Scarlet Shadow: Secrets of a Kingdom - Part Five
Kelland was puzzled. Why did that name ring a bell? In fact, why were so many bells ringing now? What was it about this Acara that caused him to question so many things? “I believe you have me mistaken for someone else,” he stated.
The Acara shook her head. “No,” she continued, “no, you are Kiel, crown prince of Areshen, my brother.”
Kelland was speechless for a moment, then replied, “I have no sister, My Lady.”
“You aren’t sure of that,” she responded. “Your memories only reach until around thirteen years ago. Before that, it’s all a huge blur. You don’t know your parents, or at least your real parents, and you don’t recall your childhood.”
“How do you know that?” Kelland almost demanded. His past was a thing he often labeled as unmemorable to others. Very few, in fact only King Altador himself, knew that he meant it literally.
The Acara smiled, as though she had finally won. “I know because I was exactly like that when Morning came.”
Kelland took on another puzzled expression. “What does morning have to do with all this?”
The girl took her daughter from his arms and dropped a small pendant into his hand. Kelland looked down at the smooth blue gem in wonder. It glowed brightly, healing his faded memories as the two grown Acaras watched, the baby already having fallen asleep.
Altador stared at the frail-looking Acara, wondering how she could possibly be related to the swift and powerful Techo who now stood before them, arguing his case. All around him were the guardians of Altador – Psellia, an Air Faerie also known as the Dreamer, Siyana, a Light Faerie known as the First to Rise, Gordos, the Skeith known as the Collector, Marak, the Peophin known as the Wave, Jerdana, the Aisha known as the Protector, and Envari, the Dark Faerie who had saved Altador himself, future Betrayer and Darkest Faerie currently known as the Sleeper. The others had gone off to deal with matters of the country. “You don’t believe me?” Kelland questioned.
“It isn’t that I don’t believe your word, friend,” Altador explained, “but it’s difficult to imagine such a tear in space and time could happen without the whole of Neopia exploding.”
“Morning explained that she was able to stop it with some help,” Reign replied. “She told me nothing more about the situation, and informed me of how to come here.”
“Why exactly would you want to come here?” Envari questioned.
“It’s my daughter. She’s gravely ill,” Reign responded, a sharp tone in her voice. “Look, are you going to help me or should I go in search of some other assistance?”
“I mean no disrespect,” Siyana put in, “but Fauna informed me that the child was just fine.”
At that moment, Fauna entered, holding the young Acara in her arms. The girl was wide-eyed and curious. The Sleeper’s eyes grew wide, and Jerdana, Siyana, and Psellia all gasped. The others in the room were obviously confused at their reaction. “What’s wrong?” Altador asked finally.
“How is it that one so young possesses such power?” Envari demanded.
“What power?” Marak questioned.
“There is much dark magic in that girl,” Jerdana stated. “I felt it the moment she entered the room, as would any other with magical ability.”
Reign nodded. “Indeed. She was cursed by Betrayal, apparently.”
“She looks perfectly normal,” Gordos commented. “Most of those I see with dark powers at the scale you describe look... powerful?”
“She is but a child,” Psellia said. “She has no use for it and does not care for it. Once she becomes aware of the raw power within her and starts experimenting...”
“That is precisely what I am worried about,” Reign cut in. “She was not meant to have such power. As I said, Betrayal most likely cast a curse as she tried to attack me.”
“That is no curse, it is a blessing!” Envari exclaimed. “She may possibly grow to become the most powerful wielder of darkness there is! She only needs the proper training.”
“Were you not listening?!” Kelland almost yelled. “Listen, anything given by Betrayal is meant for malice, nothing more, and nothing less. If that Dark Faerie gave it, I don’t trust it.”
“Do you have something against Dark Faeries, Techo?” Envari hissed, her eyes narrowing and her hands coming close to bursting flames.
Kelland’s hand was slowly drawing near his dagger. “Considering my history with them, perhaps it would explain why I never trusted YOU very much.”
Altador stood, raising his voice. “Enough! I will not have a battle in the council chamber!” He turned to Envari, using a soft, yet firm tone. “I am sorry, but I must agree with Kelland. The risks are far too great, and so far what I have heard of this ‘Betrayal’ is not helping her case.” Now he turned to Reign. “We will help in whatever way we can.”
“Oh sure, NOW he believes me,” Reign muttered under her breath. Kelland elbowed her, but he held back a chuckle.
Reign sat in her quarters, writing down words in a strange tome. Her thoughts were drifting back to when she had first step foot on the strange island of the lady Morning and as she wrote down the tale, she didn’t notice the knock at her door. Jerdana entered slowly, tapping the Acara on the shoulder. Reign looked up from her task, half hoping for a smile to signify success instead of the frown of defeat she received. “Nothing, I’m so sorry,” Jerdana apologized.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Reign stated. “I suppose we can’t expect to drive all that darkness out at once, can we?”
“I don’t think I have ever heard of a spell that could, although I’ll admit we tried our best to search.”
