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The town of Tartaruga was small, as Matilda had mentioned. The open markets were condensed in one area, the shops in another, inns, taverns and punch houses in another. The houses were all mixed in among the various districts, as well as farther outside of the village, lining the beach and forest edge. Victor and Betsy’s new home would be one such house, facing a small stretch of sandy beach on one side, and a grassy patch of forest on the other. Betsy was already making plans to put a garden there when Garin the others left them to settle in, before continuing with Matilda to see the very thing that was part of their reason for being there.

She led them to the far side of town, the farthest inland they could go, to the base of the island’s small, only mountain. It was little more than a large rock formation really, with various outcroppings and cliffs that you could only reach if you knew where to find a trail to them, or planned on climbing up near the sheer face. At the foot of this stood a large, old set of steps with fountains on either side, that led to a large, stone door that looked to be hewn straight into the rock.

“This is it, gentlemen, the Vault.” Matilda said as she stopped in front of the large door.

“Impressive bit of work.” Garin said.

“Looks secure enough.” Jacques added.

“More than you realize, Jacques.” Matilda said, pushing the door open. “Though we’re able to enter as you can see, this vault was made with powerful magic that even the Council’s best magic users were unable to break or alter. All they could do was get the door open.”

“What good is the magic if the door is wide open for anyone to walk in?” Garin asked with a shrug of his shoulders.

“See for yourself.”

Around the room were pedestals of various sizes, atop of each sat an object, the likes of which varied from small to large, and worthless to priceless looking, encased in a golden, transparent glass that seemed to glow. And there wasn’t just a few of them, they almost filled the room. It was like stepping into some kind of museum exhibit. Garin let out a whistle.

“This Fontaine was no joke when it came to his collection of relics,” he said. “But that doesn’t exactly explain what’s to stop anyone from just smashing the glass and pinching one of ‘em.”

“Would you care to try?” Matilda said, motioning to the pedestal nearest her. Jacques looked at Garin, who gave a chuckle and stepped forward, drawing his dagger.

“Sure, I’ll take you up on that,” he said. “But something tells me you know more than you’re telling me…”

Garin stepped up to the golden, glass case that Matilda stood beside, twirling his dagger in his fingers until he felt his hand rest on a comfortable grip on the hilt. Once there, he drew his hand back and made a slash at the large glass case, which contained a large urn of some kind, aiming to slice it from one corner to the other. But the shock that was sent through his arm from the sheer, solid impact of the blade hitting and then bouncing off the strange glass nearly caused him to drop his dagger, instead.

Garin swore under his breath and took a step back, nursing his arm. “And now I know what that something is!”

“You okay, Garin?” Jacques asked.

“Aye, but at least now we know that no one will be breaking into any of these!” Garin said, wrapping his knuckles against the glass.

“Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean they could pick up one of the smaller cases and just carrying them out?” Jacques asked, looking at Matilda.

“Watch,” she said, picking up one of the smaller cases and walking towards the entrance with it. Garin and Jacques exchanged puzzled glances, then continued to watch as she walked up to the open doors. Instead of walking through, she reached out with the case in her hands, and once it passed through the doorway, the case—and the relic inside—both faded into glowing dust that flew past her and back to the pedestal it had once been sitting on. Garin and Jacques watched in amazement as the relic and its protective case reformed on the pedestal as if it had never been touched.

“Sweet Fyora!” Garin said, scratching his head. “You weren’t kidding about the magic!”

“Aye. The only real worry is if the control over the vault itself were to fall. Hence why you’re here.” Matilda said as the two rejoined her at the entrance.

“Well no worries. We’ll make sure anyone who wants in here never gets past the docks.” Garin said.

“I’ll try not to hold you too closely to that.” Matilda said with a smile as the doors closed behind them.

“But if you can’t get any of the relics out, how do you expect to get them to the capitol?” Jacques asked, thumbing back at the doors.

“Well as I mentioned, when the vault was discovered, the Council had some of their best magic users, some even Faeries themselves, try to break the spell to get the vault open.” Matilda replied. “While they did manage to get it open, the spell on the vault is designed to only break when opened by a key. And not just any key, mind you. The key that was made with the same magic that opened that door.”

“Ah… smart move.” Jacques said with a nod.

“Any idea where this key is?” Garin asked.

Matilda shook her head. “No but we’ve got every available agent in nearly every corner of Neopia looking for it. If we just knew where to start…”

“You mentioned you found Fontaine’s journal. Did it mention the key?”

“Just once, regarding the spell used to create the vault. Though I doubt he’d want to make how to open it a dead giveaway by telling where the key is, or was…”

“Aye, I suppose you’re right.” Garin said with a shrug.

“Anything else you wanted to show us?” Jacques asked.

Matilda tapped her chin with a finger in thought for a moment. “I think the only place you boys haven’t seen yet is the old fort. And I guess that you should get the lay of it before the gathering tonight.”

“Still not looking too forward to that, it sounds like.” Garin commented, seeing her face. “You’re not going to have to give a speech, are ya?”

“Thank Fyora, no!” Matilda said with a laugh. “It’s more of the locals’ first chance to meet me as Acting Governor, that’s all.”

