The Amulet's Curse: Part Three
"Reginald? Reginald. Please, it’s time to wake up.” It was Princess Amira, her beautiful face showed signs of stress already. “Quickly, we have to get moving, we have only three days remaining.”
Reginald slowly got out of bed. He couldn’t believe he had to wake up already. “What time is it?” he asked groggily.
“4am. We did say we had to leave early.” Hannah laughed. “Too early for you, sleepy head?”
Reginald rubbed his eyes. He thought he’d dreamt it all. I guess it was all real, he thought. “How can you be so happy at this time in the morning?”
Hannah smiled. “I’ve had to sleep in the freezing cold ice caves and wake up the next morning on a mission to save Neopia. If you don’t concentrate on the good, eventually your thoughts will turn bitter and hopeless.” By the end of her statement her smile faded, but soon reappeared. “Alright I’m ready to leave. I’m just going to go downstairs for breakfast, I’ll meet up with you two soon.” And with that she left, almost skipping down the staircase.
“Incredible. Here I was worrying about the destruction of Neopia.” Reginald shook his head as he started getting ready for the trip.---
We can do this; we can do this, she chanted in her head. For all the times she’d wished to be out of her palace and on an adventure, this was it. You could almost say she was having fun, but the enormity of the situation was intense; stress and worry clouded her thoughts.
She had to admit though; parts of this journey were fantastic. Sailing over the ocean on a boat given to them by Altador, with the sea breeze on her skin, the taste of it on her tongue, the feeling that the world was yours… nothing could compare. She reflected back on the morning, they’d left Altador at around 5am. The goodbyes to King Altador were quick, he’d been up all night still preparing, and the trio knew they couldn’t linger. They were on their way to Maraqua. Looking at the sun’s position in the sky, she estimated it was around 8am. Halfway there, she thought. Hannah and Reginald were busy sailing the ship. Living in the Lost Desert, there wasn’t really a need to ever learn how boats worked. It was lucky Hannah was experienced and Reginald had read many books about it. Hannah was right about this one, Concentrate on the positives, she thought, so she lay back and enjoyed the boat trip.---
“It was a long trip, but I think we made good time.” Hannah said. It was roughly 11am, and underneath their boat they could see the large underwater city of Maraqua. “Can you please get the scuba equipment, Reg?” Reginald and Hannah had gotten to know each other better on the boat ride; it was always good to have a good relationship with your companions.
They were ready. The three of them stood in full scuba gear and jumped into the water below. The shock of the different temperature was instantaneous as they broke the surface tension. King Kelpbeard was right; it was getting cold down here.
Further and further they swam, heading toward the heart of the city. Maraqua itself was astonishing; it was vibrant with colour. Fish, seashells, coral in the brightest of colours all working in harmony, even the water itself was such a clear, beautiful blue. This is incredible, thought Reginald.
After a few minutes more of swimming the trio stood on the ocean floor facing the most magnificent building – King Kelpbeard’s palace. It was three stories high; and at the top, a large glass orb sat as a centrepiece. The walls of the palace were a dark blue, decorated with entwined green coral creating fantastic patterns around the many round glass windows that circled the building. Out the front, King Kelpbeard stood, waiting for the three of them.
“Welcome, my dear friends, to Maraqua.” He boomed, smiling. “Here please, put these on instead.” King Kelpbeard offered them each a necklace made out of green seaweed. Reginald was puzzled, a necklace?, King Kelpbeard noticed his confusion and chuckled. “These aren’t just any necklaces, put them on and you’ll be free to breathe underwater.” Understanding, Reginald took one last inhale of his tanked air, took it off his scuba equipment, and quickly placed the necklace over his head. He felt better at once. The scuba gear was quite restricting, almost claustrophobic, but now he could breathe easily, almost as if he were on the surface again. King Kelpbeard, happy his visitors were comfortable, smiled. “Please follow me.” He said as he ushered them inside the grand palace.
It was bigger than Reginald had originally thought. As they stepped inside the large entrance, he realised how the outside was just an illusion. As he, Princess Amira and Hannah walked past countless rooms, Reginald was in awe. He’d always thought Neovia to be quite a prosperous city but it was nothing compared to this. Finally, after a minute’s walk, they stopped outside a door. King Kelpbeard turned to them, “This is the door which opens into Isca’s quarters. She is a prophet like no other and has always been a great help to the city of Maraqua. She’s been waiting for you.”
“You’re not coming in?” It was Princess Amira who asked.
“No. I must start preparing my own city for a different kind of disaster, and besides, you three are the ones sent on this mission. It is not me who is destined to hear Isca’s message.” With that the King turned away and left the three of them alone.
“I guess we go in.” Said Hannah. Slowly, she turned the gold handle on the door. Inside was a small living room, from an adjourning doorway a Maraquan Aisha poked her head around the door, smiling.
“I’ll be just a minute, have a seat. We have a lot to talk about ahead.”
In front of the trio, two small couches were placed in the middle of the room, facing each other. Amira and Reginald sat on one couch, with Hannah sitting on the other. Not a second later the Aisha re-appeared, and sat down next to Hannah.
