Nightfall: Part Four
Getting back to Neovia from Brightvale at night was treacherous. The lack of light from either world proved to make the trek seem longer than it was. Grant, armed with Lamenter's books, walked only paces ahead of the brown-haired Acara, her eyes flashing with anger. This wasn't how he had planned the evening to go. The dusk had bewitched him. But now there was no getting out of it. They were moving quickly out of Brightvale and covering more land than Grant did coming in. Amy the Kyrii hadn't appeared out of nowhere along the road to save him. Grant was quite alone.
As the light grew brighter behind them, the two hurried into the Haunted Woods. It was dark again. Tuleu twisted around Grant and started to walk in front of him.
"You don't know where you are going," Grant stated matter-of-factly.
Tuleu paused and allowed Grant to pass her again. Grant could tell she was becoming agitated. But the young Techo was just as angry with Lamenter as the Acara was.
The gypsy camp was almost deserted. One or two passersby acknowledged Grant and eyed Tuleu. The tent was just as he had left it. So was Amy's caravan. Grant hurried inside of it opened two of the drawers nearest to the stove.
"I should have checked this earlier," Grant whispered, furious.
"We need to get a move on," Tuleu called from outside of the caravan.
Grant looked at the necklace lying in the drawer. This was not like Amy. She'd never leave this here. It was the only material item she took with her. Grant could feel tears welling up in his eyes. He closed the drawer. Grant quickly gathered up the books and closed the door of the caravan behind him. He didn't feel his speed increase until Tuleu called out,
"Why are you running now?"
Neovia was quiet too. As the pair approached Lamenter's house, no one was in sight. This part of Neopia was more eerie than Grant could handle.
Once at the front door of Lamenter's home, Tuleu prodded Grant. Grant knocked hard in the door twice. The second pound sent the door flying open. No Lamenter. Tuleu pushed Grant out of the way. The interior of the home was still dark. Candle lights jumped from every corner. Then, a cackle emerged from one of them.
Lamenter stood tall, his plush coat dulled by the atmosphere. His black framed glasses stood perched on his nose. He smiled at Grant and whispered softly.
Suddenly, the floor opened under Grant and he hit the bottom of the basement with a hard thud. It was pitch black. He could hear a groaning from the far right of the basement.
A paw touched Grant's leg and he jumped. As he touched the floor, he felt the soft tuft of Kyrii hair. He was happy to feel Amy's touch but worried.
"Amy, are you ok?"
"Yeah," Amy mumbled weakly. Grant felt her lay her head on his foot.
Above, Grant could hear the faint shouts from Tuleu and Lamenter.
Grant bent down and grabbed Amy's shoulders. She stood weakly but firmly enough to walk. Grant claimed the Kyrii's paw and walked with her over to the wall. Grant's hand searched over the walls of the basement. His hand eventually roamed over a doorknob. It was locked. Grant tried to kick it open but failed both times.
Reluctantly, he placed his hands over Amy's. He could feel her eyes watching him with the look they usually had for him. Deep, reserved, happy. Amy pulled her hands away from Grant and kicked the door. It fell open.
"Amy," Grant breathed.
"I'm angry, Grant m'boy."
The two hurried through the door and Amy found a small lamp. She flicked it on. They were in a small room filled with boxes. Amy looked tired.
"I should have known you were here," Grant said, trying to pull Amy into a hug. She resisted.
"Not now," Amy replied, holding the lamp out to another door.
"How did he get you here?"
"I was looking out for myself. Bad idea, Grant."
Amy pulled three keys off a nearby rack and tried each one in the door. The second key clicked. Grant eyed Amy. She slowly opened the door and walked onto the first step. Grant followed beyond.
The shouting could be heard from the following door. That door connected to the corridor that led back into the main room.
"You cannot ruin lives anymore, Proulx," Tuleu barked.
"I'm not ruining lives. I want my possessions back."
"You don't need them back. You ruined that chance years ago."
