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That Clever Little Korbat


by glory_myth

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There's one thing I never quite understood about the Darigan Citadel. And it wasn't why it floated, it was why they kept Barallus under such tight guard. Now, when I look back, I don't think I really ever wanted to know…

     "Come on, go already!" Vex exclaimed, impatiently.

     Luweeq sat, deep in thought. He was playing Cellblock, against a Master Vex who grew more impatient by the second. Luweeq made his move, and Vex sighed.

     "You win. Here's you're 3000 Neopoints."

     Suddenly, from down the hall, three taps echoed out. I was awoken suddenly, and not too happily. I had been dozing away, leaning on the far wall. The dungeons were dark and humid. Perfect for sleeping. Even the faint odor of who-knows-what didn't bother me.

     "Don't slam those pieces down to hard, Luweeq!" I shouted.

     "It wasn't me, Glory, I swear," he said sheepishly.

     Vex sighed once more.

     "No, it wasn't him. The game is over, Luweeq beat me. That was Clop, he's hungry again. Don't worry."

     Vex turned away from the game board and towards his two sleeping guards.

     "Haskol! Galgarrath! What do I pay you for?"

     "You don't pay-" Galgarrath had slapped his hand over Haskol's mouth. Vex was easy to anger, and Haskol's stupidity wasn't about to cost Galgarrath his pay.

     "I do pay you," Vex replied, "but you," he said, looking at Haskol, "Forget to pick up your paycheck every week. What you forget is your problem."

     Haskol grunted.

     I looked at Vex. "Clop is our next opponent, how about Luweeq and I go down and give him the food?"

     Vex sighed, something he seemed to like to do.

     "Very well, go ahead. Haskol! Galgarrath! Take these two down with Clop's food, and bring all three back when he's done eating."

     Galgarrath motioned for us to come, and we started off behind them. The first cell was Number Five's on the left. At the moment, he was banging his stick against the wall furiously and shouting something about Jelly World.

     Luweeq laughed. "Jelly World! Ha! That cracks me up!"

     Not to far down the hall from Number Five was the next cell, the one that held The Yellow Knight. The knight was dozing softly in a corner of his cell, chained up as usual. Directly across from his cell was Squire Meekel, who also sat sleeping.

     "I guess there isn't much else to do in prison," I said to Luweeq, noting the dozing pair.

     The last two cells belonged to Clop and Barallus. Haskol opened Clop's cell and threw in a bowl of goopy brown mush. Clop ate this quickly and stepped out of the cell, following us back.

     Luweeq sat down opposite Clop and started their game. I resumed my spot on the far wall and watched them quietly. The match didn't take too long, Clop wasn't anything compared to Vex, and Luweeq won quickly. Haskol led Clop down the hall. You could hear the sound of the lock turning and Clop being locked in. What happened next I can only assume, but we could hear a cry of surprise and heavy plodded steps from the hallway accompanied by random shouts from both Haskol and the prisoners.

     Haskol made his way back down and caught his breath.

     "Barallus… has… escaped!" he exclaimed, collapsing to the ground.

      Vex jumped up and gasped.

     "Barallus? Argh! Lord Darigan is going to kill me! Galgarrath, go check his cell."

      He turned to me.

     "You went down to get Clop, did you see Barallus at that time?"

     I tried my hardest to think back, but I had just woken up at the time, so my memory was still hazy. Before I could respond, Luweeq piped up.

     "No, sir. I looked at his cell when we went to get Clop, and I wondered why it was empty. I just assumed he was playing against someone else."

     At this point, Galgarrath came running back. He was shaking his head.

     "I couldn't find anything sir, I don't see how he got out. His chains are still locked up. The only thing there is his straight jacket on the ground."

     Vex growled and mumbled something about a puny little Korbat under his breath. He turned to Luweeq and me again, staring with a powerful intensity.

     "Not a word from either of you! If Darigan gets word of this, he'll have my head! Come with me!"

     We followed obediently, not wanting to be the subject of Vex's short temper. We passed Number Five, who was still banging the walls with his stick, and who still managed to get a chuckle out of Luweeq about Jelly World. We passed Meekel and The Yellow Knight, both no longer sleeping. I assumed that Haskol had woken them up with his screaming.

     We came finally to the last two cells, Clop's and Barallus's. Clop was lying peacefully on the ground, staring at Barallus's cell. Vex pulled out a ring of keys and flipped though a few, finally finding the one he wanted. He unlocked Barallus's cell and searched the walls. He felt along but found nothing. He sat down in one corner and looked at Clop.

     Meanwhile, Luweeq had been staring at the Moehog sitting peacefully in his cell. Luweeq raised a claw and piped up.

     "Um, Master Vex, sir, if Barallus was missing when we came to get Clop, wouldn't he have seen Barallus escape?"

     Vex sighed.

     "He might have, but I don't see the use in asking Clop, he's as dumb as a doorknob. If you really want to, you can."

