Flying High: Part Six
It was 11.30pm. The entire crew were standing on the bow, holding their breath as the Sweet Fyora sailed closer and closer to Faerieland.
Fortunately, Faerieland always floated above the clouds and the ship was currently below them. If everything went according to plan, they could get right up to the Faerie Palace without too much risk of being seen. Then, at Captain Bugsy’s command, they would take one of the ship’s flying lifeboats and go up through the clouds to the palace. Once Bugsy and the crew were inside, they would split up and search the entire castle for Fyora. Only when she was safely on board would they commence attack on the castle itself.
Captain Bugsypal9 stood up straight and tall on the bow, at the front of her crew. The rest were all standing just behind her, looking equally as confident. Only one person was showing a hint of nervousness: Pteri. As Faerieland swept closer, Pteri started to sweat. Five minutes later, he was shaking slightly. Captain Bugsy sighed heavily. She turned to Pteri.
“Are you alright?” asked Bugsy.
Pteri suddenly gave out a horrible yell and covered his eyes with his wing, pointing at something behind Bugsy with the other one.
Bugsy turned around and saw very clearly ‘what’. A cloud had shifted in the night sky, revealing Faerieland right before all of their eyes.
It was just how Buckbeak and Pteri had described it! Dark and shadowy-looking; evil bursting out from every nook and cranny. It looked just like a picture of the Darigan Citadel that Bugsy had seen once, only crossed with Faerieland and much uglier!
“Whoa!” gasped Shadow.
“And to think, we’re actually going inside that place,” added ZoshiDevil.
At these words, Pteri started showing signs of extreme nerve. He kept fiddling about, flapping his wings, shaking his head and muttering “No! No! No!” under his breath. Bugsy sighed heavily and turned to face him again.
“If you want to leave, I won’t stop you,” she said.
Pteri stopped shaking. “You... really mean it?” he stammered.
“No, captain!” piped up Nikolikan. “He’s a pirate! Are you aware of what could happen if you release him?! He could go and get his pirate buddies and come back to finish us off!”
“I know,” replied Bugsy, “but we’ve got bigger problems now. Besides, why make him come with us if he doesn’t think he can take it?”
“Oh thank you, thank you!” squeaked Pteri, as he took off and hovered about a metre off the ground. “I won’t forget this, ever!” And with that, he turned and flew away in the opposite direction to which the Sweet Fyora was headed. The crew watched him go, until finally Bugsy ordered, “Prepare the lifeboats! We’re going in.”
Bugsy and her crew kept silent as possible as they crept towards the Faerie Palace, carrying sacks containing all their equipment: weapons, defence methods and a number of other handy little items. There was a big lump of cloud ahead of them so they crept toward that and hid behind it, allowing them to observe the palace in all its.....well, horror.
As Bugsy had expected, the entrance was highly guarded. The whole palace was surrounded by small groups of armoured guards, slowly marching in circles around it. There was no other way in.
“Now what?” whispered Nikolikan to Bugsy.
“I don’t know,” whispered Bugsy. “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”
Bugsy scanned the entranceway. The great wooden front doors were wide open and the drawbridge was down. They could try... No, it wouldn’t work. The groups of guards passing the entranceway were too frequent. They would be seen even before they’d taken one step onto the drawbridge if they just tried to rush in.
Suddenly, Bugsy spied a group of five soldiers marching along down by the moat, towards a corner of the palace. They looked as though they were going to turn around the corner, where they wouldn’t be seen easily....
Bugsy smiled. “Follow me,” she whispered, gesturing to the others. “I have an idea.”
At exactly 12:00 midnight, all of the guards lined up in front of the drawbridge, their shifts over for the night. After their commander had seen that they were all there, they started to march across the drawbridge and into the palace. The door shut behind them.
Having entered the palace, they proceeded across the entrance hall down into one of the many side corridors. Just as they were about to turn a corner, the five guards at the back of the line broke off from the main group. They doubled back into the entrance hall and huddled up against a wall.
“Good work, team!” whispered the tall, upright one. It reached up and removed it’s helmet, revealing Bugsypal9’s head underneath. The other four guards took off their helmets, revealing Buckbeak, Shadow, Nikolikan and ZoshiDevil’s faces.
Bugsy smiled. Phase 1 of the plan had been successfully completed, now for Phase 2. She just hoped nobody would find the five real guards lying comatose in the moat without their armour, until they’d finished their mission.
“My!” gasped Buckbeak. “I always knew this place was big, but I had never imagined it to be this big! How are we supposed to find Fyora in this place?”
“This is where we split up,” whispered Bugsy. “Buckbeak, ZoshiDevil, you two go up the stairs to the left. Shadow and Nikolikan, the same to the right,” she instructed, pointing.
“What about you, captain?” whispered Shadow.
“I’ll be heading down there,” replied Bugsy, indicating another corridor across the hall. “Now then, do you all have your wrist-sets?”
The four of them all raised one arm, showing four identical bands on their wrists, each with two buttons on them. Bugsy was wearing one too on her wrist.
“Good,” whispered Bugsy. “If any of you find Fyora, press the green button on your wrist-sets and then try and get back here A.S.A.P. with her. All the other wrist-sets will display a green light; as soon as you see it, it means the mission is accomplished and that you should try and get back here too so we can start the attack. If any of you get in trouble, push the red button. It’ll display a red light on our wrist-sets and we’ll all come and find you. Any questions?”
