Where It All Began
High in a turret of Meridell Castle, a young yellow Aisha
moaned in her bed. She writhed around, grabbing at her blankets as if protecting
them from unseen demons. The straw mattress crunched under her ever-shifting
weight, and the blankets slipped noiselessly to the floor...
"JERAN!" The Aisha bolted up in bed, her eyes
"Just a dream...just a dream, Lisha." She assured
herself, leaning over and picking up the blankets. Pulling them to her chin
as she laid down on the bed, she reassured herself once more, "Only a dream..."
It was a perfect day. The grass beneath the Aisha's bare feet was green and
cool, swaying and tickling her ankles in the soft Autumn breezes that now swept
Lisha fit the arrow into the bow, "Hey, Morris,
bet you I hit the bullseye."
"Did I hear someone say 'bet?'" the Quiggle
grinned, turning to face Lisha, "What's for the loser?"
"How about the loser has to kiss the Turmaculus?"
Lisha returned his silly grin, "Jeran isn't here to scold us, it's just you
"It's a bet, Lisha."
Lisha drew back the arrow and aimed for the
bullseye. She knew that Morris would try some silly trick to get her to miss,
and she grinned inwardly to see what he would do.
"So, Lisha, what was your nightmare about last
Lisha let go of the string and didn't notice
the arrow widly arcing over the target, "Not funny, Morris."
"No, really, Lisha. What happened? I--" Lisha
cut him off, her eyes blazing.
"I don't want to talk about it, Morris,"
she spat, hissing each word through gritted teeth. "Look, I'm heading back to
my room," she muttered inaudible words to herself as she set down the bow and
ran back up to her room, tears streaming down her face and making little round
spots on the marble floor.
As soon as Lisha entered her room, she heard
a repetitive tapping. Glancing around to see where it came from, she noticed
that pebbles were hitting her window. Grabbing her Wand of Ultranova from the
top of a bookshelf, she opened the plain glass window and leaned out it, holding
it to the Quiggle throwing rocks. "I'm warning you, Morris. Don't make me use
Morris stopped throwing pebbles. Instead he
began shouting over the fall winds. Lisha made out a few words, "Me...Boris...leaving...trip...Neopia
Central...talk." The rest were turned into the sound of dry, rustling leaves,
blown about by an October gale. Lisha shouted as loud as she could, "Go...away,
Morris didn't let up. Lisha sent a glowing stream
of coloured light to Morris, not daring to look.
Morris turned to run, but the ground was uneven
and he tripped before he could take two steps. He turned, frozen with panic,
to see the light blasting towards him. His mind was racing and he had time to
think. 'Wow... this is amazing. I'm going to sit here frozen until the light
hits me. Then it will hurt." It seemed like the trees and rocks themselves
sighed when the light missed its mark slightly, fry-cooking an innocent bystander:
A decorative Sword Bush. Morris got up and ran, not bothering to look back.
A knock on the door startled Lisha. She slid
under her covers, Wand of Ultranova in paw, and closed her eyes as though in
sleep. The door creaked open, and a soft voice from behind it softly murmured,
Soft padded feet swept across the floor, followed
by the swish, swish, rus-rus-rustle of a cloak, "Hello, Lisha, it's
Kayla. Lisha? Oh, don't tell me you're trying that silly old sleeping trick!"
The Aisha felt her blankets being swept off her and heard them softly fold on
the cool white floor, "I could always turn you into a Slorg. Then you might
Lisha sat straight up in bed. Kayla wasn't joking.
She had seen her use the potion on thick-headed knights. Watching big, haughty
Kougras turned into Faerie Slorgs always set the two into a gale of giggles,
"And the best part is," Kayla always assured her, "Is that they don't remember
a thing when they wake up!" Lisha always asked the same question, even though
she knew the answer, "How do you know?" "I tested it on Jeran. No, seriously!
I did! Ask Morris if you don't believe me. He was there!"
Kayla made a face at the Wand of Ultranova,
then picked it up, stalked to the other side of the room, dropped it back on
the shelf, and sat back down, her cape billowing out the same way it just had.
Lisha sighed, "So what do you want?"
