Brothers: Part Two
"This cave is the headquarters?" They were somewhere outside of Meridell. Dayith had been blindfolded coming. Yorn slithered ahead with a lantern. "That's right, the boss is in the back."
They passed several smaller caves; some had neopets talking, eating, or sleeping.
"How many in the guild?"
"About twenty right now." Yorn continued to slither along the damp corridor. "Here he is."
They had just passed a widening in the hall that had been turned into a meeting room with several tables and benches. A door stood on the other side. There were two crossed black bones wired onto the door. Yorn rapped on the door.
Dayith blinked, compared to the dimly lit hallway, the room was darker. In fact, it was pitch black.
Yorn bowed with his fists pressed together. "I have found a recruit for a wraith."
Dayith tried to not look like he was straining to see.
"Have you now?" A soft voice asked. "Close the door, the light hurts."
With the door now shut, there was no way to see anything. Dayith heard something move and suddenly two, eerily bright blue eyes were gazing fixedly at him. "Orange eyes."
Dayith didn't flinch, it was a skill he had developed early on. "Blue eyes," he returned.
There was a soft laugh, the eyes seemed to flicker brighter, like a small cold fire was in them. "Cheeky, aren't you?" There was movement again and the eyes disappeared. "He's perfect... except." The eyes appeared again. "Your eyes, there's something behind them, a doubt."
Dayith's neck fur went up. This leader was creepy. "Wouldn't you have doubts about someone who goes around in the dark?"
The voice laughed again. "Our business is dark, light is our enemy, and yet, you are white."
Dayith frowned. "If that's a problem, I'll be taking my leave."
"Wait." The eyes disappeared and reappeared in front of him. "We will see how well light can do the business of the dark. I have a small task, to see if you are adequate. You are familiar with the Haunted Woods, yes?"
Dayith was startled at the name of his former home. "How....?"
"I can see it. Now, there is a matter of security. Somewhere in the Haunted Woods lives an informant. No one knows what kind of neopet it is, all we know is that it knows everything about anything going on. It has lead to several losses on our side. It only gives information to those who pay well, we are still small and poor. The informant needs to be stopped if we are to make any progress. Find it and stop his or her operation."
"Stop his or her operation?"
"On the end of your sai if necessary."
"What's in it for me?"
"Fifty percent of anything you find, and a position in the guild.
"Good," the voice crooned. "You'll set out tonight. Yorn, take him to Reese. She'll equip him with whatever he needs."
Yorn bowed again. "As you say." He pushed the door open and ushered Dayith out.
Dayith blinked in the light of the torches. "What is...." He wasn't sure if he should address the leader as a male or female."
Yorn smiled. "The only one who knows is Reese, and that's because she was the first member, second in command if you will."
They walked into a smaller cave, a Darigan Kougra was writing at a desk. She looked up as the two walked in. "Yorn, you're back, and with someone I see." She looked Dayith up and down. "Not too shabby."
"He's going informant hunting; he needs some equipment."
The Kougra got up and held out a paw. "Reese."
Dayith took it. "Dayith." Bones rattled and Whish was suddenly across their arms and around Reese's shoulders. "And Whish."
Reese laughed. "You have a petpet?" She didn't seem to upset about it; she rubbed the top of Whish's head. "I always wanted one." She smiled to herself then walked back to the desk, Whish still around her shoulders. "You'll need food, a good dark cloak, and a weapon."
"I have a weapon already. Dayith showed her his sai.
"A little on the rusty side," Reese said as she took it from him. "I'll clean it up. Yorn, you're dismissed."
Yorn bowed and left.
Dayith sat on a stool while Reese got out the equipment to clean his sai. "So you were the first member?"
"That's right. And no, I won't tell you who leader is." She chuckled as Dayith frowned. "Every rookie asks that question."
Dayith looked around the room filled with equipment. "So how did this all start?"
Reese looked up from his sai. "It started about five years ago, I was looking for a new guild and leader was looking to start a new one, we hit it off and slowly built up our guild. We're small, but we have good members."
She threw his sai into a piece of wood next to his head and pointed to a pile of equipment. "Done, now stop asking questions and get a move on. Good luck."
She watched him go out with his new equipment. "You'll need all the luck in Neopia to find him."
She looked at Whish. "Keep an eye on him."
Whish nodded and hopped off her shoulders to follow Dayith.
"See, lookie there, more information." Tessa patted the Cobrall that had brought in the latest information. Tessa unrolled the piece of paper. "This will interest you, Kanuah." He handed the paper to him.
Kanuah read out loud, "New recruit in Black Bones guild, white Lupe, first mission, to find and destroy informant in Haunted Woods."
Tessa smiled and leaned back. "Looks like your little brother is headed our way, easy for us."
Kanuah looked over the sheet. "That would solve the problem temporarily. But if I drag him back, he'll just run again, I need to solve this permanently."
