Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Two
My eyes narrowed questioningly at this odd answer, and I
felt my heart skip a beat. Briskly, I walked towards the window and looked through
it. Outside, snow had just begun to fall once again, creating another layer of
snow upon the ground. The trees reached towards the sky beseechingly, almost as
if they were begging for it to halt the storm. As I stared out, I couldn't see
any sign or landmark that would prove that I was indeed within Erodaire's walls.
As I glanced around more carefully, though, I was finally able to spot a corner
of the Erodairian Castle, lightly hidden by a bare rose tree. I took a closer
look at the corner, and my stomach tightened into knots when I finally recognized
"My corner..." I whispered softly to myself.
As I stared longingly at it, my heart ached to be within it's walls once more.
I could still remember the soft cushions that lined the inside, and how gloriously
the windows caught the rays of the sun. I could still recall how safe I felt
in there...how normal I felt. I wanted to go there once more and sit within
its grandeur, but I knew I couldn't...I cannot let my presence be known to any
of the castle's inhabitants...
"Aera..." I whispered as I turned away from the
"Yes, Dearess?" Aera said as she slowly walked
to my side and placed her hand upon my shoulder comfortingly. As her eyes searched
my face, I saw her expression turn slightly pale. "You look like you saw the
Pant Devil, my dear."
Sadly, I lifted Aera's warm hand off of my shoulder
and clasped it tightly between mines. "I have to go...now...and please, don't
try to stop me."
Aera's mouth opened slightly, almost as if she
wanted to protest my request. After a slight hesitation, though, Aera closed
her mouth and nodded at me as if she understood. "Be safe, m'dear..."
I smiled at those words and gave Aera a hug.
"Thank you," I whispered before I released my embrace and walked briskly towards
the open door. The moment I exited the house, the change in temperature nearly
knocked me off my feet. The snowfall seemed to thicken the moment it sensed
my presence, and the wind nipped at my ceaselessly. My mind started to cloud
over with second thoughts about staying in Aera's warm home until next noon,
but I shook them away. Pointing my face towards the northern direction, I dived
between the tall tree trunks and walked towards the Northern Tower.
Although I wasn't completely sure whether Sir
Barick was located in the Northern Tower, I knew that Oldraik was there. My
heart was still filled with remorse as I recalled the last moment I spoke to
him. It was my fault...he was locked within my father's dungeons because of
me. I did not deserve him as a friend, and I would absolutely understand if
he would not want to speak with me. But I needed to see him...even if I had
to gaze into his spiteful features, he has been my backbone in life ever since
I met him.
As always, whenever I think of Oldraik, I remember
my father...the King of Erodaire, Alastare. I still remember the many times
I tried so hard to hate him, but like all daughters, it couldn't be achieved.
My hope for his past-self to come floating back was so strong in my life that
it had permanently attached itself to my mind. The things I would do or say
just to see him smile at me...such as betray a friend just to gain his trust
once more. My eyelids flickered down quickly before a teardrop fell, for I refused
to cry. Everything I did in my past was permanent, and I did not have the ability
to change any of it.
Lady Vevina...I hated her with a passion. She
stole my title, and with that, she stole all of my rage. I cannot stand the
little brute, but as I thought about her, I started to wonder about her condition.
Without a doubt, I knew that she had my father underneath her bejeweled fist...she
was probably ordering him to use the Neopoints from our royal vault to buy her
half of Neopia. That greedy Starry Draik...
Slowly, my walking ceased and for the first time
since my departure from Aera's home, I stared at my surroundings. I instantly
discovered that I had drifted far from where I had meant to go. I was surrounded
by snow-laden trees and bushes, but no sign of castle walls met my eyes. Staring
into the sky, I spotted the flag of Erodaire floating above one of the gray
turrets, but I could not figure where I currently was.
Vainly, I tried to desperately recall the landscape
of the Erodaire Castle, but my mind was as cold and white as the atmosphere.
I could barely remember a square mile of it's map. I sighed at the irony of
being lost within my own home, but I refused to give in to this slight obstacle.
I turned my face towards the turret I spotted before and walked towards it's
As I neared the turret, I could spot a large,
heavy wooden door upon it's left side. I was quite unsure about which tower
this was, but I was hoping for the best as I reached out and grabbed the frozen
doorknob. The door wouldn't budge. I pulled it, and it still wouldn't give in.
