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The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part One


by fierwym

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 Everyone has a choice in what they will or will not do.

     They can do what's right, or what's wrong. Either way, they must choose. It is these choices that determine what will happen to a certain person's future.

     Understanding that, one must also realize that it is not the skin of a person that matters, but the heart that they possess within. Will that person's heart be cruel or kind? Even the most handsome prince can be hated if he does not have the right heart. And the lowliest, poorest man might be loved if he has a kind heart, and chooses the path of the right.

     Then if I were to say someone were a knight, what would you immediately think? Brave, selfless people that are sworn to protect the helpless and go off and rescue damsels in distress. If you think that this tale is like that, I suggest you stop reading. Unless, of course, you want to continue reading on to discover a knight that isn't a knight, and one who isn't a knight, but is.

     If I were to say someone was a knight, then what did I mean, if not the above? Can a person be sworn to valor and honesty, to protect and uphold the helpless, without being dubbed a knight? Of course they can. On the other hand, can someone be dubbed a knight, and then forget his vows? Of course.

     You see, it is not the skin of the person that matters, or even the title of one. Let's say that there is a knight who has forgotten his vows, and one not a knight who follows every code a knight should. Who is more a knight, the one in title, or the one in heart?

     It is not the title one bears that truly tells who they are, but the heart they hold within…

      Part One

A Stroll in the Citadel

Sometime in the far future…

     There was a drowsiness to the air, as if a great slumbering beast lay invisible in the sky, pressing down and causing eyes to close and yawns to come. Most obeyed this silent command to sleep, crawling into their cozy beds and dreaming things only they would know. Most. Not all. Not Raatri.

     The lids over his red eyes were not heavy with the need to sleep. He rarely did so. To one of the villages sleeping below he would be regarded with fear, often hatred. His entire form was frightening to most, except to those of his own kind. He was rather large, nearly four feet at the shoulder; or maybe he only seemed larger because of his proud, determined pose. His inky fur was sleek and usually made one think of snakes slinking through the night. Muscles rippled with each move he made.

     It was his eyes that made him most intimidating. Blood-red, they seemed to take everything in and give nothing back. At times they would reflect so much light that you couldn't look into them, and sometimes they seemed to reflect no light at all, absorbing everything. His eyes were sharp and hard, giving up nothing of the soul within. Giving nothing of the war that raged inside.

     He sat still as a statue, looking with his penetrating eyes to the lands below him. The village was cloaked with wings of darkness, grays and blacks lending some idea that there were rolling hills, trees, and a village there. He blinked once, sighing. He was what they called a Minion, a Demon, and he could not go down and join them.

     He was very different from others. He, like all the other Darigan minions, was born and raised in the Darigan Citadel, away from light, away from everyone else. They were not permitted to leave. They were not wanted outside. There were tales told of minions that had gone outside, and had never returned. Entirely mistrusted, always hated, they were captured, killed, and forgotten.

     So it had been for years. Though Lord Darigan had signed peace treaties with King Skarl, none had been permanent. Darigan had mysteriously disappeared some hundred years before, never to be heard from again. He had been followed by a long line of rulers that never lasted long, and were always usurped. Over that time of wicked kings and minions taking no care to what they did, the minions of Darigan slowly, but steadily, began to be mistrusted. Now, if one were seen, they were killed. All minions stayed within the confines of the Citadel, safe, secure… trapped, imprisoned, because Darigan himself had disappeared.

     Raatri himself had only been out of the Citadel once, long ago. It was against the law, but he had to feel wind rush under his wings. Just a few moments, night without moon or stars, just enough to know that there was something other to life than the continuous drone of a minion's life under a terrible rule.

     The current king of the Citadel was the worst yet. Some called him the Heir of Lord Kass. His name was Blake, and Raatri felt that he'd rather take his chances out in the world than stay forever under his rule. He also felt that if Blake weren't king, then maybe, just maybe, the Citadel could be reunited with the world below. "Maybe's" didn't happen, Raatri knew. At least, they didn't happen for him.

