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


by ridergirl333

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Before the Battle

The moon set, casting the world into the dreary pre-dawn hours, when the songbirds had not yet awoken, but the Whoots had taken to their nests. I awoke, rubbing the sleep from my eye. Kasha was still sleeping. Silently, I crept away from her and dashed towards the castle. No teary goodbyes. I didn't want her to cry any more than she had to.

      I climbed over the castle gates, convinced the half-sleeping Draik guard to lower the drawbridge for me and crept into my bedchamber, where I hastily scribbled out a note for Lisha. I had to make it sound like I didn't know whether I was going to die or not. If Lisha found out that I had made Kasha break the Law, she'd never forgive me (For I was convinced that Kasha's exile was my fault). It was hard to believe that I'd never see my sister again. A wave of blissful numbness washed over me as I finished the letter. Just in time. The trumpet sounded to wake the rest of the soldiers.

      Breakfast that morning was a solemn, silent affair. Danner sat beside me, scarcely touching his gruel. "Come on, Danner!" I said, feigning cheeriness. "You've got to keep your strength up."

      "Can't eat," the Wocky replied tersely, fingering the string on his Regulation Meridell Crossbow.

      "Danner, I'm giving you an order. Get some food in your mouth. Now."

      "Sir, with all due respect, I'm not hungry." Seeing that the string was loose, Danner tightened it, then plucked it like a banjo.

      I smiled. Danner could be pretty stubborn when he so chose. "And if I asked you as a friend?"

      Danner paused. Looked up. Saw my smile. Then ate half-heartedly.

      He had scarcely gotten three spoonfuls in his mouth, when Martin the yellow Lupe strategist gave the order to move. Wordlessly, we left the breakfast table and mounted our Unis. "We have a plan," I muttered to myself. Gripping my Uni's reins so tightly that my knuckles turned white.

      "You have a plan?" Asked an annoyingly cheery voice. It came from the tower. I directed my Uni out onto the tower and saw Morris and Boris, grinning like two daft ducks.

      "Yes," I said tersely. These two fools thought that they could come to the Citadel with us! "And you two are not part of it."

      A crestfallen look fell over their faces. "Jeran!" Morris whined, "King Skarl said we're knights!" "I told you he wouldn't let us go," Boris muttered to his Quiggle friend.

      I slapped my forehead with my paw in frustration. What in the name of flamin' faeries had Skarl been thinking? Calling these two young fools knights… "I don't care what the King said. I can't protect you up there," I snapped. My patience was wearing thin. "Besides, Meridell needs you here." They nodded solemnly, letting me know that they had received the message. I smiled grimly and gave my Uni and gentle kick in the ribs. She flew up… up… and away.

      A sudden urge forced me to look back. Morris and Boris were gone. Good, I thought. They've probably retreated to the castle, where it's safe.

     * * *

     

      "Invisibility potions, on three," Morris whispered to Boris. The Blumaroo draw a vial of bubbling purple liquid from his pocket. Morris did the same. The two of them had pilfered chain mail and tunics from the war room, and invisibility potions from the alchemy lab. A mischievous grin lit up Morris's face. "One… two… three." The two of them gulped the potions down and vanished into thin air.

      "Okay," Morris whispered to his partner-in-crime. "Let's move."

      "Ow!" the Blumaroo shouted. "You stepped on my toe!"

      "Sorry."

      "Watch where you're going next time."

      "It won't make a difference. I can't see your feet."

      "Well just be careful!"

      "Okay," Morris rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Now all we need are Unis." They crept into the Castle nursery, where two young Unis were having a mock-swordfight with sticks. "Ha! Take that you fiend!" shouted the younger of the two, a starry Uni named Pansy.

      "Back, back I say!" the older one said with a giggle. He was a spotted Uni named Louis. Morris and Boris knew these two well. They had spent many long afternoons playing Whack-a-Kass and beating up the Court Dancer punchbag together. "Psst!" Morris hissed. "Pansy! Lou!"

      Distracted, Louis forgot about the battle and pricked his ears up, looking for the source of the voice. Taking advantage of her friend's distraction, Pansy thwacked him on the rump with her stick. "Louis! You're not paying attention!"

      "Shh…" Louis put his hoof over the starry Uni's mouth. "I heard something."

      "Lou!" Morris whispered. "It's Morris. Listen carefully; because I'm only gonna say this once. Boris and I are in the nursery. We're invisible."

      "Really?" Pansy's eyes grew wide with excitement as she wrenched herself away from Louis's hoof. "Whee! I wanna be invincible too!"

