An Iliad: Part Six
Two of the most boring days in Azure’s life crawled by. Day One: Pondering the mysteries of life while staring at the wall. Day Two: Staring at the wall some more while discussing poetry with Kalec. Yes, she was that desperately bored.
When they were in the Special Unit, at least they were doing something, even if it was as dull as walking through a forest. Stuck in her cell, Azure was sick and tired of sitting there, watching the moss grow on the walls.
Every day, the grouchy Darigan Krawk with his weird accent, came by and dumped what he claimed was food into both Azure and Kalec’s cells. It was edible and not the worst thing she had ingested in her life (the worst was her brother Korial’s cooking) but like her cell, it was boring and bland. However, if things were right now, today would be the day when she and Kalec escaped.
“What time is it?” Azure snapped to the Krawk who was lounging against the wall with a bored expression on his face.
“Why da ye want ta know?”
“Just tell me, you imbecile!”
Snorting, the guard left the hall, probably to find a window to see the position of the sun or moon. He came back a moment later. “Sunset,” he grunted. Azure smiled. Perfect.
Azure motioned to Kalec. The Shoyru nodded back. Now all there was to do was more waiting.
Several long hours passed, with Azure staring keenly at her guard, the whole time. Finally, the Krawk nodded off, as he sat down in the middle of the hall. Loud snores filled the almost empty dungeons.
The Draik glanced around one more time, then go to work. She crept over to one of her cell bars. She had selected it because of its thinness and every day, she poured the water that the Krawk gave to her, on it. In the dampness of the dungeon, it only took those two days for it to begin rusting, until metal flakes were peeling off. Now Azure knelt, took her metal bracer and began sawing at the bar, hacking at it like a file. She pushed against the bar, but it still did not yield. So the Draik gathered some of her straw and striking the bracer against a pebble, she made sparks, which she coaxed into a tiny fire.
Next Azure poured the flames onto the weakened bar, watching as the metal turned cherry-red from the heat. At this time, she glanced at the Krawk, but he was still snoring away, in Dreamland. Good.
Azure splashed more of her drinking water onto the bar, observing, as the red faded away, leaving an almost black color in its place. She picked up her bracer again and resumed chopping away. Although the metal was now brittle and much more fragile from the rust and the heating, it still took a good ten minutes for Azure to make a cut that was even half an inch deep. The Shadow Blades did like their “guests” to stay put.
Sweating from the hard work, Azure sat down for a moment to catch her breath. Just then, her guard stirred, and the Draik stiffened, holding her breath. Don’t wake up, don’t wake up, don’t wake up...
Mumbling about Jelly World (huh?!), the Krawk rolled over and his breathing became quiet again. For a moment. Then the snores came roaring back.
Sighing in relief, Azure rose and struck the bar a few more times. Her bracer was getting really scratched and beaten up now. It was made for battle, but not for breaking jail bars.
The Draik examined her handiwork for another second, and then clamped her bracer back onto her wrist. It was so scraped and chafed, the light no longer reflected off of it, at all. Oh well, she would get it fixed when they returned to Altador. Or rather, if they returned to Altador. You’re being pessimistic again, Azure told herself, as she backed up.
She retreated until she felt the walls of her prison behind her. Then she leaned forward, took a deep breath and pushed off the wall in a running start.
Azure twisted in mid-air so that she was going at the front of her cell sideways, and as hard as she could, kicked the single bar that she had been working on. The metal splintered with a loud crack and flew out into the hall. With all the momentum she had gathered, Azure also sailed out of her cage, through the space of two bars she left untouched.
The broken bar landed on the stone floor with an earth-shattering clang, instantly waking the Krawk guard.
“Wha? Whatdaya doin’ ya lil r—!” He sprang up, only to collapse as Azure picked up the bar and bashed him in the face.
Leaving him unconscious on the ground, and ignoring the pain in her leg—which was not made to kick metal—Azure limped over to Kalec’s cell. The Shoyru had done the same thing as Azure had, however he did not have a bracer. He had to use pebbles and his own hands to file at his bars. Ouch. His paws were bleeding, but he did not seem to notice. “Come on, help me out,” Kalec muttered impatiently. The Draik assisted him in doing more damage to his bar and breaking it off.
Finally, they were free. Well, almost. They still had thousands of Shadow Blades to get past, not to mention lots of traps and other nasty things that were bound to be around here.
