A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 128,614,511 Issue: 257 | 15th day of Gathering, Y8
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The Peophin Incident: Part Eight

by kyrinn


The Peophin glided through the dark icy waters of the pond, hope dawning in him as the light of the surface drew nearer and nearer. Then, a black shape appeared, growing larger as it descended into the pool. Teirryn frowned. The shape looked familiar....

     "Kaerhas! Chaelian!" Teirryn called, suddenly recognizing his two companions. If they heard him, they didn't respond. Teirryn sped up, fear lending him strength. Were they injured? Dead?

     Catching his friends and slinging them across his back, the Tyrannian Peophin swam on, the water growing brighter rapidly. Struggling with his heavy burden, Teirryn managed to break the surface, gasping as he threw his companions onto the marble floor. They were back in the huge chamber, and, unfortunately, so were the ghosts. They floated towards the small group of adventurers, sightless eyes fixed on the pendent that hung around Teirryn's neck. The Peophin had taken what they considered theirs, and the spirits were determined to get it back.

     I can't fight them, Teirryn thought, panicking as he watched the ghosts come towards them. I can't escape, not carrying both Chaelian and Kaerhas. Yet the idea of leaving the brothers behind was unthinkable.


     A voice from behind him caused the Peophin to turn sharply. "Kaerhas?"

     "What's up? Did you get that... thing you needed?" The Bori had regained consciousness and was struggling to his feet, shaking the water from his fur.

     "Yeah, but I'll tell you about that later," Teirryn replied, feeling vastly relieved that Kaerhas was okay even as he faced forward again, glaring menacingly at the crowd of ghosts that had paused, seeming somewhat reluctant to attack. "What happened to you and Chaelian? Is he okay?" The Peophin looked toward the Xweetok.

     Kaerhas grimaced. "I don't know... he used this spell, and now-" The Bori drew in his breath sharply. "Look! The scroll!"

     Teirryn turned his head, focusing on the sopping wet and torn piece of parchment that the Xweetok, though unconscious, still clutched in his paw. The words of the spell had disappeared, used up when Chaelian cast it, but the aged paper was still giving off a very faint white light.

     Kaerhas bounded over to his brother's side. "He's still maintaining the spell," the Bori said, wonder in his voice. "It's why the ghosts haven't attacked us yet. But... if this keeps up, it'll probably finish him off...."

     "Take it," Teirryn said, casting another worried glance behind him at his friends.

     "What if... what if it fails?" Kaerhas faltered, his paw hovering near the scroll. "I'm not good at this sort of thing... magic, spells...."

     "If you don't, Chaelian will die." Teirryn looked to the spirits again. They were slowly drawing nearer as the light dimmed. "His life is being drained to keep the spell working. He's unconscious, so he no longer has any control over it. But if you can take it, and maintain the spell at the same time...."

     Teirryn paused meaningfully. Kaerhas nodded, a determined expression on his face. "I'll try."

     The Bori reached down, and, hesitantly, closed his paw over the scroll. White light flared, the same beautiful light that Kaerhas had seen his brother holding. The spirits pulled back, desperate to get away from the light that hurt them so. Teirryn tossed his head back gleefully, the light shining on his thick auburn mane.

     "Yes! You did it!" the Peophin crowed, casting a triumphant look at the retreating ghosts.

     "Great... now can we please leave?" Kaerhas gasped. "This magic stuff really takes it out of a person...."

     Restraining his elation, Teirryn picked Chaelian up gently, then turned back to Kaerhas. "Lead the way."

     The Bori obliged, walking hastily across the chamber, followed by Teirryn carrying his brother. The ghosts parted, resentment apparent in their every motion, but nevertheless allowing the companions to cross, leading the three toward the double doors that was the only way out of the room. As Teirryn stepped across the threshold after Kaerhas, the marble doors swung shut again, once more leaving the chamber and its treasures to the specters that haunted it. The Peophin couldn't repress the feeling that the spirits were rather glad to see them leave.

     * * *

     Five days later, five weary days in which the three companions had journeyed out of the dreadful corridor (this time without having to face curses or ghosts), back up the waterfall and around the traps (which had been reset, unfortunately), through the Tyrannian mountains (dodging wild Lupes and vicious Cybunnies the whole way), and back into civilization (or at least to a small, out-of-the-way Tyrannian village), Kaerhas finally had a chance to ask Teirryn about the pendent that hung around the Peophin's neck.

     "Of all the things," Kaerhas said skeptically, eyeing the necklace. "According to you, there were rubies and diamonds and all sorts of amazing treasures, and, after all the trouble we went through, you take an old and rusty brass locket."

     Teirryn smiled, that roguish, mischievous smile that reminded the Bori vividly of their first meeting. "Well, I have to say, this one caught my eye the most. Besides, I'm no thief. I would never think of taking anything that doesn't rightfully belong to me."

