Caught in a Conspiracy: Part One
“No! Stop! You don’t understand; I’m innocent!”
“Shut up!” the guard snarled, throwing me in jail. The jail guard looked at me with his beady Yurble eyes. “There. Now you’re where you belong.” He walked off, leaving me in a dark and cold dungeon like cell.
My eyes watered, but I couldn’t allow myself to cry. How do these things happen to me? I’m just a sixteen year old red Kacheek, and I’ve stayed out of trouble my whole life. And now look at me; I’m in a prison cell in Meridell for something I didn’t do. I released a heavy sigh, and tried to get a grip. I could remember what happened earlier in the day...
“Are you sure you don’t want to try your luck and kiss a Mortog?” the Grundo asked me, as I was in the Meridell market.
“Uh no, sir, I’d really rather not,” I stammered. Not only were Mortogs completely gross, but I wasn’t interested in finding a prince and running to a castle. That’s not my life; I’m a woodcutter that lives in the forest of Meridell. I smiled at the Grundo and made my way back into the bustling market. My mind was so overwhelmed with what I needed to buy, I accidentally knocked into someone, and we both went to the ground.
“Oomph!” who I bumped into said when we fell on the ground.
“I’m sorry! I can be such a klutz sometimes!” I exclaimed. The Neopian I bumped into was a shadow Kacheek.
Standing up, he offered a paw to help me up. I took his paw and he smiled. “It's okay. Maybe next time we meet we won’t fall to the ground first.” I just smiled as a reply, still embarrassed for bumping into him. He disappeared into the crowd, and I wiped the dirt off myself.
A few hours later I was buying hot crossed buns from Merifoods, when royal guards came up to me and snarled, “You’re under arrest! Now come with us without struggle, and we won’t have to use force.”
“What are the charges?” I exclaimed. “What did I do?”
“You know what you did,” a Yurble guard replied. “You’re in a conspiracy against King Skarl himself!”
“Conspiracy? I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I screamed. The two guards didn’t listen to me, instead they grabbed my arms and began to drag me away! “Stop! I didn’t do anything!” I screamed.
“Hey, you need to pay for those buns!” the Meerca shopkeeper exclaimed.
“So you’re a thief as well, eh?” the Yurble asked me.
“What? No! You arrested me before I could pay!”
“Don’t listen to her! She’s a thief and a conspirator!” the other Gelert guard told the Yurble. Next thing I knew I was thrown into prison, under false charges, with no bail neopoints, no idea what to do, and no lunch (thanks to that stingy Meerca).
“Get a grip, get a grip,” I quietly told myself.
“I see they put you in here too, eh Red?” a sly voice asked.
I looked up to see a shadow Kacheek sitting on the windowsill of our prison cell. He looked my age and was a taller than me, his fur tattered and dirty. He had green eyes that gleamed with rebellion and I immediately knew he wasn’t the type I should talk to. But he talked to me when he smiled. “So what are you in for, Red?”
“My name is not Red, it’s Sky. My name is Sky Coon, and I’m falsely accused for a crime I did not commit,” I hissed.
“Sky, huh? Hmm, seems they’d name a cloud painted Kacheek Sky, not a red one. But oh well, Sky seems fine. I think I’d prefer Red, though.” The shadow Kacheek grinned, and flashed a pointy fang he had on the right side of his mouth.
“Well, what’s your name?”
“Jet. My name is Jet Black.”
“Well, that explains your... shadow color. Wait! You’re the Kacheek from the market! You’re the one I bumped into!”
Jet’s grin got wider. “Well what do you know; we met each other again without falling down first. So you’re accused for a crime you didn’t do, huh? What might that be?”
“I don’t need to tell you, it’s not your business.” I crossed my arms stubbornly.
“Fine, don’t tell me. Just trying to make conversation is all.”
I sighed again. “They accused me of being a part of a plot to overthrow Meridell, and being in cahoots with a group that is apparently plotting to attack Meridell. So when I was in the market today they found me and threw me in here. They said the group was called... Shadow Walkers.”
Jet didn’t grin, now it looked like he smirked. “Well, how ironic,” he replied. “That’s why I’m in here.”
“They wrongly accused you for working for the Shadow Walkers?”
“No, not wrongly accused me. I do work for the Shadow Walkers. But it seems you truly are innocent, and it does look like you don’t belong here.” Jet walked closer to me, “But I do see a fighter in you. I do see you being a warrior, a trouble maker. Hmm, maybe it is good you’re in here with me, maybe I’ll rub off on you.”
“Watch it,” I growled. “I’m not a fighter, or a warrior. I’m just a sixteen year old Kacheek that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, I bet they thought I was part of this ‘scheme’ because they saw me talk to you in the market!”
“Probably. Maybe. Most likely. But I can see through you, Red. You’re like me; we’re both sixteen year old Kacheeks that don’t play by the rules. We’re the ones that break them, and we’re both fighters.”
“You can’t see through me,” I retorted. “You don’t know me. You just met me.”
“True.” Jet laughed. “Very true.” He sat down on the cold hard prison floor, and I did the same. “So when the guards came, did you put up a fight?” he asked.
