Alysia's Destiny: Part Four
“Come on, Alysia. Let's see it!” Jester called to me.
I stalked out of the little room where I had been changing and spun around to show Jester the silky blue cloak with the silver stitching. Then I strapped my belt and sword on and looked at him with a mocking heroic look. Jester laughed, and so did I. It relieved a little bit of the stress, but not much, for an enormous task of rescuing my father was near at hand.
Master Nathaniel walked down the hall towards us followed by Master Herenia the pink Zafara, her apprentice the striped Pteri, Lyra, and Master Thomas the red Kougra.
“Ready?” he asked.
Jester and I nodded.
“Excellent. Jester, it is time.”
Jester took a scroll out of his pocket and began to recite some scripture that I didn’t understand. His voice rose, and I began to hear something, like the hum of an engine, and our surroundings began to blur. Green formed at the edges of my vision and slowly melted into a forest scene. The hum stopped and I looked around to find that we were in Meridell, and a full moon hung in the sky overhead between the gaps in the tree canopy.
“Wow,” I breathed.
Jester grinned. “I didn’t take three years of teleportation at the academy for nothing!”
“Alright, everyone, this way!” Nathaniel called. We began a trek through the woods.
Nathaniel led the way through the dark, murky forest, with me and the apprentices in the middle and the two masters bringing up the rear. Blood was pounding in my ears, and the slightest noise sent my heart skipping like it was doing jump rope. As we walked through the gloomy forest, I began to see a dark shape take form through the patches of sky visible beneath the canopy.
“Pellinor’s fortress,” Jester whispered softly in my ear.
Just then, Nathaniel held up his hand for us to stop and walked over to one of the trees. The tree was older, and its bark was knurled, and the base was larger than any of the other trees in the area. Nathaniel pressed on one of the bulging roots with his foot and a hidden entrance in the tree swung open, revealing a staircase spiraling down into the earth.
“After you, young ones,” Master Nathaniel whispered, gesturing down into the tree. Lyra, Jester, and I took a hesitant step forward and began our decent down into the hidden passage.
Inside, the air was musty and dry and smelled like mildew, and the steps were dusty and unusually steep. Lyra let out a little cough, which resounded in the stony passage, but she quickly suppressed it after a sharp hiss from her Zafara master. After a while, the steps melted into a ramp, and then the ramp leveled out so that we were walking down a straight passage with narrow, ancient walls. Then, the steps reappeared and we began an accent up from the depths, and I realized we were nearing the entrance to Pellinor’s fortress.
Jester, who was walking in front of me came to a sudden halt at the top of the steps, and motioned back to Nathaniel, Herenia, and Thomas that he’d come to the entrance. Nathaniel then brushed past him and opened the door with a creak.
He stuck his head in and then turned back to us. “Let’s go.”
We all followed Nathaniel into the room, which turned out to be a long hallway, lined with the same stone as the other rooms. Moving swiftly and keeping to the shadows, we proceeded along the hallway and to a doorway which opened to a steep spiral staircase. We snuck up it to the next level. I nearly bumped into Lyra in front of me several times because it was so dark, but managed to keep my bearings straight. On the next level, Nathaniel led us down a hallway and to a set of giant double doors with a purple Draik emblem carved on them.
“The throne room is through here,” Nathaniel whispered to us in the dark.
“Where are the guards?” Jester hissed, his head swiveling as though he expected to be jumped on any second.
“Pellinor must not be in the throne room,” Nathaniel answered.
He pushed the door open and stepped into the throne room, and we followed silently behind.
The throne room was even darker than the rest of the hallways and I could barely see anything.
“Where are we headed now?” I whispered to Master Nathaniel, though I couldn’t see him.
“To the DUNGEON!!” an unfamiliar voice boomed.
We all jumped. Then there was a ferocious hiss as torches were lit all around the room, and a chandelier sprang to life overhead. I looked around the throne room, in panic. We were discovered, and surrounded by Grarrls!! And on the throne at the front of the room, sat a purple Draik.
“Lord Pellinor,” I breathed.
