This article was written by Sideplate of Sandwiches. Please do not add to it without the writer's permission.
It is a short story focusing on Liruk Omos, the former Prince of the Island of Ishkrikel who has been dethroned by an enemy family as he is forced into exile from his home.
|The Prince's Farewell|
|Setting||Ishrikel Island, about 7.5 miles off the coast of the Southern Continent|
The sun rose early again that morning. The west wind was blowing gently against the landscape, softly lapping the clear water of the Sathaar lake. The past week's rains had left the air fresh, clear, clean and brisk, like a newly cut diamond from the Dorvica Mines. Nissinin, the island's lone little mountain, cast a low, dark shadow behind it to the west as the sun climbed higher into the sky, distant and white.
At the edge the shadow, Prince Liruk Omos wandered alone.
He was walking along one of the old mud roads to the coast. He had been trudging along, lonesome and forlorn, for two days now, with nothing but an empty leather satchel tossed around his shoulder and a dagger to defend himself with at his hip. The Su-Matoran had eaten only three meagre meals since leaving the palace two days before; it had been all he could fit in the bag. He was dirty, exhausted, thirsty and starving and every part of his body burned and ached, but he walked tall and proud, just as he had been taught by his father all those years ago. He would let nobody see his pain.
Two days ago he had sat upon a throne, ruler of his own Island. His family, the House of Omos, had been the most wealthy and powerful in the Archipelago, and he had been their head, their leader. Nobody would have dared oppose him in anything until just 48 hours ago. Now he was lower than the most vulgar peasant: he was a Bochtri. In the Ishrikel language, "A poor ruler".
The island he had ruled was just off the coast of the Northern Continent, small and seemingly insignificant. Though it was unique culturally for its Monarchy and class system, there was nothing overly special about it unless one was rich enough to step inside the opulence of the Palace, with its golden and jewel-encrusted decorations on every surface, vintage furniture, priceless artwork and ancient artifacts and heirlooms of days long past. It had been like stepping into a museum of the island, with every possible snatch of what was unique about the island piled into one great building, a glimmering mansion among the mediocrity and squalor of the island.
His father had never cared for the peasants at all. He had left them there to rot in that squalor, that poverty, like old mushrooms in a compost heap.
Perhaps the rebellion made sense after all.
The takeover had been swift and unexpected; they had surrounded the Palace and stormed the gates, catching the royal family asleep in bed. "They" was comprised almost entirely of the island's lower class, its peasantry which his elderly father, that poor, languid figurehead of a King who could barely wipe his own nose, let alone run the affairs of an Island, had held in such lofty disdain. Most of his family, the royal family, were now dead. His father had been spared along with Liruk, as it was ancient, sacred law never to kill a King of the island, and even these peasant revolutionaries were wary of breaking Ancient law. The prince's mother, brother, sisters and every servant in the house had been slaughtered where they stood, standing outside their bedroom doors, tired and bewildered, only to be met with a viscous onslaught of gunfire and blades mowing them down.
His father, Pobruo, was too old and tired to leave the island and felt no great grief in leaving his throne or son behind. He had always hated his role as king and likely had a vicous hatred for himself for being king in the first place. He had hated all those who resided in his own palace simply because they reminded him he was King. Even witnessing his own wife's death that day had barely jerked any reaction from him (except, perhaps, slight indignation at being intruded upon in bed in the early hours of the morning).
Pobruo had chosen to stay in the caves in the foothills of Nissinin, living the last of his days as a hermit, as self-loathing and cynical as ever, perpetually resentful at those around him who were happier with less.
Perhaps he'll find happiness in his new place, thought Liruk to himself. I hope he does.
And if not...
Well, we shall see.
And then Liruk remembered he would not see. He was leaving,
He kept on walking, trying to jerk his mind away from that unfortunate fact. He loved Ishrikel, especially now at the end of Spring. The rains were just over and there was a new warmth and freshness to everything that he loved like little else. It was rare for one like himself, a Su-Matoran and a royal, to appreciate nature, especially in his own family. His father had been the first king for years who could spell his own name unassisted and Liruk had been the first to have a proper teaching in both the arts and the sciences. He was an intelligent man who people thought was an idiot, an endlessly frustratng dilemma that made Liruk almost glad to leave the island.
"A fresh start..." he muttered to himself. "What harm could it do me?"
He felt his feet begin to sink into sandy ground and the incline of a rising dune. He was nearing the beach now at last after his two day slog. He sighed with relief: it would all be over soon.
And then suddenly, without any warning, he felt something wrap around his left leg, something muscular and scaly, pulling him into the sand, dragging him by his ankle. He felt his armor crack beneath the pressure, and felt a bone snap and splinter into fragments. He roared in pain, already have-buried in the earthy sand, his uninjured right leg flailing wildly, trying to kick the scaled thing that gripped his left. He began to choke on sand as his Kanohi became submerged in the dune, and he felt himself beginning to suffocate, unable to breathe, totally beneath the sand.
He felt his foot come loose of the sand below, meeting thin air. Liruk fell through, the muscular appendage around his leg suddenly releasing its death grip to let him tumble freely through the sinkhole created by the burrowing, scaled thing into the cave below.
He fell only a short way before meeting more sand on the cave floor, crumpling into a heap and wailing at the pain of his shattered leg. He dragged himself onto his stomach by his ankles, dazed and in excruciating pain, delirious from the fall. He looked around for the thing that had, only moments before, held his leg in a strangle-hold of pain.
At first, he saw nothing; the only light illuminating the cave was the gaping hole left above him, which dirty, brown sand was still gushing through after him, further obscuring his vision.
