Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Part Three
The sun had risen by the time Avalon woke up. He had no
idea how much time had passed, but he assumed it couldn't have been much longer
than a few hours. Although Avalon was stiff, his gash had stopped bleeding, and
supported its usual weight without an accompanying pain. Now that he could walk,
Avalon wondered where he should go.
Home was not an option. Avalon was sure that
someone was looking for him, and it probably wasn't just the police. The Gelerts
would still be after the Noil Gem. And Avalon knew they would kill him for the
necklace. He had no friends or relatives.
All Avalon had now was the Noil Gem, which half
of him wanted to rip it off his neck and throw down the chasm with the Gelert.
But Avalon's other half, the one that was still
thinking, reminded him that the Gem was not only his last possession, but also
a hope for the future. The strange fire faerie's words echoed in Avalon's mind.
"You'll need to go to Heartfelt Cave, on Mystery
Island. There's someone there who can answer your questions." So all Avalon
had to do was travel to Mystery Island, go to Heartfelt Cave, and find out what
was with this Gem.
Well, he realized, it wasn't going to be that
simple. First off, the only was to get there was to cross the ocean. So Avalon
would need a boat. And since he had no idea how to sail, he'd need to hire someone
to take him to the Island. He would also need food, water, and supplies. Add
the fact that he had no Neopoints, and Avalon was pretty much stuck in Neopia
Central, unless he sprouted wings. Even if he did get to Mystery Island, how
would he find Heartfelt Cave? The book of Mystery Island maps he'd owned was
now a pile of ashes.
Still, going to Heartfelt was the only plan Avalon
had. He couldn't live in the forest forever. The Gelerts, and probably the red-eyed
Kougra, were after him and the Gem. "I am the Guardian," he thought suddenly.
"It's my job to guard this Gem." As the faerie had said, if it wasn't kept in
good hands, it would doom Neopia.
The starry Kougra shook himself. If he was planning
on going to Mystery Island, he needed a boat, a sailor, and some supplies. And
the only place Avalon could get that was in the busy center of Neopia: the marketplace.
"Yeah, but how do I get out of this forest!"
Avalon snarled. A bird of some sort shrieked nearby. Avalon glared at the tree
the bird was in, then jumped. Twin blue lights were shining on the tree trunk.
Looking down, Avalon saw that the two tiny eyes on the Noil Gem were shooting
out light. Puzzled, Avalon turned away from the tree. To his surprise, the color
changed from blue to green as he turned. For a moment, he frowned at the light.
Then his golden eyes lit up.
"You want me to go this way!" he whispered in
astonishment. "You're leading me to the marketplace!" And so Avalon followed
the light beams, stopping to turn every time the lights turned blue. Soon enough,
he was on the edge of a large plaza, littered with shops and stands, pets and
their families. It was easy to tell which pets lived in their original families
and which lived with humans. The ones with humans were either traveling with
the humans themselves, or up to three different companions. Shrieks and squeals
and the general murmur of talking, laughing, buying pets walking up and down
the brick road.
Avalon slipped behind a group of older looking
pets: A brown Zafara, a white Kiko, and a spotted Pteri. They had their heads
close together, and were talking very seriously. Avalon jumped when he realized
what they were saying.
"Did you hear? Well, mom wouldn't say, but my
friend told me that one of the Kougra's houses over on Oak Tree Road burned
down!" the Zafara whispered.
"Really? Was anyone hurt?" the Pteri asked,
"Well, they don't know! There was nobody there
when the Ele-phire department went to look. No burned bones, either! And get
this! The parents were missing before the fire!"
"The parents?" the Kiko asked, his voice squeaky.
"What about their kids?"
"They only had one. That's how the police knew
the parents were gone! The kid came to the station and told an officer! Then
when they sent a messenger to deliver the information, he came back saying he
didn't answer the door! And when the police went to check it out, the house
had been all burnt up!"
"So the Kougra escaped?" the Pteri whispered,
peering ahead as if looking for the survivor.
"Yeah, he must've!" the Zafara hissed, her voice
excited. "Bet his parents aren't too pleased."
"Huh?" The Kiko looked puzzled. "Why wouldn't
"When I was talking to my friend this morning,
he suggested that the parents might've tried to burn down the house!"
Avalon stepped back, away from the gossiping
siblings, wondering if there was some truth in the matter. His father was a
silver Kougra, in the dark of night he may have appeared black. But they didn't
hate him that much-had they?
Just then, Avalon was distracted by a sharp
jab of heat from the Noil Gem. He jumped, and a passing Darigan Lupe snarled,
"Sorry," Avalon mumbled, heading for the rainbow
pool. He sat at a Paintbrush fountain next to the pool itself. Looking at the
Noil Gem, he wondered what was wrong with it. Then he realized-blue lights!
