A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 197,607,338 Issue: 992 | 22nd day of Gathering, Y25
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The Shoyru Spy

by iwonder


The Shoyru Spy: Part 3 - Darker Designs

      Slowly blinking, Sylas tried to regain focus. His head hurt, and night was creeping in around him with all the strange sounds of the jungle getting louder and louder. Eyes were blinking at him through the dense vegetation, and he couldn’t be sure if it was the person who had kidnapped Zara, or just an unusually large Crocalu. Either way, he needed to get out of here. He knew he needed to find a way to get Zara and the artefact back, the future of Neopia depended on it. But where would he even start? And had that really been Luna, hitting him over the head? He got up slowly, head spinning slightly, and started to walk away from the deserted tomb. Maybe he could pick up a hint of where they had taken Zara, if he could just find someone to talk to. Staying in the middle of the jungle wasn’t an option, now that his eyes had regained focus he could see that it was definitely a Crocalu blinking at him. “It must already be dinner time,” Sylas thought, “and I’d rather not stay and find out which one of us will be eating.”

     Finding his way back to the boat, he stopped to talk to the tiki tack man, who told him that a boat had just departed with an Aisha that looked very much like the one he’d been seen with earlier in the day. But the tiki man couldn’t tell what would be the boat’s final destination, just that it was headed in a northwest direction. Not much to go on, since that could mean anything from Neopia Central to Faerieland, or even the Haunted Woods. Sylas thanked the strange-looking man, and got in the boat he’d arrived in with Zara. How hard could it be to steer this all the way home anyway? Sure, he got seasick on the way here and didn’t pay much attention to which way they were going or how Zara managed to get the sails up, but at least this time he wouldn’t have to go round and round in the Maraquan whirlpool. He’d take the inside route instead, passing by Meridell, and hopefully make it back home before sunrise. No problem.

     Late afternoon, he arrived back home. He’d spent the whole night trying to navigate by the stars, but it wasn’t until the first rays of the sun hit the horizon that he realized he’d been heading towards the Lost Desert instead of Neopia Central. An unfortunate detour, but at least he hadn’t steered in the complete opposite direction towards Altador. He decided to head home to regroup and get something to eat, figuring this might be one of his only chances to rest. Thankfully there were no crocalus hiding in his house plants, and while he didn’t have time for a nap beneath the lemon tree, he made sure to eat a hearty, if late, breakfast spread. It was his favourite thing to eat, after all, no matter the time of day. As dusk set in, he decided that he would sneak into Luna’s Second-hand Shoppe to see if he could find any clues as to why she was involved in all of this. If she was, after all he was still not sure if the blurry figure he’d seen outside the deserted tomb was his old friend.

     Making his way to the Second-hand Shoppe under cover of darkness, he first made a stop at the Defenders’ headquarters to pick up some supplies. Mainly some tools to break locks, but he also picked up a few knick-knacks that he thought might be of use later. Breaking open the lock of Luna’s store proved more difficult than he’d imagined. The lock he’d practised on with Zara had, for educational purposes, been see-through. Not so with this one. But a wiggle here, and a jiggle there, and… aha! There it is. Lock opened, and Sylas quickly went inside, with the little bell jingling softly above his head as he shut the door. Stopping for a moment to make sure he was alone, he tried to quiet the fast beating of his heart. Was he actually breaking into his friend’s store? Moving quickly now, he headed to the back room and started rummaging through the desk drawers. It didn’t take him long until he uncovered a map of the Haunted Woods with an x marking a spot in a clearing, and something scribbled in the margins of a notepad. “Midnight. Sunday.” He could only hope that these two things were connected, as the rest of the drawers didn’t yield any other clues.

     Deciding that there was no time to waste, given that Sunday was just a few days away, he started off for the Haunted Woods even though it was now the middle of the night. Thankfully this time he could travel by foot, instead of by boat. And in the Haunted Woods, it really didn’t matter much whether you entered it by day or by night, as it was shrouded in perpetual twilight. As Sylas made his way past the Esophagor, tiny Ghost Snowbunnies jumped across the pathway, and the lights of the Castle of Eliv Thade flickered and cast strange shadows over the leafless trees. He made his way towards the Deserted Fairground, and just beyond the Carnival of Terror he finally found the clearing. Exhausted, he decided to hide out and wait for someone to appear.

     It didn’t take long until a group dressed in dark cloaks, with their hoods covering their faces, entered the clearing from the other side. Sylas lowered his head beneath a brush, watching. They appeared to be measuring out something, talking in hushed voices. He couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, so he leaned forward slightly, and - crack. A twig broke in half, and one of the cloaked figures turned its head towards him. Luna! Throwing himself flat against the ground, he prayed she did not see him. After a little while, he could hear footsteps going off in the distance. Standing up and brushing himself off, he was just about to head into the clearing when he heard a voice behind him. “Sylas,” it said. Turning around, he stood face to face with his friend. “Luna!” he nearly shouted. “Shh!” she hissed. “They’re not far away, they’ll hear you.” “What are you doing here, Luna? Why would you work with the Order? Don’t you know what they’re planning?” For a second she just stared at him. “Know? Of course, I know! Do you think I’m doing this voluntarily? I left you clues in my office, hoping you’d get here! They’ve taken my mom hostage, I didn’t have a choice but to help them. It was all I could do to convince them to leave you to your fate outside the deserted tomb, instead of forcing you to work with them too. Did you make it home okay? Well, nevermind, I see that you did. We don’t have much time, they can’t realize that I’m missing.” “Oh thank goodness, I really thought you were a completely different person from the friend I’ve known for years.” Sylas tears started to water, the weight of the past few days suddenly sinking in. “But how will we stop them? We don’t have much time!” “Don’t worry old friend,” Luna said, “now that you’re here I have a plan. Here’s what we’ll do…”

     After hearing Luna’s plan, Sylas nodded eagerly. “Yes, that’ll work I think. Or hope.” “It will. So you’ll meet me at the backdoor of the Castle in three hours? I have to run now, or they’ll get suspicious.” “I’ll be there. And Luna?” “Yes?” “Don’t let me down.” “I won’t,” she said with her usual smile, and for just a second Sylas felt like everything would be fine. He decided to rest for a while before starting on the trek towards the Castle. They would need all the strength and clarity of mind they could muster if they were to outsmart the Order, as well as save Luna’s mom, and Zara.

     Three hours later, almost on the dot, Sylas snuck up to the backdoor of the Castle. He waited, and waited. And waited. Had Luna deceived him? No, she wouldn’t. His feet aching, he stood watching the Ghost Snowbunnies skipping their way from the Brain Tree towards the Graveyard. The door started creaking, slowly opening to Luna standing there, her face pale. “What is it, what’s wrong?” He could see her shivering. “They’ve moved up the timeline. We don’t have days anymore, just hours. Luckily they’ve already left here, they just have a few guards remaining watching the dungeons. Come on, it’s time we rescued my mom and your girlfriend.” “She’s not my girlfriend,” protested Sylas, trying to keep up with Luna, now heading down a stone staircase just inside the Castle. “Oh,” she said. Sylas thought he could hear a smile, but he shrugged it off. Must be imagining things. “Come on Sylas! You take the one to the right,” she whispered, pointing at a guard. “Just beyond that door is the dungeon.”

To be continued…

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