Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 191,286,117 Issue: 602 | 3rd day of Swimming, Y15
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The Return: Part Ten


by herdygerdy

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Even with the boost of Madame Guillotine's ghostly power, the Judge was still losing the fight. Jennings could only watch on in horror as Chaos rained down more and more blows on the caped Moehog.

      Or maybe there was something Jennings could do. The cane, Chaos had used its power to manifest. Perhaps, without it, he would be physically weakened enough for the Judge to defeat him. Maybe then, the Shaman wouldn't even be needed.

      Picking his moment carefully, Jennings rushed forwards in between blows and snatched the cane away while Chaos was distracted. Jennings quickly put enough distance between them to stop the Lutari reclaiming the cane, but he didn't appear to be concerned.

      "You think that will stop me?" he laughed. "I've absorbed more than enough magic to keep me in the world of the living, it's nothing more than a trinket to me now!"

      He returned his attention to the Judge, delivering another blow that the Moehog only just managed to block.

      Jennings was momentarily paralysed. He held the cane, but without any magical knowhow or ability of his own, he lacked the power to use it.

      Thankfully he did not have to be in the situation for long. The doors to the lamp room were flung open, and Black and Morag entered, supporting the slumped Shaman between them.

      Jennings made his way towards them as the fight continued near the blue lamp. Black brought the Shaman to a rest against the wall, and Jennings held his head up so that they were facing each other.

      "I understand that there is a lot of water under our respective bridges," Jennings said. "But you must know that if this creature's grip is allowed to close around Neopia Central, it will not stop there. Like a disease, it will spread across the face of Neopia and eventually it will reach your precious island and your spirits. If I give you back your magic now, you will help me get rid of him now, before it is too late. Do we have a deal?"

      Slowly, with effort, the Shaman nodded.

      Jennings brought the tip of the magic cane forwards, so that it touched the Shaman's forehead. The effect was almost instant, the wounds on the grey Krawk's body healing and bruises softening. The green gem atop the cane glowed briefly, imparting the stolen magic back to the Shaman.

      Jennings stood up, keeping hold of the cane for good measure as the Shaman followed, restored to normal.

      "It is done," Morag suddenly piped up. "You are free. The deal was that I am released from my debt."

      "And you are," the Shaman said darkly.

      "What?" Jennings asked.

      "Remember I said I visited Mystery Island once?" Morag asked. "They saved me, his island spirits, and I was in their debt. Sorry, but I had to."

      "The spirits do indeed have many agents, just as you said, Mr. Jennings," the Shaman said with a smirk. "They were working to free me all along."

      "You've been working against us?" Jennings demanded of Morag.

      "I'm... sorry," was all she could say, before slinking off out of the door.

      The Shaman meanwhile was readying a magical blast, and unleashed it against Jennings. As it had done at the Smeltworks, the magical cane reacted to Jennings's unconscious need, and the blast was deflected off a shield of energy.

      "We had a deal," Jennings hissed.

      "I can do nothing to stop an immortal," the Shaman laughed. "Merely the words of the seer, used to ensure you would free me and restore my power. My spirits protect me, Mr. Jennings. Can you say the same of yours?"

      With that, the Shaman teleported away. No matter. Jennings glanced at Black, then the cane. With that in Jennings's hands, the Shaman could be captured and removed of his power again. He had merely delayed their little game of cat and mouse, not stopped it.

      Behind them, the fight between the Judge and Chaos had come to an end. Guillotine's magic was spent, and the Judge once more lay crumpled on the floor.

      The words of the Shaman now echoed in Jennings's ears. The cane could do nothing, the Judge could do nothing. It was as Brodman had said, only an immortal could challenge another successfully. But then, Jennings knew one, didn't he? The island spirits protected the Shaman... would those of Neopia Central protect Jennings and the Judge?

      "Stop!" Jennings called as he marched across to Chaos.

      "What now!?" Chaos cackled. "You think that little bauble has any power over me now? I'm too powerful!"

      "Yes, you're powerful," Jennings replied. "But that power only comes from the people of this city. Their minds, the disorder they are spreading in the streets. It's power, but there is a deeper magic running here. A stronger one, and one that I would wager doesn't take too kindly to what you are trying to do."

      Jennings turned to the largely empty room, "I'm calling you out! You must be watching! Lady!"

