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Night Walker: Part Three


by ruin_star

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I ran up to the smoking wreckage of the warehouse. The ashes were still warm under my paws. I fervently hoped the pets hadn't still been in the building when it had burned. I shuddered at the thought and began looking around for signs of life.

      Almost immediately I found some tracks and began to follow them. I realized then that my little quest was not going to be as simple as I'd imagined. I was getting deeper and deeper into this dark mystery and I was starting to dislike it. But I didn't think I was too deep yet so I continued on, knowing that it would be a while until I went home again.

      I didn't catch sight of the kidnappers until late in the afternoon. They were already out marching across the Endless Plains and there was no more cover for me. I was exhausted by that time and knew very well that I couldn't keep going forever. I staggered and leaned against a tree staring hopelessly at the marching party some hundred yards away from me. My shoulders sagged, then I remembered the several healing potions I'd brought with me. I quickly uncorked one and downed the whole thing. It wasn't much, but it restored my strength.

      I streaked out over the long grass, moving on all fours to be safe. I tailed them at a distance well into nightfall. At last they set up camp, I heard the guards roar with laughter and guffaw for a long time. Finally they quieted and I moved in.

      Silently I peered into the camp, the guards, were all snoring around the dyeing embers of a camp fire. I sat back and took a slumberberry potion from the pouch around my waist. Grinning I held my breath and soaked a square of cloth in the potion.

      I squeezed a few drops into each of the guards gaping mouths, knowing that they would be out cold for hours. I then moved to the five pets huddled together near the fire. They were all manacled, blindfolded, and gagged. Tentatively I touched Takara's shoulder.

      She jerked and thrashed wildly, managing to hit me, and two of the others with her chains. I grabbed the scarf that was tied around her eyes and yanked her head back, fumbling with the knot. It finally came free and Takara fell to the grass with a soft thud. She rolled over and glared at me with blazing eyes. But her eyes widened however when she saw me, I was not what she had expected.

      I grinned and pointed to the slumbering guards and held up the slumberberry potion. She said something that sounded like 'mmff'. I reached down and removed the gag. She choked and stuck out her tongue, trying to rid her mouth of the taste of the filthy rag.

      "Uh, thank you," she said quietly. The other bound pets perked their ears up at the sound of the new voice. "Uh who are you?"

      I opened my mouth to say 'Leo,' but shut it. I thought rapidly while she watched me cautiously. "My name's Shade," I said at last. "Roll over and I'll get those chains off you." She did so and I inserted the key I'd lifted off one of the guards. The chains came free and Takara sat up, rubbing her wrists.

      I stood up, "well let's get out of here. It's a long way to the nearest town."

      "But what about the others?" Takara demanded. "You are going to release them too aren't you?" I opened my mouth to say no, but she was glaring at me so fiercely that I quailed.

      "Of course," cursing myself for letting her manipulate me, I released the other four pets. All four immediately began screaming at me as soon as I removed their gags.

      "This is outrageous!"

      "How dare you treat me this way!"

      "I have friends among the Faerie Court you won't be hearing the last of me!"

      I looked pleadingly at Takara, "Help!" she shook her head, and a small smile crossed her face.

      "Don't worry Shade, they're easy to deal with once you know how." She turned to the jabbering pets. "All of you, SHUT UP!" Miraculously they did. "Shade has been kind enough to track us all the way from the Haunted Woods, and he is going to lead us back to our homes." My eyes widened and I opened my mouth furiously, I'd said no such thing! "So you would do well to be more kind to him."

      The striped Uni, Veronica, sniffed. "Who are you to tell us what to do unpainted infidel?"

      "Yes," Priscilla, the pink Shoyru, said nastily, "we don't have to do anything you say. You're unpainted Takara, and I bet you're poor!" she said indicating me. Hot rage boiled up inside me at that comment, I bared my teeth and growled.

      They just laughed cruelly. My legs tensed and I was ready to spring at them and tear them apart but Takara put a light paw on my shoulder to prevent me from doing so. "Very well then," she said her eyes glittering. "You can stay here and wait for them to wake up." She jerked her head at the slumbering guards. She turned me around and we started walking away. A few seconds later the four pets caught up with us.

