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The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die - Part Two


by ridergirl333

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Morris and Boris

The vibrant light of the noontime sun shone over the Meridell Castle Courtyard, nearly blinding Morris the Quiggle and making him sweat profusely. Morris was a bit short for his age, but sturdy and energetic. He wore a pair of furry blue Lupe ears on his head in honor of his hero, Sir Jeran Borodere. A wooden training sword was sheathed in a rather large cotton sheath in his belt, and before him, there was a punchbag made of an old flour sack and stuffed with rags. One of the Scorchios who had come from Neopia Central to fight in the war had painted the punchbag to resemble Rhianna, the Court Dancer. "Ready," he whispered to his companion, a Blumaroo vampire named Boris.

      "Focus your energy." Boris was a short vampire with a patched, ragged cloak and dark, haunting eyes. Being young, he didn't have the same sensitivity to light that Count von Roo had. "And… go!"

      At the sound of his friend's command, Morris drew his wooden training sword and commenced beating the stuffing out of the punchbag. Pieces of rags and puffs of dust flew every which way, clouding the Blumaroo's view of his friend. Meanwhile, Morris chanted the beloved poem memorized by pages and squires throughout the realm.

      "True to the red gold and blue,

      Courage, hope and loyalty,

      The Meridell shield, it represents

      All that a knight should be."

      Boris yawned drowsily, seeming unimpressed by the sight. All the while, he kept a steady count in his head. "27… 28… 29…"

      "DONE!" Morris leaped to his feet, holding the limp, empty flour sack in one hand and a slightly battered training sword in the other.

      "Half a minute," Boris said with a groan, picking a stay rag off the ground. "I know you can do better. Stuff her back up and try it again."

      "Aww… But I wanted to take a break!" The Quiggle slumped down, sitting on a rock and trembling dejectedly. "I heard Skarl has food inside…"

      "Skarl always has food!" snapped Boris in a half-joking manner. "That doesn't mean that you can relax! We've got a war coming, Morris my boy. How will you ever be prepared if you keep slacking like this?"

      "How… That seems to be the question of the hour." The goofy pair turned to see Kayla the red Zafara alchemist leaning against the bark of a gnarled oak, playing absentmindedly with a dried oak leaf. Kayla, like her friends, was short for her age and considered a geek by everyone she knew. Ever since early childhood, she played with different chemicals and substances, brewing potions. She wore a midnight-blue cape speckled with gold stars and a similar blue witch's hat, just like her idol, Kauvara. "How could Kass have turned against us? How can we possibly win against such experienced invaders?"

      Morris snorted, treating Kayla's questions like a joke. "How much wood could a Polarchuck chuck if a Polarchuck could chuck wood?"

      "About the same number as the number of stalks of asparagus served by Chet Flash in the course of a month," Boris said with a good-humored wink. "Or the number of Neopian Times issues it takes to house-train a Doglefox."

      "Or the number of pounds of food eaten by Skarl in one sitting," Morris replied, gathering bits of cloth from the ground and re-stuffing the punchbag Dancer. "Or…"

      Kayla chuckled at the antics of the two friends she had known all her life. "Oh, you two know how to lighten up any situation. The two of you could probably walk through a hurricane and comment on how pleasantly breezy it is."

      "We strive to entertain," Boris said, sweeping his cloak about him and mock-bowing.

      Morris nodded, dipping into a mock-curtsey. "Anything for my lady Kayla's pleasure. Faeries know she's been spending enough time in that dusty old alchemy lab above the castle. Any more time in there, Kayla, and you'll wind up pale as our friend Vampire Boris here!"

      "Though you do look particularly appetizing in this light," Boris said with a grin, revealing two pointy, vampire fangs. Kayla couldn't tell whether he was kidding or not. Ever since he became a vampire, it was harder and harder to tell. "I'll be sure to keep a wad of garlic with me at all times," she said to Boris in a half-joking way. "And maybe a stake or two."

      "I'll let you borrow mine," said Skarl with a dry laugh. The Skeith king came through the door from the castle, sitting on a litter borne by four of his Draik guards. The litter reflected the King's love of luxury, made of a down mattress covered in rich purple silks. Purple pillows embroidered with gold thread made resting places for the King's arms. His clothing was equally as luxurious. A long, scarlet-colored cape trimmed with white fur was tied around his neck and flowed past his tail to dangle over the edge of the litter. Various gold chains and necklaces were draped over his chest, covering a silk white tunic and black velvet pants. A leather belt trimmed with gold and studded with rubies and sapphires glittered in the noon sun. In that belt, a gold-trimmed leather sheath held a fearsome-looking steel saber with a gold handle, studded with rubies and sapphires. Purely for show, of course. Skarl didn't need to fight. He had his guards for that. "Some of my guards insist that I keep one with me at all times. They don't seem to trust our castle's resident vampire." The king chuckled again. Ever since he had been released from the spell of the Court Dancer, he had become much more cheerful and upbeat.

