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The Timegate


by ridergirl333

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Between Darigan and Kass, the Citadel has been notorious for its corrupt and, at times, insane rulers. But what happens when the problem strikes closer to home? When a ruler you know and have come to love turns on the country he reigns over? Where do you go when there are no easy answers?

A string of tension ran through the kingdom, pulled so taut that if you plucked it, you expected it to hear ping. Someone was holding the other end of that string, and as soon as that someone let go, all chaos would break loose, and Meridell would get some pretty bad whiplash.

Kasha Moonfang the white Lupess paced around her tent in the early morning light. A gypsy Seer, among the most beautiful women of Meridell. Her fur glistened like new-fallen snow, silky and smooth. Bangles, rings and bracelets decorated slender paws, and her trademark chandelier earrings hung from each dainty ear. One was hammered from finest gold, a sun with six golden stars hanging from it. The other was made of silver, with a moon and six silver stars. Kasha’s slender muzzle and bright violet eyes was the subject of bards’ songs. Violet eyes… the mark of the descendants of Artemis Apoll, the famous Lupe-Seer. Even in peasant’s rags, her beauty rivaled that of the finest noblewomen. And she was intelligent too. Being a Seer required great discipline of mind. She could have had her pick of any Lupe in Meridell, but fate led her to choose the unattainable Sir Jeran Borodere. The doomed Lupe-knight.

* * *

Meanwhile, on the other side of Forever, across the star-scattered fields of Space and Time, a similar white Lupe was pacing fervently around his office in Neopia Central. His name was Dr. Remthier Lunae, Historian of the Lost Civilizations of Neopia. And a few of his colleagues had theorized the existence of a nation, centuries old, just to the east of Neopia Central.

Sure, there were ruins there. Everyone knew that. Sometimes, the children would go there to play. But no one had actually thought the ruins were part of anything… well, bigger. Everyone just thought that some half-wit had built a stone fortress at one point, and then abandoned it and left it to crumble. But one of the children, when playing there, injured his foot on a steel arrowhead. Archeologists were sent. They uncovered bits of pottery, remnants of swords, scabbards, flails, daggers, and even a suit of armor. Good news for Dr. Remthier. It meant more funding for his department.

“Daddy?” A tug on his jacket made him look down. It was his young daughter Veronica. Caught a bad case of Neoflu at the Wheel of Excitement and was too sick to go to school. Since the faeries wouldn’t let a sick child into a place as crowded and ripe for disaster as the Faerieland Employment Agency where her mother worked, Dr. Remthier was stuck with the child for the day. “Daddy, where are the tissues?”

“In the back room, dear.” Said Dr. Remthier with a patient sigh. He loved the child dearly, but he was trying to think. He turned an arrowhead over in his paw. Thousands of these had been found. This old land seemed very war-like. Or perhaps just unfortunate. But it seemed to be prosperous enough. And it had a system of writing. So why did it disappear from the pages of the history books? What caused it to crumble and collapse? So many questions left unanswered…

* * *

So many questions left unanswered… Kasha thought sadly, kicking a rock with her foot. What did the future have in store? Would Jeran fall in battle, the way the crystal ball said he would? She shot a wrathful glare at the delicate orb of glass filled with a glittering mist. How she hated that ball and the visions it showed her. Almost subconsciously, she sidled towards the ball, as if willing to give it another chance. What did it have to show her this time? Something happy, maybe? She stared into its depths and focused her mind.

Fire. Lots of it. A wave of darkness sweeping over the land, setting things ablaze. Fire without light, consuming everything she loved. The rich farmland reduced to bitter ashes, black soil in which nothing would grow. Peasants fled for their lives. Knights and warriors struggled in vain to hold back the dark army, but it was maddened! The army mowed the knights down like they were grass that had grown a bit too tall for the fields. Meanwhile, a few of Skrarl’s guards were dragging the half-shocked king through the gates. “The castle’s collapsing, sire!” They cried, their cultured voices loosing their aristocratic edge, dulled by fear. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

The crashing and yelling became dulled, muted, as though Kasha were hearing them through a pair of earmuffs. The kingdom blurred, as through she were looking at it through a veil. The king’s lips didn’t move, but Kasha could hear his voice as clearly as though he were speaking into her ear. She was hearing his thoughts. “All this destruction… it’s my fault, isn’t it, Gathelianne? You have your way, wretch. Are you happy now? Are you happy now?”

A voice as cold and sharp as ice cut through the king’s dull pain. “Yes, my liege.” She said those two words in pure mockery.

“She isn’t the only one.” A deep voice like the pounding of a bass drum spoke, a clear contrast from the shards of ice. “Nuntio and I are very pleased too. Right?”

“Yesssss Ranagro!” Hissed a nasally voice. “You fool, fool Skrarl. Trusting the ones who brought down the mountains. Trusting Sra Tre Rav’corien, the Three Dark Hearts!”

