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A Time Before...


by tootsiekitty_

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Thanks to my friends for helping me edit! (You guys rule^^)

The sun shone brightly down on Altador. The nearby sea shimmered as boats traveled across it. Laughter floated up into the air like bubbles, as three young Lennies raced toward the Altadorian Archives. The youngest, Max, reached up with his small blue wing to open the elaborate door, struggling with its weight. A yellow Lenny pranced up behind him, smirking boldly, and pushed open the door as if it weighed nothing at all.

     “Hey! SAR-AHH!!” Max whined as he began to pout. “I wanted to open it.”

     “Well, you were too slow!” Sarah taunted menacingly.

     The oldest of the three, a pink Lenny, had been standing beside her bickering siblings. “Come on, you two,” said the eldest, named Elena, “you know we aren't here for you guys to fight again.”

     “Will Grandpa tell us a story today?” inquired Max.

     “Hmmm, I guess I could do that,” said Finneus softly. The Altadorian Archivist, and grandfather to the three children, had just come out of his cluttered office to greet them. The slight breeze rustled his feathers as he slowly made his way toward them.

     “GRANDPA!” the three grandchildren shouted in unison, clamoring to give their grandpa the first hug.

     Finneus motioned for the children to follow him as he walked into a room scattered with stacks of books, all varying in size, shape, and topic. He settled himself in an old, red overstuffed armchair that sat in a corner below a stained glass window, and stretched his wings, while Max climbed onto his lap and snuggled up.

     “Grandpa! Read this book!” cried Sarah, dragging a large dusty book toward the chair.

     “Ah, my child,” Finneus proudly stated, “you have chosen a very special book for me to read.”

     Finneus began to dust the book off, to reveal a cover, made of deep brown leather and fancy golden writing that seemed to dance across it.

     “What does it say, Grandpa?” asked Max, who hadn't yet reached the age of going to Neoschool to learn to read, as he stroked the words softly, similarly to how one would something very delicate.

     “It says 'A Time Before Our Own',” Finneus whispered softly, barely loud enough for everyone to hear.

     Finneus adjusted his monocle, cleared his throat, and began to read.

***

     A long time ago, many, many years in the past, the world of Neopia was very different than we know it today. Unlike today, Neopia was entirely covered with water, save for just a few islands. The most famous of which is what today we call Krawk Island, but that isn't where this story begins.

     Our story begins underwater, in the chain of cities and towns that spread across the floor of the sea, the centre of which was, of course, Maraqua. Maraqua was indeed magnificent, but it couldn't hold up to the kingdom of Sachep, which was ruled by King Cazlt, a Maraquan Lupe.

     King Cazlt was a very powerful, wise, and strong king. He was probably the greatest king in all of history. He lived in a castle made from the sand of the Great Whirlpool Landing. The Great Whirlpool Landing was a place that held much mystery. It was said that each time a whirlpool began there, a great event would occur. Whether it was a good event or a bad event depended upon the direction the whirlpool swirled; the severity of the event depended on the strength of the pool. It was also said that any building made from sand that was picked up in a whirlpool that predicted a positive event would protect anyone who lived inside from any horrors predicted by the pools. But, in order for that to be true, everyone who was in the same kingdom as the building had to believe in it, and sadly the last few believers only included the King himself, and his most loyal advisers.

    A small village on the outskirts of Sachep was situated directly on the Great Whirlpool Landing. The pets who lived there were direct descendants of Sahse, a Maraquan Ixi.

     Sahse was one of the few pets who could interpret the whirlpools. She lived on the edge of a cliff, high above the other townspeople, where the view of any whirlpool, was much clearer.

     It was morning, a time where usually, in the underwater world, the floor glittered and shone. Sahse yawned, feeling as if the world had slowed, and glanced out her window. Something was different; the sky didn't gleam, it was dark, dreary and dismal. A large cloud of dust, floating in the water, shadowed the town. Many would just assume that nothing was wrong, but Sahse knew much better. She craned her neck to get a better view. Out the window of the cottage was a great swirling vortex, better known as a whirlpool.

     Sahse ran as fast as her ancient legs could take her out to her invention, a creation that could tell the direction of the whirlpool. She watched in horror as it spun to the left, the way whirlpools spin whenever something bad was going to happen. It was clear to Sahse that this was the strongest whirlpool she had and ever would witness in her long life. Sahse knew she must warn the town below before the whirlpool got any worse.

      She rushed toward the town, crying out for everyone to leave immediately and head toward King Cazlt's castle. The townspeople were prepared for such a journey, having always kept bags full of supplies by their front doors or in their sheds, so they would be able to leave the town within minutes of hearing Sahse's cries.

     The trip to the castle would take a full day, if everything went without trouble. Everyone worried. No one really knew exactly what the event would be. Would it happen to the king's city? Would they be able to reach the castle in time to save everyone from the horrors that may befall them? No mind was settled on the long walk.

     As they walked toward the castle, they passed through more towns that lay on the long path to King Cazlt’s Castle. As they did, more and more pets became aware of what was happening, and joined along side them. No one wanted to look back as the convoy walked on, no matter how important their home was, for the ominous cloud of dust was growing, and it seemed to be following them. Everyone who knew of Sahse was asking her what was going on, and what would become of their villages, but Sahse remained quiet, refusing to tell anyone what she knew. Her face held a grimace of fear and of worry, not unlike the others within the growing group. It was hard to tell time, for the lack of light, but all those in the growing procession knew that they would soon be at the city gates.

     The city could be seen over the horizon, and it seemed to glow. Knowing the city was so close, the crowd began to run toward it, joyous that their long trip had finished. But, in fact, there was much more to come.

