Avalon and the Emerald Noil Gem: Avalon’s Apprentice - Part Ten
Brutus charged first. He leapt straight at Ragnora, who
responded with a loud roar and a swipe across his face. Ash darted toward the
Gelert, but another one leapt in her path, baring its enormous teeth. The third
Gelert leapt at Storm, who didn't draw his sword, but barked and dodged the Gelert's
Scarback launched himself at Avalon first. The
starry Kougra dodged the other Kougra, swiping at his back leg as he flew past.
Scarback turned, slashing at Avalon with his huge claws. Avalon ducked, but
felt a claw slash his ear. He hissed, standing to glare at Scarback.
Scarback landed smoothly, crouched sideways.
Avalon bared his teeth, then made a leap of his own. Scarback reared up to avoid
the attack, and used his shoulder to knock Avalon to the ground. Scarback growled
loudly and leapt toward Avalon.
Silverdrop launched herself across the room,
smashing into Scarback's side. Both Kougras landed upright, and Avalon scrambled
to his paws.
Scarback charged at Silverdrop, who raised a
paw and slashed as she leapt to the side. Avalon broad-sided the Kougra from
Scarback's left, knocking the cat to the ground. In a flash, the Kougra was
up again, roaring angrily.
Avalon stepped back, ears flat against his head.
Silverdrop had slunk behind Scarback, claws drawn. Trying to distract the Kougra,
Avalon taunted, "Had enough yet?"
"I've just started, Guardian!" Scarback snarled.
Silverdrop leapt, her front paws ready to slash
the Kougra's already scarred back. In a whirl of black fur, Scarback turned,
reared up, and smacked Silverdrop aside. He leapt toward her, and Silverdrop
rolled away just in time.
Avalon slammed into Scarback's side again. The
Kougra stumbled, but didn't go down this time. He slashed at Avalon, who managed
to dodge the blow. The starry Kougra launched himself forward, slashing at Scarback's
With an angry hiss, Silverdrop leapt at Scarback
again. She managed to sink her claws into his side, but Scarback reared up and
Silverdrop lost her grip. Scarback prepared to smash her as he fell back to
all fours, but Silverdrop bit his left leg hard. With a loud hiss of pain, the
Kougra stepped backwards.
Avalon suddenly realized that the best place
to strike would be Scarback's injured leg. He'd noticed that it was twisted
inwards, and hadn't healed properly. Avalon guessed that it would still hurt
three years later.
With a roar, the starry Kougra leapt at Scarback,
as if to land on his back. Scarback stepped back, as Avalon had expected. Avalon
hit the ground, and his head shot forward. His teeth latched onto Scarback's
injured leg. As Avalon had guessed, it still hurt the Kougra.
Scarback roared in pain and anger. He raised
a paw to swat Avalon off, but the starry Kougra had already let go and moved
back. He met the oncoming paw with his own, tossing it aside. Silverdrop slammed
into Scarback's chest, causing the Kougra to stumble backwards. Avalon darted
forward, slashing at the injured leg.
Scarback hissed angrily and began backing out
of the room. Avalon drove his back, swiping at the Kougra's face and leg. In
sudden burst of speed, Scarback suddenly sprang forward, knocking Avalon over.
The two Kougras rolled, clawing at the other's faces and roaring angrily, until
Scarback stopped, pinning Avalon to the stone floor. The top of Avalon's head
wasn't resting on the stone, however- he was pinned by the edge of the stair
"Had enough?" Scarback snarled.
"Will you knock that off!" an angry voice shouted.
Silverdrop slammed into Scarback's side shoulder first. Hissing in surprise,
the Kougra fell down several stairs, swiping at Silverdrop as he went. One of
his claws snagged Silverdrop's leg, and she slipped down with him. Avalon reached
forward and yanked Silverdrop out of Scarback's grip.
Scarback was still tumbling when the first curve
appeared. He yelped in surprise, and just barely managed to grab the edge as
he fell. He quickly grabbed the stone stairs with both paws, but couldn't scramble
up. His back paws had nothing to cling to.