“But… you promised me everything.” Skrarl said. “You promised… you promised my people would be safe and happy… forever. And that no other kingdom would ever attack us…”

Gathelianne the dark faerie appeared in the air, no more than a sheer grey ghost. “Soon, you won’t have a people! You won’t have a kingdom!” She said, a devilish grin lighting up her pale face. Ranagro appeared beside her, a dark Gelert knight, and Nuntio, an ogre-like Skeith. Gathelianne held her hands akimbo in a most fearsome manner and continued to speak. “Isn’t it funny how things work out? The King of Meridell, the nation no one could beat, brought down by the same force that brought down his enemies. The same Three forces. Ambition.”

“Revenge”

“Greed.”

“No!” Skrarl put his hands to his ears. Vaguely, through the thin veil that separated Skrarl’s thoughts from the world, Kasha heard the king cry out and collapse, holding his paws to his ears and writhing in agony, though no missile or blade had touched him. The guards looked down with a puzzled concern. They couldn’t see or hear the Three. And Skrarl continued to rave. “No, I won’t end up like Kass! I don’t care about the power anymore; just don’t turn me into a pile of sludge! I need to be there… for my people…”

“Finally putting your priorities in order, aren’t you?” Gathelianne asked with a look of pure glee on her face. “Well, it’s a bit late for that.”

“Much too late.” Ranagro agreed. “You wanted power, wealth, magic, everything you could not have. And deep in your darkened heart, you wanted revenge too. Revenge on Darigan for starting war in the first place!”

“No! I…”

“Fool. You tried to conquer the Citadel!” roared Nuntio. “You said they were a problem, taking food away from your land and supplying them with only weaponry in return. And what use is weaponry during peace?”

“So you shattered the peace.” Said Ranagro with a curt nod. He moved his arm, and his night-black armor gave an ominous creak. His paw touched a sword hilt at his side. “You shattered your kingdom. You tried to conquer the Citadel!”

“In self-defense, Darigan’s people fought back. And it was decided that Meridell and the Citadel could not live together in harmony.” Gathelianne said, her voice containing none of Nuntio’s rage or Ranagro’s scorn. She was like a child on the Day of Giving, unwrapping plushies and toys and candies. She enjoyed seeing the kingdom burn. “So a war was started. A war that… what were your exact words? ‘It shall wipe one of us off the map.’ Well, I hope you’re satisfied. Your prediction came true!” She wiped away an imaginary tear. “Don’t you just love happy endings?”

“No!” Kasha yelled. This was too much for her. She tried to break herself away from the vision, to return to her tent. But the magic was too strong. It drove her deeper and deeper into the mind of the maddened king.

“You tricked me…” Skrarl said, eyes watering. “You tricked me into giving up everything…”

“You fell for the trick, fool.” Gathelianne said. “Now, my life’s mission is complete. And I have no need for you anymore.” She began a low chant. A dark glow formed around her fingertips, blotting out all light, all warmth, all hope. Like a gust of wind from the icy north, Gathelianne’s breath blew, chilling the king so even his nose hairs froze. “It’s over now.” The king said, his voice barely a whisper above the roar of the wind. “After all I’ve tried to do, all the good intentions I’ve had… it’s through.”

Gathelianne let the spell loose, and the Draik guards stood over pile of sludge, looking at each other in baffled puzzlement.

* * *

“Me-ri-dell.” Dr. Remthier read slowly. He and Veronica were at the excavation site with a few of Dr. Remthier’s co-workers, studying a shield that the archeologists had dug up. “Painted in red, gold and blue.”

“Those seemed to be the colors of the land.” Said Dr. Denalise the Tyrannian Acara. “We’ve found them on a lot of shields and sets of armor around here bearing those colors. And even on the remnants of a very fancy chair. Quite possibly a throne.”

“Monarchists?” The thought of a king made Dr. Remthier uncomfortable. He had heard tales of the corrupt and spiteful kings of old. “No wonder the civilization collapsed.”

“Doctor, let’s not let our personal biases get in the way of this investigation.” Said Dr. Fenn sharply. Dr. Fenn was a Lost Desert Pteri from… well, the Lost Desert. He remembered the reign of the great King Coltzan well.

Remthier gave a snort. “Okay, sure. But what makes you so sure it’s a throne?”

“’Cause I found a crown over here.” Veronica said, holding up a shining piece of metal. Sure enough, it was a crown of nearly pure gold, studded with rubies and sapphires. And it was in nearly perfect condition.

Denalise’s jaw went slack. She approached the child, and her vocabulary shrunk. “What the… This is amazing! How’d it… how’d you…”

“Know where to look? I just did.”

