Amberclaw thrashed around uncomfortably in her sleep,
her talons striking out at invisible invaders.
“We’re taking her. She may be dangerous,"
a soldier from the Shayliarian army commanded in her dream, his eyes were stern
and his voice steady. His commands were to be listened to.
“No! No! How can a little girl be threatening
to your Kingdom? We’re not even citizens! You can not take her!” Amberclaw protested
with a loud screech She was not going to give Zayal up without a fight. She
slashed at the soldier’s stomach with a talon, but for some reason she couldn’t
move. She was frozen in place, and her eyes were wide with terror as they put
Zayal in shackles, not unlike the ones that were used on Xaania, and pulled
her out of their small cabin.
“I’m okay Amberclaw. Everything is going to be
okay. It was meant to be," Zayal said in her own calm, dignified manner.
The young woman stood up strait her chin pointed upwards in honour as she followed
the Lupe soldier. As soon as Zayal walked out the door Amberclaw could move
again, but when she ran outside to try to stop them they were both gone.
Then Amberclaw was awake, she didn’t even need
to open her eyes to know that Zayal was gone.
The day had gone by slowly.
They had trudged on doggedly without disturbance
the rest of the way through the woods. Zayal guessed that the commotion caused
by the serpent had sent all of the creatures into hiding. It had been a tiring
walk, especially without a full nights sleep but she didn’t mind. In fact, she
rather enjoyed it as mundane as the rest of the walk had been. She had quite
a bit of time to reflect on everything that was going on, and plenty of time
to consider who could possibly want to see her. She had searched her mind for
anybody that she used to know that might be from the kingdom, but she didn’t
find a thing. The only people she had known all of her life were Amberclaw,
Silverwind, and now Toyan and Gilro. She furrowed her eyebrows in quiet frustration
and bit her lip. There was not one thing that she could make sense of in this
It was already evening and the sun was slowly
beginning to drop in the sky. The sky itself seemed like a canvas that was painted
with splashes of beautiful shades of orange and purple. Zayal wished they could
pause for just a moment and admire the gorgeous site above them, but she knew
that there was no time unless they wanted to spend the night in the forest.
That was something she did not wish to do.
“We’re almost out of the forest. After that it
should only be a few minutes before we reach Shaylir," Toyan said suddenly,
his eyes drawn with exhaustion but still glistening with optimism. His gait
was slowing quite a bit, but he still had that slight spring to his step.
“Finally...” Gilro murmured, he was obviously
just as tired as the other two, but he didn’t try to conceal it as Zayal and
Toyan had. His shoulders drooped and he seemed to be having a war against his
eyelids. Trying to keep them up didn’t look like an easy task.
Zayal only nodded, which Toyan was starting to
get used to. At first her silence bothered him, being a quite the talker himself,
but he soon shrugged it off. It was none of his business whether she spoke or
not, his mission was to bring her to that prisoner. The word mission sent a
chill of excitement through his spine, he was on a real quest and he was enjoying
it however dull his company may be. He quickly took that back in his mind, Zayal
had just beat a serpent, that certainly wasn’t dull.
Zayal froze, her eyes widened with excitement
and uncomprehending shock as they reached the end of the forest. Toyan blinked,
puzzled as he turned around to see what was wrong.
“It’s...huge," she sounded just like Gilro. Amusing.
“Oh, the castle," Toyan replied with an
absent-minded shrug as he trotted back to his position as leader of the group.
He had grown up with the site of the castle, it was nothing new to him and he
couldn’t understand why Zayal would be so excited over it. Besides, it held
that nasty bit of filth that called himself King.
“It’s amazing!” Zayal exclaimed throwing her
hands into the air. “Look at the architecture... it’s so well built. I can see
why they would put the entrance to the South to avoid foreign invaders and that
wall surrounding it! My goodness! It must be thirty feet high!”
“Well, I guess. Who cares?” Gilro replied, his
eyebrows raising in a truly confused fashion. It was a castle, the centre of
power for a kingdom, nothing else.
“I most certainly do! I’ve studied the politics
of Shaylir, It’s buildings, the castle, everything, but I’ve never actually
seen it! This is fantastic!” Zayal wouldn’t shut up after that. She continued
to ramble as they made their way to the front gate. Toyan shrugged, at least
she was talking now. If the site of the castle set Zayal off, her reaction to
the front gate was just as ecstatic.
“This gate has to be just as tall, if not taller
then the wall around the castle itself and it‘s made of Silverwood!” she said
with exasperation letting her hand drag against the smooth silverwood surface.
Silverwood was, hence its name, Silver and it was the strongest sort of wood
there was. It came from the fabled Silver Oak Tree and it was very difficult
to come by.
“Yeah well, it’s not as full proof as it looks.
Usually we’d just be able to waltz right in without being noticed... but...
the guards kind of got their eye out on us. Imagine, them calling Gilro and
I mischievous!” Toyan said with a slight chuckle and a wink in Gilro's direction.
