Time: A Gelert's Tale - Part Three
Venuseux awoke to the sun beating down on his face through the dirty glass window. He sat up and saw that there was no one there but him. "Oh no..." He jumped up and quickly rushed out the door in a panic. Where did they go?! The Gelert feared the worst; the Draik probably took them and was using them as bait and-
"Hey, Ven, how's it going." Desmond waved at Ven with a cheeky smile on his face. The Gelert let out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness they were safe. "What are you two up to?" he demanded, almost sounding angered at him.
"Calm down, Ven. Turn that frown upside down, okay? We were just getting something to eat before we go out on the hunt." The Cybunny seemed rather excited about this battle of sorts. He had never been in anything like it. Desmond always longed for adventure and excitement, which explained his desire to join ranks with the scoundrels in the thieves guild. They went on countless adventures and more.
Marleena approached with a bundled-up cloth in her hand. It looked bumpy as if there was something inside of it. She set down the cloth on a leveled tree stump to reveal a pile of rather interesting looking berries. "Eat up, guys. We're going to need our strength if we're going to go up against the Shadow Draik." The Aisha sat down cross legged in front of the stump and began eating away at the berries. They weren't that bad tasting... but they weren't really good either.
Desmond approached, wide eyed, "Mmm, food." If there was one thing Desmond loved more than himself, it was food.
The Aisha turned her head towards Ven, who seemed to be deep in thought. "Aren't you going to eat?" She tilted her head as she popped another berry into her mouth.
"No, I'm not hungry." The truth was that he was always hungry. But there was no way to satisfy his needs. The Gelert always assumed that this was part of the curse that the dark faerie had placed upon him. The Aisha shrugged in response. "Suit yourself."
They started on foot towards Nestoria after getting ready. In order to make it there before sundown, they would have to find transportation. The three Neopets made a stop at the nearest town to search for someone that would take them where they needed to go. "I don't have any currency..." The Gelert figured that he should mention that to them. It was probably a bit rude to push off paying for transport on them, but he had not had a job since before the fire considering he was living in the woods all this time.
The Aisha looked at him sternly. "So you went in my restaurant and ordered something and did not even have anything to pay me with?" That certainly got her fired up. But she shook it off. Whatever, time to move on, she thought. It's not important anymore. "Fine, I'll pay for this. But you better pay me back!" She threatened the two of them with a pointed finger and sharp eyes.
The Cybunny lifted his hands up in the air in surrender. "Alright, okay. No problem."
The three Neopets found two Unis that agreed to take them where they needed to go. Marleena's pockets had to be run dry to pay for it, however. If she had more money, she could have paid for three separate Unis. The Aisha groaned.
"I'm sorry, miss. That's just how it is," one of the Unis told her, shaking his head.
"You'll have to ride with Marleena then, Desmond," the Gelert said as he got settled on the back of one of the Unis. He was larger than both of them, and the other Uni could hold both of them. Desmond groaned, "Fine." Marleena climbed up on the Uni first and then Desmond attempt to as well. He had never traveled on a Uni's back before, so he struggled to find balance.
"Alright, take us away," Ven told the Unis, who nodded in unison and galloped quickly. Desmond yelped, astonished by the sudden burst of speed and hugged Marleena to dear life. She laughed at him. The Aisha could tell that he didn't leave the house much.
When they finally arrived, the sun was on the edge of the horizon and the skies were painted splendid shades of blue and red. It was odd to see the skies like this again. Ven was so used to a thick cover of fog veiling everything. The town was completely empty, besides piles of fallen stone here and there. The three Neopets dismounted the Unis and stepped onto the site of the ruins carefully. "That will be all, thanks," Ven told the Unis. He was staring at the ruins as he spoke, mesmerized by them. The grass had grown wildly and some patches of wild flowers had appeared here and there where houses and shops used to be. The two Unis neighed nervously, recognizing the ruins. "Nice doing business with you," one of them said before galloping off quickly through the darkening forest. The other followed after him immediately.
As they approached the edge of the village, they came to a stop. "Alright, we have to think of a plan," the Aisha said quickly. She was trying to come up with ideas on how to take on a giant shadow monster, but couldn't come up with anything. It wasn't exactly the easiest task in the world.
"What if we get some light, like fire or something, and try warding it off like that?" Desmond suggested, nodding with a smile on his face like it was the most genius plan of all time.
Ven was deep in thought. How would they get the villagers out of those crystal balls if they were still there?
The very last bit of sunlight slipped past the bottom of the trees to reveal the very faint and distant stars. It brought about an unsettling darkness that made Desmond and Marleena uncomfortable.
