The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Two
There was calmness to the air. It made one feel peaceful
and quiet. Most everyone just felt like sitting around, doing nothing while
the day wasted away. It had been like that last night, Avari remembered, where
all had been drowsy. Unknown to Raatri just as she was unknown to him, there
hadn't been just one up last night, unable to sleep.
Avari's nose wrinkled in disgust. She was restless
with fiery energy, and yet wasn't allowed to move. She had to sit stone still
while the king of Meridell, Skarl VI, read the new set of laws. She was not
meant to be a statue, she told herself over and over. She was to be a knight.
She shifted her paws ever so slightly, and felt
blood rush to the unused limbs. She had sat there for hours, back arched, head
up, while the king had spoken, and spoken, and spoken. It was a tease, she had
discovered a hour into the speech. Aleron and Tamal would never let her in.
She was special. Not only was her fur uniquely
colored: her father had been Shadow, her mother blue. Avari's pelt was blue-and
not the light blue of most Lupes, but a deep, royal blue-and she had black stockings,
black flares up the sides of her jaws, and the second half of her tail was also
black. She was different, but not in just her fur.
Most girls her age would be pairing up with boys,
or playing with fancy scarves and jewels, or go shopping. Avari was different.
Not only did she hate jewelry and talkative girls, she wanted something that
she could never have.
In the hundred years since Darigan's mysterious
disappearance, Meridell had sunk as well. Both kingdoms were imprisoned in traps
of their own making. Meridell hosted few true knights such as the great knight
Jeran. Most knights were cruel, untrustworthy, and did not follow a code of
chivalry. And yet, no king had come that would change that. Each king had brought
more tax burdens, more laws, until finally they were at their current state.
Heavily taxed, trapped by laws that had no real purpose, Meridell had sunk along
with the Citadel, and had once more disappeared off the face of Neopia.
What they needed was a new king, and true knights.
If they had both, they might just be able to pull themselves back up. The closest
things to a true knight that Meridell currently had were Aleron and Tamal. Like
they are true knights, Avari sniffled. They had posted her there just to
humiliate her, for all knew that no female could become a knight.
That was her greatest dream, however. She wanted
to become a knight, sworn to valor, guided by truth. She didn't care if her
name never went down in a history book. She wanted to be a hero, even if she
was an unknown hero or someone else got all the credit. In her heart she would
know who had done the deeds, and that would be enough.
But none would allow her to become a knight.
She wasn't even a true squire, for though she performed all the tasks of one,
she had no real promise that she would become a knight afterwards.
Aleron and Tamal knew what would happen when
they posted her there. That was a spot for squires. When people saw a girl in
that spot, they would laugh. For no girl could be a knight. They weren't strong
enough, people said. They weren't good enough.
Avari held her head up high and ignored the chuckles
of people behind her. She was dreadfully angry, but she would keep it all in
and do her chores just as she was expected. If she let her anger out on the
pair of knights responsible for her humiliation, they would immediately refuse
to allow her to be a "squire".
At last Skarl VI finished speaking, and the room
echoed with dull clapping. Avari grinned very slightly. Everyone calm, peaceful,
and drowsy, just like last night.
Soon the people began to exit the room. It took
another half-hour to do so, and Avari felt that she would scream out her impatience.
Perhaps Aleron or Tamal were purposely slowing them down to test her even more.
If she even twitched before they called for her, she could be refused as a squire.
At long last the room emptied and knights came
to collect their squires. Avari still stayed still, sighing slightly. After
all the squires and knights were gone and she was left alone, a dull clicking
came. Out of the corner of her eye she could see a shadow Uni, one of her knight-masters.
Tamal walked in front of Avari, purposely delaying. At last he said: "Come,
Avari shifted, and rose to all four feet. Her
legs and neck were stiff from staying still for so long, but she would show
no weakness. Tamal walked back to the door, and she followed, warm blood rushing
to her cold limbs.
Tamal and Aleron paired up and began speaking
to each other, leaving Avari to follow behind. They greatly discouraged her
want to become a knight in all ways possible, but she was determined to become
one. She owed it to everyone to become the true knight they needed. She didn't
care if no one ever learned her name. She didn't care if she didn't become a
hero. She wanted only to be a knight, the true knight that was being beckoned
After several flights of stairs they reached
a hallway with many doors, their rooms. The doors on the right were for the
knights, while on the left there were smaller rooms for the squires of these
knights. Aleron and Tamal each went to their separate rooms, while Avari was
left to go to her own.
Her room was smaller than most, probably because
she wasn't really a squire. It consisted of a window, a small bed, and a shelf
where she kept her small collection of belongings. She threw herself on her
bed, allowing her mind to wander.