“Of course not. I can’t possibly fight a guard. Why? Did you put up a fight?”
“Red, you should know that everything I do I put up a fight when someone stops me. I almost escaped all those guards, until they trapped me in a net.”
“How many guards came after you?”
“What is this, twenty questions?”
I shut my mouth and kept quiet. There was then a long silence for a half an hour. Finally I was the one to break the silence when I asked, “So what are the Shadow Walkers going to do to Meridell?”
“You really want to know?” Jet asked. His eyes looked at me with that same shining mischief, that same shining rebellion.
“Yes,” I answered, “seeing as it’s why I’m in this stupid prison cell.”
“Our leader of the Shadow Walkers plans to attack Meridell tonight, with his army. However, the glorious part is that he’s going to put a dark magic spell on all of King Skarl’s people, and have his own people attack his castle. That way, when King Skarl sends out his guards, they won’t attack their own villagers. Meridell will fall down like dominoes.”
My heart pounded harder. “You actually enjoy this? You enjoy that my friends and family of Meridell are going to be in danger!”
Jet shrugged. “I never said I enjoyed it.”
“Well, you don’t seem opposed to it.”
“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”
So badly I wanted to hit him, but what good would that do? I still had questions. “What are the Shadow Walkers?” I asked. “Who are they, and what is their motive?”
“Pretty private information, Red, not sure how much I can tell you,” Jet replied. “We are elite.”
I just looked at Jet with my furious yellow eyes.
“Alright, I’ll tell you,” he caved. “We are the Shadow Walkers; we used to be loyal to Lord Darigan and Lord Kass. That is, until a truce was declared between Darigan Citadel and Meridell. We don’t agree with the truce, so we started our own elite club and have been plotting to overthrow Meridell.”
“I see,” I replied. “Continue.”
“There are six of us, including me. Our leader is Shade the Darigan painted Gelert. He and the rest of us are going to take over Meridell tonight. Shade is a very dangerous fellow, he knows how to slip in and out of shadows, and is very cunning.”
“But why take over Meridell? Why despise it so?”
“Shade says there’s something King Skarl has in his kingdom, something Shade wants very badly. Apparently, Kayla the potion maker made a special potion for King Skarl, which allows any Neopian who drinks it to have ultimate power over all abilities.”
“You know, spell faerie abilities, the kind you get when you free a bottled faerie. If you drink this special potion King Skarl has, you’ll have ultimate control over all of the abilities. Shade will be unstoppable.”
“So why are you in this? If Shade drinks the potion, what do you and the other four Shadow Walkers get? A pat on the back and a job well done? What is in it for you?” I asked. I was surprised to find myself so intrigued.
“Shade promised us different things we all desire. But the main reason I’m in this is for the rush.” Jet winked at me.
“Humph.” That was all I said to him. “How do you know for sure King Skarl has the stupid potion?”
“We don’t, but we plan to attack anyway.” Jet grinned. “So what do you say, Red, shall we break out of this prison? I’ve got to meet the others soon anyway.”
“Why should I help you escape? You’re an evil Kacheek, with evil intentions! You deserve to be locked away forever!” I shouted.
“Even if it means you’re locked away with me? They already think you’re guilty of working with me, so why would you try to stop the inevitable? Plus, the plan will carry out whether or not we’re in prison.” Jet now looked at me differently; he looked at me with a serious look.
The things you get yourself into, Sky. “Okay,” I whispered finally. “We’ll escape.” But don’t assume it’s over, Jet. I’ll find a way to stop you and the Shadow Walkers. I won’t let you carry out this insane plot.
“You want me to do what?” I asked.
“Climb on my shoulders and unlock the very top of the window. I’d have done it, but obviously I couldn’t reach it. But you can, if you stand on my shoulders,” Jet answered. Now I understood his plan. He was going to stand on the windowsill and hoist me up, where I’d pick at the window lock which was at the very top of the window. There was just one problem... I’m afraid of heights. Jet climbed on the windowsill. “Well, come on, Sky, come on up.”
“Uh...” I stammered. “You sure there isn’t another way?”
“Yes, I’ve analyzed this whole cell. Unless we can convince the guard to give us the key, which won’t happen, this is the only way out. What’s the problem?”
“There’s no problem.”
“So why are you hesitating?”
“Well... see... I’m afraid of heights.” Jet began roar with laughter, nearly falling off the window sill. “It’s not funny!”
“Yes,” Jet chuckled, trying to talk between each laugh. “Yes, it is.” Finally Jet composed himself and stopped laughing. “Now come on, get on my shoulders.”
“I- I don’t think I can do it.”
“Oh come on, don’t you trust me?”
“No. Not really.”
Jet sighed. “Fine. You can either trust me enough not to drop you, or we can remain in this prison cell. Your choice.”
He knew which one I was going to choose. I rolled my eyes as I carefully stepped up on his shoulders, and he hoisted me up to the top of the window. I picked at the window lock for a few minutes, but finally the lock dropped on the floor, and the window was open. “I did it.” I smiled.
