Retribution: Part Nine
Part Nine: Retribution
"Boss!" Cam cried in alarm, shooting forward. He felt the power of the Three slam into him, and flinched backwards, drawing his hands up close to him, unsure about getting too close. But... the Boss is in there. He steeled himself, pushing forward against the power of the Three. "Boss!" he called again, reaching out his hands.
His feet nearly slipped out from under him from the force of the swirling magic, but he pressed forward, reaching. The tips of his claws seemed to touch a barrier, and he pushed against it. After several moments his hands began to sink in. He gasped as pain raced through his hands and up his arms, but didn't pull back, instead calling out as he pressed forward, "Wraith!"
The Darigan Eyrie slowly lifted his head. He could've sworn he heard a voice. What does it matter? he reminded himself. Nothing did, not anymore.
Then hands appeared in front of him, along with the sound of a voice shouting, "Wraith!"
It took a few moments for him to put a name to the voice. "Cam?" he asked slowly, eyes dull as they stared at the swirling power of the Three.
"Come on, Boss; you need to fight back."
He didn't know what prompted the words, but he responded, "My name's not Wraith. It's Kass." What a trivial thing it seemed, a name. He couldn't remember why he'd bothered to change it.
The arms that had been slowly forming stopped. Staring at them, he continued slowly, "One of them possessed you, you know. They wouldn't have if I'd just let them take me. Illusen could only suppress him, not get rid of him."
The pause lengthened, and he continued, "I started a war with Meridell. This is-"
"I don't care."
The words were quiet, but somehow, they still overrode his own words. "What?" he whispered, unable to believe he'd heard correctly.
"I don't care," Cam repeated. "You still took me in. You've cared for me, even though you didn't have to, for all these years." The arms began forming again as they surged forward through the power of the Three. "I suppose you're the closest thing I have to family. I'm not just going to let them take you away!"
His eyes widened in surprise. "Cam..." he whispered. Even after learning who he was, what he'd done, he still cared about him? He felt the pinprick of tears in the corners of his eyes as a Bori's muzzle began to poke through the vortex. "Who am I," he whispered, "to deserve this?"
Cam's full head appeared in the gap now, amber eyes looking into red. "Boss!" he cried, reaching out a hand.
What was visible of the Bori disappeared before the Eyrie even had the chance to react. His eyes stretched wide for a moment. Cam...? He clenched his fists, closing his eyes. "No," he growled, wings slowly spreading. "Do what you want to me, leave him alone." He lifted his head, opening his beak and screeching, "Go on, then, take me! I won't let you hurt him anymore!"
As the Three converged on him through the vortex, he allowed himself a small, true smile. Cam... I'm sorry.
Then the Three engulfed him.
Cam felt a jolt of surprise to accompany his pain as he was forced out of the vortex, falling and skidding half-way across the floor of the room. He lifted himself up, eyes widening as he stared at the vortex. "No!" he screeched, frustration pulsing through his voice. He scrambled to his feet, trying to rush forward, to reach his mentor again. I have to keep trying. I have to get him free.
Suddenly the power seemed to collapse in on itself, coalescing for a moment before exploding upwards, dispersing immediately thereafter. Cam froze, mouth agape and ears flat against his head as he stared at empty air. "Boss?" he whispered, eyes searching for any sign of the Eyrie.
Reality slowly settled in, and he fell to his knees. "No," he whimpered. He shook his head, repeating, "No, no, no."
A flash on the edge of his vision caught his attention. Turning his gaze, he saw it - the mirror. The same one he'd found on that day, so many years ago. Maybe, if he broke it, he could bring Wraith back. He reached forward, fumbling with the object before her was finally able to grasp it in his clawed hands. He lifted it high above his head and slammed it against the ground, causing the glass surface to shatter. He looked with desperate hope at the place where Wraith had once stood, but nothing appeared there. He beat the remains off the ground again, and again, and again, continually checking back to see if Wraith would, somehow, appear.
He felt something grab onto his arm, stopping him from mutilating the destroyed mirror any further. More arms wrapped around him, dragging him away. He felt something hot and wet run down his face, and heard an annoying, hiccupping sound echo around him.
It was a while before he realized the sound was that of his own sobs.
Cam stood between two knights as they shepherded him into the throne room. "Well," King Skarl commented, "you've caused us a lot of trouble, bringing one of the Three with you, and all."
Cam didn't say anything. His heart and veins were ice as he slowly lifted his head. The Skeith frowned at him. "Well? Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
"What should I say?" he asked; his voice sounded dry and cold, even for him.
The king seemed to be put off by his odd tone. "This means that you'll have to accept whatever punishment we give you."
"Go ahead," Cam whispered in response. "I deserve any punishment you want to give."
Skarl seemed disgruntled by the reply. "Alright, then. Apparently, someone thought you weren't all that bad, and you could be a 'productive citizen of Neopia' with a little correction."
"Correction?" Cam repeated dully.
Skarl nodded, then groaned. "I'll have to talk with a few others, unfortunately, but once things are settled, you'll be heading off to the Pound." He held his face in his hands. "It would be so much easier just to throw you in the dungeon!"
Cam hardly registered these facts as hands wrapped around his arms and dragged him back out of the throne room.
When the day came that Cam would be sent to the Pound, he was assigned only one guard. They didn't seem to see him as much of a threat, though that was unsurprising. His guard was a hooded fellow, body hidden in the folds of his cloak. He didn't talk, and neither did Cam; it appeared both were perfectly content to remain silent as they made the long trek between Meridell and Neopia Central.
When the two finally arrived, Cam's legs were protesting with fatigue. His guard hesitated at the entrance to the Pound, then ushered the blue Bori forward and through the door.
A cheerful looking pink Uni greeted them at the entrance. "Hello," she chirped. "Are you here to adopt?" His guard shook his head, pushing Cam forward roughly.
He took the hint. "My name is Cam," he said slowly, emotionlessly. "I'm here for 'correction.'"
"Oh," the Uni said, deflating. "Then you'll want to see Dr. Death, over there." She pointed a hoof towards the form of an angry-looking Techo, and Cam and his guard changed course so that they stood in front of his desk.
The Techo looked up at the blue Bori with narrowed eyes. "So, I suppose you're our new inmate?"
"I suppose," Cam agreed quietly.
Dr. Death snorted. "This is a place where owners - that is, humans - go to abandon their neopets," he explained, seeming to believe Cam cared. "However, it also has another purpose." He pulled out several leaves of paper and a pen, continuing, "If there is a neopet that's believed could be 'cured' of their bad behavior by having an owner, they're sent here to wait for adoption." He clicked the pen, looking at the top of a stack of papers with mild annoyance. "Name?"
Dr. Death raised an eyebrow. "Full name?"
The Techo muttered under his breath. "All neopets with owners have to have different names," he grumbled, "and the name Campeon has already been taken. I'll need to change your name." When Cam didn't respond, he growled, "Fine. I'll just add some numbers to the end."
That being said, the Techo continued to leaf through the stack, having Cam sign whenever necessary. He pushed the stack aside roughly once they were finished, standing abruptly and shooting a glare at Cam's guard. "You may go."
For the first time since setting out from Meridell, the figure spoke. "Of course, sir."
Cam's eyes slowly widened as he heard the voice. He turned to look at his guard, mouth opening to say a name, but stopped as he saw a flash of red eyes. With a swish of his cloak, the guard was gone, exiting the Pound without a second look.
"Come on," Dr. Death growled, "your cell's this way."
Cam nodded, eyes remaining trained on the door for a few moments more before he followed the Techo into the back rooms. And, as he was locked inside his cell, the ice that had built up in his heart slowly melted.