The Amulet's Curse: Part One
She crept along the ice silently. One sound and she’d be discovered - all of their effort would be for nothing. Carefully, she thought as she delicately walked across the slippery floor. If something were to happen to her it would be all over, everything would be lost…
4 days earlier.
“Princess Amira, a visitor is here to see you.”
The call from her butler woke Princess Amira from her daydream; life in her palace was so dull these days.
“Let him in.” She replied. What’s the harm? It probably won’t take more than a minute anyway.
The visitor was well dressed, better than any Sakhmetian civilian. Clearly not from around here, she surmised.
“Princess, I’m sorry to disturb you with no prior warning, but I desperately need your help. Something has happened, I fear the worst.” A spark of interest came into the Princess’ eye, yet overall she stayed composed.
“Please, come into my study room. We’ll discuss things further in there.” She led him quickly into a long corridor, and entered a room on the right. It was a large room, books in shelves stretching up to the ceiling. In the centre of the study lay a large desk. The Princess sat behind it.
The visitor shuffled forward, even though he had serious business at hand he couldn’t help but think about how nervous he was to be in the presence of the beautiful princess. Now is not the time to be nervous, he thought, concentrate on the task at hand.
“Your majesty, I’m sorry I’m the one to have to tell you this, but time is of the essence. Originally I approached King Hagan about this, him having read so many books and scrolls but he claimed even he did not know the answer to our problem. He sent me here saying perhaps because of the environment you live in that maybe you would know the answer.”
Amira was suspicious, she was close to Brightvale’s King, but she had never known a time when he didn’t know the answer to something. Of course, she was curious about her unknown visitor, but it could all be a trap. If it’s another man asking for my hand in marriage, I think I’ll move to Shenkuu.
“I know you say ‘time is of the essence,’ but before we go any further with your story, a name perhaps?” Amira asked. The visitor blushed, realising how forthcoming he had been.
“Sorry, your majesty. My name is Reginald. I come from the City of Neovia, located on the outskirts of the Haunted Woods. While walking home one night, I went past the Brain Tree. Something was wrong with him, he didn’t seem as demanding and angry as normal; I thought maybe he’d forgotten when someone died perhaps, and continued to walk on. However, he called for me, ‘Reg… Reginald… please… here.’ Cautiously, I walked over. ‘Reginald. Neopia in danger… true evil has… returned. You have 4 days or too late... Find the answer… in what year… did the Lost Desert finally free themselves… from their cruellest… ruler? Hurry…’ He croaked, and then he closed his eyes and shut down, like a trance. He’s thousands of years old; what could make him so weak is beyond me. King Hagan didn’t know either. He did mention, though, to research the Amulet of Thilg?”
Amira just stared at her visitor for a moment. The Brain Tree in some kind of trance? Neopia in grave danger? The Amulet of Thilg? “Yes! I know what you mean!” The princess rose from her seat and almost ran to the room next door.
Thoroughly confused, Reginald followed her into the largest room he’d ever been in in his life. The Neovian town hall was nothing compared to the size of this. It was a library. Shelves upon shelves of books filled the entire room that looked like it went on forever. Some books seemed reasonably new, read once and put away, whereas others looked older than Neopia itself. He started slowly pacing the room, gazing at the titles of books as he walked past. Not even a minute had passed when an out of breath Princess returned.
“The Amulet of Thilg.” She managed to say. Nearby, a small table with a desk lamp and two chairs lay. Amira sat down, Reginald following and she began to read aloud:
“Many years ago, in the exotic land of the Lost Desert there once lived a cruel Pharaoh. His once prosperous city fell to ruins, as his subjects became his slaves. The people begged for mercy but the Pharaoh would never listen; instead he had them build a great pyramid in his honour. Decades went by under his rein, and the giant pyramid was abandoned and forgotten, until one day some quarry workers rediscovered it. Inside, they found treasures that belonged to the King, but among the gold was an ancient powerful scroll full of dark magic. Disguised as an offering to their King, the workers approached their Pharaoh, hoping this would be the key to ending his horrid rule. By doing so, the workers set the scroll’s evil upon their King and themselves.
Most claim that a single drop of the Pharaoh’s blood fell to the floor and crystallised into a gem containing His soul. It is said this gem harnesses evil beyond imagine.”
Princess Amira and Reginald looked up at each other. The realisation became apparent on the princess’ face as she uttered the last word of the text.
“The Brain Tree did mention a cruel Pharaoh, but what does this have to do with the amulet?” asked Reginald. Amira sighed.
“It has everything to do with the Amulet. It is said in later years that the nameless Pharaoh’s son took hold of his Father’s gem and turned it into an amulet. Shkanum-Da as we call it, or the Amulet of Thilg.”
“Princess, you’re saying that someone has found this Shkanum-Da and is now using its power to harness the destruction of Neopia?”
“It is said the son made the amulet hoping someday his Father would make his triumphant return and take revenge on the city of Sakhmet. Of course I never believed it; I just thought it was a story my Father had told my sister and I as a warning to always be kind and fair to our citizens, but now I too fear the worst. If the legend is correct, then this may be the biggest threat to Neopia since the faeries were turned to stone. Whoever is behind this mustn’t understand the seriousness of the situation, or is completely insane…”
The two sat in silence for a moment. Amira couldn’t believe what was happening. This morning she woke up believing it to be just another day, and now she was on a quest to save Neopia from, what she’d originally thought to be, a long lost made-up legend. She was almost dizzy.
“So what are we going to do?” Reginald asked. It had been a long time since he’d had sleep, travelling to Brightvale and back down to the Lost Desert, but the brain tree had specified he had four days. Four days to save the world. Right.
Amira looked at Reginald. It was surprising how only an hour ago this person was a complete stranger and now he was the closest thing she had to a real friend. “We’re going to have to travel. I’m not sure where to go. The Brain Tree is no help in his trance and King Hagan has no information either. We just need a little more infor-“
“Princess, Princess!” It was Amira’s butler. “I’ve just received urgent call from King Altador. He says it’s an emergency. Apparently the water levels are rising; Altadorian farms have already been flooded and water is approaching the city’s walls at an alarming rate. He’s sent out a message to a representative of each land. He’s not underestimating the threat or the cause.”
“Thank you, Relsoc. I must prep-“
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, Princess, but may I ask who did Altador send a letter to for the Haunted Woods?” asked Reginald.
Relsoc read down the piece of paper til he found the answer.
“It says here he sent it to the Brain Tree, saying to find a suitable representative for Haunted Woods as he knows that He himself won’t make it.”
Amira spoke next. “I think it best, Reginald, that you take the Brain Tree’s place. I believe this issue may be related to our own and no-one better would be able to represent the Haunted Woods.” A polite smile formed on her face.
Shocked and flattered by the Princess’ words, Reginald managed to utter, “Thank you, Princess. But we must go. We have a four-day deadline, and Altador can be a long trip.”
“Yes, you’re completely right. Relsoc, please tell Advisor Wessle and Senator Barca of my soon absence. I may be gone for only one day, or I may be back in a week. I hate leaving with things so unsure but we have to hurry. Please inform my sister too, I believe her capable enough to rule for a few days. If she needs help, tell her to send me a Weewoo.”
“Of course, Princess.” and with that Relsoc departed.
Amira turned back to Reginald who was still slightly shocked about being involved in something so important. “Are you ready to leave?” she asked.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” He replied.
And with that they headed off on their way to Altador.
To be continued…