The Swashbuckling Ballad of a Vandagyre
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.
that petpets had not in their fate.
The icy clouds
in breath so cold
it stank of woe
he barely grazed
and swung into
the exhaled haze
in his arm
at last did clutch
though with some harm
the much-desired Easter Negg.
Fred screamed in pain
Two open eyes.
A nearby end.
and injured wings
to freedom bring
the doomèd Vandagyre and
his now remorseful petpet friend.
A mighty WHOOSH
the ice worm great
sought each conniving thieves’ end.
beak clutched tight to stem
and praying Fred
would make it out
though with fierce pain
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
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.
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…