Masquerade: Part Six
Also by bookworm7
"Altador and the Dark Faerie that compassionately saved his life journeyed together from village to village seeking those of noble heart. Determined to create a righteous government unhindered by corrupted leaders, they gathered together the very best Neopian heroes and established a new civilization. As the city began to take form, the twelve rulers worked side by side to make the city magnificent.
"The council encountered many decisions on how to manage such a huge undertaking, but many on the council passively refrained from the decision-making and simply awaited direct orders from Altador, the true hero with the vision. Only the Dark Faerie, known as the Sleeper, offered alternatives to Altador's decisions.
"Altador envisioned the twelve humbly working side by side with the villagers and achieving their dream of a better Neopia together; he understood that the tempering process would have far greater influence upon the hearts of the founding generations than would the instant creation of a magnificent city in which to live.
"The Sleeper, however, perceived the situation seriously and made decisions that were logical and reasonable. She wanted nothing more than to see the city be built effectively through the tactful and quick use of magic. Based on concrete logic, the Sleeper viewed Altador's plans as illogical and wasteful methods of building the city.
"In the end, the Sleeper always kindly surrendered her ideas to Altador, and the court of the twelve pressed forward under his direction. Even when upset by neglect, the Sleeper worked faithfully behind Altador, knowing that he would fulfill their dream either way. The Sleeper proved her humility when she, with the fellow members of the council, unanimously named the city after Altador, the true creator of the city. The court of the twelve established the Kingdom of Altador and continued to bring the kingdom glory through righteous dominion.
"The Kingdom of Altador flourished under their council until that fateful day when a foreign stranger, Voughn, had been pursued and arrested for lurking outside of the city walls for several days. He appeared before the court bound but bearing a strange and exotic fruit that he called a Cloud Negg. Upon presentation to the court, he asked that the negg be protected and hidden somewhere in Altador for the greater purpose of protecting Neopia. The mysterious visitor informed the court that the negg itself held no purpose since it was only one piece to a puzzle, but the Sleeper took interest in the fruit and asked if she could be the one to bear it. The court granted her bizarre wish and put it in her care.
"From that day on, she vainly wore the negg on a beaded chain around her neck in plain sight. When the King questioned her about the bold display of the negg, she bitterly responded that her magical powers were strong enough to defend the negg from any invader that might attempt to steal it. If the negg were truly important in protecting the safety of Neopia, then she would proudly wear it as a token of her power and as an intimidating threat to those seeking it.
"As time passed, the Sleeper's envious nature materialized, and she began to grudge Altador's prestige and popularity. She had saved his life so long ago and had worked as equals with him to recognize his dream, yet in the end Altador received all the recognition, contradicting his own values of humility that he emphasized against her so much. No matter what the Sleeper did to achieve recognition, the minds of the citizens were obsessed with only the King who had brought them their incredible new life. The Sleeper was wroth with the King for allowing the citizens to honor him above the rest of the twelve.
"The Cloud Negg that Voughn introduced into the court so innocently had called upon her envy and awakened the Sleeper's malevolent powers; she betrayed the kingdom to finally acquire that which she sought. She destroyed Altador's history and began rewriting it all in her own name as her jealousy of Altador festered under the influence of the Cloud Negg.
"Unbeknownst to the Dark Faerie, Jerdana the Protector and King Altador the Hunter had seen her envious nature surface on that fateful day and had formulated a remedy to prevent her imminent plans from succeeding. Jerdana wiped the Betrayer's memories, inadvertently causing her to also forget the ill-harbored feelings she had developed against Altador while building the kingdom. When the Betrayer forgot of her jealousy, the Cloud Negg lost its power over her. Without a provocation, the Betrayer halted her incursion in confusion long enough for Queen Fyora to arrive and turn her to stone.
"The Betrayer, now known as the Darkest Faerie, lies in the depths of the sea to live forever in torment. The Cloud Negg was taken and sealed in the sanctuary of the Restive Tomb, where it shall lie silenced and dead for eternity."
