The Chronicles of Knight III: End of Nightmare - Part Four
Five years ago, in a dark and cold land...
The land was dark and cold. There was no sound that fell into Avari’s ears – nothing but a deep and impenetrable dark cold that seemed to press on her like a thick, icy blanket. She could see nothing. Nothing. Nothing!
She was cold. Too cold. She was in darkness. Too much darkness. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t see. All she could feel was coldness and her own fear.
She was a knight. She was not supposed to fear in the way she feared now. She was supposed to be brave. Brave. Her parents had been brave. She had vowed to be just like them. She had vowed to become a knight. Yet all she could feel now was coldness and fear.
Raatri was gone. Vladimir was gone. Avak was gone. Everyone was gone. She was all alone, and she was cold. So cold.
She tried to run. She could see nothing in the darkness.
Where was she?
She tried to call out. Her own voice sounded distant and fading, like a dream lost on waking. She was so frightened. Like the time her parents had been stolen from her. Like the time when she had entered the Nightmare World.
When she had fought Zev, she could see her enemy. She could react. She had instinct and knowledge. She could fight the darkness.
Here, she could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. Her only companion was the cold.
And her own fear.
She did not know how long she was in the darkness. Minutes, hours, days. An eternity? She ran, and ran, and ran. Was she going anywhere? She couldn’t tell. Her ragged breath could barely be heard over the deep darkness that pressed on her ears. There were no landscapes to judge how fast she traveled, nothing to show that she had gone even an inch from where she had started. This was a nightmare she couldn’t escape from.
She gasped – or at least, she tried to. The gasp was distant and faint. Yet a new emotion was stirring in her mind, riding alongside the cold and the fear. It was hope.
In the distance she could see a light. A light in the darkness! She then began to hear a voice calling to her, more distant and fading than even her own, distorted by this nightmare she lived in.
She only had to run to that light, she knew in her heart, and she would be safe. She knew that voice. That was the voice of her dearest friend. He wouldn’t mind that she had been frightened for a moment. He wouldn’t mind.
“Raatri! Raatri! Wait for me!” she called to the voice that called her name.
Follow Raatri’s voice, she told herself. Follow the light and the voice.
Raatri shivered, and he could not tell if the icy cold that had surrounded him for so long was fading or not. Like Avari, he had opened his eyes to find himself in darkness and cold. Unlike Avari, he hadn’t immediately fallen into fear. He had lived in a cold dungeon of a room for most of his life, and thus he was used to the cold. Yet Avari’s touches with extreme cold would only bring her bad memories, and thus she would fear.
He knew immediately that this darkness and cold was some type of curse, for he had seen similar effects on others. He also knew that he wasn’t truly awake – that this cold and darkness were only parts of the spell, and that after a while it would be lifted and he would wake. Thus, he had lain down on the nothing-ground and waited.
Once he heard the voice of Avari cry out; but the voice was so distant and faint that he wasn’t sure if it was only a figment of his imagination. He had waited a moment, listening, yet the voice didn’t cry out again.
Yet he was suddenly filled with the urge to rise and find a way out of this darkness. It was not fear – it was the understanding of the necessity to find Avari very soon. He felt that she was in deep trouble. Fear and cold, with no escape. He needed to find her and then find a way out.
“Avari! Avari! Avari!”
His voice was distant, like a dream fading. Yet less than a moment later he heard the voice of Avari answering him.
Wait for me...
The words were faint and distant, yet he knew that she had heard him. He arched out his wings and jumped into the darkness, thunderclaps also faint in the cold-darkness he had wandered into. He flew as hard as he could toward the direction he felt that he voice had come from. A light appeared somewhere in the distance. He knew deep in his heart that he would find Avari there.
Just fly to the light...
He could feel grass around him, and he knew that he was back in the field. He wasn’t sure if he had actually made it to the light he had flown toward, yet no matter – he was out of that nightmare.
He opened his eyes.
The sky was all in color. Sunset. The sun was setting. Was it even the same day? How long had he lain there, flying and flying and flying, yet never seeming reach the end to the darkness and cold? Had any tried to find them?
He blinked, and lifted his head to look to the skies. The stars were beginning to shimmer. Soon the night would be over them. They would have to go back to the castle before then.
Somewhere in the grass in front of him, he heard Avari shift. She lifted her head and looked around to find him. She stared into his eyes, her eyes widening in shock.
The Seer lifted her head, knowing something was wrong by the looks in Darigan and Kaeth’s eyes. She had been in deep darkness and cold, unable to escape. She had not feared, though, for her advanced magic could tell that the dark-cold was a curse. She couldn’t yet tell who the spellcaster was, for the coldness numbed some of her thinking.
When she had finally woke, her mind had first felt so exhausted that she had thought to return to sleep. Yet she knew that this matter was direly important. Thus, still lying on the cold stone floor of the Citadel, she had started putting all she knew together. The darkness and the cold were trademarks of a single person, she knew. She remembered... something... A darkness and used magic that was cold and heartless, and she had been unable to prevent it. She would remember later, she knew – for now, her mind was still numb.
Yet something still felt wrong. She couldn’t place who it was, though she knew it was some person she had thought long dead.
She had opened her eyes and lifted her head to see Darigan and Kaeth still there, staring at her in something that might have been stunned horror or shock.
She looked down at her paws, and gasped softly.
“Avari?” Raatri asked softly, not daring to believe what he saw.
“Raatri?” Avari’s voice trembled.
“What has happened to us?”
Avari looked down to her pelt, the looked back up at him. “Raatri... I look like... a normal blue Lupe. Not one like Jeran... Like a normal blue Lupe. And you... You look... You look like a regular Darigan Lupe. Not black... but purple. Raatri, is this a dream?”
Raatri reached down and bit his paw. “Ouch!” he cried, then grinned ruefully at her, trying to relieve some of the trauma he saw in her blue eyes. It didn’t seem to work – she didn’t catch his joke. “No, it’s not a dream, Avari. This is real. Somehow... Somehow we look like normal Lupes.”
“It must have been the darkness and cold.”
“I look like a normal Darigan Cybunny,” the Seer said quietly, though the surprise had left her. She knew what had been done. She had seen what would happen in her prophecy, and it was coming true. The prophecy spoke of Raatri and Avari becoming like normal Pets – and of their new destiny. She wondered briefly if Avari would find the strength within.
“Who has done this to you?” Darigan asked disbelievingly.
The Seer gazed at him steadily, wondering how much to reveal. “That is a simple question to answer, but the answer is quite complex. There was only one who ever created a curse as dark and powerful as this one, but the problem is...”
“Well, he’s been dead several years.”
“That darkness and cold was a spell. I’ve seen it before – but the spellcaster was always the same person.” Raatri’s brow furrowed in confusion as he remembered that detail, and it seemed a glaring warning sign to the rise of an approaching storm.
“Who was the spellcaster?”
“It can’t be true, Avari. That person is dead. He was Blake.”
To be continued...