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Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part Four


by jesse12_3

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The Storm Clouds Darken

"You let them escape!"

     "Sir, it wasn't my fault! I can't take on two Unis, a Zafara mage, and a human!"

     Torono, the massive, blue Eyrie had his back towards the Living Shadow. He looked out the window. Down below on the grounds, Yoco, the Tyrannian Techo, was training some of the army. One young Bladack, a large, black, Dariganesque creature, was being punished as a Shade officer was screaming at him. Torono drew out his space station ray gun.

     "Do I really need to remind you," he whispered, "of THIS!" Torono spun around and shot Jak in the chest. The bullet pierced his chest, right where his heart would be. But Jak did not bleed. He did not even wince. There was a black shadowy material beneath his skin. The wound began to close up.

     "It is very rare that we come across an immortal," said Torono. "You need to start using your gift. And I would hate if we had to lock you up in the dungeons, or... even more... unpleasant things... "

     "I'll do whatever you ask of me, Sir!"

     "Darn right you will. But first, tell me what you have discovered."

     "Azlan is going to request aid of Meridell and other kingdoms if we attack them first; otherwise they're just going to ignore us as long as possible. Second, their army isn't huge, as we've been expecting. Their once glorious army that could smite all within its path is gone. They've got an estimated one thousand at the maximum. Third, the password to get into the secret passageway into the village is just three taps with your fist on a rock. They thought that we might imagine it to be something much more complex. Fourth, they're trying to get a Guardian of Neopia into action. The one they're trying to train is the girl that helped our prisoner escape. Finally, they're going to send out a search party for the Lightstone of the Faeries. I'm sure they're already at it."

     "This is good. You've managed to fill in your hole, Mr. Morgan, but... some of this makes me angry... YOU LET THE GUARDIAN OF NEOPIA ESCAPE WHEN SHE WAS RIGHT HERE UNDER OUR NOSES!"

     "I'll fix it! Just don't call me Mr. Morgan again! That name is behind me. It's just Jak."

     "I'll call you Mr. Morgan if I want to!" snapped Torono. "Go get Yoco. Bring him to me. I need to speak with him. And I have an idea that will enable you to pay off your misdoings..."

          * * *

     "Keystones have existed as long as Mt. Spectrum has," explained Tal. "They were created by Kilay, Guardian of Magic, who resides there. She is immortal, but some say a very strong spell might be able to destroy her. She lives in a cave on the highest peak of the mountain, and hasn't left it in thousands of years, so nobody even knows what she looks like. Back in the olden days, she handpicked those with a talent for magic to carry out jobs that helped keep both magic and their users under control. But the few who were chosen lived more than just a few months. Spells backfired; enemies, overuse of magic, etc. caused their downfall. So she created the Keystones in order to test one's magic abilities before they came for her final test. Her cave is sealed by a door, and only the Keystones can open it."

     "What do you mean by jobs?" I asked him. The sun had just come up as we made our way east.

     "It's like a pyramid," he said. "At the top, there is Kilay, head of all magic. Then, there comes the Sub-Guardians. One controls each type of magic. Then there comes you. After you comes Xal; he fixes mistakes made by magic users, such as giant spell waves, curses, that sort of stuff that was made by inexperienced mages. Poor guy. I met him once when one of my spells went completely wrong and I opened a magic porthole to some random place. Practically ripped my head off with his lecture. He's also the only person who's ever yelled at Jak and lived... besides me. Then you have the mages that have control over the magic in regions, like the Lost Desert. Finally, you have your village wizards. "

     "Then why couldn't any of these Magic Guardians do my job?"

     "They're neutral and can't take sides in a war. For example, Torono uses dark magic, but the Dark Magic Guardian can't stop him, even though Torono is using it for an evil purpose. They can't take sides; otherwise we could have dictators on our hands. You can however, which is why you are being tried for this position."

     By noon we were approaching the outskirts of a ruined village. Crumbled houses were everywhere and ivy and other wild plants grew out of the oddest places.

     "This was once the proud kingdom of Faydor," said Tal. "It was once more powerful than Meridell, mostly because all its warriors were trained in magic, as well as the king. The king liked enchantment magic a lot, and was always putting enchantments on the crops so they would grow better, cloths, so their colors would be brighter, metal, so it would shine more, etc. But then one day, one of his spells backfired. Nobody ever knew what he was trying to do, but it was very powerful. And when it backfired, a wave of magic swept over the kingdom, changing the way the other enchantments worked. Crops became poisoned. The river that flowed through the kingdom dried up. Petpets and Neopets alike were turned into monsters. The king was one of them. The ones who were spared fled or died. It became a city of monsters and terrible enchantments. Perfect example of magic improperly used!" And then Tal rambled on about careless magic users while I dozed listening to the clopping of Raindash's hooves.

     When Tal had finally finished with his speech, he said, "Well, we better get started."

     "On what?" I asked.

     "Studying. For the challenge ahead."

     "You're giving me homework?"

     "I wouldn't put it that way. I'd say it's more of, making sure that you survive work. Now, I'm going to give you a situation and you have to tell me what would be the best type of spell to use in order to benefit yourself."

     "Are you going to grade me too?"

     "I'm not. Your grade will be how well you get out of the dungeons that you are sent into."

     I leaned back in the saddle. This study session was going to probably be the longest one I'd ever had.

     "Okay," began Tal. "You're in a narrow tunnel, so narrow, that two people cannot walk side by side through it. Up ahead there is something shooting at you with a bow. What do you do to avoid getting hit?"

     "Slow his arrows down with an enchantment, and then turn the heads into cotton."

