Reign of the Shadows: Part One
He was running. He also had been fighting. The world
around him was hazy, until he looked at it. Once he focused on something, it became
clear. He knew it was a dream. He didn't even try to wake up. Always, dreams were
odd, but this one had come before, and had one very odd part. It was mostly a
memory, but one part was out of place.
It was coming soon. This time, knowing he was
dreaming, and waiting for a specific part, he hadn't felt the usual rush of
fear a moment ago. Now, all of his thoughts left him, as he was drawn completely
into the dream, while hanging by one paw from the Darigan Citadel.
"I'm winning, aren't I?" The voice was touched
with insanity, and so low he could barely hear. It was starting.
"Don't think my presence means that, general."
If possible, the second, cold, female voice was lower. "The best threats are
given face to face. Stop fighting us, or the consequences will be dire! A tool
can be used, a tool can be good, but a tool's just a tool, and when a tool stops
working, it can be easily thrown away!"
Then he lost his grip, and he was falling. Falling
to his inevitable doom. Someone kept yelling his name, over and over…
* * *
"Jeran!" yelled Lisha, for the twentieth time.
The Meridellian knight woke up, and blinked
in confusion as he tried to figure out where he was.
"You were having another nightmare, weren't you?"
Jeran sat up. "No, it was the same one."
His sister looked worried. "Maybe Kayla could
make you a potion to help you sleep. Anyway, I'm here to tell you that the king
wants to see you."
He yawned. "Okay."
Ten minutes later, he was walking through Meridell
Castle, waving to people absently, and trying to figure out his dream.
Most of it was a memory of when Kass was still
ruling the Citadel, and the war was going on. He and several other brave knights
had led a counterattack, which resulted in him falling down to Meridell, to
be saved by a Faerie called Psellia.
In real life, he hadn't heard that odd conversation.
One of the voices belonged to Kass, but the second, cold one was unfamiliar.
Nothing about it really made sense. What did Kass think he was winning? Why
did the second voice call him "general," and put emphasis on it? Like it or
not, he had been lord at the time.
A tool, she had called him. Whose tool? How?
And if the rest of the message wasn't a death threat, he didn't know what one
Everyone he had talked to had been very vague
about how Kass had died. If a stranger had killed him, why didn't they just
say? It was all very confusing. But dreams and nightmares rarely made sense,
so he pushed it out of his mind and made his way to the throne room.
Jeran was surprised. It was full of large bags
and suitcases, and Neopets kept dashing in, grabbing a few, and running out.
"What in the world is going on?" he asked.
"I'm going on vacation," declared Skarl, popping
out of an adjoining room with another bag. "To Mystery Island."
Illusen walked in, scowling and barefooted.
Jeran asked, "Um…why aren't you wearing any shoes?"
She scowled even more. "I tripped over a Darigan
The knight didn't even want to know what that
had to do with her shoes, so he just made a mental note that the Faerie was
losing her mind, and paid attention to Skarl.
"Jeran, Illusen, I want you to wait here for
my temporary replacements. Yes, there's more than one. Three, in fact."
"How'll we know them?" inquired Jeran, at the
same time that Illusen cried, "Why can't I be regent?"
"Jeran, just look for three Neopians that really
stand out and who say they're here to rule temporarily. One of them is a girl
with magic. Illusen… I, ah, have to be going."
Without looking at Illusen, the king followed
the last of his luggage out.
Jeran sighed. Now he just had to wait.
* * *
A shadow Lupe marched through the forest. He
wore shining armor and a helmet. He had on thick, black boots. At his side,
he carried a sword.
A green Aisha followed. He was wearing light
clothes and no shoes, but a magnificent violet cape blew behind him in the wind,
and he had a matching feathered hat. He too had a sword.
The Lupe stopped. "Did you lose the princess
"No," gulped the Aisha. "She's right…uh…"
"Here!" yelled a starry Buzz, flying out of the
trees. "This is so exciting!" She wasn't as dressed up as the other two, but
she wore a golden tiara with sapphires on it.
The Aisha chuckled. "Princess, it's a forest!"
