Greatclaw: Part Eight
Part Eight: Greatclaw’s Sword
“Listen up, you lot, we need order!” cried Jorde over the clamor in the thieves’ hideout.
“Well, when’s Dredian going to get to it?” snarled a voice.
“Patience,” soothed Tom. “It has to be difficult to get into the treasury, even if you’re already in the castle.” Tom’s words calmed the other neopet only slightly. The Techo sighed with frustration. He wasn’t too thrilled with this plan of getting into the treasury and obtaining this sword, but he was afraid of what would happen to them if they disobeyed their leader.
“Right,” agreed Jorde, though he seemed tense. “We’ll give him a while more before we go to him.”
“What?” screeched another thief. “Can’t we just go to him now and tell him to get it over with?”
“This needs the perfect timing,” replied Tom, frustration edging his voice. “If we’re not careful, Dredian could be caught, and I doubt we’ll be able to get the chance again.”
The angry voices slowly abated after that. Silence shrouded the room for a time before someone shouted through the din, “And what if he doesn’t do it soon?”
Tom heaved a troubled sigh, his gaze drifting towards the ceiling. “If he doesn’t, then... then I’ll go talk to him.”
The routine continued for Dredian over the next week, with sparring in the morning and taking time to comb the library with Nieror in the afternoons. Only, they didn’t spend as much time looking for information Creal, because of the fact that they figured they wouldn’t find anything more about her.
However, they were wrong.
“Dredian!” Nieror cried excitedly, waving a book in the air.
He bounded over to her. “What?” he asked curiously.
Nieror opened the book and pointed to a word on one of the pages. “Look at this name.”
Dredian peered over her shoulder to examine it. He blinked in surprise as he saw the word she was pointing at. “Ac’real?” he said, thinking that both the letters and the name seemed familiar.
Nieror nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! You see how it’s spelled.”
“Of course. What of it?”
Nieror rolled her eyes. “How it’s spelled.” When Dredian still didn’t comprehend, she said, “Creal’s name is in the name Ac’real!”
“Oh,” Dredian murmured, wondering why he hadn’t seen that before. “Right.”
“Honestly, Dredian, sometimes you’re so slow.”
He chose not to reply to her comment. “What do you think it means?”
Nieror scanned the pages quickly, her eyes darkening. “Well, it states here the only thing known about him was that he was a dark assassin. So, if Creal’s somehow got connections with him, then...” she shrugged, not needing to finish.
Dredian blinked rapidly a few times as another scene flew through his mind. “She said she’d had run-ins with him in the past,” he whispered.
Nieror looked back at him curiously. “What?”
He waved his hand, wondering where the vision had come from, both fearing and delighting in what the answer might be. “Nothing.” Then, to take his mind off the strange thoughts that had once again returned to his mind, he asked Nieror something he’d been dying to since he first saw her practicing with her sword in the arena. “Nieror, why are you so desperate to keep your sword fighting hidden?”
She sighed. “Because I love it.” She smiled slightly. “It gives me a way to prove that I’m not only the person I show on the outside. I have a bolder side, too.” Her smile broadened. “It also allows me to relieve stress from the day.”
Dredian laughed. “Can’t blame you there.” They sat there and talked away the rest of the time, thoughts of Greatclaw, Creal, and Ac’real vanishing from their minds.
That night, however, Dredian was forced to remember something else.
As Dredian got ready to sink into bed, he heard a voice from the window. “Dredian!” it hissed. Dredian whipped around and saw Tom clinging desperately to the windowsill. “Can you give me a hand?”
Dredian rushed over and hauled the Techo over the stone windowsill. “What are you doing here? You could easily be caught.”
“I know,” Tom replied with a sigh, “but I need to make sure that you’ve been trying to find ways to get into the treasury.”
“Oh,” murmured Dredian. After staying in the castle for a few days, he’d completely forgotten about it.
Tom seemed to guess that, as well. “You haven’t, have you?”
“Dredian, we can’t wait much longer. You have to get into the treasury and get that sword before there’s an uprising among the thieves!” Tom’s gaze was pleading. “I don’t want the boss to exact revenge on us all.”
Stark horror for the situation came to life within Dredian. He didn’t want others to suffer for his mistake. “Fine. Tomorrow night, I will attempt it.”
Dredian walked silently down the dark hallways of the castle. He had forgone the regal clothes he had worn every day since entering the castle and instead wore the clothes he had worn at the orphanage, along with a brown cloak.
