The Ixi watched out the window as he saw the blue tail
bobbing around in the consuming darkness. He buried his face in his hooves,
trying to organize his words in his mind again, but they were nothing more than
a jumbled mess that he couldn't make sense out of. His thoughts snapped back
to the present as the door to the room swung open with Jeran framed in the doorway,
his face a-glow with excitement.
"F-Firiden! Where have you been?" he panted excitedly,
running over his friend. Firiden quickly stood up and shook his head, opening
and closing his mouth, slowly to trying to find the words he needed.
"Jeran...you gotta stop this," Firiden said in
a somewhat hollow voice. Jeran's eyes quickly lost their sparkle, but his mouth
still held a wide smile.
"What? Oh, come on Firiden, stop jok-,"
"IT'S NOT A JOKE!" Firiden yelled as he advanced
on Jeran. "This is dumb, Jeran! You're just a simple Lupe! You're not even FROM
here! How do you expect to be a knight?!"
"What's that supposed to mean?!" the Lupe snarled,
bearing his fangs.
"You and your stupid dreams of being a knight!
Skarl doesn't pick any naive Lupe who falls out of a tree to command his army!
You either have to be of noble blood or enough money to pay off his food bill!
He's just duping you to be part of his massive army that he can sacr-,"
"Oh, jealous are you, Firiden?! I'm going to
be something that you CAN'T be!" Jeran snapped back in an acid tone.
"Look! Just trust me! You gotta quit this--"
"No, you trust me and get out, Firiden! I'm not
coming home! This is my home and I'm going to live it out!" Jeran snapped angrily.
The two stared at each other, the silence as painful as their words. Firiden's
eyes narrowed as he snatched the bag on the bed.
"Fine, have fun being Skarl's pawn!" The Ixi
snarled as he tramped down the stairs two by two. His paced quickened as he
ran down the cobblestone streets. His chest heaved and ached as he slowed his
pace, collapsing on a barrel before him. He tried to tell Jeran...it was for
his own good! Why couldn't he choose his words better?! He cursed his luck,
angrily stamping in the puddle before him.
Firiden sat there, motionless for a bit as the
rain began to softly trickle down from the heavens above. His delicate ears
could hear the pitter patter of rain while the villagers all rushed back to
their homes to close their windows. But from behind Firiden could hear the sounds
of footsteps...familiar ones...
"Hey, Ixi-boy! Rohanse wants you," the Buzz hissed,
looking around quickly as he rearranged his hood to conceal his face better.
Firiden snarled and hurriedly stood up, towering over the Buzz.
"Tell that filthy bird that I'm done with him!"
Firiden snapped, trudging off into the distance. The Buzz gave a hearty chuckle
at the idea, following Firiden as he did so.
"Ha! He knew you'd say that! Old bird and all!
Said that if you won't come, then he's gonna suffer even more!" Firiden halted,
biting his lip as he did so. He looked up at the rain falling, before closing
his eyes and turning back to the Buzz.
"Excellent! Truly excellent! I want you all to note how he kept his balance!
Loose your balance and you're finished! Now then, all of you should break up
into pairs and practice; I shall test you all individually!" the Kougra roared
to the group. The trainees all broke apart creating small skirmishes of their
own. Jeran has just begun to walk over to a three-some of classmates when the
Kougra engulfed his shoulder in a large paw.
"Jeran, I need to speak with you," the Kougra
said in a low voice, casting his eyes around the group. The two quietly trotted
out of the enclosed garden, unnoticed by the busy pairs of fighters among the
"One of the guards has fallen ill and can't make
his shift tonight. We've been on high alert lately because of a dungeon break
out. I know that you are not yet an official knight, however we do need someone
to watch the position and as such I request that you fill in the spot," The
knight said in a low rumble, casting his eyes about suspiciously as if someone
was listening in on their conversation. Jeran's eyes grew wide as the same child-like
smile passed over his face.
"Sir...I-I'd be delighted, honored even!" Jeran
said as he gave the officer a respectful bow. The Kougra nodded stiffly and
pointed at the spot, which they stood on.
"You are to report here at 8:00 p.m. Jeran. We
have to have you fitted for some armor and I'll show you your post," the guard
nodded. "Do well tonight and perhaps this may be more than a temporary position".
Since Jeran was a child he had such grand visions that danced in his head.
