Preparing Neopia for the Meepits Circulation: 91,084,854 Issue: 175 | 28th day of Sleeping, Y7
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Night Walker: Part Seven


by ruin_star

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The cool night air whipped through my fur and I felt a small bubble of joy rise within me. I always loved flying, Kara flapped along next me her face ecstatic. Darren soared a little way ahead of us, he'd discarded his armor and remained clad in his Meridell tunic.

      We were flying steadily along the coast, the half moon at our backs. Slowly Cyan_DarkBane's fortress loomed into view. It was black and ominous, perched atop of a bluff overlooking the sea. Something pricked at my consciousness. Frowning I looked up and saw a pale shape gliding toward us.

      I lurched to halt in mid-air and stared at the newcomer. He grinned at me. "Well we meet again Night Walker." I mouthed openly at the Eyrie of Salus. "I've been following you since you left the city."

      Kara looked puzzled. "What city?" I proceeded to give a hurried explanation.

      Darren looked shocked "Salus actually exists?" he sounded stunned at the very idea. "I've heard the legends of Salus since I was a child. But I never imagined that it might be real."

      The Eyrie nodded hovering back and forth, then turned to me. "I've come to help you. I grew up in this castle, when I was grown I was called away to Salus, such was tradition. So I've come to help you navigate your way to your goal."

      "Thank you, you deserve a name for your troubles," I said raising and eyebrow at him.

      He laughed and said jubilantly. "But I have a name! My encounter with you caused me to remember. My name is Novarus, call me Nova though if it pleases." With that settled we were on our way again.

      Nova and Darren circled the fortress a few times before Darren found a window we could open. The four of us found ourselves in a library filled with almost every book I could think of. Most of them were moldy and eaten by cooties, torn pages littered the dusty floor. A pained expression crossed Nova's face but he continued without saying anything.

      To my surprise sneaking about the castle was extremely easy. There were no sentries, all the guards were snoring in their beds, and there was no way to communicate an emergency to anywhere else in the castle. I shook my head, "DarkBane must be pretty arrogant to be this lax in security."

      "Perhaps he doesn't care about making the fortress secure." Darren suggested, eying a couple of Myncis who'd fallen asleep over their food. He turned to Nova, "Where would the best place to keep prisoners be do you think?"

      Nova thought for a moment, obviously trying to sort through the memories of his childhood. The widow's tower I would expect" he said thoughtfully, and shrugged when Kara gave him a horrified look. "This is also a home of the DarkBane line, the mothers of that family have a tendency to go mad and get locked up in the Tower for the rest of their lives."

      Kara shuddered. "That's awful" I nodded in agreement, it was quite creepy. Nova led us expertly through the fortress. The entrance to the Widow's Tower was huge black door, it was locked so Nova and I slid through it.

      "Let's see if they're here first before I go to all the trouble of unlocking it. It's a double way lock, I hate those! I could pick it, but they're really hard to open."

      Nova nodded. "You go on and look I'll wait back with the others." We parted and I crept up the stair case that spiraled upward from the base of the tower. When I reached the top I found a door that led onto a long hallway. That puzzled me, there was no room for a hallway the tower. It couldn't just extend into the open air, and no such hallway had been visible from the outside. My nerves jangling, I went to the first door along the hall and pushed it open.

      "Attack!" six or seven Neopets leapt on top of me. Pummeling every inch of my body they could reach. The many dazzling colors they were all painted made my head spin. Suddenly the same voice who'd shouted the attack cried out. "Wait! Get off him, he's not one of the guards!" Instantly the onslaught ceased, and I felt the pets get off me. I just sat in a crumpled heap on the floor, and groaned.

      Strong, black, clawed paws grasped my arms and helped me up. I rubbed my throbbing head and heard my aching body creak. Blearily I looked up into the eyes of the pet who held me. She was a skunk Draik and was looking at me with concerned golden eyes. Eyes that by now I knew well.

      Lifting myself out of her grasp I asked, "You wouldn't be Syealla of Everpeak by any chance, would you?"

