The Battle of Akram: Part Three
Kyriirun shifted in the back of the caravan as the wagon lurched over a rock. They had been travelling for hours and didn't seem any closer to their destination. Kyriirun signed and longed to be anywhere but the desert, anywhere that had a view without sand dunes.
Shortly after Serkan had agreed to help them, the members of the Resistance had packed up their tent city and assembled a caravan heading to Sakhmet. Kyriirun had been shoved into the back of one wagon along with Khalfanni and the two Grundo guards from earlier, which they had learned were called Tomtek and Seerie.
Kyriirun let his mind wander back to his family, wondering what they were doing. They must be worried by this point, and were probably out looking for them. Kyriirun wished he'd had time to send them a neomail, telling them not to worry, but everything had happened so fast that this was the first time he'd thought of it.
All of the sudden a messenger from Serkan, a Shadow Lenny, pulled back the canvas flap covering their wagon, revealing that he was running swiftly alongside their cart. He handed Tomtek a scroll and told him to brief Kyriirun and Khalfanni on the plan. Tomtek nodded and the messenger disappeared behind the canvas once more.
The next hour was spent looking over maps of the city, some of the castle, and plans for the assault. It appeared that Serkan and his men would attack the castle at dawn, providing a distraction and killing the tyrant king, while Kyriirun and Khalfanni would be in charge of rescuing Seyaniya.
"How are we supposed to do that?" asked Khalfanni, sounding more than a bit concerned.
"You'll be wearing these," Seerie said as she pulled two tunics out of a wooden crate. They looked similar to the ones Kyriirun had seen the king's guards wearing when they kidnapped Seyaniya; off white in colour, with a blue and gold sash running diagonally across the chest. Tomtek held up golden helmets, which were fashioned into points at the top; each tip shaped like a tiny pyramid.
Kyriirun took one of the helmets thoughtfully and raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to pass as a guard. Don't they only have really big Neopets? Besides, their captain already knows who I am."
"You're right," replied Tomtek, deep in thought. "I'll have to ask Serkan. You'll be briefed before we arrive." With that, he stood and swung out of the caravan. Kyriirun wondered how the Grundo was going to get from one caravan to the other, but no one else seemed concerned. Seerie was staring silently after her comrade and Khalfanni was examining one of the helmets. With a shrug Kyriirun yawned and rolled over; he might as well try to get some sleep before they arrived. Kyriirun let the swaying of the caravan slowly lull him to sleep, away from the present and the problems he would soon have to face.
Seyaniya watched as sunlight poured into the room once again. Her second night in prison had been worse than her first, especially with the threat of her execution looming. She'd tossed and turned all night, trying to come up with some kind of escape plan. Her heart as the lock clicked and the door to her cell swung open, revealing six guards that stood in two parallel lines. Their captain, Sesio, stood in front of them, the keys dangled from his paws.
"It's time," Sesio said with a mad grin. He strode into the room putting a new set of iron clasps with free-ended chains around her legs and removing the old ones. She glared at the Xweetok, stubbornly digging her hooves into the ground and refusing to move from her spot in the corner. He did not seem to notice; he turned back towards the door, dragging the struggling Peophin behind, and handed the end of the chain to one of his guards. The six guards, almost in sync, promptly surrounded Seyaniya and started to march down the dim corridor, pushing Seya along with them.
"You won't get away with this; my owner will come for me!" she cried, trying to struggle against the guards, pushing back towards the cell. She silently hoped that Kyriirun had been able to escape, and that he was long gone by now. A tear escaped her eye, rolled down her face and fell from her cheek. It landed on the floor, and remained as Seya was swept away to her execution.
Khalfanni stood stalk still in his place, awaiting the signal from the resistance, the one that told him the battle had begun. When Tomtek had returned to brief Kyriirun on his role there had been little time, so Khalfanni had no idea where his new friend was. He wondered once again why exactly he was doing this, unable to come up with a solid reason. He thought back to the hopeless look on Kyriirun's face as he asked for help and sighed. Just then, a flash of light caught the Peophin's eye; this was it, the plan was in motion.