Princes and princesses, knights and kings, villains and heros. Scaling castle
walls and braving dungeon depths to bring back the nobility to the land as a
But as he sat upon the ledge on the upper levels
of the castle, Jeran more or less had to admit that it was quite dull here.
He dangled his blue feet over the edge and sighed, surveying the castle behind
him and the village before him; not a single thing stirred.
The searing boredom didn't matter though, he
was here, and he was a knight. This was his Cinderella story; he only regretted
that at midnight he would once again have to return to his pumpkin like state.
"Hey Jeran!" a Draik called across the top of
the castle. The Lupe turned around as the friendly red guard approached him.
"No noise, huh?"
"Nothin'," Jeran said, standing up to greet the
Draik. "Anything from your post?"
"Ha, you're kidding, right?" The Draik laughed.
He gave a loud yawn and looked around the scene with almost annoyance. "I don't
know why they put me on double shifts today! Some nonsense about some break-out!"
The guard heaved a yawn that almost knocked him off his feet.
"Why don't you go and take a break? You look
horrible..." Jeran empathized. "I don't mind taking your place for a bit, and
you really need to get some sleep!"
"You know, I think I may take you up on th-thaaaaaattttt..."
The Draik yawned again, his eyes drooping even more so now. The two bid each
other farewell as Jeran entered the castle to reclaim the Draik's forgone position.
The inside of the castle proved to be just as quiet as the outside with not
a creature stirring at all. He paced around, back and forth, in the grand hall,
his keen eyes always watching for something. Yet he highly doubted that he would
find something, instead letting his mind wander as he looked at the paintings
on the wall: the majestic retelling of what seemed like Skarl's royal lineage.
From the first of his family (a large, foreboding Skeith who's large teeth seemed
to have more in common with a Moehog's tusks).
Jeran silently chuckled to himself at the idea,
when a soft sound approached his ears. It was a muffled padding, like someone
was trying to be quiet.
Jeran gently tiptoed towards the exit of the
hall, his eyes scanning the shadows and light only to see two large shapes dancing
across the wall, creating a pattern of what seemed to be a large hulking mass
and two smaller ones. He couldn't properly distinguish the species of the pets,
yet he was absolutely sure that they were not guards of any stretch of the imagination.
"Hey!" Jeran called out, his voice cutting through
the darkness. Perhaps in retrospect it was not the best idea, for the shadows
didn't even bother to look back at Jeran, instead taking off down the hallway
with impeccable speed. Jeran gritted his teeth and followed them, his armor
clanking and changing he rushed after them.
"Halt!" he commanded regally, his feet never
giving in to the rushed pace of the fiends before him. "In the name of the royal
guards I command you to halt!" However it seemed that the shadows did not care
much for Jeran's commands, overturning a statue in his path. The Lupe leaped
over it with grace and agility, landing squarely on his two feet in one fluid
motion. It seemed that the fiends were on to him, splitting up behind three
separate doors at the splitting off of the halls. Jeran stared down each hall,
wondering which one to follow.
"Which one?" He questioned aloud, looking as
if they were all the same. His eyes traveled down towards the ground, upon which
a glistening substance sat on the floor of the center hallway.
That one Jeran decided, taking down the
hallway with speed and haste. He had personally had never seen this hallway,
but had a feeling that it was one of the more important ones. No longer on the
walls the portraits of Skarl's ancestors hung, instead portraits and stained-glass
recreations of Skarl himself. Banners hung limply in the castle draft, dancing
around like silent ghosts. Jeran slowed his pace, slinking ahead more silently
as not to alert his prey of his locations. The droplets on the ground became
large, splashed puddles. Whatever was making them was not too far off, Jeran
believed. He wrapped his fingers around his sword, drawing it without a sound.
He slowly exhaled a bit of breath, and threw himself around the corner of the
hallway, his stance strong.
"IN THE NAME OF KI-," But Jeran never finished
that sentence, his mouth wide and horrified at the scene before him. He could
distinctly tell the outline of Skarl's bodyguards, lying limply on the ground.
The Lupe cautiously tip-toed up to them, inspecting each one to notice a large
bump on each of their heads…
"They were knocked out," he grimaced, picking
up the smashed helmet of the guard, which seemed to offer no protection to its
owner. But what was even more of a sight was the room found within the doors.
