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Knight & Squire: Unwilling


by terpsichorean_writer

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Part Five: Like You

     The next morning

     “Fresh potatoes, only 200 Neopoints!” a hawker shouted.

     “Don’t listen to him,” a competitor shot back. “He uses rubbish to fertilize his spuds!”

     “Yeah, I get it from you ‘cause you’re full of it!”

     “Why, you!” The second hawker, a Yellow Lupe, stomped over to the first, a Red Shoyru, and punched him in the face. A crowd quickly gathered as nearby knights rushed in to break up the scuffle.

     Rowan grinned and shook his head. Just another day at Meridell’s central market. The noise was like a lullaby. This was where he belonged.

     “Rowan, please keep up,” Lisha asked.

      He growled. Four Eyes certainly knew how to ruin a moment. This was where he didn’t belong, with Mr. Perfect’s kid sister running dumb errands.

     “I hate shopping,” Rowan complained.

     “It’s either this or more training with my brother,” Lisha answered. She swivelled her head from left to right as she looked at the stalls.”

     “Fiiinneee,” he whined.

     “Good,” she smiled. “Now, follow me. The potion stall is this way. We can pick up some fresh turnips on the way there.”

     Rowan shoved his hands in his pockets, “Whatever,” he mumbled. “This is so stupid.”

     Snap! A grin spread across Lisha’s face.

     “Mrrphh! Mmmm Ffassh! Whoat yoo do ta miii?!” Rowan’s eyes blazed in anger as he attempted to will the annoying yellow-gold Aisha into a pile of ashes.

     Lisha cocked her head to the side, “It’s a simple paralysis spell. I learned it a few days ago. It’s harmless; don’t worry.”

     “Hrrgghh!” Rowan clenched his face in wrath and whipped around to glare at the laughing Percival.

     “As a sorceress, I am not bound by knightly convention. Am I right, Sir Percival?”

     The white Ixi grinned, “Quite right, Lady Lisha. And, how many times have I told you to call me Sir Percy? My given name was always too fancy for me.”

     “Too many times, Sir Percival,” she replied.

     

***

     An hour later

     Rowan knew this was going to happen. Four Eyes liked shopping. A lot. Turnips, healing potions, fresh meat, magic scrolls, and several books. How in Neopia did she carry it all? Even Percy’s arms were laden with bags. And, they had only now gotten to the potion stall!

     He hated this. He literally hated this, but at least he wasn’t under that stupid spell anymore. He glared at the back of Lisha’s head, daring not to speak. He grit his teeth and exhales harshly.

     Lisha turned towards him, amusement plain on her face. “We’re almost done, Rowan. I promise.”

     Rowan clenched his fists and stomped, “You said that an hour ago, Four Eyes!”

     Snort! A hand flew to Percy’s snout in a failed attempt to conceal his mirth

     Lisha giggled, “And what was that, Sir Percival?”

     “N-nothing…!” Snort.

     Lisha threw her head back, chortles joining Percy’s chuckles.

     Rowan curled his lip in disgust, “I hate all of you.”

     Lisha raised her glasses to mop her eyes. She inhaled deeply, “Okay, we’re done, Rowan. Hee.” She coughed, “Wait here. I saw some more ingredients for Kayla’s potions at another stall.”

     Rowan huffed, glaring at her.

     “It won’t be long. Besides, it’ll give you a break from the annoying deplorables,” she winked at him before walking away, Percy at her side.

     “You said it, not me,” Rowan grumbled. He stared at the gravel as he kicked a can of discarded Neocola. Maybe he could find his way back to Castle Meridell without those two losers. He began trudging away from the potion stall, still staring at the ground.

     Thump.

     “Sorry,” Rowan started. “Shoulda looked at where I was going." His current thoughts and feelings dissipated when he saw the Neopet he had bumped into, a Red Blumaroo. His eyes filled with tears, “Father? But you died! I—.” He cut himself off mid-sentence.

     He gulped as the Blumaroo grinned balefully, revealing a set of crooked, yellow teeth. A shiver went up his back as he looked closer. The red fur looked muted as if someone had washed it with watered-white paint. The coal-black eyes sunk into the face, made more frightening by the folds of wrinkles around them.

