Ritz was still unconscious when the Lupe threw her into
the dungeon and cut the netting off that kept her tightly bound. The place was
cruel and dark. Dust collected on the foul smelling floor and cobwebs draped
across the ceiling like beads of pearls. Only the scurry of a Miamouse in the
shadowy corner could be heard. It was a lonely imprisonment inside the dark
castle of Phaedra, and this time there would be no escape. Ritz limped there
on the ground, unaware of where she was or what was happening to her.
“I think she’s dead,” said the Lupe with a sneer.
“Just leave her here then,” the Techo said darkly.
They locked the Ixi in and stormed off.
Ritz began to stir and she looked around her.
Her breathing became smooth once again and her eyes cleared. She gasped with
fright as she looked around the prison. The gates were locked and there was
no window to climb out of. It was only a bare, deserted cell with nothing but
the musty damp air to fill it. In the corner however, one of the bricks in the
wall was loose. Ritz prodded it with her paw until it fell on the ground with
a great clang. Then the brick above it fell and smashed on the floor. Ritz nudged
all the bricks in the corner and found that they were loose. When she removed
them all, Ritz found a secret passage.
It was a dark and narrow opening that led to
a twisting tunnel. She couldn’t tell where it led or if it was safe, but it
was her only hope. Ritz carefully stepped inside and followed it through. The
dirt was rough on her feet and the air was scarce. The tunnel seemed to continue
forever and Ritz couldn’t tell if she was getting closer to anything. That was
until she heard the distant shout of voices and a small glimmer of hopeful light
ahead. Ritz came to where a hole was dug into the ground. It was small, but
at least she could peer through to see the other side. There was a large group
of pets that were shouting and clapping joyfully. Darigan and mutant Lupe’s,
Eyries, and Krawks were gathered to listen to the one Dark Faerie on the throne,
Phaedra. Ritz gulped and scrambled closer to hear what was being said.
“As we gain more power, we will overthrow Meridell
once and for all! Join me now and we will become great!” screamed Phaedra from
her stand. The crowd clapped and hollered. “I shall be queen and everyone shall
bow in my presence. I will destroy every last living and wholesome thing in
this land until there is nothing left. Now, let me see the dark nova!” she screeched.
A mutant Blumaroo scrambled to his feet and delivered the magical artifact to
Phaedra. When he handed it to her, the Faerie kicked the poor Blumaroo down
the stairs so that he tumbled all the way down. “Pitiful servant,” she muttered
under her breath. A group of Krawks snickered with glee. Ritz was shocked by
the cruelties that Phaedra inflicted on innocent pets. She felt like leaping
down the hole and stopping her plan, but there was nothing she could do except
Phaedra took the dark nova in her hands and gazed
at its power; the black sparkling edges gleaming as she turned it over. “And
now I shall release the powers of the dark nova and become ruler of all!” she
announced with excitement. The pets blinked anxiously as the Dark Faerie chanted
strange verses while she closed her eyes and motioned her hands over the shimmering
star. Ritz had to do something; she had to stop her. But nothing happened. Phaedra
opened her eyes with fury and screamed. None of the powers of the nova had transferred
to her and she was still weak as before. The crowd was silent with fear as Phaedra
angrily threw spell books at the wall and smashed glasses on the table. “Where
is that brat of an Ixi?” she screamed with might. “Only she can release the
powers of the dark nova! Find her now!” she spat at her servant.
Just then the Darigan Lupe and Techo guards entered
the room. “Err… umm… your highness?” stammered the Techo.
“What?” she answered, losing her patience. The
Techo nudged the Lupe who was shaking and trembling with horror.
“She’s gone. The princess has escaped.” There
was a small pause of dead silence before Phaedra erupted like a volcano.
“WHAT ARE YOU JUST STANDING THERE FOR? SEARCH
Everyone began frantically running in all directions
at the Dark Faerie’s words. The throne room turned into a chaotic mess of confusion.
They searched under and over every corner of the castle, but no one bothered
to look up. That was until the mutant Blumaroo servant heard a noise from the
ceiling. He glanced upwards and spotted the Faerie Ixi who had the look of terror
in her eyes.
“I found her! She’s up there,” the Blumaroo pointed.
At the sound of this, Ritz took off with speed, running through the tunnel without
“You fool, there’s no one up there!” screeched
Phaedra. She kicked the servant out of annoyance. She casually glanced upwards
anyway, and a tiny strand of blue and purple fur caught her attention. The Dark
Faerie flew to the hole in the ceiling and took the hair to see closer.
“Now why does this look familiar?” she chuckled
to herself. “Guards!” she announced. “Check the secret tunnel!” The Techo and
Lupe quickly stormed back to the prison cells and found the bricks that Ritz
had loosened up. They followed each other in the passage and started running
through the dark tunnel. Ritz could hear them coming, their feet echoed loudly
throughout the tunnel. She continued to dash into the darkness, not stopping
once. At last the tunnel ended and Ritz tumbled down a flight of stairs. Her
head ached terribly and her foot was sore. She found herself in a corridor that
stretched down in both directions. Now the Lupe and Techo guards tumbled down
the stairs and lay in a mangled heap.
“Ow, get off,” the Techo squealed from under
the massive Lupe.
“There she goes,” cried the Lupe as he saw the
Ixi running down the corridor. They chased after her until they had her cornered
and there was no way for her to run.
“Ahh you thought you could escape from us, did
you now Princess?” the Techo guard sneered with delight. The Lupe pulled out
his sword, which gleamed like silver. Ritz reached for her own sword, but she
had no weapons to fight with. Her sword had fallen behind in the cottage when
the guards had captured her. Ritz closed her eyes and waited for it all to be
over, there was no hope for her now.
“Touch her and you die!” said a proud voice from
behind the guards. They turned around and gaped with shock at the royal white
Draik who appeared almost magically.
“Evander!” gasped the Ixi with relief. The Draik
had her sword in his hand, which sparkled radiantly. The foreign words on the
hilt looked like pure gold. He nodded towards Ritz and smiled.
“Not so fast,” said the Techo. He slithered forward
and pulled out his dagger that he threw towards Evander’s heart. He was able
to dodge it just in time and the dagger crashed on the stony floor behind him.
The Lupe guard dived for the Draik’s back, but Evander whirled around and met
his sword with his. They continued to fight down the corridor. At one point
the sword accidentally slipped through Evander’s hands and he was weaponless.
But the small dagger from the Techo caught the corner of his eye and he scrambled
for it. Evander thrust the dagger forward and stabbed the Lupe so that he faltered
and lay motionless on the ground. The Techo leaped onto Evander’s back and tried
to strangle the Draik. He grasped his bony hands around his neck and tried biting
his great wings. Evander was losing breath from his struggle. Ritz found her
sword on the ground and crashed the hilt on the Techo’s head. The guard was
stunned and fell to the ground to join the Lupe.
Ritz and Evander breathed with relief. They met
each other’s eyes and ran towards each other in a long embrace. Tears streamed
down the Ixi’s face.
“Evander, you saved my life,” she cried. “You
were a great knight.”
“And you saved my life too. You were a great
princess,” he whispered in her ear. They held each other for the longest time;
happiness filled their eyes and released their sorrow. At last Evander knelt
to his knees and held the sword in his hands.
“Take the sword, Princess Ritzalina. For you
are the true heir to the throne… and a true friend to me.”
To be continued…