Another Hero's Journey: Decisions - Part Eight
“Let me go! I’m his brother, and I’m going in! What happened to him?”
“Reuben, sit still! You’re making a scene! When they come out –”
“I can’t and won’t sit still! Andrea, what if it was Ruben inside that room right now? What would you do?”
“I wouldn’t make a scene.”
Gripping Reuben’s shoulders as tightly as she could, the red Kyrii forced him back into the waiting bench, with a little help from the blue Acara in green and gold robes and the green Eyrie in a leather tunic. He made a move as though to spring up again, but finally did as he was told.
It was hard to believe that during the trip from Zakharukh’s Pyramid to Sakhmet Palace, Reuben did sit still. But then again, it was because he was in shock after seeing what had become of his younger brother, and wanted to be left alone.
The white Blumaroo glowered, far from being stupefied now. “You two must know what happened to him.”
Mipsy took a deep breath, but it was Talinia who answered in a soft, dulcet lilt, “Yes.”
“The least you could do then is tell me what happened. Where’s what’s-his-face...”
“Velm,” the Acara supplied, glancing at the small room and its obviously locked door. Even the small square window was covered. “He’s inside – but because he’s another healer, and they need all the help they can get right now. I bet all the available healers in the infirmary are in there right now.”
“I can help too,” grumbled Reuben, standing up, but Talinia pulled him back onto the bench, giving him a sad, let’s-just-wait look and shaking her head.
“Nobody told us that the ancient pharaoh Anubits himself was guarding the Altar of Destiny,” she whispered gravely. “We had no choice but to fight him in order to complete the quest and put an end to the sandstorms...”
“We didn’t even know that he was still around,” Mipsy put in. “Crazy, undead desert Blumaroo, he was.”
The green Eyrie nodded. “Crazy, undead and powerful... and he knew why we were there.”
“The Medallion of Wind,” Andrea and Reuben said simultaneously.
“That’s right,” Talinia agreed. “Anyway... we fought him. He was skilled with magic, for an undead pharaoh. In fact, at one point, just as we were about to finish him off, he blasted the three of us – Mipsy, Velm and myself – into a corner. And off to one side, still recovering from the last blow...”
“Rohane,” Reuben said in a strangled voice.
“Anubits raised his staff for a second spell,” the blue Acara continued. “We braced ourselves as Velm’s shield began to disappear; he was about to recast it when we saw a flash of blue-white light. Strangely, none of us were hurt. We were still huddled together, but unharmed. Velm claimed that he hadn’t even said the incantation. But...”
There was always a catch. Somehow Reuben knew exactly what that catch would be, and gulped. Andrea took his paw and squeezed it; she was too rapt to even take a single word down into her Tide Princess notepad.
“Rohane took the blast meant for us,” said Talinia. “When everything cleared and we realized that we weren’t hurt, we saw him between us and Anubits, clutching his sword, trying to stand, and when he did, he shook so much that we were scared that he would collapse at any moment.” She paused, and for a moment Reuben thought that she would break down into tears. “But before any of us could make a move, he made his and struck. Anubits went down.
“With Anubits out of the way, he sprinted for the Altar, ripped the Medallion of Wind from his neck, and at the precise moment it touched the Altar, he fainted. Luckily it was only a faint.”
The wizard’s forehead creased in thought. “He was wearing that thing the entire time, but it managed to survive the blast unscathed. That’s it, Reuben. By the way, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, even if we could’ve met each other... well, not like this.”
“Yeah,” the white Blumaroo answered, for lack of anything better to say.
“While we’re waiting here... we would like to hear your story too,” said Talinia with a small smile. “How did you find us?”
“It’s not a very long story, actually,” said Andrea, speaking for the first time in a while. “Everyone lost touch with you four – oh, you were only three then – when you left Sakhmet Palace for the first time, am I right?”
“We were rushing,” Mipsy admitted. “And they hid the parts of the Medallion in the most far-flung places. We had no time for interviews or any of that... or to write letters.”
