The Tale of Tadric's Time: Part One
The door to 223377 Bread Street slammed shut as Msomari
the mutant buzz stormed into his home. With a snarl, he tossed a bag to the red
Gelert lounging on the sofa. "Dinner, your Majesty," he snapped as he shed his
Friskitorius looked up from the book he was leafing
through, ignoring the tantalizing smell of omelette from the bag. "Something
wrong, Mso? You're not your normal, cheerful self."
Msomari stared at his roommate for a moment,
trying to determine whether or not he was being sarcastic . . . until he remembered
that his bubbly buddy didn't understand the meaning of the word. "Have you been
outside lately? There's no end to the fuzz heads singing the praises of Jeran,
that long gone knight of Meridell. Every so often there's an upsurge of it .
. . it's sickening." He let out a derisive snort as he slumped unceremoniously
into a beanbag chair.
"Aw, Mso, it's not so bad," Friski replied with
a smile. "They probably like Jeran 'cause he was someone to look up to, y'know?
The knights of Meridell were pentagons of virtue-"
"Paragons. Paragons of virtue. They were not
The Gelert shrugged. "Whatever. What I'm saying
is that Jeran's a role model. There's nothing wrong with that." He paused a
moment, then tapped the book he'd been looking at with a paw. "Y'know, one of
my ancestors was a knight, too!" Friski grinned.
Msomari looked up from his brooding, one hand
fingering the hexagonal medallion around his neck. "I was wondering why you
were reading. Looking through a family tree?"
"Naw. This is a history book. I got bored of
reading it -- it's about the wars in Meridell and all, lotta strategy and stuff.
But I found a picture of my ancestor!" He pointed to the open page, showing
a woodcut print of a fierce Gelert in armor wielding a sword. "See? Sir Tadric!
I've heard stories of Sir Tadric since I was a pup. Brave and bold, they told
me he was, defending good folk from the opposing forces, and . . . um, Mso,
what's wrong now?"
The buzz had gone very still, his eyes boring
into Friskitorius, one hand clenched around the silvery medallion. "Those are.
. . interesting stories you heard, Friski. Are you sure they're true?"
"Well . . ." For a moment, Friskitorius's cheery
countenance faltered. ". . .no, but it's in the history book, isn't it? I mean,
sure, it doesn't say I'm his descendant, but it could be true. And, sure, I
don't have thumbs like he did, but . . I've seen other Gelerts like that, so
. . ." Slowly, Friski's ears drooped and his face fell.
An exasperated sigh escaped Msomari as he massaged
his temples. "I can't stand to see you like that. Friski, would it help if I
told you that I know for a fact Tadric lived? That he was a knight? And that
you are indeed related to him?"
Friskitorius's head canted to one side, one ear
perking up. "How do you know?"
"Well, I suppose I had to tell you sometime."
Mso stood and held out the silver, six-sided medallion for his friend to see.
"Do you know what this is?"
The Gelert nodded. "It's the medal you wear around
your neck. Did you win it at the Tombola or something?" He smiled; winning useful
things at the Tombola was always a highlight of his day.
"Wh- g- NO, I did NOT win it at the Tombola!"
Msomari spluttered, indignant. He took a deep breath and withdrew his hand,
resting the medallion on his chest once more. One claw traced the elegant insect-like
carving on its face. "This is my badge of office, Friskitorius. I am a guardian."
"Ooookay . . . what do you guard? Besides the
cocoa juppies, that is. You keep bringing them home and I only want one, Mso,
just one! Can I have something besides the stinky omelette-"
"FRISKITORIUS T. GELERT!" Msomari bellowed.
"Be serious for a moment!" The buzz drew himself up, folding his arms across
his chest. "Ever since I was small, I've worn this medallion, seeking the one
I was charged to guard. Some time ago, I finally found him, and I've been guarding
him ever since . . . living in the same house, enduring his more irritating
traits . . . ."
