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A Hand to Guide You: Part Five


by spunkyclaire

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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 trembling.

     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.

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» A Hand to Guide You: Part One
» A Hand to Guide You: Part Two
» A Hand to Guide You: Part Three
» A Hand to Guide You: Part Four



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