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Reign of the Shadows: Part Seven


by feriku

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He stood alone, in the plain of darkness, but this time, Jeran knew it wasn't a dream. He hadn't been unconscious this time; he had been awake, and had decided to come.

Abruptly, the inky blackness faded into a misty castle hall. It reminded him of a hall in Meridell Castle, but it was darker. The light came from several flickering candles, the flames an unnatural green hue.

He realized that that must be The Three's fantasy for Meridell Castle once it was entirely in their grasp.

Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned. Unsurprisingly, The Three stood there. They weren't at all indistinct, like they had been both times here.

"You're here completely, aren't you?" he asked. "Nice castle you've got here. A pity it will never come to pass." Jeran made sure to keep his tone conversational, like they always did. It always unnerved him, and sure enough, he saw the irritation grow on their faces. "You can never stop us all, because Meridell and Darigan both are filled with good people!"

The Faerie snorted. "A lot of good that'll do. Before we came, was Illusen on your list of 'good people'? Is she still? You may have undone our zombie trick, but I'm sure we'll find enough-how did you word it? -'demented weirdoes' and 'grudge-holding airheads' to stop your band of wonderful Neopians." Her tone was just as normal as his.

The Gelert didn't even try to sound calm. He exploded, "You're trying to kill yourself so we can't get you, aren't you? At first, you were totally predictable. Did you notice that one of us or Illusen was always there, where you were? But then you had to do the unexpected, and hop off the castle with only a Draik to hold you up! You, Jeran, who we were sure would go out of your way to avoid something like that, after we had Kass knock you off the Citadel. And now? Coming here voluntarily? Alone? What are you trying to do now?"

Jeran replied quietly, "I knew this was where the real battle had to be. And you chose to come after me, so I have no right to drag anyone else in."

"Hmph!" grumbled the Skeith. "A typical heroic remark."

"We've tried to go easy with you Jeran," said the Faerie. "We tried to make you trust us, so we could slowly get you in our clutches."

Pulling his cloak closer to him, the Gelert added, "But it's not working."

"Where is your ambition?" asked the Faerie.

"Why aren't you the least bit greedy?" snarled the Skeith.

"You have no desire for revenge whatsoever!" muttered the Gelert.

The Skeith growled, "We're taking you by force this time."

"At least now I can fight back!" Jeran cried, holding up his new sword.

When he lifted it, it started to glow. It wasn't like the way the Gelert's sword glowed; it shone like the sun.

The Three held their arms in front of their faces, as if to protect themselves from the light.

The hall vanished, leaving only the darkness, into which his enemies disappeared, hissing, "That despicable Korbat may have given you the Sunblade, but WE control the World of Nightmares!"

Jeran lowered the weapon and looked at it. There, between the hilt and blade, was a golden sun. The Sunblade.

He smiled, and ran forward to find The Three, a part of his mind repeating the warning Darigan had given him about magic.

* * *

Back in Meridell Castle, the fighting had ceased. There had been confusion and chaos when Jeran and The Three left. The enchantments had ended suddenly. A lot of Meridellian soldiers had suddenly cried, "What am I doing here? What happened? Why is the castle floating?" That was followed by a lot of Dariganian soldiers moaning, "What in Neopia is going on?"

Morris, Kayla, and Borris, freed from their prison, were trying to calm everyone down by telling them about The Three. It was doing more harm than help.

In the throne room, Lisha was not very pleased that no one could really explain the situation with Jeran. Lord Darigan was doing his best to tell her about The Three and dreams, and Princess Uzuri was trying to make sense out of what her magic was telling her.

"He's…far away," she managed, with a sigh. "Lost, in a distant world of mirages and nightmares." She was also trying to keep the castle afloat, so it wouldn't go crashing down.

Kenith and Zahi had become fast friends, and were having the time of their lives shredding the papers that The Three's new laws had been put on.

Kira and Sally were trying to cheer up Lisha by telling her jokes. They seemed to have an endless supply of them.

Remus and Valrigard were arguing. The general had asked, "So was Jeran really a good enough fighter to be called Meridell's champion?" Valrigard had found it necessary to defend his friend.

Uzuri sighed. "I just remembered something I read once about Dream Worlds. What happens there is real. We had better pray that Jeran doesn't do anything stupid."

