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Reign of the Shadows: Part Four


by feriku

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Everybody that lived in Meridell was busy making weapons out of everything, just like they had during the wars. Overseeing it all was a tall, bulky figure, wearing a thick brown cloak despite the heat.

     Jeran gasped. He turned around and cried, "Illusen, that's Morguss down there! Don't you remember what she did to our land?"

     The Skeith said, "We're not even controlling your Faerie friend."

     "Don't you see what they're doing?" Jeran asked. "They're using you as a puppet! Half of Neopia will flock to help the side that Illusen stands by! All they want is power."

     Illusen said, "You always were smart. You see some evil in these three that I don't. Maybe I'll consider it. But for now, I'll stick by them, as we prepare for the third Meridell-Darigan war!"

     "No! You don't have any reason to attack them!" protested Sally.

     "Ah, but we do!" announced the Earth Faerie, holding up her arm. Three long scratch marks showed. "A public official, namely me, was wounded by a little Darigan Eyrie named Kira."

     "After you grabbed her!" argued the Usul.

     "A minor detail, yes."

     The Gelert from The Three said, "As soon as we make our citadel fly, we will attack. This is your last chance, Jeran. Will you grab your sword…"

     "…And join us…" added the Skeith.

     "…Now that you have seen our power?" the Faerie finished.

     "Never!" yelled Jeran.

     "Back to the dungeons!" commanded the Skeith.

     "Wait!" cried Sally. "You brought Jeran here to try to intimidate him into joining you. Why am I here? I thought you were going to try and scare me by telling me terrible things about Kira's fate, but you barely mentioned her. So, why did you bring me?"

     "Well since you brought up Kira, we will tell you what will be her fate," they answered as one, but the Faerie waved her hands and continued alone. "Once we have our own flying castle, we will weigh down her wings and toss her off. Our favorite execution, if you haven't noticed. It'll be a long way down… As for why you are here, we wanted to scare you in general. We don't like you."

     With a start, the Usul exclaimed, "I never met you until you captured me!"

     Proving to have another creepy way of talking, the Faerie continued, with the other two echoing her last few words.

     "You, Miss Sally, may have caused our downfall!"

     "Our DOWNFALL!"

     "You probably saved the life of our greatest enemy."

     "Our GREATEST enemy!"

     "You're most likely the only Meridellian-"

     "The ONLY Meridellian!"

     "-that would've taken care of Darigan! We HATE you!"

     Then, they all started jumping up and down, yelling about how much they hated Sally, and Jeran, Darigan, Kass, Kira-basically everyone that ever tried to mess with them.

     Jeran wondered whether their power was affecting their brains. "Should we get a doctor?" he suggested.

     That snapped them out of it. The Skeith scowled at him. "Wolfy here thinks he's funny."

     The Gelert put a paw on his sword, but the Faerie shook her head. "Never mind. We're taking them back down to the dungeons now, anyway."

     There was another flash of light as the magical triangle began to spin, and it descended into their cell.

     The Three vanished.

     "We can't stop them, can we?" whispered Sally, a single tear wetting her fur.

     Jeran didn't respond for a minute. He had been wondering the same thing. Then he replied, "We can. We CAN! What we can't do is give up hope. Then we will fail. When I was younger, I disappeared and arrived here, in Meridell. I left behind my little sister. At first, more than anything, I wanted to be with her. Each morning brought hope to me; the hope that I was home. Each morning, I would look out my window and see Meridell. But I didn't lose hope. At night, I'd sit for hours, staring up at the stars, wondering if in another time and place, she was doing the same. For a while, the days passed for me at a dying Slorg's pace. After weeks, I realized I had come to enjoy my life. Memories began to fade. But even though I no longer thought of home because I was home, I still wished, deep in my mind, that my sister would come. I never gave up hope. It took a long time, but now my sister, Lisha, lives in Meridell too."

     "Oh, I see," the Usul said. "You're saying that if I keep hoping and believe we can do it, eventually it'll all work out for the best, right?"

     "That's right," answered a voice from the now-open doorway.