Reuben sighed wistfully. “I began to worry a whole lot about Rohane, you know – even more than usual. Then I made my decision to follow you to the Lost Desert. Andrea tagged along with me.”
“When we bought a map, an old Ruki lady told us about the Medallion of Wind and that it may not be a legend after all,” the red Kyrii continued. “It was also then that news finally started coming in about you four. Reuben and I made the decision to head straight for Zakharukh’s Pyramid.”
“And we’re glad you did,” said Talinia, beaming gratefully. “So –”
The four of them nearly jumped when the door swung open, and several healers emerged, talking among themselves, some clutching bottles and bandages. But a red Techo with a staff hung around in the doorway, surveying them with a serious expression, which softened when he spoke, in a quiet, somewhat mysterious voice, words that lifted everyone’s spirits.
“Rohane will be all right, but he’s looking at several days of recovery before he actually gets out. In fact, he’ll probably be unconscious for about two or three days. Even after that, he’s looking at a lot of sleeping. Hey, it’s a good thing Princess Vyssa postponed the recognition ceremony, right?”
Mipsy rolled her eyes. “This is not the time to worry about ceremonies.”
“I didn’t say I was worrying,” said Velm with a shrug.
“Can I come in now?” Reuben demanded more than asked. He leapt up from the bench, looking the Techo in the eye.
Velm scratched his head. “Hmm, not yet...”
“Actually, we can let them in now,” a pink Lenny said, walking out the doorway and glancing at something on a clipboard. “If they stay quiet, that is, and two at a time. And only them; no reporters, no random passers-by...”
“In that case, I’ll go first,” the white Blumaroo declared. “I’m his older brother.”
“Yes, we know, Mr. Deivrann – or is it Terraflare? Honestly, your census – “
But Reuben was not interested in hearing about the Meridellian census or the never-ending debate about his last name. He strode past Velm and the Lenny, with Andrea behind him. They heard the door close faintly behind them.
The room was rather small, and a pungent aroma hung in the air, the result of the lingering smells of several potions and herbs. There was very little else; a bed, a small table with a lamp, a bowl and a few small vials, a closet on the east wall, an armchair and two stools, and a window whose curtains were drawn, so it wasn’t too bright inside.
The Blumaroo was not interested in any of those, anyway – least of all the scent, which made him cough. He crossed the room in only a few steps, pulled up the nearest stool and sat by the bed. Andrea did the same.
Unlike his older brother, who had been thrashing about a moment ago like a Pfish out of water, Rohane lay perfectly still under his blanket. His head and right arm – his sword arm, Reuben noted – were bandaged. He didn’t look all that peaceful, however; he seemed to be dreaming of something horrible, or was probably in pain, judging from the slight frown on his face.
“I remember... when we were little, he sprained his ankle while we were sparring. The village healer told him to not put any weight on that foot for five days. However, Rohane swore that he would be back on his feet in three.”
The red Kyrii’s eyes widened. “Did he, then?”
Reuben grinned. “On the third day, he surprised me and Mother by walking into the dining room for breakfast. He limped, actually, but still. By evening, he was already walking almost normally.”
“Then this should be nothing for him,” she said, putting an arm around her friend’s shoulders. “He’ll be fine.”
The white Blumaroo shuddered, and rubbed his right eye. “Eh, something just got into my eye,” he explained, but judging from the look on Andrea’s face, she wasn’t buying his alibi.
“You know you can cry; I’m the only one who’ll see, unless somehow Rohane wakes up...” She expected a witty retort, or some form of denial, but it never came. Reuben was taciturn once again – but not for long.
“Remember what Miss Olivia said?”
“Of course I do,” said the red Kyrii. “We probably forgot about it for a while when we found out about Zakharukh’s Pyramid. But I can still recall the exact words - Some build so that others may destroy. Some destroy so that others may build...”
“I now know what it means.”
To be continued...