The Golden Globes of Light: Part Six
Our flight back to Neopia City was not eventful, so I shall skip that and go right to the next fight I had with Alex. When we arrived outside Neopia City, I was surprised to see that the entire group, plus Jantal and Eleus Batrin, had turned out to see our progress. Alex and I were the only ones of the group that were not wielding the weapons and armor that Ky had specifically made for them. Bowing, the two of us faced one another, and the fight began. She transformed first, as her power was more aggressive, but I quickly transformed to defend myself. We fought for hours, with absolute silence covering our audience. At last, Ky declared a halt, and Alex withdrew. In doing so, the two of us returned to normal, and a loud cheer erupted around us. We had passed the final test; we had not hurt one another and we had not harmed those around us. As we were pressed and showered with congratulations, Ky stepped forward, bearing the articles she had made for us.
I was amazed at the work she had done. For Alex, she had designed a suit of armor very similar to that of a Meridell Knight that fought on the ground, but it had unusual powers. For one thing, it was so light, it was as if she were only wearing cloth, but it was tougher than the hide of pets that were painted stone (back when those brushes worked). For another, it was able to expand when she transformed, so she didn’t have to change armor any longer. The staff that she gave Alex also transformed with her into a sword of fire. Alex seemed thrilled, but it was nothing compared to how I felt when Ky presented me with her pieces of what I can describe as nothing less than art.
In the pieces she did for me, Ky had really outdone herself. My armor, in its normal state, appeared to be no more than the outfit of an Eyrie Guard’s uniform, but it was heavily enchanted so that I would not be killed before I could transform. When I transformed, it changed into a suit of armor very similar to the one Alex had, only it was for an Eyrie that called the Citadel home. As for my weapon... I have no idea how she knew about my abilities. You see, the weapon she made for me was nothing less than an enchanted whip that could transform as I did, and become a whip of lightning... This gave me two whips of lightning, and I was quite pleased.
That evening, we went back to Neopia City to buy some supplies for our journey to the Desert of Roo. We did not dare fly once we approached the desert because we had seen storm clouds gathering over the heart of the desert, and Zan said that the clouds were a sure sign that there was powerful magic present. Therefore, we would need lots of supplies for a desert journey. Surprisingly, we managed to find quite a few good deals in the marketplace; Ky’s extra products sold like wildfire, and if we had continued to live in Ancient Neopia, she could have made us richer than anyone could ever imagine. With that money, we bought several weeks worth of traveling food, and departed from Neopia City. As we took off into the setting sun, I could not help but feel we were only heading into more and more trouble.
We had all really changed since our entry into Ancient Neopia, but since I had been isolated during most of the training sessions, I had not been privileged to see the changes that had come over us until we were rushing to the growing storm over the Desert of Roo. It was a good thing we could all fly, or else the journey might have taken much longer. While the fastest route to the Desert of Roo was over the ocean, Jantal had advised against such a direct route. “There is clearly some foul magic at play,” he explained to our impatient group, “and I can not advise a plan that would fly us directly into such danger. No,” he snapped, raising his voice over Ky’s protests, “I will not travel such a route! We will fly over the swamps, and then enter the desert on foot from there.” The swamps were very unpleasant, and I was extremely relieved we would not be entering them on foot. We chose to spend the night in Swamp Edge City, a small little town that was surrounded by mountains. The inhabitants were very startled when we entered the settlement, and some were even hostile. After questioning a shopkeeper, we discovered that the situation was far worse than expected.
Swamp Edge City was very secluded, and opportunities to trade were very rare. The only full sized city within several leagues was the Temple of Roo, although there were many smaller villages and lone homes. The two cities were very friendly toward one another, and the trading wagons enjoyed a steady stream of business. However, the mutual peace that the region had enjoyed for generations had suddenly vanished when the Desert of Roo was under siege. The citizens had fled the oncoming battle and retreated to the Temple of Roo, where they were under the protection of a few dozen wizards. Supposedly, the attackers had come from the south, but that didn’t offer much help. Judging by the unnatural storm clouds that hovered over our destination, the battle was between wizards of great power. Zan and Jantal seemed very worried, but it was Ky’s reaction that caught my attention.
