"Beware the Shadow"
Daeron sat on the rough stone blocks of the ramparts that marked the outer
boundaries of Sakhmet City. Looking out over the desert, he saw that the sun
had already set and the sky was now darkening rapidly.
"Well," he began, "We know that we must get the amulet back from the Shadow
Usul. The question is, how?"
A chilly breeze from the desert ruffled SandFlash's tan fur as the desert Kougra
turned her eyes away from the spot where the Faerie Queen had vanished after
giving them final instructions. "Fyora told us that the Usul loves darkness
and shadow. Therefore, we must look for it now, at night; its dark shape would
stand out in the daylight, and as a thief, it won't want to be seen."
Daeron nodded, acknowledging his friend's sound reasoning. "I have a feeling
the Shadow Usul is still somewhere around Sakhmet City, preparing for its next
move. We must stop it before it can use the amulet again for its destructive
They had already spent nearly two hours walking through the darkest side streets
and back alleys of Sakhmet City, but so far had seen no signs of either the
Usul or the amulet. The place they were now standing in was by far the darkest
and dampest alley they had seen yet, and therefore seemed the best place to
wait for the Shadow Usul.
Daeron gazed quietly at the full moon overhead, noting that much of the light
was blocked by the two tall buildings that made up the sides of the alley. SandFlash
made a small sound of disgust as she stepped on a slimy patch of moss, but was
quickly restrained from making any further remarks as Daeron put his hand over
"Quiet," he breathed, careful not to make any hissing "s" sounds that could
be overheard. "Turn a bit, look there." He briefly flicked his eyes behind him
and to their left. SandFlash silently complied with his request, leaning against
him and tilting her head up at an awkward angle. At first she didn't know what
to look for - but then her keen eyes finally saw it.
The shadow slipped from an upper window in one of the tall buildings, soundlessly
flowing down the wall like a river of darkness, moving with an eerie agility.
Its yellow eyes glowed briefly as it took in the alley at one glance.
A tall man and a Kougra stood quietly with their backs to her, their faces
to the entryway of the alley. Well, well. They certainly didn't seem to be the
types to hang around dark alleys so late at night, especially not this one.
She'd teach them a lesson they wouldn't soon forget.
The Usul crept silently closer, keeping to the wall. Her black fur melded with
the shadows, making her nearly invisible. Removing the cord around her neck,
the Shadow Usul hissed under her breath with anticipation as the man bent down,
whispering something to the Kougra.
The Usul raised the amulet, ready to strike... and in an instant, the Kougra
had pounced, knocking it out of her paw in one liquid movement. The blast obliterated
a nearby garbage can, but the two pets were oblivious, now calling all their
strength into play as they wrestled on the ground.
Everything happened within a matter of seconds as SandFlash backed the Shadow
Usul against the moss-covered wall. The Usul slashed the Kougra's face viciously,
but Flash had already ducked, bringing her free paw around to pin the Usul firmly
Daeron had recovered the amulet from the ground and now walked over to the
Shadow Usul, who was struggling madly under Flash's paws. The amulet in his
hand glinted, catching light from the moon overhead, and the Usul hissed dangerously,
Suddenly it wrenched itself free of SandFlash's restraining paws. Hissing maliciously
to itself, it ran, vanishing into the shadows.
Daeron sat in a large leather armchair back in the library of his NeoHome,
his green eyes glittering brightly in the flickering light of the fire before
SandFlash the desert Kougra sat beside him, curled into a tight furry ball
on the rug. Her tan-striped tail twitched slightly as she dozed in the warmth
of the room, finally getting some rest after the long trip home from the Lost
Daeron wondered briefly what she was dreaming about; few dreams could compare
to the adventures they had experienced in the Lost Desert. In fact, the whole
tale was so wild he could almost believe he had dreamed the whole thing - but
there was still the amulet, lying there on the table in front of him, the light
of the fire only seeming to enhance its sinister presence.
Suddenly the fire in front of him flickered violently, as if blown by a giant's
SandFlash snapped out of her doze and sprang upright to see multicoloured sparks
swirling from the fire, spinning quickly in the centre of the room. Finally
the sparks faded, and in their place stood a familiar purple-robed shape.
