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The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Six


by fierwym

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Part Six

Intruder

As Aleron watched the demon fly off into the night, and Tamal enjoyed his "vacation" at the castle, Avari and Raatri sat around a campfire, talking about the near future.

     "It's too bad that you have absolutely no idea what way we must take in order to fulfill your destiny," Avari whispered.

     The Darigan Lupe snorted. "A good start would be to know what my destiny is. Every time I have heard Cassandra's prophecy the teller always stops at "and". They never venture past that point. I have begun to realize that they didn't tell me because I was the One they spoke of. You can't go telling someone what they'll be when they aren't supposed to know."

     "If only we had a clue!" she exclaimed. "Just telling that you are the One doesn't do any good other than ensuring it is you down here other than someone else."

     He chuckled. "Patience. Sometimes help comes at unusual times."

     "I'd call this unusual," she muttered dryly. "A Meridellian chatting with a Darigan. Whatever will they say at home?"

     "So close," muttered the assassin. His dark eyes caught the glimmer of firelight through the trees ahead. In the coming moments, the prince would be dead.

     "Not too far now. So close."

     "What is it?" breathed Avari, jumping to her feet. Just an instant before, Raatri's eyes had flown wide, and he had leapt to his feet. Ears pricked, his crimson eyes scanned the darkness around them. He had sensed rather than heard the intruder, though he knew that it was close.

     From the sky hurtled a black shape, so dark that he almost missed it. "Back, whoever you are!" he cried, flaring up his massive wings. There was a soft rumble: the intruder was chuckling. It hovered to the ground, just out of the rim of firelight. Neither Lupe could tell who or what the intruder was.

     "Raatri, I'm shocked. I thought that you would give your old protector a better welcome than this."

     "Who are you?" he asked, though he recalled the mysterious voice from somewhere. "What do you want with us?"

     The intruder stepped into the circle of firelight and said: "To tell you the finale part of the prophecy."

     Aleron's eyes narrowed. He had followed the trio of demons for an unknown length of time, and yet they hadn't yielded a single scrap of information pertaining to the whereabouts of the young princeling. All they had spoken of was of stupid little demon things, and for quite a while had not spoken at all. He heard movement behind him, though when he glanced over his shoulder he saw nothing but cold stone walls and darkness. How was the place lit? There were few windows, fewer torches, and yet the center of the path always remained lit, no matter what. The sides, the corners, next to the walls, always remained in complete and total darkness, and Aleron stuck to them. He wondered for an instant if someone where following him, but quickly denied the thought.

     He turned back to the trio and what they were now speaking of, forgetting the scurry he had thought he heard behind him. They had brought up the topic of Meridell and its invasion. Aleron pricked his ears and listened.

     "Now that the traitor has told Meridell of our plans," said Blake, "we will have to make new ones, and quick. The army They promised won't wait if we tarry."

     "From where are they coming?" asked one of the Zafara Guards.

     "I'm not quite sure. From what They said, the army will be coming from the lands past the Lost Desert. They will traverse the sands and come up on Meridell from the south-west. They are already about half-way through, and if they reach the edge of the Desert before we create new plans, they will turn around and head back to wherever their home is."

     "How fast can they travel?"

     "Unsure," the Eyrie muttered. "No one has seen the creatures that They command, and so we do not know how fast they travel. If they are winged, we might not have much time. Hopefully they are on foot: that will give us a few more days."

     "You say that none have seen these creatures. How can we be assured that they even exist, or that they will be enough to override Meridell?"

     Blake chuckled. "No one alive," he said. "A few weeks ago I sent a dozen spies to check on the army's progress. The day that Raatri betrayed us, one returned. Only one. He brought back some of the maps that Raatri stole later on, telling me how terrible and great the army was. Thousands upon thousands! He said that they had been caught when they went to check on the army, and that all but he were killed. He was sent back with the plans, half-dead and rotting. When he told me all this, he collapsed and ceased breathing."

     The Zafaras' eyes widened, as did Aleron's. Such power would annihilate Meridell. The demon Lupe had spoken the truth. Aleron had not believed the demon, and had allowed Tamal to deliver the message to the king. He blinked a few times and shook his head in realization. The heart that Tamal possessed would lead him to lie about the plans, meaning that Meridell would have no warning or protection.

     How could he have been so blind! He almost cried out in frustration before he remembered where he was. The blue Eyrie pricked his ears again, for Blake had begun speaking.

     "But since the traitor told Meridell of our plans, we might have to change them."

     "What if Raatri was killed before he delivered it? What if they didn't believe him?"

