Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 110,063,541 Issue: 170 | 19th day of Celebrating, Y6
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Night Walker: Part Two


by ruin_star

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The small inn that rested in Meridell called the Waltzing Whinny, would not have caught one's attention normally. It was shabby, run down, and had few rooms. However the quality of the brewed root beer there made it famous throughout the medieval world.

      The night after the kidnappings I found myself seated in a dark corner of the smoky inn common room. I saw many I recognized. This inn was also not just a place for the night life, but the center of work for those of my trade.

      I sank lower in my chair, sipping at the drink I'd just ordered. I was waiting for an old acquaintance, who was a rather notorious mole. Not as good as me, but good. I'd been waiting for about fifteen minutes when he finally showed.

      The nervous looking silver Gelert came in through the door, he looked around and saw me. I raised and eyebrow at him as he limped over, a rather nasty incident had left him with only three legs. A wooden peg was now cupped over the stub of his from left hind limb.

      "What have you got for me?" I demanded as soon as he seated himself. "It better be good, you've kept me waiting here for fifteen minutes. Faeries Cork, I don't have all night here."

      CorkScrew shifted nervously. "I didn't know you could travel so fast, you got over here from Mystery Island extremely quickly. And I have…limitations." He didn't know exactly where I lived, only that my stronghold was in the jungles of Mystery Island.

      I waved a paw. "I have my connections, but never mind that. I need information about the kidnappings, Cork."

      Corkscrew looked at me with surprised shock, I glared back. "N - not much is known," he stammered. "I believe it's run by a shadow Kougra called, Cyan_DarkBane." Corkscrew pushed a photo forward. It was old and worn, but showed a giant shadow Kougra. I picked up the photo and examined it intently.

      "Rumor has it, that he once belonged to richest Neopian in the land," Corkscrew continued. "But his owner took it all away, destroyed the mansion, transferred all the Neopoints and items to a new address. The human didn't even have enough of a heart to abandon Cyan, to at least give him a chance for a new life." Corkscrew leaned back in his chair. "DarkBane spent years alone, his owner had been one of the first in Neopia. He eventually went mad with hate and bitterness," CorkScrew's voice trailed off.

      "And what of his plans?" I asked. "What does he plan to do with the hostages?"

      Corkscrew looked away. "I couldn't find that out, sorry."

     I sighed. "It's alright, you've done good work." I dropped a bag of Neopoints on the table. "Don't spend it all in one place" I cautioned the Gelert, he grinned up at me.

     "Oh don't you worry about me Shade, with the spoils you get your paws on, I would warn you about over spending." Chuckling I left the inn.

     The ship slid quietly over the water as it brought me nearer to Mystery Island. I tumbled reasons over and over in my head for why the insane Kougra would want to capture rich Neopian's pets. I sighed as the wind made my ears flop and stared up at the sky. There was no way to decipher an insane mind, it was impossible so I gave up trying.

     There were not many who departed from the boat, only about three others or so. They all wandered off in different directions and I headed for home. I walked quietly along the jungle path absorbed in my thoughts. Half my brain was alert for any rustling sounds or snapping twigs that would reveal someone else following me. Ghosts don't snap twigs.

     "Night Walker…" hissed a voice that made me jump out of my skin. I wheeled around eyes wildly searching for the speaker. My dagger had slid into my had without a second thought. I was facing the Ghost Lupe, and he was grinning wolfishly at me.

     I sheathed my dagger, as it would do no good against a ghost, better to have my hands free. He inclined his head. "A wise choice Night Walker."

     "How do you know I'm the Night Walker?" I asked.

     "A ghost knows many things," was the cryptic reply.

     I rolled my eyes and lost my patience. "Look are you just here to annoy me or do you actually have something to say?" I asked bluntly. The Lupe's eyes narrowed, and anger flickered in their depths. I knew right away I should not have been so rude. "Begging your pardon," I said hastily, not in the mood to get beaten into the ground by the ghost. "But I kind of need to get home."

     The Ghost Lupe glared at me through his slitted eyes. Then he threw his head back and laughed a laugh that chilled my bones. There was only cruelty in the sound, no humor at all. I shivered.