     Luweeq grinned.

     "So Clop, did you see Barallus escape?"

     Clop got up and banged his hoof on the ground once.

     Vex sighed.

     "You see? He doesn't know anything."

     Meekel piped up from down the hall.

     "Yes he does, Master Vex, one stomp means yes."

      Vex jumped up, another thing I noticed he enjoyed to do.

     "What? Stomps mean something other than I'm hungry?"

     "Yes. One means yes, Two means No, Three means I'm hungry, and we're not sure what the rest mean," Meekel exclaimed.

     Vex thought for a moment, I could see his forehead strained in thought.

     I decided it was my turn to help.

     "So we've just got to ask Clop some 'yes or no' questions," I said, "It's not that complicated. All we've got to do is come up with some ideas of how he escaped."

     At this point, The Yellow Knight spoke up.

     "I heard some chains rattling, and then I heard Barallus mumble under his breath, followed by some strange grinding noises. There was a pause, and then the grinding resumed, followed by the rattling again, and then it was silent."

     Vex was puzzled, and so was I, but Luweeq seemed to have an idea. He leaned over to Clop, and asked him, "Hey Clop, did you see how he got out?"

     Clop stomped once.

     Luweeq took a good look at the cell. He tried to squeeze through the bars, and through the window. He tried to push random blocks along the walls. He lifted and looked at the straight jacket on the floor.

     "Did he dig out through the floor?"

     Clop stomped twice.

     "Did he squeeze out through the bars?"

     Clop stomped twice.

     "Did he push out a block from the wall?"

     Clop stomped twice.

     Luweeq was stumped, as were the rest of us.

     "He's just a puny little Korbat, all he can do is fly," said Haskol with a snort.

     I laughed.

     "Yea, I said, it's not like he could fly out, there's a ceiling to the cell."

     Haskol snorted in agreement.

     Luweeq didn't find this so funny. He started looking at the ceiling of Barallus's cell. I couldn't see anything special, just some chains hanging from the ceiling that ended in a clamp which usually went around Barallus's midsection.

     Luweeq stared hard and long at the clamp, particularly at the top of the clamp.

     Luweeq turned to Master Vex.

     "Why was Barallus under such tight security?"

     Vex shrugged. "I don't know. Lord Darigan never told me, he just told me to keep Barallus locked up tight, so I did.

     Luweeq turned back to Clop.

     "I've got one last question for ya, buddy. Did Barallus escape through the ceiling?"

      Clop stomped once.

     Luweeq jumped up.

     "Ha! I knew it!"

     Vex had a puzzled expression on his face. I didn't quite understand t either.

     "What do you mean Luweeq?" I asked him, "It's not like Barallus could have flown through the ceiling."

     Luweeq smiled.

      "He didn't."

      I was still confused.

      "Then how did he get out?"

      Luweeq pointed to the chain hanging from the ceiling.

      I didn't get it.

      Luweeq went over to Galgarrath, and told him something I couldn't hear. Galgarrath entered Barallus's cell, and looked up. He reached for the top of the chain, which he easily reached, being an enormous Grarrl. He unscrewed the chain, and t made an unusual rattling noise followed by an even stranger grinding noise. He let go and the chain fell to the ground. Above him was a hole that led to the outside.

      Vex sighed.

      "I knew that Korbat was smarter than he looked."

      Luweeq sighed as well.

      "He could be anywhere by now."

      Vex shook his head.

      "He can't leave the citadel, none of the prisoners can. They've all got special collars on them, and when they reach the edge of the citadel, they get zapped. But Barallus knows that. He wouldn't be stupid enough to try to fly away."

      I spoke up after all of this.

      "Then he's probably trying to get the collar off."

      Vex face suddenly went pale, and he gulped.

      "There's only one way to get it off. There's a special key that takes off the collar. Only two people have one: Lord Darigan, and Morguss."

      "Does Barallus know this?" I asked.

      "He might," Vex said, becoming increasingly jittery, "I've talked about it before, and he might have overheard."

      "So we've got to pay them a visit."

      Vex sighed.

      "No, I'm not allowed to leave the jail, if either Morguss or Darigan found out, well, you know."

      Vex drew a line across his neck with his finger and stuck his tongue out.

      "You have to go, you and Luweeq. I can send Galgarrrath or Haskol with you, but they'll me more hassle than help. You two will have to be the ones to go."

      I wasn't so delighted at this proposition, but I understood that if we didn't go, Luweeq wouldn't be able to play Cellblock, and well, that was my main source of income.

      "Very well, Luweeq and I will go."

      And with that, we exited the dungeon and entered the vast expanse of the Darigan Floating Citadel.

