Tangled Up in Blu: Part Eleven
The blaring of trumpets welcomed Blu, Zwane, and Mephtik into the King’s Chambers. All of Maraqua and Dehytrezn were gathered there to see the heroes of their kingdoms. A chorus of whistles and claps erupted as the trio entered the room and began to walk to the king’s throne. Blu smiled modestly at her ‘fans’ as she made her way to King Kelpbeard’s throne. He cleared his throat, and the room silenced.
“Blu, Zwane, and Mephtik; you three have done great good for both Maraqua and Dehytrezn. You have found and defeated the traitor within our ranks and brought liberation to the cursed people of Dehytrezn. For your heroic deeds you will not go unrewarded. Mephtik, I am offering you a position as one of the royal guards of Maraqua, as well as a sum of neopoints.” The king regarded the Maraquan Elephante before him, awaiting his decision of his offer. Mephtik, smiling humbly, spoke.
“Thank ya very muchly for yer offer, sir, but I’m afraid I’ll have ta pass. Meh job as a prison guard is all I know, an’ I’m ’appy tha’ way. As fer the neopoints, give ’em to the king o’ Dehytrezn; tell ’im to get started on rebuldin’ tha kingdom.”
The king was touched by the prison guard’s generosity, but felt that he had to repay the Elephante in some way. He insisted on several rewards, but Mephtik turned each one down. After much prodding from his friends, Mephtik finally accepted a petpet companion for his days in the stone dungeons of Dehytrezn.
“Zwane, your valiant efforts in battle as well as your aid to Blu have been invaluable throughout the duration of this event. You will be raised to our highest military rank, and will be granted a sum of neopoints.” King Kelpbeard felt a tinge of pride in his voice; he had always felt affection for the young shadow Gelert. Zwane grinned.
“Thank you, your highness, but following the example of Mephtik, use my monetary gift for the rebuilding of Maraqua. I would hardly say I did anything significant, so I couldn’t feel guilt-free in accepting your gifts.”
“As you wish. Last, but certainly not least, is Blu.” King Kelpbeard took in the tired and slightly mangled form of the island Gelert. “You will forever be venerated in Maraqua as a hero, as will your companions. You are welcome in Maraqua at any time. You will also be granted a monetary sum, as well as possession of the Trident.” Blu smiled tiredly at the offered gifts. She could accept the fame, as long as it wasn’t over extravagant. But what to do with the money and the Trident? She furrowed her brow in thought, weighing options her in mind. I can’t accept the money; I don’t deserve it. And the Trident, I could never take that with me. It’s all so much to take in... Blu’s mind was overworking itself with yet another conundrum.
“King Kelpbeard, I must be completely honest - I haven’t the faintest idea as to what to do with your gifts. I couldn’t possibly take your money, especially not after all the damage I’ve done. As for the Trident, accepting that would be more of a curse than a gift.” Blu was still at a loss as to what she should do with the Trident. She couldn’t leave it in the hands of a king; it could easily corrupt him.
“What should be done with the Trident then? Surely no one could take it; the responsibility is too heavy for the shoulders of a mere mortal. You must know of something we can do,” King Kelpbeard uttered, trying to hide the tinge of hopefulness in his tone. Blu sighed audibly.
“Yes, the power of the Trident is too much for a mere mortal to bear, and so I cannot take it. As much as we’d like to think I’m some extraordinary being who has saved us all from an untimely demise, I’m just a regular, run-of-the-mill island Gelert who had the misfortune to be born with powers that changed her destiny. The Trident needs to be locked away to avoid the hands of a curious neopet who wants to tempt fate. I’ll take the Trident, but I plan to dispose of it immediately. If I show even the slightest signs of corruption, promise to destroy me before it’s too late.” As soon as the words left Blu’s lips, the entire room of Maraquans let out a collective gasp. Blu closed her eyes as a Maraquan Mynci guard handed her the Trident.
“Blu...” The normally philosophical Zwane was at a loss for words. The statement the Gelert had just made was incomprehensible. She had asked to be destroyed rather than to risk the lives of others. Who said having a heart of gold would spare you from life’s bitter unfairness?
Mephtik nodded, his arms folded over his chest. The audacity of the mage’s words didn’t affect him as it did the others. He had always detected an unnoticed boldness hiding beneath the Gelert’s exterior. It just took a life-or-death situation to bring it out.
“Well, Blu, wha’ can ya say. I knew ye was a brave one; tha’ I did. Yer not going through with this alone, I’ll tell ya tha’. I’ma comin’ with ya, righ’ now. So let's get goin’, poppet.” Mephtik couldn’t suppress a grin as he followed Blu out of the King’s chambers. Zwane, however, kept his expression stoic as he followed the past the gaping crowd.
Within two minutes, the threesome had found their way to the abandoned battlefield. There, in the center of it all, stood a solid stone structure. Within that structure was the remains of a corrupted mentor, mage, and friend; they were the remains of Vzelle.
Her pose was not anything extravagant; one who had no knowledge of the event might believe that the Eyrie was carved out by an uninspired sculptor. Her legs were braced against an unknown force, and one arm rested at her side. Graceful, feathered wings were slightly spread, giving the stone a sense of regality. Her other arm was raised slightly; the only peculiar part was that her fingers were curled around a nonexistent object. As Blu let her eyes travel even farther upward, she saw that trademark smirk which would live on forever. It was almost sad.
Blu walked up to the stone Eyrie, feeling the Trident’s power becoming more intoxicating with every step she took. She squeezed her eyes shut as she stood before the statue of her mentor, grasping the Trident with all of her might. She knew in her head what she wanted to do; she just had to overcome the Trident’s telepathic nagging.
You don’t really want to destroy me, do you? You could just take all of this power for yourself... The Trident’s seductive voice rang out in her head. Her pupils dilated, and she knew that her friends were noticing the change. Mephtik glanced at Zwane, who wielded his sword in a shaky paw. He stepped up to the frozen Gelert, placing the sword at her neck. His lips was a mere inch away from her ear as he whispered harshly to the transfixed water bender.
“You don’t want this, Blu. I know you don’t, and so do you. I don’t want to see you die at the end of my sword; I couldn’t bear the stain of your blood on my hands. Unfortunately, I made a promise and that is something I intend to keep. So unless you’re able to overcome the Trident, I will be forced to kill you.” Zwane was surprised at the words he heard pouring from his mouth. His words, which were usually kind and inspirational, had now become fierce and threatening. Perhaps just being in the presence of the Trident corrupted you...
Blu felt an inky black hand squeeze her arm. Zwane’s words had broken up the Trident’s merciless telepathy and had given her space for her own motives. She shook her head in attempt to banish the evil thoughts from her mind. She repeated her motive mentally, but Blu could feel the Trident’s voice worming its way into her thoughts.
“Turn to stone! Be with the person who was corrupted under you, and turn to stone forever!” Blu found her voice. It came out in a shrill chant as she repeated herself over and over. She felt the energy drain from her body and her legs soon gave out. Her liquefied body was caught in the able arms of Zwane, who gazed at her with concern in his grey and gold eyes. He caressed her cheek with his paw, hoping that her eyes would flutter open. After a few tense minutes of waiting, Zwane’s head drooped.
“She can’t really be...” The shadow Gelert couldn’t bring himself to even say the word. His eyes were glazed over as he looked over at the Maraquan Elephante who stood a few paces away. Mephtik diverted his gaze, unable to look into the saddened eyes of the Gelert. It couldn’t be certain, but it certainly could be.
To be continued...