Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 90,554,371 Issue: 172 | 7th day of Sleeping, Y7
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Night Walker: Part Four


by ruin_star

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I grinned at Tremor, "I do what I can." The old Kyrii had once been a tinker. But he'd gone blind, and his paws became stiff. His family had gone hungry as he had been unable to continue his art. I always had something good for him if I could help it.

      Tremor sighed. "Honestly Leoht_ShadowLight, you favor me. This will keep my family fed for a year." He ran his paws over the Crystal Ball. Those who lived on the outskirts of Neopia Central, would normally go to the Soup Faerie. But there were so many who were already in need of her aid that they preferred to make their own livings by the talents that they had hidden within them.

      I heaved my bag over my shoulder again. "Well, I gotta go, see you later Tremor."

      "That's not funny," the Kyrii replied sourly. I chuckled and walked away. When the booths were ready to be put away for the night and I had made my various rounds. I started out for home, feeling satisfied.

      Suddenly teeth clamped down on one of my ears. I yelped and spun around, Veronica held my ear in a death grip. She was sneering through the mouthful of blue fur. Behind her was Priscilla and, my stomach leapt when I saw her, Kara.

      "Brittany went for the Defenders, we know you're the Night Walker," Priscilla said nastily. She seemed rather disappointed when I didn't react.

      Kara stepped forward. "I don't understand, you said your name was Shade. Why didn't you tell us it was Leoht?" I stared at her, she was wearing what looked like one of Samrie's headbands, and I knew that the gloves were his sister, Kit's work.

      A deep anger burst within me and suddenly I hated her. I hated her so deeply that it scared me. She'd done nothing to deserve my loathing. I had been a fool, to think that someone of her station actually cared about those beneath her. "Well considering what I am, you'd think I wouldn't give you my name, as this sort of thing would happen." I snarled. Kara winced and looked down her eyes shining with tears. I didn't care, I whirled and struck Veronica across the eyes so she would let go of me.

      I bared my teeth in a grin at the three pets. "Do you think that I do not have the power to disappear without a trace?" I asked, the grin was maniacal, and the savage enjoyment filling me was terrifying.

      Veronica snorted as she spat a bitter taste from her mouth. "You idiot, now that we have your real name, the Guardians of Neopia will banish your owner and doom your entire family." She grinned, relishing the thought. "What a shame."

      I went cold. "What makes you think I have an owner?" I asked evenly. My paws clenched and unclenched.

      Veronica laughed cruelly. "Oh you have an owner, and a family who loves you. Why else would you be so generous?" She waved a hoof at the surrounding market. My eyes flashed and I crouched ready to spring at her when a hoof came down on my shoulder. I looked up into the stern eyes of the one and only Judge Hog.

      "Night Walker," he said with a nasty smile. "We meet at last."

      I snorted and straitened up. "I had hoped it would be under better circumstances," I replied harshly. He chuckled and bound my wrists in handcuffs. He then turned to Brittany, Veronica, Priscilla, and Kara.

      "You've done good work," he said with a grin. The Moehog tossed the four pets a bag of Neopoints, then turned and led me away, I refused to look back.

      Judge Hog took me to the Defender's Headquarters and opened a cell door for me. He unlocked my manacles and I walked quietly inside the barred cell. I could have easily gone through the walls, if they'd been normal. It was a common fact that the Headquarters of the Defenders of Neopia and their officers' equipment had been spelled by the Faerie Queen to make them ghost proof.

      The Judge leaned against my door for a moment. He watched me as I silently went to the cold bed attached to the other end of the cell and sat down. "I'm sorry," he said.

      I blinked and looked up, confused. "For what?" I asked. "Wasn't it your job to catch me?"

      Hog nodded. "Aye, it was, but I'm sorry to say that I didn't track you down fair and square instead of letting those heartless pets at you. I knew from the minute that Kacheek came to me that all she was interested in was the reward money for your capture."

      "It's funny," I said, laughing quietly, my voice cracked. Kara's betrayal hurt so much, though I hadn't the slightest clue why. "My only connection to those pets is that I was the one who rescued them from their kidnappers. And for once, it wasn't for some financial gain on my part."

      Judge hog watched me for a long time. "I believe you," he said at last. "Though I doubt others will." I shrugged.

      "There are many who's eyes are blinded by the dazzle of their wealth. Yet they protect their wealth first before their lives." I stretched out on the hard, musty cot. "What good is wealth when you're dead?"

      He laughed. "I like you Night Walker, you are an honorable adversary. I am sorry that you must go," he sighed. "The greatest thieves were the ones with the greatest hearts. I can tell that you are one, perhaps the best." He turned and walked away. I stared at the gritty ceiling of my cell and fell into my own thoughts.