Kyriirun jumped as he saw the bright flash of light that was the signal. He carefully pulled up his hood and looked around. This was it; one way or another, he was saving Seya.
The sunlight blinded her, as Seya was lead into the bright Lost Desert sun for the first time in days. She raised a hoof to shade her eyes, but the guard holding the chain jerked her arm back down. She heard the King's booming voice nearby, and when her eyes adjusted, she found herself squinting down over a crowd of Neopets the size of a city, maybe two. Dazed and frightened, Seyaniya thrashed her head wildly, scanning the crowd with pleading eyes for someone who would help her. Some Neopets met her gaze with fright-filled stares of wonder; others gazed blankly at their King. The massive Peophin was standing on a high podium, upon the same stage on which Seya now stood, announcing her presence to his people. The guards ushered Seyaniya towards a stone block in front of the podium. Beside the block, stood a grim-looking Skeith wearing a dark mask and holding a large sharpened axe.
"Bear witness, my dear subjects; today we rid our land of this unworthy successor and I will become your king forever," The King finished, as the guards shoved Seyaniya to her knees at the executioner's feet. The masked Skeith loomed over her, staring silently down, as two guards picked her up under her arms and dragged her forwards, placing her head on the stone; it was cold to the touch. She thrashed and struggled with all her might, but they clasped her forelegs onto the block. As a last resort, Seyaniya cried out for help, but to no avail.
"So this is it," Seya thought to herself, facing her fate and staring death in the eyes. The Skeith raised the blade above his head; the polished metal glinted in the sunlight, and an arrow whizzed through the air, striking him to the ground.
Armed Neopets sprang from their hideouts, dressed in black and gold tunics, as they bellowed noble battle cries with weapons drawn. They swarmed towards the front of the square, towards Seyaniya and the King, emerging from every direction.
"For freedom," one cried, and they all joined in, in a heroic chorus, rushing at the guards who charged to meet them.
There was a great clatter as one side met the other. The square was in chaos, Neopets were fighting Neopets, others, innocent bystanders, scrambled to get away with their lives. Screams of terror filled Seyaniya's ears, and she closed her eyes to try to escape it.
Seya pulled against the metal clasps attaching her to the executioner's block, but they would not budge. She tried to shift away from the lifeless Skeith on the ground next to her, but her restraints only allowed her to move so far. The king roared in outrage, "Guards kill them, kill them all!" He turned; face knotted with anger, suddenly remembering Seya, "Somebody, move the prisoner to a secure location. Guards, Hurry up!"
Just then, one of the King's guards, a great Camouflage Peophin came up behind Seyaniya with a ring of keys and tried to unlock the clasps imprisoning her. Before he could find the right key, Seya whipped her tail around with all her might and knocked him away. The Peophin grunted as he hit the ground, they keys going flying. Seya strained against the restraints, trying to see where the King was and still keep an eye on the Peophin. The Peophin hurriedly retrieved the keys, weaving between battles as if he were dancing. As he bent down in front of Seya again Seya leaned forward and tried to bite him. The guard yelped and jumped back, narrowly avoiding Seya's teeth.
"Hey! I'm trying to help you here!" Seya eyed him suspiciously as he began trying keys in the lock. "My name is Khalfanni and I swear that I mean you no harm."
"How do I know I can trust you?"
Khalfanni shrugged as he continued to try and unlock the restraints. "Honestly, you don't. But you don't really have a lot of options right now princess."
A sudden battle cry caused Seya to whip her head around before she could reply. She caught a glimpse of a Water Kyrii leaping from an overhead balcony, aimed to land on the king's head.
"Kyriirun?" Seya gasped as the Kyrii hit his target, arms wrapped tight around the King's neck. The king howled in rage as he tried to throw the Kyrii off, but Kyriirun wasn't letting go. The two whirled around the stage, knocking down anyone in their path.
