The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Eight
The Army of Nightmare
If he were not running, Raatri would have smacked his
head in his stupidity. For weeks now he had not unfurled his great black set
of wings, and had all but forgotten them. Running now alongside Avari, running
for his life from the advancing army, he suddenly remembered that he owned wings.
It wasn't all that bad, he told himself an instant
later. He had only used them twice before, and since Avari had no wings, there
had been no need to use them. The only thing he needed to use was his legs.
He had forgotten about the slight weight on his shoulders that had always been
And so, two instants after he remembered he had
wings, he unfurled them, and let his momentum carry him into the air. But he
could not forget his friend. Once airborne, he circled back to the slightly
stunned Avari and snagged the nape on her neck with his jagged claws.
She cried out once in pain, then relaxed so he
could carry her easier. Together, they flew on to the mountainside. With luck,
they would make it there before the army came. Who knew what the creatures from
the other side of the world could do?
Panic? Why panic, Aleron chided himself a few
moments after his capture. For what was his magical skill? Locks, of course.
No prison could hold him.
He walked up to the door, placing a foot at the
spot where the lock and handle would be. His magic flared up a light blue, telling
him that it was working. An instant later it turned a color that it never had
The instant his magical fire became red, pain
shot through him like knives. He screamed out and backed away, so anxious to
get away from the evil in that door that he ran right into something soft and
giving, rather than stone walls.
He gasped and spun around, then blushed under
his feathers. "Oh, Vladimir," he whispered, breathing hard. "I forgot that you
"If you had asked," the princeling said dryly,
"I could have told you that from the inside the door is guarded by dark magic.
You yourself taught me the craft of locks-picking, remember?"
"I guess that I was anxious to get out," said
the Eyrie softly. "I had forgotten you were even there."
The Skeith shook his head, eyes concerned. "That's
just not like you, Aleron."
The Eyrie sighed and looked out the small window,
watching a small form-perhaps the one that he had seen earlier-return from wherever
it had gone to. "I don't think many are acting as they are expected now," he
replied. "First the squire, then the demon, now me." Then in a quieter voice
he muttered: "Next thing I know, Blake will be the true king of Meridell, and
a Techo demon will lose its poison and become cute."
Avari took several deep breaths to calm herself.
Below them, in the Desert, the great army was passing. She and Raatri had not
been spotted, thanks to his wings. They would have never made it if he hadn't
flown them out.
She looked out the cave to the land below. For
as far as the eye could see, the black army sprawled, marching, marching, marching.
It was comprised of great black things straight out of a nightmare, things that
she dared not describe or name. Black, so black that the creature the Seer had
banished away the previous night was daylight. These things were so black that
not a glimmer of light reflected off of them. It was as if a great black hole
was crawling along. It was a black hole that would swallow Meridell.
And the sound! Never before had she heard so
much noise! It was as if she were a grain of sand on an shore, and great waves
were crashing on top of her, grinding her, echoing on and on and on. It was
as if she were a speck of dirt that a tree had fallen on, thrashing, earthquake.
The noise that the mass before her emitted just did not stop, but kept echoing
on and on. If it destroyed Meridell, would the screams echo in such a way? If
it destroyed Meridell, what was to stop it from destroying the rest of Neopia?
What if the whole world turned dark?
"Nightmares," Raatri whispered, his thoughts
much the same as hers. "They are Nightmares that will destroy us all." He looked
to Avari. "When they destroy Meridell, will they stop? What's to stop them from
destroying the Citadel? What bargain did Blake strike to protect himself from
"I don't know," she said, voice equally soft
and fearful. Her eyes were so wide that they were round. "Why stop at the Citadel?
Why not the Lost Desert, or Brightvale, or the Haunted Forest?" She thought
about what she had just said. "Well, maybe the Haunted Forest is safe, considering
they are as frightening like Nightmares." She shook her head. "But what of the
rest of the world? I can already tell from the size of the army that if they
decided to take over the bright side of the world, nothing would stop them."
Raatri looked out over the army. In a sad, distant
voice, he said: "Nothing but destiny."
