The Golden Globes of Light: Part Five
For the next few days, Alex and I fought each other in the hills where we had first entered that time period. Neither of us were armed, so we couldn’t actually hurt one another. I didn’t see what the point was, and bluntly told this to Zan. “Do you honestly think I would start with that potential disaster?!” he snorted. “No. I first had to see the particular methods you used.” We continued training in this way for almost a month, with breaks at regular intervals to visit my sister. Through the training, I learned the art of sword fighting, but not much else. The “powers” Zan had been talking about never showed up, and I began to think he was making a serious mistake in his original assumption.
Then came the day where Zan started the training session differently. Instead of having Alex and I face off, he motioned for Alex to join me. Alex raised an eyebrow but agreed. Zan flew off a few feet, spun around, and suddenly there were dozens of Shoyrus, all identical to one another. Apparently, Alex and I were to fight as allies and not as opponents. My thoughts were distracted as the Zans raised their staffs in unison, and...
Something within me clicked, and I felt myself transform. I grew larger, stronger, and was armed with a whip of lightning. I screamed my battle cry, and then lashed out left, and right. I didn’t see Alex, but I didn’t care. Nothing was going to get past me! I wouldn’t let them, not even if there was an army at my doorstep! The Shoyrus scattered, and there was a great deal of yelling. My left wing jolted with pain, and I whirled about to see an auburn colored Shoyru clad in magnificent red and blue chain mail. She raised her sword and lunged at me again. I shrieked in defiance, and my whip flew to meet her blade. Suddenly, there was an ear shattering crash, and darkness overtook me...
The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back and pulsing with pain. I groaned, and someone sighed with obvious relief. “I am sorry I had to do that, Shriek, but you were on the warpath.”
I moaned in pain as I opened my eyes. Zan’s image swam into focus. “What happened?” I asked meekly. I hurt all over, as if I had been working for weeks on end with no rest. The last thing I remembered was telling Zan that I didn’t see the point in fighting Alex if neither of us were armed. Obviously, that was the wrong thing to say.
Alex’s voice came from my right, but I hurt too much to turn my head. “You... changed. Just like Ky did, only yours was worse,” she said quietly.
“When was this?” I frowned. “I don’t remember what happened... Were we fighting?”
Zan scowled. “Shriek, that was nearly a month ago!” he exclaimed with dismay. “Yes, you were fighting. You had learned all the basics of sword fighting, and I decided it was time to test you.”
Alex must have seen the look of confusion on my face, for she hurried to explain. “We were training, and Zan decided it was time to move on to the next level. He was going to test our reactions to an armed opponent, but didn’t plan to do anything more than confuse us. However, you didn’t react very well. Like I said, you transformed.” I groaned in embarrassment. “You were suddenly even bigger than normal, and you were wearing the badges of a Citadel General, whatever that is. You had an Eyrie Guard shield in one hand and an electric whip in the other. You started attacking the pseudo-Zans, and I do not remember what happened next,” she admitted. I looked at Zan expectantly.
“After that, Alex transformed. She also became larger, and a rather deadly looking sword appeared in her hand,” he continued. “She rushed at you, so I had to temporarily disarm the both of you. I wasn’t ready for that to happen at this stage of the training...” Zan sighed. “That was very close. I must say, even with my knowledge, I had not expected that... You were very formidable.” He frowned. “Obviously, this will take quite a bit more time than I had calculated. The time has come to train the two of you separately. When you are both ready for the last step, we might try this again.”
“Separately?!” I squawked in protest. “But that will double the amount of time it will take!”
Zan shook his head again. Apparently it was a habit of his. “Not if she trains with Jantal.” He turned to Alex. “As soon as you feel up to the travel, go back to Neopia City. Jantal has been showing Ashiel around Neopia for his training, but they are supposed to return tomorrow. Tell him that you need to train alone.”
“What about Ky? How is she doing? Surely she has finished her projects by now,” I said hesitantly.
Zan laughed. “You are correct; she has finished making some of her pieces. Currently, she is working on making armor and a secret personal project. She keeps drawing designs, then shredding them in anger and drawing new ones. I suspect she is working on something that is very important to her, but she won’t say what it is for,” he said with a slight scowl.
“What kind of project?” Alex inquired.
