The Pirate King Files: Amulet of the Twelve Sands
"And when was the last time you saw this...er..."
"Amulet, sir. It was an amulet." The museum curator, a Grey Cybunny, was fidgeting with the gold chain around his neck.
The Chia Police officer scribbled something in his notebook and glanced again at the glass display case. According to the museum curator, the thing inside had been stolen, and yet the glass showed no signs of breaking or tampering. Someone simply unlocked the box and removed the item.
"Last night," continued the Cybunny, "just before the museum closed up. About 8 o' clock. I made sure the guards were posted before I left."
"And how well did you know these guards?" asked the Chia Police officer.
"Oh, very well!" the Cybunny replied. "Jenkins, Lucas, and Gregor are my most trusted guards! I'd only choose them to guard the Amulet of the Twelve Sands."
The Chia Police officer took another look at the empty case. "The Amulet of the Twelve Sands?"
"Yes," the curator replied. "One of the museum's biggest draws. A rich family from the Lost Desert donated it to us, saying that it was from at least 700 BN and that it possessed great magical power. According to them there was some sort of sand spirit trapped inside and the amulet's wearer could control it, but none of us ever confirmed that." He rubbed his hands together nervously.
The Chia Police officer was writing this all down. "What did the family say of the sand spirit?"
"Not much," the curator said, shrugging. "They said that it was called Al-Kazura, and it was some type of wind elemental that once served the king's advisers. They never were able to summon it, they told us, and they didn't want to try. Figured getting rid of the thing would be safer than trying to control the sand spirit!" He watched as the Chia Police officer wrote every word that he said.
"Magic power's beyond the Chia Police's area of influence, sir," the officer finally said. "We're going to have to get the help of the Defenders of Neopia with this one."
The curator stole nervous glances around the room. "Anything to get that amulet back!"-----
Agent Uchiha Zwiro and Agent Mimi Kattel of the Amateur Defenders Unit were returning from a lunch break at the Defenders cafeteria. Both were eagerly awaiting their next mission, although Agent Zwiro could hardly wait to get back to the break room and beat his friend Quintus's score at Evil Fuzzles From Outer Space.
"Agent Zwiro. Agent Kattel."
A flat, robotic voice addressed the Pirate Xweetok and pink Aisha as a Robot Gnorbu trotted up to the pair. The Robot Gnorbu wore a medal on her chest with the eight-pointed star of the Commanding Defenders Unit and carried a large file folder under her right arm.
"I have received word from Commander Sentinel of a robbery at the Neopian Museum of History," the Gnorbu intoned. "I am tasking you two with researching the stolen artifact, recovering it, and apprehending the thief."
"What was stolen, Commander Circuit?" Uchiha inquired.
"According to the Chia Police files, it was an object called the Amulet of the Twelve Sands," replied the Gnorbu. "Within the Defenders database I have found a file containing information on the artifact." She handed the manila folder to Mimi, who grunted under the surprising weight.
"We'll get right on it, Commander," Mimi said.
"Good luck, Agents," Commander Circuit intoned, turning and strolling down the hall.-----
Uchiha and Mimi had retreated back to Uchiha's dorm to read the file. Small stacks of paper littered the floor as the two Neopets looked for relevant information. The file consisted of a lot of information about the explorer who discovered the amulet and the Lost Desert dynasty from which it originated, but little about the artifact itself.
"Got something!" Uchiha cried, waving a thin packet in the air. The Xweetok studied the packet intently, muttering to himself as he processed the information.
Meanwhile, Mimi had found a packet labelled "Monsters and Spirits of the Lost Desert", which confused her. Why would a file on an amulet have this with the rest of the historical stuff? She began thumbing through the file, looking for anything mentioning the amulet.
"What's yours say?" the Aisha asked Uchiha, who was focusing on one page in the packet he found.
"Something about a rumor," Uchiha replied. "Apparently there's a painting in the tomb of King Coltzan II that shows one of his advisers with something that looks like the amulet, accompanied by a spirit. There's been a lot of debate as to what the thing was, but judging by the hieroglyphs accompanying the image, it was a spirit that was contained in the amulet. Look, see?"
He handed the packet to Mimi, who noticed the image in the center of the page. It had been circled in red marker - by Commander Circuit, probably - and depicted an ancient Lost Desert tomb painting. Mimi could identify King Coltzan II by his headdress, but there was an Aisha in white robes she did not recognize accompanied by a vaguely Neopet-ish thing with hieroglyphs floating around it. She understood none of the hieroglyphs in the picture, but the creature by the Aisha did look like something supernatural.
Mimi's gaze fell on the packet of the monsters and spirits. Could the creature in the painting be described in there? She picked it back up and flipped through it again, trying to find something that matched what she was looking for.
