There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 196,662,418 Issue: 932 | 2nd day of Eating, Y23
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The Royal Axis: Pushing Back The Dark

by iamnotaaron


A pregnant pause filled the canopy. The king’s goblet remained suspended in mid-air, as King Altador’s mind struggled to process this piece of information dropped upon him. He hadn’t heard of The Darkest Faerie in ages, and the last report about her was that she was now entombed in stone by Fyora, the queen of Faeries.

     As if predicting his reaction, Finneus volunteered to explain in greater detail.

     “We are still trying to confirm if the Darkest Faerie was indeed implicated in the return of Lord Kass, and if so, how she escaped the stone statue that Fyora kept her in,” he said, now finding more strength and pace in his words. “But beyond that, our men also report that the two are up to something.”

     King Altador stood up, arms akimbo, and stared off into the distance. “Tell me more,” the royal Lupe said, steadying himself for the truth. The truth that would mean the peace that they’ve all taken for granted is now at risk of evaporating like a puddle on a hot summer’s day.

     “We are still trying to gather more information as well, sire,” Siyana replied. “Please allow us more time, but in the meantime, we’ve noted that they’ve taken meetings with several…undesirable characters, if you will. Lady Frostbite received Lord Kass three nights ago, and Dr Sloth’s aide Parlax had met with Kass a few days before that. Something is happening.”

     King Altador nodded. “Very well,” he uttered. “Thank you for coming to me with this piece of news. Once again, you have both demonstrated your loyalty to Altador. Can I count on your discretion with this news?” Siyana and Finneus nodded.

     “Thank you Siyana, and thank you Finneus,” King Altador said, nodding in gratitude. He turned to Finneus, addressing him directly.

     “Will you let me know immediately once you have more information about what our nefarious friend is plotting?” The king sounded unusually calm, despite having just received word that his nemesis has returned. Then again, King Altador has always been known for his wisdom, and a wise king knows that foolish is the leader who acts without knowing the whole plot.

     Finneus nodded and scurried off with his new mission. Meanwhile, Siyana smiled at King Altador. She knew she could always trust his judgement.

     “Ready for the feasting, then?” she asked, her lilting tone lightening the mood. King Altador nodded, and the pair took their leave to prepare for the night’s festivities.


      That night, the Park District of Altador came alive with energy. Every year, the council of Altador would host a banquet for the good people of the kingdom in honour of the bountiful harvest and those who laboured hard for the fruitful gains.

     Farmers would gather up their fishermen companions around tables brimming with luscious fruit, hearty roasts and endless flows of cold ale, while their children played clapping games and wove little crowns made out of dried flowers and ribbon. A band would play, a big bonfire would be stoked in a golden fire pit, and fireworks would paint the evening sky in every shade of green, gold and blue. The celebration was one that many looked forward to, and if you were present, all you’d hear in Altador were the joyous sounds of gratitude and camaraderie.

     As the ambers of the bonfire smouldered into smoke, families began to make their way back to their houses with their tired little tots in tow. Surveying the giant marquee and the remaining Altadorians hanging back to share in a few more laughs, Siyana felt a pang of sadness.

     She choked back a sniffle, but it didn’t go undetected by King Altador, for he shared in her anxiety and sadness too. Now that he had knowledge that the Darkest Faerie has returned, the very lives and happiness of his people are once again at threat. They looked to him for his guidance and protection, and he felt the burden of the crown and the love for his fellow Altadorians weigh upon his heart.

     “We will overcome this,” he said, his voice remaining steadfast and strong. “We will protect them.”


      A few days after the feast, Finneus found himself in his usual spot amongst the old books stored in Altador’s archives. Taking off his monocle to clean with a handkerchief, the Lenny heard three fast raps against the door. This had been the sign he had been waiting for.

     Fumbling over a pile of scrolls, he dashed over to open the door, where a hooded figure slid into the room, careful to remain soundless so as not to arouse the attention of others. The Shoyru removed his woollen hood once he heard Finneus bolt the door.

