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||You are on Week 293
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Two Hundred Ninety Three Ends October 6
"Lieutenant Darvin! They're coming from all sides!"
"Lieutenant, what do we do?!?"
The Darigan Lupe squinted through the darkness as the noise of battle raged all around him. He hoped desperately to catch a glimpse of the Krawk who was his captain. "Gather into formation, spears out! Stand your ground!" the Lupe roared. "Where is Captain Reznik?"
"I don't know, sir, he disappeared a while ago!"
"You won't be seeing him again," said a quiet, commanding voice. Torchlight suddenly flared around the Lupe as a knight in red and blue stepped forward. The Darigan soldiers gathered into a tighter circle as Meridellian archers sprang out of the bushes and surrounded them.
Other than a small, sharp intake of breath, Darvin betrayed no surprise. "Have you captured him then, you cowardly scum?" he asked coolly.
A look of disgust flickered across the knight's face. "Your brave 'captain' has sold out your entire unit. Naturally, he has fled and will never show his dastardly face again. Now then, come quietly, if you and your soldiers want to stay safe."
* * * * *
Darvin jolted awake, then stared around wildly. His sharp eyes took in the creaking timbers and quietly swaying surroundings of the ship, and he slumped down with a sigh. After years in a dank Meridell dungeon, he still was not used to waking up without seeing the cold, stone walls around him. Grumbling, he rolled out of bed and headed up on deck to take in some fresh sea air. The Lupe knew it had been cowardly of him, but he could not bear to return home after being away for so long, only to find the land that he loved devastated and war-torn. So he had fled his home and his past, hoping that when he returned, the rebuilding would be enough to cover those scars.
That's when the storm hit.
* * * * *
Sand. Lots of warm, grainy sand, spilling all around him. There were concerned voices and a splash of water as it hit him in the face.
Darvin blinked slowly and looked up. He was on some sort of island that he did not recognise, surrounded by a group of concerned Neopets with strange painted faces. "What happened?" he murmured.
"Your ship crashed into our shore sometime during the storm," said a Krawk, stepping forward and offering a hand up. "Are you all right?"
Darvin stared at him, a memory stirring in the back of his mind. The Krawk was painted like the rest of the islanders, but there was something distinctly familiar about him...
Author: is not a coward!|
Date: Sep 29th
...Reznik, Darvin realized with a flash. Anger surged through him, giving the exhausted Lupe a rush of energy. You cowardly son of a... No, now wasn’t the time. The Darigan Lupe had a crew to worry about first. Unlike some people, he put his responsibility to his companions above his own needs.
“My crew?” Darvin coughed, his throat burning. He must have swallowed a lot of saltwater.
A colorfully painted Uni with feathers in her mane stepped forward. The exotic painting all over her fur made it impossible for Darvin to tell what her natural color was. “We’ve found about five or six Neopets, scattered along the beach. Come, we’ve got a doctor who wants to look at you.”
The Uni’s green eyes filled with compassion. “So far all we’ve found are a bunch of Neopets with cuts, scrapes, and some bruises. I’m not sure how many you started with, but we’re going to take good care of the ones we find.”
Reznik apparently didn’t remember the Darigan Lupe he’d betrayed all those years ago - he offered a hand to help Darvin to his feet. Darvin froze, looking at the hand warily. I don’t need your help, traitor. He was battered, bruised, and half drowned, but he still had his pride. The Lupe got to his feet without help.
The Uni must have noticed his awkwardness with the Krawk, though none of the others seemed to have noticed anything unusual. “Rez,” she suggested, “why don’t you run ahead and tell the others that we’ve found another survivor?”
The Krawk nodded, and then took off up the beach in an easy run. He’d always been one of the quickest Neopets on his feet that Darvin had ever seen. Maybe that’s why running had come so naturally to him that day during the war.
“Keep looking along the beach,” the Uni instructed the others, “If there are any more survivors, we need to find them before dark.” Darvin couldn’t help but relax as the rest of the crowd dispersed further along the beach. He didn’t like that many pets staring at him. “My name’s Hinatea,” she introduced herself.
