Messenger: The Trouble With Selkets - Part Five
We spent the rest of the day getting settled in Wosret’s tent. Pecan and Seth the Anubis, after a few quick sniffs, got on fairly well. We set up our blankets far away from the Selkets, even though Wosret repeatedly assured us that they were not poisonous.
Later that night, I woke up again, my head throbbing and my hand filled with searing hot pain. I tried to sleep, but the headache plagued me. My whole body was on fire, and my hand was burning the most. The fever raged through me the whole night, keeping me awake and staring at the Selkets, until at last dawn came.
“Emma?” Bluecloud bent concernedly over me, her round blue eyes wide and fearful. When I didn’t answer, she put her hand on my forehead, and sprang away. “Your face is so warm,” she murmured. I closed my eyes as she scampered away, accidentally kicking sand in my face.
A little while later Bluecloud returned, a short red Cybunny loping along after her. She smelled strongly of herbs and spices, wearing a simple red robe and a tattered brown cape and toting a patchwork bag filled with medicine. She took my temperature, felt pulse, and finally turned to Midnight and sighed.
“How did she get like this?” the Cybunny asked, motioning to me.
“Sh-she was bitten by a Selket, and the bite was poisonous,” Midnight stuttered. “We took her to a hospital in Neopia Central and they said she would be fine.”
“Not all of the poison is gone,” the Cybunny muttered, knitting her brow and checking my pulse again. “It still runs in her blood, giving her this fever.”
“I thought Selkets weren’t poisonous,” Wosret cut in, her eyes shining like tiny flames in the darkness.
“That’s what I thought too,” said the Cybunny. “I’ve never heard of a poisonous Selket. They simply do not exist.”
“Unless genetically altered,” Clark cut in.
“Well, the owner of the Selkets could always have just inserted another type of poison into their system. If they bite anything, the poison would be transferred into the wound,” the Cybunny replied.
“Does this look like a specific type of poison?” Midnight questioned, kneeling down onto the sand beside me and holding Star close.
“That’s what I don’t understand. It looks a bit like Wadjet poison. . .but it’s much too mild for that. It could be Cobrall poison, although that is usually followed by a huge stomachache. Do you have a stomachache, dear?” The Cybunny looked down at me concernedly.
I coughed, my mouth feeling dry and unused. Pecan purred with sympathy and wrapped his tail around my aching head. I gave a weak shake of my head.
“It must be a smaller form of Wadjet poison, then, no wonder Neopia Central couldn’t heal it; Wadjets aren’t native there.” The healer sighed and opened her patchwork bag.
“Can you cure that?” Bluecloud asked hopefully.
“Technically, I could cure it, yes. But the problem is, I don’t have the cure. A fresh Yolkalia petal. Of course, finding something fresh would be hard enough here, without water, let alone finding a plant that is nearly extinct.”
“Where do they grow?” Bluecloud prompted.
The Cybunny sighed. “Nowhere in the desert, or in any commoner’s garden. In fact, it isn’t even native to the Lost Desert. I would expect. . .well, I believe that they would be in the palace garden.”
Bluecloud jumped to her feet and inched toward the tent flap. “Good, then. I’ll go to the palace and ask the princess for a Yolkalia petal.”
Midnight turned toward her daughter and shook her head. “No, Bluecloud. Don’t-” But before she had even finished her sentence, Bluecloud was outside and sprinting toward the palace.
Midnight looked hurt and frightened. “I could have at least gone with her,” she murmured. “She’s never been in the palace before. She’ll make some sort of mistake or knock over something valuable, I just know it.”
Clark sighed. “Oh well, there’s nothing we can really do now. I have to stay here with Emma, and you have to stay here with Star. I’m not going to watch the both of them at once.”
“I think that we all have reason to doubt that the princess will even have the flower, much less Bluecloud being given permission to find it,” said the healer worriedly. “In the meantime, I’ll give Emma some herbs to lessen her headache. I don’t have anything that can cure Wadjet poison, but I can try to keep her headache and fever down.” She rubbed my face with a blue Aching Lotion and boiled some herbs into a tea for me to drink. The lotion helped my headache a little bit, but my fever wasn’t going to go down any time soon without the Yolkalia petals.
