“The peasants owe you their allegiance. Whatever you
ask of them, they are required by the code of the Lost Desert to do. Pyramids,
statues, temples will be built in your honor. In return…” Twelve-year-old Coltzan
shook his head, trying to rid himself of the sleepy thoughts that always accompanied
the drone of Tekset’s dreadful monotone voice. He was not surprised to feel
the words entering his brain, strangely accented in his mind’s ear. The Voice
always came when he was behaving childishly. “You must learn these things
if you are to be a king,” the strange voice told him. “How will you fulfil your
destiny if you don’t know how to rule?” Coltzan forced himself to sit up straight
and listen to his teacher. He did not know if the voice was real, but when it
came, accompanied by visions of lush green meadows and huge castles with banners
snapping in the breeze, the Lupe felt compelled to obey.
Glancing out the window at the shadow on the
sundial, Tekset gasped. “Prince Coltzan, forgive me! King Kepsel ordered me
to have you ready for the festival in one hour! Oh, there is much to do!” Tekset
the Blumaroo bowed deeply in the Sakhmetian style: paws together in front of
his heart. “With your permission, my prince…?” The young cub waved his paw in
a dismissive gesture and gave a commanding bark. Seconds later, the curtained
door was pushed aside and four Meercas carrying a luxurious litter appeared
at the door.
“Your duties tonight will include asking the
Faeries’ blessing for the New Year. I have written a speech that should be suitable,
if Your Greatness approves….” Coltzan smiled appreciatively at Tekset, but inside
his heart was sinking. Another cursed celebration when he should be practicing
his battling skills. Sighing deeply, he closed his eyes as a hovering Buzz began
rimming his large eyes with kohl. His mind wandered far away, to a land he could
“…The peasants owe you their allegiance, and you owe yours to the king of all,
Mordeo. You provide him with tithes, and in return he gives you protection.
When you come into your lordship, you will do the same for the peasants under
your jurisdiction, Luparn. Luparn?”
Luparn awoke with a jolt. His protocol teacher,
an Ixi knight named Sir Jozef, was looking exasperatedly over his textbook at
Luparn. The young Lupe sighed as a hot breeze seemed to move around him and
images of pyramids and endless deserts appeared clearly in his mind, demanding
his attention. A familiar strongly-accented voice whispered in his mind. “Luparn,
why don’t you listen? You must get an education or you will never fulfil your
Hundreds of miles apart, in two different palaces in two different worlds,
twin Lupe cubs threw up their paws in frustration. Surrounded by confused onlookers,
they howled as one: “What is my destiny?”
An icy wind filled both palaces, and on either
side of the globe, nobles and servants were filled with an inexplicable dread.
Lamps flickered and wild Skeiths howled mournfully. Coltzan lay unconscious
in his litter, and Luparn had fainted on Lord Sarkif’s large wooden desk.
When the pair emerged from their strange unconscious
state, they were each surprised to discover that they were not alone. The shadowed
pup and the green one looked each other over with interest.
Illustration by Slamina83
“You must be Coltzan,” said Luparn.
“And you’re Luparn, I suppose,” replied Coltzan.
“I wonder how we knew,” mused Luparn, a thoughtful
look on his face. “I’m certain Dad never told me I had a brother my age.”
Coltzan shook his head, long tongue lolling.
“And I’m quite sure Mumsey said that I was an only child.”
“Perhaps it was the Voice,” suggested Luparn.
“Quite probable,” agreed his brother. “But where
are we now? This certainly isn’t Sakhmet.”
“Nor Meridell,” said Luparn. “Let’s explore.”
“Certainly,” agreed Coltzan courteously, “but
which way should be go first?” The pair of cubs looked about in confusion. The
ground around them was white and fluffy. It shifted and billowed, but seemed
quite firm. There didn’t seem to be a sky above them, only an unmoving blue
“Welcome to the home of the Faeries,” said a
sinister voice from behind them. Whipping around, the two cubs faced a tall
dark Faerie with a pleasant smile on her face. “I am Jhunedra the Prophet, and
I’m here to explain to you your destiny.”
Coltzan and Luparn looked at her mildly. Coltzan
cleared his throat. “So you mean to say that you, a good dark Faerie,
prophesied that twin Lupe cubs of royal blood would overthrow the evil king
and rule Meridell in peace and harmony?”
Jhunedra looked rather taken aback. “How did
you know that?” she gasped. “Surely Sarkif didn’t tell you? Or Kepsel?” The
twin cubs shook their heads in a unanimous, solemn “no.”
“We don’t know how we know,” admitted Luparn.
“We seem to have some kind of gift when we’re togethe -- a perception of some
sort. And when we’re apart…”
“The Voice,” breathed Coltzan, looking at his
brother helplessly. Luparn only shrugged. Their young minds couldn’t fathom
a connection this deep.
Jhunedra’s certainly could, though. “Oh, no no
no…. This is NOT good! This shouldn’t have happened; this wasn’t in the prophecy!
Oh, we have to get you to the Faerie Queen at once!”
Back in Sakhmet, pandemonium reigned. The entire Lost Desert nobility had assembled
for the New Year Festivities, but now that Coltzan had fainted, the celebration
had been forgotten. The court doctors had carried his limp body to his bedchamber
and demanded peace and quiet. After several hours, King Kepsel and his wife,
Queen Aristet, were frantic. “Is there no change, Doctor?” begged the Queen.
The Techo doctor shook his shaggy head. “None
of our specialists can reach him. All he says are strange magic words.” The
doctor paused as if trying to remember them correctly. “‘Loo-parn,’ he said,
and ‘Joo-ned-rah.’ But mostly, he just says ‘destiny.’ Over and over and over.”
“No… no… let me… I must… destiny! Destiny!” The feverish green pup tossed and
turned on the soft feather mattress. Sarkif watched the court doctor examine
him yet again with worried eyes.
“Can’t you tell what’s wrong with him, Doctor?”
he begged the grim-looking Aisha. “Is he in pain? Is he…”
Sarkif’s wife Arina began to tremble violently.
“Doctor, tell me our son is all right. Please, tell me he’s not… dying?”
The kindly doctor turned a sympathetic face on
the worried Lupess clutching her newborn cub. “I am obliged to tell you that
I’ve never seen a case like this before, Lady Arina. However,” he added hastily
as he saw the horror on her face, “I think it’s safe to say he will live. His
mind simply seems to be… detached from his body at the moment. Faerieland only
knows where he is now….”
To be continued...