      Rowan began to shake. The Blumaroo felt all too familiar, frighteningly so. Suddenly, he clamped his hands to both ears. “Gah, my head!” A wave of squeezing pain bore through his temples; his eyes began to water as he sank to his knees. He could barely make out the Red Blumaroo’s raised hand.

     “You’ve grown stronger. But not enough,” came a cracked voice.

     The last thing he saw were blue flames engulf the Blumaroo’s hands.

     

***

     “Gah, my head!”

     Lisha had heard Rowan’s cry. That’s when she felt it. A sharp spike in the ambient magical energy. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. It was like it was trying to invade every pore of her body. She hadn’t felt something so ominous since the second war. “Sir, Percival—.”

     “I know, Lady Lisha. Let’s go,” he responded.

     The two dashed off, Lisha’s supplies clattering to the ground. They had only been running a few seconds when she felt it spike even more. There he was! Lisha gasped in horror as she saw blue flame’s wrap around the assailant’s hands.

     “ROWAN!” she screamed as she dashed towards him.

     “Lady Lisha, no!” Percival plead.

     

***

     A little Green Ogrin grinned as he felt an arm around his shoulders. His white teeth flashed at the visitor.

     “What are you reading, Rowan?

     “Spells,” came the happy reply.

     The Red Blumaroo shook his head, “We both know who’s better at magic, Rowan. Besides, don’t you want to be a big, strong knight?”

     The petite Ogrin shrugged, “Sure, knights are the best! But…” He frowned.

     The Blumarroo gave the Ogrin a squeeze. “What?”

     “I want to be like you,” Rowan replied.

     A warm smile spread across the Blumaroo’s face, “I love you, too, but you should be your own person.”

     “Awww…” Rowan’s ears drooped in disappointment.

     The Red Blumaroo shook his head and sighed, “How can I say no to that face? Okay, show me what you got.”

     “Yay!” Rowan’s eyes beamed. “Okay, listen to this!”

     

***

     “Mrrphff…” Rowan’s eyes fluttered open, revealing the blurry figures of an azure-furred Lupe and yellow-gold Aisha. “What happened?” he croaked.

     “Rowan! Thank, Fyora you’re awake!” The blurry, yellow-gold Aisha threw her upper torso on the bed as she shoved her face near his.

     “Easy, Li,” the blurry, azure-furred Lupe admonished. “He needs air; don’t crowd him.”

     “Sorry…” Lisha sniffed. “I failed you, Rowan. I failed.” She took off her glasses and began to wipe her eyes.

     “Failed?” Rowan rubbed his eyes. Sure, enough. That voice belonged to Four Eyes. Mr. Perfect was there, too.

     “Failed…what?” The wiry Ogrin tried to sit up and was met with burning protestations along his arms and chest.

     “Don’t,” Jeran ordered. The Lupe pushed his squire gently back on the bed. “You’ve sustained severe magical damage to most of your upper body. Trying to move might reopen the wounds.”

     “What… What exactly happened?” he asked.

     “I failed. That’s what happened!” Lisha’s shoulders heaved as she sobbed into her hands.

     Jeran’s face softened in sympathy as he drew the Aisha into a hug, “You didn’t fail, Li. It was completely out of your control. His Majesty has already sent knights and a reconnaissance team to investigate. When they find something, I’ll let you know right away.”

     “R-really?”

     Jeran squeezed her, “Really. I promise. Now, I say with this love, Li: get out. You need to rest. I’ll take it from here.”

     Lisha let out a weak giggle before leaving the room.

     “You two really love each other,” came Rowan’s voice.

     Jeran smiled, “Of course. She’s the only family I have. I don’t really remember my parents, and Lisha only has faint memories. Anyway, do you want me to fill you in?”

     Rowan grimaced as he forced himself to sit up. He held out a hand, stopping the azure-furred Lupe from getting any closer, “Don’t. I hate sitting still. Before you fill me, I have a question: Where in Neopia am I? I think this bed has curtains, and is that dresser mahogany?”

     Snort. “Hah!” Jeran failed to restrain the chuckle from escaping his lips. “Seriously, Rowan? You’re recovering from a nasty magical attack, and that’s your question?” The Lupe grinned.

