Let Darkness Fall: Part Two
“Awake! You are having a nightmare!”
The voice was made powerful by magic, and could not be ignored. The Eyrie opened his eyes, and seeing the Faerie’s face, jerked back in sudden terror. Then his vision cleared a little, and the Faerie before him changed from a fiend to just Illusen.
She stared at him critically, with concern in her eyes. “It must have been a bad nightmare. You screamed.”
“I did?” He tried in vain to remember the dream. There was darkness. And pain. And something about a Faerie. He shuddered and drew his thoughts back to what Illusen was saying.
“On a happier note, you’ve made a most remarkable recovery. We thought we were going to lose you.”
“You did?” he asked in frightened surprise. Had he been hurt that badly? He thought back to Ernie and Mel’s attack, and flinched at the memory.
“We healed you fairly quickly,” she said, “but then you fell into a sleep and would not rise. This is the first time in three days I was able to wake you from your nightmares. You seemed to be getting weaker, too. But now that you’re awake, your strength seems to be returning already!”
He shivered. Locked in a dream-filled sleep for three days? What could even cause something like that? “What have I been through?” he whispered.
“A question we’d all like to have answered. Sir Jeran seems especially concerned. He’s been trying to get in touch with Lord Darigan ever since we found you. However, the esteemed lord is on vacation,” she said with a touch of sarcasm.
“It can wait until he returns,” he said. “I’m not that important.”
“Tell that to Jeran. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. He’s treating this like an emergency!”
“I could talk to him,” he suggested, feeling an urge to just get up and walk around.
“No, you rest,” instructed the Earth Faerie. “I’ll bring him to see you.”
* * *
Jeran paced, filled with annoyance that he knew was slightly irrational. No one was willing to go find Lord Darigan to tell him they had found an amnesiac citizen of his. He had to admit, it sounded like a fairly trivial message. The Eyrie was not in danger of losing his life, and Illusen had his care well in hand.
But no one else knew he was Kass!
He had realized at once that he couldn’t tell King Skarl or Illusen, for fear of how they might react. He had to get word to Darigan.
“Jeran!” He turned and saw Illusen running towards him. “He’s awake, and he wants to see you.”
He felt a trace of fear. Had Kass’s memory returned, and he wanted revenge on his enemies? “I’m busy,” he said, resuming his pacing.
The Faerie gave him a quizzical look. “Busy?”
“Jeran... you’re acting very strangely. He just wants to let you know that you don’t have to try to find out who he is before Lord Darigan returns. And he probably wants to thank you for saving his life.”
“But I know who—” Jeran caught himself. “I know he deserves my time,” he finished.
Illusen gave him a funny look, then shrugged and led him to the infirmary room where they had put the Eyrie. He followed, dread and uncertainty making his feet feel like lead.
* * *
The Eyrie was just about ready to get out of bed and walk, no matter what Illusen said, when she entered with Sir Jeran.
Illusen looked at him suspiciously, apparently guessing his intentions. Then she gave him a small smile and leaned against the wall.
Jeran was staring.
After a minute of awkward silence, the Eyrie said, “Hello Sir Jeran. Thank you... you saved me. Uh... I’d bow, but in this position...”
“Why would you bow to me?” asked the Lupe.
“Well, you’re Meridell’s Champion, sir, and I’m...” He shrugged helplessly.
Jeran made a funny noise.
Illusen looked shocked and whispered something about rudeness.
He felt rather insulted, and wondered what he had done to the Lupe to make him act so strangely. The knight was clearly uncomfortable and wanting to leave.
Jeran took the second period of silence as an excuse to make his escape, it seemed. He smiled weakly, waved, and left the room.
“I don’t know what that was about,” said the Faerie. “Just when I finally start treating Dariganians equally, he goes wacky. Well, I suppose with the stressful life he’s led, it had to happen sometime.” She shrugged apologetically.
The Eyrie looked down. He felt bad; he thought Jeran didn’t like him, but he didn’t know why. He looked up at Illusen. “I didn’t even get to tell him not to go to any trouble on my account.”
“I’ll remind him.”
“Thank you.” He waved a hand around. “Thank you for everything you’ve done.”
