Hey all! 'tis Ryoa again! But you knew that didn't you? of course you did. Thank you all who commented on the last few chappies, and thanks to Citrus, our only reviewing reader we don't know! claps vigorously and falls off chair Ah, well. Anyway, you may have seen that I recently posted another fic under this author name. (Once again, thanks Citrus for reviewing) but you also should notice that it is a HP fic. Although Xanth is our main medium of stress relief, we do have other interests. Harry Potter, Inuyasha, Fruits Basket, CSI...we have many ideas for fics in these categories, but the do need some prompting from fans to get online. Now, where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself? Ah, yes, the Xanth fic. In this chappie you meet many new friends, we get to go on our quest, and Landen gets a little jackassy...Who is Landen? Read and find out! fades off of stage and forfeits to brother's ramblings
:settles into chair, complete with usual attire of pajama pants:
well, since ryoa covered the fic, I'll cover the random. Sorry it took so long to update ;; what, with school for both of us, bando boot-camp for Ryoa, and swimming for me, we haven't had much time to sit down and write this thing. But! Now, it's here. Finally.
As I said I'll do before, it's time to introduce Ceito's Bio (heh…it rhymes…kind of…)
Name: Ceito Centaur
Birthday: NoRemember 1
Talent: Can turn all or part of himself invisible
Hair: platinum blonde
Coat: white, with light gray spots
Family: dam(mother), sire(father), sister (Klepto), foster brother and sister (Plex and Ryoa)
Notes: Older sister Klepto, age 17, can summon objects that belong to others
When Ceito's parents were out riding with Klepto, they found Plex and Ryoa, and took them in because they are weird centaurs. When the twins were three, they were returned to their parents, but still remain close to the centaur family.
"So," Ceito said, after the group had been talking about nonsense for a little while. "Our Answer is to "return what Klepto stole" and in so doing this will lead us on a quest. We should devise a plan. I suggest that we first return to our respective parental units to ask permission to set off on our quest. Then we should interview my sister to figure out what it is exactly that we're supposed to return. Due to her talent, she has stolen many objects, so figuring out which one we need may be difficult. However, if I remember correctly, she has been trying to return the objects on her own, so there should be fewer then the total amount of objects stolen."
"You're sounding more centaur-y than usual," Plex commented. He looked around, trying to figure out why, and found the reason. "I know why! You ate the only Smart Cookie! There was only one of those! …I wanted that one…what with the needing of the common sense…"
"He ate the One Smart Cookie!" Ryoa exclaimed.
"Yeah, he did!" Plex answered.
"Let's gather minions and beat him with pudding!" Ryoa slammed her fist on the table.
"You had one of the nut cookies, didn't you?" Plex looked at his sister oddly.
"Or we could just begin our journey?" Ceito supplied hopefully.
"Yeah, there's that, too," Plex agreed with a shrug.
"OK! Let's go!" Ryoa hopped up from the table. Plex grabbed a couple cookies for the road, and he and Ceito followed her out from the castle, calling their thanks to the Gorgon as they left.
After parting with Ceito, Plex and Ryoa made their way back to Castle Roogna. There they found their cousin, Cyko, singing and jumping around the yard.
Cyko was 14, and had the talent of summoning coffee in any form. What did this result in?
One EXTREEMLY hyper cousin. Constantly.
Plex called out to him, and he turned around mid jump, waving.
When they walked up to him, they found that he was singing a song he had obviously made up. It fit his personality, genealogy, and mentality perfectly.
"A is for cookie, it's good enough for me. B is for cookie, it's good enough for me. C is for elephant, it's good enough for me…"
"Man, Plex, even you can spell better than he can…and that's really saying something…"
"2 is for cookie, it's good enough for me. Dresser is for cookie, it's good enough for me. 8 is for cookie, it's good enough for me. And I don't remember the rest of this song I just made up right now!"
"Cyko, you psycho, those last three weren't even numbers…" Ryoa scoffed.
"Ryoa – you've been around me too long. You're mixing your words. You meant letters," Plex said gently, patting her on the back.
"Meh." Cyko said shrugging, "My mom made me come with her to visit – she doesn't trust me on my own since the time I tried to make my own lunch…"
"It's ok." Ryoa told him.