"I've never been this far from the castle before!"
she cried. "You'd think I would've been, since I'm a sorceress, but I haven't!
This is so cool!"
The Lupe smiled. "Can you believe it? We three
are going to be ruling Meridell while the king's on vacation! Princess Uzuri
has a right to be thrilled!"
The Aisha shook his head. "I still think I'm
having a dream. I'm just a knight, not a general like you, Remus."
The Lupe groaned. "Not this again. Look, Kenith,
you're just as brave as me, okay? Now come on!"
They resumed walking.
"Are we lost?" asked Uzuri, flying around the
trees. "You look confused, General."
Remus shrugged. "Ask him, he's got the
Kenith turned the map around. "I can't seem to
find Meridell on here…Oh, haha! This is a piece of the Lab Map! Wow, I think
it's my last piece! I must've left the real map at home… Yeah, I think it's
on the kitchen table."
Uzuri moaned. "Let's just get out of the forest,
and maybe we'll find out way."
A Skeith popped out of nowhere. "Did you say
you were lost?" They stared at him. He was a weird green color, and he was wearing
a black cloak with the hood up, even though it was hot out.
A Faerie materialized beside him. She was dressed
like him, and, also like him, seemed a bit ghostly. "We can help you find your
way to Meridell. Come here."
The trio backed away. Another appeared behind
them, where they couldn't see. This one had Gelert ears, but most of his face
was concealed by
his hooded cloak. "Would you stop clowning?" he yelled, hitting the unsuspecting
travelers in the head with his glowing sword, knocking them out.
"Clowning?" spluttered the Faerie. "But we-"
"Folk are more wary these days. We need a different
The Skeith piled up the bodies, ignoring the
argument, and searching their pockets for Neopoints.
"But we always-"
"I don't care what 'we always'! Last time, we
FAILED! We had to kill that wretched Eyrie, and watch out plans fade away to
NOTHING! WE NEED A DIFFERENT STRATEGY!"
"We failed," agreed the Faerie.
"Only the king knows who theses three were,"
reminded the Skeith. "And our magic will ensure that they won't remember who
we were, if they recognized us, when they wake up. I say we go to Meridell.
We can start in power, and work from there."
"You can sit this one out," offered the Gelert.
"We can get a new companion."
The Faerie's eyes blazed when he suggested replacing
her. "I'm coming! The Three must not be broken up due a disagreement!"
* * *
Still waiting, Jeran fiddled absently with his
sword. It had been broken when it hit the ground during his fall. He had lost
it during the battle, but someone had found it before he awoke.
He wasn't as bored as Illusen, who was unbraiding
and braiding her hair, over and over.
There was a knock at the door. Jeran set down
his sword and went over and opened it. He gaped at the Faerie, Gelert, and Skeith
that waited there. Certainly, the Faerie could be "a girl with magic." They
were unusual, to say the least. They all wore black cloaks with the hoods up.
The Gelert's face was almost entirely hidden. They were also shadow-like, like
they weren't quite real.
Peering out from the depths of her cowl, the
Faerie studied him, and smiled a little. Then she stepped forward. "We're the
temporary rulers that are to replace King Skarl until he returns."
Jeran just stared. The faerie's voice. It was
the exact same chilling voice from the dream! If she had killed Kass, that made
her his ally, but the smile on her face made him imagine Jhudora with a super-powerful
weapon pointed at Fyora. She looked at them like she might a bug. No-a better
word rose unbidden in his mind-a tool. He just stared at them.
Illusen pushed him out of the way, giving him
a death glare, and greeted the trio. "Why hello! Come on in! This is the throne
room. I'm Illusen, the friendly neighborhood Earth Faerie! Make yourselves at
They requested peace and quiet, so Jeran and
Illusen left. As soon as they had gone, The Three burst out laughing at the
simplicity of it.
"'The friendly neighborhood earth faerie!'" mocked
the Gelert in a phony high-pitched voice. "Oh my gosh, we've got a real ditzy
As he and the Skeith started arguing quietly
over who should sit in the throne first, the Faerie watched Jeran and Illusen
out the window.