     ~*~

      Traveling with Priscilla, Veronica, Brittany, and Aaron was awful. They were always complaining and whining. Brittany once told me that I should have the honor of carrying her since she was my better. Takara came to the faerie Kacheek's rescue and kept me from smacking her so hard, it would knock the arrogance right out of her.

      Once, when I was really annoyed, I put a Mootix in Veronica's mane. She shrieked like Meekins and began running in circles, with Aaron chasing after her trying to get the valuable petpetpet free of her hair. Priscilla and Brittany clung together and tried to ward the small creature off. Takara and I were rolling on the ground laughing our heads off.

      "How can you stand it Takara?" I asked her one night.

      She looked up, "Hm? stand what? And call me Kara if you want."

      "How the owners and pets of your class are so snobbish!"

      She laughed and rolled over, looking at the stars. "You get used to it eventually. Well you have to really, once they get it into their heads that they're in the right, any word you say that goes against theirs isn't true in their eyes." She sighed and rolled her eyes.

      "I'm glad you're not like that," I said without thinking. "I'd lose my head to have to deal with one more of them." Kara looked up at me and her eyes reflected the starlight.

      "Well I'm glad you're here, Shade. It's nice to have someone to talk to who doesn't rant constantly about Usukis or the Battle Dome." My stomach flipped over and I felt myself go red. She was a very pretty Zafara despite the fact that she wore no make-up and wasn't painted. I opened my mouth to reply when Aaron shouted something in my ear about the ground being not fit for him to sleep on. Kara and I sighed simultaneously and tried to content the luxury crazed Peophin.

     ~*~

      It took me five days to lead my little band back to Neopia Central. We came out of the trees and found ourselves at Kara's house. I nodded to her, "my task is done," I turned and began walking away. There was an instant outburst.

      "Hey, wait a minute! I live in Faerieland!" Veronica yelled. "So does Brittany... You have to take us home now too!"

      "Yeah, and I live in the Lost Desert!" cried Priscilla. "How am I supposed to get back there!"

      "And I live in Meridell," snarled Aaron.

      I whirled to face them, five days of putting up with those pets fueling my temper. "It's not my problem!" I snapped. "As far as I'm concerned you can wander around here forever. Find a way to get home yourself!"

      "Then why did you bother coming after us?" Aaron asked his eyes narrowing.

      "I didn't," I replied harshly, "I came for Takara" and I whirled around and stomped off into the trees.

     ~*~

      When I came home, I was tired, dirty, and totally out of nerves. Hryre threw her arms around me raising a cloud of dust from my fur. "Oh Leo!" she cried, "I thought you had run away."

      I shook my head, I would never! "Hry, I wouldn't ever run away, ever. Trust me on that." She nodded and wiped tears from her eyes. I danced around a feeble explanation for why I had been gone, but she accepted it all the same. My siblings watched me curiously as I trudged up the stairs. I flopped onto my bed, thinking about going to retrieve the valuables that I normally kept hidden in my room. In the middle of planning I fell asleep and didn't wake up for the next three days.

      When I awoke, it was early in the evening. I slid out of my bed and decided to get rid of my stash that I had hidden a ways from the house. I didn't exactly know why I had to do it so soon, I just had to do it then, or somebody would find it eventually and then there would be trouble. Leaving a note for Hryre on my bed, I slung the Snowager's cloak over my shoulders and scrambled out the window.

      By the time I reached the mainland it was already getting dark and people were already heading home. It was quiet in Neopia Central, there weren't many about. I didn't mind, the less people around the better. I hefted the rather large bag over my shoulder and promised myself that my collection would not get so large before I had to get rid of it next time. I walked as inconspicuously as I could down the streets, moving from shadow to shadow. Little did I know, I was being followed the whole way.

     ~*~

      In the three days after Shade had returned her to her home, Kara's life had been in ruins. Veronica's, Priscilla's, and Brittany's owners seemed to have gotten it into their heads that, their pets' ordeal must have made them great friends with Kara. Kara wondered why Veronica, Brittany, and Priscilla went along with it, for she new all too well that they despised her deeply.

