Come dance with the gypsies... Circulation: 186,301,688 Issue: 505 | 29th day of Swimming, Y13
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The Stranger


by waz555

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The few and far between lights in the Haunted Woods flickered, causing the late-night strollers some panic. The stranger, who wrapped himself in a velvet red cloak, didn’t shiver at all. Upon the flickering of the lights, he walked faster, while he pulled the cloak closer and tighter around him.

      Many Neopets who passed by the stranger were startled when he zoomed past; all they saw and heard was the red cloak and the conspicuous swish it made. Realizing the puzzled looks he got from others, he almost ran towards the mysterious camp at the edge of the Haunted Woods. Avoiding the owners of the voices around the fire, he skirted the camp and darted along the misty and lonely trail to Neovia. The mist sprinkled his face, but he didn’t care. Hurrying towards the Crumpetmonger, he knew he was running out of time.

      Forcing the stiff door open, he heard a second of merriness and laughter before it died down. There were tables and chairs strewn around the shop, and every seat was filled. Every paw or hand held a pastry, but no one took a bite as the stranger entered. He strolled casually towards the counter, his feet never making a sound on the tough wooden floor. Holding his head high and avoiding the many prying eyes of the other customers, he took a seat at the counter near the front of the store. The other customers stared in wide-eyed shock at such a strange visitor. The chubby Meerca in charge of the store approached him cautiously, staying as far back behind the counter as she could.

      “Are-are you looking for someone?” she whispered, barely audible. “If you are, there’s someone waiting in the back room...”

      “Yes,” the stranger replied, keeping his striking violet eyes hidden underneath his cloak. “Don’t bother us; we have business to discuss.” He got off the stool, loosened the grip he had around his cloak, and padded to the door at the back of the restaurant. Pushing the creaky door open, he heard whispers from the other customers.

      He glanced over his shoulder. Staring at every one of them, he smiled as they went silent. Someone dropped a misplaced dubloon and the sound rippled throughout the room. The stranger chuckled quietly to himself at the familiar sound, then entered the back room, slamming the door behind him.

      The back room was dimly lit, the light bulb hanging over a shaky table and two wooden chairs flickered uneasily, as if knowing that something eerie was about to be discussed. The figure sitting in the chair across from the door and the standing stranger was masked by the shadow. Only his clasped hands could be seen, and his claws protruded from his fingertips. Both the stranger and the figure in the darkness ignored the laughter coming from outside the room.

      “You’re late,” hissed the intimidating figure, “you told me-”

      “No,” the stranger shot back, refusing to take a seat, “you’re late, you promised me you’d get the creature to do it before today. The job I gave you is not done. The creature is restless, and you’re the only one who can tell it what to do. Those dark glowing eyes of the creature will strike fear in everyone’s heart except yours. I have no time to do such simple jobs. Remember our deal.”

      The figure paused, contemplating what to say to the stranger’s sharp remarks. “Fair enough, I will tell the sea creature to do it soon.”

      “Soon is not enough, I need it done tomorrow-”

      “I’ll finish the job tomorrow, you’ll get your revenge. Where’s my payment?”

      “Finish the job first, then we’ll talk about your payment.” The stranger smirked, knowing that he had won the argument. He began to pace silently back and forth in front of the door leading in and out of the room.

      “Fine,” spat the figure, “you’ll get your revenge-”

      “Yes,” the stranger muttered, cutting the figure off, “I will finally get my revenge. Those filthy pirates, they will wish they never met me! None of those ignorant Neopets will ever suspect a thing, just the way I like it. Then after they all find out, they’ll beg and plead for me to not completely destroy the island. Then it will all be mine...”

      “Yes, yes, of course,” the figure whispered back obediently, feeling spooked by the stranger.

      “My business is done here,” the stranger proclaimed. “Get the job done, or you’ll never see your payment,” he paused, grinning, “or Neopia Central ever again.” Making his exit, the stranger tossed a sack onto the table. He knocked over the chair he didn’t sit in on his way out, and was again greeted by the sudden silence from the customers in the usually-lively Crumpetmonger. He slammed the door shut, leaving the figure in the darkness staring at the sack on the table.