“I’m,” Darvin paused. So far Reznik hadn’t recognized him -- his name wasn’t exactly common; better to err on the side of caution. “I’m Dar.”
“I have to ask you something... odd.” Hinatea paused, swishing her tail. “You seemed to recognize Rez.”
Oh boy, nothing like getting the hard questions first. Darvin heaved a sigh. “Yeah, I know him. What, is he afraid I’m going to tell his secret?”
Hinatea blinked at his bitter tone. “No, it’s nothing like that." She looked confused. "At least, I don’t think so. Dar, Rez doesn’t know who he is.”
“What?” Darvin stared at her. “Wait a minute, if Reznik doesn’t know who he is, how come you know his name?”
“Is that his name?” The Uni made a face, tasting the name. “Reznik? We called him Rez because it was stamped into his leather belt. It was the only part of the writing we could make out. He washed up here, just like you did, two years ago, with no memory of anything before waking up on our beach.”
Belt? Reznik’s name had been stamped into his sword belt, Darvin remembered. If the end had either broken off from wear, or from the sea...
The former Darigan soldier was pulled out of his reverie when Hinatea asked, “Dar, what secret?...”
Date: Oct 2nd
...This was too much, too fast. Darvin coughed again and put a paw to his aching head. "Secrets, secrets," he muttered.
Hinatea bowed her head in apology. "I'm sorry. Of course, you want to see a doctor and rest before-"
"What I want," Darvin cut her off, "is to find all of my crew." He knew he was being curt, and he knew he was probably being curt to a lady of some distinction, considering how quickly the other islanders had obeyed her commands. But pained, worried, shipwreck survivors got to be curt. They had every excuse in the world.
Hinatea could only follow along behind him as he strode painfully down the beach, trying to calm him down. “Dar, please, you’re hurt and exhausted. Our doctor is already treating some of your friends. Go and rest with them, and we’ll bring the others to you.”
But her pleas fell on deaf ears - almost literally; Darvin’s head was still filled with the roar of the sea, the screams of the other men, the splintering of wood, and the soundless fury of hate. Everyone in the crew had been imprisoned with Darvin, had served with Darvin... had been betrayed by Reznik like Darvin. They didn’t deserve this - they’d been through too much. And to find that cowardly creature here...!
Another bedraggled figure was being pulled from the shallows, and Darvin put his thoughts aside and broke into a faltering run. He found Bastien, suffering from a head wound and being heavily supported on either side by two islanders. “Rez” was not one of them.
Bastien broke into a weary grin as he saw his crewmate. “So you made it, Darv-”
“You know ol’ Dar doesn’t die easy,” Darvin said before the blue Techo could finish and give him away. “How are you holding up?”
Bastien was either coherent enough to recognize the need to not mention the irregular name, or was too disjointed to even notice. “Never better. Well, except for my head. And maybe my arm. And I can’t say my ankle’s feeling the best it ever has, but I meant besides all that. What about you?”
Darvin laughed in relief, though his throat made him regret it. “If I still have my tail, I’m ready for anything.”
“Now I must insist that you both visit our doctor,” Hinatea scolded. “You can’t do anything for anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself.”
Darvin was relieved to see several of his crewmates being cared for by the native’s doctor, who seemed capable. They all gathered around him and Bastien, making sure they were alright. Darvin looked at them all, remembering a time when he had been their lieutenant, and they had all fought together. Then they had been imprisoned together. And now shipwrecked. Darvin had had enough bonding experiences.
“Captain Karik is missing,” one of the soldiers blurted. Karik had been nominated captain by the crew because of his vast sea knowledge and discerning nature. The soldiers turned seamen paused, each with a silent prayer that he would be discovered as well.
“Yes,” Darvin said grimly after a moment. “We’re missing Captain Karik... But we seem to have found Captain Reznik...”
Date: Oct 3rd
...The hush that followed did not seem like a pause, voluntary, lifted at a whim; it seemed instead as though it were a tangible beast that had crawled into the circle of sailors, something slippery or sea-wet and grinning. Something that had every intention to stay.