Several panicked whimpers echoed from the room
behind Avalon and Silverdrop. They whirled around to see the three Gelerts,
bleeding and limping, race out of the room, ran past them, and barreled down
"Get over here, you stupid dogs!" Scarback roared,
"And help me up!"
Brutus screeched to a halt and pulled Scarback
up. As soon as the Kougra was on the ledge, he turned and ran back after the
Without his Gelerts, Scarback didn't seem as
eager to attack them as before. The Kougra growled, "You may have won again,
Avalon. But this is far, far from over!" With a hiss, the Kougra disappeared
in a burst of smoke.
"Where'd he go?" Ash demanded.
"That'll be his safe zone," Ragnora said bitterly.
"A magically created world where he's safe from pursuit. The only disadvantage
is that he's stuck there for twenty-four hours."
"How do you know all this?" Ash exclaimed.
Ragnora grinned wickedly. "Twenty years' worth
of eavesdropping," she said.
Avalon sighed. "And there goes our chance to
capture him." He stared at the spot where Scarback had disappeared for a moment,
then said, "Come on. Let's go back to Mystery Island."
Avalon led the way down the stairs. This time
the trip was a lot faster, and a lot more nauseating.
"I'm going to lose my lunch," Ash complained.
"But we didn't have any lunch," Silverdrop
"And it's about time we did," Avalon muttered.
"I don't think there's enough for everyone, though."
"Arr, there's food on me ship!" Storm announced.
"Whoops… there goes me hat!"
Avalon pushed open the heavy door leading out
of the tower. He took a few steps forward, and froze.
"What is it?" Silverdrop hissed.
"Over there," Avalon whispered, "Out on the water.
Ash, is that…"
Ash slipped over to her friend's side. "Yep.
That's the Desert Ferry."
"With tha' scoundrel Caiman steerin' I'm sure,"
Storm growled, eyes narrowed.
"And down there," Ragnora said, pointing with
her right paw. "I think that's Brazen's little rowboat."
Avalon nodded. "Looks like they're talking."
"Well," Ash said, flipping her tail. "Let's go
see what it's all about. Follow me." Silverdrop and Ragnora watched Ash uncertainly.
"She knows what she's doing," Avalon assured
them. "She's lived in Neopia Central as a stray for a long time." And he and
Storm trotted quietly after Ash. Silverdrop and Ragnora, still looking a bit
doubtful, hurried after them.
Ash was a master of stealth when it came to having
only buildings as cover. She used the shadows to her advantage, and mapped out
routes in seconds. At last, they came to a stop in the shadows of one of the
buildings closest to the shore. The ships weren't far out, and with their good
hearing, Avalon and friends could make out most of the words.
"You were supposed to be in the water when we
blockaded them on the beach!" Brazen's unmistakable voice snarled.
"Well, I can't help it if I didn't get the message
in time! Is it my fault that my stupid Pirakeet got lost?" Caiman shouted back.
"Scarback doesn't care why you missed the message!"
"Think we can get out in the boat without them
noticing?" Ash asked.
Avalon frowned, looking around the tiny island.
There wasn't much they could use. As he turned his head, the Noil Gem clinked
softly and glimmered a soft gold.
"They can't notice us," Avalon said slyly, "if
they can't see us."
Ash caught onto his plan and grinned. The others
"What's that supposed to mean?" Silverdrop asked.
"Remember what I did with Storm's boat earlier?"
"Yeah," Silverdrop replied.
"Arr, ye can still turn tha' visable, right?"
Storm interrupted. Nobody answered him.
"You turned it," Silverdrop went on, "Invisi…"
A look of understanding came over her face.
Ragnora frowned. "You can turn us back again?"
Avalon nodded. "Yes. How many times do
I have to say that I can turn it back?"
Ash shrugged. "Alright. Let's hurry this up.
Unless you want Brazen to catch us first…" She eyed the others suggestively
before stepping closer to Avalon.