      For hours, or was it days? I just sat in my cell, staring up at the ceiling. My mind whirled and reeled with memories. Some blending in with each other, others fading to foggy shadows. For all the time I was there, I didn't move a muscle.

      My stone stillness unnerved the prisoners in the cells on either side of mine. I heard them whispering, fear in their voices. They feared what I was, feared what I might have become. I almost laughed at their fear, but was unable to move.

      I wondered what Hry was thinking, wondered how worried she'd be after I disappeared again. I would break her heart a second time. Or maybe she would trust me as I had told her to. Could she ever trust me? Me being what I was? I mentally shook my head, only Hryre could answer that question. I hoped with all my heart that she would understand.

      How? How could I face my family and tell them what I was? They meant everything to me, but I was unwilling to give up the one thing that was my talent. Was it talent or just a thief? It was a talent, the talent of moving unseen, of creeping with utter silence in my steps. I was the Night Walker, one of the most notorious thieves ever to grace Neopia. I relished that fact, it was the one thing I held onto to define who I was.

      Suddenly, footsteps penetrated my frame of mind and a creaking groan as my cell door was opened. A shadow fell across me and I turned my head, neck stiff and aching. Shock froze the blood in my veins.

      It was Kara. My heart began to pound wildly. What in the name of Fyora was she doing here? Kara was still wearing the headband and the gloves. I sat up and turned my back on her, my shoulders shaking.

      "Sh - Leoht," she began but I cut her off.

      "I don't want to hear it Takara," I spat, the vileness in my voice was half-hearted. I heard her sigh and she sat down next to me.

      "Leoht you can leave here now, Kylie paid for you to get out." I began shaking harder. She placed a paw on my shoulder. "I had no need to come here, but I came to thank you for all that you've done for me. If not for you, who knows what those cretins would have done to me, and the others."

      I put my face in my paws. "I was there Kara," I murmured through my fingers. "I was there in your room when they took you. I was sitting on top of your book shelf." She looked at me in surprised horror. I turned and faced her, if this was as hard it would be confessing, I didn't know how I would face Hryre. "I am nothing but a thief Kara, I cannot be worthy of honor or friendship. I gave that up a long time ago, it is not a part of my world."

      Kara leapt to her feet, her eyes flashed with anger. "That is not true Leoht_ShadowLight!" she shouted. "You do have honor, why else would you have come to get me after witnessing my kidnapping? And as for the friend part… I'm your friend Leo. At least I'd like to be." She sighed and rubbed her eyes. "I came to ask you a favor." I raised my eyebrows at her and she went on. "The ones who kidnapped me, they're still kidnapping pets. I want you to help me find the kidnappers and stop them." She stopped, holding her breath.

      I stood, "I'll help you achieve your goal Kara, but as I said, a thief has no honor or friendship, we are not worthy of it." I regarded her for a moment, then grinned. "And if we're going to get a hold of those kidnappers soon, we've got a lot of work to do." Kara beamed and threw her arms around me, hugging me tight.

~*~

      We were back at the Waltzing Whinny, Kara sat nervously in one corner. I was chatting with the innkeeper, then I saw my quarry come in. It was a scruffy green Bruce, with a patch over one eye. Moles were always heavily damaged, the more scrapes and bruises the more experience they had.

      I walked over to him, my cloak (which had been returned to me) shrouded my face in shadow. "Nice evening isn't it?" I said casually to the Bruce.

      "Nothin' nice about it. Now get outta my way kid!" he snarled and tried to push past me. I reached out and calmly took his tattered bow in my grip. I pulled the Bruce toward me.

      "You owe me Tarnelle," I hissed, my voice dangerously soft, and my eyes glittered.

      Tarnelle sucked in his breath. "Shade," he said quietly. "I do owe you. What do you want?"

      I released him. "What do you know of Cyan_DarkBane's plans?" I demanded. Tarnelle sighed.

      "For this I'm going to have to sit down, it'll take a while." I nodded and led him over to Kara. I introduced her, using the name Camria.

      Tarnelle settled himself and drew in a deep breath. "You know well that DarkBane is crazy?" he stated. Kara and I nodded, I had already told her what I knew.

     Tarnelle wrung his wings. "I believe his original plan was just to ransom the pets he captured. But then an old scientist got involved. He was part of a team of researchers that worked for Doctor Sloth. They created the transmogrification potions. I think most of his colleagues are dead now. But he continues to work away at the project, that's why new ones keep turning up.