Lisha bowed her head. "You can't die, Jeran. You can't."

* * *

Jeran dashed through darkness. As far as he could tell, there was nothing else there. Even his sword's light illumined only more darkness. He was getting used to running without seeing anything like land.

Without warning, there was ground beneath him. He was running on a narrow strip of ground, and below he could see blue fire. He stumbled from the surprise of it, and tumbled off. He landed in the flames. Now he knew what they meant when they called it the World of Nightmares.

His sword gleamed, and the cerulean inferno faded away, as did the walkway above him, and he was moving through the blackness again.

Out of nowhere, a gray fog materialized, surrounding him. The air turned cold around him, slowing him, and then his weapon's golden light sliced through it like a knife. It drifted to the sides of the cut, leaving him a path. He didn't trust anything produced by The Three.

Out of the mists swirled a formless ghost, with little glimmers of red where eyes would be. Taken aback by its appearance, he was slow in attacking. A numbing chill spread through his body when the creature touched him.

The Sunblade dissipated it. He felt confident now. With the sword in his hand, and its magic his to command, none of the nightmarish creatures could stop him. In his mind, he heard Zahi giving him Darigan's words of warning about magic.

He continued forward. More specters appeared, but this time he swiftly swung his golden blade in an arc around him, and they were destroyed.

Tendrils of fog curled towards him, but didn't get too near him and his sword. If they weren't created and animated by The Three, he would have said they were watching him. And waiting for something.

He picked up speed, hoping to soon be out of the hazardous mist.

Now he eliminated the mist-monsters that floated towards him without conscious thought. The magic surged through him, filling him with an insane euphoria that blocked out the advice that he was no longer heeding.

He paused. Something was coming out of the haze in front of him. It appeared to have a form, unlike the fluid phantoms of the fog. He squinted. It looked like…No, it couldn't be.

"Lisha?" he called uncertainly.

It was closer now, and it did look like his sister. Then a part of her flickered. He looked down. The apparition was hovering above where his feet were, and it simply glided towards him. Not Lisha.

The wraith lunged for him, and he fell back with a cry. Faintly, he heard the voices of The Three yell, "If we can't CONTROL you, Jeran, then we'll DESTROY you!"

The coils of numbing gray miasma swirled around him, chilling him to the bone, and his eyelids fluttered.

* * *

Staring out the window, Lord Darigan was calling back instructions to Uzuri, who was using her magic to lower the castle.

Strangely enough, there was almost a feeling of normality in the air. The attack was done, no one was being controlled, and the castle was almost grounded.

But the battle was not over, not for one Lupe, and they would hold a vigil with him until it was.

The peace was shattered as Lisha screamed, "Something's happening!"

Uzuri panicked, and the castle dropped the last few feet as they ran over. Bits of the ceiling fell and the walls cracked more, but no one really noticed.

Jeran's breath was coming in shaky little rasps. Strange, gray flickers of light-traces of magic-covered him.

His sister grabbed his paw.

"Heeey!" suggested Zahi. "Why don't we all grab a paw? 'Cause, you know, in all the stories-okay, not all of them, but a good few-if the hero's about ready to die, or something bad like that, and his friends somehow communicate with him, he'll suddenly get strong, or just somehow survive! Okay, so Jeran's the hero, and we're his friends!"

He ran up and grabbed Jeran's other paw.

"This may work," murmured Uzuri.

Valrigard growled, "This could get us all killed, but like the heroic fools that we are, we're going to do it. Friends have got to help friends, and he needs us."

"They're right," agreed Darigan. "Jeran can't do this alone."

Everyone thought the same, even Remus, Kenith, and Uzuri, who barely knew him. One by one, everybody gathered around the fallen knight.

* * *

With blankets of gray death suffocating him, Jeran tried to bring up his sword. The cold ran through him, fighting him. The mystical fog shut out much of his sword's light, or perhaps it was his weakening that did it.

If the light had been as strong as when he had first threatened The Three with it, the mist wouldn't have had a chance. But it just sparkled dimly in his paw. Eventually, it would blink out completely, and his only source of protection would vanish too.

The Three were out there, waiting for it to fail him, so they could watch his end.

Then he had the most peculiar feeling, like there were other people with him, trying to protect him as well.