     “You’re late,” Finneus said, still catching his breath. The Shoyru spy ignored him, choosing instead to thumb through an old book that was already opened on the table. Finneus rushed over and quickly closed the book – the last thing anyone needed was this spy gathering information about Altador for evil.

     “Of course I’m late, these jobs aren’t easy,” the Shoyru said, a little peeved by the antsy Lenny. “I’m collecting information for you, not foraging the woods for berries you know?”

     Finneus sighed. Perhaps he had been too curt with the spy. After all, he had delivered valuable information in the past. “So, did you find out anything else?” Finneus asked hurriedly.

     The Shoyru, on the other hand, remained cool and collected. “As a matter of fact, I did,” he said. “But first business at hand…” as he spoke, he stretched out an open palm. Finneus fished around a drawer, muttering disgruntledly at the spy before pulling out a small cloth bag and dropping it into the Shoyru’s hand. The contents clinked as it landed, and the Shoyru undid the knotted closure and peeked inside to ensure that it was just as he had asked for. After he was pleased with the payment, he continued.

     “I was just about to give up on this assignment you gave me, when last night, I tracked Parlax to an old tavern in the Haunted Woods. It seemed like he was meeting Lord Kass in a disused secret room within the wooden hut. Have you heard of something called an ‘eternal night’?” The Shoyru’s tone sounded serious as he recited these words. Finneus shook his head, listening intently to the spy’s report. The Shoyru continued.

     “Well, it seems like your favourite villain, The Darkest Faerie, and her legion of evil ones are about to launch a full-scale attack on Neopia. On her part, she plans to plunge all the lands into an eternal night that would black out the sun, causing widespread drought and chaos. She would also cast a spell that would turn kin against kin, and friend against friend. Then, after the smoke has settled, she would carve up what remained of the different lands and their resources into different districts before selling each one to the highest bidder. As for herself, she would collect a healthy sum of coins and treasures from each district, ensuring she would retain some form of financial control over the different warlords.”

     Upon hearing the whole story, Finneus went white as a sheet. He stumbled backwards, falling into his weather wooden chair, his brain still trying to process the gravity of the news he had just been fed with. For his part, the Shoyru spy remained unfazed, for if he had to, he would find his own way of surviving the fallout.

     After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Finneus asked the spy if he had any idea when this might happen. The spy shook his head, but after a ponderance, said “If Lord Kass is already gathering allies for his mistress, I imagine that you won’t have much time left before they try to launch a full-scale surprise attack.”

     It made sense, given Finneus’ experience with The Darkest Faerie. An element of surprise would not only render defences useless, it would also help the villains gain a foothold quickly and with less risk. Finneus thanked the spy and ushered the now-hooded character out the door. He had work to do, but first he had to report back to King Altador.

     With haste, Finneus pattered over to the throne room, where the king was having a conversation with Marak. Both the Lupe and the Peophin looked startled as they watched Finneus sprint over to them, arms flailing as he ran.

     “Your…Your High…ness…” Finneus stopped in front of the confused king and Peophin warrior, huffing away as he tried to regain his breath.

     “Slow down Finneus,” King Altador said, placing a hand on Finneus’ shoulder to steady the panting Lenny. “What is it?”

     “Sire, we need to convene the council immediately!” A look of panic washed over Finneus, as he straightened up and readjusted his monocle. Marak turned to a nearby court attendant, and nodded in the Techo’s direction, who hastened away to gather up the other nine members of Altador’s council.


      Sunlight streamed into the airy council chamber, casting a warm glow against the white stone columns. The council of 11 sat in their assigned seats, wondering what could’ve possibly happened that warranted the presence of a full council meeting. Finneus approached the seated council members, bowed and cleared his throat. Some members exchanged confused looks, while Siyana nervously adjusted herself in her seat, for she knew that if Finneus had to have an audience with the council of Altador then the situation must have developed in a perilous way.