Khalfanni, realizing he had been staring in awe, quickly went back to trying keys. He tried to keep one eye on Kyriirun and one on the lock in front of him. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the lock clicked open and Khalfanni and Seya sprang up.
"We need to get you to safety. Quickly, follow me." Khalfanni grabbed onto Seya's arm and tried to pull her away from the battle, but Seya stood her ground.
"No way, we need to save Kyriirun!"
Just then, the King was finally successful in throwing Kyriirun off his back. The tiny Neopet hit the ground in a roll, pulling out a dagger from his waistband as he stood. Kyriirun lunged towards the king in one swift motion, recovering quickly when his dagger was parried by the King's sword.
Kyriirun dodged and deflected as the king charged the smaller Neopet repeatedly, always a second ahead to stay alive. Suddenly, the King whipped around in a circle with an outstretched arm, cutting Kyriirun's shoulder. Seya gasped and Kyriirun's hand shot up to his shoulder, covering the wound; a grimace crossed his face as he looked down at the red line. The King saw the distraction and lunged, pinning Kyriirun to a wall with his foreleg.
"We have to help him!" Seyaniya cried at the Camouflage Peophin. Mouth set in a firm line; Khalfanni unsheathed his blade and walked towards the King with determined strides, but before he could save his friend, Sesio pulled himself onto the stage in between them, baring his teeth in a wicked smile, eyes bulging with crazed fury. Sesio raised his sword high above his head, and cackled madly.
"I will be the one to kill the princess; I will be the one to reap the rewards!" He let out a maniacal laugh as he lunged towards Khalfanni.
Seya felt as if time had stopped; she could hear the clatter of weapons in the background, but faintly, as if she were underwater. She looked between Khalfanni and Kyriirun, both trapped in their own fights and needing her help. Desperately, she looked around for some kind of weapon. Finding a large piece of rubble, she picked it up and hurled it at the King. Surprised, the King turned, allowing Kyriirun to drop the ground where he gasped for air.
The King began striding towards Seya, the same empty hatred filled his eyes. Once again Seya looked around desperately for a weapon, this time coming up empty handed. Before he could reach her the King suddenly stopped, his eyes wide. He swayed once, twice; took an unsteady step back and tumbled towards the ground. Time slowed as he fell, his body making a great echoing thump when he struck the ground. Across the courtyard stood a Desert Lupe in a black tunic, his bow raised and a look of triumph on his face. The battles around them seemed to stop too; as if everyone could sense that the king was dead and the fight was over; the Resistance had won.
Silence enveloped the square, as if everyone was holding their breath; and then a great cheer broke out among the people. Members of the Resistance waved their banners in celebration, flying the symbol of the two circling Peophins high in the air. Seyaniya ran to Kyriirun, who was still sitting where the King had dropped him, trying to regain his breath. To her relief he was more or less unharmed. She wrapped her arms around him in a fierce hug.
"You came for me!" Seyaniya smiled at Kyriirun.
"I would never leave you," Kyriirun replied, wrapping his arms around his cousin in return. The Desert Lupe strolled leisurely towards the king, inspecting the fallen royalty. He felt for a pulse, and after a moment, declared the King dead; turning to Seyaniya with serious eyes he asked, "Will you take the crown?"
Seyaniya stared out at all of the people of the desert city, her people. If she abandoned them, who would rule? How would she ensure that another tyrant king would not take the throne? She turned to Kyriirun and looked into his eyes; what if he were one of those people in the crowd, living a life of misery under a false ruler? Would she leave him when he needed her most? Would she let him down?
Closing her eyes, she looked inside and made her decision, "I will take the crown."
The Lupe walked up to her, taking her hand in his and raised it into the air, "Bear witness, this is the day your suffering ends; the day you become free Neopets! People of Akram, meet your new Queen!"