The Son of Sahkmet: Part Two
She wrapped her tan shawl tightly around her face as she
walked through the bustling market. She had made sure to grab a plain one from
her drawer of ornate and gold stitched scarves. Looking around at all the young
desert women, she smiled a hidden and secret smile. She blended in perfectly with
all of them, whose dark eyes were the only things visible from the shawls that
covered their faces.
The desert Usul felt as free as she always did
when she walked alone through the marketplace. Her large eyes took in everything
around her, all the fishermen pushing the day's catch on passersby, a jeweler
holding a necklace with a gold pendant that hung round and gold like the sun,
and the fruit stalls who displayed the most luscious and ripe fruits for everyone
She shook her head. No, she thought,
you're doing it again. She was always letting herself be mesmerized by
the wonder of the desert world rather than noticing the imperfections that lay
beneath its glistening outer shell.
This time she willed herself to look past the
fruit stall. There she saw two small blue Gelerts looking thin and lonely as
they stared wide eyed at a round Ptolymelon. She didn't see their parents anywhere
Quickly she walked up to the shop, paid a desert
Chia several coins, and took a Ptolymelon off the cart. Without even looking
at the young Gelerts she handed them the large fruit and walked off.
She knew the city didn't need her charity, they
needed orphanages and shelters. Now that her eyes were truly open she saw all
the poor pets in their disheveled rags and shamed faces. They sat gloomily in
corners of the marketplace hoping for someone to drop some spare change in their
She was deep in thought wondering how to start
all these things that needed to be done, when she ran straight into the large
body of a desert Grarrl.
She looked up at his stern face and saw the
palace tattoo, a black silhouette of the crown on his cheek.
Her eyes narrowed angrily. The guards! That
rat Wessle must have snitched on her trips to the marketplace and sent them
to get her.
"Listen," she said, unwrapping the shawl so
that her face was visible, "you go back to the palace and tell Wessle that I'm
the one in charge here and that if he ever meddles in my affairs again I'll
have his job and his head."
The Grarrl didn't budge. She noticed there were
at least five others behind him, all wearing the palace tattoo.
"How many of you did he need to send?" she asked,
The Grarrl grabbed her by the wrist and began
pulling her forward.
"How dare you!" she cried, "Unhand me!"
"Princess Vyssa," he said in a deep and calloused
voice, "you are hereby under arrest for the murder of King Coltzan III."
"Why hello, Senator," hissed Kontar as he opened
the door for the friend he had once called Acrab. He thought her face would
melt to shame, that she would feel horrible for lying to him all these years
but instead she grinned.
"I knew you would start to figure it out on
your own," she smiled, patting him on the shoulder. It had been two weeks since
her last mysterious visit.
"That's it?" fumed the Lupe, not even bothering
to invite her in, "you're not going to apologize for all those years you've
lied about who you were?"
She sighed. "There is a difference between a
lie and a lack of information. I, my boy, simply never gave you any information."
She reached into an elaborately beaded bag and pulled out a package. "But I
promise that I will make it up to you." She looked at him sadly. "You'll wish
forever that you could've gone on in your sweet ignorance."
She handed him the package and he looked down
at it, then back up at her. He opened it slowly and pulled out a Desert Paint
Brush in awe.
"It will keep you from standing out in the Lost
Desert," she said.
Kontar's mouth filled with so many questions
that it just hung open, soundless.
"We leave tonight. There will be no goodbyes
and no tears."
Kontar found himself shouting frantically. "Tonight?
What about my family? What about the chef, and my job? What about Mahani?"
Barca kept her calm emotionless demeanor. "Your
family has known this day would come for a long time. We spoke of it last week
in fact, just as you came into the room. Mahani, on the other hand, will just
think you simply disappeared."
"No," he shoved the paint brush at her suddenly
feeling very dizzy, "I can't. I can't just leave now, not like this. Not without
The Acara looked up at him, gently pushing the
paint brush towards him. "This is how it has to be." She locked her round eyes
on his, eyes that once twinkled and gleamed with brilliant ideas. "They know
what they are losing Kontar, and they might not let it go. Don't make it any
harder on them."
She led him past the brush and trees behind
his house and they stood on the open, cool beach. The water lapped up on the
"I can give you adventure, Kontar," she said
looking out to the small boat that floated lazily in the water. "That's something
this Island can never offer. I've taught you everything you need to know about
the world so that you could explore it."
Kontar looked to the long horizon. He wanted
to see all of Neopia more that anything.
"And I can tell you about your parents," she
said, "your real ones."
Kontar looked at her, stunned. The solution
somehow became obvious. "I just have to pack my things," he said.