"Hey – if our moms agree, wanna come on our quest with us?" Plex asked.
"Sure! I've been really bored…."
They walked into the castle, saying hi to Soufflé when they passed him, and made their way to the sitting room their moms could always be found in. Their moms looked up at the same time, automatically knowing their children wanted something. Whenever their three teenage children come in smiling innocently, they knew that something was wanted of them.
"Momma?" Ryoa asked.
"May Ryoa and I go on a quest?" When Plex used correct grammar, there was always something he wanted very badly. Dawn stared hard at them.
"What quest, where, and why?" Ryoa blushed.
"Well, um, ano…. I…I want to go on a quest to…to find… find my…my true love…." Ryoa trailed off somewhat, her face a bright crimson, and hair starting to smoke from the heat.
"We don't know where to," Plex continued, saving his sister from further investigation, "probably all over. We won't be by ourselves – Ceito is currently asking if he can go as well. And we were hoping that Cyko could come. As to why…well, Ryoa's in the middle of a weird teenage-romance-desperation stage. She figures that since we're almost 18, she needs to be in a relationship."
"Don't you want to be in a relationship, Plex?" Eve asked.
"Well, sure I do. Sometimes I just want someone to hold, and to hold me, outside of the family. But I figure that if my perfect girl is out there, we'll meet up eventually, so there's no point in me obsessing over it."
"That's a good philosophy." As Dawn was about to continue, Eve cut her off.
"Who's your perfect girl?" she asked with a mischievous grin.
"Someone who knows everything and can tell me so that I do less stupid things."
"So," Dawn cut back in, " – how long do you think you'll be gone for?" Dawn asked.
"Not a clue. However long it takes, I'm guessing. We may be back anywhere from a week to a couple months…" Plex shrugged.
"I don't know…" Dawn was skeptical.
"Aw, c'mon, mom! Dor went on a quest when he was only 12! We're 17, almost 18! We're old enough to go on a quest." Plex argued.
"Well, Eve, what do you think?" Dawn's resolve was crumbling, Plex had a good point, but she wanted a second opinion.
" I don't see the harm in it. Besides, you're too protective of them. Plex is right – they're 18 next month, they could use a little elbow room to experience life for themselves."
" Well…" the last of her resolve crumbled away. "OK – but Ceito goes with you or the quest is off."
Plex and Ryoa jumped up and down, running over to their mother. They hugged her and said
"Yay! Thanks mom! Thanks Aunt Eve!" They gave her a hug as well.
"Mom?" Cyko asked timidly "Can I go too? I promise I'll be careful…" He crossed his fingers behind his back.
"As long as you stay with your cousins." Eve smiled.
"Yay! … I'm thirsty…" he sat down, summoned, and drank his coffee. Then he made a face. "Eugh…needs more sugar…" he tossed the cup over his shoulder, Plex just managing to dodge the projectile cup, and summoned a new on. He sipped it carefully. "Ah…much better!"
"Baka…" Plex muttered as he bit into a cookie.
"Where'd you get that cookie?" Ryoa asked.
"Ano…I found it…yeah, I found it!"
"Found it on the table at Humphrey's castle?"
"…maybe…" he replied, while his eyes darted from left to right rapidly.
"That's a 'yes'…. Well, we might as well go pack. Plex, you need a few extra pairs of pants, so we can wash those and you're not naked. After you pack those, put in anything else you think we might need. I'm going to go do that too. Cyko, go up to your room here and do the same," Ryoa commanded. This was the first time she had spoken since she explained what the quest was for, other than expressing gratitude to their mother and aunt.
Plex went and packed his pants, other clothes, and a few (dozen) cookies from the kitchen. He thought a moment, and then walked over to Ryoa's room.
"Hey, Ry? You thin I should pack my monkey boxers?"
"No, duh, genius. Underwear is good."
"Not all the time…" Plex muttered as he walked back into his room.
After everyone was packed, they headed out the front gates of the castle. Then, all three of them turned around, shouted "Bye mom!" and continued on their way.
They arrived at Ceito's house shortly after, and knocked on his door. Ceito answered, complete with his pack slung over one shoulder.