Azure and Kalec snuck down the hall and opened the door that lead to the richer part of the Shadow Blade’s underground lair. They slipped past the Treasure Room, (Kalec insisted on stealing some stuff from his enemies, although Azure did not see how that would make a difference) and up another corridor. They ducked under arrows from a hidden hatch in the wall. Then they continued on like nothing had happened. They came to a fork.
“Which way?” Azure whispered.
“Left,” Kalec replied.
“How do you know?”
“Shut up and go.”
“How?” she insisted.
“The winds. Now go!”
Surprisingly, he was right. Azure began smelling fresh moist, air and hearing the rumbling of thunder and lots of water falling. It was raining heavily, outside. Outside! Azure broke into a run, as she savored the word silently in her mouth. Outside! After nearly a week spent with the lovely Shadow Blades, trapped underground, it was a blessing to go outside!
They threw caution to the winds and raced up, following the sound of rain. Soon fresh air began lapping at Azure’s scales, tickling her. Outside!
They navigated one more gloomy corridor, before bursting through a gate, up a ton of stairs and finally, outside!
Azure was instantly blasted by sheer rain and winds, was completely drenched from wings to toes in a matter of seconds. But she hardly cared. She let out a whoop and danced around the puddles, all the dirt between her scales washed away in moments. The storm refreshed her and gave her boundless energy. With each flash of lightning, she ran faster, getting far away from the underground prison, Kalec struggling to catch up. Heedless of the dangers, Azure spread her wet wings wide, soaring into the turbulent air to be further bathed by rain. Kalec shouted to her, but his cry was lost in the howling of the tempest, the beautiful, powerful dance of the elements.
Leaving the Shoyru far below, Azure climbed higher and higher, until the fierce winds battering at her face subsided and she was floating above the clouds. The air was thin and very cold, and since she was soaked, Azure was shivering and shaking like a slushie.
She was about to head back down, when a voice whispered loudly in her ear, “Enjoying ourselves, aren’t we?”
Azure whipped around, her paw at her back, where her sword would have been hanging. Except that it wasn’t there. The Shadow Blades had taken it.
Growling in frustration, Azure faced her enemy and gasped when she saw it was a very smug-looking Darigan Kougra.
“So you escaped.” Terelia smirked. “I must say, I’m impressed. Metal bracer, eh? Smart. Smarter than a lot of idiots I’ve worked with. Especially Darwil.”
“Darwil,” she repeated. “Our so-called leader. Thinks so highly of himself, the idiot.”
“You mean the...the...,” Azure broke off, confused.
“The Blumaroo,” Terelia said absently. “He’s a Blumaroo. Never takes off his mask, because he thinks if he does, Jerdana will notice him. Moron. He actually believes these things will protect him.”
She held up her own mask, which had been half tucked away on her belt, and examined it as if she had never seen it before. The brightness of the sky reflected off of it. The mask was white, painted in the manner of a grinning skull. It looked creepy enough, but Azure really doubted that it had any magic.
“Ah well.” Terelia stretched her purple wings further. “I’m afraid I can’t let you live, sweetie. Told you too much about my opinion of our great and mighty leader. I have my cover to keep, you know.”
So saying, she reached into her cloak and pulled out a single needle, that glowed purple. What the heck was that?
“Show me what you got, honey.” Terelia held up her little needle and beckoned with her other paw.
“Don’t. Call. Me. Honey!” Azure snarled, biting off the words one by one to make her point. She charged at the Darigan Kougra, her wings flapping furiously. Terelia easily ducked and stabbed at the Draik with her spike. Concerned that it might at least be poisoned, Azure caught the tip of the needle onto her metal bracer, blocking it, as she kicked her feet at Terelia’s stomach.
The flimsy little needle was far worse than poisoned. No sooner did its tip make contact with Azure’s bracer, the metal began to melt, until the cuff had a hole in it. Azure pulled away, and watched in horror, as a good chunk of her bracer simply disappeared before her eyes, the liquefied parts dissolving into the air. Only a small portion of it remained, allowing the cuff to still stay around Azure’s arm. If the needle had stabbed her...
The Draik was forced to back up, as Terelia went on the offensive, attacking again with her killer-prickle. This was no fair fight. Azure was weaponless and her opponent had magic as well as her mutant needle. Azure hated, detested, running away for any reason, but right now it didn’t look like she had much choice. Up here, alone with Terelia, she was only going to get herself killed. And the end of her was probably going to impact Altador more, than the end of her pride. Running away like coward, it was, then.
