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Reign of the Shadows: Part Five


by feriku

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Minutes before the ground started shaking, life was not perfectly normal outside the castle. A shadow Lupe, wearing armor, a helmet, and thick, black boots, with a sword at his side, glared at Illusen.

"I'm sorry," she told him, "but as the Head of the Committee for the Entry of the Castle by Foreigners, known by its initials, HCECF, I have to say that we are Not Opening the Way of Admittance for You, know by its initials, NO WAY."

"But my friends and I are supposed to be here! Not like those imposters!"

"As the Lead Imposter Discoverer, LID, I have checked out everyone that is here, and I can Confidently Answer, 'Nonsense!' or CAN."

"LID and CAN?" cried General Remus. "Are you trying to confuse me?"

"That is one of my set phrases that I got when I got the job. Really, I Don't Deliberately try to Liquidate Efficiency! That's another."

Remus did feel like if this went on much longer, he wouldn't be able to work efficiently. "RIDDLE? Would you stop it? I can barely think, and I'm getting a headache! I'd swear you were trying to mess with my mind!"

In fact, The Three had decided to pass some skills like that on to Illusen. She also had learned how to talk for a long time while saying nothing, although she already did that a lot, how to make people assume false things without lying, and how to make a little crime seem utterly terrible to everyone, including the culprit.

She went back to practicing on the Lupe.

* * *

Not far away, Sir Kenith the green Aisha was enjoying the breeze, forgetting his worries, and playing a game, all at the same time. He didn't even care that the land seemed empty, nor that the grass was dry and brown, along with the bare trees.

"Something's wrong," whispered Princess Uzuri the starry Buzz. "I don't think they're letting Remus in!"

Kenith barely heard her. "Seven…eight…nine… Now!"

THWACK!

He was having the time of his life playing Whack-a-Kass, and would have gotten a good score if Uzuri hadn't caught the plushie.

He shaded his eyes. "Whoa, where'd it go? I can't even see it! I must've gotten a score of a jillion, or something!"

The Buzz waved it in front of him. "It's right here! Now listen to me."

"You caught the Kass plushie?"

"Yes. Now listen, I think we're in the middle of the very beginning of the third Meridell war!"

"I can't believe you caught-WAR?!?"

"Did you miss all of the Neopets making swords? Or that everyone seems to be grabbing their weapons and heading to the castle and we're the only ones still here? And if that's not Morguss, I'm a Mirgle's uncle."

"Morguss? In Meridell?" The Aisha suddenly got pale underneath his green fur. "No! Then those three were…No! How did we forget The Three? No! It can't be!" He started shaking his head.

"Kenith, what's the matter?"

"Could it be…The Three have returned? And are ruling?"

"The who?"

"You know, those dudes that were controlling Kass or whatever."

It was then that the ground started shaking. Meridell Castle began rising out of the ground. Bits of dirt and stones fell to the ground.

Uzuri grabbed Kenith's paw and began running towards Remus.

"Something has happened!" yelled Kenith. "Meridell Castle begins to rise out of the ground! What a world-shaking event! You drop your prized baseball bat on the floor!"

"Kenith!"

Illusen turned swiftly, and ran inside the castle, shutting the doors.

Remus's companions joined him as he tried to open the door. "That Faerie! She locked it!"

"Voila!" cried Kenith, producing a lock pick from one of his pockets. "Mere locks cannot stop The Great Kenith!" he declared, using a phony accent.

He stuck it into the lock, jiggled it around a little, and got an electric shock!

"I could've told you she locked it magically," said the Buzz.

"Memo to self: Talk to local sorceress before playing with locks," he mumbled, trying to flatten his fur, which was sticking out in all directions.

Uzuri shook her head. "Kenith says that was The Three that we ran into! How do we get in to stop them?"

Remus looked around. He looked off the edge of the strip of ground they were on, and smiled. There, in the hard, compact dirt that had come up with the castle, was a hole, presumably leading to a tunnel, that was just big enough for a Lupe, and perfect for an Aisha and a Buzz.

"I found a way in, Princess, but Kenith is going to hate it."

* * *

Zahi was beside himself with fear moments before the castle rose. Kira, his beloved sister, was still missing. For all I know, he thought, The Three have her at this very moment.

