Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 94,333,932 Issue: 184 | 1st day of Eating, Y7
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The Rise and Defeat: Ivy's Story - Part Two


by basketballnsoccer25

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The years after the day that I spoke to Coltzan were marvelous. My mind, though filled with so much, will always have room to remember that golden age. The people I met, the unbreakable bonds I created, and the obstacles that we all faced together and conquered with triumph will forever remain stored in my soul as the best months of my life. So many times have I wished that the outcome had been different, and that all the grime that had splattered upon the palace could be washed away. But I know that the evil will never amend itself. I still hope however, dreaming of those days, time and time again.

     The terror first began to brew on 8th day of Relaxing, the year I cannot quite pinpoint. I remember this day and the following weeks like graku bugs know food scraps. It was on this day that word of King Sobek of Khamtef and King Heksas of the lower Mentu region declaring war reached the Sakhmet Palace. Their hate and rivalry against each other had been no secret, and it did not surprise anyone that they had drawn into conclusion that war was the only way. What did astound everyone was how abrupt the avowal had been. It certainly caught everyone off guard, even Coltzan.

     "We must send reinforcements to Khamtef!" I had heard Coltzan shout upon his throne and I leaned my ear against the throne room doors. "King Sobek's armies are too weak against the evil Heksas' forces!"

     "Your Highness," an advisor spoke, "Heksas' forces are already on the go. Our armies would not reach the walls of Khamtef in time for their aid. They are doomed, sire."

     "Do not say that!" Coltzan shouted, his voice faltering slightly as his fist pounded on the stone arm rest. "If we make haste, the forces can make it! We must send them out this instant!"

     "Your Highness, I share your anger," the advisor said, his face full of sorrow. "Had we known of this crisis earlier, surely we would have helped the people of Khamtef."

     Coltzan rested his head in the palm of his paws, shaking his head in despair, heart full of grief. "So we are just to sit here and wait for the vile King Heksas' armies slaughter Khamtef?" At this point, I peered through the crack between the doors, my sight only seeing King Coltzan in anguish. I will never forget his face at that moment. Fury, remorse, and helplessness all merged into one. My heart dropped as I stared into his face.

     "I am sorry, Your Highness," the advisor spoke. "King Sobek was a wise and good king. May he be at rest."

     Coltzan did not reply, sitting upon his throne still as a boulder. I heard the shuffling of feet and saw the approach of the advisor towards the doors. I scurried off down the hall and around the corner, making sure that the fact that I had eavesdropped on a conversation remained a secret.

     As I ventured back towards the throne room, pretending that I was just making my way there, I passed the advisor. He gave me a cordial smile, and I returned the gesture. But I knew that all was not well as it seemed.

     I strolled into the golden room as I thrust open the doors. Coltzan was still mourning, and I pretended to not know why.

     "You seem troubled, Your Highness," I spoke as I sat on a chair beside him. "What sadness has befallen you?"

     Coltzan sighed. "King Sobek and his people are about to be seized by King Heksas' forces," he breathed. "And I cannot prevent the dreadful inevitable."

     "I am sorry for your loss," I spoke gently.

     "Do not squander your blessings on me," he said. "Just hope for a miracle."

     We sat there in utter silence, the serenity piercing the air like blades slicing through coarse fabric made of linen. Lost in our thoughts we were, our blessings going out to those in Khamtef. A great loss was about to take place, such defeat like none other. I believe that no one better understood that than the King and I.

     ******

     The tragedy deeply saddened the subjects of Sakhmet, as well as the Sakhmetians. The time of grief had been short however, for now vengeance gleamed in everyone's eyes. Sakhmet was now at war with King Heksas, hoping to avenge their lost ally and faithful friends. The war tents were hustling and bustling as more Sakhmetians gathered in line to sign up for the war. Almost everyone was leaving to fight in the battle. Even one of my most pre-eminent friends, Rahbrok, had been asked to fight as General in the war.

     It was night before Rahbrok had to leave for combat. We met for one last time in the Sakhmet Gardens. The fountains flowed gracefully and the faerie cinths hummed their soft melodies as any other day. In the garden, everything was at peace. In the garden, there were no hardships and major calamities. In the garden, nothing horrendous existed.

     "Seems this night isn't good for avid stargazers," I said as we walked down the earthly path. "It is but gray clouds and no hanging moon to liven the spirits of the people."

     "Yes, I guess you're right," Rahbrok said, looking to the evening sky above. "Looks fit for the mood given off these days though."

     I nodded. "Sadly, I agree." We both stared into the cloudy night sky, expecting something, though what we sought for I do not exactly know. The groaning clouds drained my spirits as the recently occurring events flooded my vision. I did not want to think more of the horrid disasters.

