Once upon a time, very long, long ago, in the dry vastness of the Lost Desert, there was an evil sorcerer named Khaten. Using his powerful dark magic, Khaten defeated Sahkmet's pharoah and began a terrible, oppressive reign as the new king. As all villains are wont to experience eventually, Khaten was defeated by a band of unlikely heroes and was sealed away in stone in a tomb deep, deep below the shifting sands, to pay for his crimes. No Sahkmetian particularly liked him, so they were pretty happy to see him go.
However, this old Kyrii wasn't just any evil sorcerer. He was a bit craftier than the rest and, luckily for him, always had some backup plans in mind. (He had even told the heroes so- "This is not the end of me! I will return! Just you all wai-") After a thousand years, his faithful Anubis demon, who had been banished to the Endless Plains by said unlikely heroes, would regain enough strength to return to the world and break the seal. And so, on the very second that the thousand-year mark passed, there was a telltale explosion.
Really, however, there were two explosions. One was currently in progress at a little abode in present-day Sahkmet, being unsuccessfully controlled by one flabbergasted yellow Kougra named Naira.
"Oh, what did I do wrong THIS time?" Naira was almost ready to tear her fur out, for she was frantically fanning a paw over the green flames that raged in the tall clay pot in the middle of her study. She drew closer to the pot to inspect her latest creation, but somehow she managed to inhale a deep, tear-inducing lungful of the billowing black smoke. Big mistake. She instantly turned away, ready to cough up her lungs and then her ribcage followed by her soul, and instinctively gripped her clay worktable and gagged, her eyes bulging to comic proportions. In the process her arm knocked a nearby scroll into the smoking pot.
"Noooooooo! That homework's due tomorrow! And I forgot my extinguishing scrolls at the Academy!" she cried. The emerald flames continued to blaze merrily in despite of her stress- the heat inside the room grew so hot that even the Desert Neopet could hardly stand it, and random ingredients from the pot leapt up and burst into black bombs in a dazzling display of fireworks. Naira dashed to a nearby scroll rack and searched for a water scroll. Seeing none, she picked up a blank scroll that lay on the top of the rack. This scroll was a special blank scroll, a convenient canvas that she could summon texts and writings to. The Kougra quickly sped through the summoning spell, and writing slowly materialized on the formerly blank scroll. She quickly cast the first spell that appeared.
The entire pot shuddered, shivered, then blinked out of existence. Naira was pleasantly surprised. It was the easiest clean-up job ever. She'd have to try that spell again sometime. Still, whatever its usefulness, it sure wasn't a water spell.
She glanced back at the scroll in her paws to examine the spell she had cast. The name of the spell was: How to Obliterate Your Enemies: Introductory Fun. And the scroll was aptly titled: Dark Magic for Novices: Do Try This At Home.
So it definitely wasn't a water scroll. Somehow, she had tried to summon a water text and ended up with a dark magic text. Naira was now pretty much sure that the scholars were correct in her being one of the worst magicians the Academy had ever seen. Seriously, she probably should have become a clay potter or a jewel thief or something. But among the lot of grade-repeaters, she did have one unique quality: ambition. Naira didn't just want to be a great magician. She wanted to be a super great magician. And with this Obliteration spell turning out pretty well and all, it seemed her luck was turning. Naira was going to become a dark sorceress.
On the outskirts of Sahkmet, a lightning portal tore burning-hot through the fabric of reality, and a large black creature slipped through like a creeping shadow. Its fanged, slender muzzle sniffed the air delicately, taking in the familiar hot desert air for the first time in a millennium. The black Anubis inhaled deeply, its slitted ruby eyes sharpening as it distinctly recognized the scent of its Master somewhere in the distance. It was time to go home. But first, its Master had given it a set of instructions to break the magical seal that kept him prisoner. The Creature would need to fetch a couple of magical objects and arrange them in a certain fashion in the sealed tomb. The meeting of these items would then break the spell, and the Creature would have its Master back to serve again. With a flash of determination, the Anubis fled away from the city like a swift black breeze.
As soon as it reached the yawning vastness of the desert, it shifted direction slightly and took off again. As it bounded across the sands, it didn't leave a single footprint. Scanning the distance ahead, it knew what it was looking for- a rare desert tree, the kind that managed to fight the odds to adulthood once in a thousand years and live for thousands of years more. A small dot approached in the distance, and the Petpet closed in on it.
