Reads: 12

“that is where we are going?” Alisa gasped, looking at the distance. Gary tried comforting her by rubbing his horns on Alisa’s hands.

“you still have to come,” Max said.

“no I don’t want to go,” Alisa cried. “that place looks dead!”

In front of Alisa was a city, a city practically dying. Polatil’s city always end up fallen or dangerous because of the lack of electricity. The city in front of them, was an abandoned one, a whole lot darker and gloomier compared to where the kids are standing now. It was as if they were looking through a painting made with shades of black. Smoke was coming from a big fire that seems to be in the middle of the city.

There was barely any source of light coming from the city or the crystals above it, for the bad environment of the city had effected the spot of crystals on the crystal ceiling that was under the city, dimming from time to time in dark colours unlike the rest of the crystals. The city was probably being ruled by criminals. If the place had a separate government, it would have been in a better state.

“Max, do you have a Spesh Crystal?” Lucy asked.

“got it right here,” Max held a stone about the size of his eyes tightly in his hands.

“keep it safe. Alisa, you are still coming with us,” Lucy said.

“I know I will, but this place looks just horrible,” Alisa said. “why would someone leave this place in this state? How could they?”

“well, we can find out if we go in there,” Max said stepping in through a gate.

“what kind of people will be even there?” Alisa horrified.

“we should have not brought her,” Max said.

“the seller wants to see all of his buyers,” Lucy said joining Max on the other side of the gate. “come over here Gary!”

“are you coming or not?” Max asked Alisa.

“coming,” Alisa sighed and joined her friends.

They walked through the what used to be a city, now almost a lifeless junkyard. Smoke filled their lungs as they looked for any sign of life among the wreckage. But there was none. At least they thought.

They heard someone’s footsteps echoing. A silhouette of a man became visible through fog coming out from a building. The man soon got close enough for Alisa to see his face, a mask covering his nose and mouth. Except his white eyes.

“Zane?” Alisa called.

“oh crap,” Zane mumbled under his breath. He didn't expect to meet anyone, especially Alisa.

“Zane?” Max asked himself.

“who is Zane?” Lucy whispered to Max.

“he is the Prison minister?”

“yeah he is,” Alisa said. Zane stopped walking to them, wanting to turn around. He didn't want to be near them. But that would be just confusing and rude, Zane thought so he walked up to them to greet them.

“what the heck are you all doing here?” Zane asked, still surprised and confused through his mask.

“um— we—” 

“you aren’t even wearing masks,” Zane pulled out a mask made out of cloth for each and handed them to Alisa. “have you been here before?”

“nope. First time,” Alisa said. “what are you doing here?”

“why do we have to wear these?” Lucy asked, taking the masks out of Alisa’s hand.

“the chemical explosion,” Zane said. “you really know nothing of this place I suppose?”

“yeah,” Alisa said. Gary ran up to Zane and kicked him in his knees thinking he was a threat.

“ah!”

“hey, he is a friend,” Max came up to Gary and pulled him away gently by its horns and glared at Zane. “I guess,”

“so, are these your friends?” Zane asked Alisa.

“yes. This Lucy, Max and Max’s new pet Gary,” Alisa introduced them to Zane. “and this is Zane, a member from the council I'm in,”

Max. Zane thought. Is he the same person?

“come on, will you wear your masks?” Zane asked, snapping out of his thoughts. The others hurried and put it on before Zane told them to again. “I won’t ask you what you are doing here so you won’t ask me. Where do you need to go?”

“we need to meet—” Lucy took out a cell phone and read from it. “a guy named Scraper, saying just to find him,”

“Scraper is now a name?” Max asked. “I didn't know that can be a name,”

“it’s his undercover name,” Zane said receiving looks from the others.

“how do you know?” Alisa asked.

“I happen to be getting something from him,” Zane sighed. “and I guess you are too now. Follow me,”

Lucy and Max hesitated to follow Zane as he went in a nearby building.

“let’s go!” Alisa said.

“you trust that creep?” Lucy asked. “he eyes—”

“I mean, he does look scary but I don’t think he will or can do anything to us,” Alisa said.

“yeah, he looks skinny,” Max said.

As they followed Zane, Max was at the back with Gary, trembling in fear. Does he remember me? He doesn’t look vulnerable anymore…

All Max wanted was Zane not to know what he and his friends has been doing for the past days, or just start helping them. If he finds out before I do, he might just turn on me…

Just like Max, Zane was lost in thought as he led the others to the building. All he was thinking of was what they were up to and if Max was the Max he met years before. They did have the same eyes. Whatever they are up to was no good from Zane’s perspective.

“so, how do you know Scraper?” Alisa asked. Zane completely ignored her.

“hello?”

“what did you say?” Zane asked.

“how do you know Scraper?” Alisa asked.

“he sorta owes me a lot,” Zane said.

“why do you have to meet someone in a black-market place?” Alisa continued asking.

“why do you have to?” Zane repeated her question.

“you know me as someone who collects things,”

“yeah, you do seem to. I just have to get something I gave to him,”

“why did you give it to him?”

