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Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Three


by christinetran

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I landed on solid, cold concrete, and it knocked the breath out of my lungs. I was surrounded by darkness, and I couldn't see a thing. Dust smothered my nostrils and made it hard to breathe, but I managed. Slowly, I pushed myself up and stood on legs that still felt shaky after it's impact with the cold floor. My head felt incredibly dizzy, and I placed my hand upon my temple and massaged it. Everything felt like confusion to me. The only thing that I could actually concentrate on without experiencing any sort of nausea was the paw that grabbed me and pulled me into this dark area. It looked strangely familiar. It resembled something that I knew I've seen before...but I couldn't place my finger on it.

     As I stood there in the dark and rummaged through my mind to remember the paw, I saw a pair of gleamy, glass eyes appear out of nowhere. I gasped in fright and fell on the floor once again. The pair of yellow eyes stared at me ceaselessly... they were cold, hard, angry. They continued to stare as if they hated me, and all I could do was stare back. Slowly...the eyes stared to inch forward.

     "Stay away!" I cried, trying hard to hide the panic in my voice. I used my hands to pull me away from the advancing eyes... until my back finally rested on concrete wall. I shut my eyes in hopes that it will block the frightening glare...

     "I won't hurt you, Andra..."

     "...Oldraik?" I whispered fearfully as my eyelids started to slowly lift up. My heart was beating out of fear and hope, and I gazed expectantly as the eyes lowered themselves. The moment his gaze was level with mines, I was almost positive that those eyes belonged to Oldraik...they contained a glimmer of recognition within them.

     "No, Andra...it's me, Sir Barick..."

     "What?" I said incredulously. "It can't be...you're supposed to be locked up in the dungeons!"

     "I was, but I'm out now."

     My eyes raised in question at this abrupt answer... I knew that nobody could escape Erodaire's dungeons without some sort of outside help. I opened my mouth to protest, but I closed it firmly once more. Images of myself aiding Oldraik in his escape clouded my mind, and it pained me. I lowered my eyes and stared into the strange darkness once more.

     "How did you find this place?" I asked.

     Sir Barick chuckled at this statement and edged closer towards me. As he came nearer, I was finally able to recognize his distinct Lupe features. The aged fur of his muzzle, his weary face, and the small glint of dagger-sharp jaws. Sir Barick seated himself besides me, his back against the wall as well.

     "This used to be my basement...this place here..." Sir Barick said slowly.

     "Because you used to live here...Rune..." I cautiously said back.

     "Ah, so you have discovered my journal, Andra?" Sir Barick, or Rune, said with another chuckle. "I was hoping that you would...I knew that you would. You've always been incredibly smart..."

     "How did you get out of the dungeon?" I asked almost unexpectedly. I grimaced at my weak self-containment, but Sir Barick simply laughed at my question. His laughter felt out of place and dry, but it still comforted me with it's familiarity.

     "Someone helped me escape," Sir Barick said. "It was actually quite unexpected as well. You see, after I was moved to the North Tower, I was locked up in one of them chambers. You know those chambers, right? Those big, roomy ones near the top?"

     "Yes, I do. The guards place well-behaved prisoners there as a sort of... prize."

     "Well, yes. Going on, I was placed there, and there was a window that overlooked the western garden of the Erodaire Castle. Everyday, Vevina-"

     "Vevina!" I cried angrily. My fingers clenched themselves into fists, and my head swam with anger. "What does Vevina have to do with all of this?"

     "Just listen, and calm yourself, Andra," Sir Barick said placidly and placed a reassuring paw on my shaking shoulder. "All will be explained soon, okay?"

     I nodded and whispered a barely audible, "Yes."

     "Good. All right, to continue, Vevina always went to that garden for some odd reason. She would just sit there and stare at the fountain and the sun and the sky and...everything. She always looked so abandoned and fallen when alone, but whenever she heard someone approach her...it was like watching a metamorphosis occur. Vevina would instantly stop slouching and she'd throw her head up high and proud-like. An act...she always put on an act...and I noticed that..." Sir Barick's words trailed off for a moment, and he didn't speak for a few seconds. I heard him sigh...

     "Sir Barick...what's wrong?" I asked uneasily.