The tree was a small, twisted, gnarly thing, interwoven with thick coils of gray bark. Its branches fanned out like a clawed hand against the tangerine skyscape. Little tendrils of pale green leaves dangled from its branches, slick with retained moisture. In the middle of the tree, there was a small, gaping hole. It seemed as if someone had ripped the tree's heart out. The Anubis knew that what he was looking for was hidden in that hole- a potion that bottled the vitality of life. It was vital in restoring its Master, and its Master had hidden it away long ago in case he was ever defeated. It was nice to have foresight sometimes.
The creature leaned its head forward, nosing through the gap, when its entire world exploded in a firestorm of sand.
Conveniently, the dark scroll happened to have a little prompt where you could write in how your casting experience went after each spell. Naira wrote Success with an ink brush from her desk. The written rune seeped into the fabric of the scroll and disappeared, then returned the phrase: Keep it up!
Yay for me! Naira thought happily. Eagerly, she rolled up the scroll a bit to read the second spell: Creating Widespread Chaos and Panic
She read through the instructions, which told her how to generate inclement weather, such as wildfire and sandstorms. Naira wasn't quite ready to trust fire again after that horrible green fire destroyed her homework (she still had to come up with some excuse for not turning in her homework other than her Anubis eating it), so she decided a nice sandstorm would do the trick. She pronounced the spell, then ran up to the vacant square gap that served as a window in her Neohome to study the horizon.
After a few minutes of waiting, nothing happened. With a shrug, she decided that her spell was unsuccessful, which she recorded on the scroll. Perhaps it took place on the other side of Neopia. Positive thoughts!, the scroll answered.
The scroll was indeed right, for a small dust devil whirling on its last legs breezed through the window-gap and dropped a golden potion at her feet. Naira was pretty sure that the potion must be the equivalent of a gold star.
The small sandstorm torrent simply passed through the Anubis spirit as if it were air. The same, unfortunately, could not be said for the tree. It now lay, quite in ruins, and the golden potion was nowhere in sight. The Creature's eyes glowed red at having been thwarted.
Still, what honest planning ahead couldn't solve, plain thievery usually did the trick. The Anubis flowed into the Black Market section of the Sahkmetian marketplace and swiped a vitality potion when a particuarly seedy and greedy-looking seller had his attention elsewhere. This potion didn't contain a little of the essence of its Master, having been brewed by some other Neopet, but the Creature supposed one potion was better than none. Taking its prize in its mouth, it needed to find the next item: a royal amulet from the palace's treasure chamber itself.
The treasures of the royal palace were kept deep underground, away from the greedy hands of robbers. The Anubis left the marketplace shortly and breezed through the city until it reached the gates of Sahkmet's crown jewel. Golden bulbs sprouted upwards from gleaming ivory towers. The Anubis avoided the guards by melting into a shadow on the sandstone walls, sliding around edges and making it inside. It briefly surveyed its rich, luxurious surroundings, then spotted and took a nearby stairway that led underground. In a thousand years, the royal palace hadn't changed at all, and the Anubis remembered every chamber, every hall and every dungeon. (Look, there- that was where it was bottle-fed as a little spiritling, and there, it consumed its first Petpet.)
It glided down the stairs and arrived in a low tunnel that branched off into different rooms, all locked with thick plates of sandstone and intricately inscribed runes. The passage was in total darkness, but it saw them as if bright sunlight could pass through solid rock. Imposing statues of old pharaohs lined both sides of the passage, eyes glowing red, as if saying that, yes, there were definitely booby traps down here. The Creature passed through the walls, simply weaving in and out of rooms, having originated in another world that teemed with dark magic and shadows. Finally, it arrived at a chamber that was more richly decorated than the rest. Runes and colored hieroglyphics spread across the walls, spinning stories of all the treasures that were kept here. Ornate pottery set off the many sandstone pedestals that precious jewels lay upon. Its eye wandered for a moment, then fell upon the signature amulet. It was just as the Creature remembered it- its Master's precious jewelry...
Eagerly, Naira moved on to read the next spell: Stealing Magical Artifacts for Fun and Profit.
Funding your evil schemes always tends on the expensive side, so stealing and selling powerful items is a great method of keeping yourself debt-free. Pronounce these words exactly and have the image of the magical artifact in mind as you do so.
Like any girl, Naira adored jewelry, so she imagined a beautiful gold chain that showed off a shining ruby brooch. If the spell worked, she wasn't sure whether she would sell it or wear it!