Friski perked up further. "Wow! How come I've
never met this lucky Neopet?! Do you keep him in the attic? What's his name?"
Shutting his eyes in frustration, Msomari put
a hand over his face and hissed, "You, you idiot. I'm guarding you. And the
legacy of your forebears."
"Why would you need to guard me, Mso? I'm fine!
And I don't know about any legacy." He slid off the couch onto all fours, stretching.
"I've been guarding it from you for some
time. Now that you've learned of Tadric, though, I don't think I can keep it
from you any longer." Wearily, he trudged to the door leading to the backyard.
"Follow me, Friski. I'll show you what is rightfully yours."
Confused and terribly curious, Friskitorius followed
his silent friend through the rooms of their NeoHome. His mind was bursting
with questions for his companion, but he kept quiet; Msomari seemed so tired
and resigned. Too, he'd made Mso angry, and asking more questions would no doubt
make it worse. On silent feet, he padded along dutifully behind the buzz as
he pushed open the door to the backyard.
"The answers are in the tower," Mso murmured,
gesturing to the solitary stone structure rising up on a grassy hill. It was
a solid tower made of some dark stone, ivy creeping up around its base. No windows
were visible along the walls with the exception of arrow slits at the top. It
appeared to be taken straight out of a page from a Meridell story. When Friski
had inherited the simple NeoHome plot in Neopia Central, the tower had been
there, a stark contrast to the bright and cheery homes around it. As the years
passed, the tower went from conversation piece to simple fact of life; there
was a tower in the backyard, it was locked, and had resisted all attempts to
open it. It was of no more use than a rock. Now, however, things were bound
Friski trailed as Msomari approached the ironbound
wooden door. There was no visible handle, only a small, hexagonal plate with
an intricate design on it. Wordlessly, the buzz pressed his medallion to the
plate, and the door clicked open. The hinges creaked in protest at their first
use in years as he pushed it aside. Mso picked up a bottled light faerie left
on a stool just inside and started up the dusty, winding staircase.
The Gelert gawked as he climbed. All along the
staircase were paintings of the same Gelert he'd seen in the history books:
a white knight in dark armor fighting off various monsters and bands of ruffians.
Every picture showed a different battle. Strangely, though, there were no Meridell
flags or tabards, no insignias of allegiance of any kind . . . his train of
thought was promptly derailed, however, by the huge cloud of dust kicked up
as he bumped into Msomari's unmoving back. Friski started sneezing uncontrollably.
When the sneezing died down and the dust and
tears at last cleared from his eyes, Friskitorius found himself standing in
the doorway of a circular room. Msomari was sitting on a rickety stool to one
side, watching him thoughtfully, the faerie bottle placed in an alcove to his
right to provide light to the small chamber. His eyes were slowly drawn to the
central object in the room, however: a large chest, made of the same stone as
the tower. Its surface was smooth, showing no mark of a chisel; its construction
reeked of magic. The chest had been locked similarly to the tower door, but
Mso had already used his medallion on the mechanism. It lay there, cracked open,
calling to him.
"Go ahead. It's yours to open," Msomari said,
Tentatively, Friski stepped forward and, working
his front paws under the heavy lid, opened the chest. Within gleamed a familiar
set of armor. It was crafted of some dark metal with a peculiar purple luster.
The light barely caught the edges of the complicated runic designs etched into
its surface. All the pieces seemed to be there: a breastplate of overlapping,
chevron-shaped plates; similarly-patterned greaves; simple sollerets; sharp-looking
pauldrons with a yellowed horn set into the middle of each; and on top of it
all, a set of bracers. Paws resting against the lip of the chest, Friskitorius
gazed admiringly at the selfsame armor that Tadric had been wearing in the portraits.
His brow furrowed, and he looked to the mutant
buzz sitting nearby. "This is my legacy, Mso?"
"Yes, Friski. That is the armor of Sir Tadric."
A wry smile came to his fanged face. "I know you want to try it on - your face
is an open book. Go ahead."
"But, uh, Mso . . ."
