Another Hero's Journey: Decisions - Part Six
“Some build so that others may destroy. Some destroy so that others may build.”
Olivia’s words, relayed to him by her niece and his traveling companion Andrea, continued to echo in Reuben’s head even as he bedded down for his first night out at sea. The lamp on his desk burned brightly, casting an eerie light around the room and adding to the effect.
He turned over, facing the wall and tracing grooves in the wood. Was this some kind of cipher, or a warning? Yet, he thought of the first caveat she had ever given him. It had been straight to the point, given to a Reuben who ran away to try and make a name for himself, jealous of his younger brother. The purple Lupe diviner had told him that perhaps he had a different destiny, and she had been right.
The white Blumaroo also couldn’t shake the feeling that his brother also had a right to know.
Some build so that others may destroy.
Reuben stood up, uncovered the lamp, and blew out the candle within. Instantly his cabin was plunged into near-total darkness.
He didn’t like the sound of the first part; it sounded like something beautiful or useful would be created, and then someone would come around to tear it down. Unless of course, the creator willfully allowed it, but then what would be the point?
Reuben lay down again, burrowing under his blankets. The gentle swaying of the ship slowly put him to sleep, and he sank into dreams of huge castles and pillars being blasted into bits before his eyes as he watched helplessly.
* * *
Andrea was already at the refectory when he stumbled in. Beside a plate of half-eaten cheese omelette and a glass of orange juice, she scribbled something in her notepad with her self-inking quill. She instantly looked up as she saw the white Blumaroo approach, pull the chair directly in front of her and sit down unceremoniously.
“Sleepless night?” the Kyrii guessed.
“Miss Olivia likes depriving me of sleep with her words of wisdom. I think I don’t even have the wisdom to figure out what they mean.” He reached out for the menu and scanned the items. “Is their cheese omelette good?”
“It’s like you took the slice straight from the Giant Omelette of Tyrannia,” Andrea answered, frowning as she reread what she had written. She waved a blue Zafara waiter over, and he took Reuben’s order. When he was gone, she turned back to the Blumaroo, who folded his arms on the table and laid his head on them. “If it helps, I don’t know what Aunt Olivia meant, either. She just whispered it to me.”
“I feel like I’m in some extremely important prophecy or something,” he muttered. “Look, I don’t do prophecies. Maybe Rohane does, and he’s probably part of a few already, for all I know. I think I’ll ask him if fortune tellers have been whispering secrets into his ears as well.”
“Who knows? Anyway, I don’t think it’s a prophecy. If it were, she would have said so.”
“Usually the hero has to figure out for himself that he’s been destined to save the world.”
Andrea set her notepad and quill aside and resumed eating, and while she did so, the Zafara returned with Reuben’s breakfast. After several bites of omelette, the Kyrii said, “Eat, Reuben. We can worry about what Aunt Olivia told me – us – later. It’s not like it’s a matter of life and death. In fact, you could probably go back to bed if you want to, and we can break the code – if it really is a code – when you wake up.”
“If I can go back to sleep, that is,” replied the white Blumaroo wryly, shoving his fork straight into his omelette. “I don’t need a dream interpreter or whatever you call it to figure out that my dreams of crumbling castles are part of this.”
“Crumbling castles,” she repeated, staring into her glass. “I thought of something. Meridell and Darigan were at odds with each other at first, and it took a couple of wars for them to realize that they could be friends. They destroyed so that something could be built. Wait, wait, let’s save this for after breakfast, okay?”
“Maybe there’s someone on this ship who can tell me what my dream really means. It’s probably not Meridell and Darigan – “
She narrowed her eyes and pointed to his fork, which he still held in place in his omelette. “Eat something first, all right?”
* * *
Andrea continued jotting down notes even as she and Reuben went down the gangplank. The Tide Princess had docked at Neovia so Captain Aurel and his crew could check the ship over if it needed any repairs and pick up more passengers, which meant a bit of time on dry land.