My fingers trembled as I closed the book that Zaira had given me to read to her. I had finally learned the truth behind the corruption of one of the world's most renowned heroines, yet I felt no passion or excitement for the matter. I was in the musty dungeons beneath the Altadorian Archives needlessly aiding Zaira in her quest. I was exhausted beyond comprehension, my neck felt inflamed, and I wanted nothing more than to abandon the quest and let Zaira do all the remaining work. I looked up at her through sore, watery eyes and handed her the book.
"Did you get all that?" I said, yawning. Zaira smiled and took the book. She then handed me the scroll that rested next to Yuruyuki, who had long ago drifted off into sleep.
"There's only one more thing after this next one. Don't worry; they're both a bit shorter! You can rest soon after. Thank you so much for doing this for me!"
I took the scroll into my hands and slowly unraveled it. It revealed large blocks of newsprint text, so it was very tough to read in the miserable darkness. "I need light," I muttered. For more light, Zaira twice flicked the glowing Glass Negg that sat amidst the cluttered books on the table. I let my eyes adjust to the scroll and began to read aloud.
"The investigation of the murder of King Coltzan III has revealed Princess Sankara, the heiress to the throne of Khamtef, as a threat to Sakhmet. Hailing from the Fourth Khonsu Dynasty, Sankara sought refuge in Sakhmet as King Heksas of the lower Mentu region destroyed her father's kingdom. She found favor in Coltzan's Court, and yet she murdered the King in cold blood over banquet. Upon interrogation in the dungeons, she has revealed her dastardly motivations.
"'Your King selfishly ignored the pleas of my citizens and the destruction of my kingdom — a faithful friend to Sakhmet nonetheless! I asked desperately for command over the Sakhmet army, for I knew we would win against the evil King Heksas and would have restored my kingdom and yours to glory. But no! Your feebleminded King sat pompously on the throne without lifting a finger to aid us against the evil forces roaming the desert. He deserved to die! He deserved to lose the power he withheld from our aid! Your King was nothing more than a lame pawn in King Heksas' plan!'
"Ultimately Sankara's thirst for power and revenge against King Heksas has caused her to become one twisted character. She has revealed that, upon a mysterious death of the King, she was planning on usurping the kingdom's military power and using it to stop anyone in the Lost Desert who would dare to unrighteously exercise power and dominion over other Neopets. Although she had the best of intentions, Princess Sankara has ironically fallen trap to the very weakness that she wanted eradicated. Power corrupts every mind; even the noblest of hearts can fall helpless before the infectious power of pride.
"The Sand Negg, which has been a royal emblem passed down from generation to generation of the Khamtef rulers, has been removed from Princess Sankara's headdress and placed with the King's body in the tomb of King Coltzan III as a warning to anyone who would dare seek to usurp power from the King again."
I stopped reading and tossed the news scroll onto the table. The Sand Negg had been discovered, had been passed down for hundreds of years, and survived into our very day until it reached its target victim. No matter where these neggs were taken to in Neopia, they always found their way into someone's mind and caused chaos. Only one of the neggs had escaped this pattern: the Plant Negg. How come this one particular negg hadn't ever caused any trouble?
Something began stinging the back of my head. I wanted to yell in frustration, but I had become so accustomed to the pain in my neck that I simply closed my eyes. I tried to think harder about the parallel pattern each negg had experienced, but the pain was too distracting.
"Sin, are you feeling well? Please help me finish with these documents. I really need you for this last one!" Zaira handed me a long piece of parchment, and I glanced down wearily at the lengthy paragraphs. My eyes were drawn towards the last sentence that had been written on the parchment.
"Pride, Greed, Sloth, and Envy—the Mysterious Neggs know only chaos; no one can prevent them from reuniting and destroying the world."
I didn't understand. "Zaira, what is this?"
Zaira chuckled as the pain in my neck suddenly stopped. "Sin, you have discovered the answers we have been searching for! I'm so proud of you for your hard work. You deserve a long... long rest."
I looked at Zaira and finally realized that my mind had been under her omnipotent prodding since the beginning. Her heinous smile reigned over my thoughts! My vision blurred as a Plant Negg sapling grew out of the back of my neck and wrapped around my head. Yuruyuki laid motionless in front of me as I cried sheepishly for help. There was no one who could stop Zaira now. She continued grinning at me as my consciousness faded and drifted off into oblivion...
To be continued...