The senator smiled. "They're already taken care
of. All but one." She whistled sharply and Artu descended from the sky elegantly
and landed on Kontar's shoulder.
"I told you to never let him leave your side
remember?" she asked. "Do not take my words lightly. The danger of where we
go is grave."
Kontar could only nod despite his confusion.
He didn't even know where they were going or what they would be doing there
but somehow the danger only intrigued him further.
They waded out into the warm island water and
jumped into the wooden sailboat. It was large enough to withstand long travel
but small enough to be manned by two pets. Living on the Island had taught Kontar
to sail, a talent he was proud of. He and Mahani had often raced on lazy summer
days. The memory stung as he tied down the sails and the boat began to move
silently through the water.
"Why do you want me to go with you?" he asked,
"I'm not very important."
"Oh but you are," said Barca, lifting the hood
from her face, "if only you knew how much."
"Then what's with all this secrecy? I don't even
know where we're going."
"The secrecy is to save your own life," she said,
"and we're going to the Lost Desert."
After a short stop at the rainbow pool, Kontar
found himself covered in gold and black jewelry and standing on Desert sand.
The air was an entirely different kind of hot; it was more open than the close,
suffocating humidity on Mystery Island. Artu fluttered around excitedly, for
him this was home. Kontar couldn't have felt any more out of place.
Barca walked him through the marketplace and
he just stared, mesmerized by all the foreign goods. But it was all forgotten
as soon as he laid eyes on Sakhmet Palace.
"It's amazing," he murmured.
"And you haven't even been inside yet," muttered
Once he was, he couldn't even blink. All around
him was red velvet pillows and musicians strumming long guitars. Usuls wearing
sea foam colored scarves around their faces danced for members of the court
who sat laughing and eating wonderful foods.
"This is it," said Barca cynically, "this is
what's become of the grand court of Sakhmet. Nothing but rich, fat politicians
sitting on their behinds and calling for entertainment."
She led him out of the vibrant hall disgustedly
and into an empty corridor. She looked around cautiously before lifting a painting
of an Anubis and pushing a button underneath. A door opened before them to reveal
a long, twisting passageway. Barca grabbed a torch on the wall and led them
down into the dark ground. Eventually a light started to shine in the distance
and he could hear the sound of murmured voices.
They ended up in a large chamber, where a small
desert Kyrii and fat, medallion clad Tuskaninny sat at a wooden table. Their
faces flickered in the light of a small lamp.
"Kontar, this is advisor Wessle," Barca said,
pointing to the Kyrii, "and this is Senator Palpus." The Tuskaninny nodded.
"So this is the boy," stated Wessle in awe.
Kontar thought his eyes had brimmed with tears, but he blamed it on the flickering
light and nothing more.
"Where are we?" he asked, disregarding the stares
from both men.
"We're beneath the palace," said Senator Palpus.
"We think there are hundreds of secret chambers and tunnels like this one but
we haven't been able to find them all yet."
Barca sat down. "We are here as the last surviving
members of King Coltzan III's court. We were the great thinkers and doers of
our time. The King once considered us to be his most trusted friends."
Wessle nodded. "And like the poison that took
our great King, so has poison infiltrated his once great palace." He leaned
closer to them all and began to whisper, as if the information was so furtive
that it must be kept quiet, even underground. "What we tell you now, Kontar,
we tell you in the most secretive of secrets. A new name has surfaced in the
murder of Coltzan, and it is none other than that of his own daughter."
A hush seemed to fall over the table.
"Vyssa?" Kontar echoed incredulously, the picture
of a beautiful desert Usul automatically popping into his head from the textbooks
Barca had made him study. "Did she do it?"
Palpus shook his head sadly. "Does it matter?
The evidence they have is sufficient enough."
"What did they find?" Kontar asked, still shocked.
"The poison that killed Coltzan was a rare kind.
There are only several bottles of it in all of Neopia," said Wessle, "and a
chambermaid found one of them in Vyssa's room."
"Someone could have planted it," suggested Kontar.
"We're well aware," Barca agreed, "but no one
else seems to be. Vyssa is not popular with many members of the new court. There
was always that one thought in the back of their minds, the nagging kind that
never really goes away. Her name was never cleared from Usurper; none of ours
were. They will bring up the fact that she was an original suspect in the murder
every chance they get."
"They will try her, unfairly of course," added
Palpus, "and once they have a reasonable amount of information to confirm to
the Desert that she is indeed guilty, they will lock her away forever."
Kontar leaned back in his chair. "Who will rule
The old politicians looked at each other uncertainly.
"Whoever they want," said Barca.
To be continued...