“I think it has something to do with some kind of sphere,” Zan said, waving his hand airily, “but as long as she is kept occupied, that is fine by me. She does not have much patience, and it is all Lilly can do to make sure she does not overwork herself.” He glared sternly at the knight. “You may not go near her finished works until you are done with your training. It would be most unwise to start handling magical weapons when you have not learned to control your inner powers. Even in the hands of a normal pet, Ky’s masterpieces would be extremely dangerous. She is making the weapons and armor with particular individuals in mind and her pieces will most likely be attuned to the individual that they were meant for. You aren’t ready to handle such powerful pieces of equipment quite yet, so don’t try,” he said firmly. Alex sighed in surrender.
“Well, I'd best be going,” she snorted. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can see what is going on in the Desert of Roo.”
I blinked. I had completely forgotten about that. I sat up despite the protests from my back. “Wait a minute... You have only been resting for a few minutes. You cannot possibly be ready to go; Neopia City is miles away!”
Zan smiled. “You were unconscious for quite a while, Shriek. She has been resting for at least two days. In addition, Alex does have a bit more training than you do, so she is quite able to travel under her current condition.” He gave Alex a slight nod, and she took off into the air. I snorted angrily. Zan sighed as he helped me to stand up. “I understand that you are upset, Shriek, but this really is the only way that you will be able to control your powers.”
“Yeah, but I wish that it did not involve whatever happened to me,” I snapped. “That was painful...” I paused and stared into the distance. “How am I supposed to train? Alex has something to go off of, but I have nothing. What if you cannot stop me next time?”
“I would not worry about that,” Zan scoffed. “I would just focus on trying to control your powers.”
“But I thought you said that I could not do that because they were defensive powers,” I pointed out.
“What?” Zan laughed. “You misunderstood me! What I meant was that you cannot summon them on whim. By no means are they uncontrollable; they are just harder to conquer. Do not worry yourself; given a few more weeks, you should be ready.”
“A few weeks?!” I squawked. “You were supposed to leave at the end of this month, and that is a few days from now! What if you are desperately needed? And what is going on in the Desert of Roo anyway?”
“We can’t just leave you in this state; you could be even more dangerous than whatever is out there if we left you untrained.” Zan snorted. “And now is not the time to discuss what is going on in the Desert of Roo.”
“But you were urgently needed!” I countered.
“Don’t worry, Eleus Batrin sent some other wizards over when we told him it would take a while to train you. Besides, whatever is going on over there has not reached Neopia City just yet. We will be fine.” He shook his head and looked off into the distance. “There has got to be some way to train you faster...” he muttered. Suddenly, his eyes gleamed. “That is it!” he hissed in excitement.
“What now?” I muttered warily. “If this is anything like what you just tried...” I snapped.
Zan shook his head and said something that made me feel worse. “Oh no, nothing like that. I believe, since you have lived in the only known area of Neopian tundra, that you know of the beast called the Snowager?”
Juuuuust great, I thought to myself. “Yeah,” I answered grudgingly, “I am aware that the Snowager will encase anything that moves within the range of its sight in several layers of ice, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“Ah, but the Snowager is a beast that will listen to me. I aided it when it was ill once. It will be beneficial for the both of you; you will learn how to control your powers, and the Snowager will learn about Eyries,” Zan said happily as he rushed about, packing up. I felt dizzy and sat down again. This is going to be a looooong training session, I thought miserably.
As soon as I recovered, we set out for the southern most part of Neopia. Because the Desert of Roo was the focus of a great deal of anxiety, we decided to take a shortcut and fly over the ocean. Our first step in the journey was traveling to the Grarrl Peninsula. There were some very ancient ruins in the heart of the jungles there, and I was sorely tempted to take a look at something so old. I asked Zan if we could take the detour, but my Shoyru guide only snorted. “I know you are curious, Shriek, but we really don’t have the time. Besides, Neopia City already sent a research team to the ruins some time ago. We would only be in the way of Korabric and Rollay.”
I jumped at those two names. Added to Faelinn and Eleus Batrin, that made four names that I recognized in this ancient world. Thankfully, Zan didn’t notice my reaction, and we continued to the tip of the peninsula before we stopped for the rest of the day. Our journey over the ocean would take all day if we flew as fast as we could, and there was no stopping point between the tips of the two peninsulas. As we settled down to rest, I felt uneasy. I soon realized that there was a continuous hum in the background. “Zan, where is that hum coming from?” I whispered, nudging his sleeping form.
“What?” he said groggily. “Oh, that? I didn’t know you could hear that,” he yawned. “I think that is coming from the ruins. Go back to sleep.”
“But what is it?” I protested.
“I don’t know, Shriek!” Zan snapped. “It is probably due to the high concentration of magic in the ruins. Now go to sleep!”