      Slowly, gently, and hesitantly, the figure coated in darkness reached forward and picked up the sack. Opening the drawstring bag, he poured the contents onto the table. Something made of clay shattered into two pieces on the table, a bronze coin spun around in a few circles before toppling shakily onto its side, and a note slowly drifted down and landed silently on the table.

      The figure picked up the clay pieces and fitted them back together. It’s a clay version of a dubloon. How particular, he thought, setting it down. Picking up the bronze coin, he realized it was a real dubloon and tucked it back into the sack carefully. He’d save for when after all the trouble was over...

      Hesitantly fingering the note, the figure tried to dismiss his fear and grasped it. The dim light made it difficult to read, but he managed to make out the words. His face went pale. He left the shattered clay dubloon on the table, seized the sack, and crumpled the note.

      Before he opened the door of the back room, he paused and stared back at the clay dubloon. He picked it up tenderly and placed both pieces gently next to the real dubloon in the sack. As he barged his way out of the Crumpetmonger and into foggy Neovia, the words from the note haunted him.

     ***

      “Look what I found,” the mischievous green Kacheek grinned, showing off a crumpled up note. “I snuck into the back room of the Crumpetmonger, and I found this note!”

      “Let me see the note,” his little yellow Wocky sister shouted, making a swipe for the note. “Oh come on, at least let me read what it says!”

      “No,” the Kacheek replied crossly, “I want to read it, I found it!” Upon saying that, he tried to smooth out the tattered note. He tried his best to make out the words, but they were a blur to him. His sister grabbed the note and studied it, ignoring her brother’s protests.

      “It says, ‘They’ll never know what hit them. I’ll finally get my revenge. Thanks to you.’” she paused, pondering the meaning of it. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

      “How would I know,” replied her brother, “it’s probably nothing. Just throw it in the trash.” He looked towards the Haunted Woods longingly, before saying, “Come on, let’s go to the Deserted Fairgrounds. I want to explore around there!”

      She nodded her head, while the yellow Wocky tucked the strange note into her pocket. Somehow she couldn’t convince herself it was nothing. Something about that note was strange... Every time she thought of it, a shiver ran down her spine. She almost forgot about it for the rest of the day, but at night when she emptied her pockets, her paw brushed against it. She took it out, read it over again, then folded it in half twice and laid it gently to rest in her drawer of things.

      That night all she dreamed about was the note and a strange green Krawk that had violet eyes. He kept a fake last name, but he always signed with his first name: Gavril. He was commanding someone to “get the job done” with the help of a sea creature that had black eyes which glowed. She never fully understood what he was talking about, because her brother shook her awake. She went for breakfast, the dream still on her mind. Then she remembered the note, and rushed upstairs after she gulped down the rest of her food.

      When she checked her drawer, the note was gone.

     ***

      The next day, the 22nd of the Month of Swimming, the stranger with violet eyes checked the news. The first thing he saw for that day was, Wait, what?! Krawk Island is...gone?!

      He smirked.

     ***

      The news was out. Krawk Island was gone, and no one knew where it was.

      Panic filled Neopia. From the very tip of Terror Mountain, to the underwater depths of Maraqua, every Neopet and owner wondered what happened to the proud, pirate Krawk Island. The same questions were heard over and over again. What about our hard-earned dubloons? Will the Swashbuckling Academy be back up? What happened to the island and its residents? But the most commonly asked question was: Can we find Krawk Island?

     ***

      “Good,” he muttered to himself, “that fellow got the job done... He knew what was good for him...” His violet eyes twinkled with pleasure at what he managed to accomplish.

      Finishing his strange breakfast of Fruitmallow Grog and a Pirate Hot Dog, he donned a pirate hat that had edges rimmed with yellow while the rest of it was black, shoved back his long, grey hair, pushed the sleeves of his dirty, brown shirt up his arms with his green Krawk hands, and tried his best to make his filthy white pants as presentable as possible.

      It’s time, he thought, no one will ever know what I did.

     ***

      Owners flocked to the remainder of Krawk Island, bringing their curious Neopets along. Their reactions were all the same. They were shocked, but then they slowly opened the door to the shanty, and every single one of them was greeted by a strange green Krawk. He was friendly, spoke like a pirate, and seemed to peer right into them with his peculiar violet eyes.