He paused at an opening in the wall and looked around the corner. There he saw two guards standing before a door. That’s the treasury, he said to himself. He pulled his hood up over his head and hoped desperately that his plan would work. He drew his sword and, without any warning, jumped out from behind the wall and lunged for the guards. They both looked taken aback by his sudden appearance, and he was able to knock one unconscious without any trouble at all. Then he was faced with the other guard.
Their swords met in a flurry of sparks. The guard lunged again and again, but Dredian easily parried his blows. He lashed out a few times himself, and though most were parried, he managed to nick the guard in various places. The clash lasted several minutes before Dredian managed to land a savage blow to the sword arm of the guard. He cried out in pain, and his sword was sent flying. Dredian was getting prepared to knock him unconscious when the guard turned and fled. He snorted with contempt. Some guard you are, he thought, until he realized that the guard might not have been just running away, but going for help. There was precious little time.
Dredian went over to the other guard and retrieved the keys to the treasury from his belt. He ran to the door and quickly unlocked it.
He gasped with surprise when he saw the room. Mounds of gold filled the room, so that when he stepped inside, he almost slipped and fell on the coins. Various potions, sculptures, and other items that many would prize lay amongst the golden piles. However, it was the item on the pedestal in the middle of the room that caught his eye, for it was what he had been sent to retrieve.
Dredian walked over to the pedestal and picked up the sword. He was surprised when he lifted it, for its weight felt familiar. He examined it closely. The hilt was silver in color, with five different gems imbedded in it: topaz, ruby, diamond, sapphire, and emerald. A green stripe spiraled along the metal blade from the begging of the blade to the tip. On the pommel was painted a star. It was white, with streaks of blue and red coming from the middle towards the outer edges. Normally, most wouldn’t pay heed to the painting, but Dredian saw a certain power in it that startled him.
As he turned to leave, he blanched with surprise. Before him was Nieror. “Dredian.”
He immediately tried to deepen his voice. “Who’s he?”
“Don’t try to fool me; I saw you in your cloak before.” She looked closely. “So, this is the real reason why you’re here.”
Dredian looked down, ashamed. “Yeah.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Dredian shrugged. “Because I have to,” was all he said.
“But you don’t.” Nieror’s eyes were pleading. “It’s your choice on what you do, and no one else’s.”
Dredian looked from the sword in his hand to Nieror and back again. He heaved a heavy sigh, but knew what he would do. “I am a thief, Nieror.” And with that, he fled, pretending that he didn’t see the hurt in Nieror’s eyes, or the guilt he was feeling now.
He sprang into the air and flew out the window. He kept flying until he was some distance away from the castle. There he landed and began to walk towards the thieves’ hideout, staring at the sword, Greatclaw’s sword, and thinking. He knew Nieror would probably get in trouble for what he had done, but so would the thieves by their boss. “But what I’m doing is wrong,” he whispered. Suddenly, something inside him clicked, that made him stop in his tracks. He realized now that there was something more to the sword. He had sensed it before, but not understood it. Now he knew. It had hidden powers within it. Now he knew that if anyone were to get their hands on it, they could cause more destruction than what would happen to the thieves if he did not come back with the sword.
“So, you’ve finally got it,” said a voice. It was sickeningly familiar.
Dredian looked around nervously. “Who’s there?” he asked.
Suddenly, smoke swirled around the path in front of him. It swirled upward, and collected into a solid figure. There was a cloak on that nearly obscured the figure’s features, but he could still dimly see the face of a Kougra, and knew this was the figure from his dreams. “Your boss, of course.”
“Ac’real,” Dredian hissed, not doubting that the name belonged to him.
Ac’real flinched, but extended a paw. “Give me the sword.”
Dredian drew away. “No.”
“Give it to me, or you and all the members of the organization of thieves in Meridell shall suffer.”
Dredian paused now, fear churning his insides. He didn't want anyone to suffer because of him. He almost handed it over, but a strange revelation held him back. “No,” he repeated.
“Would you want them to suffer because of you?” Ac’real’s smile was cruel.
“No, but I know that you’ll harm more people with this sword than you will if I don’t give it to you.”
Ac’real flinched visibly. “He knows.” Dredian blinked in surprise. The Kougra raised his paw, and a sphere of dark magic formed inside. Dredian tried to react, but his senses seemed dulled, as if they prevented him from escape. “Sleep,” whispered Ac’real as Dredian’s eyelids began to droop. He was dimly aware of the sensation of falling and a startled cry from Ac’real before he left consciousness.
And Dredian the thief slept.
To be continued...