The Defender: Part One
Thanks to all the friends who had faith in me and this story!
The Council Chamber has always been the place where the founders of the city of Altador, or the Twelve, as they called themselves, meet to discus the matters concerned with ruling the city. However, a long time ago, one of the Twelve had betrayed the others.
However, this did not mean she was not one of the founders of the city anymore. For that reason, the council had decided her chair should remain empty whenever the council would meet again nowadays.
It is not like the Pink Lupe who is sitting in that chair right now seems to care about that. A council meeting is about to begin, but Timu is taking her time for some chat with King Altador. Although she is in the company of the Twelve, the right defender of Altador’s Yooyuball team is as relaxed as anyone can be. Things have always been this way and it’s good to see they are still the same after a thousand years have passed by.
The council has been waiting for Jerdana, who now enters the room. Jerdana’s notorious for being late, for she has taken up too many duties that keep her busy and she has always something that needs to be finished. Now that she’s ready for it, however, the Council meeting gets Jerdana’s full attention.
“Timu, go away,” the Blue Aisha orders almost matter-of-factly.
The Pink Lupe doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all.
“Timu, go away,” King Altador now says with a stern voice.
“Are you sure you don’t want to have me as a council member? It’s about time the Twelve really become twelve again. The Defender! How does that sound?”
“I asked you to go away, Timu. Don’t make me force you to do so!” King Altador shouts at her.
“Alright, I’m leaving already.” As slowly as possible, Timu leaves the Council Chamber. The Council members wait long enough to ensure she’s out of earshot, and then they burst into laughter.
When the meeting has ended. Jerdana leaves the Council Chamber to walk into the Hall of Heroes. There, Timu has chosen the foot of the statue of King Altador as her new place to sit on. Jerdana smiles at the sight of it. A thousand years may have passed, but Timu is at heart still the little child she used to be. That’s the reason the Council can laugh at her quirks and forgive her for it: Timu still remains the golden child of the city of Altador. Jerdana’s mind goes back to the day it all started, more than a thousand years ago...
The monster that had rampaged the village had only been there shortly, but the damage it had done to it was unbelievable. When overseeing the ruins, Jerdana remembered the good times they had here. When working on the founding of the city of Altador, the Twelve had used this village as their base. At this time, Jerdana realized those good days were over. There was also some kind of guilt inside of her: she had taken on the title of The Protector, yet she had failed to protect those people.
She looked at the three Faeries who were walking up to her: The Dreamer, The Sleeper and The First to Rise. With the Light Faerie Siyana and the Air Faerie Psellia, Jerdana could get along quite well. It was the Dark Faerie who creeped her out. She knew Altador trusted her with his life, and she seemed loyal to him, but sometimes there were moments Jerdana wasn’t sure of that loyalty at all.
“It’s a terrible thing that has happened here,” Siyana said to Jerdana.
Her eyes gleamed with compassion for the people who used to live here. They had at least lost their house, or even more.
“Horrible it is for sure,” The Sleeper said.
“It’s just bad knowing we were not there to prevent this, isn’t it?”
She gave Jerdana a strange look. The Aisha didn’t react to it.
“We’d better look for the King,” she said instead.
King Altador was known as someone who in case of a disaster, would not, as many kings of his days done had, only care about what happened to the rich and wealthy people. Rather, he would care about those who were poor and had lost everything they had. However, no one could blame him for being most concerned about the ones who lived in the largest mansion of the village.
“Alistaire!” he called out in despair. “Alistaire, are you there somewhere?”
Alistaire had been Altador’s sister. At first, she never cared too much about her brother’s dream of founding a new city. That was, until she met a handsome Kougra knight. Since then, he and Alistaire lived together in the large mansion in the village, joined by their daughter Timu later on. They remained to live there even when the Twelve moved into the city of Altador.
There was very little left of the mansion now. King Altador could have sworn the monster had chosen the mansion as his target, if he didn’t knew any better that it should not have been smart enough for doing so and simply destroyed in a blind rampage. He feared for what had happed to its inhabitants.
“Alistaire! Monya! Timu! Is any one if you there?”
Monya was one of the many servants of the family. The female Lupe had a rare spotted colour, a strange appearance which made her an outcast in the village she came from. In the eyes of King Altador, however, she was a princess.
“Altador, over here!” a white Eyrie called.
Close as he was to the founders of the City of Altador, Herme wasn’t one of the Twelve. But when his sister Fauna had followed the White Lupe in fulfilling his dream, Herme had joined her. He would follow his sister to the end of Neopia, or even further.
