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Week 422
You are on Week 423
Week 424

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Four Hundred Twenty Three Ends Friday, July 31

The room glittered. Glistened. Gleamed. From the sparkling gems to the shining glass bottles filled with strange artefacts that no other living Neopian had ever seen. Even the dust shimmered when it danced through an errant sunbeam. Walking through this room always made Kalwor feel that he was in a giant pirate's chest filled with gold and jewels, but he knew that no gold was as precious as the items he'd collected over the years.

Reverently running a claw over a gilded coffer, the Ruki sighed contentedly. His collection was almost complete, his life's work nearly finished. Once he had the last piece, he could finally retire and spend his days cataloguing the massive treasure trove he'd amassed. But he wouldn't be content with that. No, he had spent far too much time and energy on the collection to rest on his laurels.

A skitter of movement at the entrance of the room distracted Kalwor from his admiration of his priceless treasures. He carefully set down an exquisitely bejewelled cask and turned with a smile.

"Oh good, you've brought them," he said.

The nervous-looking Shoyru who'd just entered snatched off his cap and bowed his head, staring at the floor. "Yes, Mr. Kalwor, sir. Just as you asked. A dozen Symols, all of them mighty strong diggers."

Kalwor's smile widened. "Excellent. Yes, they will do very well."

The Shoyru mopped his brow and dared to glance up at the Ruki. "If you don't mind me asking, sir, what would you need a dozen Symols for?"

Kalwor's eyes glittered as much as the treasure around him, only with a dangerous glint that gold could never have. "That's none of your concern. But mark my words, when these Symols have done their work, all of Neopia will know it. For you see, I only need one more piece, and my collection will be complete. Soon, very soon, I will have in my possession..."

Author: All That Glitters Isn't Gold
Date: Jul 27th
"...the greatest of all the lost treasures -- The Forbidden Golden Sceptre!"

The Shoyru gasped loudly, and he felt sweat gather upon his brow despite the dry chill of Kawlor's hidden treasure room. "But that's just a legend!" he cried.

"Oh, is it, Mozen?" the Ruki asked lightly, narrowing his eyes slightly. "What if I told you it was real? What if I had proof?"

"Proof?" Mozen's trembling voice almost failed him, "You mean, it's real?"

"Very real," hissed Kalwor, his subdued voice reverberating upon the walls around them and wrapping Mozen in its certainty. He turned and pulled out a worn and ancient scroll that was decorated with foreign images and words. "This tells where it was hidden," he said. "It was buried beneath the endless sands of the Lost Desert. Just think of it, my young friend, it is a priceless treasure, and it will soon be mine!"

"Isn't the Golden Sceptre supposed to be cursed?" Mozen asked, shuffling his feet slightly. The Symols looked up at him curiously, as if they had been following this strange conversation

Kalwor wasn't listening. "It's said to be made of pure gold and lined with jewels from the farthest corners of Neopia. And it will be mine. It will be mine."

Mozen replaced his hat and took a half-step backward. "Well, if you won't be needing anything else, I should be going," he said.

The Ruki spun around with a frighting speed and jumped between Mozen and the door. "You won't be going anywhere," he growled.

"What?" the Shoyru cried loudly, his mind desperately trying to cope this development. "What do you mean?"

"You've seen too much," Kawlor mumbled, but it was more to himself than to Mozen. "You've seen my secret room of treasures, and you've even seen the scroll. You can't leave. You can never leave."

"No!" Mozen screamed and lunged for the door, but Kawlor was too fast. In an instant, he had jumped outside and closed the door. Mozen heard the tumblers rumble inside the ancient lock, and he knew that he was trapped. Still, he screamed and pulled at the door with all his might, but it wouldn't budge.

Tears clung to his lashes as he made his way over to the lone window on the far side of the room, but it was only big enough for sunlight and perhaps Petpetpets to pass through. Mozen peered out, but only saw the garden that surrounded the massive and lush home of Kalwor. The Ruki was an eccentric millionaire who allowed no one on his property. Mozen could scream all he wanted, but the only ears that would hear him were his own.

And a dozen Symols'.

Feeling defeated, he slumped down against the wall as his eyes slid about the room. The first time he had seen this room, he had been so amazed. These were treasures he hadn't dared to dream of, but they were here and they were real. Now, for all the gleam and glitter, this was more of a tomb. These treasures were nothing but cold and empty shells.

