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Chronicles of the Mahirmai Khan: Lost


by nimras23

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The golden grass of the endless plains waved in the soft summer breeze, tickling the ears of the yellow Lupe lounging in the shade of a tall tree. Raghidmab yawned, today was a lazy day. He was scouting on his own away from his khan; he loved to explore and keeping track of the khans' four cubs cut back on exploring time when he was with the khan.

     Only its three cubs now, he thought guiltily; a wildfire the summer before had claimed one of the cubs, the only red furred person anyone of his khan had ever seen, Azureyigh. A loss Raghidmab blamed himself for. He was supposed to lead Azureyigh to safety though the flames, but they had gotten separated. Azureyigh had never been heard from again. Though the rest of the khan hadn't blamed him, Raghidmab would never forgive himself.

     Lazily, Raghidmab debated whether it was worth the effort to walk down the hill to the creek for a drink. Thirst finally won over lethargy, and Raghidmab head down the dusty path to the brush lined creek.

     Nearing the dense row of brush, a patch of red fur caught the corner of Raghidmab's eye. Curious, Raghidmab carefully walked towards the bundle of red fur. Is that Azureyigh? he thought in disbelief, hope rising in his chest. As he drew closer, a red muzzle poked out of the grass, and thin long ears perked at his approach. Not Azureyigh, Raghidmab thought with a sigh of disappointment. For one glorious moment, he had thought that his departed nephew had returned to the khan.

     "Hello?" Raghidmab asked softly to the bundle of red fur. "Who are you?"

     A lanky, half grown Lupe-like creature stood and walked curiously up to him. "I'm Jigsagh, and I'm afraid I'm a bit lost," the adolescent cub said wryly. "Who are you?"

     Raghidmab nodded to Jigsagh politely. "I am Raghidmab, son of Sayyiborbo and Karumahugu, of the Mahirmai khan." Pausing awkwardly, he curiously added, "What are you, and where did you come from?"

     Jigsagh grinned. "I'm a Gelert, and I live with my owner Eymbers, my brothers Shocker and Deama, and my sister Minare near Lenny Library."

     "Where's that?" Raghidmab asked; he'd never heard of such a place.

     "I think it's somewhere to the east. At least I know the Endless Plain is to the west of it. But I'm not sure exactly how to get home. If I knew that, I wouldn't be lost." Looking at Raghidmab hopefully, Jigsagh finished, "I don't suppose you could help me?"

     Raghidmab looked at the hopeful red cub with surprise, how could he help him find his way to somewhere he'd never heard of? Than again, he thought to himself seriously, Jigsagh was far too young to be wandering the plains alone searching for a way home. Perhaps helping this red cub find his way home would help atone for his loss of his khans' red cub.

     "East you say?" Raghidmab asked. "I think we can manage to find your home." Jigsagh's relieved smile shone like the sun bursting through heavy clouds on a rainy day.

     After drinking deeply from the small stream, Raghidmab and Jigsagh headed east towards the towering mountains that defined the edge of the Endless Plains. Raghidmab had never left the Plains before. Feeling a surge of excitement, Raghidmab grinned. A new place to explore!

     After walking for quite a bit in silence, Raghidmab's curiosity began to get the better of him. "So, Jigsagh," he started conversationally, "you've been on the other side of the mountains; what's over there?"

     "It depends on where you come out." Pointing to the southeast, Jigsagh continued, "If you go to the south, it's a large desert. Straight to the east, should be a large forest; and to the northeast should be Neopia Central, it's a large city in a plain. That's where I live."

     "You know a lot about geography," Raghidmab complemented.

     "Thank my sister; she's the one who drills me on my homework. Though," Jigsagh admitted ruefully. "I never thought I'd use what she drilled me on quite like this." But brightly he added, "Though now I'll find out just how well she taught me."

     Smothering a chuckle, Raghidmab shook his head. He'd never met anyone who could find the bright side in everything like Jigsagh could. Changing the subject, he asked, "So what's your family like, Jigsagh; you mentioned siblings?"

     Jigsagh grinned. "Three of them. My sister, Minare is a yellow Bori. My brothers are Darigan colored, Shocker is a Uni and Deama is a Lupe, like you."

     Raghidmab blinked in surprise, "They aren't Gelerts like you?" Families must work differently where Jigsagh came from; and include things he'd never heard of, like dari-whatever and Bori.

     Shaking his head, Jigsagh explained, "Min and I've lived with Mom all of our lives; Shocker and Deama on the other hand, she adopted much later, when they were older and had a bit of a history. Shocker used to be a battle Uni, and we don't know where Deama came from."

     "Why don't you ask him?"