"Wait! Go back!" Uchiha barked from over Mimi's shoulder. The Aisha paused, then started turning the previous pages over. "One more...one more...There! Right there!"
Uchiha had gotten excited over a page labelled "Sand Spirits", which had a highlighted paragraph near the bottom of the text. Mimi began to read the highlighted text.
"Al-Kazura?" she wondered, reading the header of the paragraph. She continued studying the paragraph, each sentence making her more and more puzzled.
"Apparently, Al-Kazura was a sand spirit whose life force was linked to the Amulet of the Twelve Sands," Mimi read. "Whoever had the amulet could control Al-Kazura. It doesn't say much else..."
"Not another genie," muttered Uchiha. "After the Nanka, I've had enough of trapped spirits for a lifetime."
Mimi skimmed through the rest of the page on the sand spirits. "Al-Kazura could be bad news, if the rest of this stuff is true," she remarked. "Sand spirits are chaotic combinations of wind and earth elements, and they're pretty powerful. It says here they could create sandstorms and earthquakes."
Uchiha pondered this for a few moments. "If the amulet controls him," he said, "whoever had the amulet could access a lot of power. Sandstorms and earthquakes at your whim? Nobody with good intentions would steal that amulet."
"We have to find who stole it," agreed Mimi. "Before something terrible happens."-----
In the Neopia Central catacombs, deep beneath the center of the city, a Neopet had concealed himself in a cave with a precious object in his claws.
The green Draik was feeling the amulet, running his claws over every gemstone and smooth metal used in its crafting, letting the hundreds of gold links that made up the necklace fall through his fingers.
The Draik remembered what the scroll had said - the very words that would call forth the creature held within the amulet. He clasped the large pendant and rubbed the twelve diamonds surrounding the Kougra's eye gem in the center.
"Al-Kazura, come forth, servant of the amulet!" the Draik cried out.
The amulet began to shudder in the Draik's paws. The gemstones glowed with an inner light as a thick cloud of sand began to pour from the Kougra's eye gem. The sand swirled violently, forming into a vortex and shifting into a being with horns like a Desert Kau and a crude face formed out of grit.
"Al-Kazura!" The Draik fell to his knees in the presence of the sand being. Al-Kazura's face continued to shift as he regarded the Draik with amber eyes.
"You summoned me," the sand spirit in a deep, rumbling voice.
"Yes, my lord," the Draik replied. "It is a great honor."
Al-Kazura's eyes flashed. "Are you worthy?"
The Draik's grin fell. "Pardon?"
"Are you worthy to wield my power?" asked Al-Kazura.
The Draik did not anticipate this. "Uh...well..."
Al-Kazura's eyes glowed yellow. "You are not worthy."
"But - my lord - there must be some mistake! I - I - " The Draik panicked as Al-Kazura's swirling body began to churn faster.
"Only the most worthy can control me," growled Al-Kazura. A wind picked up, blowing clouds of sand around the cave.
"No! Please - I - I - don't do this - " the Draik cried as Al-Kazura began to expand in size, rushing sand and blowing wind ripping through the cave as the sand spirit let out a roar like an earthquake. The cave began to shake violently, rocks and dust tumbling from the ceiling and being drawn into Al-Kazura's body by the strong winds.
The last thing the Draik saw was the Amulet of the Twelve Sands shattering and Al-Kazura's form engulfing him.-----
Uchiha and Mimi were hurrying back to Commander Circuit's office with the information they had gathered. On their way there, they nearly ran headlong into Commander Cavalier, head of the Novice Defenders unit. The red Usul's eyes were wide with fear and his breathing was heavy.
"Agent Zwiro! Agent Kattel!" he yelped. "Urgent news from Sergeant Brexis. Somethin's been spotted tearin' through Neopia Central - we don' know what it is, but it looks like 't's made out of sand or somethin' - "
"Al-Kazura!" cried Mimi. "By Fyora, he's been released. We have to stop him!"
"Yeh don' know what ye're up against," Commander Cavalier said. "Commander Sentinel's already been incapacitated by that thing. Commander Circuit was sent out, but we haven' heard from her since."
Uchiha paled at the mention of his commanding officer.
"Come on, Mimi," he said firmly. "We're going out there."
He grabbed Mimi's hand, and the two of them rushed past Commander Cavalier, much to the Usul's chagrin.
"'T's dangerous out there!" he cried. "Yeh'll get yerselves hurt!"-----
Uchiha and Mimi had donned their Defenders uniforms and Amateur Defender badges and tore outside to hunt down the sand spirit.
