The Shade Flame Legacy: Valrigard: Part Seven
The First Battle
Syvor looked upon his army of Shadows with pleasure.
The numbers stretched to the Shadow Cliffs and never seemed to end. In front
of his army were the Three, looking more like grey pets then like commanders.
"Oh, stop that sniveling," he snapped at them.
"Soon, you'll begin to like the idea of killing that Draik and his Draikess."
The Gelert came up with an idea, at least it would bring back some old memories.
"His Draikess?" Russo asked. "I didn't know
that. I thought he commanded alone."
"Now he has friends, dimwit," Syvor said. "A
mage Draik and that idiotic knight that I tried getting rid of." His blood boiled
at the thought of how he had been so foolish to let them escape. "But, I think
it might be something else with him and that Draikess. Something... what's that
foul word..." Nyra's eyes lit up as she caught on with the idea.
"Love?" she asked. The Skeith's eyes widened,
slightly scared. Syvor's ears perked and he figured the plan out, taking his
wrath upon Russo. He pounced upon the Gelert and pinned him to the ground, with
his heavy paw at his throat.
"Don't try that one again, Gelert. Your plans
are pathetic, and you know it. I feel about as much sorrow for you as I do Jeran,
when he fell from the Citadel. Do you understand? None." Russo nodded, and the
paw was removed. The Skeith and the Faerie ran up to him, but he held up a paw
for them to stop.
"I'm fine, really," he said, "Soon enough, someone
will come to help." The other two nodded, but all three of them knew that it
was completely false. Soon they would manipulate Skarl and no one would be able
to stop Syvor. No one...except maybe that Draik that always seemed to foil Syvor's
The faerie spoke for them all. "We shouldn't
get our hopes up," she said, and they all nodded, knowing this was very true.
* * * * *
When I had asked about training the armies,
Velle had told me that they were already trained. I felt slightly useless because
of the boring nights I spent waiting for Syvor's next attack. I finally asked
if I could train the youthful, and the army leaders agreed. I spent hours a
day in the pastures of Meridell, training the so-called little ones.
"Tantar, I told you not to hold you sword that
way. Um... yes, that's much better. Hey Masbeth! Change from the arrows to the
swords, you've got those down. Yeah, and Firescale, that's a bad defensive position.
Bring your shield up higher, or your enemy will get you in the throat." I walked
down the line of teens (Firescale was the youngest, being eleven) and shouted
out orders to them. Most of them were obedient, but some others were like ticks
you told to get off.
"Um, Mr. Lightblade?" Firescale asked nervously,
"Won't holding it higher be a danger to my lower quarters?" I growled silently.
I hated being called Mr. Lightblade. It sounded like an eccentric old Nimmo's
"First of all, Firescale," I said promptly,
"My name is Valrigard, and I won't listen if you call me Mr. Lightblade. Got
it?" The green Krawk nodded obediently. "Secondly," I said, "Your lower quarters
can be far less important, because your don't have anything important there.
Your upper quarters have your throat, you heart, and your head. If an enemy
fires at you, you have more time to react. Understand?" The young Krawk nodded
again. I continued down the line making corrections wherever I found mistakes.
Another one of the teens, a rather ignorant
Lupe pup sneered.
"They must have been really desperate if they
dropped down to asking him for help," he whispered I bristled, but decided to
let him slide. After all, he was just a kid.
"Yeah," I heard his friend whisper, "I hear
that he tried to kill Jeran, but the knight got away." The boys both snickered
stupidly. I could feel the muscles under my scales rippling with tension. Anger
burned hotly in my head, but mostly my paws. I forced the magic down.
"Huh, he probably can't fight then," a third
boy said. "If I had tried to kill Jeran, that stupid Lupe wouldn't stand a chance."
Now, they were insulting my friends.
"Well," the first one said, "I don't believe
two wits of that story the Traitor's calling us, but as soon as I get my paws
on hi-" I cut him off my hurling a weak fireball at him. If it had been normal,
it would've killed him. The Lupe skidded across the ground a few meters and
rammed into a rock. I stalked over to him and grabbed him by the collar fur.
"Look Pup," I snarled, "If you want to leave,
be my guest. I didn't exactly ask to be a commander and you know it. Now, if
you're going to stay and make yourself useful, you can. But I would be more
then happy to have you leave. So, I'm going to count to ten, and if you can
leave by then or stay here and look smart about it, I'll spare you another taste
of my Shade-Fire." The Lupe whined pitifully and I dropped him.