“Sorry about the room. I don’t usually have guests in here, but I guess it’s no matter for now. I’m Isca.” She smiled.
“It’s lovely to meet you Isca, and I really don’t mean to rush things, but would you be able to help us?” Asked Amira.
“Yes. The situation is bad indeed isn’t it?” Isca said, nodding to herself. “I’ve seen why you three have come here. You’re on the search for answers and help. So please, ask me.”
“I’m sorry I don’t understand.” It was Hannah. “Please, don’t take any offence; King Kelpbeard said you were a prophet, but how?”
Isca smiled. “It’s fine. I’m sorry I didn’t explain myself, I’m not used to company. You see; I can see the future in my dreams. I was just born with it. Completely overrated in my opinion, but it helped save Maraqua once upon a time.” She shrugged. “As long as I can help people I’m content. Ask me anything, and I’ll do my best to answer.”
Amira spoke first. “Do you know what has happened to the Brain Tree?”
“Yes. The Brain Tree is incredibly old - as old as Neopia. He is linked to this planet far more closely than you or I. There is no Neopia without the Brain Tree. But before I explain that question further, we need to refer back to the question He asked you.”
“You mean about the Amulet of Thilg?” Hannah asked.
“‘When did the Lost Desert finally free itself from its cruellest ruler?’” Quoted Reginald.
“Yes. Princess Amira, you were correct in researching the Shkanum-Da, but you missed the Brain Tree’s riddle. For you see, as the legend predicts, the Gem inside the Amulet contains the soul of the nameless Pharaoh. The curse, those many years ago, only destroyed his body but trapped his soul inside the Gem. If someone with enough power unlocks the amulet, I’m afraid the Pharaoh will return.”
“If the Pharaoh can return, wouldn’t that mean that the Lost Desert was never free of its cruellest ruler?” Asked Reginald.
“So the answer to the Brain Tree’s riddle is never? They have never been completely free from their ruler. Are you saying the Brain Tree was warning us that the Pharaoh will return?” Said Hannah.
Isca nodded solemnly. “Yes.” She replied simply.
Amira thought it over in her head for a moment. She couldn’t believe what Isca was saying. This was supposed to be a legend, a story. “How does this explain the Brain Tree’s coma?”
“Ahh yes. As I was saying, the Brain Tree and Neopia are connected very closely. I’m afraid the Brain Tree has sensed the oncoming danger. He and Neopia are one at the moment. Neopia is using every resource to try and reverse the curse.”
“Wait, wait. So the rising water levels in Altador, the cooling sea temperatures, the Brain Tree’s trance and the Amulet of Thilg are all related? Everything that’s happening is because of one curse?” Asked Reginald.
“Yes. When the Shkanum-Da was created, the Pharaoh’s son forced a very powerful Dark Faerie to give the amulet, and the Pharaoh’s soul trapped inside, power beyond even Queen Fyora’s magic. As the amulet’s curse is unlocked, the Pharaoh continues to gain strength, and the disasters around Neopia will increase. I’m afraid that when the Pharaoh completely returns, it could be the end of not only our freedom, but of Neopia itself.”
“I’m sorry, Isca. But what is it exactly that is causing these great disasters? What is the curse doing to Neopia?” Asked Princess Amira.
“The source of the curse is located in Terror Mountain. The amulet’s power is causing the great icy mountain to melt, at a very dangerous pace.” Said Isca, solemnly.
“We have to stop this then! The Brain Tree gave us a four-day deadline, we can stop this Pharoah once and for all.” Hannah proclaimed.
“Hannah you’re completely right, but Isca, what if the Pharaoh does come back? Is all hope lost? How do we defeat him before he reaches his full strength and power?” Amira asked.
“Once he has returned, the chances of Neopia ever returning to normal are very slim. There is however one way to defeat him but it must be done before he regains full power.”
“How do we do it then? What must be done?” Asked Reginald.
“You must find the weapons which will destroy the amulet. Two weapons that work together in harmony with another. Two blades with enough power to destroy the most powerful of Dark Faeries, and the curses they cast. Two swords, alike only because of their differences. You must master the swords to be able to wield them. Solve their riddle and they shall be forever yours.”
“What swords? Which blades? Isca please, tell us more.” Amira said, almost pleading.
“I’m afraid I cannot say anymore. This is the most help I can give. If I tell you anymore your quest will be pointless. It is your journey and not anyone else’s. I’m sorry.”
“That’s fine Isca. You have helped us beyond what we ever could have expected, we must thank you for your time,” Amira rose from the small couch. “King Kelpbeard was right when he said you are a prophet like no other. You have been a great friend to us.”
Isca smiled a gracious smile. “It was my pleasure; I hope that we will see each other soon again under friendlier circumstances.” She led them to the door. “Goodbye dear friends!” she said as she closed the door, but as the trio turned to leave and see King Kelpbeard again, Reginald swore he heard sobs coming from inside Isca’s room.
To be continued…