"Hmm.. wonder who that is. Could'ya answer the door, Otsi? You're closer." He said.
"No, I answered it LAST time." Katt muttered. "You answer it."
"Hey! I answered it last time! YOU ANSWER IT!"
Katt growled softly in warning. "Look Ok'Wari, if you expect me to go along with another of these stupid little arguments..." her threat was cut off by another fierce pounding on the door. "Okay fine! I'll answer it!" she said, walking toward the door. "Even though I answered it last time."
"You did not." said Schim jokingly. He looked down at the Senetboard, and looking out the corner of his eye at Katt, he quickly switched a few ebony playing pieces around. Smirking, he leaned back in his chair and watched to see who it was that was making such a racket.
Katt opened the door slowly, peering out through the narrow opening. "Who is it?" she asked.
"Otsi:Tsia, it's only me."
Katt swung the door open, relieved that it was only Togo, Ponoka's adviser. "Hello Togo. What do you want?"
She was thrown roughly aside as Togo rushed past her and pointed angrily at Schim. "There! He's the one!"
A small (author's note: small by NORTHERN DRAGON standards is about eight feet tall. this one is seven and a half feet) crimson-scaled Northern Elite dragon entered, his many razor-sharp blades extended to their full length. Swinging his head side to side in the way that most dragons did when they wanted to assure themselves, he hissed fiercely, his soft gold-coloured eyes fixing solidly on Schim. "Are you sssure?"
Togo nodded. "He's the murderer!"
The dragon, whose name was Poppiscale, roughly pulled Schim from his chair and began dragging him toward the door, a slight look of regret in his eyes.
Katt ran to Togo and shook him angrily. "What're you doing?! What's happening?! Where's Poppiscale taking Ok'Wari?!"
Togo pushed her away, glaring at her. "Poppiscale, take the Prince to the dungeons. I'll deal with Otsi:Tsia."
Katt fixed her glare on Togo, eyes changing black with anger. "What's going on." she said, rather more of an order than a question.
Togo shifted nervously from paw to paw."Otsi:Tsia, please. It's really nothing to be concerned about-"
"NOTHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT?! YOU GIVE ORDERS THAT MY BROTHER IS TO BE SENT TO THE DUNGEON AND THAT'S NOTHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT?!?!"
Togo winced, and backed away. "Please, your Majesty! Calm down!"
Katt's snarled, and grabbed the scruff of Togo's neck, pulling him close. She glared at him, grinding her teeth angrily. "You don't give me orders. Now! Tell me what's going on!"
Togo whimpered like a pup, and struggled to pull away, but his futile attempts were no match for Katt's iron grip. "Yes your Magesty! I'll tell you, your Magesty, if only you let go of me, your Magesty!"
"Very well." Katt said, and flung him against a wall. Steaming, she went and sat in her chair, growling softly. Togo went and sat across from her, shaking nervously.
"Your Magesty, it is apparent that you haven't heard about what has happened. There was a murder committed this morning."
"A murder?" Katt said, calming down slightly. "What does this have to do with Sch- I mean, Ok'Wari?"
"It has everything to do with him." Togo said, biting his lip nervously. "Because the one who was murdered was his Magesty Ponoka."
Katt's eyes changed from their usual amber colour to a soft blue-green, and she gasped, her whiskers twitching anxiously in shock. "Ponoka's dead?" she whispered.
"Yes, your Magesty." Togo said, bowing his head.
"But what does this have to do with Ok'Wari?"
"Your Magesty..." Togo began after a short moment of silence "We have not found Ponoka's body. But we did find Ok'Wari's Gaisai gem in Ponoka's room. There was blood...... and I know for sure that nobody was in there last night, at least not at a reasonable hour. So the only way that this is possible..."
"You're accusing my brother based on such shaky evidence?" Katt said calmly, her anger displayed only in her flashing eyes.
"Yes, your Magesty."
Togo held up his paw to silence her. "Your Magesty, I must remind you that you are in no position to do anything at this moment. Until the Prince's trial, Onoway will rule in place of Ponoka."
"But-" Katt began
"But no. I bid you good day, your Magesty."
Katt watched angrily as Togo left the room. She looked at the sable-furred manticor curled up snoozing silently in a corner. "Salem, what in the name of Ra are we going to do?" She wondered aloud.
"I am sorry, my prince. Ever so sorry." Poppiscale whispered as he lead Schim down a long flight of stairs. There was barely enough light emitted from the burning torches that Schim could only see a few metres in front of him, though his eyes were keener than most. Sometimes he slipped in small pools of water which dripped down from the ceiling and streamed slowly down the walls, his paws scratching wildly at the limestone steps trying to regain his balance. This happened more than once, and each time Poppiscale pulled him up, and tightened his grip on the young prince, digging his claws into the back of Schim's neck.
"Poppiscale, what is the meaning of this? Why are you taking me down here?" Schim said, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the dim light.
"Don't tell me you don't know Ponoka was murdered. Why else would I be taking you down here?"
Schim went quite silent, but his mind was swimming with thoughts. Ponoka, murdered? Me, the killer? he thought.
As they traveled farther and farther underground to the very foundations of the palace, Schim tried to think clearly. He had no idea why they would think that he, of all people, would kill Ponoka. There's something going on, he thought. And that something sure as heck ain't good.
"I'm sorry, Ok'Wari. But I must leave you now." said Poppiscale. He shoved Schim into one of the many cells and closed the bar door, locking it with a set of brass keys. With one last look he turned and started back up the long flight of stairs to emerge above ground, and to the lights which blinded his eyes for a moment before his true sight returned..
Schim sat in silence in a corner near the door, on a pile of dead leaves which had been swept in by the wind which blew through a small hole near the ceiling of the cell. Burning torches cast shadows eerie through the bars, giving him a feeling of fright, tensing him. So this is where it all ends, he thought. Murder. Trial. And finally, death. Schim closed his eyes, trying to hold back tears. If he had to go, he would go with dignity.
Something glittered in the far corner of the cell. Light glinted off it, casting red flashes of light onto the opposite wall. Schim hugged his knees to his chest and curled his tail around his feet, staring at the reflectors intently. For a long while he sat, watching it. The little lights seemed to dance, to move as if they were alive. Then, slowly, two small slits of crimson appeared below the reflectors. They grew larger, and to Schim's amazement they were eyes, large round eyes, staring boldly back at him. They weren't at all frightening, rather peaceful, and ancient.
"Who are you." said a voice, soft and whispy, like snowbird feathers.
"Who am I? The question is, who are you?" Schim answered, not really wanting conversation at the moment.
"I asked you first."
Schim glared, annoyed. Growling softly, he distracted himself by pulling at a loose silver thread in his Royal blue robe, trying to ignore the other prisoner. "Who I am is none of your business. Now, leave me alone, whoever and whatever you are."
"So be it. But be aware I will ask you once more, and once more again until I get an answer."
Schim slumped against a wall, lost in his own thoughts. Expect the worst, he thought. You'll never be disappointed.
Katt grabbed Regan by his collar as he passed her in the hallway. "You." she whispered.
"What?" Regan growled angrily. "What do you want?"
"You're the one who murdered Ponoka. It wasn't Ok'Wari. It was you."
"You're screwed in the head, Kaaq. I didn't kill my dear great uncle Ponoka." said Regan, a look of horror and surprise on his face. "Why, wherever did you get that idea?"
"Don't play dumb with me." Katt growled. "You've always wanted Ok'Wari's place. You've more than once plotted both his death and Ponoka's. You've always wanted the throne. So one day you just went and decided to hit two harpies with one stone, kill one and have someone else kill the other for you. Smooth one, cousin, real smooth."
"Maybe I have something to do with it, maybe I don't. Either way, the throne is mine." Regan said, twisting to the side and so breaking her grip on him. "You can't stop me, Kitty. No one can."
"Who are you." said the voice again.
"I won't tell you." murmured Schim.
"Fine then, I can wait. I have time on my paws. I have been in here for a million years. I can wait a million more."
"I don't have a million years." Schim muttered under his breath.
"Ii ghardah dghaghth."
Schim stared into the eyes, wondering. "You speak the language of the Bloodeune." he whispered.
"Yes. But tell me something about you."