      "It's 'invisible,'" Louis corrected her. "Now be quiet."

      "You'll get your chance," Morris continued, drawing another bubbling purple potion out of his pocket. Boris did likewise. "Now, drink these and let us mount you. Louis, you're going to fly Boris to the Citadel. Pansy, you're taking me."

      "But… won't it be dangerous?" Louis asked.

      Morris chuckled. "Relax! Boris and I are here! What could possibly go wrong?"

      "Well… For one thing, Pansy isn't a terrific flyer…" Louis said. Pansy hovered in the air and came crashing down to illustrate his point.

      "I'm not a heavy load," Morris promised.

      "And what about enemy arrows?"

      Morris shook the vial, causing the liquid inside to fizz. "They can't shoot you if they can't see you."

      "And potion drinking… that's pretty dangerous."

      "Relax already!" Morris said. "This was mixed by Meridell's finest young alchemist, my dear friend Kayla. She knows what she's doing. You'll be invisible for half an hour. That'll be enough time to get Boris and me up to the Citadel, drop us off, then get your own furry behinds back to the nursery without anyone noticing."

      "And what'll we get from all of this?"

      "Umm…" Morris thought for a moment. He hadn't expected the unselfish Lou to want anything in return for his services. But then again, these weren't normal circumstances. "Our undying gratitude?"

      Louis shook his head. "Try again."

      "A place in the history books for bringing two of Meridell's finest heroes into battle?"

      "Nope."

      Morris sighed. Louis drove a hard bargain! He reached into his pocket and drew out a handful of gold coins. "Thirty-seven Neopoints and a lint ball?"

      Louis held out his hoof, and Morris shook it. "Deal."

      * * *

      Storm clouds loomed above, bringing with them the promise of cold, wet misery. The first raindrop hit my nose, ice-cold and heavy. "Wonderful," I muttered to myself. "What more can go wrong?"

      The boom of thunder and a torrential downpour were all the reply I got.

      "Ahh, cheer up Jeran," said one of my companions, a red Blumaroo named Samuel. "The rain might be a good thing!"

      "How?" I asked.

      He didn't respond.

      Aggravated, I shook my fists at the heavens. "Why aren't you on our side?" I shouted. "Why? Why?"

      From afar, I heard bell-like laughter. "Keep shouting. You might just get an answer."

      Embarrassed, I looked around. "Who goes there? Are you friend or foe?"

      "According to you, I'm foe. Though I can be friend, if you so wish." A beautiful air faerie materialized before me. Her face was fair and dainty, framed by locks of flaxen hair. A sheer blue scarf rested on petite shoulders, matching a pale blue dress. Butterfly-like wings of the same shade sprouted from her back, fluttering in the buffeting wind. I had thought that the wind would blow such a frail creature all the way to Tyrannia, but she seemed completely unaffected by it. "Call me Psellia. I can clear those messy clouds up for you, if you wish."

      "That would be a huge help," I said with a grateful smile. "Sorry for being so snappish before."

      "You're worried. Worry is natural," She replied with that same bell-like giggle. "And I can take care of a few of those soldiers while I'm at it." Then, she sped off in a trail of golden light, parting the clouds with her slender hands. Then, she turned on the battlegrounds below and puckered her lips, blowing a floral-scented breeze at the soldiers. The troops of the Citadel, who had once been tireless, soon felt their unnatural strength draining. My belt glowed white-hot around my waist. I looked down and saw that in addition to my original sword, a second scabbard was in my belt. And in that scabbard was the Sunblade, a sword that shone with the fire of the sun. "Meridell Forever!" She cried before disappearing into a cloud.

      Danner blinked in bewilderment. "Who was that? And why did she just help us?"

      "I don't know, Danner," I confessed with a smile, admiring my new weapon. "But I think we can trust her, though her motives remain unknown."

      The sunlight peeked out from behind the clouds, reflecting off of my armor and playing with Kasha's sun-charm necklace. And in the distance, I thought I saw it reflecting off of a Weewoo's white feathers. The Weewoo flew closer, and looked at me with coal-black eyes. Its wings were tipped with crimson markings, a gold stripe ran across his chest and a blue stripe ran down his back. Red, gold and blue, the colors of Meridell.

      And I thought, we might just stand a chance…

Nova Storm

      Fire… Blazing hot fiery stars falling all around her, filling the air with the odor of smoke and singed fur. All around her were screams of panic as one building after another erupted into flames. The peasants' homes were only wood and straw. They wouldn't last. Kass would reduce Meridell to ashes.

