Escape: Part Four
Valrigard made an erratic swipe at the guard's face and
was rewarded with a howl of pain. A long, jagged cut formed from the guard's
forehead to the tip of his nose, just missing his eye, and the fur around the
wound was burnt a bit. The guard lurched away from Valrigard and he had time
to take stock of the situation. The guard was a Kyrii with glossy, short, golden
fur and silver chain mail covering his chest. In his hand he held a short, but
sharp, dagger and in his belt a long and curved sword sat ready. Valrigard was
lucky that the weapon was too big to be used inside the corridor. He didn't
know the guard's name and briefly wondered if he was new to the position.
This all took only a second to observe, and then Valrigard
ran towards the Kyrii with the hilt of his sword out, ready to knock him out.
He swiftly ran to the guard's side and started to bring the end of it crashing
down, but the Kyrii was ready and brought his dagger slashing up at the same
time. Valrigard felt an intense pain searing through his right wing, at first
burning but then, after a second or two, feeling oddly cold. Then he felt the
thud as his sword hilt hit the guard, who dropped like a rock to the stone floor.
He stood unsteadily for a minute or two, took several deep breaths, and checked
the Kyrii's pulse to make sure he hadn't killed him. He hadn't.
With a relieved sigh, Valrigard turned around to see
that the Lupe had finished his fight with Liam, who was sprawled unceremoniously
upon the floor but was still breathing. Awkwardly Valrigard looked at the Lupe.
"Thank you for your help."
"One good turn deserves another," the Lupe replied,
and he realized that the Lupe's face wasn't quite so arrogant as he had previously
"My name is Valrigard."
"Mine is Lycaon, but listen, do you happen to know
a way out of this place? I'm kind of lost."
Valrigard looked toward the window but the sudden,
very sharp and nauseating, pain in his wing told him that that exit was not
open to him anymore. Lycaon would never have been able to leave through it anyway.
"There is one… but it's very dangerous and very old."
"Is it the only way out?" Lycaon asked quietly.
"Unless you want to walk right out the front gate."
"We'll try it then," Lycaon decided. "Where is it?"
Valrigard led him to an old and almost rundown food
shaft, large enough for the two of them but looking as if a feather could destroy
Lycaon looked incredulous. "That?" he asked.
Valrigard nodded decisively. "Yes, that."
Valrigard looked back at Liam with pity. He hated
to see his friend in such a position but it couldn't be helped. He walked over
to the Kyrii guard and was reaching out his hand to take the dagger when the
unmistakable sound of footsteps was heard. Lycaon started in fear and hurriedly
signaled for them both to leave. Valrigard hesitated, but as the footsteps came
nearer he realized that their usage of time was crucial. Even a slight delay
could prove deadly. He nodded and quickly stepped into the food lift with Lycaon
on his heels. Closing the door behind him, Lycaon mouthed "Now what?"
Even though Valrigard could barely see him for the
darkness. Valrigard reached up and, after feeling about for several seconds,
came up with an old and tattered rope. He pulled on it and when it wouldn't
do anything, and the footfalls kept getting closer, he almost panicked. But
then, with a violent jerk the food lift started up and he breathed a quiet,
though shaky, sigh of relief. As they were descending he could hear shouts coming
from above and Valrigard fervently hoped that it would take a long time to figure
out what had happened. Another jolt of the rickety lift told them that they
had made it safely to the ground floor of the castle. Lycaon cautiously opened
the door and looked around; nobody was standing in the corridor. Valrigard followed
him out but froze just as his claws touched the plush carpet. The sound of wings
beating the air reached his ears along with a bone-chilling shriek, "Escapees
on the ground floor near the back exit, hurry!"
Valrigard looked up to see a smirking korbat guard
in copper armor. Then he ran. Off to the left he knew there was a small wooden
door that was almost never locked. His breathing came out raspy and his breaths
were short, the mud caked to his scales that had helped conceal him before was
now slowing him down, and Valrigard wasn't sure if he would make it. He made
the turn in the corridor too sharply and almost slid right into the suit of
armor regally standing there. Then he saw the door. He was out in the fresh
air in seconds, and was surprised to see Lycaon standing with him, panting from
exertion. In front of them was a small expanse of grass that dropped away sharply
into a moat with murky water flowing through it. Valrigard looked around; no,
there was no way across, and the drawbridge was up. They would have to swim
it; he gulped and just managed to wonder why the faeries were testing him like
this, when he heard shouts from above, and saw the first arrow pierce the ground
He took a deep breath and dove. Murky, dark water
engulfed his vision and he felt himself sinking into the depths; frantically
he kicked off from the bottom and spluttered as slimy water slid down his throat.
Then he broke the surface and gulped down the sweet fresh air. To his right
Lycaon had done the same, but instead of swimming it looked as if he was fighting
to stay above the water. Valrigard's blood turned to ice as he saw a long and
sleek fin appear above the water, inches away from the shadow Lupe. He realized
it was dragging Lycaon down by his tail and before he even had time to think
he was rushing towards the beast and trying to slash at it with his sword. At
the first blow it stubbornly held on but at the second its tail gave a great
agitated smack against the water and it retreated down into the depths. Breathing
hard Valrigard helped Lycaon reach the opposite shore, narrowly avoiding several
arrows, and managed to make it to the edge of the woods before his exhausted
body could no longer function.
Valrigard wasn't sure how they had both managed to
hide themselves in the woods all night when what sounded like the entire Meridellian
army was on their trail. But somehow they managed it and Valrigard woke up not
entirely refreshed, but not exhausted either. He yawned, "Lycaon, do you know
the way to Faerieland?"
The shadow Lupe started and looked aghast. "Why in
Neopia would you want to go to Faerieland?"
"To ask for the Faerie Queen's help in proving my
innocence," Valrigard replied.
Lycaon blinked. "Innocence?" he repeated in a slightly
incredulous tone. Lycaon apparently felt that whatever reason Valrigard had
been locked away for it must have been a good reason.
"Should I tell him the reason I was locked in that
jail?" Valrigard wondered. He glanced at the Lupe's face and, upon seeing the
stubborn countenance, decided to risk it. The tale would have been long had
it not been shortened considerably and had parts left out of it here and there.
At its finish Lycaon looked at Valrigard with severe skepticism but then shrugged
and, in a resigned way, pointed his paw to the south.
Valrigard followed the shadow Lupe's guidance all
day, trudging through bogs and marshes, ducking under overhanging branches,
seeking out fresh springs of water, always traveling in the general direction
of the south. At nightfall they had reached the outskirts of the forest and
a beautiful light cloud could be seen hanging in the sky. Valrigard's hopes
rose; the Faerie Queen lived there and her fair judgement would prove everyone
at the castle wrong. Clouds hung in the sky, dark and brooding, contemplating
rain all around the land of the Faeries. Behind him Lycaon asked, in an unnaturally
worried voice, "What night is it?"
Valrigard was about to answer when a cloud paused
in its roll across the black sky, and a luminous full moon shone on their clearing.
A raspy breathing started up behind Valrigard and he worriedly turned around.
What he saw made his blood curdle like old milk, and the bile rose in his throat;
though it was not hot, sweat broke out on his forehead. Standing there, on all
fours was an immense Lupe. Shaggy, tattered fur flowed like a wave over monstrous
muscles, and sharp carnivorous teeth fell, like daggers, from its gaping maw.
To be continued...
Author's Note: What awaits Valrigard on the next league of his journey?
What kind of monster has found the two fugitives? Will Valrigard ever make it
to Faerieland? Find out on next week’s edition of Escape! Feel free to neomail
any comments or suggestions to firedragon9078.