He looked from the paper, to the medallion, to Tessa. "One night is all we would need."
Tessa grinned. "If we call, maybe even Leader will show up."
Kanuah looked back at the paper. "If we pull this off, you won't be bothered again, and I'll get my brother to come back on his own."
Kanuah picked up the medallion and pulled at a chain around his neck, a black throwing star appeared on the end. He took it off and placed it on top of the medallion. He placed his paw on top of it and looked at Tessa. Tessa nodded.
Kanuah closed his eyes and intoned, "The Black Stars shine tonight."
The medallion grew warm under his paw. He lifted it and the stars that had been showing started going out one by one.
Tessa grinned and held up his own black star. It was glowing slightly with the words, Haunted Woods burned on it. Tessa covered it with his claw, another light on the medallion went out. "And so it starts."
"You're kidding me." Dayith gapped at a sign posted on a tree. He had started out at dusk to search for the informant. He had been careful to stay in the shadows, not come in contact with anyone, and had been, in general, invisible. But this... The sign nailed on the tree on the outside of the woods had freshly painted letters that said Informant, this Way with an arrow pointing left. Dayith looked at the sign then the woods. It was most likely a trap, but the question was who knew he was coming. Then again, Leader had said that the informant knew everything that happened in the underground. Dayith shrugged. "What's the worst that could happen?" He followed the sign.
Six signs later he was at an old, rickety house. He jumped the fence and moved silently through the yard. The door was wide open. "I'm not that stupid." Dayith muttered. He pried open a window quietly, he crouched listening. There was no sound except for the wind. He slowly moved through the house. He met no one, He saw no movement. What was going on? He got to a well lit room. There was no one there except for a Mallard, who was looking expectantly at him. Dayith looked around the room. There was papers in neat stacks around the room and various charts on the walls. The table was clean except for one piece of paper that was stuck on the table by a black throwing star. Dayith looked at the note. Welcome to my house, we have a message for you, Dayith. The Black Stars will shine again tonight to protect their own, Run back if you dare, tell them to prepare.
Dayith jerked the star out of the table and rolled up the note. False lead or not, he had to get back to report.
"Reese? Yorn?" Dayith had been running all the way from the Haunted Woods, he leaned panting against the side of the cave. Yorn slithered up. "Dayith what is it? Did you already complete your task?"
Dayith waved him aside. "I need to see Reese, they already knew we were coming."
"She hasn't been around all day; she disappeared almost as soon as you did."
"Then I need to see Leader." He jogged down the hall with Yorn hurrying after him. Dayith banged on the door with the black bones. "Leader! I need to see you."
"Enter," the soft voice answered.
Dayith slammed the door open and shut in Yorn's face. "They knew I was coming, I found this note." Dayith held the note out in the dark. Something took it form his hand.
The blue eyes appeared and scanned the note. "Was anyone there?"
"No, just this note."
The blue eyes narrowed. "There's an informant in this guild, they could not have know besides that. You did well to return. We must prepare to be invaded. Go tell Reese to come see me."
"She's not around, Yorn said no one had seen her all day."
The eyes flared a hot white-blue. "Is that so? Then we are indeed in trouble. Yorn!"
The door opened and the Hissi came in. "Leader."
"Tell everyone to go to the common room and to not bring any weapons, they are to sit and wait and NO weapons. Am I clear?"
Yorn bowed and hurried out.
The blue eyes shook side to side, the neopet was shaking its head. "We have made a grave mistake."
"What is that?" Dayith asked.
The eyes turned to him. "We have bitten off more that we can chew. The informant I sent you after must have belonged to the Black Stars."
The eyes paced back and forth. "The strongest underground guild that existed. They would come like smoke and leave like the wind. They could pull anything off, no one could defeat them, no one could catch them. They said the leader was born out of the rocks of Darigan. A black neopet who could kill with just looks."
"Why haven't I heard about them?"
"They broke up about five years ago, the leader dispersed them and no one had heard of them since, until now."
"But if it broke up, why are they attacking us?"
There was a soft laugh. "They were never broken, just dispersed. The secret of the Black Stars is no one could ever find their headquarters, they would find one member in one place, and no one else, but they always knew where to go and where everyone was, no one knows how. If the informant was in danger, it could contact the other Stars and have them come help."
There was a boom in the front of the cave."
"It looks like it did just that. Go, I'll be right there."
"After your whole 'dark business' talk and such, why aren't you ordering us to fight?"
The blue eyes went out, and there was a sound of paws. "One must know when to fight, and when to submit. I guarantee if we fight them, we will die."
Dayith knew a dismissal when he heard it; he left and ran to join Yorn who was tapping his tail nervously on the floor.
Yorn looked up. "What did Leader say?"
"Leader will be here in a moment?"
