The Winds of Change: Part Five
Crystal jumped up and down and called to her old owner. After she got the news that Ivy had left, she thought that they’d never see each other again. Her eyes met Ivy’s for a moment, before Ivy fell over the side of the boat from leaning over it so much. She swam to shore and was hauled to her feet by Crystal.
“Ivy! Wha-what are you doing here? Why are you here?” Crystal asked anxiously. They hugged each other before Ivy answered.
“Feather told me that she needed some ‘outside help’ for the big battle against Sloth. So, she used some of her connections to contact me, asking me if I could come back with some other Neopians so we could coach the fighting when the time came. Some of us brought some decent Battledome pets to help fight as well. But Feather didn’t tell me that you would be here! I would have begged the Captain to speed up if she did!” Ivy explained.
“I just got here a couple of days ago! And Feather didn’t say that you were coming! I asked her, but she refused to tell me who the ‘outside help’ was...” Crystal replied, before adding, “Ivy! You’re here!” Crystal collapsed into Ivy’s arms.
“Yes, I am, Crystal. I can’t believe I’m here either, trust me. But after you left, and I left, I thought I’d never see you again, little Runningcrystal. But I’m here.” Ivy stroked Crystal’s fur and spoke softly.
Crystal pushed herself out of Ivy’s arms. “You don’t have to comfort me, Ivy. I’m not a year old anymore!”
“Right, sorry. It’s just been so LONG! I miss the old times, Crystal. Now, can you bring me to Feather? She said we’d discuss some battle strategies, and old times.” Ivy giggled.
“Sure. C’mon, her training area is over this way.” Crystal smiled and led Ivy to the clearing.
“Feather! Long time, no see,” Ivy said once they reached the training clearing and Feather’s hut.
“Ivy! How’s life treating you? Good, I assume?” Feather asked.
“Good. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve found Crystal,” Ivy replied.
“Hey! Stop talking about me like I’m not here!” Crystal protested.
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” Ivy chuckled.
“C’mon, let’s go into our hut so we can discuss how to get Neopia out of this Sloth-created mess,” Feather said, and the trio went into the little hut.
Flight looked up from her book, which she was reading on an old bed.
“Ivy, you’re finally here! What took you so long?” Flight asked.
Crystal put her paws on her hips. “Ok, who else knew about Ivy’s arrival?” she asked.
“Basically everyone here but you.” Feather smirked.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Crystal glared.
“We wanted it to be a surprise!” Flight smiled.
“Well, it certainly was surprising.” Crystal smiled back.
They all sat down at the table and began to talk strategy. Ivy was the first one to speak.
“First off, how are we ever going to be able to contact Sloth so we can challenge him and his army to a Battledome match?” she asked.
“We definitely can’t fly up to the Space Station and find him,” Crystal pointed out.
“And we won’t. What I’m planning on doing is having our whole army do something together that would bring Sloth down here to us instead of us going up to him. Then we challenge him to a Battledome match for Neopia’s freedom. Hopefully, he won’t refuse,” Feather answered.
“That’s a good idea. But how’ll we beat him? He’s really tough,” Ivy asked.
“If you haven’t noticed, Ivy, we’re all training each other here. We’ll challenge him either once we’re ready or when Sloth finds out and tries to stop us from training. Speaking of which, let’s get back to combat training.” Feather pointed out. “We can continue our strategy talk later. Crystal, I’m going to teach you sword-play.” The pair got out of their chairs and walked towards the clearing.
“All right, Crystal, are you ready?” Feather asked once they both had a sword in their paws.
“I think so,” Crystal replied, clutching her Sword of Skardsen tightly in both paws.
“First off, you need to let go of your sword with one paw,” Feather pointed out. Crystal let go of the sword with her left paw. “Now, the first trick I’m going to teach you is a basic one. First, hold your sword so that the tip is facing the sky. Next, curve your paw so that your palm is facing up. Then, twist your paw as far as it’ll go and when you can’t go any further, throw the sword up and catch it with the other paw. Thrust it forward at your opponent and the move is done,” Feather explained.