“so he can give that a little upgrade,”

They all got inside a building. The inside was clean, had a flickering light, on and off.  Zane swiped open a glass door, it loudly creaking. Behind the door was a staircase leading down to a brighter place.

“this place is a whole lot brighter,” Zane said going through the door and looked at the others who were eagerly looking around them. Gary started to bite fallen debris on the floor and Max picked his pet up.

“do you want to go in?” Zane asked.

“um, yeah coming,” Alisa said.

The four went down the stairs and looked at what was in front of them. Because of the destruction on the city, the citizens of the place had moved underneath the city. Even deeper.

There were huts filled with objects on sale. The place was almost crowded as people was walking around. Replacing a pavement, there was road that was smoothened light crystals that glowed in different colours. The others squinted their eyes to get their eyes adjusted to the bright lights.

“this city was always a place of business,” Zane said. “not much people live here, they are all just sellers or buyers,”

“this place looks so sick!” Max exclaimed taking his mask off. Gary ran into the crowd in interest, pushing people as he made his way to a hut advertising vegetations. Max ran after Gary, bumping into strangers and pardoning them.

“you can take your masks off now,” Zane said. “this place isn’t polluted,”

“so cool,” Alisa said amazed.

“I never thought there will be people living deeper in Polatil,” Lucy said taking the face-masks.

“this place also goes all the way underneath our village,” Zane said. “pretty cool,”

“you are saying Scraper is here?” Alisa asked. “how are we going to find him in this crowd?”

“he isn’t here,” Zane said, watching Max coming back carrying Gary on his back. “I mean, he is here but not in this bright place,”

“where is he then?” Alisa asked.

“a bit further,” Zane said, glaring at Max who was now besides them. He sounded a bit pissed off. “did you have to bring a goat to this place? We don’t need any attention here,”

“looks like someone doesn’t know what a pet companion is,” Max mumbled putting Gary down.

“I heard that,” Zane said.

“do I care?” Max asked in a rude tome, staring at Zane. Zane will never forget that look. It was the Max he met before.

“hey, um… we don’t want to waste any time,” Lucy awkwardly laughed pulling Max away from Zane. “where is this guy anyways?”

“follow me,” Zane said, and walked through the crowd.

Zane was in the lead and Max was in the back, training Gary to jump in command as the crowd parted to give the goat some space. Meanwhile, Lucy and Alisa was chit chatting.

“what’s with Zane and Max?” Lucy whispered to Alisa.

“I'm not so sure, I think Zane doesn’t like animals,” Alisa whispered back.

“or Max,”

“why in the world would he not like Max?” Alisa asked. “Max is nice and they didn't meet before,”

“maybe they did,” Lucy said.

“yeah, right,”

They followed Zane for a long while till the light crystal pavement ended. Where there was no crowd. Before them was a place that was dark, with a few dim lamps and a few men that was surrounding an alley.

“there they are,” Zane exclaimed and went up to the mysterious people and the others followed hesitatingly.

“yo, what’s up dude?” Zane greeted them, switching into a totally different mood, one with a friendly outgoing manner. Seems like he knows them. Alisa thought.

“welcome back Zane,” One man came forward and shook hands with Zane. He was a Bemonat and had long oval hoops handing from his ears. “who are these guests?”

“these are my friends, and they say they want to meet Scraper too,” Zane said.

“well come right in,” the man said and the others parted away from the entrance of the alley.

“wait,” the Bemonat stopped Gary from entering. “pets aren’t allowed,”

“who said that?” Max asked. One of them pointed at a sign specifying that animals aren’t allowed. “oh,”

“stay there Gary,” Max pointed at a lamp a bit far away from the alley. Gary ran towards the lamp and started running in circles around it.

“you don’t think he will get dizzy?” Alisa asked.

“nah he does that always back home,” Max said. “let’s go,”

They followed Zane deeper into the alley. Soon they were in a lit room built into the end of the alley. There were a few people, two armed men sitting on ledges built into the wall high up, another behind a wooden table.

“hello again Scraper,” Zane addressed the man behind the table. He was light skinned but at the same time he had blue patterns on his skin. Scraper was half human and Bemonat.

“didn't expect you to come so soon. You brought visitors?” Scraper asked in a disgusted attitude. “you know I told you not bring anyone—”

“they say they have to meet you,” Zane said looking at the others. Alisa awkwardly waved. Scraper stood there blank as he tried to remember. Strange, it the Alisa girl.

“ah! The ones who needs the suits,” Scraper recalled. “which one goes first?”

“me,” Zane said. “I have to get back home soon too. Do you have it?”

“I thought you would have liked to do it privately—”

“no, its fine,”

From a drawer nearby, Scraper pulled out a scabbard that held a sword, revealing only its handle that was covered in scales switching into every colour in the rainbow. Scraper pulled out the sword from its sheath and handed it to Zane. Its silver blade was shining under the light coming from above from a lamp. It was also giving off a blue glow.