      "Anyway this scientist has created a machine that will," Tarnelle smiled crookedly, "make pet's worst nightmares come alive around them. It's only an illusion of course, but the feeling is so real that it is believed by those it is used on.

      "Cyan intends to capture rich Neopians' pets and put them through that torment for eternity. To suffer as DarkBane did." Tarnelle frowned. "But I don't think that's all, he had deeper tortures in store for them. Torments only his twisted mind could contemplate, these things I do not know unfortunately."

      "Where is DarkBane hiding?" I asked wondering how far away it was.

      "In an old seaside fortress along the southern coast." Tarnelle replied. "But I am curious Shade, why do you seek this mad Kougra?"

      It was my turn to grin. "Let's just say the Phantom and I have an old score to settle with." Tarnelle looked alarmed and Kara flushed.

      The Bruce looked down for a moment then spoke to Kara. "It is not like the Night Walker to take on a partner," he said quietly. "You must be one heck of a thief." Kara opened her mouth to protest but I elbowed her in the ribs under the table. She shut her mouth.

      I got up and nodded to Tarnelle. "If that's all you can tell us then I thank you but we must be going." I turned toward the door but Tarnelle caught my arm.

      "I can give you one piece of advice," the Bruce hissed. "Tread carefully when dealing with Cyan. He fears no pain, he fears no death. As far as he is concerned he's already dead. He's dangerous Shade, be careful."

     I nodded. "Good advice, I'll be careful." Kara and I left the Waltzing Whinny. It was daylight now, the sun had crept into the morning hours while I had been in prison. It was late in morning , I nibbled on a thumb nail thinking on how we could get to the coast. "I've got it," I said snapping my fingers.

      "Got what?" Kara asked suspiciously.

      "A way for us to get to the coast. Follow me." I led her through the winding streets of the Meridell town and then into the king's castle. I pushed open the treasury door and a Skeith looked up.

      "Well," he said with a smirk. "Come to play double or nothing, eh? Well you'd better hurry, the king had better not find me gambling with his money." I threw back my hood.

      "Sorry to disappoint you in your rigged game, but I've come to collect," I spat.

      The Skeith went pale. "N - Night Walker," he sputtered.

      "Where are the Kougra wing collars I left here?" I snapped. The Skeith jumped up from the table and ran to a chest in the corner. He frantically tried to unlock the chest with my eyes boring into his back. Finally he threw open the lid of the chest and grabbed a pair of Kougra Wing collars and handed them to me. "Thank you" I said nastily as if fastened the collar around my neck.

      "But what will these do?" Kara asked strapping her own on.

      "They're wings Kara, I've used them several times, they work. Don't look at me like that I'm telling the truth." Kara still looked unconvinced.

      "Here now, what all this racket?" asked a portly voice. Kara and I froze as a Draik guard poked his head in the door.

      "Snargan!" he cried. "Have you been gambling again? If his Majesty catches you, you'll get thrown out for sure. And what's this?" He eyed Kara and me interestedly. "Who might you be?"

      I opened my mouth, but before I could say a word Snargan shrieked. "He's the Night Walker and that's his partner the Phantom! They're trying to steal the king's treasure! Get them before they can carry off any more!" I swore under my breath. We were trapped.

      The Draik guard roared and shoved his way into the treasury followed by three other guards. Two each seized Kara and me and began dragging us away. Moments later we were thrown into separate cells in the dungeon. This of course didn't stop me, unlike the Defender's Headquarters, these cells weren't ghost proof.

      Kara let out a little gasp of surprise when she saw me come through the wall. "Leo what? How?" I shook my head.

      "Later, we have to concentrate on our immediate problem." I began to pace. "I suppose I could knock out a guard and take his keys, but I don't really like the idea, it leaves a mess behind. And there's always a chance the guard will see my face and know who it was, he could recognize me later and that wouldn't be good." My shoulders slumped, and I looked at Kara. "Any suggestions?" Kara opened her mouth but did not have the chance to reply. Hurried footsteps were coming down the corridor accompanied by the clank of armor. I leapt to the ceiling and scrambled into my own cell and to the ground just as the door opened.

      "It's time for you to be judged," the Draik said gruffly. He poked his spear at me and I calmly walked over to him, my eyes flashing. I'd found that calmness tended to unnerve my enemies and I relished their fear of me. The Draik shifted and announced, "You are going to the court of his Majesty King Skarl, ruler of all Meridell." A wolfish grin was pasted on his face as he shepherded me out the door.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Night Walker: Part One
» Night Walker: Part Two
» Night Walker: Part Three
» Night Walker: Part Five
» Night Walker: Part Six
» Night Walker: Part Seven



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