would be telling everything to Oathkeeper. I was betting on the fact that his name meant he was trustworthy. I didn’t want the kind people who took me into their family to be affected adversely by my preplanned fate.

      I was feeling a little better now, and my second pair of ears perked up again. As I stared in my reflection in the mirror over the sink I pondered my fate. Obviously I was bound by the ancient prophecy to ‘bring back the life to the land’ but how does one go about doing that? Did it have something to do with this life orb? What about the ‘cost will be dear’ part, and the all the missing and unknown parts?

      I closed my eyes and put my weight into my hands, balanced on the edge of the sink. When would it become clear?

      I hoped Oathkeeper had some insight. He seemed to be the wisest pet in the house, though Looker was probably the most intelligent.

      “Dinner’s ready!” Kris called down the stairs. I turned the knob and the flow of water was cut off. The others already trampled back up the stairs, raring to eat. (Probably famished from the game.) I thought about the last time I ate and my stomach rumbled too. Not wanting to hold up the meal, and also very hungry, I followed suit.

      All the seats at the circular table were taken but one. I guess I was eating next to Runner and Kris. I hoped Runner didn’t eat as sloppily as he looked.

      The others all still wore their ‘practicing clothes’. They explained to me, “We wear them when fighting because they don’t hinder our movements.” Oathkeeper nodded.

      “They're comfy too!” Runner added, spraying me with bread crumbs. “Sorr--”

      “They’re inexpensive to buy if they need to be replaced, and I don’t have to wash them,” Kris added in.

      “They make me feel like a HERO!” Runner very nearly yelled, throwing up his arms and promptly knocking over the milk jug.

      “Yes, and you should have changed out of them when I asked you to wash up,” teased Kris lovingly, wiping up the spilt milk with a large wad of napkins.

      It was a pleasant meal that was over too soon. I volunteered to help Oathkeeper clean the dishes afterwards.

      “The things... I’m about to tell you...” I began awkwardly once we cleared the table and the room was vacated. I kept my eyes focused on the plate I was scrubbing. “...may seem a little weird, but are true. You should also keep them a secret from your brothers. I.... You know how Kris told you she found me in the tunnels?”

      “Yes,” Oathkeeper said quietly, keeping his light green eyes on the glass he was drying.

      “That was only a half-truth... I did come from the tunnels, but I came to be in them only,” I said the rest of the words in a rush, “after-I-went-through-portal-my-world.”

      “Sorry, what was that?”

      I took a deep breath and tried again. “I came to be in them after I went through a portal connecting your world to mine.”

      Oathkeeper gave no reaction, but set the glass he was drying down.

      “Like Altador?” he said, finally taking the plate I handed him to dry.

      “Um, sure,” I said, not sure exactly what an Altador was. “I went through the portal in the first place because of a prophecy.” So far he was taking this very well. How many secrets could someone take in one day?

      “The war will tear the land apart, Leaving one left forced to depart, To a world afar he will travel; And bring back life to the land. The cost will be dear but he.... The rest is unknown. But we do know I’m the one.” I summarized, leaving some words out.

      Oathkeeper stayed silent for a while and then he finally looked up at me. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, setting the now dry plate on the counter. He elaborated, “From the way your prophecy sounds, there was a war, and you are the only survivor.”

      “There may be others...” I said, unbelieving.

      “How do you intend on bringing the life back?” Oathkeeper continued, tactfully skating over my ill-fated belief.

      “Well, today I had an, er, vision about that. During the game I saw myself back at home. A voice told me... to bring back the life I would have to find the life orb.”

      “Life Orb? What’s that?”

      “I thought you would know,” I said, my ears drooping.

      “I’m sorry, but I don’t--” Oathkeeper dropped his newest plate into the sink with a plop.

      “You’re going to have to dry it aga--” I began to joke, but Oathkeeper cut me off with a wave of his hand.

      “What was that?” Without waiting for an answer, Oathkeeper grabbed his cloak off the hook by the door, and dragged me outside with him.

      *

      My eyes swiveled around the white landscape, gray in the moonlight, looking for what I had seen before out the kitchen window. It was something walking towards the field, something dark...

      “Oathkeeper, what’s going on!?” Lari came to a stop and jerked his shirt sleeve out of my hand’s grasp.

      “There is.... There was something here. It was black... it looked like a shadow Uni or something.”

      Lari’s eyes flared and it was his turn to drag me. “Got more to explain...” he muttered, closing and locking the door behind us.

      “The war that destroyed my home was not fought with all mortals,” Lari began his nervousness gone. What was wrong? He fiddled with his cloak and said, “It was fought with pets like us... and things like them!” He spat, curling his lip.

      I was surprised by the venom in his voice. Lari was usually such a level headed person.

      “They came from the shadows; they’re monsters, creatures of the dark. They occur naturally in my world, but usually they kept to themselves. They would attack occasionally, but never before in a group so large. They have no reason to do so, so we thought someone found a way to control them.”

      “Who is their leader?” I asked, feeling like I should raise my hand.

      “We don’t know; probably a neopet, not a shadow.”

      I nodded.

      He continued, “At first it was only a few attacks on nearby towns, and then we found a pattern. They were slowly travelling in a line going east, towards us. After every attack they became stronger and their force larger.

      “Not much is known about these living shadows, so we had no way to stop them from regenerating. We were outnumbered and hopeless. But then hope came.” Lari’s eyes turned hard.

      “A sorceress in our village, Xomany Solarwind, had a ‘vision’ of me, walking through a portal, and she heard fragments of the prophecy I told you. She managed to piece together what she had, but parts are still missing.”

      There was a long awkward pause so I assumed he was finished and I could ask my questions. “So let me get this straight; your own shadows attacked you?”

      “Yes.”

      “And they are lead by a neopet?”

      “Probably.”

      “So what do you think the shadows are doing now that they succeeded in killing so many people?”

      “Who knows. There are more towns they haven’t demolished yet.”

      “So maybe this Life Orb will drive them out!” I said excitedly.

      In the shadows of a snowdrift a creature of the shadows smiled. He knew the Life Orb would not be helping their cause. The planted dream was a success; the prophesied one believed the Orb was the only thing that would save his people.

      *

      The dishes were finished in silence, and Oathkeeper was kind enough to lead me back to the tunnel with the room-caves.

      I picked a room two doors away from Runner’s and across the hall from Looker’s. It looked like all the other rooms minus the personal touches. It had the same generic bed, desk, lamp, and rug that covered most of the gray stone floor. There were no windows, being underground.

      I was finally feeling the effects of the battle that felt like it took place so long ago, not getting any sleep since then, travelling through the tunnels aimlessly until Kris found me, then going shopping with the eccentric lady, running around some more in the tunnels, and then fighting again.

      In short I was tired, exhausted really, and I was ready to drop. I barely pulled off my cloak and slipped off my shield before I fell in a heap on the bed. A thought crossed my mind, wondering if I would get any more prophetic dreams tonight, and then I was asleep.

      I woke up in the morning disappointed and sore. My lamp was still on, so I guess I forgot to turn it off before I went to sleep. I stretched with a groan and jumped out of bed. My knees shook as I tottered out of my room, leaving my cloak, but grabbing my shield and strapping it to my shoulder on instinct. I shut off the light and continued down the hallway.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» New World: Part One
» New World: Part Two
» New World: Part Four



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