A Hand to Guide You: Part Five
Slashing at the surrounding branches with my claws, I pushed
my way through the dense jungle, never failing in my concentration on the task
at hand. I always knew perfectly which direction to turn, my confidence in my
newly manifested natural sense of direction as strong as ever. However, at the
same time, I was terribly nervous and worried. I was still somewhat inwardly doubtful
about myself, and I was anxious to know if I could really do this, if I could
really come through and prove myself. It all came down to this. All my training,
all the hard hours of work, the lonely nights, putting up with snobby kids, everything.
If I could just save Kenzie, conquer Hassuano and stop his evil plan, then I would
know, without any doubt, that I was the Guide and I could take the responsibility.
But, the problem was, I really didn't know if I could do it, if I could step up
and come out on top. Yet there was no turning back now. It was all or nothing.
Brushing aside a final leafy bough, I unveiled
the place where it had all started. But instead of finding the expected scene
of Kenzie bound with ropes and at the hands of a villain, I walked into the
clearing alone. There was no sign of life anywhere, everything was deserted.
I looked about at the forest, trying to figure out what was going on. Lifting
my gaze to the sky, I found out most unpleasantly. Grinning menacingly, and
perched on an overhead tree limb, was a shadow Mynci, ready to spring. Dread
filled my heart, but before I could react, I was ambushed by a dozen of Hassuano's
henchpets. I tried my best to fight them off, but I was outnumbered and outmaneuvered.
As I was pinned to the ground and bound tightly, I couldn't help but think how
horribly I had let everyone down. Kenzie will be sacrificed and the world
will be reined by darkness, all because I couldn't do my job, I thought.
I'm not the Guide; I'm just a failure.
As I was pushed along by the shadow Mynci, my
spirits drooped lower and lower. I found it easier to simply not think anymore,
for what did it matter? All was lost now. And it was all because of me. I just
let my head hang down, staring absent-mindedly at the rocky dirt path. If I
had looked up, I would have seen the great stone building looming in the distance,
and getting closer at every step. However, what I did notice was the eerie chill
that the air took on so suddenly, and the shadow that seemed to pass over the
entire area. Dejectedly I raised my eyes and saw where we were evidently headed:
the Lost City of Geraptiku.
The great and mystifying city came into view,
and everyone stopped dead and looked in awe and fear. It was as if my breath
had been snatched right out my throat. Like a picture out of a book, mist swirled
around the ancient tomb and fog hovered over the sagging trees. Empty houses
and shops were scattered among the encroaching jungle. The ghostly shell of
a once-great and prosperous city was a forbidding sight to behold. But the strangest
thing of all was the absence of any sound. No noise breached the absolute silence;
it was if everyone and everything knew some great secret and did not dare to
utter a peep. The city had an effect on all around it, commanding gaping stares
from all who risked looking at it. Darkness penetrated even the brightest of
places, and an overall feeling of eeriness filled the air. Nothing I had ever
seen could be compared with the ruins of this lost city, not on terms of its
sheer chilling aura.
Our reverie was at last shattered by grunt from
the shadow Mynci, and so once again I was being pushed and prodded onward. We
walked carefully, almost like we were treading on hallowed ground, but far more
terrible, down a narrow dirt path leading toward to city gate. The path was
indeed so small that we had to travel in single file, giving me a bit of room
to move around. I looked to my right and saw the great tomb rising out of the
forest, and on my left I saw a tiny, and apparently skull-headed creature scurry
by. My apprehension was intensifying, and while I had been distracted somewhat
by the shock of the city, my despair was no less. I glance up again as I passed
under the crumbling archway bearing in strange lettering "GERAPTIKU", looking
over my shoulder to have one more chance, and what I was sure my last, to see
the outside world. When I turned back around, I was startled by the stare of
a familiar set of eyes, this time with a fully visible body to match.
Hassuano, as I now knew he was, stood in front
of me with a fanged smirk on his face. He spoke to me with a seemingly polite
yet venomous tone, exactly like his letter.
"Oh, my, I am sooo glad you could come to join
us, dear Anika. I must admit, we were wondering if you would ever get here…"
he said, turning to the shadow Mynci with less of a grin. The henchpet was now
I didn't speak. I couldn't bring myself to say
anything, nor could I think of anything worthwhile to say anyway. I simply stood
there with my eyes down, ashamed of all I had failed to do.
"Well, now that you're here," the Hissi said,
his smile returning again, "do come and join in on the festivities. You are
the Guest of Honor, after all."
I was really puzzled, not to mention surprised.
My face betrayed my emotions, and Hassuano only grinned wider.
"You didn't honestly think I would have told
you how to get here if it were not absolutely necessary? Did you really think
that would have told you to come and save this useless girl if there were any
chance that I actually needed her?"
"Then why on earth did you kidnap her?" I said,
perplexed and bewildered, ending my spell of silence.
Hassuano was not really smiling anymore. "For
bait, you stupid idiot!" he yelled in a flurry of frustration. Then, calming
himself, he hissed, "I really did expect a smarter one to be the Guide. How
do you manage?" Pausing for effect, he answered himself. "Well, I suppose it's
obvious you don't, isn't it? For why else would you be here at all?" With a
malicious chuckle copied by his followers, he went on in his mocking speech.
"Why would I have followed you, watching you
vigilantly, lurking in shadows and hiding like an exile? Why would I so carefully
plan and plot, never faltering from my purpose? Why would I wait fifteen agonizingly
long years to simply kidnap a brainless little girl and her parents?!?"
