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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Swimming, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 104 > Continuing Series > Fates Entwined: Part Seven

Fates Entwined: Part Seven

by geovii

An armoured pair of Draik guards were patrolling the corridors on their nightly rounds. As they trudged along, they spoke (as all night guards inevitably do) of various personal trivialities, in part so that they would not fall asleep (again, as all night guards inevitably do).

     “You don’t say, Jonas? Locked you out of your own house just for coming home late?”

     “I tried to tell her Mordeo’s got us workin’ these horrible hours, but she just don’t listen! I tell ya, Robert, if it weren’t for the pay that chubby lizard’s givin’ us…”

     “Hey, hey! Cool down! You ought to watch what you say around here. I don’t like it any more than you do, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Besides, I hear there’s spies everywhere. If Mordeo ever heard what you just said…”

     He stopped for a moment and cocked his head to one side.

     “What is it…?” his companion started to ask, but was cut off by a wave of his claw.

     “Shh…” he said, listening hard. “I thought I heard something.”

     Now they were both interested. Very carefully, they turned the corner in the direction of the sound and looked. The torchlight from an adjoining hall a little ways down flickered upon the walls, and a trio of hunched shadows were very briefly visible. Their words were only indistinct whispers, but by the tone of them they sounded quite important.

     Robert motioned to Jonas and quietly mouthed the word ‘spies.’ Jonas nodded, and they both crept as quietly as two fully armored guards could conceivably do, making their way to the intersection where the three spies were conversing. Now they could hear tiny snippets of a hushed conference.

     “… again just why we had to bring the jar?”

     “Don’t worry about it, Kithar. Just trust me. It’s very important to our plan….”

     There was a stifled bout of laughter, as from somebody who knows something that somebody else does not know and who does not intend to tell them until whatever it is that’s so darn funny happens.

     “Stop that laughing, Merlod. Do you want us to get caught?”

     “It’s not really that funny, you know….”

     The quiet giggling faded. “I know, I know… but I just can’t wait to see the look on her face.…”

     “Whose face?”

     “You’ll see….” More laughing.

     Jonas and Robert exchanged confused glances. This did not appear to be typical spy behaviour.

     “Wait a minute…” the first voice said. “I think…” Before the guards could take another step, a hooded figure in flowing purple and gold robes slid into the hallway, facing the two. It glared from under its hood with glowing yellow eyes. “…we have company.” Its sinister eyes seemed to smile maliciously. It took a resounding step forward.

     “Hello boys…” it boomed in a voice that made the room feel suddenly bigger than it was. “So glad you could join us. You know, curiosity killed the Kadoatie.”

     Another booming step.

     “Though, you look more like Draiks.”

     Step. Boom.

     “But the same principles should apply, anyway, don’t you agree?” Before they knew it, the figure was right in front of Robert. “How about you first?” It waved a hoof gently over his eyes. They rolled back sickly into his head, and he collapsed in a ringing heap of armor and scales.

     The figure turned to Jonas. He shut his eyes, turned, and took off flying the other way, his legs motoring frantically despite the fact that they were not touching the ground.

     Kithar removed her hood, revealing her rather pleasant Kau features. She crossed her arms and pouted. “Drat! I let one get away. How incredibly careless of me!”

     Luparn and Merlod were busy examining Robert’s prostrate body. “Kithar,” Luparn began, “you didn’t actually…?”

     “Oh, no, he’s just hypnotized. Probably dreaming about… shining his armor, or whatever it is castle guards dream about. I’d be more concerned about that guard who got away. We’re really in for it now.…”

     “Not exactly,” said Luparn. “If my guess is correct, then being found might be just the thing we want right now. Come on!” He waved them on. “We have to get to the dungeon quickly! Which way, Merlod?”

     The old wizard consulted his maps. He pointed down the hall to the right. “The stairs should be that way.”

* * *

“INCLEMENTA!”

     The Light Faerie groaned inwardly. What did he want this time? “You beckoned, oh sonorous one?”

     “Inclementa, one of my guards has just informed me that there is an evil horned and hoofed demon loose in the castle, and it just attacked Roberts. Is this another one of your 'inter-dimensional portal miscalculations'?”

     She frowned. Hooves… horns… ah, yes.

     “No, my liege. Just a noisome pest that needs to be exterminated.”

     She disappeared.


image by Frostcrystal

* * *

“Okay… second door… on the left… should do it,” Merlod enunciated between gasps as he ran.

     Luparn turned left and grasped the door handle. It wouldn’t budge. Bracing himself against the opposite wall, he pushed off and slammed shoulder-first into the door. It splintered.

     “Well hello there, my little hero.”

     Inclementa stood before the rows of cells, staring eye to eye with the young Lupe. Before he could draw his sword, she raised her hands to the ceiling and spread her claw-nailed fingers wide. Cascading beams of shimmering light surrounded Luparn, and his legs collapsed beneath him.

     “What an unexpected turn of events,” she gloated, savoring every word. “Once I return you to King Mordeo, nothing will stand in his way. Meridell shall make its march against the Lost Desert, and the great secrets of the Sakhmetian pharaohs shall be mine! Then, not even Queen Fyora or that filthy prophetess Jhunedra can stop me!”

     Luparn smiled weakly. “You… haven’t won yet….”

     “Ah,” said Inclementa with a touch of surprised admiration. “So you still resist my spells enough to speak. You’re very persistent. But I know exactly what you’ve got up your sleeve, and it won’t help you.” She called into the hall, “You can stop hiding now, Madame Kithar! I know you’re out there!”