Naira quieted for a moment, then whispered the words of the spell, blocking all thoughts from her mind except for the necklace as she did so. A speck of dust that shimmered in the light falling through the window-gap began to pulse softly like a red firefly. The light then magnified and shaped itself into a loop of gold. The initial halo of light faded away to reveal a royal necklace with a ruby centerpiece that glowed with power. Somewhere in the world an Anubis was blinking at a now-vacant pedestal.
"Cool," Naira said, twirling the necklace in her paw and admiring its beauty. She could feel the sheer power it contained. She reported her success, and the scroll gave an encouraging You're Almost There!
Naira unrolled the map she was carrying and examined in from a multitude of different angles. According to this scroll she'd gotten from the Sahkmetian Library, there were plenty of old tombs where she could try to raise "an undead minion to do her bidding, and her chores." The map showed a sketch of Sahkmet in the center, ringed by a vast desert of dunes and unique-looking rocks. These landmarks were marked out, as well as a scattered collection of tombs in no particular arrangement. Surely, there had to be a mummy of the evil persuasion in one of them.
Shrugging, she randomly selected one and tucked the map away in preparation for the arduous trek. She drew her a white veil-scarf over her face to shield herself from the worst of the gritty wind and arrived within an hour's time. A tall golden pyramid jutted up from the sands, majestic and regal in its great breadth. Naira whistled in appreciation, then walked around the perimeter to check it out. There were no doors. Well, that was an inconvenience, but luckily for Naira (and unluckily for the pyramid), she had a bit of a gift with fire spells.
"Bastet Bej Haji," she said, waving her arms in the air in a willowy, circling manner. An explosion on the other side of the pyramid shook the sand beneath her feet, and Naira would have hit the ground if it weren't for her feline Kougra balance. Okay, so her magical accuracy wasn't perfect, but it got the job done. She circled over to the other side and inspected her work. It had taken out a huge, gaping chunk out of the sandstone. Darkness lingered beyond the Neopet-sized hole. Perfect. Naira padded through.
Apparently, her future minion was going to be an animated statue, because that's all this dusty old tomb contained- a statue that depicted a Kyrii as ancient as Naira's grandfather. She was pretty disappointed that there wasn't any treasure in the tomb or anything, having read great tales of the rich tombs of old dead royalty. And, she had also expected her future minion to be taller.
Okay, so it wasn't a mummy, and it wasn't quite what she had in mind, but Naira could probably still work with it. Maybe it could become her gargoyle minion or something.
Naira consulted the scroll again, checking to see if she absolutely needed a mummy. There was no explicit requirement of a mummy, and the scroll had even hinted that statues sometimes contained mummies. The scroll had paced Naira's academic progression pretty well, requiring her to obtain two magical objects- a potion and a necklace- in order to unlock this last spell. Naira appreciated the scroll's thoughtfulness, thankful that she didn't have to go out of her way to get them.
She studied the diagram that explained where to place the objects- the necklace around the neck, the bottle in its hand, then carried out the instructions. She closed her eyes and chanted the spell, waving her paws in intricate patterns over her head, exactly like the scroll showed.
"Now...." she said in a deep, sonorous voice. Her eyes were still closed. "My evil minion of doom! Rise, my liege!" To check her progress, Naira squinted open one eye and peeked to see if her spell was working. "Please?"
The Petpet was foiled again. It was almost as if those unlikely heroes were rising again (or perhaps their great-great-great-great-many-more-great's-grandchildren on their mother's side twice removed). On the one paw, its Master would be pleased that his resurrection actually made some hero care about it. On the other paw, he would very much like to escape an eternal prison, thank you very much.
The Anubis had been forced to search the Sahkmetian palace high and low for an equally powerful dark amulet. Unfortunately, its Master's necklace was one-of-a-kind, so the Creature searched all of the underground chambers for a replacement that bore similar qualities- a difficult thing, when one didn't know just what one was searching for. Eventually, the Creature discovered a scarlet chaos amulet "safely" locked away in a hidden crevice in the pharaoh's royal chamber.
With great haste, the Creature headed straight for the tomb and arrived just in time to see the strange scene unfold before him. The statue was nowhere to be seen, presumably being blocked from its view by some form currently attempting to resurrect the statue- a Kougra, it seemed. Perhaps its Master still had loyal supporters to this day. The thought pleased the Creature immensely, for it meant that the great sorcerer's legacy was not forgotten. (Really, though, even his name had been largely swept away by the sands of time)
It pleased the Creature much less when the Neopet sank to the floor and and began to examine small chunks of rock.
