Secrets in Shenkuu: Part Two
Solara skilfully scaled the wall outside her window. She had had years of practice finding holds. In no time she was on the ground. Kreludor was almost full so she had enough light to make her way. She hurriedly rushed down the hill and entered the main part of the city. She jumped up to the bridge that led to Anshu’s oddly shaped house. She approached the house and tapped on the door lightly. When no one answered, she knocked harder. She heard footsteps and soon the old Ruki had opened the door. He was a rusty colour and had a large white moustache. He was very old, but still appeared to be full of energy.
“Princess Solara,” he exclaimed, surprised. “Come in. What do you need?”
Solara entered and said, “I’m sorry to bother you so late, but I have a question about Father’s illness. He doesn’t seem to be getting better; is there any reason as to why that is?”
Anshu appeared to be deep in thought and eventually he answered, “There is nothing that I have heard of. The only reason would be if he continually devoured a tiknus root. Although, I don’t see why he would do that; tiknus roots are pretty noticeable.”
Solara was absorbing everything that the doctor was saying and soon she had an idea of what might have happened.
“Thank you,” she said, “I will return to the palace now.”
She waved goodbye to Anshu and ran back the way she had come. Going up the hill was much more of a challenge than getting down. It was exhausting work to sprint up the steep hill. After a while, Solara had arrived back at the palace doors. She was too tired to realize that someone was behind her. Only too late did she turn around when a club came down on her head and knocked her unconscious.
Solara opened her eyes drearily. She realized that she was being carried in a burlap bag. The Gnorbu immediately started to squirm and tried to escape the sack. She felt her foot make contact with something and heard an agonized yelp. She was painfully dropped on the hard ground and saw the outside again. She gasped as she looked at her vicinity; she was in the outskirts of Shenkuu. Solara was standing in front of a river that led to the ocean. Many knew it existed, but few used it for transportation since flying ships came into action. Solara then turned to face her captor; it was Lord Barrion.
“What’s going on?” she demanded furiously, “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you.”
The Kougra was getting up from the blow to his head, but once he was standing he said, “Actually, you are the one who should not be trusted. I told you not to leave the palace and you disobeyed my orders. Now, people will learn of the dangers of the outside world.”
“What are you talking about?” spat Solara, who was staring at her uncle.
Just then she saw something approaching on the river. She squinted and saw that it was an ordinary sea ship. Once it had arrived and stopped next to Solara and Barrion, she saw that it was a pirate ship. It had the classic skull and cross bones flag. The ship itself looked beaten and worn; there were cracks and holes and places that needed more paint. Carved onto side of the ship was The Revenge; on further inspection one would see that written in pencil between The and Revenge was Original. Scattered around the ship were dangerous looking pirates of all species. At the centre giving out orders was a Kiko, but he was a skeleton. He was Captain Dread.
The Kiko bounced off the ship and towards Solara.
“This is the lass?” he asked to Lord Barrion as he pointed his cutlass to Solara.
“That’s her,” confirmed Lord Barrion. “Take her out of my hair and I’ll pay you handsomely.”
“I’ll take ‘er,” growled Captain Dread, “but only ‘cause I need to raise me reputation. Nobody fears the name Captain Dread anymore.”
Lord Barrion pushed the dazed Solara towards Captain Dread. The skeletal Kiko placed his cutlass in front of her throat, making it impossible for her to defend herself.
“Give the money to me first mate,” ordered Captain Dread as he gestured to a Mynci standing on the dilapidated ship.
Lord Barrion reached into a pocket and pulled out a sack of Neopoints. He tossed the bag to the Mynci who caught it.
As Captain Dread ushered Solara onto the ship Lord Barrion called out, “I hope she helps you to regain your reputation, and never let her return.”
Solara didn’t understand what was happening. She knew that she was being taken away by pirates and that her uncle was behind it, but everything else was a mystery. If she had an opportunity, she could probably defeat many of the out of shape pirates, but Captain Dread kept his cutlass near her neck.