      "And why should they?" Boris asked with a sly grin, his fangs now more evident than ever. "I haven't been the most trustworthy, lately."

      "You've never been the most trustworthy, ever!" Kayla said with a chuckle. "Remember back when we were in fifth grade? We took that field trip to Krawk Island. You and Morris snuck away from the group to play Bilge Dice with three of the locals."

      "Wasted all of our lunch money," Morris laughed. "Good times, good times."

      "We were begging you and Lisha for neopoints," Boris said, nearly doubled over in hysterics. "Lisha thwacked me over the head with her plastic rod of supernova. Dangit, that thing HURTS! I never asked her for money again."

      Skarl joined the hysteria, gasping for breath in his fits of laughter. Finally, when he composed himself again, he said, "So what were you two rascals doing before I got here?"

      Morris held up the empty flour sack, gesturing to the face of the Court Dancer painted on it. "Training, Your Majesty."

      Skarl's face fell at the sight of the face of his enchanting enemy. "He de-stuffed it in thirty seconds, sire." Boris said with a grin.

      "Impressive," Skarl said dryly, unsure of what to think about this pair of rascals. They were eager and ready for battle, but were they serious enough? No matter. They'd become serious once they got their shields. "You two are well on your way to becoming great, you know." He gestured towards the Draik guards who carried him, then to the castle. "Carry on, lads. You knights will be ready for battle in no time." With that, he left.

      "Did you hear that, Boris?" Morris asked with a high-pitched squeal. "The King said we're knights!"

      Boris didn't hear his friend. He was too busy jumping around in circles for pure joy. "Knights! Us! Can you believe it?"

      "I know I can't," Kayla said dryly, done fiddling with her leaf and now collecting acorns from the oak tree. She knew that that was only a casual remark from the king. Skarl would NEVER send such unprepared warriors onto the battlefield. Those two would figure it out eventually. In the meantime, she wouldn't be the one to break their hearts. As she hoisted herself onto the tree's lowermost branches, she called out to her friends. "You knights just try not to get into too much trouble, okay?"

      "We'll try!" Morris replied with a laugh. "I can't believe it, Boris! We're KNIGHTS!"

      "It's a dream come truuuuuue!" The vampire sang in his off-key voice, scaring a flock of Mallards from the castle pond. "A dream come truuuuuuue for meeeeeee!!!"

      His Quiggle companion nearly split his sides with laughter of pure joy, falling onto the soft springtime grass and rolling around, tears at the corners of his eyes. "Hey Boris," he said, still rolling and laughing. "Remember when we first dreamed of becoming knights?"

      "Don't I!" Boris sat on the grass beside his companion, gazing at the tree that hid Kayla in its branches. "We were ten years old. Taking a history lesson on the medieval ages and the dashing, chivalrous heroes like Sir Jeran Borodere. Of course, we were too young to know (or care) what 'chivalrous' means."

      Morris's laughter ceased and he sighed softly. Pulling himself into an upright position, his face took on a dreamy look. "I remember like it was yesterday. The four of us in class. I was doodling on a piece of notebook paper. Pictures of Sloth's ships abducting the teacher, Ms. Simian. She was a… blue Mynci, right? Anyway, you were snoozing. Lisha was taking notes like a good little student, and Kayla was fiddling with something in her backpack. Ms. Simian caught you napping. Oh flamin' faeries, I knew you were in trouble then. She rapped you on the head with her ruler and scolded you for a minute, then returned to the lesson. The Knights of Meridell.

      "It was the first time I actually paid attention in class! Ms. Simian, talking about the old glory days of chivalry and honor, of nobles and peasants, mages and Morthogs, kings and queens. For once, the dry, dull sound of her voice didn't put me to sleep. It swept me away, placing me on the back of a noble steed. It blew a sword into my belt and gauntlets onto my hands. It built castle walls around me and blew in an evil army of Skeiths and Grarrls. Dozens, no, hundreds of them, and I was alone. But I knew no fear. With a dashing look in my eye, I gripped the Uni tightly and drew my mighty blade and…"

      "And…"

      "And the bell rang and woke me up. Shame too. It was such a pleasant dream."

      The oak tree rustled loudly as the Zafara within it laughed uncontrollably. Several acorns fell, followed by a basket and a midnight-blue cap. Kayla climbed down from the tree to retrieve the items she had dropped.

      Morris, looking slightly indignant, continued to speak. "Immediately after school that day, I went to a locally owned shop to buy these blue Lupe ears and this training sword. Jeran has been my hero ever since."

      "Count von Roo is my hero," Boris said with a grin. "He's been my hero since I was in second grade, and he always will be."