I was distracted by Kassiel telling me to hurry up and or I would risk being late for the meeting. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and quickly followed him to another room where everyone was waiting. As soon as I sat down, Kassiel closed the door and the meeting began. “When we had not received news from Sunny City for over two months before your arrival, Eleus already had a suspicion that something was wrong,” Zan began briskly, not pausing for trifling formalities. “Now, with the news of a possible wizard war, it is quite clear that things are not as they should be. The question now would be one of which course of action to take.” He looked across at the six of us. “This is not your fight, no more than it is our fight, but I am almost certain that if the Temple of Roo falls, these wizards will continue their journey up to the mainland. I am not asking you to fight if it comes to that, but I think it would be in your best interest to help.”
“Of course we will help, Zan,” Lilly said soothingly. “Don’t get all excited!” She looked over at Ky. “Where are the wizards coming from, anyway?”
My sister sighed. “There are only two locations where such belligerent wizards could dwell unnoticed. Either they came from Sunny City itself or from the Mountain Fortress.”
“The Mountain Fortress!” Jantal squawked in excitement, nearly causing me to jump, “Of course! And I had forgotten about Sunny City. I think that the tides might actually be in our favor, if we can contact some of their spell casters. It is possible that they have already sent some when they saw the advancing wizards. If so, then they will require our help.”
“I don’t know how much help we can offer,” I said softly. “We have already delayed your mission by a significant amount of time. We would probably only hinder you.”
“Nonsense.” Jantal snorted in reply. “You are all fully capable of offering aid in this crisis.” He glanced at Zan. “I think we should attempt to find the Sunny City citizens. We certainly can’t storm the Temple alone, but we can’t just leave.”
“I agree,” Zan said with a sigh. “There isn’t much else we can do. I can only hope that they will have something in mind.” With that, the meeting ended, and we began out march to the Desert of Roo.
When a desert is under siege, the desert can respond in a fury. There was a terrible sandstorm in progress when we entered the Desert of Roo, and Ky insisted we turn back so that she could make some special equipment that would allow us to see more clearly. Zan refused, saying we could not risk getting lost. Even Ashiel seemed unable to find his bearings, and we were forced to continue against the storm. Even in the middle of the attack on Sakhmet there had not been such a storm. We were all tied together with enchanted rope, but that was the only thing that prevented us from being dispersed like the sand around us. Sometimes, we were lifted into the air because the force of the storm was so great, and I am surprised we ever reached the outskirts of the Temple of Roo.
As soon as we came upon the boundaries of the Temple of Roo, the sandstorm abruptly stopped. Something was preventing the sandstorm’s entry onto the temple grounds, and we were quite relieved to be free of the savage storm. Up above us, the cloud we had seen from a distance brewed ferociously. The temple itself seemed to shake from the storms that surrounded it and the battle that took place within. We couldn’t enter the building because there was a magical barrier across the entrance. All we could do was sit and rest from our trek across the sands. To my great surprise, we didn’t spend much time alone. Four figures were approaching in the distance, clearly with as much difficulty as we had encountered ourselves. As they loomed nearer and nearer, I was startled to see that not all of our guests were pets. When they broke free of the storm, my suspicions were confirmed; two of the strangers were faeries! We all rushed over to help, and managed to help them stagger to some shelter.
“Thank you,” one of the faeries gasped. She looked toward the entrance. “Is it still sealed?”
“Yes, but even if it were not, you wouldn’t be going in there,” Lilly said firmly. “There is some large fight going on inside.”
“Yes, we know,” she snapped. “We have to help!” She struggled against Alex, who had been helping her, but was not strong enough to break free.
“You aren’t going anywhere until you get some rest,” Kassiel said sternly. “You have just been traveling through one of the most ferocious sandstorms that have ever existed. You are in no shape to go dashing back into it, and certainly in no shape to be battling wizards.”
