The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part Six
Part Six: Deliverance
After a long, peaceful voyage, the merchant vessel sailed quietly into Altadorian waters. Morning came soft upon the air.
Mijjol the red Mynci stirred in his cabin bed as the sun warmed his fur. Ahh... this was such a lovely moment, lying on a simple cabin bed, with the sea gently rolling beneath and the sun flowing above. He could have stayed like this forever. But then he remembered the promise that he had made, and swung out of bed.
Cap’n Skeith was standing on deck, looking out at the approaching city of Altador. He turned at the Mynci’s approach.
“Ah, good mornin’, Mijjol,” he said heartily. “How d’ya feel about your task today?”
“It shouldn’t be too hard,” the young Mynci replied. To be honest, he hadn’t been thinking too much about it.
The grey Skeith smiled. “Good, good. Come and have some breakfast. Lukhu is waiting for you.”
“That’s his name?” asked Mijjol, referring to the Lupe.
“Yeah. He never told ya?”
“Well, now you know.”
They walked towards the little table, where the tall brown Lupe was indeed sitting. He grinned cheerfully at them, munching from a lupe snack pack. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” Mijjol answered. He sat down and helped himself to a snow banana. It tasted rather bland.
“It’s a good time to be delivering valuables,” said Lukhu, conversationally. “The thieves don’t usually lurk out in bright sunlight.”
“Robbers do,” said Mijjol.
Lukhu wiped his fangs. “You scared?”
Mijjol laughed, fingering his gold handled katana. “Let’s not start mocking each other again. Point is, there’s a task we’ve got to do together, there’s danger, and we’ll face it.”
“Ah, I like a Neopet with spirit!” Cap’n Skeith chuckled. “Have a solid breakfast, now, and set out soon as you’re ready. It’s a good three hours’ march to Sir Chrys’s mansion, and you could meet with delays on the way. I’ll be gettin’ the goods ready, while you’re eatin’. And here’s the map,” he added, putting it on the table.
“I’ll keep it,” said Mijjol. “I’ve been taught a thing or two about reading things on paper.”
Lukhu shrugged. “Fine.”
It was a solemn breakfast. Occasionally one of the partners cast a casual glance at the pale green lands of Altador, not too far away. The white buildings shone softly in the early light, brilliant against the dark greens of the trees. Murmurs of life could be heard from this far.
And, encircling the quiet little civilization, there lurked the vast, untamed wilderness.
Cap’n Skeith came back with the crate on a trolley. “Rare ice crystals,” he reminded Lukhu and Mijjol, “to be delivered to Sir Chrys. Be careful not to jostle ‘em too much, and try not to expose ‘em to too much heat.”
Lukhu nodded. “I guess we should go, then.” He glanced at Mijjol.
“Yes. Let’s go.”
The mild earth felt rather too still after the rocking of the vessel, but the two Neopets quickly grew accustomed to it. With the tall brown Lupe pushing the goods, and the young red Mynci reading the map, they set off across the grass.
It was quite a peaceful journey, actually. The main city of Altador lay snug within its white walls, busy about its own affairs. At its centre there rose the Hall of Heroes, visible from a long distance. It dwarfed the library, the armoury, and the shops, the life of which could be heard even through the sedateness of the city calls.
Lukhu and Mijjol, travelling past the great city, were rather tempted to go in for a tour.
But they had business to do. This Sir Chrys was a recluse, and lived away from civilization – and thus their path led away from civilization as well.
After about two and a half hours Mijjol said, “You want me to push that for a while?”
“Nah, I’m fine.”
“Okay then,” said Mijjol. “We’re more than two-thirds of the way there.”
Lukhu nodded. “Good to know.”
“This is the most dangerous part,” Mijjol continued, “now that we’re this far from the city. At this distance, thieves are free to roam, and it’s still close enough to the city for traders to pass by.”
“Huh. Well, I’m tired of being scared. We’ve been scared all that time on the vessel, and what was the point? Nothing bad has happened...”
“So you were scared?”
The Lupe shrugged. “Yeah. No point in denying it. But I’m tired of it now. Aren’t you?”
Mijjol turned back to the map with a sigh. “I know it’s been pretty boring so far, but all I’m saying is we should be on our guard.”
“Oh, I’m so tired of— What was that?”
“What? I don’t see anyth—”
A shadow rustled. And another. And another.
And suddenly Lukhu wasn’t tired at all.
Those thieves had absolutely no manners. They didn’t say, “Halt! Who goes there?” or anything fancy like that. And they certainly didn’t wear proper black attire with silver swords. They didn’t even bother with the cheaper face masks. They just leapt out of the darkness, in whatever clothing they’d managed to steal, and charged at what they perceived as the newest source of wealth.
Of course, that source of wealth was also a source of pain. Lukhu and Mijjol combined were equal to brute strength plus impossible agility.
What they didn’t have, however, were numbers.
