The Last Days of the Citadel: Part Three
Knowing the stranger had been given entrance to the Citadel had made Narissa sleep badly. Unlike what happened in her dreams, however, there came no attack on the Citadel that night.
When Narissa tried to find out more about the stranger the following day, she quickly discovered that wasn’t as easy as she suspected. Although a lot of inhabitants of Darigan Citadel had seen the stranger arriving, no one could tell what happened to him. Because many of them reported the Kougra to be wounded, Narissa tried looking for him in the hospital wing, to no avail. However, one of the healers who she befriended a long time ago, told her how Morguss had come to ask for a rare herb with healing powers the day before. According to him, if she and Clivia didn’t know more about the stranger, he was a Drackonack.
Soon after that, Narissa did indeed find out Clivia had given the stranger one of her rooms. According to Morguss, he came from a land far away and had gotten lost while hunting. He needed a few days to recover and then he would be on his journey back. His injuries needed a special treatment only Clivia knew about. There was no need to inform the Lord of the Citadel about this.
Narissa had learned not to believe what Morguss was saying a long time ago.
Not knowing what exactly was going on, the Ixi knew she needed to talk to the stranger to learn more first. Narissa was familiar with Clivia’s rooms and knew the Draik had a prized collection of Mallards she treasured like they were her own children. This situation called for desperate measures. Quickly, she unlocked their cages and waited some time.
“Clivia, quick! All your Mallards have escaped!”
Trying to sound as panicked as possible, Narissa ran into Clivia’s rooms. Normally, Clivia wouldn’t mind throwing anyone storming into her rooms like this into the Citadel’s dungeons, even Narissa, but the Ixi got it right: Clivia would be too concerned about her escaped Mallards to care.
She watched the Draik running away, shouting something at Morguss, and shouting something at the guards. Narissa knew Clivia would not bother about her for a long time now. Catching fifty-two Mallards would take a while.
Quickly, Narissa started to search through Clivia’s rooms. Sooner than she expected she found what she was searching for when she heard a voice speaking behind her.
“Dear lady, could you help me please?”
The White Kougra did not look at all like the knights she had seen in her dreams. For the first time, Narissa wondered whether she had not been mistaken after all.
“Who are you?” she asked him in surprise.
He had been injured indeed. He was wearing left his arm in a sling and she could see his shoulder had been bandaged.
“I’m Sir Forian Friedl, knight of Meridell,” the stranger answered her question. “Or at least, that’s what I used to be. How can I call you, fair lady?”
“I’m called Narissa and I’m the first apprentice of the Guardian of the Orb. What are you doing here? What do you mean with saying you used to be Sir Forian Friedl?”
Sir Forian Friedl gave a wry grin. “That’s still how I’m called, but I doubt I’m a knight of Meridell anymore.”
His head reached for his head when he said: “I need to lie down for a bit, I’m still feeling dizzy. Do you want to come with me? More important, do you want to help me, even though you work for that madwoman?”
“You mean Clivia, right? Why is she keeping you here, almost like her captive?”
“I don’t know, but I really need your help. I need to speak to the ruler of this Citadel, as soon as possible. It’s important, but that Draik has been keeping me from doing so. The fate of your land is at stake!”
Narissa had to think quickly. A few days ago, she would not have believed him. She disliked Clivia, but she felt like she was about the only one who did so in the whole Citadel. Never would she suspect Clivia of doing something that would not be for the best interests of the Citadel, but this was all before she heard her speaking the false prophecy.
“I know some inhabitants of the Citadel who know the Lord of Darigan,” she said, not wanting to give too much away. “Perhaps you could tell me you story.”
“Gladly I would do so,” Sir Forian Friedl said. “I’ve come from a land far away, called Meridell.”
Narissa shivered when she heard that name, but the Kougra didn’t notice.
“Meridell has everything to be a rich, fertile and fruitful land. However, we’ve been plagued by diseases of the crops for years now and the famine is getting worse. The citizens of Meridell are dying, especially the farmers.”
The sad look on his face showed to Narissa how much this knight was actually concerned about the farmer population of his land.
“Our king, whom I once considered wise, had heard rumours about a land far away, protected by a orb of great magical power. Its power could be used to make our grounds fertile again.
“Yes, this is indeed what the Orb can do,” Narissa said to him, not realizing she was given away much more about herself than she wanted to.
“Ah, so you know more about these matters.” There was a faint smile on Forian’s face. “The best knights were selected for this mission, and I was one of them. I thought it was a peaceful, honourable mission, where we would ask your ruler to help us. I was wrong about that, however.”
