The Kingdom in Winter
Tonight fulfilled every expectation of winter. The somber moon hung frozen in the sky. In fact, everything seemed to freeze in the barren vanity of the air. But perhaps it was not the moon that froze, but time. Aerebys realized time had frozen. At least for him.
The royal Kyrii stood on his balcony. He took sparing breaths, due to the cuttingly cold air. But his gaze was also cuttingly cold. While it was only the first true chill this winter, the king sensed the graveness.
Aerebys had come to this land not too long ago. It was then a fledgling community, but he was welcomed. His dignified and reliable nature easily lead him to power, and he was soon recognized as their king. So now on this bitter winter night, King Aerebys could not overlook his duty as such.
The biting air foretold all. When it swept over the Kyrii, his hair started to stand up. In normal circumstance, the king's thick purple mane was immune to cold, but tonight portended a greater severity.
Of course the king could reside safely in his stronghold during the harshest of all winters. But his kingdom could not say the same. No, not in the least. The small, sprawling community would shiver in their cabins. Aerebys stood on his balcony over the kingdom. Although he was standing there in a position of great power, he did not truly regard himself as such. Indeed, he could heed safety in his castle, but then what would come of his people? The kingdom down there? The air was cold. His gaze was cold. But his heart... cold, it was not.
Aerebys turned from the window. Ah, time was not frozen after all. But if it had been, at least he would have more time to think this through.
He stepped into the glaringly lit chamber. It was pleasantly warm and bright inside, and thus quite different than the kingdom outside. But if anything, these comforts further forced him to ponder.
How in all of Neopia can I help my people? he thought. He began to pace back and forth across the room. His footsteps echoed on the stone walls, and eventually out the door into the corridors of the large castle. Since it was so far into nighttime, the echoes were all the more pronounced. They left such resonance that the king's loyal petpet, in a far off chamber, stirred in the night. The cyodrake named Isa awoke and followed the echoes to where the king was.
From just outside the door, Isa peered in at Aerebys. His face carried more wrinkles and furrows now than it did before. It was not such a weary face before this cold night. It was not a weary face before he was king. He was just a Kyrii.
Isa really did think these things, as cyodrakes are a smart breed. But even this cyodrake was confounded by the winter's onslaught. She was imagining the outcome when she saw the king's head droop down. At least he can sleep for now, Isa thought.
The next day, the sun came out. A good thing, the king thought; at least the sun did not freeze, too. He was now consumed with the wintry prospects. He thought constantly of what could happen to the people of the land, the people who supported him. In these speculations, however, he thought nothing of himself or his abode. He dreamed of selflessly rescuing his kingdom, but for now he was locked indoors because anxiety bade him to.
King Aerebys did not even notice docile Isa's departure. She was less fearful to leave, perhaps because of self-reliance in transportation (flying) and cyodrakes have an admirably mythical quality. Anyway, if the king knew she was going, his worries would multiply. Thus she left, but neither the king nor even she knew where she was going.
Isa just knew she had to go. It was an innate cyodrake sense. Some how, some way, she wanted to help the king and his kingdom. She headed south, which was the direction of a warmer climate. As she flew, the air became noticeably warmer, which she was thankful for.
Each minute she spent seemed no different than any other minute. She just flew and flew with scarce changes in scenery. The blending of her time and surrounding did not matter because she eventually reached the heart of Altador. And she knew some very helpful friends there.
It was around the times of the Altador Cup, so the culturally rich city was bustling. Many Cup fanatics and other general spectators rushed or merely ambled about the streets and sidewalks. Isa was looking for none of these Altadorians, however. She was looking for an important player in the Altador Cup: the yooyu.
During the Cup, many yooyus were bound to flock to Altador. Isa knew she needed numbers on her side so she could help her king. She was glad then that she came here alone, because the king in his panic would most likely greatly underestimate the petpets. And it was hard not to underestimate!
Isa's main goal was to find Fire Yooyus. If she could find enough of them, their radiating warmth would certainly help the kingdom. Altador's Colosseum radiated an almost tangible warmth, so Isa decided to go there first.
She flew along the outside perimeter, scouting for yooyus. She finally spotted a group of them. They were enjoying general fun and merriment, and occasionally glowing with fiery happiness. Isa flew in their direction, but her downcast appearance was conspicuous in the arena's levity.
One yooyu noticed the cyodrake, and so nudged another yooyu. They looked at Isa with an innate empathy. Isa eyed them, and then wanted to word her dilemma but did not quite know how.
I need help, she said. It was a phrase of the utmost simplicity, but it was thoroughly true. She then began to divulge the story of the unnaturally harsh winter. Please, Isa said. We are a small, growing land and we have no means to survive this. Our king is a great Kyrii, both in personality and leadership. We... I would be forever grateful for your help...
The yooyus nodded in assurance. So to make it all pan out, Isa gave them directions to the kingdom, and for now she said she would go to see her king.
The return trip seemed longer than departure from home. The sun was starting to lower itself towards the horizon. It was not quite sundown, technically, but it was uncomfortably close for Isa. She just wanted to get back before dark and before another biting cold night in the kingdom. She wanted to assure the king of the possibility of a rescue.
Isa sighed in relieved exasperation when the kingdom was in sight. Although quite tired, she pushed herself a bit faster to get to the castle. On the way, she saw more bustle than usual. Most villagers were out and about, seemingly collecting firewood and other resources. This urged Isa even more.
By the time she got back to the castle, she disregarded her fatigue. The king was still in the same room. She wondered if he had moved at all during the day. It seemed unlikely, just as he seemed frozen. Frozen by either the literal cold, or by fear of it. But he was not frozen, as she realized, when he looked at her.
The quiet moment of reconnaissance broke, when the window swung open from a gust of wind. This gust was so cold, it seemed laced with ice crystals. King Aerebys shook his head. His small goatee seemed frosted over with snow. Isa inwardly prayed that the yooyus would hurry up.
The king and his cyodrake remained there for a few more moments until suddenly the icy air around them subsided. This was a curious thing for the king, who looked quizzically at Isa and then went to the window. Isa saw his quizzical face become awestruck. She too went to the window and her heart filled with joy to see quite a number of fire yooyus commingling with the kingdom's inhabitants. The yooyus brought with them a radiating warmth, both physical and emotional.
Aerebys dragged Isa and himself out of the castle's broad doors and out into the town. It seemed quite a different town than just the other night. There was no longer a bitter chill confining them nor anyone indoors. There was no longer the metronomic sound of axes cutting firewood, nor were there constant worried whispers.
Just as the air and atmosphere lost its chill and just as the ominous snow clouds dissipated, so did Aerebys's once stern, troubled expression. He was again a warm king and it did Isa good to live there in the warm kingdom.