A Waffle Paradise Circulation: 99,279,380 Issue: 195 | 17th day of Relaxing, Y7
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Cruor Stilla: Part Two


by eikomei

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The male Royal Draik began to speak. "It is a great honor to me that, on this day, I can finally pass the position of King on to my son, Damian. It has been long awaited by me--and by many of you as well, I'm sure--to see what potential he has to offer." Ruby may have imagined it, but the Prince seemed to shift uncomfortably as the King said this. "I'm sure he won't let any of us down." He pause here, as if thinking of what to say. "Well, I'm no good at speechmaking, so let's move on to the crowning, shall we?" The King gestured to someone behind him to come forward, and a yellow Eyrie carrying a royal paintbrush appeared out of the shadows. He kneeled down and held the paintbrush up to the young blue Draik, who accepted it. The Prince then flew down with it to the rainbow fountain that the crowd was standing around, and painted himself for everyone to see. He became the new King right before their eyes.

     The crowd gave an applause as their new King flew back up to the balcony with his new look. The King started to speak again, "And now, my son will choose one out of all the female Draiks present to be his partner in ruling. He will need time to make his decision, of course, so eat and talk amongst yourself until he is ready."

     The crowd dispersed to the many tables scattered around the area. Many people began to talk, and eventually pretty much everyone was. Delia had gone to get some food at a table a few yards from Ruby. She didn't think this food would be much better than breakfast, so she went over to the trunk of a tall tree and sat there for shade, waiting for the next part of the ceremony to get on with.

     Zackwel was bored. The food was bland, the "speech" the King had given was incredibly bad and now he had to wait for this new stupid ruler of the country taking his sweet time to pick yet another stupid ruler of the country to make the position twice as affective. Great.

     He didn't even want to try the food, so all he could do was sit and wait. Though he couldn't even do that comfortably, as the sun was nearly blinding him. He looked around for a good tree or something to sit under or shade, and found the perfect one. Unfortunately, someone had taken it from him already. Well, he thought, at least now I have something interesting to do until Prince Idiot makes up his mind.

     He trotted up to the yellow Aisha that was in his spot. She was wearing a would-be elegant dress, if it weren't for the fact that it was extremely plain. It had obviously cost a great deal for a peasant like her, so he used the two facts to his advantage.

     "Nice dress," he said to her. She looked up. "Did you make it yourself?"

     "No," said the Aisha carefully. "Why...?"

     "I just figured from the lack of detail and cheap fabric that it couldn't be made from any professional tailor. I hope you're not telling me you actually paid money for it."

     "No, actually, it was a gift. But I'm sure she paid a great deal for it; it is made of silk, after all, and anyone who possesses even a trace of intelligence would know that it's very expensive material."

     He was shocked. That had never happened before. All the Neopets he picked on had ranks lower than his, such as this Aisha, but none of them had ever been stupid enough to insult him back. He couldn't let her get away with it.

     "Do you realize who I am? I happen to be very good friends with the Royal family, and I can easily convince them to execute you. So, unless you want that to happen, I suggest you take back what you just implied."

     "Implied? I'm sorry, I hadn't realized I implied anything. What was it?"

     Now he was really annoyed. She was actually going to make him say it. Well, this could go on forever, for all he cared, he wasn't going to say that he was any less than intelligent out loud.

     "Don't play stupid with me," he told her. "You can play innocent all you want, but we both know you indirectly insulted me, and I have no problem telling the Royals a story that will convince them that you are out of line with their laws and have them put you on the death sentence."

     "Really? And what makes you think you have that much power over them?"

     Zackwel tensed slightly. The truth was, he wasn't all that chummy with the Royals. That was the plan, but this was the first day it would be put into action, and he hadn't even talked with them yet. He went on with the lie.

     "I've told you already, peasant. They are good friends of mine-"

     She laughed out loud at this. "Yes, that would be a convenient lie for someone like you to use as a way to harass people like me, but what proof do you have that there is any truth in it?"

     Oh, she was good. This was what he was afraid might happen, but didn't think it actually would. No Neopet had ever been so bold with him before.