"Coming out?" Yorn said with disbelief.
"Yeah, appears so." Dayith pushed his sai out of sight. There was a second boom at the front of the cave, the door was now gone. Every eye was fastened on the entrance, there was a soft sound of feet. A door shut behind them, Leader had come out. All eyes turned to the figure. There was no recognizable shape under the long black cloak and hood.
The hood lifted slightly and looked at the entrance. "The guild of the Black Bones greets the guild of the Black Star." Leader's voice said from under the cloak. Everyone turned back around. There in the entrance of the cave was a large group of neopets all wearing black cloaks with the hoods up. In the front of the group were two neopets; Dayith assumed them to be the leaders. The taller of the two was wearing a long black jacket that was open except for a sash that had a sword thrust into it. His bare chest showed a scar in the shape of a throwing star over his heart.
Leader stepped forward and bowed low, a submissive position, a whip appeared out of one of the sleeves and was placed on the ground, a peaceful sign. "The reputation proceeds you, we do not wish to fight."
The smaller of the two leaders came forward and threw back the hood. There was a gasp. Reese stood there, even Leader gave a little start.
"Reese?" the soft voice questioned.
Reese held out a black throwing star on a chain. "Before I belonged to you, I belonged to him. If you did not wish to fight, you should not have threatened one of our members."
"You knew that I had no idea the informant was part of the Black Stars. You should have said something, we would never have looked." Leader said.
The taller leader stepped forward, under the cloak, a long sword could be seen. "That's the risk you run when you're in dark businesses, you never know if the unknown is stronger than you. Afraid of the light?"
The sleeve of the leader flicked and a black star flew through the air. It skinned the hood of Leader catching it enough to throw it back. A mummer when through the hall. Dayith gaped in surprise, Leader was a small, sleek, Mutant Acara. She blinked in light turned her head slightly away from the light. "Some of us do not do well in the light, our eyes are rather sensitive. Are you satisfied?"
The leader raised the sword so it pointed at the Acara. "I will not let this go by, an example must be made."
The Acara knelt and bowed her head, the fiery blue eyes looked at the floor. "Is there nothing I can do to avoid conflict?"
The leader stepped forward. "I will leave if one of yours can defeat me."
The Acara looked up surprised. "But who could? You're fighting skills are known far and wide."
The leader threw back his hood. "I'm sure one here thinks he can."
Dayith stood up with an angry sound. His brother stood in front of him. Kanuah, the meek brother that never fought anyone. "Liar!"
The whole room buzzed and looked at him. He was breathing fast. Kanuah looked at him coolly.
"Dayith." Leader's voice called from next to him. He looked over. The blue eyes were wide. "Do you know whom you are addressing? That Lupe is the most powerful guild leader in Neopia."
"No, he's not!" Dayith stepped forward pulling his sai out of his belt. "That is Kanuah_kan, my brother who wouldn't know how to hurt a fly!"
Kanuah watched his brother approach him. "Are you sure?" His earrings glittered in the torch light.
Dayith looked at the scar that crossed Kanuah's eye.
"Dayith, meet your new family." Dayna threw open the door to the house. There were four neopets waiting inside. A Tyrannian Peophin, a Moltaran Aisha, a blue Aisha, and a black Lupe.
"Meet Sirenia, Ashalyia, Racon, and Kanuah. Guys, this is Dayith, your new brother."
Dayith glared at each in turn. He didn't like the look of any of them, especially that Lupe.
Dayna started unpacking her backpack. "I need to make dinner, so would you show him to his room, Kanuah? We can do formal things over dinner."
The Lupe stood up. "Sure." He motioned for Dayith to follow him.
Dayith didn't want to follow, but he didn't like the rest of them watching him so he went.
The Lupe didn't look back at him. He opened a door in the hall. "Here."
Dayith pushed passed him. The room was small, but comfortable. He tossed his sack on the bed. It was then that he realized that there was a Seti sleeping on the bed, with a flick of paw, he sent it flying. The Seti gave a yelp of surprise and pain as it hit the floor. A black paw was fastened suddenly around his wrist. Kanuah was looking at him with a dark look. "Don't hurt my Seti."
Dayith lashed out with his other paw. It struck Kanuah's eye. Kanuah ducked his head at the last second. When he looked back up, there was a trickle of blood from a cut that ran perpendicular to his eye.
Dayith pulled his wrist out. "Make me."
Kanuah picked up his Seti and looked at Dayith who had turned his back. "Strength isn't always in fighting."
"Are you sure?" Kanuah repeated.
Dayith looked from the scar over Kanuah's eye, to the scar over his heart. In the long jacket, to the katana in his hand. Kanuah looked more dangerous than he ever had at home. But then again, looks aren't everything.