“Altador, I think I found the secret passage you talked about!” Herme called again.
He was joined in by his sister and Altador saw Jerdana and the three Faeries walking up to Herme too.
It was scary being inside the mansion. The damage to the house had been so severe it felt like it could collapse any time.
There was an opening in the floor, revealing a stairway going down. The door that usually had kept the stairway covered had been removed from it, like someone had gone through it recently.
Jerdana used her magic to search through the house. When she was finished doing so, she looked rather pale. The news she had to tell wasn’t any good.
"If there are any survivors, they should have gone through the passage to safety. It is the only way."
“Then we’ll have to go in there,” Altador and Herme said almost at once.
“Just the two of us,” Altador decided, already going down the stairs. “As for you...”
“I’ll wait here until the two of you return. If...” Jerdana’s voice shook a little, "if anything goes wrong, I'll find out soon enough.”
“We’ll stay with you, Jerdana,” Siyana said. The two other Faeries nodded in agreement.
It felt like they had walked for hours, although actually little time had gone by. Sound was carrying far into the passage and both Altador and Herme were calling for the ones they were hoping to find.
“Alistaire, are you there? Monya? Anyone?”
At the point the passage was going to the left, they saw a slender Spotted Lupe appearing from around the corner. Her clothes were ripped and her fur looked filthy.
King Altador almost ran up to her and took her into his arms.
“Monya, are you alright? Where are the others, where’s Alistaire? Is there anyone else with you?”
“I’m not injured, if that’s what you mean, Altador. It’s just me and little Timu here; as for the others...”
It wasn’t needed to question any further. The look in Monya’s eyes said everything.
“I took little Timu with me, and I knew about the passage. We’ve gone through it and walked for what seemed like hours. I was so afraid...We should be somewhere beneath the mountains now.”
Monya walked deeper into the passage again.
“Timu’s somewhere over there. There’s something we’ve got to show to you.”
The young Pink Lupe wasn’t aware of what the disaster that had just happened to her. She was sitting on the ground, playing happily with what seemed to be...
“Yooyus!” Herme cried out.
The brown with yellow star-shaped Petpet was sacred to the people of this area. They promised luck, good fortune and many things more. For a long time, Altador had believed them to be only a legend. Now he was seeing them with his own eyes.
“They were locked up in here,” Monya said. “It was quite a task for Timu and me to get them out. There are twelve of them, Altador, twelve...”
Twelve... Just like the Yooyu was special, the number twelve was too. Altador found this out long after he gathered his eleven companions to found his city.
“Twelve... This can’t be coincidence, Monya.”
“That’s what I thought too!” Monya cried out happily. She had seen the worst happen but beneath those tear-filled eyes, a glimpse of the old Monya was already showing again.
She pointed out a small corridor in the passage. It was barely large enough for any Pet to go through it.
“We found them in there.”
Herme had been looking at the narrow corridor.
“It looks like this has been a cave in the past. A rockslide blocked it and trapped the Yooyus in here. Weren’t you afraid getting them out, Monya?”
The Spotted Lupe gave a small laugh. “Oh no, I knew this was a good omen.”
Meanwhile the little Lupe now had noticed their presence and flung herself into Altador’s arms.
“Uncle Altador! Look what Monya and I found! Aren’t they beautiful?”
Altador took the Yooyu Timu gave to him. It had curled itself up into a ball, but now the little Petpet opened, showing himself.
“Yes, Timu, they are indeed.”
Going back was easy for the little group inside the secret passage. The newly found Yooyus were enough for them to keep their spirits high. For the ones waiting outside the corridor, things had not been that easy. It had been a long wait in a house that could collapse any moment and they were not sure whatever Herme and Altador would come across on their way.
Besides that, Jerdana could feel the tension in the air, like another disaster could strike any minute.
Then finally, Altador, Herme, Timu and Monya arrived, and although the look on Altador’s face told Jerdana at once there wasn’t any hope for other survivors, to her surprise they were also bringing a group of Yooyus with them. It could not have been a better sign.
All seemed well; they had reached safety again. Something, however, just felt wrong...
Jerdana had only a few seconds to react. The blast of red light coming from her orb was powerful enough to knock the falling stones away; however, she knew she could not keep it up for a long time. It was a good thing she felt the magic powers of Siyana and Psellia joined in with her own. The three of them together are strong enough to prevent the ceiling from collapsing upon Altador, Herme, Monya and Timu.