Amy gently pushed the door open. The door creaked slightly but Grant and Amy were able to get out of the doorway.
"Let's go this way," Amy whispered. But Grant couldn't leave Tuleu.
He had brought her here and to leave without her seemed just as bad as leaving without Amy. Grant motioned for Amy to leave through the back of the house but Amy pouted. Before he could decide what to do, Lamenter's voice rang through the corridor.
"Come here, you two."
Amy froze. Grant gently grabbed her hand and moved toward the main room. Tuleu stood by the door, in the same spot as when they entered. Her cloak was hanging straight down and her green eyes showed no emotion.
Lamenter sat caressing his books.
"You are quick, Grant, but not clever."
"You have your books. Let us go."
Lamenter looked at Grant coldly and mouthed a word. He then returned to staring at his books.
"He's a fool and he knows it and he doesn't care," Tuleu spat.
"My old friend doesn't like me very much," Lamenter said without looking at Tuleu. "She despises me."
"You are a fool," Tuleu repeated, moving toward Lamenter. "We saved you. Your friends saved you. You decided to leave. I cannot help that."
"Oh, don't flatter yourself," Lamenter snapped. "You were never my friend. You may as well have been friends with Sloth himself."
With a shout, Tuleu charged at Lamenter. The books fell out of his hands. The two tussled on the floor. Tuleu pulled out her dagger and held it to Lamenter's neck. His glasses had fallen off.
"Unwrap the books, Grant."
"NO!" Lamenter shrieked.
"Open them, Grant!"
Grant headed for the books and unraveled them from the tight satin holding them together. Nothing happened. Lamenter was sobbing under the weight of Tuleu and her weapon.
"My books," Lamenter cried.
Inside of the books, the pages were empty. Some of the pages even fell out. Amy tugged at Grant's shoulder. Grant dropped the books and stumbled out of the house onto the Neovian street. It was dark. All Grant saw was light.
Days passed. Amy inhabitated the caravan again. Grant lay in his tent, confused. Grant didn't want to see Amy or anyone. As dawn approached the camp, Grant felt a shadow overcome his tent.
Amy stood over it in her lace tunic. A hood covered her head. She didn't seem as frazzled by the event as Grant. That angered him. Grant stared at her feet.
"Come out from that tent, Grant."
"Go home, Amy."
"Get out, Grant." Another voice rang in Grant's ears.
Tuleu stood outside of the tent. She replaced her cloak with a light brown jacket and her beige pants. Her eyes flickered from the light of the lamp Amy was holding. Grant shuffled out of the tent and stared at Amy.
"I don't blame you for your actions," Tuleu began. "Lamenter is quite the evil one. He used you by way of Amy. For that I am sorry."
"Where is he?" Grant asked, attempting not to look into Tuleu's green eyes.
"Where he belongs," Tuleu replied. "At the court of King Skarl for robbery."
Tuleu smiled at Grant and then averted her gaze to Amy.
"You two should join me in Brightvale."
"Yeah?" Amy asked, turning to Tuleu.
"Yes. Remember the Skeith, Grant? He's one of my helpers. He reminds me of you. He did odd jobs to help himself. Like stealing from others to give to Poogles."
The raw joke was a little too much for Grant but he retained his composure.
"My door is always open. Maybe you can actually meet Reorna. Good day."
With that, Tuleu turned into the night.
"Wait!" Grant called out. "Explain the doors."
Tuleu turned and pursed her lips. "They were dark. By you opening them, you took out whatever Lamenter could have done with them. They only respond to their owner."
Tuleu smiled and turned away again. Grant looked back at Amy who was entering the caravan. This adventure had been too much for one Techo to handle. The gypsy camp had been a challenge but living day to day without knowledge of tomorrow? That was the challenge. Did he want to continue to be a thief? No, he knew this for sure.
The dawn had come for Grant. He returned to his tent and put on his ragged hat. There were lessons enough for him in the past few days. He had been reborn.