     "Rahbrok, I - " I was paused as he held his paw up to stop me from saying more.

     "Shh.." the Lupe whispered, lowering his paw. I silenced, hearing only the flowing waters of the fountains and the hymns of the cinths."Silence can be just as grand as language, if not more. You, though a storyteller of words and letters should know this."

     "I just want you to come back," I spoke. "I can't imagine a life without my best confidant."

     "Just hope, my friend," he replied quietly, his gaze not quavering away from the sky.

     "I am afraid that I have no hope left," I spoke, downhearted.

     There was a long pause as I awaited my friend's reply.

     "There, see it?" He extended his paw towards the sky, pointing. "A star."

     I squinted into the dark clouds, and soon a dull light met my eyes. A small star, yes.

     "There, suspended in the sky is a star. Nothing significant, but still, it is there. Through the thicket of the clouds in this horrible weather, I can still make it out."

     I opened my mouth, about to ask of what his purpose was of this statement. However, it seemed that he read my mind.

     "One can still have faith, even at times where the haze and deep devastation are at its peak. If one manages to hold on to a just a tiny bit of hope, it will keep the entire world from plunging into darkness."

     I gazed up into the twilight, keeping my eyes locked on the dull star as gloomy shadows loomed around it.

     "It's there, just barely," he whispered, "but it's keeping the sky from being bland."

     And then came the echoing stillness, resounding throughout the garden like muted summer bells dancing in the coolness of the breeze. And for a moment - just a moment - as my mind was captivated by the miniature star, all was forgotten. It was just me and my friend.

     I opened my jaw to speak, but again was stopped.

     "Hush," a soft voice breathed, "for silence carries with it more meaning than can be told."

     ******

     At the break of dawn the next morning, as the sun scorched the faraway pyramids, the troops set off to avenge their lost friends and loved ones. I could see in their eyes the flight of determination and thirst for justice as I stood on the balcony to my chamber. Such great spirit I saw in the people. Such spirit I had not in myself.

     As the troops disappeared among the dunes, I turned to exit the balcony, but something off in the distance caught my eye.

     I swiveled my head and squinted, trying to make out the dark figure walking idly in the sand. They were stumbling, tripping on the edges of the thick cloak that protected them from the thrashing sandstorms as if they didn't know up from down.

     My eyes widened as a glint of gold glimmered atop of the stranger's head.

     A survivor! I gasped. Quickly, with as much agility I had in me, I dashed down the stairs and out of the palace to meet the foreigner. They were on the edge, as I could see, and needed aid immediately. Just as I was merely a foot away from the figure, they collapsed in the sand. I picked them up with what strength I had and carried the heavily cloaked being into the palace, shouting for urgent assistance.

     Two of the palace healers emerged from the doors with a canvas stretcher and moved the victim into the medical wing. Through all this, I did not get a glance of the stranger, but knew only this:

     "This is the last of Khamtef," I croaked, not loud enough for anyone to hear. "They are of royal blood."

     ******

     Indeed, I was correct. The strange visitor was none other than Princess Sankara, the daughter of King Sobek and heiress to the Fourth Khonsu Dynasty. When she was revived back to full strength, we lead her to the throne room to inform us of what happened. She told that she had been sent by her father to seek refuge in Sakhmet.

     "The armies," she spoke, a tear trickling down her face, "were no more than an hour away. We had no time to call for our allies."

     She stopped, the telling of her story breaking her down. "My mother and father stayed behind to help our people and lead the defense." Again, she paused.

     "Are any of my kin here?" she asked. I exchanged glances with Coltzan, who drew in a large breath.

     "Princess Sankara, I am afraid that your people have been lost," he told as softly as he possibly could. "Their defenses gave way."

     The color drained from the princess' face like water washing paint away from a canvas. Pale, she grew, clutching her heart. I could feel her pain, the stone ricocheting inside her.

     "No survivors?" She whimpered. Coltzan shook his head solemnly.

     "I am sorry for your loss, Princess Sankara."

     She did not reply, the tears now streaming down her face like a flooded river after five hundred thunderstorms.

     Suddenly, she stood up, her fists clenched and eyes infuriated. "The evil King Heksas shall pay!" she shouted, shaking her fist at the ceiling. "I will avenge my family! He will regret everything that he has ever done." She stomped out of the throne room, slamming the doors as she stepped out.

     ******

     Again, I found myself leaning against the throne room doors, listening in on another conversation. This time, Princess Sankara and Coltzan were the ones exchanging words.

     "Please, King Coltzan," I heard Sankara beg. "As the newest member of your court, I would like to lead another army to take back my homeland!"