The Symols gathered about him, their eyes seeming to study his face. The largest of the group softly nudged the Shoyru's hand, and Mozen absently petted the Petpet. "You wouldn't know a way out of here, would you?" he asked humorously.

To his surprise, it looked as if the Symol actually nodded...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Jul 27th
...and it looked like the Symol actually talked. "I do, in fact," the Symol answered in a high, feminine voice.

Dropping the Symol, Mozen scrambled back to the wall, frightened. "W-what are you?" he stuttered.

"What do you think I am?" she asked sarcastically.

"A Symol...?" Mozen began to feel more relaxed, even if slightly on edge, as he realised the Symol wouldn't hurt him.

"Correct," she answered, walking up to him. Her walk was not that of the other Symols, who lumbered about. Her walk was more graceful, fluid. "But I wasn't always one, you know."

The Shoyru raised one eyebrow. "Oh yeah? What were you before, then?"

"Ever heard about that Kougra who would go prowling through the Lost Desert or the jungle, searching for long-lost treasure? Her name was Myrial Buscir?" She paused as Mozen nodded. "Yeah, that was me. I got cursed when I finally found the treasure."

But it couldn't be possible. Myrial had gone missing in the Lost Desert ages ago after she had gone looking for treasure. "Impossible," Mozen breathed.

"Yeah, it's possible," Myrial confirmed, climbing onto his lap. "So, do you want to get out of here or not?"

Better to get out of this place and survive than to rot and argue, he thought. "Sure. So where's the exit?"

"Hold on, buddy. You've got to help me first. Once we get out, you have to come with me to break this curse."

"And how would I do that?"

"You come with me to get the Golden Sceptre, of course."

"Fine, fine." Anything to get out of there. "Let's just get out of here."

"Touch that brick to the left of your left paw," Myrial instructed.

Mozen touched the brick, and the wall separated to show the sprawling garden outside. He was free.

"How'd you know that, anyway?" he questioned, standing up to leave.

"How wouldn't I?" the Symol said. "After all, this place used to mine..."

Author: newmoon653
Date: Jul 27th
The Shoyru could have been knocked over with a feather.

"What?" His gaze surveyed the secret passage, the heaps and chests of treasures, artefacts, and other such precious items Kalwor supposedly amassed from his travels to satiate his --

"Not those," said Myrial with a dismissive wave of her paw. "The house. It was mine until I disappeared, and then when I was brought with all these other Symols -- the non-talking ones who have never known what it was like to be an adventurer like me, that is -- I learned that this guy called Kalwor is now walking around in it, filling it with things I only dream of finding..."

Snapping out of her reverie, she blinked and noticed Mozen staring at her. "I'm sorry; you do know the reason why I explore is to search for hidden treasure, right? I almost think this Ruki has already found it before me." She sighed. "Back to business -- we could go now and find our -- "

"Round up those Symols for me, Mozen! I'm leaving for my expedition today!"

"Oh no," whispered the Shoyru. "Oh no... close that again! If I leave right now..."

"I thought you wanted to go," said Myrial sceptically, paws akimbo. "This is our chance!"

Mozen shook his head as he began running around, gesturing with his hands to the Symols. The less sentient Petpets waddled into the middle and away from any of Kalwor's prized possessions, while Myrial continued to scowl at him.

"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing. Close the wall again!"

"All right, all right, keep your wings on," the Symol muttered, poking the brick, which had protruded along with the wall. As everything went back to normal -- which included Myrial shutting up and mingling with the rest of her kind -- Mozen heard the telltale click of a lock being undone, and Kalwor flamboyantly and swiftly stepped inside, effectively blocking the door.

"Did I hear you talking to someone?" asked the Ruki, beckoning his Symols close. "Thank you, Mozen. As much as I regret leaving you behind, I'm afraid it's for the best. But wouldn't you like to spend the rest of your days here in my secret treasure room, surrounded by riches?"

Mozen didn't answer.

"I must be going. Sceptres don't collect themselves, you know! Then you'll see that the Forbidden Golden Sceptre is real!" The Symols, with Myrial at their helm, marched like guards in rank and file in front of Kalwor, who shut the door behind him and didn't even forget to lock it again.