     When he still hadn't said anything, the Aisha continued, "If you hold so much power over them, go ahead and have them sentence me to death. Go talk with them right now."

     He felt his face burning. She knew he wouldn't really go up and talk to them now, that's why she said it. He would have to get out of this by either admitting he lied or by making some dumb excuse. Even if he decided to use an excuse, it would be obvious to both of them, as it was already, that he lied about knowing the Royals. He refused to let that happen twice.

     "Alright, so I don't know the Royal family, but I still have a higher status than you. I could still make something up and they'd believe my word over yours."

     She looked indifferent now. "Well, go ahead and do that, if that's what you want. It's just kind of pathetic that you would go to all that trouble just to get back at me for defending myself. You are the one who insulted me first, after all. But I guess someone as stuck up as you can't be used to people giving you what you deserve."

     "I will get back at you for this. Just wait."

     "Oh, and a cliché line to boot. Are you proud of yourself?" He didn't answer her, just walked away.

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     As the Halloween Ixi walked away in a huff, Ruby couldn't help letting out another bit of laughter. He was obviously a bully, one not used to his victims defending themselves, and she was glad to be the first. He really was quite pathetic when stood up against. She sighed deeply, feeling good about her triumph.

     Her attention was caught when all the talking suddenly died down. Everyone had gathered in a close group again, and they were all looking up at the balcony. The two Kings, Queen and another plain, red Draik were there. The elderly King spoke, "Damian has found someone he believes worthy to be his Queen. May I introduce Madeline, your new Queen." Another Eyrie, this time green, came forward with a new royal paintbrush and handed to her, kneeling. She took it and flew to the rainbow fountain, and the same routine that had occurred with the Prince happened again. When she was back at the balcony, the senior King spoke yet again. "Now, I would like to speak of the recent victory of Meridell over an evil species known as faeries. One such creature, named Jhudora, had planned on attacking us and taking over. The staff of the palace found out of her plans, however, before she had a chance to carry them out. We cannot disclose how we came to find the information first, so I shall just say we have our resources. The man point is that we conquered Jhudora and her soldiers before we could be conquered ourselves. The dark faerie's minions have been taken prisoner and will be dealt with shortly. This is another reason other than the traditional ritual to celebrate, so eat all you can and have fun." There was another applause and the crowd dispersed for the second time, some going to get more food and others to play some of the strange games that were set up.

     Ruby had stayed in the shade of the tree during the whole second speech, and didn't plan on moving until it was time to leave. She hadn't been sitting there for long after the King's second speech, however, as Delia came up to her and said, "Well, I think that's all that's going to happen here. We could stay and play some games if you want to, but if not, I'd like to go home and take a nap."

      "That's okay, I'd like to go, too," she replied, thankful that it was finally over. It may have been a festive occasion for these people, but to her it was just boring.

      So, she and Delia set off for the second time that day, but taking their time since they weren't in a hurry--another thing she was thankful for. They retreated into the cramped woods in the direction of the small cabin, leaving a Halloween Ixi glaring at their backs.

      A week earlier...

      Rose was searching endlessly in the Haunted Woods for a plant named Contego Aeris, a plant that emits enormous amounts of oxygen, driving away poisonous gases. There was one for every five of it's opposite, Venenum Aeris, a plant emitting the poisonous gases it works to eliminate. The latter had been around in the Haunted Woods for a very long time, maybe even since the existence of the place. It had grown there so that foul creatures would be created out of the noxious atmosphere and live among the toxin-filled area. However, the Contego Aeris had developed as a defence against such foul air, but was very rare, as it was a defect of a place such as the Haunted Woods.

      Rose had discovered this herself through her own research. She had become interested in exploring the woods as soon as she learned of it's existence. No citizen of Meridell, such as herself, ever went there in fear of it's gloominess or some such thing. This was something Rose didn't understand. People's fear of it had prevented her from knowing about it, but as soon as she had found out it was there, she leapt at the chance to learn about a new place's history and environment, and what other creatures might live there.

