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Sand Daughter: Part Seven


by sara_mossflower

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Also by smurfafied1800

Remembrance

It was hot and humid everywhere. Rehkek moaned, shifting slightly, and found that he was trapped in… cloth? The Kacheek shifted uncomfortably to a more comfortable position and felt his surroundings. Yes. Cloth. The young bounty hunter cursed his stupidity for getting caught, and called out. No one answered his call for a while, then a Skeith's knife cut through the top of the bag, detaching it from its hold.

      Rehkek fell to the ground, moaning. He recognized the Skeith as a member of Seht's camp. He looked around, his eyes slowly adjusting to the bright scene, and inwardly sighed. He was at Seht's camp. "You've had your little nap," the Skeith growled. "Now Seht wants a word with you." Rehkek reached for his weapons to find that they had been confiscated. He cursed under his breath as the Skeith led him roughly to Seht's tent. The larger pet tossed the Kacheek into the tent and turned, abruptly thundering away.

      "Well well, Rehkek," a cold, familiar voice hissed, and Rehkek flinched. A scaly paw descended on his head and snagged his fur, pulling him up and forcing him to come eye-to-eye with his master.

      "You've failed me, Rehkek," Seht hissed, his voice laced with contempt. "The punishment is death... by my means of torture."

     *

      Immi trudged along in the sand, glancing nervously at the pets who had "politely chosen to accompany" them. They were mostly bland looking - colours ranging from brown to yellow were the most common. In a scary way, they all looked like Rehkek. Could these guys work with his boss? she thought nervously. If they did, it would be the end of her in a few hours. Strangely enough, Immi didn't really feel like she was going to face her death in a while. She missed the bounty hunter that had kidnapped her in the first place.

      Immi was more worried about Khirelle than she was for Sand. The desert Usul seemed to be getting along fine, giggling madly and babbling about sand to the hunters, who in return kept their distance. Khirelle was so frail and with her hurt ankle, Immi was worried that the bounty hunters would dump the Aisha and Sand, having Immi. She was their target, right? "I'm sorry," she muttered under her breath, though she knew they couldn't hear her. "It's my fault you're all suffering."

      "We're here," a Shoyru said up ahead, pointing. Immi could see a number of tents scattered around just seconds away if she ran. Though they were simple tents and nothing more, a chill ran down Immi's spine. The brown Kyrii who had led the archers earlier grabbed Immi by the scruff of her neck, dragging her to a larger tent. "Keep the others here," he ordered. "Seht might make use of them later." He dragged the whimpering Immi to the tent, twisting her scruff cruelly every time she slowed down. I hate you, she mentally hissed. I want you all to die.

      Bandits running away from her. Grabbing the sword, simply snapping it in two.

      Immi blinked. What was that? She'd seen a vague picture of pets running in every direction, though the leader didn't escape her grasp. The Kacheek grabbed her head, moaning. The Kyrii twisted her fur again. "Stop that," he hissed. Immi snarled back in his direction, suddenly wrenching free from his grasp. The power that had suddenly inhabited her dissolved, and she stared blankly in confusion. The Kyrii, annoyed enough with the Kacheek girl, grabbed her roughly and shoved her into the tent quickly, as if scared to touch her.

      Immi knelt on the sand, surrounded by the subtle glow of sunlight seeping through the creamy canvas of the tent walls. The warm light didn't comfort her in the least. She shivered, frightened by herself for a moment. What had that been? A memory? If it was, Immi was hesitant to recall it. She felt as though everyone now viewed her as some kind of menace. But why? What was she capable of?

      She was numb to the pets that entered and left the tent, tossing Sand and Khirelle in with her, binding their wrists together with coarse rope. She wanted to know where Rehkek was - Immi found herself thinking that he was here in this camp as well, but they hadn't brought him here with the rest of them.

      Behind her, Khirelle was whimpering. Because of the rough and inconsiderate actions of their kidnappers, her ankle hadn't been spared, and she was unable to massage it with her immobile hands. Immi felt guilty for dragging her along - all she had wanted was some company, some guidance though the desert. She had never wanted to see the innocent Aisha harmed like this.