However, he didn't realise that Mozen hadn't tried to escape in the two times the treasure room door had been opened despite his pleading and futile attempts earlier.

And most of all, he didn't see the Shoyru press the brick Myrial had shown him and slip outside...

Author: precious_katuch14
Date: Jul 28th
***

"This is brilliant," Kalwor announced with a self-satisfied smirk. He stopped just outside of the door, and turned around to face his Symol subordinates. "The sceptre will bring me everything I've ever wanted. Do you know what that means?" He paused and stared at the dozens of blinking eyes before him. "No, of course you don't. You don't even understand what I'm talking about." He shrugged. "Well, let's go. The ship is just outside my Neohome."

With that he started walking, and the Symols marched behind him. One particular Symol, however, gave a tiny smile as she followed the Ruki, all the while knowing that it was only a matter of time before she would be changed back to her usual self.

The walk from Kalwor's Neohome to the ocean was short -- very short. In fact they stepped onto a wooden bridge after just a couple of steps outside.

A small but rather regal-looking boat sat at the end, rocking gently in the breeze. The steering wheel was visible from a raised platform on the ship, and some stairs led down to a cargo area.

"All right, get on, Symols. We've got a job to do."

The Symols marched along the plank and settled on the ship, all the while staring placidly at Kalwor.

The Ruki took a final look around his boat, to ensure that everything looked perfect, and then lifted the plank away from the bridge. "We'll be back in no time, and my collection will be complete."

Kalwor scuttled up the stairs and onto the platform with the steering wheel. "You Symols just stay still. I don't want you ruining my beautiful ship."

Blinking eyes stared up at him, but one Symol snuck away, and scurried down the stairs to the cargo hold.

***

The plan was going perfectly. Kalwor had no idea that Mozen had got onto the ship when he wasn't looking, and now all he had to do was wait until they reached the Lost Desert, which shouldn't be too long.

The ship rocked into motion, and Mozen stumbled into a crate in the cargo hold. He needed to remain quiet. If Kalwor found him, he'd be done for.

"I thought I'd find you here," came a squeaky little voice. Myrial came bounding down the stairs and raced in between the rocking crates. "I'm glad you made it on. Now it should be easy to get that sceptre and change me back."

Mozen nodded. "But what about Kalwor? He won't give up that sceptre easily."

Myrial sighed. "True, but for now let's just worry about staying hidden. It's on to the Lost Desert..."

Author: jayo289
Date: Jul 28th
They arrived much later than Mozen expected. He didn't know if Kalwor's destination was farther south than he had first thought or if they were just sailing slowly, but his legs had cramped up long before he cared.

When the ship finally stopped, the Shoyru pulled himself painfully back to his feet and crept up to the hatch leading onto the deck. Daring to peek out for a moment, he opened it slightly just as a few of the Symols scurried past.

They were gathering around Kalwor, standing at the top of the ramp on the side of his ship. He was staring out at the desert with wide, excited eyes, but his voice was calm as he declared to his Petpets, "You little things will now get to bear witness to my stake. I feel giddy only thinking of it...."

But he didn't look giddy. Mozen narrowed his eyes and scoffed silently. For as long as he had known him, the Shoyru had come to understand that Kalwor's treasure-hunting was a job; his philosophy, just as likely. He dedicated his time and effort to it but took only pride in it.

If he even enjoyed it, Mozen hadn't figured out. Right now, that unclouded commitment and analysed gain made him more dangerous anyway.

The Ruki stepped down the ramp, quickly out of view. Mozen took the chance to crawl fully out of the hold and sneaked to the edge of the ship, peering over the edge as Myrial and the other Symols followed their leader down.

As Kalwor treaded forward through the sand, Mozen saw nothing before them; no markings, no signs of any tomb or temple that could house the Golden Sceptre.

The Ruki stopped. As the Symols assembled around him, he looked down at them with a faint grin and instructed, "Now, form a circle."

Mozen raised an eyebrow. The Symols, mostly confused, wandered into a vague shape as described with significant help from Kalwor, and as they finished he pointed a finger downward and declared plainly, "Dig that way. Directly."

They obeyed, each disappearing nearly instantly as the soft sand gave way effortlessly against their claws. Kalwor sighed contently but did nothing else, as Mozen began to wonder what he had next up his sleeve--

In a split second the whole desert seemed to be shaking, and before the Shoyru could even wonder what was happening, huge golden spires suddenly rose from the sands, roofs, and columns following their ascension as a vast, shimmering temple took its place under the desert sun.