     "We did, but he doesn't talk." Shrugging his red shoulders, Jigsagh explained, "He's never said a word, as far as anyone knows."

     "That must make life interesting," Raghidmab commented dryly as he looked at the growing shadows. "It's getting late; let's sleep for awhile, then start fresh in the morning." A yawning Jigsagh agreed.

     The tired, footsore Gelert quickly fell asleep after gobbling down some berries Raghidmab had managed to find. For Raghidmab, however, sleep was elusive. With a sad half grin he thought how much Azureyigh and Jigsagh would have gotten along. The two of them probably would have hit it off right away, with Azureyigh's dry sense of humor and Jigsagh's enthusiasm.

     Somberly, Raghidmab promised to himself that he'd protect and care for the young Gelert until he managed to get him back home where he belonged. With that decision, the yellow Lupe heaved a deep sigh and curled up to sleep.

     The next day dawned bright and clear, without a cloud in the sky. Raghidmab woke first; while a drowsing Jigsagh mumbled to himself in his sleep about not wanting to go to school, whatever that was. Out of long habit, Raghidmab stretched, and checked the horizon for the day's weather. It looked like today was going to be another warm, sunny day.

     After a great deal of shaking, Raghidmab managed to wake Jigsagh. The poor Gelert wasn't used to walking so much in a day, and he hobbled after Raghidmab until his muscles loosened up enough to walk normally.

     Like all growing youngsters, the first thing on Jigsagh's mind after his legs stopped hurting was food. All day yesterday they had headed northeast, and the number of berry bearing bushes had thinned. It took a lot of berries to fill two bellies, but Raghidmab wasn't going to risk hunting without the pack; especially with a young one depending on him. The chance of injury was too great.

     Instead they snacked as they went, eating whenever they came across a berry bush. Unfortunately, as they reached the foot of the towering mountains that hemmed the edge of the endless plains, berry bushes gave way to trees. Raghidmab hoped that they could find some nut trees or underground tubers for dinner tonight, the idea of no dinner or breakfast the next morning was not a happy thought.

      Jigsagh passed the time by telling Raghidmab about foods found in Neopia Central; Raghidmab found the idea of cheese to be particularly interesting, though as the day wore on, more and more of the exotic foods sounded appetizing.

     Walking up the side of the mountains was a lot harder then walking along the flat plains, they discovered. Fortunately they found a trail that cut through the mountains and made walking much easier. Even so, both Raghidmab and Jigsagh were too winded to speak until they reached the crest of the mountain, where they stopped to gaze at the spectacular view below them. Spread beneath the foot of the mountain range was a broad river which winded lazily like a Wadjet toward what appeared to be humongous stones in the distance.

     Perplexed, Raghidmab asked, "Jigsagh, what is the river headed towards?"

     "That's Neopia Central," Jigsagh explained. "Haven't you ever seen a city before?"

     "My people live in caves."

     "They'd have to wouldn't they," Jigsagh commented shrewdly. "There's nothing to build with out there."

     "Well," Raghidmab said after a short break, "we're not going to get any closer by sitting here. Let's get going."

     Fortunately for their paws, the walk down the mountain was much quicker than the walk up. Even though it was getting near dusk, they decided to press on. Jigsagh assured Raghidmab that his house was on the west side of the city and that they should make it there before dark. Raghidmab held onto the idea of food and water as a beacon to keep himself going. Jigsagh on the other paw, seemed to grow more energized as they grew closer to the city; even finding the energy to friskily chase a Snowbunny.

     Now that they were closer to the city, they started coming across other pets, some familiar, and others were colors and species Raghidmab had never seen before. The yellow Lupe did his best to keep from gaping at the strange looking species, the strange homes made of various building materials were probably a safer bet. The majority of the houses seemed to be made of stones stacked on top of each other, but there were others he wasn't even going to hazard a guess on how they were made.

     Startling Raghidmab with a sharp bark of joy, Jigsagh broke into a run towards an indigo Uni. At least Raghidmab assumed it was an Uni, though Unis where he was from didn't have cloven hooves, burning red eyes or membrane wings.

     "Shocker!" Jigsagh crowed in delight. Bowling into the Uni, Jigsagh nearly knocked him over in his enthusiasm. Raghidmab smiled; it may be an unorthodox family, but Jigsagh obviously loved his 'brother'. Raghidmab moved towards Jigsagh and the Uni, only to be intercepted by a hulking purple form. Raghidmab stared at the new creature; he had the body of a Lupe, but large membrane wings similar to the Uni's sprouted out of his back, and his eyes glared a fiery red.

