Run Away to Knighthood: Part Four
"I just hope you know what you're getting yourself into,"
said King Skarl as he and Jeran fitted Angel with some armour. Meanwhile Lisha
and Kayla were busy helping each other create a healing potion, just in case Angel
got injured. "After all, Tiberius is no regular villain. He's ambitious, treacherous
and wicked. Plus, he's very clever, and can think of an evil scheme in no time
flat!" added the king nervously.
"I'm still going to save my family," mumbled
Angel through the helmet. He straightened up his visor in time to see Jeran
whisper something into Skarl's ear. The Zafara saw the king raise his eyebrow
and open his mouth to say, "Very well, Jeran. You, Alphonse, Roland and Lisha
can accompany our young squire on his quest. There's safety in numbers, and
we'll send reinforcements when you aren't back in three hours. My guards will
stay, in case some of Tiberius' minions try to sneak into the castle."
Angel grinned as he picked up his sword and shield.
"Thanks, Your Majesty," he said, bowing before the king.
Alphonse and Roland were already there, bowing
before Skarl and comparing swords. Lisha waved to Kayla as the Aisha pocketed
the small bottle of potion, and Jeran started sharpening his sword. "Come on,"
said the Lupe knight finally. "We have to hurry before he does anything terrible
to the hostages."
"So where's the hideout again?" asked Roland
as they ran towards the front doors of the castle, and out onto the grounds.
Stars were scattered all over the Meridell sky, like diamonds spilled on a sheet
of black silk. The night was quite dim, so Alphonse the Kacheek brought along
a torch and he and Jeran led the troupe.
"It's somewhere in the forest next to Illusen's
Glade," answered Jeran. "The guards said they saw the captors and their victims
disappear into the trunk of a large tree bearing apples as green as the grass."
From the light of the torch, Angel and Lisha
saw Roland point. "Is that the tree?"
The rescue team sprinted over to the direction
the Kyrii pointed out, careful not to fall into any traps Tiberius might have
made. Alphonse transferred the torch to Jeran, who picked a safe way through
the trees. After minutes of weaving in and out of the forest, Roland suddenly
bumped right onto the tree they were headed for.
"Found it," he mumbled, rubbing his head. "But
how do we get in?" He started feeling around the bark of the tree, while Lisha
knocked onto the trunk, as if looking for a secret door. Alphonse and Angel
kicked the roots of the tree, while Jeran kept watch for anyone who wouldn't
want them near that tree.
Suddenly everyone heard a rustling sound. Angel
looked up in time to see the Lupe knight charge towards a Darigan Skeith. The
evil minion held out a shield bearing the old crest of Lord Kass just before
Jeran could bring his sword down on him.
"Jeran!" shouted Angel as he ran over to the
"Angel, no!" said Jeran as he dropped to the
ground, avoiding a slash from the Skeith's sword. "You're too young…let me take
this!" The two swords clinked together in the night, the sound echoing as if
from a gong.
The Zafara didn't listen. He ducked to avoid
the swinging blades and dived into a nearby bush. Angel waited until he heard
the sound of the Skeith's sword fall to the ground, and then seized it. Jeran's
opponent now only had his shield and tried to block most of the Lupe's blows
and slashes. As the enemy backed away, just in front of Angel's hiding place,
he brought down not the blade, but the hilt of the sword on his head, knocking
the Darigan Skeith out.
"Angel…you did it!" said Jeran brightly as he
gave his apprentice a hug. "You actually defeated him!" Before Angel could say
anything else, they heard the voice of Lisha call out.
"We found the entrance! Hurry, you guys! There's
no time to lose!" The two knights sprinted towards the Aisha, who was now standing
beside a tree trunk with a gaping hole, just large enough for all of them to
slide through, one by one. Alphonse and Roland had climbed in, and were followed
by Jeran, Lisha and Angel. The troupe could not contain their excitement as
they whizzed down the tree trunk and into the hideout. None of them could find
the words to describe the suspense that they felt as they got closer and closer
to their quarry. Angel clutched the hilt of the stolen Skeith's sword tightly.
Lisha gripped her wand and bit her lip. Alphonse and Roland traded a look, but
Jeran still wore the same determined look as during the battle with one of Tiberius'
The rescuers plopped onto a small bunch of rags
spread out at the bottom of the wooden slide and looked around. There was a
small table filled with bottles of different contents. Swords and other weapons
hung on one wall, and shields were neatly placed on hooks on the wall over the
table. Much of the place was quite dark, and within the blackness, the team
heard some muffled scuffling sounds.
