The Sorceress and the Prisoner: Part Six
The first wave of battle ended with tears and shame. The overall winners of the battle were the Darigan Citadel troops, and how they rejoiced. There was going to be another one, another battle, they could all feel it. No one had truly won yet, but it was clear who had the upper hand at the moment. Meridell had to think fast before their country was taken away from them. King Skarl was no longer sat at his throne but in his meeting room, puzzling over strategies with his very best. Someone was late for this particularly important meeting, however. Probably the most important meeting of the decade. It was very unprofessional of someone so highly ranked in terms of status, loyalty, reputation and respect. A hassled looking blue Lupe, holding his helmet under his arm, entered the room with a weary expression. He seemed worn out and exhausted, but King Skarl couldn't help that. Now was the time for quick thinking and action.
However, the Skeith couldn't outright blame the knight. A lot had happened over the course of a few days. His sister was taken. The king wasn't a nasty Skeith, he wasn't unfair, or ungrateful for what this Lupe had done. So he simply grunted, making it clear he was displeased with the lack of punctuality, as the knight settled himself in his chair and continued to speak.
“We need to come up with something conclusive. Something that will put the ball back in our court.” King Skarl looked round at everyone seated. There was a missing person – Lisha – but other than that everyone was here now. “Lord Darigan cannot win this war. We have to fight with all our might. Has anyone got any strategies?”
Sir Borodere glanced upwards from staring into his lap. “We need to bring Lisha back.” He murmured quietly. “I'm not fighting at my best without her.” He hadn't yet found out from Tormund what was going on with his sister, but knew that if he had gotten in to see her so could Jeran. “Tormund was able to get in to the palace only yesterday, so I thought if I could just go and rescue her, I'd be more focused. She is –”
“Tormund managed to get into the palace?” King Skarl interrupted. “That is great news! Their security must not be all that after all. They're too focused on winning to notice someone entering the palace right under their noses. Good thinking, Jeran. We can get into the palace in the dead of the night – ambush them...” The others around the table were nodding in agreement. Tormund used to be a simple farmer; he had only recently become a knight. If he could get in, why couldn't they? The conversation got louder until Jeran banged a fist on the table, causing abrupt silence.
“I will go.” He offered, thinking only of Lisha. “I can infiltrate his chambers, then get my sister back...”
King Skarl sighed. “Your thoughts are corrupted by the case of your missing sister. Jeran, she will return safely. I can assure you that. Right now we have a war going on. Lord Darigan kidnapped her for a reason. She will be in the dungeons, waiting for this war to end. Now straighten yourself out.”
Jeran nodded, slowly. He knew he was becoming somewhat unreliable in these difficult times. Lord Darigan knew exactly how to get him riled up. Lisha was the only family he had. He tried to remember his mother, his father – but couldn't. The memories were too faded, had they ever be a part of their lives at all. Sometimes, if Jeran was asleep, he dreamed of a soft, caring voice and protective arms around him – a blue Aisha with rectangular glasses and a permanent smile. His mother? He never knew, because as soon as he started to realise what he was seeing, he woke up. His father was more of a mystery. Even his dreams could only recollect a vague, shadowy figure. But he was getting distracted. He had to trust Tormund to tell him everything when he visited him later. Only then could he relax and become more focused on winning this war.
The meeting continued, discussing different tactics and recruiting more soldiers. Jeran listened intently as he knew he was making King Skarl grumpier by the second, and he was a grumpy enough Skeith as it was. When the meeting ended (they were going to attack Darigan Citadel at dawn) Jeran travelled straight back to where Tormund was resting. He was exhausted – he hadn't slept since before the battle but his legs were carrying him to where he needed to go, just about. His mind was certainly corrupted, but not only by thoughts of whether his sister was all right or not. Something more was going on with Darigan Citadel, as though its effect long ago from the lack of the orb was now overflowing into a fight for mad power.
There was definitely something wrong. * * *
“You're feeling better, Tormund?” Jeran asked, plumping his pillow for the yellow Lupe. The smell of Tormund’s room was of strong fertiliser from the farm he lived at and the walls and floor were both a red-brown. The room was relatively warm but for some reason Jeran felt cold. His friend was tired, covering himself with his hands but he could see his face clearly.
