|It has been a few mere months since the defeat of the last
Spectre, since Jeran was crowned a prince and Lisha was knighted. (If you have
no clue what I'm talking about, read "The Last stand of the Spectre", a short
story in issue 89) And although the war is over throughout the land, it's not
over in Jeran's heart. Finally, his inner struggles lead him on a journey not
only to his past before Meridell, but also to his long-awaited future.
The sun sank in a blaze of flaming color
on the western horizon of Meridell. The smooth white marble walls of the Meridell
castle reflected this light, painting flames leaping and dancing. Jeran Borodere
the blue Lupe lay on the soft green grass, nibbling on a turnip and reflecting
on the war. As a knight, he had seen lots of battles before. But this was the
first war he had ever seen. It had changed him greatly, and his loyalty to Skarl
was as solid as ever. Yet there was also loyalty to another in him. One from
a far distant place and time. An Aisha maiden who claimed to be his sister.
It had been almost a decade since that
fateful game of hide-and-seek. He was lost, transported to another time. He
remembered watching those white walls materialize around him. But further back
he could not recall. It was as if someone had gathered all of his memories and
locked them in a box in the back of his mind. Try as he might, he couldn't get
it open. What he needed was a key. Something to jog his memory and let loose
the flood. He thought it had come when he found Lisha. Yet, it still wasn't
"Prince Borodere?" A servant Bruce opened
the door from the castle to the grounds and bowed low. "The banquet will start
in half an hour. As his son, King Skarl expects you to be ready in fifteen minutes
and to be by the door, greeting guests."
Jeran slapped his face. The banquet! He
had nearly forgotten! Four hours of rich old windbags yammering about "the issues
in our nation" and not doing anything about them. Four long hours of these windbags
nibbling on taxpayers' turnips. Four long hours of politics. "Thank you," Jeran
said to the Bruce.
Jeran walked slowly up to his room, as
if in a daze. His memory, the war, all seemed swirled as one in his mind. So
many troubling thoughts, too much to concentrate on while he was trying to get
his fur to lie flat. Jeran slipped out of his comfortable breeches and tunic
and donned a flowing red robe and a more formal shirt.
"You look very royal," teased Jeran's
sister Lisha. Jeran jumped with a start when he saw her in his doorway. Then,
the yellow Aisha examined her brother's bedroom. Heavy maroon drapes hung on
the windows. Jeran's sword and shield hung from the wall. A red featherbed was
the focal point of the room. "Your room looks very royal too. So different from
your room back home… so long ago."
"I don't remember," Jeran said truthfully,
hanging his head in shame.
"It was about a fourth of the size of
this room. You had a small bed with a racecar comforter and posters lining the
wall of all of your favorite games. There was a Meerca Chase poster and a Grarrl
Keno poster and a Cheat poster; that one was my favorite. You didn't have any
windows in your room, but you did have a lamp shaped like a Scorchio and a night-light
shaped like a Doglefox."
"What did your room look like?" Jeran
could feel the tears in his eyes, but he didn't care.
"Oh, my room had yellow Usul wallpaper.
A shelf near my bed held my Usuki doll collection. My bed had a yellow comforter
and under my bed there was a rug with a picture of an Alien Aisha on it. Our
owner always said that if I didn't finish my carrots, the alien in the picture
would come out and get me," she chuckled. Jeran wished so badly that he could
share her laughter, but he couldn't. He couldn't remember anything. It hurt
him; that he couldn't remember the owner who had raised him and the house he
grew up in. In order to spare himself more heartache, he changed the subject.
"You don't look like you're ready for a banquet."
Lisha smiled. Truly enough, she was dressed
in her simple brown skirt and white blouse. "The only thing with more frills
than the dress they want me to wear is a lace factory. Besides, I don't have
to be ready fifteen minutes early. I'm not a one of Skarl's favorites." She
was trying to sound relieved but there was a trace of something in her voice…
Jeran brushed the feeling off. "You'd
best get into your lace factory soon, Lisha. The guests are starting to arrive."
"Okay," Lisha departed, as swift and silent
as a wraith.
Jeran took one last look at his reflection
in his full-length mirror. He tried an experimental kingly strut. Lisha's
right, he thought, I do look like royalty.
Then, the Lupe knight swept down the stairs
and went to greet the noblemen who had already arrived.
* * *
"Don't know what you were thinking, knighting a foreigner," grumbled the elderly
but prestigious Lord Firewing the fire Draik. "And a girl foreigner at that."