      So, here she was, searching for another Contego Aeris among all the other vile plantlife it grew with. She had only found two so far, and used them for their seeds. From the two she had found, she would be able to plant ten more, as they contained five seeds. Her goal was to purify the air of the place so she could work there more easily (the plants here grew extremely fast, for some reason), and then finally be able to get to work on something else involving it's habitat.

      She had been looking for a couple of hours already, and was pretty deep in the forest. It was at what must've been the very center of the Woods that she saw a big, rotting old castle. It was made of what looked like black stone with thick layers of mold covering it in many places. Her estimate of it's height was about five stories, yet it still wasn't taller than the gigantic trees surrounding it.

      The sight of it left her in awe. It looks like I have yet another place to explore, she thought to herself. It looked abandoned, so she probably wouldn't run into any intelligent creatures if she went inside. The castle wouldn't have been so out of shape if it's inhabitants were smart enough to take care of it, so she assumed it wouldn't be considered trespassing if she explored it, as no one (most likely) officially owned it. She decided this would be her project tomorrow. Just as a little break from her dull search for rare plants, then she would get back to work the day after that.

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      It took Ruby and Delia a little longer to get back to the cabin, because they took their time and walked the whole way, which ended up taking about forty minutes. Upon getting back, Ruby was starving having spent all her energy on the way back. She didn't want to ask for food, though. She didn't know whether or not that'd be weird. Did Rose ask for food or get it herself? Then again, she had already broken the rule about not being weird, so why not do it again?

      "Is there anything to eat?" she asked.

      "Of course, dear," was Delia's reply. "In the pantry, help yourself."

      She opened the pantry and saw a bag of potatoes, gruel, peas, berries and sugar, and a loaf of bread without any kind of packaging. She grabbed a potato and went to the sink in the bathroom to wash it, and bit into it. It was hard as rock. She had to grind her teeth on it a few times just to break the surface. This is not going to digest well. But she ate it anyway. She was starving, after all.

      It took her nearly twenty minutes, but she finally finished the potato and went upstairs to her new, temporary room. She let out a relieved sigh as she lay on the bed. All that walking was something she wasn't used to. Normally she would be sitting at a desk all day, only taking about thirty minutes total time to walk to school and home again, where she would sit some more doing homework.

      She sighed again. What now? she thought. Do I just sit and wait for something to happen? No. I have to do something. But what...? Things were really bizarre here, wherever 'here' was. The food, the seemingly non-existent technology, the government system...It was almost as if it was...a different time. That's it! Maybe I traveled through time. It seemed preposterous to her, but she actually considered it. Why else would this house be so similar. It could be the exact same house. I don't know how it ended up in Meridell, but it could happen. The geography may be different, that's it. And magic can be used by faeries, so who's to say it can't do something like this? It made sense to her now. She had felt like she was in a different world, and being in a different time was practically the same thing. Of course that's what it was. The concept of Kings and Queens was used generations ago, and why would they eat such disgusting if they had an option not to? Because they didn't! Eww. I'm glad I didn't grow up in this time.

      But how had it happened? She wondered vaguely if time magic was possible. If other types were, why couldn't this be? Maybe a strong dark faerie was playing a joke on her, but somehow she doubted it. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of this until now, but upon seeing the customs of this place, such as the ceremony, it really did remind her of the old Meridell she had read about in school.

      Wow...she thought, remembering what she had read about the history of the Lost Desert. So that's what it's like over there right now? She suddenly had an urge to go exploring, learning and experiencing everything she possibly could from this situation. But then she remembered another thing. How would she get back to her time when she wanted to?

     Rose awoke early in the morning, when the sun was just beginning to shine. She threw her white peasant dress on, flew downstairs, said a hurried goodbye to Delia and sped off toward the Haunted Woods. Even when she reached them, she continued to run until she reached the castle again. She had been running for nearly a half hour when she saw it.

