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The Neopian Times Week 144 > Continuing Series > The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Six

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Six

by thegreenmooseofdoom

"Imhotep! Imhoooooteeeep!" Indara's voice rang out in the busy streets of Aknatsi. People stared ad the small Wocky and the tall shaggy Lupe walked down the street.

      "Don't draw attention to yourself," Kohla warned. "Remember, you're still a wanted criminal, as am I."

      "But I'm worried about Imhotep!" Indara replied. "He ran away during the fight in front of the castle!"

      A small, shifty Shadow Blumaroo edged in next to the duo.

      "Eh, you want some Apis? I's sell dem right cheap, eh?" he waved towards his cart he dragged behind him.

      "Sorry, not interested." Indara waved her paw in dismissal.

      "Myeeeah!"

      Indara spun around, recognizing the familiar bleat of an Apis on the cart.

      "That's my Apis!" Indara yelled, shocked.

      "Eh, now that's de spirit! My price is 2000 Neopoints. You buy?" the Blumaroo clapped his paws together, ready to make a deal.

      "No, I mean, that's MY Apis! I lost him. Give him back to me, please," Indara pleaded.

      "How do I know you'za tellin' the truth, eh? I've run into a lotta thieves in my job." The Blumaroo folded his arms over his chest.

      Kohla stepped in.

      "You will give her petpet back," he said quietly.

      "Yeah? And what're you going to do about it, greymuzzle?" the Blumaroo shot back.

      Kohla growled, and his eyes began to glow red. He seemed to grow taller, and an aura of menace hung around him.

      "Whoah, hey, you don't have to get all… growly there. Ehehehe. Shore, you can have your Apis back, no problem-o! No hard feelings, eh?" the Blumaroo sweat and practically ran to unlock the cart.

      "Thanks," Indara grinned quietly to Kohla.

      "Sure." The Lupe had returned to normal, and pat Indara on the shoulder.

      Once Imhotep was back in Indara's possession, the Blumaroo took up his cart and ran off in a hurry,

      Indara hugged her beloved little petpet and laughed.

      "Sorry to ruin the moment, Indara, but we really need to get back to business. How do you suppose we get into the palace?" Kohla asked.

      "I'm working on it, I'm working on it." Indara sighed. There just seemed to be no solution. They couldn't just walk in, they'd be arrested… again. They might be able to sneak in somehow, but there were bound to be guards aplenty, and besides, the king would just think they were there for ill deeds, instead of trying to help him. They might be able to go in disguise somehow, but the king would probably ignore their warnings anyway.

      Indara sighed and buried her head under her paws. She relaxed her arm arms, and turned to Kohla.

      "I really have no idea what to do, Kohla. I'm stuck for ideas," she sighed.

      The sky overhead was now turning a light purple. The sun reflected on the clouds, turning them a fiery orange color. The bite of the night air began to nip at their paws and noses.

      "I don't know either. This is a difficult matter indeed," Kohla replied, shaking his shaggy head slowly.

      Presently, a loud crashing sound echoed through the streets, followed by screams of many Neopets. Indara and Kohla ran to the source of the noise.

      What they saw made their knees quake in fear. The large wooden gates to the city were torn completely down by many ropes and axes. Where the doors were once, lay a pile of broken wood and sandstone. On top of the pile stood a huge army of Red Sands thieves on Apises, lead by Ripclaw the Eyrie.

      They were far too late to give their warning.

      "What are we going to do, Kohla?" Indara shrieked in panic.

      "Sssh." Kohla put a finger to his lips. They hadn't been spotted yet, and Kohla clearly wanted it to stay that way. "The palace… we can still help defend it. Come on, let's go," he whispered.

      Together, they ran in silence as Ripclaw's army flooded the streets. The earth shook under the thunderous hooves, and the Red Sand's frenzied cries of fury rose in the air as they tore through the streets, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

      The townsfolk fled, knocking over fruit carts and pots in their panic-stricken flight. On came the Red Sands, carrying their flag high in the center of their ranks, rushing in like an oncoming flood.

      As Kohla and Indara reached the palace, they saw that all of the palace guard was assembled, swords brandished. Many rode Whinnies or Apises. As Indara approached, one of the Tonus roared and pointed with his sword.

      "That's their leader! Kill her!" he bellowed. The front row of soldiers charged her.

      "No! Wait! It's not what you think!" Indara pleaded uselessly. Kohla stepped in front of her protectively and began to shift.

      Long glossy brown fur sprouted from his dingy gray coat, and his eyes burned red. His muzzle grew thicker, and he grew long bone-crushing fangs that protruded from his lip, His ears grew pointed and long, and razor sharp talons grew from his grimy paws, His muscles ripped under his fur, and he shot up and grew much, much taller.

