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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 20th day of Hiding, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 136 > New Series > The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: The Storm-Clouds are Rising -- Part One

The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: The Storm-Clouds are Rising -- Part One

by ridergirl333

The Story of Kasha Moonfang

Many nights had passed since Galgarrath's fall from Kass Citadel. Dreams now haunt Kasha every night, whispering and warning of the war to come. Premonitions haunt her every step during the day. And something keeps tearing at her brain, some memory that she can't clearly remember, but can never quite forget…

     Kasha Moonfang, Jeran's faithful companion and Meridell's future gypsy Seer, paced around her tent, far from her beautiful self. Her once smooth, lustrous fur hadn't been brushed or washed in nearly a week, and was now dulled and matted. Dark circles had formed under her eyes from lack of sleep. Most of her bangles and bracelets had been misplaced or broken, and she didn't even care. She spent her days in a dazed half-stupor.

     "Ye're okay, child?" Jacob the Kyrii Seer asked, placing his paw lovingly around the apprentice that had become like a daughter to him. "Ye've seemed awfully distressed lately."

     "Just worried about Meridell. Oh Jacob, every minute of my sleep is riddled with nightmares! Every single minute! They all seem to have two things in common; falling and fire."

     "Mayhap ye're ripe for yer first vision, dear," Jacob said gruffly, straightening his rough, burlap-like tunic. "I remember when I was yer age, apprenticed ter a middle-aged Moehog the same way ye're apprenticed ter me. Fer a week afore my first vision, I couldno' get a wink o' sleep."

     "You think I'm going to See something?" Kasha asked, too weary to be excited. "Excellent."

     "Ye'd best pretty yerself up a bit, dearie. Here comes yer Lupe knight…"

     Kasha spun around quickly and smoothed her fur as Jeran poked his head through the tent flap. "Kasha?"

     "Yes?" Kasha said, somewhat testily, having a bit of difficulty with a cowlick near her left ear.

     "A bit aggravated?" the Lupe-knight asked, laughing.

     "That doesn't even begin to describe how I'm feeling right now," Kasha groaned. "Ever feel like nothing is going your way?"

     Jeran nodded. "All the time. Like right now, for instance. We're having some trouble up near Hope River. I'm leaving at dawn."

     "Dawn?" Panic welled up in Kasha's heart, overriding her weariness. Jeran was marching off to goodness-knows-where to fight! He was in danger! "Dawn tomorrow?"

     Again, Jeran nodded. "But this doesn't have to be goodbye, Kasha. I'll return to you, this I swear. And I want you to have something." From his tunic pocket, he extracted a golden ring with a single diamond adorning it, shaped like a crescent moon. Jeran led Lisha out of the tent and into the sunlight, where the diamond cast a rainbow of colors over her face. Those colors, that face, both seemed to hypnotize Jeran. Not for a moment did he take his eyes off it, not even when he was in danger of tripping. "Kasha, when this war is over, I promise I'll spend much more time here at home. It'll be you and me. Spending our lives together."

     Kasha flung her paws around Jeran. By now, she was wailing hysterically. "Just be careful out there, okay Jeran?"

     "I will," the Lupe-knight said, gently prying the Lupess off of his neck. Holding her paw, he slipped the ring on her. "It suits you."

     An obnoxious voice broke the moment. "Jeran, you lazy lump! We need to get ready for tomorrow's trek!" A blue Wocky with a crossbow waved at us frantically from a hilltop a few dozen meters away.

     "Be there in a minute, Danner!" Jeran called. He turned to face Kasha again. "I need you to stay safe here, Kasha. Wait for me to return."

     "I will," Kasha said through her tears. "I will."

     Jeran ran off, leaving Kasha in front of the tent, her skirt billowing in the summer breeze. "I'll wait for you… forever," she whispered, the wind stealing the words from her lips.

     Jacob stuck his head out from between the tent flaps. "Yer warrior will be back afore ye know it," he said in a poor attempt to comfort the girl. Kasha said nothing.

     Noticing his apprentice's silence, Jacob changed the subject. "I found a rather 'andsome portrait of Lord Kass at the market today. Some fool of a Moehog were selling it fer ten Neopoints. Don't it look exactly like 'im, dearie?" He showed her the picture, depicting Kass as a proud warlord with a giant purple sword leaning against his left shoulder in the proper style of Kass Citadel.