"...Reznik?" a ruddy-faced deck Meerca ventured at last; but softly, to keep the hush where it lay. As one, the crew mates shuddered, for the forbidden name was taboo among them no matter the land beneath their feet. The Meerca himself contorted the muscles lining his jaw, as though appalled at his own bravery. "But he is... in Meridell, he..."
Darvin spoke once, sharply to startle the hush into flight. Begrudging, it left; it would return. "Yes."
"Where is he?" came Bastien's voice. The words welled over with hurt, or hatred; perhaps the two had become mixed enough over time to close the difference. The Techo moved madly in the background of the sea of reeling eyes; his tail lashed scars like spurts of Cobrall venom. "That wretch! How dare he, how DARE HE-"
"Bastien!" At once Darvin was at his junior's side, wielding authority in the way that lesser Neopets would wield a sword. The navigator bristled for a moment of pure instinct, then lowered his shoulders in submission. Taking him by what remained of his bedraggled sleeves, the Lupe forced a smoldering gaze onto his. "I am second-mate, therefore I inherit Captain Karik's duties until he is found," Darvin did not hiss, but barked for all to hear. "You will do as I say. You will do nothing to Reznik unless it is what I command." He released the Krawk, turning to face the sailors still wrought with skepticism. "You will do as I say."
And he kept glaring at the crew, until the last deckhand had dropped its gaze. A temporary pact, a promise without absolute power, Darvin thought, steadying himself on the sea-wrought sand. Until I slip up, anyway.
"Now," the makeshift captain ordered, making his voice as kingly as he knew from old stories and the like. "Yaren and Bastien, come with me. Alenzic, you're to organize a search party for Captain Karik. I don't want one cove of this shore unsearched by nightfall. The rest of you are under Alenzic's command until you report back at sunset."
For a moment, the crew wavered. But then Yaren, a Bori with tanned skin that would survive a trip to the sun, shuffled forward to stand at his side. And one by one, each crew member moved to do what they'd been told; as every domino after the first eventually must.
* * * * *
"Darvin - sir - where exactly are we going?" Bastien had finally dared to ask, as he and Yamien trotted in wake of Darvin's shadow. The Lupe had been leading them along the coastline for quite some time. All the buildings had fallen from view, and forebodings of twilight hung heavily on the horizon in their splendor of pinks and periwinkles.
"Isn't it obvious?" Darvin called back easily enough, not hesitating so much as a step. At Bastien's side, Yaren waded desperately through the sand; his legs had been built for icy cliffs, not dirt that drowned you.
"We're capturing Reznik?" the Bori yipped in between jumps, shaking the sand from his back in mid-step.
The Lupe's ears narrowed his shadows as he laid them back along his skull. "Of course not," Darvin admonished. "Don't be ridiculous."
Without warning, Bastien's feet suddenly decided they were quite happy where they were. He did not move forward. "But," the Techo stuttered valiantly. "If he's lost his memory like you told us, it should be simple-"
"Exactly. What good is having him back if he doesn't know enough to feel sorry for what he did?" Darvin look over his shoulder at the flummoxed crewmates, and his grin was positively wolfish. He gestured at another shack that had appeared at the edge of the dew-starred horizon, lopsided as a crescent moon. "That's why we're going to find what took his memories in the first place..."
Date: Oct 3rd
...Yaren struggled up to slightly firmer ground, breathing heavily. "But Darvin," he said, "you told us the Uni said he washed up not remembering anything. Why would somebody living in a little hut on this island know where his memories went?"
Darvin paused and frowned. When the Bori put it that way, it did sound a bit ridiculous.
He looked toward the shack and felt the recollection walk over him. "Oh, I'm following my nose," he said. The grin returned. "Always follow your nose...."
He loped onward, forgetting his bruises and other aches. Bastien and Yaren groaned (quietly, but Darvin's ears swiveled back alertly, and they stopped) and followed in his wake.
