Escape: Part Three
Valrigard looked at the bowl and then, taking deep breaths,
he called upon his training and felt the power of healing flow through his veins.
Slowly he placed his claws upon the cracked bowl and watched as the grains of
wood were mended, they slowly shifted and appeared as if from nowhere. Valrigard
smiled, it always felt good to help, and he hoped that in return for the effort
the servants would overlook one missing loaf of bread. Once back in the hall
again Valrigard could finally breathe a sigh of relief. He did not wish to waste
any more time than he had to. He was about to resume his journey once more when
a twinkling light caught his eye.
He gave a small start but then realized it was
nothing more than the lights outside of a small window. He smiled again as he
was not usually prone to be jumpy, but then a slightly wistful look, fleeting
though it was, crossed his face. The window was of stone with long, cold bars
of silver as a barrier to the merrily illuminated outside world. Below, a small
village was holding the summer festival around glowing campfires. Food was being
passed around and many of the villagers were dancing in time to the clapping
of their fellow's paws. A tinge of regret stung Valrigard for, even though he
was much to far away to hear the music he knew exactly which tune they were
playing. He himself danced to it every year. Valrigard shook his head and cursed
himself for becoming so sentimental; action was what was needed now, not reminiscence.
He quickly walked to the next flight of stairs, grinned as he realized they
were carpeted, and departed for the next leg of his journey.
Valrigard clung to the walls in a vain attempt
to get as far away from the noise as possible. Walking up the stairs he had
been assailed by loud laughter and cheering. It had taken him at least five
minutes, due to the fact that he kept dodging into shadowy corridors, to realize
that it was coming from a room down the hall. He turned his head side to side
to make sure no one was in the corridor, and located the noise as coming from
behind a set of huge oak doors. He crept there as stealthily as he could manage
and peeked in between the crack in the door.
Inside, at least a hundred people sat around
a long, dark wooden table, drinking wine and laughing heartily. At the far end
of the table sat the king. Valrigard flinched slightly, peered cautiously to
the other end of the enormous chamber, and gave a startled gasp. Sitting in
a large oaken chair was a blue Draik. A Draik that looked very much like Valrigard
himself. He quickly recovered though, as he realized that the Draik's wings
were of a slightly darker hue and its eyes were the color of cold steel. Then,
an authoritative voice began to speak; its tone ringing with praise of a kind
that only a king knows how to bestow.
"Valiant dragon and head of my wise council,
tell us all how you managed to discern that the false sentry Valrigard"
(he fairly spat that part out) "had stolen Meridell's most precious and
valuable object, and tell us where you think the thief could have hidden it."
The Draik was silent for a moment, a strange
smile flitted across its face, and then he spoke. "With all due respect, your
Excellency, I do not think that this Valrigard would be dense enough to hide
the sword anywhere where we could find it."
The king allowed himself a smile. "You do not
have any ideas?"
"A faint one," replied the Draik. "There
is a small pass between our kingdom and Brightvale's…"
Valrigard stopped listening and angrily tiptoed
away. Whoever had really stolen the sword was being quite thorough to implicate
Valrigard and not himself. As he was thinking this he heard a faint sound, the
laughter from the room had ebbed, and, quickly jumping into the shadow of a
solemn suit of armor, he quietly looked around for the source of the noise.
A guard sauntered slowly past; peering into the shadows as if she suspected
every one might conceal an intruder. She stopped just inches from Valrigard
and froze, his heart went into his mouth, and then a shattering sound came from
the chamber and she left; Valrigard breathed an intense sigh of relief. After
a minute he slunk to the end of the hallway and climbed a set of well-worn,
Valrigard crept into the corridor as slowly as
he could. His mud covered scales kept his body hidden from sight, but even so
he could almost feel the stares of the other sentries upon him. This used to
be his wing of the citadel, and he knew that the guards made their rounds every
five minutes. Down the hall was a large window that hadn't had its steel bars
replaced yet, and Valrigard knew that it was his best chance to get away unseen.