A river of midnight darkness swirled in ribbons around the statue, and spiderweb-like cracks began to appear on the stone. A shower of dust rained down from the ceiling. Although the ground rocked madly like an earthquake, and the statue, too, was wobbling in tandem, Naira grinned excitedly and clapped her paws in anticipation.
She twirled around and, still clutching the scroll, cheered, "Whoo-hoo! It's working!" As she pumped her paw in the air, the scroll was freed from her grip and whirled upwards, then spun downwards and landed squarely on the statue's forehead. It was like placing a Djuti feather on top of an already heavy load that a Nuk's back was struggling to just bear. With another final push from the ground, the statue toppled over and crashed to the sandstone with a deafening sound. Naira immediately rushed over to see if her new minion was okay.
Dark magic still swirled around it, powerful as ever, but there was a large crack in the statue's arm where it had fallen.
It looked alright, save for the giant crack on its arm. Naira wondered if she should right the statue upwards again. Statues always stood up, anyway, and they especially did not lie face-down. It could be really important for the ritual. So, Naira grasped the stone figure's arm and hauled away at it with all her might. Unbeknownst to her, she had gripped the arm too tightly, and the stone itself had begun to crumble away.
After a bit more heaving, the thing had barely moved. This, then, called for an air spell. The Kougra whispered a few words and circled her right arm in a thrusting motion, and a breeze rushed in from nowhere, uplifting the statue and jarring it to the other side, rather like a broken lever. Large, deep cracks now spread across the statue.
Clearly, Naira was going to have to use brute strength. She grabbed the statue and pulled and pushed on different body parts, experimenting with using the head, arms, legs as a lever. Every time she pulled, a bigger crack formed, and the stone started to fall away in chunks. After a minute of effort, the entire statue collapsed into rubble.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!" she told the statue, momentarily forgetting that she was now talking to a pile of rubble. She was on her knees, grabbing at different shards and chunks of stone, searching her brain for a spell that would create some super-sticky adhesive to somehow put it all back together. But every time her paws picked up a chunk of statue and attempted to find a matching adjacent piece, it crumbled into dust. She sifted the necklace and what remained of the potion from the pile of dust. The ruby had cracked in several different places, the loops of the gold chain had fallen apart, and the potion was no more than a collection of shards.
Through the gaping hole, the demon was slack-jawed at the display. The follower had managed to destroy its Master, a being more eternal than the Sun, more powerful than nature (in its not-so-humble opinion, at least). The Creature zoned in on the confused Kougra and moved forward, baring its fangs, growling. It stalked towards her with predatory rage. Sensing the Anubis approach, the Kougra turned around and blinked in surprise.
"Oh! Hello there, old... uhmm... boy, I guess. Did you get lost or something?" She turned around and gestured at the gaping hole she had blasted through the wall.
"Because you look like you've just lost your owner. Ah! I've got just the spell for that!" The Neopet snapped a paw in recollection, then meditated briefly, recalling the image of a Lost Petpet spell in her mind- one of the first spells a magician learned. Not only was it easy, it also kept Sahkmetian streets sparkling clean.
She concentrated for a brief moment, speaking a few words in the ancient tongue. A pale cerulean glow ringed the Anubis, then pulled away from the Anubis's form and encapsulated itself into a tiny blue light. It buzzed and twinkled, hovering in place.
"Huh," she commented. "This light should've gone somewhere. Maybe you're a spirit or a wild Petpet. Or maybe I'm your owner?" The Creature could see that this Kougra wasn't too bright. The Kougra then eyed the Creature closely. She reached over and suddenly cracked open the its jaw, seemingly inspecting something inside its mouth. "Well, there's something there..." she mused. She snapped the creature's jaws shut and started tugging at its ears.
"I can't say for sure," she said at last, absolutely puzzled. "Well, you can come to my Neohome! I think there's some Sphinx links in the pantry I haven't gotten around to burning yet. I was in the middle of something here, but I'm pretty sure I'm finished with it."
The demon's nose picked up a scent, something that contained a trace of its Master. Its ears perked up, curiosity certainly piqued. With one long, forlorn look at the remains of its Master, it turned around and padded away with the stranger.
"Every Petpet needs a name!" Naira announced as they walked away from the tomb. "I'm gonna call you Khaten. It's the name of the author of this scroll. It's got quite a catchy ring to it, don't you think, Khaten?"