"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
They were far too late to give their warning.
"What are we going to do, Kohla?" Indara shrieked
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.
* * *
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,
"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
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"I… I knew you were leaving, but it just doesn't
"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
"Here." Indara handed them the sack of gold.
"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
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.