"You guys can all come? Great!" He twisted his torso around. "Bye mom!" and they headed out. "Let's go – Klepto lives this way." He walked off.
After traveling for a few hours, and after Plex has changed the music about forty-kagillion times, with Ryoa smacking him every time he changed it mid-song, they were walking on a path when a strange redheaded woman jumped out in front of them.
"HILLO!" she called happily, waving.
"Hi," the group chorused back.
"Whatcha doin'?" she asked.
"We're starting on a quest," Ceito replayed.
"Oh…can I come? I've got nothing better to do, and you people seem decent enough."
"Well, before we answer, at least tell us who you are first."
"I'm Delta Naga-Merwoman daughter of Naldo Naga and Mela Merwoman. I turned 18 last year, and I've been wandering around trying to find something to do. My talent is to change the properties of water, from salt to fresh and any proportions in between."
"I see," Ceito replied. He had become the unofficial spokesman of the group. "I'm Ceito Centaur, and these are Plex, Ryoa, and Cyko Human." He pointed to people when he said their name. "We're on a quest, and currently we're on our way to my sister's house for our first piece of information."
"I see. That sounds interesting. I'd like to come along, if I may."
"I don't see why not," He consulted the rest of the group. "What do you guys think? She seems nice enough to me…"
"Me too," Plex agreed.
"It's fine with me," Ryoa said.
"Me three," Cyko pitched in. The group dismissed themselves from the huddle they had gotten into, and turned back to Delta.
"You can come along, it's fine with us." Ceito informed her.
"Horray!" Delta did some form of odd victory dance, striking a pose at the end. She earned a few odd looks, but then hopped over to join the group, instead of standing in front of them.
They continued towards Klepto's house, passing the usual suspects of puns in the Xanthian countryside. They avoided the most obvious paths, with always led to tangler trees, and soon were in the middle of a forest when the spied a figure sitting underneath a large tree, reading a book.
She was a small girl, looking to be about 15, with hair black as midnight. She looked like she would be a dryad, but had a more human-like appearance than most dryads to. She looked, up when they neared her, revealing brown eyes.
"Greetings. What brings you this way? I don't get many visitors out here."
"We're on a quest, and we're on our way to our first bit of information." Again, Ceito had become the spokesman. "I'm Ceito Centaur, and these are Ryoa, Plex, and Cyko Human, and Delta Naga-Merwoman. Who might you be?"
"I might be Ariasti Dryad-Human, or I might not. It's up to you to decide whether or not to believe me."
"We believe you, you seem like a fairly believable person. And as such, would you happen to have an inclination to join us on our quest? The more the merrier."
Ariasti closed her book after marking her page. "I suppose I could be persuaded to do as such. I've nothing better to do, so why not?" she retrieved a bag from somewhere, put her book and a stick from her tree in it, and slung it over her shoulder. "Now come, let us press on, for sooner than we shall wish, darkness shall fall, making travel hazardous."
As the group picked its way along the enchanted path, darkness fell, bringing Cyko with it.
"OW!" Cyko said as he hit the ground, nearly missing a sharp rock.
"…Moron…" everyone else muttered under their breath.
But this darkness also meant that they all needed a place to stay for the night. Ryoa spotted a dragon lair, and much to everyone's distaste, she chose this as their campsite.
"Ry, are you sure…this is a…good…idea…?" Delta asked belatedly while Ryoa boldly entered the cave as everyone else reluctantly followed.
A dragon moved out of the shadows, drawing a gasp from Ryoa's lips. "The dragon queen!" She inclined her head in a respectful gesture, signaling everyone else to do so also, and then continued with her speech.
"Lady Dragon, we are six simple travelers trying to complete a quest. We humbly ask to say the night in your lair."
The group saw the large multicolored dragon consider, and then respond with a series of growls that Ryoa brokenly translated. "She says we can stay the night if we…take someone…to get…er…something. Hey! I'm not very good at their language yet! But now I, um…have to go…to the bathroom."
She rushed out of the cave as both the dragon and the travelers gave her fleeing form a blank stare. Then the dragon roared, calling a human-by-appearance man into the chamber. He inclined his head to the visitors and then spoke.
