The Legend of Premium Bat: Part Three
Also by jair_lorce
Fyora nodded approvingly. She was very impressed with this young Korbat. She told Battius what she knew of Boochi's whereabouts. That she had heard rumors of a new villain setting up his headquarters in a remote cave on Terror mountain. She drew him a quick map showing the location of the cave. Then she donned her hood once again and left with the baby Space Faerie in her arms.
Battius turned to Breanna with a kind smile and patted her arm gently.
"Thank you for your help," he told her. "I will always remember your bravery. I will arrange passage for you back to Mystery Island. I think your parents have been without their daughter long enough."
Breanna nodded and hugged Battius tightly.
"I will tell everyone how you have saved me. I know you will succeed and return the Space Faerie to us. Thank you so much, Battius." She released him and stepped back, her eyes filled with tears.
Battius arranged her travel and his own as well. He packed warm clothing for the icy temperatures of Terror Mountain.
The next day he escorted Breanna to the Eyrie Enterprises flight deck, and assisted her aboard her Eyrie transport. He stood and waved her good-bye as they lifted into the air and flew away. He then made his way to his own loading area, and greeted the Eyrie transporting him.
Soon he too was winging through the sky on the strong wings of an Eyrie. His flight to Terror Mountain was pleasant. He much enjoyed watching the land below him, and the occasional meeting with another commercial eyrie flight, or flying Neopet. Before he knew it, they had arrived. He slipped on his heavier jacket as his luggage was unloaded. The air was crisp and cool here, even in high summer.
Making his way to the Frozen Heights Inn, he checked in and asked the steward about hiking guides who might know the safe trails in the Peaks, who could arrange an outing. The steward assured Battius that he would send someone knowledgeable in the area to speak with him. Battius unpacked his belongings and arranged things to suit himself in his room. Just as he was finishing up, there was a brisk knock at his door. Opening it, he found himself looking up into the eyes of the largest Lupe he had ever seen.
"My name is Fauton. The steward said you were looking for a trail guide. I have experience leading groups, and know the safe trails," the Lupe stated with calm confidence.
"Very good!" Battius replied. "I have need of an experienced guide to help me plot a path to this cave." He carefully spread out the hand-drawn map Fyora had gave him. The Lupe looked at the map, then at Battius.
"That cave is in one of the most dangerous areas in all the Terror Mountain range," Fauton stated grimly. "There is only one path that leads there by ground. That is no path for the inexperienced or faint-hearted to attempt. Why do you want to go to that cave?"
Battius explained to Fauton the recent events in Neopia, leaving out any mention of the Space Faerie.
"Queen Fyora has asked me to retrieve something from this cave to assist her in restoring order to Neopia," he told Fauton. "It is vital that I get there as soon as possible."
The Lupe looked him over, his eyes seeming to take the measure of the handsome young Korbat. Whatever he saw in Battius seemed to be enough.
"All right then, I'll take you to the cave," Fauton agreed gruffly. "I'll need to gather supplies for the journey. It'll take all of a day to get there on foot, or we can hire a flier to drop us nearby. I know a trustworthy Draik that lives up in those crags. He's smart, and he knows how to keep his mouth shut. I imagine he'd help us out if he knew you were sent from Queen Fyora herself. He's in town today for supplies."
"If you know him as trustworthy, Fauton, I think we should ask for his assistance in this matter. The sooner I get there the sooner I can get back to Faerieland," Battius stated.
"All right then," Fauton said. "He'll be over at the Icy Cafe about this time. Let's go see what he has to say."
Battius and Fauton walked over to the cafe. As they entered Battius noticed immediately the red Draik hunched over a steaming cup as he watched them approach.
"Afternoon, Thorn," Fauton greeted the Draik, gesturing to the empty seats at his table. "Have room for two more?"
"Sure," Thorn replied, pushing a chair away from the table with a hind claw.
Battius and Fauton sat down and ordered a beverage when the waitress swung by their table. The three of them sat in silence until she brought them their order.
"My name is Battius..." the Korbat began speaking, but the Draik interrupted him.
"I know who you are. Heard of what you did for the folks in Premium. Heard about the young Kacheek girl you rescued on Mystery Island as well," Thorn paused to take a sip of his coffee.
"Somehow I thought you'd be bigger," the Draik commented wryly.
Fauton covered his smile by taking a sip of his own drink. Battius smiled too and leaned back in his seat.
