Quests in the Lost Desert: Part Three
Brucey B awoke with quite a sore back. This was expected from sleeping on a hard cavern floor, so he simply stretched a bit to get rid of the cramps and poked Lady Osiri.
"What time is it?" she mumbled groggily.
"I'm not exactly sure," answered Brucey, "but the increase in heat probably means that it's morning."
After yawning the Aisha asked, "Do you want to try climbing back out the way we came in?"
"Nah," denied the Bruce. "It may not have been very high, but it was quite slippery. I suggest we search around for another way."
Osiri agreed and the two ventured deeper into the caves. Had they gone back the way they had come, they would have found two unconscious, battered Meercas. The cave was quite dark, but there were cracks that let a small amount of light in. It wasn't a lot, but it helped the two not trip over their own feet.
After a few more minutes of exploring, Brucey said, "Thank you, Osiri, for coming with me."
"I didn't really have a choice," laughed the Aisha, "but I guess that's what friends are for."
Tomos was the first to awake in the wide cavern. The Lupe was a little confused as to why he wasn't in his old mattress, but his mind was distracted by the sound of someone else entering the cavern. His first thought was that it was the Grarrl vendor, but he realized that that was just his sleepy brain thinking. The intruder was a Grarrl, but he was covered in black wraps and cloaks. Only his hard, cold eyes were showing. At his waist was a jabbed sword that looked dangerously fatal.
Zina and Horace awoke soon and immediately spotted the Grarrl. All three of the Desert Scarabs snapped into a defensive position as the mysterious stranger examined them.
"You are Desert Scarabs," he declared in a booming voice. "I'm looking for a piece of jewellery, and I have reason to believe that you stole it."
"The necklace," gasped Horace.
The Grarrl drew his ominous blade and fiercely demanded, "Give it to me!"
"We don't have it anymore," explained Tomos frantically.
The cloaked figure charged at the trio with his blade and shouted, "Where is it?"
The Scarabs rolled out of the way of his swipe just in time.
"It was stolen," Tomos continued to explain.
"Lies!" hissed the Grarrl. "You just want to keep it for your greedy selves."
He sliced at them again, this time removing a snip of Horace's hair.
"Stop right there!" came a bold voice from the cave's entrance. "Leave those children alone."
The Grarrl turned around and came face to face with General Dacon.
"Fool," he spat. "Do you have any idea who I am. I am the great King Heksas, and I will destroy all who stand in my way."
With those words he revealed a pair of orange and red wings.
"He's a faerie Grarrl," gasped Zina.
King Heksas quickly charged at General Dacon. The Tonu raised his thin but firm blade to fend off the Grarrl's attacks. However, it was clear that Heksas had the advantage of flight; Dacon could never counterattack and the Grarrl was soon getting more hits than misses. The sword stung each time it made contact with Dacon, but he continued to defend valiantly. King Heksas represented everything that Dacon stood against: injustice, cruelty, imprisonment. The Tonu refused to back down. He kept his focus on the airborne Grarrl; he heard a noise behind him, but paid no attention to it.
As he dodged to the left he heard someone say something like, "Way out."
His brain ignored that and he continued to block with his sword. Suddenly something came in contact with the Grarrl's head and he collapsed to the ground. Dacon turned his sweat covered face to see that an Aisha and Bruce were emerging from within the cave.
"You were right," muttered the Bruce to the Aisha. "Those plates are firm."
Princess Amira now sat in her chamber with General Dacon, Brucey B, Lady Osiri, and incarcerated Heksas. The Desert Scarabs had disappeared back into the streets at the first chance that they got. Everyone had explained what had happened over the last night and the next morning. General Dacon told how he begun his journey to Khamtef, but stopped when he saw the scuffle between Heksas and the Desert Scarabs. Brucey B elaborated on how he had tried to escape the caves and how Osiri had acted on impulse when she saw the battle between the two large warriors. The only one left was the prisoner.
"You'd better spill out an explanation," threatened Dacon.
Heksas sighed and answered, "Very well, I can see that I won't be getting out of this soon, and I doubt my tale will be of any aid to you. My genius plan to seize control of Sakhmet is falling apart now. The first step was to steal the Scarab Necklace. I'm sure that you know of the tradition that he who holds it rules over Sakhmet."
"Ha, that's just an old legend," scoffed Amira.
"Maybe to you it is," taunted Heksas, "but don't you think that more than a few citizens would be angry to see it being defied. If Princess Amira no longer held the necklace, and it was in the hands of King Heksas, I'm sure that there would be much discontentment in your city. That would give me the perfect opportunity to launch an attack and take control of Sakhmet."
"But what went wrong?" inquired Amira.
"When my hired mercenary arrived last night, he claimed that he had stolen the necklace from the palace, hidden it in a Tchea Fruit in a memorable location, and then smuggled it out. However, there was no necklace in the fruit. He was severely punished for his failure, but not before placing the blame on the thieves of Sakhmet," Heksas continued to explain. "So, I journeyed to your city to take the necklace for myself. I noticed movement in a cave and thought to investigate. You know the rest."
"So Princess Sankara had nothing to do with this?" asked Dacon.
"What?" said King Heksas. "Whatever trouble that spineless wretch is causing is no relation to me."
"Very well," declared Amira. "Heksas, you will be taken to the dungeons, I will organize a fair trial for you when this is all over."
The Grarrl glared at her from his stone-cold eyes as a pair of guards escorted him away.
"Dacon, I want you to go to Khamtef and arrest Princess Sankara," ordered Amira. "She may not be involved with this plot, but she is still a threat."
"Yes, Your Majesty," responded the Tonu. "And the necklace?"
"It's probably in the hands of one of Sakhmet's many bandits," sighed the Princess. "We may find it eventually, but that will have to wait."
General Dacon nodded and began to leave, but Amira called out, "General, when you get back, I will reward you with a medal."
Brucey B cleared his throat loudly, implying that he deserved attention.
"Of course," exclaimed the Aisha. "The real hero of the day will also receive recognition. Thank you, Lady Osiri."
Brucey B felt like his jaw was going to drop to the floor. He had gone on this quest only to be let down again. He and Osiri left the Amira's palace and returned to Sakhmet. As they approached the Aisha's pottery stand, Brucey B had an epiphany.
"Osiri, we need to get to Khamtef," he declared eagerly.
"What? Why?" inquired the Aisha, "General Dacon and his troops can handle arresting Sankara."
"It's not that," continued the Bruce. "We need to catch that Jetsam. He's an elusive one and he'll have vanished as soon as he learns that there's a small army coming to Khamtef. He's the one who aided Heksas and we need to put a stop to him. For all we know, he could still have the necklace."
"Brucey, this needs to stop," declared Osiri tenderly but with a firm tone. "Have you ever thought that maybe you're not a hero? Maybe you're just a lucky gamer; that's why you belong at the Cheat! table and at the bingo parlour. It was just chance that you saved the Lost Desert."
Brucey B swallowed and stated, "I'm not doing this just for the fame. I love this city and I don't want it to be in danger. That Jetsam is a threat, and he needs to be stopped once and for all. If you won't help me, I'll have to go on my own."
He turned away from his friend and once again headed for the gates.
"Wait, Brucey," Lady Osiri called as she grabbed a bag of pottery. "These helped us last time; I'm sure they'll be a use to us again."
"Us? You're coming with me?" asked Brucey B.
"I guess so," answered the Aisha. "Someone has to keep you out of trouble."
"That's really cliché," pointed out the Bruce with a grin.
"I know," replied Lady Osiri with a broader one.
To be continued...