Escape: Part Two
It had to work; he couldn’t think of anything else. Valrigard
took a deep breath and spat out the biggest flame he had ever contrived. After
not breathing for about a minute he had to take in breath but he immediately
started back up again. He could see the bars turning a blazing red and mentally
patted himself on the back; this was not so hard! However, after five minutes
had past his views had definitely altered. The bars were heated enough so that
he could fit through but he was so exhausted he could not gather up enough energy
to attempt it. He wheezed, coughed, and then, sluggishly, stood up.
Finally after another minute of precious time wasted
Valrigard tediously and gingerly stepped through the opening and into the hallway.
Looking around he saw that everything was in complete darkness except at the
far end of the hall where a large wooden door stood by itself in a sea of worn
stone. A torch placed by the side of it clearly illuminated a set of silver
keys dangling just out of reach of the nearest cells. Valrigard walked stealthily
in the shadows and tried to avoid looking on either side of him where a jealous
prisoner could easily spot his bright, burgundy eyes and call out a warning
to the guards. Slowly, step by step he walked closer until he was only five
feet from the door itself.
In two more steps he realized just why the security
was so lax on this floor. Not three feet in front of him lay an enormous shadow
gelert! Its jaws easily had the magnitude of a grarrl’s while its fangs exceeded
those of Sabre-X, but were much sharper. The creature’s eyes were closed and
it was slavering heavily upon the stone floor. Valrigard had to fight the urge
to bolt. It was then that he noticed a small pile of weapons behind the monstrosity,
and on top of them was his Million-Degree Sword! Making up his mind he slowly
and carefully stepped over the gelert’s leg. As silently as he could he picked
up his pride and joy and sheathed it in the leather belt he still wore around
his waist. Then he slowly tiptoed back. A question suddenly occurred to him
and he sat back frantically thinking it over. How was he going to grab the keys?
He couldn’t grasp them. As he rocked back on his heels
his hand hit the hilt of his sword and an idea struck him. He could use his
sword to reach up and grab the keys! Valrigard stealthily leaned over the gelert
and held his flickering sword high in the air. Hoping nobody could see it he
eased it up under the keys and was about to let them slide down when a snort
from the gelert made him start. He watched as the silver keys dropped and, drawing
on a hidden reserve of strength he dove, reached out, and caught the keys! He
cheered silently for a second and then hurriedly backed off as he realized that
his head was only inches away from the shadowed gelert’s incisors. For a harrowing
moment he was sure the creature would wake up, but it didn’t. With unsteady
hands he quickly fit the keys into the door and skirted through it, hopefully
never to see his cell again.
Valrigard was trying hard to breathe quietly as a fierce
looking guard sauntered past, just inches in front of him. He was hidden in
a small passageway off of the main corridor, which was just as dark and cold
as the one below it. As soon as the guard was out of sight Valrigard stealthily
crept onto the cold stone floor of the hallway. Looking around he noticed that
there were even more cells up here. “How did you get out?” The sly, cracked
voice stopped him in his tracks. He let his eyes drift to the source of the
voice and saw, to his chagrin, a scruffy and arrogant faced young shadow Lupe.
“Let me out, too.” It was not a question. The Lupe
opened its mouth just wide enough to show that he could easily call out to the
guards. It was too much for Valrigard.
“Alright, alright,” he hissed, “but for Fyora’s sake
This was going to really cut into his time schedule.
The cell was an abnormally small one and didn’t seem to have any kind of window.
Taking out the silver keys Valrigard fit them into the lock and, amazingly the
door swung open. “These keys must work for every lock in the castle,”
he thought. The Lupe flashed him a quick smile and nimbly darted off into the
shadows without so much as a backward glance. Valrigard shook his head as a
sense of foreboding overcame him, he hoped he had done the right thing.
Once again he started on his march to the end of the
corridor, but he had hardly gotten fifty yards crossed when a rancid smell alerted
him to danger. He crept stealthily nearer until the stench became almost overpowering.
What he saw made his already butterfly-entangled stomach, flip. Two pairs of
luminous, yellow eyes stared out at Valrigard from a monstrous Krawkidillian
face. He drew his breath in sharply, What was he going to do? As the Krawk slowly
advanced, its fangs dripping with saliva, he knew that this time he couldn’t
just slink past, he would have to fight it. The two combatants faced each other
and in a sudden show of agility the Krawk leaped over Valrigard and brought
its sharp claws down over his back. Valrigard fell to the ground gasping as
the pain seared along his injured hide.
He shakily rose to his feet and, cursing himself for
his stupidity, drew his Million Degree Sword out of its sheath. When the Krawk
leaped again he dove to the right and landed just out of reach of the deadly
claws. He looked around frantically for something to aid him in the battle and
his eyes lighted upon a long, tarnished, metal chain hanging grimly from the
stone-encrusted wall. He smiled to himself; this might not be so hard after
all. The Krawk gave a savage snarl and rushed at Valrigard, its claws carving
deep ruts into the floor. As soon as it was an arms-length away Valrigard darted
to the side, raised his sword, and brought the hilt of it down with a thud upon
the Krawk’s massive skull. The ground shook slightly as it was deposited roughly
on the stone. He shakily examined the creature, its marsh green scales were
as hard as diamonds. He dragged the Krawk’s huge bulk over to the chains and
bound it tightly, paying special attention to tying up the jaws; he certainly
didn’t want the alarm to be sounded when the monster woke up. Valrigard held
his nose, as he became aware of the rotting smell again and quickly walked up
the wooden stairs.
Valrigard stealthily crept down the long, narrow hall,
keeping his urge to just sit down and give up with hopelessness in check. How
could he, a lowly, unimportant sentry, have attracted enough attention to become
the scapegoat in a crime this huge? Surely an officer would have caused more
dissention in the ranks. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he thought. Valrigard
suddenly stopped and sniffed. A delicious smell of baked bread drifted by him,
and he could feel his stomach rumble. Walking a little further he noticed that,
to his right side, several rooms were situated next to each other. The doors
were made of balsa wood and had gouges throughout them.
“This must be the servants' quarters,” he thought.
One of the larger doors was standing open and Valrigard traced the scent to
it. He quietly walked to the edge of the door and looked in. Inside, a small
table sat in the middle of the room, while, off to its side an oven smoked quietly
from the dinner that had recently been made. As Valrigard’s eyes scanned the
table top he realized what it was that smelled so delicious; fresh bread was
sitting on its surface, waiting to cool. He quickly whipped his head around
to see if anyone was occupying the room, but saw no one. Stomach roaring, he
made his way to the wooden table and reached for a loaf of bread but, as his
claws touched it, he realized he couldn’t just take it. He had nothing to give
in return. Brows furrowed, he sighed in resignation and shot a longing look
at the bread. Then, just as he was leaving he noticed that a wooden bowl was
lying, broken, under the table. Valrigard had seen this happen often enough
to know that a lot of trouble would ensue if anyone found out about it. The
overseers didn’t like it when things got broken. Hastily he looked around again,
no, the hall was quiet, and nobody would see him.
To be continued...
Author's Note: What awaits Valrigard on the next floor? Can he make it out
of the castle alive? I can assure you the next chapter will be interesting…
Find out on next week’s edition of Escape! Feel free to neomail any comments
or suggestions to firedragon9078.