Scarlet Shadow: A Knight's Reckoning - Part Five
Jeran whistled a happy tune as he walked about inside the palace. He was going to be dubbed as a knight in the afternoon! He was graduating a whole month earlier than everyone else. Although, he couldn’t shake the feeling that Crystal and his father were up to something. Merely the way Demion acted was proof enough that something was up. He doubted Crystal’s involvement, however. Whenever he spoke to her, she seemed normal enough. Even with him poking and prodding her to tell him something, anything, she just wouldn’t budge. No, Lord Demion couldn’t keep a secret from his goddaughter. For that matter, Jeran wasn’t even sure if anyone could. “It would be easier slamming my head on a brick wall, trying to get it to crack,” he thought to himself.
Rounding the corner, he bumped into the princess herself. Welrin was with her. After Jeran’s speedy recovery, the old Lenny had decided to stay and become the chief medic, as well as tutor for some of the squires. His main lesson: listening. After only a month, he had all the younger squires quieted down and listening to their other tutors. “Oh hello, Jeran,” the Sensei greeted. “Where are you off to on this fine midmorning?”
“Nowhere,” the Lupe replied. “I’m just trying to pass the time. I’m getting REALLY excited for this afternoon.”
“Why don’t you come with us?” Welrin offered. “I could go with one more tag-along.”
“Sure!” Jeran exclaimed, relieved that he had something else to do besides twiddling his thumbs. The fact that he had to wait the whole morning was bad enough, but being excused of duty for the whole day was even worse! “Where’re you two off to?”
“Illusen’s Glade,” Crystal replied. For the slightest moment, Jeran saw her eyes turn indigo. Something was up...
When they arrived at the Glade, Illusen greeted them. “Hello, Welrin, Crystal, Jeran, what brings you here?”
“I’ve come to ask if you might, by any chance, have any more Dien herbs,” Welrin replied. “We have had more than enough cuts and bruises this past month to last us a war!”
Illusen smiled. “You know I always keep stock of them. They’re in the back.” Welrin did his usual tip of the head and left the three to themselves.
The earth Faerie suddenly seemed tired. Her wings began to droop and her eyes grew distant. “Crystal,” she stated, “be a dear and get me a bag of my tea, will you? It’s in my room, inside the chest. You’ll find it inside a box.”
The princess nodded and made her way to Illusen’s bedchambers. Upon entering, Crystal had no trouble whatsoever locating the chest, as well as the tea. Another thing easy to find was the large wooden box. She smiled. So this was what Illusen REALLY wanted her to find. She carefully opened it. Inside lay two chunks of metal. One was a strange wood-color; the other was smooth to the touch. In fact, she had first seen it as a brick, but closer examination proved otherwise. Although the top was smooth, the sides were quite jagged. Crystal ran a finger over the edges. She winced. Her finger was bleeding. “I wonder what this’ll be like when sharpened...”
A hooded figure entered Heriol’s workshop. He didn’t even have to guess who it was. “My Lady,” he greeted, bowing before the princess as she dropped her hood.
“Hello, Heriol,” Crystal replied. Her arm emerged from her white cloak as she handed him a large wooden box. “Will this be enough?”
The Draik blacksmith took the box and opened it. He gasped. “Turstone Ore?!” he exclaimed, lifting the jagged-edged rock.
Crystal nodded. “Illusen knows where to find even the rarest metals.”
Heriol picked up the smaller rock, examining it closely. “Well, never in my life have I seen, nor heard, of a metal like this. Where did you get it?”
“It’s for the hilt,” Crystal said, watching the Draik weigh it in his hand. “Illusen and I came up with a combination of minerals in order to create the perfect endurance level. We were planning for it to be used instead of Turstone Ore, but unfortunately the end result was heavier than we expected.”
“What is it called?”
“We weren’t very concerned as to its name,” Crystal admitted.
The Draik went into his back room and emerged with the fuller for the sword. The fuller was basically the innermost part and was somewhat lighter than the outer edges of the blade. It had a simple design about it. A few swirls and spade images were its only decoration. The outer edges and the point had not been forged yet, seeing how the princess had insisted upon bringing him a more suitable metal. Heriol had not been expecting Turstone Ore, though. The ore was one of the sturdiest metals ANY kingdom knew. It was easy to sharpen, and was versatile and light when forged into a blade.
The blacksmith placed the block into a stone bowl and blew hard on it. Fire flew from his mouth and melted the Ore. As he continued his work, Crystal watched. She was amazed by how fast the Draik could work. She grinned. Only the best blacksmith in the land could forge a sword like the one she was requesting. The blade had to be light and powerful; the hilt sturdy and slip-resistant. When she had thought of the gift, she wanted to make sure the best, and only the best, would forge it. One other case was that Heriol was the fastest. Seeing how she had come up with the idea of a sword the morning before, speed and efficiency were needed.
Within three hours, it was finished. Welding, forging, sharpening, all were finished. The hilt had also been forged and the handle was fitted with Heriol’s special fabric, tougher than any others of its kind. To Crystal it had seemed as though only three minutes had passed. She walked over and examined the weapon. She held it up and twirled it in her hand. The balance was perfect. The weight was perfect. The appearance? Flawless.