"It came from over there," whispered Lisha, pointing
to a far corner of the room with her wand. Her compatriots followed closely
behind her as she felt around in the dark with her weapon, and hit something
Alphonse lit the torch again and brightened their
surroundings. Within their feeble light, they could see four faces staring up
at them. Lisha found herself staring into the eyes of another Aisha. Alphonse
and Roland covered their mouths before they could both gasp at the sight of
a trapped faerie Acara. Jeran observed a Kacheek desperately trying to slice
through the bars of the cage they were in. As for Angel, he stared into the
eyes of the most familiar creature of all, who stared back at him with the same
bewildered look, with brown eyes behind a pair of spectacles…
"Kat!" whispered Angel happily. He tried to fit
his paws through the bars to hug his former owner, who had tears in her eyes
and attempted to hug her lost Zafara back as well. "I'm so sorry I ran away,
I thought you didn't love me, and I'm now really, really happy I found you…look!
I brought company, and we're going to bust you all out of here!"
"Are you crazy?" grumbled the Acara, crossing
her paws in front of her chest. "We can't get out of here till that oaf Skarl
hands over Meridell to that nutty Tiberius guy."
"I must admit that my sibling is quite correct,"
said the white Aisha quietly. "We seem to find no means of escape out of this
place our captors have made."
Jeran looked at the two pets in their eyes. "You
two don't understand. We will find a key to your cage, get you all out and find
another way out of here. If there is a way into this hideout, there has to be
a way out, right?"
"Over there, precisely," said Roland the Kyrii,
pointing to his right. Sure enough, a rope ladder dangled at the top, perfect
for when captives want to taste fresh air once again, especially three pets
and their human owner. "Come on, let's find a way to get them out." He and his
Kacheek comrade started combing the area by the light of their torch.
Meanwhile Lisha found a small jar of something
giving off an eerie green glow. She picked it up to light her way, and started
searching by the verdant light. Soon she saw a small bunch of glittering things
on the table, next to a bottle full of bubbling red potion.
"I found the keys!" she said triumphantly. She
tossed the keys over to her brother, who started shoving a key with jagged teeth
into the lock. Kat and Angel's siblings watched intently as Jeran desperately
tried to work the lock. But just as he pulled out the ill-fitting key and decided
to try another one, they all heard a faint, scuffling sound. Jeran perked up
from where he was turning a smaller, rustier key in the keyhole.
"Hide!" said Angel. "Tiberius and his minions
could be here right now!" The Zafara and Lisha dived under the table of potions.
Jeran, Alphonse and Roland hurried to find hiding places as well. Unfortunately
they were too late.
Darigan pets burst out from the secret passage,
clutching daggers, swords and other weapons in their claws. A Techo seized Roland
by the neck, making the Kyrii gasp for breath. Alphonse could feel his legs
being dragged by another Skeith, and tried to kick his captor. Lisha and Angel
shuddered as they saw their comrades trying to save themselves, but the Aisha's
gaze was fixed on something else…
"Jeran!" Lisha couldn't resist the urge to yell.
Sure enough, the mutant Korbats clutching the Meridellian knight in their claws
turned toward the direction of the table. Angel sprang forward, holding his
sword and ready to fight. A Buzz swooped down on the Zafara, who ducked just
in time and retaliated by wrestling him to the ground. Jeran wriggled out of
the Korbats' grasps and engaged in a duel between them. Meanwhile Roland and
Alphonse struggled as their captors tried to stuff them in a second cage.
As for the young Aisha, she sprinted away from
the hiding place and picked up the ring of keys her brother dropped. She crawled
quietly among the fights and duels, and finally ran towards the cage with the
keys in her paws.
Suddenly, a Darigan Moehog jumped towards Lisha,
pointing a dagger right at her chest.
"And where do you think you're going, little
Meridellian lass? Little girls must not put themselves in danger, you know…"
He clapped his hooves on her shoulders and dragged her away from the cage. Tiberius
did not see Lisha hurl the keys towards the hostages, nor did he see a striped
Kacheek's paw reach out and try to grab them.
To be continued...