A Waffle Paradise Circulation: 91,590,388 Issue: 174 | 21st day of Sleeping, Y7
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Night Walker: Part Six


by ruin_star

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I couldn't speak, I just stared in open mouthed amazement. It was a city. The buildings were all made of shining blue crystal that glowed brightly, illuminating the huge cavern it rested in.

      I was looking down on it from an alcove, a path slowly wound it's way down to the buildings beneath me. I don't know how long I stood there staring at the glowing crystal. Finally I broke out of my trance and started scanning the city. At the center I spotted a great twisting spire that rose almost to the roof of ht cavern. A great portion of the light was coming from the top.

      I started determinedly down the slope and began carefully winding my way through the city streets. The stone was slippery under my paws, worn smooth with ages of travel. It took me a while to find the base of the tower. It was a lot bigger than it had looked before and I stared up the great height, mustering my courage to climb it.

      "Night Walker…" hissed a voice behind me. I whirled around and let out a small whimper. There were at least fifty ghosts floating behind me, all random species of pets. They all stared at me, the crimson eyes glittering. I sank back against the tower wall, there was no way I could fight them all.

      An old Aisha ghost came forward and leered at me. "Thief, you will pay for entering our domain. We were once thieves too, until this place cast its curse upon us." His voice sent rippling cold through my body.

      An ancient looking Kyrii cackled sinisterly. "Oh I see your mind Zafara, honor and friendship." Several others joined in the laughing, their cruel echoing cries rang in my ears.

      The Aisha frowned. "Honor, friendship, courage, such things are not the way of the thief."

      Something within me flared. "Then maybe I'm not a thief!" I shouted. "Maybe I'm a knight of Meridell! Maybe I live by those virtues." I was being reckless, shouting things that just flew into my mind. "Perhaps I've just come here to reclaim what was stolen long ago!" There was a stunned silence, then the Aisha bent low to the ground and growled.

      "You want it? Then take it!" I didn't reply; it was a challenge, I lived for challenges. I whirled around and leapt at the stone tower and began scampering up the side. I heard the ghosts let out little noises of shock and outrage.

      "Ghost blood!"

      "Impossible!"

      I tuned out their voices as I raced up the side of the tower. The top came more suddenly then I had expected, as I hauled myself over the edge of the tower. Looking up I saw the Beacon resting on a deist, it was a rhombus shaped crystal, colored a clear sky blue. Squinting through the light it gave off I hurried forward and seized it. The Beacon flashed brightly as I touched it then went out, as did all the light of the city.

      I wrapped the Beacon in my cloak and put it under my arm ready to run back down the face of the tower. It was then that I realized I could still see, a light was coming from somewhere above me. I looked up and froze, my eyes widening in shock. An infinite number of ghosts were above me, swirling in a great maelstrom of pale, green-tinged light. I sat down hard. Terror filled my body, clamping down on my heart and making my breath come short.

      They were winged Neopets, Eyries, Unis, Pterii, and Draiks. The ghosts soared and glided above me, twining their pale bodies through the air. Through my fear I realized how graceful they were, the embodiment of magnificence.

      One of the ghost Eyries glided down and landed in front of me. I swallowed and stared determinedly into his eyes, trying and failing to banish my fear. He regarded me for a moment then spoke in a soft, echo filled voice that sounded as if it were ages away. "It has been a long time since flesh and blood walked here." I only managed to squeak in reply. The Eyrie sighed, "Our disdain has passed though we were very angry when our rest was disturbed by a band of Neopets who broke into our city. They began using it as a cache for their stolen goods. We could not have our great city treated that way. But they have paid their price." He waved a transparent paw back toward the ground. "The ghosts who confronted you when you first came, are bound to their fates by a curse laid down by us." He sighed, looking sad.

      I frowned. "You saw that? How?"

      The Eyrie nodded. "Indeed, I did see it, I watched you come in through the lower gates and walk amongst the lost souls of the pets. We all watched you, many wanted to attack you, but they were overruled." The ghost's dark crimson eyes got a definite mischievous twinkle. "They wanted to see how you'd fair getting out. We'd figured you'd found out how to open the entrance, like the pets who came before you. But ghost blood, now that is rare indeed."

      I shifted uncomfortably. "It was a gift from another ghost."

      The Eyrie snorted in disgust. "Gift, it is a curse, young thief as you will soon find out. The fact that you survived having ghost blood for so long suggests a mighty strength of heart within you. But the yearning to join the rest of us ghosts will be forever in the back of your mind, you shall have one paw in the world of life and one in the world of the ghosts." The Eyrie fell silent and I just stared at it in astonishment.

