Tales From Number Five: Origins of the Sway - Part One
The Darigan Citadel. Those three words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of many Neopians. Though the Citadel is little more than a tiny shell of what it once was, one cannot but help remember the horrors of the two wars with Meridell or the figures of Lord Darigan and General Kass as they had been possessed by the Three.
Even worse are the dungeons. Within them, however, lies a curious spectacle. His name is Number Five the Lupe. While to many in the outside world he is nothing more than an insane raving Neopet spitting about nonsense like about a place called Jelly World, err, well, that's actually what everyone thinks about him.
Yet funnily enough, despite his misty origins, he has seen a lot of the outside world. Most of his knowledge is forever locked within a deep dark corner of his troubled mind, but sometimes, an image or word will reach out to him.
He will cling on it, and suddenly the memories will flood out if only for a while. He will remember, and to whoever triggered the memories, he will begin to weave a tale. Most of those who listen to his stories say that they are utter nonsense, but sometimes, just sometimes, they are just about crazy enough to be true.
Jacob was one of the few Neopets around who actually liked Cellblock. He was one of the few who could best even Master Vex himself.
He was a small Blue Bruce, unremarkable in every way except for his Cellblock talent. Cellblock was his bread and butter, the amount of neopoints he won from playing it everyday were enough for his daily needs.
Today however, he had decided to wander around the rest of the dungeons. As he was wandering around the cells, he noticed that his pocket felt lighter than it used to.
He took out his wallet and to his dismay, found that a good number of neopoints were missing. It wasn't a lot, he was smart enough to have the bulk of savings in the bank, but it still irritated him.
"Curse the Thieves Guild!" he muttered. The prisoners seemed to be taking naps, so there didn't seem to be anything worthwhile there for him to stay longer.
As he was about to leave, though, someone grabbed his trousers. He whirled around to see that it was that crazy old Lupe, the one they called... Number Six? No, Number Five. That was his name.
"I don't have time for more nonsense on Jelly World," Jacob said disdainfully. He tried to pull away, but the Lupe's grip was surprisingly strong.
"Wait. You speak of the Thieves Guild, but there origins are simple enough. What about those whose are more mysterious, what of the origins of The Sway?" the Lupe asked. Normally Jacob would have pulled away from him without another thought, but there was something different about Number Five. His voice had become steady, his eyes no longer looked adrift but rather like the eyes of one who had woken up from a long dream, and he carried himself with more authority.
"Who are The Sway?" Jacob asked. In truth, it was that name which really prevented him from leaving. He just couldn't, not if the old Lupe actually knew something about The Sway.
"The Sway," Number Five said repeating the term. "They defy all definition. Some say they are the shadows themselves. They are never heard nor seen, yet their influence is felt all across Neopia. Do they still exist? I do not know. But, the story of their origins have been passed along for centuries. And this what they are."
So, Jacob stood there as Number Five let go of his ankle, as the Old Lupe crept back into the recesses of his cell and began to speak. Jacob thought the odds were low that the Lupe would actually know something, but no matter how small the chance was, it was definitely there. And that ensured that Jacob would listen to the end of the tale.
Our story begins in a highly unremarkable setting. Then again, all organizations, no matter how large, must have had humble origins. While the Duchess currently holds power over the Sway, she is only one in a very long line of leaders who have taken over the leadership of the organization. But of course, it must have started somewhere.
As a matter of fact, the Sway was founded by a single, ordinary Blue Eyrie whose name has since long been lost. Little is known about his family, save for the fact that he came from a very ordinary one in a city much like Neopia Central which existed so long ago only the oldest Faeries can remember.
The Blue Eyrie, as he will be called throughout, was for the most part an average boy, save for perhaps a slightly larger than normal intellect. Still, he went to a normal school everyday just like so many others his age.
Some may be surprised to know that an ordinary Neopet founded one of the greatest societies in all of Neopia, but after all, the greater the hurdles one faces, the sweeter is the victory at the end. The more humble the beginnings, the greater is the glory in achieving greatness.
