Darien, a young red Kougra, glared at his younger brother.
"Give me my book back," he growled, baring his fangs.
"You read too much," snickered Karl, holding
the book just out of Darien's reach. "That's what mommy says." The pudgy blue
Skeith jumped backwards out of Darien's reach as the Kougra lunged at him.
"Mommy," Darien gritted his teeth at his sibling,
"is a moron. Give me the book, scar face."
"Don't call me that," Karl whined. He puffed
out his chest and glared down his nose at Darien, attempting to look intimidating.
"I'll call you whatever I want, scar face. Want
me to give you a real scar face? Scar face, scar face, scar face," he laughed
as his brother dropped the book and leapt at him with a growl. With a quick
sweep of his paws, Darien dumped his brother on the ground and sat on his stomach.
He then proceeded to claw up Karl's face. Unfortunately, the Skeith's yelps
of pain brought their owner, Jeni, rushing into the room.
"Darien! What are you doing?" She rushed over
to separate the two. She grabbed Darien around the middle and tried to yank
him off. Suddenly, she let go with a small scream as one of Darien's attacks
missed Karl and sliced across Jeni's face. There was silence for a few seconds.
"All right, Darien. That's the last straw."
Jeni pulled out a tissue and applied it to Karl's scratches. She touched her
cheek and winced as pain flared up. "You're going out. You're too dangerous
to live here anymore."
"FINE!" Darien yelled. "I don't want to live
with that-that-THING anymore ANYWAY!" Jeni backed him into a corner.
"Maybe your next owner will have a pet you can
get along with better," she said, her eyes hard, and then she picked him up
and carried him out the door.
Karl's eyes glinted in fiendish delight, and
he picked up the book the two had been fighting over. Snickering, he promptly
tore it in half.
He was cold. Of course he was cold; the pound
was supposed to be miserable. And yet, Darien felt like he was finally content
for the first time in weeks. He no longer had to deal with his spiteful brother
or his biased owner. He sighed happily, curled up into a ball, and promptly
He was awakened by a light touch to his shoulder.
His eyes flew open and he stared, wide-eyed, at the girl who was smiling down
at him through the bars on his cage.
"Hello, Darien," she said.
"Uh... hi," Darien stammered. The girl smiled
and turned to the pink Uni who was in charge of adoptions.
"I'd like to adopt him, please," she said. Darien's
stomach dropped. He suddenly felt that he didn't want to be adopted, that he
wouldn't be able to stand living with this girl. His heart began to pound and
his hackles rose. Suddenly, his paws took on a life of their own, and as the
Uni opened the cage door, Darien streaked out of it, knocking the girl to one
side and bursting out of the building before anyone could react.
Karl was profoundly enjoying his new only-child
status. He was quickly becoming obnoxious, and when he tipped a table over and
broke Jeni's Zen lamp, she finally got fed up and shoved Karl outside to play
in the yard. Immediately he hopped the fence and went to explore Neopia Central.
It was dark before Darien stopped running. His
muscles, unused to such a workout, finally collapsed, and Darien fell in a broken
heap in the first shelter he could find, some old ruins far outside the borders
of Neopia Central. There he slept until dawn broke on the eastern horizon. As
the light touched his face, he opened his eyes and felt at peace.
Invisible in the trees above, the Time Faerie,
sister of the Space Faerie, smiled.
Darien slowly got to his feet, feeling as though
his legs were on fire. He began to forage around for food. Intent on his search,
he didn't notice Karl sneak out of the bushes behind him.
Karl slowly snuck up on his former brother. Against
all odds, at the exact moment that Karl lunged, Darien tripped over a root and
vanished. Karl gasped and felt himself falling, falling...
The two pets landed in a heap on the ground
with a loud thud. Darien snarled, startled, and shoved his brother off of him.
"Karl! What in the name of the faeries are you doing here? Why do you have to
follow me everywhere? I-" Karl gestured wildly for Darien to be quiet. "What
on earth is the matter with you?"
"L-look," Karl stammered, pointing behind the
angry Kougra. Darien looked over his shoulder and nearly fell over in surprise.
A huge purple and yellow thing lay sprawled across
an entire hill, its legs stretched out away from it as it snored softly.
"Good grief," Darien whispered. Karl nodded
in emphatic agreement. The two edged quietly away.
Once they were a safe distance from the monster,
Darien grabbed Karl by the ear and hissed, "Listen, I don't know how we got
here, or even where we are, but that doesn't mean that I'll tolerate your presence.
So get away from me. I've had to deal with you my whole life-" Darien gave Karl's
ear a cruel twist, causing his brother to cry out in pain. "And I don't have
to put up with you anymore. Jeni got rid of me, remember? And that moment was
the happiest one in my life. So don't spoil it." Darien yanked Karl's ear again
until he whimpered in pain, then dropped the Skeith on the ground with a snort
of disgust and walked away.
"You spoke to the Time Faerie last night?" asked
a dainty green Shoyru.
"I did. She has sent them," said the large red
Shoyru to his wife and advisor.
"They are here already?"
"Can nothing be done? You have responsibilities
to your people as well-"
"She has informed me that I have no choice.
Although there are other fools who would contest the will of a faerie, I do
not rate myself among them. Would you?"
"I suppose not." The two peered into the sphere
resting on the table before them.
"You see? It's as I said. The two warring brothers.
My signs were right yet again."
"This will mean war, Telteroft." The green dragonlike
creature regarded her king as he watched the crystal ball. Kougra and Skeith
were equally visible in the magical viewport. Telteroft sighed heavily.
