Starting A Destiny
by Nightshade

Part 11

Pandora's Problems Are No More

The room was suddenly filled with the shouts of people, wondering where they were. But for one moment they thought they heard Thanatos' voice in their heads saying, We will meet again, and you will not be so lucky then! Keven looked around, wondering where Jema was, since he was the main reason he agreed to come here. James found him in a corner.

"Keven! I'm sorry, but I must of dozed off. What happened?" so they told their account of Thanatos, which seemed to puzzle Jema to no end.

"I don't understand. All the Empire needs to rule Mana is the Mana Fortress... "

"Maybe Thanatos just wants to rule on his own." spoke up James.

Jema looked up at the sprite. "Well, it has been agreed in the Republic that Thanatos is not to be trusted."

Leanne nodded. "I don't blame you. That creep gave me the shivers!"

"Well, I hope you don't meet up with him again soon. Not even those of us who went through the Leadership War can stand him... I wonder how Vandole can?... " Jema asked himself.

"Who's Vandole?" asked Keven.

Jema snapped back to the present. "The Emperor of the Empire. I should be going. If I were you, I'd visit the King, then Sage Luka. She will want to hear everything that you have to say on Thanatos. Be seeing you, until next time!" and he walked off.

Leanne spotted Phanna's grandmother, and went over to comfort her concerning her friend. "Phanna! Oh, my dear Phanna! Please help her!" Keven came over and assured her they would do the best they could, and that she didn't have to worry.

"Thank you, child. She's the last thing in Mana we have left!... " and Grandma went back to her crying.

Everyone seemed changed, ex-zombies and non-zombies alike. Even the King. "Thank you for saving my Kingdom. You are always welcome in Pandora." he looked at Leanne. "Your father is on the coast on business... otherwise he'd want to see you." Leanne nodded absently.

"Thank you sir." Keven said, and started to bow.

King Storma stopped him. "Please, there is no need for that. You are the Mana Knight! And because of that, and with what you have done for us, we have to part with our treasure. It has been sitting in the store room, and which was saved for you." The treasure was 5000GP, and they didn't know how to thank the old monarch.

"You don't need to thank me. It is I who should thank you, as does the rest of Pandora."

When they left the next morning, the hope that the Pandorans put in their hearts faded, as they knew they would have many more untold perils to face in the near future.

A Stolen Seed?

"I don't understand!" wailed the Sage, "Who would want to take a Seed of Mana?" The altar was empty, and a stricken Luka was bent over crying and being comforted by the three travelers.

"Luka, try to calm down," said Leanne soothingly, "You don't have any idea of where it could be? Are you sure?"

The Sage shook her head. "I've consulted the ebb of water, and all it says is that the Seed went below the ground. Where I'm not sure."

Keven got up from the chair he was sitting in. "Underground? And they couldn't have gotten far, if they took it while we were in Pandora. The only caverns nearby are Gaia's Navel... "

"So what are we waiting for? We have a Seed to recover!" exclaimed an excited James. It was becoming obvious the sprite loved danger, and it was rubbing off on his two friends. Wishing and repeating their promise to return the Water Seed, they set off.

They reached the Dwarf Village by midday. They went down Watts' stair, and asked him to check their weapons. While Watts reforged some of their weapons, Keven and James recounted the group's adventures since the last meeting.

When they had finished, Watts forged on the last weapon for a few more seconds, then shook his head. "Sounds like you three are in deep trouble. I may not know much about surface doings, but I smell evil when I hear of it." They thanked him, paid the dwarf and were off to find the Elder.

The dwarf elder was talking to Jema when they located him. They were standing by a large hole located in the middle of the square. Jema looked up and smiled at them. "You seem to be where you are needed at the right time," remarked the old soldier, "Some thieves dug this huge hole, and we suspect their next target will be the Underground Palace."

Keven glanced at his companions once each and turned to the dwarf elder. "We'll get to the bottom of this, don't worry." and without a whimper out of James or Leanne, jumped into the hole in front of the small group.

The Elder looked into the hole, hoping to see the Adventures, but failing. "They all look so much older and wiser than the last time they were here. I hope they don't get hurt!" he muttered worriedly.