     "I cannot give you what you seek, Sankara," Coltzan replied. "Troops are already there engaged in combat. The losses have been to great, heavy on both sides I am afraid. To send more Sakhmetians into battle would just mean more passing."

     "But we must to everything we can to regain control of Khamtef!" Sankara shouted. "Please, sire! You cannot let the tyrant Heksas win!"

     "This is out of my hands, Princess Sankara," Coltzan said. "I understand your grieving. But let that not clot your good judgments. We cannot send more armies. There is nothing else to be said about it."

     There was a lengthy pause as I awaited for someone to speak. "You are much to young to lead an army," I heard Coltzan say.

     This obviously threw Princess Sankara into a fit. "Too young?" she screeched. "Coltzan, I am much to my ability able to pilot the troops! Of all the people, you should know!" I heard the clamor of footsteps, and hurried around the corner of the hallway again. I made my way back again, just like I had done many previous times.

     "Are you alright, Princess Sankara?" I asked as I passed her in the hallway. She looked irritated and annoyed. "You seem bothered by something."

     "Bothered by your King's senselessness," she muttered, not making any eye contact and she swiftly strolled down the hallway.

     I sighed. I too, would have been as angry as she if were in her position. Slyly, I made my way into Coltzan's throne room, just as an advisor handed him a scroll of papyrus regarding the latest war news.

     "Any good reports, sire?" I asked as I took a seat beside him. He remained silent, the only trace of movement coming from his eyes as he examined the paper.

     Gingerly, he placed the scroll into my palms, avoiding eye-contact, and walked out of the throne room. Confused, I stared after the King, bewildered at his odd behavior.

     Then I stared down into the words scribbled onto the paper. Again, my eyes widened. It was a list.

     A list of those who had fallen the previous night.

     According to the paragraph of the incident, Heksas had raided the encampment in the dead of night when the warriors were asleep. Caught off guard, they were unable to retrieve their weapons to defend themselves.

     My heart skipped a beat. I frantically scanned down the list, the air trapped in my lungs as I could not breathe. I hoped that what I thought was not true. And to my dismay, my pleas were not answered.

     I dashed out of the throne room, tossing the scroll to the ground. I did not want to believe it was so. I found myself running - running, and soon my tired feet lead me into the palace garden.

     My legs gave way and I tumbled to the ground, landing on the soft earthly soil. There I stayed, still struggling to comprehend what I saw. I begged for it not to be true.

     To this day, I remember the words printed on the scroll:

     'Rahbrok, Lupe - Missing'

     My best friend. Gone. Not two weeks before had we been standing together in this very same garden, exchanging our thoughts and gazing at the twilight sky. Though the text stated clearly that he was simply missing, my heart did not tell me so.

     I did not weep. Nor did I lash out in anger. My body was limp, sapped of energy. It felt like I had suddenly aged a whole century, and entire eternity on the ground.

     My desire to live in the palace vanished. Nothing would ever be the same.

     ******

     Everything fell apart. The very next day, I was even more crushed when I learned that Coltzan collapsed after dining with a few of his royal guests. Foul play was suspected, and I knew exactly who the one to blame was.

     "Princess Sankara!" I bellowed angrily as I caught sight of her in the castle passageways. She curved around, giving me a distasteful look as I charged up to her.

     "What do you want Ivy?" she spat repulsively.

     "It was you,"I rasped, jabbing my finger at her. "You did it!"

     "Are you in your right mind?" she said wickedly. "You are mislead. Though my dislike towar--"

     "No, I am not." I glared at her, clenching my staff until my fists were red. She stared back defiantly, unafraid.

     "I will not be intimidated by a silly storyteller," she screeched. And with that, she turned to stomp away.

     "There will be justice for King Coltzan, Sankara!" I shouted after her. "The investigators will soon figure you out!" She did not turn a single hair.

     "Consider yourself banished from the Sakhmet Palace, Ivy," she spoke cruelly.

     "It is not your call to make!"

     "Hmm, I guess you're right," she spoke viciously, stalling herself. "It's Princess Vyssa's decision, right? Such a young ruler will be easily convinced." She cackled, and with a blink of an eye, disappeared around the corner.

     I glared into space, my eyes burning with fire as I clutched my staff, enraged. "I will not be banished," I spoke to myself aloud. "I will simply leave!"

     And with that, I packed my belongings, and began my trek across the desert sand dunes. I stumbled upon this empty cave you see here, uncharted by all maps and unseen by the most skilled cartographers, and decided to take resident here. And here has been my home for the past years of my lonely life, mourning the loss of my dearest friends and companions and the fall of my livelihood. My defeat will rest caged in this cavern for as long as I am bound to this place.

The End

 
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