Another Hero's Journey: Decisions - Part Ten
Reuben nearly fell off his chair as everyone swooped onto the bed, and the excited, relieved chatter really began.
“I knew even a thousand undead pharaohs couldn’t take you out, good show!”
“Rohane, we were all worried sick! Although I’d have to agree with Velm on the thousand undead pharaohs... ”
“Are you feeling better now?”
“It’s good to see that you’re awake. By the way, my name is Andrea. I’m your older brother’s friend... you know, from his letters. It’s a... pleasure to meet you...”
The white Blumaroo sighed, leaping out of his seat and waving his arms like a referee. “Hey, you noisy idiots, quit crowding him, he can’t breathe. Break it up, break it up. I know we’re all happy that he’s opened his eyes and that he’ll live to fight another...”
At the sound of his name, Reuben paused. The voice was a rough whisper; had everybody else kept on talking, he wouldn’t have heard it from the yellow Blumaroo who raised his bandaged paw and shook his head slowly.
“Eh, you want these idiots to crowd you till you can’t breathe?”
With a smile that mirrored Reuben’s smirk perfectly, Rohane shrugged, and finally said his first coherent sentence in days – albeit faintly.
“It’s all right.”
“It’s all right?” his older brother echoed, arching an eyebrow. “But –”
“No, it’s not all right!”
The door, which was once again forgotten, banged open. The pink Lenny healer entered, nearly dropping his clipboard, and surveyed the crowded room with wide eyes. “I mean, it’s all right you’re awake, Mr. Deivrann – or Terraflare, or uh, well... never mind, anyway, we have a policy on visitors, and you have far exceeded the limit! Two at a time, please, two at a time, not five! I don’t care if three of you saved the Lost Desert, but you are intruding on a recovering patient! Why, I...”
The Lenny nearly jumped out of his feathers. “Eh?”
“Look, I don’t mind having everyone here. I really don’t. They’ll leave if I want them to. I’ll just say the word.” This time, Rohane’s voice was comparatively louder than before.
“Besides, don’t you trust me, Selas? I can handle things here,” Velm added, winking at the Lenny. “In case you forgot, I’m a healer too.”
Selas opened and closed his beak several times, gesturing aimlessly with his clipboard and pen before storming away and slamming the door behind him.
“What’s his problem?” Mipsy wondered, rolling her eyes.
“Don’t blame him, he’s just doing his job,” the red Techo assured the blue Acara. Turning to Reuben, he asked, “So, did we miss anything?”
Reuben shook his head. “I was about to explain everything – starting with why I’m here. It’s going to be a long story... but yeah, we have time. What is this, a storytelling night?”
“That would be quite nice,” Talinia remarked, almost nostalgic. The green Eyrie and Andrea sat down on opposite sides of the bed, the red Kyrii sitting on the side closer to Reuben.
“I’ve been out for three days,” Rohane said. “A lot could have happened then. So tell me everything.”
“Is that a direct order, sir?” asked Mipsy with a mock salute.
“Yes, that’s an order. I mean everything.”
* * *
So they did, over dinner delivered to that little room.
In fact, just as Mipsy and Velm were narrating a rather exaggerated story about escaping from an annoying Neopian Times reporter in the crowded Sakhmetian streets, Rohane ended up falling asleep. The red Techo spell-caster blamed the effects of the medicine and escorted the girls out, following them. Now the brothers had the room to themselves, and Reuben was about to turn in for the night when he remembered Miss Olivia’s words again, resonating in his head.
Some build so that others may destroy. Some destroy so that others may build.
Of course, Andrea already knew about it, and he had confided in her what he thought it meant, but he wasn’t entirely sure if he could tell Rohane’s fellow adventurers as well. The white Blumaroo thought of waking his younger brother up, but decided that it was not a good idea...
“Did I fall asleep?”
Reuben whipped around. There was no need to wake Rohane up; he did it on his own and saved his sibling the trouble. “Don’t worry; we’ll start from where we left off tonight – wow, it’s almost midnight.”
“You should’ve nudged me or something.”
“Idiot.” Reuben chuckled. “You need your rest. Go back to sleep.”
Rohane yawned. “Not till you tell me what’s on your mind.”
“There’s nothing on my mind except a wonderful vision of you sleeping like a baby.”
“There’s something else. Something important.”
“No, there isn’t.”
“Yes, there is.”
“How would you know?”
“I’m your brother!”
“You don’t know everything about me. All right, what did I have for breakfast the day I left to hunt you down?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but I’m sure it’s something you want to tell only me.”
Reuben sighed and grinned. “I forgot how clever – and annoying – my little brother can be. All right, I was hoping to keep that up till you fell asleep again, but it looks like it’s not happening. I also forgot how painfully stubborn you can be.” He stood up from his cot and plopped into the armchair he was getting rather fond of. “Remember Miss Olivia – the nature seer and Andrea’s aunt, from my letters?”
