The Ghost of Meridell: Part Nine
The ghost Lupess blinked in surprise. “You’re what?”
Jeran hid a grin at her dumbfounded look. “I said I’m sorry.” Krystal jumped down from her perch and stared at the Lupe for a long moment. Jeran couldn’t tell if she was sizing him up or just trying to intimidate him. “I mean it, really,” he insisted.
Krystal noted to herself that he wielded no sword. She knew he must be telling the truth, but she decided she would remain suspicious of him until she had proof. The Lupess gave a quick nod and turned to walk away.
The thief stopped and gave an inward sigh. He just wasn’t going to take the hint, was he? Oh well, what could she possibly have to lose now? Turning around and arching her brow she said, “You have something else you wanted to say?”
“You’re not from Meridell, are you?” he asked in an almost cautious manner. At her questioning look the Lupe continued. “Your voice isn’t Meridellian. It sounds Darigan.”
Krystal looked impressed. “And you’re not from here either. Though you do sound like a Meridellian most of the time, your voice still has a different tone to it. Not Brightvale, not Darigan... it’s more of a foreign tone.”
Jeran nodded and grinned. “You caught me.”
“Follow me,” Krystal said, suddenly starting to walk. “I have something I want to show you.” More hesitantly she added, “and maybe we can share our stories on the way.”
“Ladies first,” Jeran insisted.
As the two began to walk Krystal began to speak. “If I must. You’re right about me being from the Citadel. I was born up there and lived there until I was fourteen. I got tired of trying to survive up there, so I decided to come to Meridell...”
“...That’s when I got the job of finding that sphere... and watching you. And, well, the rest you know.”
Jeran nodded. “Indeed.”
“Well squire, we’re almost there. I think it’s time for your story now.”
“Okay, but you’re going to think I’m insane. It all started when I was playing hide and seek in the woods with my sister...”
“...And the rest would be history. Sir Gavin took me on as his squire and up to now that’s what I’ve been: squire to the King’s Champion.”
“Until I took it away,” Krystal said softly.
“You didn’t. Your master did.”
“I still feel bad about this whole thing. That’s why I brought you here.”
The Lupess stopped and motioned to a hollow tree in front of them.
Stepping forward she reached her hand into the trunk and felt around for a few seconds. Finally she pulled out a sheathed sword. “I believe,” she said, holding it out for Jeran to take it, “this belongs to you.”
The squire took it and unsheathed it. His eye grew wide with realization. “This... this is the sword Sir Gavin gave to me. I thought I’d lost it forever.” He looked up at Krystal. “How did you-?”
The ghost Lupess waved him off. “It was such a nice looking sword. I just didn’t want any other thieves taking it.”
Jeran got the message; she didn’t want him making a big fuss about this. Jeran looked at her gratefully. “I best be getting back to the castle. I’m probably in for a world of trouble by now.”
Krystal nodded. “I have to get back too. I haven’t been to the base since yesterday. Not that anyone will be worried; they just tend to get suspicious when someone goes missing for long periods of time.”
“Well, did you find her?” Raylac asked as his Kyrii assassin entered the room.
“Yes, my master. She’s with the Lupe squire; she gave that sword of his back to him. She is on her way back, but I doubt she will actually get here. Miles has been following her.”
The Eyrie’s expression grew dark as he rose from his throne. “I think it’s time I taught that Wocky thief a permanent lesson.” Raylac glanced at the gauntlet on his left arm. “Tell Audrey she’s in charge until I get back.”
Krystal had decided to take the roundabout way back to the hideout. It was an unknown pathway through the forest that led to a clearing that sat right next to a ravine nicknamed Jhudora’s Pit. In truth it was a fitting name; the grass around it was brown and sickly looking, and the trees were mostly stunted. It seemed to Krystal that not even Illusen’s magic could make this place seem more hospitable.
The ravine was quite wide at the top, as most were. But what was bad about it was that as it went down it became more and more narrow. It went down so far that no matter how long or hard you looked, you still couldn’t see the bottom. The sun could be right overhead; shining so bright you would become blind even if you had your eyes closed and you still wouldn’t be able to see the end to that blasted thing.
