True Sisters: Part Seven
The next half hour was a rush of packing, yelling, screaming,
running, and, in one case, fainting. Though I pretty much hyperventilated when
I heard that she was standing right outside the castle, it turned out she was
actually about 3 days march away; apparently King Skarl considered that "here".
Finally, the entire army King Skarl had assembled was ready to meet Fanteni head
on. However, Cinpate first asked us original four to meet him in the Banquet Hall,
the largest room in the whole of the castle. Obviously, we obliged, and were there
promptly at 3:30, half an hour before we were set to leave. Cinpate stood on the
middle platform, portentous in the fading autumn light, his steel armor glinting
the slowly dying sun. Awed, we very nearly bowed at his feet, though Aaron caught
us at the last moment. We gazed upon this radiant face as he began to speak.
"Thank you for coming. I appreciate this very
much, as I have some very important things to give you. As some of you will
remember," he began, looking in my direction, "at our first meeting, I mentioned
a certain reward for all of your help. Well, now the time has come. Morbid,
if you would please step forward, we can get started."
Clambering to her feet, Morbid strode up the
steps to the platform and stood hesitantly before Cinpate. With a twinkle in
his eye, he unsheathed his sword and placed the flat of the blade upon her head,
as if she were being knighted. Suddenly, a ray of light appeared upon his end,
traveling slowly in her direction. She seemed oblivious to this, or perhaps
she was in a trance, as her eyes looked glazed over and her lids half closed.
When the light reached her forehead, there was sudden flash, and then it was
once again dark. Upon looking at Morbid, she was still standing next to Cinpate,
though on her face was a huge smile.
Cinpate smiled back. "You can try it out if
Her smile grew larger and brighter. With a twitch
of her tail, she threw back her head and... well, hissed. Tid and I exchanged
worried looks but did not interfere, as by now the "process" was well on its
way. Her body elongated and flattened into a small cylinder-like tube. Her green
color was enhanced, and stripes of bright yellow appeared, running along the
length of her body. Fangs sprouted from her mouth as the rest of her teeth retreated
and her head shrunk considerably. Her tail grew longer and longer and there
she lay, a full-bodied Reptillior.
She raised her head and blinked her yellow eyes,
tongue snapping out as if to taste the air. She shook her tail and a loud, bone-shattering
rattle emitted from within, the smile only grew wider. Looking at us, she slithered
over to where we stood and slowly twisted her way up Tid's leg. Tid shuddered,
but controlled the urge to run. A whispery-rasp escaped from the viper's lips.
We shrieked with delight. Morbid was a snake!
An honest to goodness snake; slithering and creeping, Hissing and, perhaps,
biting. She slid back down Tid's leg and returned to her original form, though
this time the process seemed easier.
Completely ignoring us, she ran up to Cinpate
and, despite his protests, lightly kissed his feet.
"Thank you Cinpate! Thank you, thank you, thank
you!" she cried. Though her huge grin explained she wanted to say more, he shooed
her off and invited Tid to stand. She jumped to her feet, her newly enlarged
muscles propelling her effortlessly through the air. When she landed at his
feet, she gave a little dance and ended in a bow, looking up expectantly. Though
Cinpate laughed, he did nothing else and waited for her to stand. Once she had,
the same basic process ensued. This time, when Cinpate was finished this time,
Tid curled into a ball and cooed softly, soft white feathers erupting over her
body, wings appearing and head shrinking, but body shrinking more. Her mouth
became a beak and her feet grew talons. She flew over to us, a tiny Weewoo,
so fragile and lovely she took our breaths away. Cooing once more, she jumped
to the rafters, climbing higher and higher on snow-white wings. She gave a little
laugh of joy and returned to us, once again thanking Cinpate profusely.
Everyone looked at me expectantly and I started.
It was my turn. Legs shaking slightly, I clambered up to the top step and kneeled
down, eyes closed. I felt the cool metal of the blade touch my forehead and
a chill ran through me. What did I want to be? Without thinking, my mind answered
and the change began. I felt the change, but it didn't hurt. Not that it was
pleasurable, but the squishing of bones and sprouting of bright orange and black
fur didn't bother me. I felt two tusks erupt from the sides of my jaw, teeth
grew and my tail became long and fluffy, perfect for snuggling with on a cold
winter's day. I grew ears, ears that could hear and move. I automatically adjusted
them so that I could hear what my sisters were saying. Suddenly, I shrank, the
ground rushing up towards me. Then, it stopped. My sister's were smiling and
I took a tentative step towards them. I looked down and saw small, but powerful,
paws with sharp claws. When I talked, my voice was lower, but I could sense
that I was cute from the way Morbid was looking at me.
