Kettch lived, and trained in Meridell for nearly a month
before the coming war became public knowledge. Scouts had spotted a floating
Citadel approaching the land, and they knew it wasn’t friendly. Then came the
day where the gates were opened and the dogs of war poured forth.
“Kettch. Ashiel. Jeran. Each of you will command
a section of the army and attempt to prevail over the intruders. Jeran, you’ll
have Draik Army. Kettch, you’ll take command of Zafara Army. Ashiel, you get
Grarrl Army. We’ve fought them off before, we can do it again.” King Skarl stood
over his three prize knights, each kneeling before him.
“What do they want?” Kettch asked from his position.
Ashiel and Jeran darted quick looks of worry at him.
“The orb, I suppose. It’s what they’ve come
for in times past,” Skarl said before turning away and leaving.
“The orb…?” Kettch wondered aloud.
“You shall not inquire of the orb, Kettch,”
Ashiel hissed at him. Jeran simply looked thoughtful for a second before nodding
“Ashiel speaks the truth. It is not wise to
mention it, at all.” Ashiel glowed at the fact of being right. LtKettch considered
what it may be, tucking the information away for later use. Something seemed
oddly familiar about this orb…
[Ask Illusen, Kettch. She’ll tell you.] Aya chimed
in. He shook his head at the thought of going to Illusen again.
* * *
The fighting was relentless. Wave after wave of tiny Drackonacks, followed
by soldiers and other creatures. Each wave intensified in strength. Kettch’s
sword and shield were no longer as new looking as they had looked before. Injured
soldiers from both sides of the conflict littered the battlefield. Illusen and
many volunteers were doing the best they could to help out on the medical side
of things, but it never seemed enough. Every night the sunset, it was like the
curtain of darkness that everyone felt in their hearts had descended to swallow
them all. Mornings were hated, for they brought more fighting, more pain, more
sorrow and despair.
“The orb, Kettch,” Ashiel started, one night
after a day full of fighting. Kettch stopped what we had been doing, and sat
upright. “The orb contains immense power. The power can be used for such things
as to keep peace and prosperity in the land of Meridell, or it can be used to
cause great destruction and devastation. The owners of such a power, Kettch,
would be mighty kings over any land they wished too.” Kettch finally had the
answer he had been waiting for.
“So is this what Darigan’s forces want?”
“Yes. They’re consumed with greed over the power
it contains,” Ashiel said. Kettch sense there may’ve been more to the story,
but didn’t ask.
“Just imagine what one could do with that orb,
Kettch. They’d be…” Ashiel trailed off, leaving Kettch to ponder the possibilities.
They sat in silence the rest of the night before
going off to sleep. Kettch lay in his cot first, still seeing Ashiel sitting
at the small table in the dim candlelight. He appeared to be plotting something,
and his eyes seemed to shimmer with greed, but maybe that was Kettch’s imagination.
The last thing Kettch remembered before drifting off to sleep was a distant
warning from Aya: [Be wary.]
* * *
The next day started much the same. After a few hours of fighting, though,
things changed. Lord Darigan himself emerged from his floating citadel. The
fighting stopped wherever his commanding presence was seen.
“People of Meridell! I do not wish to
bring more destruction upon you. It is an unfortunate occurrence that I wish
to avoid more of, if possible.
“I come for the orb. The orb that Skarl
stole from me so many years ago. The orb that rightfully belongs to me and my
kingdom!” Darigan’s booming voice echoed over the entire battlefield. “Bring
me the orb now, and thing’s will be settled peacefully!”
Kettch’s jaw dropped. Skarl stole it
from Darigan? How could that be? he thought to himself.
[It is true. Ask your comrade Ashiel. He’ll
tell you,] Aya’s thought-voice commanded Kettch. He saw Ashiel quite near where
Darigan was. It looked like he was about to draw his sword and attack Darigan
“Ashiel! No!” Kettch shouted, and dashed
over. Ashiel, surprised at Kettch’s boldness, was caught off-guard as the Meerca
tackled him to the ground, pinning him there.
“Traitor!” Ashiel hissed.
“No, I just don’t want to see you do anything
foolish,” Kettch whispered back. “Tell me, Ashiel, is what Darigan says true?”
Ashiel’s eyes blazed with hatred for Kettch.