There was one thing that everyone knew for sure, though. At the bottom of that ravine, along with a lot of jagged rocks, sat a river, and a rough one at that. After all, anything that was so far down you couldn’t see it, yet was loud enough for you to hear it had to be bad.
Krystal twitched an ear in annoyance. Why hadn’t Miles tried to kill her yet? Of course she had known he had been following her. The Wocky may be sneaky but he certainly wasn’t that sneaky. “Okay, Miles,” she said with exasperation, “go ahead and try it. I know you’re there.”
The Lupess waited several minutes for something to happen, or at least some sort of snide remark, but neither came. Finally she heard the sound of a twig snapping behind her. Whirling around the Lupess saw her adversary, standing motionless and staring at her with glassy eyes.
Krystal looked at the Wocky curiously. What was he doing? “Well? Aren’t you going to try it? Or are you too scared I’ll whip your tail again?”
Miles didn’t say a word. He didn’t move or even blink. He just stood there, arms limp at his side, and stared at her.
The ghost Lupess pinned her ears in frustration. What was he waiting for? If he came to kill her, the very least he could do was reach for his weapon. Suddenly the green Wocky’s shoulders slouched and he pitched forward, falling face first to the ground.
Krystal gasped and took an involuntary step backwards. “Raylac,” she breathed when she saw the Eyrie leader, gauntlet hand outstretched, standing right behind the now fallen Miles.
A sinister smile spread across Raylac’s beak. “So, you’re fraternizing with the knights now?”
The Lupess scowled at him. “What of it? I’ve decided I’m not going to work for you anymore. I am no longer under your rule so there is nothing you can do about it.”
Raylac shook his head. “Such a foolish child. The only way to leave is if you die or I retire you.” The Eyrie’s smile darkened. “Which, unfortunately are both the same thing. But don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you, at least not until I thank you properly.”
“Why, for this of course,” Raylac said, reaching into his cloak and pulling out the gray sphere. “Now I can help my dear friend. Sadly, you are of no further use to me.”
“Save it!” Krystal barked. “I know you have no friend to help. You wanted the sphere for yourself; it’s you who’s under the curse!”
Before Krystal could even blink, she was sent flying backward to crash headlong into a tree trunk. The force of the impact knocked the wind right out of her lungs; all she could do was sit there, stunned.
Raylac was on her in two quick strides, grabbing her by the throat and hauling her to her feet. “Who told you?” he asked, the calmness in his voice varying wildly from the rage in his eyes.
Struggling against his grip, Krystal managed a sneer. “Have you always been the hindquarters of a Whinny, or is this something new?”
Raylac tightened his grip on the helpless Lupess. “I said, who told you?”
The Lupess coughed as her air was momentarily cut off. “No one,” she gasped. “I found out myself. You really shouldn’t keep records of your history lying around like that. Someone could find them and use them against you.”
Krystal could feel energy starting to surge through the gauntlet that was clamped to her throat. The Lupess grabbed onto it with both hands and tried her hardest to loosen his grip. Suddenly she let out a scream as an electrical jolt shot through her body, forcing her hands to tighten on the gauntlet. Pain surged through her and she couldn’t let go.
It was only when Krystal finally passed out did Raylac finally let her drop to the ground. Satisfied that the Lupess was either dying or dead, the Eyrie turned to leave only to discover that he was no longer alone.
Standing before him, sword drawn was a familiar looking blue Lupe. Raylac narrowed his eyes and let out and irritated grunt. “Go home, boy,” he said flatly. “This has nothing to do with you.”
“Oh yes, it does,” he said, eyes blazing. “It has everything to do with me.”
“Very well, little squire,” the Eyrie mocked, obviously bored, “you’ve come to play the conquering hero, so I will oblige you. But if I should decide to cut the battle short, do not be too offended. I have other matters to attend to.” As Raylac pulled out a hidden sword his smile grew even darker. “Oh wait, you’ll be dead. I guess you couldn’t be offended then, could you?”
To be continued...