     He sighed again, rose from his sitting position, then began to stretch like a newly awaken Aisha. He shook his head violently, bones crackling under the fury, then slowly stretched once more, trying to loosen the muscles that for so long had held his head up to view the village below.

     He turned around. He was to be considered lucky: he had his own private room. That was his parents' doing. The room itself was small and cold, more like a dungeon than anything else. No decorations cloaked the walls, and the only light came from the barred window he had just peered out from. Bare, like the bones picked dry by scavengers. Indeed, the only other intrusion to the drone of gray stone walls, besides the dark door and the barred window, was a small bed in one corner.

     Home, he thought, sighing again. He wasn't tired, though it was the middle of the night and everyone was sleeping. He couldn't sleep. He was too restless with his thoughts and desires, plagued by the knowledge that he was different from everyone. Not just from non-minions, for all minions were different from them. He was different among his own kind as well, and that only added another puzzle to try and solve. A puzzle with dozens of pieces missing.

     Shivering once against the cool night air that drifted into his room on a beaconing breeze, Raatri found that his mind was already forming a plan. He'd just go for a stroll through the Citadel. Just a stroll. Not too bad. Nothing wrong in it, except that Blake had enforced the rule that none but the Guard should be out of their rooms after dark. The Lupe felt a grin tug at the hard line of his mouth. That should make it all the more fun. Even if he was caught, the worst they could do to him was send him to the dungeon for a week. He was in a higher rank than most… thanks to his parents.

     He walked the short distance to the door, reaching up to slowly turn the handle. Just a quick stroll. Peering out with eyes that took in all and gave nothing back, Raatri glanced about for Guards. Silence. Nothing. Bare. Grin broadening, he stepped out and closed the door behind him. If he just stuck to the shadows and kept his ears pricked for the patrolling Guards, he would be fine. Slipping into shadows, his four paws making only the slightest patter on the cold stone floor, Raatri went for a stroll.

      The first thing that he discovered was that if he were an enemy spy from Meridell, he would have no problem sneaking around and discovering information. Though Guards patrolled the long dark corridors, the crumpling of their useless armor gave them away before sight could even interfere. It gave him a thrill that the dull drone of life before had not. He was a spy. He was important.

     He needed to feel important. For though his eyes were hard and his mouth sealed shut in a tight line across his face, Raatri's heart was at constant war, and he was always looking for some way to relieve it of some of its pressure. Something like this worked just fine.

     His life had been a hard one, even with the "luxuries" of being more in favor with Blake. His parents he could barely remember. He was the oldest in a litter of six, and that made him heir to the throne. For years his family had sat in the throne of Darigan, until Blake decided that it was his turn. Raatri did not remember much. Oldest, heir, it was he who should have died. He and his family were dragged before the Eyrie Blake. Raatri, scared, cold, and alone, was handpicked and forced to watch his family die.

     Blake, then turned on Raatri. "Too bad for you, little black one. Your time has come, for it is my time to rule."

     He lifted his bloodied claws then, ready to strike the fearful Lupe, when a voice called out "Stop!"

     Blake froze, then turned around. In all his years of knowing Blake, Raatri had seen him back down to no one except the owner of that sharp, commanding voice. Raatri did not know the Darigan Cybunny's name, nor would he ever learn it. All he knew was that she had black fur to match his own, and eyes white as the pale moon. All he knew was that she had saved his life.

     "Blake, do you see who this is? Not just Heir, but the One! Look to his fur! Black as night. Didn't the great prophetess Cassandra tell of the One? His fur would be black as night. Spare him, Blake. At least for now."

     There was another part to the prophecy, one not mentioned by the Cybunny but known by Raatri. It basically said: the One's fur would be black as night, his eyes hard as stone, his mind riddled with questions, his heart warring with terrible knowledge, his family killed by his usurper, and…

     The last part he didn't know. Every time he had heard it they teller had always stopped at "and". What was the finale part? Was it another description? Was it what this "One" would be able to do? Why wasn't he told?

