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The Swashbuckling Ballad of a Vandagyre

by flufflepuff


Between her Blue Moon Sundae bites,

     Fair Hannah seldom staunched her speech.

     “I tell you, Giack, you're learning fast,

     you'll get to places I can't reach!

     I think the wisest thing to do

     is get you, faster, up to speed.”

     A swallow. More ice cream. “That's why,

     a combined lesson's what you need.”

     “But ere we get to that, let's see

     if you can tell when you've been tricked.

     There are some telltale signs. Beware:

     you get one wrong, and you get kicked!"

     The Vandagyre chewed. “Okay,

     'one wrong of what, then? What's in store?”

     “A test of eyes,” the girl replied.

     “The signals sent can mean much more

          than what their speaker says with eyes.

     Do I speak truth, or tell a lie:

     I’ve scaled up mountains in my time.

     “That’s true!” A quick and weightless cry

          erupted from his eager beak.

     The Vandagyre smirked. This game

     was all too easy. Mother had

     shown signs that words were not the same,

          Not always, as the words she spoke.

     A darting eye, a flicking tail,

     an extra blink or two could tell

     that hidden troves were in her tale.

          “My grandfather alone raised me.”

     A chuckle. “Yes, that’s also true.”

     Quick Giacomo had nearly yawned.

     “Give me a tough one now, won’t you?”

          Fair Hannah blinked. “When I was small,

     before I’d entered tavern age,

     I’d dug for shellfish, also fished.

     I’d sell, and in turn, earn a wage.”

          This time did Giacomo give pause.

     By salty shore, one could oft sell

     the living fruits within the sea.

     Yet Hannah’s restless ears did tell

          the truth in place of lips. “You lie,”

     The Vandagyre gave a hoot.

     “Though that one challenged me a bit.

     How ‘bout one more? Then let’s find loot!”

          The Usul thought for moments more.

     At last, her face an empty mask,

     She simply said, “You are my friend.”

     This was more tough than recent tasks!

          An agonizing silence passed,

     and Giacomo was stupefied.

     Why, did he even dare to say

     a word, and risk a blow to pride?

     But then the thought of when they met,

     in spite of looking like a fool,

     and battles fierce with fencing sticks,

     the navigation without tools,

          all entered Giacomo’s swift mind.

     “You speak the truth. The same shall go

     for me as well. You’re my friend, too.”

     The Usul smiled. “It’s nice to know.”

          “You never know just when you’ll need

     an ally’s help. It’s good to build

     up trust, or scheme to flee a bind.

     You are already rather skilled!”

          As if it could interpret sounds

     that passed between the Neopets,

     the Flosset chirped inside his down.

     “We’re almost ready, but not yet,

          my eager feathered friend,” she laughed.

     The Vandagyre scratched his chest,

     compressing his new friend inside.

     “You’ve done that here and there,” confessed

          the Usul, making note of change.

     “I guess that’s your new pirate quirk!

     Let’s rest after this meal for now,

     and in the morning, the real work.

     Your final task that stands between

     your lanky self and piratehood

     is difficult: not many have

     escaped unharmed, but you’ll do good.

     The Snowager, within his cave,

     is sleeping, wrapped around his hoard.

     That worm of ice is dangerous,

     but holds the key to vast reward.

     You must find a certain Negg,

     I tell you, it hides at the tip,

     and lies so close to Snowy’s nose,

     it’s frozen tight within his grip.

          But if you manage to succeed,

     the Negg will serve as perfect proof:

     you will not only be a thief,

     a pirate, too, who is foolproof.

          Any challenge flung your way,

     You will yet face with perfect ease.

     At dawn, a Spotted Easter Negg

     may well be yours, if you don’t freeze.”

          Buff Giacomo was not afraid.

     “I think I may yet have a plan.”

     His wingtips itched with staying put,

     but he would go when dawn began.

          That night, as Giacomo did nest

     within a faerie tree so soft,

     Inside his dreams, he’d reached his dreams,

     already soaring high, aloft.

          The morning stretched with trudging plods,

     but bright and blue as chicory,

     as if to make up for lost time.

     “No more I’ll wait, no trickery,

          let us be off!” And, still asleep,

     the Usul then was whisked away.

     Brave Giacomo looked up so high--

     the blue would mean a colder day.

          “What did you do?” the Usul screeched,

     her hair a-whipping furry face.

     “I was still sleeping, don’t you know!”

     “Don’t worry, we left not a trace!”

          The Vandagyre did ignore

     the pirate language that escaped

     her lips, and chuckled softly. “Well,

     it was a rude way to be waked.”

          A warmth was stolen from the air,

     as stalwart mountain they approached.

     ‘Twas nothing like his mother's home,

     more like a nasty tale to broach,

     So inhospitably withdrawn

     was Terror Mountain. "I see how

     the mountain got its name," murmured

     the Vandagyre. "Don't stop now,

     You're almost there!" urged on his coach.

     The Flosset seemed to sense the change

     and burrowed deeper in the down.

     "This icy land is nought but strange,"

     the Vandagyre whispered, daring

     not to open wide his beak,

     for fear it may but shatter through

     the chatter from the cold so bleak.

     "We're here, and that's what matters now,"

     The Usul followed suit; her lips

     were barely parted. "Easy, Giack,

     just mind the ice, and mind the dips!"

     A landing, rougher than he’d like,

     sent Hannah skidding far across

     the cavern floor. “What did I say?”

     She giggled, landing in snow moss.

          “No worries, though, thanks for the ride!”

     The cheerful Usul turned to go.

     “If you’d excuse me, I must leave.

     There’s somewhere in this vast grotto

          where there’s a shop that has a flake,

     an icy one, that calls my name!

     I’m going to try to haggle to

     a price I like. It’s a fun game!”

