Tiptoeing quietly on the cold stone, Indara made her
way out of the main chamber and into the Apis tunnel.
She gently patted Imhotep to wake him up. His
eyes fluttered open, and he snorted and tossed his head.
“Ssshh!” Indara whispered. She hitched up Imhotep’s
gear and led him to the cave exit. Indara pushed away the rock covering the
entrance and climbed carefully out of the musty pit, rolling the rock back behind
The cool, fresh air awakened her senses, and
she felt clear-headed and alert. She climbed into her Apis and was about to
ride, when a voice came from behind her.
“Where ye going, Lady?” Indara spun around to
see the striped Uni perched on top of the rocks at the cave entrance, looking
down at her with dark eyes.
Indara felt a pang of annoyance, and then a
pang of fear and guilt combined.
“Somethin’s wrong, isn’t it, Indara? You’re
actin’ very strangely e’er since you came back.” The Uni was sitting up now,
staring at Indara intently, and yet with a touch of playful curiosity.
“I… I have to go and do some… top secret business.”
The Uni climbed down from the rocks and approached
Indara. The Wocky gripped Imhotep’s reins tightly.
“The others may have believed yer story, but
I can tell you were lyin’.” The Uni tapped the side of his head. “’S all in
the eyes, y’know. So what’s troublin’ you? You can tell ole Grimehoof.”
Indara wished desperately that this Grimehoof
fellow would stop asking questions and go back inside the cave so she could
make her getaway. She racked her brain for excuses.
“Truth be told, Grimehoof… uhh… I have some
unfinished business to take care of. Something to do in the city. I’ll be back
tomorrow.” Indara prayed Grimehoof would let her leave it at that and let her
“Well… okay… if that’s what yeh need to do…”
Grimehoof said with uncertainty. He shook his head and started again. "I trust
yeh, Indara. Shall I tell the others where you are?"
“Just tell them I had something to do and I'm
coming back in a bit. Don't worry, I'll be fine.” Indara smiled what she hoped
was a reassuring smile and turned to ride away towards the city of Aknatsi,
leaving behind a very puzzled Uni.
The sun was starting to rise and warm up the cool morning. In Aknatsi, peddlers
had just begun to unload their carts to prepare for the midday rush, when hundreds
of townspeople would flood the marketplace. Young Neopets and their petpets
played in the streets.
The sun hit one of the towers of the castle
that sit in the center of the city, illuminating it with an orange fire, casting
shimmering light down upon the ground below. Presently, a set of galloping hooves
could be heard, echoing through the still streets.
Indara raced towards the golden palace. She
had to warn this king about the oncoming invasion. She didn’t want to let the
brigands destroy any more lives. Again, her thoughts strayed to the image of
Lycase and her family huddled in front of their smoking crater for a home. Bitter
tears stung her eyes as she rode.
When she reached the entrance to the palace,
she slowed Imhotep to a stop in front of the guarded doors. Two marble Noils
stood beside the doors, frozen into a permanent roar.
She climbed down and approached the guards,
two very formidable looking Tonus.
“Please, let me see the king! I have a message
of utmost importance!” Indara shouted.
The Tonus were stoic and unmoving. Only a blink
of an eye and the steady breathing in their chests showed that they were indeed
living creatures and not statues.
“PLEASE! This is important! The fate of the
city is at stake!” Indara yelled, her throat tightening with frustration and
The Tonus made no movement.
Angrily, she ignored the guards and made for
the tower entrance.
Sshing! The two guards pulled out their
swords and crossed them in Indara’s path, barring her from entering. The Tonu
on the right glared down at Indara, looking at her for the first time.
“You do not have clearance to see the king.”
He growled. With narrowed eyes, he studied Indara for a moment. Suddenly, his
eyes opened wide with recognition as his eyes went to the black tattoo on her
“YOU!” he hissed. The other Tonu pointed his
sword towards Indara. “Well, well well… looks like the queen of the Red Sands
has stumbled into our city.”
“TRAITOR TO THE CROWN!” the second guard roared
as he swung his sword at Indara. Instinctively, Indara ducked and let out a
Both guards charged, swords flashing in the
sunlight. Indara leapt up onto one of the marble Noils, silently cursing herself
for being so foolish.
Of course this would happen. I’m the leader
of a bunch of conspiring thieves. What should I have expected, to be able to
just skip right into the palace and have a jolly old chat with the king?!
The Tonus began to clumsily climb the statue,
yelling angry threats all the while. Indara looked around her and spotted a
clothesline a yard or so away. She crouched down and leapt up, reaching for
the wire desperately. She fell short a foot or so and fell through a merchant’s
tent with a ripping sound.
The peddler, a gray haired Nimmo, gasped and
took a few fearful steps backwards. As Indara wrestled herself free from the
canvas tent scraps, the Tonus advanced, now accompanied by more palace guards.
Why was I so stupid as to not bring a weapon
with me?! ? Indara fumed, scrabbling to her feet.
She looked around on the ground to find something,
anything, that could help her fend off her attackers. She grabbed up one of
the bamboo poles that had held the tent up and gripped in both paws, holding
it out in front of her.
One of the Tonus charged her, and she whirled
the pole around, hitting the Tonu squarely in the jaw.
Enraged and in pain, the Tonu spun back around
and slashed with his curved sword, slicing the pole in two. Instead of tossing
the pieces away, she held on to them, twirling them around in her paws as two
Indara twirled one of the sticks and hit the
Tonu in the nose.
“Ayayayahhh!” he yelped, dropping his sword to
clutch at his throbbing snout.
Two more guards rushed Indara, a yellow Eyrie
and a spotted Gelert. The Gelert swung his paw and knocked Indara over backwards.
As she fell, one of the poles dropped out of her paw.
As the Gelert stood over her, ready to strike
again, Indara thrust out her legs. Her paws connected with his chest, and the
Gelert fell backwards onto his rear, the wind completely knocked out of him.
Indara was about to make a run for it, when the
Eyrie snuck up behind her and swung at her with the blunt end of his blade.
With a thunk, it hit her head, and suddenly everything in Indara’s vision went
Indara was roused by the steady sound of dripping
water. She opened her eyes, but only saw an oppressive wall of black coming
in from all sides.
Where am I? She wondered to herself .
Her head hurt horribly, and every movement would send starbursts of red hot
pain into her sight.
As she tried to blink away the pain clouding
her vision, she sniffed the air. It was wet and unclean… the cold draft suggested
someplace dark and deep under the earth, perhaps. Indara felt the ground with
her footpaws. It was slimy and made of stone bricks. It chilled her to the bone,
and she shuddered and sneezed. She suddenly realized she couldn’t move her arms.
Her eyes adjusting to the low light, she craned
her head upwards and saw she was chained to the damp stone wall.
Suddenly, it all clicked. She was in a dungeon.
Indara remembered with a sudden jolt the fight in front of the palace. Again,
she cursed herself for completely forgetting the little detail that she was
a wanted criminal, and coming unarmed, at that. Now the city was doomed because
of her folly. Indara sighed and sunk into a deep depression.
If it weren’t for me… Indara thought,
everyone would be a lot happier and the world would be a better place. Lycase’s
home wouldn’t have been destroyed, the city wouldn’t be doomed… and that’s only
what I did before I lost my memory. Who knows what kinds of horrible
things I did before then?
Her gloomy thoughts were interrupted by a yawn
from someone… or something in the dungeon. Jumping a little at the sound, Indara
looked around and listened.
She sniffed the air, trying to determine who
was with her in the dark dungeon. It smelled like a Lupe.
To be continued...