A Renewed Hope: Part Four
Janice's daily schedule was rather altered in Calladamos. She would wake up and go to the Hall with Gareth or Ria, and learn all she could about the city she was to protect. She'd then go for training sessions with Ria and Janice would come out tired, more magically skilled, and happy. After that she went to the library to read about Guardians; after all, the best way to defeat your enemy was to know your enemy. Janice would read until bedtime, then she would sleep for a while and wake up to keep Gareth away from the sunrise and, thus, the chance of not being remembered.
Gareth didn't appreciate this. Physically, he was much stronger than her, so when she stopped him in the halls he could have simply brushed Janice aside; but magically, Janice could keep him afloat or unable to move, so it was easy to keep him away from the sun.
One day after her training, Janice found a book entitled AC. She wondered, briefly, if the book were referring to the Altador Cup back home, but then she shook off the ridiculous idea. The library only held books on Calladamos. She picked it off the shelf and began to read. Apparently the book was about the differences and similarities between Altador (A) and Calladamos (C). She read:
The kingdom of Altador and our kingdom of Calladamos are very different. Altador's symbol is of the 'sun', while ours is of the moon. But, the Protector's city and ours have some similarities. Both have forgotten pasts. Both have magical history recorders. Both have Protectors: in Altador, theirs is an Aisha named Jerdana, while ours is the Possessor of Mysti, Janice--
Here, something was missing: a line or a sentence. Janice stood up and went to go find Ria. This book interested her; particularly because there was some connection from her hometown to Calladamos, and the suspense was annoying.
She found Ria in the Training Room, expertly slashing dummies with a sword. "Um... Ria? What are you doing?" Janice asked, surprised. Ria had told her a few days ago that she wasn't fond of swords; her only offenses and defenses were magic, and she liked it that way. But apparently she had changed her mind. Ria suddenly turned on her and held the sword's point to Janice's unarmed chest, then laughed at Janice's shocked expression. She went back to slashing the dummies.
"Ria!" Janice said, more persistently. She had to find out what that sentence had said!
"Hmm? What is it?" said Ria absently. She concentrated on her sword work. Her spirit glow was so fierce that Janice thought for a moment she was on fire – grey fire, that is.
"You don't like swords... but never mind. I need to ask you something." Janice walked up to her and showed her the open book. She pointed at the cut off sentence. "See, look here. It just stops. Do you know what it says?"
"Oh, that," said Ria. Her pretty greyish eyes flashed like steel. "Let me see... oh, yes, now I remember. After your name, the sentence ends, and a new one begins... 'The city of Altador is a mirror copy of Calladamos; Altador known for its sunshine, Calladamos not known at all.
"'What most people don't know is that they are really the same city. Calladamos is merely a shadow of Altador. When the Protector brings the city back, Altador will fall; that is, it will cease to exist. Because of that, Calladamos will be brought back into the world.'"
By this point, Janice had tears in her eyes and a paw over her mouth. Ria's voice was soft when she said, "Janice, I'm so sorry. But in order to bring back Calladamos--"
"I'll have to destroy my home," Janice interrupted in a hushed voice heavy with despair. "Altador."
"Janice, you must help us. You are the Protector."
"Not anymore," Janice told her, tears streaming down her face. She dropped the Rod of Mysti and fled the room.
Janice tore through the palace, not caring who she ran into or where she was going; she had no destination in mind, nor would she have seen or heard anything if she hit it. Her tears blinded her, and the thudding of her heart pounded in her ears. She loved Calladamos already. She loved its starlit skies, its glowing citizens, and its mysterious history. She loved everything about it, and would have done anything to bring it back.
Anything, that is, except for destroy Altador. She loved it, too: its radiant sunrises and sunsets, its twelve heroes, its food, its people – even its Yooyu Ball Team, crummy as it was. She couldn't destroy Altador. It was her home. But so was Calladamos now.