     "Like that map?" Chaelian asked, walking up to the other two with a meaningful look at the bag that rested next the Peophin.

     "Like I said before, we're only borrowing it." Teirryn closed his eyes, enjoying the scant shade provided by the scraggly tree on the outskirts of the village the three friends were sitting under. "But if it bothers you that much, we'll go return it now. I'll just go thank the villagers for their hospitality, even if they most likely won't understand a word I say, what with all their "Ug-ugga-ing." The Peophin stood, starting to head back into the village. Chaelian stopped him.

     "Hang on. I want to know what's so special about that locket." The Xweetok regarded Teirryn what he hoped was a stern look.

     "Why, could it be that you still don't trust me?" Teirryn replied with an air of mock disbelief.

     "You're kidding, right? I mean, after Kaerhas and I both risked our necks so you could get your little trinket, you'd better give us a good explanation!"

     Kaerhas laughed, standing and grabbing the bags before heading back to the village behind his friends, watching Chaelian chasing Teirryn the whole way and demanding an explanation. Just before entering the village, however, Teirryn dropped his pretense and turned back to face his companions.

     "All right, all right! Since you two are so persistent, I'll tell you. But-" Teirryn forestalled Chaelian before the Xweetok could speak, "Not now. You'll see when the time comes. Now come on, we've got a few more stops to make before our adventure is complete. I'm sure Chaelian will be glad to see the map's safe return to its rightful owner." Teirryn smirked.

     Chaelian sighed, knowing he'd get no more out of the Peophin for the time being. "Oh, fine. But this time, can we please travel by a more conventional method?"

     * * *

     Early one morning, the Usul was roused by a scratching, whining sound.

     "All right, boy, I'm coming." The mapmaker crossed the hall of his snug cabin, coming to stop in front of the Tasu that was clawing at the door. At his approach, the Petpet turned and looked at his owner, growling.

     "What is it? You need to go outside?" The Usul turned the handle of the cabin door and pulled it open, admitting a blast of cold air and snow. Grumbling about the weather, the mapmaker peered outside through the flurry of snowflakes and was rather surprised to see a tightly wrapped package on his doorstep.

     "What's this, now?" the Usul wondered aloud to no one in particular as he bent down to pick it up. The Tasu whined, and his owner obligingly closed the door, shutting out the wind. Stumping back down the hall, the Usul unwrapped the oiled cloth that covered the outside of the package and tore through the paper on the inside, revealing the contents.

     It was his map of the Tyrannian Jungle, the one that he had discovered missing a few days ago. Staring at the map in amazement, it was a few minutes before the mapmaker discovered the scrap of paper that had fluttered to the ground when the parcel was opened. Picking it up, he discovered it was a note, written in several handwritings.

     Dear Mr. Mapmaker:

    We're sorry for any trouble we've caused you, stealing borrowing your map and all. We hope that we didn't ruin it or anything. Any damage to it was unintentional, and we extend our deepest apologies.

     Sincerely, Anonymous Adventurers

     Shaking his head, the Usul grumbled. "Well, it's not the first time someone's come in here nicking my maps, and it probably won't be the last, either. Although it would have been nice if they'd ask first...." The mapmaker looked out his window at the three sets of tracks that marred the otherwise untouched snow with a smile. The falling snow was already beginning to cover the prints.

     "Well, I wish you good luck on your travels, adventurers. May you find happiness at the end of your journeys." The Usul left the window, heading into the kitchen for a cup of hot coffee, still muttering to himself. "Just don't take my maps the next time you get it into your heads to start some crazy adventure."

     * * *

     "And here we are, home sweet home," Teirryn announced, striding forward rapidly towards the dilapidated little cottage so that his two smaller companions had to jog to keep up. Taking a key from his bag, Teirryn unlocked the door and stood aside to allow Chaelian and Kaerhas inside.

     Entering the tiny cottage gratefully (it was pouring rain outside), Chaelian looked around curiously. It had the gloomy, neglected feel of many of the dwellings of the Haunted Woods, which wasn't surprising since it was right on the border. Apparently someone had attempted to make the rooms more welcoming and habitable, with what had been bright, cheery curtains and vases of flowers, but now the fabric was tattered and stained, the flowers dead and crumbling. Much of the furniture was smashed or broken, and everything was covered in a thick layer of dust.

     "Well?" Teirryn said to Chaelian as the Xweetok turned to him.

     "Well what?" Chaelian responded. Teirryn smiled irritatingly.

     "You've forgotten, haven't you? And after all the trouble you went to to get him back." Teirryn tossed another key to Chaelian, who caught it handily with a mystified expression on his face. The Peophin motioned to a set of drawers. "Open them."

     Chaelian inserted the key in the lock and, hearing a click, pulled the drawer open. With a glance at Teirryn, who was now answering a barrage of questions from Kaerhas, the Xweetok looked inside. The drawer contained only one item: a very familiar-looking bag.

