Dhaos The Grim
Night. A time of murky darkness; and glittering light. A time where creatures of both "good" and "evil" emerge from the shadows.
The skunk Draik was perched on top of the rooftop. The brilliant moonlight reflected off his black and white scales, as well as his largely metallic outfit and cape.
He had been out on a few other missions previous to his current one, but this was the first time he was doing one solo, even if it was "just" look-out duty. He was prepared, though; or at least he hoped he was.
He grunted. He had been standing watch for over an hour now. And as much as he didn't want to admit it, he was starting to become quite drowsy.
As he attempted to shake off his exhaustion, he slowly adjusted his mask. He had only joined the Defenders of Neopia a few weeks ago, and he had already earned himself quite the positive reputation. Of course, though, despite his seemingly natural prowess, there are some things that even he hadn't been able to adapt to immediately. Such as staying awake far past his usual bedtime.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he nearly fell off the root when he spied something down below. A dark figure was running past the shop-lined streets, a street light briefly revealing the bag of neopoints they were tightly clutching.
Within a second, the Draik went into action. Mirroring the thief's movements, he leaped across the surrounding rooftops, taking his sword out of his belt's sheath in the process.
In one swift movement, he leaped sideways and landed right on the street, intercepting the thief by a few small steps.
Even in the dark, the Draik could see the startled expression on the mystery pet's face. Coolly, he stood up, dusting himself off with his sword still in hand.
As the moonlight shone, the shadows melted off the other pet. A petite Cybunny, with lush, bright pink fur stood in front of him. Her eyes radiated fear, but her stance was one of a fighter.
Taking a breath, he turned around to face the thief. His gaze was fixed on the precious bag still in her grasp. "Exactly what do you think you're doing?"
The Cybunny shivered, but she maintained her form. "... Stealing. And who the heck are you supposed to be?"
The Draik held his sword out, and recited the speech that he had kept to his heart. "I am Dhaos. Dhaos The Grim. Reaper of those who would disrupt the peace of this world."
The thief smirked. "Nice speech. You practiced that in front of a mirror or something?"
He closed his eyes. "Now then, why don't you tell me who you are as well."
The Cybunny scowled. "None of your business. Look, just let me go."
The Draik slowly opened his eyes. His expression was blank, but his eyes told the truth. They shone with what seemed like pity. "That won't be possible."
The thief stood silent for a few seconds, contemplating her choices. But before Dhaos could act, she turned tail and fled the other way.
The Draik took chase, running through the maze that was Neopia Central in darkness. Catching a glimpse of her, he desperately flapped his wings, and jumped forward, flinging himself right into the Cybunny in a tackle.
The two pets landed on the street, both of them now sore. The bag of neopoints laid on the sidewalk, just out of the Cybunny's reach.
The thief grunted, struggling and kicking. "Let me go! Ngh, go to Moltara!"
The Draik held on, slowly whittling down the other pet's strength. Within a minute, her efforts had become half-hearted.
Peering at her face, his eyes slightly widened. "I thought I recognized you. You're Lila Manala."
The Cybunny hid her face away from the Draik's gaze. She had stopped struggling completely.
"You're a volunteer at the hospital in the plaza. The 'orphaned daughter of a great family, who took it all in stride'. Everyone was saying what an amazing person you were, you know. The media, the people that live here, even the other Defenders."
She sighed. "Look. I... I have to do this, okay. I have to."
Silence pervaded the air. After about half a minute, the Cybunny began to answer. "My father isn't dead."
Lila grimaced. "Exactly what I said. If you want more answers, I'll give you some. But would you just get off me first?"
The Draik released his hold on the Cybunny, and sheathed his sword. Groaning, she stood up, rubbing her back.
Dhaos frowned. "Well?"
The Cybunny sighed. "Fine. Fine."
She turned around, staring at the moon. "My father, and my mother. They were rich, of course. But that's far from what they were most concerned about."
The Cybunny began pulling on the sleeve of her shirt. "They wanted to help people. To save them. That's the kind of people they were. That's why I loved them."
"Then that happened. The explosion. For all I knew, they were gone."
"But a few days ago, I got a letter. It was... from my father. He said that he was alive, somehow. But that for some reason he needed neopoints. Really, really badly. He told me he wanted me to get him some."
"Even if you had to steal them?"