Then suddenly a noise was coming from the village, it was the sound of people moving, talking, and laughing. The three Neopets spun around quickly and watched the faint outlines of the villagers from long ago roam the ruins. Ven looked terrified. "No!" he cried out.
The Gelert could see his sister, or at least the faint outline of her, walking where his house used to be. He ran after her on instinct.
"Wait!" Desmond shouted as he and Marleena rushed after him. The Aisha looked worried. This wasn't right. She could feel a tingling feeling in her spine. The last time she had been in these ruins, she was a child, and she was all alone on a night much like this. She had to spend the night, hiding high up in a tree waiting until the morning for the spirits to disappear. It was terrifying. Marleena tried to push those haunting memories aside to save her friend.
"Where did she go?" the Gelert shouted as he looked around frantically. He found her again and chased after her once more.
"Wait!" Desmond repeated. "I think this might be a trap!"
The Gelert looked helpless as he came to a stop after his sister's spirit ceased moving to put a book on a nonexistent shelf. "Don't be ridiculous, Desmond! This is her."
"Uhh, who's that?" Marleena looked shocked and disturbed as she pointed to one of the supposed spirits. It looked just Venuseux, only younger and with his eyes and teeth back to normal. She couldn't believe it.
The Gelert turned around in Marleena's direction. His eyes followed the direction her finger was pointing in to see the spirit. That was him. He walked toward the spirit slowly and carefully. As he reached him, Ven studied him for a second. "This is me." He was in disbelief and shock at this as well.
"That's what I thought," Marleena said as she approached Ven. Desmond rushed to their sides, looking very nervous.
"I'm telling you guys, this is a trap." He reached his hand out to touch Ven's spirit and it went right through him. The spirit flickered like a candle. "This is not your spirit. This is a magical projection." It turns out reading all those fantasy books and magic guides actually did pay off. He was certain that these were not real. "I get it now... This must have been a ruse to keep people away from his cave so they wouldn't bother him again like the fool did. I mean, who wouldn't be scared of magical projections that look like ghosts, right?" Even if he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, Desmond could figure this out. "He's here right now, I bet you."
Desmond rushed carefully to hide behind a thick tree. Marleena and Ven followed him. "Okay, I have an idea. And it's actually a good one this time."
"So you admit that your last one was awful, then?" Ven teased the Cybunny. He frowned in response.
"Hey now, do you want to hear it or not? Alright, so I'm definitely not that great of a fighter... so I'm going to go up to the cave and create a distraction sort of like what the fool did. When the Draik sees and approaches, Ven, you can attack him from behind. Marleena... I don't really know what you can do, so you'll just have to improvise when the fight goes down." Desmond looked between the two of them and there was silence for a few seconds. He sighed and threw his hands up in the air.
Marleena frowned. "That's a terrible plan! You know how powerful the Draik is, that'll be sacrificing yourself." She really didn't like the idea of this. Desmond was her friend now, even if they barely knew each other. It just didn't feel right.
"No, I think Desmond is right. There's no other way to draw him out. Marleena, you can go in the cave and check to see if he's keeping the villagers in there." He still had hope that what Desmond said was true. He really wanted to see his family again. "Just try not to make any noise when you do, okay?"
Marleena was embarrassed. That time in the kitchen was just because the floor was unstable. She went the whole day following them without them knowing, didn't she? She was good at sneaking around, in her opinion. "Right, I can do that." The Aisha nodded in agreement.
"Okay, I'll go first," Ven whispered and began to sneak about the trees that surrounded the village. The cave had to be around here somewhere... Desmond followed behind him and the Aisha behind Desmond. The Gelert was squinting in an attempt to spot a cave. They moved swiftly and silently through the trees until they found a large mass of rock. The cave was probably around here somewhere.
"Wait here," the Gelert told them as he tiptoed softly on the grass, approaching the rock. He saw that on the other side of the mass was a large, dark opening. He assumed that this was the opening of the cave. Ven rushed silently back over to Desmond and Marleena and whispered the caves whereabouts. "It's just on the other side. I'll go around and climb up atop the rock. Once you see me there, Desmond, you go on with your distraction. Once I pounce on him, Marleena, you go inside and search the cave. How does that sound?"
The Cybunny nodded in agreement, pleased with the fact that his plan was going to be put to use. "Sounds good to me."
The Gelert nodded and rushed silently back into the maze of trees to go around on the cave. Marleena and Desmond exchanged nervous glances. "You'll do good," the Aisha reassured him. "Just try not to act like an idiot."
He nodded and began to walk past the rocks to try and get a glance at the cave. Minutes later he saw Ven stand on top of it waving. The Gelert crouched back down to hide and waited patiently for him to make his move. The Cybunny gulped and took a deep breath. Time to get to work.
To be continued...