"Aww, a Gruslen! How adorable!" she exclaimed.
A Gruslen? How interesting, but unexpected.
I took a few more steps, and then a few more, until I was running and running,
my powerful muscles propelling me forward and through the air. I jumped into
it and extended my claws, growling. I hit the wall and stuck, my claws digging
in and holding me strong. A rich, throaty laugh escaped from my lips, my newly
formed, sharp, white teeth bared. Turning on my sisters, I ran up to Tid and
crawled up her back and on to her head, emitting a low roar. She yelped and
jumped away. Oops, forgot about the claws. Leaping to the ground, I though once
again about being Fan and changed back, but I couldn't forget the feeling of
power I had felt in those moments.
Rushing up to Cinpate, I could hardly contain
my joy. Looking into his eyes I pronounced my feelings earnestly, nearly crying
with happiness. He merely smiled and motioned for me to return to my place among
my sisters. I practically pranced over to them and flashed them my brightest
smile. Aaron looked at me approvingly and my heart soared with happiness; oh
how wonderful this gift really was! Cinpate turned towards Aaron, who in turn
walked up towards his brother. They embraced and Cinpate whispered something
in Aaron's ear. His Darigan tail lifted and his ears perked up.
"Really?" he exclaimed, voice shaking ever so
Cinpate smiled back, "Really. Please kneel."
Aaron did so readily and Cinpate once again
placed the blade upon his head. This time, instead of creating the beam of light,
Cinpate began to speak.
"I, Cinpate, son of Halit, knight you, Aaron,
son of Halit, Knight of Neopia, whose purpose is to serve the people and to
work only for the better good of the land. Rise."
Aaron, or Sir Aaron, rose and smiled brightly.
Cinpate, however, was not finished speaking.
"As your first act as Knight, it shall be your
duty to lead the army entitled to defeat the army led by Fanteni. Go, and do
not return unless you bring peace." Aaron turned and, with a whisk of his tail,
ran out the door, ready to lead his army to victory. Cinpate nodded to us and
we followed him, grabbing our armor on the way out.
As we ran behind him, we heard sudden sounds
of tiny feet and, with a soft cluck, Lyra landed on my shoulder.
"Lyra!" I exclaimed, nearly too stunned to speak.
I had not seen her since we had been separated at arrival, and she was very
different, at least level twenty by now, most likely higher. She looked actually
menacing, with a tiny set of armor covering her delicate head and tail. I could
see Tid and Morbid being reunited as well, though Tid's welcome was a little...
slower. As Lyra's tiny paws grip me, a surge of confidence overcame me and I
raced ahead, ready for anything.
Even if I was ready for anything, that didn't
mean anything would happen. No glorious battles are fought on the first day
of a march. Nay, we simply marched. Three perfectly straight lines of Neopets,
clad in armor and placed according to species, plodded on after Sir Aaron, as
he insisted we call him. This went on for about six or seven hours, after which
we rested, each lying on our own blanket, the fluff beaten out of it from years
of use. Our meals were small yet filling, two slices each a special bread full
of nutrients and special herbs meant to boost moral as well as a small cup of
cider. During this rest period, my sisters and I caught up with each other about
our individual adventures from the day. Overall, they weren't much.
"Yah," said Tid, sarcastically, "My day was
pretty exciting. I think I actually saw a butterfly on our way here. Then again,
it could have been a leaf, you never can tell between those two. They're tricksters,
Morbid sighed. "Laborite and I have been so
bored. We tried amusing ourselves by making big footprints in the ground by
stomping extra hard, but Sir Aaron," she said, stressing the 'Sir', "got mad
at us. I'm sure this whole knighting thing is just getting to his head."
"Speaking of this knighting," I interrupted,
"did any of you have a chance to do that changing again today?"
Both of them joined my in shaking our heads
sadly, and I sighed mournfully. Tid however, smiled deviously and motioned for
us to follow her. Slipping in between the trees, we changed, slithering, flying,
and running through the forest. Looking towards the sky, I saw Tid soaring,
laughing manically with happiness. She'd finally gotten her wish, and she didn't
even need a paint brush. As had I; I could now run with my sisters freely. As
my strong claws gripped the earth I threw back my head and howled, my voice
rising up and joining with the stars to create the perfect melody.
To be continued...