Clara Chatham Shenkuu Plot: Part Three
PART 3: Clara Chatham visits the Royal Palace
Some Background: Clara Chatham is a Neopian stock character from the Atlas of the Ancients plot where Moltara was discovered for the first time (reference: Neopedia or the Jellyneo Book of Ancients).
New member of the travelling party: Kentari the Shoyru samurai
The time was 02:00 NST. Clara and Kentari followed the maze of wooden signs, taking note of which ones contained a Shenkuuvian symbol for a day of the week, and followed them accordingly in order to arrive at .... at ....
"Woah," said Kentari. He was a Neopian of few words in moments of revelation.
They found the crypt. It was very minimalist when considering the greatness that the Temple Keeper it stood for achieved during his life. There was a fresh bouquet of white "chrys-an-the-mums", or "mums" her mother had simply called these flowers back in Brightvale, laid at the foot of the Temple Keeper's grave. Someone had been here not too long ago. Clara found a piece of jewlery in the tall glass. Was this a wearable or a battledome item?
Clue: The dangling piece of jewlery was clearly not something that could be bought at a Shenkuu souvenir store. It must belong to a Shenkuuvian royal lady ... but whom?
"Clara!" Kentari suddenly shouted, "Clara, watch out!!" *clang* *clang* *clang*
Kentari leapt in front of Clara, shielding her from what appeared to be a barrage of ninja stars. Upon closer examination, one of the weapons in the grass didn't seem to be a Shenkuuvian weapon at all; in fact, the design oddly reminded Clara of an Altadorian battledome item ...
Battle with the Buzz Ninja (Easy level): Uses Level 5 Shade *Kentari battles the Buzz Ninja*
"Well that was a close one!" exclaimed Kentari, after having defeated the Buzz Ninja in one fell swoop. "I didn't even lose any HP! And hey look, we won a codestone. I'll buy you lunch sometime."
"Now is not the time, Kentari," hissed Clara, "I know that I'm on to some kind of secret to the Lunar Temple, and I'm not going to stop until I find out what it is."
"... A thank you would have been nice," replied Kentari, pouting childishly.
He looked out from the petpet farm, into the horizon, and panics when he realizes that the sun was about to rise soon.
"Gah! My shift is over! I need to return to the palace armory now, pronto," said Kentari, "C'mon Clara, you must be tired. I'll pay for a rickshaw to take you back to the Lunar Temple. Did you realize that you're still wearing your-"
"No, Kentari!" Clara interrupted, "Please take me to the royal palace with you. I'll sneak in the back or something, don't worry. I think that I have something to return to Princess Lunara, and I would like to do it in person."
"You never cease to amaze me, Clara," replied Kentari with a shrug, and then flagged down the next rickshaw that happened onto the country road.
They both arrived to the royal palace by rickshaw, and it began to rain thunder and lightning. The rickshaw driver kindly provided them with complimentary umbrellas to hold onto as they exited the rickshaw. Kentari headed straight for the armory, and Clara went to go hide inside a pagoda in the royal courtyard. She didn't really have a plan for what she was about to do now, but she had a feeling that something was going to happen. The time is 04:00 NST. A boom of thunder startles Clara, and she hears an anguished male voice shouting nearby. Wanting to investigate the source of the shouting, she tentatively left her hiding place under the pagoda, and accidently bumped into a nearby vase. The vase shattered loudly onto the stone floor of the royal courtyard, and Clara cringed. Maybe coming to the palace wasn't such a good idea.
"Father!" a thin, alarmed voice cries. Quick, shuffled footsteps along a wooden walkway could be heard passing by. That must have been Princess Lunara!
"Princess Lunara, wait!" calls Clara, and the sound of small footsteps pauses. Clara opens her umbrella, and tries to walk over to the princess, only to be boldly confronted by her in the middle of the royal courtyard. The princess was very angry.
"Who are you, and what are you doing in my home at this hour?" Princess Lunara demands. She is still wearing a morning bathrobe, and her pet Kazeiru trailed at her side.