"It will take too long for this army to pass,"
said Raatri finally, breaking the silence that had fallen over the pair. "We
must try to sneak passed on the mountainside, and hope that no Nightmare is
"You're right," Avari sighed. "We do not know
how much longer they will take, nor how much farther Darigan is. And the Seer
said to hurry."
They walked to the edge of the cave, peering
out over the darkness beyond. The army stretched each way for as far as they
eye could see. The sky above was mourning, gray and implacable as the black
maw below. Avari realized that they only thing of color around was herself.
"Wait," she said. "They might notice me."
Her companion took his eyes off the army and
looked to her and her blue and black coat. "That does present a problem," he
said with a rueful grin. "Go roll over in the dust at the back of the cave."
She sighed and obeyed. Once she had dusted her
blue fur over, she looked the same as the walls and mountainside around. At
least the army wouldn't spot her blue fur.
She shook her head in irritation. "Now can we
Zev was furious.
Never before had something defied him as the
Seer had done. She had sent him a present, his greatest weakness: light. He
could take daylight at times, but the pure, blinding light she had sent had
burned into him worse than any flame could have.
He scurried along after the pair of Lupes. Though
they were headed to the dark side of the world, he would follow. He sniffed
around in the notch they had hidden in, and discovered that it was still warm.
He grinned as he spotted the accidentally abandoned water-packs that the Lupes
They had only left a few moments earlier, and
probably in a hurry, by leaving the water-packs. He would catch them this time.
He would. There was no Seer to protect them, this time.
Avari felt exposed, even halfway up a mountain. She
felt that at any moment, dark eyes would see them, and come after them, snatching
them off the face of the earth. She had never been so terrified in her life,
running alone the small pathway as she did now. Not even when she had watched
her parents die at the hands of demons while she had hid in a closet. Now, there
was no where to hide.
There was nothing to do about it now. They would
have to continue until they reached the dark side of the world, and unknown
time after. Already hope reigned, for she could see a light on the horizon of
this blackest sea. An end to blackness…
Ra'se'fors'falig'dae'moor happened to look up. With
its bottomless eyes it picked up something that the other commanders had not
seen. Movement on the mountainside, a black shape heading back the way which
it had come.
Fury filled its mind. The black shape was obviously
a runaway, and a coward. It had to be killed, and since Ra'se'fors'falig'dae'moor
was the only one who seemed to have seen it, it would have to go kill the coward
-Lead the legions- it told its lieutenant,
Far'sa'hatc'falin'sae'sir. -I think that I see a runaway-
Its voice was devoid of all emotions, for mind-speaking
could rarely convey it. The Nightmare commander detached itself from the swarming
sea of blackness, and started to climb up the mountainside. Its great, massive
legs carried it far faster than the runaway's did, and there wasn't any possible
way it could misplace a step and slip. For the commander was made up of shadows,
and though it had material form, that form changed to suit the environment.
With each step it took, shadows rooted into the ground and held fast. When the
foot was taken away, some of the shadows were left in the ground, and everything
that was green or growing there before never grew again.
It was the nature of the Nightmares, who had
no name for themselves since there had never been a need for one. They were
massive, dark things of shadow and blackness, detached from everything. They
were made up of shadow and nothing at all. They were both material and wisps
of shadowy mist. Wherever they went, darkness followed and light rarely returned.
It was why the dark side of the world was so dark, for though at the beginning
of things it had been light like the bright side of the world, the Nightmares
had taken all light away, and never let anything grow back.
Ra'se'fors'falig'dae'moor was gaining on the
runaway, who suddenly stopped dead in its tracks. Soon, very soon, it would
catch up and kill the coward.
"I need to stop for a second," Avari gasped.
The pair halted, trying to regain their breath. After a moment or two she looked
up to him.
"Thank you," she said, smiling slightly. "I…"
Her voice trailed off as she looked to some place over his shoulder. Her eyes
went wide with fear, white showing all the way around. "Raatri…" she whispered.
He did not turn around, rigid as he watched her
reaction. "What is it?" he whispered back, voice quiet and strained with fear.
"Is it Zev?"
"No," she said, shaking her head and backing
up. "No, it's much worse."
To be continued...