“Got anything?” asked Reuben, gazing into the distance, where the dim city loomed. Behind them, the sun was just beginning to set. “It’s been three days since I had that dream with the – “
“Crumbling castles, I know,” said the red Kyrii, nodding her head absently as her quill continued scratching its way across the notepad. “Well, at least we know that your dream was most probably just because you spent that night trying to figure out what Aunt Olivia meant, not an omen. Unless you’re not telling me that you actually have clairvoyant powers.”
When they got onto the pier, the two of them stopped to gaze into Neovia, trying their best to look more like curious adventurers than overly enthusiastic tourists. In fact, the white Blumaroo could almost feel the eyes of a condescending local or two boring through him.
“We should stay close,” he said. “Captain Aurel said he’ll ring the bell thrice to get everyone back on board. If we go too far, we won’t be able to hear it, we’ll get stuck here, and – “
Andrea rested a paw on his shoulder. “I know, Reuben. I know. Maybe we could pick up something from the nearest souvenir shop...”
“Like that one?” he asked, pointing to a small stall strategically located several paces away. “I just realized I don’t have a map of the Lost Desert.”
They made their way towards it quickly under the sky splashed with purple and red. As the red Kyrii pushed the door open, a small brass bell overhead tinkled, announcing their presence. A smiling, middle-aged shadow Ruki glanced up from where she was arranging several little vials of what looked like dried, ground leaves, and Reuben tried not to let his imagination run away too far.
It didn’t take too long for him to find a display of maps; it was just beside the door. Meanwhile, Andrea looked at a rack of postcards, and she busied herself picking out a few while the white Blumaroo walked up to the counter with his Lost Desert map.
“Hello, sonny,” the Ruki greeted him in a hoarse voice that reminded him of a kindly old aunt. “So, you want a map of the Lost Desert, do you? Let’s see if this one’s up-to-date. I keep forgetting to weed out those bad maps.” She unrolled it before him, put on her wire-rimmed glasses, and examined it.
As she did so, something caught her customer’s eye – a pyramid located to the west of the winding blue ribbon that cut through the yellow. The nearest village was at least a few miles away; it was almost as if the pyramid and the region around it were deliberately left alone.
Curiosity got the better of him. “Za – Zaka – oh, Zakharukh’s Pyramid,” he read out loud. “What’s in it?”
The Ruki’s smile only widened. “Oh, legend has it that this old thing is where the Altar of Destiny is. It’s where the Medallion of Wind must be placed so that it can work its magic. You know the story, my boy?”
Reuben shook his head, and he knew that Andrea would be paying attention, writing everything she heard. “I’ve heard of the Medallion... but that’s pretty much it.”
“The Medallion of Wind is an artifact so powerful that it can control the weather. They say that it was last used a long, long time ago, and was eventually lost. Supposedly, it was also broken into pieces and scattered throughout the Lost Desert, if I’m not mistaken. Mind you, if it fell into the wrong hands...
“Although news from the desert claims that a band of adventurers is roving about to find and reassemble the Medallion, even though everyone claims that it’s only a legend, so that it may counter the sandstorms. Well, it’s been a while since the Neopian Times did a story on them; they’ve really kept a low profile. In fact, they might have even collected parts of it by now. They’ve got their hands full, those brave young ‘uns.”
“Rohane,” Reuben whispered, not realizing that it wasn’t a whisper at all.
“Yes, that was the name of the adventurers’ leader, so they say,” the shadow Ruki said. “Brave young fellow, he is. Why...” She pushed up the bridge of her glasses and leaned forward to get a good look at him. “You look something like him. If I don’t miss my guess... you’re his older brother, the one who saved that far-flung village in Meridell months ago. Apparently, it runs in the family.”
The white Blumaroo could only nod; at least there was no one else in the shop besides the three of them, so he wouldn’t attract unwanted attention. “I’m looking for them. How much for the map?”
“Thirty Neopoints, with the discount... with practically nobody headed for the Lost Desert these days, I had to slash those prices. Good luck.”
She looked like she meant no harm at all, and yet her last words chilled Reuben from head to tail.
“You’ll need it. You and your brother.”
To be continued...