Hubrid's Attempted Hero Heist: Part Eleven
Also by schefflera
They made good time on the way back; Gilly directed them
to a narrow, nearly overgrown path that grew steadily more ominous-looking but
took them safely past all the real obstacles between the tree house and the
teleporter. Their new Dark Faerie companion clung to Kass's feathers; the Yellow
Knight carried Sally until she insisted she could move just as fast, in this
brush, as they could. And Jeran looked so alarmingly grim that the grumpy teleporter
attendant made only a halfhearted effort to overcharge or delay them. They drew
stares when they reached the hub teleporter in Neopia Central and moved onto
the circle marked "Meridell" -- but no one approached, or did more than murmur,
before the world faded out around them.
Meridell faded in, and they found themselves
"I see the army is already here!" the Yellow
Knight shouted. Kass thought he heard Jeran growl.
Someone jogged Kass's shoulder sharply. Rennah's
grip on his feathers tightened, pulling. He turned to see a swaying, ghostly
Kacheek with swollen brains and blank eyes, and hastily drew his sword. A blurry
Jubjub popped into existence directly between him and Jeran, then a weirdly-dressed
Chia with its eyes squinched shut like an Aisha's.
The Yellow Knight dodged around the new arrivals.
"Move!" he yelled. "Hubrid must have had his own teleporters, and we're on top
"So we see," Kass grunted, taking the knight's
advice and trying to avoid getting separated.
Jeran, who had arrived with his sword-arm jammed
against the surrounding mass of undead, elbowed one hard away from his side
and drew the Sunblade. Rennah mewled in Kass's ear, and the enemies near them
flinched away, confusion and terror dawning in their eyes.
Nothing happened farther away, certainly nothing
so dramatic as the sorceress Gilly had led them to hope. Kass checked that Sally
was sheltered between the two knights and leapt into the air for a better look.
Hubrid's ghostly army swarmed as far as he could see, though Meridell Castle's
walls held. Meridell's fighters were out in force, and his heart leaped to see
that Darigan's were as well -- the Winged Horde was in action again, keeping
the floating ghosts low to the ground and offering protection to areas that
had been cut off from the castle.
A flash of purple and brighter colors caught
his eye, and he gazed in shock (before hastily averting his eyes) at the Court
Dancer swaying and turning on the castle roof.
That did explain an odd, rippling line in the
mass of Hubrid's minions. Now that he looked, he could see that they weren't
all moving together; those nearest the castle had turned back, with a familiar
dizzying swirl of madness in their eyes, and were fighting their neighbors.
Kass dropped down to the ground just in time
to avoid a blue Draik, flung backwards and out of control, but the Draik rescued
himself in midair and dived back into the fray.
"Valrigard!" Jeran grumbled, clearing a swathe
of space with one slash as the bewildered enemies backed away from his sword.
"And is that the Court Dancer? Did King Skarl release the entire dungeon?"
"Is Valrigard the mad Draik?" The undead didn't
flee Naralus so readily, but it worked well enough nonetheless. "And the Court
Dancer has much of Hubrid's army turning back to defend the castle, so I wouldn't
"Which is why I'm here instead of at the walls,"
said the Green Knight, plowing through the massed ghosts and zombies to join
them. "This quest Hubrid set you on seems to have been a trick, Jeran --"
"We found that out," Jeran growled, raising the
The light caught it, dancing off the blade in
dozens of dazzling rays, and the battlefield seemed to freeze.
As the scattered brilliance touched each of Hubrid's
minions, they stopped in their tracks; they turned, slow and unwilling, to let
the light shine into their eyes. And then they cried out, yelps and screeches
and eerie wails, and fled.
They all fled essentially the same direction,
too, streaming off toward the southwest and giving Jeran and his blinding sword
a wide berth. Most of the warriors moved swiftly to fend them away from trampling
anything or doing other harm on the way, but now their enemies were as immaterial
as ghosts as well, and darted through all they passed with little damage.
"So," Jeran said to the Green Knight. "About
The green Chia shrugged. "Only those two."