     Fortunately, Jigsagh saw what had happened. "Deama, he's with me!" he called, running back to Raghidmab. "This is the Lupe who helped me find my way back home," he introduced hurriedly, "Shocker, Deama, this is Raghidmab." Both of Jigsagh's brothers relaxed noticeably at the introduction. Both were obviously very protective of the younger cub, to Raghidmab's approval.

     "Thank you for helping him home," Shocker said simply. With a slight grin he expanded, "Min and Eymbers were almost impossible to live with while he was gone." Hearing his comment, Deama rolled his eyes in emphatic agreement.

     "Come home for dinner with us," Shocker urged. "It's the least we can do after you brought Jigsagh home." Raghidmab was far too hungry to even think about disagreeing with such a wonderful suggestion, even though he wasn't sure what kind of food would be found in a den where an Uni lived. Right now he was hungry enough to eat grass. Amiably, he fell into line behind Shocker and Jigsagh as they led the way to their den.

     Jigsagh, on the other paw, was too excited about being home to realize he was hungry. He badgered Shocker with questions about what everyone had done while he was gone; Raghidmab tuned him out, not being able to follow the flurry of different names. He was jerked violently into the conversation, however, when Jigsagh blurted, "I can't wait to tell Azure about how I got to visit his old home."

     Azure? As foreign as Jigsagh, Shocker, and Deama's names were, what were the odds of one of city dwellers names being so similar to Azureyigh's? Especially one who had lived in the Endless Plains before living here? Keeping a firm clamp down on his emotions, Raghidmab asked carefully, "Is Azure a Lupe too?"

     Jigsagh nodded. "A red one; his real name is longer but I can't get my mouth around it, everyone just calls him Azure."

     Shocker grinned, "I can pronounce it; Azure helped me with my report on the Endless Plains. Wild Lupes live in a clan-based culture, and have their parents' names and khan names in their own name. Azure's full name is Azureyigh, son of Emyrbasim and Umaymacara, of the Mahirmai khan."

     Raghidmab's head reeled; Azureyigh was alive, and Shocker knew him! Forcing himself to speak calmly he said to Shocker, "I'd really like to talk to him, if you could introduce us."

     Shocker shrugged. "Sure, we can go over to his owner's after dinner."

     Raghidmab would have preferred to see Azureyigh right away, but his stomach managed to override his mouth when he tried to say that. "Dinner sounds wonderful."

     Arriving at Jigsagh's house, there was a note on the door saying that Eymbers and Minare were out and wouldn't be back until way after dinner, and that they'd just have to fend for themselves if they wanted dinner. The four pets helped themselves to cheese omelettes out of the pantry. Raghidmab smacked his lips, wondering if there was a way to get cheese out to the endless plains. Cheese had been just as good as it had sounded.

     After dinner, Deama made it clear that he and Jigsagh were going to stay home while Shocker and Raghidmab went to see Azure.

     "But why?" Jigsagh protested. "I want to go see Azure!"

     "I think Deama's right on this one, Jigsagh," Shocker said. "Don't worry, you can see Azure tomorrow. Let Raghidmab have a little time with him before you start telling Azure your story."

     Hopefully, Jigsagh won't have to wait that long, Raghidmab thought. What he would prefer was Azureyigh coming back with him tonight to say good-by on his way back home to the khan. He wasn't going to say anything about that to Jigsagh now though; as much as he liked the young Gelert. Family things like this shouldn't be spoken of outside the khan.

     Following Shocker down the road, Raghidmab wondered what Azureyigh would be like after living so long away from the khan in this strange place. He was so absorbed with his thoughts he scarcely noticed anything around him, fortunately the streets were nearly empty.

     Shocker interrupted his reverie. "We'll look for him in the park first; it's closer and he spends lots of time there."

     "How far is it?"

     Shocker sent him an amused look. "Try looking across the street."

     Raghidmab chose not to dignify that with a response. Instead he gazed across the road to a large grassy field with scattered groves of trees. Within it was a rainbow of different colored pets playing, lounging, and talking. Raghidmab could immediately see why such a place would appeal to Azureyigh. In this area crowded with houses, it was the closest thing to the plains Raghidmab had seen so far.

     While he was trying to absorb the range of colors that pets were here, something else struck Raghidmab; there were a lot of red pets. Before he'd met Jigsagh, Raghidmab had thought Azureyigh to be unique in his coloring; now, however, he saw that there were lots of other red pets. That discovery was shoved to the back of his mind however, when he saw a large Lupe with a long, thin, white scar running down his side helping some of the younger pets climb onto a fallen log.

     It took all of Raghidmab's self control to keep himself from running over and tackling the red Lupe in a giant hug. He'd know Azureyigh anywhere, even in the middle of a hundred red Lupes.