     With a rueful grin, Chaelian pulled the bag out and opened it. Sure enough, there was Neji, the poor Griefer still broken in three pieces. Shaking his head, the Xweetok went back to join his brother and Teirryn. The Peophin had been right; he had forgotten.

     "What'd I tell you?" Teirryn said, gesturing at the bag. "I said I'd return him, and I did."

     "Yeah, thanks," Chaelian responded, smiling.

     "So? Now what?" Kaerhas asked excitedly, jumping up and down around the Peophin.

     "Follow me." Teirryn left the other two, walking towards the back of the house. Chaelian, after giving his brother a perplexed glance, followed the Peophin. Teirryn was opening the back door and stepping outside, despite the steady downpour. Kaerhas, trotting after his brother and the Peophin, found himself in a garden that was as derelict and ramshackle as the rest of the house. Dead bushes and trees added to the dismal view. Even the weeds were dead. In the middle of the garden, however, was a large, flat rock that looked very out of place. It had inexpertly-carved words upon it that were worn from exposure to the elements, and was made of smooth, polished green stone: the only color in an otherwise gray scene. A lump rose in Kaerhas' throat as he realized it marked a grave.

     Without a word, Teirryn walked over to the stone, holding the brass necklace he'd taken from the ghosts almost reverently. The Peophin paused, examining the stone gravely, then slowly and gently set the necklace at the base. And, seemingly from the stone itself, a spirit arose.

     It was a ghost, but not a ghost like the companions had seen in the caves below Tyrannia. It took the form of a lovely Peophin with a sweet smile. A soft white light shone from her spirit, and Kaerhas felt a sense of peace and tranquility come over him. She hovered above the ground, her lips moving, speaking words that only Teirryn could understand, apparently, for the Tyrannian Peophin answered, though neither Chaelian nor Kaerhas could hear him. Then, with one last smile, the ghostly Peophin seemed to rise up and vanish, as a mist disappears, evaporated by the sun.

     Bowing his head, standing in front of the gravestone, Teirryn stood there for a few minutes. Then the Peophin turned and, motioning to his companions, went back inside.

     Back inside the dry house, Kaerhas found his voice again. "That was...."

     "My sister," Teirryn finished, a wistful note in his voice. "She was... taken... by the ghosts that you saw in the caves in Tyrannia." The Peophin paused, then continued, his thoughts far away. "After she was gone, I left this house and started traveling, in search of some explanation, or some way to bring her back. It took two years, but I finally managed to piece together old legends and stories, and had an idea of what had happened to her. I discovered that ancient song I recited to you, and I figured out that her soul was trapped in the locket that she always wore, for the ghosts had taken it, along with her life. And I realized that I'd have to bring it back if she were to ever rest in peace." Teirryn smiled a melancholy smile, seeming to come back to the present. "Now, after so long, I've finally achieved my goal, thanks to you two."

     "So what will you do now?" Chaelian asked, touched by the unusual solemnity of his friend. "Now that your sister is at peace...."

     Teirryn shrugged. "I thought of maybe fixing this place up a bit and staying here, but I have no desire to live here any longer. I suppose I could take up traveling again, since there really isn't anything else to do."

     "You could always come stay with us," Kaerhas interjected enthusiastically. "Kyrinn wouldn't mind, I'm sure."

     "Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll pass," Teirryn replied, smiling, looking a bit more like his old self. "Still, if you give me the address, I'll stop by sometime." His golden eyes glinted with mischief. "When I've got another grand adventure for us to go on...."

     The three friends made their way to the front door as Kaerhas and Chaelian prepared to leave.

     "You sure you won't stay awhile?" Teirryn asked as the brothers gathered their things. Chaelian shook his head.

     "Quite frankly, I can't wait to see our house again," the Xweetok said. "Not only that, but I've got some long-overdue repairs to make on my Petpet, not to mention what my boss is going to say when I show up to work after missing for over a week with no apparent explanation." Chaelian sighed. "Not that he'll believe me, anyway...."

     "Bye, Teirryn!" Kaerhas said cheerfully. "That was a really fun adventure. You really should visit sometime!"

     Teirryn smiled. "I'll be sure to."

     Exchanging their farewells, Chaelian and Kaerhas stepped outside and started down the road to Neopia Central. The rain had slowed to a drizzle and the sun was peeking out from behind the thick gray clouds, lighting up the rainbow that arced across the sky. Kaerhas took a deep breath of fresh air and grinned.

     "Just wait till Kyrinn hears about this."

The End

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Other Episodes

» The Peophin Incident: Part One
» The Peophin Incident: Part Two
» The Peophin Incident: Part Three
» The Peophin Incident: Part Four
» The Peophin Incident: Part Five
» The Peophin Incident: Part Six
» The Peophin Incident: Part Seven

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