Azure growled and tensed, making as if she was about to spring upon Terelia again. The Kougra smiled, leaning back, waiting for the attack. Azure flew forward for about two wing beats, before abruptly turning tail and flying down, as fast as she could. She heard Terelia’s surprised shriek of fury echo behind her. The Kougra would already be giving chase. Azure did not think Terelia was any faster than she was, but not taking any chances, she folded her wings and dove into a free fall, to get away as quickly as gravity would allow.
The Draik burst through the curtain of damp and cold clouds, only to be buffeted by torrents of rain again. She had forgotten it was still pouring down here. Spreading her wings again, she glided down to the ground, and wondered where Kalec was. He was perfectly capable of flying as high as the clouds, too, so why didn’t he follow her? Azure got her answer as she turned around. Kalec was busy dueling Alaric, the Creepy Zombie Guy.
The Shoyru was holding a small rock and trying to defend himself from the Zombie Aisha who had his (trendy) giant broadsword. So honorable, these Shadow Blades. Azure grabbed a rock of her own and pounced on Alaric’s back. He turned and saw her and smiled that freakish smile of his. His empty eyes seemed to focus on her for the first time.
Azure bashed him several times with her stone, but he never flinched once. Stupid Zombies. Alaric threw her off with astounding strength and turned on her. His sword was as long as Azure was tall.
The Draik ducked under the sweeping blade and kicked him in the stomach, the same move she had used on his Kougra buddy. Her foot landed square into Alaric, and although he gave no indication of pain, the force of the kick did send him flying across the grass. As he slowly got up, Azure rushed to Kalec who was breathing quite heavily.
“Are you okay?” Azure asked, concerned.
“Fine,” he replied though gritted teeth, “He just doesn’t get hurt, that’s the problem.”
“I know. This is a fight we can’t win. We have to run.”
“Yeah, but how—?” No sooner did the words leave his mouth, Terelia dove from the gray sky and landed next to Alaric.
“It was fun watching you three mess around,” she remarked, even as she took out that freaky needle of hers. “My brother doesn’t like to fight that often, so sometimes he needs a little encouragement.”
Oh, so that weird, mentally empty, creep was related to her? That explained SO much.
Kalec was the first to attack. He swung his rock at Alaric, who took the hit without much reaction and smashed the flat of his sword into Kalec’s head. The Shoyru was sent flying and plummeted to the earth a second later. He lay still.
Azure charged at Terelia, trying the fake-upwards-then-kick-in-stomach move again. This time, however, the Darigan Kougra was ready and blocked Azure’s kick with her paw. She jabbed her needle at the Draik, who spun away and quickly backed towards Kalec who was half-sitting up, holding his head, dazed.
Azure got into a defensive crouch, then noticed that her arm was searing with sudden pain. As she studied it, she saw a tiny puncture, no bigger than a single scale that wasn’t even bleeding. But Terelia’s needle had gotten her.
Azure struggled to stay on her feet, feeling her head begin to swim. She held her rock in front of her, while the fire seemed to be burning her arm off. She felt like all her scales were being burnt into a pile of ash and blown away by the winds. After a while, the pain subsided into a dull throb and even as Azure looked at it again, the wound was no bigger than before. But Azure felt dizzy and light-headed, sort of like getting hit by sleeping darts. Her legs would not obey her, nor would her wings, which felt completely numb. She could not flee, or even fight.
The Draik looked up, cautiously, and was surprised to see that Terelia and Alaric were not attacking. While they could have taken advantage of their opponents’ weakness, they were instead, just standing there. They were gazing to the east, Terelia looking increasingly agitated. Alaric shook his head, slightly. His sister hissed in annoyance.
“Lucky this time,” Terelia snarled at a very confused Azure, “But we will find you again, don’t you worry, sweetie.”
With that, she and Alaric turned and with lightning speed, ran back in the direction of the Shadow Blades’ hideout.
“Why’d they leave?” Kalec asked, weakly.
“I don’t know,” Azure sat down next to him. “Maybe...”
Just then the sound of rapid footsteps sent Azure and Kalec to their feet, despite their exhaustion. Coming from the east, over a hill, was a group of about a dozen pets. Azure gasped, putting a paw to her mouth. Leading them was a Blue Aisha in a dress, with ribbons that flew in the wind.
Jerdana had found them, after all.
To be continued...