I studied the newcomers closely. The faerie that had spoken was clearly an earth faerie, but she resembled Ilere more than anyone else. She wore a thick traveling cloak, and her hair was jet black except for one streak of grey. The other faerie was a dark faerie. She wore a simple robe and striped stockings, and carried a staff. Her hair was very dark, but not as dark as her companion’s hair. In addition to the two faeries, there was a Skeith and a Gelert. The Skeith and the Gelert wore cloaks that matched the one the earth faerie was wearing, and they both seemed to be slightly ill. This effect, however, was merely a trick on the eyes by their unusual skin tone. I turned to the earth faerie. “What is your name, and why are you on the mainland?” She seemed to hesitate, so I added, “We won’t be going anywhere for a while, so you might as well tell us a little bit of your background.”
“Oh, very well,” she said with a sigh. When they had been given some of our water and given time to rest, we all sat in a circle to hear their stories.
The earth faerie began first. “My training name is Amber. I was with Myra in Faerieland until two years ago, when the two of us escaped during a break in the battles of the ongoing Faerie War. We came down to the mainland and stayed in Sunny City. That was where I met Avery and Pat.” The Skeith and the Gelert nodded as their names were mentioned, but were otherwise silent. “I parted ways with Myra and traveled about the mainland with my two new friends. A few months ago, however, I received a summons from Myra, asking me to come back to Sunny City.”
Myra picked up the story. “After the wizards of the Mountain Fortress had been seen marching toward the Techo Caves in large numbers, the leader of Sunny City had suggested that someone be sent to find out what was going on. The four of us volunteered to go see if there was something wrong in the Mountain Fortress. When we arrived, the place was deserted. We were completely baffled until we found the invasion plans in one of the elemental chambers.”
Amber sighed. “After that, we rushed to the Temple of Roo to try and help. We evacuated as many of the refugees and inhabitants as we could,” Amber said sadly, “but we were unable to rescue them all before the Archmagus sealed the main doors. We have been traveling around the Temple to see if we could find an entrance that was not sealed off to prevent escape, but there was nothing left open to allow for egress. I don’t think that anyone is left alive in there.” She shuddered.
I narrowed my eyes and pointed to some sand that had been stained fairly recently. “Not alive? Then explain where this came from,” I hissed. The faerie seemed uncomfortable. “There are definitely wizards still alive in there. If they escape, then they will overrun all of Neopia! We can’t allow that to happen!”
“Well, what do you suggest?!” snapped Myra, “It isn’t as if we can take the entire force on. They have gotten completely out of control.”
“We could put up a shield,” Lilly offered quietly. “A shield that takes away their powers so that they can’t harm Neopia if they pass through it.”
The suggestion was greeted by several arguments, but Ashiel raised a hand for silence. “It seems to me that Lilly’s idea is the only plausible one we can think of that would help. We should at least give it a try.”
“Fine,” snorted Avery, “but we aren’t going to stay around and see if they are in trouble. After all, they did try and eliminate the entire region.”
Nods of agreement came from around the circle. Myra sighed. “Well, there is no harm in trying,” she admitted grudgingly. “But I don’t know if we are going to get the results we are looking for. I know of one shielding spell that would work, but it requires an enormous amount of power.”
“If we all cast it together, would there be enough magic to create this shield?” Ky inquired.
Myra seemed surprised. “I think so, yes. But wouldn’t that be asking a bit much? After all, we only just met.”
Jantal shook his head. “That is true, but time is running short. The sooner we seal the Temple of Roo, the better. I think we can all agree on that,” he muttered, pointing to the sealed entrance. Everyone understood the message and Myra explained how the spell worked as we started to set up for the casting.
The shield spell actually didn’t take much time to cast. After reviewing exactly what we were supposed to do, the twelve of us split up and surrounded the building in a way that the distances from one caster to another were all equal. At Zan’s signal, we all began casting the shielding spell. The effect on me was terrible; I felt as if something was draining the very life from me, and I desperately wanted to break away. Some part of me resisted, reminding me what I was doing. A field of energy began to form around the Temple of Roo, and a few minutes later, the spell was complete. Without the ribbon of magical energy that had been keeping me up, I collapsed into a heap onto the stone and passed out.
To be continued...