As a matter of fact, you should know this: This entire story can be called a story of the unremarkable growing into events that will influence all of Neopia. As it is often said, the flapping of single Beekadoodle's wings in Tyrannia can cause a hurricane in Shenkuu. This story is mostly a collection of such instances.
The Blue Eyrie had a wild imagination. He would often spend hours poring over various books. He kept writing also, and he would keep these records in a small notebook that he always carried around.
One day at school, one of his classmates noticed the notebook and decided to 'borrow' it. He saw what was inside and laughed at it, and distributed the pages over to the rest of the class. The Blue Eyrie was overcome with embarrassment at this and went home early that day.
This might seem like an average case of bullying, but make no mistake, if it wasn't for that bully, the Sway would never have existed.
At home, the Blue Eyrie swore to himself that he would never allow something like that to happen again. He needed a way for him to write without anyone knowing.
And that's how he first became interested in ciphers. His first code was a very simple one, he just replaced a with b, b with c, and mixed in a few letters that were different and so on. But, while he was doing so he realized just how found he was of just writing secret codes that he forgot all about his humiliation. He forgot about stories and started working on codes.
Over time, his ciphers became more and more complex. Soon, he had a collection under his belt that would have astounded any professional cryptologist. The Blue Eyrie spent most of his time on his ciphers and they grew even more in complexity. He soon moved on from normal ciphers to other ways of hiding messages. He discovered that rubbing wax from a Dwarf Tree on a piece of paper and attaching it to two other pieces would make it translucent when held up to light, revealing the message inside. He discovered dozens of different formulas for invisible ink, he found ways of hiding messages in paintings, and he found how almost anything could convey a message if one were to set it up correctly.
His teachers, if they had known about his new obsession, may have been quite surprised by his progress. The Blue Eyrie had not shown any signs of prodigal intelligence before, but that was simply because nothing in school interested him like ciphers did.
The years passed and the time had eventually come for him to start making his way in the world. His father, who some speculate was some sort of engineer or mechanic, decided to have a talk with him.
"Listen, son," he said, none too harshly, "I've seen you read books and reading is fine, but it isn't the only thing in life. You've got to go and learn some sort of skill to survive in this world and it is high time that you get started on this."
The Blue Eyrie didn't listen at first. He was just happy continuing his games. But as he saw his peers go on to get jobs, get money, and start out their lives a bit of jealousy swept over his heart.
Of course, something about the Blue Eyrie had changed due to those ciphers. He knew how incredible his discoveries were, and he knew that he was smart. He reasoned that with his level of brains he would easily be able to make some neopoints.
And where did he turn his knowledge towards? To games of chance, those that have existed in Neopia since the dawn of time. He gravitated towards those not because he was lazy, but because he wanted to make neopoints fast so he could focus on his own work. Not to mention that it would mean that he was his own boss and one thing you should remember is this, he was proud. And his pride would not let him occupy a normal menial job. He first started with observing the various games. No, the wheels, scratchcards, and the lottery were far too random for him to try and control them. Instead, he began with Cheat!, which was easy. All he had to do was keep note that there were only a few copies of each card in the deck and though he didn't win all of the time, he always made a profit. No, he wasn't gambling. The Blue Eyrie never gambled, because gambling is when the more you play, the more you lose. The Blue Eyrie never gambled, because he knew that in the long run, he would always win.
The profit from that was small however, and it took far too much of his time for his liking. He had to find something else that could sustain him. That's when he found the Food Club, Neopia's greatest betting game. He quickly found a way to beat the game and placed bets almost every day. He never particularly cared about any single one day, he was neither elated by, because he knew the odds were in his favor and he would always profit in the long run. And all it took were a few minutes a day, leaving a lot of time open for him to work on his projects.
But, the ones who ran the Food Club weren't as happy. They found it odd that one Neopet was winning the game over and over again, and they didn't like it. So they decided to send him a message. That message came in the form of a fire where he lived.
It wasn't big, and nothing of importance was destroyed, except what was most valuable for the Blue Eyrie but would have been simple gibberish for an outsider. His notes, where he kept records of all his ciphers. He watched numbly as the ashes of his work crumbled to dust in his hands.
To be continued...