Chronicles of the Chosen: Taking Flight - Part Two
As the Sun stretched its way across the daytime sky, all of the day's events had proceeded as normal. At 1 o'clock, every Neopet gathered into the Display Room for at least an hour. Consider this the Pound's daily "Open House", where the owners view us publicly and decide which ones they like best. Once the hour is up, all owners are dismissed and we return to our dormitories. If an owner wanted to view the Pound's Neopets before or after the daily Open House, Dr. Death simply gives them a catalog filled with pictures of the pets, followed by their names and basic stats.
Stupid, I know. But when Dr. Death owns the roof over your head, you sort of have to follow his rules, no matter how ridiculous they seem.
Trust me; I know this routine like the fur on my face. First off, just to guilt-trap owners into adopting us, the Display Room's walls are lined with nightmarish cages -- that explains some NT stories, huh? – each with a sign hanging in front of it that displays our name and basic stats. Once you're assigned a cage, that cage is yours till the day you're adopted.
This may not look problematic at first glance, but for us Pound Veterans, it guarantees only more time to waste away in this building. First off, the pets that are "most presentable to the owner's eye" are assigned the cages in front, followed by the more decent of the bunch, and the worst in the back. Thing is, "most presentable" basically means "painted with all-letter names." Decent pets are basic coloured with only a number or two or a stray underscore in their name. Then there's us, the Veterans. We're the ones with all number names, or names generated by the Create-A-Pet when we're born. We're the ones who are shoved in the back -- the pets who no one sees, let alone cares about.
That was why no one missed me when I didn't go.
I had timed my escape perfectly. Just as the intercom screeched for everyone to report to the Display Room, I had made sure that I was in the bathroom, waiting. Maurice and Johnny, understanding that the bladder waits for no one, just let me be and exited the dormitory. Still I waited in silence, focusing my ears on the footsteps trampling through the hallways. At long last, after what felt like centuries of pressing my ear to the wall, the noise faded away into nothingness, until silence finally spread throughout the area. Then I exited, careful to close the door silently before taking my leave.
Thank Fyora I had the element of Air on my side. Without it, my footsteps would have echoed throughout the entire hallway, reverberating straight into the main office. Without it, my posterior would've been sent straight to my cage, and I would have wasted another hour letting curiosity nip away at me. But with it, my footsteps were light, undetectable, perfect to sneak into Flamethrower's dorm room with.
Soon enough I stood in the midst of her bedroom, in all of its cluttered and untidy glory. Wow. I had myself convinced that with Kathryn's responsibility, Flamethrower's spoilsport personality, and Monica's attitude, they would've joined forces and made this a neat freak's paradise. Looks like you can't judge a girl by her cover.
Carefully I stepped around the dirty clothes littered across the floor, slowly but surely working my way to the jackpot – Jamie's private desk. I probably would've gotten there twice as fast with a shovel, but either way I now stood before the wooden table.
"Now, where's she hiding it...?"
Honestly, I knew just as well as you do what "it" really was. Whatever "it" may be, it had to explain the fake, forced smile so foreign to the Earth Faerie's face.
So there I was, searching wildly for any sign of an answer, tearing through papers and pencils and boxes of staples (very pointy staples, at that), dumping them out onto the floor in the process. Nothing. My head got to know the wood very well, what with how many times they slammed together in frustration. Surely there had to be something, just one little thing that would...
Then it hit me like a herd of stampeding Tonu.
Right there, among the crumpled pieces of paper wadded in the bottom drawer, lay a stack of opened letters. The dates ranged from early in January to as recent as last week. This was it, it had to be!
Before I even realized I had moved, my paws dug through the clutter and grasped the letters tightly. Then they fished up their bounty for my eyes' delight. Carefully I arranged them in order from earliest to latest, and finally I began to read.
"6th day of Sleeping, Y13
It has been awhile since the last time we've written. I hope your Sandra and her friends are doing well, and I congratulate them all for their victory against Jhudora six months ago. But alas, I do not write this with casual intentions.
Much to our guards' misfortune, Jhudora has escaped our prisons in the night. We have had our best detectives look into it, and they still have no evidence as to how she had departed. Since you have the Chosen Neopets to consult with, I request your guidance for further action. A plausible explanation for Jhudora's escape is also greatly appreciated.
May the sky forever guide you,
Escaped? From Fyora's prison?? No one ever escaped such a high-security jail, so this definitely aroused questions to my brain. Quickly I read the next letter:
"23rd day of Awakening, Y13
Jhudora's escaped from prison?! But she's a grey faerie, now! How could she have escaped without magic, or even a pair of wings?
As for consulting with the Chosen, I feel that may be an unwise decision. I mean, seriously, they just defeated Jhudora. We shouldn't worry them with such matters until we know for sure that their attention is required. We don't want them stressing about this if it turns out to be nothing, wouldn't you agree?
May you ever be pretty in pink,
Why wouldn't she want us to know? Another letter:
"1st day of Eating, Y13
Indeed, Jhudora has escaped our facility. At this point, our detectives have given up on their search for evidence, and are instead trying to decode her possible motives for escaping. Again, I appreciate any ideas of yours. I also agree with your decision about the Chosen Neopets. Perhaps it is best for them to stay unaware of this. Still, if push does come a shove, be sure to alert them immediately.
May your closings ever amuse me,
Another letter, I read, my heart beating a little faster with each rip of the envelope:
"12th day of Hunting, Y13
Knowing Jhudora, she is likely working to restore her powers. I apologize for such short replies, but there just isn't much else to add.