When he looked again, he saw something which he knew would haunt him until the end of his days.
Three thin, yellow, pupil-less eyes stared out at him from a corner of the cave, boring into Liruk with their gaze. They were the colour of toxic waste and about as friendly looking too. Their dim, sickly light just lit up the silhouettes of the four long, scaly tentacles that belonged to... well, whatever is Karzahni this creature was.
He dragged himself back, slowly but surely, trying not to set the beast off, praying it would ignore him.But no. No, the monster stepped forward slowly, padding on what looked like four huge paws, with claws glittering sharply in the sunlight of the hole. The thing grinned a wicked grin, a mouth full of jagged, watering teeth suddenly visible in amongst the darkness. It made a noise, a horrible gagging scream somewhere between choking and laughing. It licked its lips slowly with a slurping, sucking sound akin to trying to chug Fusa mucus up a straw.
It stepped into the limelight of the ceiling-hole just as he last of the sand fell and Liruk could almost feel his stomach drop out of his body with terror. It was like a Muaka Tiger, but covered in greenish, diamond-shaped scales, with four muscular legs, deadly-looking claws and those three toxic eyes, glaring hungrily out at the injured Su-Matoran. Most terrifying of all, though, was still those four deadly, scaled tentacles, like viscous snakes protruding from the beast's head.
The monster looked Liruk in the eye for just a few seconds, though it felt like eternity to be trapped in that deathly gaze. He looked at the creature and the creature looked at him, both parties as still as statues for just those few split seconds.
Liruk fumbled back for his dagger and the monster lunged. Liruk thrust out the blade haphazardly, just about burying the tip into the Rahi's scaly neck. It was enough to throw the beast off its pounce, and it jumped back in pain. It snarled, putting a front paw to the small wound and ripping the dagger from its scales with a tentacle. It looked the Su-Matoran Prince dead in the eyes, and in those blank yellow orbs he somehow saw a new fury and a terrible, terrible lust for blood.
He began again to try to shuffle away, panicked and desperate, though he just ended up knocking his broken leg against a rock. He whimpered loudly in his pain, and he could swear he heard the Rahi chuckle a little. It was a raspy, dead laugh that sent chills down his spine and made him wish once more how he was back in the Palace, asleep in the luxury he had taken so much for granted. He saw the creature begin to bear down on him, padding towards him, getting reading to pounce, and he knew that these were his final moments. Here, in a lonely cave beneath the sands of Ishrikel, he, a Prince, was about to be slaughtered by some alien Rahi. He closed his eyes and waited for the creature to attack and finish him for good.
He opened his eyes.
The monster was growling softly, menacingly, staring intently above Liruk's head. Liruk turned around, slowly and painfully, and as he did so a Toa clad in black and purple armor leapt over his head, spinning a staff between his hands. The beast roared in fury and charged at the mysterious Toa, who ran at the Rahi head-on, staff outstretched, the tip bristling with energy. The beast struck first, advancing with a tentacle straight at the Toa of Gravity's Akaku Nuva, but the Toa ducked expertly and struck back with the staff. The Rahi's tentacles parried the strike easily and the Rahi's front right paw swiped up, but it failed to hit its target as the Toa swerved away once more. The fight continued on like this, a terrifying, deadly dance from which one party would emerge victorious, the other dead. The two fighters, Toa and Rahi, spun around each other in precise, deliberate motions, each swirling violently in the hope of felling the other. The Toa's staff crackled with that same energy, and more than once Liruk saw it spark brightly as it struck home on the Rahi, briefly stunning it. Yet the creature was not deterred by the Toa's weapon and delivered quite a few hits of its own, though the Toa soldiered on, continuing to dance that dangerous dance with this strange Rahi beast. The tentacles, paws and wicked teeth of the scaled tiger continued to attack the Toa, who struck back with his elbows, feet and tool. Neither fighter dared to show how they tired, though both were exhausted, bloody and bruised from the advances of their opponent.
The Toa's staff struck one of the Rahi's scaly tentacles with force, and the two opponents leapt back from each other in response. For the first time in the battle, the fighters were separated, staring at each other dead on, ready for the inevitable final charge. Liruk stared at the two fighters. His protector, the Toa, and his predator, the Rahi, both tired out and panting, both stuck in a stalemate with each other, neither able to get the upper hand.
But then the two fighters rushed at each other. The Rahi roared and the Toa let loose a deafening battle cry and they leapt at each other, one final strike readied. The Rahi lunged both of its front paws at the Toa's chest, but in mid air the Toa seemed to just rise up above the scaly paws of the beast and, with one final yell and a sudden rush of downward gravity behind him, he plunged his staff down through the monster's scaly hide. There was a loud yelp, a gushing of crimson blood and an explosion of yellow electricity and then the Toa was kneeling on the cave floor, the Rahi impaled on his staff. The scene, lit up by the white light of the hole directly above them, was still for just a few seconds.
Then, the Toa rose and pulled his crackling staff from the limp body of the slain beast. He walked over to the Matoran, out of breath but grinning broadly. Liruk was lost for words.
"Well..." said the Toa breathlessly. "That was quite something..."
Liruk tried to get up, forgetting his shattered leg, and bellowed in pain when he failed to stand upright upon it. The Toa winced.
"OK, we better find something we can strap that up with." he said. "Because from what I hear you've got something of a journey ahead of you... wait here."
He wandered of across the cave, looking for something to use as a splint for Liruk's leg.
He cast his head back over his shoulder towards Liruk, then cast his eyes towards the dead Rahi and smiled sadly." .
"My name is Sumaru, by the way."