“Yes, it is,” Ashiel replied in a hushed
whisper, letting none other than Kettch hear him. “Skarl stole it from his kingdom
because he needed it to keep his kingdom from dying. Don’t even think of trying
to go into the castle to get to it, Kettch. You’ll never make it there; it’s
heavily guarded in a secret chamber. Very few know its location. Besides,” Ashiel
continued in a letting his hate for Kettch seethe out of his body in the form
of a voice, “the orb shall be mine.” With that, Ashiel shoved Kettch
off the top of him, and leapt up.
The sound of Ashiel’s sword being drawn
was distinctive. Everyone who had not watched the confrontation begin turned
his or her attention to it, even Darigan himself. “Traitor!” The sword slashed
down to where Kettch had been on the ground. It hit the mud, with Kettch rolling
away and rising with his own sword drawn.
“I see, Ashiel. This is how it must be.”
Kettch’s voice sounded sad, as Ashiel lunged forward and attacked in a flurry
of sword blows. Kettch did the best he could to block the attacks, but couldn’t
bring himself to make any attacks against his former comrade. That clash of
swords was the only fighting to continue on that field, as everyone watched.
“STOP!” Darigan’s voice boomed forth,
once more. Kettch was stunned at how the fighting ceased once more. “I thank
you, young Meerca-lad, for saving me from such an attack that would’ve had no
armor. As for you, Nimmo, I see into your heart and know this lad is no traitor
to the cause of bringing peace in Meridell.” The intense eyes of Lord Darigan
bored into Ashiel, who did not back down one centimeter.
“Anyone who wishes to join my ranks shall
be welcomed openly. Help your kingdom come to peace!” Darigan shouted to everyone,
before turning his attention back to Kettch. “Sir Meerca, what is your name?”
“Sir LtKettch, will you join me in reclaiming
what is rightfully mine and ending this fruitless war?”
[Kettch…] Aya started to tell Kettch something.
He answered before she tried to make the decision for him.
“Yes sir, I will.” Darigan grinned, and
Ashiel’s hatred grew more intense. The two stared at each other for what seemed
like hours. Kettch heard the message that Ashiel hadn’t opened his mouth to
say. “Someday, Kettch. Someday I will destroy you.”
* * *
Darigan’s army gained many supporters that day. There were many soldiers who
turned sides, and even citizens that joined the ranks. They were fitted with
new armor, given new shields, swords and other equipment. Darigan’s army had
The war ended a couple days later. Lord
Darigan had claimed victory over King Skarl. The forces swept over Meridell,
leaving destruction in their wake. The dungeons of his citadel were filled to
the brim. It was a glorious time for Darigan, in deed. It was another matter
for Kettch, though.
Many recognized Kettch as one of Skarl’s
prize knights. They saw him walking freely, with a Darigan Army shield, no less!
The soldiers that stayed with Skarl blamed Kettch for starting the whole mess.
If only he had let Ashiel take on Darigan then. Oh, Ashiel the martyr! Ashiel,
the one who knew the right way!
Kettch was a pariah. Aya, too, had not
said a word to him since the downfall of Meridell. He was utterly alone.
One day, while walking along aimlessly,
he happened upon the ruins of Illusen’s glade. Illusen herself was still there,
amid the rubble. He saw her and fell down weeping. “What have I done? What have
I done?” he cried out.
Illusen walked over to where he lay, and
knelt down beside him. “It’s okay, Kettch. You did not cause this. You were
merely provided the perfect opportunity for what Darigan planned in the first
place. You couldn’t have known…” She held him gently as he continued his crying.
She looked over to the castle in the distance, and could just make out Darigan
on a balcony.
[Kettch, this will turn out well. Just
wait,] Aya said softly to him, though she wasn’t sure if he heard her or not.
* * *
That night, everything changed. Darigan had returned to his Citadel. In the
middle of the night, the power of the orb drove him insane. His entire body
was transformed, covered now with flames. He used the orb to start blasting
away at what remained of Meridell.
Master Vex, the dungeon keeper himself,
released the prisoners of the war from their dungeons. Working together, they
attempted to stop this new onslaught of Darigan. In the end, it was one of Darigan’s
top knights, a robot Jetsam, which put an end to him and his reign of terror.
All that remained was the orb, floating in there in mid-air.
In the rush to claim it before anyone else,
the orb itself shattered and lay on the ground useless. The true war ended right
then. Meridell, and its citizens, returned to being free, despite the destruction
in the kingdom. In time, it would be rebuilt and scars healed.
