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Solkaris: The Narrative - Part One


by x_marks_the_spot

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I gazed out from my hiding place, the cool shade of the overhanging ferns and palm trees saving me from the merciless glare of the midday sun. Another day along the outskirts of the Lost Desert, another day of pickpocketing from easy targets as they came to Coltzan's Shrine for blessings. Despite the peaceful tranquility of the site, I couldn't help wishing that I could return to Sakhmet City sometime soon. Sure, Coltzan's Oasis was beautiful, the way the crystalline waters reflected the yellow orb of the sun, wearing its glare like a glittering, glamorous cloak, and it was nice to have some easy pickings for a change, but it was all so dull for a thief accustomed to excitement and tight corners. It had been fun stealing from under Guards' noses and watching Stan get all the blame, and as I silently mused over my past escapades I couldn't help reflecting over how it was that I came to be here in the first place.

     I had gone for days without food and by then I was getting pretty desperate for something. And so it was that when I found an Ummagine lying deserted in an alleyway, the only other object there apart from the stacks of wooden crates and the laundry drying on their crosshatch maze of string above my head, I had gone for it. The windows facing the alley were dark and silent, and despite my growing distaste for the vile purple root, my stomach moved my legs in swift, stealthy strides and I sprinted down the alleyway towards it. I wasn't able to stop myself in time.

     WHA-BAM!

     The collision happened so suddenly I didn't even see who it was that hit me. The breath was knocked from my chest as I was flung against the wall by the force of the blow, and I gasped for breath. Trying to clear my head of the stars and chirping Horus whirling around it, I slowly got to my feet and secretly hoped bruises didn't show through yellow fur too easily. I had an image to maintain here. Competition between rogues in the Lost Desert was high, and especially when I myself was not a member of the rapidly growing Desert Scarabs.

     Regaining my senses, I looked down at the now unconscious figure lying sprawled at my feet. I gasped in surprise.

     It was my archrival.

     Stan the Kyrii.

     And if there was one thing I had learnt: it's that where Stan is, Guards are too!

     It didn't take long before the telltale rumbling of Elephantes' feet reached my ears, striking a growing panic deep within me. Who knew how close they were?

     I chanced a quick glance around the corner and immediately withdrew back into the shadows. There was a whole stampede! And all kicking up clouds of dust as they charged straight towards me! What had Stan done, lured away the entire Palace's security?

     I had no time to lose. Snatching up the Ummagine, I darted back down the way I had come. They definitely had Stan this time, but there was no way they could have me! I was the lesser-known Sakhmet thief, and I had every intention of staying that way! However, my heart quickly sank as another large band of Elephante Guards rounded the other corner, cutting me off. The first group had reached Stan by now. It was hopeless, I was trapped!

     For a while it was like we had all been paralysed. Nobody moved and a deathly silence settled over us like a heavy cloak. Well, it would've been all the more silent if it weren't for the hammering of my heart. I swear it was thumping away so hard even the Guards must have heard it at some point! Suddenly the deafening trumpet from one of the Generals made me jump nearly out of my fur, snapping me out of my reverie.

     "There's the other thief!" I heard him bellow gruffly, his deep voice echoing throughout the alleyway. I was slightly shocked that they should already know me: apparently I wasn't as lesser known as I had first thought!

     "GET HIM!" ordered the Elephante General at the other end of the corridor.

     It was like the spell had been broken. Suddenly everything was in motion again, maybe even fast-forwarded, as everything happened so quickly after that. They came at me at the same time, both bands hurtling towards me with awesome speed and fury, brandishing their scimitars and royal-looking blades. Before I knew it I had done the stupidest thing in my life.

     My hand darted towards my blue sash and drew my Cobrall Dagger from beneath its gossamer folds. As the first General came at me, I instinctively lashed out, slashing him across both log-like legs.

