The Controller of Mala'k Part 2

September 2, 2010
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But when she finally hit the ground, the floor was hard. She landed on her butt, whacking her elbows and head on what felt like stone. She sprawled on the ground, stunned, her heart thumping. Her eyes adjusted to the dim light, and she realized that she was outside. The dim light was coming from her stone pendent, which was around her neck once again. The light faded and stopped, and she was left in total darkness except for the stars.
She sat up, grabbing a handful of the powdery stuff on the ground that covered the hard surface. She stared at it for a moment before noticing how cold it was. She scrambled to her feet, brushing the snow off of her back. She hugged herself, shivering, and wrapped her fingers around her stone. She immediately felt warmer, and she relaxed on her feet.
She heard a shuffling of feet. She whipped around, trying to search through the darkness to see what the sound was. She saw a figure coming toward her, and she stumbled backwards. More shadows made themselves apparent.
Suddenly, a huge weight tackled Nepta to the ground. She screamed and held her hands up in front of her face as she felt hands close around her neck.
"Stop!" someone yelled. Whoever was choking Nepta released her. Nepta opened her eyes slowly. Her stone pendant was shining brightly again, lighting up her savior's face.
And what a face it was. At first Nepta could have sworn that she was looking at a giant blue lizard. It had a long snout with sharp teeth, bright blue eyes, giant frills where its ears should have been, and light blue skin. It stared at her stone.
"Tamara, what is that thing? Why are you holding us back?" one of its companions asked. The thing on top of Nepta held up its hand to silence it. Long, sharp talons jutted from its six awkward, webbed fingers. It reached down and picked up Nepta's stone. Nepta tried to get away, but the thing had her pinned to the ground.
"Why... it can't be... but it must... yes! Everyone, look!" the thing named Tamara yelled. It pulled Nepta roughly to her feet, thrusting the stone into the air. "Mala'k has returned to us! We are saved!"
Other creatures like Tamara crowded around Nepta, murmuring to themselves. Then they started cheering, clapping each other on the back and grinning at Nepta.
"She must be taken to Illis!" one of them called.
"No, she must be trained first!" another disagreed. The group exploded in debate over what to do about Nepta. Tamara eventually quieted them.
"Listen!" Tamara shouted. The pack fell silent. "She undoubtedly has no idea where she is, who we are or what that is." Tamara pointed to Nepta's stone. I will train her until she is ready to take on the Saturnian army."
"But, Mistress Tamara! You are old and frail. Surely you are not fit enough to train the savior of our world?" one of the creatures asked as he stepped forward. Tamara moved like lightning, cuffing his head, tripping him, and kneeling on his back.
"You doubt me now?" she threatened, her voice like the ice on the ground. The creature on his belly shook his head anxiously. "Good," Tamara said, and stood. She turned back to Nepta.
"You, Earthling! Come with me," Tamara ordered, and grabbed Nepta's arm. Nepta gasped and tried to pull away, but Tamara was holding her fast.
"Wait! Where am I? Where are my parents? Who are you? What are you?" Nepta wailed. Tamara yanked her forward and bent so that her face was level with Nepta's.
"Welcome to Neptune, kid," Tamara snarled. Nepta went quiet and didn't utter a sound for the rest of their trip.
After an hour of trudging through the frigid snow, the troop finally stopped at a cluster of wooden huts with thatched roofs. Nepta wondered for a moment where the got the wood from since there were no trees around, but she decided to keep quiet.
Tamara said farewell to her companions and led Nepta to a larger hut, farther away from the other smaller huts. They went inside, and Nepta nearly cried with delight when she discovered that the hut was warm inside.
Tamara directed her to sit in a huge chair. She then handed Nepta a stone mug filled with some sort of warm milk. Nepta took a tentative sip, the hot liquid sliding down her parched throat. She quickly swallowed the rest of it.
"Right. Down to business," Tamara said as she sat down in another chair. "Do you have any idea how important that stone is?" she asked. Nepta shook her head. "I thought not. What you wear around your neck is none other than the legendary stone Mala'k, which, according to legend, enables the bearer to defeat any enemy. It grants special abilities to the hero that bears it. Mala'k has so many powers that not all of them are known! And now that you have come here, your job is straightforward; defeat the Saturnian army and save Neptune."
Nepta fingered Mala'k. Special abilities? "And I have no choice in the matter?"
A slight smile touched the corner of Tamara's reptilian jowls. "I'm afraid not. I'm going to contact Illis and tell her that you are here. But first things first; you need to know a few things. I am what's called a Neptunian. You are what we call an Earthling. You might have read in your Earthling books that Neptune is a gas planet that has no oxygen, but this is not true. Neptune is very similar to Earth, but with a lot more ice and a lot less inhabitants. Some of the technology we have gotten from Earth, and likewise some of their technology was created by Neptunians. Do you understand this?" Tamara asked. Nepta nodded slowly; it was a lot to take in. "My comrades don't know this, but..." she leaned towards Nepta and lowered her voice. "... I am one of the select few that have some idea of how to use Mala'k. So that is why I am going to teach you. The Saturnian-Martian forces are gathering somewhere in the galaxy to attack us. And when that happens, you need to be ready. Tomorrow we start. But for now, get some sleep. That chair is big enough that you can rest on it until morning. I shall bring you a fur to keep warm." Tamara stood and went to her storage area, where she pulled a thick red fur out of the pile, draped it over Nepta, took her mug and blew out the candle. The hut was thrown into darkness, and Nepta soon found that her eyes were drooping. She let the wonder of sleep enclose her confused mind.

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