He launched himself at Kanuah with a yell, his sai pointed at the scar on Kanuah's chest. With a flick of the long bluish blade, Kanuah deflected him and sent him staggering back. Dayith approached more carefully, feinting then moving in for the strike. Kanuah read his movements and deflected him with an almost careless ease. Dayith looked slightly confused. Kanuah had never shown any prowess at home for weapons.
Kanuah flicked his blade in a pattern. "My turn." He moved so fast that Dayith didn't know he was on him until the last second. He put up his sai just in time to sloppily block the blade.
"Too slow!" Kanuah dropped the blade and kicked Dayith heavily in the chest.
Dayith flew a few feet and landed heavily on his back. Kanuah was standing over him with the sword at his throat. Dayith rolled quickly and threw the sai. Kanuah easily dodged the weapon and it clattered on the stone floor. Dayith was again looking down Kanuah's blade. He was at loss for words. Kanuah wasn't the weak brother he had always thought him to be. He knew that at any moment in the fight, Kanuah could have killed him. Kanuah was looking him down coolly. "Give up?"
Dayith looked around. If he gave up the Black Bones would be attacked. As much as he wasn't attached to them, he hadn't even been a member for two days, he didn't want their blood on his hands. He slowly rose into a kneeling position and placed his paws on his legs bowing his head. "I do not wish to fight and die, but I don't want trouble caused by my surrender."
"Then a condition," Kanuah replied.
Dayith looked up. Kanuah had sheathed his katana. "Come home with me, to stay, and we will not attack."
Dayith's jaw dropped. "What? Go back?"
"But you're the head of the most powerful guild in Neopia, why would you go back?"
Kanuah looked back at the Black Stars gathered at the entrance. They were all smiling at him, their old, beloved leader. "As much as I liked my position as a leader, I found something much more satisfying five years ago." He suddenly dropped to his knees and embraced his brother. "A family."
Kanuah looked up. He had been reflecting on his thoughts in the solitude of the Shenkuu mountains, his latest base, it moved every week. A girl was standing in front of him. She smiled and sat down. "You look like you could use some company."
Kanuah looked sideway at her. "Not really."
She smiled and pulled out a box of food. "Oh, well, don't mind me then, this is my favorite place to come think."
Kanuah couldn't help but smell the good food. She smiled. "Would you like some?"
"No." Kanuah turned away.
"I'm new here, just found my house a week ago. I'm excited. But you know, I haven't gotten any pets yet."
Kanuah continued to ignore this chatty person.
"My name's Dayna. So who are you?"
Kanuah wanted to get up and leave. "Kanuah."
"That's a nice name," she said thoughtfully. "So, who do you belong to?"
"No one owns me."
"Really?" she said, surprised. "You must be lonely."
Kanuah laughed. "Lonely? I have a whole guild!"
Dayna smiled. "That must be nice to have so many friends."
Kanuah paused. Friends?
Dayna smiled knowingly. "Still lonely, eh?"
Kanuah thought back on his life. He really didn't have a close friend when he came to think about it. Reese was probably the closest thing he had to a friend, but she respected him as the leader, not as a friend. "I get by."
She laughed,"Well, that's no fun." She placed a bowl of rice next to him. "Why don't you try living instead of surviving?"
She stood up. "My house is at the base of the mountain next to the river. There's a cherry tree in the yard, can't miss it."
"Hey," Kanuah called as she turned to go.
"Those three notches on your band, what is that for?"
She took off the metal band that went around her head. "Unity, Faithfulness, and Forgiveness, what a family needs to stick together." She waved. "I'll see you around."
Three hours later there was a knock on Dayna's door. She opened it. Kanuah was kneeing at the doorway. There were now three clips glittering on his left ear.
"If that is how a family is suppose to be, I would like to start one with you."
Dayna knelt down and embraced her new pet. "And we'll do just that, together, Kanuah."
"Ash!" Dayna caught hold of Aisha as she flew by her. "Where are you going so late?"
Ash was squirming. "Griefer picked up two Lupes on his radar!"
Dayna dropped her pet. "What?"
"Did you say Lupes?" Sirenia poked her head around the doorway.
"Lupes?" Racon skidded to a halt behind her.
There was a knock at the door. They all looked up. Dayna walked forward and answered it.
Dayith was kneeling on the doorstep. There were three new piercings on his right ear. "If you will have me back, I would like to join this family with the faithfulness to stay."
Before Dayna could reply, a blue streak was out the door and flying towards Dayith. Ash wrapped her arms around his neck. "You idiot! Don't leave again!" She was crying.
Dayith slowly returned her hug. "I won't." He looked up at the family around him. "I'm here to stay."
Kanuah walked up behind him. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder. He was still wearing his long jacket, but with his tunic on, his scar once again hidden. He smiled at Dayna. She smiled back. She put an arm around both of her Lupes and pulled them into a hug. "Welcome home."