A Faerie Tale: Part Six
Our journey to retrieve the Desert Draik Egg was an uneventful one. To make a long and boring story short, we arrived in the Lost Desert, journeyed to Coltzan's Shrine, and read aloud the ancient code scribbled across the sheet Sting had provided us. Belinda freaked out when nothing happened and started to storm back to the boat, I tripped on something in the sand, we discovered the Draik Egg buried there, and... well... that's just about it. Having obtained all but the Pirate Draik Egg, we headed back to Krawk Island.
I didn't tell Belinda that I'd hatched the Blue Draik Egg, using the flask of Rainbow Fountain water given to me by the Fountain Faerie to change it into a young Faerie Draik, which subsequently helped me to rescue Sunrise. She would find out eventually, I knew, when we brought the Eggs to the client that awaited them. But I would put off her discovery of this fact for as long as I possibly could. When the time came, I would simply tell her that it had gotten lost in my pockets.
"Thank you for your help," I told Avresi as we docked at Warf Wharf.
The Baby Gelert gave me a wide grin as I pulled a sack of neopoints from my pocket and handed it over to him. "And thank you," he replied.
I couldn't help but to smile in return. I would miss the chipper little captain.
"I have something I need to take care of," Belinda said, looking off in the direction of Smuggler's Cove. "Replenish our supplies. I'll meet you at the cave."
I didn't bother to tell Belinda that we wouldn't need more supplies than we already had stored in our packs. Our journey into the Fungus Caves would hardly take more than a couple of hours, if that. If she had something she needed to take care of, though, she had something she needed to take care of. "Alright," I agreed simply, accepting her pack. "I'll meet you there."
And meet her there I did. I took my time reaching the Cave, which was located in a niche in the northwestern side of the Island, and only had to wait a few minutes before Belinda showed up.
I suppose I should have noticed her distraction then, but I had my own distraction to occupy me. I couldn't help but to think of Sunrise. I was happy, knowing that she was free, happier than I'd imagined I'd be. And yet, at the same time, I couldn't help but to be disappointed... disappointed that I would never see her again, even if it was for the best.
"Viggo!" Belinda said sharply.
I jumped. I hadn't heard her say my name that forcedly for a while. "Right," I mumbled. "Let's get going."
It was an odd place for a Draik Egg to be hidden, I couldn't help but to think, as we made our way through the Fungus Cave, placing our paws carefully lest we slip on the fungus-covered rocks. The Cave, I knew, was the place to which Krawk petpets came to become Krawk Neopets. Why anyone would store a Pirate Draik Egg here was beyond me.
Apparently, my reservations weren't all that far-fetched, for when we finally reached the part of the cave where we should have found the Egg – according to the map attached to the list that Sting had given Belinda – there was no Egg present.
"Well, this is brilliant," Belinda grumbled. Glaring at the map, she tossed it to the floor of the cave, grounding it into the fungus with the toe of her boot. "What now?"
Running my fingers over what rather appeared to be an empty nest, lined with fungus, of course, nestled into a shelf of rock jutting out of the wall, I started to speak. Before I could, Belinda came up with an answer to her own question.
"You know the shore across from Smuggler's Cove, the one with the reefs surrounding it that occasionally sinks cargo ships that get too close? I've heard of Pirate Draik Eggs occasionally being recovered there. Perhaps it could use a search..."
"Alright," I agreed. I had no reason to protest. Besides, a treasure hunt rather sounded like fun. It might take my mind off of the Faerie Peophin, at least.
Together, we departed the cave, headed back inland, and then made our way back towards the sea on the opposite side of the northwestern cliff. We'd made our way a good distance down the shore without finding anything of real value before I noticed it; we were being watched, perhaps even followed.
As soon as I took note of this, I straightened abruptly from the broken crate I'd been searching, meaning to warn Belinda. Instead, I found myself looking at the point of Carvar's sword.
"I'm sorry, Viggo," Belinda said with a shrug, from where she stood beside some of the Pirate Uni's cronies, "but I promised he could do what he wanted with you were you to interfere again and I, unlike you, keep my promises."
I couldn't muster a response.
"Clever, aren't you, using yourself as a distraction while the Peophin escaped?" Carvar hissed, sliding his blade beneath my beak. "Where did you find that Faerie Draik? Oh, you didn't think I'd noticed? Your diversion didn't last long enough to keep me from seeing them escape. We'll find them both, don't you worry. But first, I..."
I took off into the air before he finished speaking. The next moment, I crashed back to the sand, my wing screaming in pain. Pressing my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, I put my paw to it. I'd forgotten that Unis have wings too. Not that Carvar had had to take far to the air in order to catch my wing with his sword.
"Got that out of your system?" Carvar inquired coldly, stepping back up in front of me.
I didn't give him the satisfaction of answering.
"Tie his paws," Carvar ordered the nearest of his Pirate cronies.
I didn't make a move to protest, afraid that if I did, Carvar's sword would close in on me again.
At the sound of Belinda's voice, my hopes jumped. Perhaps she had changed her mind about allowing me to Carvar. Perhaps she was going to offer me the opportunity to escape. The Pirate Uni turned away from me, his eyebrows rising, seeming to wonder the same.
She didn't. Instead, she approached me, grabbing my shoulder and jerking me to my feet. Then she pulled the jacket from my shoulders, causing me to let out a quickly muffled shout of protest at the fresh pain the removal of the jacket sent through my wing.
"Would be a shame to keep our client from his Draik Eggs," she commented, eying the pockets of my jacket as she weighed it in her hand. Then she turned to Carvar, raising her eyebrows expectantly. "Which reminds me... I believe we had a deal?"
A small smile came to Carvar's face. "Indeed we did." Nodding to another of the Pirates, he watched said Pirate move off and return shortly with a bundle in hand.