It was leading him somewhere… the way most of the shoppers were heading.
Avalon followed the light again, getting lots
of funny stares from passersby. Then the Gem led him down a narrow alley, and
he stopped and closed his eyes, relieved to be away from the staring pets. The
alley was filthy, covered with mold and a grimy black substance that had numerous
dead bugs floating in it. Avalon followed the green light warily down the alley,
dodging trash cans and the black liquid.
The alley way was quiet, so when Avalon heard
a shout of "ARRR! Don' nobody come this way? I be given' ship services to Mystr'y
Island an' back, an' who's here? No one, thas' who!" he leapt into the air like
Avalon stepped out of the alley, and saw an annoyed
looking pirate Lupe pacing the shore of the sea. Unlike most pirate Lupes, this
one wore a bright red pirate hat with a large gray feather stuck to it. A small
sword's hilt emerged from a long black belt, and not one but two golden hoops
hung from his right ear. The Lupe's small ship was tied to a large gray stone
sitting on the beach, next to a poorly made sign that read, "Ship going to Mystery
Biting his lip, Avalon stepped completely out
of the alleyway, cleared his throat, and said "Uh…sir?"
The Lupe jumped a few feet, and turned. "Arr!
What ye be doin'? Tryin' ta give me a heart attack?"
"No! I just-"
"Ye' trying to steal my boat, scallywag?" The
Lupe drew his sword, and waved it around a bit. It fell out of his paw.
"Look," Avalon said quickly, as the Lupe dove
for the blade, "I just wanted to know if I could get a lift to Mystery Island."
The pirate's anger vanished almost at once. He
sheathed his sword, and gave Avalon a grin. "Ah, ye be needin' a lift ta the
Island, eh? Tha' won't come cheap now."
Avalon flicked his tail. "I don't really-"
But the Lupe cut him off again. "Let's see…no
bands, no pearls, no tail rings- ah!" His eyes fell on the Noil Gem. "That there
be a fine piece o' work! Whadda ya say?"
Avalon looked the pirate in the eye and growled,
"Sorry, no. I'm supposed to guard this thing, I can't give it away."
"An' how do ya' know whoever told ya' that wasn't
"How do I know you're not lying?"
The Lupe chuckled. "Ah, you're a clever one.
Well then… you have anythin' back a' your home, lad?"
"Well…not anymore. See, my house burned down
"That was you?" the Lupe said, amazed. "Well,
tha's a pity. Hmm…."
Avalon sighed. "Alright," he said. "I don't have
any money or anything to pay with, so I'll just get going." As he turned, the
Lupe studied the Gem carefully. Something tugged on the back of his mind.
"Hold it there, you," he called. Avalon turned
back to the pirate. "Arr, I be knowin' why you need ta get to the Island. You
be the Gem Guardian, right?"
Avalon froze. "How'd you know?" he asked suspiciously.
"Ol' Quaz told me afore I left. Said if I came
onta' the new Guardian, I was ter take ye to the Island, no charge." He grinned
at the stunned Kougra. "Welcome to the Storm Cloud!" he said, motioning toward
the wooden ship.
"Who's this Quaz you're talking about?" Avalon
asked, not moving from the alley entrance. He was wary of the pirate.
"Quaz be an ol' friend o' mine! He was the las'
Guardian of tha' gem, 'e was. Yep, guarded it for 'round fifty years by now.
He's been waitin' for the new Guardian to come to ta Island, now the Fire Faerie
passed it on."
Avalon stepped forward. "You knew the Fire Faerie?"
"Arr, she's no' just any ol' faerie. She be 'undreds
and 'undreds o' years old, she wrote the list o' Guardians when the gem was
first made. Now," the pirate said, a sly grin on his face, "Are ye' comin' in
the ship or not?"
Avalon stepped on the boat. It was small and
creaky. Avalon was surprised that it could hold both him and the pirate, as
well as some steel canisters.
"This is the Storm Cloud? A little small, don't
you think?" Avalon remarked as the Lupe cut the rope and stretched the sail.
"Aye, it be a small cloud." The Lupe sat down,
examining Avalon from beneath his fancy red captain's hat. "What's your name,
by the way?"
"Avalon. And you are…?"
"Arr, I'm Cap'n Storm, fiercest pirate e'er to
sail the seas of Neopia!" He stood on his hind legs as he said this.
Avalon said nothing for a moment, then decided,
"Ah…so if you're such a fierce pirate, why're you giving pets rides to Mystery
"Arr, that be a bluff! I be waiting for the Guardian
ta come, Quaz's orders."
"Since when do pirates take orders?" Avalon muttered,
leaning against the boat's side, watching the waves slosh back and forth.
To be continued...