Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 197,504,353 Issue: 966 | 12th day of Hiding, Y24
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The Knight’s Club - Part 2

by ferretboy85


Now that all the dandelion burdock was finished, and it was getting late, the conversation in the F. A. N. Club was winding down.

      “I still think you are too harsh on those boys,” Brynn complained to Jeran. “They are just excited to participate. They desire more teaching!” She said sympathetically. Tormund nodded in agreement.

      “Oh no, no, no. They have always been absolute menaces. They are constantly getting themselves into trouble, and then I have to get them out! That Morris kid is exactly the reason I was thrown off the Citadel!” Jeran was steadfast in his decision. “They need teaching alright. And part of how I am going to do that is by giving them stern discipline.”

      “I have to agree. And Tormund, it was a bit much to get their hopes up by saying I might take them along to check out the town’s troubles. There’s no way I’d let them come with me. I don't need extra babysitting.” Rohane gave Tormund a rough look.

      “Ahh, sorry, I felt sympathetic and didn't want to let them down too hard. They remind me of me, you know? Young and eager, thirty to prove one’s self. That’s how I got where I’m at.” Tormund apologised.

      “Ah, that’s right Tor, you were a bit of a trouble maker too. But I suppose you came out alright.” Jeran chuckled, and mussed up the shorter Lupe’s hair.

      “Trouble makers with good hearts. They will do well!” Brynn continued to try and appeal to Jeran’s softer side. She was quite familiar with the good side of troublemakers with Hanso.

      “Hah! While true, I will believe them to be knights when I see them act the part!” Jeran said, standing up. “Shall we call for this F.A.N. Club meeting adjourned?” Jeran asked as he collected the empty mugs to take them back to the kitchen.

      “Aye.” They all said in unison, and Brynn unlocked the door for them all to leave the small room.

      As they all left the small room, and Brynn locked it again behind her, Rohane gave a small gasp that made everyone turn around to see what was wrong.

      “Where’s my armour?” Rohane simply asked. “It... it was right there, by the wall, but it’s gone. Nary a trace of it left!” He rushed over to look for clues.

      Jeran immediately had his suspects. He groaned and would have run his paws down his face in frustration had they not been full of mugs. “Tor, let’s go check the barracks. I’m guessing they wanted to play dress-up, knowing their love of costumes.” Jeran remembered how Boris would always dress as Count Von Roo, and Morris would always be wearing Blue Lupe ears that were a little reminiscent of him. Jeran always found it a little silly, but eventually got used to them. They had to stop wearing those outfits once they became pages.

      “Yeah. I will meet you there. Surely they can't have gone far carrying a full set of armour!” Tormund immediately headed towards to barracks.

      “I will let the guards on duty know to keep an eye out, and relay anything they might have seen to all of you. I can tell this might end up being a loooong night.” Brynn said a little worriedly, and headed out the door to spread the word.

      “I will keep looking around here for clues. Maybe someone just moved it out of the way. Unlikely, but I shall be hopeful that that’s the case.” Rohane sighed and went to look down the halls.

     * * * * * * *

      Morris and Boris had finally arrived at the Armoury, and laid the equipment out on the table. “Now, let’s think of a plan.” Morris said, as he went to go find his locker with his own training equipment.

      “Well, first we should head towards the Citadel. If we leave now, we can get there by the end of the night and do a little camping.” Boris said as he started strapping the borrowed leg armour on. It was a little loose, but it fit his body.

      “Yeah, and we can take turns doing the watch.” Morris agreed as he put on his own armour.

      “And then we just stake out until we figure out what’s causing the trouble!” Boris was confident in his plan.

      “Perfect. Then, once we find it, You can distract it with your noble bounces, and I will charge it from behind with the sword! It will be an easy victory!” Morris said, swishing Rohane’s sword around to get a feel for it. It was so much heavier than his practice sword, but Morris could feel its better balance.

      They swiftly got all geared up, and rushed out the door to head out on their adventure.