      It had been Veronica's owner's idea for the four pets to take an all day shopping spree in Neopia Central, while the owners stayed home and chit chatted. Kara's owner had dared not refuse, for fear of being rude.

      So Kara had gotten to spend all day following the beauty shop bugs all over the Central carrying their mountains of shopping. Kara had very narrowly resisted the urge to throw it all into the mud.

      They had spent about four hours in the Beauty Shop while the three pets had their hair done. Kara had had to, rather viciously, fend off a manicurist who had insisted that her nails were horrid. By the time they came out of the shop, it had gotten dark. Brittany, Priscilla, and Veronica immediately began to panic. Shrieking hysterically and making passers by stare.

      It was Veronica who first noticed the shadowy figure slip into an alleyway at the other side of the Rainbow Pool. "Look!" she hissed seizing Brittany's shoulder. "It's that Zafara who abandoned us at Takara's house!" Kara, Priscilla, and Brittany looked, sure enough it was he.

      "Let's follow him," Priscilla said with a rather nasty gleam in her eyes. The others nodded and started after the blue Zafara shrouded in the dark cloak. For Shade's sake, Kara dropped the shopping bags and sprinted after them.

     ~*~

      They followed Shade a good ways through the winding back alleys of Neopia Central. Finally he stopped at an old over grown square, which had probably been the old Market Place before the Central had gotten so big.

      Surprisingly there was quite a lot of activity there. Rail thin Neopets clothed in naught but dirty, torn rags moved about. Many sat at little stalls offering hand crafted items for trade. Kara stared, these were not like the spanking brand new items bought else ware, but were made with such tender love for the art that it made the art radiant with beauty.

      Carefully forged weapons, hand engraved with intricate patterns. Carved statues and furniture, carefully sewn dolls, fantastic woven tapestries, and delicately forged silver. Kara stared at it all in wonderment.

      "Ugh," Veronica said disgustedly, putting a hoof over her nose. "This place smells awful! What vagabonds!" Kara immediately felt a deep swell of hatred rise in her and she cast a disdainful look at the Uni.

      But then the green Zafara's eye was caught by something. At a weaving and sewing booth near them was a collection of headbands. One of them particularly stood out to her. It was a deep black, with streaks of maroon, dark purple, and navy. It wasn't expensive thread that it had been hand woven with, but the way the colors blended together mesmerized Kara. She looked up at the frightened little Flotsam that ran the booth. "How much for the head band?" she asked.

      "Uh - t - two hundred NP ma'am," he stuttered.

      "I'll give you a thousand if you throw in those gloves too." Kara waved a paw a pair of gloves hanging from a hook. The Flotsams eyes widened in shock, with shaking flippers he reached for the gloves and handed them and the headband to Kara. Kara in turn gave the Flotsam a bag of Neopoints. He took them holding the bag gingerly as if it were made of glass. Kara tied the headband around her forehead and slipped on the gloves.

      The Flotsam grinned coyly at her. "That one be me favorite," he said indicating the headband. "Made it meself me first time weavin'." He sighed resting his chin on his flippers. "Never made another like it, ye picked well ma'am it looks very nice on ye." Kara smiled, she noticed suddenly that the gloves were archers gloves.

      "And these?" she asked holding up her paws. "Did you make these too?" He shook his head.

      "Nah that be my sister's work, she's a…" he paused then leaned toward Kara and whispered. "She's a thief's pawn she is, makes those there gloves for her customers. She famous for her thievin' merchandise," he whispered hoarsely. Kara raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment.

      Resignedly the Zafara went back to the others. "How can you touch those?" Brittany asked, wrinkling her nose. Kara flexed her paws and didn't reply.

      "Look there he is," Veronica cried pointing. Shade was standing near by, a withered old Kyrii was going through the contents of his bag.

     As they crept nearer, the Kyrii sat back turning a Crystal Ball over in his paws. "You've done well Night Walker," he said with a satisfied smile. The name of the most notorious thief in all Neopia sent a chill of fear and shock down the spines of the four spying pets.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


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



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