"Fine!" Schim growled angrily. "fine! I'll tell you who I am, and why I'm down here, too! If you just stop bugging me!" no use arguing with this one, he thought angrily. If he's been here as long as he says, it won't matter 'cause he won't be released for all eternity.
"Fine then. State your case."
"You sound like a lawyer or something." Schim muttered.
"I know not what a lawyer is. State your case." The voice repeated calmly.
"I am Sch......Ok'Wari Onoway Ponoka Lemici, son of Onoway and heir to the throne." Schim began, barely remembering that he was on Aisai, and he must be careful not to reveal his true identity. "Or at least I was. I'm not so sure now."
"Yes. Obviously if you're down here you must have done something that will relieve you of your future responsibility. But, what is your true name? You have two. One is Schimmelan, one is....I don't know what the other is."
"Huh?" Schim said, looking dumbly at the eyes. "How do you know?"
"I can read minds. Only to a small extent, of course, but I know you have more than one name. Besides that, you began to say your true name then gave me your Schimmelan name. Simple enough to understand, even for you."
"So you know." Schim said, ignoring the mocking sound of his cellmate's voice. "Well, I might as well tell you then... besides, it's not like you're going to tell anyone else."
"Oh do tell."
He thought for a moment, then blurted out "My true name is Schim Lemici. Known in the Lylat System as Flash Monroe." Schim said. "Um... do you mind if I tell you EVERYTHING? I think I need to spill the beans to some Siiaman other than the ones I really trust, and you seem like the perfect one."
"Go ahead." assured the voice. "I'm listening, I've got time, and I can keep a secret. A real whopper of a secret. Go ahead."
"My sister is Otsi:tsia Onoway Ponoka Lemici. Her true name is Katt Monroe. We're hybrids, part Schimmel, part Cornerian. Corneria is a planet in the Lylat system... Katt spends most of her time there, while I stay here to make sure everything is going okay with Aisai. I wish it didn't have to be this way, but if Ponoka, or anyone in a major position, for that matter, found out that our father was from another system, we'd both be killed."
"Ponoka always was a bit of a racist. Sexist, too. Go on."
"Well, that's pretty much it... I'm down here because there was a murder.."
"A murder?" said the voice, sounding quite interested. "Oh do tell."
Reluctantly, Schim told all he knew. He figured he wouldn't live long enough for it to matter anyway.
Katt stormed angrily into her mother's room, where Onoway sat on a pile of cushions near a stained glass window, embroidering silk threads onto a cloak. She looked up, surprised at her daughter's entrance. "Hullo Otsi. How are you this afternoon-"
"Enough chit-chat, mother. I need to talk to you about Ok'Wari."
Onoway averted her eyes, staring hard at the weave in the cloak as if she could unwind it merely by concentrating. "Oh yes. Um...er...what did you want to say?"
"How can you believe this?" Katt snarled. "How?"
"I believe what I must. I accept what is." said Onoway calmly, still staring at the fine blue cloth.
"You make me sick. He's your own son! Why do you look me in the face and say you can't defend him?" Katt growled, grabbing her own ears and pulling them downward in frustration.
"Otsi:Tsia, listen to me. Quit denying it." Onoway ordered, raising her eyes and looking Katt in the face. "Ok'Wari is a traitor. He killed my father. He..."
"HE DID NOTHING OF THE SORT!" Katt yelled in rage.
"Then who do you believe did it? Eh?" Asked Onoway angrily. "If not him, then who?"
"My cousin. Lord Regan. It's him, I know it!"
"You're mad!" Onoway gasped. "Regan? Impossible! Why, he's such an angel!"
Katt grinned bitterly. "Yeah. And I'm Sekhmet. And it's raining milk balls outside. Mother, listen to me. It's not what you think. It's not what Togo says. It's not-"
"I don't need this. Go! Leave! Take your insane thoughts elsewhere!"
As Katt left, she slammed the door behind her, anger surging through her veins. Even Schim's own mother didn't have enough faith in him to believe the truth.
"Good day, your Magesty." Greeted Poppiscale, bowing low. "How fare you?"
"Cut the polite stuff. I want to speak to my brother." Katt snarled.
"Your Magesty, no one is to speak to or see the prisoner until the day of the trial-"
Katt grabbed his collar and pulled him close. "Don't toy with me. You say one more word and you'll be terminated. I have spoken."
Silently, Poppiscale stepped aside and let her pass, knowing what she could do if she didn't get her way.
Katt cast a glance down the coil of stairs. Her lamp cast only a small glow, leaving much of the place in shadows which were only broken by the occasional torch. The drip, drip dripping sound of water echoed eerily, tensing her nerves. At last, she reached the bottom. Nervously, she cast her lamp around the circular room, bringing the barred doors to light. Silently, she lit one of the many torches on the walls.
"Ok'Wari? Where are you?" she called out loud.
"Sis? Is that you?" said a familiar voice.
"Ok'Wari?" Katt repeated.
"Over here. The corner cell. You don't have to call me Ok'Wari down here. There's only one other prisoner, and he's been here for a million years."
Katt walked over to the corner cell and placed her paws on the bars. "Schim, things don't look too good."
"Do they ever?" he said bitterly.
"Even Onoway doesn't believe you didn't kill Ponoka."
Schim looked at her. "And what do you think?"
"I don't believe it. Of course I don't believe it."
Schim stared at her through the bars, his amber eyes narrow in slight disbelief. "You don't?"
"Of course I don't."
Schim looked away, tears in his eyes. "Katt, I'm not gonna be able to get out of this one. Let them know what's happened, okay? 'cause unless Ra has a miracle handy, I ain't gonna live much longer"
"Don't talk like that!"
"Look Katt, think logically. I haven't got an icicle's chance in the Land Down Under, and I ain't talkin' Australia."
Katt gasped desperately, thinking of any possible way to rescue him. "Schim..."
He sighed, feeling as if his very soul was being sucked from his body little by little. "Look Katt, give it up. There's nothing you can do. You have no power, there's nothing you can do."
"Maybe I have no power, but I will do everything the gods will allow to rescue you." Trembling slightly, she stood up. "I'm not going to let you die." Ears drooping, she stood up and left him, stopping only to snuff out and re-light a low-burning torch.
"If you're lucky, they'll leave you down here for all eternity. If not, then they'll give you the worst punishment possible."
"I know I know... I just wish there was some way out of this."
The eyes blinked, and looked at Schim hard. "Wishing does nothing. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride and I would be out of here in the North with my son."
Schim looked at the eyes strangely. "You have a son?"
"Yes." said the eyes sadly. "I don't know whether he's dead or alive... though if he's with Lhasa he'll probably be fine.."
Schim blinked, wondering if he heard correctly. "Did you say Lhasa?"
"Is she a dark blue Kaylah about twelve feet long?"
"Yes....." said the eyes uncertainly. "Why?"
"I know her! She's a friend of mine!"
The two eyes went wide, their colour growing slightly more intense. "Please, Schim, please tell me..." the voice sounded desperate "Tell me... is there a Bloodeune with her? Named Terrorist? Tell me, I must know!"
"Yeah" said Schim, confused. "Yeah, T's with her. Why?"
A bright yellow flame ignited, and Schim found himself looking upon the face of an fierce Bloodeune, her fur glistening silver and her eyes staring at him deeply, with an air of worry inside them.
"I am Fever Destroyer. Terrorist is my son."
Regan cast a sideways glance at Tamar, the Melenke dragon who served him. "Everything coming along as planned?"
"Yes. I have brainwashed Rayfax. Sølfacks didn't need any great amount of convincing. Onoway already believed her son was the killer without my interference. Everything according to plan. All the Royals think Ok'Wari's a traitor. All except Otsi:Tsia, that is."
"Hmm, yes. My dear cousin... well, I assume you know what to do, yes?" Regan looked at the dragon, grinning darkly. "In fact, I believe you know well what you have to do, yes?"
"Oh yes." said Tamar, running a clawed thumb along one of his serrated wrist blades. "I know quite well."
"So there are no obstacles in my way? No problems?"
"No, Regan. Everything's going as we've planned it."
Tamar looked at him skeptically. "But what?"
Regan whirled around and grabbed him by the jeweled silver collar that bound the dragon, putting a dagger to his throat in one fluid movement. Smiling, he pressed the blade lightly, sending a small trickle of blood dripping down to the floor. "If you even think of double crossing me I have ways of dealing with you. Remember, I'm the one who gave you this chance."