"I know, Preet. But the future cannot be denied.
I can no more stop it than I can stop the grass from growing. Sometimes knowing
the future can be a burden."
"It has saved Ferindell many times."
"I know, Preet," Telteroft sighed again. "I
Darien had not walked six steps when a thunder
of hooves sounded throughout the air and seven Neopians riding Unis appeared
over the hill, laughing and joking with each other as they raced their beasts.
The leader, a Lupe, gave a cry as he spotted Karl, and Darien instinctively
hid behind a bush.
"Hey, what're you doing here, you silly boy?
They're bandits about! Come on, you'd better come back to the castle with us
until your parents come looking for you," said the Lupe as Karl stammered protests.
He was unceremoniously hauled up onto the Uni and taken away before Darien could
think of something to do.
Not that he cared what happened to the little
But if his brother was going to a castle, Darien
thought he should go in the opposite direction-because Karl was sure to blab
about Darien to someone, and for some inexplicable reason Darien did not want
anyone to know about his presence.
However, the mention of bandits had intrigued
"Your Majesty!" Kerfet, Telteroft's most loyal
Lupe guard, strode into the throne room, dragging a young Skeith behind him.
Telteroft put his crystal ball away and regarded his servant.
"You have found that boy, I presume. But where
is the Kougra? The signs allowed for a Kougra. Is he not here? I saw him myself."
Telteroft frowned in consternation at Kerfet. The Lupe gulped.
"No, sir, we saw no one else."
Telteroft sighed. "Then he is with the shadows
already. And I had hoped to delay the inevitable for a bit longer..."
"The inevitable, sire?"
"Never mind. You may leave us now. I wish to
speak to young Karl alone." Kerfet, ever obedient, bowed and left the chamber.
Telteroft stared at the bewildered Skeith "My
name is Telteroft. Do not ask any questions, please. I am ruler of this kingdom,
and you are a newcomer. Yet I have seen your coming and have decided what must
be done. The Time Faerie has her reasons for sending you and your brother here,
as she has sent so many in the past. Yet I fear your rivalry will bring my kingdom
to an end. I cannot disobey her will, however. You will be named my heir-"
"What?!" Karl spluttered. "I can't rule a kingdom!
I don't even know where I am! Or who you are! And how'd you know my name, anyway?
"Silence!" Telteroft roared, reducing Karl to
a quivering babe on the floor. "This is my will. Preet, record it."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Karl must be officially inducted as per the
Faerie's orders, and my own, as my heir."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"And neither of you is to mention the Kougra
at all costs. Do I make myself clear? Word of Darien's existence is not to leave
"Yes, Your Majesty."
Darien waited for several hours, casting Magic
Torch to keep the darkness at bay while he planned.
He did not want to ally himself with the ruler
of the kingdom if that was what Karl was going to do. While he figured out a
way to get home-he fully intended to leave Karl here-he needed someone to feed
him and give him shelter. It seemed logical to Darien that if he could convince
the bandits not to kill him, they would be valuable friends. People who roamed
about without the permission of the king often knew the lay of the land better
than the king himself-or they should, thought Darien, thinking back to the many
fantasy books he'd read. And he was certain that he could fool them.
So Darien waited until a knife held by a raggedy
paw appeared out of nowhere and nicked at his throat while the other paw grabbed
one of Darien's ears. The owner of the two paws hissed sibilantly in his ear,
"Out a bit late, aren't we?"
"Not by much. You might as well get that knife
away from me, I can tell that it hasn't been sharpened in weeks." Darien shoved
the knife away and yanked his ear from his captor's grasp while the bandit stared
at him, bewildered. Darien lifted his Magic Torch to get a better look at his
"Magic," the Aisha breathed, awed.
"Yes, it is." Darien looked around. "How many
more of you are there? I have a proposition to make. Take me to the rest of
them and I won't burn you alive." The Aisha gulped and gestured to the left
into the darkness.
Over a year passed. Telteroft passed away and
Karl succeeded him as king. No sign was ever found of Darien, but a certain
bandit group had been growing and eating up the land in the northern part of
the kingdom. The new king, who had changed his name to Skarl, suspected that
his older brother was behind it and did not take action, even as a messenger
came to tell the king that the new land of Darigan was declaring its independence.
Skarl had grown in wisdom since his crowning, and he knew that if he tried to
fight Darien now, only ill could come of it. So he did nothing to stop it as
Darigan grew more and more powerful and prosperous and hid itself away from
the remainder of Ferindell, which people were beginning to call Meridell.
Two years it has been since I died. I hover as
a mere spirit, without my beloved wife, without my loyal guards, with no one
but the Time Faerie. I have asked her many times why she set these events in
motion, but she refuses to answer.
And in the future? What will happen now? I do
not know. I am certain that war will be caused because of the dividing of my
lands. That is why I named Skarl my heir. If he can learn to lead the armies,
he can learn to love his brother. Darigan, once the Kougra Darien, still harbours
his hatred for my young heir. Darigan and Skarl will send their countries to
war because of this, but I have the Time Faerie's word that none of my people
will be killed. It is a small consolation.
I harbour the last vestiges of hope that perhaps
Darigan will not create the powerful orb that will strip his land of its magic
even as it keeps it green. It is in vain. The future cannot be thwarted.
And yet, not even I can see what the outcome
will be. Can you?
~ From the Scrolls of Telteroft, King of the former kingdom of Ferindell