      She looked startled. "Why yes I am, who are you?"

      "My name's Shade," I grunted. "I'm a friend of your father's. I'm here to get all you pets out of here. Are there any more of you?"

      "Yes," piped a faerie Krawk, "I think there are about five other rooms full of pets." I nodded and strode out the door, in my haste I felt my pains vanish.

      ~*~

      It astounded me that thirty-eight pets could go down the stairs without making so much as peep. Even their footsteps seemed to be muted as the pets moved as quietly as they could. A few looked furious at being led by an unpainted Zafara. But to my surprise most were happy to let me lead the way.

      Syealla walked quietly at my side, her eyes were blazing with anticipation. When we reached the door I slid out my lock picks and began working away. The tumblers were so clogged with dust and grime that it was a wonder the lock opened at all. I gnashed my teeth in frustration the lock would not budge.

      I threw my picks down and glared at the lock. I heard of few mutterings behind me, but ignored it. On a whim I summoned Salus to my paw. The silver blade glowed faintly and I inserted into the keyhole. A spark shot out of the hole, a shiver ran up my arm, and the tumblers clicked into place. Slowly the door creaked open to reveal Darren, Kara, and Nova waiting patiently for us.

      Syealla rushed forward and embraced her father, Kara was looking with shock at the number of pets behind me, and Nova was grinning smugly. "I told you that blade would come in handy," he said with a grin. I grinned back then walked up to Darren and Syealla.

      "Darren, can you get the rest of these pets out of here?"

      The green Draik nodded, "Yes, but may I ask what you're planning to do?"

      I shifted and sighed. "Kara and I are going to find DarkBane and try to stop him."

      "I'm coming with you," Nova chimed in. "I know exactly where he'll be." Darren watched me for a moment then nodded. He beckoned to the pets and they bustled off.

      Nova shook his wings. "Well," he said turning to Kara and me, "it's this way, follow me."

      "Where exactly are we going?" Kara asked trotting to keep up with the ghost Eyrie.

      Nova didn't answer for a moment, but then replied. "There is a chamber beneath this place that holds the power that is unknown to me. When I found it before I didn't know what it was, only that there was something evil within it." He paused, "I believe it's a place where the border between the realms of life and border where ghosts reside have worn thin. The perfect dwelling for a creature such as Cyan_DarkBane."

      Neither Kara or I asked what Nova meant by that, but it chilled me to the bone to think about it. I noticed the air get colder and colder as descended deeper into the bowels of the castle. Soon Kara and I were both shivering and our breath floated around us in icy mists. Nova, of course was unaffected by temperature and didn't seem to notice our discomfort.

      The ghost Eyrie stopped at a door which appeared to be no different than any of the other cell doors in the dungeon. "Here" he said waving a paw at the door. "I will not continue, I can't." He drew a deep breath. "I wish you luck, Night Walker," he nodded to me,"and to you Phantom." Kara opened her mouth then closed it with a thoughtful expression on her face. Nova glided upward through the ceiling, leaving us horribly alone.

      I turned to Kara. "Listen I have no idea what we're about to face here. You don't have to come." She glared at me.

      "Of course I have to come! It was my idea!" She marched past me and threw the door open. We were blasted with a wave of heat that nearly knocked us flat. I scrambled in and Kara was right behind me as the door slammed shut once again.

      I looked up and my mouth fell open. It wasn't a room, it was great stone hall. In the center was huge pit, within which roared a great fire. Cyan_DarkBane sat in front of it. The firelight dancing on his dark fur. The Kougra smiled showing a fair number of teeth. "Well met Night Walker, I did not think you would reach me here." He laughed, it was a dead sound. "What a fool I am to have underestimated you. But here you are, should I be afraid Leoht_ShadowLight? Should I fear the greatest thief in Neopia?"

      I felt the bottom of my stomach drop out. So he knew who I was, he could trace me back to my family. Suddenly I hated and loathed every part of myself. I had put my family into such danger in involving myself in this scheme. Angry tears welled up in my eyes as I called myself seven kinds of idiot. If my family suffered from this, it would be my fault and my fault alone.