“Good. Not that we would mind hearing that sweet voice of yours,” Garin said with a wink. “But a speech sounds boring.”

“Save your silver tongue for the ladies at the tavern, Garin. Don’t forget, this is still Sea Cat you’re talking to.” Jacques said with a chuckle.

“Aye, and don’t you forget it.” Matilda scolded, flicking Garin’s ear. Jacques laughed again as Garin swatted her hand away, like a son would his mother’s teasing.

The trio walked up the road towards the fort, which looked very much like most forts Garin had seen in his adventures. High and thick walls, meant to take heavy fire from both land and seaward, two towers that looked out over the cove, gun ports in each, and of course, battlements lined with cannons. Once inside past the gate, the first place Matilda took them was up on those battlements to look out over the cove. Garin leaned forward against the wall to look out over the bay and nodded softly to himself.

“Aye, just like I thought. Easy enough to defend the cove from here,” he said, glancing at Jacques. “I think taking rotations would be a good idea, Jacques.”

“Rotations?”

“Aye, to help defend the fort. For some nights, some of us stay up here in the barracks to give the soldiers a hand in a fight, should one come. And the rest of us stay on the Pawkeet so we can fire on enemy ships from both sides of the harbor there.” Garin said, pointing out towards the bay. “Pin them between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.”

“And between at least twenty guns.” Jacques said with a nod. “Aye, not a bad idea, actually.”

“This is exactly why I trusted you with this more than anyone else.” Matilda said, standing beside Garn and looking out over the harbor. “You’re as sharp as your dagger. You haven’t even been here a full day and already you’ve thought of the best way to defend the town. Most soldiers would want to run a bunch of drills and the like before deciding what to do.”

“I know the range of the Pawkeet’s guns. And based on what I see of the fort’s position, plus the type of guns these are…” Garin wrapped his knuckles against the cannon beside him. “I know their range. So, it’s a bit obvious.”

“Pardon my intrusion,” Garin looked up and towards the door at the end of the battlement, and saw Barney, the Mynci they had met the day before, standing in the doorway. “But your guests will be arriving shortly, ma’am. You should get ready.”

“Alright.” Matilda said, hiding a sigh. “Barney, while I’m getting ready, would you show Garin and Jacques where the barracks are, and arrange for a few of the spare bunks to be reserved for some of the crew? The captain here will explain why.”

“Of course, ma’am.” Barney said as she walked past, then he looked at Garin and Jacques. “If you two will just follow me.”

“Be with you in a moment, Barney.” Garin said, turning to Jacques. “Head back to the Pawkeet and tell the lads of our arrangement. I want the first batch of ‘em ready to start spending the nights up here right away.”

Jacques tiled his head at Garin. “You’ve got a feeling, haven’t you?”

“It’s probably nothing, but aye. I’d feel better if we were prepared.”

“And prepared we’ll be. I’ll be back within the hour.” Jacques said, then turned to leave the fort while Garin followed Barney to the barracks.

“Don’t you think that’s being a little overly cautious?” Barney asked Garin as they walked. “I don’t mean having extra men at the fort, I mean the rush to get them up here. It’s not like there have been any other ships sighted in the area. Other than yours, I mean.”

“Tell me something, Barney,” Garin replied. “This little inauguration for Matilda is going to attract a lot of folks, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes…” Barney said. “She’s technically the first governor this island has had…”

“A lot of people inside the fort, means there’s not going to be a lot of people outside of it. Meaning all eyes will be turned indoors, not out.” Garin explained. “If it was me, I would see that as ample opportunity.”

Barney pondered for a moment, then looked at Garin. “Governor Flanchester was right about you. You’re sharp as a blade… I’m glad you’re on our side.”
Part two of Tartaruga, aka Episode 4. Matilda's inauguration is coming up in the next episode, and judging by Garin's gut, it doesn't look like its going to go smoothly. What do you guys think? Tell me in the comments below!

Garin and co. © Neopets
Barney, Matilda, © Me
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:iconunlimited-tea:
Unlimited-Tea Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Dang that's some tight security! And so cool that it's magic base too! (owo)b

Oooh man I mean, I kind of feel that somethings is going to happen at the inaugeration.... As much as I want everything to be fine I agree with Garin... Something is bound to happen!!!! (qwq)''' 

But this is totally awesome mi amigo. Im so stoked!!!! :squee: 
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad! :D
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:icondillusionist:
Dillusionist Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017
oh man those must be some important relics for that amount of security!
got a feeling someone's gonna crash Sea Cat's inauguration, given garin's apphrension lol
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Ding, ding, ding!
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:iconrl-182:
RL-182 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017
Well, the crew is getting the lay of the land and sight seeing with the fort. Glad to see Betsy is already thinking of growing food with a garden. :D I am surprised to see such powerful magic inside the vault. Even the greatest magic users on the council could ONLY get the door open. That's amazing!
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:icon6seacat9:
6SeaCat9 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
No, that's thinking ahead. If it was as simple as knowing powerful magic, than almost anyone could have taken what was inside if they knew the right spell. ;)
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