Princess of Erodaire IV: Part Three
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
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
"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.
"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
"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...