The Ghost of Meridell: Part Eleven
There was a burst of light, then all became still. There was no sign of the king anywhere. Not even a trace. Jeran let out a sigh of pure relief. It was over.
Jeran turned around, hoping to see Krystal getting back to her feet, but the Lupess had not moved an inch since she had been freed from the king. He rushed to her side and checked to make sure she was still breathing. The Lupe closed his eyes and let out another relieved sigh. She was alive, but for how long Jeran couldn’t tell. There was no way for him to know if she was hurt or how badly. She needed help and fast.
“Jeran! Where are you?”
The squire started at the sound of Sir Erick’s voice. “Over here!” he called.
A few moments later the Ixi knight came through the trees, riding atop Carla. As soon as she saw Jeran, the white Uni stopped and Sir Erick dismounted. “Jeran,” the Ixi panted, as he ran to the squire, “what happened?”
“I’ll explain later; first we need to help her.” The Lupe motioned to the unconscious Krystal.
Sir Erick nodded. “We’ll take her back to the castle. Someone there can—”
“No! The castle is too far way. She needs help now or she’ll die!”
The knight had seen that look in Jeran’s eyes before. He had his mind made up, and nothing was going to change it. Motioning with his head to Carla, he said, “Get on.”
Jeran climbed onto the Uni’s back while Sir Erick gently scooped up the Lupess and handed her to the squire. “Go to Illusen’s hut; it’s closer and I’m sure she can help your friend. I’ll meet you there as soon as possible. Now go.”
As Carla took off as fast as she could go while still making the ride smooth, Jeran flashed a grateful look at the knight. He would have a chance to talk to him once he got to Illusen’s, but he still hoped his mentor knew how thankful he was.
It really didn’t surprise Jeran that much to see Illusen waiting for them at the front door. Practically leaping off of Carla, Jeran carefully lifted the fading Lupess off and quickly took her inside. Illusen worked quickly, and by the time Sir Erick arrived the Earth Faerie had Krystal resting soundly on her bed.
“Will she be alright?” the Ixi knight asked as Illusen entered the front room.
“Well, she has no physical injuries that need any concern. It’s her mind I’m worried about.”
“What do you mean?” Jeran asked.
Illusen pushed a lock of hair out of her eyes and looked at the squire. “You said she had been possessed, correct?” At Jeran’s nod she continued, “I suspect the only reason that Krawk was able to do that was because, over the years, he had been able to absorb some power from the sphere he was trapped in. The Earth Faerie who made it probably had to...‘invest’ some of her own power into it to make it work properly.”
The Faerie paused as she took a seat in a wooden rocking chair. “Anyway, if Krystal was able to fight off the effects long enough to tell you what to do, Jeran, then he probably had to use more power to overtake her mind again. If he used more than her mind could handle, she may not be able to return to normal. In short, she may have been driven mad.”
“When will we know?”
“As soon as she wakes up. But that could be days; she’s pretty weak.”
Jeran looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking again. “I have another question. Why is she no longer cursed? I saw her take that necklace off before, and when she did she literally turned into a ghost. What happened?”
“Yet another simple question,” she replied with a weak smile. “Anyone who is greedy enough to steal from that cursed treasure will also be cursed. Doomed to live out the rest of their existence with the same curse the greedy king had many years ago. Even putting it back or throwing it away will do no good. But if the one who was so hungry for treasure can destroy the very thing they were so willing to take, the curse will be lifted. Destroy an object of your greed; destroy the curse. The orb in Krystal’s necklace broke; therefore the curse was lifted.”
The next few days felt like an eternity to Jeran. Krystal still hadn’t woken up yet, and the Lupe squire felt like he was still at odds with Sir Erick. The Lupe wanted nothing more than to make up for the way he had acted. So why haven’t I? Jeran asked himself.
For that he had no answer. What was he afraid of? That his pride might get hurt? That was stupid. Jeran buried his face in his hands and sighed. Why couldn’t he just say he was sorry? Was it really so hard?
“Yes,” the Lupe said aloud, “it is.”
“Yes what?” Sir Erick asked curiously.
Jeran started. He thought he had been alone. Illusen was out in the forest somewhere and Sir Erick had gone back to the castle to let everyone know where he was and what was happening.
“Sir Erick,” he sputtered. “I didn’t know you were back yet.”
“I just got back, actually.” The Ixi knight cleared his throat. “Jeran, I wanted to talk to you about something...”
The squire winced. He felt sure it was probably about his becoming a knight this coming week. But, that didn’t bother him as much as he thought it would. Jeran decided that being at odds with his mentor felt worse than anything, and it was time to resolve it. “Before you do,” the Lupe said quietly, “can I speak?”
