Scarlet Shadow: Secrets and Reunions - Part Six
Crystal waited outside the hut, pacing. Sensei Welrin soon emerged. “Your friend shall be fine,” he stated. A confused expression was upon his face.
The Acara noticed the Lenny’s obvious puzzlement. “Is there something else, Sensei?” Crystal asked.
“What bothers me is that his wound seemed fresh,” the Sensei continued. “It was as if it had been cut moments before. But, how would that be possible?” He sighed. “It’s all so strange, and yet... so familiar...”
“Yes, yes, it’s as if I had read of this kind of thing. So long ago was that, Crystal...” The Lenny gave a grunt. “I had heard of wonders being done with a stone that could help heal the worst wounds. They called it Water, believe it or not.” The Sensei held up the small pendant that had once hung around a Champion’s neck – the one he had found around the Aisha’s. “It seems this is but a very small fragment of the whole jewel.”
Crystal nodded. “I never thought such a trinket could-”
“Oh, it can’t,” Welrin assured her. “This small fragment was able to keep the wound free of infection, but it could not even begin to heal it.” He looked down in thought. “Tell me, Crystal, how is it you came into possession of this gem?”
Crystal started up in surprise. Then she remembered who she was speaking with. “Even now, you know me too well, Master,” she stated, smiling. “It was one of the few things my mother left with me. I gave it to Sir Jeran long ago.”
Crystal shook her head. “Sensei, I feel I must ask-”
“Where I heard of the stone?” The Lenny smiled. His old student had forgotten his habits. She was the picture of surprise. “I learned it from many myths and legends, just as you, I’m sure.”
Crystal smiled. “Indeed, there was never a shortage of tales in the Palace.”
Welrin nodded, then turned to go back into the hut. “I do hope you understand, Crystal,” he said, “I just came out to have a rest. Sir Cenoal still needs quite a bit of care.”
“Of course,” Crystal replied. She gave the old Lenny a parting smile, forced, as was becoming her habit. The Lenny dropped the small blue gem into Crystal’s hand before going. Once he was inside, she quickly made her way to the beach. She needed somewhere she could think...
Crystal watched the water lap over the sand, its calming sounds echoing into her ears. She sat silently at the edge, listening; thinking. Her thoughts were of the gem. Could it be the fragment truly came from the legendary crystal, Water? Was it possible? And, if so, how?
Her blades were before her, lying on the sand. The poem was still there, their words still making perfect sense. All but the last two lines. Crystal ran her fingers absent mindedly on the words etched into the metal.
Someone true need not fear,
Not while happiness is near
Someone kind need not weep,
For friendships he will keep,
Someone brave need not cower,
For he never will evil devour.
Crystal ran the words over and over in her mind, forgetting for a moment the small gem she gripped in her hand. “Why would someone brave cower?” she questioned silently. “I understand the others, but this... It just doesn’t make any sense!” Crystal looked up as the long rays of the setting sun reached out toward the ocean. The beams bounced off the water, creating the most spectacular display the Princess had ever seen.
She let down her hand to finger with the blades once more. This time, however, the hand she extended was the one which held the gem. A burst of blue light seeped through her gripped fingers. The stone burned like fire and she dropped it, right on top of her swords.
The light began to fade. Crystal watched as it seeped slowly into the etched words she had been reading. She shut her eyes as the light once more flared into blinding brightness. When she opened her eyes, the gem lay still on her swords. A large wave surged forward, as though trying to seize the Princess’ blades. She reached out and grabbed them, looping the pendant around her wrist. She sat back down a full three feet from the water. Had it all been a trick of her mind?
Crystal inspected her swords, gasping. The words had changed. Runes were etched in the stead of the words she had been pondering over. She couldn’t understand a single syllable from the lines. She stood, gripping the blades securely. Sliding them back into their sheath, the Acara ran back to the village...
Cenoal jumped out of the bed. “Wha?!” he exclaimed, backing himself into a corner. He looked down at his hands. Then felt his head, running his fingers though his chestnut colored hair. “I-I’m- I am...”
“Alive?” an old Lenny stated, chuckling.
Cenoal furrowed his eyebrows. “Y-yeah... I think?” His eyes widened. “I’m not DEAD?!”
“No, you’re not.” A blue Acara stepped into the small hut. Cenoal recognized her somehow...
“Scarlet?” he asked. “Oh goodness, please tell me you’re not dead because I, erm... knocked you out...”
“I’m not dead, and neither are you,” Scarlet – or at least she wasn’t denying she was Scarlet – replied. Wasn’t Scarlet a Lupess?
It came back in a huge rush. Cenoal stumbled and caught himself on the wall. “Oh,” he stated, rubbing his head. “Ow.”
Scarlet nodded and the Lenny exited the room. A shadow Uni entered, grinning. “You’re awake then,” he stated.
Cenoal returned the smile. “I couldn’t have done it without-” Cenoal stopped. “J-Jeran...”
Scarlet sat herself down on the floor, motioning the Aisha and Uni to do the same. “What happened?” she questioned.
Cenoal’s head throbbed. That and he didn’t want to speak of the events on the battlements. “Eh, you sure it’s wise to question me this early in recovery, Scarlet?” he asked, chuckling nervously.
“It’s Crystal,” she hissed back. She looked back down, the darkness in her eyes not escaping Cenoal’s quick observation. “Please, Cenoal,” she stated, as though forcing herself to plead.
Cenoal gave a weak smile. “My apologies, Princess Crystal,” he said. “I suppose I can’t get out of it anyway...”
Jeran and Cenoal battled through the swarm, their eyes bright with the spirit of combat. Thieves flew before them. Cenoal gave a grim chuckle. “Say, Champion,” he said, thrusting his saber. He tried to ignore the growing pain at his side.
