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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Storing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 140 > Continuing Series > Journey of a Knight: Part Two

Journey of a Knight: Part Two

by laurensama

Firiden’s home was nothing much, as Jeran expected. It was a simple home constructed in the very limbs of the trees above him. The Lupe was extremely impressed that an Ixi with hooves for feet could manage to get around in a tree, but Firiden shrugged and said that it honestly was nothing special. “Hey, if you can get on by those two scrawny paws, doesn’t mean I can’t get by on two hooves,” the Ixi nonchalantly replied. With the promise of a home and a friend, Jeran’s adventure seemed to unfold in front of him, the entire world becoming the reality for his dreams. As Jeran sat in the hammock in the small room Firiden have gave him, he peered up at the sky through the hole in the ceiling. He felt a sense of peace inside of him. He had lost so many things, but perhaps this would make up for them… one day…

     The days melded into weeks, then months, then years. At first the pang of time weighted on Jeran’s heart horribly, a day not going by when he didn’t think of his friends, family and mostly Lisha. But soon her face became less and less of a painful figure with his mind becoming more engrossed with the endless possibilities that his new world produced.

     However, the first and foremost within Jeran’s life was his training.

     Training, as Firiden saw it, was the most important thing for the young Lupe. Firiden could see the raw potential in Jeran’s abilities and wanted to make sure, more than anything, that he could harness it. Day in and day out training was what Jeran did morning, noon, and sometimes through the night (if Firiden was not happy with his performance during the day). Though during training Firiden was one of the strictest persons Jeran had ever known, he could still see the kindness which lived within the Ixi’s heart. When he wasn’t training Jeran, Firiden was the perfect friend and confidant. To Jeran he seemed to be the sibling which he had lost in his old world; the big brother that he himself had never had. The years passed, one by one, and they showed as Jeran progressed. His knobby knees and feet that were always mocked in school slowly became thick and powerful as his agility surpassed anything that he was once able to do. Even his body was starting to improve, much to Jeran’s dismay due to the constant teasing of Firiden.

     But beyond his looks Firiden began to notice Jeran’s fighting abilities. Sooner than he ever expected Jeran was able to easily beat him in any battle, as well as any lone bandits which resulted in their comeuppance from the hands of the skillful Lupe.

     Yes, the days were peaceful for Jeran and he loved them. Meridell was a paradise to him, and he wasn’t sure what he entirely did to deserve such a wonderful thing, but he decided not to tempt his fate and dwelled no more on it.

     Yet as perfect as his life was, Jeran was not entirely satisfied…

     Though Firiden and Jeran could survive quite well in the forest, times did call for them to eventually drift into Meridell for some sort of supplies. While Firiden would angrily barter with a shopkeeper for a cheaper price on some marrows, Jeran’s eyes would always travel towards the castle that he had explored by accident long ago. He thought of how it could have been different, how he could have been one of the knights onto of the castle’s stately pillars and towers, protecting the village below. “To have everything and still want one thing…” Jeran mumbled to himself as he stared at the castle in a forlorn manner. The sound of the crowds around him died as Jeran stared at the castle through the afternoon and into the silent hours of dusk. He watched as many of the guards left their posts, yawning and stretching as they longed to go home, yet Jeran sat steadfast… wishing… hoping…

     The Lupe didn’t even bother to turn around at the crunch of grass behind him. Quietly Firiden traipsed up to Jeran, noting his gaze and eyeing it with boredom. “Fir, how do you become a knight?” Jeran asked his friend tactfully, or in what he thought was a tactful manner. The Ixi gave a disinterested shrug and sat down, noisily biting into the Loveberry that he had just bought.