“Thank you, Jerdana,” Reign continued. “You have tried harder than all the others, and I don’t think I have ever acknowledged it.”
Jerdana shook her head. “I have done practically nothing when you view the results. As for thanking me, you have been up all night, every day from dawn to dawn, searching for the answer and when you do not find it, you write in hopes that you see something no one else has in your adventures. You cannot be expected to be able to push yourself any further than you already are.”
“And yet for the sake of my child, I must,” Reign replied, sighing. She looked back at the tome and dipped her pen once more in the ink well.
Jerdana left the Acara to her work, gently shutting the door and giving a sigh of relief once she was far from the room. Jerdana thought to herself, “That child’s destiny will be difficult to fulfill, and yet for the sake of the world she must fulfill it.”
She heard rushed footsteps echoing down the hall and turned to find Reign, pale and looking so afraid and so relieved that it startled the Aisha. “I believe I have the answer,” Reign burst out. Jerdana listened intently as the Acara told her of her plans...
Reign stood inside the Council Chamber, watching her child squirming on one of the twelve thrones. She kept herself from running to her and clutching her tightly. She restrained her motherly instinct to tell her child that she was there, for she knew that soon she may not be.
A few feet away, Fauna waited anxiously with Kelland. “I still don’t understand what she’s doing,” she stated.
Kelland looked down, his mouth fixed in a hard line. Finally, he spoke. “The darkness inside her cannot be banished, not by any spell known to us. Siyana doesn’t even believe that any spell can banish such darkness. Anyway, Reign’s come up with a plan. It isn’t permanent, but it should keep the kid from experimenting with her magic too soon. They’re planning to seal the Darkness so that none of its full potential is shown.”
“So, they’re keeping the magic away from her... by sealing it within her?”
Kelland shook his head. “No, the Darkness was already sealed in her by Betrayal. They’re sealing it within even more magic.” Kelland paused, biting his lower lip. “They’re sealing it with Reign’s magic...”
At that moment, Reign shot forth with all her might, every ounce of power draining from her to the child. None of it was harmful in the least, for it was a spell that attacked the power within the girl and not the girl herself. Light filled the room and blinded everyone. Once the glare dimmed and the room grew dark, everyone saw the young Acara sitting up and looking around as though nothing had happened. “I can still sense the magic,” Envari stated coldly. “But it is suppressed, as planned.”
Kelland ran to his sister. She was kneeling now, a small smile on her face. Physically, she had taken as much as she possibly could and perhaps even more. “You did it,” he stated.
“Not yet,” she replied. She rose slowly, feeling that as the seconds slipped away, what remained of her power did as well. The transfer was far too straining and now she felt that she could no longer retain a single drop of it. “I have bought her time, Kiel,” she continued. “She must spend that time learning what she must from where she must be.” Kelland stared at Reign then turned to the small child who had now fallen asleep on the chair. With the last of her magic, she spoke her last spell – the spell that transported the child from inside the chamber, to another time and place all together. Kelland had caught one last glimpse of the birthmark, no longer a blossom engulfed in flames, but rather the crest of Altador, the sun with eight rays.
“And that is how you went back to your own time and kingdom,” Kelland finished.
“So, it’s my fault my mother’s gone,” Crystal said softly.
“No,” Siyana replied. “It was your mother’s choice to do what she did. You cannot blame yourself.”
“I don’t understand why she had to contain it!” Crystal exclaimed. “Why she had to contain this.” With that, her hand burst into indigo flames.
“Crystal, put that flame out this instant!” Kelland commanded. At first it seemed the defiance in the princess’ eyes would cause her to object, but she complied, allowing the flame to die. Kelland’s voice was firm. “Your mother gave all her power up to keep that Darkness from being toyed with. Treat it as such.”
Crystal looked down at her hand and Kelland continued. “Now, I begin to wonder what you meant much earlier when you said you had very little time. Surely you could stay a few days to rest and explore the city?”
Seeing that Crystal seemed in the mood for silence, Cenoal replied for her. “Lord Kelland, there is a war going on, and we really must be going.”
Kelland and everybody else in the room seemed perplexed. “A war?” Altador asked. “Has Meridell found itself in another spat?”
Now it was Cenoal and Shade’s turn to be confused. “Meridell sent out messengers to all parts of Neopia,” Shade said. “Altador couldn’t have been forgotten.”
“No messenger came this way,” Jerdana stated.
“That isn’t possible,” Crystal said, finally speaking. “I saw Sir Galhad flying off with his Uni myself. He could speak little more about anything besides seeing the city of Altador at last. A few days later, we received word from him that he had delivered his message and was now safe in Altador. He said that you, King Altador, had requested him to stay to inform you all on the current situation further.”
“This council has not met with any Meridellian for months,” Jerdana stated, worry etched on her features.
They got no further, for at that moment a trumpet blared and the city’s alarms were raised with shouts and sounding gongs. Altador was under attack.
To be continued...