Lila nodded. "Right on the mark. So, I did. I was supposed to just leave it here. Just walk away after I did that."
The Draik crossed his arms. "And you actually believed that?"
She sighed. "I know. I know I'm dumb, and I know that what I'm doing is stupid. But... if there's any chance that my father is still alive, then... I..."
The Defender walked up to the downcast Cybunny, and put a claw on her shoulder. "I know how you feel. But this isn't right, and you know it. You're too good a person for this."
The Draik slowly turned her around to face him. "Listen. Come back to HQ with me, and fess up. If you quit doing this now, then your charges are going to be bearable. Please."
The Cybunny frowned. But before long, she sighed in defeat. "Okay."
Sunlight filtered into the building from the large window, casting warmth onto the two neopets in the room.
The Draik stood as stiff as a statue. Judge Hog himself had called him into his office regarding his actions last night.
The large Moehog coughed, even that small act causing a loud echo to form. "Dhaos. I understand that you managed to take Lila Manala into custody after her theft from the National Neopian Bank. Rather well done."
Dhaos bowed. "Thank you, sir."
The Moehog nodded. "Now then, let me ask you something. Do you have any idea about what happened to her father?"
The Draik shook his head. "No, sir. I assume he was taken by the explosion at their home, just as his wife was."
Judge Hog sighed. "What if I told you, that Alexander Manala was still alive?"
The Draik gasped. "Then... Lila was correct?"
The Moehog stood up from his seat. "We had been observing Alexander for quite a while."
"Have you ever heard of the Eyes of Dark?"
Dhaos nodded. "Yes. He's an enemy still at large, correct?"
Judge Hog inhaled. "We have reason to believe that he and Alexander are one and the same."
The Draik broke out of his composure. "What!?"
"After Alexander's supposed death, the Eyes has been appearing more and more. Add in the fact that they're both green Techo's, they both have similar builds, and a myriad of other observations and facts, and it's a miracle we didn't come to this conclusion sooner."
Dhaos took in a deep breath. "What are we going to do about Lila, then."
Judge Hog rubbed his chin. "Yes... This is going to be a problem. If she learns the truth, there's a chance she'll be swayed to his side."
The Draik frowned. "I can see it."
Closing his eyes, the Moehog sighed. "In that case, we have no choice but to withhold the truth from her."
"... Understood, sir."
The greeting snapped Dhaos out of his concentration. Looking at the source of the voice, he found himself staring at a wearily smiling pink Cybunny.
"I'm going to be doing some community service for my theft. You were right; things could've been much worse for me."
The Draik nodded. "I'm glad."
She pushed a lock of pink hair behind her head. "Thank you for everything. For getting me to go here, and all that."
"It was my pleasure."
The Cybunny's smile expanded. "I've decided: I don't know about my father anymore, but... I'm not going to worry. I have the staff at the hospital waiting for me after I'm done with this, and that's enough. I miss my father, but it's time for me to move on."
The Draik was silent. It took a curious stare to jar him into a response. "I'm glad for you."
"Well, I'm off for my first day of service. Thanks for everything, Dhaos The Grim."
The Cybunny walked out of the building's entrance, leaving behind the Draik in the middle of the empty lobby.
It was late afternoon by the time Dhaos landed on the lawn of the small house. To his relief, no one else was around as he made his descent. That was the reason he lived in such a far-off area in the first place.
His wings were still aching from last night, so he took the flight home slowly. Even with that effort however, it was still quite a painful experience.
The Draik slowly turned the knob of the familiar door, and headed inside. Slowly, he began to take-off his now sweaty mask.
Within a few seconds, a flying sprite of black fur floated out of the living room and began to greet him. The little faellie nuzzled his owner, chirping all the while.
Dhaos smiled at his petpet. "Thank you, Danny. I'm sure you're rather hungry now, correct? I am as well, so let's have ourselves a meal in a little bit, okay?"
The faellie nodded, and flew back into the room where he was resting. Dhaos followed, but stopped.
He couldn't help thinking that not telling Lila the truth was wrong. But it was an order from Judge Hog himself. He couldn't simply disobey it.
With a conflicted mind, and a heavy heart, he continued on towards his kitchen. He would just have to hope that the Eyes of Dark wouldn't try anything else on his daughter.
But it was a hope that he felt might be in vain.