     After rushing to the barracks and finding no signs of the young squires being there, or having recently stopped by, Jeran and Tormund started to ask around. None of the other squires had seen them since that afternoon.

     “Oh dear. I think they might have squirrelled off somewhere far more sinister than we originally thought.” Tormund worried. “I hope they are okay.”

     “Hm... they are definitely up to something, and whenever they get up to something, they get in over their heads. What could they want with Rohanes armour? I figured they were trying to wear it to show it off to the other squires, but if they haven't seen them...” Jeran joined in on the worrying.

     “Let’s meet up with the others. Perhaps they know more.” Tormund started racing back down the stairs.

     As they turned the corner, they saw the large figure of King Skarl talking to Rohane in the hall. They both snapped to attention immediately as they approached. Rohane noticed their approach and gave them an assuring nod that they didn't have to worry about formalities.

     “Those rapscallions. Again?” they could overhear Skarl asking Rohane who had explained the situation.

     Rohane sighed. “Yes, it appears they got ahead of themselves and may have taken my stuff.”

     “Outrageous. I shan't have thieves in my ranks! Stealing armour that decorates our halls is unacceptable!” Skarl shook his fists.

     “Ah, sorry sire, but I do not think they intentionally stole it. When it went missing, I had just taken it down from the wall.” Rohane explained, not wanting the king to take such an extreme measure. Rohane didn't want the boys’ knighthood dreams dashed on this one misdeed.

     “Is that so?” Skarl’s temper soothed.

     “It’s true, my lord. He had just taken it down, and was planning to use it, when we... went into another room to plan how to help Sir Rohane with his mission.” Jeran stretched the truth a little further than he wanted to, but knew it would make their evening a lot simpler to avoid questions from the king. He did not want to explain that the four knights had created a secret society that Skarl was not invited to.

     “Tor! Jeran! Rohane!” Brynn suddenly called from down the stone corridors. She was running up to meet them. As she got closer, she slowed down and stopped for a moment to greet King Skarl. “Oh, your Majesty, I did not expect to see you down here this evening”

     “And good evening to you too, Lady Brynn. I was just on my midnight snack run, and I came across you lot having quite an interesting evening. Well, with four of you on the case, surely you can take care of it. I will leave you to it.” Skarl excused himself to shuffle off into the kitchen.

     “Unsurprising.” Brynn said as soon as Skarl was out of earshot. “Anyway, I think I found a clue. Come to the gates! One of the guards says they might have seen them leave.” Brynn explained as she rushed them to the exit.

     * * * * * * *

     Morris scouted ahead in the dark trail as Boris bounced along slightly behind him in his rather noisy armour.

     “How far do you think it will be?” Boris yawned as he wondered how much longer he would have to bounce along the dark dirt road.

     “Oh, it's only about an hour or so away at this pace. Surely you can keep up!” Morris challenged Boris.

     “Oh, you know I can bounce for days. I'm just a little sleepy, not exhausted. Have you been down these roads before? I can’t tell where we are going in the dark.” Boris was concerned.

     “Yep! I know exactly where we are! That’s Farmer Gilbert’s field over there, and we are about to pass by Turtum Creek” Morris was absolutely confident in his navigation skills. “I like to look at maps during our squire study hours. They are the only pictures in those books!” Morris explained. “Now come on! If we get there early, we can squeeze in a breakfast break!”

     “Ooh, you brought snacks?” Boris asked, suddenly very interested in going much faster.

     “No, I thought you did!” Morris realised his mistake.

     “Aww,” they both said.

     The Draik guard by the easternmost entrance to the castle was leaning on his pike. He was waiting for the return of Lady Brynn. He kept his eyes peeled on the fields around the wall, hoping to catch another glimpse of the Blumaroo in armour, and his Quiggle friend.

     Brynn was followed by the sound of three other sets of footsteps keeping pace with her. They all came to a halt next to the guard, who perked right up, and greeted his Captain and superiors with a salute.

     “Good evening, Captain Borodere. I take it you are here about those two pets that just left?” He said, saluting stiff as a board. He glanced around at the four knights, until his eyes came across Rohane. Upon seeing Rohane, he realised the Blumaroo he had seen leave was, in fact, not Rohane.