They picked up speed as they drew closer to the shack and picked up the smell the Lupe's nose had detected first. It was a boiling smell, a magic smell; the components weren't anything they knew, but there was a distinctive quality to a mystic's work.
There was an old Kyrii outside the little building, leaning on his staff and prodding a sludgy greenish potion with a long spoon. He picked up a lump of it, let it fall; they heard a splash, but saw sparks fly up instead of droplets, and there was a bright sharp odor on the air. Power. Far more than the average mystic would display.
"Ah," he said, looking over at them and shoving the bowl of the spoon absently in his mouth. He took it out again, leaving green marks on his beard. "I saw you coming."
"We have a question, Mystic," Darvin said, red eyes gleaming.
"I have many answers," the mystic said amiably, licking his spoon. "Perhaps one of them will suit you."
"We've lately discovered that the captain who betrayed us years ago, leaving us in Meridell's dungeons," Darvin said, warming to his subject, caution forgotten, "has been living free on this island... but we're told he has no memory from before he arrived."
The mystic nodded encouragingly. After they had stared expectantly at one another for some moments, he pointed out helpfully, "That wasn't a question."
Darvin blinked. "What took his memories away, and how can we restore them so he'll know what he's done?"
"Aah. Ah ah ah. Do you want to help him, then?"
A little wariness came back into Darvin's stance. "...After a manner of speaking. We'd also like... to get him to explain himself."
"I see." The Kyrii mystic poked the pot with the handle of the spoon, setting it swinging; steam billowed out, hot and sweet. "Lost memories can be a blessing, you know. Time to learn. Time to find the uncluttered self. Your own Lord Darigan would know that, wouldn't he?" He chuckled. "But time runs longer than needed sometimes. To find your captain's memories, you must seek the head and the heart of the island."
"The head and the heart?" Darvin asked. "Inland, then?"
The old Kyrii's eyebrows jumped. "Look around you, man!" He extended the stick, pointing offshore.
A jutting peak of rock, rising from the water, was topped with a knob that did look quite a bit like a head. Either that or a somewhat maltreated potato.
Darvin offered a bow, and the small party took its leave.
* * * * *
The Kyrii watched them go, then leaned more heavily on the staff and tried to rub tension out of his lower back. Darigani here! Well, more of them. What was the world coming to?
He upset the pot, spat out the green potion he'd licked from the spoon, and poured sand on the fire and over the spill. He was mostly immune to its induced suggestibility, but there was no point taking excessive chances.
Years ago -- considerably longer years than that Lupe's idea of a substantial prison stay -- he'd given directions to a party of Knights of Meridell who were looking for something to solve their famine and plague troubles. Sent them, in fact, to the Orb held at that time by the Darigan Empire.
He'd moved his armload of belongings to this island when he first sensed the Darigan Citadel's rise. He didn't think they knew it had been him, but there was always the chance someone would think of him, and he'd preferred to be out of the flight path.
And now they'd come after all. He felt a bit guilty for using the Head and Heart -- the most mystically significant areas of the island -- as simple distraction, but at least it should keep them busy for a little while.
He turned and went into the hut, still grinding the heel of one hand into his lower spine. He stood for a moment staring at the unconscious Darigan Kau he'd dragged in off the beach.
"Sleep, Karik," he muttered, and went back out to wait for the moon to rise...
Date: Oct 4th
* * * * *
...The sky was darkening as the small group of figures moved up the line of dark wet dirt that marked the edge of the island where the sand met the sea. The shadowy waves were rolling gently in the fading light; there were only a few remaining traces of the red in the sky that marked the end of the storm.
The group was tired but worried for their captain, and worry allowed nervous hope; that hope alone kept them plodding through the sand, searching for any trace of the missing important crew member. The thought that was in all of their minds was that he was still out on the softly tossing waves, perhaps unconscious, perhaps fighting on the brink of drowning, perhaps already lost forever beneath the water. Karik was their captain, like the betrayer that was now in the crew’s midst, but he was a trustworthy and strong soul; he would never desert the crew of his ship. If he wasn’t on the island...
