Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 177,649,478 Issue: 429 | 5th day of Awakening, Y12
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Eisian and the Amulet of Thilg: Part One


by thropp

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Greyson stretched his back and yawned. He was sweating beneath the suit of armor he wore and the sword at his side weighed down his arm, sending tiny sparks of pain down to his fingers. A cool goblet of fig juice lay at his feet, but the armor would not budge when he tried to kneel down and grab it.

     That was Greyson’s life as a palace guard. He could defend his land and protect the King, but he could not bend over to buckle his sandals.

     Greyson closed his eyes. His assignment that day was to watch over the princess, a young Draik named Eisian, as she perused the stalls of the Sakhmet City marketplace. He was irritated, of course; babysitting was not a part of his job description. Still, he was proud to wear the uniform of the Lost Desert Guard.

     Scanning the crowd and successfully finding Eisian, Greyson leaned against a stone pillar and closed his eyes. What kind of trouble could she possibly get into? he thought to himself.

     -----

     Eisian attempted to navigate the maze of market stalls, checking over her shoulder to see if her guard was following. She saw him resting against a pillar, his green eyes trained on her as she wove through the crowd. The Sakhmet City marketplace was always bustling on Saturday mornings, and that morning was no different. Vendors shouted out prices from all directions. The young Draik could only vaguely discern some of the shouts from another.

     “Scorched Treasure Scratchcards, 500 NP a piece!”

     “Only 10 NP and this plump bagguss is yours!”

      “Authentic Qasalan scrolls, yours for only 1,000 NP!”

     Eisian did not know why her father had assigned a guard to follow her. She was old enough to take care of herself, after all. She most definitely did not need a babysitter! Eisian sulked around the bazaar, taking in the fresh air and warm sunlight.

     A gentle whirring noise suddenly overtook Eisian’s ears, drowning out the haggles of vendors she passed. Whipping her head around, she tried to locate the source. She took a few steps to the left: the sound wasn’t coming from the Fruit Machine; a few steps right: not Sutek’s Scrolls. A kiosk in the center of the marketplace caught Eisian’s eye. As she got closer, the buzzing seemed to get louder and more persistent. Eisian lightly grabbed the curtain covering the entrance to the shop and the noise unexpectedly came to a halt. Inside the tent were many shelves lined with various artifacts. Displayed in several cases were brightly shining jewels of all shapes and sizes. An oval ruby medallion stood out most prominently. A heavily robed Aisha hobbled over to Eisian from behind the wooden counter.

     “Welcome to Osiris Pottery, your Highness,” she wheezed. “Find something that caught your eye, eh?”

     “Yes, this amulet is beautiful!” Eisian responded. “I have never seen anything quite like it.”

     “Would you like to try it on?” asked the Aisha, a strange glint in her eyes.

     “Oh, no, thank you. I have to get back to the palace before my father sends a search party after me,” Eisian lamented.

     The Aisha chuckled. “Go on and try it. It will do an old Aisha proud to see her jewels on a princess.”

     Eisian eyed the Aisha, wondering why she was so intent on seeing the medallion around her neck. She decided the Aisha was simply desperate to sell her wares and smiled.

     “I would love to try it on.”

     The Aisha gently lifted the necklace from its velvet pedestal and held it out to the Draik. Eisian accepted it, admiring how the braided gold chain shimmered in the candle light.

     “Would you mind helping me clasp it?” she requested.

     The Aisha ducked under the wooden table, coming around to stand in back of Eisian. With crooked fingers, she clasped the two ends of the amulet and smiled.

     “A blood red stone, set in twisted gold; it grasps your throat, and forever will it hold...” she recited in Eisian’s ear. “The Amulet of Thilg has found its sacrifice at last.”

     Pain prickled the back of Eisian’s neck and she tried to yank the necklace off. The chain remained fused no matter how hard the Draik pulled and twisted it. Red smoke began to sweep around Eisian’s gown, clouding her vision.

