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The Shade Flame Legacy: Valrigard - Part One


by smurfafied1800

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Escape in the Darkness

Note: This legacy of the Shade Flame is a sequel to Wishes by Moonlight. Caeson had the Shade Flame gift, so it continues in this story. I'm going to write a Wishes by Moonlight ll anyway, so please be patient with me. Okay, on with The Shade Flame Legacy: Valrigard!

Traitor. The word tasted bitter on my tongue. I lay silently in my cell, sleeping on the cold stone floor. The gears in my mind were working at full power, yet I couldn't think of a way to escape. I knew what I could do out of the cell, but I had no key to free myself. Even if I was free of the small stone room, I had no way of defending myself. I had no weapon, no energy, and no freedom. For three years I had been trapped in this horrible prison....ever since I had been branded a traitor. I remembered the day when Syvor had deserted me, the day my life had ended.

      Syvor was a red Eyrie who had framed me. He had chosen me because I had been Meridell's Champion, Meridell's Defender, and Meridell's Savior. He had chosen to frame me because I had witnessed his terrible crime. I had seen him sign a contract swearing his loyalty to Darigan, and I had never forgotten it. When I had pressed charges, though, Syvor denied it and framed me in the same way. I could remember his very words...

      "Skarl, do you really trust this simple peasant? He says that I signed a contract swearing my loyalty to Darigan...but where is the proof? If your Majesty pleases, I would like to press charges on him."

      Everyone in the crowd gasped at the very idea: the King's most noble and trusted knight being a traitor! But, Syvor had pressed charges further.

      "I think that this miserable wretch we see before us is the true culprit, and he's masking himself by using me as a decoy!" His words had run as sweet as honey, but as false as shadows. I had began to object, but the crowd booed and jeered at me. Pets hissed and growled at me hatefully, and I knew Meridell had turned on me.

      "You have no proof!" I said shakily. Syvor grinned evilly and held up a paper. It was the contract. The Eyrie read through the entire thing, never leaving out a single word. After a few minutes, Syvor came to the end of the contract.

      "...I will no longer serve under the current King of Meridell, unless it is for my own duty to Lord Darigan. From here on, I swear my loyalty to the real Lord of the Citadel and Meridell. I will serve under him with all my power, and I will cherish it.

      "This I vow, signed..."

      The Eyrie smiled again and held up the contract. Everyone in the audience gasped, including me. There, as clear as the very Citadel, was my name. Under it was the witness signature, in the messy handwriting of Lord Darigan. As soon as I regained my senses, though, I was positive that it was a forgery. The only thing I could do was cry out,

      "NOOOOOOOOO!!!" Syvor just nodded his head grimly and two Draik guards grabbed me by the wings, and hauled me off to the prison, where no one had ever escaped.

      Now, I was branded with names like Traitor, Turnscale, and Scum. I didn't care though. Every night since then I had planned my escape and revenge, thought my efforts to escape were fruitless. No one ever escaped from the dungeons of Meridell. And even if I did, I couldn't fly all the way over the border and to safety. I needed to escape...to escape from Meridell. I buried my head in my claws and thought as hard as I could, but nothing came to me. I felt useless, I felt alone...

      And I felt betrayed.

      I felt betrayed, because I had lost everything. I had been cheated, and condemned. I had lost my title, Champion of Meridell. At least it had been lost to a good soul, I thought, Not one of those pampered, snobby princes. No, I forced myself to think. Jeran will be good for Meridell. I sighed. It was foolish and selfish to feel betrayed because I had lost some pathetic title. Titles meant nothing, like the title Traitor. I rolled over onto my back and stared at the small shard of glass that I hung on my wall, serving as a mirror. Looking back at me was a sinewy blue Draik, but his muscles hadn't been used in three years. His eyes burned with long gone spark and happiness. And his face was one of youth, yet the expression on it was an exhausted one. But, under all the tired features on this Draik, I could see that it was only a mask. I felt energy longing to be used under my scales, even though the hope was useless. I began to turn over when a sharp glint caught my eye, and I paused. It was reflected in the mirror, so I turned around and looked in the direction it came from. After many, many months, I uttered a gasp.

      There, on the floor, was a set of keys. I rubbed my eyes in case it was a cruel trick of insanity, but it wasn't. The golden keys glinted brightly in the dim light. I couldn't believe it. It wasn't possible. But, there were the keys. I reached out my hand and grabbed it. It was real. As quickly as I could, I leapt to my feet and raced towards the door, keys in hand.

      As soon as I was at the cell door I paused. Thoughts like, What fool would leave keys in a cell? or, Are these the right ones? The questions couldn't be helped. I fumbled at the lock of the door and with a wonderful click, it opened. I still couldn't believe it. I hesitated on the way out. This was too good to be true. It couldn't be right. After three years of planning and failing, I had been set free by a mere fluke! I thought this through. Before I could take off, I needed a weapon. The armoury would supply me with that. I also needed a decoy of myself...and my mind raced to the straw bed and spare clothes in my cell, which would make a perfect dummy. The last thing I needed was a sure-fire plan of escape, like a map leading me around the dungeon and its horrors. I thought of the guards that passed by every hour and how they always carried accurate maps in case of their getting lost.

      I shut the door of the cell and began making my dummy. I carefully fitted the pieces of cloth together and stuffed straw in. When I was finished, I stepped back and admired my work. Thank Neopia that NO ONE'S that ugly, I thought as I gaped at it. It would have to do, though. I would shove it in the corner so the guards could only see a little. I locked the dummy in and silently shoved the keys through the bars in case I was thrown back in. Then, I crept silently to the armoury, which was only a few corridors away.