"Hello, I am Cebry, Prince of the dragons." Seeing the group's confused looks, he gave a small smile and resumed talking. "I understand your confusion. You see, when I was very young, I made the grave mistake of trying to toast a man's foot when he came near our cave. This man just happened to be the magician Trent, who transformed me into a rather unique species, so to speak. I was transformed into a human, but I soon found that I randomly changed back into a dragon, which is my true form. I went to visit the good magician soon afterwards, and was told that only with the discovery of my true love, could I choose my form." Cebry gave a small shake to rid the shielded look of on his face, and then continued. "But back to business. You say you are on a quest. Though I'm sure I have no idea why my mother hasn't eaten you, I volunteer myself to help you on your quest if you assist us with our task. You see, around sixteen years ago, the dragons sought a treaty with the humans. A peace gift was created to be offered to the newborn child of the royal family, but it was stolen before it could reach its destination. Lately we have been tipped off as to its location and now we are on a quest to give it to who it was intended for. We dragons pledge our help to your quest if you do the same."
Every person in the traveling group nodded in assent, before covering their eyes as a dull flash filled the cavern, and in place of the man form that had stood in front of them previously, a dragon now stood. As if by coincidence, Ryoa chose this exact moment to re-enter the cave. Seeing a new dragon, she froze, letting her talent flow out to work her magic. Then she truly got a look at the dragon in front of her. He was…magnificent; low slung, long, thin and graceful, striking the girl as strongly resembling the dragons of Mundane lore. His scales were the purest white at the tip of his nose, fading to the darkest midnight blue at the very tip of his tail, with a sheen like a puddle of oil on water gleaming all over his body.
When the dragon made eye contact with Ryoa, she froze completely under the icy blue gaze of his eyes. Plex glanced over to his sister, then led everyone off in the direction of the room that the dragons had indicated as their sleeping quarters. They came upon a visibly makeshift room filled with fresh bedbugs, but nothing else. So everyone claimed a bug and crashed. After all, a long day was ahead of them.
The next morning Ryoa woke up before everyone else.
Considering how odd this was, she could come up with only one thing to do. She was completely filthy, so she decided to go find one of those infamous cave pools to bathe in. She wandered around the cave until she heard the gentle lapping of waves coming from a dark alcove. Glancing in, she was satisfied to find a dark room that contained glowing moss, and a pool. Pulling off her clothes, and placing them on a rock at the waters edge, she submerged herself in the surprisingly warm water.
Suddenly, she heard the crunch of gravel close by. Her eyes flew open, taking in the silhouette of a wiry man right next to her pool. Her scream seemed to scare him off, but then she heard breathing behind her.
"EEEK!" Ryoa scrambled quickly over to her clothes, but in her haste she knocked them into the pool. Grasping the last threads of dignity she had, she walked demurely behind a large rock and sized up her surprise visitor. He was a little taller then her, with white, ear length hair that gleamed in the darkness. And there was something familiar about those eyes. Her mental dialogue was interrupted by his voice.
"Milady, I apologize. I did not know you were bathing here."
"Well, how the heck…you over there, then, poof, behind me…and…now I have no clothes." Ryoa quickly closed her mouth, realizing she was babbling.
"I have no idea how I got into the water with you. But really, you have nothing to be ashamed of, you're quite a fine example of-"
"Hehh…okay...I just need dry clothes please…" Cebry took of his long tunic shirt and handed it to Ryoa, whose face was uncomfortably red. She pulled the long shirt on with murmured thanks, and walked back to the room, where everyone else would soon be waking up. Cebry shook his head slowly, still thigh deep in the pool. There was just something about that girl. She was an unanswered question, intriguing and confusing. At least he would have plenty of time to figure her out on the quest, hopefully.
By now, the rest of the members of their merry band of misfits had woken up. Ryoa and Cebry soon walked into the room, the group prepared their things, and set off again with the good biddings from the Dragon Queen.
After walking more, Cebry made a slight gasp.
"What is it Cebry?" asked Ryoa, who had become Cebry's official traveling companion. Cebry gave a puzzled look and said, "I haven't changed since we left…" His eyes flicked up through his hair at Ryoa with a newfound curiosity, and then at Delta and Ariasti also. Then he shook his head and continued walking, muttering so nobody else could hear, "That means…one of them is…" Ceito interrupted his musings.