Horrible images filled his mind, and he shook his head sharply to get rid of them. "No," he mumbled, walking down a street on the Citadel. "Kira's okay. So is Sally. I know they are, because they're real hardy and stuff like that. Plus, Kira's armed, and The Three would probably think it was just a toy gun. Haha! If this story gets out, maybe they'll make trading cards of it, and I'll be able to hold one up and say, 'That's MY sister, and she stood up to those idiots, The Three!'" When he got upset, he tended to use the word "idiot" a lot. "Then I'll say, 'You want to meet her? She's still alive and well, unlike that idiot, Kass!'" He didn't realize that he was marching in circles, shouting in a voice that kept getting higher and higher. "What did I tell Jeran? 'Just keep smiling!' Okay, I'm smiling, now why isn't anyone going to help me find Kira? Why won't any of these idiots help me? Why? WHY?"

A paw grabbed him, stopping him. "Calm down, Zahi, before everyone decides you're mad, and you get yourself in the Gallery of Evil, or something!"

Blinking, it took the Eyrie a few minutes to recognize Master Vex, who continued, "Why don't we go see if Lord Darigan will let you lead a search party?"

However, as soon as they reached Darigan's Chambers, Galgarrath burst out, yelling, "Attack! There's been an attack! Rally the troops!"

Arrows flew at them from the side. Master Vex and Zahi looked over at Meridell Castle, which was lining up with their castle, although still in the distance. There was a distant cry, and arrows hurled at them again.

Vex looked shocked. "Why would Skarl attack us?"

"I thought you would've known by now," grumbled the Eyrie. "Meridell's wonderful king is lying on a beach in Mystery Island, while The Three are wreaking havoc by ruling his kingdom! I'll be fine; go help Galgarrath!"

The Mynci ran after the Grarrl, and Zahi ran into the throne room. "Kira's still over there somewhere!"

Lord Darigan had been watching out the open window; now he left it. "I'm going over there with you, Zahi. Just a minute." He went to the other side of the room, opened a treasure chest, and pulled out a golden-hilted sword.

The Eyrie was in no mood. "A sword? Don't you already have a sword? And I see you're taking your stick. Do you want some brass knuckles? I also know where I can get you some throwing knives."

"I appreciate your sense of humor, Zahi. The sword is for Jeran. I think Galgarrath and Vex can handle the counterattack, so let's go." He started climbing out the window.

"You have got to be kidding! I mean, maybe you'll fit if we cut your wings off or-" He blinked. Lord Darigan was already waiting outside. "You've done this before, haven't you? No, wait, tell me later."

He climbed out, and they flew towards the distant castle, where soon, a hole was going to be in the wall.

* * *

Inside, bits of the ceiling fell, and the walls got tiny cracks in them. "No!" wailed Sally, as the castle lifted into the air.

"I haven't done all this to get stuck!" yelled Valrigard, even though he, being a Draik, wasn't stuck. "You! Lisha-girl! Get on Kira's back! Kira, carry Sally. Sally, try to use your tail as a parachute to help her. Jeran…"

Looking down at the Draik, who suddenly looked a lot smaller and weaker, Jeran had a feeling he knew what came next.

"Jeran, you're with me. Now we're going outside. We're trying to reach the Citadel, not the ground, okay? Let's go."

Getting outside wasn't hard. They just used the nearest window.

"Let's do it!" cried Kira, looking exactly like her brother for a second.

Lisha and Sally positioned themselves.

"Jeran, I'm glad you're not wearing body armor," muttered the Draik. "You'd be too heavy for me, for sure."

As the Darigan Eyrie took off, Lisha twisted around to see her brother. Her eyes were full of fear. Not for herself. For him.

He realized he had forgotten to say goodbye. Again.

"Don't look so miserable, Jeran! We'll be over there in a minute or so!"

He felt the Draik grab him.

"Ready, oh valiant Sir Jeran? One…two…three…JUMP!"

Shutting his eyes, Jeran leaped off. Amazingly, he didn't fall. Valrigard was panting, grunting, and making other bizarre noises, but he was flying while carrying a fully-grown Lupe.

Very slowly, the knight opened his eyes. Up ahead, the three younger Neopets were going lower and lower, but they were still on the right path. He heard a popping noise from behind him, and their flight got jerky.

"Valrigard?" he called back.

Silence, and then, "Ow…Nothing to…worry about. Just a…little dislocated shoulder…difficulty. I…ugh…do that…all the time."

"Don't do this if you're hurting yourself!"

"Psellia…is not…waiting down there. Friends…don't…drop friends. They help…them…like this." But they began sinking.

"I thought you hated me because I called you a traitor, Valrigard. But back when I was looking for Lisha, and again just now, you called me 'friend.'"

The Draik gave a wheezy chuckle. "I guess…escaping…from dungeons…makes enemies friends. Plus…you never…brought up…the traitor subject…again."

"I tried to stop liking you, Valrigard, but it just didn't work!" laughed Jeran.

Up ahead, Kira, Lisha, and Sally were also dropping from the sky, but slower. It looked like they, at least, would make it.