A sudden excited cry came from one of the weary searchers. The crew hurriedly gathered to see what had been found on the lonely stretch of shore. Alenzic pushed his way anxiously through the crowd, and found himself nudged aside as the sailors parted to form an alley through which the discovery ran through.
Or rather, hoof prints. There was a line of footprints in the wet sand a few feet off from the light, sinking sand on the beach. They headed in a straight line away from the water, wavered a bit, and then ended in a shallow ditch, where the owner must have fallen. From there, the large bulk looked like it had been dragged further inland.
The crew looked at each other, excitement shining in all of their eyes, and though it was dark, they began to follow the markings in the sand across the coast, away from the waters that had perhaps been denied their captain after all.
* * * * *
“Rez, how’re you doing?”
“Huh?” The Krawk looked up at Hinatea, who was looking at him with worried eyes.
“You don’t seem quite like yourself tonight… you look preoccupied with something.” The Uni twitched her hooves, wondering if the secret Dar had hinted at had anything to do with it, and then feeling guilty for questioning the Krawk who had become one of the islanders.
“Oh no!” Rez said cheerily. “It’s just been an exciting, long day, that’s all. I think I’ll go to bed.”
“You do that.” Hinatea looked relieved. “I’ll stay up and wait for the searchers to return.”
The Krawk headed to his room in the small island hut he occupied. It was strange… he felt fine, yet something nagged at him. He couldn’t place it; he didn’t know what caused it. He thought back to the Lupe he had helped rescue earlier. He had never seen a Darigan before; he had known the sights and colors of the island pets all his life. He certainly had not known this strange shipwrecked sailor who had washed up on the beach. Yet why did it seem almost normal to be looking at that Lupe, speaking with him... as if he’d done it before?
The Lupe would be getting back sometime; Reznik resolved to speak to him again then. He wouldn’t tell the Lupe about his strange feeling, but would simply try to make the sailor’s acquaintance; maybe he could figure something out that way. And while he was at it, maybe he could ask why the Lupe’s crew seemed to be avoiding him. It was rather odd really; had they never seen a Krawk before?
He paced restlessly around the hut before he realised he would have no peace tonight to rest. Unable to think of anywhere else to turn, he slipped back outside and began to head toward the island mystic...
Date: Oct 4th
* * * * *
...“Tell me again why we’re doing this,” Bastien said, suppressing the urge to groan.
“Because that’s where our fearless leader decided we should go.” Yaren’s sarcasm made the Techo grin, despite the burning exhaustion in his body.
“What’s taking you two so long?” Darvin called. The Darigan Lupe was a good clip ahead of his companions.
“How does he do it?” Bastien asked, not really expecting an answer. “He’s got to be just as tired as we are.”
“Insanity,” the Bori panted. “Insane people are known for their ability to do what we mere mortals cannot.”
“Would you two hurry up!” Darvin’s impatient voice pulled the two Neopets into a slightly faster walk, towards the “head and heart of the island”. Personally, Bastien thought it really did look more like a maltreated potato than anything else.
Stupid Kyrii, I bet he sent us on this ridiculous path just to get us out of his hut. The whole encounter had seemed a little weird to the blue Techo anyway, with that sludgy green potion that sparked, and his knowledge of Lord Darigan...
Bastien froze, thinking back to the short peek he’d had inside the hut. A large cauldron without, and an unmade bed, and a pallet with some rough cloth tossed over something within. A shape exactly the same as a large, muscular Kau with curling horns. Despite the warmth of the day, Bastien felt his body turn to ice. “Darvin!” he screamed at the winged Lupe. “We have to get back to that Kyrii’s hut now!...”
Date: Oct 4th
...Yaren stopped with a weary groan. “Are you serious? After we’ve come this far? But we’re almost there!” ‘Almost there’ was a gross exaggeration, but it had been a long day and every journey seemed an agonizingly long one; to backtrack would be excruciating.
“We have to go back,” Bastien repeated desperately. “The mystic has Captain Karik!”
