Time: A Gelert's Tale - Part Two
After hearing the story of his village, the Gelert completely forgot about his search for the dark faerie. Now all he wanted to do was find that Draik. He was convinced that it was the Draik that attacked him that night in the cave. It all made perfect sense now. As he walked through the town, he remembered what the waitress had mentioned. Four villagers? It must have been a mistake. Legends become twisted with time. It made him wonder how much time had really passed since then. The Gelert really had no idea.
He exited the parameters of the town and was by himself once again. It seemed like the only friends that he had were trees these days. As he was walking among the fallen leaves and thin trees, someone was following him. The Gelert could hear them clumsily jumping around from tree to tree out of sight. He was prepared to fight whatever it was, but continued casually walking along as if he did not notice. When the mysterious Neopet found a branch low and near enough, they swung down and reached toward the back of the Gelert's robe.
The Gelert veered around with clenched fists and his hood fell with the swiftness of the motion to reveal his fangs and bright red eyes. The mysterious Neopet was really an unusually cheery grey Cybunny, and a pickpocket and that. "Just what do you think you're doing?" the Gelert snarled at him. He had no time to deal with petty thieves right now.
"Stealing," the Cybunny said, quite casually. "But it appears that you have nothing of worth, so you are in luck. Desmond at your service." The Cybunny bowed jokingly. For a grey Neopet, he sure was a jokester. He was also relatively young, only just barely reaching the age of seventeen.
"Look, I don't have time for this. Get out of my way." The Gelert continued walking in the right direction, quite annoyed. He was shocked that the Cybunny was not disturbed by his appearance, but did not show it.
"Aww, come on." The Cybunny began to follow him. "We can be pals, you and I." The possibility of that was really slim. Actually, Desmond doubted that it was possible at all. "Can I just take that cloak of yours and say I stole it? Come on, I really need to steal something if I'm going to get into the thieves guild..."
The Gelert let out a low growl. "Please, they wouldn't let a kid like you in. I could hear you from the moment you started following me."
The Cybunny looked shocked. Was he really that bad? "Really? Huh." Maybe he should work on his stealth skills. He wasn't much of a sneaky person to begin with, what with that big mouth of his. "See, this is good. You can critique me on my skills-"
"Or lack thereof," the Gelert interrupted.
"...Well, that was uncalled for. Look, buddy, if we're going to be friends, you're going to need to be a tad bit nicer." There was a hint of sarcasm in the Cybunny's voice. One could never really tell when he was being truly serious.
"We are not friends and do not call me buddy. Go away." The Gelert was getting more annoyed with each second, and it was visible on his face. He wasn't going to get anywhere with this obnoxious child following him around.
"Don't deny our friendship!" the Cybunny declared. "Where are you going anyway?" He realized that he had been following this Gelert for a several minutes now and he had no idea where he was going. That probably wasn't a good thing.
"None of your business." The Gelert's voice was shallow with annoyance. "But if you must know, I'm going after the Gremble and his Draik master." The Cybunny had a certain charm with people that caused them to allow his presence. It was sort of like how a parasite leeches onto something and does not want to let go.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. Are you talking about that old story?" The Cybunny had a stupid grin on his face that showed his disbelief. Even he wasn't naive enough to believe scary stories that people tell their children to keep them from wandering too far from the town. "I hate to break it to you, but it's just a myth. It's not true."
The Gelert ignored the Cybunny's antics and attempted to focus on the path ahead. "It's not a myth, Desmond."
"Aww, you called me by name. I'm honored." He mockingly swayed as if the Gelert was his hero. "What's your name anyhow?"
"You can call me Ven."
"Cool." He smiled stupidly, but sincerely this time. No one had ever really accepted him. For some reason, Desmond felt like Ven would. Eventually.
As night began to fall, Ven and Desmond took shelter in an old abandoned house that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but trees surrounding the area, there was no sign of anyone else living out there.
"This is creepy, I don't like this," Desmond whined as he sat in the middle of the old neohome's living room. The furniture was mostly gone except for one large, tattered arm chair and a wooden table in the kitchen. Everything in the house was covered in a thick layer of dust. No doubt that nobody had lived in the house for a while. Ven had gathered a few logs and placed them into the fireplace.
"No complaining. Would you rather sleep outside?" he retorted as he attempted to light a fire for the Cybunny's sake.
"You know, actually-"
A large creaking sound and crash interrupted him from finishing his sentence. A chilling rush of fear filled the Cybunny. "What was that?" His voice cracked nervously.
