A Shadow in the Light: Knowledge and Remembrance - Part Four
It was any normal morning, the first rays of the sun lashing
out at the indigo skyline, transforming them into pastel hues such as peach and
violet. None of the peasants stirred, all of them wanting to take advantage of
their 'free' first day of the month. Though others slept, one little form was
already about, a tiny red Kougra with the biggest amber eyes around. He rested
on the hill, lying under the tree that was planted several yards from his family's
cottage, grinning as the sun protruded from the horizon. He lay silently on his
stomach, eyes aglow with tears of joy.
Over the course of about thirty minutes, the
sun finally broke loose of the jade hills' grasp and set sail into the sky like
a mighty galleon sweeping into the unknown ocean. The young one leaped up and
shouted with glee, repeating one word over and over: Sunchaser. Suddenly, he
broke into tears, and the happiness instantly flooded away. He wept in sorrow,
sobbing the name of his lost sister. "Sunchaser, where!?" he cried out at last.
His moans subsided and he curled up, hiding his face from the star's light until
a shadow swept over him. He looked up, gasping as he did so.
Chanook's head shot
up, his breathing heavy and labored like that of a Uni being chased by a wild
Lupe pack. "NO!" he half shouted, grabbing his ears and clamping his eyes shut.
"Leave me be..." The dream, or memory rather, made his eyes prick ever the slightest,
but then he squashed his emotion. "No, that day was the day I found out about
my ancestors. She has nothing to do with it," he murmured to himself.
"Are you alright?" Kax asked, gathering up several
of the abandoned parchments and setting them in a pile. Her purple form swept
over the length of the tree, and she stopped in front of a dilapidated chest.
Opening the ancient trunk, she reached in and retrieved a ragged blanket, taking
it to her chest before releasing the lid. She made her way back to her brother,
who sat on the edge of his makeshift cot of blankets. She draped the blanket
over him, eyes watching him sympathetically. "Your dream again?" she asked.
"What, Manov?!" Chanook roared, leaping to his
feet and letting the blanket fall back to his cot. As he spoke again, his voice
lowered and the sudden rage dissipated. "What is it?"
"I heard a mournful shout," the Zafara blankly
stated, his eyes lowering to the ground. He sounded like a child, meek and alone
in the shadow of his parent. Like a pupil under the wrath of a schoolteacher.
"I was checking to see if everyone was alright."
The Kougra sighed and shook his head. "Get out,
kid, there's nothing wrong here. Just go away." He dismissed Manov with a wave
of his paw, and then pretended to be become occupied with his parchment-covered
table beside his cot.
"Yes, m'lord. Good night, m'lady," Manov said
softly, giving a subtle nod of his head before swiveling on one foot and slowly
Kax watched him leave, wings twitching uncomfortably.
Was his 'normal' attitude returning or was he truly afraid? Was the pendant
not functioning since he was not the true Summoner? "Manov, get back here,"
she snarled at once. After the young Neopet peeked his dial into the cave, he
slowly walked toward her. "Chanook, tell him what he is. Show him that the Zafara
inside of him is dead now." Inside her stomach churned, the thought that the
pendant wasn't working correctly bringing a sliver of fear in her.
Chanook sighed once more and looked up from
his papers. "Kid, come here," he muttered in irritation.
Manov approached, but then instantly recoiled
as the Kougra reached for the necklace. "No," he uttered, enveloping the ruby
in his paws protectively. As he looked at Chanook's stony glare, he stepped
forward once more, reluctantly releasing the stone.
The feline grabbed the ruby, making the pet
before him jump. "This is you now. Stop talking like you used to as well, that
pet no longer exists. You are the one and only Summoner, and you will learn
to use this pendant for evil. It has been worn by every Summoner since that
first, and somehow it is supposed to have effect with the process of the Summoning.
You, alongside Kax and myself, will have part in ruling the new empire once
it is set up, understand? You are not Manov, you are a Shadow Zafara, the Saave's
one and only Summoner."
"If I am not Manov, than who am I?"
He thought. "You are simply there, you have
no name any more."