Jema looked in the hole. "Don't worry. As long as Mana is strong, they will live."

The Scorpion Army

They landed on a ship. A door was in front of them, and voices could be heard. "Shh! I want to hear!" whispered Keven. And what they heard would've been laughable, if there wasn't a Mana Seed as the main topic.

"Boss, the Kilroy's ready."

"Good. I want to put the Seed in as soon as possible."

"And then we can rule the world, boss?!"

"You fools! I will rule the world. You will just do all my dirty work."

"So then you need us?"

"Not unless you put that Seed in the machine NOW!"

"Yes boss."

"Anything you say, boss."

"Just shut up and get to work!"

James had to put a hand over Leanne's mouth so the Three Stooges inside wouldn't hear her laughter. "Forget it. Let's crash their party!" Keven smiled mischievously. James grinned and kicked down the door. Two men dressed in mismatched armour and one woman in a battle suit and cape with a scorpion on it turned around. The men looked scared, but not the woman.

"Welcome! We, the Scorpion Army, will rule the world, and this Seed will finish our robot. I hope you like it, because it'll be the last thing you'll ever see!" the woman cried, all the while holding the Seed and moving back towards a funny looking tin man. The trio couldn't move because they were too focused on not laughing.

"This's an army?" asked James incredulously, "And I thought this was going to be hard!" Even though they had heard them, Keven and Leanne saw the tin man start to move, and being controlled by the crackpots. All of the sudden the machine exploded, and the three weirdos jumped out and dropped the Seed.

"It's no use, boss!"

"Yeah, the Seed was too much for it."

"Just shut up and get out of here, for the love of Mana!" and they disappeared.

But not their robot. "James, watch out!" cried Leanne, but it was too late. For one of the Kilroy's hammer arms flattened the poor sprite. Keven quickly grabbed the pancake James before the robot could run him over. "Hit him from behind." murmured the sprite.

"Take care of him. I'll trash this piece of metal!" Keven said to Leanne, and moved out of the Kilroy's view just as the robot neared his friends. The end loomed over Leanne's head and she silently said a prayer to the Mana Tree to save them all as the hammer arms went into position to pound her to a pulp. "Keven, if you don't hurry up I won't be able to scream at you again!" she yelled in her most threatening voice.

The Kilroy stopped at the same time as she finished her threat, and Keven came up from behind the machine. "Ya know, I was starting to consider your offer of not yelling at me again... "

"Shut up, please! James'll be up in a few minutes, I just remedied him."

Suddenly the sprite inflated. "You two would be good as a comedy act," he grumbled, "You sound so funny when you fight..."

"Shut up James." they said at the same time, then laughed at their silliness.

"Let's get out of here. I think I can get Elder's attention and get him to throw down a rope." announced Keven.

"Don't forget the Mana Seed!" spoke up James.

Once up in the village again, Elder was impressed. "Thank you. I don't know how much we are in your debt, first Tropicallo, then the Underground Palace, and now these thieves... we welcome you here anytime."

Taking the Seed Back...

They said their goodbyes and left the village. Watts reforged a few more weapons, and then wished them luck. They went through the Haunted Forest, which didn't have many enemies as before. "Are we always going to be welcome anytime at a village we save?" inquired James as they neared the Palace teleporter in the Forest.

"Get used to it." replied Keven, "Want to go and tell Luka we got the Seed back?"

Leanne smiled. "Lead the way, oh Mana Knight." James laughed at her mocking tone, while Keven gave her an evil stare and they went through the teleporter.

"I feel sorry for Dyluck. He has to put up with you... "

"What do ya mean, 'put up with me'? What about your attitude?" retorted Leanne.

James cut the argument short. "Look! I think Luka may be in trouble. Remember those fish we went past to get to Undine?" his companions nodded, "Well, there's a ton of 'em outside the Palace, as well as walking ones with harpoons!"

"Great! Just what we need, more trouble." cried out Leanne.

Keven only shook his head. "And I hope this isn't as much of a surprise as Kilroy was. C'mon, let's go see what's going on."