She crashed into a large room, empty but for a beautiful ebony-black grand piano with keys of ivory. A blue Peophin sat there, playing it. The melody she made was so magnificent, so lovely, that it stopped the grief-stricken Janice in her tracks. Tears streamed down her face and fell to the ground like rain. She gave a little sniffle.
The Peophin looked up, annoyed at the intrusion, and then her face took up a concerned if slightly scornful look. She had a face that looked a little bit younger than Ria, and she certainly did not look very princess-like – she wore a T-shirt, a skirt and a beige fashion scarf – and yet, it was unmistakable that she was, in fact, a princess. She had amber colored eyes. Her glow was a deep violet.
She said, "I'm Atlanta. Princess Atlanta to you, whoever you are. Why are you crying?"
Janice remembered Gareth saying something about Ria's sister named Atlanta. When she finally found her voice, she said, "My name is Janice. Janice the Protector, to you. I'm crying because I just learnt that I have to wreck my home if I want to bring your city back."
Atlanta raised an eyebrow. "And where in Calladamos did you hear that nonsense?"
"Your sister, Ria, told me just now," Janice sighed. "So now I'm looking for an exit from this place. If protecting Calladamos means that I have to destroy my home, then I am not your Protector."
Atlanta snickered. "I don't need protecting." She displayed two twin sword blades and sliced the air mercilessly and expertly. "But really?" Her voice turned serious. "Why would that happen? Calladamos isn't a shadow of Altador. See?" She pointed to a map of Neopia on the wall. "Altador--" she stabbed her fin at Altador on the map "--is here. Calladamos--" she pointed to an empty island across from Shenkuu "--was here, before. I don't know where Ria got that idea, but returning Calladamos will not affect Altador in any way, at least that I know of." She looked satisfied with herself when she added, "And I know a lot."
Suddenly, Ria burst through the door. "Janice, where have you been?" she asked breathlessly. "You didn't show up for your training session. I thought you were in the library, but I checked and you were not there." She glanced at Atlanta. "I see that you've met my sister."
"Why did you tell me that lie?" Janice burst out. "I was terrified that I would soon be either abandoning Calladamos or destroying Altador."
There was a silence. Atlanta watched both of them, unabashedly interested in where this discussion was headed.
"...Whatever do you mean?" Ria asked, confused. "What's this about Calladamos and Altador?"
Janice told her about it, starting from when she saw Ria in the Training Ria room with the sword. "I didn't even go to the Training Room today until the scheduled time for our training session," Ria interrupted, sounding very puzzled. "And I do not, nor will I ever, use swords. I leave that to Gareth and Atlanta." She paused, clearly thinking deeply. "How did I look? I mean, did I seem different, act different from usual?"
"Well," said Janice, "Your spirit glow was really wild, and more greyish than silver. Your eyes were kind of distracted, like you were thinking of something else..." Janice trailed off. Ria's eyes had also been a grey colour, like cold steel, nothing like her blue ones. It all began to come together. Ria's eyes were blue. Not grey. Her spirit glow was silver, not grey. Ria hated using swords. She'd barely glanced at the book before repeating what it supposedly said, or was supposed to say. That Draikess in the Training room had not been Ria. It had been an imposter. Janice swallowed. "That was a Guardian in the Training Room." She said, her voice itself trembling. "That was a Guardian. Oh, no. I left my staff in there. The Rod of Mysti. I left it with the Guardian." She hardly knew what she was saying, she was so frightened. She silently berated herself for not noticing sooner, and for leaving the staff behind.
Atlanta's mouth was wide open with shock. Her violet spirit glow flared up and then died down a bit. Ria took in a sharp intake of breath, like a gasp. She looked absolutely terrified, horrified, and the sadness in her eyes turned to fear. Janice felt exactly how they looked. In that instant, all three of them had the exact same thought.
"Gareth," Atlanta whispered. Without another word, they turned around and burst through the doors. As though they were one pet instead of three, they began to run.
To be continued...