     "We cannot rest our hopes on 'what if's'," the Eyrie drawled. "Yes, the army They have sent is great and terrible, but if Meridell knew of it enough in advance they could stop it. If Raatri tells them the plans, and they believe him, we are finished."

     "Do you have new plans, then?"

     The Eyrie chuckled. "Of course. The army will have to take a longer route, but they will take Meridell by surprise, warned or no."

     "What way?"

     "Head along the coast, and attack Meridell from the side they would least expect: from towards the sea."

          "The finale part of the prophecy," said Raatri hesitantly. He looked to the intruder, finally seeing her for what she was. She was a Darigan Cybunny, though just as black as he was, and with eyes as pale as a full moon. The fur on the back of his neck rose. Though her eyes were white, the color of the blind, he could tell by the look that she gave him that she could see.

     "You are the one that stayed Blake's hand," he whispered, recognizing her. "You saved my life when I was a pup."

     "Yes, yes," the Cybunny nodded impatiently. "Now, I haven't much time. I must still pretend that I am on Blake's side if I am to be of any use to you. I must return to the Citadel before he notices me missing. Now, the prophecy." She sighed, then began to speak a version of the prophecy that Raatri had never heard. "By and by, there shall be a One that will save us from falling into the blackest hole. Black as night will be his pelt, his crimson eyes harder than the hardest stone. Questions of his past, his present, and his future will riddle his mind for long restless nights, and his very heart will war within itself, trapped with terrible knowledge. He will be the son of the greater kings, and he alone will survive when his family is killed by his usurper. And…"

     She stopped at the very part all had stopped at. He almost growled out at her for doing so, until he realized that she had turned her white eyes to the darkness behind her. "Shhh," she whispered, turning around completely and peering into the night. "Whatever thou be, show thyself now! Let light guide my eyes to show thy form." And amazingly, light flooded into her paws and cast itself into the darkness before her. Raatri heard a squeal of pain, and the blackest thing that he had ever seen scurried away with a furious hiss. "Be gone," she said, sending little bolts of black lightning after the intruder. It cried out and hastened away, out of the light and away from her attack. Once the sound of its scurrying had died away, the light faded from her paws and she turned around.

     She shook her head. "An assassin," he told the pair of gaping Lupes. "And stop staring at me like a pair of rude children." They closed their mouths and sat back down, eyes still wide.

     "What was that?" asked Avari, shaken.

     "A Darigan Techo," muttered Raatri. "None other than Zev to slay the prince." He sighed. "For quite a while now Darigan Techos have been carrying poison in their mouths, making them ideal assassins. A long time ago Blake found a hatchling and took it in, raising it. He trained it to be the best assassin ever, designed for princes and kings. He is called Zev the Wolf, the Viper. Blake definitely wants me dead to send the best." He then looked at the Cybunny. "How did you hear it? You were speaking, and Zev can move in complete silence when he wants to."

     She sniffled. "Have you forgotten that I am a Seer? Or did you ever know?"

     "Well," he said awkwardly. "I might have guessed it, but I wasn't quite sure…"

     "Fine, fine, fine," the Cybunny said impatiently. "Now, the finale part of the prophecy." She took a deep breath. "He alone will survive when his family is killed by his usurper. And…"

          "Now aren't They in some connection with the princeling?" asked one of the Zafaras, trying to change the subject off of the army.

     Again the Eyrie king chuckled. "Of course. The princeling was chosen by They to be a vessel. Through him, They will have a material form, and be able to lead the army into battle."

     "Where is the princeling kept?" Aleron's eyes widened and he strained to hear the next few words. They were what he needed to hear, what he had come to hear.

     "Come," said the Eyrie. "I show him to you."

     Aleron's eyes narrowed with determination. He followed the trio down the long hallways, so intent on listening to them that he did not hear the scrape of claws on the stone floor behind him. Had he not been concentrating fully on the three, he might have caught the sounds of scurrying behind him, as a spy followed the rescuer.

     "He will bring an end to the darkness. He alone will be able to bring back the true king, for he alone will have the true heart of loyalty. His enemy will become his closest friend, his kind his foe. He will journey far and bring back he that will vanquish the darkness, and bring back the light of peace.

     "And that, my dear Raatri, is the finale part of the prophecy that has been so long denied you," said the Cybunny Seer.

     Raatri shook his head. "What does it mean? Who must I bring back? Where must I go?"

     "You must rescue he that will bring back the peace. Don't you realize who that is?"

     He shook his head.

