The Fall and Rise of Sycaria: Part One
A figure, its features hidden by a purple cloak, walked through the castle of Sycaria. Sycaria was the largest and richest kingdom on the fabled “Kingdom Islands”, located between Mystery Island and Altador. The magical shield surrounding the islands cut it off from the rest of Neopia, preventing anyone from entering. The leader of Sycaria, King Ranlio, let people walk freely through the castle, but had guards posted at places like private living quarters and the royal treasury.
The cloaked figure, unlike most that entered, walked without gazing around at the splendor around it. Instead, the figure moved with purpose, like it knew exactly where it was headed. As the figure approached the doors to the throne room, the two blue Draik guards moved to block its way.
“Pathetic,” the figure thought.
With a wave of its paw, the guards were pushed back with a powerful force. Their heads slammed hard against the stone wall behind them, and they fell to the ground. The figure gave a smirk before stepping over their fallen bodies and opening the door.
Inside the room, which was large enough to hold a good sized neohome, Ranlio and two others were talking to each other. The Royal Shoyru pointed to a spot on the map before them and said something, while the green Wocky and Striped Blumaroo voiced concerns. As the figure walked forward, it was immediately noticed by Ranlio. The king stepped forward with all the authority that royalty gave him.
“Who are you?” he demanded. “I told the guards outside that we were not to be disturbed.”
“Oh, I sent them to dreamland for a while. And despite your orders, you’ll make an exception for me,” it said, pulling the hood off from over its face.
The figure revealed herself as a beautiful Desert Aisha. Her ears, which were flat against the back of her head, sprung straight up as the hood came off. The gold tiara on her head signified that she was royalty as well. It was someone that Ranlio knew all too well. He turned to the two others in the room.
“Leave us for now,” he ordered. “The two of us have things we need to discuss.”
The Wocky and the Blumaroo looked at each other before bowing and leaving through a door at the back of the room. As soon as the door closed behind them, Ranlio turned back towards the Aisha that entered the throne room.
“What are you doing here, Ningai?” he asked. “You have a responsibility to your kingdom, Tragafar, which you rule with...”
“Someone I never loved!” she finished. “You know as well as I do that our father arranged that marriage for me, never asking me if I was all right with it.”
The Shoyru rubbed his forehead and sat down at his throne. He knew that his sister never approved of the marriage, but she went along with it. But Ranlio knew that she only did it because she wanted to obey their father. But she always was somewhat upset that she couldn’t rule in the land she was born in.
“You know that the royal laws of Sycaria say that the first-born son to the royal family is heir to the throne. Only if the royal couple has no son does their daughter become the heir when the time comes,” Ranlio said, reciting from the ancient laws of Sycaria.
The Aisha nodded, remembering the laws just as well as he did when they first learned from them. They were also repeated when she asked why she had to be with someone from another kingdom instead of ruling the land she grew up in. But her expression turned serious again.
“He passed away, thanks to a mysterious illness,” she replied, with a voice that suggested she gave him that illness. “I made my daughter, Syca, queen of Tragafar. That way, it would not be left without a ruler. Now I have returned home to take what should be mine by birthright. I am here to take the largest and richest kingdom in all of the Kingdom Islands. The same land I was born in.”
Ranlio looked shocked for a moment, hardly believing that this was his younger sister in front of him. He remembered how they laughed and played together, how their father made them do some work to keep them from being spoiled. But now, she was standing before him, threatening to take over his kingdom. Though it pained him to do it, he had to defend the kingdom at all costs.
“You will not take this kingdom. Not while I’m standing,” he replied, drawing his sword.
As he did, the sword caught the sunlight streaming through the windows in the room, and blazed with a yellow light. Ningai gasped a bit when she saw it, recognizing the magical artifact from her studies and the lessons she was taught.
It was the Sun-Sword, a mystical weapon that had magical power sealed inside. When sunlight hits the blade, the power inside is released, and it becomes much stronger than any normal weapon. The sword has been passed from ruler to ruler in Sycaria through ten generations. Ranlio pointed the glowing blade towards his sister, intending to use it.
But Ningai was ready for this.
Muttering some magical words, a dark portal opened behind her. From inside, balls of dark energy came out and started to plaster themselves on the glass windows around them, blocking any sunlight from entering. Soon, the Sun-Sword lost its power because from the lack of sunlight, and the room was completely dark. There were a few candles lit around the room, giving the room an eerie look to it. The two siblings just stared at each other for a moment.
“That’s dark magic!” Ranlio yelled, looking amazed and angry at the same time. “You know that the laws of the Kingdom Islands forbid us from practicing the dark arts anywhere within our borders.”
“Maybe,” she replied, her eyes changing to a deep red color for a few seconds. “But the forces of darkness give me power. More power than you will ever have. And with the darkness in this room, I am invincible.”
Shadows seemed to rise up around Ranlio like tentacles, which he noticed out of the corner of his eye. He turned and slashed at them, destroying them. But more rose up, and though he fought back, they soon overwhelmed him, wrapping around his arms, legs, and wings. One of them squeezed his wrist, forcing him to drop his sword. Ningai stepped forward to pick it up.
“And now... time to make this kingdom my own,” Ningai proclaimed.
After chanting some more magic words, Ranlio could feel the dark magic moving through the castle walls. He couldn’t tell at the time what exactly the dark powers were doing, but he knew it wasn’t anything good. He soon found out what she did, when two of his own guards came.
They looked like the guards had always looked, but with one huge difference. The eyes were now a pure white, with no pupils in them. Ranlio realized that the powers he felt moving through the castle must have hypnotized his guards and servants, so they’d obey his sister instead of him.
“Take him to the dungeon. I’ll be down later to speak with him,” Ningai told the guards.
The guards nodded and roughly grabbed their former king. But as soon as they were outside the throne room, Ranlio moved his foot and tripped one of the guards, causing all three to fall in a heap. That allowed him to wiggle himself free and escape into some secret passageways in the castle.
While crawling through the passageways, he took stock of his situation. His guards and other workers were working for Ningai, who nearly captured him. His Sun-Sword was also taken, and that was the most powerful weapon in the kingdom. He knew that, right now, he couldn’t do much with the given situation. But he knew that, if he was to have enough to defeat her, he’d need some training. And to do that, he needed to leave the castle.
Using the passageways, he made his way into the armory and changed from his royal garments into some knight clothes, then walked into the hallway outside. As he walked through the castle, he saw guards everywhere searching for him. Luckily, the armor covered him enough to pass as a regular guard, and allowed him to leave the castle undetected.
Once outside, he went for the dock of his island and paid for a small rowboat, so he could leave the island. He wasn’t giving up and letting his sister have Sycaria. He was planning to return, but first, he needed to find a place where he wouldn’t be recognized. In that place, he would need to train in both strength and magic, so he could someday return and reclaim his kingdom. As he rowed towards a land that would be unfamiliar to him, he could see the towers of Sycaria disappear over the horizon.
To be continued...