“It’s in excellent condition.” Fenn said in amazement. “Then again, if it were the crown of a king, it would probably have all sorts of spells and enchantments on it, to preserve it.”

“They had magic in those days?” Remthier said, blinking.

Fenn nodded. “One of the archeologists found the shattered pieces of an alchemy set. He’s sending it to the chemistry department so they can figure out what’s on those pieces. What sorts of potions they had back then.”

Denalise abandoned the crown for a moment more to take a second look at the shield. “Hey guys! I think I found… some sort of engraving or something! I think this may be important! Ask our archeologist friends if we can borrow a brush, a rag and some water!”

They brushed away the dirt of the ages. The inscription said, “Sir Jeran Borodere”. They were holding the shield of a knight.

* * *

Kasha’s breath was caught in her throat. She looked at the fallen remnants of her nation, her king. Jeran was nowhere to be seen, but if the grey hairs on Skrarl’s head were any evidence, this was years after her own time. Jeran would probably look a lot different. Yeah, she told herself. A lot different. I’m sure he’s in this vision somewhere. After all, he’s part of the future, part of my future, right?

She ignored the voice in the back of her head that told her that Jeran had probably fallen a long time ago. Instead, she started looking for her other friends.

She caught sight of Morris and Boris, those two foolish idiots. Strange… they looked a lot less foolish now. Less like clowns and more like knights. In fact, they were even wearing armor. Morris the Quiggle was skillfully fending away a Darigan-colored Draik, while Boris the Blumaroo vampire took care of a Darigan Grarrl. Two more indistinguishable silver specks amongst a sea of purple and black. Lisha was struggling for her life in the midst of that sea, letting loose ultranovas in a frenzied panic. It didn’t look good for her. Kayla the Zafara alchemist was amongst the peasants, trying to save as many of her potions as she could. She delivered them to Illusen the earth faerie, who was tending to the wounded. Sinsi the Shapeshifter Ixi and the Cheeseroller Techo were fleeing with the peasants. Kasha strained her eyes to look for her future self, but she was nowhere in sight.

All this fire, destruction, an all-too familiar sight in her dreams of late. But this was a different type of fire. This was the type of fire that burned things to ashes, then burned the ashes, then burned the ashes of the ashes until there was nothing left. The type of fire that heralded the end of an era, the end of the world. She felt her eyes getting hot, and a river of boiling tears spilling over.

“Why do you do these things?” She asked in rage to no one in particular, her voice cracking on her words. “Why?”

“Well, if you really want to know…” The voice tore through Kasha like ice shards.

Gathelianne appeared before her, less substantial than the thinnest mist. But still there, and still beautiful, in a twisted, dark sort of way. Kasha was too surprised to speak. She hadn’t actually expected an answer.

“Today,” She continued, “Is the 300th anniversary of the Fall of Moongrove. It was on this day, 300 years ago, that my people were cast from our homeland and virtually wiped off the face of Neopia. When King Rektuus I, grandfather of King Skrarl, built the kingdom of Meridell literally right over the grove of moontrees created and cherished by my people. The grove my people called their home. Fool Skeith chopped them down, burned the logs, and built a castle above it.

“I was 16 years old at the time, and full of fire, yes, and a great Ambition. I wanted to restore my people to their glory, to become their queen and have the power to myself! And I couldn’t do that unless Meridell was destroyed. Ranagro and Nuntio were my friends, pets that lived in the Moongrove. Ranagro was a warrior with a violet sword named Nalarus that gleamed even in darkness. His quest was for Revenge. And Nuntio, well he was just Nuntio. The disgusting fellow who followed us around. Yet he has sheer, brute strength and a great Greed. And together, we wove a spell that would bind us to the kingdom of Meridell. We would not rest until it was destroyed. Even if we died long before the day, our ghosts would live on and corrupt mind after mind with promises of power. I thought the Orb would do the trick. I thought it would blow the wretched country to smithereens! But I put too much power into the Orb when I created it…”

“Hold on, back up! You created the Orb?” I asked, my jaw slack. Did the world have no surprises yet?

“Yes, silly girl. You didn’t think it fell off the trees, did you? Anyway, I put too much power into it, and eventually, it self-destructed. And I spent months, lower than I had ever been before, cursing my own stupidity. But another opportunity came, in the form of a foolish Eyrie. Ambitious, even before my magic touch took hold. And I created that Amulet, and Ranagro gave Nalarus to him. And he gave us his word that he would destroy Meridell. And he nearly succeeded. At least, he got that Lupe-knight ou- But that’s after your time, isn’t it?”

The tears flowed thick and fast, and Kasha was not ashamed.