      Before long, the seas were crowded. Everyone was desperately searching for Krawk Island, but little islets were all everyone found. There was the occasional treasure that was gladly stuffed into inventories. Some snacks, a few books, or maybe a mysterious locked treasure chest was what everyone expected after a while.

      Every day, the unstable shanty was crowded with owners and their pets coming back again and again, wanting to help find Krawk Island. When the resident of the shanty, the Krawk, announced that Krawk Island was originally made up of many islets, all the pets rushed out to search the seas, dragging their owners behind them. There were all sorts of pets, painted and unpainted, pirates and non-pirates, occasionally a pet would mope around, grieving about the beloved island.

      There was only one pet who was different. A yellow Wocky who was usually outgoing and friendly was shy and seemed terrified of the friendly green Krawk. She avoided him constantly, and he pretended not to notice, but he knew. There was something strange about him, and the Wocky was the only one who suspected.

     ***

      Welcoming everyone back after searching on the misty seas, the Krawk would explain some of his new discoveries. Pets would nod along with their owners, trying to understand his pirate slang. Most left with their heads hung lower than usual, disappointed.

      The yellow Wocky and her owner were the only ones left. They spent a long time on the ocean, deciding which spot they should search. The crew members got anxious and frustrated, almost tossing the Wocky overboard into the churning sea from impatience. It had been a rough time, and the Wocky forgot to watch herself.

      “They’ll never know what hit them. I’ll finally get my revenge. Thanks to you,” she muttered under her breath, reciting from the note and her dream, “get the job done, get the job done, tell the creature with glowing black eyes to get the job done.”

      The Krawk heard the pet’s murmurs, and his eyes suddenly turned steely. He glared at the young pet with his sharp violet eyes. The Wocky looked up, met his gaze, and was instantly frightened.

      “What’d you just say,” he demanded, lowering himself to look her in the eyes, which were full of fear, “I thought you’d said something that sound awfully familiar to me.”

      “I didn’t say anything,” Amy whimpered, knowing that he knew she was lying.

      “Are you sure,” the Krawk said slowly, dangerously, “you sure you didn’t say anything? I thought I heard you...”

      “No,” Amy replied, shaking, “I didn’t say anything.” She took her owner’s hand and dragged her out of the shanty. Once they were almost off what remained of Krawk Island, the scared Wocky turned around and realized the Krawk was staring at them leaving. He met her gaze. She shivered, and begged her owner to bring them to Neopia Central and buy some food.

      Her puzzled owner agreed, wondering why the friendly Krawk suddenly turned on her innocent pet. Her precious Wocky would never say, and didn’t say, anything that insulted the Krawk, so why did he do that? The owner shook her head, and decided that the Krawk felt cranky after greeting and dismissing so many pets.

      “Do you,” the Wocky asked her owner nervously, “do you know what that Krawk’s name is?”

      “Why,” the owner replied cheerfully, no noticing her pet’s anxious mood, “his name is Gavril McGill. I’m surprised you didn’t know that!” Then she glanced down at her pet.

      The yellow pet paled, her pink fur around her neck froze, and her legs crumpled underneath her. That Krawk’s name was Gavril McGill, and the stranger in her dream’s first name was... the Wocky crumpled onto the ground and lost consciousness, while her owner shrieked from shock and fear.

     ***

      No one will ever know; that little yellow Wocky won’t dare to tell. Somehow, she knows my secret, but no one else will believe her, the stranger thought. Once everyone thinks Krawk Island is “back”, I will make a deal with them, promising I won’t unleash the sea creature with glowing black eyes again if they give me Krawk Island. They all remember what that strange creature did last time, and they won’t want that to happen to their precious island again. Then when they agree, begging to not let the creature wreck havoc and destroy Krawk Island completely, Krawk Island will be mine! Mine!

      Gavril McGill smirked, his violet eyes gleaming. “Everything will work out, and Krawk Island will be mine,” he muttered to himself, feeling a sense of pride overcome him.

      And even better, he thought, there’s no one to stop me.

The End

 
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