      "I know Lisha admired the legends of old," Kayla said, picking up the acorns that were scattered all over the ground. Morris and Boris got up to help her. "She idolized warriors like Sir Borodere. But who would have thought that Sir Borodere was actually her long-lost brother? I mean, what are the chances?"

      "Slim," Morris said with a grin, popping an acorn into his mouth. "I don't know how petpets eat these things. They must have teeth of iron."

      "You have to crack the shell, genius," Kayla said with a giggle, grabbing a small piece of gray stone off of the ground and handing it to the Quiggle. "Shame we don't see too much of Lisha. In the good old days in Neopia Central… we were inseparable. Now I'm busy in my lab, she's out in the battlefield and you two…"

      "Were training to become knights!" Morris finished with a triumphant grin. "And we're still inseparable. Best friends forever."

      "We're all best friends forever," Kayla said, picking up the last acorn and placing it in her basket. "Come stormy seas, darkness of night, wind and rain and Citadel foes…"

      Morris spoke, "Come giant Spyders, blight, plague, or herds of jelly llamas! We'll stick together. Always." He held up his training sword in triumph.

      "Always," Boris said, touching the training sword with his war-spear.

      "Always," Kayla repeated, touching the two weapons with her basket of acorns.

      And though Lisha was not present in the courtyard, they felt her presence there. A chill wind picked up, and a gentle violet glow touched the sword, spear and basket. And a soft voice whispered on the wind, "Always."

Kasha's Sacrifice

      It was time.

      We had to put this plan into action. It was now or never. Execution had to be swift, precise, no room for error. "But," Kasha Moonfang the white Lupess Seer said, on the verge of tears, "The stars smile upon your ventures."

      "I wish you'd smile upon them," I said, wiping the tears from the Lupess's cheeks. Her eyes were clear now. Such beautiful eyes. A shade of violet that was both piercingly stern and sweetly soft at the same time. Eyes that hid a mysterious soul. Truly, Seers' eyes. Kasha was fit to be a gypsy Seer. As long as she followed their Law, she could be the greatest among them.

      She nodded wordlessly, turning her face away from me. We were just outside her tent when this conversation took place. The silvery light of the full moon washed over the land, reflecting off the moon and stars painted in silver on her tent and making them seem like they were glowing. The glow wasn't creepy; in fact, it had a magical, protective aura. A cool springtime breeze made Kasha's gypsy-style skirt ripple like waves of the ocean. Her trademark chandelier earrings pealed like wind chimes. One was made of hammered gold and shaped like a sun with six golden stars dangling from it. The other was a silver moon with six silver stars dangling. Slowly, she reached for her ear and removed her sun-earring. From her pocket, she drew a leather cord and tied the earring to it. "Take it, Jeran," She whispered, handing the necklace to me. "Take it and remember me."

      I accepted it wordlessly. She helped me fasten it around my neck. Something was bothering her… Something huge. She knew that I sensed her nervousness. "Don't be afraid for me," I said softly, in an attempt to reassure her. "I'll be okay, I promise. And we can be together after the war. All of us, you and me, Lisha, Kayla, Morris, Boris…"

      I had only seemed to make it worse. The tears now flowed freely, unhindered by pride. "What!" I demanded, a bit more sharply than I had intended to. It tore me up inside to see her so distressed. "What is it?"

      Kasha continued to weep and moan, collapsing onto the damp grass and watering the earth with her tears. I sat down beside her and murmured reassurances until she regained her composure. "Jeran," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes again. "Jeran… There something I really need to tell you."

      "Save it until later, Kasha," I advised.

      The Lupess leapt to her feet. "NO! You need to know now! See, I had this vision…"

      "Whoa! Stop right there!" I interrupted, leaping to feet and holding my paws up in a gesture of silence. I knew the Law of Seers. And Kasha would not suffer their penalties because of me. She'd be isolated, cut off from the world. Normal people would shun her; Seers would make her every moment miserable.

      She batted my paws away stubbornly. "I'm telling you this of my own free will, Jeran. I know the consequences. And I'll still do it." She took a deep breath, settling her nerves. "Jeran… you're going to die in tomorrow's battle."

      Several moments of silence, as my brain processed this information. "Wha… what?"

      "Tomorrow's battle… it'll be the last one you ever fight. I Saw it. Kass is going to throw you off the Citadel…" A fresh wave of tears drowned out the rest of her words as she collapsed onto the ground for the second time that night.

      The enormity of her words hit me like a sledgehammer. I wouldn't see the beauty of the moon and stars again! I wouldn't go for another swim in the Hope River, I wouldn't feel the joy of shooting the Ultimate Bullseye target, I wouldn't hang out with Lisha and her friends, ever again.

      Hopefully, though, I'd get the chance to play one last round of Whack-a-Kass.

      "Well then," I said softly, extending my paw to help Kasha to her feet, "Let's enjoy tonight."