Sheathing the sword in a leather scabbard, she turned to Heriol. “Thank you,” she stated, tipping her head in the same manner as her sensei. She reached for the bag of gold coins she was carrying and gave it to Heriol. “Here’s the other half of your payment.”
“I should be the one thanking you, My Lady,” Heriol replied, accepting the bag. “You allowed me to forge the blade of our future champion...”
“I dub thee, Sir Jeran Borodere, Champion of Meridell and Protector of the Land!” King Skarl bellowed, tapping the sword on Jeran’s shoulders, then his head. “Rise!”
Jeran was stunned. He was Champion?! How could he be CHAMPION?! Everything had happened all so suddenly. Skarl had announced that Lord Demion, past Champion and Jeran’s adoptive father, had decided to resign. The king then announced that a new champion had been chosen. Before he knew it, Jeran had become Champion!
“You have done well, my boy,” Skarl stated. “You may have not known, but your father would tell me at every Council meeting of your advice to ANY of the matters, and I found it to fit almost every problem. We have watched you very closely over the years, knowing that by this time your skill with the sword would be beyond any we have seen before. It was a unanimous decision.”
Jeran bowed. His whole body was shaking. Champion? Him?! The fact was still sinking in. He turned to have everyone around bow in respect to him. Even Crystal curtsied, and he knew how much she hated doing that. He felt strange. Never in his life could he have anticipated that his childhood dreams would be fulfilled. He bowed. “I don’t deserve this honor,” he stated.
“Yes, you do,” Crystal responded in such a tone that everyone in the room burst out laughing.
Jeran chuckled. “I’ll make you all proud...”
Jeran’s sentence was cut off by the splintering of glass from behind him. Everyone ducked. A strange hissing noise echoed into the ballroom. Everyone turned. A bunch of monstrous yellow Techos ran inside. Jeran reached for his sword, only to remember that he didn’t bring it with him to the dubbing. “The ONE time I forget...”
Crystal reached behind her, grabbing at thin air. “I REALLY have to get a scabbard that’ll match a dress!” she exclaimed, ducking as one of the Techos attempted to claw at her. She kicked it in the mouth and ran for her room.
Jeran was relieved when he saw Crystal running off with the other nobles. He focused on getting the dubbing sword. Unfortunately for him, the sword was not very sturdy. It was, after all, just for show. It shattered with the first Techo’s swipe.
The Techos looked at him, their smiles menacing. They were about to pounce on their prey when suddenly: “Sorry I’m late!”
Jeran looked up in time to see Crystal’s sword drive itself into one of the Techo's feet. It gave out a wail of pain and bounded off, limping and leaving them to handle the rest of the monstrous beasts. Lord Demion was a few feet away, driving the other Techos away by waving his sword about in a threatening manner. One of the Techos ran up fast and hit Demion hard across his chest, it sharp claws cutting through his armor like a hot knife through butter. The impact of the blow threw the knight out through one of the open doors. The Techos quickly closed and locked every door leading in or out of the palace.
Crystal unbuckled the belt scabbard from her chest and handed it to Jeran. “Happy dubbing!” she exclaimed.
Jeran unsheathed the sword, stunned at first by its beauty, then by its performance as he took out a Techo from behind the princess. “Well, I wasn’t expecting something like THIS!” he yelled, keeping Crystal’s back guarded while she did the same.
“What DID you expect?” the Acara questioned.
“A party, I guess,” Jeran replied.
Crystal giggled. “You know, we’re goofing off in here while everyone outside this room is probably freaking out about us... well, BEING in here!”
Jeran let out a hearty laugh. “True.”
Before either could say another word, the large main doors were rammed into by a giant battering ram. Lord Quinto led the charge. Valrigard was by his side, as well as about fifty more squires, knights, and soldiers. But all were too late. The monsters had fled, leaving behind two exhausted young warriors – exhausted, but laughing. “What’s so funny, guys?” Valrigard questioned, offering his hands to the companions.
Crystal was near to tears. She was gripping her arm. It was bleeding, but that wasn’t the reason for the tears. “Nothing, it’s just, we were attacked by giant, Techo-looking... THINGS!”
“We both thought we were goners! Imagine being killed by a monster that sounds all too scary to be real!” Jeran exclaimed. The two stopped laughing. They looked at each other. Crystal’s arm suddenly felt a lot more painful. “Wait a minute,” Jeran stated, “We were almost killed... by monsters...”
“Are you alright, My Lady?” Quinto questioned, taking note of the princess’ arm.
Crystal stood up, but not without pain coursing through her body. “I’ll be fine,” she stated, nothing about her revealed the true sting of the wound. “I’ll need some messengers to go to each village on Uniback. We need to get to the bottom of this thing.”
“My Lady, you need to rest...”
Crystal looked the knight with her darkened indigo eyes. Her voice was cold. “No, what I need is to know where these things are from and if there are more of them. We need to get this situation under control before these... THINGS get to harm any villagers.”
“My Lady, we need to get you to safety.”
“What did I just say?!” Crystal shot back. “I’ll be fine, now get me those messengers!”
To be continued...