Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 184,180,878 Issue: 481 | 11th day of Awakening, Y13
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On His Majesty's Secret Service: Part One

by herdygerdy


The shadow Ruki leaned forward, taking in the view from the railing. The farmlands of Meridell rolled onward below him. He glanced up ahead, to the Shenkuu ship’s destination – the Darigan Citadel. The fortress loomed like a storm on the horizon, ruining the otherwise clear blue skies.

      The Ruki leaned back as a polite cough came from behind him. He turned to see one of the passenger ship’s stewardesses.

      “It will be a few hours until we reach the Citadel, Mr. Boggins,” the Wocky told him. “You have a cabin, if you would like me to show you the way?”

      The Ruki nodded. “Please.”

      She led him below deck, showing him to one of the many cabins that the passengers could use. She opened the door to one and stood aside.

      “Would you care for any in flight entertainment, sir?” she asked as the Ruki made his way inside. “We have a wide selection.”

      The Ruki glanced down the corridor, “Do you have any recommendations?”

      “We have a short novella called The Great Pretender,” the Wocky suggested.

      The Ruki stared curiously at the Wocky for a moment before nodding. She produced a small scroll which she handed to him before making her way back down the corridor.

      The Ruki closed the door to his cabin firmly behind him and leaned against the wood for a moment before making his way to a small writing desk. He unrolled the scroll, and began to read.

     'Good morning, Agent Boggins,

      As you are aware, the political situation between Meridell and the Darigan Citadel has become increasingly tense of late. The continued poverty of the Citadel farmlands and the relative success of Meri Acres Farms have only served to compound the hatred lingering from the Meridell-Darigan wars. Various insurgent and paramilitary groups have since been founded in both the Citadel and Meridell.

      In order to better understand the threat posed by such paramilitary groups, His Majesty dispatched an agent to the Citadel to infiltrate the largest, known as the Clawed Hand. The Agent, Robert Dunlop, failed to report three days ago. We have since received reports that Darigan Citadel officials raided a meeting of the group in an attempt to put an end to it, and arrested all present. Should interrogators in the Citadel dungeons discover Agent Dunlop’s true allegiances, the situation would become even more volatile. His actions could entice the Citadel into a third war.

      Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to break Agent Dunlop out of his cell in the Citadel dungeons without being caught, and return him to the safety of Meridell as quickly as possible. If he has divulged details of his mission to any others, use any means necessary to prevent the information reaching Lord Darigan. As always, should you or any of your elite force be caught or killed, His Majesty will disavow any knowledge of your actions.


      P. S. This scroll will self-destruct in five seconds.'

      The Ruki glanced at the royal seal of Meridell that accompanied the initial of M, before leaning back from the scroll as it magically caught fire. When it had burnt to a crisp, he gathered up the ashes and carefully threw them out of the cabin’s porthole.

      He climbed onto the small bed and lay back, a grin on his face.

      He was legitimate, at last.

      Once, he had been Mr. Fredrick Boggins, a conman. He’d tricked his way into fortunes from Altador to Neopia Central, a wanted criminal who used morphing potions to completely blend into the crowd. A strange set of situations had changed Fredrick’s outlook on life, though, and he’d left his old ways behind.

      He’d travelled, and seen the world, searching for a way to use his talents that didn’t break the law. Then, he’d arrived in Meridell, and been recruited to the newly formed Secret Service. King Skarl had always used double agents and freelance spies - that was nothing new. But this was different; the team Fredrick was on was official... in an unofficial capacity, of course.

      And now he was on his first mission, preventing a war. Fredrick had landed on his feet at last.


      The crowd of passengers steadily made their way down the gangplank, and into the streets of the Darigan Citadel. Fredrick was one of the last to exit, and the Wocky caught his arm as he passed.

      “Excuse me, sir,” she said, catching his arm, “You dropped this on the deck earlier.”

      She handed over a set of battered old iron keys which Fredrick had never seen before in his life.