      "Is there anyway I can ever stop hearing that call?" I asked in a shaky voice.

      The Eyrie's eyes flashed. "Only when you overcome it through sheer force of will."

      "Who are you?" I demanded suddenly, "and where is this place?"

      The Eyrie watched me thoughtfully for a while before replying. "I have no name, it has been lost in the deep folds of time. But this city, we shall always remember it's name, for it is our sanctuary. It was our home when we were driven from the skies so long ago by wars. The details of the event have been lost, but the name of this city is Salus, meaning safety."

      "Are there any other cities like Salus?" I asked curiously.

      "Once there were, but most were destroyed. If any others still exist they aren't known to me," the Eyrie replied.

      I drew in a deep breath and asked quietly. "This crystal" I held up the folded wraps of my cloak. "May I take it?"

      The Eyrie nodded its head. "Yes, take it if you wish. It was the last key to the legacy of this city. Sadly we do not know the story, or we would have held onto it like we held onto its name. In the times when we were alive, the stone gave us light."

      "You mean you didn't build Salus?" I asked before I could stop myself.

      The Eyrie shook his head. "No, we found it. No one has any idea where it came from. Listen thief, before you go, I have something I want to give to you." My fur bristled and the Eyrie laughed, an echoing sound. "No special powers, merely a tool." He reached up and traced a design in the air with a pale claw. Mist filled the outline and I recognized it was a dagger. The blade solidified and the Eyrie held it out to me. "Here you are my friend, a blade of Salus. May it serve you well."

      I reached up and took the dagger, it vanished in my palm. "When you have need of it you may summon it at will." The Eyrie bowed his head. "Now I believe you are anxious to leave this long dead place. I have but one piece of advice to give you." The Eyrie's eyes darkened, "No matter what happens don't give in to the pull of the ghost blood." He cocked its head. "I suppose you wish to leave now? It is no matter, I am honored that I was able to bestow upon you one of the lost blades of my kind. I hope in the future that you shall find it useful. Good luck to you," he paused before adding quietly, "Night Walker."

      I left Salus with my mind whirling. Who was that lost race of Neopets who dwelt in the city of crystal. Salus... sanctuary, I smiled slightly and stopped. Summoning the dagger I examined the silver blade. It fit my paw as if it had been forged just for me. The hilt was black, a dark stone set in the pommel. The blade was silver with shards of electric blue tinged in the metal. Engraved into the extremely sharp blade was a dragon twining itself down the length of the dagger. I stared at the dagger fondly then looked back the way I'd come. I unsheathed my normal dagger and left it leaning against the tunnel wall. Looking back at the dagger the Eyrie had given me I whispered, "I dub you Salus, bear the name with honor." The blade glowed slightly as I flipped it over and sheathed it at my wrist.

     ~*~

      I walked up the end of the tunnel and pressed my paw against it to go through. To my surprise the rock groaned and shuddered open. I slid out of the open door, which closed behind me with a snap. I looked around, Kara was nowhere to be seen. Frowning I waited for a few moments then a series of things happened in very quick succession.

      There was a yelp of pain and a scream. "Leo Run!" a loud curse, and two large Grarrls seized me from behind. I didn't move waiting for the situation to reveal itself. Those who thought they had outsmarted their enemy usually gloated about it. So I figured I'd find out what was going on then. And sure enough a sleek shadow Peophin slid from the bushes and grinned at me.

      "Well, well, well, we meet again Shade." He must have expected me to spit or scream or something, because Aaron looked surprised when I didn't move. There were a few moments of silence then Aaron got strait to the point. "Give me the Beacon or your little friend will pay for it." He motioned with one hoof and a mean looking Wocky came forward restraining Kara. He looked very battered and the green Zafara was writhing manically in his grip.

      I felt a low humming fill my body, I concentrated on it as it spread from my toes up through my chest, my fingers tingling. I felt a grin slide across my face as a thin, green-tinged, pale glow surrounded me. I saw Aaron staring at me in horror, then threw back my head and roared with laughter. My voice echoed strangely, I felt all my being sliding away. No! I thought slamming my thoughts back into place. But I kept laughing in that same insane way. I couldn't stop.

      Aaron backed away as I calmly withdrew my limbs through the grip of the two Grarrls on either side. Still laughing I picked up the Beacon still embedded in the folds of my cloak, which I'd dropped when the Grarrls had grabbed me. "You want it?" I asked my voice hoarse and dead sounding. "Come get it." I withdrew the Beacon with a flourish, it was still dark in my paws.