Gilro only laughed as he patted the pack at his side carefully.
“What are you saying... we have to sneak in?”
Zayal asked dumbfounded. There was no possible way in her mind that they’d be
able to get past the guards, obviously she didn’t know Shaylir as well as she
thought. Experience just wasn’t the same as learning it from a book.
“No, I’m saying we’re going to climb it," Toyan
replied with a wicked grin on his face.
“You can’t be serious!” Zayal exclaimed, her voice shrill with protest. She
crinkled her nose with disgust at Toyan, wondering how on earth he expected
to scale a wall that was at least 30 feet tall. Climb the wall, Indeed! The
mischievous Uni-boy only chuckled good naturedly at Zayal’s goofy expression.
“Calm down, it’s not exactly what you think,"
he replied with a feigned coolness, his lips twitching slightly as if he was
about to burst into laughter. Fortunately for Toyan, he kept a straight face.
As he carefully pushed a bit of hair out of his face, he looked upward and made
a... well... odd noise. Zayal only blinked in astonishment. She didn’t know
humans were capable of making that kind of sound. Then again, Toyan wasn’t exactly
“Well, we’re not necessarily climbing it. He
is.” Toyan still used every ounce of effort he had to keep from falling into
hysterics. He had expected Zayal to scream and demand what the thing crawling
over the wall was, but as soon as he saw her eyes widen excitedly his jaw dropped.
He should have realised by now that Zayal wasn’t like any of the village girls
that were scared of anything that crawled.
“It’s a Spydren!” she whispered, her voice shaking
with excitement. The name of the creature crawling over the wall definitely
suited it, because it resembled a very very large spider. She couldn’t help
but wonder how a Spydren (Spydren’s were the late relatives of the spider you’ve
seen crawling across your page on Neopets!) could live in a kingdom filled with
people and not be noticed. The thing was as huge as a Draik hatchling. As it
crept off the wall and onto the ground, Zayal got a better view of it. The first
thing that caught her attention was it’s eyes, there were three of them and
they were each a different shade of purple. The three eyes were focused on her
and they seemed to be sizing her up. She blinked, and the large gray spider
took a few scattered steps back, almost tripping over it’s own mammoth feet.
“New. Human. Nice, Yes? No eat Triken?” the creature
said in a high shrill voice, it’s eyes darting back and forth between the three
of them. Zayal winced as the sound of the spydren’s voice echoed through her
“You big cowardly lout! How on earth could Zayal
eat you?” Gilro replied, exasperated. “She probably wouldn’t even be able to
fit one of your eyes in her mouth," he added pointedly.
“Why would I want to?” Zayal replied candidly,
putting her hand out to stroke the arachnid’s head. It looked apprehensive and
shied away. “Of course I won’t eat you.”
“No? Good. Triken no taste good," the spydren
replied firmly, shaking the top part of his body. He then let Zayal give him
an affectionate scratch on it’s head and made a low gurgling sound. She smiled
warmly then stood up, facing Toyan.
“So?” she asked briskly, dusting off her hands,
then placing them on her hips. “What now?”
“Well, hop on," Toyan replied with a slight
shrug, leaping effortlessly upon Triken. He didn’t even wince but only chattered
cheerfully as Toyan wrapped the thick rope around Triken’s belly. A Uni-boy,
riding an oversized spider, Zayal never thought she’d see the day.
“But... aren’t all three of us a bit heavy?”
Zayal said quietly, looking at Triken’s eyes, trying to see if there was any
sign of pain in them. There was none. Either he was too dumb too notice the
pain, or he honestly didn’t care.
“Bah, see the size of him? He could probably
hold a full-grown Eyrie if he put his mind to it," Toyan replied, his voice
was full of deep admiration for the creature’s strength. The blue-haired Uni-boy
had saved Triken from the broom of a stuffy old woman. He had been small, about
the size of one of Toyan’s hooves then, and hadn’t known what to do. Toyan chuckled
to himself as he remembered the loud screeching noises Triken had made and how
aghast the old decrepit woman had been. Toyan had come in, grabbed the spydren
in his left hand and promised the screaming woman he’d get rid of it. That had
been a lie. Toyan had even spent an entire summer building a shack for Triken
to hide in during the day and at night he taught him how to walk about silently.
In return, Triken had hastily offered Toyan whatever he needed, and Toyan had
By then, Gilro was clambering onto Triken behind
Zayal. Toyan sat on his haunches and tightly clutched the rope he had just tied
about the spydren’s stomach. Being part Uni, he couldn’t hold onto the spider
with his legs like Gilro could so he need something to hold onto.
“Hold on to him with your legs, or else you’ll
fall off backwards," Gilro told Zayal as Triken started the long ascent up the
wall made of Silverwood.
To be continued...