     "Good, but stopping the arrows in mid air would be better. Now, what do you do if you're falling off a steep cliff?"

     "Slow myself down and try to find a good landing spot."

     Just as I said that, a yellow Lupe jumped out from behind a crumbling barn and yelled "Stand and deliver!" His clothes were brown and had several holes and frayed marks on them. He wore a black cloak that was tattered and in his hand was a rusty metal sword.

     "Highwayman," muttered Tal. "Leave him to me."

     "STAND AND DELIVER!"

     "Fine," said Tal, jumping off Shadowlance's back and drawing his sword. "We'll have it your way." And with one quick flick of his wrist, Tal's sword clashed with the Lupe's, and the rusty metal of the Highwayman's broke. The Lupe gaped at what just happened.

     "I'm giving you two choices," said Tal. "Either you run, and don't ever come across our path again, or, we can do things the hard way. There's a little rope in my pack and I believe we passed a tree back there. It just tall enough for us to tie you up and hang you by your wrists without your feet touching the ground."

     Needless to say, the Lupe bolted.

     "Dang it! They always choose the run option!" complained Tal as he sheathed his sword and climbed back onto Shadowlance. "Worthless, them Highwaymen. They like to attack strangers on the roads, most of the time the victims have never handled a sword in their lives, so they just pay them a hefty fine."

     Around nightfall we were getting close to Faydor Village. Tal, who didn't want to press further, said it wouldn't be a good idea to get too close to the castle at night.

     "We'll get moving as soon as the first lights appear," Tal said. "We'll get there around seven in the morning. Then you'll have all day to get the Stone. But you have to be far away from there by nightfall. I don't think whatever's in there would hesitate to chase us."

     We spent the rest of the time studying before we went to sleep.

     I woke up the next morning with a groan. I hate waking up early. This time it was especially worse since today might be the last slumber I might have for the rest of my life.

     I pulled myself onto Raindash and Tal handed me something that he called a 'Breakfast Ball'. It was really some sort of bread, mashed nuts and berries all squeezed into a ball. It didn't really taste that great. Tal said Azlan soldiers ate it during wars when they couldn't cook a proper meal.

     After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the main gate that marked the entrance to Faydor Village. It was a wreck. Houses were falling over and random objects were scattered everywhere. In the middle of the road was a piano.

     "This is as far as I'm allowed to take you," said Tal. "The rest you must accomplish on your own. The Stone is located in the highest room in the tallest tower. The castle has lots of monsters inside it, and there is probably something big guarding the Stone. And remember, be out before nightfall."

     I dismounted Raindash and stared up at the castle. I gulped. I never liked haunted houses.

     * * *

     "Now listen carefully Yoco," said Darkshadow as he unfolded a map of Meridell. "Every moment we spend here is precious time."

     Yoco nodded, fingering the Darkstone.

     "I just received a Neomail from The Order of Villains, down in the Haunted Woods, consisting of Count Von Roo, Edna, Balthazar, etc. Since they rule the place, we've decided to set up an alliance. Neopia has shunned them for what they are, and they're tired of it. So now that the Haunted Woods are on our side, we have a clear shot of Neopia Central. I've dispatched a large amount of troops for its eastern border, and Haunted Woods creatures will attack it from the south. Then, once we have Neopia Central, we will go for the Lost Desert. But right now we need to focus on things a little closer to home."

     Torono pointed at a little spot on the map.

     "According to my assassin, Azlan will only attack us if we attack them first. And they will ask for help from their alliances. As you can see, they are at the southernmost tip of Meridell. You have your small tower to the east of them, Yoco, and I'm in the north. So, we need to wipe out the little country of Narn to the west. Meridell will go to them first, as they're the closest. Then, once we have them cut off, we attack. About two thousand men should be able to take them down. One thousand of mine, one thousand of yours, deal?"

     "Yes, alright, but I'll fight too. I'm incredibly bored and Celestra isn't that fun to talk to. She's been very angry at something lately and I can't figure out why."

     Yoco left the room, slamming the door behind him. Torono slumped down in his chair. "Man I hate that guy."

     * * *

     "You look really pathetic in that armor."

     "Can't you shut up for one minute, Celestra?" muttered Yoco to the dark faerie as he pulled on his plate mail. "I don't see you fighting. What? Afraid the Faeries our going to outcast you for siding with the enemy?" teased Yoco.

     "Hah! Shows how much you know! I've been an outcast of Faerieland since the great war to bring back that stupid medallion that you absolutely have to wear all the time," snapped Celestra.

     "You Faeries live way too long," complained Yoco.

     "We're immortal unless blade or poison takes us, thank you very much!"

     "So you guys could have a death penalty if you wanted. Why didn't you get it?"

     "You don't get the death penalty for stealing, idiot!"

     "You were outcast just for stealing something?"

     "I stole a very valuable item. Now would you please get a move on? You do have to get to Narn before the next century," said Celestra.

     "Alright, alright, I'm going," grumbled Yoco as he fastened his sword to his belt.

     * * *

     I crept through the village as the morning light was starting to shine upon it. Everything was in ruins: houses, shops, a school... thorns and ivy grew everywhere. The glass in almost every window was broken. Remains of what was once someone's library lay scattered near a house. Nothing stirred.

     I drew out my sword. The castle loomed overhead, it's dark towers casting shadow on the buildings near it. I walked towards it. All I could hear was the padding of my footsteps.

     A loud screech filled the air. A form jumped out from behind a building, bearing an incredibly large sword.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part One
» Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part Two
» Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part Three
» Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part Five



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