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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 12th day of Hunting, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 138 > Short Stories > Lisha and the Court Dancer

Lisha and the Court Dancer

by ridergirl333

Rumors spread through King Skrarl’s court like wildfire spreads through tangled, dry weeds. And there wasn’t a single word of gossip that didn’t reach the stalk ears of Lisha the Lioness, Meridell’s first Knightess.

     She was at the tent of Kasha Moonfang, the Kyrii Seer’s teenage apprentice. The fiery rays of the dying sun filtered through the tent cloth, reflecting off of the assorted crystals hanging from the ceiling. Herbs also hung, drying and filling the air with a spicy, fragrant aroma. The small, humble tent was furnished with two rickety wooden chairs, a table big enough for two, a wooden cabinet that was painted midnight blue, a thin mattress and warm, woolen blanket and assorted paintings, including the painting of Kass that the Kyrii Seer had bought a few days ago. It took every once of Kasha’s willpower not to tear the wretched thing to shreds. Lisha sat in one of the chairs, staring at the ceiling and batting absent-mindedly at a rose quartz crystal that was hanging by a string, the way cats bat at pieces of yarn. Kasha was at the other side of the tent, grinding herbs with a mortar and pestle. Jacob, the Kyrii Seer, was out on business, leaving Kasha in charge of the tent.

     “I’m worried about Jeran,” Lisha said with a sigh, straightening her simple gray skirt and tugging at her snow-white blouse, nervously. “I mean, I know he’s Meridell Champion and all… and he can take care of himself… I don’t know. I just get nervous when he’s out on his own.”

     And rightfully so, Kasha thought grimly, pouring a pale green powder from the mortar into a giant ceramic cooking bowl. Kasha was a tall, white Lupess with fur that glistened like new-fallen snow and mysterious amethyst eyes that glittered in the sunlight. She was clothed in the garb of a gypsy and wearing several bangles and bracelets on each arm. A gold chain and diamond pendant graced her neck while her trademark chandelier earrings hung from each ear. One was made of hammered gold and shaped like a sun. From this sun, six golden stars dangled. The other was a hammered silver moon with six silver stars hanging from it. Whenever Kasha moved, they reflected the light, enhancing her beauty and calling attention to the Lupess’s face rather than to the earrings.

     By the Law of Seers, she was forbidden to tell anyone about her vision concerning Jeran. Even Jeran’s own sister. She had to pretend that she didn’t know anything. “Calm down, Lisha. You have to be strong. For your owner, Hillary. She’s worried half to death over her youngest one, Chuck going out into the battlefield.”

          Lisha nodded, turning her attention from the rose quartz to a piece of obsidian nearby. “See, I’m not even worried about Chuck. That little sneak could worm his way out of Balthazar’s mouth if ever he were in that situation. But Jeran…”

     “Jeran will be fine,” Kasha said, adding hot water to the bowl. The combination of the two emitted an odor like rotting fish.

     Lisha batted at the obsidian, cutting her paw on its sharp edges. Wincing in pain, she stuck her paw in her mouth and let her saliva soothe the wound. “I cat hep it,” she said around a mouthful of paw. Kasha poured some of the green mixture onto a piece of cloth and wound the cloth around her Aisha friend’s paw. Lisha continued to speak. “It’s just… I only found my brother a year ago. And I feel like I’ve known him… for so much longer than that… Oh my gosh, I just don’t want to lose him again! I’m not ready… to lose him…”

     Kasha put her paw around Lisha’s shoulders, tears glistening in the corners of her violet eyes. “I know how you feel, young one. I know what it’s like to lose kin. And when fate steps in, I’ll be losing the partner I never knew…”

     The Aisha looked up at Kasha with suspicion. “What do you mean, ‘when fate steps in’?”

     “Nothing.” Kasha lied, hastily turning her face away. “Just… nothing. So, have you seen that new Court Dancer?”

     Lisha nodded. “That wretched enchantress? That gypsy sorceress, spat out by a traveling caravan? That traitorous worm, her loyalty sold to the highest bidder?”

     Kasha cringed. “I’m guessing you don’t like her?”

     “That’s the understatement of the year. And for some odd reason, everyone else seems to love her. Especially the King. All he does is watch her dance! He even skips MEALS to watch her dance!”

     Kasha’s jaw almost hit the ground. “Our King skips MEALS? I didn’t know he was capable…”

     Lisha nodded grimly, massaging her wounded paw. “I didn’t either.”

     Kasha walked over to the cabinet, removing an amethyst crystal from its dark interiors. The moment the crystal was exposed to the open air, it began to glow. “A Tracker’s Gem,” Kasha explained to her Aisha companion. “Whenever it’s exposed to magic, it will glow. It’s glowing now because we’re so near all of my magical items. My crystal ball, my spell books, my enchanted crystals. Its light will go out once we leave the tent. We’ll bring it to one of our Court Dancer’s dance sessions to figure out whether she’s doing anything… immoral, to say the very least.”

     A voice, sweet as honey, poured its way through the tent entrance. “What is it, Kasha my fellow gypsy? A bit distrustful of me? I’m only a vagabond. A poor wanderer like yourself.”