     Exposed, Kithar walked into the room. Her eyes shined with defiance.

     “Well, well,” Inclementa smiled smugly. “Jhunedra was wise to send you along. They say that in dire circumstances, a true seer can dictate another’s fate. Theoretically, you could tell me to disappear within the next five seconds, and it would happen. If so, you could quite possibly end this whole fiasco right now just by telling me to get lost. I wonder if that’s true….”

     But Kithar was not listening. She knew what had to be done. Her eyes had glazed over, her countenance had gone flat, and she began speaking in the words of the Fates. “Pythia sum, in me Manus verbaque Regentium omnibus latuntur, fatuntur te iacta esse in aeterne carcer dolore. Sicut sum fata, fia—”

     Her last word was cut short, as Inclementa pointed one long finger at her and the Kau suddenly clutched her head in pain as she was lifted into the air by the Faerie’s magic. “Silly little Kau,” she said. “Did you actually think I’d let you try your little fortune telling tricks on me? Ha! ‘Cast into an eternal prison of suffering’…. What nonsense! I shall take great pleasure in watching you perish along with the rest of your little friends.…” She motioned to the huddled remains of Sarkif’s forces strewn about the cells in chains. “In fact, I think I’ll start watching it right now.…” The demented Light Faerie redoubled her spell, her eyes shining evilly. Kithar’s cries of pain were silenced, and her writhing began to slowly subside.

     Luparn clenched his jaw. Something was glowing red from within his pocket. It was the scarab.

     His brother was with him. A sudden surge of strength arose in him, and, coupled with Inclementa’s distraction, it was all he needed.

     Everything happened in a flash. His father’s sword was in his paw before he knew it. Turning the blade, he sent a shower of reflected light straight into Inclementa’s face. Blinded by her own radiant magic, she dropped Kithar in shock as she attempted to shield her burning eyes.

     Still clutching her head weakly, Kithar whispered the last word of her incantation, “…fiat…” and then slipped into unconsciousness.

     “Now, Merlod!” screamed Luparn, and the Aisha charged into the room, the small, seemingly innocent glass jar in one paw. Inclementa had only enough time to utter “Wha--” before the aged wizard touched the bottle to her skin. There was a magnificent flash, and then the room went dark, save for a faint glow coming from the bottle.

     Merlod swiftly placed the stopper in the mouth of the jar and peered at Inclementa, who stared pitifully back at him from inside. “For some reason,” he said to the bottle with a bittersweet grin, “I thought I would laugh when I saw you like this. But now, it’s not very funny any more.”

     Luparn looked at the pathetic Faerie trapped in the bottle. “What a twisted little soul you have, Inclementa. But I’m sure even that will find some use on Merlod’s shelf.” He turned to his elderly companion. “I’ll free the prisoners. Go see to Kithar, and be quick! When Mordeo discovers what we’ve done, he’ll waste no time in hunting us down. We must be out of the castle long before then!”

     Merlod nodded and stashed Inclementa in one of his various pockets, but not before commenting on her possible function as a reading light for late night studies. He knelt down before Kithar and looked through his robe for a potion that would help her.

     Meanwhile, Luparn began hacking at the locks with his sword, and it wasn’t long before he had all the prisoners freed. Amidst the cheers, Luparn heard a familiar voice calling out his name. He turned and saw none other than Sarkif pushing through the crowd, his eyes bright with tears.

     “Luparn! I can’t believe it’s true! I had thought you dead for certain!”

     “Father!” cried Luparn in shock and surprise. The two embraced. “I feared the worst when I learned what had happened.…”

     “Thank the faeries you were away when it did, my boy. But we must save our celebrating for later. Right now our priority is to get out of here as quickly as possible!”

     “But my lord,” one of the soldiers cried in protest, “should we not make our attack and take the castle? Surely we have the element of surprise on our side.”

     “What would we fight with?” Luparn countered. “Have you all forgotten that you have been relieved of your weapons? And Mordeo’s troops greatly outnumber us. No, our only hope is to retreat for now, and wait for the opportunity to strike. But when we do strike, it will be on our terms! Mordeo’s forces will be defeated! And Meridell shall be restored to its former glory! This I swear upon the sword of my father, Lupold, the one true king of Meridell! We will have victory!” He drew his sword and held it aloft, the blade shining in the dank room. A chorus of cheers arose, but Sarkif only stared in astonishment.

     “You know?” he gasped. Luparn turned to his adoptive father and smiled, and that was all the explanation he needed.

     “I know a secret way,” Sarkif said. “It’s a hidden door in a storage room down the hall. It was designed so that the king could escape in case of danger. It leads directly into the forest. I know a place there where Mordeo will never find us. We can wait there until your brother sends us some reinforcements, which I’m sure he will now that Inclementa has been dealt with.”

     Merlod slowly hobbled up to the throng, supporting a semiconscious Kithar. “She’ll be all right,” he assured everyone. “Ah, Lord Sarkif! I’m glad to see you’re all right. I’d bow but….” He motioned to Kithar.

     “We’re taking the emergency exit in the storage room,” Sarkif explained.

     “I see,” nodded Merlod. “Going to wait out the storm in our little safe haven, are we? How very ironic.” He chuckled.

     “Why is that ironic, Merlod?” inquired Luparn.

     “Well, to put it simply, lad, we’re going to see your parents.”

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Fates Entwined: Part One

Fates Entwined: Part Two

Fates Entwined: Part Three

Fates Entwined: Part Four

Fates Entwined: Part Five

Fates Entwined: Part Six

Fates Entwined: Part Eight

Fates Entwined: Part Nine

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