The window was situated right in the castle's blind spot; above it a long and
beautiful atrium obscured the sky with its twisting vines and gnarled branches.
The guards on the roof would not be able to see him until he was at least a
hundred feet away.
Walking faster, Valrigard made it to the window
and gazed at the farmland and villages far below. His heart gave a great leap
as he started to climb unto the ledge outside, but gave a shuddering gasp as
the noise of a footstep sounded like an alarm behind him. He spun around, almost
catching his claws on the windowsill behind him, and hurriedly drew his sword.
In front of him stood a large Zafara with a copper coat, golden chain mail and
helmet, and two small daggers held easily in his hands. Valrigard's breath caught
in his throat and his rigid stance relaxed. Liam, veteran warrior and head of
the sentry division of the castle, Valrigard felt an insane urge to bow.
"Halt, Valrigard," came his authoritative voice,
though Valrigard was surprised to hear no anger in it, instead puzzled confusion
and slight reproach rang through it.
So, Liam could not believe that Valrigard had
stolen the sword! Slowly the Zafara stepped forward, a reluctant look on his
face. "Look, Valrigard, I don't believe you stole the sword; I've known you
too long to believe it. But running away will only bring the royal guard and
swift punishment upon your heels. Everyone will continue to believe you a thief.
Come back now and I will tell his majesty of your noble deed."
Valrigard hesitated in the act of slowly walking
back toward the open window, indecision crossing his face, when very quickly
and suddenly he was grabbed from the side. Rough paws pinned his arms behind
his back, and Valrigard cursed himself for his stupidity. He had forgotten about
the other guards!
A gruff laugh erupted behind him, "Just where
do you think you're going?"
The guard behind him roughly shoved him forward
in the direction of the stairs. Valrigard craned his head around to look for
Liam and saw that the Zafara's face was unreadable, no expression showed on
it save steady determination. Valrigard gave up in hopelessness and hung his
head. Nothing could save him now; they would take him down to the dungeons and
chain him to the wall, increase the guards on him, and hold his trial in two
days. There would be no escape now. The trial would inevitably find him guilty;
no one wanted to cross the king. A public execution would be held. Suddenly
he thought he heard a sound behind him, soft paws falling upon the stone floor,
a raspy breathing coming from the dark shadows behind them. Valrigard realized
that no one else had heard it yet and opened his mouth to whisper a warning
when a low and dangerous growl resounded through the corridor. Everyone froze.
Valrigard heard a shout come from Liam and then
he was shoved hurriedly to the ground as the guard that was holding him drew
his sword. Frantically he pushed himself up from the stone floor and whirled
around to face the monster, Million-Degree Sword in hand. But what he saw was
no monster, it was the scruffy, shadowed Lupe he had freed earlier! He stared
in amazement as the Lupe snarled and charged at Liam, sinking his teeth into
the guard's arm. Valrigard then realized that this was his chance for escape;
all was not hopeless! Smiling with joy, and a slightly malicious glee, he swung
his sword at the guard that had caught him.
He heard the sound of metal scraping against
metal and watched as his sword met the guard's shield. Some of the shield had
melted at the heat of Valrigard's sword, but it didn't hinder the guard who
quickly took a stab at Valrigard's unprotected stomach, managing a tiny scratch.
Valrigard then mirrored the move, but was a second late as the guard swiftly
stepped to the side. He looked around at the Lupe and saw that his battle wasn't
going much better. Liam had the upper hand and was forcing the Lupe backward
toward the wall. Valrigard was startled as he realized that the guard he was
fighting had the same plan. He broke out of his reverie quickly as a dagger
came within an inch of his throat. "What am I going to do," he wondered.
To be continued...
Author's Note: What awaits Valrigard on the next league of his journey?
Is his new friend really on his side? How are both of the fugitives going to
escape? Find out on next week's edition of Escape! Feel free to neomail any
comments or suggestions to firedragon9078.