“Ye’d better do as I say or ye’ll find yeself walkin’ the plank,” snarled Captain Dread.
Solara looked to where the Kiko was pointing and saw a flimsy piece of wood hanging above a figurehead of a Maraquan Aisha.
“What do you want from me?” asked Solara who was regaining her attitude.
“I mainly want ye to be me prisoner,” explained Captain Dread, “Ye see once that double-crossing Lupe, Scarblade, stole me ideas, me ship name, and all of me fame, people began to stop fearing the me. Now, they’ll see that I’ve kidnapped the princess of Shenkuu and they’ll remember the notorious Captain Dread.”
The two had now entered the lower level of the ship which was in just as bad shape as the top. Captain Dread stopped at a room and pushed Solara into it.
“This is yer new home now,” he declared as he closed and locked the door.
Solara studied her prison. There was nothing in it except a tiny hammock and splintery floors.
Solara dropped into the hammock and sighed. “Lunara, be careful.”
Lunara awoke in her bed as usual. The sunlight was pouring into her room and everything seemed as would on an ordinary day. However, there was a large difference. Solara was gone. Lunara gasped at her sister’s absence. She had thought that Solara would return while she had been asleep. Lunara was surprised by a knock at her door. She rushed to it and saw a Buzz servant.
“Lord Barrion is hosting another assembly,” announced the servant. “He says that it is mandatory to be there.”
Lunara was nervous as she rushed down the hallways and to the great hall. She asking herself what had happened to Solara. When she arrived at the great hall, she saw that it was as full as the last assembly. She stood at her usual spot and waited for Lord Barrion to begin his speech. The Kougra looked distraught. If Solara were here, she would say that Barrion looked like he was faking his emotions, but Solara was gone, so Lunara only waited with an apprehensive stare.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” started the Kougra. “Last night, our beloved Princess Solara was out on her own. She foolishly left the protection of Shenkuu and was captured by a band of ruthless pirates.”
A collective gasp fill the great hall at this news. Lunara felt like she would have a heart attack. She had always been with Solara. Even though they didn’t always get along, they were always together. Now, she might never see her sister again.
“This only goes to show that we must avoid the outsiders,” continued Lord Barrion, who was going from sad to angry. “We have let our guard down and now they have taken our princess. We cannot let them do any more damage to our city. We must isolate ourselves from them.”
Lunara was beginning to feel a suspicion that usually only Solara felt. She supposed that now the Solara was gone, she would have to be less trusting. She would start by not trusting Lord Barrion. He seemed to be benefiting from this event. Even if he looked unhappy, he was getting what he wanted.
“I am so sorry that this had to happen,” concluded Lord Barrion. “You may return to your homes.”
The townsfolk left depressed. Lunara decided to stay and watch Lord Barrion. She saw that after everyone had left the Buzz servant approached Lord Barrion.
“Sir, Chef Bonju is here to see you,” announced the Buzz.
“Ah, send him in,” said Lord Barrion.
The Orange Blumaroo stepped in nervously. His puffy chef hat was being twisted in his hand.
“You wanted to talk to me?” he asked meekly.
“Yes, I would like to discuss the matter of your cooking pot,” explained Lord Barrion, “It would seem as though its only purpose it to have tourists visit it. Since we no longer allow tourists, your cooking pot has no purpose. Therefore I’m going to have to ask you to find another profession.”
“But... but,” protested Chef Bonju, “That’s all I know to do.”
“You’re a chef, aren’t you?” pointed out Lord Barrion, “I’m sure that your talents in cooking can come in handy.”
Princess Lunara felt that she wasn’t going to learn anything else from this conversation. She discreetly left the room and began to pace the hallways. She would love to leave the palace and get some fresh air, but Lord Barrion would not permit her to depart. One thing that she had gained from listening to Lord Barrion was more mistrust of him. He seemed to be taking advantage of his control more every day. He kept saying that the true emperor could fix things when he got better, but he never got any better. Lunara was certain that something wrong was happening and she was determined to find out what.
To be continued...