     Heart hammering, Raghidmab crossed the street and trotted up behind the achingly familiar red Lupe. "Azureyigh?" he croaked. When had his mouth gotten so dry?

     The red Lupe stiffened, and then turned to look incredulously behind him. "Uncle Raghidmab?"

     The next thing Raghidmab knew, he and Azureyigh were clamped in a tight, rib breaking hug while pounding each other on the back. "You wily son of a wind runner," Raghidmab crowed, "how in the blazing fire faeries did you survive?"

     Azureyigh grinned, pulling back. "After we were separated, I headed to the river." Glancing at his scar, he added wryly, "I was doing just fine until a tree landed on me."

     Raghidmab winced, that must have been painful.

     "Anyways," Azureyigh finished, "Nim found me while searching for injured petpets after the fire, took me to a doctor here to get healed, and then let me join the khan."

     Raghidmab was sure there was more to the story, but Azureyigh never said anything he didn't want to. Raghidmab grinned, "You're brother, Brighartal, will be jealous. He's the one who always wanted a grand adventure."

     "Where is the khan's den now?" Azureyigh asked curiously. "Nim and I went back to the old den, but there was no one there."

     "We're denned in Khalideld, south of the Khubilai khan's range; Kamilarian is happy though, we live right next to her parents' khan now, she and Abbasnar spend a lot of time visiting them."

     Azureyigh grinned. "Always keep your den-mates happy, that's a lesson I learned pretty quick."

     "I'm glad you've found a pack to run with, the leader was very kind to take you in. Pass on my thanks to him for looking after you."

     "Her," Azureyigh corrected absently.

     "Well, I'd be honored to meet her."

     Azureyigh looked extremely amused. "She's rather unbelievable."

     Azureyigh was deliberately keeping his mouth shut on this, Raghidmab decided not to push him. He'd had too many new discoveries today as it was. Instead he calculated, "If we start off tonight, we should be able to make it back to the den in three or four days."

     Azureyigh was visibly torn, Raghidmab saw. He was silent for a long moment, obviously thinking hard. Finally he said, "If I'd known where you were nine months ago, I would have rushed back with you without a second thought. But now," he paused, "Nim needs me. I have a life here."

     Raghidmab nodded slowly, he could see how one could become settled in a new life in a year. While he wanted his nephew to come back home with him, he wouldn't force Azureyigh to do anything. This morning his nephew had be dead; he supposed he could be content with the knowledge that he was alive with a good life in place of Azureyigh taking his place back in the khan.

     Grinning slightly Azureyigh offered, "Now that I know where you live, I can come visit you."

     "We'd like that," Raghidmab said huskily.

     "And you can visit any time you like," Azureyigh added. "Just follow the road in front of this park to the very end, and ask for me." Humor flashed in his eyes. "Though you should expect quite a few surprises when you visit."

     Raghidmab guffawed, "After everything I've seen so far, I'd even listen to Kamilarian's crazy Faerie tales of humans." Again there was that flash of amusement across Azureyigh's face.

     Looking around, Raghidmab noticed that the park was now nearly empty. "It's late," he said apologetically, "I should start back while it's still cool." Now that he didn't have a cub to worry about, he'd travel at night.

     "Say hello to everyone for me?" Azureyigh asked wistfully.

     "Of course," Raghidmab assured him. "And you take care of yourself and your new khan."

     "I always do my best."

     Fighting back tears, Raghidmab embraced his nephew again. "Byearshte, Azureyigh."

     Hugging him back tightly, Azureyigh repeated the ancient farewell. "Byearshte, Uncle."

     Azure watched Raghidmab's yellow form until he disappeared into the shadows. He'd given up hope of ever finding his khan again months ago, and then suddenly his Uncle showed up in the middle of the park right by his new home. It was amazing how the world worked sometimes. Shaking himself out of his reverie, the red Lupe trotted back to what was his chosen home.

     "You're home late," Nim commented from her desk as he walked into the living room. Pausing, Azure watched her busily scribble with her quill pen; her lower lip caught in her teeth as she concentrated on whatever she was working on, and her shoulder length mahogany hair falling into her eyes. Human.

     Should he have told Raghidmab Nim was human? No, he decided, his family had always regarded humans as a mythological bogyman to keep cubs in line. Raghidmab had learned about enough new things today; learning of the existence of humans might have overwhelmed him completely.

      Feeling his gaze, Nim looked up in confusion. "What?"

     Azure smiled. "It's just good to be home."

The End

Much thanks to NTAG for making my insanity coherent to the rest of the world.

 
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