Kayla sat down on the edge of Lisha's bed, "Morris
told me what happened..."
"How did I know?" mumbled Lisha, exhaling loudly.
"Lisha...what happened? We care about you, Lee.
You've been different since...since...since..."
"Since we thought Jeran was dead. You can say
it, Kay. It's fine with me. I'm not a coward." Her voice was dry with scorn.
"OK...whatever you say. Wait a minute! Did you
just call me 'Kay?' You know I hate it when people call me that!"
"Stop avoiding the subject. And don't call me
'Lee.'" Her voice was emotionless.
"That's the thing, Lisha! You have no patience
for anything anymore! You see a beautiful painting, you murmur, 'It's OK,' then
walk off! Where's my friend who could look through all the mistakes in a poem
and see the gorgeous yarn the words weave! Where's the brave girl I know who
would protect her best friends from bullies in a heartbeat? Where's the Aisha
who...who...who," Kayla broke off and turned away, not looking at Lisha, "The
Aisha...who would tell me anything?" Kayla turned to the Aisha, her eyes glistening
with tears. Lisha was startled, she had never seen Kayla cry. Not when she was
humiliated in front of the class, not when she broke her arm in Gym...never.
"Kayla...that Aisha...she got a bite of reality.
She was a silly schoolgirl who had only fought bravely amongst knights in Roleplaying,
triumphed over evil only in Neoquest. But that was never real, Kayla. Now I've
seen all these things I only saw in books. I've seen the battlefield littered
with swords of fallen commanders. I've seen brave knights be knocked over the
edge of a tower without mercy."
"And I made the potion that deteriorated their
shields, the potion the separated the sword from the gauntlet. All those peaceful
farmers out there," She swept her hand past the window, "They fought with whatever
they had. Some had a sword or a bow, some had a pitchfork, and some had nothing
but the clothes on their backs. There isn't a single woman out there who hasn't
lost a father or a son, an uncle or a brother, a nephew or a husband. You didn't
lose anyone close, Lisha. You don't have a monopoly on pain."
"Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Lisha
cried, her eyes streaming with angry tears. "Go! Get out, get out, get out!"
"Very well, Lisha. Just think about what I said..."
Kayla murmured. Swish, swish, rus-rus-rustle and she was gone. Maybe
it was just the breeze blowing the banners that adorned the Castle, but the
Aisha thought she heard a sigh from outside her room.
Lisha didn't even pretend to be asleep when someone else came into her room.
It was Jeran. She knew as soon as he sat down next to her. He put his arm around
her shoulder and sighed comically. Lisha shifted away from him, she didn't want
"Lisha, c'mon, tell me what's bothering you."
"Lisha," Jeran forced a laugh, "Stop pretending
to be the ornery little sister."
"Is this all I'm going to get out of you?"
"OK, OK!" Jeran through his hands in the air
out of exasperation, "I get the picture! What did I do wrong? Tell me already
so I can apologize already!"
"That's it! I surrender!"
Jeran stomped out of the room and down the stairs,
muttering words that Kass himself would be shocked at, followed by the loud,
distinct thunk, thunk, thunk of a Lupe head cracking again and again
on a marble wall.
The same soft, padded feet. The same swish, swish, rus-rus-rustle
of a cloak, and Kayla was next to the Aisha. Lisha hadn't moved from her perch
on the bed. She felt soft, warm arms wrapping around her. Tears on her cheeks,
not just hers. Laughter in her ear. Melodic giggles. Soft, musical words of
another tongue. A lullaby from her childhood. Sweet, calm sleep finally accepting
her, "I don't understand, Kayla. It's been months since Kass...fell. Disappeared.
Vanished. Poofed off. It feels like eternities. Why am I still having these
nightmares? It's been...too...long. Too...long..."
"Hush, Lisha. It's all going to be OK. Just
go to sleep, Lisha. Go to sleep."
When the Aisha awoke the first thing she saw
was a package, wrapped in brown paper and brown string. Lisha tugged the ends
of the string, and watched the clumsy bow entwine itself. She glanced at the
box. It was simple white cardboard, worn soft at the edges. She went to open
it, but large golden letters on the top caught her eyes. She traced them in
wonder with her paw: NeoQuest.