She smiled again, and then she left.
He was wondering about the mysteries of his past until he fell again into a dark sleep.
* * *
He was surrounded by darkness. “Help...”
“What is it you want?”
Startled by the voice, he jerked backwards. “To wake up,” he said uneasily. Inexplicable fear filled him.
An eerie green light appeared in the distance. “No... There is something else you want.”
“Well, my identity,” he admitted.
The light approached and became a glow around a cloaked and cowled Faerie. She moved towards him. “I can tell you. I can tell you of your past... your power and glory.”
“Oh, no thank you,” he laughed nervously, moving away. “I’ll be fine. Ignorance is bliss, they say.”
She looked amused. She stepped closer and grabbed his arm. “You may reconsider.” She gripped so tight that her nails dug into his skin and blood oozed into his feathers. “And when you do, we’ll be waiting...”
* * *
He woke up with a gasp. He tried to calm his breathing, reminding himself that it was only a dream.
When at last he was relaxed again, he became aware of a peculiar trickling sensation on his right arm.
Fear struck him, and he looked down to see a little bit of blood still coming from the cuts made by a Faerie’s fingernails.
A strangled noise escaped him, and it took all his willpower to keep from screaming for help. Despite the pain that jolted through his still-sore body, he climbed out of bed. He would not—could not—fall asleep again. What was going on?
He was halfway to the door when he realized he was still wearing tattered, bloody clothing. In frustration, he hit the wall hard enough to hurt himself. He had to get away, and not just sit and wait for the dreams to return.
He could call for Illusen. Surely there was some way he could get a message to her... He sat back down. A message saying he’d had a bad dream?
Pride overcame the Eyrie’s fear, and he stubbornly decided to wait.
* * *
Jeran sighed. “What can I do?”
His chosen confidante looked at him with concern in her eyes. “Get some rest and stop worrying,” said his sister, sitting on the corner of his bed.
“But Lisha, this is Kass we’re talking about. Kass! Evil lord of the Citadel, enemy of the kingdom, my would-be murderer, dark sorcerer working with demons from who-knows-where!”
“You know The Three had been controlling his actions,” reprimanded the yellow Aisha, “as they once controlled Lord Darigan’s, I might add.”
“But it’s not so simple!” argued Jeran, looking for a way to put his forebodings into words. “Darigan came back without his memory, and was brought back by the little girl, Sally. Then he joined the Battle for Meridell, and in the process regained his memories of everything, including The Three. He denounced them, and all was well. But what if they’ve learned from that? What if they come to Kass before he remembers them, when he’s weak and confused? What if they draw out in him the same character flaws that led him to them last time? Kass could be being turned into a monster as we speak!”
“Calm down, brother. If he is cared for here, he won’t turn against us.”
It made sense, but then Kass had been given no reason to turn on them the first time!
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “You don’t know what The Three are like. They’re clever, tricky...”
“I saw through their Court Dancer trick!” she protested.
“Yes, but that was a simplistic deception. To get Kass again, they’ll be far more devious.”
“And I’m too dense to see it happening?” cried Lisha.
“Lisha, I didn’t say that.”
“I suppose you’ll recognize their plot?” She rose and stared down at him furiously. “I think you’ve already been fooled! They’re using you, Jeran, but they’re being subtle.”
He jumped up too. “What?”
“If you, who saved Kass, turn against him, he’ll feel betrayed, like he can trust no one!”
“This has nothing to do with Ambition, Revenge, or Greed!” Jeran felt his frustration from the past few days boiling into anger. “If you haven’t got it by now, I’m afraid! They don’t control fear!”
“And how long will it be before you’re ready to get rid of that fear by getting rid of the problem?”
“Are you suggesting I’d stoop to murdering Kass?”
“Maybe you would!” Her voice rose in pitch. “All I know is you’re too blind to see how you’re being used!” With a glare, Lisha spun around and stomped out of her brother’s room, slamming the door.
Jeran stared after her. What had just happened? They never fought like that. Arrogance, he decided. Lisha was brilliant, and too proud to admit that The Three might be smarter.
If he had been listening, he might have heard the laughter that greeted his thoughts.
To be continued...