Greatclaw: Part Seven
Part Seven: A Hidden Door
Ac’real growled with angry rage at the new revelation. “How can he still be so masterful at sword fighting?”
The hooded figure that had stood before him before seemed indifferent. “It is a confusing situation. I can only assume that the spell did not completely strip him of his former abilities, as intended.”
The Kougra snarled angrily. “This makes things harder.”
“Yes, it does; however, there is also an aspect that makes it easier.”
Ac’real looked at the figure directly. “Explain.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” barked the other figure in surprise. “He is one of you now! He can gain the sword and we can persuade him to activate his powers without him even realizing who we are! And we can dispose of him in one fell swoop.” The figure flicked a pale hand. “Do you see now?”
“Yes, the path is clearer.” Ac’real bowed his head. “Forgive me for doubting you.”
“It’s no matter.” The figure’s fingernails dug into the wood railing beneath them. “Just make sure he does not discover the truth about himself.”
Ac’real bowed. “Of course, my Lady.”
Dredian spent his mornings sparring with the others knights. The afternoons he spent with Nieror, combing through the library in search of research on Creal. At first, Dredian had no particular interest in learning about the guardian Faerie, but, after learning a bit about her, his interest piqued, and he was dying to discover more.
It wasn’t until two days after his bout with the Grarrl knight, however, that he really found out something new about Creal.
“I found another book with information about her,” Nieror called up the ladder on which Dredian stood.
He looked down at her. “Anything new?”
She shook her head sadly. “Only the usual. She was Meridell’s protector before Illusen, she helped Meridell out in many wars, and she hasn’t been seen since Greatclaw disappeared.”
“Oh, boy,” said Dredian with a sigh, banging his head against the wooden bookcase.
“Calm yourself, Dredian,” Nieror said as she returned the book to its place on the shelf.
“This is hopeless! Are we ever going to find out more than that about Creal?”
Nieror frowned and leaned back against the wall near the bookcase. “Maybe, if we-” She was cut off abruptly as the wall opened behind her. With a yelp of surprise, she fell backwards.
“Nieror!” cried Dredian in surprise, sliding down the ladder and racing over to where she had fallen.
She groaned and picked herself up off the stone floor, rubbing the back of her head. She looked behind her at the dark hallway that had opened up. “What in the world?” she asked in surprise.
Realization hit Dredian like a rock. “There’s a hidden door in the library.”
“Wonder what’s down there?” Nieror whispered in awe.
“There’s only one way to find out.” Dredian began to set out down the path.
“Wait!” Nieror cried. Dredian halted as the servant ran a grabbed a torch off of the wall. She smiled slightly. “Now we can go.” With that, she led the way down the passage. Dredian followed, shutting the newly found door closed behind them.
The hallway was long, and the many cobwebs that adorned the walls proved that it had not been used for a very long time. The footsteps of the two neopets echoed eerily in the darkness. Just as Dredian began to believe that the hallways would go on forever, the hallway opened to reveal a large, circular room. Along walls of the room were chests, along with armor, shields, and various weapons. In the center of a room, a worn book lay on the floor.
“This has the feel of a graveyard,” whispered Nieror hoarsely.
Dredian went over to one of the chests and opened it, only to find an assortment of items inside. “But it's not,” he argued. He looked around the room and narrowed his eyes. “It seems familiar, though.”
Nieror seemed oblivious to his comment, however, as she walked forward and picked up the book. She brushed some dust off the cover and read, “‘Journal: Greatclaw’s Tale Told by his Second.’ That’s interesting.”
“Lengthy title,” murmured Dredian, uninterested.
“There could be something about Creal in here.” Nieror waved the book.
“Worth a try, I guess,” Dredian said with an indifferent shrug.
“What, aren’t you interested in Greatclaw?” Nieror’s voice was teasing.
Dredian didn’t know how to reply. He liked the story of Greatclaw because it gave him hope of becoming a knight, but he knew the story well enough already. Also, there was something else about the ancient knight that kept him from being as excited about the story as many were. Even so, he said, “Well, are we going to look or what?” Nieror smiled and flipped open the journal as Dredian walked over.
