Greatclaw: Part Two
~1000 years later~
Part Two: Dredian
“You little thief!” spat a voice. Dredian’s head swung up from the book he was reading to find out who had called. He glanced over and saw an angry looking Aisha nearby. She stormed over to the Faerie Draik. “That’s my book!”
“No, it’s not,” replied Dredian in dismay. “It belongs to the Orphanage library!”
“Well, I checked it out last, so it’s my book until I return it!” She snatched the book out of Dredian’s grasp before he had a chance to react.
Dredian snorted with frustration. “Snob,” he snarled under his breath.
The Aisha seemed oblivious to his comment. She scanned the cover. “‘The Great Knights of History,’” she read. She turned to glare at Dredian. “I didn’t think you liked history much.”
“I don’t, much,” Dredian muttered.
“So, why did you steal it?”
Dredian seethed with anger at the accusation, but kept his frustration in check. “I didn’t steal it. It was lying on the nightstand, and I thought I’d look at it.”
“Oh, so you just wanted to brush up on your history?” the Aisha asked scathingly.
“I wanted to learn more about knights!” Dredian cried, frustrated.
“I don’t see what you find so interesting about neopets playing with swords,” the Aisha said, oblivious to Dredian’s growing frustration. Then, with a curious glint in her eyes, she added, “Which one was it?”
“Greatclaw,” Dredian replied. He loved the tales about the heroic knight who went from a simple beggar on the streets to the King’s Champion. Greatclaw had fought many battles for Meridell, and always was kind to the common folk of Meridell, because he remembered what that was like. It was said that the king had even appointed him next in line, since he had no heir, until the brave knight disappeared while escorting the king and queen to Brightvale during a dangerous war. After that, King Skarl’s family had taken the throne.
“Greatclaw?” the Aisha scoffed. “You mean, the knight who ran away?”
“He didn’t run away!” Dredian hissed angrily. He had read all about Greatclaw; he didn’t think the knight would run away from danger.
“Then why did he disappear?” the Aisha quizzed. Dredian couldn’t answer that. He had tried to puzzle that out ever since he had first heard Greatclaw’s legend. However, he never could quite piece together what had happened to the Draik knight.
Dredian stared out the window, and a wistful note entered his voice as he said, “Wouldn’t it have been exciting to meet him?”
The Aisha threw him a hard glare. “Maybe. But that was one thousand years ago.”
Dredian shrugged and put thoughts of Greatclaw aside. What had really happened the day Greatclaw had disappeared from Neopia would remain a mystery, for the knight was surely long dead by now. But what he could still dream of was one day becoming a knight. However, that might very well remain a dream. Almost every knight in the castle had squires. Only the King’s Guard, Tormund, and Jeran didn’t have squires. Because of Tormund’s youth, he was not yet allowed a squire, even though he had gotten plenty of experience battling the Darkest Faerie. The King’s Guard would only train squires who were going to become a part of the King’s Guard, and Jeran would only train a squire that showed great promise. “To be a knight,” he whispered to himself.
However, the Aisha caught his words. She snorted. “I wish they had never brought your egg here,” she snapped before stalking away.
“So do I!” he yelled back. Dredian remembered first learning about his past. A shopkeeper had found his egg in the forest that stretched between Meridell and Brightvale. His egg would have been sold at the food shop if the owners of the orphanage hadn’t found his egg and brought it here, where he still lived sixteen years later. He snorted with frustration. He should be allowed to leave now. However, the managers of the orphanage had told him specifically that he was not allowed to leave their care until he was eighteen.
Dredian pushed himself up from his sitting position and walked to the window. He looked out at the busy Meridell streets from his second-story view. He remembered abruptly that it was the day for the farmer’s market. Nearly every farmer within Meridell’s borders would be bringing their goods to the marketplace in Meridell. He snorted. Might as well see what’s going on, he thought to himself.
He crept down the hall silently. The residents of the orphanage weren’t allowed to leave without permission from the managers, and he did not wish everyone to know where he was going. Luckily, he had snuck out many times before, and only been caught once. He managed to make it out the door without a sound.
Outside, bright sunshine greeted him and a cool breeze ruffled his ragged clothes. A small smile danced on his lips as he looked around the busy streets. He slipped though the throng and began to explore the various stands the farmers had set up.