      Sand seemed to be in a sort of trance. For once she wasn't babbling about the substance that had been the root of her name. Immi wondered if the Usul's predictions when she had first met her, however vague, were somehow true and connected with what was going on. Perhaps Sand had, in a deeply buried string of sanity, known that this was where they would end up all along.

      It could have been an hour later, or it could have been five minutes; Immi had no idea. The Kyrii returned, holding the entrance flap of the tent open for the dark form of a lithe, brawny Shadow Krawk, ornamented in a variety of jewels, gold, and other such finery, including a nose ring, girded betwixt his nostrils. He turned his cold eyes on Immi, who felt as though their wicked depths had speared her heart. "I entrust my finest bounty hunter with bringing you to me and the job gets accomplished by ordinary scoundrels," he muttered scornfully. "But that's not the issue here."

      Immi wouldn't let him continue. "Where's Rehkek?" she choked, although her fearful heart told her that interrupting such a puissant individual was most unwise.

      The Krawk's eyes narrowed with a mixture of amusement that his prisoner would interject so boldly and malice, revealing to the Kacheek that her captor had a torturous, vile fate thought up for her in the depths of his malicious mind. Nothing but icy evil emanated from him, the one who had sent Rehkek so far to capture her. "I am Seht." He stated this so simply, and without any kind of title such as "Lord" or "King". But he didn't need one. The sound of his name uttered through his yellowing fangs had more than enough impact, and his voice seemed to cling to Immi's senses, as though she had heard it ringing through her mind before…

      "Rehkek is with another patrol of my followers," he continued, explaining calmly. "He has yet to be dealt with. He has failed the mission I assigned him, and must therefore be punished." He paused, as though he expected the Kacheek girl at his feet to inquire as to the type of punishment. Immi remained silent. "You shall carry out this punishment."

      "Me…?" Immi breathed. What was he talking about? Why on Neopia would he have a worthless prisoner punish one of his trained henchmen?

      "Yes, you. I didn't bring you here to kill you, girl. I told Rehkek I wanted you for dead because it would rest in his simple mind rather than the countless legends that are entwined in your history."

      Immi was confused, and not only that, angry. She wasn't going to hurt Rehkek, and Rehkek wasn't simple-minded! "What are you talking about? I'm not special, there's nothing you could want me for! There aren't any legends about me! You're crazy! You're more twisted than… than…" she glanced around and spotted Sand. "HER!" Sand, in turn, gazed at her with glazed eyes, a glob of drool rolling out of her mouth.

      "You only think that," the Krawk said coolly, "But you're wrong. Your history reaches back quite far, and your ancestors were nothing short of magnificent..." He fixed his cold eyes on her, causing her to flinch. "It's a pity I wasn't born into your lines, because I know all about it." Before Immi could question him, Seht began speaking more, his voice just daring her to interrupt.

      "Your ancestors were the first desert people to survive and build a thriving civilization. They were extremely powerful, unstoppable, and in a way, immortal. They were some of the first pets to create magic, and they used it to extend their own lives for a vast amount of years." He sighed almost wistfully, as if it was a pity that they had done so.

      "But," he continued. "They had one enormous flaw. Their magic was untamed, unnaturally powerful. And, in an attempt to create a protector for themselves, they unwittingly sealed their fate." Immi was suddenly breathing much faster than before. Her heart was seemingly beating at a million miles per hour, threatening to batter itself out of her chest.

      "They created Aker," Seht hissed, barely audible. "And when expecting the beast to protect them, they were killed instead. Aker's power was amazing, and my theory is..." his cold eyes fixed on her, looking almost hungry. "That using the last remaining descendent of the royal line, I will gain full control over Aker." Immi stared at him, terror consuming her.

      "This is impossible," she whispered, trembling. "This is weird, stupid..."

     Sand moaned, uttering choppy words. "Aker... Sand Daughter... Lion..."

     Seht grinned evilly. "I see what your friend is anticipating. Now," he hissed, putting a claw to Immi's forehead. "Your royal blood will tame Aker, and punish dearest Rehkek for his flaws."

      Immi felt unimaginable power lacing through her, and Seht grinned. "Kyrii," he ordered, and the white Kyrii walked in. "I want our dear girl to look nice for killing Rehkek - how about those ceremonial robes we found at the city?" The Kyrii nodded, and left. Seht sneered as he watched Immi struggle under the power, "You'll destroy the bounty hunter, first."