“Then, Nuntio came up with a brilliant idea. Nuntio. We have now proven that that lump of Skeith actually has a brain. ‘Why not corrupt the kingdom from the inside out?’ He said to me. ‘That king grows older and more foolish every day…’ And I agreed. And look. It has succeeded. See your homeland in ruins, Kasha Moonfang. See your heartland burn!” She cackled maniacally. “It’s not even about the revenge anymore. It’s about the sheer joy of fire… transforming the kingdom I most hate. Blackening the vibrant green of Illusen’s Glade, just as their fire blackened the silvery wood of the Moongrove.”

She let out a laugh of pure joy, a cackle that tore through Kasha’s heart. “Now I can create peace among the dead, Lupess, knowing that there is none among the living.”

And she vanished.

Kasha felt the edges of the vision blurring around her. Time to leave. And before she released herself from the hands of the magics, she heard Lisha’s voice crying out above the roar of the frightened peasants. “Get through the Timegate! Now! No, Boris, don’t worry about me! Just get everyone through the Timegate!”

* * *

“A Timegate?”

Dr. Fenn nodded. “Records of old Timegates still exists on scrolls in the Lost Desert. Dangerous things. Made illegal centuries ago, for fear of changing the way of history.”

“Understandable.” Remthier said. “So, our physicists think there’s a Timegate within the general area. Okay, but what exactly is a Timegate?”

“Doctor, you know what an e-gate is, I’m correct in assuming?”

Remthier nodded. “A portal off the planet of Neopia. You step on one, and boom! You’re bouncing on Kreludor or ordering at Grundo’s Café.”

“Well,” Denalise said, brushing a paw through her fur, “A Timegate is the same thing. Except it goes through space and time.”

“So you’re saying… this medieval civilization was capable of time travel? The Grundos and Alien Aishas aren’t capable of that yet!”

“Those two species are also not capable of producing good food.” Said Dr. Denalise with a chuckle. “Not like my people from Tyrannia.”

Dr. Fenn chose not to comment. “Anyway, we think that this Timegate might work by magic. In which case, there would have to be a magical item around here, somewhere. Working as a sort of… battery.”

“Found it.” Veronica said, digging at the roots of an oak that had been scarred by fire. (The tree had to be centuries old.) “A staff, of sorts.”

“Honey, that’s just a stick.” Remthier said, giving Fenn and Denalise an apologetic look.

“No, can’t you feel? It’s buzzing with magic! There used to be vines growing on it, but they’re all gone now. They withered as the magic faded.”

Denalise walked up to the Staff, sniffed it, and put her paw on it. “The kid’s right, Remthier. This thing is buzzing. How’d you know where to look? And how’d you know about the vines?”

Veronica shrugged. “I just knew.”

“Well, put it back where you found it.” Denalise ordered. “It’s the battery for the Timegate and if we take it away…”

“So,” Remthier continued, “Theoretically, if we find this Timegate, we could actually travel to this ancient kingdom?”

“Theoretically.” Fenn agreed. “But messing with Time is a dangerous thing. You don’t know what you could change.”

* * *

Ahh, the Timegate. So that’s why Illusen was collecting the items. That’s why she sent people on quests. To retrieve items so she could leech the magic out of them, (for every item, the legends say, contains a bit of magic) and use the magic to create a Timegate. It all made sense to Kasha now. Apparently, Meridell’s favorite earth faerie was expecting trouble. Naturally, she’d know about the Moongrove and the vengefulness of dark faeries and the foolishness of kings. And Jhudora, being a dark faerie, would hear of this and sympathize with those of her own element. She would create an anti-Timegate, a void of magic.

Kasha felt that bone-piercing fatigue she always felt after a vision. That sense of weariness that made her want to collapse in her chair. Yet the crystal was calling to her. The magics were not through with her yet. They had another vision from the future to show…

It was the ruins of Meridell. Kasha choked back a sob as she surveyed the piles of stone and rubble covered in lichen, moss and ivy. And there were Neopets.

* * *

Veronica soon grew bored of her father’s ceaseless droning about time and theory. So, she decided to explore the ruins on her own. This area must have been used for jousting, this for archery practice. She picked up an old helmet and tried to polish it off, but only succeeded in getting rust on her white blouse. And she came upon a shard of crystal.

Odd. It looked like it had contained magic at one point. Certainly nowhere near as strong as the magic of the staff she had found, but strong enough. Curious, she peered into it.

And a white Lupess peered back at her.

It was like her… if she were about fifteen years older. The white, silky fur. The dainty ears and slender paws. Yet there was immense sorrow in her eyes…

And Kasha looked at Veronica. Such a sweet, innocent child. Child of the future. Beautiful fur, violet eyes…

Violet eyes and a knack for magic. A Seers gift runs through her veins, a child of Artemis Apoll.

And they looked at each other, reflected in the glass of their crystals, reflected in the river of Time. And the child looked so trusting.

Smiling, Kasha put down the crystal ball. Maybe there was hope for the future after all…

 
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