Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 94,333,932 Issue: 184 | 1st day of Eating, Y7
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

Darigan Eyrie: Kass Or Nothing At All - Part Two


by neonick19881988

--------

It was late, and BirdieBirdie246 had done so many chores she thought she deserved a medal. Well, of COURSE she deserved a medal, for putting up with that fool of an owner and the sniveling Pets, but this was different- she was genuinely exhausted.

     So why couldn't she get to sleep? She was nice and snug in her huge bed; Bolt was snoring gently, comfortingly, next to her- even though he was meant to be in the Petpet's room- but the Eyrie's eyes refused to stay shut. Images flashed before them every time they tried to slide shut, flashes of the Darigan Paintbrush, of the mighty Lord Kass, of Birdie standing at his side, in his place-

     With a grumble she turned over, trying to push the thoughts from her overactive mind, and a bright green light filled her eyes. Her broad right wing shot around and shielded her sight, but after a few moments she looked again.

     It was the Fake Kass Charm. It hadn't been this bright earlier, had it? Birdie wasn't sure; the darkness made everything blurry, and her mind couldn't concentrate, so she ignored it and, with a sigh, pushed Bolt off the bed. The Anubis whimpered as he landed, and then watched his owner swing her legs around and slowly climb out of bed, before slipping the stone casually over her head, settling it around her neck, and heading towards the door.

     Remembering something, she lifted the whimper-prone Anubis up and held her paw over the tired Petpet's mouth, making him try to struggle and get away. The grip wasn't released, though, until they reached the kitchen; she had enough experience at late-night excursions to know that this was far enough away from the bedrooms to allow a little noise, as well as a little light, so she dumped Bolt on the kitchen table and flicked the switch. As she turned the tap on and reached for a glass, though, she heard a voice.

     "The Darigan Paint Brush."

     The Eyrie spun around, eyes scanning the entire room. There was nobody there- even the Anubis had wandered off, probably back to bed.

     "Beautiful, powerful, everything you love."

     Birdie yelled and stumbled back, dropping the cup. She ignored the noise of shattering glass- she ignored everything, except the sound of the booming voice.

     "You could go see it."

     "Who are you?!" the Eyrie whispered, fear consuming her usually-bold voice.

     "You know that, Birdie. Go see it- it'll only take a few minutes."

     "No!" she exclaimed. "It's freezing out, and I'm tired! I'll see it when I go next time!"

     "Go, Birdie."

     "But-"

     "GO!" The voice boomed through her mind, forcing her to the floor, desperately clutching at her ears. Finally she nodded, and the sound faded away.

     ***

     And so Birdie found herself racing down Market Street towards Neopia Central, in the middle of the night. As she turned onto the road where the murky Citadel was situated she almost hit a tall figure, wearing long, dark robes. She yelled an apology as she sped past, and then frowned. Robes? She turned back, but the figure was gone.

     Pushing the confusion to one side, the Eyrie continued forwards, arriving within seconds at the small building. The door was still open, surprisingly, and Birdie entered quickly.

     The Lady looked up with a frown.

     "You're out late."

     "The Brush- I have to see it!" she exclaimed, not realising how crazy she sounded. The old Zafara shook her head grimly.

     "I can't. Sold it, dear, just a few moments ago. To a Pet in dark robes- perhaps you saw him?"

     It felt like the bottom of her stomach had vanished, so sick did Birdie feel. Like a part of her had been ripped away, leaving a hollow hole- and she'd been so close, with that figure mere centimetres from her paws-

     "Do you know where he was going?" The words spilled out hurriedly, and Birdie didn't know where they came from. The Lady shook her head again.

     "No. I'm sorry, dear."

     The Eyrie collapsed backwards, hitting the door and sliding slowly to the ground. Tears were welling up in her eyes. The Lady waited for a few sobs to tumble out, and then took a step forwards.