"That foreigner helped save our entire
country," King Skarl replied. "She also happens to be my son's sister."
"Adopting a foreigner, that's the worst
thing you've ever done, Your Majesty." The old nobleman clutched his glass so
tightly that his claws turned white. "He'll turn on you, the cowardly traitor.
Why can't you adopt a Meridell native?"
"I could trust no one, not even a Meridell
native, as much as I trust Jeran!" Skarl roared. "I'd place my life and my kingdom
in his faithful paws!"
"Isn't that what you're doing my lord?"
Lord Firewing spat those last two words out as if they had scorched his tongue.
"Endangering your people, your own subjects for a foreigner?"
Skarl handed the Draik nobleman an orange
sweetie. "Imported direct from Neopia Central. Quite a delicacy around here.
Suck on it. Perhaps it will sweeten your disposition." Then, the proud Skeith
king stalked off.
"Ah, and here comes our young prince now!"
Truly enough, Jeran was walking down the hardwood grand staircase. A hush swept
over the crowd, and every NeoPet turned and stared. For a few tense moments,
the only sounds that could be heard were the drops of Jeran's sweat hitting
the floor and an Ixi servant dropping her platter of gourmet foods.
"Yes, Prince Jeran is here!" Jeran tried
to say confidently, but he was aware of his voice trembling. He felt his face
flush beet-red. Why were they staring at him?
The Ixi servant trotted over and bowed
low before whispering in Jeran's ear. "Forgive me for saying, Majesty, but you're
still wearing peasant's shoes." She gestured towards Jeran's… sneakers.
The temperature on Jeran's face shot up
about ten degrees. The Lupe prince scurried upstairs to change. Little did he
know of the spilled water on the top step. "Whoa!" the Lupe prince cried, wobbling
precariously at the top of the staircase. "Whoooooa!" All sense of balance was
lost and the world turned upside down as he came rolling, thumping and crashing
down the grand staircase. To add insult to injury, one of his sneakers fell
off during his fall and when he hit the bottom, it fell on his head and dangled
from his left ear. Peals of laughter shook the banquet hall.
"So this is our noble Prince Jeran!" mocked
Lord Firewing. "Future King of all of Meridell!"
Jeran slunk away to his room, wanting
to crawl into a corner and disappear. In his room, he changed into suitable
nobleman's shoes and on his way back to the banquet, he asked the Ixi servant
to mop up the water.
The rest of the banquet was miserable.
Between Lord Firewing's jokes and the rude stares he received from some subjects,
he felt like he didn't deserve to be a prince.
The morning after the banquet, Lisha and
Jeran were eating breakfast in the Grand Hall. Neither spoke a word. The minds
of both young Neopets were troubled, yet neither could find a way to tell the
other about their problems.
And, at the other end of the table, King
Skarl chewed in silence. He knew what was troubling his son. The people of Meridell
had always treated him like an outcast, but lately they were a bit more… suspicious
of him. Skarl's conversation with Lord Firewing had only proven these fears
to be true. He knew that Jeran was considering leaving. Skarl's mind wandered…
through his bowl of gruel and into a day long past when a Lupe child had wandered
into his throne room, wailing at the top of his lungs. "Wanna go home!" he had
cried. "Don't know the way."
Skarl had taken pity on the child and
raised him to be a knight. Jeran had soon proved himself swift as the wind and
as strong as a dozen Skeiths. So, Skarl had made him the leader of his knights.
And never a question about his past had come up… until the Aisha came.
Silently, Jeran got up and dumped his
bowl of unfinished gruel in a water basin to let it soak. Then, he opened the
grand oak castle doors and stepped out into the sunlit world. He knew where
he had to go.
He knocked upon the tent flap of Kasha
Moonfang, the Kyrii Seer's apprentice. Kasha's tent was unlike any other tent
in Neopia. Silver stars and planets were painted on a midnight-blue background.
A gold sun adorned one side, and underneath the sun Kasha had planted graceful
yellow roses. On the other side, a silver-white moon shone lovingly upon white
tulips. Yet they were painted in such a way that when the sun shone on the sun-painting,
the picture seemed to radiate a light and heat of its own. And when the moon
shone upon the moon painting, the picture became a real silver moon on the tent
Yet the loveliest thing about the tent
(in Jeran's opinion) was its inhabitant, the Seer-in-training Kasha Moonfang.