     Recognition seeped through Kasha's veins like ice. Her half-sleeping eyes flew open in shock.

     It was him. The person in the memory she couldn't quite reach.

     It ran through her head like a movie. She was three years old, living with her family in the village of Sylvalun, whose name literally meant "Moon Forest." "Where moon-mages grow like fruit on trees," the locals said. Kasha's family had been no exception. Her mother was a healer-mage, with the most extensive herb garden in Meridell. There wasn't a wound she couldn't fix, no ailment she couldn't cure. At least that's what her father boasted. He was a pure-white Lupe with violet eyes, a wise Seer and keen-eyed archer. He bragged that he could hit an apple off the shell of a Turtum from four-hundred meters away. Blindfolded. Whenever he said this, her mother had laughed and said that he might be able to shoot apples but given a knife and a pie crust, he couldn't cut them to save his life. Then there was Jonathan, only a pup. He was starry-coated like his mother, but had the same violet eyes as his father and Kasha. They lived in a humble house made of wood, but enough to keep the worst of the cold out. Those had been good times. Until that night…

     It was the night of the dark moon, a time when the magic of most of Sylvalun's villagers was weak. The stars were the only heavenly witnesses to the events of that night. A band of raiders, led by a Wocky with a scar over his left eye had raided the village. Using dark magic and vile cunning, they got past the village walls and into the village. Any building that stood in their way got the torch. Any person who stood in their way, peasant or noble, male, female or child, was destroyed. How Mother had wailed! But Father kept his cool, notching a bolt to his crossbow and ushering Mother, Jonathan and Kasha out of the house. "Use this rope to scale the wall." He had whispered. "Take the children and go. Time is of the essence. I'll join you as soon as I can."

     A shadowy figure leaned against the wall of the house, listening to all that happened inside. Swiftly and silently, he drew his sword, a huge and fearsome violet blade with a gold handle. A wicked grin lit up his face. He was an ambitious mercenary, hired by the scar-eyed Wocky to help take care of some of the more troublesome villagers. This villager certainly seemed troublesome. The figure snuck around to the back of the house and carved a hole into the wall with his sword. Sensing trouble, Father turned his attention from the front door to the back wall. Unafraid of the figure, he drew his bow…

     And never got a chance to let the arrow fly.

     Mother and Kasha kept running, with Jonathan nestled in his mother's arms. The figure pursued them, though his reasons for pursuing them were is known only to him. Whatever his reasons were, he followed them. Sensing his presence behind her, Mother picked up speed, clinging onto little Jonathan so tightly, Kasha feared she might smother him. Unfortunately, Mother tripped over a fallen branch. Within seconds, Kass was upon her and little Jonathan.

     And Kasha kept running. Running through the burning village. Running through a hole that had been blasted into the city wall. Running across miles of fields. Running from her past, running from her pain, with no one but the wind to dry her tears…

     Meanwhile, the raiders had finished their devastating work in the village. They loaded all of the villager's valued possessions onto their boat. The shadowy figure stepped into the firelight. It was Kass. "We got a nice little load, didn't we, Kass?" the scar-eyed Wocky asked. "And more gold means more power, eh?"

     Kass nodded. "Then the power is going to be mine." Taking Kasha's father's bow, he slew the Wocky right there. The simple-minded raiders were none the wiser. "You're all under my command, now!" Kass had shouted. He had taken command of his first army.

     The edges of Kasha's sight blurred and refocused. She was back in her tent, lying on the floor. How did I get down here? She thought. Out loud, she said, "Jacob… I remembered… I didn't think…" She started to stand, but Jacob's paw pushed her back down.

     "Easy, my child. Ye don't feel dizzy? Like the tent is spinning?"

     "No," Kasha said with a bit of confusion. "But I was a child… it was like a dream… no, more like a nightmare. But it was real! So terribly real!"

     Jacob clapped his hands with excitement. In his joy, he didn't seem to notice his apprentice's distress. "I think ye Saw something from the past! Excellent! What was it that ye Saw?"

     Kasha told him about her glimpse of her childhood. She was thoroughly freaked out, but Jacob seemed thrilled. "Ye'll be a great Seer in no time, Kasha m'dear! Just like yer father. Though I ne'er knew 'im personally, I had heard a lot about IM I just ne'er thought he was yer father. Though you do look a striking lot like IM Artemis Apoll, I think they called IM The Violet-Eyed Seer. In any case, dear, do ye want ter try crystal gazing tonight?"