      She hurried on until she was right up at the humongous, wood doors painted black. They towered over her, and she could barely reach the ring used to pull it open. When she did reach them, she pulled as hard as she could and almost fell backwards over the many steps below her. Surprisingly, the door was very easy to open. She entered the castle, and was surprised for a second time; there were lit torches running along the walls of a long, narrow entrance hall.

      Hmm, she thought unwillingly. Maybe someone lives here after all. But she couldn't go back now. She had wanted so much to do this, she couldn;t let anything stop her. I'll just have to be careful. So she was. She walked slowly and quietly down the hallway, and when she reached the end there was a giant room with four, strategically placed and lit chandeliers hanging on the ceiling, illuminating the area.

      There were many long dining tables in the room, with all sorts of things spread out on them: cauldrons, vials, tubes, books, and various other items she didn't know the names of. It looked like alchemy to her. Cool! she thought excitedly. There were two exits out of the room she was now in, one on the left and one on the right. She chose the one on the left.

      She walked the long stretch from the hallway entrance she was standing at to the left exit, taking care to be as quiet as possible and still looking around in amazement. When she reached the exit, she reluctantly went down the new corridor, leaving the other alchemy-filled room behind.

      The passageway she was in now gradually turned to the right, and was lined with torches as the entrance hall had been, with a dark red rug trailing along the floor under her feet. She had been walking for a few minutes when she finally reached a small amount of steps leading up to a black, wooden door, resembling the one she had entered the castle through but much smaller. She pushed it open and entered the next room, closing it behind her.

      This room appeared to be a library. There were round, mahogany tables scattered throughout the large room and tall shelves filled with books lining every wall, leaving two gaps for two more doors. The carpet was of the same deep red that the rug lining the passageways had been, and curtains of the same hue were tied open over giant, patterned windows.

      The two exits were placed on the wall opposite her, and to the right. She picked the one across from her, as it took less effort to get to it. Immediately after opening the door, there were stairs. They, like the second hall she had entered in the castle, winded gradually to the right, and went up so high she thought for sure that she was heading for one of the towers she had seen from the outside view.

      It seemed like she had gone miles when she finally reached the door. She had almost opened it, but stopped when she heard a voice coming from inside the room. "...have to help me then. So, even if the ambush doesn't work for whatever reason, I'll have this as an option, too." She moved closer to the door and pressed her ear against it, moving and even breathing as quietly as she could. A second voice spoke,

      "And remind me, why should I do this for you? I can provide a good enough place to stay for myself, I don't need you."

      "Well, you're only useful if the first plan fails. With the success of the first one, I will take over Meridell and, starting from there, the rest of Neopia. You can get on my good side by agreeing to help me now, or be my enemy with the rest of the world and suffer the consequences. Believe me, siding with me will be the best thing for you. I'll be the most powerful being in existence, and having a friend like that can only serve to help you, correct?"

      "Hmph. How can I be assured that you aren't just using me like the others, planning to abandon me in the end?"

      "Well, I suppose you can't really. But let me just say this: you are different from the rest of them. Those weak, sniveling Mutants are only useful to me because of their numbers. They are weak-minded enough to believe me when I simply tell them that they will prosper by siding with me, as I can aid them in destroying the citizens of Meridell that they hate so much. You, however, would be smarter in their situation. You are bright enough to ask questions such as 'why' or how.' Why do you think you're the only one I'm telling the entire plan to?"

      "Because I'm not an incredible idiot like the rest of your pons?"

      "Yes, actually. I like you. You aren't someone that is manipulated easily, and manipulation, as you know, is my specialty. Think of it this way: I consider you my equal. Alright, not quite, but nearly, and that's much more than I can say for anyone else. Having said all this, it's up to you whether you want to believe me or not. Just remember that I hide nothing from you, and only you. So, make your decision now. Do you trust me or not?"

      There was a pause. "Alright," said the second voice. "I'll go through with the plan if your little army of idiots fails you. It's a better plan anyway."

      "Why, thank you." Then there was movement from inside the room behind the door, and Rose instinctively ran faster than she ever had before, taking the stairs two at a time, hoping her paws hitting the floor were light enough not to be heard by the owners of the voices. She knew that within seconds the door would have opened and whoever the two inside were would have seen her, and she didn't want to guess what might've happened then.