     Jeran turned and stared at the Darigan Eyrie that walked in. The familiar happy face told him that this was Zahi's sister, Kira. She was one of the strangest creatures he had ever seen.

     At first he thought she was wearing an eye patch, but it was weird glasses. One side was sunglasses and the other was a normal lens. She had two small braids, with a rose intertwined in each. She also had a holster with a Zapatron 2000 in it.

     "Kira!" cried Sally. "How did you get here?"

     She didn't say anything, simply pointed to the blue Draik that had followed her in. He leaned on his sword, waiting for them.

     "Who-" began the Usul, but Jeran knew who it was.

     "Valrigard," he said quietly.

     The Draik's eyes were hard. "At your service."

     "Come on," said Kira. "Let's get outta here!" Sally nodded her agreement, but the Lupe was still stunned.

     "Valrigard the Traitor."

     "I'm no traitor." The Draik walked over to Jeran, and glared at him.

     "Even the children know you are. You're here, in the dungeon, aren't you?"

     "As are you. It doesn't matter who put you or me in here. I was framed; villains imprisoned you. How long will it be before children talk about 'Jeran the Traitor'? We're both innocent. More importantly, I can get you out of here. The Three are preparing to attack. You have to get out." Valrigard turned with a scowl and led Sally and Kira out.

     After a second, Jeran followed. The Eyrie gave him a dirty look. "You weren't very nice to Valrigard."

     "She's very nice, once you get to know her," whispered Sally.

     "Remember, we're fugitives," cautioned Valrigard. "We must be extra careful! I used to fear my fate if I got caught, and now, those in command are much worse than Skarl ever dreamed of being!"

     The Lupe tried to remember the little he knew about the mysterious prisoner. Most of the stories were just made up to frighten children. Now that he thought about it, he didn't even know what crime the Draik had supposedly committed. Yet all of the rumors and facts put together didn't so much as hint to a connection with The Three.

     Jeran hurried to catch up to him. "You're familiar with The Three, too?"

     Valrigard glared at him so angrily, he half expected him to attack him, but he replied, "All I know, I learned from a prisoner a few cells back. She knew a lot, and it's probably truth. Although…I don't think she was right in the head." He sighed. "Poor thing. She talked to herself sometimes, and sometimes she talked to people that weren't there."

     "Who was she?" asked Sally.

     "I think she was the Court Dancer. Yet that name either made her laugh or cry, like it was some terrible joke. She did seem her sanest when she wailed about The Three, though. Would you like to meet her?"

     "Not especially," Jeran said quickly. His memories of the Court Dancer weren't pleasant.

     "Good!" announced Valrigard. "Because we're not going that way! We're on a timer, and we're wasting time!" He began running, and after a pause, the others joined him.

     "Why are we on a timer?" asked Jeran.

     "I understand The Three are preparing for a war with Darigan," explained the Draik, "and they want it to be floating castle versus floating castle. Don't stare like that; news travels fast among prisoners. Anyway, once this thing is in the air, there will probably be only one way out. That's fine for Kira and I, but for you two…well, it's not a desirable escape route. But you'd know all about that, wouldn't you, Jeran?"

     It was Jeran's turn to glare darkly.

     The other two just shook their heads.

     They raced around the corner into a Grarrl guard. It was lavender, with red eyes, and was one of the freakiest looking things Jeran had ever seen. The Draik demonstrated his use with the sword.

     "Oh, and watch out for the spikes," he reminded, pointing to several spikes that jutted out from the ceiling. "In fact, just watch out. This place is a giant trap. There's a Draik Skeleton in here somewhere too, and it's not truly dead, but don't worry. I know where that is, and we'll avoid it."

     "You know," gasped Sally, slowing a little, "no one's escaped from these dungeons in a hundred years."

     "Then we'll be the firsts!" cried Kira excitedly. "Just think. Us four warriors, battling evil…"

     "I'm not a warrior," laughed the Usul.

     "Well then, us three warriors…"

     Raising an eyebrow, Jeran asked, "A warrior with a cursed sword?"

     "You have a cursed sword?" the Eyrie asked, gasping. "Wow! If my brother Zahi was here, he'd probably want to know all about it!"