Her silky white fur glistened like winter's first snow on the hilltops. Glittering
bangles and bracelets covered her paws and jingled as she walked. Her face was
slender and graceful, more graceful than Jeran thought his scruffy fur would
ever be. Slender, cup-like ears were pierced and in her right ear she wore a
chandelier earring with a sun of hammered gold on it. Dangling from the sun
were six gold stars. On her left ear there was a silver moon earring with six
silver stars. The most remarkable thing about Kasha was her eyes. Deep violet,
they had seen so much more than the eyes of the most elderly NeoPet. They had
seen things that were, things that are, and things that would be far in the
future. Those were eyes that could attract and haunt a person all at once.
"Enter, Prince Jeran Borodere," Kasha
said in a voice smooth as silk. "I can tell that you are weary. You have journeyed
Jeran blushed. "Call me Jeran. And it
was only a ten-minute walk from the palace."
"I speak not of journeys of the paws,
but journeys of the mind and soul. And in that area, you have traveled far."
"I suppose so." Jeran entered the small
tent. A single candle was the only source of light, filling the room with a
pleasant smoky smell. Herbs hung from the ceiling to dry. A hundred multifaceted
crystals had been placed neatly on a table nearby, all reflecting the beautiful
face of their owner. "Miss Kasha, you know how you helped King Skarl find his
long-lost Turmac last year?"
"Yes," Kasha replied softly.
"I'd like to put in a similar request.
Could you please… I don't even know how to say it."
"You'd like to find your owner in Neopia
Central?" the Lupess' deep purple eyes gazed straight into Jeran's, sending
a tingle down the Lupe-knight's spine.
"How'd you know? Oh! Let me guess. You
can read minds. No, you saw a vision of me saying what I said before I actually
said it. Or maybe you have some sort of crystal that you used."
"Actually, your sister Lisha asked me
to find your owner last night after the banquet. She was quite distraught, as
I recall. She said the food and the arguing… it all reminded her of home. Not
because it was similar, but because of the differences."
"Oh," Jeran said, blushing.
"You also feel that you do not belong.
I need no herbs or magical powers or even other NeoPets to tell me this. It
shines from your eyes like light from a flame, flickering and wavering, but
it still remains there. You are trying to recover your long-lost memory, and
that may be a trickier thing to find than any Turmac."
"I don't know if I can do it, Miss Moonfang,"
"Call me Kasha," the white Lupess replied
sweetly. "And I have faith in your strength. You had the heart and courage to
make it through the war. Your mighty sword knocked down Neopet after Neopet.
You are of the sun, blazing in an inferno of glory and spirit. Suns are becoming
more and more rare in Meridell. More common are the stars, pinpricks of light
who shine from afar and light the path, yet destiny has nothing exceptional
in mind for them."
"Exceptional?" Jeran cocked his head slightly.
"That is for you to find out, young prince.
Now you must go. Your sister waits for you in the courtyard. I believe she has
something to say."
* * *
Meanwhile, Lisha was training with her friends Morris the Quiggle, Kaelyn
the Zafara and Boris the Blumaroo in the courtyard. The springtime air had awakened
the youth and energy in the young travelers and they romped and played while
they polished their fighting skills. "In case another war comes," Kaelyn had
"I don't think there's going to be another
war," Lisha replied grimly. "And even if there was, we wouldn't be special enough
to fight in it."
"We could very well be special," Morris
replied. "After all, who makes training with a wooden sword look as easy as
I make it look?" He gave his Cap'n Threelegs Training sword a few experimental
swings… and overbalanced and fell in the mud.
Lisha held her paw up to her mouth to
hide a giggle. She looked exactly like a naughty schoolchild. "I can honestly
say that I've never seen anyone train like you do, Morris."
"Ha!" Morris got out of the mud and wiped
his face. "Laugh at me now, missy. But just wail until I start beating the famous
Sir Lisha at swordfights."
"You can dream until the Kaus come home,
Morris." Kaelyn said, clutching her sides with laughter. "But that won't make
you any better with that thing."
Then, Lisha spotted Jeran walking through
the courtyard gate, his real sword in a scabbard on his belt. "Lisha," Jeran
said awkwardly, unsure of what to say next.
"Jeran, I have something to tell you.
I asked Kasha Moonfang to find our owner in Neopia Central. She's a mage, Jeran!
A master of magic! If she can't find her, no one can. I… hope you don't mind."
Jeran walked over and hugged his sister,
tears glimmering in the corners of his eyes. "No, Lisha. I don't mind at all."
To be continued...