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The Fall of Qasala: Part One


by danama

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The true story of Razul, Jazan, and others I will not name for fear of leaving some out was never told. What the Neopian public heard was a twisted story. Important facts were omitted, and new parts were added, turning the story into lies. Razul was never evil – he was the greatest and wisest king of them all. Jazan did become friends with that pink ixi scum, but because of the friendship, Qasala fell, changing from the splendid city it had been for a long time to just another desert city, empty of magic and the life that made it so special. More than one important character was ‘forgotten’, including myself and the valiant Daysteed.

      Not that I blame those who spread the word. As storytellers will do, they told of only what they knew, what they saw.

     *

      I felt him as soon as he entered the palace. For safety precautions I had placed a magical barrier around the palace, one that did not prevent intruders from entering but one that alerted me whenever someone did enter it. Swiftly I got out of bed and conjured a small light in one of my hoofs to guide me through the palace. Though I was a palace dweller and had been for what seemed like forever, the palace’s long winding passages and endless stairs still managed to confuse me in the dark.

      I reached the main hall of the palace and stopped for a while, looking at my mental map of the palace to see where the intruder had got to. He seemed to be a rather fast mover – in the time I had travelled from my bedchambers to the hall (which was not a very short walk), he had moved from one side of the palace to the other. I would have to be just as swift to catch him. Then another thought crossed my mind and I walked down the hall to the doors that led to the city to check on the guards that were supposed to be guarding the palace. With a heave, I opened the doors. As they swung outwards, the guards’ sleeping bodies became visible in the dim light. I sniffed at the half eaten remnants of their meal. Just as I suspected - Slumberpetal.

      I opened up my mind map of the palace again. As I watched the intruder travel in my mind, I realised with shock that he was travelling to Razul’s chambers. He had to mean the King ill – why else would he enter the palace so secretly, drug the guards, and then move towards where the King was sleeping?

      Asking the air around me to speed me up as I ran, I shot towards the King’s chambers as fast as a pteri in flight. However, when I opened the door to the hall right outside the place where Razul slept and scanned it for any unwelcome presence, I found another one, a familiar one.

      “Nightsteed!” I called to Razul’s faithful counsellor, guard and friend. “I should’ve known that there was nothing to worry about with you guarding the King.”

      The royal uni’s eyes burned in the darkness as he looked at me. “Vinifae! Thank Adam, I thought I would have to deal with another assassin!”

      “You can be quite assured that I wish the King no harm,” I said dryly.

      Nightsteed laughed as he waved me away with a flap of his wing. “I’ve got it all under control now, Vin, you can go back to sleep.”

      “Did you identify the assassin?”

      “No. He ran before I could get a good look at him. But I don’t think he was one of a gang or a band – he looked familiar somehow. I don’t know why he would have wanted to kill the King, but it was probably something minor anyway. Go to sleep, Vin. You need rest.”

      I looked at Nightsteed again, who snorted and stamped his hoof on the palace floor in irritation. With a sigh I moved away.

     *

      As was usual, I got up at dawn the next day, ready to perform my usual duties. However, no sooner had I made my bed and walked over to the door, when someone pounded on the door. I knew who it was right away. Loud, impatient, and strong enough to make my door nearly swing off its hinges. There was only one being in the entire palace who had a knock like that.

      “My lord Prince,” I said formally as I opened the door and admitted Prince Jazan into my rooms, bowing low as he entered. “What is it that brings you to me?”

      “Vinifae, I need your help.”

      “My help?” I raised an eyebrow. My first loyalty was and always would be to King Razul, and, well the Prince knew it. He knew that he could offer me Neopia to betray the King and I would refuse him. So this was clearly nothing to do with that. But what else could it be – The red kyrii Prince and I had never been the closest of friends, and never before had he confided anything in me.

      “Yes. I… I don’t think I have any magic in me.”

      “My lord Prince, do you think that Razul would have chosen you for his heir if you were just an ordinary kyrii?”

     “I know, I know! But whenever I look inside myself, I see nothing. Whenever I try to cast the simplest of spells, nothing happens. I just don’t have it. I can’t talk to Petpets, I can’t move things from one place to another without touching them, I can’t teleport, I can’t even light a candle! But Razul picked me for his heir, and as his heir I simply must have magic, and not only that, but it has to be the most powerful magic that any Qasalan has ever had before! Excluding your own, of course,” he added hastily as he remembered who he was talking to.

      “Prince Jazan, have you ever considered the possibility that you aren’t the only Qasalan Prince who has had this sort of problem before? Trust me, your magic will turn up, maybe even after you get crowned! Have patience, and your magic will come.”

      “Vinifae, have you even listened to a word I said? It just isn’t there! What am I supposed to do? How can I say that to Razul? He doesn’t like to make mistakes – you of all kaus should know that! Who knows what he might do to cover up this one?”

      “Prince Jazan, you know as well as I do that Razul is honourable. He would do nothing that could have a negative effect on his reputation.”

      “I expected you, the King’s most trusted advisor and protector, to say nothing different.” Jazan’s words were formal but they held a slight edge of disappointment. I got the message: I was wrong to trust you, I was wrong to confide in you. “I ask you that you say nothing of this conversation to anyone else, especially the King.”

      “You have my word,” I replied, bowing. Jazan might be getting a little paranoid, but he was Razul’s heir and so I had to obey him. “Good day to you, my Prince,” I said, as I showed Jazan the door.

     *

      “Vinifae!” Razul greeted me at the Dining Hall. “Adam knows I’ve been waiting here for ages, trying to identify every single pink kau that walked into this hall.” My fire kyrii King looked rather impatient, and I felt a bit of a pang at letting my King down. “I have important news.”

      “Good or bad, my lord?”

      “Bad.” Razuls face was twisted in a grimace. “Outsiders have started to invade Qasala.”

      “Sakhmet?”

      “Yes. My spies tell me that their ruler, Princess Amira, apparently isn’t content with just Sakhmet. She has this idea that she rules over the entire Desert. To enforce her rule, she’s sent out armies to conquer any ‘renegade cities’ that might have hidden themselves from her eye.”

      “‘Renegade cities’ including us, I presume?”

      “Yes. I don’t think that she knows of the existence of Qasala yet, but her army is marching in our direction as we speak. We’ll need a bit of help to overcome this one, I think. You’ll be in charge of protection of the city, and you’ll have Daysteed and Nightsteed to help you. They have to muster as many defenders as they can to patrol the city walls and so on. You can take care of the magical protection.”

      “And the other city dwellers with magic in their blood?”

      Razul shook his head. “They can’t be spared. Daysteed and Nightsteed will need them for the city defence. When – no, if – they discover Qasala, then you need to drop any illusions or whatever you’re holding and take charge of them. If we cannot use pretence then at least we can still use force.” He looked at me seriously. “I’m counting on you, Vinifae. You’ll probably be the single most important defender in the entire city – I can’t have you taking any unnecessary risks, understand?”

      “Understood.” Razul nodded and turned to leave. “My lord, may I ask when Princess’s armies arrive?”

      “Tomorrow morning.” The King sighed. “It’s going to be a long day.”

To be continued...

 
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