Memories Of A Son
Art by mybestfriendgina
I went to the market in Sakhmet today. Local sellers and tourists filled the streets. There were wonderful smells everywhere - paprika, lemon, and mint! And colours! Every stall was draped in beautiful shades of blue, purple, red, and silver. The air was exciting, the atmosphere electric. They are preparing for the annual street party, in a few days. It was almost the very same atmosphere the day I first took you there, on your sixth birthday. Your sister was not yet born – and your mother and I went to buy you a paint brush so you could look just like your old man, a proud Lost Desert citizen. Your mother Lorene was then a beautiful faerie, do you remember?
She was so proud of you when you wore the family colours for the first time; the brightest of golds and the most royal of blues. Taking you through the market that day, we saw that everyone knew your name. Old Karille the Kacheek gave you free scarab cookies for your birthday, and then Grenaud the weapons master threw you out of his shop for dropping crumbs! It was a great day for our family – and it is one I will always cherish in my heart.
The second time we took you to Sakhmet, you were nine years old, and it was your sister Azula’s second birthday. Your beautiful mother had painted herself desert just before Azula was born, so we could be a proper family. You were so excited to show your sister around all your favourite places from three years before – we let you hold your sister and you felt very grown up. Karille was so excited to see you again and commented on how much you were growing. I seem to remember you leaving with a basket of goodies and a very full tummy!
Grenaud, who owned the local weaponry, was a now a firm friend of mine, after meeting him in the battledome on numerous occasions. He admired your delight for his weapons. Even at nine years old, you wanted to help participate in the Meridell and Darigan feud that was happening that summer, after watching all the big neopets train with brilliant and beautiful weapons. He told you to visit him when you were older and he promised to teach you how to fight. He gave you a Desert Robe from his shop and watched you excitedly run around with your new confidence. Your mother and sister watched, laughing.
‘I’m going to be a hero!’ you exclaimed, brandishing your lolly stick at Azula. There wasn’t a single part of me that couldn’t believe it would happen. You were perfect.
On your third visit to the big city – I couldn’t go. I was devastated, but I had sustained a bad injury in a battle the week before and was still recovering. Your mother had hoped it would have put you off battling, but it was three years later, and at the tender age of twelve, you were more inclined to battling than anything else. Lorene blamed me, saying I was a bad influence! But I knew in my heart it was the right career choice for you. After the day out, you slept soundly all night, for the first time in a long time.
Azula, who was five years old – was kidnapped from us three weeks earlier. After days and nights of searching, we found her wandering cold and alone in the Haunted Woods. She didn’t tell us what happened, and didn’t talk much for weeks. You fiercely vowed to protect her from the very day she was returned to us. That day was the first time Azula had been out in public since her ordeal. You carried her on your shoulders all day, until it was time to visit Grenaud. I had organised a meeting between the two of you as a surprise – you were ecstatic! You were still too young to brandish weapons, six years too young! However, Grenaud was happy to teach you about the different types of abilities, and weapons.
When you got home to me, you couldn’t stop talking about it. Your mother sent you to bed to rest, and we had a heart to heart about you. Lorene was worried that you were so keen to battle, as it was a very dangerous career. I reassured her, and we agreed to put you into training school when you turned sixteen. If it had proved too much, you could have always come home to us.
Four years later, it was your sister Azula’s ninth birthday. She wanted nothing more in the world than to go to Sakhmet again. You were sixteen and had been enrolled in the training school on Mystery Island for four months. You knew we were taking Azula to get painted desert today and agreed to meet us there, but you never showed up. It was the first time your mother and I had ever really been disappointed in you, son. And Azula was devastated. When she was painted – she looked beautiful, like royalty.
On our way home, I visited the weaponry to see our old friend Grenaud. A young Tuskaninny awaited me as I entered the store. He told me of Grenaud’s passing, in battle, only five months earlier. I couldn’t believe it. One of my best friends, and my son’s teacher, taken in battle. It was this day that I started to agree with your mother. Lorene was right. This was no career for my brave young son. Lorene and I pleaded you to come home over the next couple of weeks, but our pleas were ignored. You were enjoying yourself too much, and were convinced you would be a hero.
