Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 106,486,787 Issue: 212 | 14th day of Collecting, Y7
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Escape: Part Two


by firedragon9078

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It had to work; he couldn’t think of anything else. Valrigard took a deep breath and spat out the biggest flame he had ever contrived. After not breathing for about a minute he had to take in breath but he immediately started back up again. He could see the bars turning a blazing red and mentally patted himself on the back; this was not so hard! However, after five minutes had past his views had definitely altered. The bars were heated enough so that he could fit through but he was so exhausted he could not gather up enough energy to attempt it. He wheezed, coughed, and then, sluggishly, stood up.

    Finally after another minute of precious time wasted Valrigard tediously and gingerly stepped through the opening and into the hallway. Looking around he saw that everything was in complete darkness except at the far end of the hall where a large wooden door stood by itself in a sea of worn stone. A torch placed by the side of it clearly illuminated a set of silver keys dangling just out of reach of the nearest cells. Valrigard walked stealthily in the shadows and tried to avoid looking on either side of him where a jealous prisoner could easily spot his bright, burgundy eyes and call out a warning to the guards. Slowly, step by step he walked closer until he was only five feet from the door itself.

    In two more steps he realized just why the security was so lax on this floor. Not three feet in front of him lay an enormous shadow gelert! Its jaws easily had the magnitude of a grarrl’s while its fangs exceeded those of Sabre-X, but were much sharper. The creature’s eyes were closed and it was slavering heavily upon the stone floor. Valrigard had to fight the urge to bolt. It was then that he noticed a small pile of weapons behind the monstrosity, and on top of them was his Million-Degree Sword! Making up his mind he slowly and carefully stepped over the gelert’s leg. As silently as he could he picked up his pride and joy and sheathed it in the leather belt he still wore around his waist. Then he slowly tiptoed back. A question suddenly occurred to him and he sat back frantically thinking it over. How was he going to grab the keys?

    He couldn’t grasp them. As he rocked back on his heels his hand hit the hilt of his sword and an idea struck him. He could use his sword to reach up and grab the keys! Valrigard stealthily leaned over the gelert and held his flickering sword high in the air. Hoping nobody could see it he eased it up under the keys and was about to let them slide down when a snort from the gelert made him start. He watched as the silver keys dropped and, drawing on a hidden reserve of strength he dove, reached out, and caught the keys! He cheered silently for a second and then hurriedly backed off as he realized that his head was only inches away from the shadowed gelert’s incisors. For a harrowing moment he was sure the creature would wake up, but it didn’t. With unsteady hands he quickly fit the keys into the door and skirted through it, hopefully never to see his cell again.

    *

    Valrigard was trying hard to breathe quietly as a fierce looking guard sauntered past, just inches in front of him. He was hidden in a small passageway off of the main corridor, which was just as dark and cold as the one below it. As soon as the guard was out of sight Valrigard stealthily crept onto the cold stone floor of the hallway. Looking around he noticed that there were even more cells up here. “How did you get out?” The sly, cracked voice stopped him in his tracks. He let his eyes drift to the source of the voice and saw, to his chagrin, a scruffy and arrogant faced young shadow Lupe.

    *

    “Let me out, too.” It was not a question. The Lupe opened its mouth just wide enough to show that he could easily call out to the guards. It was too much for Valrigard.

    “Alright, alright,” he hissed, “but for Fyora’s sake be quiet.”

    This was going to really cut into his time schedule. The cell was an abnormally small one and didn’t seem to have any kind of window. Taking out the silver keys Valrigard fit them into the lock and, amazingly the door swung open. “These keys must work for every lock in the castle,” he thought. The Lupe flashed him a quick smile and nimbly darted off into the shadows without so much as a backward glance. Valrigard shook his head as a sense of foreboding overcame him, he hoped he had done the right thing.

    Once again he started on his march to the end of the corridor, but he had hardly gotten fifty yards crossed when a rancid smell alerted him to danger. He crept stealthily nearer until the stench became almost overpowering. What he saw made his already butterfly-entangled stomach, flip. Two pairs of luminous, yellow eyes stared out at Valrigard from a monstrous Krawkidillian face. He drew his breath in sharply, What was he going to do? As the Krawk slowly advanced, its fangs dripping with saliva, he knew that this time he couldn’t just slink past, he would have to fight it. The two combatants faced each other and in a sudden show of agility the Krawk leaped over Valrigard and brought its sharp claws down over his back. Valrigard fell to the ground gasping as the pain seared along his injured hide.

    He shakily rose to his feet and, cursing himself for his stupidity, drew his Million Degree Sword out of its sheath. When the Krawk leaped again he dove to the right and landed just out of reach of the deadly claws. He looked around frantically for something to aid him in the battle and his eyes lighted upon a long, tarnished, metal chain hanging grimly from the stone-encrusted wall. He smiled to himself; this might not be so hard after all. The Krawk gave a savage snarl and rushed at Valrigard, its claws carving deep ruts into the floor. As soon as it was an arms-length away Valrigard darted to the side, raised his sword, and brought the hilt of it down with a thud upon the Krawk’s massive skull. The ground shook slightly as it was deposited roughly on the stone. He shakily examined the creature, its marsh green scales were as hard as diamonds. He dragged the Krawk’s huge bulk over to the chains and bound it tightly, paying special attention to tying up the jaws; he certainly didn’t want the alarm to be sounded when the monster woke up. Valrigard held his nose, as he became aware of the rotting smell again and quickly walked up the wooden stairs.

    Valrigard stealthily crept down the long, narrow hall, keeping his urge to just sit down and give up with hopelessness in check. How could he, a lowly, unimportant sentry, have attracted enough attention to become the scapegoat in a crime this huge? Surely an officer would have caused more dissention in the ranks. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he thought. Valrigard suddenly stopped and sniffed. A delicious smell of baked bread drifted by him, and he could feel his stomach rumble. Walking a little further he noticed that, to his right side, several rooms were situated next to each other. The doors were made of balsa wood and had gouges throughout them.

    “This must be the servants' quarters,” he thought. One of the larger doors was standing open and Valrigard traced the scent to it. He quietly walked to the edge of the door and looked in. Inside, a small table sat in the middle of the room, while, off to its side an oven smoked quietly from the dinner that had recently been made. As Valrigard’s eyes scanned the table top he realized what it was that smelled so delicious; fresh bread was sitting on its surface, waiting to cool. He quickly whipped his head around to see if anyone was occupying the room, but saw no one. Stomach roaring, he made his way to the wooden table and reached for a loaf of bread but, as his claws touched it, he realized he couldn’t just take it. He had nothing to give in return. Brows furrowed, he sighed in resignation and shot a longing look at the bread. Then, just as he was leaving he noticed that a wooden bowl was lying, broken, under the table. Valrigard had seen this happen often enough to know that a lot of trouble would ensue if anyone found out about it. The overseers didn’t like it when things got broken. Hastily he looked around again, no, the hall was quiet, and nobody would see him.

To be continued...

Author's Note: What awaits Valrigard on the next floor? Can he make it out of the castle alive? I can assure you the next chapter will be interesting… Find out on next week’s edition of Escape! Feel free to neomail any comments or suggestions to firedragon9078.

 
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