“You’re crazy,” Yaren decided, mourning his despairing feet. “Darvin, he’s crazy!”
However, Bastien’s urgency caught hold of Darvin’s attention, and he jogged back to look at him properly. “What are you saying?”
“When we were at the Kyrii’s hut, I saw inside,” Bastien said quickly. “It was mostly empty, just his bed, and a little cot with something covered by a blanket. I was so concentrated on the Kyrii and his brew and finding Captain Karik that I didn’t pay attention. But it was Karik on that cot, I know it was! I don’t know how it didn’t register before now.”
“Why should he lie to us?” scoffed Yaren.
“Why should he tell us the truth?” Darvin asked thoughtfully. He studied the Techo helmsman, all tiredness forgotten in his urgency. Bastien had a good eye, and often noticed things others didn’t when given time to ponder. “Alright, then,” Darvin sighed, “back we go.”
“Are you serious?” Yaren repeated again, with a little bit more of a whine. But when all three sprinted back towards the hut, he was always a little bit ahead of the others.
* * * * *
The island mystic lived in isolation for a reason. It wasn’t quite that he was anti-social, it was just that, as a mystic, he just really didn’t like being disturbed. And as a mystic, people really liked to disturb him.
The mystic was about to be very, very disturbed.
Rez approached the mystic’s tent somewhat tentatively; it was getting a little late, and he didn’t want to bother him while he was trying to rest. However, the mystic was sitting alone outside his hut, gazing at the rising moon.
“Good evening, young Krawk,” the mystic intoned. “Visiting for a late-night chat?”
Rez sighed and sat near the Kyrii on a log that had been washed up by the sea. “I can’t sleep. The newcomers - the ones that washed up from the sea - they... bother me. I mean, they remind me of something I can’t ever have known; they look familiar but I don’t recall ever meeting them before. It’s not simple déjà vu; I don’t know what it is. And they seem to avoid me, like - like I offend them. I have the answer, I know I do - I just don’t know how to get it!”
The mystic looked troubled. “I think-” he said after a moment, “that I might have something for you. Something that would make all those memories go away.”
“But I don’t have memories,” Rez started in confusion, but was cut off by the sound of murmuring voices headed that way.
“Oh dear,” said the mystic.
The tension and awkwardness was positively palpable when the band of seamen searchers arrived at the hut. Many of them looked quite angry, or worried. Rez heard mutterings of “Reznik,” and wondered what they meant. One of them had a paw clamped firmly over his eyes, who announced, “If I see him, I’m going to kill him.”
“Where’s Captain Karik?” one of the crewmen demanded. “Where is he, Reznik? We should have known it would be you!”
“What are you talking about?” Rez asked, bewildered.
The other crewmen hissed and turned away, subduing the one that had spoken out. “Darvin’s orders,” Rez heard, “We do nothing!”
“What do you mean, nothing?”
“We wait and inform Lieutenant Darvin!”
“Lieutenant Darvin?” Rez repeated. Why did that sound so familiar?
“MYSTIC!” A voice shouted suddenly. “MYSTIC!” A blue Techo stumbled into view, exhausted by a long sprint. He was followed immediately by Darvin and Yaren.
“You!” stammered the mystic, gaping at the three.
“You!” gasped Darvin, staring at Reznik.
“You!” exclaimed Reznik, gazing at Darvin. There was a brief silence, then Reznik said brokenly, “Will someone please tell me what’s going on?...”
Date: Oct 5th
..."I'll tell you what's going on!" Darvin snarrled. Crazed with ghosts of vengeance and perhaps a few too many meals of islandberries, all the Lupe's thoughts had withdrawn into themselves but one. That one skittered back and forth before his eyes; the strum of an archer's bow, the dire shick of a sword leaping from its sheath. The smell of iron. Someone trusted turning his back.
"You betrayed us! You betrayed all of us, and for what? For a profit! When you realized that the Darigan armies had lost any hope of victory, you hired a messenger and offered up our battle plans, the secrets of our weapons to the highest bidder! You couldn't bear to be on the losing side, because you were too much of a coward to face what the rest of us had to endure. You sided with the Meridell scum for money. Money and pride."
