Eisian and the Amulet of Thilg: Part Five
The staff in Eisian’s hands grew heavier and heavier as the hours passed. The further she went into the cave, the more despaired she grew. Where was the light? Would she have time to figure out the last task? Was she even on the right trail?
As these questions bombarded her mind, Eisian did not notice a small pinprick of daylight in the distance. She kept walking, her fingers still sliding against the slimy cave walls, her one arm weighed down with her weapon.
The closer the princess got to that tiny beam, the larger it became. Eisian’s eyes widened at the sight.
“Am I seeing things?” she asked aloud. “Have I been in here so long I’m making things up?”
She began to run toward the source, laughing with relief. As she drew closer, the sand under her feet grew warmer and she could feel a temperate breeze flying through the cave. The rod dragged in the sand, but Eisian did not drop it. She still wanted to make sure she had protection. She had no idea who, or what, would be waiting at the other end of the cave. She did not even know where she would be!
Moments later, Eisian burst through the cave exit. She fell to the ground and basked in the sunlight. Light beams danced across her skin and warmed her face. She was dirty and tired, but she did not care. She made it out! She found light in darkness! She did it!
Mud covered Eisian’s feet and her gown was tattered. She had dirt marks splayed across her cheeks. Looking down to the staff in her hand, she noticed clumps of sand under her fingernails. The wand itself was a gold color and it shone brilliantly in the sun. The round knob at the top was pulsating, a faint beat travelling down the object and into Eisian’s arm. She still did not know what it was, but the thuds compelled her to keep her hold on it.
For the first time since she emerged from the cave, Eisian took in her surroundings. Familiar palm trees sprouted from the sea of sand, small oases dotting the landscape. Pyramids lined the horizon and a large monolith towered above the sun.
She could not believe it, but she was back in the Lost Desert.
She was home.
The Aisha huddled in the hidden tomb, pulling her tattered shawl tightly around her shoulders. An ancient book was open in front of her and she read the foreign words aloud. The spells slipped off her tongue like honey, guttural syllables echoing in the dark chamber.
“I summon you, Shkanum-Da, Pharaoh of Old,” she recited. “Come into the light on this fifth day of toil. Your sacrifice has been prepared, your kingdom waits, and your humble servant sits eagerly for your return!”
The Aisha felt the sand beneath her feet grow warm in the cool, damp cave. Light began to swirl around her, the scroll before her leaping up and shuddering. Crimson smoke ballooned out of the tome, just as it had puffed out of the Amulet days before. A deep rumbling echoed in the tomb and with a brilliant flash of light, Shkanum-Da emerged from the sands.
“Welcome back, master,” the Aisha whispered, tears forming in her eyes. “I have been waiting.”
“The wait is over,” Shkanum-Da boomed. “This land is in my power. Complete my strength potion. I will need it.”
Shkanum-Da stood in the entry way of the hidden tomb, taking in the sight before him. This land, once his home, would now be his prison. Every inhabitant would be his servant.
A short laugh escaped his dry lips and the skies began to darken.
Greyson and the King stood before Eisian’s bed. They could not believe that she was home, safe and sound. No Neopet had ever explored Smuggler’s Cove as deeply as Eisian had; there was no knowledge that an underground cave linked Krawk Island to the Lost Desert.
“I know she needs to rest,” Greyson began, turning to his king. “But we have a very precious amount of time left to save her… to save the kingdom.”
“Yes,” said the king. “My daughter has made it back home, but there is still much to do.”
Through the small window of Eisian’s room, the guard and the king saw dark clouds swirling in the desert sky. Dark skies meant dark deeds.
Greyson shook Eisian’s shoulder gently. The princess sighed and rolled over, not wanting to be bothered. Wandering through the dark cove for a day had taken Eisian’s energy. All she wanted to do was sleep. She didn’t want food, nor did she desire water. She just wanted to close her eyes and think the past five days were a dream.
“Eisian, you must wake up!” cried Greyson. Outside the palace, wind began to howl. Citizens of the lost desert were locked inside their homes, none daring to brave this strange change in weather. There was something in the air, and every Neopet could taste danger on the horizon.
Eisian cracked her eyes open and struggled to sit up. The room was so dark, she could swear it was in the middle of the night. The clock on the wall, however, said differently. It was not even dinner time, but the skies were black as pitch and there was a crimson light building in the distance, where the hidden tomb rest.
The Desert Guard stood in the courtyard of the palace, line after line of armored soldier shielding his eyes from the blowing sands. Fear riddled their ranks, but they would not back down against their enemy.
“Greyson, there is someone in the tomb,” Eisian said. “Take some guards out there and I will take care of everything here. “
“Yes, your Highness,” Greyson bowed. He looked his friend in the eyes and hugged her. “I’ll be back. You had better be here when I return.”
Eisian smiled. “Do not worry. All will be well.”
Determination set in Eisian’s features. As she watched her friend disappear into the dark desert with three of the palace guards, she knew it was time to face her enemy.
“It is time to complete the last task,” Eisian declared. She grabbed the staff she discovered in Smuggler’s Cove and bounded down the steps of the palace.
The Aisha hunched over a bubbling cauldron, stirring its contents slowly. The potion was coming together quite nicely, but needed a few hours to become fully effective.
“I cannot wait any longer,” roared Shkanum-Da. “Give me the potion now!”
The Aisha wavered. “The potion is not nearly strong enough yet, master. You would only receive a fraction of the strength if you took it now.”
“I do not care,” the Pharaoh yelled. “Give me some now and I will begin this war. The rest can build up power, but my fingers are tingling with anticipation. I can’t sit back and wait a moment longer.”
Sighing, the Aisha obeyed. She knew Shkanum-Da was the strongest Neopet to have ever lived, but thousands of years of being trapped had made him physically weak. The potion had not brewed long enough to restore him to full strength, but it would have to do for now.