“Good job, Red.” Jet grinned, setting me down on the windowsill.
I pushed him against the window. “My name is Sky,” I growled. “Not Red. Sky.”
Against my will, Jet grabbed my paws and flipped us around, so now I was pinned against the window. Jet flashed his fang, “Be careful now, Red. I’m still dangerous.” He winked once again.
I stuck my tongue out at him. “Let’s just get out of here,” I huffed. Jet climbed out the window, but right before I got to, he blocked the way. “Move, Jet,” I said.
“Give me one good reason I should let you out. I told you some secret information; how do I know I can trust you?” Jet smiled, as if he enjoyed annoying me.
“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. But I wouldn’t take a chance, I might accidentally call the guards and tell them my cell mate has escaped. Why, I bet they’ll send every soldier out to go and get you back.” Now I smiled, because I saw the look in Jet’s eyes. He knew I wasn’t bluffing.
“You make a good point,” Jet replied, moving aside. I climbed over the windowsill and smiled. I’m free. “Well, I’ll be seeing you, Red. Now that you know what is going to happen, it’d be smart if you got out of here.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” I retorted. “I’m coming with you.” This was the only way; it had to be the only way for me to stop the Shadow Walkers, for me to follow Jet.
“You most certainly are not coming with me. Too dangerous, and I can’t babysit you. Not only that, Shade will never allow it.”
“Well, he’s going to have too, because if you don’t let me come with you, I’ll scream and alert the guards. We might as well climb the window back into our jail cell; it’d take less time.” I crossed my arms defiantly and fought back a smirk; Jet should know I’m not bluffing.
“Fine,” Jet grumbled. “You can come. But I’m not waiting up for you if you’re too slow. Now follow me, stay close and stay quiet.” I nodded and followed Jet through the back alleys of Meridell, the places where most Neopians don’t go. We kept walking in the direction of Meri Acres Farm, but made a mysterious turn right.
Now we were in a part of Meridell I had never been, or seen before. Tall and bare trees surrounded the place, making it seem more like a forest than anything. I didn’t saying anything, just watched my surroundings. We then came to a gigantic oak tree, and Jet knocked on the bark three times.
To my surprise, a part of the oak tree bark opened, and it turned out it was a door. A Darigan painted Bori answered the wooden door. “Hey, Jet,” he greeted casually.
“Hey, Coal,” Jet replied.
Coal’s expression then dropped when he saw me. “What’s the meaning of this, Jet? Why did you bring a girl here? Shade won’t be happy with this one.”
“Afraid I had no choice,” Jet replied. “It was either bring her or get caught by the guards.”
“Well, you’re in luck, Shade is in an exceptionally good mood.” Coal flashed me a smile. “Evening, girl.”
“My name is Sky,” I replied. Jet lead me into the tree hideout, and inside there was a wooden round table with wooden chairs surrounding, weapons and armor hanging up on the wall.
There was a Darigan painted Kiko, Hissi, and Chomby sitting down in the wooden chairs with a Darigan painted Gelert standing up eyeing us. The Gelert must be Shade, by the way he looked at everyone. I wonder why Jet was the only one who wasn’t painted Darigan; maybe he didn’t have enough points. The paint brushes are pretty expensive.
Shade looked at me, but surprisingly didn’t say a thing. Instead he drew out his sword, and pointed it at a map of Meridell. “We shall now go over our attack strategy,” he said.
Jet pushed me down into a wooden chair and put a paw on my shoulder to hold me there. I feel like a prisoner all over again.
“First Coal, Chain, and Razor will put the spell on the people of Meridell, to make them on our side. Meanwhile, Jet and I will invade the castle, and attack the guards and anyone in our way. You, Jet, will hold the King captive while I grab the potion. Then, when I get the potion, we shall retreat back here and plan our next move.” Shade smiled at his plan.
“May I ask a question?” I questioned, raising my paw.
“Yes,” Shade hissed.
“Won’t it be hard to put a spell on every Neopian of Meridell, since you have to go in their homes to do it?” I asked.
Shade laughed a heavy dark sounding laugh. “You don’t know what day it is, do you, girl?”
“It’s the 30th of the month of Swimming. Today and tonight is the Discovery of Meridell, and everyone in Meridell will be at the festival right outside the castle. The Festival of Meridell, where every fool will show up.”
My heart sank. I completely forgot the whole festival. This is bad, really bad, they’ll have no problem invading the castle!
“Now everyone suit up for battle, and when we’re done you lock your captive in our cage Jet.”
Jet nodded and led me into another small room, a wooden cage sitting in the middle of it. “No! Don’t do this, Jet!” I cried, trying to struggle out of Jet’s grip.
“Sorry, Red, at least you’ll be safe when our plan goes into action,” Jet said apathetically. He threw me in the wooden cage and locked me in. His eyes were cold and lifeless.
“No! Please don’t do this heinous act! You’re better than this, Jet! Don’t do this! Please!” I screamed. I could feel myself get choked up all over again, and I fought back tears that welled up in my eyes.
“I’m sorry, Red,” Jet said. “But you’re caught in a conspiracy.”
To be continued...
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