A Hand to Guide You: Part Four
I really did feel sorry for Kenzie, obnoxious though she
was. The poor little Aisha had never been taught how to care for herself. The
simplest task seemed monumental for her, and she whined indefinitely. If she wasn't
accusing me, babbling on about nothing at all, or crying on my shoulder, she was
moaning and complaining. Always going on about something. If it wasn't that the
stew was too cold, it had too many carrots or peas. If she wasn't griping because
she didn't have a comfy bed, she couldn't sleep because she needed a drink of
water. Never satisfied, Kenzie. She would always find something to gripe about.
It was about three days from the night of the
fire, and I was trying my hardest to find some trace of Kenzie's parents. We
had traipsed all around the Meridell countryside, visiting every farm. We had
searched thoroughly through every town, knocking on every door and inquiring
at every tavern. But it seemed as if the Tumerculoniouses had dropped off the
face of the earth. No one had heard of two high-class citizens traveling through
the area. I asked nearly every person in the whole of Meridell, but not a single
trace of Kenzie's parents. It was nearly nine o'clock, and we were just finishing
soliciting people at a local inn for any clues. Kenzie was settling into her
normal routine, most unfortunately for me.
"Anika, are we almost done yet?" she asked in
her most irritating tone. "I'm so tired, I wanna go to bed. Anika, come on,
"Almost, Kenzie, almost," I said through clenched
teeth. I struggled to resist the so very inviting temptation to explode in her
face. "Just a few minutes longer, and then we can go. Just try to be patient"…"if
you even can, you little brat," I added under my breath. Oh man, if I EVER
get out of here, I will make sure I never, ever, do this again, I thought.
No more demanding, snotty, cheeky little monsters for me, if you please.
However, immediately after thinking this, I felt
bad for doing so. I could only imagine how horrible I had been to Bee so many
times. Wonderful, patient Bee… Oh, how I missed her sometimes… I don't know
how she put up with my smart-mouthed attitude. I guess now I was getting a taste
of my own medicine. Kenzie was terrible, but beneath all her insolence, she
really was a sweet little girl. But I could only just catch glimpses of her
true character, before she reverted back to her normal bratty attitude. However,
every time I thought I should just give up and leave her there, I was stopped
by a sense of something more, that what I was doing was going to affect something
higher than just this little waif. Whatever it was, I knew I had to do my duty,
however trying it may be.
Buying a loaf of bread from the old, wrinkled
Usul at the food stall alongside the dusty road, I took the impatient little
pet's hand and set off toward the nearest grove of trees. I barely had enough
neopoints to feed us, so lodging was out of the question. I felt bad, putting
Kenzie out into this harsh world she knew so little of, but I had no other option.
Still, I thought, I ought to do so much better. Some Guide I am… I laid
the tiny, tattered blanket I had managed to find out over Kenzie, propping her
head up with a pile of dry, brittle leaves. I just slept on the hard ground
beside her, an arm extended around her delicate body. She shivered in the crisp
autumn air, and I held her against me for warmth. But the biting wind still
claimed control. There was nothing I could do to make her comfortable. Some
Guide I am… And with that bleak thought drifting through my mind, I slumped
into a fitful sleep.
I awoke next morning a dreary drizzle. The weather
matched my mood: gray and no sign of clearing up. Everything in the meager camp
I had set up the night before was soaked, the rest of the bread a mushy slop.
Still in a daze, I turned around and picked up the threadbare piece of cloth
that Kenzie had slept under last night. Kenzie! In my sleepy stupidity, I hadn't
noticed she had disappeared. How could I lose her?!? I thought. What
am I going to do? I thought frantically, trying to figure out where on earth
she could have gone.
Running desperately through the nearby forest,
I hastily scanned everything for a sign of the tiny Aisha. Finding nothing but
more worry, I returned to camp in despair. A slight breeze brushed my face and
attempted, but did not succeed, to dry my forming tears. However, the wind did
succeed in one thing: a rustling noise and something fluttering in the corner
of my eye directed my attention to a crumpled piece of parchment pinned down
by a rock on the ground, not ten feet away. In my alarm I had entirely missed
this odd addition to the camp. Hoping the best, a note from Kenzie saying she
had just gone off to collect some rocks, and dreading the worst, I cautiously
bent down to read the message. It was written in lacy, yet menacing script,
and it bore the most horrible of news:
"To Anika, the Guide:
As you have most certainly noticed (although
in your case, as likely as not), your charge Mackenzie Winifred Georgina Tumercolonius
has been so kindly relieved from your hands. She is our most responsible care,
and quite safe, we assure you, until of course the time comes when for the sacrifice
to ensure that my plan, which requires a specific person be offered to bind
the spell that will spread darkness and confusion over the whole of Neopia.
