Chapter Seven~ Darkness Emerging
614 B.C.

Princess Kidagakash hurled herself onto her bed and screamed into her pillow as loud as she possibly could. Breathing heavily, she tried to regain her composure. "You are a princess," she reminded herself. Then the conversation she had just had with her father replayed in her head, and she buried her face in her pillow and screamed again, this time more violently, and kicked her feet at the same time.

Nakia, a palace servant and Kida's friend, stuck her head into Kida's room. "Princess, are you all right?" Nakia asked nervously.

"Nakia!!!" Kida wailed. Nakia leapt nervously. Kida sucked in her breath and gestured for the girl to sit on the bed next to her. "Nakia, do you know of a painless way to assassinate my father?" Kida whispered coarsely.

Nakia's eyebrows could not have risen higher unless they had flown of her forehead. "What are you talking about?" she gasped.

"He's trying to marry me off!" Kida shrieked, burying her head in her pillow and screaming yet a third time.

"Oh, is that all?" Nakia sighed. "You had me worried for a second."

"You are no help at all!!!" Kida moaned.

"Kida, you knew this day was going to come someday. You are 7200 years old. Just consider yourself lucky that you've managed to avoid it for so long," Nakia reasoned.

"You don't know who he wants to marry me to!" Kida snapped. She shuddered, and began violently attacking her pillow.


Kida bit her lip so hard that it drew blood. "Throck," she muttered through clenched teeth.

Nakia wasn't sure if she should shriek or laugh. "You are kidding me," she said.

"Unfortunately, I am not," Kida groaned, hurling her pillow at the wall. "I nearly vomited when he said that Throck had requested to be my suitor."

"Honestly! I mean no sacrilege, but what is your father thinking?" Nakia said, shaking her head. "Throck is the most annoying, belligerent, self absorbed, disgusting creature that has ever set foot upon the earth!" Now it was Nakia's turn to shriek into Kida's pillows.

"You think I didn't try and tell my father that?" Kida wailed. "The very thought of that egotistical oaf standing within one wokano of me is enough to make me physically ill, and now TAHB-toap is trying to marry me off to him? ARGH!!!"

"Oh, Kida. I am so sorry," Nakia said softly.

"I've got to get out of this palace!" Kida shouted. "Come on, let's go to the marketplace or something. Just get me away from TAHB-toap and Throck!" She grabbed Nakia by the wrist and dragged her off her perch on Kida's bed out into the corridor.
"Meera, what is your problem?" Lina demanded of her sister impatiently.

"Problem? Lina, I don't know what you're talking about," Meera said innocently, fluffing her hair for about the twentieth time in the past half hour.

"You are acting like a bird preening her feathers," Lina groaned. "Your hair looks fine! Now tell me why you dragged me to the marketplace out of the blue, and why you're acting like a lovesick shemubin!"

"Oh, no reason, Lina," Meera stammered. "I, um, just wanted to see somebody, that's all."

"Well, why did you need to drag me along?" Lina grumbled.

"For moral support," Meera snapped, dragging her sister through a crowd of people into the next block of stalls.

"Moral support? What are you talking about?"

"Never you mind. We're going to the fish market," Meera instructed.

"The fish market???" Lina squealed. "You got all dressed up and dragged me out of the house to go to the FISH MARKET?!"

"Shush!" Meera ordered as they rounded the corner and headed past the docks to where the market was located. "We're going to see someone who's working AT the fish market," she explained.

"Oh, brother. Meeranakash, what is going on here?" Lina demanded.

"Shh!" Meera snapped as an Atlantean youth came out of the market, carrying an empty barrel. Meera quickly ran her fingers through her hair and piped up. "SOO-puhk, Orion!" she called.

The youth dropped the barrel and nervously turned. He saw Meera, who cheerily waved at him. The boy's eyes widened and he turned red, muttering something and rushing back into the store.

Lina eyed her sister, who was now a pleasant shade of strawberry and was smiling starrily. Lina cynically nodded. It all made sense now. "You like Orion, don't you?" she accused.

Meera looked away. "I don't know what you're talking about," she timidly said.

"Oh, come off it, Meera. That's why you came all the way down here. You knew that Orion was working at the fish market, and you wanted to come down and see him."

"Please don't tell anybody, Lina!" Meera pleaded.

"Oh, honestly, Meera," Lina sighed. "I'm your sister. If you want to have a crush on dorky old Orion, I won't go blabbing it around."

"Orion is not a dork!" Meera protested. "But thanks, anyway."

"Meera!" a voice called. Meera turned and saw Kida and Nakia rushing towards her.

"Am I off the hook now?" Lina asked. "I have a date with Oton tonight."

"Sure. Have fun. Just don't breathe a word!" Meera said.

"Whatever," Lina sighed, heading off.

"What's going on?" Meera asked as her friend reached her.

"My life is a miserable experience, and I have a desire to jump off the top of a Stone Giant," Kida grumbled.

"She's just kidding," Nakia said to a worried Meera.

"No I'm not!" Kida exclaimed.

"What is going on?" Meera repeated.