Avalon smiled. "Thanks Ash," he said, holding
up the Noil Gem. He hung it at about Ash's eye level, and focused the Gem's
energy. Ash glowed green for a few seconds, then vanished.
"Hah!" came her voice from nowhere. "It worked!
Hey, I can see Storm's boat!"
"That's because when you turn invisible, you
can see other invisible things," Avalon explained.
"Really?" Silverdrop asked, stepping forward.
Avalon shrugged. "That's what it seems like."
He raised the Gem up to Silverdrop's eyes, which were a lot lower than Ash's.
She too, turned invisible, as did Ragnora, and, most reluctantly, Storm.
Finally, Avalon let the Gem drop, and focused
the energy on himself. A moment later, he opened his eyes and saw the others.
"Alright. Let's go get Storm's boat," he said.
Confidently, the group strode toward the now visible Storm Cloud Returns.
"This is awesome!" Ash said. "I mean, we're walking
right past Brazen, and she doesn't even notice! I could toss a rock at her,
and she wouldn't know who threw it!" She began eyeing the loose rocks on the
ground as if choosing her weapon.
"Ash," Avalon growled, "Just because you can
throw a rock doesn't mean you should."
"Oh, alright," Ash muttered. "Just an idea."
They set Storm's boat up, gathering the oars
and ropes, and making sure there was enough room for everyone. There was just
enough, but everyone was uncomfortably close.
"Well," Avalon said in an attempt to sound optimistic
as he stuck an oar in the water, "At least it isn't that far to Mystery
Island. Right, Storm?"
"Aye, it will be," the Lupe said, stopping his
paddling. "There's no way out, remember?"
"No problem," Ragnora said. "The portals open
every time one of Scarback's ships go in and out. We just need to wait for a
ship to leave or come in."
"And how long's that gonna take?" Ash demanded.
"Wait a minute," Silverdrop said abruptly. "Ash,
do you have some blank paper in that bag?"
Ash nodded. "I snapped the lock of the other
door," she admitted. "There was some blank parchment, and some ink. A quill
or two, too."
"Why'd you take them?" Avalon asked.
Ash opened her bag and pulled out a jar of red
ink, a black quill, and a stack of yellow parchment. "Hey, you never know when
you'll need some writing equipment," the Lupe said, handing the things to Silverdrop.
"I hope those are invisible, too," Ragnora muttered.
Silverdrop dipped the quill in the ink and began
writing quickly, pausing only to reload her quill.
"Done," she said at last, passing the paper to
" 'Caiman,' " Avalon read aloud, " 'Meet me on
Krawk Island AT ONCE to discuss you're missing presence in the Lost Desert.
Come to the Golden Dubloon. Scarback.' "
"No style, no dear or sincerely… sounds like
a Scarback letter, all right," Ragnora commented.
"Even the writing looks like Scarback's," Ash
remarked, looking impressed.
"And we just throw it up to Caiman," Silverdrop
said, "and he'll head off, opening a portal to Krawk Island. We can follow,
and Krawk Island's not too far from Mystery Island!"
"Great plan, Silverdrop!" Avalon said, rolling
the letter up. "Let's see how Caiman takes a flying letter."
"Add a dramatic black poof," Ash suggested. "That's
how a Scarback letter would appear."
"Alright!" Avalon growled, focusing a gray beam
of light from the Noil Gem onto the letter. The letter instantly flew into the
air, then slowly floated over the deck of Caiman's ship. It dropped suddenly,
with a loud, accompanying black poof.
The voices of Caiman and Brazen stopped. The
tiny brown figure that was Caiman turned away from the deck of his ship and
"That's his desk," Avalon whispered. "I dropped
the letter there."
The Krawk read the letter silently. At last,
he turned and shouted over the deck, "I hate to break off this argument, Brazen,
but I've got a meeting with Scarback."
And without another word, the Krawk turned around
and began to steer his ship. With a loud creak, it moved forward. Avalon and
his invisible friends followed close behind, disappearing into the portal after
the Desert Ferry.