Shkanum-Da drained the vial the Aisha had filled. His skin began to glow a bright blue and his muscles began to tighten. As the potion was taking its effect on the Pharaoh, he stomped out of the tomb and into the dark desert, sparks of power travelling through his body.
The staff in Eisian’s hand glowed brightly in the shadows. It radiated a heat from the orb at the tip and that warmth spread down Eisian’s arm, a comforting wave that reassured her. The more energy that pulsed from the rod, the darker it got in the Lost Desert. Wind began to howl, whipping the desert sands around in a frenzied dance.
Shkanum-Da’s form grew larger with every passing moment. As the sand blew, more and more of him was revealed. Ragged wraps hung from his body, flying behind him like kites. Red eyes glowed beneath the wraps and a loud roar echoed in Eisian’s ears.
This was the Neopet who the pets of the Lost Desert had feared so many years ago. This was the Neopet who was responsible for so much destruction and hatred.
Eisian vowed he would return to wreak havoc a second time.
Suddenly, the breath was knocked out of Eisian with a blow so heavy her head throbbed. The blast took Eisian by surprise and she almost dropped the Light Sceptre. Shkanum-Da stood yards away, a thin red line connecting from his palm to Eisian’s chest. Pain gripped the princess and she crouched on the ground. Her army stood behind her, paralyzed.
“Don’t be afraid!” she wheezed. “ATTACK!”
The army swarmed around her, swords and shields clanking together in a cacophony expected in times of war. The line connecting Eisian to the Pharaoh was weakening and she was able to stand again. She held tightly to the scepter and watched as her people defended their land.
Angry yells echoed, drowned out only by the roars of Shkanum-Da. He had grown much larger in the course of the battle, becoming double the size he was before. He flung his arms to the side and the sand beneath his feet began to separate and blow away with the force of a thousand winds. The soldiers running toward him were swept away in an instant and suddenly there was nothing standing between Eisian and the Pharaoh.
Greyson tiptoed around the entrance of the hidden tomb. His nose crinkled as a stench unlike any other he had smelled crept up into his nostrils. A soft knocking could be heard in the next room and Greyson knew he had the occupant cornered. With him, he had three guards. Two were left outside to guard the tomb’s main entrance. The other he brought inside with him. Standing outside the room the knocking came from, he looked to Gesn, on the other side of the doorway.
“Let’s go,” he mouthed. Gesn nodded and unsheathed his sword.
The two silently crept into the cave, weapons drawn.
In a corner of the room sat the Aisha, stirring a pot with a long wooden spoon. Upon the entrance of the two guards, she scrambled to her feet and pulled a short dagger out of her tattered robes. Fear glowed in her wide eyes and she stepped back.
Greyson and Gesn bounded toward her, dodging the hasty jabs she made with her dagger. Their small metal shields protected them as they backed the Aisha into a corner. The Aisha, unwilling to back down, continued to thrust her small weapon against the guards’ armor and, with a powerful jab, the tip of her dagger broke off.
Seeing that the enemy was defenseless, Greyson let down his shield. The Kacheek tied the Aisha up with a rough rope, keeping a firm grip on the her arm. The Aisha struggled against Gesn’s hold. Her eyes widened as Greyson approached the potion she brewed for her master. He leaned over the pot and grimaced at the scent. The recipe book the Aisha had been following lay on a wooden bench beside the cauldron and Greyson seized it.
“Is this what you are making?” he questioned, holding the scroll in front of her. “A strength potion?”
The Aisha spat on Greyson’s hand and smirked.
“Is your master so weak that he would need you to brew some foul liquid before he was able to fight?” Greyson laughed.
Greyson tossed the book into the potion. It let out a long hiss and sank to the bottom of the pot. Looking over his shoulder at the Aisha, who whimpered as the recipe disappeared, he kicked the cauldron over and dumped the rest of the potion on the floor.
“Let’s see how powerful he is now.”
Shkanum-Da approached Eisian, eyes glowing and sparks shooting from his hands.
“What a lovely necklace you wear, child,” he mocked. “I suppose I should thank you for freeing me.”
“You should watch what you say, monster,” she growled.
Laughing, the Pharaoh waved his hands. Eisian was knocked back against the wall of her palace. As Shkanum-Da came closer, Eisian felt power course through her body. Tightening her fingers around the light scepter, she flung its point in front of her. From its tip, a bolt of lightning shot out and hit Shkanum-Da in the chest. All around them, the sandstorm raged. Thunder boomed and the sky lit up with each crackle of lightning; whether the light was from the storm or the scepter, Eisian was not sure.
With that final burst of light, the desert sands around Shkanum-Da lifted into the air and crystallized. Eisian twirled the light scepter around her head. The sand rotated around Shkanum-Da, strapping him down. She watched as the ropes of sand tightened around the pharaoh, realizing that she had accomplished the third and final task. A rope of sand had been created, and that very rope was destroying the evil Pharaoh.
With a final bellow, the Pharaoh sank into the sands, leaving nothing but a large indentation behind him. The clouds dissipated and the staff in Eisian’s grip cooled. A faint click sounded in Eisian’s ears and the Amulet of Thilg dropped down to the sand in front of her.
In the distance, she could see Greyson and his guards running toward her, the Aisha bound behind them.
Eisian laughed with relief. She had saved her kingdom, her family, and herself. Greyson ran toward her and enveloped her in the biggest hug known to Neopia. “You did it!” he exclaimed, and the two nearly cried with happiness. The King descended the stairs of the palace and praised his daughter and her friend.
Clenching the light scepter in both hands, Eisian brought it down on the Amulet of Thilg, cracking the gem into a million tiny pieces.
The Lost Desert was safe once again.