"What's wrong?" Msomari asked, a little irritably.
Friski looked down at the armor, then at himself.
"Well, Mso, this looks to be made for someone who walks on two feet, not four.
I don't see how I'd be able to fit in it!"
"Just try it. Stranger things have happened."
Carefully, Friskitorius lifted the bracers out
of the chest with his teeth and started trying to put them on. Without opposable
thumbs, however, this was no easy task. After watching his friend struggle for
a few moments, Msomari rose to his feet and buckled the bracers on Friski's
A strange, dark glow suffused the bracers as
Mso took his hands away. Slowly the glow crept over the very alarmed Gelert
until he was enveloped in darkness. "Msoooo, what's happening?!" Friski
whispered urgently, ears standing straight up in fear. The buzz said nothing,
however; he seemed as surprised as Friskitorius himself.
As quickly as the glow appeared, it left the
Gelert, leaving him largely unchanged, except . . . Cautiously, Friski pushed
upward and stood on two feet. It seemed more comfortable, natural; his heels
rested on the ground as if born to it. And his forepaws . . . he held them up
to his face for inspection, as they felt different.
Then he realized why.
"I have thumbs . . . ?" Friski murmured. Then,
in a voice that could wake the Turmaculus, "I HAVE THUMBS!" Gleefully he grabbed
Msomari and swung him around until the flustered buzz freed himself from his
Mso groaned softly and shook his head. "No good
can come of this . . ." Still, he helped Friski don the rest of the armor, piece
by piece, until at last he looked like a perfect, if red-furred, double of the
Gelert from ages past. The mutant stepped back, hand to his chin, and took in
the effect. He had to admit there was something noble about his often simpleminded
friend when encased in the ancient armor. The wide-eyed stare as Friski looked
into the chest somewhat dampened the whole thing, though. "What are you looking
at now?" Mso growled.
Slowly, Friski reached into the chest and pulled
out a sheathed sword, still attached to the sword belt. He buckled it on and
drew the weapon reverently, laying the blade across his new palm. "Wow," he
breathed. While the armor was very lightly etched with runes, the sword had
similar runes etched deep within its blade, and they seemed to glow blue in
their depths when viewed out of the corner of one's eye. The silver handguard
was sculpted to look like a pair of snarling Gelert heads, and the purple pommel
stone had two silver Gelert tails entwined around it. In the center of the hilt,
though, where it met the blade, there was a very familiar six-sided design.
"Hey, Mso! It looks like your medal can fit in
the sword, too!" he exclaimed.
"What?" the buzz replied, peering at the hilt
quizzically. "I don't remember reading about that . . ."
Friski winked and snatched the medallion, pulling
Mso close. "Let's try it and see what happens!"
"Wait, Friski, I'm not so sure that's sm-" Msomari
started, trying to push the sword away, but there was newfound strength in Friskitorius's
limbs. Excited, the Gelert clicked the medallion in place on the hilt of the
Instantly, buzz, Gelert and sword were surrounded
by a bright, swirling light. The room disappeared around them, leaving them
adrift in the sparkling morass.
"Did the light faerie get out or something?!"
Friski asked, frantic.
"This is NO blessing, Friski!" Mso snapped in
In seconds, the world snapped back into focus
. . . but they were no longer in the small, dusty tower room. Dry grass crunched
underneath foot and paw as the duo took in their surroundings. They were on
a windswept plain, broken weapons and armor strewn about, battle standards of
both Meridell and Darigan torn and fading in the sun, huge stone wheel grinding
quickly forward . . .
"Out of the way!" Mso yelled, shoving Friski
to the side as he took flight. The beast pulling the contraption didn't blink
an eye as it plodded onward, the gargantuan Darigan war machine cutting deep
ruts in the earth. Msomari landed by the stunned Gelert and helped him to his
"We've gone and done it now," he grumbled. "Somehow,
we've ended up in Meridell . . . during the war between King Skarl and Lord
To be continued...