     “Hrmp, you probably just have to promise to kiss that slimy Skarl’s feet. Forget it Jeran, you shouldn’t waste your skill with those idiots. They wouldn’t appreciate you. Probably make you guard the royal bathroom or something,” Firiden nodded, heading back into the forest with the bag of purchases on his back. Jeran followed his friend, and though his eyes were torn away from the castle, his thoughts were not. It didn’t matter to him if he was appreciated or not. To simply be there would be enough for him…

     It was under that dying sun that he swore to become a knight, no matter what it took. Jeran voiced the idea to Firiden, who gave an amused laugh at the idea, playfully ruffling Jeran’s fur. “Jer, when you become a knight, then I’ll become a princess!” He joked, the two disappearing into the forest.

     And so the routine continued for many more months, training and living as the two had always done. Jeran’s mind continued to drift to the beautiful white castle in the meadow. In his dreams he always saw himself on the highest tower, wearing a suit of amour made out of a pure gold that glinted in the sunlight. Down below the villagers milled about, not worrying about anything for Jeran was there to protect them. A satisfied smile kept over the Lupe’s muzzle as he delved into his fantasies, but was instantly broken with the rustling of leaves down on the ground.

     “Firiden? No… he’s out getting water…” Jeran whispered as he jumped off the tree limb he was resting on. He looked around the hut, trying to see if his has friend returned, yet saw nothing. He peered over the balcony of the tree house into a clearing below where the crunching leave sounds where coming from, voices silently creeping into the Lupe’s ears. “My king, I don’t think this path was best to—,”

     “Nonsense! I took this path many times as a child. I’m sure of its safety! Now continue on your way or else we shall be late for the banquet!” The voice roared. Jeran wondered if his ears were playing tricks on him. That voice…it couldn’t be…

     But it was.

     Not more than a few feet below the tree house a very irritable King Skarl poked his head out of his royal carriage, glowering at the nervous guards about him. Skarl did not seem to understand their panic instead ordering the group to move on. The guards, however, seemed intent on staying right where they were. From above Jeran saw the few beads of sweat rolling off their faces, while the angry king grumbled. “I must arrive at the palace in thirty minutes for my post-breakfast-mid-lunch-pre-dinner meal! Now as I have said once I shall say again this path is—,”

     THWOCK! The King’s tirade was cut short as an arrow sailed through the sky and implanted itself firmly in the king’s carriage. The knights begin to panic, hurriedly looking about for the assailant, but it was too late for them to properly counter. The shadowy figures charged out of the brush, their paws and fists grasping onto clubs and swords. One by one the guards fell, their small forms helpless against the hulking masses, as they desperately tried to defend their king.

     Above it all Jeran watched with horror. He could feel a force compelling him to join the fray. It was almost as if an innate knightly-sense was controlling his movements for, before Jeran could honestly realize that he was in control of his own movements, he was jumping from branch to branch and crashing down upon the first creature that was in his path.

     The large pet crashed to the ground with a disturbing thud, alerting the others to Jeran’s presence. Slowly they turned from the King’s carriage towards Jeran, and it was at that time he noticed each of their faces: a Lupe glared back at him, a patch over his eye, a buzz leered down at him with a large portion of his face scarred, a manacle Wocky glared at him with anger. Each of these things flashed in Jeran’s mind, but quickly faded as the one-eyed Lupe lunged at him. Deftly, Jeran dodged the enemy and parried a blow from the buzz. A thrust here and a jab there, Jeran moved with grace and force towards the villains, never giving and inch and fighting as if this battle had something more than his welfare at stake.

     The creatures themselves were shocked, how could this tiny Lupe beat them as badly as he did? Strong as they were, their craven spirits did not will them to fight any longer as they slipped back into the shadowing each shooting a look of intense loathing at Jeran.

     Jeran watched after them for a long while, his chest heaving from the effort. Sadly he looked around at the knights strewn about, wondering how intense their injuries were. He bent down to the nearest knight and looked at him with remorse.

     “He shall be fine, he’s had worse injuries than this,” a voice noted from behind Jeran. The Lupe jumped, completely forgetting the fact that he was not alone in the clearing. King Skarl glanced over at Jeran, a thoughtful smirk across his face while Jeran flattened himself into a respectful bow.

