Magic and Mayhem: Part Two
As the sun reluctantly sinks down into the west, the princess peers out over the desert to see the shady blue waters of the ocean. Sighing, she leans on the balcony's rail and admires the garden below.
"My palace is quite lovely, don't you think?" remarks the princess causally to a maid, a pink Kacheek.
Pink head bobbing up and down zealously, the maid chatters, "Oh, yes! Very lovely, mistress. Very creative. Never would've thought to build a pyramid shaped palace. All the other royal families are feeling the bite of the green-eyed monster."
Glad to have babbled longer, the maid only halts when the shadow Kyrii, who passes by as if she is invisible, walks through the doorway. After the servant picks up a finale dish, she is gone in a blur of pink fur.
"I heard you did well this morning with the complaints." An eyebrow lifts as he speaks.
"Indeed." The princess grins. "It would have been much easier to turn them all into scamanders, but lightning worked just as well."
"You better be joking." The Kyrii's eyes narrow and an edgy tremor in his voice shows he is worried she is serious.
Laughter echoes in the air as the princess dispels his doubts and he replies playfully, "Sandra! I wouldn't have been surprised if you had actually fried them with lightning. Not pleased and not surprised. But listen, we have important things to discuss. Remember when I was telling you about the amulet of the dark sun?"
"No." The Lupe blinks at a star glittering in the dark expanse of sky.
"Well, it is a very powerful amulet- or we think it is. See-"
"Who is "we"?"
"It's a... special group of magicians, wizards and the like."
"Why haven't I heard of it?"
"I have a feeling you will. Now, please, pay attention! Thank you." He deliberately ignores the princess's eyes rolling. "Although it is primarily dark magic, it can channel many other types of power. Any attempt to use it is banned because they believe no one can handle it. I have been studying it only a short time, but I think we should do something with it.... The amulet seems to call out and.... demand a magician harness its raw strength."
The princess Lupe knits her brow bewildered and a bit terrified as an ominous shooting star streaks past in the same path as the previous one. But what does it mean?
Dizzy and parched Sand wakes up panting. Realizing she must have passed out, the kepru stretches and visually explores her surroundings. A neat little hotel room, obviously well cared for- unlike The Desert Sunrise Inn- has a twin bed, a bedside table and a clock. The other room is furnished with a couple chairs and a coffee table. Kel walks in the bedroom with a dish of water. Sand laps gratefully and peers at her friend, the questions burning in her eyes.
"I didn't know what to do when you collapsed but bring you here." The Kau scratches absent mindedly at her neck. "You moaned a bit and thrashed around. Did you learn anything new?"
"I don't quite understand what I'm supposed to be seeing in these visions." Sand paces on shaky legs. "I could go to where my palace is... or was and see if there are any clues in the ruins."
"Do you know where it is with... all the time that has changed the desert? It is dangerous out in the wilderness too. Not a great place to wander aimlessly alone."
"I know, I know." Sand keeps her expression neutral as she got a weird, but familiar feeling. "I have a friend who is going with me."
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Trotting through the busy streets, Sand keeps an eye out for a certain red pelt. She has no idea why she has to find him, but she decides to trust her gut- or possibly magical- instinct. Flopping down into the shade, she considers swiping a fruit from the nearby stall, but is distracted by a pet that catches in her peripheral vision. On first glance, it is just a blue Xweetok. Just a normal, ordinary occurrence of a blue Xweetok buying food. Sand does a double take; however, when noticing the Xweetok's striking violet eyes and receiving a strong sense that she has something to do with the red Lupe. Following her back to a hotel, she discovers that those neopets..... have an owner. Humans always shock and frighten the kepru since she is so inexperienced in interactions with them.
"Hey, I heard they are giving tours of a recently uncovered ancient town," the female human comments. "It sounds so cool. The town is believed to be older than Qasala."
"That does sound fun," agrees the female Xweetok. "Where is it?"
Heart hammering as the human pulls out a map, Sand wonders if it could possibly be the right place.
"See!" The human points to a place on the map. "Southeast from here. Looks like it's on.... the eastern part of this island."
Sand has made up her mind. She is going to those ruins.
A young Lupe yaps playfully as she skips and holds her father's paw. Eyes shining, the large Lupe lifts his daughter to his shoulder and speaks to her, "Look at all this wonderful land, little princess. One day you will become the ruler and govern this kingdom. And your children after you and their children after that."