     “Go on, tell them what you told me!” Brynn encouraged him.

     After a moment of hesitation, Jeran could tell that the guard was hesitant about revealing some of the information. He interrupted the stammering, “We don’t have a lot of time. Whatever you saw, we need to know.”

     “U-um. I had told Brynn that I had just seen Sir Rohane leaving the castle with a squire. I asked whereabouts he was going tonight, and they said something about ‘taking care of hero business’, so I let them go with no fuss, not wanting to get in the way of the work of knights. But um... Now that I see that Sir Rohane is here...” The guard gulped, worried that this mistake might cost him his job.

     “At ease.” Jeran said, “Thank you. That’s a huge help. Obviously, that wasn't Rohane, but Boris wearing Rohane’s armour, accompanied by Boris.” Jeran explained.

     “A mistake anyone could make in the dark. Don’t worry.” Tormund tried cheering up the anxious guard, who breathed a sigh of relief.

     “Where did they go?” Rohane demanded quite bluntly.

     “Over yonder.” The guard held out his pike to point in the direction along the path to Darigan Citadel. “They followed the path until I lost sight of them. They didn't have a lantern or nothing, I'm guessing on the account of the waxing moon.” The guard could see quite well in the moonlit darkness.

     “They must be trying to get a head start on Rohane’s quest.” Jeran figured. “Who knows what kind of danger they are getting themselves into.”

     “We should head out now. We won't catch up to them otherwise.” Rohane was all ready to head out then and there.

     “We should at least do some preparation.” Brynn reminded him.

     “Hmm, I think he’s right. Those two are pretty quick. They could probably get there within an hour. We should travel light.” Tor thought out loud.

     “Agreed. If we leave now, we can always retreat with the boys if we do encounter whatever it is out there. Every minute counts here.” Jeran said, checking to see what supplies he had on him already. Nothing more than a pocket tool.

     “Alright. Let’s head out then.” Brynn relented, and they all bid the guard a good night, and rushed off.

     * * * * * * *

      “What do you think it will be?” Boris wondered out loud, “I’m picturing a Monocerous!”

     “Whatever it is, I’m sure it doesn’t stand a chance!” Morris was pumping himself up. Now that The floating Citadel was above them, Morris could sense a little bit of fear in himself, so he was trying his best to quash it.

     “Isn’t this the spot? They mentioned that the stuff was happening in the shadows of the Citadel.” Boris turned to Morris.

     “Yeah... But let’s keep looking for a place to rest first.” Morris knew he was procrastinating a little, but a rest wouldn't hurt, it could only help their chances of doing well in a fight.

     The two found a fallen log that they could sit on, and rest their legs. The woods were mottled in moonlight gently lit from the rising moon, save for the trees in the shadow of the Citadel, and it was quite peaceful. “We should come out here for camping more often! It's quite nice,” mused Boris.

     “It is! And it’s not too far either. I’m sure we can convince Sir Ellis to let us do survival training out here or something.” Morris agreed, staring at the moon. His gaze was interrupted by a loud crack in the distance.

     They both jumped a foot in the air from the startling sound.

     “What was that?”

     “It sounded huge. Like a whole tree snapping in half!”

     “Is it the monster?”

     “What do we do next!” The two panicked for a moment before they calmed themselves down. The forest returned to its silence.

     “Right, our plan. Remember the plan!” Morris reminded Boris.

     “Okay. I’ll run interference. I’ll get closer, and you try to sneak up on it!” Boris affirmed, but he was hoping that whatever made that huge piece of wood snap in half was not the monster. He didn't savour the idea that if it could snap a huge branch, it could snap him just the same!

     Both of them tried to be as silent as possible as they crept closer and closer to the sound of the noise. It had been nearly a minute since they heard it last. With the long spell of silence, they were considering breathing a sigh of relief, until those hopes were dashed by the splintering sounds of a tree being bent well beyond its breaking point.