And I know that you will be quite happy to know the "brat" is no longer your
responsibility. Oh, and one more thing. If you do happen to want to save Ms.
Tumercolonius, and as it so happens, the world as well, you would be well advised
to come straight away. I'm sure you'll know where to find her, for it is where
we first laid eyes on each other. And I assume you, of all people, won't need
any guidance on how to get there. Do hurry, the lunar eclipse is tomorrow, and
as it only happens in the circumstances needed to perform the spell every 106
years, I certainly won't be happy if we are late in our offering. Besides, I'm
sure you are just dying to see me. I know I am.
Best of luck,
The Guardian of Darkness, Hassuano
A wave of panic-stricken guilt washed over me
as I realized my total and utter failure. Nothing could have been more devastating
than this; anything would have been better than my charge, my responsibility
getting snatched away and be used as the instrument to destroy Neopia as we
know it. This "Guardian of Darkness"…It was creepy how well he seemed to know
me. So he was going to spread confusion over the world, and the missing link
in the plan was Kenzie. How convenient that I had let her slip through my fingers.
After much head-bashing on a nearby tree, I came
to this conclusion: The only way to save Kenzie, and the world, was to use my
powers. That revelation was totally impulsive and unexplained, (although I do
suspect it had something to do with the head-banging) but that was a pretty
normal way of life for me these days. And although it was somewhat of a breakthrough,
I was still facing the enormous brick wall of not-really- knowing-how-to-use-your-powers.
So I was back to square one, sitting there on the cold rocky ground, rain just
beginning to pour down on my equally damp spirits, and not knowing in the slightest
what to do.
It seems that in my greatest times of need,
my supernatural abilities always kick in. While I was sitting and reflecting
on possibly the worst predicament I had ever gotten myself into, that odd blue
glow on my skin ignited once more, and a strange familiar feeling told me I
was in for another wild ride through the fourth dimension.
With a whiplash-like energy I was snatched off
the ground and thrown into the chilling experience of unworldly travel. However,
this time, instead of landing on the green rolling hills of Meridell, I was
transported back to the sunny island that I had spent so much time on not so
very long ago…but where it was now was anything but sunny. The muggy, mosquito-infested
air was like molasses in my lungs, and as I was thrust back down to the earth
in the middle of an oppressive jungle, it felt as though someone had stuck me
upside-down in a bowl of maple syrup. I staggered to my feet and tried to catch
my breath, or as best as possible in this impossibly humid air. Sweat trickled
down my face as I stood and surveyed my surroundings. Pretty rotten, I'll tell
you. This must have been a side of Mystery Island tourists had never seen, for
if they did, I'm not sure they would ever some back.
All this unpleasantness aside, I was here for
a reason. The note had said I would find her where I had find laid eyes on this
Hassuano. Laid eyes on, I thought…and then it hit me: (I'm sure you figured
it out ages ago, but I'm a little slow, ok?) This had to be the creature with
the evil glowing eyes I had seen before, the monster that had followed me so
many times. So that means I have to go the Island Mystic! I thought to
myself. It all fit together. Except, however, for one thing: I was hopelessly
lost. In this foreign humid jungle I had no idea where to go, or how to get
to the Mystic's hut. But instead of sitting on the ground and moping, like I
had a few hours ago, I knew what I had to do. I was the Guide, I could find
my way, and I could step up to the challenge. I had to keep all of Neopia from
becoming what I was sworn to protect- weak, wandering, lost, and confused. No
longer did I shirk from responsibility: with a sudden renewed sense of hope,
and my skin shining bright blue, I simply knew that I had to only follow my
instinct, walk forward, and I would go in the right direction. I was off to
do my duty, to save Kenzie, and the entire world.
To be continued...