     ---

      “What did you do?” Greyson heard Eisian cry. His eyes snapped open immediately. Red smoke ballooned up over the central marketplace and he could barely make out the silhouettes of villagers crowded around a small tent.

     Good job, Greyson, he thought to himself. What trouble can she possibly get into? Only the kind that would let her make a spectacle out of herself!

     The guard signaled for his backup to follow him and they began to shove their way through the gaggle of vendors and customers. At the center of the throng stood a crying Eisian, a blood red amulet clasped around her neck, and an old Aisha. Curious onlookers whispered behind fans, wondering what was happening to the princess.

     “I have only fulfilled a prophecy,” the Aisha cackled in response to Eisian’s whimper. She turned to circle of Neopets that gathered, a fierce light gleaming in her eyes. “A new era is on the rise. The great pharaoh, Shkanum-Da, is coming back to claim his land!”

     “ENOUGH!” shouted Greyson, his sword drawn and pointed at the Aisha. “What is this foolishness you’re spouting? Defaming a member of the royal family will land you in prison, not to mention assaulting one!” he yelled, grabbing Eisian with his free hand.

     Greyson held the point of his sword steadily in front of the Aisha as he commanded the crowd to disperse. They slowly relented, and Greyson could already hear the stories that they would be telling the next day.

     “I did not lay a hand on your precious princess,” the Aisha spat. “The amulet chose her; I merely aided the process. My master is gaining power already. You have a revolution on your hands.”

     “Gesn, Vyodu,” Greyson addressed his fellow guards. “Take this creature into custody. We will question her later.”

     The guards roughly grabbed the Aisha under the arms. She snorted and shook her head.

     “Do you really think you can stop him? The plan is already in motion. Any chance you have at stopping him is tricking by every second you waste,” she called over her shoulder. “You will never win!”

     When she was gone, Greyson looked down at Eisian, who continued to shake in his grasp.

     “I am sorry,” she whispered. “I did not know!”

     “We will figure this out, your highness,” he consoled. “Even if it is the last thing we do.”

     The pair ambled towards the palace, trying to figure out what they would tell the King about what had happened.

     ---

     “Tell me everything that wretch said to you,” Greyson demanded a few hours later. He, Eisian, and the King were in the royal library, discussing the events of the marketplace.

     “She said this thing was the Amulet of Thilg,” Eisian recalled. “I always thought that was just a legend!”

     “That is what we have all believed, daughter,” the King reflected. “Did she say anything else? Is there any way to get this contraption off of you?”

     Greyson studied the band around Eisian’s neck. The twisted gold chain seemed to be a part of Eisian’s skin, however impossible that may have been. “I doubt we would be able to pry it off with force, your Majesty.”

     “Smoke began to pour out of the gem,” the princess remembered. “The Aisha, she recited something and this thick red smoke filled the air. Do we have a Neopedia, father?”

     The King handed a leatherbound book to his daughter. She gently blew dust from its cover and flipped it open.

     “The Amulet of Thilg,” Eisian read aloud. Greyson read over her shoulder as she continued to read the article. “Long ago, there was a pharaoh named Shkanum-Da. He was a belligerent ruler who ordered the largest pyramid in Neopia to be built. Many Neopets were lost in the construction of this temple. Those who survived were left with a severe contempt for the pharaoh and set out to overthrow him. Eventually, they discovered a powerful scroll of very dark magic. They placed a curse on the pharaoh that trapped him in a block of crystal, except for a single drop of his blood, which fell to the ground and crystallized into a gem of deep red – the Amulet of Thilg.”

     Chills raced up Eisian’s spine. The jewel on this necklace was the soul of a greedy, callous pharaoh that lived thousands of years ago? And now, according to the Aisha that gave her the amulet, that pharaoh was released and intent on taking back what was his?

     “I think we need to speak with the Aisha,” Eisian declared. “She knows how to get this thing off of me, and I am determined to stop whatever she started.”

To be continued...

 
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