Shaking, Tamar nodded slightly. "Your wish is my command, my Lord!"
Katt sighed as she gazed out at the world from her balcony. The sun was setting, casting its crimson light like a spell upon Somania. Like a death threat, the Chimes of the palace sang their beautiful, yet murderous song. There were only two days left until Schim's trial. Then his fate would be decided. A shiver went down her spine. There was no way in the universe that she could prove him innocent.
Schim stared deep into the red eyes, nearly drawn into a trance by their strange depth. "You say my friend was...is your son. How do I know you speak the truth?
Fever looked impassively back at him. "You have no way of knowing. But please..... if you ever get out of this alive, please tell Terrorist I still live. Tell him the Destroyer's flame hasn't reached the land of Anubis yet."
"I will. Though I seriously doubt I will live to see my next birthday." Schim whispered, sadly. He leaned back against one of the cold, stone walls and thought. Idly he watched one of the few torches on the wall outside his cell flicker, its small fire dancing, all beautiful orange and crimson. Its light caught the smooth surface of a large silver medallion around his neck, reflecting back into the room. Mind slipping into memory, he lifted it up and dangled it before his face, watching with remorse as it cast its light, small rubies twinkling in the dark. Tears welled up in his eyes as he ran his paw over the likeness of the Fourth Simusi. "Simusi, oh Simusi, my dearest friend.... Why must it end this way?" Letting out a small, sorrowful sob, he closed his eyes and whispered "Though I am here, and will soon die, my heart will always be with you." Filled with misery, he removed a roll of blank paper from the pocket of his robe, and slowly he began to write, using the quill pen he always kept with him. Tears stained the paper as he signed his name in flowing cursive, and rolled it up, returning it to its place in his pocket. A thought crossed his mind, and he wondered if it would ever reach the one who it was intended for.
Briar stood at the window, listening to the softly ringing Chimes. The two moons shone, lighting the planet with their happy lunashine. But the Albino wasn't admiring the violet skies that night. The sound of the deadly Chimes ate away at his soul until he could barely stand it. Why? Why did the Gods decide for it to be this way? The Royals were slowly becoming extinct, one by one. First T'kk'yra, the ancient Wolf Ruler. Then Innu, and his Simusi, Kassai, had passed. Lord Goldeye of Corneria was more than likely dead. And now Ponoka, and in a few days, the young Prince. Briar sighed, and tried desperately to see into the future. Maybe if he knew what would happen he could change it.... but alas, his visions were cloudy. The Seer saw nothing but a black void of mists inside his mind, where once hovered visions of the future.
"Breeze, why do the Gods toy with us so, if they know we cannot fight back?"
Cool Breeze looked at him across the room from where she sat reading over records, her face blank and expressionless. "You are thinking about the Prince, yes?"
"And your visions show nothing, yes?"
"Then there is nothing you can do." Breeze said as she stood up and walked over to him. "You are an elemental Albino. Your business is with the Earth. My business is with the wind, the waves, the weather.... We mustn't bother ourselves with this."
"How can you say that with a straight face?" Briar said, turning to her. "How?"
"Because there is nothing I can do, and I accept it. It is my duty to accept it."
"Well, my duty is to stand by Ok'Wari. I will do everything in my power to change his fate. I have to."
"Which is next to nothing." Cool Breeze argued, her soft blue eyes flashing darkly. A small zephyr blew in through the open window and ruffled their fur, moving over to Breeze's scrolls which covered the table, sending them flying all around the room. "You have nada power. You can't."
"Power is what it seems to the person who holds it." said Briar. "Enough said."
Cool Breeze gritted her teeth and concentrated, calming the lightning which sparked in her fur, and stopped the breeze from blowing. She turned once more to Briar, and put a paw lightly on his shoulder. Softly, she whispered into her companion's ear "You're too stubborn for your own good. I'm telling you, this will end the way it is meant to."
Briar watched her as she walked back to her desk, and as she bent down to pick up a scroll he murmured "Yes. But how is it meant to be?"
Regan walked silently through the long corridors of the palace, his footpaws making nary a sound. Frequently he looked over his shoulder, as if expecting to see someone following him. A shadowed form caught his eye and he skidded to a halt, dashing behind a door. Nervously he opened it a crack and peered out. Poppiscale lay in the light of a lantern, fast asleep. His enormous bulk of scales and crimson flesh completely blocked the door to the prisons. Gritting his teeth, Regan slipped out and stepped softly, making his way slowly past the dragon. Suddenly, the still figure stirred! The squirrel-fox froze, eyes looking down at the enormous head. Poppiscale's eyelids were half open, eyes glittering slightly in sleep. A small whisp of smoke curled up from his nostrils, as if he were preparing to spew fire in a sudden movement of slumber. Then, all was still again. Poppiscale drifted back to sleep.
With a sigh of relief Regan lifted the latch and traveled down the stairs.
Eyes gradually adjusting to the dim light, Regan called out mockingly. "Schim...Schim! I know you're down here!"
Schim looked up from his medallion, his face filled with sorrow. "What? Who are you?"
Regan smiled, following the voice to the cell in which Schim lay. "Why, it is I, dear cousin."
Schim snarled, biting his tongue to keep from saying something he'd regret. "What do you want?"
Still grinning from ear to ear, Regan spread his paws wide. "Oh, I've come to bring good news!"
"What good news?"
"You're not guilty!"
"Well I knew that." Schim muttered.
"But they still think it was you. They won't ever realize I'm the true murderer!" Regan laughed, a crazy look in his eyes. He ran his long tongue over his fangs and snickered evily.
Schim growled, his eyes glowing a soft red in the dark. "Slolamoh Kaaquino. You are not fit to lick the feet of the lowliest of creatures! Begon!"
"Oh, not just yet." Regan said, grinning. "I've just started having fun." Still smiling, he thrust his paw through the cell bars, snatching the medallion from Schim's paws, in a lightning movement. "Pretty little trinket." He murmured, examining it closely. "Much too good for some lowly kaaq like you."
"Give me that!" Growled Schim, his eyes blazing red. "Give it."
"Now why should I do that? Really, it isn't your place to tell me what to do."
Schim's eyes darkened, deeper and deeper crimson."Don't tell me what my place is, Jishen." He spat, smiling with grim satisfaction as it landed a direct hit on Regan's foot-paw.
Regan smiled broadly. "A Jishen, am I?" he said as he shook off the foul thing.
"Yes. And more, oh so much more."
"Well so be it. But the only thing you're going to be by the end of the week is carrion for the vultures."
Regan walked off laughing, as Schim stared at him coldly through the bars, thoughts of vengeance running through his head as he bit down on his lower lip to keep from crying out in despair.
Poppiscale unlocked the cell door, and spoke solemnly. "Ok'Wari, it isss time."
Schim stood, and began to travel up the stairs, his head down. The dragon followed him five paces back, whip-like tail and blades at the ready.
Like a promise of death, fiery light showed through the open door. With shame Schim looked upon the face of his mother, Onoway. As if he was some kind of plague, his mother and the others behind her gave him wide space. Schim kept his eyes on the floor, closing them halfway to avoid the faces of his watchers, some pitying, some taunting, some puzzled and uncertain. The little voices entered his ears, threatening to destroy his sanity.
Nervously, Schim continued to stare at the floor. The carpet was worn, but still strong, a faint salmon colour. The pattern was strange... like the faces of pink bunnies staring back at him. It was as if the bunnies in the floor were whispering at him, telling him of his fate.
Schim was led into a small room, and was forced to sit, his paws cuffed. Onoway closed the door behind him. Across the table sat a Schimmel, or at least, he looked like a Schimmel, it was hard to tell what it was beneath the baggy green robe he was wearing, hooded to hide all but his glaring amber eyes. Schim was sure he had never seen this person before, and yet..... he looked vaguely familiar, as if he had known him in the past. Poppiscale walked over to the stranger and whispered in his ear "Sah Macbeth, the Prince has come. It's almost time for the trial."
"Ah yes, the Royal murderer! Well why didn't you say so before? You may leave us now, lizard." Exclaimed the stranger.
"Dragon, not lizard" Possiscale muttered as he started for the door, pausing to look back.
Schim's eyes went wide at the sound of Macbeth's voice. It wasn't possible! This stranger couldn't be his friend from long ago..... or maybe it was possible....