     The Green Ogrin tried to fold his arms in front of him before wincing in pain. “Bandages…,” he grumbled. “He got me good. That’s for sure.” He glanced at this bandaged upper torso and huffed. Then, he turned to Jeran and sniffed, “And, I believe that’s a perfectly good question, Mr. Perfect because this sure ain’t the guards’ barracks.”

     “Heh, fair enough. You’re in Castle Meridell. More specifically, you’re in the room where we house high-profile guests. Ambassadors and the like.”

     Rowan’s right eyebrow quirked, “Fancy.”

     Jeran shrugged, “It has to be. We thought staying in the barracks would hurt your recovery.” His face fell, “Enough distractions. You need to know what happened.”

     Rowan leaned further against the pillows, “Go ahead.”

     “Lisha told me the Red Blumaroo attacked you with a cephalic incapacitation spell,” he answered.

     “Plain English please?”

     Snort. “That’s what I said when she first told me.” He cleared his throat, “Ahem, apparently these spells are designed to target the body’s neurological centres. Shut down the brain, and you destroy your opponent’s ability to fight back. She also said that’s a particularly favourite target because a mage’s power originates in the brain and flows through the body like blood. That’s why it’s so effective on enemy mages. Not to mention other enemies.”

     Rowan nodded, “Makes sense. What else happened?”

     Jeran sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, “She heard your cry of pain and dashed to where you were. She wanted to block the spell. She told me she’d be fine because she’d spent years perfecting a shielding incantation.” Jeran’s eyes dimmed with worry, “Obviously, she didn’t make it in time.”

     Rowan stared at the thick comforter. Did Four Eyes care that much?

     Jeran stared at his squire, aware of his discomfort, “Sir Percival carried you to the guards’ shack,” he continued. “The guards fetched me, and I took everything from there.”

     “Oh…” Rowan still stared at the comforter.

     “I do have two questions for you if you don’t mind,” Jeran added.

     Rowan’s head snapped up, “What?”

     “Lisha was surprised at your wounds. She said they should’ve been much worse and suspected you had high magical resistance. Are you magically adept? Perhaps being my squire was the wrong choice after all.”

     Rowan shook his head, long ears swaying, “No, I can’t.” His eyes brimmed with unshed tears, “Mother was a mage, not that I remember this myself. Father told me. That’s probably where I got it from.”

     “Viscountess Ingrid de Albion?”

     Rowan nodded, “Yeah, I can read spells, but nothing ever comes of it. But you had one more question.”

     Jeran ran a hand between his ears, “I realize this may be a sensitive question, but it may be relevant to your future safety: Who is Tristan?”

     Rowan’s amber eyes shone as tears fell, “What did you say?”

     “Tristan,” Jeran repeated. “You were moaning that name before you regained consciousness. I thought you said your father was Viscount Sir Hugo?”

     Rowan sniffled and shook his head, “That’s right. Viscount Sir Hugo was my father.” He wiped his nose, “Look, I owe you guys. So, I’ll tell you everything, okay? Just not right now. I… I need to rest.”

     Jeran nodded, “I understand. Take it easy, okay?” He turned to leave.

     “Jeran, wait.”

     Jeran whipped around, mouth open in surprise.

     “Tell Lisha, I said thanks.” Rowan’s brow furrowed, “Don’t make me say it again, okay? I’m serious.”

     “Did you just—?”

     Rowan smiled, the corner of his eyes crinkling, “Don’t get used to it.”

     

***

     Tristan coughed. He’d overdone it. And, that brat was still alive! “Stupid…,” he mumbled. “I’m on borrowed time, and I go pulling stunts like that!” Did he still love him? Curses! His fists clenched; the knuckles bugled against the thin skin. Well, he wouldn’t make the same mistake again. He smiled, yellow teeth glinting in the shadows, “When we next meet, I’ll be sure to take care of you, little brother.”

     The End.

 
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Other Episodes


» Knight & Squire: Unwilling
» Knight & Squire: Unwilling (Resubmitted)
» Knight & Squire: Unwilling
» Knight & Squire: Unwilling



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