Escape: Part Five
"Lycaon?" Valrigard whispered.
The only answer was a threatening step forward. He
looked behind him and, upon glimpsing a large tree, he ran for it. Unfortunately
the tree wasn't as large as he had thought. Valrigard hung for dear life onto
the tallest branch that would hold his weight but the werelupe gave a bloodcurdling
howl and leaping snapped his teeth only inches away from his nose. He held on
tighter but as the werelupe leapt at him again he decided to see if the branch
above him would suffice. Shakily he stood up, backed against the tree's trunk,
which was very reassuring to have at his back, and reached up to shake the tree
limbs above him. As he did so the werelupe let out a menacing snarl that startled
Valrigard. For a second his vision swam and he let go of the tree; he gasped,
and then hurriedly sunk his claws into the trunk.
"Are you in need of assistance?" came a strong voice.
Valrigard almost let go of the tree again. Sitting
leisurely upon the branch above him was a girl. She was dressed in a dark blue
tunic and boots, and wore a leather belt that held up a short, metal sword.
Her hair was dark brown and her almond-shaped eyes were the intelligent green
of a cat's. On her back fluttered a pair of dark blue wings. Valrigard blinked,
"So this is a faerie," he thought. The faerie smiled, looked down at the werelupe
below him, and said, "I can see that you do. I have got some things to help
She looked down at Valrigard and a careless smile
showed on her face, "Which will you choose, the silver sword or the silver shield?"
Instantly two items appeared in her outstretched hands.
In her left she grasped a beautiful, long silver sword. Emeralds and rubies
adorned its handle and gold lettering was embossed upon its side. "It must be
worth a fortune!" Valrigard realized. Then he saw the blade; it was sharper
than freshly broken glass and gleamed with a deadly light. Imagining what it
would do to Lycaon was a repulsive thought, and he shivered. In the faerie's
right hand she held a large silver shield, it was completely plain on the front
and was dented in several places, as if it had been used many times before.
Valrigard hesitated, thoughts of the battles he could win with the sword flashed
through his mind, and euphoric fantasies entered his thoughts. He could become
a king in some distant land with the wealth the sword would bring. But he determinedly
shook them off and pointed to the shield. The faerie gave him a broad smile
and said, "Well done," then handed him the shield and vanished as quickly as
she had come. Valrigard took the shield and, when the werelupe leapt again held
it down below his branch. As Lycaon met the shield he instantly dropped back
down onto the ground with a whimper of pain. The werelupe growled and snarled
but did not jump again.
It was dawn by the time Lycaon stopped prowling in
the nearby woods. Valrigard hadn't got much sleep, but at least I'm alive,
he reminded himself. He carefully climbed down from his tree and approached
the Lupe cautiously, holding his shield out in front of him. "It's okay," Lycaon
stated with a small smile. "I'm sorry that I kept you up all night."
"You didn't keep me up all night," he said, which
was partly true, he'd dozed off for about fifteen minutes sometime after midnight.
Valrigard looked at the ground awkwardly. "You know,
maybe we can ask the Faerie Queen to…"
Lycaon just nodded and started walking towards the
cloud. About half an hour later they were both standing under the very edge
of Faerieland. Valrigard raised his eyebrows in confusion. "How are we supposed
to enter a land that rises hundreds of feet in the air?"
Lycaon shrugged. "I never thought of that."
Valrigard looked around him slowly and in the distance,
something caught his eye. A group of pets stood on a platform, talking and laughing,
and facing them was a fire faerie. The next minute the fire faerie raised her
hands and everyone vanished. Valrigard stared and, with a nod from the lupe,
started off in the direction of the platform. When they arrived the faerie smiled
and, in a slightly bored voice asked if they were going to Faerieland. Valrigard
nodded. The faerie waved her arms and his stomach seemed to lurch, everything
became fuzzy, and then suddenly everything felt normal again.