“Well,” said Wosret, after a while, “I might as well get us some breakfast. I’ll warm up some Pyramicake for Bluecloud when she gets back.” Midnight and Clark nodded glumly as Wosret threw together a salad of sliced Cheops Plants, Cheopple leaves, and sprinkled over with sweet Gobi Fruit juice. I didn’t eat any, but Star and her mother almost devoured the whole thing. I guessed that, poor as they were, they ate whatever they could get.
“These Cheops slices are lovely,” the Cybunny commented after a while, breaking the silence.
Wosret nodded from the small campfire outside where she was cooking a few Pyramicakes to go with the salad. The tent flap was propped open with a small post, letting the smell of cooking bread waft into the tent. “Thanks, I grew them myself. I have a little garden plot out back where I grow Cheops and Gobi Fruits. I bought the Cheopple leaves, though. There’s nothing better than a fresh Cheopple leaf salad,” the Ruki said.
“It could have used more leaves, though,” said Clark, poking a Cheops Plant glumly with his fork. “Umm. . .maybe some Cheops Plant leaves?”
“Oh, no,” answered Wosret, shaking her head quickly. “Cheops leaves are very poisonous, didn’t you know? I burned the leaves as soon as I picked the fruit, although a few of the leaves may have blown away. I hope no one ate them.”
“It’s so strange,” muttered the Cybunny thoughtfully. “It doesn’t look like Wadjet poison at all, it’s too small for that. If she’d been given Wadjet poison she wouldn’t have lasted more than a few minutes.”
“Yep, Cheops leaves are very poisonous,” Wosret went on, fanning her camp fire so that the flames rose higher. “Although, you won’t go immediately. That’s the worst thing about them, you slowly waste away over a few days.”
“And what symptoms would a person who has taken Cheops leaf poison have?” the healer asked curiously.
“Um. . .a headache, I suppose. A fever, and probably an infection where the poison entered their system.”
“That’s it!” the Cybunny sprang to her feet, upsetting her salad bowl and spilling Cheopple leaves all over Clark, to his great displeasure. “I knew it! It isn’t Wadjet poison after all. It’s Cheops!”
“Do Yolkalia petals cure that?” Midnight questioned.
“No!” the Cybunny shouted gleefully. “It’s much simpler. The poison and the cure go hand in hand. The cure is the Cheops Plant fruit!” Clark, Wosret, and Midnight stared at her open-mouthed. Finally, Midnight came to her senses and dumped the entire salad into my open mouth. I swallowed and almost choked on it all.
“Are you feeling better?” Midnight peered into my face worriedly, her hands full of Cheops fruit. I nodded weakly. My fever seemed to be easing off a bit.
“It will take a while for the fruit to counteract the poison,” the healer explained, reaching into her patchwork bag and giving me some more herbs that she said would quicken the healing process.
And, by lunchtime, I was feeling almost perfect. I could sit up on my bed and eat some of the Pyramicakes that Wosret had just finished cooking. The fever was completely gone, my headache was almost nonexistent, and the slicing pain in my hand was only a dull ache now.
“I hope Bluecloud is okay,” said Midnight anxiously. “We don’t even need the flower now.”
“I don’t know what’s taking her so long,” said Wosret, sticking her head out of the tent and looking around for her young friend.
“There’s nothing more I can do for you,” the Cybunny told me, closing her bag and moving away. “Just drink plenty of liquids and get a lot of rest. If the fever comes back, fetch me and eat some more Cheops fruit.” I nodded, and the Cybunny smiled at my sudden recovery and left. About ten minutes after she had left, a crowd began to gather by our tent, and angry yelling echoed through the city. Star covered her ears and started crying, and Clark dropped the salad bowl on his foot in surprise.
“What is that awful noise?” Wosret snapped. She and Midnight quickly left the tent to go see what everyone was yelling about. I pulled myself up onto my feet and staggered after them.
We found ourselves in a huge crowd gathering around the palace steps. Two burly guards were tackling someone to the ground, and sitting on the bottom step was the Princess Amira herself, sobbing her heart out. Curiously, I stumbled closer to the two guards.
“By order of the princess,” one of the guards shouted, “this person is to be thrown into the dungeons for stealing the princess’s extremely valuable golden necklace.” He aimed a kick at the thief, who was still struggling defiantly. “I don’t have it! Hey! Watch it!” the thief shrieked. The guard finally got the criminal under control and held her up for everyone to see. With a sickening jolt in my stomach, I realized that the thief was none other than Bluecloud.
To be continued...