     As soon as they had arrived, Sahse asked for an immediate meeting with King Cazlt. Sahse entered the large throne room. Fancy golden etchings ran down the floor, which was tiled with seashells, and up to King Cazlt's tall throne.

     “Hello Sahse,” King Cazlt greeted Sahse, having previously met, in his deep, booming voice. “Why are you here?”

     “Come on, Cazlt! This is serious! We have to abandon the kingdom, there is no other choice!” Sahse cried to the king.

     “How will I be able to know if my city will remain? I am not prepared to leave it behind just yet.” King Cazlt spoke gravely, averting his eyes from his window and the view of the ever-growing cloud.

     “You can't be sure,” Sahse pressed, “but it's either your kingdom or those who live it in. We have to leave, before things get worse.”

     Floating on the azure waves high above the underwater city was a fleet of ships from Krawk Island, carrying a large cargo of dubloons. The captain, an old, grey Krawk, stood at the head of the fleet. He noticed a shadow, growing larger, as if it were moving toward the fleet. He whipped out his telescope, and pressed it to his eye, so he could better see what caused the giant shadow. To his horror, he saw a giant sea creature, much like the overgrown Slugawoo lingering about the ruins of old Maraqua today, speeding toward the ship.

     “All hands on deck!” he ordered. “Save our ship! And the dubloons!” he added, a tinge of selfish greed in his voice, as he ran to steer the ship away from the enormous creature.

     But he was too late! The giant Slugawoo-like creature smashed into the ship, snapping it in two as though it were made of toothpicks, the valuable cargo quickly sinking to the sandy sea floor. A ship behind the captain's own in the fleet threw out a rope for the waterlogged crew to climb to safety. As soon as the final crewmember was accounted for, the fleet sped as fast as they could out of the treacherous waters.

     Back in Sachep, things were getting worse by the minute. As the chests full of heavy dubloons sunk, they smashed into buildings and undersea mountains. Everything was being crushed and destroyed. Sahse's begging to King Cazlt became much more urgent and after much persuasion, King Cazlt finally agreed to bring his kingdom to safety.

     Just outside the Kingdom of Sachep, a large, underwater canyon lay. Unable to find a better safe haven than the canyon with the small amount of time left, King Cazlt was forced into choosing it.

     “Do not panic!” King Cazlt stated, attempting to calm the nervous crowd that had gathered in his courtyard. “We have a plan for your safety,” he continued, motioning toward Sahse.

     “You all know of the Khmet Canyon, outside the boundaries of our wonderful land of Sachep,” Sahse began. “This is where we will be leading you to, until it is safe to come back to our homes.”

     The crowd nodded in understanding, as they walked out of the courtyard, whispering to themselves. Suddenly, a great shadow overcame them, causing them to look up. They gasped as one, stampeding back into the courtyard. Their gazes fell upon Sahse and King Cazlt for guidance. However, neither could give anything more than a hopeful glance.

     Finally, the day had come that all the citizens of Sachep, with all their belongings wrapped in seaweed and tucked into shell purses and backpacks, had to journey to Khmet Canyon. Everyone was too worried to notice much of what was happening to their surroundings. What everyone did notice was that Sahse seemed uneasy. Many of the citizens went out of their way to ask her if she was all right, but she would merely shrug and turn away. Soon after, a young Maraquan Kougra tugged on Sahse's shawl, readying to ask her if she was all right. At this time, the water level began to fall, becoming increasingly shallow by the minute. Noting this, Sahse turned to tell what was on her mind.

     “I knew this would happen to the water,” Sahse confessed. “Now, we must hurry if we all want to get to the canyon before the water goes below our necks.”

     “Why?” inquired a young Maraquan Uni.

     “Because,” Sahse replied uneasily, “all those who don't enter the canyon before then won't ever to be able to, without dooming the rest of us.”

     Again, the crowd set off, but at a much faster pace. Soon they reached the canyon, but by then the water was no more than twelve feet about their heads. One by one, the citizens filed into the depths of the canyon, under the watchful eyes of King Cazlt and Sahse, both of whom were taking a head count. Finally, the last citizen jumped in. Sahse and Cazlt were about to follow them in, when they realized that their skin felt oddly dry. The water had drained to what used to be the ocean floor, and had halted at the canyon, which was now a river.

     In despair, they walked toward the kingdom, to see if anything had survived. To their surprise, the castle still stood, and had barley a scratch on it, that wasn't there before. Then they realized, the Khmet Canyon was not part of the kingdom, and because all the citizens were on the way to the canyon, there was no one in the kingdom. Since no one was in the kingdom, there was no one in the Kingdom to believe, or not to believe in the power of the sands that the Castle was made of. So they walked inside.

     Many months had passed since the citizens left for the river, and many things had changed. For one, the Kingdom of Sachep no longer existed, but in its place, the Kingdom of Sakhmet. King Cazlt and Sahse had changed the name of the kingdom, in honor of the canyon, which was now a river. In addition, dubloons occasionally could be found lying in the sand, left over from the shipwreck years before. In the years to come, the new kingdom of Sakhmet would come to glory, much like its prior magnificence back, many, many years ago.

***

     Finneus finished, closing the book, and glancing at his grandchildren, who sat looking at him in wonder.

     “Is it true, Grandpa?” questioned Max.

     “Yes, it's true,” Finneus replied with a smile.

     “Grandpa?” Elena asked. “What happened to everyone who went in the canyon?”

     “My child, it is late,” he responded, as he pointed to the setting sun off on the distant horizon. “That story will be saved for next time you come to visit me.”

     Finneus waved to his grandchildren, the book tucked under his wing, as they made their way home. As they disappeared from view, he turned toward the archives and slowly walked toward his office.

The End

 
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