Tormund nodded. “I’m just feeling very tired. My first battle and all that. It looks like I won’t be able to join in tomorrow though.” He sighed thoughtfully. “I've been dreaming of being a knight all my life and I mess it up on the first hurdle. I’m not used to doing this. I'm not cut out to be a knight.” He shook his head to himself, then grinned at Jeran. “Ignore me. I'm just thinking out loud. While you may somewhat care for my health, that is not why you are here, is it?”
Jeran chuckled. “You know me well, Tormund.” The laugh died in his throat. “How is Lisha? What has happened? Is she hurt?”
His friend frowned, scratching his head with his paw before sighing. “She's fine. No harm has come to her.” The relief in Jeran was visibly seen, as he deflated as though he had been holding his breath for a long time and his eyes lit up with joy. Tormund had the flicker of a smile cross his lips, but then he continued to speak. “She is in the dungeons of the palace, but Master Vex has proven faithful to our good deeds once more. It looks like Galgarroth will need convincing once more though. Lisha isn't just sitting around doing nothing though.” His voice was full of admiration for the yellow Aisha. “The artefact, Jeran,” he breathed, “Lord Darigan still has it. It's broken in two, but he's still kept it after all these years. We don't know where it's kept, but Master Vex has overheard Lord Darigan talk of a spell book Jhudora had that contained a spell to mend anything. Lisha has the spell book now. I didn't tell the others, but I...” Here, Tormund hesitated, looking guilty all of a sudden.
The knight's head was reeling. “Hold on, Tormund. Let me have to time to let this new information sink in. Lisha is trying to mend the artefact that brings prosperity and happiness to whoever holds it? It grants the wishes of whoever holds it, if I remember correctly? But last time Lord Darigan had the artefact he became corrupted by it. How will it work this time? And what didn't you tell the others?”
Tormund chewed his lip. “Lisha is going to use the artefact herself. And I stole the book from Jhudora when I knew she was not in her home but visiting Fyora for a meeting. I left the money and everything, but she must be going crazy. She wouldn't let Lord Darigan have that book, so why would she let me? I had to do it.”
Jeran nodded furtively. “What is there for us to do for her, Tormund?” His voice was full of pride. “I'm so proud of Lisha. I should have known she would be okay.” He grinned. “She's always telling me I'm far too overprotective of her, even for a big brother.” Staring at the paws of his friend, Jeran came to a decision. “I'm going to put my faith in Lisha to mend the artefact and put it to good use. Right now, all I can do is fight. I will visit you again in a few days, there is to be another battle tomorrow – our ambush, this time.”
The yellow Lupe groaned. “I know. I can't believe I'm missing out on all of the action. Best of luck fighting, Jeran. You and Lisha will save Meridell. I believe in the two of you.”
“Thanks, Tormund. I appreciate that. It seems everyone but King Skarl himself is doing something.” Jeran patted Tormund on the arm, then got up to leave. As he was halfway out of the door, however, he stopped and turned back. “I think something more is going on with Darigan Citadel. I think something has happened to Lord Darigan again - not The Three, but just, something to trigger this sudden war. Nothing really adds up. And...” He lowered his voice. "Don't tell anyone. This is between you and me. But...I think King Skarl isn't doing the best job he could. If I was King -" Here, he broke off abruptly, never having revealed his true secret ambitions.
“No,” Tormund said quietly, “but what can one do? These are not times to act on that. If Meridell succeed, maybe then you can pursue this thought. I don’t think he is the best king for Meridell either. But everyone knows it is a line of heritage issue.”
Jeran blinked, surprised. “You think the same as me?”