Schim's tense look caught Poppiscale's attention. "Something wrong?"
Macbeth spoke before Schim could get a word out. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. You may leave us...."
Without another word, Poppiscale left, inwardly wondering what was about to be said between the Prince and the Siiaman Judge (author's note: Siiaman Judges are a lot different from judges in courts on Earth. if ya read for a while, you'll see that their purposes are almost completely different).
Macbeth looked Schim in the eyes and smiled as he pushed back his hood to reveal his face, a sight which chilled Schim's blood though he had seen it many times before.
"Well well, if it isn't Prince Ok'Wari. I never thought I'd ever see you in shikoma (author's note: shikoma is kinda the Schimmelan word for court. remember it, you'll see that word around once or twice in the rest of the story=) , let alone see you be charged for murder..."
"It wasn't me. I swear it!"
Macbeth's smile faded quickly. He looked Schim in the eyes. "Ok'Wari, though I was once your friend, I can't go easy on you. You know this, yes?"
"I can't treat you any differently than I do any other criminal. But I can give you a few tips..."
"Okay fine, shoot. It's not like I'm going anywhere right now."
"First of all, when the Questioner is speaking to you, asking you stuff, don't deny it until the right moment. And tell everything as it is. No bluffing. And last, use your instincts. Speak when you think it will do the most good, and be silent the rest of the time. Mebbe if I pull a few strings I can find a way to get you out of this... but then again, probably not."
"That's all? That's all I need to know?"
Macbeth thought for a second, his pupils narrowing to slits. "Well, I can tell you the possible sentences you'll receive if you're found guilty."
Schim sighed, then looked him in the eye. "Fine, what are they? I might as well know...."
"Well, it will certainly be a death sentence, seeing as you and Ponoka both have Royal Status. You'll probably receive anything from drowning to execution by Kaylah Poison to the Ultimate Death..."
Schim shuddered. "Ultimate Death. You mean the Chimes, right?"
"Yes. The Chimes."
Macbeth lowered his head, staring down at the wood grain in the table. "I am sorry that things went a bit nuts with our friendship.... it's kinda hard to believe that I'll be the one who confirms your sentence..."
"You know me. Always getting into trouble." Schim said, smiling slightly. "Though I never thought I'd get into a mess as big as this...."
Looking up, Macbeth growled softly. "How is it that you can act so cheery when your life is in danger? Are you completely insane?"
"No....no." Schim answered, after a moment of thought. "At least, I don't think so. I guess the worse things are, the less serious I try to make them feel. It's better to laugh than to cry, I al'us say."
"You never say that."
"That can be changed....."
Both Schimmels jumped in their seats at the sound of the door creaking open. Poppiscale poked his head in, an apologetic look on his face. "Sah Macbeth, it's time for the trial. Have you finished speaking with the young Prince?"
"Very well." Poppiscale quickly walked over to Schim and roughly helped him out of his seat. "Follow me, Sah."
Macbeth followed close behind Poppiscale, who led Schim into a large circular room. The room was empty except for the center, where there was a raised platform with a large desk and to the left, a smaller desk. It looked just like any shikoma, and yet...it was different. It was empty. Completely empty. But in a different way...not in matter, as it was supposed to be, but there was something...different. It felt strangely hollow. Macbeth bit his lip, trying to keep the memories of battle, war, and love lost from flooding his mind. His friend... his old friend Ok'Wari... he couldn't do this. He couldn't confirm the Death Sentence. And yet, he must, if he valued his own life. The Royals weren't exactly known to be picky when it came to the number to people to be executed.
Macbeth took his place at the large judge's desk, and pushed back his hood, revealing his face, scarred by past wounds, both of the flesh and of the heart. He glanced around the room, waiting patiently. He did not really care how soon the End came, for it would be the End, and that would be that. Though the sooner it was over, the better. The sooner he confirmed the sentence, the better. The sooner his friend's screams died down and the chimes stopped swinging, and the blood slowly dripped off the many jeweled blades before they were taken down and silenced while they were cleaned, the better. Macbeth let a slow sigh escape his cracked lips. It's too much, he told himself once more. I can't do it. Yes I can, said another part of him. I can, and I will, if I do not wish to die myself. Both thoughts swarmed his mind like bees around a hive, confusing him.
Schim sat at the small desk, his mind swimming in thoughts. He had been to a trial before...he knew they could get pretty ugly. Arguments sometimes broke out....things could get quite unruly between the Questioner and the Questioned. He glanced up. Katt was sitting in the stenographers wing, which extended almost directly above the judge's seat. She could hear everything...She glanced down at him, and waved, readying her small typing computer. She would be the one to record everything...
Schim sighed, wondering who it would be who would question him. Onoway, maybe? After all, it was her father who was killed. Or maybe Togo...Poppiscale, even. He watched the large doors on the east side of the room, waiting for them to open, waiting for the one who would question him to enter. Waiting to see who it was. Depending on the person, perhaps he could weasel his way out of it....
The suspense had nearly killed him when the doors finally opened and Lord Regan stepped in, with a definite smirk plastered on his face. "Oh joy", Schim muttered to himself. "Looks like I'm not gettin' out of this after all."
Regan stepped lightly up to the main platform, a happy look in his eyes. Great day for a trial. Wonderful day for a life to end. Fabulous day for an execution, though that would happen the next day. He didn't worry about counting his chickens, for he could be very sneaky at times. He knew that he could get that foolish judge Macbeth to give way and confirm Schim's sentence, which he himself would set. Regan quickly went over all that he knew of the young Siiaman judge. He was roughly Schim's age, maybe a half a year older. Not much of a judge in his own opinion, though he was highly recommended... There was a rumor he and Schim had once been friends. Well, Regan thought, even if this is true I'll succeed for sure. The evil prevail over the ones weak enough to believe in such things as friendship...that's always the way the fortune cookie crumbles.
An overwhelming chill came upon Regan just then. He shivered, trying to shake it off. He heard a soft whisper in his ear, like a winter breeze blowing over hard crusts of snow, shaking loose crystallized snowflakes and scraping them across the surface. "You will not win." It said. "Your life will be the one to end." Regan blinked. Was it really speaking? "Have you no sense of regret? No small bit of decency?" Okay, I'm losing my mind. Or perhaps I've actually gotten a conscience?, Regan thought. He shook it off as if it were nothing.
Regan bowed low before Macbeth. The Schimmel nodded, and Regan spoke. "All are present. May we begin the trial?"
"Yes." Macbeth whispered. "We may begin."
"Very well, your Honor." Regan began pacing, thinking. He stopped in front of Schim.
"Do you swear to speak the truth, by Ra and the Gods, by the soul of the Simusi?"
"Yes. I swear by that. By that and more."Schim said gravely. "So much more..."
"Good...... good." Regan turned to Macbeth. "Your Honor, I will begin the questioning."
Regan turned back to Schim. "Where were you at the time of the murder?"
Schim shrugged. "I dunno. When was the murder?" He caught a frightened glance from Macbeth out of the corner of his eye. The Schimmel sent him a look of warning, and mouthed 'No! Don't!". Schim ignored him, and kept his eyes fixed on his murderous cousin.
Regan growled in mock anger. "You should know. You were there."
"No I wasn't."
"Yes you were."
"Just tell him the time and be done with it." Macbeth commanded, his voice cracking into a high-pitched squeak.
Regan shot him an annoyed glance, and growled an answer. "K'kyro-wa-so. (note: that's Schimmelan for one o'clock AM)"
Schim rolled his eyes. "At that time of day? I was sleeping, like any sane person. Next question." He wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.
Regan resumed pacing, muttering under his breath. This might take a while... "Tell me..... have you ever had negative feelings toward Ponoka? Have you ever resented him for the power he holds?"
Schim stared at Regan for a minute. "Negative feelings? Not really. Sure, sometimes he was rather annoying, always ordering me around, but most of the time I just ignored him. I didn't care whether he was there or not. And as for the power, power matters nothing to me."
Regan could have laughed. "Power means nothing to you? How can that be, when you are the prince of Aisai?"
"I try to look past the power people hold."
Regan smirked. "Yeah...right."
"It's the truth."
Regan bit his lip, eyes flashing with vexation. Schim was being stubborn, which wasn't exactly anything new. "Next question. If you did kill Ponoka, why would you do it?"