      It was a fairly cold day, and the wind howled as it passed the scattered buildings of the floating citadel. We walked along the path from the dungeons to the castle slowly but surely. Somehow, Luweeq never tired of the citadel. No matter how many times we came, he always seemed to be excited. I'm sure he would have had me paint him Darigan instead of Tyrannian if I could afford it. He hopped along, pointing at the toyshop and such, bouncing along happily.

      We made our way to the gates of the castle, which had been left open, and made our way in. The stone walls were dark, and the damp corridors were badly lit with sconces lining the walls. We had been told that both Morguss and Darigan resided on the top floor, so we made our way up the stairs to the top floor. We decided to try Morguss first, considering her less dangerous than Lord Darigan was.

      We walked along the corridor and to a large chamber filled with bubbling vials and bookcases filled with books upon books. Morguss was sitting in one corner on a rocking chair, looking out the window. She looked over, and was taken aback to see us.

      Now, I had never seen Morguss before. I had heard of her before, and seen a sketch of her in the Gallery of Evil, but I never knew she was so ugly. It took me all the strength I could muster to keep from laughing.

      "Who are you?" she exclaimed, reaching blindly for a potion on the table. She held it our warily.

      We approached slowly, and tried to calm her.

      "I am Glory, and this is Luweeq," I said, bowing to her, "We've come from Master Vex with urgent news."

      "Urgent? Ha. You're intruders, aren't you! Intruders!" she screamed.

      "No, no, I said, trying not to alarm her further. Barallus has escaped, and we're here to ask if he has gotten your key for the collar."

      "How do you know about the collars? Intruders!"

      "Please, please, just make sure your key is safe, and we'll be on our way."

      "The key is safe, intruder, I've got it here in my pocket."

      She produced the key.

      "Now be on your way, as you said."

      At this point I could feel Luweeq tugging on my shirt. He was pointing to the window. I looked, and saw the crazy little Korbat, the collar still on him, hovering right outside. He flew up, and as he did, I saw a faint shimmer, and he was gone.

      I turned back to Morguss and smiled.

      "Very well. We'll go. Just keep the key safe."

      We exited the room, and headed back down the hallway, and sat down on the stairs. Luweeq sighed.

      "I don't want to go see Lord Darigan," he cried.

      A deep voice echoed from behind us.

      "Well why ever not?"

      Luweeq turned around slowly, quivering.

      "L…l…lo…" Luweeq stammered

      "Lord Darigan," I spit out.

      "Yes, I see my reputation proceeds me. Now, what are two travelers such as yourselves doing in my citadel."

      I stood up. My heart was beating out of my chest.

      "Well, sir, Master Vex sent us. Barallus has escaped.

      Darigan stooped for a moment. I assumed he was thinking the situation over. I decided to explain further.

      "He still has the collar on, I saw him, and Morguss has her key safe and sound. Do you have yours sir?"

      "Ha. I see Vex has informed you of the details. Very well, follow me."

      He led us into a chamber down another corridor to his chambers. He sat down in front of a large fireplace and bid us to do the same. He opened a drawer in his desk, and rummaged through some papers. He had a fairly surprised look on his face.

      "My key is gone. The clever little thing. You said you say him, yes?"

      "Ye- Yes, sir, when we went to Morguss's chambers, I saw him fly up towards the roof through her window."

      Darigan sighed a titanic sigh, and frowned. He got up, and bade us to follow. He led us back to the staircase and felt along the wall. Finding what he was looking for, he pushed a stone in, and the wall slid back, revealing another staircase.

      "Follow me."

      We did as we were told and soon emerged at the top of the citadel. The winds were so strong that I nearly got blown down when I first emerged. Sure enough, the clever little, crazy, puny Korbat was sitting on the roof, trying to unlock his collar. He saw us as we came up, and laughed. Such a laugh I will never forget, the laugh of someone who is beyond insane, far beyond insane, and it pierced me.

      He flew up, holding he key, and let out a screech. I was forced to cover my ears from this screech; it shook the very foundations of the citadel. Luweeq didn't cover his ears, and he looked at me funny when I did. I didn't understand it. I looked at Darigan. He didn't hear it either. But Darigan was laughing at me. I was sure that they both felt the shaking of the castle, but it was apparent they didn't. I took a good look at the Korbat. His mouth wasn't moving when he shrieked. But I could hear it. And then it came to me.

      His shrieks must only affect humans. I didn't quite understand why, but in Neopia, so many things didn't make sense. People used paintbrushes to paint pets, so why couldn't a pet have some special power?

      His shrieks were getting to me. I tried my best to stand up, but I couldn't. I fell down, and my head started to hurt. I blacked out.

     I woke up, according to Luweeq, three days later. He told me that Barallus had been captured. He couldn't really describe it well because his explanations usually involved more jumping and arm waving than actually explaining, so I gave it up. I knew Vex, Morguss, and Darigan wouldn't want to talk about it, so I left them alone. That's what you get for asking too many questions. But now, I've got a new question: How did Darigan find out about Barallus's power if he can't hear it…

The End

 
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