Scattered about the ramshackle hovel's yard, each crewman's eyes were downcast to avoid meeting the eyes of their personal ghosts, while the hush rolled and cackled madly at their heels.
Except for the mystic's, which had seen it all along.
"More or less, pup. More or less." His stirring rod ambled through the onsetting twilight mist like some unseeable deity reaching to mix the ingredients of time. At the Kyrii's feet, the ragged cauldron fizzed with the new life that seemed to have been breathed into its fire-fierce emerald contents. Touching his nose to the rod, the mystic added after a beat of forethought, "But that's only half the story."
"Then who?" Surprisingly enough, the one to speak up was Yaren; meek Yaren, of quips and fur the color of the hearth fire's greeting after a sub-degree afternoon. "Who has the other half of the story? Because Reznik sure doesn't."
If anything, the Kyrii looked puzzled; for it is the mark of true wisdom for its bearer to assume that such a thing is commonplace. "Why, I do," he answered, bemused.
At once, dissent flashed like gunpowder across the faces of the former Darigan warriors. All lodged immediately into protest, and the rabble only quieted when they realized that they hadn't anything to be arguing against yet.
"It was Reznik's decision," the Kyrii went on, when at last the final sailors had lapsed into a disgruntled silence. "He sold them to me. I paid him top price, of course; he wouldn't take anything less. Wonderful myths, you can make out of memories. Nothing quite like reality for fantasy fodder. Not as good a batch as the ones I bought off that Kass fellow a few months back, but one takes what one can find."
As the Dariganian crew took a few moments to process this, the mystic skimmed a sandglass bottle through the potion seething before him. He frowned, shaking the bottle a few times. "Sleeping potions," the Kyrii told them apologetically, when at last he'd reached satisfaction with the concoction. "Feepiting near impossible to get the proper density with them. And with all the memories I've been siphoning out of the Kau, I need all of it that I can brew."
"Captain Karik!" Bastien yelped, shaking his head as though waking from reality into a dream. "What have you done with Captain Karik?"
The Kyrii tilted his head, sand-encrusted dreadlocks of fur withering across his eyes. "The same," he answered neutrally, and then smiled the smile of someone sharing a private joke. "But at a much, much cheaper price. Not nearly as shrewd as your Reznik, he was; now there if anyone was a scoundrel that'd sell his own mother for a bag of broken Neopoints. But seeing as he doesn't really exist any longer..." The mystic reached into the pocket of the coarse, shapeless garment draping him, withdrawing another bottle in which a ruby liquid sloshed. "Well, no use dwelling on the past, eh? Want to buy a story?"
Unnoticed, lessened by each of the mystic's words, Reznik sat huddled at the side of the cauldron, clutching his ears from music that only he could hear.
"Give them back!" Darvin demanded, in character if not slightly unexpected all the same. "Give them back right now! I am acting captain, and I refuse to allow my crew to sell their memories at less than top Neopoint!" He sent a glance scything across the huddled sailors. "That means you lot, too. In case you were getting ideas."
Bastien, by then the only one who remained both conscious and relatively understanding of what was going on, ventured in the mystic's direction, "Mystic, what can we do to buy their memories back from you? What is your price?"
The mystic's eyes took on the gleam of a Werelupe mentioning the moon; for wisdom aside, he was a Kyrii, and all Kyriis are opportunists at their hearts. "Well," he began. "I don't generally resell such precious stock, but there is one thing I've been eyeing..."
Date: Oct 5th
..."What?" Darvin barked, infuriated by the dramatic pause that followed the Kyrii's words. The day had worn his patience far too thin for theatrics. "What have you been eyeing?"
"Well, you, of course," the mystic replied in a calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice, as if it should be obvious.
"Me?!" Darvin spluttered, gaping at him. "You mean... all of me, or what part?"
"Your memories -- what else? I do believe memories were the subject at hand, were they not?"