Dreams haunted the ebonite pet's sleep that
night. The now nameless Zafara tossed and turned on his new bed: a branch in
one of the trees surrounding the clearing. He saw the pets he once knew, Sovan,
Dizzconnie, and Frauns... but who were they exactly? He couldn't remember. No,
he could remember, if only vaguely. They were nothing, just as everyone except
the Saave were nothing. These pets were his friends and family, they were everything
now and forever more. He awoke at last, shivering slightly. Inside him a battle
seemed to rage, one side a tiny pet fighting to be freed, the other a darkened
shadow of a certain jewel. "No, I have no name," he muttered at last, clenching
his fists as he spoke. "I have no name, I am nobody." And, as simply as that,
the war was calmed, and the shadow caged the pet at last.
The next morning, the three, Kax, Chanook, and
Manov, were traveling the tunnels under the tree, towards the place that Kax
had once said was called Meridell. The Zafara walked with a renewed confidence,
no longer hiding from his master and mistress. His small paws no longer strayed
to his neck, and his protectiveness of the pendant began to wane ever the slightest.
It was now just a trinket that he held dear, but not too dear.
Kax smiled as the cave opened up and a rocky
ledge coated with a jaded carpet of grass welcomed them. "We're here." Her plume
flicked slightly as she stepped from the tunnel, gazing to the kingdom just
down the large hill where Neopets gleefully ran alongside large wheels of cheese.
"What are they doing?" she asked in sudden disgust, looking down to the hill's
base as a pet leaped ahead of his cheese and cried out in triumph.
"Cheeseroller, it's quite fun actually."
The Darigan pet raised a brow at her brother.
Chanook glared at her and snapped, "What do
you want me to say? I played it once, alright!?" he muttered under his breath
as he leapt ahead and prowled down the hill, snaking between trees.
Kax looked back to the Zafara and asked, "Coming,
Manov ignored the Kougra's mocking and started
down the hill as well, taking the brunt of Kax's numerous nicknames for him.
"Oh, I have one! Blackie would suit you well!"
the Kougra chortled. Then she cleared her throat and set a serious look on her
face as she seemed to remember something. "Come here, there is something you
must know before we can start anything." Once she had his attention she looked
into the sky's newborn blue hue of an ocean and her face softened ever the slightest.
She slowed her pace and said softly, "You must remember these words until the
day that our plans have fallen through." She then opened her maw and her surprising
sweet voice let loose a set of awkward words, a poem ringing out as the words
echoed in the far off hills.
"Howe'er far the roads shall go
I will always follow, follow.
Upon the wind that song of old plays,
So very gently o'er the mountains it stays.
I shall forever follow that song until my own
note is complete,.
My own note I do repeat, repeat.
With that chain of stone and gold,
The gates will rattle with those words of old."
The words meant absolutely nothing to Manov,
but still he couldn't but help being curious. What did they mean? They sounded
nothing more then a jumble of words pieced together to form a song for a child
trying to sleep, but something within told him that they had some sort of meaning
to someone if not to him. Surely they were not going to sing it to him at night;
he was a little bit too old for that in his eyes anyway. It had nothing to do
with him he concluded. "Wow," he commented flatly, kicking a small stone down
Kax took a swipe at his crown in utter frustration,
but he quickly ducked. "You are to remember this poem until you Summon the source
we search for, understand? You are not to forget that poem! If you do..." her
voice faded away as Chanook stopped at the base of the hill, the two halting
several yards away from him.
"Now you will learn to be one of the Saave.
To be light on your feet and swift in your thoughts. You will be a somebody
with a purpose, you may even received a name if you are good," the Kougra murmured.
"This is where you shall start your learning." He grunted, showing that he had
nothing else to say, and expanded his wings to their limits. "Kax, stay here
and begin with him, I have certain matters to settle at the Citadel."
Kax nodded and the Halloween Kougra leapt into
the winds, his form heading toward the strange formation floating near the kingdom.
"His business has nothing to do with you, Midnight, so don't be asking any questions,"
she said as she began walking again, veering extreme right, away from a rather
green glade. She found an area that seemed to fit her, most likely because there
were no pets around, and she sat. "Alright, let's see you run then."
Manov was baffled. "Run, m'lady?"
"If you're going to be 'swift on your feet'
or whatever I need to know how quickly you can run already!"
He nodded. His first session had begun.
To be continued...