I placed my shoulder against the frozen wood and pushed, but it continued to
bar my way. I cursed and kicked at it with my foot, hoping for all hopes that
it would finally move...but it didn't.
[SHERRIE STOPPED HERE]
I glanced around once more and stared at the
now tiresome scenery of snow, trees, and endless sky. I couldn't even spot Aera's
house anymore. I kicked the door once more for good measure before I walked
away from the lone turret and headed towards the direction I believed was south.
My daydreaming can lead to such trouble. I remember
that I tried to stop once, but for some odd reason, I couldn't. Deep thinker
was what my father used to say, a deep thinker. Well, all that I think
about just gets me lost and confused. To think, someone getting lost within
their own home. I'm hopeless...
"Pah! I see you've lost yourself once more. Fool
of a Draik...I knew it...you never know until you try. Pah! Why bother trying
No...I'm hearing his voice again. I wrapped my
hands around my ears and tried to block out his voice...I wasn't supposed to
hear it. He's a ghost. He's gone. He's not supposed to be here.
"Pah! Trying to block me out...like so many others...like
your mother once did. Fool, you can't erase me. I'm already gone...I've always
been gone...I'm worthless...hopeless. Just like you."
As I walked on, an old, withered Nimmo started
to take shape right before my eyes. His hand clutched his wooden, knotted cane
tightly, and he was concealed in a tattered and worn cloak. Patches of dried
mud clung to it's edges, and he kept his face downward. Nevertheless, I could
still clearly picture his aged features, staring at me with his depthless, lifeless
eyes. Rune...I hated how he haunts me like this...
"Go away Rune, you don't exist..." I whispered
at him, but I doubted whether he would listen to me.
Rune simply stared at me in my forlorn condition,
and he shook his head morosely and sighed. "Pah...I wish I could help you...but
I can't. I want to help, but I can't." Rune lifted his eyes off of the ground
and stared at his surroundings. "I remember this place...so vaguely. It was
my home, but it doesn't feel like home...kick me out, will they? Pah! They kick
an old man away from his life, they did...they threw me down...I live here...but
I don't live here anymore..."
Although I tried not to listen to Rune, my ears
couldn't help but pick up what he said. I knew he had a secretive past, and
I knew that it was filled with lament. I really wanted to help him...but I couldn't...no
"Pah! You're lost, I see," Rune said once again,
and his voice grew sharp and hard. "Go to the right...and it shall lead you
"To who, Rune?" I replied back, but as I stared
at him, his image began to fade and diminish. Finally, all that was left of
him were his words in my mind...his compelling words that would help me. Filled
with renewed hope once more, I started walking towards my right...unsure of
what I would encounter.
The snow beneath my feet started to numb my toes
until I could barely feel it's cold bite. The snow continued to fall, and it
hid the tracks I made... there was no turning back now, or else I'll lose myself.
Occasionally, I would have to avoid walking into a bare tree or a raggedy bush,
but I continued to walk in the same direction. Eventually, the trees at my side
begun to dwindle down in numbers until it led me to a clearing. Standing lonesomely
in it's center was a red tree.
I carefully approached the tree and took notice
of the fact that it had no branches, just simply stubs of branches that were.
It was about half as tall as it's neighboring shrubs, but it was straight and
strong. Pieces of bark were noticeably missing around the base of it's trunk...
some Meowclops must've used it as a scratching post. I reached out a finger
and carefully stroked it's surface... it felt like ash beneath my fingers. There
was a fire here not too long ago, but it seemed as if the fire only burned this
tree, and left the others alone. I placed both of my hands upon the ashen trunk
now... and it moved slightly under the pressure. A trapdoor...
I stepped fearfully away from the tree, since
I did not know what the door led to. Everyone's afraid of the unknown... especially
me, and I did not want to discover what the blackened trunk concealed.
It shall lead you to him...
Rune's words echoed in my ears once more. I could
see a clear image of him in my head, his eyes bitter, his face wizened... I
knew that he wanted me to go through this hidden passage. I stepped forward
once more and placed my hands awkwardly against the blackened part... I then
saw a furry, blue paw reach out and pull me in.
In seconds, I was falling...
To be continued...