The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Seven
The day that Blake of the Citadel had sent the Techo
assassin Zev to murder Raatri, he had also sent another assassin that no one
knew of. Angry at the fact that Raatri had overheard the conversation between
Zamir the Lenny and Blake himself, Blake had made sure that no one else knew
of his secret plans. No one, of course, but the Techo.
Hyja was second best when compared to the black
Zev. She was quick and clever, and her bite was as lethal as the Viper's. But
she did not have the black skin of the other, and though she was swift and sly,
Zev was swifter and slyer.
That didn't matter. Hyja was the best that he
had at the moment, with Zev off to destroy Raatri. Besides, even one of the
lowliest assassins could do the task that she would do.
He had gone down to the Lair, the place that
none but he and a select few others knew about. In the Lair was where he kept
his arsenal of trained Techo assassins. For years, ever since the adopting of
Zev, he had been collecting Techo hatchlings with poison glands in their mouths,
training them not merely to become a spy and assassin, but to be loyal only
to him. His entire personal arsenal answered only to him. All were deadly. All
were the best of the best, hand-trained by the deadliest Eyrie.
The Lair was just a cavern filled with rows and
rows of cages where he kept the many Techos loyal to him. When the Darigan Techos
had begun to lose favor with the other demons, they had not only developed poison
glands, but had seemed to fall back in intelligence. Not that they weren't smart,
but that they didn't seem to care if they had freedom or not. At least, Blake's
Techos didn't. They served only the master, and did the master's biddings.
He had gone straight to Hyja. He had opened the
bars of her cage, and she had slipped out and peered at him with her crimson
eyes. "Yes, master," she had hissed. "Who is it that I now kill?"
"Skarl," the Eyrie had told her with a grin.
"King Skarl VI of the Meridellians."
The Skeith king woke up quickly and peered around.
Nothing. He had sensed eyes upon him, but as he calmed down his heavy breathing
he realized that it had been just a dream.
A dream. Whenever he thought of that word he
thought of the one with the greatest dream of all: the female Lupe that wanted
to become a knight. He was only slightly interested in the girl, though few
things interested him these days. He was interested in food, and making laws,
and being lazy. He had chosen Vladimir as his heir for he knew that the young
Skeith would turn things around once Skarl himself was gone: not that he cared.
He shifted around in his bed, peering at the
window. Hadn't he closed it when he went to sleep? Sighing in confusion, he
rose to close it. His movements were slow, for he was fat and exercised too
little. Not that he cared.
Avari, that was her name, wasn't it? She seemed
like a true knight. He knew little about her, except for the fact that she had
come from one of the villages years ago, when the village and her parents had
been destroyed. She wanted to be a knight. Aleron and Tamal had taken her as
a squire, though both had assured him that she would never become a knight.
He looked out the window to the land below, then
to the Citadel looming in the distance. Tamal had brought plans from there,
plans that wouldn't come true. Tamal had said that Avari had been killed by
the demon that had brought those plans.
Avari was the one that wanted to be a knight.
She actually had the heart of one. But no female could become a knight, and
now none would.
If she had, she might have turned Meridell around.
She might have set it right. Well, now that would be Vladimir's duty, when Aleron
brought him back. Vladimir would set things right, not that Skarl cared.
He closed the window, then turned around and
headed back to bed. "Nothing," he muttered to himself, still slightly shaken
from his nightmare. "Nothing at all."
"Wrong, my friend," hissed something from the
darkness. He gasped and peered up into the darkness. On the ceiling he could
just make out the form of some long slender creature with crimson eyes.
"Who are you?" the fat king called. "What do
"Your life," said the creature. "As my master
has demanded it." She fell to the ground and looked at him with her red eyes,
teeth baring in a sinister grin. Now that he could see what she was, he was
"Guards!" he cried out, trying to back away as
fast as his massive form would allow. "Guards! Assassin!" By the time they entered,
it would be too late.
"Oh, terrible day this is!" cried out a yellow
Lenny as he stood above the grim crowds listening below. "Woe has fallen upon
us! King Skarl is dead! The heir is captured! The Citadel must be preparing
our fall! Woe has fallen! The king is dead!"
"The other side of the world," whispered Avari. "I
never thought I would go there when I agreed to help you. I never thought I'd
go there at all."
"You don't have to come with me," said the other.
"Now that I know where to go, you can leave."
"Leave?" she responded. "Why? I am your friend,
Raatri. Friends don't betray friends. Besides, remember the prophecy? His enemy
will become his closest friend, his kind his foe. If they said that, then its
probably important. Perhaps I'm to come with you."
"It will be dangerous."
"A knight is sworn to valor," she replied, smiling
at him. "Come on. Let's go."
And so the pair of Lupes had hastened south-west
to a place that no Meridellian or Darigan had visited in the past few hundred
years: the lands beyond the peninsula that Meridell rested on. For the first
time since Meridell's collapse, the lands beyond would meet some from the hidden
"And to think," said Avari. "We're not only going
where no Meridellian or Darigan has gone for as long as anyone can remember,
but we're going somewhere that few of the known Neopia has gone: the dark side
of the world. I wonder what's there."
"We'll just have to see."
It took them two weeks
to reach the edge of the Lost Desert. On the way they met few people, though
all had watched the strange pair with narrowed, curious eyes. None before had
seen a blue Lupe with black paws, tail, and face, or a Shadow Lupe with wings,
as they thought the minion was. If any guessed that they were from Meridell
and the Citadel, a place that had disappeared many years before, none said anything.
They walked most of the time, though to quicken
the pace they would frequently run or trot. Both knew the urgency of their task,
but both also understood that a trek across the Desert would wane on them far
worse that a run.
And so, when they reached the edge, they first
went to the small village of the Lost Desert. There they were able to persuade
an ancient Acara to give them each a water sack-they did not have any money.
Filling up the sacks with water, they wrapped the straps around their necks
and walked out into the Desert itself.
Tall mountains jutted upward from the earth to
their right, and later in the day they might provide shade. The pair of Lupes
kept a steady, easy pace, knowing that at least a hundred miles stretched between
them and the Edge of the World, and then unknown miles into the dark side of
the world. How far in was Darigan kept? Where was the army that Blake's plan's
Three days later the weary pair thought that
they were seeing a mirage. On the horizon was a line of black that steadily
grew. As they walked it seemed to grow larger, and began to span the entire
horizon. Suddenly Avari's eyes widened, and she stopped dead in her tracks.
Her companion halted as well and looked to her.
"What is it?" he asked, voice raw from lack of water.
"The army," she whispered, voice equally dry.
"Blake's army. We have to avoid that line."
He looked to the black mass that seemed to be
growing even as they stood. "You're probably right." His eyes then narrowed
as he looked to the line. His dusty fur rose. "They're getting faster," he said.
"Did they spot us?"
"How?" she asked. "We're too small."
"They're from the other side of the world," he
replied. "Who knows what they can do."
"What should we do?"
He looked at the line, then backed up. It was
definitely moving faster. "I say that we run."
And that's just what they did, though not the
way they had come. They ran towards the mountains that had been visible on the
horizon to their right for the entire journey. As they ran, Avari watched the
army out of the corner of her eye.
She gasped softly, strides lengthening trying
to quicken her pace. Her throat was raw from the dust that flew into her breath
as they charged.
We'll never make it!
To be continued...