      Kasha stared at the paw, bewildered, as though I had just offered her a purple-spotted, lime-green banana. "You mean… you're not scared?"

      I gave a dry, half-barking laugh. "If I were scared of death, I wouldn't have become the Champion of Meridell. Just tell me one thing; did your vision mention anything about a Meridell victory?"

      "Well… that's what it implied, but I'm not certain…" Kasha said slowly, taking my paw and rising to her feet.

      "Well then," I whispered, "that's all that matters."

      Inside, I wasn't so sure. Part of me wanted to pack my bags and flee. After all, who wouldn't be terrified of being thrown off of a flying Citadel by a madman? But another part of me looked around at the rolling hills, the rich farmland, the peasants' simple homes and the grandeur of the castle. This was Meridell. The land I had come to love dearer than my own life. The home that I had to protect.

      My mind wandered to the peasants sleeping on mattresses of straw, to Kayla, who had probably fallen asleep in the middle of an experiment in the alchemy lab, to the king, up late again helping to plan out battle strategies, to Lisha, Morris and Boris, resting for the morrow's battle in the soldiers' barracks. These were the people I was sworn to protect. Meridellians true.

      A flash of orange light jerked me back to reality. My eyes tore themselves from the beautiful countryside and to my Lupess. Her forehead was… glowing! A smell like rotting fruit filled the air, and Kasha screamed in shock, covering her forehead with her paws. Her face contorted with pain as the light burned into her. She slapped at her forehead as though the light were a pesky bug that she could swat away. But it was no use. The light writhed and bent in on itself, like a living neon snake. Then, it bent its vile body into the shape of an eight-pointed star. The Traitor's Star. And it faded.

      For the briefest moment, thoughts of panic ran through my head. What had I done to poor Kasha? She was going to be scorned the rest of her life, and it was all my fault!

      Then, a second emotion hit me like a bolt from the blue. It wasn't regret. It wasn't pity. It was an emotion I had never associated with Kasha before.

      It was disgust.

      This was one weird Lupess. Something about her was off, but I couldn't see what… Repulsed by this stranger, I backed away slowly. "Jeran," She cried softly. "No, Jeran! Please, no!"

      Her voice triggered something in the back of my mind. I'm not quite sure what it was… Don't run away, It said. She's not a disgusting, strange creature. She's Kasha! Your Lupess!

      Kasha saw that her words were having some affect on me, and coaxed me back. "Jeran, come back! Please, I'm begging you." Once again, the tears flowed, unhindered. "I'm b-begging you, Jeran. P-p-please come back."

      You caused that pain. The voice in the back of my head kept saying. Now go over there and make it all right.

      But the spell of the Traitor's Star was powerful. My feet moved against my will, and thoughts of revulsion rose unbidden in my mind. She's a filthy little gypsy, dragged off the street by a Doglefox… She's a strange creature… She uses magic, just like Morguss and the Court Dancer…

      No, she's nothing like them. She's a kind and gentle soul

      The wretch deserved all she got, betraying her own people.

      Now she didn't.

      Yes. She's evil.

      She's good.

      She's a danger…

      She's Kasha…

      She's a monster…

      She's your Lupess…

      Flee from her…

      NO! I thought, pushing these ideas back. I'm the Champion of Meridell. My will is my own. Slowly, I struggled to return to Kasha. Step by step, inch by inch, while a turbulent battle raged in my head.

      But my heart knew what was right.

      I had reached her. But my will against the spell was weakening. It was like a wall between her and I, separating us. I found myself pounding on that wall furiously, trying to make a hole of some sort. "Kasha," I whispered. "Thanks… Thanks for letting me know. And it doesn't matter if you wear the Traitor's Star… You're still my Lupess."

      The wall of magic shattered, falling in an explosion of a thousand glittering pieces. I had broken the spell between us.

      Unfortunately, she still had to deal with other people.

      Jacob the Kyrii Seer burst out of the tent, eyes aflame with anger. Terrified, Kasha hid behind me. I shielded her with my body, glaring at the ignorant Jacob. The Kyrii who had raised her, who had been like a father to her, turning on her this easily.

      "Kasha!" he shouted, his rage evident in every word he spoke. "You broke the Law! You broke the Seers Law! Get out of here! Get out!" Taking a broom, he shooed us away. She and I fled the tent, heading towards the Ixi Meadows. And we heard Jacob calling after our retreating backs, "The worst mistake you ever made, Kasha, was falling for that doomed Lupe-Knight! And the worst mistake I ever made was taking you in! Woe that I ever laid eyes on you, Kasha Moonfang and Sir Jeran Borodere!"

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die - Part One
» The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die - Part Three
» The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die - Part Four
» The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die: Part Five
» The Adventures of Lisha and Jeran: Heroes Never Die - Part Six



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