"One..." I began. The Lupe scrambled to his
feet and saluted, waiting for my count to ten.
"Five..." I said, skipping three and four. "Six...seven...nine...ten."
I opened my eyes and looked at the new Lupe standing before me.
"Who're you?" I asked dully.
The Lupe kept his paw up and said, "Rab, sir."
"Why are you here?" I asked.
Rab smiled proudly and said, "I'm here to fight
in the war, sir."
"At ease," I muttered, and he lowered his paw.
I felt a smiled tug at my lips. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all. Veliao,
the silver Zafara walked up to me.
"Valrigard," he said (he was a general, so he
didn't bother calling my sir, thankfully), "Syvor's army is on the horizon.
They plan to take Meridell, so why don't we give them our answer?" He winked
at me roguishly, and I actually smiled. Velio was easy going, and it was great
"Why don't we?" I asked, and grabbed my sword.
The kids left to go get ready for their first battle.
* * * * *
When we arrived on the plains, all happiness
I had diminished. Instead of seeing an army of flesh and blood, we saw an enormous,
silent shadow covering the land. This is what Syvor plans for Neopia, I thought.
Looking closely, I saw the dim outlines of shadow pets. Our army was silent
too, except for the dull beat of the wardrum Hohoho was beating. I could see
Syvor standing in the middle of the army, shielded by thousands of shadows.
"And now," I said, "We fight for Neopia." And
my friends nodded.
* * * * *
"KRAWK ISLAND! CHARGE!" Another war cry rang
through my ears of battle. We were only a few minutes into the battle, and every
land had become spirited. Even though many of them were sure of winning, I knew
that it wasn't going too good. Our armies were slowly dying out as the shadows
never seemed to end.
I slashed at another shadow, cutting it to ribbons.
Nearby, Ghyr, the Halloween Lupe, was fighting off pets with his bare paws.
He needed no weapon, as his sinewy muscles could toss ten shadows at a time.
I heard his mighty battle cry and almost flinched. Ghyr was one pet that I didn't
want to fight, even if I did have a weapon. I could hear Veliao's war cry as
he fought off eight shadows at once, and still he kept a keen fight. It was
as if he was an endless energy bag. I watched Hohoho as he barked bravely at
his attackers while banging his drum. I had to admit, Hohoho wasn't the smartest
pet, but he was one of the bravest.
Kysel, the Maraquan Krawk, and I found ourselves
back-to-back as we fought off the shadows. That was good, because I was too
tired to guard all of my sides. I could hear Kysel gasping for air. Fatigue
was catching up with me, too. I just hoped that we could fight a little while
longer and then retreat. The thought of giving up Meridell infuriated me. I
felt guilty about doing it, but the only way we could escape was to do it. We
had to retreat.
Suddenly, I heard a gasp as Kysel began to droop
behind me. I roared in despair when I saw a black arrow embedded deeply into
his shoulder. Blood seeped from the wound, and it wouldn't stop. "Kysel!" I
cried, but he wouldn't move. I heard another despairing cry and saw Firescale,
gaping at his dying father. Firescale's hesitance cost him, as a shadow snuck
up on him, mace in paw. I gasped and ran over to him, in a desperate attempt
to block the attack. I finally managed to shove the green Krawk away from the
shadow, but not from myself.
The mace hit me directly in the shoulder, causing
me to double over in pain. The shadow took out a dagger and held it up about
to strike. I couldn't move, because the mace had momentarily paralyzed me. The
shadow brought down the dagger, but it didn't make it's target.
Kysel ran in to protect me. I mustered the strength
to look up and saw the arrow, still protruding from his chest. Instant guilt
flooded me like a river. With a groan I stood up and slashed at the shadow.
It dodged my attack, but Kysel slashed its head off in one clean sweep. Firescale
watched his father in dumbfounded horror. The Maraquan Krawk wouldn't stop fighting,
even though he was destined to die. I didn't see anything else to do but help
him. Then, I saw a shadow Grarrl raise up his bow...
I couldn't warn Kysel fast enough. I tried to
shout but he was blinded by Deathwrath and wouldn't stop killing the shadows
for anything. The arrow went off with a twang, and Kysel crumbled. Now two arrows
were buried in. Firescale gave a sob of anger and charged at the shadow.