     Well, that may well could have been the last thing I did again. I could see the anger bubbling up inside him like molten lava. His sky-blue body began trembling with rage and his breath hissed out of his trunk like a disturbed Cobrall. His red eyes betrayed all the fury steaming out of him. There was a shocked silence, everybody unable to believe that I had just attacked a Royal Guard of Sakhmet Palace. It's not normally something I would do either, but in my haste I had forgotten the basic laws of survival when around an Elephante horde and for a while all I could do was gape in shock and the red tinge staining the edge of my poisonous blade. Then his trumpet of rage exploded from his trunk, almost shattering my sensitive ears. It must have been heard for miles around! It was all I needed to tell me I needed to get out of here…now!

     He dove at me then, but I hastily sidestepped out of the way and leapt onto the stack of crates nearby, clambering up the haphazard pile as fast as I could. They closed around it like an armored wave, smashing the rickety crates as if they were made of twigs. I almost fell into their flailing arms and thrashing trunks, but as the topmost crate began to tumble down, I leapt off it and grabbed hold of the laundry wire above me. The rope was thin and cut painfully into my hands, but I skittered across it with all the agility of an Usul and made it to the other side, flinging laundry every which way to cake the Guards' faces like wet plaster.

     I made it to the window ledge and continued to hop upwards, swinging from one wire to the next until I made it to the flat rooftops. Looking down at their dismayed faces all gazing up at me, I couldn't help making one last face at them before disappearing over the edge.

     Sibil came to me soon after that. The Crokabek's a trueborn coward and hardly ever accompanies me when I go off to steal. She's hopeless at fighting in any case. The most she's ever done is follow close by in case something should happen.

     I tossed the Ummagine to her as she landed, suddenly having lost my appetite for it. I watched in disgust as she tucked in, orange beak snapping greedily at the repulsive root.

     "Honestly Sibil, I don't know how you can eat that!" I exclaimed, leaning against the balustrade in exhaustion. I wiped my dagger clean against my blue pants and tucked it back into my sash. She saw the red staining the blade and crowed in shock.

     "Don't tell me you actually attacked one this time!" she gawped in amazement. I nodded dumbly and she shook her head in despair. "Soki, I think that's the stupidest thing you've ever done! In the name of Coltzan, what did you think you were doing?"

     "They were headed right at me!" I protested, like a young Neopet trying to make up a convincing excuse for an angry owner. "What was I supposed to do? Stand there and let them catch me? You know you weren't exactly there to help me out either!"

     In truth I don't think there was much she could've done. They would've had her too, and I wasn't going to risk her life just to find out what it was that they did to the Petpets of lawbreakers.

     She sensed my agitation, for she hop-skipped into the air and wheeled around for a bit, surveying the scene below us. It didn't take long before she landed lightly on my shoulder again.

     "Well?"

     "They're all over the place, Soki! There's no way we can stay here. They've already alerted the security and doubled the Guards patrolling the streets! It's not safe, they'll catch you in no time!" she squawked.

     I didn't doubt a single word she said.

     As we crawled down the side of the building and threaded our careful way through the labyrinthine streets, we did indeed pass many more Guards, all with Desert Scimitars slung across their backs and their glowing eyes searching their surroundings for one thing: me! As we neared the gate it became harder to avoid them, their hard gaze roving over the various Sakhmetians as they shoved in and out of the main gates, passing them on their way to the Marketplace.

     "Hey, lookit this!" I murmured to Sibil, snatching a papyrus notice off the wall, tearing its edges where the nails had been driven through it.

     Using the bare minimum of hieroglyphics I had leant from rich merchants and passers-by, I skimmed the page with interest. It was a poster advertising my arrest. The description matched me exactly: A short, yellow Zafara with a gold headband, a lapis-lazuli bracelet around each wrist, and two earrings in the right ear, black/dark blue kohl around the eyes, wearing a dark blue vest embroidered with golden script, a dark blue gossamer sash and lighter-blue pants. I was glad the Guards hadn't recognized my few glamorous trinkets as having been from the Palace itself, as I'm sure Empress Vyssa and Princess Amira would've had my head for sure!

     I stuffed the notice into my sash as safekeeping and managed to escape from the city disguised as a merchant. That's when I fled to Coltzan's Oasis. The Guards wouldn't follow me there. Needless to say, though, adventure did!

To be continued...

 
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