          With that, the Vandagyre’s coach

     left him stranded at the mouth.

     The chill within that sapped one’s strength

     did tell him what awaited south.

          “Looks like it’s you and me again,”

     Affectionately ruff’ling fur,

     the Vandagyre sauntered in,

     not knowing what was to occur.

          Responding to the recent touch,

     the Flosset chirped. It echoed loud,

     the sound reverberating through

     stalactites threatening to bow.

          “Please, shush,” he whispered, fierce alarm

     a-coursing through his knotted veins.

     Around a corner, loomed ahead

     the Snowager, with all his gains.

          “We’d best take care from here on out,”

     the tiniest of sound did leave

     his beak. The Vandagyre thought,

     in hopes he’d quickly sneak, retrieve

          the Easter Negg he sought. Instead,

     he gazed upon the icy worm.

     The rise and fall, the clouds of breath--

     he was asleep, that was confirmed.

          Above him in a circle hung

     stalactites in a perfect ring.

     Perhaps that might serve to assist:

     could he attach a rope and swing?

          But icy stalactites would slip

     on any rope, reflected he.

     The Vandagyre squinted. First,

     the prizèd Negg, could it be seen?

     Behind stalagmite did he hide,

     and gazed upon the ice worm's stash.

     A keyring neath his gangly feet

     did bring him down. A mighty CRASH!

     The Snowager's cerulean,

     vague eye had opened but a slit.

     The Vandagyre held his breath,

     for he'd no plans to run and flit.

     His eyelid shut again. The time

     seemed but a stretching Angelpuss,

     before the rise and fall of scales

     returned to rhythm smooth, nonplussed.

     The icy floor did sap away

     the warmth within his klutzy core.

     But slowly, Giacomo did rise,

     and tried to scout the place once more.

     The Snowager's vast treasure hoard,

     did boast, below his form, a host

     of keyrings, toys, and purple Neggs,

     the common prizes sought by most.

     The icy worm himself, ablaze

     in freezing, steaming, shades of blue,

     was all the lad had read in books

     and more, 'twas all that he could do

     to not reach out and stroke the scales,

     so mighty was his majesty.

     But Giacomo did shake his head.

     He sought the Negg, and too, his key

     to yet unlocking pirate dreams.

     With Vandagyre eyes, he searched,

     to seek the Spotted Easter Negg.

     In front of Snowy's head was perched

     the Negg in question, half obscured

     by thickened crust of icy air.

     The Flosset poked his head right out,

     of nearby danger, unaware.

     The Vandagyre, thinking fast,

     attached his rope to little Fred,

     and pointed toward the Snowager,

     praying that his mind was read.

     The Flosset seemed to understand,

     and hovered by an icicle.

     With bated breath did Giacomo

     grip and swing, tried




     A little closer.

     Crushing weight

     that petpets had not in their fate.

     The icy clouds

     reached Giacomo

     in breath so cold

     it stank of woe

     So close

     the Negg

     he barely grazed

     and swung into

     the exhaled haze

     muscles straining

     in his arm

     at last did clutch

     though with some harm

     the much-desired Easter Negg.

     Fred screamed in pain

     and dropped



     Two open eyes.

     A nearby end.


     Tangled legs

     and injured wings

     scarcely helped

     to freedom bring

     the doomèd Vandagyre and

     his now remorseful petpet friend.

     A mighty WHOOSH

     the ice worm great

     sought each conniving thieves’ end.

     While slipping

     beak clutched tight to stem

     and praying Fred

     would make it out

     the Vandagyre

     did navigate

     though with fierce pain

     within, without

     his wings and legs and muscles screamed

     within, from strain and flight so fast

     without from shards of great worm's ice

     he struggled through the tunnels vast


     a narrow opening

     did spell his freedom

     he plunged forward

     the tips of teeth

     the chilling breath

     a few last shards of ice


     he and Fred

     were safely out

     listening to disgruntled roars

     that swiftly



          With every step, new buds of pain

     were blooming bright within his head.

     The Vandagyre cried out not,

     and rather chose to comfort Fred.

     The Flosset murmured sleepily,

     while Giacomo tucked prize away.

     Slowly, slowly, did he march

     toward where Hannah'd made her way.

     “The Snowager?” a Shoyru's guess.

     The pirate could do nought but nod.

     “Well, you can take it easy here.

     You look hurt bad, that's no façade.”

     “I've got to find my friend,” a hoarse,

     small voice clawed up, out of his throat.

     “You look more like you need a rest!”

     Exclaimed the keeper, “and a coat!”

     “Have you seen an Usul here?”

     He looked; she was not to be found.

     The Shoyru did the same. “No, sir,

     not one today has come around.”

     Without a word, he rushed away,

     ignoring pain and risky ice.

     With two keen Vandagyre eyes,

     he searched the caves for brown curls—twice.

     And yet, there rested something new,

     that did not fit with clean landscape:

     a folded bit of parchment, tied

     to stalagmites. Crude lines and shapes

     did decorate the parchment's face.

     The Vandagyre snapped the seal

     of wax, and eyes began to rove

     across the page, like waterwheels.

     Your friend

     if you would like her back.

     She may have bested our captain

     but we quite the knack

     for torment and for plundering.

     Don’t come looking

     as good as gone.

     Consider it a courtesy.

     No one now will mess with me!

     – The Narwhool Naves

     Ignoring that the melted ice

     had washed off half the misspelt words,

     the Vandagyre clutched the note,

     his eyes a-shifting to the herds

     of Neopets, about their day,

     without a single care therein.

     The cave sapped yet more leaking heat,

     with knowledge new, that she was in

     some mortal peril. Giacomo

     sunk to his knees, despairing still.

     And yet one question did ignite:

     “If I don't find her, then who will?”

     To be continued…

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