"Oh," said Jeran. "Only the two most dangerous
"Well, Lord Darigan came insisting he could get
the dancer to behave herself, and you see she did well enough, I suppose...
and then he said he'd never seen Valrigard before in his life, so the king let
him out too. Not that he was in the right cell in the first place...." The Green
Knight trailed off, looking up at the Sunblade. "If Hubrid meant to get you
and your sword out of the way for this, I don't suppose you got the cure from
him so soon?" He sounded sympathetic. "Illusen isn't back yet, I'm afraid, from
her discussion with the Water Faerie at the Healing Springs. We still aren't
sure about moving Lisha...."
Jeran smiled grimly, still holding the Sunblade
high. "No, we didn't get the cure from Hubrid Nox. But we did find a sorceress
who suggested another method... and as her warnings and advice about his army
seem to have been accurate, I think it's worth a try."
"Does the cure, by any chance, have to do with
him?" asked the Green Knight, pointing back at Kass. "Speaking of unlikely allies....
"No, he was the assistance Darigan offered,"
Jeran explained. "It's the faerie on his shoulder who is supposed to help Lisha."
"Faerie on his shoulder? Oh," the Green Knight
said, noticing Rennah, who had been holding on to Kass's mane to keep from being
separated, and was now attached to a braid instead. "Isn't she a Dark Faerie?"
"Yes, but she is the one who will help cure Lisha."
"Isn't it dangerous to trust a Dark Faerie?"
"No more dangerous than putting undue trust in
a Light Faerie," Kass answered for Jeran. Jeran nodded.
"Kass redeemed, and Jeran trusting Dark Faeries
for healing. Now I think I've seen everything," the Green Knight said.
At this moment, Lord Darigan landed in front
of them. "It seems your Sunblade has made quick work of this battle, Sir Jeran,"
he said. "May I assume from this that Hubrid Nox planned your trip to the Haunted
Woods mainly to keep it out of the way?"
Jeran nodded. "He never meant to give us a cure
for Lisha. And if he had his way, we never would have returned. But we did find
another way, I think."
"And everyone is unharmed?"
"Mostly," Jeran said. "Thanks to your warning
about the Shadow Usul."
"And Sally?" Darigan asked.
"Right here!" the little Usul called, coming
out from behind the Yellow Knight.
Lord Darigan dived at her, scooping her up with
an expression of intense relief. Sally squeaked a little in surprise -- which
Kass found understandable, as Darigan hardly made a habit of pouncing on people
-- but she didn't seem to mind.
Rennah tugged on Kass's braid. "So where's this
ailing sorceress I'm supposed to bless, anyway?"
"In the castle, I should think.... Sir Jeran?"
Jeran nodded. "We'd best go directly.... Er,
Lord Darigan, should I take it you'd prefer to see Sally home yourself? Please
tell her parents I'll replace the basket."
Darigan looked a little perplexed about the basket,
but agreed, and Jeran led the way back toward the castle. Kass followed him,
not without some misgivings.
He felt the misgivings proved accurate when,
at the base of a long staircase, King Skarl came barreling toward them -- and
a look over his shoulder showed him Illusen, of all people, coming through the
Rennah dived into hiding under his mane with
a muttered, "Not ready for this!" Kass was inclined to agree with her.
"The Water Faeries at the Healing Springs can't
offer anything unless we take Lisha there," Illusen said without preamble, "and
that should work eventually, but there's no telling how long it'll take. It
might be quicker to try to design a cure, at least in the meantime." She looked
Kass up and down severely, then turned back to Jeran. "What have I missed?"
"A zombie invasion," Jeran said, gesturing that
they should all start moving up the stairs, "under Hubrid Nox's command. They're
Illusen didn't blink as she climbed. "I saw them
leaving. What else did I miss?"
"We have found a cure for Lisha that does not
require a trip to the Healing Springs," Jeran stated.
"And him?" Illusen asked, pointing to Kass, who
was slowly edging away from the Earth Faerie and the Skeith king.
"I thought it might be wise to ask for a representative
from Darigan before dealing with Hubrid Nox, as he did help their side during
the first war. And he was the one Lord Darigan offered."
"You trusted him?" Illusen asked, raising her
"Lord Darigan did, and it would have seemed quite
rude not to accept his assistance. He has since earned my trust, however."
"I would hope so, considering you brought him
into my castle," King Skarl said. While he normally trusted Jeran's judgment,
in this case, he wasn't so certain. "Especially since you don't seem to be watching
him too closely. He seems to have taken off on his own."
This was true -- the Eyrie had vanished.
To be continued...