     "I have a gift for you Night Walker," The Lupe said with a cackle. "A gift you shall need in order to complete the task you have taken on." He raised one transparent paw and bit himself. Blackened light filtered out of the teeth marks. "A drop of ghost blood within that of a living." The Lupe murmured and placed a paw on my head.

     Nothing happened for a moment then a cold more penetrating than the deepest blizzards from Terror Mountain sank into my heart. I shut my eyes and fought the freezing feeling. Frost formed on my fur, icicles hung from limbs and ears, my breath wheezed out in an icy mist. A single tear slid from under my eyelid, the hot water trickled down my cheek and froze. Heat pounded in my head, fire roared in my chest.

     At last the Ghost Lupe withdrew his paw, and both heat and cold vanished. I collapsed in a heap, panting and shivering. The Lupe seemed satisfied. "Well done Night Walker, there are not many mortals who can survive my gifts." There was respect, and almost awe in his voice.

     "I'm flattered," I retorted, getting shakily to my feet. "What in Fyora's name did you do to me?"

     He chuckled darkly. "I have mixed a drop of my blood with yours. Any barrier that lies in your path you may cross as if it were nonexistent. Any wall you wish to traverse you may do so as though it were flat." He bowed his head to me. "Perhaps you shall be one of the few that discover more of the gifts the dead bring. Luck to you Night Walker." He wheeled around and, with a sinister cackle, disappeared, leaving me still shivering and very confused.

     When I got to the house I'd gone over what the Ghost Lupe had said over and over. Traverse walls as though they were flat I leapt at the side of the house, collided with it, and… stuck. I blinked in surprise. It was as if my paws were glued to the side of the house, but it was easy to lift them away. It felt as though I were standing upright but my eyes told me it was not so.

     Grinning widely I scrambled up to my window. I'd left it open, but decided to try the other half of my gift. Any barrier that lies in your path you may cross as if it were nonexistent. I took a deep breath and shoved my arms through the wall as if it wasn't there. I pulled them back out and placed them back against the wall. My paws didn't go through the bamboo. Only when I want to, I thought stifling a triumphant laugh. I can do it whenever I want to! I slid through the window and got into bed. It was still a mystery to me why on Neopia the Ghost Lupe would bestow a gift on me, of all pets. But just thinking about it was only going to give me a headache so I stopped. I assumed that in time all would right itself and the truth would come clean, if only it was that simple.

     ~*~

      "Leo, you look awful," exclaimed Maestitia at breakfast the next morning. I had seen myself in the mirror in the bathroom before I had come down stairs and I agreed with her. I rubbed my puffy eyes, and groaned.

      Hryre made a sympathetic noise and placed a cup of coffee in front of me. She didn't often let us have coffee, so I knew she must have felt really bad for me. I sipped at the dark brew. Within moments I felt energy rekindle in my body. "Eal, you make a very good cup of coffee," I said and savored the drink. The Eyrie grinned, he'd learned all the secrets from the Shoyru who ran the Coffee Shop in Neopia Central.

      Hryre stretched, "Well everybody I've got to go to the Ice Caves today, have to drop by the Neggery. Anyone want to come with?" We all volunteered. I didn't really pay much attention to what my family chattered about as we hiked up to Happy Valley. My mind was consumed entirely about how I would get into the warehouse and get Takara_33 out. A rather large snow flake landed on my nose. I shivered as it reminded me of the incident the night before.

      We didn't do much in Happy Valley, Hryre went to the Neggery while we played Snow Wars. When Hryre returned she was rosy cheeked and grinning widely.

      "Guess what?" she said slyly. We all froze, not wanting to guess. "It's two o'clock!" Hryre said when we didn't answer. "The Snowager's asleep, who's turn is it?"

      I tried to dive behind a pile of snow, but Ealdor caught my tail. "It's Leo's turn," the Eyrie said holding me up with a grin. I dearly wished I could pass through his grip, but that would alert my family to the Ghost Lupe's gift, so I refrained.

      Okay, I'm not scared by much, but a giant, grumpy, ice worm is inclined to do so. And stealing from a giant, grumpy, ice worm doesn't make me very bold either. The mouth of the Snowager's cave was hung with icicles like the fangs of some other beast. They also lined the long winding tunnel that led to the Snowager's hoard.