The pets remained silent.
“O.K.” said Bugsy, “Good luck, and move out!”
The three teams separated and set out on their pre-chosen paths. The four pets headed up the stairs and split into the different directions. Bugsy darted across the hall and down the corridor she’d pointed out. She just hoped it wouldn’t be too long before Fyora was found. She was starting to feel edgy again.
Ten minutes later, Bugsy was regretting her decision to venture forth alone. She had taken a flaming torch from a bracket she’d found earlier on the wall, but all that did was just make the shadows on the walls and floors longer and more creepy.
Uh oh! She was coming up to a corner. Hugging the wall as close as she could, Bugsy slipped an ordinary mirror out of her bag and held it up so she could see around the corner. She saw two guards standing against a small wooden door. Both guards were heavily armed with the nastiest looking spears Bugsy had ever seen.
Bugsy thought hard, trying not to panic. She looked behind her and saw an ordinary blue vase on a single shelf on the wall. Aha! Bugsy reached down and pulled a Faerie Slingshot and a bag of acorns out of her pocket. Taking care not to make any noise, she inserted an acorn into the Slingshot and flung it hard at the shelf. It hit right on target! The shelving supports were knocked off balance, the shelf broke and the vase crashed to the ground. SMASH!!
Almost instantly, Bugsy heard the sound of people rushing towards her. Forgetting she still had her guard’s armour on, she shrank into the shadows, leaving her foot exposed. Sure enough, the guards came pelting around the corner, and just as Bugsy had planned, one of them tripped over her outstretched foot. A bunch of keys flew out of his pocket and slid into a corner, but neither of them seemed to notice.
“Watch your feet, you big oaf!” snapped the standing guard.
“It wasn’t me,” replied the one that had tripped, “it was –” But Bugsy had already pulled her foot back in.
“Come on, you idiot! Get up, we’re wasting time! The intruder might have already gotten away!” shouted the first guard. He pulled his partner up and the two of them continued running up the corridor.
“Thank you, gentlemen,” said Bugsy to herself, as she walked over to where the keys were and picked them up, “you’ve helped a noble cause.”
Getting more confident now that there were no guards around, Bugsy continued down the corridor and around the corner. She was amazed by what she saw! Several small wooden doors, each with a tiny, barred window cut into it.
Bugsy crept over to one of the doors and looked through the window. She couldn’t believe her eyes! The door led into a small room, packed with faeries! They were all chained together by their wrists and ankles, and were all wearing the same gloomy expression on their faces.
It didn’t take Bugsy long to figure out where she was; the dungeon, the place where all of the captured faeries were being held. No wonder there had been guards posted here, but why that particular door?
Bugsy crept over to the door the guards had been protecting and looked through the window. There was only one faerie in here, sitting sadly on the floor and chained to the wall. The faerie was almost unrecognisable. All the colour had faded from her hair and clothes, and her wings had slightly shrivelled and turned grey at the tips. But Bugsy could recognise that sky-blue tiara anywhere! Fyora!
Quick as a flash, Bugsy pressed the green button on the wrist-set, then took the keys from her pocket, found the correct one and stuffed it into the keyhole. The door unlocked and swung open easily. Bugsy put the keys back into her pocket and burst into the room.
“You’re a little tall for a guard,” remarked Fyora miserably, the instant she saw Bugsy.
“What?” asked Bugsy. Then she remembered. “Oh yeah, the armour,” she said, and she removed her helmet.
Fyora sat stunned at the sight of her. “...Captain Bugsypal9?!” she stammered. “But... you... I thought you were-“
“Shush!” hissed Bugsy, putting a finger to her lips. She glanced over her own shoulder at the door, just to make sure there was nobody there. She then rushed over to Fyora, took the keys from her pocket and began to unlock Fyora’s chains. “No time to explain,” she continued. “Let’s just get you on board the Sweet Fyora. We’ll release the other faeries later.”
“O.K.!” replied Fyora. Some of the colour was returning to her hair. “But... Jhudora. She’s taken my-”
“I know,” interrupted Bugsy. “We can see to that later.” There was a small click as the last chain fell off Fyora’s ankle. “Come on, your highness,” said Bugsy, “Let’s get you out of this smother... as soon as I’ve gotten all this junk off.”
After changing back into her normal captain’s uniform, Bugsy helped Fyora to her feet and the two of them crept out of the cell, along the corridor and back up to the entrance hall. The others weren’t there yet, but the big wooden front doors were open. A new patrol of guards must have gone out earlier, Bugsy thought as she and Fyora ran towards the doors.
Suddenly, when Bugsy and Fyora were just a few metres away, the big doors began to close! The pair of them started to run faster and faster. Not fast enough, though! The doors slammed shut just as Fyora and her rescuer reached it.
“Come on! Open up! Open up!” cried Bugsy, hammering on the big door and pushing with all her might. But the door simply would not open.
And then... there came a voice from right behind them. A voice to chill the bone marrow. A voice to make you quiver with every syllable. A voice....like an evil, witchy cackle.
“....Leaving so soon? I wouldn’t hear of it.”
To be continued...