“That’s simple?” Crystal asked. She wasn’t used to something that complicated that was supposed to be simple. But she still did it. Even though it took a couple of tries, she mastered the skill and could do it fluently.
“Great job! Now the second one is a little more complicated, since it requires some paw to paw combat. First, you thrust the sword forward, then you slash your opponent with your sword at a diagonal angle. Then, you jump up and do a kick with each foot. Once you land you twirl around. You transfer the sword from one paw to the other, then turn the sword sideways and shove it forward,” Feather said, demonstrating the move.
Crystal practiced the move for a while before she could do it as well as Feather. “This is getting easier. Show me some real sword play!” Crystal challenged.
And Feather did. They practiced all sorts of battle moves, and even practiced against each other. Soon they both felt like they could take on Sloth a couple of times before tiring. But they knew that it would be a tough battle. So they continued to train, sometimes training others in the army and other times doing battles against each other. They continued training for a couple of weeks before everyone decided that they were ready to take on Sloth. In the clearing in which they trained, they developed it into an area that Sloth had to come to. Everyone had made signs, clothing, anything that they could write on, and wrote on them “Sloth Stinks!” and paraded around the clearing, chanting the words that were on their signs. They had only done it for a minute when Sloth teleported himself to the center of the clearing with a couple of Mutant Grundos.
“What is the meaning of all this?” he asked furiously.
“We challenge you and your army to a Battledome match for Neopia’s freedom!” Flight, Feather, Crystal and Ivy said simultaneously.
“With this measly army? Ha! This’ll be an easy win. You know the terms, correct?” Sloth smirked.
“Every army member fights one from the opposing army, and the winner of each match enters the main fighting arena to assist the leaders of each army? Unless you’ve changed the terms, then we know them,” Feather said.
“All right then. Let us travel to the Battledome,” Sloth said.
Sloth snapped his fingers and both armies were in Battledome arenas. In the Main arena where the leaders would be facing off were Sloth and two Mutant Grundos, Flight, Feather and Crystal. Ivy entered and stood at the edge of the arena, ready to give any required coaching. Crystal tossed Ivy her bag, which was still over her shoulder up until then.
“Hold my things for me, please!” she called. Ivy smiled and nodded.
And the battling began.
Crystal clutched her Sword of Skardsen and sprang forward, using all the moves that Crystal had taught her, thoughts buzzing rapidly through her head.
“Toss and thrust, kick and twirl, punch and stab, whoa! I almost hit Flight! Stay calm, Crystal. All right, stay calm. Twist and swish, ooh! I took down one of the Mutants! Focus, Crystal. Go for Sloth, help Feather take him down.”
Crystal rushed towards Sloth and thrust her sword at him. He turned around and grabbed the sword. Crystal saw Feather leap over him and bring her sword down like a club. Sloth released the sword for a moment, and Crystal drew it back.
Neopets that had defeated their opponents in other arenas were beginning to gather, fighting each other and making sure their side wasn’t overwhelmed. The battle raged on, each side refusing to back down. More thoughts buzzed through Crystal’s mind.
“Remember the first move the Feather taught you. Twist, toss and lunge. Great! He took some damage. Now, use it like a club!”
Crystal had only managed one more strike when a Mutant Grundo pried her off of Sloth. She kicked back at him, trying to get herself free so she could help restore peace to Neopia. The Grundo threw her over Sloth’s head. She would have slammed into the wall of the arena if she hadn’t used her wings to slow her fall, so she landed on the ground instead of crashing into the wall. She skidded and threw up dust clouds. As she tried to get the dust out of her eyes she dropped her sword. When the dust cleared, she saw Sloth standing over her with her sword in his hand. Then she heard Ivy’s voice.
“Catch!” she called.
Crystal reached up her paw and caught a metal rod; then she could identify that it was her flute. Thinking fast, she used it as a club and slammed it into Sloth. It shattered, letting out an earsplitting screech. Sloth fell back to where Flight and Feather were. They thrust their swords at him, until they heard him say something no one ever thought they’d hear.
To be continued...