     "I- I'm sorry," Birdie whispered, her voice trembling. "I don't know why I'm crying- I just- Kass is my idol." She looked up at the old Zafara and breathed a shaky sigh. "He was brave, strong, courageous- fighting to destroy those monsters in Meridell, who had ruined his world- and I just wanted to be like him. But I'm not." Her head lowered, and the tears tumbled down her cheeks again, this time in torrents. The Lady shuffled forwards and patted her lightly on the head.

     "Don't worry, dear. It'll be alright."

     ***

     Three days passed, and Neonick saw hardly anything of Birdie. The Eyrie would shoot out from her room, grab a snack or something, and then shoot back inside, which left the human with nobody to talk to. Toggerneo had demanded a vacation- he claimed having to put up with Birdie was making him grouchier than a Skeith who's just sat on something sharp- and Pacca was too young to speak much about anything… and Neonick was feeling lonely. So, finally, he decided it was time to get involved, and rapped on the door. There was no response, and he knocked again, louder. Still nothing. Eventually he slid the door open slowly and peered into the darkness.

     Birdie was sat on the bed, staring at a large book which lay on her pillow. With the light off Neonick couldn't read, but the Eyrie seemed to have grown accustomed to the murky darkness. The room looked the same as usual, apart from a bunch of pictures Birdie had clearly drawn of some Eyrie the human faintly recognised.

     "Are you OK, Birdie?" Neonick asked softly. The Eyrie looked up, her eyes blurry, and nodded.

     "I'm fine."

      "Why've you been staying in here so long?"

     "I'm- tired." She shook her head. "Please- I'm reading."

     "OK," the human sighed. "I just wanted to say that there's a treat for you out here, and one for Bolt. It would be nice if you fed it to him- he sat outside your door, whining, last night." He turned to the door, and started to walk away, before turning back. "And there's a Neomail out here for you."

     "What?" Birdie wasn't sure she'd heard right. "I never get Neomail."

      "Well, it's addressed to you." He shrugged and walked out, and after a few moments Birdie followed. Sure enough a small envelope lay on the kitchen table, underneath a couple of cookies, and she picked it up and slid the flap open. Inside was a dark piece of parchment, and the even-darker ink made just five words.

     "Brushes come from the Citadel."

     She stared at it for a few moments, letting the words settle in, and then shook her head. This was getting out of hand- why was she so obsessed with getting that brush? And she'd never be able to convince Neonick to take them to Meridell- no, the idea was crazy.

     But as she leaned over to grab the cookies something strange happened. The Charm, which had been swinging around her neck slowly, tapped her chest softly, and thoughts flooded into her mind. She was stepping forwards, towards the Rainbow Pool, brush in hand- she was emerging, a new Eyrie, a Darigan Hero. She was standing before the army she now controlled, and they were clapping.

     She was trying not to let a smile of glee spread across her face, in case that fool of an owner got suspicious, but in the end couldn't stop herself. She could get so much power, in such an easy way- she knew it.

     And she also knew that he was going to the Citadel, that very day.

     Hearing soft footsteps behind her, Birdie stuffed the Neomail into her pocket and spun around. Pacca_Xero was bounding towards the kitchen, but his cheerful features vanished as soon as he saw the Eyrie stood before him; the Eyrie who had only shown him contempt. Sure enough, a paw lashed out at him, but he'd been expecting it and managed to bounce out the way.

     "Stupid brat," the Eyrie said with a sneer, turning her back as Xero scampered towards the Petpet room. The baby Lupe headbutted the door open and leapt inside, probably to sob at that ugly Gruslen or stare at the Cobrall with his usual stupidity, Birdie decided.

     A few moments later a whimpering Bolt crawled out, sniffing at the air. Two large paws stamped past him, and he gulped with fear, until he realised that they were his owner's, at which point he started to follow. He knew the Eyrie loved him, no matter how she acted.

     With a whimper the Anubis continued forwards into the dark room, and felt paws close around him, lifting him high. It brought back memories from what seemed like ages ago; of Birdie lifting him up high, spinning him around like a superhero; of cuddles late at night, as they sat in the silence of the Pound; of good times.