"I wouldn't kill him."
"I said if."
"And I said I wouldn't kill him."
Regan stared at him for a moment, stone-faced. "Very well." He said as he removed a small pouch from his belt and opened it to reveal a silver Gaisai gem, its sparkling stone stained crimson with blood. "Do you know what this is?"
Schim looked down onto his chest, where on any ordinary day would rest the glittering Aisaian stone. "It's mine." he whispered.
"Yes. And what's that red stuff on it, hmm? Not ketchup, I'm willing to bet."
"Blood." Schim whispered, his voice barely loud enough to be heard.
"Aya, that's it. Blood. And whose blood is it?"
"I don't know."
Regan curled back his lip in a smile. He nearly had him. "It's King Ponoka's blood. And do you know how it got there?"
Schim shook his head. "No."
"Well, I know how it got there."
"You killed him."
"No" Snarled the prince, his face a picture of pure anger. "I didn't. That's not what happened. I didn't......"
Regan put his paws on the desk, and looked Schim in the eye. "Yes you did. Murderer!"
"Confess. It was you. It was YOU!"
Schim closed his eyes tightly, as if thinking that if he couldn't see him he could block out the threats. But even when he covered his ears, he couldn't block out the sound of Regan's voice. "It wasn't me!"
Regan glared, snarling like a rabid wolf, yet inside his black heart he was truly enjoying this. "Yes. You did it."
Schim let out a long sigh of submission. He knew what would happen. This would go on forever until he confessed, no matter if the confession was true or or utterly bogus. It would be better not to draw it out. His heart filling with despair, he uncovered his ears and opened his eyes. Finally he whispered, lying like he had never done before. "Yes. I did."
Regan struggled with his mind, trying not to grin. "Louder, please. I didn't hear you."
"It was me. I did it." Schim said through clenched teeth.
"I did it! It was me! I confess! Isn't that enough?!" Schim burst out, tears spilling out of his eyes and slowly rolling down his cheeks. "I did it! Satisfied?!"
"Yes. It's enough." Regan said, smiling. "It's quite enough." He turned from Schim, and not quite able to contain his overwhelming giddiness, strode up to Macbeth. Still smiling slightly, he spoke, trying to keep a straight face. "Did you hear that, your Honor?"
Dumfounded, and amazed at Schim's confession, however untrue it might have been, Macbeth could only nod. "Yes."
"And what do you think? Does he speak the truth?"
"I.....I....uh..." Macbeth began, his mind clouded by disbelief. "Uh...well..uh..um... hmm. He swore that he would tell the truth....so I suppose so...uh....yeah. That's it."
Regan smiled broadly. This judge was a complete fruitcake! It wouldn't be too hard.... "And the sentence? What is his sentence, your Honor?"
Macbeth blinked. He knew what was coming, but he couldn't quite believe it. "I uh.... um... uh...."
Still smiling, Regan decided to make his move. "You see a bit distracted, your Honor. Maybe I should suggest a sentence for the assassin, yes?"
"Um...uh I.... yeah. Go ahead."
Regan's grin grew wider with each passing second. "Death. By the Chimes."
"Yeah... that would be....very good......." Macbeth whispered, still dazed.
"Very well. But remember, you confirmed it." Nodding to Poppiscale, he winked, saying the words that he had anticipated for much time. "Take him away. He'll die at dusk tomorrow."
Macbeth watched as Schim was led out. After a moment, he returned to his senses. With a cry of anguish, he lay his head on the desk and wept deeply, salty tears staining the wood like the scars on his face.
Up in the stenographers wing, Katt cried out as if she had been stabbed. Her fingers trembled as she recorded the last few words that Regan spoke. Struggling to keep the tears from overflowing, she wiped her eyes with her sleeve and looked down at Regan hatefully, knowing that the last time she would ever see her brother would be at his execution.
Schim was thrown roughly in the cell, his spirits broken like a snapped twig. Poppiscale glared at him icily through the bars, his long forked tongue flicking in and out as he hissed.
"I knew it wass you from the sstart. Though why, my Prince, why?"
Schim stared back silently, the burning light of the torches reflecting in his eyes. He didn't say a word, but just stared, his breath slow and raspy.
"You choosse not to ansswer? Very well." Poppiscale whispered, and he turned to leave, his long tail dragging on the floor as if he didn't even have the will to lift it.
Schim felt an aged but strong paw on his shoulder. He turned to look into the sad eyes of Fever, who whispered softy in his ear, though there was no one else around to hear.
"I take it the trial didn't go well?" she asked.
"No. Not at all."
"Your sentence? What is your sentence?"
Schim closed his eyes, tears dripping slowly from them and rolling down his cheeks. "Death by Chimes, for the murder of King Ponoka."
Fever chewed her lip until blood flowed. "I'm sorry. So sorry." She groped for something else to say, but couldn't come up with anything.
"No..no. Don't be sorry. No one could have avoided it."
"The gods are cruel sometimes. And this time they have been completely heartless." The aged Bloodeune whispered. "Why they have been, we will never know." She paused, then added "I wish we could have known each other longer."
"You were beginning to remind me of my son."
Schim barely heard her. "Please. Don't speak to me. Don't say anything. I must be alone with my memories."
Fever hesitated a moment, then put her arms around him in a warm embrace. Softly, she whispered "It is a pity you never got to see your Simusi friend one last time."
Closing his eyes, the young Prince breathed deeply, struggling to keep his memories in control. He leaned gently against his companion, who gave him more comfort in a few seconds than his true mother had given him in a lifetime. It was going to be a long night, and the next day would be too short. Deathly short.
Katt was upon Regan like the tide rushing upon the shore. "You Ra damned two-faced son of a jackal! How dare you! How dare you!" she yelled through her teeth as she slashed at his face with her long, knifelike claws.
Regan gasped, surprised, not expecting such a fierce attack from his cousin, though she was known to be violent and trigger-happy. Quickly he unsheathed his dagger and blocked the attack, closing his eyes halfway to avoid the damage of the claws. Still Katt came upon him full force, slashing with all her might, snarling threats and insults through her teeth. She kicked him at the knees and he fell, taking her with him. She slashed faster, cutting deeper, her claws desperately fighting to find the soft flesh of Regan's throat. The fox-squirrel struggled to push Katt off him, but was unsuccessful. Frantic, he rolled to the side, out of range of the claws.
They both knelt there for a moment, each trying to get their second wind. Regan stared at his cousin, who appeared winded, her energy depleted by her own attack. Katt snarled back at him, panting heavily.
Quick as lightning flash, Regan had his blade at the Cornerian pilot's throat. "Nice try, Kitty. But trying just isn't good enough."
Katt's whiskers quivered, and she averted her eyes, hoping her insane relative wouldn't do anything drastic.
"You were trouble from the start. Well now, looks as if I won't have any more cat problems from now on!" He pressed the knife harder against Katt's neck.
Suddenly, the sound of someone walking down the corridor could be heard. The sound of claws scratching on the stone floors reached Regan's ears, and he looked up, to see Poppiscale walking towards them. Hurriedly he stood up, sheathed his knife, and walked quickly in the opposite direction, head down, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.
The Dragon halted beside Katt and helped her to her feet. "What were you two doing sittin' on the floor?" he asked.
Katt searched frantically for a reasonable excuse, her head throbbing from the close encounter.
"We were kinda running down the hall and banged into each other head-on. He was helping me up...." She lied.
"Geehosophat! You've got to be more careful, your highness!"
"Uh....yeah. That's it. I'll be careful." Katt muttered as she hurried away. "Next time I'll be more careful."
Katt walked slowly through the palace gardens, breathing in deep the scent of Warrior Flowers and shiiake in effort to clear her mind. The flowers with petals like crystal and birds which sung songs that could have very well charmed even the gods didn't reach her mind as she pondered her brother's situation. Her inner thoughts felt as if they were covered by a thick cotton cloth as she sat down on top of a small flight of steps where below was a lilly-pad covered pond, silver fish swimming beneath its surface. Idly she leaned over a dipped her paw in, thinking. She stared deep into the water, clear as air, at her rippling reflection, wondering if she would ever see Schim's figure beside her again. Suddenly, a dark shadow loomed up above her. The startled Schimmel (* author's note: on Aisai, unless Katt is in the Base or the woods that surround it, she is forced to be in Schimmel form, otherwise she would be taken captive by the palace because she is of an unknown race [keep in mind that Schimmels are VERY racist, and that Aisai is in a different universe than Corneria, and since the Schimmels rarely travel between the two universes though they have the technology to do so, they have very little contact with races not from the Aisaian universe, if any].)
jumped, expecting Regan. Instead she looked upon Macbeth, and snarled.