Belinda accepted the bundle, smiling in satisfaction as she moved the fabric aside to reveal a Pirate Draik Egg. Then she slid the Egg into the pocket of my jacket with the others, turning smugly back to me.
"He's all yours."
"He'll be dissatisfied anyway!" I called after Belinda as she went to move away, as the Pirate Carvar had ordered to tie my paws closed in on me.
Belinda hesitated, looking back over her shoulder, her eyebrows furrowed. "What?"
"I said, he'll be dissatisfied anyway," I repeated, inching away from the approaching Pirate. "He'll be dissatisfied because the Blue Draik Egg is no longer an Egg."
Realization came to Belinda's face, gradually turning to anger. "What did you do?"
I shrugged, enjoying the rage in her expression. "I hatched it. That's where the Faerie Draik that helped me aid in Sunrise's escape came from."
I don't know why I told her. Perhaps I simply didn't want to see her get away with what she'd done. Perhaps I was so hurt by her betrayal that I wanted to feel the satisfaction of hurting her as well. I knew I would regret it. She was stepping towards me as I spoke, raising her fist as though planning to hit me.
I caused the fire on my wings and paws to flare up brightly around me before she could. The action had the desired effect; the Pirates immediately leapt back in an effort to keep out of the reach of the burning flames. Unfortunately, I hadn't accounted for the toll this action would take on me, my energy having already been drained in attempting to keep my mind off of the pain in my wing. I'd barely taken two steps away before I found myself pinned to the sand, a Pirate binding my paws.
At the start of this story, I commented on how Faerie tales are childhood stories of enchantment and beauty, tales of woeful princesses rescued by their brave princes, tales of good triumphing over evil.
This is no Faerie tale. Sunrise was no woeful princess, I, certainly no brave prince.
This is a tale of pirates and bandits and evil deeds, of Pirate smugglers bent on schemes of gathering Draik Eggs for some unknown purpose, on schemes of deterring noble hearted Peophins from rescuing Faeries from one driven by vengeful purpose. This is a tale of dark secrets, of true motives kept hidden from those closest. This is a tale of lies and betrayal, of those thought to be friends turning their backs at the time they are needed most.
Does good triumph? Well, I suppose that would depend upon your view of what is good.
With my paws tied, I couldn't protest as I was dragged towards the ocean. That doesn't mean I didn't try. "Belinda!" I called desperately, but the Kyrii ignored me. The next thing I knew, I was being tossed into the waves.
At first, the waves simply washed over me, dousing my flames, leaving me as cold as when the Snowager's blast hit me. Then I was under the water. I couldn't swim, not with my paws bound. I tried to use my wings to propel myself back to the surface, but with one being injured, I just couldn't. Though they exhausted me, I refused to give up my struggles as I sunk slowly towards the ocean floor.
What happened next was entirely unexpected. The surface broke above me, and for a moment, I saw her suspended there in the water, her mane lifted by the sea, her delicate wings laden with moisture. Then she was pulling me out of the waves and we both tumbled onto the shore, gasping for breath.
Something was happening on the shore. The Pirates were screaming and ducking and running in every direction, trying to escape. Managing to raise my head, I saw Tazyah swooping over the sand, releasing breaths of blue flames after the Pirates. Carvar appeared to be trying to catch her, yet he couldn't fly close to as gracefully as she did, as she swooped in complicated patterns of twists and flips and turns in order to avoid him, and he eventually gave up and fled with his fellow Pirates.
Sunrise's pulling the ropes from my paws drew my attention back to her. "Are you alright?" the Peophin asked.
I coughed out a mouthful of water in response. "Behind you..." I just barely managed to get out.
Sunrise nearly turned straight into Belinda's blade.
For a long moment, the two merely stared at one another, Belinda with a spiteful look on her face, Sunrise's expression simply startled. Then one of Tazyah's bursts of flame hit the sand not a foot from Belinda's boots. The Kyrii didn't flinch, but cast a dark glance in the little Draik's direction before turning her gaze on me.
"Don't think this is over."
And she left after the others without another word.
Shakily, I released the breath I'd been holding. Sunrise turned once more back to me, surveying me anxiously.
"It's fine," I lied, managing a small smile. "I'm fine."
Sunrise didn't seem quite convinced. In an effort to sway her, I carefully sat up.
"Why did you come back?" I asked slowly.
A small smile came to the Peophin's face. "Your friend isn't so good at keeping secrets as you'd hoped," she replied lightly, as Tazyah landed in the sand beside us. "She told me all about how rescuing me was your plan."
The little Draik gave me a sheepish smile. She looked far more pleased with herself than sorry, though. I quickly realized the reason for her pleasure, as she held my jacket in her claws, waving it happily to show me her prize.
"I had to thank you myself," Sunrise continued softly. "Seems that instead, I got to repay the favor."
I couldn't help but to smile at this. "Yes, it seems you did."
There was a long silence. I finally broke it.
"So... I guess you should be getting back to your owner now... she'll be worrying about you."
Sunrise tilted her head slightly. "What about you, where will you go? Don't you have a family?"
"I..." I couldn't come up with a proper response.
Shaking her head, Sunrise held out her hoof. "Come on."
"I'm fine..." I started to protest, but the Peophin shook her head once more. I could see that determined gleam in her eye, the one that said she wouldn't take no as an answer.
"If you come with me, I can do something about that wing, at least."
Shrugging helplessly, I reached out and took her paw.
Smiling, Sunrise pulled me to my feet. "Let's go home."
Skipping up beside me, Tazyah handed over my jacket, beaming up at the both of us. I made no attempt to keep from smiling also.
One adventure was coming to a close. Another was about to begin.