"Firescale!" I shouted. The Krawk wouldn't stop,
so I ran after him. The shadow pulled up his bow again and I pushed Firescale
down. The arrow flew harmlessly over our heads and slew the shadow behind us.
The shadow leaned over us and hissed hoarsely; an unmistakable laugh. It drew
its sword and thrust it down at us, but it was Firescale who was too quick this
time. The young Krawk took out his sword and thrust it upwards, catching the
shadow in the belly. It fell dead with an agonized groan. I staggered up and
slashed at the nearest shadow. It ripped apart and I screamed, "Retreat!"
Some of the troops were more then happy to run.
They ran as fast as they could while slaying shadows. I could hear Syvor's evil
laughs as he watched us run, as if we were a bunch of frightened Snowbunnies.
I turned around and glared at him. When we met eyes, he laughed.
"The great Valrigard, running like a mouse!"
I glared icily. "Coward!" I snapped. "You stood in the middle of your army while
we were dying!" This statement only seemed to make Syvor happier. He cackled
evilly and sent his army after our retreat. A shadow Kyrii hissed evily as it
ran up to attack me, a small dagger in its paw. I took out my sword to block
the blow but I didn't need to. The Kyrii stopped in midair, like it was squashed
against an invisible wall. I looked ahead and saw Sheer at the head of the army.
He was holding up his paw in a high position with light filtering from it. We
were in a forcefield. I ran along with the army as we made for the forest. I
looked back and saw Meridell, and tears formed in my eyes. I had lost Meridell
and the Citadel!
Great, I thought, no one's going to
have any faith in me after this. I almost turned around and ran the other
way, because everyone would rather kill me then let me sleep tonight.
* * * * *
When we got far into the forest, we made camp.
Hardly anyone said a word to me as I walked by, and I didn't blame them. I was
probably the worst commander Neopia had ever seen...
I felt a paw on my shoulder and turned to see
Velle. She had hardly been scratched during the battle, except for two long
gashes running down her arms. I smiled. She smiled back, but she knew that mine
had been hollow.
"You need rest, Val," she said. I nodded, not
mentioning that I hated being called Val. I smiled weakly and left, finding
a good place to sleep. It was on a large rock overlooking a pond. I grabbed
some moss for padding and lay down, letting sleep envelope me. Before I closed
my eyes, I could feel Sheer poke me.
"Valrigard?" he asked. "How come you let Velle
call you Val, but not me?"
I rolled over to my side, mumbled, "Different,"
and fell asleep.
* * * * *
Skarl, while lying in a velvet tent on the other
side of the camp, was having nightmares. There were three figures standing in
front of them. Three figures that he had only heard of...
"Hello, Skarl. We have come to help you. We
have come to make you strong." Skarl mentally nodded, and the Three plastered
smiles to their faces. Kinju said,
"All you need is Greed... (need is greed, hey
that's pretty catchy!)"
Skarl drank in their words. "Yes...That's what
I need to be a great ruler...But how? I lack the power currently." Nyra put
on a fake evil smile. "That's where we come in..." she said in her eerie voice.
"But you must listen to our demands, though. All you need to do is..."
Skarl opened his eyes. Glassy coating covered
them, making them look dull and evil. A faint red glowed in them eerily. He
got up, opened the tent, and slunk out like a shadow. With a quiet pace, he
slithered through the darkness with stealth that the normal King Skarl would've
never had. Then, he found his target, a blue Draik with the title Traitor stamped
* * * * *
I was having another dream, but this one wasn't
about my childhood. I was standing on a burning plain. I could see the dim outline
of a blue Eyrie as it walked towards me. It could only be Syvor, and I was ready
for him. I grabbed at my sword, but it wasn't there. I whirled around to see
Syvor standing right in front of me, and evil smirk on his face. Instead of
his foul voice, a powerful yet gentle voice issued from his beak.
The Flame of Shade shall win the fight,
The Blade of Soul shall awaken,
Once dead the friend of dreams shall have a
But his voice cut off. His evil smile replaced
the mage's face that I had just seen. He caught me off guard and shouted,
"I am your death, Shade Flame!"
Suddenly, the air in my throat ceased. I realized
quickly and kicked and struggled against my invisible attacker, but my legs
wouldn't move! I saw spots everywhere....couldn't keep going....I could hear
Syvor's hated laughter...
I finally gained the power to open my eyes,
and through blurry vision I saw the King with his paws clasped across my throat...going
To be continued...