     *

      Rehkek struggled under the hold of the other pets, but it was futile to fight them. The sleeping potion was still wearing off, and he was drowsy, hardly in condition for a fight. His thoughts were on the Cloud Kacheek that had become his friend, when the very girl stepped out, dressed in ceremonial robes. Her eyes were slightly glazed over, but at the same time bright, as if she was trying to maintain herself. She looked just like...

      The incident with the bandits.

      Seht followed after her, eyeing Rehkek coldly. "Hello, Rehkek," he said coolly. "Your punishment commences - feel the power of Aker!"

      Rehkek barely had time to react when Immi lunged at him, paws aimed for his throat. The Spotted Kacheek barely dodged the attack, staring at Immi in disbelief. "What...?"

     Seht laughed loudly. "Kill him!"

      Deep down in her subconscious, Immi screamed. "Don't!" she screamed at her body, but it hardly listened. She only succeeded in hesitating for a moment, then lunging at him again. "Don't kill him!"

      Seht noticed the hesitation. "Why do you hesitate?" he questioned, smiling slightly. "Don't you want revenge on the pet that killed your parents?"

      What remained of Immi felt disbelief course through her body, which was no longer hers. "What do you mean…?" she mentally whispered, although Seht could not hear her.

      But she already knew - the other Kacheek, that child she had encountered on the night of her parents' demise… it had been Rehkek. It was their fault! It was their fault her parents were dead! She peered through the mists of Aker and Seht's control and saw the Spotted Kacheek she trusted. Had it really been him? Had a child been filled with so much hate to be capable of killing her family? It couldn't be true - Seht had to be feeding her lies, making her want to complete her terrible task.

      But the face of the child assassin… Rehkek's face… her memories flooded throughout her brain quicker than she could deal with them. It couldn't be the truth! She wanted to badly to deny it, but there was no fooling herself. Rehkek and that boy from long ago were one and the same.

      And still, she hesitated - but not for long. In her mind's eyes, the head of a great Kougra-like beast reared, and Immi knew she beheld the face of the beast that her ancestors had failed to command. Its fangs gleamed savagely; its claws scored stone, steel, and flesh. And now she was capable of its ability to wreak perpetual chaos, destroy anything.

      But not anything she wanted to. Only what Seht wanted her to. Seht had the gift of possession - he could make the soul of one creature enter into the form of another, and there was nothing she could do about it. Aker's rage filled her, and against her own will, she flew at Rehkek once more. The restless creature wanted to tear him limb from limb, strangle him, anything to watch his helpless death throes. The ancient life within her thirsted for blood, and she wanted to weep at the thought that her ancestors had created such a horrific thing.

      Rehkek felt cold sweat coursing down his neck as he sluggishly dodged his adversary. Had he not felt so dazed, it would have been easy enough to get out of her way. He had had no idea that Seht had been planning this - that he was able to harness Immi's free will like this. And he had mentioned Aker - the same Aker he had only heard about in legends? It had to be. Rehkek wasn't entirely aware of the connection, but that was one of the things that least concerned him at the moment. How could Seht have done this to her? And how could he have turned on his own bounty hunter so swiftly? In a split second, Rehkek had deemed his former master his greatest enemy.

      "What did you do to her?" he cried as Immi continued to pursue him, her movements and face as hollow as those of a marionette.

      "What does it matter?" Seht shouted from the sidelines mockingly. "You'll be dead in a matter of seconds, fool!"

      The Kyrii at his side stared at the display with a grim spreading on his face. "I wanna see some blood there!" He drew a scimitar from his belt and tossed it next to Immi. Seht nodded at his fellow with satisfaction.

      The Cloud Kacheek's body turned, taking in the sight of the blade before her. Like claws… sharp, deadly… this will spill the boy's blood. Immi snatched it up with a greed that was not her own and advanced.

      Rehkek could barely move and made a vain attempt to shield himself with his arms as the blade came down, slashing through his sleeve and leaving a laceration on his shoulder. He cried out as the steel met his skin, unable to believe that the pet who had just struck him was the previously annoying little girl he'd been sent to retrieve.

      "Kill him slowly," Seht murmured, and his voice seared into Immi's mind. "Make him feel pain."