He struggled to contain an audible gasp, but Kalwor below was unfazed. He unrolled the scroll in his hand and read it again, his grin growing wider. "Quite breathtaking, then. The scribes of old couldn't do it justice with this..."

Author: visorak_commander
Date: Jul 29th
The Ruki raised his arms high into the air, and as he did so, his fine silk travelling robes fell in a pool at his feet, revealing a body entirely wrapped in rotting, filthy, linens strips. Kalwor tilted his face toward the strong desert sun and allowed himself a few moments to bask in its radiance. Refreshingly energised, he placed the claws of his right hand into his mouth and produced a shrill whistle. Immediately, the burrowing Symols scrambled out of their sandy pits and assembled in front of him, in more or less orderly ranks.

"You may return to the ship, my little friends, where you will find food and water and a place to rest until it's time to return back home. You've done well."

Kalwor watched as the Petpets marched toward the ramp that gave entrance to the ship, but narrowed his eyes at the straggler who now appeared from around one of the newly emerged golden columns of the temple. When this Symol attempted to join the others in line, Kalwor stopped her with a firm grip on her furry shoulder.

"What's the hurry? Hmmmm?"

The Symol blinked repeatedly at the Ruki, turned to watch the last of its brethren disappear onto the ship's deck, and turned back to see a face transformed into one of malevolent mirth.

"Crystacat got your tongue... Myrial?" The Ruki couldn't help but end with a hearty, "Mwa-ha-ha."

The Symol tried to squirm out from under the Ruki's grip, but finding no traction in the deep desert sand, she sighed and relented. "What's with the Mummy Ruki costume, Kalwor? It's not quite Halloween yet, is it?"

Kalwor tightened his grip on the Symol's shoulder and replied, "Halloween? I'm not dressed like a Mummy Ruki, I am the Mummy Ruki."

Myrial tilted her head in thought and said, "I don't understand. The legend of the Mummy Ruki is as old as..."

"As old as the time of King Coltzan I," Kalwor interrupted.

"I don't understand," Myrial muttered. "How can that be? We're talking about thousands of years here. Have you been wandering Neopia for thousands of years?"

"No!" Kalwor snapped. "I have been wandering Neopia only since the time that a certain Kougra's grandfather disturbed my resting place in a misguided attempt to steal the Forbidden Golden Sceptre."

"My... my grandfather?" Myrial sputtered. "What does this have to do with my grandfather?"

"All in time, my little friend. All will be revealed in time. Suffice it to say that no one can escape fate, and especially not you. Not you who inherited not only her grandfather's house, but also his foolhardy ways. Turned into a Symol! For what?"

"You knew my grandfather? You knew that I was living in his house before you? Before you began to collect all of that gold and all of those jewels?"

Kalwor swept his arm dismissively toward the Symol. "Gold and jewels? Is that what you think I've been collecting?" The Ruki directed Myrial's gaze toward the gilded temple. "I come from a time when cities were made of gold, as just another building material. No, I've been collecting something much more... valuable all of these years."

Myrial shook her head back and forth in confusion. "I don't get it. What have you been collecting?"

***

Hidden behind the rails of the ship, Mozen had been following the conversation with a mixture of horror and fascination. He watched now as the Ruki leaned forward and whispered something in the ear of the Symol that set the little Petpet to trembling...

Author: mamasimios
Date: Jul 29th
...and he couldn't help but tremble himself. He hadn't heard what the Ruki had whispered, but he was certain it was malicious and frightening. Mozen gulped and crouched even further down in his hiding place.

Before long, he heard another maniacal laugh from Kalwor -- or, rather, the Mummy Ruki. The Shoyru risked bobbing his head above the ship's railing again to investigate what was going on. He saw Kalwor heading toward the newly-risen temple, dragging the struggling Myrial behind him.

Once the pair had vanished through the temple's gilded doors, Mozen stood up and considered his options. The most obvious course of action was to take the ship and flee. Mozen didn't have a great deal of nautical knowledge, but he was certain he could handle the ship well enough to make it somewhere far, far away.