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      Ruby couldn't get the necklace off. She had been thinking long and hard of her predicament, pacing back and forth and even moving to a couple different locations, next to the well in the backyard being one of them. She had been sitting on the edge of it, lost in thought and looking at the old, but elegant gray stone. After having stared at that for long enough, she moved her gaze to the water in the well. It took her a moment to register what all she saw in her reflection, but it took only a few seconds of seeing the somehow ominous image of the necklace grasping her throat that made her realize the one thing that was so different about yesterday that could have caused this. The necklace...I knew it felt strange.

      She was strangely calm, as if tired already from the knowledge of what she would go through next. She panicked. She had read about magical artifacts before, and thought maybe if she took the necklace back off she would go back to her own time, her own life. So she had tried to remove it, but it refused to let go of her throat. She tried many times to undo the clasp that bound it and pulled as hard as she could, so that the chain cut into the back of her neck painfully, but it would not come off. She was stuck here.

      Why?! she thought desperately. How could this happen? There must be something.. But she was tired of searching for answers. There was nothing she could do or think of at the moment, so she just gave up and sat on the ground leaning against the edge of the well. It seems I have plenty of time to do that exploring I thought of earlier...she remembered miserably, but not really caring anymore. She just wanted to leave. She couldn't stand the thought of being stuck there forever, of never returning to her studies at school or playing with her Anubis, Caerulus, or even having a chance at making friends she could relate to in school, not that she thought that would happen anyway.

      Sighing, she got up and returned tiredly to her room. Delia looked at her concernedly, but she didn't care, just moved past her. She flopped down on the bed, on top of the covers and curled up on her right side. The bedside table with the water and diary were in front of her. Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. Rose...!

      She picked up the diary and sat straight up, propping up the pillows so she could lean back. Then she opened the diary, and could not believe this was happening now of all times. Was she really so dense that she hadn't remembered this earlier, or even thought of it first? Then she read the writing piece in the diary that was indirectly addressed to her.

      To my descendant--

      You are here because of the pendant you put on yesterday. My life ended last night and you are taking over from where I left off. Here is what you need to do: find a Halloween Ixi named Zackwel and befriend him. He should be at the upcoming celebration. He is involved in a scheme of a powerful dark faerie, Jhudora. Zackwel's part in he plot is to get to know the Royals and tell them that faeries exist and are living in the Haunted Woods, and convince them that they are evil beings. They will then attack the faeries, if all goes according to the plan, and Jhudora will use this to convince them that they need a place of their own other than the Haunted Woods, a place away from Neopets. She needs them on her side so that she can build such a place--Faerieland. But the part she isn't telling the faeries is that she plans to take over Neopia from the city they are to create, which will be high up in the sky and out of reach of any Neopet. It will be impossible to defend against if such a place is created. That's why you need to stop Zackwel from telling the Royals. I trust you will be able to stop Zackwel. I am out of time now...Good luck.

      Oh, no, she thought. I am not going to befriend that git, no way. I suppose it might not've been Zackwel, but how many Halloween Ixis can there be in one area? He certainly seems evil enough to be involved in a scheme like that. But even as she thought this, she knew she would have to. It had said nothing in the diary about how to get back, so she was hoping beyond hope that by following the instructions there she would somehow be able to undo this all. Plus, if she let Jhudora take over the world, what would it be like in her time when she finally did return to it?

      Then she realized something. She had already blown her chance. Zackwel hated her now, and quite frankly, she hated him, too. She didn't even know where she'd be able to find him again. Well, she supposed that if she hung around the castle long enough, he'd turn up. He was trying to get to know the Royals, after all. Great. Now I get to set off on incredibly long walks everyday in an attempt to find a stupid bully and be nice to him hoping he'll be my friend. Just my luck.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Cruor Stilla: Part One
» Cruor Stilla: Part Three
» Cruor Stilla: Part Four
» Cruor Stilla



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