Oh, the irony. I had not only caused innocent
Kenzie to be threatened, but her parents as well. I had walked straight into
a trap that would jeopardize the entire world, and I had only just now realized
it. My heart was in the depths of despair.
"Oh yes, foolish Anika. This insolent brat,"
he said, pointing to the shack a few feet away where inside I could just see
three silhouettes, two large and one small, "is not the sacrifice I need, as
you so thoughtlessly assumed, just how I hoped and planned you would. She is
not the one who will open the floodgates of my dark reign. You, Anika, the so-called
Guide of the "wandering and lost", will be the final key to make everyone in
Neopia hopelessly wandering and lost. It is your sacrifice tonight that will
seal the spell. You are a true failure."
I gaped in horror and desperation. Lifeless and
limp, I was carried to the top of the tomb and laid on an intricately carved
stone table. It was almost completely dark, for the lunar eclipse was nearly
complete. Only a sliver of moon shone in the night sky. But I did not care about
any of this, for my eyes were blinded from within. But though my outer senses
may have been numbed, my mind was painfully acute. The awful satire cut my heart
open and left me to die in my misery and sorrow for all the helpless, innocent
Neopians…all my old friends, my old Neoschool teacher Mrs. Bunns, the funny
shopkeepers in the center square, and my sweet Bee…oh Bianca, why have I
let you down? I thought with the greatest anguish I had ever known. But
then, out of nowhere, a wonderful pillar of light came to me in this dark place
and in my dark hour: a memory of Bee and I sitting on the couch, so far away
and long ago.
"You have more potential than you realize, Anika.
If you will just apply yourself, I know you can accomplish great things. You
just have put your mind to it. You can do anything you are called to do."
Although it was just a memory, it may as well
have been to me that Bee was right there next to me, encouraging as she always
was. I couldn't give up on her now. If Bee had had faith in me, and the Mystic
had had faith in me, I could have faith in me too. I wouldn't give up on them
now, not when there was still as much hope as there was left of the moon. My
eyes lit up, and my skin shone like a blue flame. The ropes binding me sizzled
and fell off, scorched. Taken aback, Hassuano dropped the obsidian knife he
was holding in his tail and it clattered down the stone steps. In his tribal
costume, the red Hissi looked like an ancient evil spirit. And although he had
been taken off-guard, he quickly regained his wits. The malevolent eyes glowed
as bright as ever in the thick darkness, and this time they had fire in them.
Enraged, Hassuano lunged at me and opened his mouth wide for a poisonous strike.
But I in my unreal state of empowerment was too agile, and jumped aside. The
villainous guards were climbing the steps of the tomb as quickly as possibly,
and coming closer and closer. I would have to think of some clever plan soon,
for Hassuano had also grabbed a magical staff lying nearby, no doubt to be used
to cast the spell that would doom Neopia. Brandishing it at me, Hassuano cried,
"You will not deny me my destiny!" Starting to pronounce what I recognized from
training as a powerful attack magic spell, Hassuano looked as menacing as ever.
But I knew now was not the time to hesitate, so with every ounce of justice
in me I focused my concentration, looked Hassuano fearlessly in the eye, and
saw him recoil in terror at what he saw in my gaze. It was righteous fury, and
it spelled a certain fate for my enemy. Raising my hands, I stared at the wicked
Guardian of Darkness and said the words of another spell, a good and just spell,
which would send Hassuano where he could hurt no one. Energy flowing through
my skin, I fired two identical beams of light which found their way from my
hands into the heart of the evil Hissi, spreading like a spyder's web into each
of the approaching guards, and with a blinding white flash they were gone.
Exhausted yet exhilarated from my effort, I
stumbled down the steps of the tomb. Kenzie and her parents were probably wondering
fearfully what was going on, so I wasn't surprised at their startled faces when
I stepped in the door, for it was dark and to them I could have been any one
of the guards. But after igniting a ball of light in my hand to illuminate the
room, they could see my beaming face. Kenzie was especially happy to see me.
"Anika! You're ok! I was so worried that that
mean snaky guy was going to hurt you!"
Using my newly mastered powers to cut the ropes,
I let them free. I gave Kenzie a big hug, and said, "I'm fine, don't worry about
me. I was just scared for you. I'm so sorry I let them take you away, are you
all right now?" I looked up directed my question as well to Mr. and Mrs. Tumercolonius,
appearing dazed but relieved, and they gave a little smile and nodded as they
brushed themselves off.
"Oh Anika, I was so scared, but I knew you would
save me! And when I saw my parents here, I just knew you would come and save
them too. I just knew you would." Kenzie squeezed me again, so I picked her
up in my arms.
"Thanks for believing in me," I said, and then
more quietly, to myself, "You too, Bee. Thanks for everything."
We went outside and looked up at the reappearing
moon. I sighed as I thought about all the wild things that had happened in my
life, and how they would probably calm down now and get relatively normal (at
least normal for me). But now I could see how wonderful they had all been, and
all the great things that had come out of them. I was glad for all I had been
through. I was glad to have met Kenzie, and to have made a difference in her
life. But most of all I was glad to have learned to use my powers, to learn
to take responsibility, and to learn to believe in myself. I knew who I truly
was, and I would never have to doubt it again. So although you may not see me
everyday, if you ever need a hand, I'll be there to guide you.