      * * * * *

      After I had 'borrowed' a weapon, I slithered through the darkness like a shadow. I crept past the prison cells and not a soul heard me. I opened my long-since used wings and took flight, which was a lot harder then I thought. My wings instantly buckled and I fell a few feet to the ground. I guessed that they hadn't been used in a while. The burning energy under my skin vanished instantly, or so it seemed. I supposed that I would need to time my flights, or else I wouldn't have much of a chance getting out of here. I braced myself and opened my wings again, then took to the air. I was ready for fatigue this time, so I maneuvered my energy as much as I could and kept going until I reached the peak I was aiming for, then I collapsed in exhaustion. Sweat formed on my brow, and the hair on my back began to prickle. I stood still for a second, then I whirled around, sword in paw.

      A Grarrl guard was walking down the corridor with a sword in his paw. I slipped into the shadows and waited for the moment when he passed. After passing, I slunk out of the shadows and down the corridor where he had come from. I had to escape...I had to be free...

      * * * * *

      I flew through the dungeon as if fire were on my wings. I slew passing guards with a single thrust every time. The only thing on my mind was freedom, and proving my innocence. Syvor would regret throwing me in the dungeon. My wings were far more powerful now, and I could take long flights with ease. I flew to one of the last pillars...and saw the door. But, spikes were everywhere and enemies were closing in on me. I looked frantically around and found a shadowed corner. I flew as fast as I could, and made the corridor just in time. Two Grarrl guards and a Korbat met near me, but they couldn't see my figure. I heard their raspy voices.

      "The Traitor escaped the fourteenth dungeon. He can't be far now," the first Grarrl said. I wished I could finish him with a single strike, because I was no traitor.

      "He must be on this level," said the second Grarrl. "It's the last one."

      I mentally leapt with joy on the guard's remark. The last level! I was going to be free! The Korbat spoke in a high, coarse voice.

      "I'll regroup the rest of the Korbats. There's no way he can fight an army of us," the two Grarrls nodded, and they walked off in different directions. I couldn't risk going through an army of Korbats. There was no way that I'd escape. I'd be the dead Traitor. I sighed and fell to my knees, practically giving up. I had gone so far! I had nearly escaped! Then I remembered what they had called me. Traitor. No matter how much I hated the word, it seemed to spark my energy. I felt hope creeping through me. I looked up, and the last door was in clear view. I nodded in determination, and flew for the door.

      Almost instantly, Korbats surrounded me. In a rustle of wings, they were all around me. I slashed with my sword everywhere, but every Korbat that fell seemed to be replaced by another. One hit me in the side, and I fell to the ground, my wing partly wounded. The door was completely blocked. I couldn't escape.

      Then, the last light of the moon shined brightly on my face. I looked up. There was the beautiful stain glass window. On it was the Meridell Emblem. I looked at it partly with hatred and partly with love for my homeland. The Korbats were flying down at me. Their talons outstretched in a deadly trap. Before I knew it, I was flying in the direction of the window. The Korbats suddenly realized my plan and screamed in fury. They raised themselves and flew after me. I beat my wings furiously, in a desperate attempt to free myself. The window was so close....

      * * * * *

      A loud crash rang throughout Meridell. The sound of glass shattering filled the ears of all who were near. But, not many pets were concerned, because it was probably just another piece of the Citadel falling off. Ever since the Last Battle, pieces of the once-hated castle were always falling off, due to Morguss's magic wearing off on it. The Meridellians put up with it, however, because they (as well as everyone) were determined to keep this new peace.

      However, the young and beautiful ears of Velle Dreamsaga were keener and far more understanding than that of any other Meridellians'. The striped Draikess looked to the castle where the sound had come from, and her pretty face curled into a frown. Stone didn't sound like glass. Velle was a smart Draik, and her senses told her to investigate. The pretty Draik opened her wings and took flight. Velle's graceful form flew across the horizon towards the Dungeons of Meridell.

      ...I can't tell you how long I drifted in the river beneath the castle. I was unconscious for the whole time. I can't even tell you the amount of pain that had coursed through my body when I had broken through the window. It had been too much for anyone to have borne. All I knew now was that I was near dead in the river, and waiting for someone to save me. I could do nothing about the shards of glass that had been buried into my scales. I could do nothing about the small cloud of blood that followed me and vanished in the river. I couldn't do anything about the Korbats' frantic yet fruitless search for any trace of me. However, I was told later that a Grarrl guard had seen my body floating down the river, and had expected that the Traitor was finally dead. They had given up the search for me after that, now that everyone thought that I was dead. I was nearly dead. But, even the closest pets to death can dream. I dreamt about many things.

      "Mama?"

      "Yes, Valrigard?"

      "Why do the Darigans hate us so much?"

      "Valrigard...they just don't understand."

      "Understand what?"

      "That we're different."

      "Oh...but why don't they understand?"

      "Valrigard, will you promise me something?"

      "What, Mama?"

      "Promise me never to hate. Be loving and kind all your life. Promise?"

      "I promise, Mama."

      There were no more dreams for me that night. No more dreams for the Traitor. I was too weak even to dream. The pain inside me was unbearable, and it seemed that it would never release me.

      Suddenly, I felt scaly paws grabbing me. Something lifted me out of the water, but I couldn't identify it. Now, I was being raised into the air, and the automatic feeling of wind on my scales swept over me. Despite my weakness, I shivered. The pet carrying me laughed slightly. I couldn't object to anything though. I finally lost all consciousness.

      Velle smiled. Maybe her life wasn't so boring after all.

To be continued...

Author's Note: Thanks to: sara_mossflower, allhailtheprincess, nomad2, and other friends who didn't give up on me. Feedback LOVED.

 
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