The young princess squeaks as she spots the royal palace. The gold decorating the tips of pointed towers gleam in the sun. Wide windows carry the breeze into the stuffy rooms. Chests of jewels are carted in the entrances. "That place looks like it could stand forever!"
Sadness in his olive-green eyes, the Lupe sighs, "Everything has its time, my sweet princess."
That flashback memory plagues Sand's mind as she lingers impatiently as all the tourists file out the large Uni drawn carriage. Finally, when the last one has exited, Sand darts out the door before it swings shut. Crawling under the carriage to avoid undesired attention, she takes a minute to catch her breath. Shaking the feeling of something watching her, she confidently walks to the top of a hill. Determined to dig up answers, the kepru treks out into the hot desert dunes.
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Several hours later, Sand arrives at the likely ruins of her beautiful palace. A brief flashback- not her memories, but of the palace- seize hold of her. An explosion rocks the ground like a ship being tossed by hurricane-sized waves. Debris- huge chunks of white stone- scatter through the air and fall as monstrous hailstones. The earth splits sucking half the pyramid palace into the abyss. A strange green fire alights and hungrily devours anything in its path. So much wrath and fury fuel some cruel magic. A very dark magic indeed. Shuddering from the horrors experienced here, the kepru takes an involuntary step back. A sick feeling arises in her stomach as she explores the remains of her home, careful to give the massive crack in the earth a wide berth. Searching long after the sun sets; Sand gives up when the stars begin to appear. Curling up into a ball, she ignores the various sounds of the night. Her eyes snap open when she hears faint wailing like some creature in pain. Alarmed, but not enough to stop her from investigating, she leaps to her feet. Slowly, she sneaks toward the source of the moaning. A glowing blue-ish grey figure floats in the moonlight. Sand's pelt ripples in surprise as the faded body and crimson eyes show it is a ghost Eyrie.
"Who are you?" she demands, fur bristling. "And what are you doing here?"
"I- I do not have a name any more." The ghost turns flapping his wings awkwardly as if he can't quite decide what to use them for. "You see.... I've been here so long... so alone... and-"
Scaring both of them, the Eyrie screeches and scrambles backwards causing Sand to scold him, "What's the matter with you? You're the ghost!"
Trembling, the Eyrie takes deep breaths to calm himself. "Then... you don't recognize me?"
"Why would I-"Sand pants as the world turns sideways. The flashbacks are getting on her nerves.
Sandra yawns behind a paw while several arguments are being discussed by the council. Standing next to her chair is her shadow Kyrii friend, who elbows her subtly if she begins to doze off. She is always so bored at these meetings, but her presence is necessary- or so she is informed. Many council members simply exclude her from most conversations. Today, she amuses herself by imagining The Wizard of the Incredibly Tight Trousers (a name she has given him for personal use) challenging her to a magic duel and losing horribly. She doesn't bother remembering his real name; it is very long and difficult to pronounce. When it seems as if their talk would last all day, eventually it quiets and they dismiss everyone. Stiffly standing from her chair, she wonders how anyone could drag on a discussion about carrots for two and a half hours. As soon as everyone has exited the room, servants rush in to clean up. Admiring Uni carriages from another room's window, the Lupe hears footsteps and swings around happily to greet her friend. The greeting dies on her lips. A scruffy green Eyrie- Tight Trousers- halts in the doorway. Fighting hard to keep her fur smooth, the princess gives him what she hopes to be a neutral glance-and not a glare. The Eyrie gets under her fur because he enjoys insulting her behind false complements and fancy words.
"Princess, it is good to see you attending sessions." A smile is planted on his beak, suspiciously close to being arrogant. "It is a joy to see our young ruler take an interest."
That hit two major nerves- the uninteresting meetings she had to "earn" the right to join and being told that her youth makes her very inexperienced- but she holds back a devious smile.
"Why thank you!" she responds, her voice syrupy sweet. "I am so glad that you find time to grace us with your splendid ideas."
From the corner of her eye, she sees him stiffen. Rumors have gone around that his family had been plotting to usurp the throne. On top of that, recently he had made a poor choice to invest in some little known traders. After encouraging numerous other to invest, the traders left and did not return with the promised spices. As he stalks away, she lets her face break into a toothy grin. Battles with words could be as fun as battles with magic.
To be continued...