As they left the Defenders HQ, it was clear that Al-Kazura had been through the Neopian Plaza. The air smelled like a hot desert, branches had been ripped from trees and blasted to splinters on the sidewalks, and piles of sand swept across their paths of their own accord.
Screams from the Neopian Bazaar, quickly followed by the sounds of laser blasts, compelled Uchiha and Mimi to hurry towards the sound of the noises.
"Destroy the Neopets!" roared an unfamiliar voice, and a blast of hot air knocked Uchiha and Mimi to the ground. Staggering to their feet, the two Neopets ran past a hedge and burst into the Neopian Bazaar.
Commander Circuit was standing in front of a group of terrified-looking Neopets, holding an Energy Blaster in her metallic paw. What looked like an enormous cloud of shifting sand was floating in front of her, churning and emitting snarls as the Robot Gnorbu fired laser blasts at it. Every blast seemed to be absorbed into the creature's body, making it angrier but not harming it.
"Commander Circuit!" shouted Uchiha.
The Robot Gnorbu was not paying attention, but the creature's attention was drawn to the Xweetok. Uchiha could not tell what the creature's face looked like, but it vaguely resembled a Kau due to its horns and the bestial shape of its face. Even as it kept its gaze on him, its face shifted into the forms of various Neopets - a Poogle, an Acara, even a Draik.
"Who are you?" growled the sand creature.
Uchiha tensed every muscle in his body. "I am the Pirate King," he said in a stern voice.
"You are a king?" inquired the creature.
"A king among Neopets," said Uchiha fiercely. "I command you to leave this place and go back from whence you came!"
"I was meant to bow to kings," the creature hissed. "The king who bound me to servitude made sure of that. And yet you do not look like a king. Where is your crown? Where is your royal sceptre, your gold and silver, your precious stones?"
"I need no crown to show my royal status," replied Uchiha. "I have other ways to earn my subjects' respect. Great strength, for one. An honorable, dignified personality. And powerful allies who would banish you to the depths of Maraqua for your actions, Al-Kazura!"
The sand spirit hissed loudly. "You call me by name!" it shrieked.
"I know who you are, Al-Kazura," said Uchiha confidently. He strode towards the spirit, hands clenched into fists. "Under control of whomever possessed the Amulet of the Twelve Sands, you were bound to serve your master's every bidding. Tell me, Al-Kazura, who is your master?"
Al-Kazura did not respond at first. Then, he emitted a sound that sounded like repeated hisses. Uchiha realized that the creature was laughing at him.
Suddenly, a force hit Uchiha like a ton of bricks. Yellow sand clouded his vision as an increasingly heavy weight shoved him to the ground and pinned him in place. Dry desert air filled his lungs as the weight pressed on his chest. Through fuzzy vision, Uchiha could see a tower-shaped structure forming above him.
"I serve no master now," came the cruel voice of Al-Kazura. "The amulet is destroyed! I am free, free as the winds from whence I came! And you, Pirate King, can have a castle!"
With horror, Uchiha realized that the sand pinning him down was forming into an elaborate castle. Even though it was beautiful, it was structured so that the buttresses pinned his legs and arms and the bulk of the castle compressed his chest, halting his breath.
Gasping for air, Uchiha struggled with all of his strength to break the sandcastle. Yet the castle grew heavier the more he fought, and yellow-green blobs danced in his vision as his breath failed him.
An explosion rent the air, and a shriek from Al-Kazura forced the castle to crumble into a huge heap of sand. A pair of hands seized Uchiha's arms and he was dragged forcefully out of the sand pile.
Mimi, her hands still glowing with magical power, pulled Uchiha to his feet and dusted the sand out of his face and clothes.
Uchiha saw Al-Kazura screaming in fury, dissipating and re-forming quickly as Commander Circuit fired laser blasts at him. The sand spirit formed himself into a miniature cyclone and began to conjure intense winds, so much that the trees bowed violently and bystanders were pushed back by the force, but Commander Circuit stood her ground.
"I've got a plan," Mimi said, snapping Uchiha's attention back to her. "Remember Chemistry 101?"
Uchiha recalled the class he had taken when he was a Novice Defender. He racked his brain for something that related to what Mimi was thinking, but nothing was coming up.
"That day in class where Professor Barnes taught us about changes under heat...and he taught us about..."
"Glass-blowing." Now Uchiha remembered. That was the day when the professor had shown them how sand turns into glass under high temperatures. "Are you suggesting..."
"Commander Circuit's laser blasts combined with my arcane power should produce enough heat," Mimi added. "And then, when the glass is molten, you can go in and make sure Al-Kazura doesn't reform."
Uchiha nodded, clasping Mimi's hand in his own. "Let's do this," he said.