Jeran, hang on! his sister's voice called in his head.

No, it couldn't be. It was just another cruel trick on his mind. But that thought didn't linger for long, because he felt Zahi's presence among the others, and no one could despair around him. He found himself wanting to smile.

Remember what I said? asked the Eyrie. Just keep smiling.

Sally's voice cried, You told me to never lose hope, Jeran! Follow your own advice!

Kira reminded, You heard my story earlier. Believe you can escape this mess, and you will!

You possess the magic, Jeran. You can control it, and summon it now in your time of need, said a female voice that he didn't recognize.

You can't die without meeting me, The Great Kenith, laughed a male voice.

Another male voice said, I can't wait to meet you, Sir Jeran.

You can't die on me! growled Valrigard. Those knuckleheads had to talk to you before me, so if you're dead, don't blame me! Jeran… Okay, okay, I'll admit it, I'd miss you if you died; you're my friend.

Lord Darigan's voice asked, How will we ever have peace without you around? Who'd stop Illusen from attacking us? More importantly, how could we survive losing you? You are our friend. Hang on, Jeran, hang on.

Jeran started to stand up, then fell back. So what if they were with him? What would be left for him, another chase through the dark? Useless.

Then their voices returned, yelling at him, crying to him, pleading with him. Then they said, We're with you. You're not alone.

Jeran thought about that. He thought about what The Three had done to him. He got a tight grip on the Sunblade, and summoned the magic.

Golden light exploded around him, completely obliterating the miasma. The magic coursed through him, and he leaped towards The Three, who were too stunned to react. He had to destroy them. A part of him screamed for him to stop, but he was too caught up in the sword's power now.

* * *

"He's doing it," whispered Lisha. "That sword's magic is amazing!"

"Oh no," gasped Darigan. "He's losing control! If The Three don't destroy him, the Sunblade will!"

He grabbed the other end of Jeran's original sword, not caring that the blade cut into his hands, and fell to the floor beside him.

Appearing in the shadowy world, he started running to where Jeran would be. He stopped dead when he arrived.

The Three were attacking Jeran, but the area was flooded with golden light. The knight had an odd look on his face, like he was on the edge of madness. The glow grew brighter and brighter, and he sagged slightly. It was starting to drain him.

"No," whispered the Faerie. "What's going on?"

Jeran's eyes were wide and frightened, but the magic was in charge now, and all he could do was let it slowly crush them, and him in the process.

Darigan ran towards him. "Jeran! Watch out for the magic!"

With shrieks of rage, fear, and pain, The Three vanished.

The befuddled Lupe yelled, "Come back and fight!"

"Jeran!" Lord Darigan reached him, and had to jump back, as the blade swung in his direction. "Jeran, they won't be coming back. Stop the magic, and let's go."

Jeran lowered the sword a little bit. "Lord Darigan? Stop the magic? But…I feel so…so alive right now!"

"You're draining your own strength. Please, Jeran, release the power."

The bright light dimmed, and the knight started to fall as the exhilaration from the power faded. They both disappeared.

* * *

When Jeran woke up, he was in his own bed, with both of his swords by him. His head ached. In fact, his whole body ached. He felt like he had been put through a machine used for grinding corn.

He stumbled down to the throne room, and was surprised to see what looked like most of Meridell and Darigan patching up the castle.

"Jeran!" yelled Lisha, hugging him.

Then everyone was there, asking him how he was. He waved them all away, and went over to Lord Darigan.

"Um…what happened in the dream world, with the Sunblade? I mean, I know I got caught up in the power rush, but how can light magic do that?"

Darigan answered simply, "All of Neopia's light casts shadows. Your regular sword is normal again, by the way."

He nodded. "I'll put the Sunblade in a safe place, where no one can get to it. Thank you, for giving it to me, and for saving me from it."

Leaving, he met Remus, Kenith, and Uzuri.

"I'm Princess Uzuri," greeted the starry Buzz. "We were supposed to be ruling here. If your Faerie, Illusen, isn't quite right when she returns, I'm sorry. She's sleeping underground."

Jeran laughed. "Illusen's never quite right."

The shadow Lupe said, "My name's Remus. General Remus. It's good to see you on your feet."