     "All right," Kasha said; still not totally enthused.

     "Terrific!" Jacob and Kasha dragged a crystal ball out of one of the dustier corners of the tent. Kasha dusted it off with her sleeve and watched in fascination as sky-blue and lavender mists swirled around inside, shimmering softly in the sunlight that shone through the tent. "Concentrate." Jacob whispered. "Put yer whole will into yer concentration. The mists will enchant ye; try ter lull ye inter sleep. Don't resist. Don't resist…"

     His voice grew faint to her as she put her whole mind into the crystal and its swirling mists. Her mind seemed to become a strand of violet and white mist in itself, writhing through all of the other strands, picking them apart and searching for their secrets. Some of the strands pulled together and formed a mirror. For the briefest moment, she saw her own refection in the mirror, a lovely Lupess in her late teen years. Then, her reflection was distorted, changed. It became a male Lupe in his early thirties, strong and bold, wearing a rough leather tunic and carrying a shiny gnarled crossbow. His eyes were a vibrant shade of violet. Just like hers. The picture in the mirror changed again, to show the formidable face of Lord Kass. A voice was singing, an enchanting, and lovely song. The voice was like the strings of a harp, melodic, soothing. Yet what it foretold sent shivers up and down Kasha's spine.

     "Darkest of conquerors Like a tiger lies Determined to bring about Meridell's demise."

     The picture rippled and changed to show the valiant Jeran. A dangerous gleam twinkled in his eye as he drew his sword.

     "Foreigner, warrior, Noble knight comes to save. He's a brilliant star shining, A Champion so brave."

     The mirror rippled again, only this time, Jeran remained in the picture. But his sword changed to a gold-colored blade with a dazzling sun on the hilt.

     "Broadsword a-flashing Created from the rays Of sun fiercely burning From magic it is made. "Wielded by Sun-Spirit Gloriously bright. It longs to free Meridell With its dazzling light."

     Again, the mirror rippled, showing Jeran and his Sunblade facing Kass and his terrible violet broadsword. Kasha gasped involuntarily. They were going to battle! The voice rose to a huge crescendo.

"And in the final battle He makes a great sacrifice. All freedom comes With a terrible price…"

     The picture changed again. A cliff. Kass stood on top of the cliff, cackling in triumph. Jeran… Kasha's Jeran clung to the edge of the cliff. That dangerous gleam was replaced by desperation and sorrow. Then… he fell…

"Warrior fallen, Warrior true. The one who won freedom For me and you…"

     "No… NO!" Kasha woke with a start, cold sweat covering every inch of her body. "All a dream… only a dream…"

     "No, my child!" Jacob squealed gleefully. "A vision! Yer first real and true vision! Aren't ye happy?"

     "I wish I could be…" Kasha said, her breath coming in short, panicked gasps. "But I can't." Before Jacob could ask, she fled the tent, threw herself on the ground next to the moon-symbol painted on her tent and wept like a child. Why did fortune have to be so cruel?Why? Angrily, Kasha tore the ring off of her finger and gazed at it for a moment. By now, the sun had already set and the silvery light of the rising moon bathed Meridell in its gentle, cool luster. A million stars lit up the heavens, symbols of hope in the gloom and darkness. Holding the ring up to the skies, Kasha compared its sparkling brilliance to the real moon and stars. Immediately, everything in the atmosphere seemed dull and boring.

     What a fool I am. Kasha thought. Imagining that the ring Jeran gave me is more pretty than the heavens.

     But no, another side of her said. It is more beautiful. Because he gave it to you. And he promised to spend his life with you.

     However long his life may be.

     In that moment, Kasha felt more despair than she had ever felt in her sixteen years of life. Happiness, once within her grasp, had slipped out and left a terrible, aching void that could never be filled. Her joy had fallen…

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: The Storm-Clouds are Rising -- Part Two

The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: The Storm-Clouds are Rising -- Part Three

Week 136 Related Links

Grey Despair, Golden Hope: Part Six
"Looks like it's just you and me now," Tessa said, picking up the lantern that Lady Darkmoon had left behind and handing her staff to me.

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