     Avari took a sharp intake of breathe, and they looked to her. "I understand," she whispered, eyes wide. "Darigan. Raatri, you must find Darigan."

     "Here is the princeling's prison," said Blake, indicating the door before him. "Come." He opened the door with a special key, and then he and the two Zafaras stepped inside.

     Now that Aleron knew where the princeling was kept, he would only have to wait for the trio to come out. Then he could go in.

     He backed up as far as he could into the darkness, waiting for the door ten feet in front of him to open. He did not feel the crimson eyes of the spy peering at him, waiting to see what he would do.

     "Darigan?" asked Raatri. "I must bring back Darigan?"

     "Of course," said the Cybunny. She smiled at the Meridellian. "You have a sharp mind, young squire. I wish you well on your quest to become a knight."

     "How did you…" She paused. "Oh, I forgot. You're a Seer." She shook her head. "Thank you."

     "From the way you just said that," said Raatri thoughtfully. "You sound like you are already preparing to leave."

     "Of course, of course. I must return before Blake notices me gone."

     "That's it, then?" he asked. "Can't you tell us anything else?"

     She smiled, white eyes glinting mischievously. "I will tell you which way to go. Have either of you studied maps of the world of Neopia?"

     "I have," replied Avari.

     "Then you will know that none have ventured past what you see. There is only one side to the map, though the whole other side of the world is still there. You must go through the Lost Desert to the other side of the world. There Darigan is held captive. But be warned. Few who go to the other side of the world ever return, and fewer still return without having lost their mind."

     The Lupes grimaced. "Sounds like fun," Avari said. "Lost Desert, then darkness. When do we go?"

     "Tomorrow," said the Cybunny. "I will use some of my magic on you to protect you from Zev for this night. Again, be warned. I will not be here next time to cast light upon the dark beast. He will stop at nothing to kill you, Raatri. You either must avoid him, or kill him. If you do not, then he will kill you." He tried to speak. "No, no, no. Don't try to say anything. You know your destiny now, and the direction you must go to fulfill it. Be careful in the dark side of the world, and be careful of Zev. Remember too to hurry. The army of the plans comes nearer day by day. You must avoid them too. They are of the other side of the world, and they do not care if you are good or bad. They will kill you on sight. Understand?" They nodded, and strangely they felt their eyelids become heavy. "I am casting a spell of dreamless sleep for you tonight. You will need it. Nothing will harm you while my protection lingers. But past this night, your world will be nothing but danger… until you bring back our true king."

     She waved her paw over them, and they slowly fell to the ground. Avari fell asleep. Raatri forced his eyes to remain open, but they refused. The last thing he remembered was the form of the Seer flying up into the night, her light coming down to close his eyes.

     "Sleep now, Raatri. You can ponder things in the morning."

          It took quite a while for the trio of demons to come out of the princeling's prison, but finally they did. Once the three had left, talking quietly about more demon-related things, Aleron went to the door. He was skilled at opening locks without keys. It was his own little touch of magic, to be able to lock or unlock any lock with just a touch. He never needed keys.

     So he unlocked the door and stepped inside. There the starved form of the sleeping Skeith rested, breathe uneven as he tried to come awake from a nightmare. He muttered something that Aleron did not understand. He Eyrie walked slowly to the Skeith and tapped his shoulder. His eyes opened quickly in fear, then widened in surprise.

     "Aleron," he whispered. "What are you doing here?"

     "Rescuing you, of course."

     "Spy?" the Skeith said, looking over the Eyrie's shoulder to the open door beyond. His eyes widened in fear. The Eyrie turned around in confusion, and found that the door ten feet in front of him was blocked by a Darigan Eyrie and two Darigan Zafaras. Crawling along the ceiling and peering down at him with crimson eyes was the grinning form of a Darigan Techo.

     "I have always found that Darigan Techos make quite marvelous spies. Add that to the poison they carry, and they also make good assassins." Blake smiled at the trapped knight. "Even the great Aleron himself was outsmarted by one of my Techos."

     He turned around, and the Techo leapt down and slammed the door shut. Aleron looked to the small barred opening, eyes wide with astonishment and shock as he watched the four leave down the long halls of the Citadel.

     Only then did it dawn on him. He was captured. He was beaten. Tamal at the castle would be telling lies.

     Panic gripped his heart. There was only one true knight left, and she wasn't even truly a knight yet. Avari the squire wasn't even at the castle, but off on a quest she wasn't guaranteed to survive.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part One
» The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Two
» The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Three
» The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Four
» The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Five



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