A Mysterious Heir: Part Three
“How can you possibly be this annoying?” a fiery red Xweetok moaned. This was not what she’d agreed to when her best friend wanted to tag along.
“Eh, I suppose I’m just that talented!” Her companion smirked as she took a break from singing at the top of her lungs.
Between the singing, dancing, and whining, Kora the Wocky had become quite (as Syri put it) annoying. The only thing that was missing was—
“Are we there yet?”
Syri stopped at a nearby tree so she could bang her head against it.
“What did I ever do to you, anyway?” she asked Kora, a low growl forcing its way up her throat.
Kora laughed and skipped up to her friend. “Hehe, just think how bored you’d be without me!” she added with a wink.
They continued on like this for a very long time, Kora annoying her friend and Syri wondering why she let Kora tag along. But it was really just an act. Kora was acting up like she usually did when something was on her mind. This time, the acting up just happened to be aimed at Syri. In return, the uneasy Xweetok acted like she wished she hadn’t let Kora come with her. Although she seemed to be fed up with the Wocky, Syri was truly glad that she had come with her. It kept her from focusing on why she was headed to Iscalle.
Of all the emotions the sixteen year old Xweetok could be feeling—joy, excitement, hopefulness—what she really felt was nervousness and anxiety. No one had ever asked her if she wanted to be a princess. Nope, she was perfectly content living an average life in a typical village. She had never dreamed of being anything extraordinary. Syri simply wanted a normal life. And just look at what she got instead.
Wrapped up in her thoughts, the brooding Xweetok was unaware of a nearby stranger, even though that stranger was pretty hard to miss.
“Help!” a desperate voice cried out to anyone who would listen.
Syri and Kora exchanged curious glances and turned south, the direction the voice was coming from. They walked cautiously along the worn path, familiar with stories of thieves and the occasional faerie that lured innocent travelers into their traps.
“Is anyone there? Please, help me!” The stranger’s ‘please’ convinced the two of them that it was indeed a fellow traveler in trouble and not a faerie’s trick. After all, everyone knew that Dark Faeries didn’t say please!
“I’m up here!” the voice responded in relief as Kora and Syri came into sight.
The two bewildered friends looked up only to find a brown Eyrie dangling from a sturdy rope. The rope was securely fastened around his torso, making it impossible for him to flap his wings or use his talons to break free. Kora struggled not to laugh at the amusing sight.
The Eyrie glared at her. “If you’re going to laugh, can you at least get me down from here first?”
Syri rolled her eyes and sauntered over to a nearby tree. She climbed the tree nimbly and settled on the very same branch that the other end of the rope was attached to. Before the poor Eyrie knew what hit him, Syri’s claws were out and slicing the rope in two.
Kora flinched as he plunged to the ground, braced for the nearby collision. Thankfully, the Eyrie was able to unfold his wings in time and avoided plummeting to the ground. He landed gracefully and stretched his muscles.
“Um, excuse me... Who are you?” Syri asked curiously in midair, leaping to the ground.
“Haven’t you figured it out already?” He gave her a disapproving look and sighed. “Neopians these days...”
“Why, you...!” Kora started to threaten. “That’s no way to talk to the prin—”
Syri shot her a warning look and Kora snapped her mouth shut, suddenly remembering the promise she made.
The Eyrie opened his mouth to ask what they were talking about, but then thought better of it. “I suppose you did rescue me from that stupid trap. Well, my name’s Evon. I was traveling with the band of gypsies that raised me, but on our way to Iscalle, I got lost and accidently ended up being caught... What are your names?”
“I’m Syri, and this is my friend Kora. We’re from the village of Risel. Actually, we’re going to the capital too!” explained Syri. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but there was definitely something familiar about this brown Eyrie. Had she seen him somewhere before?
“Hey Evon, maybe we should all travel together. You know, to make sure you don’t get caught again or something,” Kora suggested. Syri glanced over at her friend, searching her face to see what she was thinking. Just like Syri thought, there was a glint in her eye that gave away how scared she really was. She knew of the forest’s dangers as well as Syri did.
Evon shrugged. “That’s fine with me. But not because I want to be your friend or anything,” he added quickly.
Kora gave him an odd look but decided to ignore his last statement. “Okay, then let’s go!”
About four hours later, the Xweetok, Wocky, and Eyrie finally reached Iscalle. As Mysica’s capital, this enormous city was so populated that even if a party of fifty entered it, no one would notice. Thanks to the large number of residents here, the group of three arrived without attracting any attention.
If one took a closer look, it may indeed seem strange for three teenage pets to be wandering around the capital—especially when the area they were in was one where many nobles lived. Syri and Kora looked extremely out of place in their simple peasant clothes, and Evon simply seemed lost following his new companions around.
The dukes and duchesses turned up their noses and sauntered past them in contempt; the guards only nodded to them in acknowledgment. However, one guard looked as if he was up to no good—a shady-looking Buzz who lurked in the shadows and, as he caught sight of the three Neopians, immediately ran toward Iscalle Castle.
Evon curiously watched the strange Buzz rush off. He had seen the guard’s expression when he spotted Syri. There was something else going on here... What were Syri and Kora keeping from him?
