After the Altador Cup: Part Two
Mirsha couldn’t think of a reply as he ordered Nitri to follow Garven and Vonde inside. Foltaggio and Xana, who watched the event quietly from the side of the balcony, headed over to the two Yooyuball captains. “Did we just kidnap Vonde Cayle?” Foltaggio asked, rather surprised.
“If yer meanin’ to take someone away by force, than aye, yer right,” Dasher responded like it wasn’t a big deal. “And technically, all of us didn’t kidnap him. That’d be just me and Garven.”
Mirsha rubbed her temples in frustration and Foltaggio sighed. “Still...”
“Oooh...” Xana whined and covered her face with her pink paws. “All of us are going to be in huge trouble...”
“Nah, ye Shenkuu warriors ain’t gotta take the blame,” Garven said gruffly as he came back outside. “Me and Soley are gonna take the glory of holdin’ Cayle hostage.”
“Where’s Vonde?” Mirsha demanded.
The Krawk Island goalkeeper waved his paw over his shoulder. “Nitri’s guardin’ the closet we shoved ‘im in. Why do we need that Wocky anyway, Cap’n?”
“He’ll help us find the treasure,” Dasher said. “And besides, it’s fun to annoy ‘im.”
Trying to remain elusive around Altador was deemed impossible if you were one of the most recognized Yooyuball players in Altador Cup history. However, there were so few tourists still lingering around the city that just standing outside their hotel without being bombarded for autographs surprised the players. The Shenkuuvians, however, did not accompany Dasher, Garven, Nitri, and Vonde. They reminded everyone of their stealth abilities and insisted to the rest that the three would not get caught, and that they would be at the barrier before the others. Dasher was going to protest, but naturally, Nitri claimed that that was possible before the Krawk had any say.
“But Cap’n,” Garven hissed as Mirsha, Foltaggio, and Xana ran the opposite direction. “Why in Neopia do we need-” He pushed Vonde forward, still gripping the back of his collar. “-him to help us find the treasure?”
Dasher stared long and hard at the Wocky, then back at his teammate. “For very good reason, Garven. Cayle, do you know ‘bout the lost Treasure of Altador?”
There was a brief moment of silence. “Hm? What are you talking about?” Vonde scratched his head. “I never heard about any treasure...”
“Enough of the lyin’.” Dasher whipped the rolled up map out of his back pocket and handed it to him. “Does this look familiar to ya, mate?”
Vonde unrolled the aged paper and became instantly flabbergasted after glancing at it for a mere second. “But... but... this is...”
“Yer map? We ain’t pirates for nothin’. I can steal anything ye ask for,” Dasher boasted proudly.
“Cap’n, we don’t understand...” Nitri murmured, and Garven shook his head in disbelief.
“Simple. At the beginning of the Altador Cup, I saw this here map stickin’ out of Cayle’s luggage. So I took it. Pretty easy, eh? But what were ye doin‘ with such a map, Cayle?”
“Oh, all right,” he surrendered. “My uncle is an avid treasure hunter and asked me to look for the Treasure of Altador when I arrived here for Yooyuball season. I just never had the time since I was training, and I thought that it was all a big hoax, anyways.”
“The map never lies!” Dasher snatched it back from Vonde and whacked him in the head with it.
“Ow! Dasher! What was that for?” Vonde winced. “And right, of course it doesn’t lie. A piece of paper would never lie, let alone talk. Oh, and by the way, how long am I going to be abducted by you pirates?”
“Until we find the treasure.” Dasher motioned for everyone to follow him. “And Cayle, if anyone asks what yer doin’ with us, say ye felt like a stroll with yer best friends.”
They snuck by ancient architecture, caravans selling goods, the Hall of Heroes, and many more landmarks that Dasher could care less about, all under the beating Altador sun. A few spectators admired the legends from a distance, all too afraid to approach the famous Yooyuball group. When Dasher saw the water fountain in sight, he scowled at three Shenkuu Yooyuball players lounging lazily around it.
“What took you so long? It’s been twenty minutes!” Foltaggio yawned, and Mirsha and Xana chuckled at the taunt.
Dasher scowled. “Shut yer trap, you deranged Mynci, and let’s get started."
Surprisingly, everyone managed to climb over the wall and land on the other side without any outsiders witnessing anything. Vonde, Dasher, Nitri, and Foltaggio ran up ahead, while Garven, Mirsha, and Xana lingered a little behind. Xana held back the branch, but it accidentally slipped out of her grasp and whacked Garven in the face. She yelped as the Bori hunched over and rubbed the pain from the deafening crack of the branch and rushed over to him. “Oh no, Garven! I’m terribly sorry! Are you all right?”
