Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 90,555,864 Issue: 166 | 12th day of Storing, Y6
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Firejewel: Part Five


by sara_mossflower

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A Griffin's Secrets

Instinct was screaming at me; I had to get this rope off, or I'd die. I resumed tugging at my vicious collar and kicked my way free of the sleeping bag, but it didn't gain me much of an advantage in the struggle. I flopped around on the ground, as helpless as a fish kept from water. I was going to die. I couldn't even cry for help, the rope was so tight.

      Then suddenly Frey was laughing. It was cruel, raucous laughter, the sound of her victory and my doom. Then as quickly as the cackling had begun, it abruptly ceased. A dark shape swept by me, but I could barely see it. My eyes were clouding over and I was beginning to feel hot from the lack of air.

      The rope was suddenly loosened. I thankfully took a gulp of oxygen and would have stayed there on the ground massaging my throat, but I needed to see where Frey was and what had stopped her from killing me. I leaped to my feet and whirled around to where I could hear grunts and hissing - the sounds of a brawl.

      My eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness and I was surprised to see that my rescuer and Frey/Dayne's attacker was Aillara. But how had she escaped from the cage? And how had Dayne untied herself?

      But that didn't matter right now. I couldn't let Aillara hurt Dayne, and I needed to subdue Frey. I needed help. "ALY!" I cried, "TERZIN! Wake up! Get over here!"

      The two mages were awake in a flash. Aly staggered out of her sleeping bag, eyes wide with dread. Terzin leaped up from the ground, hackles raised. "What is it?" Aly demanded, racing over to me, the Cloud Lupe swiftly bounding after her.

      "Dayne and Aillara are both free and Dayne's possessed. They're fighting - we've gotta separate them. Help me!"

      "Got it," Terzin affirmed, assuming a battle stance, then lowering his head and placing his front paws together, as if in prayer. With his eyes closed, his brow wrinkled in intense concentration on a spell. A glowing golden light suddenly surrounded the two fighters, seemed to contract slightly, then disappeared altogether. It left Dayne and Aillara collapsed on the ground, apparently asleep. Terzin sure was talented with that Light magic of his

      "They won't be like that for long," the Lupe said, striding over to me. "We should secure them somehow, in case they're still hostile when they wake up."

      "I'll help you tie them up or put them in the cage or whatever. Sisslio, you just rest for a bit," said Aly.

      "Sure thing," I affirmed, sitting down and leaning back against a nearby tree. "That's the second time she's tried to choke me since she got that stupid Firejewel."

      It wasn't long until they were both awake, as Terzin had said. Dayne was securely tied to a large tree with several lengths of rope around her middle, binding her to the trunk, and Aillara was once more locked up in the cage of the late Susalind.

      "We need explanations," began Aly. "First of all, Dayne, how did you free yourself from the ropes? Can you remember?"

      "It wasn't me," she retorted. "Frey took me again. She's stronger than me, and broke the rope. I mean, you guys did just put that round strand around me and tied it to another tree - it wasn't the greatest security system. And then she used me to chew through the stuff around my wrists and started strangling Sisslio with it." The Island Zafara turned her gaze to me and tears sprung to her eyes. "I'm sorry, Sisslio," she whispered, "I almost killed you - again. You were right to keep me in that cage. I'm a threat to society."

      Hearing the grief in Dayne's voice, brought upon her by Frey KeenBlade, I grit my teeth in anger. "No! Dayne, it's not your fault! It's her fault. Frey's evil, and she chose to possess you because you're always close to me, so I'd be an easy target. Don't blame yourself!"

      Dayne managed a weak smile. "Okay."

      "Right," said Aly, then turned to the confined Eyrie. "This should be good," she muttered. "How on Neopia did you get out of there in the middle of the night?"

      "None of your business!" retorted the griffin-like Neopet.

      "Uh-huh. That's what you said when I asked what your name was. But names aren't as important as great escapes, which we should know about. If you start keeping secrets from us, I'm going to definitely view you as a threat. Now spill."

      "What part don't you understand? None…of…your…BUSINESS!" she screeched. "What do I care if you see me as dangerous? That's your problem!"

      "I'm getting so sick of you!" hissed Aly. "I don't care if you don't say a word about yourself - you're staying caged up like that for the rest of the trip!"

      "Why are you keeping me here, anyway?!"

      "BECAUSE I DON'T TRUST PEOPLE WITH DARKENED AURAS!"

      I flinched at Aly's sudden outburst. The only person I knew who screamed louder than that was Dayne.

      Aillara seemed to flinch too. She suddenly showed some hesitation, lowering her head. In a few moments she raised it again and looked Aly in the eye. "You can tell?" she breathed.

      "I'm a mage," Aly explained. "As is my friend Terzin here. Would you like to explain yourself now?"

      Aillara gave a squinty glare in our general direction. Aly had discovered something that the Shadow Eyrie evidently didn't want us to know. "Fine. There's not much to hide. I'm cursed, and I've got really random magic. I sort of…teleported through the cage bars when I saw that white Zafara in trouble. But it's not like I cared that he was getting killed!"