"There's Klepto's house," Ceito said, pointing. "We're finally here."
Suddenly, Cebry ran off to behind a tree. Since he was at the end of the group, and Ryoa was focused on Klepto's house, no one noticed.
Ceito knocked on the door, and it opened after a few seconds. Soon Ceito was enveloped in his sister's arms, in an almost chokehold like grip. "OH MY GOD IT'S BEEN SO LONG CEITO! Why haven't you come over before?" Not even waiting for his answer, she herded everyone inside and shut the door as she rambled on. "You'd never guess what! This stallion is starting to court me! He's all brown with tan splotches and one of then looks like a map of Xanth! And-"
"Klepto! We came here to ask you a question. Can you show us all the stuff you've stolen?"
"Well, I gave it all back…" she glanced around shiftily, but then grinned "except for this…" and she pulled a roughly hourglass shaped object out of her pack. Ryoa gasped as she saw the decoration on the glass and she gently took it from Klepto's hands. "Someone with an extraordinary talent must have made this…" said Ryoa as she ran her finger along the beautiful dragon carvings.
"Yeah, maybe someone who could make dragon carvings on thyme keepers" replied Plex
Ryoa sighed and tried to smack her brother over the head, but her hand just went straight through, so she did it again, but this time stopped in the middle of his head. She then wiggled her fingers.
"Ah! AAH! Brain! BRAIN! RYOA! CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, I DO HAVE A BRAIN THERE!"
"Bleep cocky brother…" she muttered under her breath and went back to her dragon-worshiping.
"As Plex said, this is a thyme keeper. It…well…it keeps thyme except the time does weird stuff...like solidify water, freeze everything but us and so on. Basically, the hourglass shape makes it stronger because it's carved out of a wish-stone. The "sand" in the glass is ground up thyme seeds." Klepto explained.
"Oh," Plex said, "it all makes sense now…"
"Of course," Ryoa said sarcastically. "You get it when she explains it to you…"
"Well, duh, Ry. She's not my sister!"
"Anyway," Klepto said, stepping between the two, so another argument did not break out, "Your quest was to return what I stole, right?"
"Right" both Plex and Ryoa replied at the same time.
"You two gotta stop doing that, it's freaky…"
"Doing what?" they replied again.
"There! You did it again!"
"Never mind….." sighed Klepto as Ryoa gently put the thyme-keeper into her pack.
Ryoa sighed. "I wish we knew who this belonged to…"
"Well," Klepto responded, "I didn't actually use my talent to find it. I just happened upon it, and took it, since it's pretty. But I could show you where I found it, to start you off."
So, everyone followed Klepto outside to an old tree, Cebry suddenly re-joining the group. The tree's bark was contorted into the shapes of many wrinkled letter "E's." The fruit of this particular tree was rather disgusting-looking, made up of bug-like growths. Also, around the base were some rolling stones.
The group was just staring blankly at the tree, trying to figure out what it was, but not getting it at all, when they heard a collective groan from somewhere above them. Plex looked up, and shouted, "What! I don't get it! Someone explain!" to the great-readers-in-the-sky.
(R/N: audience participation time! Now everyone, yell the next line…)
"It's an OLD-E's TREE!" the great-readers-in-the-sky shouted at him.
Finally, the group groaned in disgust at the pun the ALMIGHTY (-female-) AUTHOR (!) had come up with. Then, Ryoa gave a tiny "eek" as an inform-ant tapped on her leg, explaining why he hadn't come out before.
"I was told to wait until you had figured out the pun of the tree, and now you have, so here's your information; Go to Mundania, and go to the colorless female rooster cabinet."
And with that, the little guy wandered off.
They were all speechless. Not only was that more cryptic and senseless than Humphrey's answer, but now they had to go to Mundania!
"Well, I guess we should be on our way, then. The Gap isn't too far away," Ceito said calmly, informing his friends they weren't as confused as they thought they were.
Ryoa summoned two large flying dragons, and the group flew (Ceito galloped beneath them) towards the gap. As it came into view, Ryoa directed the dragons downward, and they landed near the edge of the Gap.