Jeran and Valrigard were no longer dropping, but plummeting, despite the frantic wing flapping.

Jeran sighed. "Valrigard, you're not a traitor. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. And they…won't call you…Jeran the Traitor. No…they'll talk about…Jeran the Hero."

"And Valrigard the Hero." Jeran's smile faded. They had already fallen past the edge of the Citadel; there was no hope of reaching their goal now. "Let's do what Kira's brother Zahi would do. Just keep smiling."

"I never thought…it would end…like this. But…it is. Oh…Oh Fyora help us!"

Without warning, the air around them changed to what seemed to be solid blue fog. They stopped descending.

The Draik whispered, "Do you think she heard me?"

The mist shifted around them, and they shot like a rocket towards Meridell Castle.

Jeran hung his head. "It wasn't Fyora." They crashed into the castle, making a huge gap in the wall. "It's safe to say we've been recaptured."

* * *

In the throne room of Meridell Castle, the Gelert of The Three laughed softly to himself. "So, someone enters the tunnel. A pity they didn't notice the cleverly hidden magical alarms." He commanded, "Illusen, Morguss! Go down to the dungeons. Groups of Symol 'volunteers' have dug a tunnel near the stairs. It leads into an underground cavern. Stop the invaders that are there. Oh, don't look so suspicious, Illusen! You've been listening to that Lupe too much! Why would they be invading if they weren't on Darigan's side?"

As the two should-be enemies left together, the Faerie of The Three, who had a new burn on the side of her face, sneered, "Her elevator doesn't go all the way to the top!"

"Actually," joked the Skeith, "it gets stuck in the basement!"

* * *

Uzuri waited in the tunnel. "Be ready for an attack, guys! I sense magic, and I think its source is the cleverly hidden magical alarms I noticed."

Remus reached the top of the opening, and swung himself in. "Kenith's still climbing down here. He's still a bit electrified."

After a few minutes, Kenith swung down too, violet cape trailing him.

"Okay guys," said Uzuri. "We'll be ambushed any minute now, so we have to hurry to get into the castle!"

"Run like nameless horrors are coming," advised Kenith. "And with The Three here, that should be easy to imagine."

They started running through the tunnel. The general and the knight had their swords drawn. Uzuri readied her magic.

With the Buzz occasionally blasting stalactites and stalagmites out of the way, they charged through the tunnel at an incredible pace. They emerged into an underground cavern.

"There's the way into the castle," announced Remus, pointing to another tunnel.

Kenith laughed. "Doesn't this seem almost too easy?"

"Yes. I'd say so," said a voice from the second tunnel.

Morguss walked out, followed by Illusen. "I don't know who you are, but your journey ends here. I, and of course the charming Faerie here, have been sent to exterminate you."

"We've thought it over," said Kenith, "and we'd much prefer being allowed in."

"But you're evil, protested Illusen.

Remus raised his eyebrows. "How can you call us evil? Are we hanging out with Morguss? No."

Laughing, the Faerie put her arm on the misshapen Moehog's shoulder, and, missing the glare that she received, cried, "Morguss, evil? She's my good pal! She changed, according to their royal majesties."

Morguss forced a smile.

" 'Their royal majesties'?" roared the general, losing his temper. "You have a king, in case you forgot! Or are you and your new friends already planning on how he won't return? The Three are good at getting rid of people. Just ask Kass!"

Illusen yelled some nasty things about Kass, using some words that Uzuri wasn't supposed to know.

Morguss laughed out loud. She laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Then she said, "This has gone on long enough! It's time for our little friends to say goodbye." She produced a dagger.

Vines burst out of the earth, wrapping around them. Uzuri let loose her magic as fire, torching them, and flew towards Illusen.

"Hey!" yelled Remus, leaping away as Morguss tried to stab him in the back. "That's not right!"

A tree exploded form the ground right in front of Uzuri. If she didn't stop the Earth Faerie, they'd be fighting in a jungle soon. She fought her way towards her.

She heard Kenith indignantly cry, "You must be the most dishonorable creature I've ever met!"

Morguss's reply was, "You don't know Hadrak, do you?"

While the knight and general took care of the Moehog, she reached Illusen, and spun a web of magic around her. Not expecting an attack, the Faerie only had one chance to look around before Uzuri put her in a deep sleep. The foliage vanished. Morguss was unconscious.

"Yeah!" yelled Kenith, flourishing his cape. "We did it!"

"Woohoo!" yelled Uzuri, twirling around in midair.

"Now, onto the castle!" commanded Remus, cleaning off his sword.

They entered the tunnel.

To be continued…

 
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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 Four
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Six
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Seven



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