"Greetings, Fyora," Daeron welcomed. Her violet eyes settled onto the amulet,
and she smiled. "I see you have accomplished your quest and recovered it." Daeron
picked up the amulet and handed it to her. "What of the Shadow Usul?" Fyora
said, examining the amulet closely.
"It managed to run away," said Flash, a low growl rising in her throat as she
thought of the evil creature.
"Peace, my friend," the Faerie Queen said, placing a slender hand on the Kougra's
head, but her tone was sombre. "Escaped--that is foul news indeed. I sense nothing
but bad things to come with anyone who crosses that creature's path. The Shadow
Usul no longer possesses the amulet, but is still quite dangerous."
For a moment she stared down at the amulet, her gaze distant, as if pondering
the future. Then she looked up, and her eyes were clear as she handed the amulet
back to Daeron. "There is little more I can do here," she said. "Whatever happens
next is entirely up to you."
Daeron stared at the glossy surface of the amulet and began to speak; the issue
was something he had given serious thought to over the last few days. "I know
this amulet would give me tremendous power if I keep it," he said. "Indeed,
I would wield ultimate power over all." Daeron raised his eyes to meet those
of the Faerie Queen. "But I know that when I look at this amulet, all I see
is the death and destruction it has caused. This cannot happen again."
Fyora smiled appreciatively. "Well said, my young friend. You have wisdom beyond
your years; many would not be able to make such a decision. So what will you
choose to do with the amulet now?"
SandFlash was already thinking along the same lines as her owner. There was
decisiveness in her voice as she replied, "Why, we must keep it away from others
- even ourselves. We shall hide it here in the house, then leave, to keep ourselves
from the temptation of using it."
Daeron nodded in agreement, but still had a question. "What will happen to
the house once we leave?"
"I believe I can help you there," offered Fyora, and brought out her small
crystal ball. Flash watched closely, fascinated by the sparkling purple mists
inside as they swirled, then cleared to show a scene with their NeoHome
"After you leave, this house will remain relatively abandoned." Clouds shot
by overhead, and Daeron realised they were watching a sort of time-lapse movie
of their house. Intrigued, he watched as windows were speedily boarded up and
the house was left alone.
"Daeron, your immediate family will have no interest in the NeoHome," the Faerie
Queen said, and Daeron nodded.
"But there is another one," Fyora continued, "a person whose personality is
much like yours. You must will this house to your great-granddaughter, Jan."
The image in the crystal ball shifted again, this time to show the face of a
girl. Daeron found himself trusting this person almost immediately and knew
that his great-granddaughter would indeed take good care of the house as well
as guard the amulet. He felt a glow of pride as he looked into her flashing
green eyes, knowing that she, too, had an adventurous spirit.
Daeron started as he felt a tap at his elbow, and looked down to see SandFlash
carrying a small wooden box. Opening it, he placed the amulet on a soft cushion
and handed it to the Faerie Queen.
Fyora closed the lid and whispered a few words, and the box vanished from her
hands in a brief puff of purple smoke. "I have hidden it somewhere in this house,
and I advise you not to go looking for it."
Flash nodded and threw a haversack to Daeron. "Pack light," she said. Daeron
smiled and shook his head, knowing their mutual wanderlust would lead to another
series of adventures.
Turning to the Faerie Queen, he thanked her for her help. "Do not mention it,"
she said. "Indeed, I should be the one thanking you." She shook hands (and paws)
with Daeron and SandFlash, and then disappeared.
Three minutes later, Daeron and Flash were out on the path in front of their
NeoHome, packed haversacks on their backs and walking sticks in their hands.
The two figures chatted and laughed as they journeyed together into unexplored
Many years later, a blue Zafara slipped through the shadows of the NeoHome,
playing hide-and-seek in the dark with his sister, a small white Lupe. He gave
a muffled cry as he tripped over a small wooden box.
His wide eyes glittered with curiosity as he opened the box and removed the