Not all scars heal, though.
* * *
“LtKettch, rise and face your penalty!” an angry voice shouted in the air.
Kettch rose from the place where his trial was taking place. “You are found
to be a traitor to Meridell. You became a knight of the kingdom to serve and
protect it. Yet you attacked one of your fellow knights, in an attempt to join
Darigan. Ashiel informs me you even had plans to take the orb for yourself!
Of all the treasonous pets in the world, you Kettch, are the worst.” King Skarl
let his last word boom out louder than the rest.
“Sire, if I may…” Kettch began to say
[Kettch, sweety, now would not be a good
time to anger the king,] Aya said in her ever-so-sweet, yet dripping-with-sarcasm
tone. Kettch remained silent. [Besides,] Aya continued, [trying to discredit
their favorite Nimmo martyr would look worse for you now. Not only a treasonous,
despicable Meerca, but one that would try to lie and cover his tail when it
was clear who’s in the wrong.]
Do you think I’m in the wrong, Aya?
[No, it probably worked better this way.
Meridell will return to its former glory. The orb is gone, and Darigan is destroyed.]
So this is what I was here for, eh?
he thought. Aya gave no answer. The silence of the courtyard where his trial
was taking place continued for another five minutes, as everyone recalled memories,
whether false or not, of Kettch’s ‘many’ betrayals.
“It is now time I pass the sentence on
to you, Kettch,” Skarl finally said. Kettch saw Ashiel standing behind Skarl,
giving Kettch the best evil grin he could muster. Looking around more, he found
Illusen in the crowd, with a look of pain and anguish on her face. “You are
hereby stripped of the rank of Knight of Meridell. You shall also be exiled
from this place, never to return. If we so much as see your tail here again,
Kettch, you can expect our punishment to be more severe.” He stopped, and let
everyone imagine what he could be inferring with that comment. “This goes into
effect, now. Clear a path for this traitor to leave the kingdom.”
A path cleared for Kettch to walk through.
He hopped off the platform and traveled down it. Where the crowd ended and open
space began, two armed knights escorted him the rest the way. One of them, was
The walk to the gates didn’t last long.
When he got there, Ashiel whispered in his ear, “If I ever find you here
again, Kettch, you can trust the no one else will.” With those final
words, he shoved Kettch through the gates. Both knights then extended their
staffs in an attempt to block Kettch from going back in.
He began to walk away, tears forming in
his eyes. Looking back, he found the guards still glared at him icily. Beyond
them, Skarl appeared to be giving a speech to his citizens, as they were cheering.
Maybe the cheers were for his exile, though. And then, there was Illusen. She
was behind the guards, openly watching him go. He could see he light glistening
in the water gathering at her eyes. She did her best to force the tears back.
She mouthed a silent bid of farewell, to Kettch. “Stay strong, Kettch, stay
strong. Keep it safe, and good luck.” There was a pause before her mouth
moved again. “I’m sorry, Kettch. I really am.” Illusen turned and moved back
towards her glade, and Kettch turned away.
The rainbow Meerca surveyed the surroundings
from where he was standing on a bluff. Looking back to where he’d come from,
LtKettch could still see Meridell. The flags on the castle walls blew slightly
in the gentle breeze that caressed nature’s face. Kettch’s eyes filled with
tears, as he turned back to his path. Continuing with his trek, Kettch began
to get lost in his memories.
[Cheer up, Kettch.] Aya sounded as the
tears began to return. [You need to get yourself back home to Mystery Island.
From there, it’s to Krawk Island.]
Kettch’s heart filled with more joy at
the thought of returning home. And then to Krawk Island! He had wanted to go
there before. His tears began to dry, as he sniffed his nose. No, there’s
no sense in despairing over it. I’ll carry the scar and burden of my ‘mistake’
forever, yes. But the pain will fade. Someday, though, someday I will
get my revenge, Ashiel. You can count on that.
“Krawk Island, eh?” Kettch said aloud.
A wide grin appeared on his face. “Yo ho ho.”
There you have it, the end of my short story. If you’d like to see more adventures
involving LtKettch and Aya, give me a Neomail
and I’ll get to writing ‘em. :) I don’t take requests, though.
Acknowledgements: Oily, for proofreading. Rae, for encouragement, friendship,
and proofreading. The NTWF for encouragement and friendliness. Thanks everyone!