May this mystery soon come to a close,
"3rd day of Swimming, Y13
You are probably correct. Jhudora may be searching for the Gem of Flight. Its location is unknown, however, so Jhudora is most likely on the hunt for such a treasure. You should probably notify the Chosen Neopets about this soon.
May the sky forever guide you,
P.S.: My apologies for taking so long to reply. I have been cheering on Faerieland this past Altador Cup. Don't you just love their new uniforms?"
"31st day of Hiding, Y13
The Gem of Flight, you say? It does sound valuable, especially to a Dark Faerie's eyes. Best be looking into its location, then, so that Jhudora may not find it before we do.
May Team Meridell ever kick Faerieland's behind,
"16th day of Gathering, Y13
Done and done. Originally, the Gem of Flight was floating on an adjacent cloud to Faerieland. After the crash, however, it has most likely landed in the woods surrounding our land. And as for that closing, be thankful I am not there right now.
May the sky forever guide you,
I couldn't believe it. All of this information, right before my eyes! So Jhudora was searching for a gem to restore her powers, Jamie's been keeping us in the dark about it, and now we have a relevant place to look. Everything was in our favor... so why did I have to plow through to find out?
Just then, the intercom screeched a second time, alerting the owners that they must now leave the Display Room. Once again, I thanked the wind on my side, for it helped me scurry back to my dormitory at double my normal speed.
Soon enough, Maurice and Johnny both returned to our room. I had expected them to appear tired and rugged, ready to crash in our tin-standard bedding. But to my surprise – and later, my horror – they were both wide awake. And one of them looked ready to throttle me.
The rest of our evening conversation went as follows:
"Where were you during Open House, Kendall? Someone actually visited our section!" Maurice exclaimed. "Of course, she didn't glance at us, but someone actually bothered to come our way!"
"I was busy," I mumbled my reply. I focused on the loose spring under my bed, a mouldering carton of milk at my feet, that squiggly crack in the ceiling – anything that wasn't their eyes.
"With what?" Maurice yelled exasperatingly. "Were you just that desperate to have Dr. Death live up to his name on you?!"
Johnny remained silent during the whole argument, his head and gaze dropped to the hardwood flooring. Smart Nimmo.
"Jamie was hiding something," I answered calmly (okay, not really). "I searched through her desk to find out what she--"
"YOU DID WHAT?! Dude, that's Jamie's private drawer for a reason!"
"Will you let me finish?? Anyway, I found these letters, and apparently Jhudora has escaped Fyora's prison--"
"LET ME FINISH. Jhudora's escaped from prison, and is now searching for something called the Gem of Flight. Since she's a grey faerie right now, I think that the gem regenerates missing wings."
"And what do you want us to do about it?"
"Dude, listen to yourself. We're the Chosen Neopets, for crying out loud! What we should do is go to Faerieland and stop Jhudora before she restores her powers!"
"Are you insane? We've never defeated her on our own! We'll get our derrieres kicked the moment we confront her!!"
This is what seven years of being leader does to you. Your ears learn to completely block out reason and your head builds a thick wall around itself.
Even so, I walked purposefully to our closet and yanked out my old suitcase. It took a good minute or so of searching, but I finally found some clean clothes waded up on the ground, and soon they found their place in my luggage.
"What do you think you're doing?" Maurice demanded.
I still have yet to look him in the eye, mind you, as I carefully placed the letters into the suitcase before locking it tight. "I'm going to Faerieland, with or without you."
"You've done some pretty stupid things before," The blue Mynci was so furious that I assumed he would turn red before I left. "But this is the dumbest yet! And I'm sure Johnny and the girls would agree with me. Right, Johnny?"
The Nimmo had finally dared to look up and glare at his roommate. Good thing it wasn't me.
"Kendall's right, Maurice," he answered in that calm, controlled way I had always envied. "We can't just sit around here and let Jhudora rise back into power. We have to do something."
"Well, yeah, but..." Finally, Maurice sighed loudly, brushing his overgrown bangs from his eyes in defeat. "Fine, go ahead and beg the girls into joining you. But if they have a single brain cell in their bodies, they would all agree that this idea is deranged!"
"We'll do just that," I gave him a glare of steel before marching myself out of our dormitory, Johnny following close behind.
Stubbornly Maurice sat himself down on his bed, legs crossed to match his arms, his gaze locked firmly on the door and narrowed to a deathly squint. He could just see what was happening in the girl's room right now: Johnny and I having our gooses cooked triple time as the trio screamed their refusal in our faces. Kathryn's would be the most shocking, since she never seems to raise her voice at anyone, not even Jhudora. Then that wooden door would slam right in our idiotic faces, leaving us to drag our pathetic selves back into the dorm, unpack, and lie around hopelessly while Maurice had the honour of laughing in our faces.
Just then, the door opened yet again, revealing Maurice's two roommates. The rejection must've been faster than he expected. Here we were, dragging our pathetic selves across the room, just as he had predicted. Now to warm up for the in-your-face dance...
But when Johnny spoke, his voice sounded smug, almost cocky... way too cocky to have seen the face of defeat. "Guess what they said, Maurice."
Maurice didn't even have the chance to answer before Johnny grabbed his left arm and I grabbed his right. Triumphantly we dragged the Mynci across the room to the door – it was easy for Johnny, who was roughly the same size he was, but difficult for me, since I was half the size of either one of them – and instantly the horrid truth dawned on Maurice's face.
"They said yes, didn't they?" he asked, his voice so quiet that we had to strain to hear him.
Johnny and I exchanged victorious grins. "In your face!"
To be continued...