Silence flitted over the group like a giggling goblin, laughing at their shock. Finally Darvin shook his head. "No," he said firmly. "No, I won't even consider it."
"Very well." The mystic twirled his bottle casually like a beverage connoisseur examining a mediocre offering. "It is a pity. Your memories will, I have no doubt, be far more interesting than Reznik's. The drama of betrayal, imprisonment, escape and flight would add some spice." He hesitated, a slow smile crossing his face and one eyebrow rising like a pale, sickly moon crawling into the sky. "Although... as a mystic, I do tend to get what I want."
"Is that a threat?" Darvin snarled, and the Kyrii shrugged.
"Hardly. Merely an innocent statement of the way things are going to be. After all, there are a few things that I can't have you remembering..." Swift, smooth and concise, his fingers uncurled around the bottle, and dozens of eyes watched in apprehensive suspense as it tumbled gracefully downward, struck the sand and shattered, spreading sparkling fumes across the beach within seconds...
Date: Oct 6th
...and as they breathed in the glittering-green gases, each one began to feel strangely light, as if floating, and drowsy, and as if moving through heavy water that dragged at their limbs. Reznik, sitting on the ground, succumbed first; though near the source of the fumes, Darvin retained enough raging energy to leap --
--But the mystic stepped back, and the Darigan Lupe fell short, landing heavily on the ground, panting and gagging as he drew in the worst of the fumes. His red eyes glazed over as they gazed up at the bottle that remained intact... filling his vision as it narrowed down to nothing... the red, gleaming bottle of memories.
The Kyrii waited tensely until all stirring along the beach had stilled. He'd have to work quickly now. He just hoped he had enough bottles.
* * * * *
Sand. Lots of warm, grainy sand, spilling all around him. There were concerned voices all around, and a splash of water hit him in the face.
He coughed and spluttered and sat up, blinking slowly. He was surrounded by a group of Neopets with strangely painted faces and concerned expressions. He felt a vague sense of deja vu, as if this had already happened, or he knew them.
He turned to look blankly at the green-eyed Uni crouching beside him. "Pardon?"
"Is that not your name? You told us... well, you said it, before you passed out the last time."
The Lupe shook his head and stretched his wings gingerly. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't remember. I... don't remember much of anything."
The Uni looked sympathetic. "It happens sometimes. Shipwrecked sailors, washed ashore -- between blows to the head and drowning, well...."
His head ached. His wings stung. He was lying on a beach. Shipwreck? Had he been shipwrecked? "Oh," he said faintly.
"My name is Hinatea," the Uni said. "I lead here." She offered him a shoulder. "Lean on me, and we'll take you to our doctor. Our tribe will welcome you, if you want to join us."
"Thank you," he -- Dar, he supposed -- said shakily, pulling himself up to lean against the Uni chieftain's withers. Her wing spread over to shade him against the sun; that eased the pounding behind his eyes. "If I was shipwrecked, did -- did you find anyone else from my ship?"
"We've found a few others. None of them remember anything either." Hinatea began walking slowly. "All of you are welcome here."
"Thank you," Dar repeated. Well... things could be worse. He'd been found by someone who would offer him medical care... a home, a place to belong.... At least some of the people who had presumably been his comrades before were safe too, even if they didn't remember each other....
A gleam of red caught his eye, and he looked up the nearby dune to see an old Kyrii mystic leaning on a stick. Hinatea followed his gaze and nodded to the old Neopet, who nodded back and idly tapped a flask of ruby-red against his thigh.
Hinatea nudged Dar after a moment, and he started at realizing he'd been mesmerized and staring at the red potion.
Must be sunstruck.
* * * * *
Late that night, the Kyrii crouched over a crudely drawn map of Neopia. "Here, they said," he muttered, tipping up a bottle and letting a thin stream of red trickle down into a particular spot in the dirt. It sizzled when the stream broke, and the liquid still in the bottle began to boil.
The Kyrii raised an eyebrow, then corked and packed the bottle carefully and wrote upon the tag the address in neat letters:
THE DEEP CATACOMBS
* * * * *
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Date: Oct 6th
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