Nonlinear Companions: Post Meridiem: Part Four
The solar was deserted. It was a large room, almost circular in shape, with an exceptionally high ceiling. The walls were dark and covered in a musty looking purple wallpaper. There was a blackened fireplace with soft glowing embers to one side, and a few hard looking chairs set higgledy piggledy about the room. The large rug on the floor, muffled our footsteps as we approached the door opposite.
Westron pulled a flask from his satchel. It was time to execute our plan. Crossing my fingers, I pushed the door to Lord Darigan's room open. Lord Darigan's soft snoring could be heard from within. Westron pulled his hood further over his face and slunk through the doorway sideways. I waited, holding my breath, and hoping against hope that Westron would not wake Lord Darigan.
I heard a soft 'thud' from within the chamber, followed by a soft whistling sound. That was Westron's signal! I pushed the door the rest of the way open. Westron was standing there at the side of Lord Darigan's bed, looking triumphantly at a crumpled pile of clothing on the floor.
I cast my eye around the room, looking for the whereabouts of Lord Darigan. Only to realise that the pile of clothing on the floor, was actually him.
Westron beckoned me over to where he was standing and in a hushed voice said, "I did it! He's out for the count! He started to wake up as I poured the Slumberberry Potion into his mouth, but the potion took effect before he could do anything other than sit up a bit, he kind of lurched toward me, but then fell on the floor in a lump."
I stared at the Lord on the floor. Part of me wanted to giggle at the sight of him, but the majority of me was stunned at what we had done. What if he had seen that it was Westron who was his assailant? What if he remembered when he came to? But I couldn’t think about that now. There were more urgent matters at hand. We needed to get him to the throne room.
Lord Darigan was even heavier than he looked. Between the two of us we just managed to prop him up, one lanky arm over a shoulder each. He legs dragging uselessly behind us as we walked. With Lord Darigan in tow, we went much slower. But thankfully we crossed paths with no one. The castle was asleep.
As we approached the throne room, my heart began to beat harder and faster. I felt it was surely going to pop out of my chest. I kicked the gilded door open and we thrust Lord Darigan's slumbering body over the threshold.
Together we dragged his unmoving body toward a darkened corner of the room.
"We need to make it look as though we've had a fight," Westron instructed me.
So I set about ripping great holes in Lord Darigan's robes, and painting thick blobs of ketchup on the floor around his body. I threw a couple of dollops of ketchup onto his chest for good measure, then I rearranged his body to look as though he had collapsed.
Once I was done, I turned to find Westron. He was standing in front of the throne, staring at it in awe.
"C'mon," I said, "let's get this over with."
He continued to stare at the throne, I started to panic. I took hold of his arm and he turned to gaze at me, his eyes were emotionless.
"What are you playing at?" I asked him incredulously.
Nothing. I took him by the shoulders and shook him a bit. Still nothing, no reaction whatsoever. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like crying.
I glanced back over to where Lord Darigan lay. No.... it couldn’t be, could it?
I turned back to Westron to look for some kind of reassurance, reassurance that he really was just victim of a Slumberberry potion. That he would wake up in the morning and be fine. But Westron wasn’t standing next to me anymore.
He was sitting on the throne, a staff in one hand. Staring at me. "Go." his voice was strange and firm. His eyes bore into me. I couldn’t move. "Go." He repeated.
This time I relented and slunk into the shadows of the far corner of the room. Just in time. As I hid myself behind a large ceramic vase in the corner. They appeared.
Their ghostly figures bore down on Westron and I could no longer see him. The only light in the room now seemed to emanate from them. But it was cast in Westron's direction so I was almost in pitch blackness.
The faerie spoke first. "It is done? You have vanquished the one known as Darigan?"
"It is done." I heard Westron's voice coming from the huddle around the throne.
The faerie laughed evilly and strode over to where Lord Darigan lay. She looked down and scrutinized him.
"Pathetic being," she said maliciously. "He was never fit to rule. But now, we can enter a new era. One of Greed. And Revenge," she smiled evilly at her companions. She turned back toward Lord Darigan, "and Ambition." Her eyes narrowed at this last word.
From my vantage point I could see the pink outline of a burning heart glowing through the layers of her thick black cloak. It seemed to be getting brighter.
Then it all seemed to happen at once. Westron had leapt up from the throne. He had a glass bottle in each hand. He was yelling something I couldn't understand. There was a bright flash of green light, followed almost immediately by a flash of equally bright purple. Then the room was plunged into darkness.
I blinked a few times. The room came back into a soft focus. I could see Westron. His back was turned to me and he as huddled over. I ran across the room to him.
I put a hand softly on his shoulder, he turned to look at me. His eyes looked strange and mystical. I could see in his hands, two bottles each glowing softly in the dimly lit room. One green and one purple. I looked closer at them, and in the swirls within I could make out the silhouettes of three figures. Two within the green and one in the purple.
I looked him in the eye. There were tears forming in the corners.
"You did it," I said, "you've trapped The Three."
He returned my gaze, the shadow of a smile crossed his face.
Five days had passed since the events in the throne room. It had taken four of them for Westron to return back to his normal jovial self.
We had left the Citadel that night, having cleaned up Lord Darigan and positioned him in a chair within the solar. We tried to make it look as though he had fallen asleep there naturally.
We told not a soul of what had transpired that fateful night. But took comfort and solace, from the fact that The Three were now safely imprisoned and in our possession. Westron had charged me with the task of hiding the bottles. He did not trust himself.
We had returned to my home in Brightvale, I had insisted that Westron stay a few days with me to recover. He didn’t talk much for the first few days. I think he was in shock that we had succeeded. After a few days he came to me.
I never did thank you for coming with me," he said.
"I'm just glad everything worked out all right," I told him.
"I'm serious, Rae, without you being there as a positive force for me, I dread to think what I may have done. I never told you this, but when we were in the throne room, there was a moment... a moment when I forgot who I was, forgot what was important, all I could see was my own greed and ambition. But then, I saw your face, in the corner. And I knew who I was again. I knew what I had to do. The Three may have held power over me for a short while, but the real driving force in my life is you."
I hugged him, partly as comfort for him, but also partly so I could hide the tears that ran down my cheeks.
"You're the best thing that ever happened to me," he said. "And I was thinking, I might move here, to Brightvale, with you, spend more time with you."
"Nothing could make me happier," I told him.
That was the first and last time I ever went to Darigan Citadel, over the years we watched from afar as the peace treaty between the Citadel and Meridell went from weakness to strength, quietly proud that we had played our silent role. And although we would never receive any credit for our actions. Knowing that peace was present was reward enough.
And Lord Darigan would never know, never know why he had risen that morning in his solar, with tears in his robes and a slight whiff of tomatoes about his person. Never knowing, just how close the collapse of his kingdom had been. Never knowing, how one altruistic Krawk, along with his companion, had removed the biggest threat to the peace betwixt the two kingdoms, of Darigan Citadel and Meridell. And never knowing, why that was the last time that Westron, son of Kass, ever begged an audience with him.