     Those memories vanished as he was stuffed into the Anubis Bag, wedged between a large book and two Pyramibread loafs. All he could think about was the discomfort, and the darkness.

     ***

     It took a good few hours, but finally the cart came to a stop. Quickly Birdie leapt down from the back, wiping the dust from her hands, and went around to the side, where two large Unis stood harnessed up.

     "Thanks," she said quickly, before handing over the large payment of chocolate. She'd found it in Neonick's Safety Deposit Box, and decided it could come in useful; and sure enough, the Unis seemed to love it as they trotted away.

     The Eyrie finally looked around her, and those deep eyes widened. The fields seemed to go for miles, and they were so flat, so low, that all the landmarks could be seen in a few seconds. The huge castle, a giant marrow, the Turdle arena… but her gaze settled on the horizon.

     Darigan's Citadel, floating high above Meridell, was a vision of ruined beauty. What had been a huge city was now the remains of a betrayed world- she knew this from reading Life In The Citadel three times. Of course, someone would restore it to power one day. Perhaps Kass himself would reappear, and restore the Citadel. Sure, Darigan was up there, promising, but he'd failed too many promises, from what the emerald Eyrie had read, to be believed.

     Birdie shifted the weight of the bag slightly, to get more comfortable, and set off. She was unaware of a pair of eyes, hidden amongst the nearby bushes, that followed her every movement; nor was she aware of the mouth that smirked cruelly, so cruelly…

     ***

     The bag opened, and Bolt was lifted out. He was immediately confused. Grass wasn't meant to be this dull colour- it was meant to be green, and strong, like in the books he has used to read over Birdie's shoulder in their old home. It smelt funny too, but before he could investigate further a huge piece of bread landed before him.

      "Eat it," Birdie said, not really paying attention. She was gazing around the huge rock they floated on, with its strangely-shaped towers and squat buildings. They didn't seem ugly, though; the Eyrie saw them as the foundations of a vast civilisation, one that had been mercilessly destroyed by the greed of Meridell, and therefore objects of fascinating beauty.

     Before she could start thinking about the many crimes King Skarl had committed, though, that had ruined this place, she heard footsteps behind. Quickly she leapt to her feet and turned around, to see-

     A cloaked figure. The same cloaked figure, she realised with shock, who had bought the Darigan Paint Brush. And sure enough, the Brush was in his right hand, its small wings twitching and tiny droplets of paint tumbling to the ground.

     "Birdie."

     The voice was loud, commanding, and the Eyrie found herself nodding involuntarily. With a nod in return the figure reached up with his large pale fingers, drew back the hood, and revealed-

     The face of a faerie.

     "What?" Birdie exclaimed. "I- I-"

     "You thought it was Kass, come to make you his heir," the faerie said in a dull, monotone voice. Her ghostly face was almost as creepy as her slow, robotic movements, and the Eyrie shivered as she continued. "You thought so much that was not true, Birdie. For you thought Kass was strong, and brave."

     "HE WAS!" Birdie yelled, letting all the build up anger explode outwards fiercely at this jab. "That's why he's my hero- he fought the cruelty of Meridell, strived to restore his world!"

     "And he failed." With a snap of her fingers the faerie lifted up into the air. A gust of wind pushed her slowly towards the startled Eyrie. "Kass failed, because he was weak. And you know what, Birdie?"

     "What?"

     "You aren't. You have a strong mind- I mean, you almost resisted the Charm's influence!" She gestured at the stone around the Eyrie's neck, and as she landed gently on the dead grass it tugged Birdie towards her. She strained back, fighting the pull, and in the end the chain broke, sending the Charm hurtling into the faerie's slender hand.

     "Give that back!" the Eyrie shouted ferociously. The faerie shook her head and stuffed it into her pocket.

     "You don't need it anymore. It was so we could keep track of you, but it is no longer necessary." And slowly she stretched her slender arm out, the Paint Brush straining towards Birdie like a Lupe on the scent of Chia treats. "Take it. Become the NEW Kass. Take control."

