Escape: Part One
The November sunlight filtered in all windows of the
Meridell Castle leaving everything bathed in a golden radiance. Valrigard the
Draik sat in front of a small open window, taking in the breathtaking landscape
with a lazy sweep of his eyes. Below, villagers were just beginning to wake
up to find their rows and rows of cornfields, berry bushes, and potato plants
soaking in the morning sun. Valrigard sighed and reluctantly pulled his eyes
away from the view. "I still have two more days of labor ahead of me before
I can relax," he sighed.
Slowly, he made his way over to a quaint wooden
mirror for a glance at his reflection. A rather handsome looking navy-blue Draik
gazed back at him. Its eyes were a fierce shade of burgundy, which welcomed
friends, but warned adversaries to approach with caution. A coat of silver chain
mail protected its chest and stomach while a sparkling silver helmet adorned
its head. Satisfied, Valrigard made his way to the front of his room; and gently
lifted a dazzling Million-Degree Sword off its place on the wall. "My pride
and joy," he thought fondly. Many a battle he had wielded its magnificent steel
blade to bring down unwanted intruders just outside of the castle. He quickly
sheathed it as the mournful sound of a tolling bell met his ear. "My job awaits,"
he thought rather tenebrously. His claws clicked hollowly upon the stone floor
as he made his way down the caliginous hallway, which was completely deserted
at this hour. He walked past many beautiful paintings of royalty, all with enchanting
smiles and elegant clothing. It was strange that he had only just noticed how
their eyes seemed to watch you, following your every move.
All of these thoughts forsook him though, as
he heard the resounding thud of heavy footsteps a little way ahead. "Who could
be up at this hour," he pondered. "Most of the other guards have rooms on the
first floor." As he was about to round the corner he heard the crackle of paper
and realized he had trampled over a letter. "Someone must have dropped it,"
he thought. "They'll be wanting it back." He stooped to pick it up but realized
that the footfalls were only feet away. He hurriedly hid the letter beneath
his claws; for some reason he didn't feel like anyone else should descry it.
As the footsteps rounded the corner Valrigard
noticed that the owner of them was a colossal purple Grarrl. He also noticed
that its standing was far above his. Golden chainmail covered his chest. In
his claws he grasped a jewel-encrusted sword and an iron shield hung freely
at his side. One of the king's most trusted advisors, no doubt. As the guard
caught sight of him he smiled wickedly and said, "Valrigard, is it? You are
fortunate you ran into me; I happen to know that the king wants a word with
At that he turned on his heel and strode authoritatively
to the chambers of King Skarl. Valrigard looked curiously after him and started
walking the same way himself. "What could the King want with me?" he deliberated.
After a few minutes of striding in the most official way he could contrive,
Valrigard finally reached an enormous door with the words "So the King demands,
so the King shall have." A quiver ran through him as he trekked toward the door.
Suddenly he realized that he felt crumpled paper in his claws. "I must have
picked up the letter without realizing it," he thought. An imperious voice broke
him out of his reverie and he recognized it as the King's.
"Valrigard," it boomed, "you have committed an
atrocity not seen in this citadel for at least one hundred years. What do you
have to say for yourself?"
Valrigard stood there looking dumbfounded and
found himself incapable of saying anything at all.
"Well?" the King demanded.
"Arrg!" Valrigard thought, "someone seems to
have found out about my stealing that extra portion of apple pie during meal!"
"Since it seems that you do not have the courage
to make amends I shall dole out a punishment worthy of the crime," the King
shouted. "Guards, to the dungeons with this knave!"
As two muscular guards grabbed him by the arms
all Valrigard could think of to say was "I'm innocent!"
He knew that was what all the criminals said.
Valrigard looked around his cell with dismay. It was dark and damp with a tiny
window and only a pile of fodder for a bed. For the past half hour he had tried
to convince the guards that he had no idea what he had done to deserve punishment
but all he had managed to do was make them disregard him completely. He dejectedly
leaned against the stone wall and was lost in thoughts of his nice warm and
cozy bed when suddenly a sharp tapping noise interrupted him. Valrigard looked
up to see one of the Royal Guards sneering at him. "So, how did you manage it?"
"Manage to steal the most safeguarded and valuable
sword in all of Meridell."
"I don't know what you are talking about!"
The words had burst out of Valrigard without
a second thought, but as the Grarrl snarled and bared his fangs, he started
to wish he hadn't said anything. The guard regained his composure after a few
minutes and, feigning nonchalance, asked where he had hidden it. This time it
was Valrigard's turn to snarl. "I have not stolen any sword and I can prove-"
The Grarrl interrupted him.
"Save it for the judge," he growled, "and believe
me, Meridellian judges are not at all merciful on thieves."
With that statement out of the way, the Grarrl
stomped off and left Valrigard alone again. "Great, just great," he thought
bitterly, "and I was having such a good day before all of this!" It was then
that he remembered the paper he had picked up. He gingerly walked over to the
very corner of his prison and opened it as noiselessly as possible.
Well it worked! The heist went off splendidly
and the sword is finally ours. I have even found a scapegoat to pin it on! Won't
that poor chap be surprised? In two days from now, meet me at the rendezvous.
The sword will be waiting.
Your accomplice in crime.
Valrigard sat down hard upon the stone floor.
That "scapegoat" was him! Revulsion and anger filled his thoughts. He had to
inform someone about this! Then the realization hit him. If he showed this to
anyone they would just be even more convinced of his culpability. The only one
he had ever heard use the innocent until proven guilty phrase was the Faerie
Queen. But in his prison Valrigard was as good as a world away from her. He
would have to escape this place to… Wait a minute, escape? This was really the
first time it had occurred to him. Mulling it over in his mind for a few minutes
Valrigard did not find his options to his liking. It was either find a way out
or stay here permanently. Or he could be killed. So, even if the Faeries were
against him he had to try to get out. Looking around his cell he noticed that
there were no windows. Not that he had thought there would be any as Meridell's
dungeons were miles below the earth. No, he would have to think of another way
to go about it. Valrigard stepped forward slowly, feeling the mud and dirt that
lined his cell squelch beneath his toes, and suddenly stopped.
Mud and dirt? Why, that was the best camouflage
he could have ever asked for! It would have to mean that he would escape after
nightfall, but it just might work! Valrigard stifled a yawn as he crouched in
the back of his cell; two hours of waiting for darkness to arrive had resulted
in aching feet and a nervous kind of tension that was practically unbearable.
Now had come the time to enact the dangerous plan he had formed. There was no
time to wonder if he was ready; every second counted.
He slowly walked into the middle of the room
and crouched down near the floor. The guards should be in the upper levels by
now, if he knew anything about their procedure. Valrigard then put in motion
the first part of the plan, to cover himself completely in mud and dirt. Though
Valrigard knew it would leave tracks it seemed worth it to have a good cover
that would blend in sufficiently with the darkness. Next, he donned his ragged
blanket as a cloak and prepared to use his fire breath ability. He'd heard that
the only way to melt metal was to use the ability in a concentrated area for
at least five minutes.
To be continued...
Author's Note: What is Valrigard's plan to escape Meridell Castle? What
awaits him on the next floor? Just who is the accomplice in crime mentioned
in the letter? Find out on next week's edition of Escape! Well, no, you won't
find out that last one until the end, but enjoy the story anyway! Also feel
free to neomail any comments or suggestions to firedragon9078.