Letting go of Mimi's hand, he turned his attention back to Al-Kazura. "Hey, Al-Kazura!"
The sand spirit briefly left his tornado form to change back to his amorphous sand form. He snarled at Uchiha as he pelted the Xweetok with clods of sand.
"You imbecile!" barked Al-Kazura. "What makes you think that you can stand against me? I have been around since before Neopia knew civilization, and I embody two powerful elements simultaneously - more so than you can claim! What do you have on your side?"
"A plan," replied Uchiha simply. "Mimi! NOW!"
"Commander Circuit! Code Name Double Team!" shrieked Mimi. The Robot Gnorbu's attention turned to the Aisha, and her eyes glowed red.
"Double Team with Agent Kattel activated. Engage." Commander Circuit raised her laser gun once again as Mimi's hands glowed orange.
"What do I have on my side?" Uchiha repeated as Al-Kazura flew towards him with pure hatred on his shapeless face. "Well, I've got a chemistry class under my belt, and a knowledge of what happens to sand when it - "
He never finished his sentence. Suddenly he was enveloped in a vortex of stinging sand, a vortex that was actively trying to destroy him. He was tossed in the air as helplessly as a piece of rubbish and spun around in the body of the furious elemental.
"Wait! Commander!" cried Mimi. "We can't do it now - it's too dangerous - "
"Double Team with Agent Kattel. Preparing to initiate." Commander Circuit was focused on Mimi's plan now - so much that she could not even tell that Uchiha had been grabbed by Al-Kazura.
"UCHIHA!" shrieked Mimi. Out of impulse and desperation, she charged headfirst into the storm.
Uchiha could feel the sentient sand blinding him, obstructing his throat, and clogging his ears. He desperately spat the sand from his mouth, but as he spat, more sand took its place. He bounced around, his stomach churning and his head clouded with dizziness and the whisperings of Al-Kazura, grasping at nothingness in a futile attempt to free himself.
Suddenly, he saw Mimi beside him, tossed around in the storm and trying to grab his hand.
"Mimi!" spat Uchiha. "What? Why?"
Mimi was about to respond when a burst of wind shoved her from the vortex, spilling her on the ground about thirty feet away. Mimi struggled to her feet, covered in sand and angrier than ever. Adrenaline coursed through her veins as her body began to pulsate with energy. A glowing purple aura surrounded her as she charged into the storm once again.
"MIMI!" came Uchiha's shout as Mimi began to glow white-hot. "NO!"
The last thing Uchiha saw was a huge burst of light, Mimi's terrified face, and a field of red fire.-----
The bystanders had heard the explosion and the terrified screams of the Neopets within the vortex. So, by chance, had the Defenders. Judge Hog, Sergeant Brexis, Lightning Lenny, Torchio, Blackwing, and Commander Cavalier were surrounding the chaotic scene while Captain K assured Commander Circuit that the fight was over.
Where Al-Kazura had once been, an oozing puddle of molten glass remained. There was no sign of Uchiha or Mimi within the wreckage.
"Agent Zwiro? Agent Kattel?" cried Commander Cavalier. "Someone - please - we have ta help them!"
Torchio and Blackwing shook their heads. "They're beyond our help now," Torchio said. "No one could survive - "
Suddenly, the molten glass burst apart, spattering hot liquid all over the bazaar. Emerging from the mass was Uchiha, his clothes singed, his hair frizzy and thick with sand, and his fur sooty, but very much alive. In his arms, he firmly held the still form of Mimi. Her uniform was singed, as was her fur, and her breathing was shallow.
Uchiha picked his way out of the molten glass, unscathed by the heat, as the Defenders swarmed around him.
"Give her - give her some space," gasped the Xweetok. "She needs to go to - the hospital - "
Immediately, Commander Cavalier pushed his way through the crowd and gently took Mimi from Uchiha's arms. He hurried off, accompanied by Blackwing and Lightning Lenny, as Uchiha clutched his chest and watched them leave.
"Agent Zwiro - how did - " Torchio was in shock.
"Mimi," replied Uchiha. "She - I don't know what she did - but she charged at Al-Kazura and released enough heat to destroy him. I managed to shield her from the heat, but the energy it took..."
"She will be attended to," Sergeant Brexis reassured Uchiha. "She deserves accolades for this. She's saved a great many citizens."
"I'll see to it myself," Judge Hog replied. "In the meantime, Agent Zwiro, you have a visit to the NeoHospital to make. Mimi will want to see you when she awakes."
"I do hope she'll be all right," Uchiha said solemnly as he followed Judge Hog and Sergeant Brexis to the Neopian Plaza.
"Fyora only knows now," replied Judge Hog.