      From a few yards away, Kasha Moonfang the white Lupess Seer saw her tent go up in flames. Her gypsy tent, the only home she had ever truly known. And yet, it didn't even matter to her. Tents were replaceable. There was one thing that wasn't.

      Dodging flames and falling stars, she ran, smoke stinging her violet eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks, tears that might have been a result of the smoke or… something else. Fire danced around her, a dance as lovely and destructive as the ballet of Rhianna, the Court Dancer Aisha. Smoke everywhere made her cough violently. Through the smoke, she saw Jeran and the evil Lord Kass, locked in a battle to the death. Kass, the power-hungry one, the mad one, The one who had taken her family, her hometown, her people. Destroyed them all. Her parents, peace-loving healers. Jonathan, a poor, innocent pup at the time. Gone.

      She had gotten another chance. A new land, a new family, a new group of people. She wouldn't let him put her through that again. And she wouldn't let him destroy the Lupe she had come to care so much for.

      Kasha rushed towards the pair, the clanging of swords ringing in her ears, mingling with the shrieks and cries of the terrified peasants. Her movement seemed to be in slow motion. Her sun-charm earring fell from her ear, into a fire and melted.

      Suddenly, a giant star plummeted from the overcast skies, headed straight for Kasha! Startled, the Lupess jumped back, feeling a warm surge of wind as the nova missed her footpaws. A violent explosion shook Meridell, making Kasha fall to her knees and creating a wall of fire between her and Jeran. "Stop!" She yelled, "Stop this fighting! Jeran! Stop!" But her voice was drowned out by the roaring of the fire. There was only one thing left to do. Taking a few steps, back, Kasha took a deep breath, coughing and wheezing a little. Then, she took a running start, headed right towards the flames!

      Then Kasha Moonfang awoke in a cold sweat.

      She was lying in an abandoned field. There was no fire. She reached for her ear. The earring was there, safe and sound. Jeran was sleeping in the castle, unharmed. (Or so she thought.) Trembling in fear, Kasha drifted into an uneasy sleep.

* * *

      The next day, miles away from Meridell Castle and Kasha's field, the battle continued as usual in Meridell. Total chaos. The war machines ravaged the countryside, unchecked by Meridellian forces. Meridell had nothing that could stand up to those giants of wood, stone and steel. From her position on a balcony in Kass Citadel, Morguss the Moehog witch smiled. Being the most powerful mage in the Citadel, she had privileges that the common footsoldiers didn't have. Like being able to talk to Lord Kass one on one. In fact, Morguss was the only creature that Kass really and truly trusted. The only one, the foot soldiers joked, who wasn't going to end up tossed off the Citadel before this was all done.

      Sensing Lord Kass behind her back, the old hag turned to face him. "My Lord, the war goes well."

      "Does it?" Kass asked with mild interest, as though he were expecting it to go well all along. In reality, he was nervous. What if the Meridellians came up with something? Something huge and powerful that would be able to crush his war machines? How would he face the Three?

      Morguss nodded, unaware of her master's fear. "Better than expected," She said. "Your war machines prove too strong for the Meridellian defenses. The Meridell army is in complete retreat. They haven't a prayer."

      A speck on the horizon caught Morguss's eye. Just another panicked farmer lad. She assumed. Nothing more. But something about that speck made her keep her eyes on it. Something about the way it lumbered slowly instead of darting around in frenzy. And it shone curiously in the sun, like a silver ring that someone dropped on the ground. A silver ring bearing… the Meridell arms?

      It drew nearer and nearer to the battlefield, reflecting sunlight off its armor, nearly blinding the elderly hag. When the beast turned, she was able to see it more clearly. It was… a giant Turtum. How could Turtums grow that big? It was simply impossible! The Meridell army was supposed to be hopeless!

      Others came. Dozens of them. Scores of them! Seeing their new adversaries, the purple hogs drawing the war machines stopped. Sniffed. And charged.

      On the first Turtum's back, a red Zafara rode in a wooden box. Brandishing his sword, sending more sunlight into Morguss's eyes, he shouted, "Ready! Aim! Fire!" At his word, several scores of bowmen shot arrows from their positions atop their Turtums. Several of the arrows found their marks, though most just bounced off of the armor of the hog-beasts. Angered, the hogs continued to run. They were on a collision course with the Turtums. Several soldiers, both from Meridell and the Citadel, panicked and leapt from their mounts, plummeting into the ground below. Others remained steady, focused on their foes.