"Never scare me like that again. Ah well, it's convenient anyway. I want to talk to you. About Ok'Wari."
Macbeth looked deep into the ice cold glare in Katt's eyes. "What do you want from me, milady? I have tried all I can to change your brother's sentence. There is nothing I can do..."
Katt smiled grimly. "Nothing you can do? And what lame excuse do you have?"
"Let me see," began Macbeth. "Members of our race are ignorant, stubborn, and thickheaded." He stated calmly, shrugging. "Once they make up their minds there just isn't any changing them...especially the Royals, no offense..."
"No offense taken. I know what you mean." Katt said, nodding. "So there's nothing you can do?"
"No. Nothing. I have no real power...but perhaps you...."
"There is nothing I can do. Nothing. Like you, I haven't any power...didn't you know that?"
Macbeth looked at her strangely, one eyebrow arched in question. "No. I didn't know that."
"Onoway holds all the power at the moment. And then....the powerful one will probably be Lord Regan."
"Regan. I don't trust him, your highness. He's up to something, I can feel it.....But what?"
Katt hesitated for a split second. She couldn't tell him what Regan was up to. For some reason, she just couldn't tell the young Schimmel what was going on. "I wonder what's up with him too, my friend." She lied, hoping for all she was worth that he couldn't see the truth in her eyes.
Macbeth turned away, filled with hatred for his own race. "So that's it? Nobody can do anything? Nothing? Nobody? Not even you?"
"Nobody. Nothing." Katt murmured, losing herself in thought.
For a moment they stood in complete silence, neither knowing what to say. A soft breeze whispered in their ears, stirring their thoughts. Then Macbeth spoke.
"There's still time to do something, possibly. Perhaps..."
"No. Nothing can be done, can't you see? We're at the end of our rope and no one is going to throw us a line. Now, please, go. Leave me now, I need to think."
Katt turned and watched him leave. His tail drooped limply and she noticed that though he usually looked quite joyful and energetic, it now seemed that almost all his energy had run out.
The last torch burned low, and extinguished itself in the darkness. Fever watched her young cellmate as he slept, a stream of moonlight coming in from the small window to run across the floor and end at his footpaws. Watching him, her thoughts drifted to her own son. What does he look like? She wondered as she gently lay a paw on Schim, caressing him as a mother would. Is Terrorist as tall as his father was? How did he escape the wrath of Summersea, the ancient ruler of the southern Bloodeune? Fever brushed her thoughts aside, and focused on her concern for the Prince. There was nothing she could do, she knew, but still she wished that somehow she could prevent his death.
Katt jerked awake, gasping as the first rays of the dawn filtered through the thin silk curtain which covered the stained glass window of her chamber room. Her eyes darting back and forth wildly as she struggled to focus her thoughts. It hadn't been real, it was a dream.... She glanced over to her calendar and froze. Today was the day. The day. The day of Schim's execution.
Trembling, she pushed aside the blankets of her nest and walked slowly over to her window, parting the curtains to allow morning light to fill the room. As she lifted the latch to open the windows, she paused to think. Not even a full day until her brother would be dead. If she was going to do anything, she would have to do it today. But what?
As she smoothed out the folds in her blue robe, an idea came to her. Quickly Katt glanced out the window. It was only K'kyro-wa-si. Only five AM. Everyone would still be asleep. The plan forming in her mind, she quickly made her decision. Pausing only to shut the windows, she walked slowly out of her room, being careful to walk on the outsides of her paws so to not make a sound. Silently Katt walked down the hallways, being sure to be completely silent. Why didn't I think of this before, she thought as she made her way down to the dungeons. It's so simple.
When she reached the large door leading down to where her brother was imprisoned, she paused, and glanced down at the sleeping dragon guard. Holding back a chuckle, she watched him breathing for a moment, making certain that he was indeed asleep. Poppiscale really must learn to stay awake during the nights, she thought. He's not quite doing his job properly. Her eyes strayed to the ring of brass keys which was latched onto the dragon's wrist by a leather strap. She wouldn't be needing them, if her plan went through properly.
Slowly, so slowly, Katt opened the door, wincing as the hinges creaked loudly. Poppiscale stirred, and snorted loudly. She froze, and waited. After a tense moment, the dragon's breathing remained steady, and she began walking slowly down the stairs, her eyes adjusting to the dim light. Something warned her in her mind, and she turned quickly, barely managing not to slip on the wet steps. Nothing greeted her vision, save darkness, dim light, and cobwebs. Nervously she turned and continued down the stair, positive she could hear the soft sound of light foot claws scratching on stone. And the sound wasn't her.
Light reflected in amber eyes, turning them red in the dark. Their owner watched Katt closely as she walked down the steps, barely managing to contain his laughter. Slowly, stepping softly, the owner of the eyes made only the slightest of sounds as he followed the Cornerian, taking extra caution so that his large squirrel-like form wouldn't be caught in the dim light, casting slight shadows. Even the most minute of details would be enough to betray his position....
Finally reaching the end of the seemingly endless spiral, Katt walked over to Schim's cell. "Hey little bro, I've come to see ya." she whispered.
Schim woke from his deep slumber at the soft sound of her voice, and looked over at her sleepily, yawning widely and blinking with drowsiness. "Katt? What in the blazes are you doing down here this early in the morning? You should be in bed.."
"I've come to bust you out of this joint. That's what I'm doing down here."
"WHAT?!" Schim nearly shouted in surprise. "Why?! How?!"
Katt glared at him icily. "Quiet! I thought I heard someone while I was coming down. It might have been my imagination, it might not have. And I'm getting you out 'cause I have to, duh! I can't just let them kill you..."
"Thanks, Katt. But how do I get out, eh?"
"Geeze, let me finish! Okay. Seems that in all the excitement you forgot that you're a mage. Why don't you just dematerialize then re-materialize outside?"
Schim stared at her in suprise for a moment, blinking. "Hey...you're right! I can just magic myself out of here!"
"Okay then stow the gab and do it. I got a feeling we won't have much time!"
Slowly, Schim began to dematerialize. He seemed to dissolve into little bits, finally vanishing, leaving nothing but sparkling bits of amber-coloured dust floating in the air, which, after a moment, molded into a small crystal and vanished as well. Katt waited, and waited, tapping her foot paw impatiently. Instead of materializing outside the cell, Schim reappeared where he had been before.
"What happened?" Katt said, growling softly. "You were s'possed to come out."
"I can't! There's something holding me in... I can't get out of here!"
Katt sighed, her hopes crushed. "There must be some sort of spell. Lemmee check." She closed her eyes and opened them, exposing a third eyelid, blue colored and translucent. She closed her eyes and looked at the cell through it, and saw silver light covering every inch of the enclosure. "Yup, I was right. They used magic to lock you in! Ra dang it..." she closed her eyes and opened them again, eyes returned to normal.
"Shoulda known" Schim muttered. "Hey, didja bring the keys? Mebbe I can still get out of here."
"No" Katt murmured, pricking up her ears suddenly. "I didn't....."
"Whasswrong? You hear something?" Schim whispered.
"I..yeah..no. Nothing." She said, a hint of uncertainty in her voice.
Schim stared at her as if she were completely insane. "You're not sure?"
"No. I'm sure."
"Yes, I'm sure!"
She gasped as a heavy paw landed on her shoulder, and a sickeningly sweet voice whispered "Oh, don't be too sure. It could be the death of you." Suddenly, all the torches snuffed out and they stood in complete darkness.
Schim heard a startled yelp, and the sound of something heavy toppling over and hitting the floor. "Hey, what's going on?! What's happening?!" he yelled through unseeing eyes.
All was silent for a moment, and then a bright light flared in the Prince's face. He blinked, his eyes straining to see past it. "What the..."
"Ah, we meet again! And before your execution, ah, very good!" Whispered a soft, silky voice.
"Regan!" Schim snarled in disgust. "Don't you have anything better to do than try my patience?! Argh...forget it. Where in blazes is Katt?"