      I was still laughing maniacally, my head thrown back. The Beacon burst into life in my paw and began pulsing with pale blue light. There was a sound of thundering hooves and a procession of knights mounted on unis burst out of the bushes.

      It was pandemonium, pets scattered in all directions as the knights dashed after them. The unis reared flailing their hooves and screaming their fury. And I was just standing in the middle of it, laughing my head off. Pale green light whirled around me in thin creepers casting shadows of rippling silver across my body.

      Kara came striding forward, she seized my shoulders and shook me hard. "Leo! Snap out of it!" I didn't hear her, my throat caught and I couldn't stop laughing. Suddenly Kara slapped me hard across the face. "Get a grip on yourself Leoht_ShadowLight!" she hissed. I stopped laughing and gazed at her dazedly. The light around me vanished and the silver faded from my fur.

      "Is he alright?" a familiar armor clad Draik asked coming forward. I stared blearily at Darren then began to shake violently as strength flooded from my body. I collapsed in a heap, still trembling. The world whirled around me and I swirled into darkness.

     ~*~

      The night was quiet and the fire had sunken to dying embers. Kara was sitting by the motionless figure of Leoht. Darren came forward and, having discarded his armor, sat down next to Kara without clinking.

      "Will he be alright?" Kara shook her head, her eyes were shining and her throat was constricted. She shook her head again, and stroked Leoht's paw, which she held in her own. Darren put a clawed paw on her shoulder. "It'll be alright," he told her. Kara made and indistinct noise in reply. Darren picked up the small wooden box that held the Beacon within it and called over a stout Pteri. "You're the fastest messenger Canarth, will you take this to his Majesty?" The Pteri nodded and took the box. He saluted before flying away. Darren turned back to Kara, "What happened?"

      Kara swallowed and found her voice. "I really don't know, Leo…" she broke off shuddering at the memory of the Zafara's laughing fit.

      "Leo?" Darren asked interestedly. "I thought his name was Shade?" Kara shook her head, not answering. With a sigh Darren got to his feet and called his captains to attention. "I want the whole lot of you to march these prisoners back to the capital."

      "And you sir?" asked a nervous looking Quiggle.

      "I shall remain here with Kara to see if I can be of any service."

      A Uni tossed her head. "And what of the Night Walker? Will he survive?"

      Darren shook his head. "I honestly do not know, make haste now friends, I shall be back soon." They saluted and began filtering away into the trees, dragging what prisoners they had with them. Darren returned to Kara's side.

      "I caught that scheming Peophin listening in on your plans so I decided to follow him," he informed the green Zafara who looked lost and alone. At his words she nodded solemnly but didn't speak.

      There was a long silence when Kara finally said. "You know when you first caught us, we were getting ready to go after the ones who've been kidnapping pets. I was a victim of those horrible people but Leo rescued me. He was later betrayed by those he had rescued and sent to the jails of Neopia Central. My owner bailed him out, and I asked him to help me stop the kidnappers. He agreed and we were retrieving Kougra wing collars so we could fly to Cyan_DarkBane's fortress. He's the one who's behind all of this."

      Darren looked startled. "Why didn't you tell the king this?"

      Kara turned to look at him. "Tell me truthfully Lord Everpeak, would you believe those who had just been found in the King's treasury were there because they had an honorable cause?" Darren dropped his gaze and shook his head. Kara let out her breath in a ragged sigh.

      Darren leaned back and stared up at the sky. Suddenly his eyes were filled with tears and when he spoke his voice was choked and filled with anguish. "My daughter, Syealla, is all I have left." He looked at Kara. "I can't let her go Kara, I can't let DarkBane make her live through her greatest nightmares." Darren shuddered.

      Kara placed a comforting paw on his shoulder. "Darren, that's what we're trying to do, stop DarkBane. But..." she looked back at Leoht, her voice trailing off.

      Darren put his own clawed paw over Kara's. "Don't worry Kara, he'll be alright. I just wish we knew exactly what happened to him." Kara felt comfort in his touch. She sighed and looked back at Leoht. The blue Zafara shifted and began mumbling. His voice jerked over the octaves. He began sweating profusely and twitching.

      Suddenly the Zafara sat bolt upright, his eyes wide and fearful. Leoht stared at Kara with a gaze that simmered oddly. "If we're going to do something about DarkBane, we had better do it soon. By tomorrow night it will be too late." He choked. "I - I saw it in dreams, the machine is complete, but I don't know what he's waiting for. We can't afford to lose anymore time."

      Darren leapt to his feet, his eyes blazing. "Then I'm going with you," he announced and produced the Kougra wing collars from a bag that had been left behind.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


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



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