When Darigan disappeared everything had turned
upside-down. Without him to lead his people, Darigan minions, more commonly
called demons, had begun to raid Meridell. A long line of kings ruled the Citadel,
none lasting very long, and only four had tried to turn the Citadel around.
She did not know their names, but knew that all four had been Lupes like she,
and that the last had been murdered, along with his family. There was word that
one escaped the slaughter, but she did not know how much truth lay with it.
The current king over the Citadel was the Heir of Lord Kass, the Eyrie Blake.
The demons stayed to the Citadel most of the
time. Whenever one was found, she knew, they were immediately killed. She wished
that she could meet one, and talk to him or her. It tied in with her great longing
for adventure, and with her desire to be a knight.
Meridell was fallen as well. When Darigan disappeared
and the peace treaties had vanished, no one tried to upright it. Instead, both
kingdoms hosted bad kings. Taxes and laws. Trapped forever, unless a true king
and true knights came.
But who would be that true king? Who would be
able to upright what had been done? Would they come in time to save Meridell?
If he were to come, then he had to come soon. Later might be too late.
Lost in thoughts, Avari slowly dozed off.
A knock sounded at Avari's door. Her eyes snapped
open, and she quickly jumped up to opened it. Aleron the Eyrie stood there.
How long had she been in her room, pondering and then sleeping?
"Come, squire. King Skarl has sent us to fetch
something. Meet us down by the gates in an hour."
"Yes, sir," she replied, and he turned away.
She watched him go for a few seconds, then turned and closed her door. An hour.
She had nothing to pack, not really. She slipped around her head a coil of string
that held a small bone: a claw. It was her mother's. It had been torn off when
her mother had defended her pup, and Avari had kept it to remember her by. Her
father had died on that same day just moments before her mother, defending their
lone pup as well. It was the courage of her parents, and why they had
fought, that had made Avari long to be a knight.
Her father had been a knight. He had set her
heart soaring with his tales of brave deeds and what the kingdom should be.
He and her mother both had taught her what made a knight a true knight, as if
she would become one. She believed that his plans had been to take her on as
a squire when she was the right age, and make her a knight.
That plan had been ruined. One day, when she
was still just a young pup, demons had raided her village. Both of her parents
had died to defend her, and she alone escaped the slaughter of the entire village,
for she had hidden away.
She had wandered to the castle of Meridell, where
her father had told her to go if she ever needed help. Heart burning with the
desire to become a knight and fight like her father had done, to be brave like
both of her parents; she had entered the castle and begun to search for a knight
that would take her in.
She had no luck. No one would take a girl in!
Such was not heard. For years she had simply found work around the castle, until
Aleron and Tamal had found her and took her as a joke.
She had hated the fact that she was nothing more
than a joke to them. She always hated it. But to be part-squire was better to
be not a squire at all. At least she had the hint that she might be a knight,
where if she were not a squire she would have no promise at all.
She sighed, and then decided to take off the
necklace, feeling in some way that she wouldn't want to loose it in the days
to come. She headed down to the gates early. She waited there for a long time,
until at last the two knights came.
"Come, squire. Let's go," said Aleron. That's
what he called her, always. Squire. Never once had he called her Avari, and
she knew that to him she wasn't really a squire. She also knew that if they
didn't allow her to become a knight this winter, she would never become one.
This winter she would be considered almost full grown, and the age that one
was made a knight. Next winter she would be too old. She knew in her heart that
she would never become a knight like she had dreamed.
No matter what happens, she told herself.
You don't have to carry the title knight to follow a code of chivalry, or
to perform good deeds. You don't have to be a knight to be brave.
That night the three sat around a campfire,
eating their dinner. The two knights chatted while the squire sat lost in thought
again. The night was dark, though it was crisp and cool, unlike last night.
Tonight, instead of feeling drowsy, the night was sharp and cool.
"Hello," a voice called quietly. "May I share
the warmth of your fire?"
The trio looked into the darkness, where they
could just barely see the outline of a rather large person. He might have been
a Lupe, or maybe a Kougra. Avari could not tell. He stood outside the ring of
light that the fire cast, face hidden in shadow.
"Of course," Aleron said after a moment. "Squire,
move over some."
Avari stood up, knowing from the tone of his
voice that Aleron didn't want her just to move, but to leave. Nodding to him
she backed away from the fire.
"She doesn't have to move," said the stranger.
"Please, step back into the light. Don't chill yourself for me."
Avari hesitantly moved closer to the fire, azure
eyes fixed on the dark shadowy stranger. Tentatively, he began to move forward.
Avari's eyes widened, and she heard the knights gasp and jump to their feet.
"Don't be alarmed!" the demon Lupe said. "I mean
He might have not spoken at all. The knights
were already posed to eliminate him.
To be continued...