On the other hand, he did owe Myrial for showing him the way out of Kalwor's relic depository. The Shoyru sighed, and decided that he would have to at least make an attempt to help the cursed Symol.

Mozen was soon startled out of his thoughts, however, by the line of eleven Symols trundling up the ship's gangplank. Once onboard, the Petpets wandered around the deck aimlessly. Mozen couldn't help but smile at their cuteness, despite the extremely dire situation he was in.

"All right," he said to himself, "looks like I'm going to have to follow those two into the temple." Mozen took a deep breath, put his foot forward...

...and immediately tripped over one of the Symols that had wandered over to him. Rubbing his bruised head, Mozen stared at the offending Petpet. The Symol stared back with beady black eyes. "I don't suppose you're a cursed treasure hunter, too?" Mozen asked.

The Symol tilted its head to one side, but said nothing.

"No, I didn't think so." Mozen arose and began walking for the gangplank once again. The Symol over which he had tripped quickly waddled after him. Mozen stopped and turned around. The Symol bumped into his feet.

"Why are you following me, little guy?" The Symol just looked up at the Shoyru and blinked. "Do you want to go exploring?" Again, the Symol said nothing, but Mozen could tell that he did, in fact, want to go exploring.

"All right, you can follow me if you want. It could be dangerous, though." The Symol was undeterred. "Okay, then. You can come with me. In fact, you might be useful at some point." Mozen turned back around and exited the ship. The Symol trundled after him. And so Mozen, accompanied by a nameless Symol, ventured into the golden tomb.

***

"This is madness, Kalwor!" shouted Myrial as she was dragged along behind the Ruki through a hallway of pure gold.

"Will you be quiet for a moment?" snarled Kalwor between gritted teeth.

"Will you let me go?" shot back Myrial.

The Ruki stopped in his tracks, adjusted his bandages, and sighed. "You need to come with me, Myrial. Don't you understand?"

In response, the Symol spat directly at his face.

"Why you...!" shouted Kalwor, wiping off the spit with the claw not clutching Myrial. He then raised the claw as if to strike her, but quickly lowered it. "No. No, I need you alive."

"But why?" asked Myrial.

"Well, I suppose there's no harm in telling you now," said the Mummy Ruki arrogantly. "You see, the curse under which I suffer is very specific. In order to be freed from my decaying, mummified state, I need to sacrifice another in my place. That would be you." Kalwor grinned at Myrial, who shuddered. "You'll become a mummy, cursed to roam Neopia in eternal torment, or until you pass the curse onto another. But it's not that simple. In order to activate the curse I need two things. First, the fifty golden artefacts of Sakhemet must be assembled."

"Yes, you already told me. All your treasure hunts were to find those artefacts. You piled them up in that big vault of yours, untapped their power, yadda yadda yadda," Myrial said, with a roll of her eyes, acting much braver than she felt.

Kalwor ignored her. "The second necessity is that the sacrifice I offer be of the lineage of he who awakened me. Since it was your grandfather who first disturbed my slumber and brought this curse upon me, you will be the one that the curse must fall upon." The Ruki laughed again, the sound echoing off the hallway's walls of gold and ceiling studded with jewels.

"It is quite a plan," said Myrial, "but you forgot one thing..."

Author: rosabellk
Date: Jul 30th
"Oh?" Kalwor asked contemptuously. "And what is that?"

Myrial held up her claw and wiggled her fingers. "I'm already cursed, you buffoon." Then she was struck by a sudden idea. "But if we find the Golden Sceptre, you could change me back into my Neopet form before making the sacrifice."

The Ruki contemplated this for a moment, and then smirked. "I suppose you're right," he muttered. "Let's go." And he grabbed her and they pushed forward.

***

Mozen paused at the end of a tunnel, bricked in gold, listening to the distance echoing sounds of Kalwor and Myrial shuffling along. He glanced down at the Symol. "There's still time to turn back, you know."

He actually thought he saw the Symol frown before bolting around the corner and down the tunnel.

"WAIT," Mozen whispered, following. "Stop."

***

Kalwor and Myrial had been walking for a long time before they came across a large stone blocking their path. It was decorated with foreign symbols and hummed quietly.