      I smiled smugly. She'd attacked Dayne - apparently she did have some respect for me. She had cared that my life was in danger and was just denying it to save her pride.

      "Who cursed you?" inquired Terzin.

      Aillara snorted in contempt at the thought of whoever had messed up her magic. "Call themselves 'Sheen Blade's Pure' or something. They're a group of Neopets that are all painted white for some reason and caught me trespassing on their turf. They thought that my black colour was disgusting and I'd tainted the name of their 'Lady' by being there or something. I talked back to them and one of them got so mad, he jinxed me. I thought he looked ready to butcher me, but I got away."

      The Eyrie didn't sound like she was revealing a secret - more like she was taking advantage of bragging rights.

      "Wait! Did they call themselves 'KeenBlade's Pure'?" demanded Aly.

      "Uh…yeah. Right, it was 'Keen', not 'Sheen'. You're right. But how d'you know?"

      "They're who we're looking for!" Aly exclaimed, "Your description of them sounds right - it's Frey's League. If you had to, could you lead us back to their territory?"

      "Why the heck would you want to go there?"

      Aly paused, folded her arms, and answered smugly, "It's none of your business."

      Aillara just scowled.

     *

     Once we had satisfied Aillara that we had good reasons to seek out the League, we went back to bed, leaving Dayne and the Eyrie the way they were.

     I stared up at the stars, tiny points of light in an endless, shadowy atmosphere. The foliage of trees made a susurrus when disturbed by the evening breezes. Wind only reminded me of Frey, and I sought comfort deeper in my sleeping bag.

     I didn't get much sleep that night and I awoke before dawn. I tossed and turned for a few minutes but couldn't fall asleep again. I got to my feet and strode through the woods. Not too far away I noticed a pale indigo glow radiating through the trees. As I approached it, I realized that it was morning's first light rising above the horizon. I strode to the edge of the trees and stopped abruptly. The forest dropped into a ravine almost immediately, bordered by only a few boulders.

     I perched myself on one of the large stones, gazing down into the miniature gorge. I sighed. Would we successfully find the League? Could we trust Aillara? Even if we did find it, would we be able to remove the Firejewel from Dayne's neck? And if we did get rid of it, probably destroy it, would we come out of the whole thing with our lives?

     I sat there for maybe an hour, and the sun began to ease its way into the sky, causing hues of pink, orange, and scarlet to bleed into the darkness. It was then that I heard footsteps behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Aly ambling towards me. "You're up early," she called.

     "Couldn't sleep," I answered briskly.

     She leaped up onto the boulder and jumped slightly at the sight of the sheer drop on the other side. Instinctively I reached out to steady her. "Wow," she breathed, taking a seat, "Quite a view over here. I didn't know this forest ended at a canyon. We'll have to see what that Eyrie says, but if we're unlucky, we might have to find a way around it."

     "If we do, it'll slow us down," I sighed. "I don't want to lose too much time."

     "Yeah, we need to find this place soon."

     "But what if we don't?" I asked. "And if we do, how are we going to go about destroying the Firejewel? This whole thing is so impossible!"

     "You sound like you're blaming yourself," noted Aly.

     "And why shouldn't I be?" I demanded. "This whole thing is my fault. Dayne wouldn't have this problem if I wasn't the Windstorm."

     "But you wouldn't be the Windstorm if Frey hadn't made you."

     "I guess so," I admitted.

     "It's okay," she said reassuringly, "We'll do this. We can't leave Dayne to die, and we can't let Frey come back. It's gonna be hard, but it's all we can do."

     She was right. We sat in silence for the next half hour or so, quietly observing the sunrise. I was glad I had a friend like Aly beside me. Without her or Terzin, I would have never been able to attempt a journey such as this.

     Finally, the silence was broken. "We should go back," suggested Aly. "We'll need to leave soon."

     I nodded, and the two of us got down from the rocks and made our way back towards the camp. Upon entering the small clearing, we were greeted by Terzin, who appeared to have recently awoken. "Hey," he said with a smile, "Where have you two been?"

     "Oh, over at the edge of a forest. There's a little canyon there," I explained.

     A voice came from the Weewoo cage. "A canyon?"

     It was Aillara. "Yeah," I affirmed, "Why's it of interest?"

     "We're nearby," whispered Aillara. "I escaped the League by heading away from the canyon, but I must have come around in a circle."

     "What do you mean?" I asked. "Where's the League HQ if you use the ravine as a landmark?"

     "Oh, I don't need any landmark," the Eyrie answered. She raised her face, fixing me with leaf-green eyes, and told us all we needed to know. "They live inside the chasm."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Firejewel: Part One
» Firejewel: Part Two
» Firejewel: Part Three
» Firejewel: Part Four
» Firejewel: Part Six
» Firejewel: Part Seven
» Firejewel: Part Eight



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