The pirate looked up and chuckled. “Arrr, Xana, I be fine. Nothin’ hurts this goalkeeper. Say, want a lift?”
Xana was confused at first, but then giggled as Garven hoisted her up on his shoulder. Mirsha, who was in front of them, chuckled. The three slowly fell farther back behind the four up front.
Vonde, who was forced at the front of the line, continued to walk against his will as Dasher kept behind him, poking his back with a very long and pointy stick. “Ow! Please stop that!”
“No,” Dasher snapped and poked him again. “What does the map say?”
Vonde glanced at the map that was gripped in his paws. “We’ll take a left here. Hey, you’re the pirate. Aren’t you technically supposed to be leading the way?”
“Nah, I’m in charge, and that don’t mean I gotta do anything important unless I say I have to. I can give orders, though. And my first order is to move faster!” Dasher commanded, jabbing the stick in Cayle’s back again.
“We could be at the treasure by now if you let Mirsha, Xana and me run ahead,” Foltaggio chimed in and caught up to Dasher’s side. “We’ll still be generous and split it evenly.”
“Arrr, oh no, ye ain’t goin nowhere, Footmallow,” Dasher roared.
“Same thing, lad.”
Suddenly, a bush up ahead shook violently. Dasher stopped short and grabbed the back of Vonde's shirt, allowing Nitri and Foltaggio to nearly trip over him, but all four stood their ground. Someone stepped out from the hiding place, and everyone fell silent. Her Aisha ears bobbed up and down, her sleek tinted orange hair flew backwards, and her flowing skirt moved with the wind.
It was the Court Dancer.
“Well...” she purred. “Dasher Soley, Vonde Cayle, Nitri Cassale, and Foltaggio just happen to be wandering in this wooded part of Altador, and I stumble upon them. I’ve been meaning to see you all. Aren’t coincidences lovely?”
“Arrr... no?” Dasher suggested.
“So fortunate that I have the pleasure of casting the most famous of Yooyuball players under my spell...” She laughed so lightheartedly that one would not think of her soul as evil as dark magic.
“You want Cayle? Here, take ‘im.” Dasher shoved Vonde forward, who sputtered.
“W-what? No! Dasher, what are you doing?”
“Aw, calm down, mate, I was just kiddin ‘round.”
“If you frustrate me... I will not be hesitant to cast you all under my spell,” the dancer threatened.
Dasher glanced behind him and snickered. “Spell? Ha, that makes an’ ol’ pirate laugh. We don’t fall under any spells, lassie. Besides, ye would think the spell put on ye wore off by now.”
“Oh, really?” The Court Dancer smirked. With a flick of her wrist, a tambourine appeared in her hands.
And she began to dance.
“Dasher, no! She’s going to...” Vonde didn’t finish. The tambourine shook, and he averted his eyes and ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could. He did not witness Dasher, Foltaggio, and Nitri fall into the trance. He dared not look back at the Court Dancer, for he knew he would suffer the same fate.
Mirsha, Garven, and Xana, who was sitting on his right shoulder, pushed back some tree branches and stopped short when they saw Vonde in their path. “Cayle? What be the problem?” Garven asked.
“It’s... Foltaggio... Dasher... Nitri... the... dancer...” Vonde panted, falling to knees.
“What?” Xana jumped down from Garven’s shoulders, and before anyone could stop her, sprinted ahead to investigate.
“Xana...” Mirsha warned, but the Lutari was already out of hearing range. The Shenkuu captain lent a hand to Vonde and helped him up. “What’s going on?”
“It’s the Court Dancer! Xana‘s headed right into her trap!” Vonde winced.
Garven’s eyes widened, then looked up at the path that Xana had walked down. “Xana!” he yelled, rushing after her.
“Garven, don’t lay eyes on the Court Dancer!” Mirsha shouted after him. “But please, save Xana!”
Garven had ducked beneath a tall and wide brush of green leaves. He peeked through, seeing the backs of Dasher, Nitri, Foltaggio... and Xana. He wanted to do anything to get them out of their trance, but he could not risk looking at the Court Dancer off to the left, who was twirling her way into the souls of his friends. In a split second, the four Yooyuball players walked in a daze towards where the Court Dancer was dancing, and he could hear the plodded steps of the prisoners following the dancing Aisha. The sound of the tambourine faded, and once it did, Garven ran back to where Mirsha and Vonde were waiting anxiously.
“They’re gone,” he murmured. “Even Xana.”
“Oh my... what are we going to do...” Mirsha choked.
“We have to follow them. We’re too far in the woods to get help,” Vonde insisted, hastily folding the map and putting it away. “Garven, lead us in the direction they all went, but let’s stay back a little in case the Court Dancer isn’t that far up ahead...”
To be continued...