The Ixi sat down across from the Lupe and remained silent, prompting Jeran to continue. “I just wanted to say, well, about what I said to you, that night you told me about what happened, and then the next day...” A look of shame spread across Jeran’s face. “I spoke out of turn with you, and I’m sorry.”
“No Jeran, I’m the one who’s sorry. Everything you said to me was true, and I needed to hear it. I was trying to justify what Gavin and I had done, and it was wrong of me to do so. But Gavin lived and died with honor; I only wanted it to stay that way.”
“You thought I would rob you of your dignity?”
“Sir Erick, nothing on Neopia could make me do something like that. Even though what you both did was wrong, I would never take away your good name.”
Sir Erick looked straight at the Lupe. “You were truly meant to be a knight, Jeran. There is no doubt about that.”
Jeran looked down at the floor. “Even though you say I have nothing to be sorry for, there is still something I need to apologize for. I was still upset over what happened to Sir Gavin and... well, I took it out on you. Not once do I remember actually being angry, but anger was all I could show.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess anger is just easier...”
“That is correct.” Illusen’s voice came from the doorway. “So many of us jump right to anger instead of showing how we really feel. Its being easier to show is what makes it so dangerous. But the first step to resolving that is coming to understand what you just learned, Jeran. I’m proud of you.”
“Not nearly as proud as I am,” Sir Erick said teasingly.
“Now let’s not fight over me,” Jeran said in mock arrogance. “I know I’m the best squire in all of Meridell, but that’s no reason to fight over me.”
Illusen smiled and shook her head. “Getting a big head already? What are we going to with him, Sir Erick?”
“Oh I’m sure a position in the royal kitchens for a week or two will deflate that ego.”
The trio’s laughter was interrupted by the sound of a girl cursing in exasperation. “Oh, enough already! You’re all making me gag!” Krystal barked as she came out of the bedroom. “Can’t you people keep it down to a dull roar?”
Looking around at the stunned trio, she continued, “Well? Is anyone going to tell me what happened?”
“Well,” Illusen said with a shrug, “I guess we know it did affect her mind.”
“Can I go then?” Krystal asked hopefully. Jeran had just finished explaining what all had happened, and now the ghost Lupess was anxious to get going. After all, she was never one for sitting still so long.
“I’d rather you stay here for at least another day, just to get your strength back up,” Illusen said. Then, smiling, she added, “Or until that rebellion that your friend started dies down.”
The ghost Lupess grinned darkly. “I knew Audrey was going to try it; I just didn’t think I’d miss out on it.”
“I’m sure I don’t want to know, so I’m not going to ask,” Jeran said jokingly.
“A wise choice,” Sir Erick added. Standing up he continued, “I hate to say it, Jeran, but we need to be getting back to the castle. We’ve been gone a while and I’m sure poor Carla has been bombarded with questions about why we haven’t returned yet.”
Jeran smiled as he remembered that the white Uni had gone back to the castle with Sir Erick and stayed there as “crowd control” in case people got nervous about them being gone. “Yes, Sir Erick.”
Jeran stood up and began to follow the knight when Krystal suddenly stopped him. “Jeran, why did you come back?” she asked.
“Because I had to prove to you that not all knights are what you think they are.” The blue Lupe squire pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Krystal. “And I thought you might have wanted this back.”
The Lupess turned the familiar locket over in her hand and smiled gratefully. “Thanks, Jeran.” Then with a sly look flashing across her eyes, she added, “Not bad for a squire.”
“Not bad for a thief,” he replied, returning the verbal jab.
Two Years Later...
A blue Lupe knight knelt before King Skarl. His eyes were closed and his head bowed. He stayed there, frozen in that position until he felt the cold blade of the sword tap him lightly on each shoulder.
“Rise, Sir Knight,” King Skarl commanded.
The Lupe stood to his full height. After bowing gratefully to Skarl, the knight turned to face the many people that had gathered in the throne room for just this occasion.
“Ladies and gentleman,” the Skeith king boomed, “noblemen and women of the royal court. I give you, Sir Jeran Borodere, Champion of Meridell!”
The crowd erupted into a fit of claps and cheers. The Lupe knight bowed slightly and smiled at the yellow Ixi knight that nodded approvingly at him. Out of the corner of his eye, Jeran thought he saw someone slipping into the shadows. He wasn’t sure but it looked like a ghost Lupess. Jeran smirked and turned his attention back to the cheering crowd.
Thought he would never be completely sure whether or not it had really been Krystal, he was sure that he never would forget the ghost of Meridell...