      The Tonus stopped to stare at the huge growling WereLupe. With a savage snarl, Kohla batted them away like rag dolls. He tilted his head back and let out a deep savage howl of rage.

      Indara stared at the creature that had once been Kohla. The rest of the guard charged, right as Ripclaw's army came into sight. It was all madness and chaos from there. Swords clanged together, hooves pounded the dirt, thieves versus guards, WereLupe versus everybody, and Indara stuck in the middle of it all. She was small and unarmed, and was bound to get trampled to death if she didn't move out of there, and quick.

      She looked up and spotted something purple moving slowly up the side of the palace. It was Ripclaw. Indara ran to the side of the tower and began climbing in hot pursuit.

      Below, the WereLupe was still wreaking havoc, bellowing out with a bloodlusted roar and throwing a Speckled Gelert clear across the city in his rage. The palace guards clanged metal with the Red Sand thieves, occasionally launching a volley of arrows at the WereLupe, most of which were lost in his heavy pelt.

      Indara look back up and began climbing quicker. The rough surface of the wall was perfect for her claws to grip on to.

      Ripclaw was about eight feet above her, and hadn't noticed his pursuer in his sheer determination. He found an open window and climbed inside, Indara scrambling to catch up to him.

      When she reached the window, she jumped inside and saw Ripclaw fighting with a tall red Lupe dressed in silks and gold, a gold crown sitting on his head. The king.

      "Ripclaw! No!" she cried out before she could stop herself.

      Ripclaw buffeted the king over the head, knocking the Lupe to the ground. He held the point of his sword at his throat.

      "Hallo, Indara." Ripclaw said quietly, not turning back to look at her. "Come t' finish him f'r me?"

      "I…" Indara stammered.

      "Yeh lied, Indara. Yeh lied about everythin', didn't yeh. DIDN'T YEH?" Ripclaw yelled. He calmed down. "But now, yeh have an opportunity t' rectify yer mistakes. Slay th' king now, and take y'r place as our lead'r again."

      Indara made a few steps towards Ripclaw and the king. Ripclaw extended his rapier to her, while the king stayed motionless in the corner, scarcely daring to move. Indara took the sword dubiously and stood there in front of the once mighty king cowering in the corner.

      "Do it, Lady. Once the king falls, we will roile th' city. We woill have th' power! Nun will be able t' resist us! Yew k'n be th' Queen, an' oi yer humb'l prince! Think about it, Indara, think of th' glor'us aige we cud broing!" Ripclaw went on feverishly, grinning with glee at the thought.

      Indara raised her sword. The king gasped, and the crown fell from his head, rolling on its side on the stone floor.

      "I…" Indara started, staring sternly at the king. "…will NOT BE A KILLER!" she screamed as she spun around, pointing the sword at Ripclaw.

      The king took this opportunity to get out of the corner and grab a dagger that was well concealed underneath one of the upholstered chairs near the window.

      "TRAITOR!!!" Ripclaw roared and grabbed Indara's paw with his claws, making her drop the sword on the floor. The Lupe king jumped for Ripclaw dagger gleaming, but Ripclaw was ready for him and pushed him away. Indara ran to the chamber door and opened it.

      "Come with me, your Majesty!" She threw a chair at Ripclaw to distract him momentarily, and the king ran towards the open door. They emerged into a large hallway overlooking the foyer down far below. Large red banners hung from the ceiling elegantly.

      "This way!" the Lupe called, and the duo ran down the hallway to the top of the grand marble staircase, Ripclaw tailing behind and gaining on them with each step.

      The Lupe made to go down the steps, but Indara held him back.

      "No! It's not fast enough! Come here, I have an idea!" Indara took the king's dagger and stood on the balcony over the foyer. She reached up for one of the streamers, cut it, gripped the loose end tightly, and told the Lupe to do the same. With a sudden glance of understanding, the king grabbed a banner.

      "By the White Weewoo… I'm too old for this." He grinned a little.

      Ripclaw was right behind them, but it was too late. Indara and the king pushed off and went soaring through the air on the streamers. Ripclaw jumped off the balcony, wings outspread, and glided down in hot pursuit of the two, screeching with wrath as he flew.

      Just as the streamer was about to collide with the wall, Indara and the Lupe let go and fell onto the floor hard. Even as Indara struggled to get her breath back, she was scrambling to get to her feet. Time was of the essence.

      Suddenly, a razor-sharp pain exploded in her back. It was Ripclaw, digging into her flesh with his long talons. As Indara struggled and yelped, Ripclaw grinned foully and bent his head over Indara.

      "I hold no loyalties, 'cept for that uv th' Red Sands!" he hissed, wrenching his claws even further into Indara's skin. Oh no… so this is the end. Indara thought to herself in sort of a detached way as a fresh wave of pain washed over her. Too bad I'm going to die… I'd kind of have liked to live.