They scanned the pages, but only noticed what was common knowledge, except for the fact that this knight had been so taken by Greatclaw’s skills that he had been inspired to write about them in his journal. However, as they got closer to the end, something else spiked Dredian’s interest, but also made a shiver crawl down his spine. It was of when Greatclaw and a few other knights had taken the King and Queen of Meridell towards Brightvale to seek help with their war with the bandits. On the pages was inscribed:
After I mentioned Greatclaw’s name, a voice spoke, saying that he’d expected Greatclaw to be more. Then, smoke swirled up in the path in front of us to reveal a strange, hooded figure. I was afraid, but Greatclaw didn’t seem afraid until the figure mentioned his intentions. He was to kill Greatclaw, and stop the rest of us, along with the King and Queen. Greatclaw was determined, but the figure attacked with something, which appeared to be a sword forged completely of darkness, and stabbed the Uni he was riding on. Greatclaw was thrown off, and his steed fell, thought she didn’t seemed to be very hurt, only stunned.
The next part was what frightened me most, however, for the figure summoned beings made purely of dark magic to confront us. He said that he wanted us killed, and the King and Queen captured. I heard Greatclaw cry, “No!” before the dark beings were upon us. I tried to fight, but you can’t fight something that’s pure magic with a sword. I was blinded by darkness, and feared we would all die.
Then a bright light intruded, sending the darkness away. I heard voices, but could not tell whose they were. I was stunned. I lay on the ground for some time before I was finally able to open my eyes. They flew wide when I saw that the Guardian of Meridell, Creal, stood there, facing an injured Greatclaw. Suddenly, Greatclaw fell backward. His body shimmered before shrinking. Suddenly, his steed ran up and knocked Creal away. Something went flying away into the forest, and Creal gave a cry of dismay. “Why did you attack me?” she cried, as appalled as I was.
“Because I know you are not all you claim to be,” the Uni said. She turned to me then. “Take Greatclaw’s sword and get the King and Queen out of here! Don’t let her get to it!” I protested, worried about both her and Greatclaw, but she shook her head. “Greatclaw is fine, and the safety of Meridell is more important than my life. Now go!” And she tossed me the sword, which I grabbed and, after a moment of hesitation, left with the King and Queen.
Dredian inhaled deeply and looked away. Visions flashed before his eyes, visions of dark beings attacking him out of nowhere, two strange voices, and, to his surprise, falling into a deep slumber under the spell of a light faerie. “What’s going on?” he murmured to himself.
Nieror didn’t hear his quiet remark. “It says that after the bandit war was won, Creal resigned her position as Guardian of Meridell to Illusen, and Greatclaw’s sword was placed in the treasury.” She sighed and closed the book. “And there it ends.”
So, it’s Greatclaw’s sword that the boss wants me to get, Dredian thought sadly. “What did Creal do to Greatclaw?”
Nieror shrugged. “Not sure. She may have teleported him somewhere, she may have changed him into something else, or she may have changed him back into an egg, for all I know.”
Dredian’s blood suddenly ran cold. “What?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.
“I know, doesn’t seem very likely, does it?” She sighed and set the book back on the floor. “I think this whole thing is just a fanciful tale by a knight who was in a state of shock.”
“Maybe,” Dredian agreed, but something was still tugging at the back of his mind. Many things, actually. His egg had been found in the forest where Greatclaw had disappeared; his uncanny certainty that Greatclaw didn’t run away; the strange dreams he’d been having lately; his ability to fight with a sword so well and the other knight’s remark.
“Well, I guess we’re not going to find anything else down here.” Nieror sighed and combed a paw through her hair. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Dredian nodded absently, worry creasing his features. “Ok,” he murmured. Still, his legs felt rooted to the spot as he considered the possibilities. As interesting as it might be, it made him nervous.
“Dredian, are you coming?” Nieror called from up ahead. He only then noticed that the room had grown dark from the lack of torchlight.
“Yeah!” he called, and raced down the hallway towards the Wocky. He smiled slightly and pushed away the strange thoughts. It couldn’t be him. After all, he would probably remember if it was. Turning back into an egg didn’t mean his memories would be obliterated... right? Blaming the strange thoughts on lack of sleep, he bushed them to the furthest corners of his mind. There's no way in the world they'd be true, he growled silently to himself. Then, he added mentally, It's just a legend; it can't be anything more.
To be continued...