The Seeing Stone
The door swung open, and into the little room a Gelert walked. He was tall, his fur a deep shade of red. The Gelert sat down at a roughly hewn wood table, oak perhaps. He ran his paw down the front of it to a little drawer. Inside was a small bundle, something wrapped in silk cloth, tied with string. The Gelert set the small bundle on the wood and carefully undid the bindings.
Inside was a small ruby red stone, as smooth as a pebble washed up on the Mystery Island shores, the same shape too. It was as bright as the Bori's sacred stone, the same colour too, iridescent colours and lights dancing on its surface. The Gelert slid it onto the wood top and gently rubbed the stone's surface, as he had done for many days before. Slowly, the central mist in the stone swirled clear and a picture began to form in its icy looking depths...
It was a dark evening that night in Krawk Island. A door from an inn opened out onto the main street in front of the harbour. A merry Usul leapt out of it, singing a rather loud and raucous song. She was followed by singing from other members of her audience and pipe music played by a Pirate Lupe on one of the bar stools.
Hannah, as that was the name of the Usul in question, danced and pranced down the moonlit street, calling to the still open door that she'd 'be back the next night!' She did not immediately see the tall figure, shrouded in shadows, at the side of the street. The figure was a good bit away from the inn, or any houses for that matter. It had an oddly familiar look to it. Hannah's eyes snapped or to it, or him, at once.
"Kanrik!" she cried, sprinting towards it. But the warm welcome she had thought of was exactly the opposite of what she got.
"No." The reply was ice cold, like a shrill wind blowing through the Haunted Woods. Hannah stopped, frozen in her tracks, which weren't more than a good few centimetres from the stranger's nose, which wasn't blue, but red. Oh dear.
Hannah recoiled from that evil sounding voice, stepping back, only to find she was being pushed. She tried to cry out, she found she was choking. A sharp tug, and the fibres of rope snatched back from around her neck, and Hannah was falling back into darkness.
When the Usul awoke, she felt utterly stupid. She thought of the curious figure last night. Idiot, she thought, walking up to a stranger like that. It could have been anyone! In fact, she realised, it HAD been anyone. It was then she felt a bareness around her neck. That thieving cur! she realised. He'd stolen her favourite amulet!
At this point the stone's depths returned blank and misty. Annoyed, the Gelert rubbed vigorously at the surface again, trying to make the image come clear again. This always happened. But before he had time to get more angry, a new scene was unfolding in the centre of the stone...
This time a face appeared, that of a wrinkled, old, smiling Wocky. He was seated contentedly on a plush green armchair by a roaring fire. A window beside him revealed snow falling, already a couple of feet up the window sill. It was Terror Mountain. Several young Neopets, most clasping a toy or something, were eagerly asking him questions, he was just as eagerly answering them.
A small pink Lupess, hugging a rather battered Green Hissi plushie, lent forward and asked, eyes agape, "Mr Riley, what was the Lupe's name again?" The Wocky turned to her, laughter dancing in his old eyes. They must have seen a lot.
"His name was Sir Jeran The Brave, and he was the finest knight in all of Meridell, even Brightvale too. Does that answer your question?" He smiled. The Lupess nodded furiously and moved a little closer to the fire.
An equally small white Aisha came closer, pulling a Uni toy after her. She pondered a question for a moment then piped up, "What about Lisha?"
"Ah, she was as beautiful as you, little one, a true sorceress, but not in a bad way. She cast many fine and helpful spells that brought an end to all unhappiness in the realm," he replied, a wistful look in his old eyes. A green Eyrie turned to him, wiggling about on the overstuffed arm of the chair.
"Mr Riley, what about Kass? What happened to him?" he asked earnestly. The Wocky thought for a second.
"Nobody really knows. Some say he is gone for good, some say he is invisible. Some say he was taken by spirits, and some? They think that Lisha keeps him in a bottle in Kayla's shop!" he conceded. The Eyrie and the others laughed heartily, imagining vividly Kass trapped in a bottle like a Faerie. Among them a tiny red Gelert laughed loudest.
The Gelert could have watched that happy scene all night, but the stone decided otherwise. It changed again, the scene choppy like waves, then forming into the white washed walls of the hospital. The Gelert attempted to change it, but to no avail. So he sat back to watch it...
A blond haired owner girl was screeching at the familiar figure of the green Gelert doctor. He was cringing slightly at her outburst. She was holding a shaking Grarrl on a leash; it was trying to pull in the direction of home. The girl was ranting about the prices of medicines these days, and why couldn't the doctor supply them himself. It was going on on and on.
Behind her sat a yellow Bori and a Blue Flotsam. The Bori shook his head and gestured down his throat to the Flotsam. The Flotsam giggled quietly and returned the gesture with another one, this time making a huge mouth like it was saying 'blah blah blah'. The Bori sniggered, and burst out laughing. Fortunately, the room's only other occupants, other than the Grarrl, the girl and the doctor, were a Nimmo and a boy with a black, short cut hairstyle. They caught the joke and laughed uncontrollably.
The girl whipped around, seething, to find her pets making faces at her. She roared, but to no avail. She just couldn't see the funny side of things.
The picture cleared and the Gelert sighed. That was the evening's viewing done then. He slowly re wrapped the stone in its silken bindings, ever so slowly in case another picture formed. It didn't. With a heavy, yet incredibly light, heart the Gelert replaced the stone, in its wrappings, back in the drawer, so it didn't look as if it had moved an inch. Then he got up and left the room, just as it had been.
The drawer ground slowly forward until the silk wrapped stone was revealed. The stone wobbled, then flipped end over end up onto the table. The drawer shut noiselessly behind it. The creamy white wraps slid back revealing the stone's last image for the evening. A face had appeared again, that of a Gelert's. It was the same deep red fur coating of the one that had just left this place. Yet the ears, they were black. A paw pushed up, an amulet clasped in its claws. Up, up, out of the stone and onto the desk.
The Gelert creature hauled itself out, black leathery wings folding out behind him. A black cloak and a strangely familiar amulet fell to the floor. He turned, staring inside the stone one last time. A face swam into view again, his own but negative, an icy shade of blue. It whispered up to him.
"Good luck." That was all the visitor needed. He rewrapped the stone, placed it carefully in one pocket of the cloak with the amulet, and slid through the window and off. There would be an unexpected surprise for one Gelert the next night, when he returned.