      SMACK! Ripclaw fell over backwards and the claws ripped free out of Indara's back. Startled and roused from her dreary musings, she looked up to see Grimehoof standing over her, looking at Ripclaw sternly.

      "G-Grimehoof?" Indara gasped. "B-but why?"

     Ripclaw was struggling to his feet as Grimehoof hit him again. Ripclaw went down and didn't move. Grimehoof smiled grimly.

      "My allegiance is t' you, Lady. I'd follow you to th' ends of Neopia itself. I trust y'r judgment wholeheartedly, Indara." He said, winking.

      The king had gotten up and has holding a length of rope.

      "Grab this scallywag up and let me bind his arms," he said, nodding to the downed Ripclaw.

      Ripclaw was dizzily pulled to his feet, barely conscious. Grimehoof held him firmly as the king and Indara bound him.

      "Yeh… yew trait'r…" he mumbled as he was being tied. "Y'r likes dun des'rve t' be uh Red Sand. Yeh betray'd me, yeh did…" After Ripclaw was bound, the king turned to Grimehoof and Indara.

      "Thank you, both of you. I would not survived has it not been for your bravery and resourcefulness. I find it very strange that the Princess of Thieves would turn upon her own kind to save me, but I am grateful, nonetheless. But questions can wait- there is still a battle going on outside." The red Lupe unbolted the great double doors at the front of the palace, and they emerged into the dark courtyard. Ripclaw still lay on the floor mumbling, but no one paid him any mind.

      Indara, Grimehoof, and the king ran outside to a scene of utter destruction and chaos. The palace guard and the Red Sands army were both falling back and looked very much so exhausted. Fires blazed orange on buildings and in the torches held by the soldiers. The WereLupe still raged in the middle of the street, ripping apart buildings and throwing soldiers into the air.

      "Kohla!" Indara cried, running towards him. As she ran into the street, a few members of the guard knocked their arrows and aimed towards Indara.

      "Indara! No!" Grimehoof yelled in alarm.

      "Hold your fire!" the king commanded loudly, throwing his arms up. "Do not harm her!" The soldiers grudgingly lowered their weapons and watched as Indara ran towards the beast.

      The WereLupe snarled at Indara's approach and picked her up, holding her dangerously close to his long fangs.

      "Please, Kohla." She said a bit more calmly, putting both paws on top of his muzzle and looking into his red eyes. "You must focus. You can control the Beast, just calm down."

      The WereLupe quieted his snarling and stared back at the Wocky.

      "That's right. Control it, Kohla. You can do this," she coaxed, keeping up eye contact.

      Both armies watched, amazed, as the huge and savage beast stopped his rampage and nodded his fearsome head. He gently put Indara back down on the ground.

      "I… I CAN control it." The Werelupe's deep, growling voice boomed. He smiled a fanged smile at the palace guard.

      "I fully apologize for any harm I have caused you or your comrades." He bowed, then turned to the Red Sands thieves, baring his fangs.

      "And as for you- you rotten thieves had better get running. I'm hungry after that fight." He grinned evilly.

      A few thieves withdrew their weapons feebly, but soon dropped them and fled as Kohla chased them on all fours, his teeth gleaming in the firelight. Kohla chased them all the way out of the city, then turned around and trotted back to the others still waiting in the square.

      "They won't be back for a while, your Highness." Kohla grinned and then started to shift back to his normal self.

      When he was reverted to his normal self, he walked over to Indara.

      "Thank you." He started, "What you did was… amazing. I think I can now control the change completely. The beast has been tamed. I'm not sure what it is you did, but I just… thank you." Tears glinted in the Lupe's eyes, but he wiped them away with a paw.

      The king strode over to the two, followed by Grimehoof.

      "That little romp you took me on was the most reckless and dangerous activity I have ever partook in. You're reckless and destructive… and yet, I owe you my life." The king smiled. A small Quiggle soldier ran up to the king and handed him his crown. The Lupe placed it on his head and pulled up his sleeves.

      "Three cheers for the trio that saved Aknatsi!" he cheered, waving his paws in the air.

      Hip-Hip-HOORAY!

* * *

After the battle had ended, and the wreckage cleared, and the wounded attended to, the king invited the three into his palace.

      Nervously, the trio entered- Grimehoof, Kohla, and Indara.

      "The king wants you to wait here." A burly Tonu guard waved towards a large oak table. "And err… no hard feelings about tossing you in prison, right?" he grinned sheepishly.

      "None at all, you did what you had to do." Indara smiled meekly back at him.

      They sat at the table and waited. Soon, the Lupe king walked into the great hall, accompanied with two guards, one of which was carrying Ripclaw, who was still bound and looking furious.