“Yes, Thief?” the blue Lupe responded.
Cenoal smirked. “Shall we race to the door?”
“On the count of three?” Jeran whispered.
Cenoal nodded. “One...”
“THREE!” they both yelled, surging forward, fighting harder than either had before. The two made their way down the stairs, barging into the first room they came upon. They locked themselves in. The Champion barricaded the door with the shelves. Bottles small and large lined them. One of the smaller cylinders fell, crashing to the ground. The brew inside spilled to the floor, freezing the shelves to the door... and Jeran’s foot to the floor. Cenoal, standing farther from the door, wasn’t affected.
Cenoal rushed to the trapped Lupe. Grabbing his comrade’s leg, the Aisha pulled hard. They struggled, all the while hearing the sounds of clawing on the other side of the door. Jeran didn’t budge. “It’s no use,” Jeran panted.
“Yes it is, Champion!” Cenoal exclaimed, slamming his fist on the table in frustration. The act brought a wooden box toppling to the floor. “For Sakhmet’s sake, what now?!” There was another bottle lying on the ground, unbroken. It had a small chain around its spout, the pendant the image of the crest of Meridell. The letter ‘F’ was engraved in the pendant. The bottle also had two small wings on it and, upon realizing its freedom from the box, the potion decided on its own to lift off.
“Cenoal!” Jeran barked. “Grab it! Drink it and get out of here!”
Cenoal had been able to grab the bottle. He held it tightly. “Not without you, Jeran,” he responded, tucking the potion in his belt. The Aisha grabbed Jeran’s hand and pulled. This time, however, he had no help from the Champion.
“Listen, Cenoal,” he stated, “I want you to get out of here. The ships scheduled to arrive should be close enough for you to fly to them.”
“If we go down, we go down together,” Cenoal said stubbornly.
Jeran smiled. “This is no time for your ‘stupid bravery,’ Cenoal.” Jeran pointed at the Aisha’s side. “You’ve already taken an arrow.”
Cenoal forced another smirk, suppressing the pain for a bit longer. “That little prick? It’s nothing, I promise...”
Jeran shook his head. He reached around his neck, taking off the small blue pendant Crystal had given him. He gripped it tightly. “Those ships may be here any moment, and I don’t want them running into all that,” he continued, motioning to the ever-growing sound of clawing. He threw a pendant to the Aisha. “It saved me the day I fell from the Citadel,” he stated, “I don’t know how, but I know it did. Psellia hadn’t caught me in mid air, she plucked me from the ground...”
Jeran watched as Cenoal turned the small gem in his hand. “I’m...” Cenoal shut his eyes. “I’ll be back for you, Jeran. I will. I’ll bring my entire guild if I have to-”
Just then, a clawing hand cut through the ice. “Enough chit-chat, Thief!” Jeran yelled. “GO!”
“I took the flying potion and jumped out the window.” Cenoal’s gaze was glued to the floor. “They had some serious spear throwers, though.” The Aisha ribbed his chest, now bandaged carefully. “I barely got out. Couldn’t find the ships anywhere near the shore...”
“They were lost,” Crystal cut in. “They got back on course moments before you found them.”
On the floor were three dots of moist soil. Cenoal looked back up at Crystal. Her eyes shone slightly, but she quickly rubbed away the moisture. He sighed. “I’m sorry, Crystal, I am.”
Crystal stood, and without a word walked outside...
Crystal fiddled with the small pendant. Angry and upset as she was, it seemed nothing else was on her mind. Ever since she exited the small hut, her mind seemed to wander to the pendant, no matter how much she forced her thoughts to shift. Finally, she gave up. She glanced at the blue gem resting in her hand. “What are you trying to tell me?” she questioned.
The gem shone with its utmost brilliance, emitting the blue light that had changed Crystal’s swords. The Acara shut her eyes. Once they opened again, she was in a large courtyard. There were beautiful rose bushes planted beside the large walls. The apple trees were budding with beautiful flowers. A fountain sat in the middle of the garden.
The large castle loomed over her. Its white walls towered above. There were nine short towers on the outer wall. Another three towers seemed to grow from the castle. Surrounding the castle and its walls on the north and west were huge mountains.
The Princess stared in awe as the walls crumbled around her. She watched as the castle began to crack all around. It was aging before her. The plants withered before her. The land was dark all around; happiness had no place in the world she now stood in...
The light came once more, forcing Crystal to shut her eyes again. Once opened, she stood in the woods once more. She gasped for breath, now only realizing she had been holding it. She glanced around her. “Lost?”
Crystal turned to see Cenoal and Shade. “Shouldn’t you be resting?” she asked, willing chill to overcome her voice. The question came through as warm instead.
“Yep!” Cenoal replied. “But, how am I supposed to help you if I’m stuck in a hut?”
“Help? Help with what?” Crystal asked.
“Oh please,” Cenoal stated, a smirk coming to his face. “You’re off to find that weird castle, and you’re planning to do it on your own.”
“If you guessed that much, I’m sure you can guess I’m not taking you with me.”
“Oh, you’re not taking me with you,” Cenoal confirmed. “I’m GOING with you.”
“No, you’re not.”
Shade interceded. “Yes, he is.” He gave Crystal a look. “Either he’s coming, or I’m not.”
“You two LOVE to gang up on me!” Crystal exclaimed.
“Just be sure to leave your Father a message, Princess,” Cenoal stated. “We don’t want an entire regiment coming after us.”
Crystal gave an exasperated sigh. She looked up at Shade and Cenoal. “Fine,” she stated, grabbing one of her swords. She carved a message on the bark of one of the trees...
To be continued...