It was large and circular, the most immaculate of the rooms that Jeran himself
had ever seen before. The bed sat in the center, while the walls were not walls,
but windows lining each space, while bookcases blanked out some of the windows
in certain points.
Jeran stepped into the room, his eye staring
at the coat of arms and silent surroundings, his fur standing on high. He had
no idea why, but he knew that he shouldn't be here. Something was not right;
not at all. He had to get out.
He peered around the room, slowly aching to step
out when he suddenly tripped. His face collided with the floor in a loud display,
his head stinging from the pain. Jeran sat up, rubbing his head, but there was
something on his hand. He pulled away slowly to see the black goo on both his
hand and covering his face.
"Urgh!" Jeran snapped, repulsed at the fact that
he was sitting in a small puddle of the goo. His keen nose sniffed it, trying
to find out what it possibly was. The pungent aroma stung his nose while his
eyes watered; causing him to believe that it was some sort of sludge, possibly
even toxic. As his eyes followed the trail of the sludge, he traced it to a
small hammer in the corner. Gingerly he picked it up and turned it over, the
handle and hammer itself dripping of the substance, which pooled around on the
"Oooogg..." A voice said outside the door. Jeran's
ears perked up as one of the guards seemed to come to, his voice weak and pain
ridden. "H-hey...where is he? It...ow..." he winced, his head still beating
from the pain of the blow he recovered. The guard stood up in a tipsy manner,
his balance horrifically uneasy as he spun around to survey the quarters behind
him. The gazes of Jeran and the guard locked, with the latter opening his eyes
in pure shock and anger.
"YOU! GUARDS! GUARDS!" the Skeith roared, his
pain forgotten as he drew his sword and pointed it at Jeran. The Lupe's eyes
flew open with alarm as he waved his hand in a panicked fashion.
"Me?! I have-What's going on?" Jeran inquired,
trying to keep from thinking the worst of the situation. The guard seemed in
no mood to speak, instead grabbing the heavy oak doors to the room and slamming
them closed, sticking his sword through the locks to keep Jeran from opening
"GUARDS! GUARDS!" he bellowed down the hallway,
his counterpart slowly awakening with the sound of the screaming. The various
forms of the guards appeared seemingly from the woodwork, ambling towards each
other as they tripped over their tails and feet in the haste. Jeran could hear
the urgent cries from outside the door, his heart racing about inside his chest
as the horrible thoughts swelled through his mind. If there was any time in
which Jeran wished that he was not a knight, it was now as he desperately tugged
on the doors before him, banging on them with force and fervor.
"HEY! HEY! Let me out of here! I didn't do anything!
Tell me what is going on!" he bellowed. But it was all in vain, he knew. Jeran
desperately grabbed the slimy hammer in his hands, beating it against the door
with every bit of his strength. It only took two of Jeran's mighty swings before
the heavy oak gave way, a large hole emitting the angry shrieks and roars of
the guards. Jeran was never able to climb through the whole he made as the entire
door flung open and a menagerie of pets piled on top of him, restraining him
as he fiercely fought back.
"Boy! You're under arrest for the kidnap of the
king!" the first Skeith roared in a savage manner. He rested his sword directly
upon Jeran's heart, which thumped and beat with a fear that transcended words.
The wind wafted over the grass in a gentle sweep,
folding the leaves of the tree with a kind hand. His thoughts turned from the
grass to the sky, which was the purest of blue while the softest, whitest clouds
he ever saw smiled down upon him from far above.
But, he thought, I may never see that
sky again. Jeran stared at the dingy dungeon ceiling. He stretched out his
paws to the ceiling, reaching for an invisible sun to find warmth from, as he
often did while in the forest. But even this simple gesture was difficult for
Jeran, barley able to lift paws with the heavy chain that bound him to the floor.
The dungeon was perhaps the worst place of all
Neopia; the most horrible, miserable place in the world. It sucked every single
happy thought out of Jeran. His life seemed to be nothing but sadness and despair
as the darkness of the dungeon dirtied his pristine memories. Jeran craned his
neck about to look, yet that too was impossible with the chain on his neck,
impeding him for doing anything with ease, even breathing.
"I'm innocent. That's the only thing I need to
know…" Jeran's mouthed aloud to the darkness. "As long as I know that everything
should be fine…"
Ahh Jeran, it looks like your are in too deep
of a mess to be saved now!
To be continued...