      They met. A thousand sounds tore the air at once. Sickening crashes, hollow thuds, squeals of pain and fear. Splinters of wood flew through the air. Chunks of rock scattered. Metal bent under the force of the collision. War machines were torn apart and destroyed. Several of the hogs, who had steel spikes running down their backs, managed to get under the Turtums' bellies and spear them. One Darigan-colored Krawk on a war machine managed to slice through the ropes that bound a box-seat to a Turtum, sending the rider crashing to the earth. Catapults on the back of the Turtums threw fireballs made of hay bound by mages' incantations, scorching the earth and causing havoc.

      Above them, Unis and their riders fought with Eyrie guards in the skies. Steel rang and clashed. Warriors dodged and dove, swerved left and right, each playing the defensive role. Once in a while, an Eyrie was able to knock a soldier off a Uni's back, sending them to their dooms below. Kass grinned gleefully, while Morguss rolled her eyes. She knew her master had a certain fascination with making things fall, but did he have to grin like a pup at a toy store? Kass pulled a tassel off his uniform and, beaming with sheer glee, dropped the tassel from the Citadel.

      Trying to call her master's attention away from his uniform, Morguss said, "Skarl sent every knight he has to defend the south."

      Kass snapped around, remembering his fear and agitation. If this were true… then Meridell might actually have a chance against his ultra-powerful army! "Every knight?" He asked nervously.

      "Aye," Morguss nodded. "Every knight."

      "If we need reinforcements?"

      "We could recall them at a moment's notice," Morguss reassured her master.

      Still not convinced, Kass continued to question the hag. "How many troops do we have on the Citadel?"

      "There's no need for troops here, sir. The attack force on the ground…"

      "NO troops?!?" Kass said, throwing dignity to the wind and letting his panic show. Sensing danger, Morguss rushed to reassure him. Because when Kass was insecure, people fell. "Only a skeleton force, but I assure you…"

      A knock at the door interrupted Morguss in mid-sentence. It was Mellavon, the Zafara spy that Kass had hired. Knowing that the two needed a private conversation, Morguss continued to peer over the balcony while Kass conferred with Mellavon in hushed tones. And while she was peering, an idea struck her. The Meridellians were using fire in their warfare. Why shouldn't Kass? After all, it was only fair to fight fire with fire. Morguss fingered her Rod of Nova with a sly grin. As soon as Mellavon had left, the Moehog mentioned this idea to Lord Kass.

      An insane grin lit the warlord's face. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for! A chance to burn those wretched, good-for-nothing farmers' sons and daughters out of house and home, and make them bow before the power of Lord… no, Emperor Kass.

      All of pain and inner anguish he had felt over the past several weeks erupted inside of him with the force of a mini-volcano. All of that suffering, it was all their fault! Those Meridellians, every faerie-cursed one of them! If they hadn't stolen the Orb all those years ago, Darigan wouldn't have fallen. Kass wouldn't have had to seize power. And those Three voices in his head wouldn't taunt him night after night. Never mind that most of these Meridellians hadn't been born before the Orb was stolen. Never mind that Darigan fell because of his own choices. Never mind that Kass had decided of his own free will to seize power when Darigan fell. It didn't matter. It was their fault he was suffering. That nobleman fleeing a Skeith guard, it was his fault. That Wocky mounted on a Uni warrior, it was his fault. That Zafara child darting through the burning streets and clutching her plushie, it was her fault. He laughed manically as Morguss raised her wand and muttered the incantation.

      "Die, Meridell scum!" he laughed. Morguss lowered her wand, sending a score of burning stars plunging towards the ground, crashing into trees, houses, war machines, people… It didn't matter to Kass. Meridell was burning! He, Lord Kass, was destroying Meridell! He was getting the revenge he had always dreamed of. "Die! Die!" he shouted, giddy with the thought. Then, he reached over and seized the wand from Morguss's hands. The startled Morguss leaped back, nearly having a heart attack from the shock. But again, Kass didn't care. He raised the wand and brought it down, sending another score of burning stars. Laughing like a child with a new toy, he raised it and brought it down again and again. Meridell was his to destroy. He aimed one nova at a family of Lupes huddled in a grove of trees. He giggled like a child as he watched them scatter in panic and watched the trees burn. Seeing their young pup fall and get hit by a war machine only increased his hilarity.

      "DIIIIEEEE!!!"

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 Two
» 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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