     “Your majesty!” Jeran yelled, but the King waved his claw in an annoyed manner at Jeran.

     “Pah, don’t bother with the formalities, rather pointless out here, aren’t they?” Skarl laughed. He looked around at the fallen guards as well as the bushes.

     “We should get going before they come back… and so that I may arrive back to the castle in time to receive my meal,” the King noted. Jeran gave an obedient nod and began to scoop the guards one by one into the carriage, each of them stirring slightly yet remaining unconscious.

     Though Jeran continued to diligently put the faithful knights into the carriage, every now and then he would steal a furtive look at the king, who seemed to be glancing in a direction complete opposite from his. When Skarl, however, noticed Jeran’s glance, the Lupe quickly threw his eyes to the ground, embarrassed. “You, Lupe, what is your name?” Skarl asked rather informally. Jeran jumped back in surprise. Here he was, a common Lupe, being addresses by the king of Meridell himself! It took a few seconds for Jeran to be able to simply blink properly.

     “J—Jeran sir,” he mumbled, still trying not to look the king in the eye. Skarl gave a booming laugh and clapped a large clawed hand onto Jeran’s shoulder in a friendly gesture.

     “Well Jeran, I must thank you for your help! Though I’m sure I could have taken them on myself, your help was a wonderful thing!” the king roared, his voice scaring off a few birds in the trees. “However, I must ask of you a favor…”

     A favor? From the king? Jeran’s head buzzed, it felt almost like he was dreaming! All through his life he dreamed of things which could never be; princes and princesses, kings and queens… and yet here was the king himself, asking something from Jeran!

     “O-of course, sir! A-anything!” he stammered, staring intently at the king. Skarl pointed a massive claw at the two saddled Unis which were hooked up to the carriage, draped in the royal Meridell seal, the goal foil glinting in the small shafts of light.

     “I would enjoy it Jeran, if you could accompany me back to the kingdom. You never know what might pop up. I daresay that you seem like you can take those brutes on if they dare to come back again,” the King muttered darkly looking back at the dark bushes. Jeran’s muzzle broke into a smile as he bowed deeply.

     “I’d be honored, your majesty!”

***

It was an odd sight for anyone who would see it. The king of Meridell and a scruffy blue Lupe, riding atop the royal steeds carrying a carriage filled with unconscious knights. The pair had a few laughs upon the oddity of the ordeal, but continued on their way rather uneventfully, though every small ruffle and gust of wind caused them to warily grasp at their weapons.

     “So where have you trained, lad? Your skills were simply amazing, brings me back to my days when I could fight like that… not that I still can’t,” the King said quickly, trying to save himself.

     Jeran smiled at the kind comment, slowly growing more and more relaxed with the rhythmic clopping of the Uni and the soft squeaking of the carriage behind him. “A friend of mine has trained me for a long time now… probably over eleven years… he’s a hard teacher but I must say he teaches very well,” Jeran added.

     Skarl gave a thoughtful nod at this and looked up at the clear blue sky above him. “Yes, the hardest situations always make for the best teachers, remember that Jeran. The harder something is, the more likely that you will grow from it,” the King advised.

     “You always learn from hardships,” the Lupe said in a rather dejected manner, his thoughts floating again to his first days in this strange land and his sister… wherever she was.

     “You sound as if you know of hardships,” Skarl inquired firmly, yet gently. He did not prod, instead leaving it open for Jeran to respond if he so chose to. Jeran heaved a sigh, gently urging his steed on while he stared off into the distance.

     “I had to leave my home when I was younger. I had to find a place here… but it’s hard to be in a place when you have no idea if you belong or not…” Jeran mused. Skarl made no more thought to intrude on the matter, instead opting to muse on the rather interesting words which the young Lupe has proposed. The two continued to ride in a conformable silence, saying nothing but still feeling at ease in each other’s company. Soon the trees began to thin out as the dirt surrounding them faded into a lush grass carpet. Jeran smiled as the wind from the valley caressed his face and welcomed the two into the valley where the castle merrily awaited the king’s return.