Mijjol found himself surrounded by a throng of miscellaneous thieves. One of them swung a butchering cleaver and came hurtling at him with a yell full of foul breath, “Hoiyaaaaaah!” Mijjol dodged the blow, returned with a few swipes of his own, and the creature slumped to the ground.
You would have thought that this would discourage the other thieves, but no, they went on screeching, “Yeeeeearrgh!” and waving their hammers, spiked belts and evil knows what other makeshift weapons. Mijjol found his lightning moves tested to the limit; one split second after he ducked from a pair of scissors, he had to defend himself from a mad gatepost.
It took a long time to get all the thieves down in the dirt, but finally it was done. Mijjol sheathed his katana and staggered backward. “We defeated them,” he breathed, astonished to find that he was trembling.
Lukhu sank to the earth. “Yeah, at last.”
For a full minute, the two Neopets panted and regained their composure. Then they quickly lost it again.
“Where’s the crate?!” Mijjol cried.
It wasn’t lost to the thieves, sheesh. That would be too cliché, a fancy word which means not fun to write and not fun to read. No, the crate was held in the paws of a pure white Kougra, dressed in exotic pale green. Contrary to popular description, she was neither pretty nor delicate. She was solidly built, and her eyes sparkled strongly.
“You must be Mijjol Lightwielder,” she said, her every syllable melting into the air like mint chocolate. Very intensely-flavoured mint chocolate.
“Erm, yes,” said Mijjol. “And this is my companion Lukhu the brown Lupe. We’re delivering this crate, you see—”
“—to Sir Chrys,” the Kougra finished smoothly. “Yes. Sir has been expecting you for quite some time.”
“But how?” Lukhu blurted out.
“By waiting in an armchair?” the Kougra turned her deep gaze towards Lukhu.
The Lupe reddened. “I meant, how did Sir Chrys know we were coming? We’re new employees of Cap’n Skeith.”
“Just hired yesterday,” Mijjol added.
The Kougra looked mildly offended. “Do you expect so little of a collector of rare ice crystals? Those delicate treasures are a source of power, to my knowledge. It should not be surprising that Sir Chrys knows of you, or, indeed, any subject in Neopia.”
Lukhu and Mijjol exchanged glances.
“Then why did we have to fight those thieves?” Lukhu demanded, rather angry now. “Shouldn’t a powerful collector like Sir Chrys ensure that the precious ice crystals are delivered safely?”
“Ah, but that was your job,” said the Kougra smilingly. “You would not be heroes if such opportunities were taken away from you.” She turned gracefully before they could protest. “And now, follow me, please. There is a distance yet to travel before we reach Sir Chrys’s mansion.”
Seeing as there wasn’t much choice, the heroes followed, unsure of what to expect.
“Here we are,” said the Kougra, when they reached the top of a hill.
It was indeed a grand mansion: tall round pillars, sweeping stairs, just the sort of place a rich, retired knight would live in. The windows were huge panes of stained glass; the power of ice crystals hummed in the atmosphere.
The Kougra proceeded swiftly up the stairs and to the arched oaken doors. They opened soundlessly as soon as she came close, and trembled a little when Lukhu and Mijjol went in, but did not otherwise protest.
They went down a marble hallway classically lit with candles, and came to another heavy door. This one opened as well, revealing a long, narrow room full of glass cabinets. In them gleamed rows upon rows of rare ice crystals.
A large, rich armchair rested in the centre of the floor, surrounded by dazzling brightness. But it was empty.
“Where’s Sir Chrys?” asked Mijjol, mystified.
“Here,” said the white Kougra, setting down the crate softly.
The Kougra sighed. “Is this so very hard to understand? I am Sir Chrys.”
Both Mijjol and Lukhu gasped. “But...” said Lukhu.
Sir Chrys waved him into silence. “Yes, I am female. And yes, I am a knight. Any more questions?”
“Just one,” said Mijjol. “Since our duty is to deliver the ice crystals to you, why did you take us here? You already received them back in the wilderness.”
The female Kougra knight smiled mysteriously. “Your orders were to deliver them to Sir Chrys’s mansion, I believe?”
“Uh, yes, but...”
“Then you have fulfilled your duty.” Sir Chrys sat back in the armchair and regarded him with calm eyes.
“Well, yes,” Mijjol acknowledged. “So... are we free to go now?”
“Not without payment,” said the Kougra, amused.
A shade of embarrassment clouded Mijjol’s and Lukhu’s faces. “Let’s have the payment then,” said Lukhu, with a slight cough.
Sir Chrys slowly and deliberately drew a silvery envelope from within the folds of her robe. Lukhu reached out for it, but it floated smoothly onto Mijjol’s palm.
“Let’s go,” said Lukhu, sounding a little disgruntled.
They turned to leave, but when Mijjol gave Sir Chrys a last glance, he thought he saw her wink at him.
To be continued...