A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Three
Jeran felt incredibly strange. One minute, he was being
torn apart by that awful potion given to him by Darigan, completely unable to
stand; the next, he was upright, perfectly fine, and being told by Darigan that
it was time for their plans to be put in motion. There was definitely something
different about himself, as well, though he was not sure what it could be, too
confused by the rest of the events going on. As he walked with Darigan around
the Citadel, he noticed that none of the Citadel's residents looked strangely
at him anymore, something that had previously made Jeran uncomfortable. Wondering
why, he looked at his paws -- and received the biggest surprise of his life.
Jeran stared blankly at the purple paws that
he knew could not be his own, and the long, curving, dangerous black claws that
grew from them. These were not his paws -- these were Darigan paws! Looking
over his shoulder, he found a pair of dark purple wings- Darigan wings! Jeran
was horrified -- he had been turned into a Darigan mutant! The part of him wanting
revenge fed on that, telling him that this dishonour must be punished, while
the rational side realized that if he were to fight for Darigan, Darigan colours
would be necessary. But even the rational side did not want to accept the fact
that he had been turned into a monster. Jeran promised himself that he would
never use his new wings, that he would never become comfortable in the form
of his enemy. As far as he knew, those who were given the form of a Darigan
became vicious and violent, as hideous on the inside as on the outside. Perhaps
if he could keep himself from becoming comfortable with the form, however, he
could keep himself from this fate.
"But, Darigan, why?" asked Jeran, though he already
knew the answer. "Why did you have to turn me into...this?"
"I had to make sure you would not betray the
Citadel," Darigan said simply, confirming Jeran's thoughts. "As a Darigan, you
will find it near to impossible to change sides. Meridell does not accept hideous
beasts such as ourselves," continued the Citadel lord bitterly. "Also, everyone
knows you. Do you really want to hear, 'Traitor' wherever you go?" Jeran completely
understood Darigan's last thought, and was surprised that he had not thought
of that himself. On the other hand, what would Lisha think of this?
"Now, Jeran, your position in this conflict will
be completely up to you. If your wish, you could be commander of the Darigan
forces, as you did well in a similar position for Meridell. However, you may
also be more of a champion, an example set for others to follow. This may make
it easier for you in your attempt to keep peace, as you would not have to worry
about taking care of an army. However, whatever position you take, you will
give us the advantage of your knowledge of Meridell, as you are familiar with
the land. Now what is your choice?" Darigan asked.
"I think that the position of champion would
be more use in my quest for peace. If you could convince your generals that
a strategy of minimal loss would be best, it would be very useful, however.
The only victory in this conflict is if both sides escape ruin. I suppose we
must storm the castle to reach The Three, however, so that strategy will be
difficult. First, however, we must make plans for the defense of the Citadel.
I will return to Meridell to try to find when the attack will strike," Jeran
"You are dismissed," Darigan told Jeran, who
went back to the Uni that he had flown up to the Citadel on. The Uni did not
want to let Jeran on, believing him to be a Darigan, but Jeran calmed him down,
convincing him that he was Jeran. With that, both Uni and rider flew back down
Lisha was crying in Meridell's gardens, outside
of the castle. Her brother, Jeran, was gone forever, and Skarl was just sitting
around, waiting for Darigan to attack! She was hidden behind a rose bush, hoping
to be left alone, when a rustling sound in the bush next to her broke her dark
and dreary thoughts. She turned around and looked at the bush, wondering who
was going to disturb her. A Darigan Lupe stepped out of the bush, looming tall
over a sitting Lisha.
Lisha screamed. Was Darigan after her, as well,
to make Meridell even more miserable? The Lupe, however, had other ideas.
"Lisha, why are you crying?" Jeran asked, realizing
at once that Lisha could not recognize him, even by his now-changed voice. "It's
a beautiful night, you're surrounded by flowers, and Kreludor is full."
"What do you want, you foul, loathsome Darigan?!"
Lisha screamed. "Why do you act like you care about me! Did you care about Jeran?
Is that why you let that tyrant Darigan kill him?! Go away!"
"But Lisha, I am Jeran," Jeran said hopelessly,
realizing that there was little possibility of convincing her, but knowing that
he had to at least try. "Don't you recognize your own brother?"
"Yes, I do!" cried Lisha, bursting into fresh
tears. "It was my brother that Skarl showed us, the brave knight who fell taking
on Darigan Citadel by himself! My brother would never turn traitor! Never!"
"Lisha, you have to believe me!" Jeran called
desperately. "I would never be such a fool as to take on the Citadel single-handedly!
All I wanted was to find the truth, whether or not Darigan was planning an attack.
But he wasn't, and- The Three- Meridell destroyed- and Darigan turned me into
this! Lisha, how can I make you believe me?!" Jeran pleaded.
"Get out of here, you imposter!" Lisha screamed.
"Get out, and never let me see your filthy Darigan face again! What are you
trying to do, get me to jump off the tallest tower of the castle? Why must you
torment me like this?!"
Jeran shook his head sadly. His own sister had
turned against him. As he walked away slowly, head down, he realized at last
the full implications of his decision for Darigan.