Jester, Lyra, Thomas, Herenia and I all drew our swords together and circled up so we were facing back to back. Then we heard laughter, and looked to find Nathaniel standing at the foot of Pellinor’s throne. In a single, sickening glance, I realized what had happened. We’d been betrayed.
“There’s no escape now, young ones,” he cackled.
“Master?” Jester squeaked. “What are you doing?”
“My, you catch on slowly,” Pellinor said from his throne.
“You... you betrayed us!” Lyra shrieked. “Traitor! This is a trap! You led us here on purpose! You work for him!”
“Master, NO!!” Jester yelled.
“I trusted you!” Thomas bellowed. “I’ve saved your life before, and this is how you repay me?!”
“Don’t think you can get away with this!” Herenia said. “Master Ferival will save us!!”
“Master Ferival will save us!” Nathaniel mocked. “Actually, it may come as a surprise to you that Ferival is already here!!”
Two of the Grarrls standing off to the side parted to reveal my father, bound in a chair, asleep, and completely helpless.
“FATHER!!!” I screamed. I lunged for the two Grarrls who were holding my father prisoner, but they just knocked me out of the way like I was a feather. In a frenzy, I lurched to my feet and whipped my sword out, even though I knew I didn’t stand a chance against those Grarrls. Pellinor snapped his fingers and the guards began to close in. One grabbed Lyra by the wing, and another disarmed Thomas. Then Jester fell and then Herenia. Then the Grarrls turned to me.
“I’m not going to be taken prisoner!” I hissed at the Dark Lord, holding my sword out in front of me. Pellinor laughed.
“You’re the child of the prophecy?! Helpless little wretch! There’s no way you can defeat me!”
I swung my sword out and attacked one of the Grarrls. He blocked with his sword, and I took another stab at him, but the rest had begun to close in, and then they were upon me. I struggled in the grasp of eight giant hands as they forced me towards the throne.
“Take her to the dungeon.”
The Grarrls took us deep into Pellinor’s fortress, and then threw Lyra, Jester, and me into a cell together, and slammed the iron barred door shut.
Immediately Lyra stood up.
“We have to get out of here!” she hissed. “We need a plan! We have to get the High Master out, and Master Herenia, and Master Thomas!”
I was still in a state of shock. No wonder Nathaniel had been so eager to bring me to the fortress! He was going to turn me over to Pellinor all along! I recalled the uneasy feeling I’d had when I’d first met him. Why hadn’t I seen this coming? I was supposed to be a prophet!
“Alysia?” Lyra asked, looking to me for confirmation of her wishes to escape.
I nodded, then turned to Jester, who was sitting in the floor with his head in his arms. He shivered, and I heard him whimper. In astonishment, I realized that Jester, who always took everything so well, was crying.
“I should have known,” he wailed. “I should have done something. He would disappear for days on end, oh, why didn’t I see it coming!”
Lyra knelt down next to Jester and laid a gentle wing on his shoulder.
“He protected his secret well, Jester. There wasn’t any way you could have known. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“I trusted him,” Jester growled. “I TRUSTED HIM!!”
Just then, like it had in the meeting room when I saved my father, I doubled over on the floor. Jester immediately snapped out of his drama to see if I was okay. Suddenly, my mind started racing along through time without my consent. I closed my eyes as the world swirled around me. When I opened them, I was in the same cell, except that Jester and Lyra were gone, and in their place, was a green Cybunny huddled on the floor.
“Have... to ... escape,” the Cybunny muttered to himself. “Must.”
In a daze the Cybunny began feeling around the stones in the cell. He pushed on the cold stone blocks, ran his fingers in between where they fit together, and pulling on any loose bits. Finally, he seemed to find what he was looking for. He nudged one of the stones, and it slid to one side, creating a gap big enough to crawl through. After a glance through the cell bars to see if he was being watched, the Cybunny disappeared through the space in the wall. Then I blacked out.
I awoke to see Lyra and Jester crouching over me.
“You okay?” Jester asked as I slowly urged my aching body up. I felt the back of my head, where a large, sore bump was forming.
“You just kind of fell backwards,” Lyra explained. “Jester caught you, but not before you knocked your head on the wall real hard. What happened to you?”
“I know the way out,” I answered.
To be continued...