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Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part Five


by danama

--------

"The Hidden Tower is called the Hidden Tower for a reason," Ystrana observed, watching Talek's reaction with some amusement. "It is there somewhere, in the clouds. Do not fret - we will find it. The blade will-" the Eyrie stopped herself in time. She should not give it all away.

      "Yes?" Talek still felt that Ystrana was hiding something. It could not have just been that she was a shape shifter. He did not think her a threat, nor did he think her sinister, but he did feel that she hid something from him. He did not know if he could trust her anymore - she obviously had not trusted him with her secrets.

      "The blade will call to yours," Ystrana said carefully, not untruthfully, "for they are brethren. All of the swords of the Swordmasters are so. They were all forged together, and manage to find their own way to the next Swordmaster. You did not forge Talithir yourself. You found him, did you not?"

      Talek nodded, not for the first time surprised by Ystrana's knowledge of him and his history. He felt uncomfortable around the Eyrie - she almost knew too much.

      "We've reached the city, and 'tis still dark. What say you to finding an inn for the night and moving on tomorrow? I for one am feeling quite tired."

      "Good idea," replied Ystrana, automatically scanning the surrounding area for any promising buildings. "There is one over there... let us try it."

     *

      The Draik moved as silently as he possibly could through the building towards the door. He felt as if he was betraying Ystrana, but there was something about her that made him feel uneasy. He did not want the Eyrie to be there where he prepared to bind the Brothers to the Blade once more, and this was the only way he could think of the be rid of her.

      Looking up at the clouds where the Hidden Tower was supposed to lie, the Swordmaster was baffled. All he could see were clouds, clouds, and more clouds, all of them looking identical to their neighbours. He drew his sword, hoping that the trusty Talithir would provide him with some sort of clue, but it looked as if nothing was happening. Shrugging, he flew up into the clouds - it was a good idea to start somewhere, for while it would take a while, it would certainly be better than standing around doing nothing. Every single moment the Brothers were rampant in Neopia was a possibility of more death, or lives being destroyed. He could faintly feel some sort of wrongness, too - a kind of power imbalance caused by the elements fighting each other.

      He flew up to the nearest cloud, still holding his blade in his claws. Suddenly he realised that even if by fluke he managed to find the area which the Tower was hidden he would have no way of knowing if the Tower really was there. It could simply be an invisible wall or a trap designed to catch thieves. Talek sighed, feeling that his quest was pointless without Ystrana. He began to descend when he realised that something had been warming his paws while he had thought. He looked at them automatically. Nothing was there, except for Talithir... Talithir.

      What a fool he had been! Since when was the only magic of Talithir evident in its light? Fuming at his own stupidity, he flew to the nearest cloud. As he suspected, the heat increased. He had to be getting closer to the Tower then. Ystrana, he thought with a wry smile, had been right. Talithir was leading him to the Tower. He looked up and blinked. In front of him was the magical Hidden Tower.

      He moved back involuntarily at the unexpected sight, and the Tower disappeared. Talek looked about, perplexed, until he realised that there was a thin veil of cloud in front of him. He flew through the veil and sure enough, the Tower was there, inviting him in. Talithir grew hot until Talek could bear it no more. He sheathed his blade, sighing with relief as the burning on his paws lessened and died down.

      Cautiously he tried the knob on the door. To his relief it turned, admitting him in. He saw a large staircase spiralling up, which he took to be the way to the room where the Blade was kept. It was surprisingly roomy inside the Tower. He looked around for the watch-faerie but she appeared to be half asleep, occasionally flicking open her eyelids. It was obvious that she did not expect intruders - he had slipped past her without even trying too. That was a lesson against complacency, thought Talek. That was fitting.

      He silently made his way up with the pink, shiny stairs. There seemed to be no end to them, but Talek did not tire. His footpaws had toughened during the trek across Evanagu Island and besides, he was nearly at the end of his quest.

      At last he caught sight of a door standing innocently at the end of the spiral staircase. He touched Talithir for reassurance momentarily but withdrew his paw hastily, for Talithir had nearly set him afire with its heat. Talek smiled - that was good, for it meant that the Blade was near.

      He opened the door and stepped inside, gasping with wonder. Inside were treasures worth more than Talek had ever imagined. On one side of the shelves plushies and dolls stood innocently. Talek admired the intricate stitching on the plushies before tearing his eyes away to the other shelf. This one was even better - it held bows, spears, swords, and amulets in abundance. Talek gazed at the beautiful yet lethal weapons, before touching Talithir's hilt. Priceless these weapons may be, he knew that he valued his Talithir more than all of these treasures.

     But something was amiss. Where was the Blade with which he needed to entrap the Brothers? It was not there, and without it Talek's quest was futile. Yet Talithir still burned in its sheath, so the Blade had to be near...

     Talek suddenly realised something. The stairs that he had taken to reach this room did not stop at the door. They continued on. What if...

      Talek quietly moved out of the room, shutting the door behind him. He ran up the stairs, sure in his heart that he had found the Blade's hiding place. There was nowhere else it could be - Talithir told him that he was closer to it than he had ever been before, and there was nowhere else in the Tower where such a Blade could be kept. Feeling Talithir's already burning hilt increase in heat, he moved on.

      And there it was. The door was hard to see, but Talek had spotted the telltale cracks quickly. Carefully picking up Talithir, wincing a little with the heat, he wedged it in between the cracks and levered it open. He then sheathed his blade, closing his eyes, trying to lose the heat that had burnt his paws. Then he carefully pulled the door opened. It swung without needing any further invitation. Talek stepped lightly inside. Inside, as he had thought there would be, lay the Blade. Without hesitation the Swordmaster took hold of the hilt.

      The hilt was plain gold, although it was topped with a shiny aqua-and-red stone. Without the power of the Brothers the blade was nothing special - just a dull grey half rusty lump of metal. It had been made hundreds of years ago, but had been preserved by the magic of Elyx.

      Talek had no idea what to do next. The Brothers were not here. Talek knew that waiting would mean that it would take a long time for the Brothers to stray here on their travels, if they did so at all. But he needed them to be there. So he called them.

      Picking up the hilt he called them with all his strength. He gripped it tightly in his paws and stretched out his mind. The whole of Neopia was like a tiny globe, the Brothers a sapphire and a ruby moving over it. With a stab of fear Talek wondered how to return in this state, but his fears were soon wiped away - his trusty Talithir would help him there. His concern now was to bring them back.

      Elyx, he called, come!

     *

      The formless creature woke to a call. She listened a while longer but no other sound came. It was time, then. She moved swiftly across to the place where it was happening.

     *

      Talek could not honestly say that he was surprised when nothing happened. Gasping with the effort that those two innocent words had cost him, he looked around desperately. In this state of mind all he could see was the globe of Neopia, as if he was almost on the Space Station. In relief he saw Talithir, its trusty steadfastness beckoning him. He took hold of it and pulled with all his might.

      And he was back in the Tower. Only this time something was different. This time an unrecognisable smoke-creature stood not five paces away, looking at him with icy calmness. The shock made Talek drop the Blade.

      Yet even as Talek struggled to get up he knew that the figure was one he had seen before.

      "Ystrana!"

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part One
» Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part Two
» Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part Three
» Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part Four
» Blade of Fire, Blade of Ice: Part Six



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