Grudgingly, I returned to my resting point and tried to drift off into sleep. Sounds in the jungle prevented this, and at one point I could have sworn I saw a scamander the size of a Uni slither in the undergrowth. Eventually, though, I found rhythm in the noises of the night, and fell away from the waking world.
The next morning was filled with tension. Before we took off, Zan and I shared a heavy meal. “Since we are passing by the place anyway,” I asked casually between mouthfulls, “would it be possible to visit Kal Panning?”
Zan frowned. “Yes, we will be visiting Kal Panning. Don’t get your hopes up; we won’t be able to see Faelinn. She is extremely busy running the city.”
“That is all right,” I said quietly. “I only want to make a visit to their library.” Zan gave me a look of surprise, and I couldn’t blame him. I hadn’t shown much interest in scholarly activities since we had arrived, so he probably assumed I could not read. I was grateful he had the tact not to express this opinion at my sudden interest in books. I wanted to see if I could find something that would help restore our memories and return us to the wherever we came from, but I wanted to do it discreetly. Since Kal Panning was at least ten times the size of Neopia City, the answer would be found in their libraries if it was to be found at all.
Our flight over the ocean was very boring. There was nothing but ocean and ocean for miles in all directions. I was glad that Zan knew where we were going, because I would have just flown in circles. When we landed on the other peninsula the following afternoon, I was exhausted. The fact that we would have to go over the ocean again on the way back made me very irritable, and I was quite willing to spend the rest of the day asleep. Before I knew it, morning had returned and we were ready to start off to Kal Panning. Kal Panning was a huge city. It seemed to have everything that Neopia City had, plus multitudes of additional shops and services, all in abundance. It was quite prosperous, and it could easily have been the Neopia Central of its day in terms of size and services. There were several libraries, so it took a while before we found one that I was satisfied with. Before long, I was surrounded by ancient tomes and taking notes on information I thought might be useful.
There was nothing that dealt directly with time travel, but I did find something that caught my attention. In one of the oldest books the city owned, there was a list of ancient artifacts that were believed to have been made by the Kayannin. Among them were a key, a dagger, a staff, and a medallion. I copied that particular page to one of the last sheets of paper that had been brought with me when we transported back in time, and told Zan I was ready to go. He seemed relieved that I wasn’t going to spend any more time in the city, and we started off for the lower part of the continent. Thankfully, he did not bother to inquire on our supposed “village”, but went directly to the den that the Snowager lived in during the days of the Neopian Empire.
Before he lived in Terror Mountain, the Snowager dwelt on the opposite side of the Neopian globe. It took us nearly a week to navigate through the blizzard to his cave, and I was certain that we would never reach the den before we froze in our sleep. When we reached our destination at last, I wasn’t disappointed. Even in his younger days, the Snowager was quite a hoarder. Instead of small trinkets, however, he had treasures and artifacts of power. Needless to say, he was not pleased at our arrival. “Why do you enter my realm, weaklings?” he hissed. “Leave now, before your possessions join my hoard!”
Zan stepped forward. “We do not come without reason. I believe you remember me; I was the one who healed you after you fought the King of the Snowbeasts.”
The Snowager blinked, and lowered his head. “One favor for another, then. Name your price.”
Zan motioned to me, and I froze under the piercing gaze of the icy serpent. “This one possesses great inner strength. However, he is unable to control it. He requires training to learn how to channel his energies. You are the only one that can withstand his attacks and be able to be his training opponent without destroying him.”
“You wish me to fight him until he learns discipline? That is a rather large favor. You will need to add something to offset what is left over after I remove my own debt,” the creature hissed in amusement.
“You have only experienced other beasts of the tundra. If you fight him, you will learn the ways of something else. It is possible that as the years pass, you will be faced with beings such as ourselves in great multitude; your hoard is the only one that remains outside of the Mountain Fortress. Do you wish to be caught in a situation where you do not know how to fight back?” Zan said smoothly.
The Snowager glared, but nodded. “You are wise. I, too, have considered the possibility ever since you aided me. Very well; I will help you.”
Time passes slowly in the tundra, so I am not sure how long we spent there. I lost track after the first few days. For all I know, we could have spent years there, although Ky says it was only two months. There is nothing really to say about my experiences of the daily fights; it was very similar to the fights that take place in the Ice Arena today, except that I suddenly had this enormous amount of power. The first few fights ended when I somehow realized that I was not in mortal danger, and I was able to control my rage. After that, I slowly began to have full awareness during the battles. One day, I was completely conscious and fully capable of controlling my actions and abilities during a fight. I still won, but we all knew that my time for training was over. I had passed the test of the tundra, and had not been found wanting.
To be continued...