Dredian soon began to grow bored when he saw that, once again, most of the farmers had brought harvest. Still, in past years some had brought other trinkets to sell, and he retain the hope that he could find one who sold them. He had no neopoints to buy them with, but he did enjoy looking at them. His persistence was rewarded when he found a small group of stands littered with clay sculptures, interesting trinkets found lying about, maps, and petpets. Dredian stopped to look at a sculpture shaped like a roaring Gallion when someone bumped into him from behind. “Hey!” cried Dredian, jumping with surprise.
“I’m sorry!” exclaimed the Wocky almost simultaneously. Her green fur was ruffled and brown clothes patched up roughly. She held a basket in her hand, which was filled with an assortment of the farmers’ produce. “I didn’t see you there.”
“Obviously,” muttered Dredian. He eyed her basket of food and said, “So, did you come over here to inspect the sculptures?”
The Wocky laughed and shook her head, hazel eyes flashing. “No, I don’t have money enough for that.” She paused. “Well, I actually don’t have any money at all.”
“The how did you buy those juppies?”
“King Skarl lent me the neopoints to buy them.”
Dredian started in surprise. “King Skarl? Why would he loan you neopoints?” He stared at her for a moment before realization jolted through him. “So, you’re one of the palace servants?”
The Wocky nodded briskly. She looked away from his eyes. “It was a pleasant, if brief, talk, sir,” she said, taking on the submissive pose of a servant.
“Wait, I didn’t mean it-” he broke off as the Wocky raced away. “-like that,” he murmured, looking resigned. He grimaced, angry with himself for making such a stupid mistake. He turned and walked away from the stand he was at to another.
Suddenly, he heard a cry over the buzz of the market place. “Stop! Thief!” Dredian whirled around in surprise, and ended up colliding with a frantic Techo.
The Techo immediately jumped up and shook himself. “Quick, you’ve got to hide me!” he wailed.
“Why?” asked Dredian.
“Because they're chasing me for doing something I didn’t do!” he wailed.
Dredian flinched. He knew that this could just be a ruse, but he didn’t think it fair that someone should be punished when they had done nothing wrong. “Who’s chasing you, and what are they accusing you of?”
“Two knights are chasing me, and they’re accusing me of stealing!”
Dredian paused. That was what the ruckus was about. He was about to inquire further when two knights, a Scorchio and a Lutari, ran up to them. The Scorchio looked at them quizzically. Then he glared at the Techo. “You’ve got some explaining to do.”
“Please, I didn’t do anything!” the Techo pleaded, his eyes glowing.
“Don’t deny it!” snarled the Lutari knight. “We saw you do it!”
“I didn’t do it!”
“Search him!” barked the Scorchio, and the Lutari immediately began to pad the Techo down. He smiled when he found a lump hidden beneath the Techo’s robe and pulled out a cloth bag, within which they found various food items. The Scorchio glared at the Techo. “Well, why were you hiding this?”
The Techo looked fearful before finally breaking. “All right, I did steal them, but I had reason! My family’s hungry and we can’t afford food! Please, I beg your pardon!”
The two knights hesitated, clearly nervous that his pleas were true. “What should we do?” queried the Lutari knight.
The Scorchio sighed. “What the law dictates. He must pay the fine.”
The Techo’s eyes widened with dismay. “But I don’t have the neopoints!”
Dredian felt a jolt of pity rush through him. It wasn’t fair that this Techo had to pay the fine when he couldn’t even feed himself. Even so, he remained silent as the Techo was dragged off to the Recruitment Center to try and reason out the payment.
Dredian knew that the knights were just fulfilling their duty, but something echoed at the back of his mind; something that said this would not end well. With a sudden jolt, he made a decision. He would find out for himself if the Techo was telling the truth.
Then he began to have second thoughts. After all, why should an orphan try to pull off a stunt like this? Still, he felt exhilarated by the thought of the challenge, and couldn’t stand the thought of someone going to prison for trying to feed their family. With a swift nod, he made his decision. He took a deep breath before heading back towards the orphanage. He needed to get ready for the night that was ahead of him.
To be continued...