“and here are all the enchantments I put on it, all you told me to,” Scraper said giving Zane a folded paper. He put the sword down and unfolded the paper.

sharpness five potions, sting one potion, ten potions, summoning skill maxed potion…” Zane read under his breath.

Max was looking around in interest at the place. He looked at the ledges built and gasped. A man was there reloading his small pistol, a man Max once met was there.

Max had to quickly look away before the man greeted him. Why I’m I meeting people I don’t want to today. Does he remember me? Max thought. Why now?

lightness, Luck with lucky number seven, seven potions,” Zane kept on reading quietly but Alisa and Lucy heard.

“I thought enchanters doesn’t exist,” Alisa whispered.

“enchanters can teleport I think,” Lucy muttered. “an enchanter must be teleporting here and working for Scraper,”

viscous fire light, and a curse of good…?” Zane stopped reading. “why is this here?”  

“such negative spells of this brand weren’t able to work without this curse,” Scraper said. “I mean being forced to be good is pretty much a curse. All it does is stop yourself from using your own sword if you are using it to do something wrong,”

“well it isn’t like I'm going to do something wrong,” Zane sighed. “thank you, Scraper, our deal will continue,”

What deal? Alisa thought. Zane just keeps on getting more and more interesting.

Zane walked away putting the sword in the scabbard and waited out near the entrance of the room leaning on the wall watching the others. Max realized it got quiet and wheezed to get Alisa’s attention. Alisa heard and pushed Lucy forward to talk to Scraper.

“um—hello Scraper,” Lucy said.

“you need the four plastic suits, right?” Scarper asked, ducking down behind the table searching around. Zane yanked his head at them. Plastic suits were only used for one thing…

“here it is,” Scraper pulled out a big black bag and dropped it on the table, a clanking noise coming out of the bag startling everyone.

“oops. Sorry those were the oxygen tanks,” Scraper apologized. “you know we only need these to go to the surface its not like you are going to—”

Lucy left Scraper blank as she heaved the bag and opened it and checked all suits, keeping it still in the bag because Zane was there. Guess she doesn’t want to tell, Scraper wondered. Some mysterious kids. Alisa looked at what her friend was doing over Lucy’s shoulder. Lucy was always the responsible one, the one who always double check. Max caught Zane staring and stared straight into his soul with the best glare he ever gave. He knew that Zane knows what they are going to do. Zane just didn't know the plan yet. All he knew was that Alisa, Lucy and Max are trying, just not how.

“you sure are trustable,” Lucy said. “I thought these places usually just tricks us into buying some trash expensive or give us rip-offs,”

“really?” Max asked.

“we don’t do that here,” someone on one of the ledges said.

“everything is there, and the emergency oxygen tanks, we bought it from some other place,” Scraper said. “it was hard finding a full set used on the surface that is why we are asking for a Spesh Crystal,”

“Max,” Alisa turned to see Max.

Max backed away for a while touching his pockets for the Spesh Crystal. He checked all the pockets on his jacket and his jeans, his eyes getting even bigger and bigger. Alisa had to distract them till he finds it.

“we don’t usually let anyone leave without paying,” Scraper said, pulling the bags away from Lucy’s hands.

“well you see…”

Max was checking his pockets over and over again and he heard a chuckle behind him.

“how in the world did you get a Spesh Crystal?” Zane asked, looking at the crystal in his hands. Max looked at him and back at his friends. They were busy talking to Scraper for him. And the other armed people were busy watching them. Max tried to snatch it but Zane quickly moved his hands away to make sure Max didn't.

“dude, give it back,” Max gritted.

“you should be a bit more careful next time,” Zane grinned. “someone like you shouldn’t be responsible for this,”

“you are just giving yourself a bad reputation, Zane,” Max said. “you don’t know how hard it was for me to find that and bring it here,”

“was it hard to deal with me that day?” Zane asked. “you seem to be dealing with your friends over there pretty fine, do they know what I want to know?”

“no, I'm just starting to find out what you have been trying to find out,” Max said, leaving Zane quiet. “how your dad got in Azure was strange, but what’s even stranger is why,”

Max snatched the crystal out of Zane’s hand as he stared at Max.

“I'm finding that out for me, and don’t think the wrong thing and just stab me or something with that sword,” Max said and turned around to go to his friends. He had always wished looking at Zane’s white eyes and tell him that. He may have sounded cold, but he just wanted to let Zane know he is also trying to figure out what really happened and by that Zane could trust him in this, and Max needed this trust. He smiled happily to himself because he finally got to say that.

“found it,” Max said interrupting their conversation by dropping the Spesh Crystal on the table. Alisa sighed. She was going out of topics to speak of. Scraper examined the crystal.

“unbelievable,” Scraper said. “its actually real. How did you get something like this when you aren’t even old enough to?”

“let’s not talk about that,” Max said, lifting the bag and putting it over his shoulder. Scraper made it look so easy, but the bag was so heavy.

“why are you working as someone who does things illegally?” Alisa asked. “you seem great, not something I expected to see here,”

“it’s how I manage my life,” Scraper said. “pleasure doing business with you,” 


Submitted: May 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 AmeEra19088. All rights reserved.

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