      Kohla rose respectfully as the king entered. Indara did the same. Grimehoof looked around, shrugged, and stood up too.

      The king took a seat at the head of the table and the others sat.

      "Now… this has been a positively crazy day, I'm sure you can attest to that. Now… I need to know -- why didn't you kill me, Indara? You've been plotting towards this for years, my resources have told me," the king asked, folding his paws on the table.

      "Well, it's a very long story, and I still don't know everything… but here's what's happened. Indara told him everything. Grimehoof and Kohla piped in when their parts came, and when all was said and done, the king nodded.

      "That really is extraordinary…" he said slowly, thinking about everything he was told. "I've gotten some information out of 'Ripclaw' here, it matches up with your story fairly consistently. I now know where their base is. I'll have a team of guards go out tomorrow morning and seize the rest of them."

      Indara felt conflicted upon hearing this. Yes, the Red Sands were horrible murderous brigands who were violent and dangerous to society, but… she couldn't help but feel a certain allegiance to them, despite all that had happened. She looked over to Grimehoof and saw the same look on his face. He looked at her helplessly.

      "Ah… Your Majesty, if I may…" Indara started quietly. "With all due respect… I think they should be given warning beforehand so we don't have to resort to violence."

      "Very well. I will send a messenger over and give them three hours to clear out. But I shall give them so more. To do so would be more than they deserve." The king's voice hardened.

      "Thank you." Indara whispered, feeling rotten for asking.

      "Now then. I think a reward is in order for you three for your services to our city. Indara, you shall be made captain of the guard if you so desire. Grimehoof, Kohla, I could use Neopets like you on my council of advisors. Do you accept?"

      Ripclaw watched silently, still looking furious.

      The three considered quietly.

      "Yes, I will accept," Kohla declared. "Now that I can control the beast within, I think I may be able to help defend the city next time, instead of destroying half of it." He blushed.

      "I… I don't know. I'm not sure if this is where I belong." Indara started slowly. "There's still a part of me that misses the open dunes and the warm desert air. I don't think I can stay in one place for so long. It's just not in my nature, I understand that now."

      Grimehoof gazed at Indara in sheer adoration.

      "I will join you in your travels, Lady. Like I said before, I'd travel with you to the ends of Neopia itself." He said, placing a hoof over her paw.

      Indara looked up at Grimehoof, first confusedly, and then happily.

      "Thank you, Grimehoof. That means a lot to me…"

      "…but?" Grimehoof's smile vanished. He could sense what was coming.

      "…But I think I'd prefer to travel alone. There's still things I don't know, things I need to find out on my own."

      "We can find out together, Lady Indara," Grimehoof pleaded.

      "I'm sorry, Grimehoof. This is something I need to do," Indara smiled bitterly.

      "Hey, Grimehoof…" Kohla cut in. "Perhaps you would like to join me on the king's council? I think you'd be rather good at it." He smiled coaxingly.

      Grimehoof nodded dully. "I would like that, thank you."

      "So it is settled. But there has to be some way to thank you, Indara, if not a job. Will you accept this token of my gratitude?" the king placed a large bag of gold coins on the table.

      Indara stared at it, thinking quickly. She certainly didn't need it, but she knew someone who did…

      "Thank you very much, your majesty." She smiled and accepted the bag.

***

The next morning, Indara hitched Imhotep up with fresh supplies and the bag of gold and led him to the splintered remains of the city gates. The sky was muggy and gray, and the sun hadn't risen yet.

      "So that's it then."

      Indara spun around to face the voice. It was Grimehoof.

      "I… I knew you were leaving, but it just doesn't seem real."

      "Don't worry Grimehoof… I do think we'll meet again." Indara smiled and pat Grimehoof on the cheek. And with that, she was off, out of the gates and away from the city.

      She rode until around noon, when she reached her destination, Lycase's hut.

      "Lycase! Rafe!" she cried happily.

      "What? What's going on?" Rafe's green head poked out of the tent flap. When he saw Indara, he jumped back inside. "Mum! Mum! It's that Wocky!"

      Lycase and Rafe emerged from the tent, running towards Indara.

      "Here." Indara handed them the sack of gold. "It's yours."

      "What? But why?" Lycase sputtered, confounded.

      "I'd have died in that desert were it not for you and your son." Indara smiled. "This is my way of saying thanks. Now I must leave, farewell!"

      Lycase and Rafe stared at the figure riding away into the dunes.

      Indara felt wonderful and free. Who knew what adventures she would have out here in the desert?

      "I am Indara!" she yelled to the wind and the dunes, and then she rode over a hill and was gone.

The End

Previous Episodes

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part One

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Two

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Three

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Four

The Legend of the Red Sands: Part Five


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