      “Ahh, made it out of the forest alive! Always was an adventure when I was younger, excellent to see that it still is!” the monarch boomed while the Unis trampled on. Jeran gave a supportive smile and laughed as well, finding the king’s comments generally entertaining.

     Slowly they came upon the main road before the castle, one which also happened to drive straight through the heavily crowded market place. At this time of the day the market was at its busiest point, the stalls full of buyers and sellers alike. Jeran did not think that it was the best idea of go traipsing through the market, however Skarl simply ushered his Uni on, leaving Jeran no chance but to follow.

     A whisper broke out among the market place as the carriage came closer within their sights. The pets all began to wonder who in such a magnificent carriage would come to see them! The crowd began to split like a giant sea, their eyes squinting at the carriage until they could make out a familiar face saddled upon the Uni. Cheering and waving the Neopets welcomed the king, viewing such a close encounter with their sovereign as a wondrous treat.

     “Open the gates! The king is coming!” Ahead of the small train a guard stationed at the end of the marketplace began to flit his wings furiously as he took off towards the castle. The cry echoed off the white walls and towards the gatekeeper, who immediately began to raise the gates for the cheered duo. Jeran continued to usher his Uni towards the castle, but couldn’t help but give one last wave towards a fellow Meridellian before the gates clanked down. It was then that the reality of it all set in as Jeran peered, awe inspired, at the castle walls. He had dreams of setting foot beyond the white barrier and here he was and yet… yet he didn’t know what to do. The guards hurried back and forth over the stone floor, their armor glinting in the light, while the gentle babble of excitement thrived through the air. The words of everyone seemed so far away as Jeran stared at his dream, coming back to reality only when a strong hand grasped him on the shoulder.

     “Jeran, come join us for a feast in your honor! No come, come! Don’t be shy!” the king urged as Jeran gently tried to break away, shaking his head.

     “I-I thank you sir, but I really do need to be getting back home. I’m afraid that if I miss my training today my friend will be quite sore with me!” Jeran bowed humbly.

     The king looked disappointed at this, but gave an understanding nod at Jeran before extending his ring-clad claw. “Yes yes, understandable, of course… but please, Jeran, do not feel like you are a stranger in this castle! You are always welcome here, let that be known!” The king suddenly turned to all of the guards around, who quickly stopped and stared. The two friends gave a final handshake before the doors opened up, leading into the bustling market. Jeran cast a final look back at the smiling king before trotting away from the castle, his heart still racing. He was a friend of the king? It was… amazing! Never in his life would he think that his dreams could become a reality, it was just too much!

     Quickly though his happy thoughts stopped as a sign caught his eye. Puzzled, he walked back to the notice board upon which notices where hastily posted by both guards and peasants alike. Jeran peered at a wanted poster, his eyes round and confused. “Impossible,” Jeran whispered, ripping the poster off the sign, for staring back at him was none other than the eyes Buzz from earlier. The sign was a simple wanted poster in all respects, offering a 100,000 Neopoint reward for the capture of the aforementioned Buzz. However the odd thing was that scribbled across the poster was the word ‘captured’ in a large, red scrawl. Jeran madly ripped through the frivolous posters of cheap Juppie Cheese and jugs of Braku Berry Juice to find more wanted posters, identifying each face with one he saw in the clearing. And just as the first poster, all of them carried the same red note of capture… Jeran stared at the signs for a few minutes, his mind reeling at this before stuffing the signs in his jacket and running back towards his home.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Journey of a Knight: Part One

Journey of a Knight: Part Three

Journey of a Knight: Part Four

Journey of a Knight: Part Five

Journey of a Knight: Part Six

Journey of a Knight: Part Seven

Journey of a Knight: Part Eight

Journey of a Knight: Part Nine


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