He looked around and saw that he was standing on solid
ground, but ground that was covered in fluffy white clouds! In front of him
stood a small stall selling books. Lycaon was already asking the faerie that
ran it for directions to the Faerie Queen. She pointed to a sign that read Hidden
Tower. It took them a while to find it but when they finally did they were shown
to a room covered in glass cases, cases that held objects so rare that Valrigard
had never even hoped to see them in his life before. Standing by the window
was the most regal faerie he had ever seen. She wore a long, silk, violet colored
dress with purple armbands, and had a tiara of robin's egg blue sitting on top
of her hair. Violet, gossamer wings sprouted from her back and in her eyes burned
a noble light. Valrigard was suddenly very aware of his mud-caked scales and
shredded wings, and Lycaon didn't look as if he was in much better shape; his
matted fur stood out in every direction and he was covered in cuts and bruises.
"Welcome, is there anything I can help you with?"
Valrigard took a deep breath and, with an imploring
look, stated that they needed her help. She gave them both a long look, taking
in their ragged appearances, and smiled. "I can see this is going to be a long
She bade them to sit down. Valrigard told his tale
in detail this time; it was easier now that he knew Lycaon hadn't been locked
away for being an enemy of Meridell, but he was still nervous. The only part
he left out was the incident in the woods and the fact that there was something
unusual about Lycaon. Valrigard wasn't sure if his friend wanted him to bring
it up. At its closing the Faerie Queen looked thoughtfully into his eyes and
he felt uncomfortably as if she was reading his mind. She nodded with a satisfied
smile, "I can see that you are telling the truth, but you have left something
She gazed at Lycaon curiously and, with a nervous
cough, he explained his part of the story. When he finished she murmured "Lycanthropy…"
Then, in a louder voice stated, "It can be cured but
not now, time is short and Meridell is running out of it. Do you two know whose
sword it was that was stolen from Meridell Castle? No? Five hundred years ago
three sorcerers lived in the castle. These wizards told their king that they
feared an invasion from Dragon Isle, the neighboring country. They asked permission
to forge a weapon with the powers of all the mages and wizards living within
Meridell. The king granted it to them. That day anyone with even the smallest
magical talent was sent forth, to pour their power into a long sword, and to
recite an incantation that the sorcerers had written. At dusk the ceremony was
over and just as everyone was getting up to leave the sorcerers each took hold
of the sword and chanted 'Knights die before you, wizards bow before you, and
kingdoms fall before you.' At that every other wizard and mage in Meridell had
their powers taken away and any knights that tried to approach The Three fell
dead. Meridell fell to new rulers. Their reign was long and terrible but, eventually,
it came to an end, and with it their symbol, the sword, vanished. For four hundred
years nothing was known about it, but a century ago the sword was found again,
and was kept safe in the dungeons of Meridell Castle. Along the blade of the
sword was an inscription, the chanted words that had killed so many that night
was written. There is a rumor that, along with the sword, someone has also brought
the sorcerers back from the grave. Not much else is known about the sorcerers
except for the fact that they had mastered shape-shifting, and that their favorite
forms were that of a draik, a lupe, and a faerie."
An eerie silence filled the tower and Valrigard shuddered.
"Now," said the Faerie Queen and he looked up, "I am afraid that I cannot come
with you, but I will send someone who can."
She clapped twice and stood expectantly and, in a
flash of dark blue light, a faerie appeared. "This," announced the Faerie Queen,
Valrigard blinked, there standing in front of him,
was the same faerie who had given him the silver shield! Elsie looked at him
and winked. The Faerie Queen smiled and clapped again and, after an odd stomach
lurching moment, they were all standing in Meridell again, right outside of
a small town.
To be continued...
Author's Note: What awaits Valrigard on the next league of his journey?
Can Lycaon, the werelupe, be trusted? Have the sorcerers really been brought
back from the dead? Find out on next week’s edition of Escape! Feel free to
neomail any comments or suggestions to firedragon9078.