Cloud Flute: Part Two
The dark, star filled sky cloaked itself over the Haunted Woods like a murky blanket. The moon's yellow glow illuminated the spindly trees. A chill wind passed over the woods, ruffling the grass and disturbing the leaves. On such a night as this, it was better for foreigners of the woods to stay inside, lest the residents come out to play...
Except one resident had no intention of spending her night romping about in the woods. She stood before her cauldron, paw raised to drop something in the bubbling green liquid. Blowing the hair from her face, she glanced over at her spell book, muttering things to herself. "No, not this... But this may do, yes, this would work..."
A loud knock at the door made her jump with a shriek, her concentration completely shattered. With no hope of getting it back, her mood immediately soured. The faerie Bori pulled open the door, glaring at her visitor with the most unwelcoming expression.
A hooded figure greeted her with a hesitant, "...I came at a bad time, didn't I?"
"Indeed you did," the Bori snapped. "Hurry up and get inside. Oh, and shut the door."
The figure tentatively entered the house, closing the door slowly after him. He took off his hood, his red hair looking a complete mess.
"No wonder you wear that hood all the time; you look like a JubJub having a bad hair day," the Bori remarked scathingly, gesturing at a torn chair for her visitor to sit.
The Neopet – a Xweetok with a youthful but serious look about him – cushioned himself in the chair as best he could, daring not to speak until the Bori spoke to him first. In this mood, anything could set her off.
"So I hear your services are more than adequate," the faerie Bori began, taking up her position at the cauldron. Her back was turned to her visitor.
"How do you know about my work?" the Xweetok asked, apprehension clearly shown in his voice. "I don't go touting my services around like some careless Neopet."
"Word gets around. Don't change the subject," the Bori sighed, her tail tip twitching with irritation. "Now, I want you to fetch me something. I hear you can get past any guard. Am I right?"
"Oh, yeah, you're right there!" His chest swelled with pride. "I'm the sneakiest of the sneakiest. The best of the best. I can get you anything. Providing..." Here his voice lost its confident tone and he became nervous again. "Providing you... pay me... handsomely."
She grinned at his discomfort. "Relax; I'm not going to eat you. I may be vicious, but I'm no Skeith." She turned fully to face him, his eyes boring into him intently. "I have enough Neopoints to make King Skarl jealous, so you don't have to worry about that. Are you up to the task, Red Rogue?"
"You bet I am. Just tell me what I have to get, and I'll do it."
"That's good to hear." A crafty smile slowly spread itself over the Bori's face as she clasped her paws together. "Listen carefully, Red Rogue. I want you to take the Cloud Flute, displayed in Faerieland's gallery. It is well guarded, but not too much. I reckon you'll be able to do this. Yes?"
"I will. It doesn't sound so hard. I wonder what you want with a musical instrument, but I'm not here to judge."
"That's right. You don't judge, you just do as you are told. After all, judging isn't part of your job description." The Bori's voice was dangerously smooth, designed to unnerve her guest even more. "But I do hope you'll be able to pull this off. It would mean a lot to me."
"Uh... y-yeah. As I said, I can totally do this." He coughed, shifting in his seat, evidently uncomfortable with the Bori's tone. "When do you want the flute?"
"By tomorrow. Now hurry up, I don't want any more time to be wasted. Daybreak will be here soon."
"Not for another several hours."
"I'm not sure a Neopet like you should count the hours so casually." The Bori's snappish demeanor was back. "Hurry up and go. We don't need to waste any more time."
Somewhere in the distance, a Werelupe howled, adding emphasis to her words. Her visitor abandoned his seat and made his way hastily to the door. "Yeah, yeah, no more time to waste. Got it. I'll get you that flute, Lorelei."
"You better," Lorelei hissed. Her fingers sparked with some sort of purple energy as she pointed at the door. The door opened itself, allowing the Red Rogue to leave.
Without making a comment, the Xweetok left. Lorelei clenched her paw into a fist and the door slammed shut. Smirking to herself, she turned back to her cauldron. The liquid gave off an ominous green light as Lorelei added more things to her mixture, all the while murmuring to herself.
Soon. Soon, she would achieve her goal.
The night had given way to day, evident by the sun peeking its way through the Haunted Woods' trees. By this time even some of the locals were up and about, so there was a lot of noise and bustle outside Lorelei's house.
The Bori was woken by the loud noise. She muttered under her breath as she sat up in bed, brushing the hair from her eyes. She fiddled with her hair in disgust. It was in terrible condition – strands were all over the place, it felt coarse to the touch, and she knew it didn't look good. Frowning and growling in annoyance, she practically fell out of her bed in an effort to spruce her hair up immediately.
As Lorelei rushed off to sort herself out, there was a knock at the door. "Oh dear Fyora, you are kidding me," she breathed, her heart sinking. Who on Neopia would be knocking on my door at this hour? Doesn't everyone know I don't wake up for ages yet?! she thought irritably. With a sigh of resignation, she went to open the door.