“Nice rescue, Dana,” Herme spoke. Herme was know for his habit of shorting the names of his friends.
“That one was a little too close for me.”
“Oh, it was terrible,” the Sleeper said. “I really thought you might not make it. It scared me so much I didn’t even know how to react. If it hadn’t been for Jerdana...”
But the look she gave the Blue Aisha made the Protector go cold and if ever the Dark Faerie believed she would get the king’s attention with her words, she was wrong. With his arm strongly clutched around Monya’s shoulder, he was guiding her and Timu to safety.
Jerdana realized this was not the time to bother the king with her thoughts, but she was sure about one thing: the ceiling didn’t collapse because of the damage done to it by the monster earlier on. When it came down, she had felt the magic that had caused it to happen. She would recognize dark faerie magic anywhere. Jerdana gave the Sleeper a suspicious look. I don’t trust you at all, she thought.
“What?!” The Sleeper called out. The glance of anger in her eyes was barely visible, only to the trained eye of Jerdana. Jerdana had gotten very good at seeing those signs in the Faerie’s face lately. It bothered her.
It had been a few days since the village was destroyed. It was time to make important decisions.
“I mean, what on earth do you want with a child, Altador?” The Faerie had recovered quickly and the king seemed unaware of her outburst.
“Timu is my niece,” he explained. “With her parents gone, it’s my duty as a family member to take care of her. I’ll raise her, as if she had been my own daughter. I’ll have to keep that duty up to my sister and even if that wasn’t the case, Timu is a lovely child. She’s amazing to have around.”
Altador’s face was beaming. It was clear his niece was giving him great joy, but it wasn’t only Timu.
“I can understand you want to give your niece a good home, but I see no reason why you should keep the maid. She isn’t family at all. She’d be better off somewhere else, with some family who can take her in.”
“I will take her in. To some she may be just ‘the maid’, but to me, Monya has always been a queen. Now I’ll make sure she becomes one.”
Jerdana watched the Dark Faerie storming out of the room. Someone was not happy, she thought. She had the feeling the fight over who would get the king’s affection had just begun.
The Hall of Heroes had always been the centre hall of the royal palace. In honour of the twelve founders, twelve more then live-size statues had been build of them. Apparently, Herme considered this sacred place the best place to play around with the Yooyus.
“Timu, duck!” Herme shouted.
The young pink Lupe ducked behind a statue and laughed while the Yooyu flew almost straight besides her head. She and Monya had just come back from a walk through the city.
The twelve Yooyus, they had found out soon enough, were brimming with energy. They loved playing and bouncing around and it surprised everyone how fast they could fly when curled into a ball. Herme’s current game had been throwing the Yooyus into the air and letting them fly past the statues. It was hard to say who was having more fun, he or the Yooyus.
“Now it’s my turn!” Timu called, while she caught a Yooyu and threw it. She missed and the Yooyu ended up bouncing against the statue of the Sleeper.
“Oh, no, did I hurt it?” Timu asked, shocked, but the Yooyu had bounced back and was already flying around again.
“They appear to be quite bouncy,” Herme said dryly.
“Well, at least it chose a most interesting statue to bump into.” Monya laughed.
“Monya doesn’t like her,” Timu whispered to Herme.
“I hope she isn’t giving you a hard time?” Herme asked Monya. “Or else...”
“Oh, no, Herme, she wouldn’t dare,” Monya said. “She knows too well if she did so, Altador would know and he would not like it.”
In no way did Monya look like the maid she used to be. King Altador had kept his promise of making her a queen: in her current dress, everyone would have taken her for a noble lady. Her rare Spotted colour, which once had made her an outcast, was considered exotic by the inhabitants of the city of Altador and she was admired for it.
“Try to throw one too.” Herme handed Monya a Yooyu.
Their hands touched each other for a moment and Monya started to giggle. She seemed to be rather good at throwing them, however, and in a short time, Herme, Monya and Timu were enjoying themselves with the Yooyus. They had not been particularly quiet with it and soon the noise had attracted the Twelve. They were standing in the hall and laughing. When he noticed they had an audience, Herme quit the game and joined in laughing with the others.
“Seem like you were having quite some fun,” King Altador said.
“These Yooyus are the most amazing Petpets I’ve ever seen,” Herme replied. “I can finally understand my sister for being crazy over Petpets.”
His sister, Fauna, started to laugh. “That’s about time too.”
Timu threw a Yooyu at Herme. “Herme! Catch!”
Herme caught it and gave a laugh. “You know, Timu, we should make a game out of this.”
To be continued...