      Something whizzed past my ear, I whirled and found myself looking at Kara. She had gone pale and her eyes glazed over. She made a small noise then fell over. I leapt toward her and pulled a dart out of the side of her neck. I looked it over, I didn't know what sort of concoction had been smeared on it. I turned and saw DarkBane leering at me, his eyes glittering with amusement. If whatever chemical that was on the dart was fatal to Kara, I would kill him.

      Something deep within my core snapped. A strange and alien part of my being broke open and fueled my strength. I didn't know what it was, I didn't care. At that moment all my hatred and anger was centered on the shadow Kougra in front of me. I charged.

      I fought with a raging ferocity I hadn't known I'd had. DarkBane tried in vain to fend me off. But I'd gone berserk, nothing would stop me except death. And being ghost blooded I was ever so close to death. Suddenly DarkBane's paw clenched around my throat.

      "I have had enough of this," he hissed lifting me from the ground. I continued to fight and writhe with all my might. "ShadowLight, your end is here!" And he threw me, into the pit of flames. I landed hard on blazing embers, I felt my cloak melt and the fibers fused to my fur. The fire licked my body burning, scorching, it was eating me alive. My heart felt as though it had exploded. And despite all, a feeble, dying power within me resisted the call of death. I twitched and the obliterating heat faded to a warm sensation. I smiled and laid my head down in my bed of embers and ashes. Still smiling I drifted off, for the last time into darkness. "Cyan_DarkBane," whispered a voice, my voice, "you cannot run forever."

     ~*~

      Kara stirred slightly, she blinked, desperately trying to banish the fog that shackled her mind. She saw the DarkBane had hooked her up to some kind of machine. With a thrill of horror she realized it was the device for making pets live in a world made of their most terrifying nightmares.

      She didn't struggle not wanting to alert the Kougra to the fact that she'd regained consciousness. Kara looked feverishly for Leoht, but couldn't see him anywhere. She doubted that he'd ran but the only other place he could be in this room was. Kara's heart sank, in the fire. The idea that he might be in the pit tormented her, she wouldn't believe it. Despite telling herself that, tears welled up in her eyes and streamed down her cheeks.

      "Ah you're awake little one." DarkBane had noticed her. He reached up and wiped a tear from her fur. "Now why would you be crying? You shouldn't be, there will be plenty of time to do that once this machine is fully operational."

      "Where's Leo?" Kara demanded. Bringing anger and loathing into her shaking voice.

      "The Night Walker?" DarkBane raised and eyebrow. "Why he has deserted you. Left you to my claws and the clutches of my machine." The Kougra seemed disappointed when Kara didn't react with distress. She was staring blankly at the fire. DarkBane went about fiddling with the controls of the machine.

      Kara's insides were roiling with so many different emotions that she couldn't discern one from the other. Suddenly her whole being went cold as she saw a dark navy colored paw extend over the lip of the fire.

      An arm quickly followed and Leoht hauled himself over the side. He stood crouched on the edge of the fire his tail thrashing. His eyes were simmering with heat and his teeth were bared.

      DarkBane seemed to sense something because he turned around. "ShadowLight!" The Kougra sucked in his breath and stared at the Zafara as Leoht straightened.

      "I'm like you in more ways than you realize Cyan," Leoht said quietly, "because I am ghost blooded, as well. So we are equal now. You have your gift," a shining silver dagger appeared in Leoht's paw, "and I have mine. So fight me," he snarled, "if you dare!"

      DarkBane paused a moment then whirled around and flipped a switch on the machine. Sparks shot everywhere as gears groaned to life. The machine began humming and Kara cried struggling to free herself. Leoht started toward her but DarkBane barred the Zafara's way. The last thing Kara saw before a veil of darkness was pulled over her eyes was Leoht, eyes flashing with rage, raise the dagger to take on the ghost blooded Cyan_DarkBane.

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 Six
» Night Walker: Part Eight



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