The Red Rogue stared at Lorelei in astonishment as she allowed him entry. "Now you look more like a Haunted Woods resident," he joked.
"Get yourself in here now." She almost pulled the Xweetok inside as he entered, closing the door behind him. "I don't want any comments about the way I look, you hear me, Xweetok?" Lorelei's hands sparked with purple magic to back up her words.
"Hear you loud and clear," the Red Rogue coughed. Lorelei smirked as she saw his uneasiness was back.
"Did you get the flute?" she asked, her stomach tightening into a tight knot of anxiety and excitement. She was so close to her goal now, so very close!
The Red Rogue put his gloved paw in his backpack. Smiling, he produced a beautiful blue flute from the pack.
Lorelei snatched the flute from him, staring at it in amazement. Delicate patterns were indented in the light blue flute; when she ran a finger over them, she felt small bumps. This instrument was so light and so stunning, Lorelei's breath caught in her throat.
"Yeah, uh, it looks cool, doesn't it?" The Red Rogue cleared his throat to catch Lorelei's attention. "It wasn't too hard to get. The guards seemed to be half-asleep! Looks like Faerieland didn't protect this flute well enough." He scratched his head. "I wonder why they would. I mean, it's just a musical instrument and it only looks pretty. Doesn't do anything useful other than play music, right?"
Lorelei blinked, not completely focused on her guest. She almost gave her game away when she said, "It's so much more than that..." But she stopped herself before going full out and explaining what this flute was actually for. "Um, it makes beautiful sounds. It will be useful to me."
The Xweetok nodded. "That's good. Now, can I have my payment?"
"I hear no shame in your voice. A little overconfident now that you've finished your job, huh?" Lorelei sneered, hoping to permanently instill some fear in this Neopet. She needed more respect than this.
"Be quiet. I don't go back on my word, Xweetok, and I will give you what you came for. Just give me some time..."
"How long are we talking?"
Lorelei carefully placed the flute on a table and let her paw spark with purple magic again. "Be patient!" she hissed.
The Red Rogue stepped back. "Okay, I'm sorry."
"Good," Lorelei grunted, turning away. "I'm going to sort myself out. Once I've done that, I'll give you the Neopoints."
An hour passed since Lorelei had spoken to the Rogue. In this time she spruced herself up so she looked presentable; less like a Haunted Woods resident, as the Red Rogue had put it. Even though she lived in the woods, she took pride in her appearance. Picking out a long purple dress, she got herself ready to face her visitor again.
He sighed in relief as she appeared. "That was fast," he commented flatly.
Lorelei glared at him. "Don't push yourself, Xweetok." She held a large bag of Neopoints in her paw. "Do you want this or not?" She saw her answer as the Rogue looked at the Neopoints with hunger in his eyes.
"Yes, I want it," he said quickly.
Lorelei tossed the bag at him. The Red Rogue caught it skillfully and deposited it in his backpack. "Now get out of here. I'll find you again if I need you," Lorelei said to him.
The Rogue nodded and left the house eagerly. Lorelei watched him go, snickering to herself. "That was surprisingly easy..." She turned to look at the Cloud Flute, proudly displayed on her table. "And now I have the flute. Now I can go and finally accomplish my goal!"
"Okay, so he should be down here..."
Lorelei was walking through a musty tunnel, her excitement growing with every step she took. The air down here was humid and stifling, but the faerie Bori didn't mind at all. She was too overcome with a mix of apprehension and exhilaration, so much so that she almost tripped over her own tail in her haste.
The tunnel soon gave way to a large, cave-like room. Lorelei's ears folded back and her mouth snapped open in wonderment. The walls were adorned with intricate designs, much like the Cloud Flute. All sorts of rocks of every shape and size resided in this room, with colors ranging from green to gold. They had long since lost their sheen, but Lorelei couldn't help thinking they looked like large gemstones. She was tempted to smash one of the rocks and take a piece for herself as a souvenir, but the objective of her mission prevented her from doing such things. Instead she walked past them, but not without reluctance. She glanced over her shoulder longingly at a dark blue stone as she walked, making a mental note to take a piece the next time she came down here – if there would be a next time.
She continued on, keeping a steady pace. Spotting an opening in the wall, she squeezed through it, emerging into another room that looked much the same as the previous one. "Oh, these stones, oh so tempting," she sighed, shivering as her voice echoed back to her eerily.
This pattern of entering a similar room repeated itself a few times over before Lorelei found herself somewhere completely different. A cavern where the suppressed air threatened to overwhelm her and the temperature suddenly dipped to freezing temperatures. And at the centre of this room, a colossal body lay.
Lorelei had to take a moment to find her breath. She began shaking, her anxiety reaching a dangerously high point, but she marched on. This was what she wanted, even though she hadn't expected this.
So the story was true. This was the mighty beast she had sought.
Lorelei staggered closer to the body, feeling light-headed. She gulped and felt her blood freeze as she heard that the great creature was breathing.
Swallowing whatever misgivings and second thoughts she may have had, she took out the Cloud Flute, and began to play...
To be continued...