      “Thank you, I’ve been looking everywhere for them,” Fredrick answered. “Can you recommend any good tourist attractions?”

      “I’ve heard that Fletcher Alley has some stunning architecture,” she suggested.

      Fredrick nodded, before making his way down the gangplank.

      The Shenkuu ship had set down in the wastelands on the west side of the floating landmass that made up the Citadel, outside of the fortress’s walls. Fredrick made his way down the battered and dry dirt path that led to the town of Darigan, which hugged the fortress walls on the east side. The gloomy atmosphere did nothing for the town, and whilst the dull grey bricks and deep blue slates were similar in style to those Fredrick had left behind in Meridell, there was something about the very air of the Citadel that seemed depressing.

      The dirt path soon gave way to cobbles as Fredrick entered the town. The streets in the Citadel wound around the tightly packed and overhanging houses which easily confused unfamiliar tourists. Fredrick had come prepared, though, and had memorised the street plan before setting off from Meridell. He navigated his way to Fletchers Alley, a small side street that looked largely abandoned. He examined the doors of the houses as he made his way down the cobbles, and stopped outside an unremarkable one. There was, however, one difference from the properties either side – a small crown carved into the wooden doorframe. Fredrick tried one of the keys he had been given, and the door swung open.

      The inside looked just as unkempt as the outside, with smashed windows and a thick layer of dust. A few wooden boxes and a woodworm-riddled table were all that filled the main room, with a small side room that had presumably been the kitchen off to one side. As Fredrick explored the house further, he found only a single ancient cupboard in the kitchen, with a lock on the door. The Ruki selected another key from those he had been given, and unlocked the cupboard. Inside, he found a selection of files, all marked with the royal seal of Meridell and the words ‘Top Secret’ printed on the cover. A small packet of purple dust was also hidden in the corner of the cupboard, which Fredrick took along with the files.

      Fredrick returned to the front room and sat down on one of the wooden boxes, spreading the files out on the table. Each corresponded to an agent in service to the crown, Neopets recruited to the same team as Fredrick. It was his job to select the most appropriate agents to infiltrate the fortress.

      Fredrick considered the different files. He himself was an impersonator, though he knew that having two on the team could bolster any cons they attempted to pull. He selected a file with a picture of a pink Cybunny and put it to one side.

      Next, he would need someone with a technological mind; someone who could duplicate keys or fabricate explosives. In Meridell, though, there was never anything quite so clean cut. Eventually Fredrick selected a file belonging to a starry Zafara, who was identified as a wizard.

      Fredrick turned his attention to another file. The green Quiggle was put to one side. He had contacts in the Citadel’s port that would make him useful for a getaway.

      Finally, Fredrick paused over another file. The shadow Draik wouldn’t strictly be necessary if everything went according to plan, but Fredrick was aware that things didn’t always go according to plan. The master of weapons would prove to be an effective brute force plan B if everyone else was caught. Fredrick slid the file across to join the three others. Next, he moved to a small sheet of paper that had been included with the files. It detailed a list of all Meridell personnel in the Citadel at that moment.

      Fredrick thoughtfully tapped one of the names as a plan quickly began to form in his mind. He took the small packet of dust and sprinkled it over the selected files. In a flash of magical origin, the files burst into purple flames. The fire completely consumed the paper, not even leaving behind ashes. Fredrick knew that they had been teleported back to Meridell, and the selected agents would soon be on their way to join him. Carefully, he set the other files alight with normal flames, destroying all evidence of the process.

      Now he needed to wait. They would begin planning as soon as the rest of the team arrived.

      Fredrick got up from his makeshift chair and made his way to one of the back windows. Through the cracked and dusty pane of glass he could make out the spires of the fortress. Somewhere in there, Robert Dunlop was sitting in a cell, possibly divulging all of Meridell’s secrets.

      Fredrick would recover him; he had to.

To be continued...

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