"Hmmm…. Now where is that bridge?" pondered Ryoa. They dangled their legs on the edge of the gap, casting their eyes along the rim for any sign of a bridge. They had no fear of the gap dragon, or his wife Stella, or Steven, their offspring. Steven was getting to be old enough to patrol the gap on his own, but his parents still accompanied him on most of the trips to make sure he didn't hurt any of Ivy's relatives. Plex and Ryoa were relatives of Ivy, but there also was the noticeable factor of Ryoa's talent that protected them from any attack by dragon.
"The bridge is right around the bend," said an unknown voice, "but to get across you must PAY! Muahahahahaha hackcoughhahahahaha!"
"Holy crap! Who is that!" most of the group shouted as they turned around to see an insubstantial old man standing behind them.
"I am the hermit of the gap! I own all the bridges from here-" he pointed to an old, but sturdy, cottage hidden in the trees, "-to the coast! If you wish to cross without hindrance you must give me your pa-" and at that moment he was overcome with a coughing fit.
"Our WHAT!" screeched the females, fitting five exclamation points into their comment, but the guys, not even letting their brains go in that direction, said, "He meant payment, not-well…what you were thinking" The blood flowed from the girl's faces and they looked down at the ground, embarrassed.
"Oh, shut up you old fogy," said yet another new voice. This time, it was a young, fit, and healthy voice. "If this happens again you can go across the gap with no bridge." Ryoa was the first to glance up at the newcomer, who at the same moment glanced in her direction though a shock of his light brown hair. She let out a sharp little gasp and looked down again, blushing in a most becoming way. Plex, noticing his sister's expression thought 'Oh crap' because the face and build of this young man fit the picture his voice painted, and was distressingly attractive as well.
"I apologize for the bad manners of my father. He has rather lost his mind in his extremely old age." said the man in a genuinely sorry voice, smiling a smile that melted the heart of every female within eyesight. With another glance in the direction of Ryoa, he strode forward and pulled a blue and white long-stemmed rose out of thin air, and tucked it behind Ryoa's ear, ignoring the knives flying through the air from Plex's glare.
"If you don't mind," he said, with another one of his drop dead smiles, "I think I'll stay the night with you, to make sure you all are safe. By the way – I'm Landen." He smiled handsomely.
Plex caught her before she fell over, and took over the introduction process. Pointing to each person as he said their name, he introduced Landen to the group.
"That's Ceito Centaur, Delta Merwoman-Naga, Ariasti Dryad-Human, Cyko Human, Cebry Dragon, this is Ryoa Human, and I'm Plex – Ryoa's twin brother." When he said his own name, Plex had a tone that implied him saying, "You touch her, and I kill you." Ryoa, having snapped out of her swoon-induced daze, elbowed him.
"I will if he does."
Landen spent the rest of the day getting to know Ryoa and the rest of the group. Ryoa seemed smitten with him, and as she went to go change into her pajamas for the night, she gave Landen a bright smile and then walked off to her bag. Landen's eyes followed the swinging of her hips while she walked with and almost lustful gaze. Ryoa was the last of the girls to go to bed, as usual, so only the men remained around the flickering fire.
"My, my…she is a fine piece of real estate, isn't she?" Landen said quietly in a horrible, coveting way. Nobody responded to this horrible statement, being too shocked that anyone would ever talk about their Ryoa that way. Without noticing the aura of shock coming from the people around him, Landen continued. "Well, she's beautiful, and By God, does that girl have a set of gams on her!"
There was a gasp and a clatter as the chair Plex had been sitting on fell over and he lunged towards Landen in a fury. Ceito and Cebry caught him, as they were glaring at Landen, but Plex struggled in anger.
But Landen simply ignored him and walked off, with a cocky grin on his face. Plex was shoved down in his seat, still fuming, but he did not go off after Landen again.
The next morning, after having to restrain Plex from strangling Landen in his sleep on several occasions, Plex, Ryoa, Cyko, Ceito, Delta, Ariasti, and Cebry set out for Mundania.
They were up for one Hell of an Adventure.
end of chapter 2
As always, feel free to e-mail us, (with no spaces)
Cantharmnezumi (at) yahoo . com for Plex
Four1490 (at) sbcglobal . net for Ryoa