     ***

     Bolt looked up at the Brush and immediately knew that something wasn't right. While mostly he saw in shades of grey… this was pure darkness. It made him shiver.

     And then he saw Birdie reaching out for it, and knew his owner was in danger. As the fear flooded into his mind all his instincts told him to run for cover, but something else forced him to stay. He couldn't let anything happen to the Eyrie he loved, whether he was loved back or not.

     With one slight whimper he took a couple of steps back, started to run forwards, and leapt. His mouth fastened on the handle, wrenching it from the hand of the faerie, and then he started to fall back to the ground.

     At least, he'd been expecting ground. Instead he tumbled into empty air, yelping as he hurtled towards what was most likely his end.

     ***

     Birdie stared, wide-eyed, as her Petpet fell over the edge with the Paint Brush. Her legs were moving, but she didn't realise until they propelled her over the edge.

     Her wings started to flap, to pull up, but she stopped them as she saw the two shapes falling below; they were too far apart to save both now, but she would save one. She had to make a choice. Bolt, her loyal Petpet, or the Paint Brush that could give such power.

     Images flashed in front of her eyes; a quivering Anubis sat in the dustbin, whimpering until Birdie had hugged him; the Kass plushie that had inspired her passion for power; Bolt sat on her lap in the Pound, waiting for someone to adopt them; the days when she pretended to be the mighty Lord, gliding through the sky, in control of everything-

     A final image flashed before her eyes, and her paws reached out. The choice was made.

     ***

     "Where were you?" Neonick asked angrily. "I've been looking all over the place! And that's meant leaving Pacca_Xero on his own, you KNOW he gets lonely, but I can't leave him with his Gruslen unsupervised-"

     "Sorry," was all Birdie could manage to say. She was physically drained, and emotionally empty. What had she done?

     "Where's Bolt?"

     With a sigh the Eyrie dumped her bag onto the ground and unzipped it quickly. The Petpet leapt out, sniffed at the air, and then walked slowly towards the Petpet room. Neonick sighed, and pointed to Birdie's room.

      "You have to stay in there until you realise how much trouble you put us through." And, to his surprise, the Eyrie complied straight away, taking the Anubis Bag in her paws and walking straight inside.

     What he didn't know was that as soon as Birdie shut the door tears sprang to her eyes. Slowly she tipped the bag upside-down and watched as the shards of the Darigan Paint Brush fell out, scattered across the bed. She knew that her choice had been the right one, morally, and that proved she was good, deep down.

     Didn't it?

     Because one thought wouldn't leave her mind.

     "What if the Brush didn't have wings? What if I hadn't thought it would fly to safety? Would I have saved Bolt then?"

     She didn't know. But she DID know that she would reconstruct the Paint Brush, however long it took… she would prove herself, take the power that was rightfully hers…

     She would be the new Kass, or nothing at all.

The End

     ***

     AUTHOR'S NOTE: Firstly, thanks for reading my story! We're still having trouble with Birdie, and whatever she does with all her spare time in that room, but she seems quieter recently. I'm not sure why. And she keeps buying superglue…

     But, more importantly, I'd like to thank Blubblub317. The opening of part one is in fact an entry into a short story competition he held, and if it wasn't for the competition I don't think the idea of this character would have ever happened.

     Again, thanks for reading! 

 
Search the Neopian Times




Other Episodes


» Darigan Eyrie: Kass Or Nothing At All - Part One



Week 184 Related Links


Other Stories


---------

NeoComp
Water Fight In The Backyard

by chibikatza

---------

Escape from Kreludor: Part Five
"This is a sight to see Gormos, please watch and observe."

by cyborg8000

---------

Rafted At Sea
Blake shook me awake, and I looked out into the distance. The vine had broken! I watched as the island, my home, as it loomed away far into the distance...

by o_apollo_o

---------

Shades of Darkness: Shadow is Arising - Part Twelve
Something was moving around. I could sense it. A shadow on the wall flickered that did not belong to me or Pudding. Pudding shone the torch in its direction.

by jesse12_3



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.