"Stay here." Ven motioned to the Cybunny. He thought that he heard the sound coming from the kitchen.
"Oh, right, stay here. That's really smart, being by myself in this creepy old neohome." Desmond was panicking. Ven was right about one thing: he probably wasn't thieves guild material.
"Shhhh." The Gelert pressed a finger to his mouth and started walking towards the kitchen quietly.
"Ow!" A soft cry could be heard from the room. It was a woman's voice.
The Gelert turned the corner abruptly to reveal the perpetrator.
It was none other than the Aisha that he had met earlier that day. "Marleena?"
The Cybunny came running in yelling and holding his shoe as if he were going to strike someone with it; Ven held out his arm and Desmond ran into it, ceasing his 'assault'.
"Some company you got there..." the Aisha said sarcastically.
"Hey!" the Cybunny shouted.
"Desmond, this is Marleena," the Gelert introduced her to him.
"Wait, you know this girl?" The Cybunny was rather confused at this point. He was convinced that he was the only person that the Gelert knew. Ven didn't have the best social skills, after all.
"Yes, I met her earlier today. She helped me figure out something." He motioned towards her as he spoke. It was curious that she was here.
"I followed you when you left." The Aisha looked concerned. "Mostly because my boss made me, though. You never paid for that cup of borovan, you know." She quickly lost her look of concern and replaced it with irritation.
"And I thought I could help you..." Marleena approached the Gelert and began to reach towards his face. "Your eyes... what happened to you?"
The Gelert turned away in shame and pulled his hood tightly over his head in defense. "It's nothing."
Desmond looked back and forth between the two. "Okay, wait. What's going on exactly?"
The Aisha walked into the living room and the Cybunny followed she sat down and reiterated what happened at the tavern. "He came in and asked about, you know, Nestoria." She sounded cautious saying its name. "I told him and he immediately left. Stormed out is more like it."
Marleena looked up at Ven curiously. "You're one of them, aren't you?" Ven wasn't facing them. He was leaning against the wall staring into the darkness of the kitchen.
"You're one of the escaped villagers." It sounded more like a statement than a question.
There was a pause for a while, as if he was contemplating the truth of it. "Yes," the Gelert finally said. "I'm one of them."
The Aisha expected to be terrified at his answer, but she was really intrigued. "That happened over fifty years ago... but you look at most half that age. How is this possible?"
The Gelert didn't even know how to answer that question. He had no idea it had been that long. To him, it felt like a max of ten years. He was just a young teenager when it happened, only fifteen. He had surely not spent so long amongst the woods by himself. It was that faerie... She must have done this to him. But how? And why? And even then, when he woke up, he had only been wandering around for a year or so before coming across the Aisha's town. It just didn't make any sense to him...
"I don't know," he finally answered. It was all he could give as a reply.
The Cybunny sat and watched in silence. There was no way that Ven was one of those villagers. That would just be too weird. And how did he even get all the way out to this small town anyway? In truth, Nestoria was a while away.
"That night," the Gelert began, "the fire was spreading so fast, there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. I escaped, as did two of my siblings. And that was all. There were no other survivors." His voice sounded cold.
"But the tale says that there were four," the Aisha attempted to correct him. It didn't seem right, though.
"There were only three." The Gelert sounded so bitter.
Desmond looked between the two. "You know, when my mother used to tell me that story, she never said that there were no survivors. She said that the Draik's fire was magic and trapped them all in a crystal ball in his cave. He kept one for all the villagers and one for the fool himself as a trophy." He shrugged as he contemplated the possibility of it being true. "I mean, if you're real, maybe that part is true. And it's possible that someone escaped the ball or something... That would make four survivors."
Marleena looked at the Cybunny carefully and then back at Ven. She saw the Gelert's head turn slightly upon hearing this version. It could be possible... Faeries are trapped into bottles by magic, who is to say Neopets can't be, too?
Ven quickly turned around. "We have to find that Draik's cave." Marleena and Desmond nodded in agreement. They knew that they had to free those people. Desmond hoped that his version of the tale was true. "But it will have to wait until morning. We need to get some rest." The Gelert nodded, assuring himself that this was the right thing to do.
"Alright, I'm exhausted anyway." The Cybunny yawned and stretched his arms. "I hope this floor is comfier than it looks..."
Marleena let out a short laugh and the three Neopets lay down on the floor and slept through the night.
To be continued...