"This is it," Kalwor hissed, closing his eyes in his private satisfaction. To Myrial's surprise, he placed his hand upon the stone, and it instantly moved aside by some unexplainable force, revealing a square chamber. They both peered into a vast stone room. Unlike the rest of the tomb, this room had no artefacts littering the walls. In the middle, stood a small golden staff hovering quietly upon a giant stone pedestal. It glowed slightly, illuminating the room with golden light.

"I can't believe it! The sceptre is mine at long last," Kalwor cried, throwing his arms up in exhilaration.

This is my chance, thought Myrial. Once I touch the sceptre and transform back to my original self, I can use its power to overcome the Ruki and make my escape.

But before either the Ruki or the Symol could move, they heard the pitter patter of feet behind them, and both turned just in time to see the tiny form of the nameless Symol run past them and make its way to the centre of the room.

"What the-" Kalwor said.

The Symol made one effortless leap at the sceptre, and a blazing light illuminated the entire room, blinding the Ruki and his hostage. When it subsided, they both dared to peek.

"It can't be..." Kalwor whispered in utter disbelief...

Author: xx_neomania
Date: Jul 30th
For several moments, only Kalwor could see the being that now stood in the Symol's place. Mozen and Myrial, rather more limited by the bonds of living flesh, took longer to recover.

Standing upon the pedestal was a Kougra with tawny fur the color of desert sand, wearing long robes of white and gold. In one large hand the Kougra held the sceptre, while the other likewise shielded his eyes from the last remnants of the light.

For a long moment, the Mummy Ruki stared, seeming torn between disbelief and what might have been fear. Then Kalwor stepped toward the pedestal, anger overcoming any caution. He recognised the Kougra instantly, though it had been many years and the old feline had changed colour somewhat.

"Arturus!" he snarled, stopping just short of the base of the pedestal on which the Kougra still stood and gazing up at him with hatred. "So, it wasn't enough for you to disturb my rest and leave me in this cursed state," he growled, tugging vaguely at the edge of one tattered bandage. "You have somehow managed to return to prevent me from ever returning to my rest."

Myrial finally peered through her fingers at the scene before them; the Mummy Ruki, trembling with fury, and the Kougra... she recognised that face.

"...Grandpa?"

The Kougra looked away from Kalwor, seeing Myrial seemingly for the first time. The slightly dazed look he'd worn as the light faded disappeared, and his expression grew calm for a moment as he looked at his granddaughter, then grew hard again as he looked down at the Mummy Ruki, an enemy he remembered.

"I didn't mean to disturb your rest," he said with a growl. "And I wouldn't have interfered had you not decided to target Myrial with your curse."

Kalwor scowled. "It was hardly my decision. Do you think I would have wasted all these years tracking her down if I could just pluck any Neopet from the Pound to put in my place? If I could I would have chosen you... but I thought you were dead."

Arturus opened his mouth to respond, but he had no time. Kalwor grabbed the side of the pedestal and heaved it upward, trying to tip the Kougra off. Clearly the mummy had had enough conversation. Had the pedestal been one piece, moving it would have been impossible, but only the top moved, displacing Arturus and falling to the stone floor with a crash. The aged Kougra leapt aside, landing more nimbly on the stone floor than his years might suggest possible. Now only the revealed sarcophagus stood between him and Kalwor. Before he could react, the Ruki launched himself over the sarcophagus and grabbed the sceptre, trying to wrench it from the Kougra's hands.

"You will not ruin this!" Kalwor hissed.

"And you will not harm my granddaughter!" the Kougra snarled back with equal enmity.

Mozen and Myrial stood by, both uncertain of what to do. Kalwor was well beyond their physical power to defeat, so they didn't know how they might help Arturus gain possession of the staff. Mozen glanced around the room for something he might use to distract the Mummy Ruki. Myrial, on the other hand, was completely focused on the battle going on across the small room. As the two struggled, the sceptre began to glow dimly. Dust swept into the room from outside, swirling around the room in gusts of wind created by the energy of the artifact. Shielding her eyes against the flying motes of sand, she watched the battle carefully. Kalwor had to have some kind of weak spot; something they could exploit. He was volatile, but he wouldn't be taunted into losing focus on the battle -- either of arms or of wills -- that was raging over the powerful item. No, it had to be something magical. He needed to be overpowered somehow... suddenly, it came to her.