      I could hear the beast's slow rhythmic breathing, and as I got closer my heart beat quickened more steadily. I peered around the corner of the tunnel that opened onto the Snowager's domain. A hole in the roof provided the light that danced in thousands of tiny fragments against all the ice. How no snow got in was a mystery to me.

      Cautiously I crept forward, never taking my eyes off the Snowager. That turned out to be a big mistake, I should have been looking where I was going. I tripped over some trinket or other that had been separated from the pile and fell hard on the ice with a thud that seemed to be like the booming of a thousand gongs. The piece of shattered pottery I'd tripped over skittered away, making loud clacking noises that echoed throughout the cavern.

      The Snowager's eyes flew open and it reared back with a roar that must have shaken the whole mountain. It opened its mouth and unleashed a deadly volley of ice shards. I covered my head with my paws and curled into a little ball, gritting my teeth against the pain that would strike.

      It didn't come. I tentatively opened one eye, then the other. The shards of ice were scattered all around me, most had gone right through my body. The Snowager was looking at me oddly, it stared at me for a few moments then turned away and began rummaging through his treasure.

      I tried to creep toward the exit, but the Snowager whirled and gave a ferocious snarl, I stayed put. The ice beast continued to dig through its treasure. At last the Snowager made a satisfied noise and drew its head out of its hoard and turned around. Clasped in its jaws was a hand woven cloak, the material was a dark black.

      The Snowager leaned forward and bobbed its head, gesturing that I take the cloak. I reached up with shaking paws and took the garment. The Snowager bowed its head to me then curled up on its hoard again and went back to sleep. I shivered and tried to get a hold of my nerves. I walked shakily back out of the Snowager's lair. Why in the name of Fyora were the terrors of Neopia so keen on giving me gifts?

      "Faerie's Leo!" Ealdor exclaimed when he saw me. "When it roared and you didn't come back out, I thought it'd eaten you."

      I shook my head and managed a weak grin. "Nope, I got something too."

      "What is it?" Maestitia asked curiously.

      Hryre held up the cloak. "What on Neopia would the Snowager want with a cloak?"

      I shrugged. "Beats me, if it's all right with you Hry, I'd like to keep it." I crossed my fingers behind my back, praying that I wouldn't have to steal it from our shop.

      The girl frowned. "Alright Leo, don't see why you want it though but oh well." She tossed me the garment. "Let's go home guys."

     ~*~

      With the new cloak wrapped around me I set off for the warehouse. It was dark, more so than usual as Kreludor did not illuminate the skies. The new moon was always my element, since I spent so much time roaming around at night, I'd become fairly adept at seeing in it, even by starlight.

      It took me a long time to find my trail of land marks, and it was late by the time I did. I mentally cursed myself, time was precious and I had far too little of it. I shrugged the cloak closer wondering why the Snowager had given it to me.

      I found out soon enough, a wrong step on a bank caused me to lose my footing. I fell, tumbling over and over down the bank, I lost the cloak somewhere down the ride. Landing hard, and painfully in a large thicket, I had to gingerly work myself free, then proceed to pick thorn from my fur. I looked around for the cloak, I couldn't see it. Ferreting around on the bank for about five minutes yielded nothing.

      Resigned at losing it I turned and felt cloth brush against my face. Staring at the bush in front of me, I reached out a paw and touched it. The cloak was there, but I still couldn't see it. Carefully I picked the garment up, I couldn't see my paws beneath the cloth, only the ground. So it's an invisibility cloak in the night, that's handy. I shrugged the cloak on and continued toward the warehouse which wasn't far away. I wondered irrelevantly if the cloak would come with me when I went through walls. I shook my head, now was not the time to do experiments.

      I pushed through the bushes and brambles, curiously they didn't try to snag me when I shoved past. When I came out of the trees I stopped dead in horror. The warehouse was gone, only a charred ruin remained in its place.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Night Walker: Part One
» Night Walker: Part Three
» Night Walker: Part Four
» Night Walker: Part Five
» Night Walker: Part Six
» Night Walker: Part Seven
» Night Walker: Part Eight



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