Regan moved the light away from his cousin's face, gesturing to a still figure laying on the floor in a collapsed heap. "I merely stunned her. I would have done more, but I'm not THAT insane."
"What do you want. You've already gotten everything you could ever ask for! The death of Ponoka, my title...well, that'll be after tonight. I won't be around to spoil you plans any more either... what more could you want?"
"Oh, I don't know.... what else is there?"
"You're mocking me."
Regan smiled, a sight frightening enough to make the blood of any warrior run cold. "You got it."
"I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, and I'll say it again if I have to: What do you want?"
"Oh, I dunno...the death of the Simusi would be nice..."
"You know that's impossible."
"No, it's not impossible. The Ray has looked death in the face before...."
Regan's grin grew broader, and his eyes grew bright, an effect made even more startling by the flickering light he held in his paw. "Shush, kaaq. You have nothing more worth saying."
Schim glared at him coldly, looking directly at his cousin. His eyes, normally a soft amber, darkened into a deep wine. Slowly he spoke, his voice shaking slightly with anger. "I swear, by Ra's soul and the great Siiama above, if you so much as look at her, I will return to destroy you."
For a long moment, Regan looked troubled. There was something strange in Schim's eyes, and the hate in his voice was stained with emotion so different, so unknown to him, that it sunk deep into his mind and stayed there like a nagging insect that simply wouldn't go away. He was silent, pondering this thing so new to him. Spoken words escaped his mouth, filled with confusion. "Very well. The Simusi of Ra will never die by my blade. Others, however, would not be so kind." Slowly he stood, and with one last glance he started back up the stairs, thoughts clouded with puzzlement.
Katt slowly stood, rubbing the side of her head where Regan had struck her. "What the moe happened?" She whispered softly.
Schim glanced at her, the hate not removed from his eyes. "That black-minded son of a kaaq knocked you out. You should've been more aware..."
"I know, I know! Though it's kinda weird..he never really does anything, just utters the same old empty threats.."
"Ah well, you'll have all day to think about it. You better go back up top.... it's getting late, Poppiscale might wake up any time soon."
Katt nodded, smiling grimly. "Yeah. I know. I just wish there was something I could do.."
"There's nothing." Schim snapped. "Now go."
Schim leaned against the cold stone wall, and let out a long sigh as pale fingers of sunlight strained to reach into the darkness of the cell. Once more his thoughts strayed to what would take place at dusk, and he shuddered slightly, dreading every passing moment which would lead to that cursed time. Across from him, Fever's eyes glowed with a dull light as she watched him silently. Schim lifted his head and looked at her, the rage finally fading from his face. "What do you want?"
"Nothing. I was merely thinking that I should have told you that this cell is protected by magic. It would have saved you and Katt the trouble."
"Oh. Well that info sure helps now, eh?" He said, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
"No. Nothing can save you now. Not even the gods...."She murmured sadly.
Schim looked up as he heard the sound of claws on stone descending the stairs. He had known that much time had passed since that morning, but it couldn't possibly be dusk already! Or could it?
Fever retreated into the farthest corner of the cell, out of sight. The outside room was then filled with torch light as Poppiscale appeared, looking sullen. As he unlocked the cell door, he murmured "You had better cooperate, Ok'Wari. If we are late, Lord Regan ssshall make your death all the more painful."
Not saying a word, Schim stepped out of the cell. He was still as the dragon cast a magic-bond spell, which would prevent him from using his Schimmelan power. So this is it, he thought. I'm going to die.
Katt gazed up at the chimes, which glittered in the dim light like gems. They swung freely, clinking against each other softly in the breeze. She glared at them, as if it were their fault that she was here. Ra damned chimes, she thought. If only I could find away out of this.
She jumped as a paw landed on her shoulder from behind. Glancing to the side, she saw Macbeth, who looked back at her with sad eyes, filled with worry. Katt smiled wanly at her young friend, not knowing just how much Macbeth and her brother had been through in the past.
Slowly, so slowly, Schim walked up to the chimes. As he passed his sister, he slipped her the scroll which he had written on in his cell, that he had kept hidden until that moment. Without a word he past her and walked forward, stepping up to the marble platform where Regan and his father, Lord Rayfax, stood waiting. Calmly he knelt before them, wishing for every moment to go faster, to end his miserable life.
Regan smiled inside, though somehow he managed to control his giddiness. Waiting for the right moment, he watched as Siiama set, sending streaks of silver light across the sky, making the clouds glow with a fiery hue. Slowly he spoke, savouring every moment. "Prince Ok'Wari. Former heir to King Ponoka. You have been charged with the murder of our beloved Ruler. Do you have any last words before your death?"
Schim stared down at the ground for a moment, anger surging like poisoned blood through his veins. Then he looked up, and whispered to Regan "Remember my words, you power hungry maniac. If you try to kill Rederiah, if you even think of destroying her, I will return. And I will end your life, as you are about to end mine."
Smiling slightly, Regan whispered silkily "Aya, I'm sure you will. And the Subaru is going to fall from the sky tomorrow."
Slowly Schim stood, head bowed. There was another silent moment. The Siiama had almost completely set, leaving a dark cloak of dusk upon the world.
As the breezes died down, leaving the chimes still, the dark, silent figure of Lord Rayfax spoke, his voice echoing in the unmoving quiet. "You have done the unforgivable. You have betrayed your friends, your family, your planet. There is nothing more to say, except that when you are confronted by Anubis, may you be swallowed by Ammit."
Slowly, steadily, the chimes began to twirl. Their mournful wail became louder, more intense, as their gleaming blades flashed in a spinning whirlwind of death. They stirred up the wind as they swung, spinning faster and faster until they were nearly a blur. Rayfax glared at Schim, his expression cold, though inside he was bouncing with joy. "You have two choices: Accept the deadly embrace of the Chimes, or be forced." He whispered, his voice like the cold north. Briefly he glanced at the Chimes , then turned again to Schim. "Your decision?"
Schim hesitated, beads of sweat forming on his brow. Swallowing hard, he looked up at the Chimes. A clear picture of terror was in his eyes as he stepped forward, barely conscious of his actions. All hesitation left his face as he took one final leap into the twirling blades of eternity.........
Katt's eyes went wide, and she turned away, burying her face in Macbeth's robe. Her companion embraced her tightly, shielding his eyes in her long fur. Everyone cringed and covered their ears in effort to block out the screams and the sound of blades ripping into weak flesh and bone. But that sound never came.....
Schim jumped, closing his eyes as he waited for the Chimes to tear him apart. A great force shoved him aside, out of the way of the twirling blades. Gradually the Chimes slowed, and hung loosely, knocking lightly against each other in a light breeze. Cautiously, Schim looked up, a slightly confused, though mostly fearful look on his face, as he wondered for a split second what had happened. Hovering above him, gleaming with an inner light, was the still figure of a Schimmel, paws folded inside the long sleeves of his tattered robe. Slightly transparent, his body was covered in scars and wide, gaping wounds, deadened eyes, once amber, clouded and gray. Sternly he gazed out at the Royals, who lifted their heads to blink nervously at him. He spoke not, but glared angrily back at them in return, his eyes filled with wrath.
Slowly, Katt lifted her head, glancing at the spirit, confused. He reminded her of someone, her brother perhaps. But that couldn't be...Schim was cowering on the steps of the chimes, terrified.
Briar Moss, who had remained motionless in thought until now, finally realized that he knew this startling ghost. Slowly, he broke out of his trance, and walked slowly towards the chimes, which loomed up above him, making long, eerie shadows created by the lunashine and strange supernatural light of the phantom.
Walking lightly up the stairs, Briar halted at the large Chime platform, and sank slowly to his knees, speaking aloud to the great apparition. "Prince Innu. You have returned!"
The spirit lowered itself down to "stand" on the platform, looking down at Briar with a soft expression. It spoke, voice hollow and echoing. "Rise, friend. I have returned. But not without questions."
At the sound of the ghost's voice, everybody seemed to come out of their frozen trance, blinking and looking closely at the spirit, wondering if it was merely an illusion, a prank, perhaps. As Briar slowly rose to his feet, he spoke "Yes? What be your question, great Sah?"
The spirit seemed to appear more solid, voice gradually echoing less with every word. "My question is.... " his eyes went from gray to a bright amber, and he lost all transparency. "WHAT IN THE NAME OF RA IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!?!??!!?!??!?!"