Memories flooded back to her. Memories of bullies
and museums. Memories of friends and of an old back room. Memories of ruins.
Memories of a brave Aisha with a lunchbox.
As she brushed tears from her eyes and set the
box safety under her bed she began to giggle. Not just little private chuckles,
but throw-back-your-head all-out laughter. The marble walls echoed her, sounding
like a bubbling creek. Someone else came into the room. Jeran, it was. His laughter,
like a waterfall, steady and roaring. Another swish, swish, rus-rus-rustle
and soft, melodic laughing like pebbles being tossed into a lake was added
to the symphony.
Echos of laughter drowned out all other sounds,
and Lisha was surprised when three new notes strummed amongst the others. One
of them was strange, it rose and fell like water running over a rock. It was
Boris's. She felt a webbed paw brush her shoulder and laughter nest to her.
Morris's laughter, like rain, rising and falling all over the scale. The third
was like a background sound, a bass that smoothed the rhythm of cellos, violins,
and violas. Between the bone crushing hugs everyone was giving for no reason
she saw King Skarl leaning on the threshold, grinning and mopping his eyes.
Lisha would have gawked for longer, but there was another round of spontaneous
hugs and she was buried under laughing bodies.
As their laughter slowed to chuckles and they
all lay exhausted on the bed Morris sat up suddenly, look around at every one,
asked, "So, what were we laughing about anyway?" As if on cue everyone began
to laugh again, the walls mimicking their giggles.
The Aisha didn't know how it started, but soon
everyone was engaged in a lively tickle fight, and between the laughter a voice
would ring out, "Prepare to die, Von Roo!" "Never!" "Scale the castle walls!"
"Rescue the princess!" "Take that!" "Eat potion, you fiend!"
Lisha held back for a while, then shrugged and
tackled Jeran from behind, covering his eyes with her paws, "Jeran, the well-known
knight, caught off guard? My, my, my..." She clicked her tongue and shouted,
"Run, Morris! I shall vanquish the ugly Lupe!"
"Hey, who are you calling 'ugly?'"
"And to think he is famous for his intelligence..."
"Lisha, I'm warning you...!"
"Bring it on!"
Jeran flung himself around so fast Lisha was
caught off guard and slipped off her brother's face. As Jeran began to tickle
the Aisha she cried out, "Help me, Morris!"
"Scale the castle walls, we must rescue the
princess!" Morris cried, whacking Jeran's head with a pillow.
"Hey! Oooh, Morris I'm going to get you for
that!" Jeran replied, blocking the pillow-attack with another pillow. "Besides,
the day Lisha needs you to scale the castle walls is the day I'll drink one
of Kayla's potions and turn into a Slorg!"
Jeran and King Skarl couldn't think of why Lisha
threw back her head and laughed.
"Aye," Morris said to Jeran as he fenced him
with a pillow, "she is a spunky maiden. I'd probably not be done unlocking her
door when she'd rush out, slaying the dragon and saving the village."
"You've got that right, Morris," Jeran chortled,
lunging at Morris with the pillow.
Soon they were all leaning on the wall, panting
and grinning. Then they all began to hug each other, even King Skarl. Soon Lisha
was smooshed in the middle of a gigantic group hug. She sighed looked around
the room, taking it all in. She was part of a loving circle of friends and family
that would not be broken, and that would never change. Closing her eyes, she
let the tears come without fight for the first time in months, and as her face
was bathed in salty water, the remains of her nightmares washed away and dripped
on the stone floor, making tiny round circles...
But there is still more to the tale...
Everyone in the castle was asleep. Even the
knights on duty slowly nodded off in their guard chairs. Only one small, yellow
Aisha was still awake, and only a single candle burned on her nightstand. Fingering
the worn old game box, the Aisha whispered to herself, "This is where it all
Sliding the box under her bed and blowing out
the light, the Aisha whispered, "Where it all began..."
Where it all began...
Author's note: Feedback is appreciated! I'd like to know how you people
feel about my first story on this account. My other account's story, One Lenny,
Big Dreams, can be found in issue 102 of the Neopian Times, under the username
torigal350. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!