Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 186,904,169 Issue: 196 | 24th day of Relaxing, Y7
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The Chronicles of Knight II: Rebuilding the Forsaken - Part Four


by fierwym

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Part Four

Perhaps Too Great an Influence

The small black eyes slowly opened, blearily peering around at their surroundings. Around him, there were hushed voices. Where was he? Why did he feel so sore?

     "Hush," hissed a female voice somewhere to his left. He could barely make out her blue form against the constant grey of the area above and around him. To his right he could just discern another shape, this one black and more massive. Where was he? Who were these people that stood over him?

     Who was he?

     It was the thought that he had forgotten who he was that truly awakened him. His vision became sharper, and his normally acute hearing began to pick up smaller sounds. His head began to clear.

     Who was he?

     Those thoughts seemed like a nightmare. Could he truly have forgotten who he was? Was this all just some crazy dream, or was it real.

     Too many questions! His mind tossed and turned, and he felt dizzy, even dizzier than if he had spiraled down a thousand feet. Flight… That was something he could remember. Flight. That was something…

     He no longer had.

     Suddenly the memories began flooding back. He remembered who he was and what he was, and why he felt so sore. He remembered what had happened that had broken his wing.

     He had to tell the king! Meridell had to be warned!

     "I must…" said a very weak voice, and he was surprised to realize that the voice belonged to him. "Warn the king," he finished.

     "Shhh, shhh," soothed the female. "I'll go tell him that you have woken." The blue form at his left turned and walked away. He heard a door open, barely saw the blue form disappear from the corner of his eye, and the door close. The shadowy form at his right shifted, and he turned his steadily clearing sight to him.

     "Greetings," the shadow voiced. He remembered that voice, though from where he could not tell. "I don't know if you remember me. You were fading fast when we met."

     "You are… the one… that rescued… me." He had to take a breath every few words. How had he become so weak?

     "Yes," the shadow confessed. "We were expecting you to sleep longer."

     "How long… was I… sleeping?"

     "It's been four days."

     "Four days!" He sighed. "Four days."

     "I know that you had an urgent message, but there was no way to revive you."

     "It was… those creatures," he said weakly.

     "Creatures?" the shadow asked.

     "Yes. They were… long and swift… and sleek… Demons… Red eyes… And… poison."

     "Darigan Techos," the shadow muttered. By now he could tell that the shadow was truly a black Lupe with wings. "How many were there?"

     He was about to answer when the door opened again. By now his sight had returned to near-normal, and so he could see the shapes of a Lupe with royal-blue fur, and a blue Skeith that didn't appear at all fat like all the other Skeiths that he had seen. This one had a regal air about him, as if he knew what he was doing and what he wanted, and would see anything through.

     "Greetings, friend," said the Skeith, and he was amazed to hear not the voice of a grown Skeith, but of a pup nearing adulthood. So truly Vladimir was a young king!

     "Greetings… Meridellian king. I must… warn you."

     "I understand," the king said kindly. "First, tell us your name."

     "I am… called Avak. I come from… Brightvale. But I must… warn you."

     "Warn us of what?"

     "Demons are loose," he said. "Dozens of them."

     "Demons? What type of demons?" the king asked.

     "Techos. Poisonous Techos. Dozens of them… all coming from… the Citadel."

     Raatri let out a long breath, causing the others to look at him. "The Lair," he sighed. "The Darigan Techos that Blake trained have escaped. Do you realize what that means?"

     Avari shivered. Yes, she knew exactly what that meant. It meant that the creatures kin to the Wolf were free. It meant that they would take revenge. It meant a lot of trouble.

     Dozens of poisonous creatures, guided by hate and filled with the need for revenge… She sighed. She had hoped things would be getting back to normal as Meridell gradually accepted her as a knight and as a Council member. But was there ever really a "normal" for a lone female knight?

***

          Her breath came and went like the thunder, in and out so harsh that her throat screamed in agony and revolt. Sweat poured down her skin, soaking her fur and stinging her eyes. She was actually frightened for once, though usually things did not frighten her. She could not allow things to frighten her; or at least, that's how it used to be.

     Where was he? She knew that he was performing the Search, but surely she would have found him by now! She had an uncanny talent for knowing where he was, and his mood, and when he was about to do something. She didn't know why: she just did. So usually she knew where to find him when she had to inform him of something. Today, though, right now, she could not find Darigan.

     Kaeth was one of the select few minions that Raatri had secretly taught for the past few years. She had been the first one he had recruited, for she had a past similar to his. Her parents, too, had been defiant and defied Blake. Her parents, too, had been killed at Blake's hand.

     She had been spared, mostly because Blake didn't see her as a threat. He had made a major mistake though, for he had killed the young pup's parents when the pup was aware. He had caused her to begin to hate, and that hate had grown. Over the years she had learned that to survive, she had to appear to serve him. She had learned how to survive. But she would always remember, and the memory of her parents defying and dying Blake would guide her as surely as Avari's parent's had guided the young Lupe on her journey to knighthood.

     And so, one day the Darigan Prince had come in secret, telling her all. It had been brave of him to do so, for if she had not been the creature he thought she was, she could have easily betrayed him. Instead, she had agreed to allow him to teach her. No one knew that the growing friendship between the Darigan Prince and the Zafara minion ran deeper than just a friendship. It ran into conspiracy, and plans of action to take if Darigan ever returned.

