The Chronicles of Knight III: End of Nightmare - Part Three
Five years ago, in another part of the Citadel...
The night was quiet and there was a slight chill to the soft wind, causing the curtains that framed a stone window to flutter in a silent dance. The stone window belonged to the Darigan Citadel, one of thousands of windows – but this one was special. It was the window of the Citadel’s king, Darigan himself.
The king was asleep in bed, unaware of the quiet world outside his window. His brow was cold and damp, and occasionally he muttered incoherent words in his sleep. How he would have wished to know that quiet and peaceful world just outside his window! He would have loved to dance carelessly in the wind like those old dusty curtains, free from every burden and care.
As it was, Darigan was having nightmares every time he fell asleep. He never had dreams – only nightmares. The nightmares were always the same. He heard voices, the voices of his former captors, calling to him, taunting him, reaching for him with invisible, cold fingers...
But then the dream changed – for the first time. He was running through darkness and cold, but the voices were gone – and there was a light far before him. A familiar voice – the voice of the Cybunny Seer – called to him from far away.
Come to me, Darigan...
The voice was distant and faint.
“I am coming,” he said, his own voice strangely far away.
Then the other, cold voices returned, and he was plunged back into his old nightmare.
You will never escape...
Darigan gasped and jumped out of his bed. He was out the wooden door in a flash, halting quickly before he ran into Kaeth, his apprentice-advisor.
“Kaeth!” he cried, stunned slightly.
“Darigan?” the Darigan Zafara asked, her face worried. “What is the matter? You look ill.”
He shook his head, and Kaeth smiled slightly, though the worry still lingered in her eyes.
“Darigan, if I am going to be your next advisor, you will soon have to realize that you need to tell me when you are worried about something. I probably can help.”
The king of the Citadel sighed, rubbing his aching head and ordering his heart to slow its rapid beating. “I had a nightmare, that’s all.”
“What is Them?”
It was Darigan’s turn to smile, though his smile too was slight. “No, Kaeth – not entirely, this time. For once.” He shook his head. “I feel as if something terrible has just happened, though I’m not sure what it is. I will ask the Cybunny Seer tomorrow. But what about you? Surely you weren’t coming here because you knew I was having a nightmare, eh? Even you aren’t that good at reading my thoughts.”
She grinned, but then the grin faded. “I guess I also feel like something terrible is happening. My friend, Cornelius, disappeared a few days back. I don’t know where he’s gone. Do you think the assassins have returned, and captured him? You do know who he is?”
Darigan sighed. “Yes, I do know who Cornelius is. Perhaps he’s paying a visit to Meridell. With the barriers torn down over the differences of the demons and the Meridellians, several of the Citadel have been going down there.”
“I suppose,” she said, though she wasn’t convinced. Then she smiled. “I’m supposed to be your advisor, Darigan. I should be giving you advice, not taking it.”
He smiled. “You are still young, Apprentice Kaeth. There are many things yet for you to learn. It will take patience and understanding, and you and I both know that things will work out. Now, go, and get some rest. I’m sure Cornelius will return soon.”
“What about you? Do you want anything?”
He shook his head. “I’ll be fine. Tomorrow we shall go to the Seer, and see if she has anything to say.”
The following morning, as Darigan woke, he heard a knock at the door. Wondering who it was, he walked over to open it. Kaeth stood there, a worried expression across her face.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
For once Kaeth looked stunned. “We’re... We were going to see the Seer. Don’t you remember?”
Darigan blinked. The Seer? When had he decided he would go see her?
“Are you alright?” Kaeth asked, the worried look on her face intensifying.
“I don’t remember talking about the Seer,” he admitted.
Her eyes widened. “Last night, you had a nightmare. You said we were going to see the Seer. You don’t remember?”
Darigan shook his head.
Kaeth looked puzzled. “Perhaps it was all my own dream,” she murmured. “I’m sorry I bothered you.” She turned to leave.
“Kaeth, wait. Let’s go to the Seer anyway. Perhaps she has something to say.”
The Zafara nodded, though her eyes still reflected her puzzlement. “For some reason,” she said carefully. “I feel like her words are not going to be pleasant.”
The blue Lupe stared up at the dawning sky, watching the last and brightest stars fade away, and wondered if any of those stars were her parents. Yet if the fading lights could hear her thoughts, they gave no notice, for after a few moments they were swallowed away without a sign.
As the first Lady Knight of Meridell, Avari had many things she wished to ask her parents about. It wouldn’t hurt to be given some advice, especially advice that wasn’t biting or rude.
She sighed. Although there were some that considered her a hero for helping Sir Raatri to overcome Blake and the Nightmares, many still would not accept a female knight. She growled her frustration. Why would they not understand that she was trying her best!? When would they learn that she was to be a knight in Meridell until she breathed her last breath?
She clawed at the ground, her anxiety overwhelming her. It had been hard enough to convince her knight-master, the former knight Aleron, to let her become a knight. She had assumed that she would then be accepted by more. Yet day by day she faced the same problems, and there was no hope in sight for a release from her troubles!
She let out her breath slowly, letting her tensions escape with it. There was no use fretting over her situation. She would just have to continue proving herself until the day when others began to accept her for what she was.
“Avari?” a familiar voice called. She turned around and rubbed her head against her friend’s neck, then stepped back and sat down. The dark Darigan Lupe that stood before her was a handsome creature, down to the silvery light that flickered in his crimson eyes. Raatri was Avari’s best friend, and she wasn’t sure what she would do if she suddenly lost him.
“Fretting again?” he asked lightly, and she wished that he didn’t know her so well.
“Guess so,” she replied.
He sat down as well. “Your parents will not be able to help you, Avari,” he said softly. “You must find your own way to carry on their legacy. Just remember that I am also here to help you.”
She smiled. “You are a true friend, Raatri.” Only a true friend would offer help when he was also drowning in his own troubles. “I’m glad that I know you.”
“Well, since I’d be dead now if you hadn’t saved me, I’m most certainly glad that I know you.”
She laughed, remembering the time when Aleron and the late knight Tamal had nearly destroyed Raatri when he had first appeared to them. The Raatri of then and the Raatri of now were so different. Raatri then had been unsure of himself, trying to find his place in the world. The Raatri of now was wise and certain, able to patiently solve his problems.
She wished she were more like him.
The dark Darigan Cybunny, who was Seer of the Citadel, hushed Kaeth and Darigan as they entered, her eyes wide with the coming of something strange and beyond the sight of either the king or the apprentice-advisor.
“The two who once were different will become like all others, and yet they will find the strength within to face the ultimate betrayal and final trial. Opposing legacies will collide as thunder, and all the fate of the world will rest in the outcome.”
The harsh voice the Seer had just spoke in ceased. She looked to them. “That is the new prophecy,” she said. “That is what you came to discover, is it not?”
Both Darigan and Kaeth stood stunned. Finally Kaeth spoke. “What does it mean?”
The Seer shook her head. “I do not know.”
Even as she finished, the Seer shuddered and fell to the ground.
Darigan and Kaeth stared in stunned silence at the fallen Seer, heads mechanically rotating to stare at each other as if to ask ‘do you see what I see?’ When she had shifted and fallen to the ground, they had thought it was an effect of the prophecy she had foretold. Yet when Darigan had reached to steady her, she had been ice cold and unmoving. Kaeth, with her sensitive hearing, was able to detect a heartbeat and breath, yet the Seer would not wake no matter what they did.
And then, she had changed.
Such magic could only be of dark.
To be continued...