     Unless, he kept telling himself, unless he truly was the One. He matched every description given. And if he were the One, then maybe they didn't want him to know his destiny.

     He shivered, then slinked into a shadowy corner and waited for the Guards to pass. He wished that he could tap them on the shoulder and say: "Surprise! You should be looking harder." If he were an enemy spy, Raatri though with pleasure, the Guards would be dead.

     Spy. Yes. The Guards passed, and he continued his stroll. Ears pricked, he heard the voices long before he came close. The whispering words echoed off the long corridors in a rush, make the Lupe's fur stand on end. He followed the voices. There was a door ajar ahead, and the voices were coming from within.

     He slinked up to it and peered inside. The room was lit by torches and pale moonlight that shone through and few windows. A shiver passed over him. This was the room where his parents had been murdered.

     Blake stood there in heavy argument with a Lenny that Raatri did not know. Both by this point were angry, snapping at each other in mocking voices.

     "And so you are saying that we do nothing about him!?" said Blake.

     "Do you not remember the prophecy? Black as night…" Raatri shivered. They were talking about him.

     "Of course I do!" Blake snapped. "But do you realize what will happen if that Lupe was to fulfill his destiny?"

     "I, like everyone else. Don't you want him to return, Blake?"

     "No, not at all," the Eyrie said quietly. "I have worked long and hard to be where I am, and no Lupe can stop me."

     "It is his destiny."

     "As is mine to rule. We should kill him."

     "He is just a pup!" the Lenny cried. "Not even full grown! Can't you wait?"

     "What? Wait until he is full grown so he can fulfill his destiny? I should kill him now before he does."

     "Can't you wait a few more years? He won't be doing anything soon, not while he is young. In a few years you can challenge him to a duel in which there is no possible way for him to win."

     "I like that idea," the Eyrie murmured. "Except I rather have the duel in the coming days."

     The Lenny sighed. "As you wish."

     "And if we have a duel, no one can ever claim that I murdered him just to stop his threat. It will all be part of the game, the Lupe's departure just a sad, bitter tale. And then, he will not return."

     The way that Blake had said "he", Raatri immediately knew, was not in reference to him, but to someone else. Someone he didn't know.

     "Now, what of Meridell?" asked the Lenny.

     The Eyrie chuckled. "Come. I will explain these maps in a moment, but first I must show you something."

     Raatri held his breath and backed away into a corner. The Eyrie and the Lenny passed him and headed down the long corridor to another room. How long would they be in there? What plans for Meridell did they have? Mind already decided, the Lupe quietly snuck into the room the pair had just left.

     Inside, on a table against the far wall, the Lupe discovered maps. Very detailed maps. They were all centered around Meridell, though each yielded different information. After a quick scan, Raatri's eyes began to widen. These told of a massive invasion of Meridell, and it seemed that this time, Meridell would not win.

     There was no one to tell them. No warning. They would be attacked, and destroyed.

     That was enough. For years Raatri had hated Blake. He hated him for what he had done, and for what he would do. Rage boiled within him. He could not stand it. He would not stay quiet and let Blake do what he planned. He rolled up all the maps and clamped them in his teeth, mind already decided. He peered out into the halls. Nobody. Slinking into darkness, maps showing every detail of the invasion of Meridell, the Lupe snuck away.

     Even though he would never be allowed back into the Citadel, he would go.

     Even though he knew that he would probably die when he tried to give someone the maps, he would go.

     It was now time for him to leave the Citadel and its endless drone. He had wanted change. He was going to get it. If he stayed, he would be killed, and Meridell not warned. He had to warn someone, anyone. Even at the cost of his own life.

     He found the unbarred entrance to the Citadel. It was unbarred for none dared try to escape. He stuck to the shadows and easily made his way passed the Guard. By the time Blake discovered that his precious maps and plans were stolen, Raatri would be long gone.

     Wings catching winds for the second time in his life, Raatri flew off into the night.

To be continued...

 
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