“Of course. You've never told a lie before Jeran, you're honourable, loyal, brave and noble. You're always at the front line in all of our battles, whilst King Skarl stays safe in his castle.” Tormund shrugged, feeling secretly proud of Jeran. “I'll always believe in you.”* * *
Deep in the dungeons of Darigan Citadel's palace sat one unlikely hero helping a well-known sorceress. The temperature never rose above cold, but by now Lisha had gotten used to this. She'd forgotten how long it had been since she was thrown in here, but it couldn't have been more than a week, surely. Right now she had a goal, a mission. Something that could save everyone. If only she would find the spell. The spell that, when said, could mend anything inflicted or broken within a five metre radius. It was being read, slowly, page by page to her, as there was no contents are index or sub headings. Flicking the back, the final page number was printed as seven hundred and eighty six, much more than Lisha had estimated. They were on page two hundred and four, not even halfway through. It was a tiring, dull task, but they were doing it because they had to in order to save the day.
Prisoner Five read in his normal, babbling voice. Every now and then he would go off into a random ramble, which made the process a whole lot longer, but to be fair to him he was getting the job done. Lisha closed her eyes as she listened to his voice and wondered why it seemed so familiar. She couldn't place it, but she had definitely heard it somewhere before.
“Lisha, Lisha, Miss Lisha!” Prisoner Five jabbed the Aisha in the arm with his walking stick, though it was more of a staff and it hurt when it poked into Lisha's arm. She yelped in surprise at the sudden contact but widened her eyes when she heard what Prisoner Five muttered next. “All Time Mending Spell! This is it, oh yes, indeed, what do we need, now we'll know...I know...know about the world made of jelly that is, yes, yes...everyone will now know, know now...” He was off on a mad gabble but Lisha was tingling with excitement. Could this be the very spell they were looking for?
It took a few minutes for the old Lupe to calm down but eventually he was able to carry on reading. After he read the conditions of the spell, he read what the spell did. “Mends anything ever broken, lifts any curse, and cures any illness. Ooh, my, what a spell. This is indeed what we need! We have found it, Lisha!”
Lisha beamed. “What is the page number so we do not lose it?”
“Two hundred and four,” Prisoner Five murmured, then slammed the book shut and hobbled away into a corner of his cell.
That Lupe is seriously strange, Lisha thought, and wondered how he could have possibly ended up like he was now. She almost laughed, but she had to get the orb first. She could finally talk to Master Vex again – he warned her to not talk to him until the spell was found, otherwise the other prisoners would become suspicious of special treatment, though they weren't a smart lot. Galgarroth also visited frequently and if he overheard prisoners talking of Master Vex and Lisha working together and a mysterious yellow Lupe appearing Master Vex would be in deep trouble. Galgarroth was still convinced this was Darigan's time to show Meridell how strong they really were. Lord Darigan hadn't been down to the cell since he threw Lisha in there, but something was certainly going on. Galgarroth looked like he was forever waiting for something huge to happen.
“Master Vex!” Lisha called the signal. “I feel faint!”* * *
Lord Darigan cackled. Things were going well. In fact, he hadn't felt this good in a very long time. Not since he had the artefact anyway. And that was a long time ago. Now, he had higher things to think of. Once he secured a win from Meridell, and got into a higher position of power over both countries, he could begin to attempt to repair his artefact once more by hiring sorcerers from Meridell, where they were rumoured to be best. He had considered using Lisha, but greatly underestimated her powers.
“You are aware of the plan then, General Galgarroth?” Although many still referred to Galgarroth without this title, Lord Darigan had begun to refer to the Grarrl by his proper name, which he deserved.
General Galgarroth nodded, standing from his knelt position. “Yes, Lord Darigan. It is crystal clear what I have to do.”
“Then I had better call some more soldiers in and tell them the good news,” Lord Darigan decided, and raised his voice. “Soldiers! Are you out there? Come in at once!”
The door opened a few seconds later; Lord Darigan wondered if the soldiers had been eavesdropping again.
“The young Aisha, Sir Borodere's sister, Lisha, is going to help us win the war,” Lord Darigan answered truthfully, hiding a smirk. The others in the room didn't notice the evil gleam in his eyes as he said Lisha's name.
Now, Lord Darigan was planning the ultimate destruction of Meridell. And Lisha was going to be the sacrifice of that destruction.
To be continued…