Battle with Princess Lunara (Medium level): Uses Level 50 Throw Pillows *Clara and the princess are equally matched in Battledome stats, and the battle is tied*
"I'm a Brightvale citizen living in Shenkuu," heaved Clara, exhausted from the battle, "My name is Clara Chatham, and I am Master Gnorbu's new intern at the Lunar Temple. I am sorry for scaring you, Princess." Clara bowed low to the ground in apology as Kentari had once taught her. She did not dare rise until the Princess gave her permission. She heard the sound of sniffling, and slowly rose again. Princess Lunara was crying.
"I'm sorry for attacking you, Clara," she sobbed, "I'm just so scared for my father. He keeps having nightmares, and I don't know what to do! The Lunar festival is coming up .... And-and I'm not ready to play my song yet!" And with that, Princess Lunara ran off to her father the Emperor's personal chambers. She drops a sheet of music behind her on the royal walkway.
Clue: Clara picks up the sheet of music, and gasps when she recognizes the title as being the same phrase that she saw engraved along the temple steps, the same phrase that was mentioned in the history book.
The Jade Key in her pocket began to glow, and something up ahead glowed similarly in response. She went down the walkway towards the glowing object, leading her into another room with delicate sliding doors made of paper screens. There before her was a zither, a traditional Shenkuuvian instrument that was similar to a Brightvalian harp. The zither's side handle made of jade was glowing with Neopian magic. What was she supposed to do now? Play a song?
Action: Clara tries to play the zither. Reading the sheet of music, Clara struggled to find the right strings that matched the notes written down. How was she supposed to know which strings to pluck? It had been a long time since she had taken zither lessons with her mother when they first arrived in Shenkuu. After a few attemps, Clara gave up. The Zither and the Key were still glowing. Surely there is a book around here somewhere with a helpful diagram ...?
Her thoughts are interruppted by another female Neopian clearing her throat. Clara had been so engrossed in figuring out how to play the zither that she had failed to notice that the Guardian of Shenkuu had been standing over her in the room.
"You there," the Guardian of Shenkuu sharply said, in the Shenkuuvian tone of authority. "Come with me."
As Clara got up to her feet, the Guardian of Shenkuu takes the dangling piece of jewelery that Clara had found near the Temple crypt. "I believe that this belongs to me," the Guardian said, her voice carrying an ominous cadence.
Clara feels her entire body warm up with Neopian magic that was quickly surrounding her. The Key and the Zither continued to glow as well. The Guardian was casting a spell on Clara that lifted them both up into the air where they floated in the thunderstorm as the gentle Moon receded, and the blazing Sun began to rise. And the Light was about to reveal the secrets hidden in the darkness.
Battle with the Guardian of Shenkuu (Difficult level): Uses Level 200 Tempest *Epic battle ensues in the sky*
Clara is instantly defeated by the Guardian of Shenkuu, having been weakened by Princess Lunara. She probably wouldn't have stood a chance anyway even with full HP. The zither begins to play on its own, and the melody sounds very familiar to Clara Chatham, but she is not sure why. The Guardian begins to speak over the music played by the zither, in a conclusive moment of catharsis, her eyes closed as if she were speaking to someone invisible.
"I told you that your actions would cause more harm than good. What you wanted to do was risky, and had never been done before. I doubted you, I opposed you .... .... .... But I was proven wrong. You succeeded. You shared the wisdom of the Moon with all of Shenkuu, and brought about a positive change that I could never have imagined. I am sorry, Temple Keeper. Please forgive me, your humble servant and friend."
The Guardian of Shenkuu awards Clara with a Moonlight vial, and takes her back to the Lunar Temple where she could get some much needed rest. The Master of Gnorbu gets ready for another day at the Lunar Temple receiving tourists from all over Neopia as usual, unaware of the secret passageway that Clara had unlocked from the temple steps. He would soon have his attendants arrange some safety tape barring any irresponsible tourists from going there and meddling with it. Now another part of the Lunar Temple was off-limits to the public. Clara smiled to herself; time to prepare for this year's Lunar Festival.
Prizes awarded at the Palace Lunar Festival Celebration: Shenkuu Plot trophy is awarded according to number of opponents defeated/clues found/puzzles solved/interviews unlocked, moonlight vial increases pet stats when fed, new food, new weapon, new wearable (all Shenkuuvian-themed)
Fin. Dedicated to the Paint Brush Pizzazz Guild and to the Neopian Times Writer’s Forum (NTWF) - an official Neopets fansite