The green Aisha flourished his purple cape. "I am Sir Kenith the Great. We are the Wandering Warriors." He winked. "I just made that up now. Catchy, eh?"

Jeran grinned, and tried to get away, so he could hide the Sunblade. He bumped into Valrigard, who looked almost as thrilled as Zahi, who was right behind him, singing a nonsense song while fixing a crack in the wall.

"Guess what! I'm going home with Zahi and Kira! I'll have a home again! I won't be a fugitive anymore!"

The knight smiled back. He looked at him, at Zahi, at Sally and Kira, who were being introduced to Morris, Borris, and Kayla by Lisha, the Wandering Warriors, and Lord Darigan. "You know," he said to no one in particular. "I really think everything is going to turn out fine!"

* * *

Jeran met King Skarl at the castle gates. "Did you enjoy your vacation?"

He looked grumpier than usual. "Enjoy? Pah! Did you know Mystery Island has cannibals? Did you know that the volcano rumbles on a regular basis? That place is a madhouse! Natives poked me when I tried to go on a walk, the volcano disturbed my sleep, volleyballs hit me on the head, the Ghost Lupe popped up from time to time, and meals were a disaster! I went to a place to get food, and the chef asked me to get the ingredients. I went to the Cooking Pot for food-you know, the pot surrounded by skulls-and the island's resident Faerie wanted me to get the ingredients! I did get some fruit at the store though. To top it all off, the Island Mystic told me my land was at war, and some real oddballs turned up near the end!"

Jeran smiled. "War? Heh…imagine that…"

By then they had reached the "Wandering Warriors."

"How was ruling?" asked the king, still sounding irritated from his vacation.

Uzuri replied, "More exciting than I expected!"

Then Illusen stomped in, rubbing her head. She looked like she had walked through a tornado. "What happened?"

"So they were controlling you!" exclaimed Jeran.

"Are you insane?" she snapped. "I woke up underground for some reason! All I can remember is the temporary rulers showing up. Must've been these three. Bye."

She wandered out.

Remus, Kenith, and Uzuri bid them farewell, and departed.

Jeran couldn't help smiling because everything was finally getting normal again. "Did anyone ever tell you that you're a good king?" he asked.

Skarl just gave him an odd look. "I…don't know…"

"Well, if there's one thing we can say about you, it's that you're not a tyrant!"

"Okay…" Then the king groaned. "Oh yeah Jeran, I almost forgot. The oddballs that showed up? They seemed pretty battered, but one of them, a crazy looking Gelert with a glowing sword, said, 'Tell Jeran we say hi.' What's been going on? Who was that nut?"

Jeran sighed. "Some day soon, I'll tell you about it. You might not want to know."

* * *

It was late at night. Jeran was looking forward to another normal night. So The Three were still around. One of these times, they were going to pay for every wrong they did, everyone they hurt.

Quietly, he padded over to a bookcase, and removed a couple books. A piece of the backing slid away easily. A harmless black safe sat there. He twirled the combination, and it clicked open.

He pulled the door open a crack; just enough to let a beam of golden light enter the room. Outside, he could hear Zahi trying to tell King Skarl a joke without laughing himself. He smiled.

He shut the safe, and put everything back in place. If The Three attacked, he would fight them with a sword that shone as brightly as the sun. But for now, it would stay right there.

Until it had to be taken out again, Meridell and Darigan both could live in peace.

The End

I'd like to thank a lot of people. I'd like to thank fire_soul_wolf, iluvcats_more_than_u, and lcy_dgy_pv76, for helping me come up with the title for this continued series. I'd like to thank mewluvr4ever, who first told me the names Zahi and Uzuri. I'd like to thank everyone else who supported me while I was writing this, like my neofriends, and the people in my guild. I'd also like to thank all of my favorite authors who inspired me in writing. I'd like to thank my mom, lastcetra, who first made the comment that Illusen's elevator got stuck in the basement. I'd like to thank all of the very happy people I know that merged together to make Zahi's personality in my mind. I'd also like to say that if my character Kira's crazy, then so am I, because, although I had cousins, not brothers in the fantasy, that ship did rock if you thought about it long enough. I love getting neomails, so feel free to neomail me with feedback. Watch out for The Three!

 
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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 Five
» Reign of the Shadows: Part Six



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