Mounting his Uni, Jeran took off into the skies
of Meridell, lost in thought. As he approached the Citadel, however, he realized
that it would be a good idea to find a point of attack for Darigan, one that
would leave innocents out of the conflict. All he could see were farms and villages,
hardly a good place to attack if you wished to keep innocents from harm. Looking
down on Meridell in the darkness, it seemed peaceful, oblivious to the horrors
that were soon to be unleashed. One barn, however, was brightly lit, in sharp
contrast to the darkness of midnight that enveloped the rest of the land. Jeran
landed and dismounted his Uni, the only one who remained loyal to him, wondering
why anyone would be outside at such an hour.
Peering into the barn, Jeran saw the impossible-
Kass was still alive! The Darigan Eyrie was definitely not in his best form,
looking rather diminished, but still alive. To Jeran's even greater surprise,
his former foe was being fed by a young Usul. Jeran used every bit of restraint
left in his Darigan body to keep himself from attacking Kass. It would be so
easy to finish Kass then and there.
Inside Jeran's head, he saw again a spectral
Gelert, urging him to take his revenge. "Do it! Look at him! He was the one
who almost ruined Meridell! He was the one who almost killed you! It would be
so easy! He is unable to fight! Finish him now!"
Jeran's eyes glowed green. He would do it, finish
Kass. It was only right- the Eyrie deserved punishment! "I will finish Kass,"
the Lupe whispered. But at this very moment, the Usul overheard Jeran and realized
that he was there, and everything changed.
"Sir, please don't hurt Beaky. He is good now,
like Darigan. He would not harm you. Please don't hurt him," Sally pleaded.
Jeran's eyes changed back to normal. What was
he thinking? "Of course I won't hurt Beaky," he said, "Miss, what is your name?"
"Sally, Sir," she replied politely. "You won't
hurt Beaky, right?"
"No, I won't hurt Beaky," Jeran sighed, "though
I am unsure whether or not Darigan would. I will leave him with you, if you
"Of course! I love Beaky!" Sally said. "I wouldn't
want you to take him away!"
"Okay, then, I will leave him with you," Jeran
called, walking out the door. "As long as he doesn't do anything wrong, you
can keep him. If he does, though, he will answer to me."
"He won't," said Sally. Jeran smiled. Sally was
so much like his sister Lisha, finding the good in everyone. But Lisha could
not seem to find the good in him now, and he wondered if his sister had lost
that youthful, innocent ability. He mounted his Uni once more, and flew back
to the Citadel.
In Meridell Castle, Lisha woke up in the middle
of the night because of an awful nightmare. In the dream, she saw Jeran fly
to the Citadel to ask Darigan to stop his attack, but Darigan coldly disposed
of the knight with his sword. To her surprise, however, Jeran stood up, though
his survival seemed impossible, now a Darigan Lupe. The Darigan Lupe bowed down
to Darigan, siding with the enemy of Meridell. Lisha watched on in horror as
her brother, now a monster, hunted down all who stood for Meridell, until there
were none left. Her brother, destroying Meridell! Her beloved brother, destroying
the castle! Her brother, who protected her and her friends from the bullies
at Neoschool, smirking as he destroyed her friends, her last connection to her
life before Meridell! And the grinning face of a Darigan Lupe, the previous
champion of Meridell, as he finished off his own King...then turned his blade
on Lisha herself. Just before the Lupe attacked, Lisha woke up, out of breath.
It was only a dream, all that dratted Darigan Lupe's fault...but what were those
voices she heard down the hallway, where King Skarl's private chambers were
Lisha stealthily sneaked down the hallway, finding
King Skarl's door open a crack, the room where the voices were coming from.
But who could Skarl be talking to at this hour?
Lisha recognized one of the voices as King Skarl's,
but there were three others that she never heard before, one female and two
males. She peered into the room through the crack carefully, hoping not to draw
attention to herself, and saw who the voices belonged to - a Faerie, a Skeith,
and a Gelert, all of which seemed to be spectres. Lisha had heard of them before,
of course -- The Three; a legend that grew up in Meridell after Kass had been
defeated. No one from Meridell had actually seen The Three, or by whom their
existence had been revealed, but legend said that they had caused the attacks
by both Darigan and Kass. Jeran had rejected these tales as myth, saying that
no such creatures existed, but Lisha had not been so sure, though she was now.
The Three were real -- now if she could only figure out why Skarl would be following
such unsavoury characters...
Lisha heard the voices speak up again. "You must
attack tomorrow," the Gelert, who Lisha knew to be Revenge, ordered Skarl.
"Yes," the Faerie, Ambition, continued. "Jeran's
actions, though foolish, have given you a perfect opportunity. Meridell wants
war. You must not waste all of their energy. It will be useful."
"You should assemble your forces at dawn," the
Skeith, Greed, finished.
"Yes, perfect!" said Skarl. "Darigan will fall
"And if he does not, there is always 'Plan B'"
"You, however, ought to hope it does not come
to that," warned Ambition.
"And if you fail us..." Greed trailed off.
Lisha gasped, covering her mouth to prevent herself
from being caught. She ran back down the hallway to her room. The Three...Meridell
destroyed...the Darigan Lupe was telling the truth! Jeran was alive!
To be continued...