     They broke rank and hid, looking into the darkness. Now that they were closer to the noise, they could peer through the tall grasses and look upon the source of the noise. They saw a glint of moonlight reflect off of something shiny.

     “Is that....?” Boris squinted to get a better look.

     “I think it is! It’s a Turtum!” Moris confirmed. The moonlight was reflecting off the shell of the Turtum.

     “But... It’s huge! It’s as big as the ones Kayla made 10 years back during the war!” Boris couldn't believe it. “She’s going to be so excited to hear about this!”

     “But those potions wore off, didn't they? How is it this one is still-” Morris was interrupted by the large lumbering beat brushing up against a tree, and snapping a huge limb off again. After a brief jump from the loud noise, they both nodded and unison, knowing they needed to get closer.

     They started trailing the titanic Turtum, and had to step over many branches that it was leaving on the forest floor in its wake, being careful not to step on any, or they could risk making a loud sound themselves.

     “Where do you think it’s going?” Boris asked as he tiptoed around the large limb the beast unknowingly knocked down.

     “Hmm.” Morris was trying to mentally picture where they would be on the map. He was on the outside edges of his cartographical knowledge. Accounting for the direction they took to get here, and the location of the Citadel... “I think it’s heading towards one of the berry orchards!” Morris concluded.

     “Ah! Perfect. Then let’s try and stop it!” Boris got ready to execute his part of the plan.

     * * * * * * *

     The moon in the sky was nearly overhead all four of the knights. They kept running along the road. They were exhausted after already having long days of their own, and now having to spend all their night chasing down some kids, they were all a bit miffed.

     “When I find those brats they are going to be working in the kitchen nonstop for a month.” Jeran grumbled.

     “Rohane, you know this area a little more. Where do you think they would stop?” Tormund asked.

     Rohane was silent for a bit as he continued to jog while thinking. After a moment, “They probably went into the forest to set up camp. The best clearing would be under the-” Rohane stopped suddenly. As they were running along the road, Rohane had spotted an unusual clearing through the trees. An entire path of small pine trees had been trampled down, cutting through the forest on the side of the road.

     “Whoa. Did a tornado come through here?” asked Tormund.

     “That looks like something the kids would have investigated. Should we split up?” Brynn asked.

     “Hmm.” Jeran was hesitant. They could indeed cover more ground, but with how unprepared they were, and the size of whatever it was that probably made that path, he figured it could be dangerous. “We might want to stick together. Who knows what we might encounter at the end of the path. We should stick together.”

     Rohane had already started making his way down the path, trying to step over the fallen young pine trees. It was a maze where one misstep could easily lead to a trip. “Come on, It’s this way. Take a look at the direction of the trees. If I had to guess, whatever was making this trail was taking a shortcut to Meri Acres Farm.” Rohane’s familiarity with the area came in handy.

     They settled into their search formation. Tormund and Rohane walked in the middle of the path, looking for clues of what had caused the destruction. Jeran and Brynn took the outsides, checking the forest for signs of Morris and Boris.

     “Guys!” Tor called out, pointing to a broken string of scattered beads, and a small crest. It looked like it had been snagged off its owner by the jutting branch it was tangled on. “What do you think this could mean?” He said, lifting the crest up for everyone else to see.

     “What is that?” Rohane looked at the strange symbols on the crest. “Doesn't look like any kingdom nearby.”

     “That’s the Order of the Red Erisim symbol.” Brynn pointed out the snake-like creature featured in the crest’s small details.

     “Oh no.” Jeran had a small rush of panic. “Could Morguss be behind this? Nobody has seen her for a long while, I heard she was a member of that weird club.”

     “Is our club also weird?” Tormund asked.

     “Yeah, well, that’s different.” Jeran didn't have a good response but didn't want to be distracted by that debate. “We need to catch up as fast as possible. I think these boys might be well over their heads if they are up against a wizard like Morguss.”

     “Agreed. Let’s head out in double time.” Rohane was already ready to go.

     To be continued…

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» The Knight’s Club - Part 1
» The Knight’s Club - Part 3

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