Narissa looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean, 'I was wrong about that'?”
Then, suddenly, the tale of Sir Forian and her vision seem to merge together and Narissa realised what it was all about.
“Those knights I saw I my dreams, they were the knights you talked about. They’ve come to raid us; they’ve come to take the Orb!”
Forian Friedl looked up to Narissa with kind compassion. “You’re a seer, right? Is there any way the citizens here would listen to you?”
Narissa decided to be honest on that: “I’m a seer, yes, and there might be some citizens who would believe me if I warned them. I am likely to be listened to because they will realise I'll be the Guardian of the Orb to come. But Clivia will come, saying that everything's a lie, and no one will listen to me again. I do think however, Lord Darigan might be willing to listen to this. However, what are you doing here? What’s the part you are playing?”
Sir Forian Friedl gave a wry laugh again.
“When I found out what my fellow knights were planning to do, I spoke against them. We knights are supposed to have a strong code of honour, but what my companions want to do is against everything that code stands for! However, I wasn’t able to change my companions' minds, we started to fight and I had to flee. They chased me and Maveron, my Uni, and they managed to hit me with their arrows, but in the end I managed to escape. Now they consider me a traitor and I will never be able to return to my home again. The only thing that was left for me to do was to ride up here as quickly as possible, to warn you.”
He laid his hands in Narissa’s hands, almost if begging her.
“Will you help me? Will you help me to warn your people?”
Narissa nodded. “I don’t know how yet, but you have to trust me Sir Forian Friedl. I’ll do whatever I’m able to help you. I really have to go now, for I’d rather Clivia not see me here.”
The Kougra sank further back unto his cushions again. He looked extremely tired now.
“Thank you, Narissa. I can only hope you will succeed.”
Narissa knew how heavy the burden was Sir Forian Friedl, knight of Meridell, placed upon her shoulders. She didn’t know how to tell everything that was on her mind to Draconis, for he would see no reason to distrust Clivia. Speaking of this, why would anyone believe her when she said the Guardian of the Orb was lying? The only one who would possibly believe her would be a friend. She needed to trust Kass in these matters.
Sitting in his room, the new head of the Eyrie Guard had been listening to his friend in total silence and astonishment.
“Now, let me get this straight. According to this stranger, Sir Forian Friedl, some land we’ve never heard of, Meriland...”
“Meridell,” Narissa corrected him.
“Right, Meridell. A group of knights from that land is planning to come here, raid us and steal the Orb? While at the same time, Clivia is telling everyone, including Draconis, how everything is nice and sunny and we’ll get a good harvest, like she’s always been saying?”
“So, you’ve noticed that too.”
Kass nodded. “I know how many of us revere Clivia, but if you pay attention to her closely, you’ll see it. I never could help myself for feeling she’s a bit of a fraud. See it like this: everyone knows the Guardian of the Orb is supposed to represent the Lady of the Citadel, but most inhabitants of the Citadel never saw the Lady and don’t know what it’s like, but when you get to meet Clivia she really isn’t like the Lady. Her tongue’s too poisonous for that. If Clivia had to be like the Lady, than the Lady should have been a Dark Faerie.”
“You’ve got a point about that, Kass. What do we have to do?”
“What would you want to do? If these things come out, Clivia would want her revenge for sure. You’re her first apprentice. She could give you a much harder time than she could give me. Yet I think Draconis needs to know this.”
Narissa nodded. “I know, but I didn’t dare to tell him. I hope he’ll believe us.”
Kass raised from his chair, looking stern. “We’re his friends, after all. I hope that will help us. However, you should realise, Narissa, if Draconis doesn’t believe us, he could consider this treason. We are plotting against the Guardian of the Orb after all. I wish I could have started my position as head of the Eyrie guard with something less serious.”
“Like searching for escaped Mallards?”
“How do you know? You’re not telling me...” Serious as the matters were, Kass now started to laugh. “You gave the boys from the guard quite a nice job to do.”
“I had to do something to distract Clivia.” Narissa couldn’t help herself for laughing now too. The idea Clivia had used the proud Eyrie guard to capture her escaped Petpets was slightly hilarious. However, it also showed how much influence she had in the Citadel. That still could prove a problem.
When the two of them entered Lord Darigan’s rooms, Narissa had expected a lot of things to happen. The very last she did expect was to find Draconis sitting there with a Faerie Mallard on his arm. Narissa recognised it as once as Clivia’s most prized Petpet.
The Lord of the Citadel had a sly grin on his face.
“I think it would be better to keep Clivia searching for this one for a while, while we discuss the things that really matter.”
To be continued...