Regan's eyes flashed. He was not expecting this..... slowly, he spoke, voice laden with honey. "Oh great Innu.... we were merely doing away with the murderer who ended your dear brother's life..."
Innu turned to Regan, eyes darkening. Slowly, he grabbed hold of the squirrelfox's ears, and lifted him off the ground, looking him directly in the eyes. "Do you mean to tell me that that-" he pointed at Schim with his free paw "That quivering mass of jelly killed my brother?"
Regan swallowed hard, the words hot in his mouth. Would he lie to this great spirit? "That's what we believe, Sah."
Fuming, Innu flung Regan out of his way and turned to Briar. "We need to talk. Not here, but back at the palace. NOW."
Schim looked across the room at Innu. He was so much like himself, and yet...so different. Stronger. Smarter. Older, though not from the time he had experienced while he was living, but by events that had forced him to grow up quickly.
"Ok'Wari?" Innu said, turning to face his young relative.
"I have only one thing to ask, and I want the truth, said clear as crystal."
Innu took a deep breath, and another, as if the question he was about to ask was heavy in his heart. "Did you kill my brother?"
A smile spread across Innu's face. "I thought so. Especially since if he were dead, I would know. Now then" he said, tail twitching with great thought "I can clear your name. A few might be suspicious, but I don't think they'll go against my word."
Schim looked hard at him, unconvinced. "So is that it? That's all?"
"Yeah. Seems too easy, doesn't it? But there isn't much evidence against you, and they know I'm dead, therefore I know if Ponoka's dead..."
"I have a question."
"Yeah?" murmured Innu, a look on his face clearly saying that he probably knew what Schim was going to ask. "What is it?"
"If Ponoka isn't dead.....then where is he?"
"I....I don't know. I really don't know.."
"You rat-faced brittle-bladed cloud-eyed dull witted offspring of a diseased gecko! How in Ra's name did you mess this one up?!" Regan snarled, blade at his dragon companion's throat.
"Please, Lord! Let me explain!"
Tamar choked as the blade was pressed right up against his soft neck scales. He whimpered, tail twitching wildly in fright. "Mercy, Lord! I'll explain!"
"Very well." murmured Regan, sheathing his knife. "But make it quick. I'm not all that patient, you know."
"Aya! Thank you, Lord. I will explain" said the dragon, bobbing his head. "What happened..... well, when you ordered me to destroy Ponoka, I figured it be better for you to have the honor of killing him, rather than I. So I time-freezed him, and planted the blood just as you told me. He's still sleeping, still dreaming, his mind still thinks it's K'kyro-wa-so!"
Regan went silent for a moment, staring open mouthed at his servant. After a moment, he seemed to regain his senses. He smiled, and started laughing hysterical. "Tamar, you Ra damned genius!"
"I'm a genius?" Said the dragon, quite surprised at hearing any compliment from his master at all, let alone one like this.
"Yes, by Anubis's staff, yes!"
Tamar grinned. "You've got a plan, milord, I can feel it...."
"Aya, yes, oh feeble-witted reptile. Be silent whilst I explain." Slowly, Regan began pacing, clicking his claws together as he spoke. "Now then..you say that you time-froze Ponoka. It's as if nothing ever happened...well, that's what he'll think. Now then, consider this: the Royals are pretty much simpleminded twits. It would be quite easy to convince them that it was all a mind trick, that 'twas just a figment of their imaginations...Ah. But there's a problem..that meddling Innu. How was I to know he would come back from the dead? Ah, no matter. We'll just have to do what we have to do, which is simple enough: return Ponoka to his living state, and convince my relatives that nothing was amis...easy."
"Aya, Lord, you are truly great."
Regan grinned, eyes shining. "Yes. I would be greater if my original plan had gone through, but no matter. I can try it again some other time.
*the next morning*
Schim yawned as the Siiama slipped her cold, pale fingers through the colored glass of his room. The young Aisaian had been up all night, speaking with his long dead relative. He had so many questions to ask, and it seemed as if they would never be answered.
Schim glanced up, then took a second glance as his eyes filled with confusion. "Yeah, Innu?"The Siiaman Prince of old whirled around as the door opened, his gaze falling onto an ancient-looking Schimmel, identical to himself, yet he wasn't a spirit, but a living being. The stranger had an air of authority around him, and seemed strangely familiar. He turned to Schim, and spoke, his voice cold and hard as ice. "Shimpah holding your tongue, pup? By Ra's feathers, you look stunned as a post! Aya, what in the god's names is wrong with you?!"
After a brief moment, Schim realized who it was. "Ponoka? It can't be! You're dead!"
"Dead? You fool, how can I be dead when I am standing right here speaking with you?" Ponoka said with a confused look. His eyes were colored with worry for his young grandson.
"Well, if you're in my situation, it's possible...."
The king jumped at the sound of the voice he hadn't heard in centuries. He glanced around, eyes wide, gasping with disbelief. "Innu?!"
Ponoka quickly glanced behind him, then turned. "It's you..."
"Yeah." Whispered Innu with a nod. "It's me."
"Long story, brother. Really long story."
"Of course. 'tis always long explanations with you." Ponoka muttered.
"I guess so....."
There was an awkward moment of silence. Schim began to get a nagging feeling that he shouldn't be there, that he should leave quickly. Then Ponoka spoke.
"Look, brother.... I don't know how you came back. Somehow, I don't think I want to know how you came back. I just.... I just want to say I'm sorry. For everything..for all that friction between us. My fault. I...oh Ammit's tongue, I dunno. I just dunno..."
"I accept your apology." Innu said, smiling slightly. "It wasn't your fault...you were just... strange."
"Can't change the past. You can change the future."
Innu bit his lip, searching for words to describe what he had in mind. "Look... just know that things might change drastically around here. Wish I could hang around to see 'em.."
Ponoka tilted his head to the side. "Say what? You mean you have to leave?"
"Yeah. Wish I could stay, but.....I can't. I just can't...."
"Why? Why do you have to leave now? It seems like you've just got here. It's been so long..." Ponoka murmured.
Slowly at first, then more rapidly, Innu began to transform to the transparent spirit that he truly was. "I can't help it....Anubis told me I can only stay for a short while. See? My magic is disappearing. Besides... I can't stay here. This is the world of the living. And...I belong in the Underworld. I belong with Kassai. You understand?"
"Ah yes...Kassai....Yes...Yes, I understand, brother. I understand."
Innu's eyes faded to gray, their sightless gaze turning from Schim to Ponoka. Gradually, a silver light formed around him, growing brighter until it filled the room with its glow. Softly, he whispered "Aya, aya, Kalimu-khara. Umalea, Ok'Wari. May you live longer than I did. Umalea, my brother. Umalea." A light flashed, and Schim was blinded for a moment. When he regained his eyesight, Innu was gone. Nothing remained of the spirit but a small scattering of amber dust on the crimson and silver carpet, and a glowing crystal the size of a coconut. Cautiously Schim picked it up and examined the thing, eyes widening as he felt an intense heat within it. Bits of light hit its many facets, splashing traces of bright colours around the room. The crystal itself was dark, black, yet with a silver tint. Thinking it to be nothing more than one of the many strange crystals to be found throughout Aisai, Schim concealed it in one of his pockets, making a mental note to find out more about it later. A sudden voice filled his mind, and an image of Innu appeared in his head. "Ok'Wari...oh, I mean, Schim, take care of that crystal. You might need it in the future, as I did.... and look after that Simusi of yours. Can't have her running off into battle and getting herself killed, can we?" With a laugh that seemed almost maniac, the image faded. Schim blinked for a moment, dazed. After a moment, he turned to his grandfather, who was only then regaining his sight.
"He's gone." Ponoka murmured. "Gone."
Regaining his usual cold tone, Ponoka spoke to Schim, nearly growling. "Haven't you anything better to do than loiter around? Methinks you have studying to do. Off to it!"
As Schim left his room, a thought crossed his mind. "Shouldn't have been in such a tizzy over the old Kaaq." he said under his breath.
It was many weeks until Schim's name was cleared. And many more weeks before his relatives forgot about the whole thing. And no matter how many times the events that had taken place were explained to Ponoka, he refused to believe it...... after all, what would YOU think if someone told you that you had died?=)