"Don't make too many plans for war," she cautioned.
"That Lupe knight doesn't trust us. Imagine the odds of finding him alive! I
was sure that was just a wild rumor. I do think the Faerie's on our side. I
wonder how long that dumb king will be on vacation. Long enough for us to stir
"The Faerie probably helps with the crops, as
she's an earth faerie," commented the Gelert. "Imagine our power if you become
closer to her! Have we any time to waste?"
* * *
Jeran sat glumly in Illusen's Glade. Those
guys were sort of frightening. I wish they'd leave.
"Do you think we could get them to move here
permanently?" asked Illusen, mainly talking to herself.
I think that faerie could make flowers die
by walking near them, thought Jeran.
"The faerie could help me make things grow! It'll
be much easier with two Faeries!" cried Illusen, clapping her hands.
That Skeith had shifty eyes…
"I'm sure Skarl would want the Skeith to guard
Why does that Gelert bother me?
"As for the Gelert, he could easily become a
knight, with that huge sword of his!"
Jeran gulped. The Gelert was carrying a huge,
glowing sword. Glowing weapons: never a good sign. Just so long as they
don't go near my sister…
"They'd be marvelous older friends for Lisha,
Borris, Kayla, and Morris."
Telling himself he was worrying over nothing,
(and getting tired of Illusen's prattling) Jeran went back to the castle.
At the gate, he almost slammed into the Faerie,
who smiled at him. "Your sword was broken, but we have fixed it for you." She
handed him his sword, which he had forgotten in the throne room, and she continued
past him towards the Glade.
For a couple of seconds, Jeran stared at his
sword like it was radioactive. It was glowing. He put it back in its
sheath and yelled, "Thank you!" Perhaps they weren't that bad after all. She
couldn't help having a cruel voice and smile.
With no more sinister rulers to worry about,
he headed off to do some training, whistling a happy tune.
He went to the training grounds, and practiced
in a couple of battles with his repaired sword. His sword worked as well as
it ever had, but when the next pet offered to fight him, he declined, and sat
His paw hurt. In fact it burned. He was getting
a headache too. He sheathed his sword. He felt cold when he realized that once
he released the hilt, his head felt better.
"Something strange is going on," he muttered.
Ignoring the odd looks that that statement earned
him, Jeran left. He went up and stood on the battlements, staring off into space.
What can you do when something really weird is going on, and no one but you
He jumped a little when the Gelert walked up
"Is something wrong, Jeran?"
"No, I was just thinking…"
"Oh, err…um… You know, it's hard to tell whether
you're a Gelert or a Lupe, because you always have that hood up," he said, that
being the first thing that popped into his head.
"Does it really matter? When you're usually only
thought of as a part of a group, does it matter who or what you are?"
Jeran stared at him. "Err…"
"Sometimes I wish I could go back and change
things. When your Faerie friends said, 'I'm Illusen,' I wished I could have
said 'I am' and then said my name. I don't have an identity anymore. But perhaps
it was worth it."
"You don't have an identity anymore? You're a
part of a whole? And it was worth it?"
"When I bonded with the other two, our strengths
and powers consolidated!"
He now had such a crazy glint in his eyes that
Jeran started backing away.
"Don't you see it, Jeran? Jeran…that is your
name, your identity. You have that, but I-no, we-have power!"
The Skeith appeared out of nowhere. "You can
have power too…"
"…For a price," finished the other.
They were really starting to bother Jeran. All
that talk of bonding, plus appearing out of thin air was more than a little
creepy. And they'd give him power for a price? "A tool can be used…"
"I don't want your power!"
"Not many that we choose do…" began the Gelert.
"…But we get them in the end."
Jeran started walking in the other direction.
"Run away, oh brave knight," they chanted in
unison. "You CANNOT escape us, and we WILL make you ours!"
Once he was far, far away, Jeran decided that
he needed help. He realized that asking Illusen would be about as useful as
asking a turnip, so he avoided the strange threesome for the rest of the day,
and that night, he thought about who would help him. Someone who would know
more than him about Kass.
To be continued…