‘Come home, son,’ I asked, when you turned seventeen that summer. But you had had enough. You hated it that we no longer supported you. You decided to cut us from your life. You believed you were better than your family, because you could brandish a sword and hold your own against tough opponents. Your mother was so lonely without you. Her hair thinned and her gloriously gold colour no longer shimmered. Azula was upset and horribly angry. She couldn’t believe the big brother she had admired for so long would abandon her.
November the 4th on the year of your eighteenth birthday started out as the best day of your life, and ended as the worst day of mine. After a year of not talking to your family, you walked through our front door that morning as if you had walked through our front door every day for the past two years. It was four months after you had graduated training school, and goodness, had you changed. You were no longer an excitable, shy Kacheek. Two years of intensive training had made you become a fierce and frightening fighting machine. Your eyes were sullen, belt laden with heavy swords and battle items. You apologised profusely, and announced you were moving back home, and that you wanted to take us to Sakhmet for the day to spend some quality time as a family.
Your little sister, now eleven – was overjoyed that you were home – AND that you were taking her to Sakhmet. The atmosphere was almost awkward at first; your mother and I were suspicious and nervous around you, knowing how badly you had treated your family in the past year. However, our day was fantastic. You showered us in gifts, and really tried your best to strengthen the family ties. When it started to get dark, at around 4 in the afternoon, there was a commotion on the main street. It looked like a protest, but you were quick at realising that it was active recruitment – they were looking for soldiers to participate in a battle in the Haunted Woods. Apparently, a small town called Neovia was in dire need of assistance. Your eyes lit up, and you turned to us.
‘No, Son. Please,’ your mother pleaded with you. Azula stared, wide eyed, at the angry neopets with swords and torches ablaze. She started to cry. Her ordeal in the Haunted Woods had stayed with her for life. She didn’t want her brother to go. I stayed silent, but stared into your eyes. You were also silent, in thought, staring at your little sister's tears. You then started to run in the opposite direction, and kept running. I raced to catch up with you and your mother and Azula stayed behind. I knew exactly where you were going.
‘Grenaud will help!’ you shouted, from the front. I stopped to take a breath and watched as you ran into the store. When you walked out, five minutes later, any expression of hope and excitement you had died with the memory of Grenaud. Your face was stony, and you walked past me, staring ahead, in silence. You kept walking till you reached your mother, sister, and the crowds in the main street. Azula went to hug you and you pushed her away. You walked towards the crowd.
‘Son, please don’t do this!’ your mother and I yelled in your direction. You were focused, determined. You would not turn back.
‘I have to do this. For Azula. For Grenaud.’ Then, you removed your sword from your belt, and walked into the distance, giving yourself to the soldiers’ mercy.
It was the last time we would ever see you again.
Today was the first time your mother, Azula and I have been to Sakhmet since that day. It would have been your twenty first birthday. Receiving that mail from your battle legion stating that you had passed in battle just six days after you went to war, was a defining moment in all of our lives. It has changed us forever. Your beautiful mother, Lorene, lost all her passion for the Lost Desert. She couldn’t cope living here anymore, and has since moved to Faerieland, her former home. We still love each other, of course we do, son. It is just difficult to be around each other when we are still so raw from the loss of you. Azula is fourteen now, and she still lives with me. She doesn’t leave the house. She rarely has any social interaction with us, never mind others. And then there is me, your father. I’m inconsolable with grief over you.
There will be no more happiness for our family. And today was the last time we will visit Sakhmet. Our lives are sad, lonely and as grey as the clouds on the rainiest of days. There won’t ever be a day that I don’t think of you, and never a day that I don’t cherish my memories of you.
I shall always love you, my darling son Lykese.
Forever in my heart,
Your dad, Kyrene.