     “Good afternoon, dear council members,” Finneus began, wiping the beads of sweat that formed on his forehead. “I have gathered everyone here today as I bear witness to terrible news.” Over the next hour, he began to explain to everyone how in the last week, The Darkest Faerie had revived Lord Kass to carry out her nefarious plans, and how she had planned to form bannermen out of Neopia’s villains to realise her vision of an unending night of terror. Given the gravity of the intelligence he was presented with, he felt it best that the entire council be made aware, so that caution may be taken while there was still time at hand.

     The room was so quiet, you could hear the distant waves lapping against the shores of Altador, and the laughter of children playing in a nearby garden. These sounds of bliss and peace only made Finneus’ report weigh heavier on everyone present. Altador had undergone so much to earn its hard-fought peace, and the idea that everything they’ve built is at stake along with the rest of Neopia was too much to bear.

     Finally, Jerdana spoke up. “If I may, I’d like to thank Finneus for reporting back on this.” A low murmur of agreement rippled through the room, with council members nodding in Finneus’ direction as a sign of gratitude. Jerdana continued.

     “From where I stand, unfortunately, this isn’t just a problem that Altador faces,” she spoke, her voice collected and firm. “This is a nightmare for the entirety of Neopia, and therefore, should be treated as so.” As she said these words, she turned to face King Altador.

     The king rubbed his chin, deep in thought. Next, Fauna stood up and faced her fellow council members.

     “We all love Altador, and we have been blessed to have received this vital piece of information early on,” the Acara reasoned. “But don’t the habitants from Maraqua to Meridell also deserve the same privilege in being told about this? So that they might have enough time to make adequate preparations to defend their lands if they must?” Fauna had a point, and King Altador knew this well enough.

     Thanking Fauna and Jerdana, he rose from this seat at the head of the arch. “Finneus, once again you have demonstrated your loyalty to the land and Altador thanks you for that. You may leave.” Finneus knew to trust his king’s wisdom, so after accepting the thanks for the council, he turned around to leave.

     King Altador then addressed the rest of the council members. “Fauna is right. We were fortunate enough to have received warning ahead of time, and it wouldn’t reflect well on our principles of honour and loyalty if we didn’t share this with others. However, we must make sure that we do this tactfully.” Everyone agreed.

     The royal Lupe turned to Marak and Torakor. “Marak and Torakor, my two strongest fighters, to you I entrust the defence of the city. See that our army and our fleet is ready in the eventuality that Altador has to go into battle, and set up a patrol on the regional limits to ensure that even those who dwell outside our fortified city walls are still given a measure of protection.” Both warriors nodded, energised by their new task.

     To Gordos, Fauna and Florin, the king began to address them. “My friends, please begin planning our inventory and coin, ensuring that our stockpiles are sufficient that our people won’t go hungry. Please make arrangements for the petpets within our land to also receive the same protection that our Altadorians are bestowed.” The three council members took note, and left the room to begin the uphill task of securing resources.

     “As for Sasha, Jerdana and Psellia, I entrust the welfare of our people in my absence, in the hopes that their lives may go on as seamlessly as possible.” The room went quiet, until Sasha finally broke the silence.

     “Where will you be going to, King Altador?” She asked.

     “I will need to pay a visit to our fellow monarchs in the hopes that we may warn them, and devise a plan together,” King Altador replied, now facing out towards the distant blue seas. “If there is a fight to be had, then it will be one that requires the collective efforts of everyone.”

     He turned back to the room. “Siyana, Kelland, may I ask that you accompany me on this journey?”

     Kelland rose up, and playfully pounded his chest. “Say no more, King Altador,” the bright-eyed Techo stated boldly. “You can count on Jerdana and myself to go the distance with you.”

     Siyana jumped up too, eager to begin making the necessary preparations for her mission. “Where are we headed to?”

     The king had gone back to his pensive mood, as he turned towards the horizon, closing his eyes in the process. For a moment, he was lost in the serenity that he felt with the wind blowing through his hair and the sun gently kissing his nose. Slowly, he reopened his eyes and announced assuredly.

     “Lost Desert.”

     To be continued…

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