"Mozen!" she called over the howl that had begun to fill the chamber. She grabbed the Shoyru's wing and tugged him downward, yelling into his ear so that he could hear her. "I need to get to the staff, but the wind is too strong. I need your help." The Shoyru looked uncertain for a moment; this really wasn't his battle, and he didn't have the disposition for heroics. In fact, he was perfectly happy with his old job as doorman in the manor. Dealing with a mummy and some kind of ancient sceptre definitely hadn't been a part of the job description...

But he knew that if he didn't do something now, something terrible would happen. Looking across the room, he could see that while Arturus still had a firm grip on the staff, Kalwor clearly understood it magically, and was using that against the Kougra. Arturus looked gaunt and tired, holding onto the staff only through sheer tenacity.

Resolutely, Mozen nodded and took the cursed Symol in one hand, holding her tightly as he folded his wings down and began pushing through the gale-force winds, trying to reach the battling Ruki and Kougra.

"What are you fighting me for?" Kalwor sneered, eyes glittering in the light of the sceptre. "Even if you were to take the sceptre, you can't kill me with it. Not without sending someone of your bloodline to wander Neopia in my place."

Arturus knew he was right, but he wouldn't let the Mummy Ruki curse Myrial in that way. He could see the desperation in the Ruki's eyes -- he would not allow his only granddaughter to reach that state as well. But while he was strong, he did not understand the magic of the staff well, and that was what gave Kalwor the advantage. The Kougra slipped, falling to his knees and slumping against Kalwor, who held the sceptre without resistance -- but only for a moment.

Suddenly, Mozen and Myrial both grasped the sceptre, having crawled around the sarcophagus beyond Kalwor's line of sight. In an instant, and with another flash of blinding light, Myrial had become a golden-furred Kougra, standing tall and gripping the sceptre powerfully. Kalwor merely sneered.

"What are you doing? You are no more capable of destroying me than he is." he nodded his head toward the other Kougra slumped on the floor, who was slowly sitting up again.

"Not alone, maybe." Myrial replied, ripping the sceptre from Kalwor's hands. It was only gone from his grasp for an instant, but it was long enough for Myrial to thrust the other end toward Arturus, who put a hand on the staff as well. Immediately, the wind picked up again and Kalwor backed away, feeling powerful magic in the room, every last bit of it directed against him.

"You can't destroy me!" he shouted, but it was more of a confused plea than a mocking retort now, for he knew that this amount of magic might be able to do just that. "Only if all members of the bloodline unite against the cursed can they be destroyed."

Myrial, helping her grandfather up, looked to the Mummy Ruki. "Really? I didn't know that... well, I guess it's convenient then that Grandpa is the only family I've got, and vice versa."

Kalwor continued to backpedal, fear filling him. He had wanted his eternal rest, but to be destroyed meant oblivion; to be erased from existence completely. That was a fate far worse than what he had already endured. He tried to turn and flee, but Mozen, who had sneaked around behind him, tripped him up.

The Mummy Ruki fell, but before he could even hit the ground the wind blew the wrappings away, and the body beneath them turned to dust as they were removed. He didn't even have the time to scream before there was nothing left of him but dust to be scattered in the wind and a few tattered pieces of ancient cloth.

***

"I know there was no other way, but still... we don't know what the sceptre did to him."

Arturus smiled at his granddaughter. "I don't think there is any way to know for sure, but I think once the curse was broken he was freed to whatever lies beyond death. The sceptre may be cursed, but it is not evil."

A long silence passed between the two of them, broken only by the noises of Mozen moving about in the other room -- after the curse had been lifted, Myrial and Arturus had moved back into their old home, and Mozen had been promoted to valet, and he was in the process of moving his things into the large room offered those who held the position.

A puzzled look came over Myrial's face. "One more thing though..." she said. "Why were you a Symol too?"

Arturus chuckled. "The Mummy Ruki's curse was not the only one that travels through bloodlines." he replied. "Unfortunately, the curse affected my mind as well. I didn't remember anything clearly until I saw the sceptre again." He shook his head at the memory of the event that had started this whole thing. "I'm glad we locked the sceptre away again. I've never seen an artefact that could cause so much trouble without some kind of evil force behind it..."

***

Meanwhile, in a far-away temple buried deep beneath the Lost Desert sand, a sentience awoke inside the sceptre. The soul it had stolen now possessed its power, and it demanded revenge...

The End?

Author: i_am_ozymandias
Date: Jul 31st



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