      As the sword fell upon him a second time, Rehkek made an attempt to save himself, grabbing for Immi's sword hand, gripping her wrist tightly, striving with all of his remaining strength to keep it immobile in mid-strike. "Immi," he gasped. "Stop. Don't let him do this to you…"

      Her other hand came down in a violent punch, knocking Rehkek to the ground. The Spotted Kacheek clutched the side of his face but didn't break eye contact with his friend. "I didn't kill your parents!" he panted, feeling drained. "I was an apprentice. My mentor was the one who -"

      The scimitar painted a second crimson stripe, this time on his side. She was relentless, or rather Aker was. Inwardly, Immi couldn't stop screaming. "I DON'T WANT HIM TO DIE! I DON'T WANT TO KILL REHKEK!" But no one could hear her.

      Only the beast inside.

      Please, she begged, tears streaming down her face. Please... don't kill him... Aker was oblivious to her begging. "PLEASE!" she screamed, sobbing. "DON'T KILL HIM! STOP IT!"

      Why not? Aker hissed inside her head. He killed your parents, nearly you... He of all pets deserves to die. Immi knew that the monster was only using these thoughts to cover up for the maddening lust for blood that it harboured. "Yes," Immi whispered in her subconscious. "He did help to kill my parents... He nearly killed me..." Why was she defending him, then? In a way, he did deserve to die...

      "Rehkek helped me," she whispered. "He's my friend." She used the last reserves in her strength to force Aker to hesitate again, and looked at her friend. Rehkek was scared, as he leapt from place to place in an attempt to stop her attacks, Immi could see fear in his eyes. She'd never thought she would see that.

      Immi closed her eyes, and for the first time in a really long time, she tried to remember what had happened that night. Rehkek had come to finish her. She'd been so scared. She'd wanted to finish it all, right there, just end it. Ending it would've stopped the whole thing, right from the beginning. She wouldn't have met Rehkek a second time. She wouldn't have had to kill him right now. But, as the young Kacheek had advanced on her with his dagger, the Defenders of Neopia had come to her rescue, and he had fled. In a way, they had saved her and finished her. What use was it, to go through all this pain...

      New memories flooded back to her, but they were memories that belonged to others. A grand city being mercilessly destroyed. A monster, hissing out laughter at the site of wounded pets everywhere. Her mother and father boarding a boat; the mother was holding a tiny bundle in her arms. "You won't have to endure the pain," she whispered to her daughter. "I won't let them hurt you the way they did us."

      Immi was jolted from the memories as Aker landed a long, deep slash on Rehkek's shoulder. The Kacheek crumpled, groaning in pain. He looked up at Immi with sorrowful eyes. "I-Immi..." he whispered, resigned to his fate. "I'm sorry..."

      Something pulsed within Immi. Before she could subconsciously question it, the pulsing began hammering inside her, faster and harder than her heartbeat. "Stop it..." she whispered, the pulsing fuelling her hoarse voice. Aker seemed to hesitate for a second. Seht noticed this, and said almost urgently, "Kill him!"

      "NO!" Immi screamed, power flowing through her. "STOP IT! GET BACK INSIDE ME - NOW!" To her great surprise, Aker obeyed. The beast withdrew, and Immi was herself. She stared at Rehkek before her in disbelief, then at the blade in her paw. She was horrified at the sight of the blood. "Rehkek," she whispered hoarsely. "Did I...?" Rehkek didn't say anything, just clutched his bleeding shoulder. Immi saw many other wounds lining his body, and tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm so sorry..."

      "So," Seht hissed, his voice dangerously malicious. He spat on the ground with utter contempt. "Your will proves harder than I anticipated..."

      The moment of drama was completely shattered as Sand bounded in, her front paws bound behind her. "Well, duh! The Sand Daughter triumphs over all!" She attempted a victory pose, but flopped over pathetically in the sand. Everyone stared at her and she squealed. "The sand tastes so good!"

      Immi barely heard what the insane Usul was saying. She was overwhelmed by what had just happened and felt so happy… so happy that it was over. Aker had left her, at last.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Sand Daughter: Part One
» Sand Daughter: Part Two
» Sand Daughter: Part Three
» Sand Daughter: Part Four
» Sand Daughter: Part Five
» Sand Daughter: Part Six
» Sand Daughter: Part Eight



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