     “You’re nothing like me,” Kasha said, her voice a low, threatening growl. Any passer-by would have deemed her inaccurate. Rhianna the Court Dancer wore a simple scarlet dress and snow-white blouse, not unlike Kasha’s lavender gypsy-style dress and sky-blue blouse. The dancer’s rippling, shiny, full red hair seemed somewhat akin to Kasha’s lustrous white fur. Her golden circlet shone in the noontime sun, reflecting Kasha’s assortment of jangling bracelets and her famed twin moon and sun earring chandeliers. And both of their voices hid a sort of peril. Kasha’s in her temper and Rhianna’s in deception. “Now get out of this kingdom and stay out!” Kasha said, somewhat more sharply than she had intended. The strain and worry of the past few weeks were taking their toll on her patience.

     “You haven’t the authority to send me anywhere. Only the king can do that,” Rhianna said, putting one of her dainty feet over the threshold of Kasha’s tent. One sharp glare from Kasha caused her to withdraw the foot. Clutching the crystal so tightly that her paw pads turned white, she exited the tent to stand in the open air with Rhianna. The gem’s light went out. Unfazed by Kasha’s aggressive actions, she continued to speak. “And the king seems to be somewhat… charmed by me, shall we say?” Kasha growled again, grinding her fangs together. The dancer grinned. She had Kasha right where she wanted her. “Oh, but I forgot. You’re nearly a princess yourself, aren’t you? Since you seem to be so close to that fool Sir Jeran Borodere…”

     An awkward pause, during which Kasha was trembling with withheld rage and Rhianna was trying not to fall over in hysterical laughter. How dare anyone speak about Jeran like that! If Rhianna knew what fate would befall Jeran… Well, knowing her, she’d probably still laugh. Lisha exited the tent and put her paw on her friend’s back to calm her down. “Knock it off, Rhianna.” She said, calmly and firmly.

     Rhianna threw her paws up in a gesture of mock-innocence. “What is it, Lisha? Oh, Lady Lisha the Lioness, sister of the Champion of Meridell! Fearsome lady knight!” Her tone was mocking and ridiculing.

     “I’m a fearsome lady knight with a wand of ultranova, and I’m not afraid to use it.”

     Rhianna seemed amused by Lisha’s threats. “Chivalrous knight. Fool of a knight. You wouldn’t attack an innocent, unarmed peasant girl, would you?”

     Kasha snorted in disgust. “Innocent, my…”

     Lisha cut her friend off in the middle of her sentence. “Go away, Rhianna. You’re testing the limits of my patience.”

     The Aisha gypsy opened her mouth to speak, then closed it in a grim smile. “Would you like me to dance for you?” She asked innocently, her voice with no hit of malice.

     Kasha replied with a curt, “No.”

     Rhianna ignored Kasha and began to dance. Leaping effortlessly into the air like a Pteri in flight, then spinning in dizzying circles. Laughing and darting about, though there was no music to dance to. There was an art to her movement, but also a mystery. The patterns of her feet were like the patterns made by crop-circles in farmers’ fields. Why was she dancing? Why did she want to doom Meridell? Why? I seem to be asking that question a lot lately, Kasha thought bitterly.

     And she continued to dance, faster and faster, becoming a blur of red, brown and gold! The light reflecting off of her circlet wove patterns in the air, mimicking Rhianna’s every movement. Flitting back and forth like a radiant butterfly. Back and forth, spinning around, up, down… Kasha’s eyelids became heavy. She was entranced by the light. It was all she saw. Her tent, the farmlands, the dancer, Lisha, all faded from view. Their colors were dimmed. She was vaguely aware of their presence, but they didn’t matter. Nothing mattered… except that light…

     “KASHA!” Lisha’s voice tore the Lupess Seer out of her trance. Blinking in surprise, Kasha looked around frantically. “Kasha,” Lisha whispered. “Look.”

     The crystal in Kasha’s paw was glowing!

     The Court Dancer was using magic.

     Putting her paw on her Aisha friend’s back, Kasha ushered her inside the tent, making sure to close the tent flap behind her. “It’s got something to do with that circlet. That thing must serve as a container for her magic, much like I have my crystals.”

     “The little cheater!” Lisha murmured, pacing around the tent. “So… I wonder why her magic doesn’t affect me?”

     Kasha went to the cabinet and pulled out a hardcover volume. Its pages were stained with what looked like tomato juice, though with a book of magic, one could never be sure. Flipping through its pages, she found the chapter on hypnosis. “Very few Neopets are lucky enough to have the ability to control minds,” she read aloud. “It’s one of the most difficult magical abilities to learn. It’s also one of the most dangerous, as talented hypnotists can gain complete control over their victims’ minds for short periods of time. Hypnosis magic can be stored in shiny objects, such as gems, copper, silver or gold. It can be deflected by other magical objects.” Kasha closed the book and glanced over at Lisha. “That explains why you weren’t affected. I enchanted your glasses a few months ago to make them unbreakable, remember?”

     Lisha nodded. “So… how do we warn the king about her? We can’t just go up to him and say, ‘Guess what, Sire? Your dancer is a cheating sleazebag!’ Not while she’s got control.”

     Kasha thought for a minute. She got up, put the book back into the cabinet, and sat down again. “If I’m not mistaken, the castle library has a book on illusions. You’ll have to take a look at that book and see if there are any useful spells.”

     “I will,” Lisha said, with a combination of rage and indignation. “I’ll do it the very next chance I get…”

The End

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