Secrets of Shiryoku: The Gift - Part Three
“You! Don’t you dare move a muscle. State your business!” the Kougra demanded in a rather strong voice.
I backed away from her warily with my hands up. She advanced towards me, ready to make a move.
I said nothing. I knew that Faerieland guards are more stringent than guards in any other place in Neopia.
“What’s in the bag?” she asked. “Empty its contents now, or Fyora might just turn you to stone as well.”
She brandished her sword and pointed it at my face. Nervously, I dumped the contents of my bag onto the ground. (I dropped the bag onto the soil as well.) My hands were in the air like before. I was sweating. Sweating with fear. Sweating with fear that I knew that the guard could scent from miles away. As successful of a book thief I was, I feared the Faerieland guards with great intensity (which is also why I had never been caught by them as well; evasion was everything).
She ignored the box of tea that had spilt onto the floor and focused on the book. She picked it up and scrutinized it. She tried to pick the lock on the book with one of her sharp claws, but to no avail. She turned her attention from the book over to me, back to the book, and then returned to me once more. She had a suspicious glare that was sparkling in her eyes. “What do you need this book for? Is it so important that you must steal it from what remains of this once-impressive town?” she asked me.
My instincts kicked in. Run! they told me. Run as fast as you can, idiot!
And so I did. The door was open, and my bag still on the floor. I quickly threw the tea back into my bag and strapped the bag across my shoulder. I then dashed towards the exit, grabbing the book from the guard’s hand as I did. She tried to chase after me, but I was running just a tad too fast for her. She then cried out, “FELLOW GUARDS, SEIZE THE THIEF!”
Guards began flooding into the chase scene, obeying the Kougra’s orders. Although they were beginning to gain on me, I reached the exit before they could even get within six feet of me. While they were still inside the castle’s ruins, I exerted all of my energy into running to a mighty oak that was located near the library. I skidded on the Faerieland soil once I was close enough to the tree (which was quite abnormally large, I must add). As uncomfortable as it was, I held my wings tightly and pressed my back against the rear of the tree. I could hear the guards chattering to each other about where I might have gone. The only part of the conversation that I could hear was: “Guards, keep your eyes peeled for the girl. If any of you find her, please direct her to the Faerieland dungeons—err, what’s left of it, anyways—and report to me ASAP. Please report any other findings to me. Move out!”
I recognized the voice.
It was the voice of the Kougra. I knew from that moment that she was no ordinary guard. Most guards don’t have the authority to issue demands to other guards.
I had realized that the guard that I was messing with was the Captain of the Guard. That’s technical talk for, “Ohmygosh I am so way in over my head right now.”
I cautiously peeked behind me to see if the guards were still there. When just about all of them had cleared out, I sighed with relief and tried to skulk away from the tree unnoticed. My escape plan was to stay close to the crumbling walls of the metropolis as I tried to make my way to the gates that separate Faerie City from the rest of Faerieland. That gate was my only escape.
Unfortunately, I bumped into a pet after only making a mere three steps.
“I’m so sorry for that!” I apologized, not wondering if I had bumped into a guard or not.
“Not a problem,” he assured me.
I looked at the Neopet that I had collided with. He was an Ixi of blue fur colour. The Ixi appeared to be a vagabond dressed in old, heavily torn clothing from head to toe; the figure wore a snazzy jacket that had a dark blue turtleneck layered underneath it, wraps on his arms, fingerless gloves, brown trousers, and loose, fabric-based boots. His hair was rather messy as well. He seemed to be charming in one sense, yet evil in another. (Okay, maybe not really “evil.” Suspicious would be a more suitable word to describe him.)
The blue Ixi glanced at the book in my hand. “What’s that we have here?” he asked curiously as he extended his arm towards the book, attempting to grab it.
I pulled the book away from him, making sure that he wouldn’t even breathe on it. “None of your business, wise guy!” I shouted at him. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
I turned around and scurried away from the character as fast as I could, but he followed behind. “You stole that, didn’t you?” he pointed out.
I stopped where I was and turned around to face the Ixi. “What makes you think that?”
He caught up to me and said, “It takes a thief to know a thief.” After he said that, he winked at me.
I pulled him behind a building after hearing the sounds of angry guards yelling at each other. “Fine. I stole the book. In fact, books are the only thing I steal. I enjoy knowledge. I most certainly do not enjoy getting arrested by Faerieland guards, so tell any of them and you’re one dead Ixi.”
“Thief’s honour,” he said with one hand over his heart and the other raised in the air. “So you’re the reason why every guard in Faerieland has become rather paranoid. I respect that, but I think that my dear friend Brynn doesn’t. She’s the Captain of the Guard, you see?”
“So that’s the Kougra who went all berserk on me for stealing a stupid book...” I realized.
Hanso looked at the book, which was wedged under my arm. He seemed to be rather interested in it. As he scrutinized it, he pointed out, “It must not be stupid if you stole it. All thieves steal for a purpose. For me, it used to be for money. However, that side of me took a hiatus when I stole this artefact from a psychotic renegade who hated faeries. I stole it, I sold it to Nox (which turned out to be the Neopet in disguise, but whatever), she wanted to kill me because of it... blah... blah... blah... and here we are today!”
I looked around at the obliterated city. “So, this was partially you’re fault?”
“Well, that can be debated. I also saved Neopia by stopping the villain, so let’s stick with the more positive first impression, alright? I’m Hanso, the super cunning and suave officially-declared Master Thief.”
I rolled my eyes. How modest, I thought sarcastically.
“I’m Sibunai, the ever-elusive Faerieland Book Thief who is right now in the middle of trying not to get caught, as you should know by now. It seems like that fact has phased right through your empty mind, Hanso.”
He let out a low-toned chuckle. I began walking away, hoping that he’d get the idea that I was kind of in a hurry to get away from Faerieland. However, it seemed like his interest in my book was preventing him from doing so.
I could sense him peering over my shoulder, hoping that I would pick up the book and start reading it or something. “Do you mind? I do quite enjoy my personal space,” I tried to explain to him.
“Show me the book then,” he bargained.
I stared him down and kept walking. If he’s that interested in the book, then he’s going to have to follow me to find out anything about it. I can’t risk getting caught by the guards. He also seemed to be friends with the Captain of the Guard, so having him around wasn’t that bad of an idea in my mind at the time.
He followed me, just like I thought that he would. That fact slightly irked me, but I grew used to it with every step I took.
As I approached the border separating Faerieland from the outskirts, I heard a rustling sound from behind me. My intuition kicked in, and I immediately turned around and pulled the book behind my back. Hanso shot past me like a bullet. “Wow, you’ve got sharp reflexes,” the Ixi noticed.
“That dumb Kougra put you up to this, didn’t she?” I asked, sounding very annoyed (because I was, indeed, irritated).
He smirked. “They say that curiosity killed the Kadoatie. However, some silly ‘forewarning’ such as that never killed Hanso!”
I slammed my forehead into my palm. “Such hubris you have,” I pointed out. “You do realize that curiosity—not to mention a bad disposition—caused Faerieland to fall in the first place, right?”
“Pshh,” he doubted. “Rubbish, I say.”
I rolled my eyes, then remembered my original motive for stealing the book in the first place. “Nikkou?” I called out. “Nikkou, are you—”
Someone tackled me from behind; I could feel the mass of either a heavy or a strong body forcing its weight down on me. I blacked out, but I do remember hearing Hanso screeching something before I lost consciousness. All I can say that I remember was that he didn’t sound like a happy Ixi.
To be continued...