     "He already knows. The Three are trying to control me through it."

     "You know Zahi?"

     "Yes."

     As they began to climb the steps they had come to, and Korbat guard dive-bombed them. Kira pulled out her Zapatron 2000, and zapped it.

     At the top of the stairs, Sally stopped, panting. "Can't…run. Out…of breath. Go…on…without…me."

     Kira ran beside her. "Come on Sally. Close your eyes, and imagine you're full of strength. I'll guide you." She held out her claw.

     "What…good…will…imagining do?"

     "Imagination can be powerful," explained Kira. "When I was little, at night I used to pretend that Zahi, my other brother Jack, and I were pirates-"

     Valrigard suddenly burst into a-no doubt fake-coughing fit.

     "-on a pirate ship," she continued, "sailing off for adventures and treasures. And if I closed my eyes really hard, I could feel the boat rock."

     The Draik's "coughing fit" got worse.

     Sally grabbed the outstretched paw, closed her eyes, and they resumed running. She laughed. "Mr. Valrigard and I still need to make our speeches, it seems. You and Jeran have imagination and hope covered, both with a past story!"

     Jeran was startled to realize that he and the Eyrie were quite similar. She was young, but dreamed of having adventures, and now that she was tossed into one, tried to hide how much she missed her brother. He had dreamed of being a knight, and when he had found himself in a world of knights and adventure, he had tried to hide how much he missed his sister.

     "Hurry up!" cried Valrigard, taking to the air. "We're almost out, but almost out of time!"

     A few more guards later, they were climbing more stairs, and emerging into one of the castle's halls.

     Everywhere, they could see Neopets working on weapons, training, or running frantically. The castle was clearly preparing for war. All of the Neopets' eyes had a look of fear, and a distant look as well, like they didn't know why they were afraid. Hypnotized, but only slightly.

     As they started for the door, Jeran stopped dead. "My friends…Where are they? And Lisha! I've got to find Lisha!"

     "Now see here," began the Draik, but Kira interrupted.

     "If he wants to find his sister, let him go find her! I for one will wait here."

     The former prisoner cried, "Oh, for the love of-"

     "No one's asking you to stay, Valrigard. You've done enough."

     "Good!"

     Jeran took off at a sprint. "Lisha!" He didn't know where to look. He decided to start with her room.

     As soon as he arrived, her head poked out. Then she tore out of the room, and blurred past him. He ran after her.

     A Skeith guard intercepted him. Automatically, his paw went to his sword, but then he remembered. Punching and kicking didn't look too good against the guard's formidable sword.

     There was a blue blur above him, and then the Skeith fell back, yowling in pain. Valrigard jumped off of its head. "Come on! Let's follow that Aisha!"

     "Valrigard! I thought you left!"

     "Nah, I thought you might need someone to guard your back." He grinned. "After all, only a traitor would abandon their friend."

     Jeran resumed the chase. "Lisha! Why are you running? It's me, Jeran!" He sighed. "I don't think she's hypnotized, but why is she running?"

     "It's obvious," snarled the Draik. "She thinks you're a jelly-brain, like the rest of them!"

     One of the "jelly-brains," a sturdy looking red Ixi, charged at the retreating Aisha.

     "When you've got a cursed blade, it's up to a friend to rescue your sister," muttered Valrigard, rising up and flapping furiously towards the Ixi.

     Lisha turned in time to see Jeran running towards her. "Jeran? I-I thought you were a…"

     "Glossy-eyed, zombified knuckle-head," supplied Valrigard, knocking out the Ixi. "Now save your sentimental brother-sister moment until we're out of this nuthouse! We're really almost out of time, now!"

     The Aisha blinked. "Aren't you Val-"

     "Yes he is, now run!" said Jeran.

     Together, they ran and flew back to where the others were waiting, trying to look inconspicuous. When they got there, Sally sighed with relief.

     "We're going to make it!"

     Then the ground started shaking.

To be continued…s

 
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Other Episodes


» Reign of the Shadows: Part One
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Two
» Reign of the Shadows - Part Three
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Five
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Six
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Seven



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