The tunnel began its grinding rock noise. Avalon
gritted his teeth, digging his claws into the oar. Once again, he had to squint
his eyes against the wind. He saw Storm clutching his hat tightly.
All of a sudden, the tunnel spat them out. The
pets with oars began working furiously to keep the ship from being pummeled
by the Desert Ferry's waves.
They stayed on the water without movement until
Caiman's ship had entered the docks. A burst of green light shot from the boat,
and everyone in it, back into the Noil Gem. Avalon sighed slightly. All the
work with the Gem's magic was wearing him out.
"Now we've got to start rowing," Avalon groaned.
"Or maybe not!" Ash said excitedly. "Look!"
She pointed to a large ship heading their way.
The gold writing on the ship's side proclaimed it the Sinker. On the
deck, waving frantically, was a purple Lupe with a scar across his muzzle.
"I'm glad I found you guys!" Valor said, rolling
up the ladder. "I though Scarback had gotten you guys!"
"He couldn't do it when I was an apprentice,"
Avalon pointed out with a grin. "I think a full fledged Guardian is a lot more
than he can handle. Especially if they have an apprentice to help them out."
He smiled at Silverdrop, who smiled back shyly,
then looked at the ground.
"Arr, where'd ye get this fine ship?" Storm asked
"Borrowed it from Caiman," Valor admitted. "He
dropped me back off on Mystery Island, but when Storm didn't come back and we
heard about the Gelerts attacking on the beach, Quaz told me to use one of Caiman's
"Well, don't worry about returning it," Ash growled.
"Why not?" Valor asked.
"He's a spy," Avalon said tiredly. "He was working
for Scarback the whole time, which is why he didn't tell you about Shag, that
other Gelert, following us."
Valor stood speechless for a moment. "A spy?
Caiman? I never…"
"Well, he is," Ash said shortly, shifting from
one paw to the other.
"Arr, are we gonna stand 'round talking, or are
we gonna get this ship movin' back ter the Island?" Storm asked from the steering
Valor quickly regained his composure. "You all
head down and rest. There's some rooms down there." He turned to the pirate
at the wheel. "Storm," he warned.
"What? I wasn' gonna touch it! I just wanted
to look, tha's all…" Storm suddenly slipped, and grabbed the steering wheel
for balance. The ship whirled around in a huge circle.
"STORM!" Valor shouted, striding toward the wheel.
"Do you mind?"
"As a matter a fact, I do!" the pirate Lupe replied
Ash rolled her eyes. "Let them battle it out,"
she grumbled. "I'm heading to bed."
Avalon nodded his agreement. The four pets headed
down the stairs, leaving the arguing voices of Storm and Valor behind. The rooms
were furnished with red fabric, but other than that, the rooms were exact copies
of the ones on the Desert Ferry.
Ash slipped into the first room, and Ragnora
the second. Avalon paused at the third door. Silverdrop stopped too, looking
Avalon smiled. "I just wanted to thank you, Silverdrop,"
Avalon said. "For all that help back at the Tower."
Silverdrop shrugged, looking down. "Anyone could've
"Doesn't matter. The point is you did it. I think
you're going to make a great Guardian."
Silverdrop looked up hopefully. "Really? Do you
think I can ever get good enough?"
Avalon laughed. "You should've seen me when I
became an apprentice. I couldn't fight off a Gelert if it stood still and exposed
Silverdrop's smile widened. "Thanks, Avalon!"
she said. "I can't wait to get started!" And with that, the silver Kougra darted
into her room.
Avalon shook his head, remembering the circumstances
he'd gotten the Gem under. With a sigh, he entered his room and looked out through
the porthole at the water. He still didn't know what had happened to his parents.
Perhaps he never would.
Just like Silverdrop and Ash. He realized that
he felt closer to the two than he had his parents. And while he did want to
find out what had happened on that mysterious night, the night his parents disappeared,
the night his house caught on fire, Avalon knew he had an apprentice to train,
and until then, a Gem to guard.
The investigation would have to wait.
And so begins the apprenticeship of one of the
Guardians of the Emerald Noil Gem.