"NO!" Jeran cried from the window, yet not daring to step
outside. "Don't do it, Lisha!"
Yet Lisha kept walking, towards the Skeith and
the Pteri. Towards her owner, bound and gagged on her NeoHome lawn. Paws in
the air, totally empty. She was defenseless.
"We didn't ask for you, scrawny Aisha lady,"
the Skeith spat. "But I guess you'll do in a pinch." Then, he shouted at the
house. "Last chance for Prince Borodere, sniveling coward to come out and save
With claws like razors, the Skeith sliced through
Hillary's ropes and the Pteri took the gag out of her mouth. "Turn back, Lisha!
Save yourself!" Hillary shouted once she was free. But Lisha still stood there,
stock-still as a statue. She accepted the gags and ropes, tears welling behind
her thick glasses. Chuck wanted Jeran and Hillary. He'll get Jeran and Hillary,
she thought. I'm not an exceptional warrior, and Meridell will not give itself
up for me.
"Walk, pussycat. Let's see how tough the famous
'Sir Lisha' is now," taunted the Skeith as he prodded her with a great broadsword.
Forgetting pride and dignity, Lisha walked,
stumbling occasionally because her foot paws were bound. Whenever she fell,
the Skeith poked at her with the sword until she got up and walked again.
"Fool," Jeran muttered, watching his sister
through the window. He was sad and frightened, yet he let neither of these emotions
show. Emotion was not the way of the warrior.
Hillary burst through the NeoHome door, sobbing.
"They took Lisha, Jeran! Why didn't you save her? Why didn't you help… some
"I'm still needed," Jeran said flatly, hiding
the feelings in his voice.
"And she's not?" Hillary asked. Then, the human
girl paused. "I'm sorry, Jeran. It's not fair to blame you. You're right. It's
not like I can ask you to be their bargaining chip."
"What do you suppose they'll do with Lisha?"
"Hopefully they won't… do anything to hurt her."
Jeran just nodded. Lisha, he thought,
fingering his sun-charm necklace. Now there's another sun-spirit. Akin to
mine. At least that's what Kasha would say. How I wish Kasha Moonfang were here
That night, Jeran's dreams were haunted by visions
of a yellow Aisha with glasses and a Wand of Nova. With that wand, she blasted
enemy after enemy in a valiant dance of battle. Then, she dropped the wand of
nova and walked off… walked off calmly into a hole of blackness.
Without so much as a goodbye.
* * *
The next day, Jeran filled a knapsack with provisions and useful items. A
coil of rope, a map and compass, a few Battledome weapons. He sharpened his
sword and sheathed it in its scabbard on his belt. He polished his armor until
"I'm going to find Lisha," he said to Hillary.
"It's my fault she's gone and I'm going to bring her back to you."
"Are you sure this is the best idea?" she asked.
"They might capture you."
"That doesn't matter anymore," Jeran growled.
"I let her down. She's more deserving of my knight's shield and sword than I
am. And I abandoned her."
"Sir Jeran's leaving?" whimpered Chuck. "Bye-bye
"Bye-bye Chuck. Be a good kid for Hillary."
And so, Jeran headed east towards the rising
sun. His silhouette was a dark shadow of hope on the eastern horizon. On and
on he walked, away from his NeoHome and his tamed new life. He was once again
a warrior, a noble knight in shining armor, off to save a fair lady. Granted,
that lady was his sister. But Jeran chose to overlook that fact, for the sake
of drama. This was his moment of glory.
The days passed. The crowded neighborhoods of
Neopia Central thinned and gave way to wild, untamed plains. Golden grasses
bent and swayed under the gentle breeze. The land was flat as a board, and only
the occasional tree, shrub, hill or patch of wildflowers broke the unending
A few days later, the ground became higher and
rockier. Mountains' craggy peaks soared, piercing the bright blue sky. In the
dirt around the rocks, there were footprints made by a Skeith and the dragging,
stumbling paw prints of a footsore Aisha. The Pteri must have flown. Splatters
of blood had dried on one rock. Lisha's blood. "She's still alive," Jeran whispered
to himself. "They'll use her as a bargaining chip just as they were planning
to use me."
Made suddenly unaware of his weariness and despite
his heavy, clanking armor, the Lupe ran towards the mountains. "They must be
planning to hide her in a cave nearby." He said. But the caves were father away
than they seemed and eventually, the Lupe was forced to take a rest. The ground
was so much more comfortable here, no itchy grass prodding at your back or cold,
hard sidewalk making you stiff when you wake. Jeran relaxed in the dirt and
fell into a deep sleep.
* * *
He awoke in a cave of some sorts. The only light came from a torch in a holder
on the wall. The walls, floor and ceiling were limestone. Great stalactites
reached down from the cavern ceiling, their ends coming to a treacherous point.
But there were no stalagmites on the ground. Peculiar, thought Jeran.
Not natural at all.
Then he looked around the walls. A heavy steel
door stood on the east side of the cave, locked tightly shut. On the west side
of the cave, a large window sat high up, about eight feet off of the ground.
This looks like some sort of prison. Jeran's knightly instinct told him to try
to escape. But his brotherly instinct told him to stay. His captors might know
something about Lisha and the Skeith and Pteri.
A few hours later, the Pteri flew in through
the window. "You're lucky, prince." He sniggered. "Chief wants you to live.
Says that you're a dream come true. Your king will forfeit his kingdom if it'll
keep you alive. Very lucky." He paused, and an evil glint came into his eye.
"Your sis wasn't so lucky, though. Not lucky enough to survive, no."
For a few blissful moments, Jeran was numbed
by shock and unable to feel anything. Then, bit-by-bit, his emotions returned.
Rage, grief, regret. "What has he done with her?" It became hard to keep his
voice level. Normally he could control his emotions. Now, not so. What was once
restraint became a fiery, tear-filled roller coaster of passion.
"Well now that we have you, we don't need her,
do we? And we can't have her crawling to goody-two-shoes Skrarl, warning him
of our most ingenious plan. All must be kept secret. You, of course, understand
this don't you, Lupe? Did you not strike a child because he was being too noisy
and not keeping a secret?"
"That was different," Jeran growled. "Lives
were at stake."
"Ah, but it was not all that different, Jeran.
You are of the ruthless class of warriors."
"Why you…" Jeran reached for his sword, but
it wasn't there. Neither was his knapsack of supplies and Battledome weapons.
"Fool," the Pteri cackled. "Did you really think
that we would let you keep your weapons? No prisoner goes armed in my Chief's
lair. And your provisions were very tasty. Chief especially liked your… what
do you call them? Mint chocolate Chia pops. There are still some left. I'd offer
you one, but prisoners do not get fine food."
"I hope he chokes on one," Jeran grumbled as
the Pteri flew off, laughing evilly.
To be continued...