"My evil TAHB-toap is trying to marry me to a shemubin," Kida muttered.

"Which shemubin is this?" Meera asked.

"Throck," Nakia explained.

"Throck?" Meera gasped. "EEEEEEWWW!!!"

"My sentiments exactly," Kida drily said.

"We've got to find a way to get her out of this!" Meera said. She didn't have time to elaborate further, for out of the shadows slunk the snake himself.

"Kida, darling," Throck purred, wrapping his arms around a very disgusted Kidagakash. "Have you heard the news? I have asked your father for your suit and he agreed to it! Isn't that marvelous?"

"Oh, yes. I'm simply ecstatic," Kida said through gritted teeth, trying to escape his slimy grasp.

"I am so excited about this," Throck said, his voice oozing with false charm. "I mean, what with my sculpted body and your shapely figure, we would be the most attractive royal couple Atlantis has ever known. And think about the magnificent genes our children shall be inheriting, what with two mighty warriors as parents!"

"And after all, that's so important," Nakia muttered.

"The prospect is simply mind boggling, Throck," Kida said, still trying to evade his grasp.

"Well, I just wanted to let you know that I have arranged for us to have dinner together tomorrow evening. We're going to know each other very well," Throck grinned, and finally released Kida from his grasp and slunk away.

"Ugh, I feel icky, slimy, all over me! I want to go home and take a bath!" Kida cried.

"What a sleaze-ball," Nakia said.

"That man has only two things in mind, Kida," Meera warned. "Your body and your power."

"We've got to find a way to keep you away from him," Nakia said.

"The sooner the better," Kida agreed.
The next evening, Kida sank into bed in tears. Nakia stuck her head into the princess' bedchambers. "Kida, can I come in?" she said softly.

"Sure," Kida said.

"Are you okay?" Nakia asked gently.

"No," Kida sobbed. "I hate him, I hate him! He's so brash and egotistical. He's worse now than he ever was. If I hear one more word about his rippling pectorals, I will rip his spinal cord out!"

Nakia chuckled. "Oh, Kida. You should tell your father how you feel."

"He won't listen. He never listens. When he gets an idea in his head, he sticks with it no matter what. Why does she have to be so stubborn?" Kida cried.

"Well, just get some sleep. Maybe something will come to you in your dreams," Nakia advised. Kida nodded as her friend disappeared out the door. Then the princess sighed and sleep overtook her.
Voices called out through the mist, thousands of them. Then Kida heard one she recognized. "Kida, my darling..."

"MAH-tihm!" Kida cried. Suddenly, the mist cleared, and a figure stepped out of it. It was a man, but not one that Kida recognized. The man was followed by giant shapes, machines, the likes of which Kida had never before seen. Kida sensed goodness radiating from the man, but all else was shrouded in mystery.

Then, suddenly, a dark presence invaded everything. A terrible something was chasing after Kida. She screamed and began running as fast as she could, but the evil force was much faster, and easily caught up with her. It had almost descended upon her, when the good man returned. He extended his hand, and the evil presence dispersed.

Then Kida felt warm arms around her, and she glanced up into the face of the man, but his eyes were hidden behind shields of some form. Kida felt love, and she felt loved, in a way that she had never felt before. "Kida," the man whispered. Kida closed her eyes and she felt warm lips kissing her own. Then the man faded away in the misty blue light, and it was then that Kida realized that she had not learned his name.

"SOH-lesh MAH-toh-noat, kwahm TEH-red-seh-nen (All will be well, be not afraid)," Queen Maralana's voice said. "Talk to your TAHB-toap tomorrow," the Queen instructed.

"MAH-tihm..." Kida called into the void.

And then she woke up.
"But TAHB-toap," Kida pleaded. " I do not love Throck! In fact, I can barely stomach him!"

"Kida, the time has come! You must choose a husband. What would you do if something were to happen to me?" King Kashekim said.

"Why is it a rule that I be married to rule, anyway?" Kida countered. "If I do not marry for love, then I will be worse off than if I were to rule alone!"

"Kida, do you realize how hard it is to be alone?" Kashekim snapped. "I have not been the same since your mother was taken. I do not want you to experience the same loneliness."

"But, TAHB-toap, you loved MAH-tihm! Would you have wanted to marry any other woman but her? Could you imagine having lived with any other woman but her?" Kida retaliated.

Kashekim glanced down. "Maralana," he whispered. "Kashekim, don't be a fool," he heard his wife's voice say. "You know that Throck is not right for her. Do not let your pride destroy our daughter's happiness." Kashekim bit his lip. "Very well," the King said to his daughter. "You do not have to see Throck any longer."

Kida's eyes grew huge. "Oh, TAHB-toap! Thank you! Thank you!" she exclaimed, kissing her father on his cheek.

"Kida," Kashekim said softly. "It's hard to say, but sometimes the king can be wrong. I hope that someday you will understand, and you will learn from my mistakes."

Kida looked at him inquisitively, but didn't say anything. She had a sudden feeling that someday soon everything would fall into place. She also had a strange feeling that her dream was a prediction. If she just waited, all her questions would be answered. Then, she could at last find peace.