Visions: Journey to Shenkuu - Part Two
After the successful theft, Nil sat in the alley she had come to known as a home, eating the ummagine slowly and savoring each bite. It would be a fine breakfast for the day, so there was no need to return to the market yet. The alley was safer, by far, for her.
Her little ‘home’ was next to a bakery shop, which meant that the garbage sometimes held burnt cookies or food that had been dirtied. This made no difference to Nil, though, and she greedily ate whatever scraps from the bakery she could, especially when it involved apple scones, a rarity and delight for her.
No scones today, Nil thought, taking another bite of the ummagine. A bit of the juice dripped onto the worn, dirty blanket she sat on. It added to the mess a bit, but with how much usage it had gone through, it didn’t seem that bad.
The vision came to her wandering mind again, and she reluctantly took another look at it, seeing the same things as before except that everything aside from the Wocky, Ogrin, and Lupe seemed faded and distant. The Ogrin was sharper than all of them, as if something about him was going to have a major influence on her life, or that they would soon meet.
“When, though, and why?” Nil wondered aloud, tossing aside the remainders of the ummagine. Even after fifteen years of random visions, most of them still made hardly any sense. Some she could figure out, like the ones involved with her thefts, but others were as cryptic and mysterious as the one that now faced her.
Unconsciously, Nil fiddled with the tiny, silver earring she wore. It was in the shape of a backwards s and hung down slightly from its clasp that pierced her ear. The metal had gone through over ten years ago, the skin broken by herself. This silver earring was the only reminder of her mother, and, in fact, anything that involved her previous life, the life before all the crime and hiding.
Nil turned her attention back on the vision, and she realized that it had caught her attention more than all of the others she had. The question was why, though. What made this one so different than the rest that she should try to unravel the mysteries surrounding it?
The answer was immediately clear to her. It was the Ogrin, the blind Ogrin, which made the difference. She knew how difficult and hazardous living without half of her sight was, and to know of someone even more challenged than she was made her want to help him, which was typically not something she did. Years of living on the streets had taught her to care only what happened to herself and to disregard others, as it would only get her deep into trouble, more than she was in already.
The Ogrin was challenging her, though. Challenging her to face the world at last and come out of hiding. To face it all and fight through it in order to help him. She felt that the old, blind Ogrin was not completely vulnerable and unable to help himself, but there was some sort of draw all the same.
I’ll have to face the world some time, Nil told herself. Might as well be for him, if anything at all.
She got to her feet and another vision, small and with a singular and clear purpose, came to her. Paper lanterns, gold coins, decorated kites, flying ships, and magnificent mountains appeared before her, and a single word ran through her mind: Shenkuu.
How do I get there, though? Nil wondered as the vision left her. Another vision came, as if to answer her question. It showed her a big, glowing tower that reached towards the sky. There was a darkened window that drew her attention towards it and she was able to peer into it. Paintings were hung on the walls and one glowed slightly. Then, it filled the room and she was in another place, big and mighty.
The world returned to Nil and the vision seemed almost to offer her good fortune as it left. For a moment, she wondered what to do, and then it became clear what she had to do. If she were to travel, she needed supplies, and with no money or things to trade, there was only one way to get them.
She would have to steal the supplies.
There wasn’t much that Nil could get her hands on. She barely managed to get a new shirt without notice and several times she was chased out of the store or away from the stall. Eventually, she had what might last her a few days, if she had only a handful a day. It was more than she typically got, though. She had also scored on a map, which let her know exactly where Shenkuu was. The distance was a bit scary, but she figured that it was shorter than it looked. Plus, there was that strange premonition that whatever was in the room of portraits she had seen would help her reach her destination.
So, once the sun had sunk below the horizon once more and Neopets and faeries alike were settling into their beds, Nil slunk up to the apparent empty space that stood in the middle of the Faerie city. However, through the enhanced vision in her right eye, Nil could see a glowing tower stretching into the sky before her. There were darker areas where windows stood, though those were few and far between.
The different images from Nil’s eyes gave her a headache after a moment, so she pulled out a piece of rope she had and tied it over her left eye, that way the only thing she could see was the glowing tower. She took hold of some of the bricks and began to climb, slowly working her way up.
It took only a few minutes of climbing to reach the lowest window, which she believed connected to the room of paintings. There was little difficulty, though the strain made her entire body ache and she longed to rest, but the room she now stood in was foreign to her and pitch black.
Right, the rope, Nil realized and removed the make-shift blindfold. Instantly, her eye adjusted and she took a step back in admiration.
There were twenty paintings neatly hung on the walls. Each seemed to symbolize an area or region of Neopia. Most she couldn’t recognize, but there were a few she immediately knew.
A flying ship soared through a clear night sky with glowing lanterns strung all about it, some even flying themselves. The full moon cast upon the side of the boat, showing the words Cyodrake’s Gaze clearly on its prow. Along the railing of the deck, Neopets stood and smiled, their eyes catching the light of the lanterns so that they shone. This was the painting for Shenkuu. Nil lifted it and tried to see if there was something to help her journey, but there was nothing.
The next one was for Qasala, and beside it was Sakhmet. Qasala’s caught her attention and she looked upon the scene.
A Kyrii stood on top of a sand dune, a fierce and determined look in his eyes. He was oddly dressed to Nil, but it was still clear he was royalty. Behind him, a city lay in ruins, but some of the buildings appeared to have been repaired slightly. Something about the image made her long to see the desert.
Then, she reached Altador’s. At least, that was what she assumed it to be. There were twelve Neopets, all seeming so relaxed around each other and so trusting, aside from a Dark Faerie who stood off to the side. She seemed more like a statue than an actual person.
A light came through the center of the painting before Nil had a chance to examine it more closely. Her right eye saw it as a glowing sun, but her left saw only a small speck of light coming from the Lupe who stood in the middle, seeming to watch over all of the Neopets in the room.
The room began to fade away and Nil felt herself lift off the ground. Something pulled on her body and she shut her eyes against a blinding light. There was an instant where it felt like she was flying, but that faded and solid ground met her feet once more.
When she dared to open her eyes once more, though, she was no longer in a room of paintings, but rather upon a rooftop. It was daytime once more, and this brought her great confusion. The sun was setting for a second time somewhere over the horizon. However, there was someone else on the rooftop that set all other thoughts aside for the moment.
A blue Wocky, dressed in a simple black cloak with a quiver of arrows over his back, sat at the edge of the rooftop, aiming a bow and arrow down into the open center of the street below, where a Lupe stood, talking to the crowd around him.
Then, Nil realized the Lupe was the same one in the painting from before as well as the one in her vision, and the Wocky was also from her vision. Now here they both were—one threatening the life of another—and Nil was the only one who knew of it.
She had to act, or else the arrow from the Wocky’s bow would hit its target and the Lupe would die then and there. She had to act now, and fast.
To be continued...