“Even if I forgot – which I didn’t – Andrea told me all about her anyway.” Now Rohane sat up straighter, hanging on to Reuben’s every word.
“Well... before we left, she told Andrea to tell me something. I highly doubt it’s a prophecy or anything...”
“Don’t talk to me about prophecies,” the yellow Blumaroo grumbled, covering his ears. “Mipsy’s convinced that I’m in a lot of those after several trips to fortune tellers. They put a lot of pressure on you, even if they insist that the future’s never really set in stone.”
At that, Reuben couldn’t help laughing. “I said I highly doubt it’s a prophecy. You did say you wanted to hear what was on my mind.”
“All right, all right, just continue.”
“Some build so that others may destroy. Some destroy so that others may build,” the white Blumaroo recited. He wondered if he sounded omniscient enough to pass for a soothsayer himself. “I think it concerns the two of us. And like I said, it’s most probably not a prophecy, so don’t give me that look. When I first visited you here, I realized then that it meant something, like I said, about us.
“To cut the long story short, the first part of the line refers to me. The other... refers to you. Quite appropriate, that they would be arranged the same way as our birth order.”
Rohane thought for a moment. “I destroy so that others may build? But I don’t... oh, wait, never mind.”
“Remember when you and Mipsy took care of Ramtor? Technically, you destroyed the crazy advisor and his reign of terror, so that Meridell would be able to rebuild and start over. If I’m not mistaken, it means you destroy evil, so that good prevails.”
“I have to admit, that makes sense. And your part... the building refers to you being a weapon smith, right?”
His older brother nodded. “I make weapons, which are used to fight – and ultimately, destroy. You use weapons to fight for what’s right. In fact, it seemed so obvious when I finally realized what it really meant. All those dreams of crumbling castles and Mother... oh, Meepits, I forgot to write to Mother!”
Reuben shot off the armchair as though it were on fire, and settled himself on the stool in front of the table. He pulled out a roll of parchment, a quill and an inkwell from his luggage before lighting the lamp. For a while, the only sound that could be heard was the hurried scratching of the quill on paper.
“Save some paper for me, I want to write too. You know it’s been ages since Mother heard from me.”
The white Blumaroo glanced at Rohane skeptically. “Uh... can you write? I mean, what with being all wrapped up like a mummy...”
“Just watch me. I bet my penmanship would still be better than yours.”
“Not if you fall asleep while writing. Sleep. I’ll let you write your part tomorrow, I promise. Remind me.”
* * *
Dear Mother, Miss Olivia, Omar, Devin and Ruben,
Andrea and I arrived at the Lost Desert safely, don’t worry. We were the only two passengers headed there, as you can imagine, but when we landed, there wasn’t a single sandstorm in sight. We didn’t notice at first; not till we were on a fishing boat headed for Zakharukh’s Pyramid – by the way, it was nice of them to take us when we got off the ship, even if we did have to tip them quite generously. It’s a place in the legend of the Medallion of Wind – Miss Olivia, I’m sure you know this one – which turned out to not be a legend after all. Andrea and I figured out that it would be the best place to meet them, assuming they did follow the Medallion story.
If you’ve been reading the Times, I’m sure you’ve seen that Rohane and his buddies made the front page again after being absent for so long, and they succeeded in piecing together the Medallion and saving the Lost Desert. Unfortunately, he had a little run-in with the undead while in the Pyramid and decided to play the hero. He was out cold for three days. But the healers say he’ll be fine – and he is. He’ll prove it by writing a part of this letter.
While he was confined in the Sakhmet Palace infirmary, Andrea joined Mipsy, Talinia and Velm to take in the Lost Desert sights. I tagged along at times, but I mostly stayed behind to watch over Rohane, and even reasoned with the healers to let me spend the nights in his room as well.
I’ve heard there will be a ceremony the moment Rohane is able to get out of bed. After that, we’ll be going home, and we might end up coming home before this letter reaches you.
* * *
I’m really, really sorry for not writing for so long. Princess Vyssa advised us to move as fast as we could on our quest for the Medallion of Wind. According to the legend, the pieces were scattered all over the Lost Desert, so you can only imagine how much walking that would take – and through those sandstorms.
Don’t worry about me. As Reuben said, I’m fine – at least, fine enough to write. The healers said that I would be able to get out of bed in a few days. I really wish I could just skip the ceremony, but... I can’t. But right after it, we’ll leave and take the first ship bound for Meridell. I’m finally going home. Will King Skarl still knight me? I was more than willing to take it when he offered it to me after Mipsy and I got rid of Ramtor... but obviously something came up.
Mother, I really miss you. I can’t wait to come home. Devin, Omar, Miss Olivia, it would be a pleasure to finally meet you...
* * *
Sorry about that. Rohane fell asleep while writing his part. I guess the healers weren’t joking when they said that he would be sleeping a lot while he recovered.
He wasn’t joking either, when he said his handwriting would still be better than mine.
Reuben and Rohane
P.S. Miss Olivia, we know what it means now.
To be continued...