"Actually because of those incidents, I find myself involved in solving another similar problem," Battius told them. "I need to recover an item from this cave..." He spread the drawing out on the table between them.
"I need to get up there as quickly as possible," he continued. "Fauton says it's a difficult journey up there on foot, and anyone in the cave would see us coming long before we got there. I need to get in there with no one knowing in advance that I am coming, then get out again fast and back to Faerieland. The safety of Neopia itself lies in the balance."
Battius took a sip of his own steaming drink, letting Thorn look over the map. His surprised appreciation of the taste must have shown on his face. He lifted the mug again for another sip. Noting his reaction, Thorn raised an amused eyebrow at him. Battius realized why the Draik had made this small cafe a stop on his trip to town.
"So you're wanting me to fly you in?" Thorn stated.
"Yes," Battius confirmed. "Fauton will guide me to the cave from that point. I will go in and retrieve the object. You would fly us out again after I retrieve what I was sent for. If it were possible for you to fly us straight to Faerieland that would be even better."
"There are rumors about that cave," Thorn told them. "It's said there is a lot of activity in and out of there recently. A young Bruce I know told me he was ordered out of the area by whoever is using the cave."
"I don't expect them to be friendly." Battius nodded. "They are working outside the law. They won't want their actions known by locals."
"The problem then," Fauton suggested, "is that if they are trying to keep their activities secret. They may decide to harm anyone who catches them."
"I can understand if the two of you would rather not be involved," Battius replied firmly. "However, this is a risk I have to take."
"I'm in," Fauton stated.
"It should be interesting at least," Thorn stated casually, stretching his hind legs and slouching in his chair. "When do we go?"
"I need to gather a few supplies," Fauton stated. "We could be ready at first light."
"Sounds good to me," Battius nodded agreement.
"I'll pick you up in front of the Inn at first light," Thorn confirmed.
Battius gave Fauton a hefty bag of neopoints as they left the cafe, telling him to buy whatever he felt they might need for the journey. The Korbat shivered in the chill air as twilight deepened. The beautiful site of Kreludor rising over the majesty of the mountains caught his attention. He stood entranced at the beauty of the scene. The peaceful village lying quietly under the brilliant glow of the rising moon was wonderful. He shivered again in the cold and continued on to his room at the Inn.
The sun had not yet made its appearance when Battius stepped out of the front door of the Inn the following morning. Even though he was a few minutes early, Fauton and Thorn were waiting for him. Taking his pack from him, Fauton stored it with the rest of their supplies on the pack harness Thorn carried on his back. Thorn bent a foreleg as a step for them and Fauton, then Battius, climbed aboard and settled themselves on the strong back of the Draik. With a neck-snapping jump, Thorn was aloft and they were rising quickly above the village. Turning in the air, the Draik flew North into the forbidding shadow of the Terror Mountains.
The sun rose, and Battius watched as it colored the clouds in the sky with pink, gold, and red. The beauty of this fierce wilderness spread out below the glory of the painted sky. It was a sight he would carry in his memory forever.
In what seemed like a very short time, Thorn was back-winging to land them on a snow-covered outcropping. A rough, boulder-strewn path led off around the curve of the mountain. Swinging down off of the Draik, Fauton reached up to assist Battius. They unloaded their small supply packs.
"Fauton will lead me to the cave and then return to you," Battius told Thorn. "If I'm not back by morning, please fly to Faerieland and tell the Queen that I have failed. Thank you for assisting me, Thorn." Battius extended a wing in friendship, and Thorn carefully touched the tip of his own larger wing to that of the Korbat.
"I'll be here when you return," Thorn replied with no hint of doubt in his tone.
Battius and Fauton started up the trail, picking their way around scattered boulders and edging carefully past dangerous areas where parts of the path had broken and tumbled down the mountain. Fauton set a steady pace, checking frequently at first to see that the young Korbat was keeping up. His respect for Battius grew as the Korbat pushed on, keeping the pace without a word of complaint. The path grew rougher as they continued. Soon they were forced to scramble over boulders and use the pitons and rope Fauton carried in his pack to get them past breaks in the path. Working together they made their way around these obstacles, and suddenly the path cleared.
"The cave is just around that next curve, Battius," Fauton told him in a low voice.
"Thank you Fauton," Battius replied. "Please return to Thorn and wait for me. If I'm not back by morning the two of you must get word to Queen Fyora, no matter which way this turns out."
"I will." Fauton nodded gravely. "Good luck!"
To be continued...