      The still air suddenly stirred, swirling in front of Chaos, forming a funnel of air that slowly took shape and form. A hand shot out of the funnel as the air solidified into the form of the red Zafara.

      The scene was still for a moment. She was dressed in a blue ball gown, but her slender hand was holding Chaos up by the throat, with the strength of a Neopet at least three times her size. Her face was like ice, and showed nothing but contempt for the Lutari she held.

      "This is my city," she said in a voice that could have caused fortress walls to collapse in on themselves. "You will leave."

      Chaos struggled for breath under the vice-like grip.

      "No excuses," the Lady said with even more fire. "You will leave!"

      With that, she threw the Lutari across the room. Instead of hitting the far wall, however, he seemed to explode in a hail of burning embers that quickly faded from view.

      With Chaos gone, the Lady rounded on Jennings.

      "I am not a bloodhound who can be called at will," she told him briskly. "You work for me, not I for you. I am not to be called again."

      With that, she strode elegantly out of the room.

      Jennings rushed forwards to help the Judge up. Black returned from the doorway.

      "I've just been to the lobby," he told them. "The rioters are still outside and the Defenders are being pushed back."

      "Chaos is not in control of them any longer," the Judge explained. "But the idea he planted is still in effect. They will need something to distract them, and break the spell."

      "Let's get up to the roof," Jennings suggested. "We'll be able to assess the situation better from up there."

      The three rode the lift up to the top floor of the building, and from there took the stairs to the roof. All three, in a way, had witnessed the Night of the Flaming Torches first hand, but this far outstripped it. A sea of rioters spread out in front of them, covering much of the Marketplace and Rydall Park beyond. It appeared, before losing the cane, that Chaos had used it to bewitch most of the city.

      "Any ideas?" the Judge asked.

      Jennings had one. He gazed down at the gem atop his cane. It's power could cause a big enough distraction to break the spell. There was no doubt about it. But doing so would rid Jennings of the only weapon he had found that would allow him his revenge on the Shaman.

      With a deep sigh, Jennings upturned the cane and smashed the gem down onto the cold marble of the Defenders building.

      The crystal cracked, the vast untapped power within being released first as a bright green flash that could be seen across the entire city, drawing the attention of all to the roof of the Defenders building. Then, after the flash had died, a great plume of green smoke rose from the crystal as the magic evaporated back into the air and the earth from where it had originally been drawn.

      The magic rained down on the city, like a green magical snow suddenly falling. All thoughts of rioting where now forgotten, with everyone transfixed by the breath-taking cloud spreading out across them. The spell had been broken.

      When at last the cloud dissipated, it was like the gathered Neopets had witnessed a grand show, and there was silence before, gradually, it began to rain.

      Faced with the sudden downpour, those below soon retreated back to their homes. Spell or no, rioting in the rain wasn't something anyone wanted to do.

      The madness had ended. The city was safe. Order ruled once more.

      ***

      Jennings sat back and admired the cane. The magical green gem was gone, replaced by the old diamond that used to sit there. It had been painful to let the weapon go, but in the end saving Neopia Central was the more important feat.

      The carriage came to a gentle stop and Black opened the door for him. They were going to inspect the rebuilt Smeltworks.

      "Have you thought any more about Mistress Morag?" Black asked as they walked.

      "If the Shaman's words are to believed, she was freed from her debt by aiding him," Jennings considered. "That means she is a free agent. A free agent that no doubt feels guilt about her betrayal. Having a seer as an ally may yet prove useful – I believe we shall leave her alone for now. Any news of our package?"

      "It was delivered to the Mystery Island port this morning," Black said.

      "Good," Jennings said with a grim smile of victory. "Brodman was quite right about Slothite plastic explosives, you know? So easy to get around here that you would think it grew on trees. A few pounds of that thrown in the Mystery Island volcano should cause quite a lot of panic. It may even cause chaos."

      Jennings stopped walking to let a parade of Moltaran priests pass by.

      "Let's see if the island spirits enjoy his company as much as we did."

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» The Return: Part One
» The Return: Part Two
» The Return: Part Three
» The Return: Part Four
» The Return: Part Five
» The Return: Part Six
» The Return: Part Seven
» The Return: Part Eight
» The Return: Part Nine



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