     "No, nothing...it's nothing, Andra. Well, to continue...one day as I was spying on her in the garden, her glance immediately turned my way and we made eye contact. She sort of gasped when she caught my eye, and in a huff, she rushed off to the castle in a hurry. I, of course, knew that she would instantly tell the guards of my so-called spying, and I knew that I would be back in the pitch black dungeons once more. The few hours after that incident, I started cursing at myself for being so incredibly dumb. I spied on someone unwelcomely, and now I wouldn't be able to be locked up in that big, roomy chamber anymore."

     "Pah...typical of Vevina...always tattle-telling," I scoffed bitterly. Sir Barick simply ignored my statement.

     "Well, just a few hours after my spying was discovered, I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. I knew that it was the guards coming to take me away to a more crowded dungeon, and I stood up voluntarily and awaited their arrival. The moment they reached the door, though, they stopped...almost as if they were hesitating. I was mightily perplexed at this odd act, and was about to call out when I heard something heavy fall upon the ground. Immediately after I heard the noise, the sound of a key entering the doors lock was heard, and the door opened. Standing before me was Vevina, adorned in a silken white dress and carrying a heavy, brown cloak in her arms."

     I sat there in shock, and my breath became caught up in my throat. I couldn't believe what I was hearing...

     "Vevina threw the cloak at me and told me to put it on. While I was tying the cloak about me carefully in order to conceal my features, I saw Vevina start dragging in the fallen Draik soldier she apparently knocked out before. Once done, she motioned for me to come out. Obediently, I went out and stood behind her as she closed and locked the door once more.

     'Run away...stay away...go somewhere...they will know that you have escaped in a few minutes, and you have to go somewhere safe,' Vevina whispered to me in an authoritative voice. Her eyes flashed with pride, and her face was as stern as King Alastare's. She placed her hand upon my shoulder and squeezed it before she whispered a quick, 'Good luck."

     "Wait a second...so you're saying that Vevina saved you?" I asked in surprise. I was already having a hard time trying to understand this...it was unbelievable.

     "Yes...she was the one who rescued me, Andra...just like you rescued Oldraik," Sir Barick replied back cooly. "I'm not surprised, though. I have always heard the guards speak of her troubles..."

     "Troubles? What troubles?" I questioned.

     "Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you," Sir Barick said apologetically. "I eavesdrop a lot...quite a bit, actually...and I discovered that problems reside within the castle walls. The King isn't happy, and because of that, nobody else is happy."

     An uncomfortable silence fell upon the darkened room, almost as if Sir Barick was awaiting my unknown response. I sighed slowly and whispered for him to go on.

     "Everyone knows that it is the princess' job to make the King happy...and although Vevina tries to cheer him up...it's been a while since he has last smiled or laughed," Sir Barick continued on, and I could sense a hint of pity in his tone. "Ever since then, the people of the castle have been whispering about Vevina. They say that she is useless...unneeded. She's broken now, Andra. She knows what you go through, and she's tamed now."

     "Where is she now?" I asked uncertainly. I now felt pity for poor Vevina... I knew how it was to be at the receiving end of Father's cold shoulder...poor Vevina...she'll never get used to it.

     "I have no idea, that's the problem," Sir Barick replied.

     "What do you mean?"

     "Everyone knows about it...I can't believe that you do not know about it. It must've been uttered in the Summer Castle at least," Sir Barick said in shock.

     "I didn't go out much there...know about what?" I said unsurely. "What happened to Vevina?"

     "After she rescued me, I came directly here, but every evening, I would sneak out through that hole in the tree above. I would go to the garden Vevina usually stayed at and spy upon her through the bushes," Sir Barick said slowly. "As always, she looked broken...and I was pretty sure that she never noticed that I was there. If she did know, she did an immaculate job of concealing this knowledge."

     "Just get to the point, Sir Barick. I do not have time for your long tales!" I cried angrily and took him by the shoulders. "What happened to Vevina?"

     Sir Barick released my hands from his shoulders and placed them into his. "She ran off just days after she rescued me."

     "What? Why? And what's so surprising about that?" I asked in surprise. I had expected a much more lavish answer.

     "She ran off because everyone suspected her of aiding my escape. She knew it...everyone knew it...even the King knew about it. Yet, no one ever spoke of it outloud...everyone suspected her. They all knew that she was one of them..."

     "One of what? Sir Barick, quit speaking in riddles. Just tell me straight out!" I cried angrily.

     "Andra..." Sir Barick whispered. "Vevina ran away to join the Deathdealers of Erodaire."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Princess of Erodaire IV: Part One
» Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Two
» Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Four
» Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Five
» Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Six



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