“Evon! You coming?” Kora’s shrill voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Nah, you guys go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you later,” he told her. Too curious for his own good, the Eyrie wanted to investigate what he was being left out of.
Kora turned her head so her eyes met Syri’s. Although Evon couldn’t see the look on the Wocky’s face, his suspicions were confirmed as he saw Syri’s eyes flash in alarm. Whatever they were keeping from Evon, he didn’t like it.
Syri cleared her throat and forced herself to respond. “Well... see you later, I guess.”
“Yeah. Bye,” Kora growled, her eyes little more than slits. It was easy to see that she didn’t like her new comrade at all.
The Eyrie silently turned around and walked away, with two fearful sets of eyes still on him. But Evon didn’t care; he just told himself he wasn’t getting involved in whatever they were up to. Like his life wasn’t tough enough already...
“Whoa,” Syri muttered in awe. Iscalle Castle was more breathtaking than she’d imagined. Everything was flawless, from the smooth marble walls to the striking violet turrets. She heard Kora groan behind her.
“Why can’t we just take a tour like everyone else?” Kora mumbled. Although she wouldn’t admit it, she was just as impressed with Iscalle Castle as her friend was.
When the pair of them were finally able to tear their eyes away from the castle, they noticed a small group of Neopians coming toward them. Syri didn’t know what to make of this until the group’s leader, a Rainbow Uni, called to them.
“Did ya’ll get separated from your tour guide?”
A smirk crept onto Syri’s face. “Hey Kora, looks like you’re getting that tour after all.”
Kora stuck her tongue out before yelling back to the Uni, “Yes, ma’am!”
The Uni smiled sweetly and motioned for them to join the group. “No worries, dearie. This kind of thing happens all the time!” She turned to the group and cleared her throat. “Now, if ya’ll would be so kind as to follow me...”
About twenty minutes later, Syri and Kora found themselves staring at a portrait of one of Syri’s ancestors. It showed a balding Tuskaninny who, judging by the look on his face, seemed to have a rather awful headache. Just as the young Xweetok was reading his name, her friend snickered.
“Well, now I see where you get your good looks from!” she said with a snort.
Syri gave her a playful shove and moved on to the next portrait. She found herself fascinated with everything in the castle—her castle. It seemed so surreal that the royalty staring back at her shared the very same blood that ran through her veins. Of course, Kora just had to ruin the moment... again.
She prodded Syri with her nose and tilted her head to the side. After a moment her ears twitched and she turned back to her friend. “If we’re going to go meet your parents, we should probably go while we still can. I can hear our tour group coming this way...”
“I guess all those years of eavesdropping really paid off after all, didn’t they?” Syri pointed out, grinning.
“How many times do I have to tell you; that was investigative research!”
The Xweetok laughed. “Whatever you say, detective. Which way to the throne room?”
Kora paused and tried to recall what the Uni had said about the throne room’s location. Her eyes ran along the castle walls until she found what she had been looking for—a long corridor with a gold encrusted door at the end.
“Hmm. I’d say that looks pretty promising!” she said triumphantly, pointing at the door.
“Good eye, detective. Would you like to do the honors?”
“You know it!” The ecstatic Wocky skipped down the hall. “Am I allowed to call you ‘your highness’ yet?”
Syri sighed as she caught up with Kora and gazed at the large door in front of her. “You might as well. I suppose I’ll have to get used to it soon, anyway.”
“All right! Well then, your highness...” Kora cleared her throat. “May I introduce you to your father and mother, King Tobaar and Queen Danae!” She threw open the doors with a flourish.
The Xweetok took a shaky breath and closed her golden eyes. As scared as she was, as much as she wanted to turn and run as far as she could, Syri knew that running wasn’t an option. She opened her eyes, waited for her heartbeat to return to normal, and slowly took a step forward. Kora, being the good friend she was, seemed to read Syri’s mind and was by her side in an instant. The Wocky placed one paw on Syri’s shoulder and stepped outside and gave her friend a concerned look. Syri returned her gaze and nodded. Kora smiled weakly and, stepping back into the corridor, let the door slam shut behind her.
Syri looked around for the first time and realized that she was all alone. There was no one sitting in either of the thrones that were a mere fifty feet away. She opened her mouth to call out, but something stopped her. There in the corner of the room, almost unnoticeable, was a figure standing with his back turned to Syri. Her heart leaped into her throat as she realized something. It was her father. Her actual father, the king of Mysica, was standing right there.
A brilliant smile instantly shone on Syri’s face, and she could no longer contain her excitement. She ran like she had never run before, all the way into her father’s arms. She felt his arms around her and held back her tears. “Father,” she finally managed to choke out.
But something was wrong. Instead of greeting his daughter warmly, the figure began to laugh. It was a deep, hollow laugh that made Syri shiver. She looked up in confusion and gasped as her eyes met a stranger’s menacing crimson ones.
She staggered away in fear. “Y-you’re not my father! Who... who are you?”
The only response she got was the exact same, ominous laugh that chilled her to the bone.
To be continued...