It wasn't easy to get into the Palace. The guarding enemies were doing their job, and they were tough, but the trio got in and up the first flight of stairs. As they neared the top of the Palace and the altar, they could hear voices. One of them was a panicky Luka.

"I don't know where it is... Keven! Leanne! James, get them out of here, NOW!" she pleaded.

Water Palace - Under Siege?!!

The altar room was full of soldiers, and Keven suspected they weren't friendly. One dressed in green with matching hair turned around, saw them, took a knife and put it to Luka's throat. "So," the man said calmly and coldly, "Am I to assume you have the Seed. I am Lieutenant Geshtar, of the Empire! Give it to me or the Sage's had it!" and if the threat wasn't enough, the knife was pressed just enough so there would be no blood.

"We've got no choice," whispered Leanne, "If we don't give the Seed, Luka's as good as dead. At least we have a chance on saving her and the Seed if you give it to this crazy." James heard and nodded his approval. One way or the other, this idiot's going to do something stupid. But why do I get the feeling I shouldn't be mad at him? Shaking off the thought Keven pulled out the Seed and gave it to Geshtar, who released Luka.

"That's it. Be a good boy," he placed the Seed on the altar, "and it really is a shame I've got to breaks its power..."

"DON'T!" screamed Luka, but it was too late. Geshtar had broken the seal and so the power of Water was diminished.

Geshtar turned to Keven and smiled. "And to thank you so much for doing the right thing, I'm going to let you have my little pet Jabberwocky. And don't forget to feed him, it's about his feeding time now anyway." Soldiers grabbed the trio and threw them down a level and cut the switch's power so they wouldn't escape.

"Oh, and one more thing," Geshtar's voice rang through the area, "His favorite food is human flesh."

A two headed monster appeared then, its long necks reaching out towards them so close that the heads on the ends of them could bite any of them. They had to run to avoid the heads, and had no time to fight. "This's crazy!" exclaimed James, "Earth Slide can work..."

And that was all that was needed to be done. While Keven and Leanne were trying to get close enough to get a good shot without being hurt too badly, James cast 3 of the Gnome's spells to destroy the beast.

"Hey, little buddy, thanks!" said Keven.

James shrugged and replied, "Just doing what I'm suppose to."

"I wonder how Luka's doing... " Leanne's idle comment made all three run as fast as they could to the altar room and where a stricken Sage was being comforted by Jema.

"Jema, what are you doing here?" asked Keven.

The old man looked up and smiled. "I teleported in when I heard the Empire was here. We cleared out Pandora of them too. Are you OK?" they all nodded.

"Keven! Restore the Seed's seal, quickly!" Luka spoke in a hurry. When that was done, the Sage spoke in a frail voice.

"You must go now to the Lofty Mountains and see Sage Joch. He can teach you what true courage really is. And also go to all eight Seed Palaces and activate all the Seeds with your Sword. There is nothing more I can tell you."

"But I can." Jema said when she was done, "You need to leave the Lower Lands. Speak with the Cannon Travel man near Potos, I believe he now has flights to the Upper Land forest."

James' face lit up. "My home up there!"

"Then you might want to visit your family while you're at it. I have some things to talk to Sage Luka about. Good-bye and good luck!" and the three friends found themselves outside the Palace.

"I want to go home! You guys'll love it there." James squealed with delight, but Leanne was doubtful.

"Cannon Travel? What do they do, shoot you out of a cannon or something?" she remarked sarcastically...

Cannon Travel

"Oh man, what I do for friends." Leanne muttered. She, along with Keven and James, were squished into a cannon and the short, black haired, stout man who was sending them to the Great Forest was lighting the fuse. "Hey Kev, have you grown or something, because you're taking up most of the room."

"And I'm proud of all I have. It's all muscle, ya know." he said with pride.

James rolled his eyes. "Yeah, just what we need... the Legendary Knight as a muscle factory."

The Cannon Travel man cut off any more talking. "You have to be relaxed if you don't want to get hurt on this thing, so I would advise you all to be quiet. You should be taking off any second, so have a good ride."

"Do you think we can back out now?" Leanne asked in a small voice.

"Leanne... " warned Keven, with the rest of his words drowned out with the ka-boom! of the cannon exploding, sending them flying.

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