     Over the years Kaeth had helped Raatri recruit others, until a small, quiet, and secret force that went against Blake rose right under Blake's nose. He never knew, and probably never suspected. Thanks to Raatri's actions in recruiting the young minions like Kaeth, Darigan's return had been much easier.

     Kaeth's breathing gradually became harsher as she continued to sprint down the halls, trying to find Darigan. Khallon had told her the news nearly an hour before, and she still could not find Darigan. Where was he!?

     Of course! If she had the time, she might have smacked her head in frustration. Darigan was constantly tired, constantly dreaming his nightmares, both in sleeping and waking hours…

***

          Darigan was in fact sleeping, though the sleep was troubled and plagued by nightmares. Again, he dreamt of his worst nightmare, the shadow-creatures referred to as They. Those voices… those terrible, terrible voices…

     "Darigan," hissed a voice - a real voice, not one in his head. Something real and hard shook his shoulder. He opened his amber eyes and found the rust-colored face of Kaeth staring down at him, eyes wide with worry. "Darigan, they all escaped."

     "What?"

     "The creatures," she whispered, voice tight. "The demons. Darigan, the assassins are free!"

***

          At first Darigan didn't believe what Kaeth had said. But no - Kaeth wouldn't lie, at least not to him. He suddenly realized the implication of it, and shot straight up, leaping out of his bed. The Zafara hurried to dodge out of his way. He half-ran, half-walked to the door and down the halls, the young minion at his heels. It didn't take them long to reach the room where the secret passage into the Lair was hidden. Darigan walked quickly up to the wall and touched it with the palm of his hand. The place between his hand and the wall glowed for an instant, and the secret door swung open to reveal the long staircase. Kaeth, unsure whether to stay behind or follow, nervously watched the departing form of Darigan until he rounded the passage on his way down the long spiral staircase. She had vowed to Raatri to serve Darigan, she remembered suddenly, seeing the face of the shadow Darigan Lupe in her mind. She decided. She would have to follow him.

     She quickly descended after him, wondering if it was magic that kept the passageway lit.

***

          "They're all gone," Kaeth heard Darigan whisper. She looked around the semi-massive room. Cages lined the walls, save for the wall with the passage and the wall opposite them. All the cages were open, and each was empty.

     "Do you think you know how they escaped?"

     "One - or more - must have had magic. All the locks could only be opened by it." He turned around to look at her. "A Techo assassin with magic… Can you imagine?"

     She shook her head. "And I thought a Search would be hard enough," she said with a small smile. "I wonder why they didn't try to attack you or anyone else. They just passed Khallon and the rest of the Guard."

     "Who knows what is in an assassin's mind?" he asked. "Cunning, sly, and quick… We have another problem to account for." He scratched his head, clearly tired. "Go send a message to Meridell to warn them."

     She nodded and bowed slightly, then turned and rushed up the stairs.

     Darigan watched her until she rounded the corner, and then sighed and turned around. The room was now empty of life, save him. The cages around him seemed like the maws of great beasts, wanting him to enter in and be crushed. Magic was present in the air - one of magic could always feel the magical presence of one with lesser magic. Most was the musty, ancient magic that lit the room. Some was the poisonous, cunning magic of the assassin that had freed the others. But he could sense a third, he felt, somewhere on the air. Whoever had left that essence had probably had more magic than he - but for some reason Darigan could feel it. He walked toward the opposite wall, peering up at it. Once he was two feet from the wall, that strange magical presence a dull hum in his ears, he paused and waited. Then, slowly, he raised a hand and placed his palm on the wall. His hand glowed for an instant, and the wall swung inward with a heavy sigh.

     Darigan shook his head, entering into the double-secret place. Who would ever think there was a hidden passage within a hidden passage? The room beyond was surprisingly small, perhaps seven feet back and four feet wide. Inside there was a table covered with papers and books. Darigan walked up to it and looked over them.

     Plans for other invasions and the like… Blake's plans. Darigan leafed through the books, finding them filled with all sorts of dark magic, and even a book that Blake himself had been writing about the skills and uses of Techo assassins. He picked up the four books and the many papers, turning around and heading up the long passageway. The dark books and the papers would all be burned, so that Blake's influence would be destroyed. Darigan was grateful he had found Blake's hidden stash of plans, though he still shook his head in disbelief at all the mayhem his "mysterious" disappearance had caused.

     Yet even with that Search of the Lair and the double-secret room, it never occurred to him that beyond that secret passage was another, even more secret one - a thrice-secret room - guarded by magic so rare that even one with incredible magical gifts such as the Seer or Raatri would have a hard time seeing it even if they were looking in the right place. Yet perhaps if he had found it, he would have discovered two more books. One detailed Blake's rule, an unfinished tale that told of everything, from his plots to overthrow Raatri's parents to the day before Blake had met his downfall.

     Probably the most influential of any of the six books was the other in the thrice-secret room. It was a dangerous book that told of They, of how to summon They, of how to persuade They. Perhaps Blake was too great an influence to be completely wiped out. Darigan never found the last two books in his Search - nor would he ever find them. Eventually one day the two books would be discovered…

     But by wrong hands.

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» The Chronicles of Knight II: Rebuilding the Forsaken - Part One
» The Chronicles of Knight II: Rebuilding the Forsaken - Part Two
» The Chronicles of Knight II: Rebuilding the Forsaken - Part Three



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