“Whoa there, slow down Jeran! What’s all the fuss?!”
he asked, cautiously walking over to the Lupe. Slowly Jeran’s breath came back,
the words which he wanted to say coming out in a scattered mass. “Kinginclearingcameattacked
andhelp,” he continued to gasp raggedly, while Firiden snatches at the flyers
in Jeran’s hand. He scanned them over, one by one, yet seemed to notice nothing
out of the ordinary. Slowly he turned a raise eyebrow at Jeran. “Jer, I don’t
get it…” The Ixi shrugged in a confused manner. Jeran coughed a few times, his
breath regaining a steady rhythm as he told his tale again from the start. “Today—today
I was outside the balcony when I saw the king in the clearing, or his coach…
anyway, that’s not important! Some things came out of the bushes and attacked
him… but I saved him an—,”
“Heh yeah, you saved the king… right Jeran,”
Firiden chortled before tossing the flyers back to his friend. Jeran roughly
shook his head, cornering the Ixi before he could leave the room.
“I’m not joking, Firiden! Some robbers tried
to attack the king and I fought them all!” he said desperately trying to convince
his friend to believe him. Firiden stood, completely stunned at these words
before him, but soon recovered over that initial shock and grabbed his friend
in a congratulatory hug.
“No WAY! YOU saved SKARL?! Jeran that’s amazing!
You—you can become a knight! Man, that’s just, incredible!” he cried, hugging
the Lupe but quickly stopping and looking him in the eye. “Wait, he knows it
was YOU right? You’re not still doing that whole helping-then-disappearing thing,
“No! He knows,” Jeran rolled his eyes, but he
quickly shrugged away from Firiden his mind once again concerned about the flyers.
“But, listen Fir! When we went back to the palace—,”
“THE PALACE?!” The Ixi let out an excitable whoop
of laughter, but quickly stopped when he noticed Jeran’s serious manner. Jeran
rolled his eyes before continuing on his train of thought, pacing about absentmindedly.
“We went back to the palace and when I left…
I saw these posters on a notice board! The weird thing is that they’re exactly
the same people that were in the clearing!” Jeran explained, scattering the
pictures out on the ground so that Firiden could get a better look.
The Ixi examined them for a bit before shrugging
his shoulders and adopting a bored visage. “So?” he asked.
“So?! They’ve all been captured, Firiden!” Jeran
exploded, rather annoyed that his friend couldn’t see the obviousness of it
“And do you know anyone who’s escaped FROM the
dungeon?! No one has! Its impossible!” Jeran yelled, his hysteria reaching a
pitch. Firiden’s eyes contracted with interest as he picked up a flyer and slowly
“You know, you should have captured them then!
We could have made a half a million off of these guys are least,” Firiden yelled,
his attention drifting elsewhere. “Anyway Jeran, I think you’re getting just
a bit hysterical about all of this. Sure they were captured, but they probably
weren’t in the high security part of the dungeon! Or maybe they didn’t get to
transport them to the dungeon before they escaped! It’s not really that hard
to overtake those pathetic guards! Just a quick kick from even a diseased Uni
can bring one down!” Firiden yawned. Jeran looked at the pictures on the floor,
his mind still concerned. Firiden took sat there, not concerned about the villains,
but worried more for his friend… “Look Jeran, I know… I know that you want to
be a knight, but I think you’re just putting too much thought in this, okay?
Just, let it go. Come on, let’s go get you something to eat and you can tell
me about what happened today!” Firiden offered gently, coaxing Jeran off the
floor and towards the kitchen. Though Jeran allowed himself to be physically
led away, his thoughts continued to sit under the darkened sky, staring at the
pictures of villains who stared back among the red lettering.
Though the higher levels of the palace gleamed with brilliancy beyond that
of what gold and silver can do, the lower levels housed a sinister power beyond
that of darkness.
Torches lined every bit of the lower levels,
scorching the poorly kept gray walls and throwing terrifying shadows around.
None of the guards dared to patrol this area due to the legends of specters
which were believed to be seen floating around the halls at night; though many
joked that it was simply the dungeon keeper.
For as long as anyone could remember that figure
had ruled over the dungeon with an iron fist. No one could remember a time when
their had been someone else in charge of the area, thinking that perhaps there
never was anyone else, just the timeless ghost that was the collective birth
of the prisoners misery.
However, upon viewing the guard for the first
time, many had to agree with this theory…
The wizened Eyrie sat in the study, balefully
looking at the glowing candle in front of him while his quill pen scratched
and scribbled over the papers he was signing. His age shone through with every
grey hair embedded in his white fur, every wrinkled feather in his shriveled
wings. And though he distinctly looked as if he could barley stand to live another
year, inside his cruel red eyes burned a fire that time could never extinguish.
His keen ears perked up as a grinding sound emerged behind a large case in his
study. The case slowly slid away, replaced instead with a door that lead into
a darkness which inhabited a few fearful faces. He smiled cruelly, his sharp
beak glinting in the light as the shadowy faces timidly filed into the room,
each of them wearing a worried grimace, or simply avoiding the jail keeper’s
“Well, how did the plan succeeded?” he asked
calmly, his eyes narrowing with malice at the expectation of good news. The
villains all shifted nervously, looking about as they wondered which one would
be the first to break the news. Quietly the gruff Buzz gave a cough and began
to speak… “We tried ta’ get him like ya’ said…but…” The buzz stopped mid sentence
as the Eyrie’s face fell with anger. Silently he stood up, his elegant red robe
brushing the floor as he walked closer and closer to the gang of bandits before
him. “I see. Your failure must indicate that you wish to go back into that prison,
does it not? If that is what you choose then I’m sure that you will enjoy rotting
away in your cells, never again seeing the light of day…” He hissed dangerously,
the threat causing the one-eyed Lupe to shutter as if he was a simpering puppy.
“I freed you from here for one purpose and one
purpose alone,” the Eyrie continued. “If you cannot fulfill it then—,”
“But there wazza Loop! Strongz one!” A rabid-looking
Acara snarled, his sharp teeth glinting yellow in the light. The ancient Eyrie
let out a growl, grabbing the Acara with his claws as he lifted him off the
ground by the collar of his shirt.
“Well, I do not see a blue Lupe right now, do
I? I have not waited and planned all these years to have some bumbling fools
fowl this up for me! Now you shall do as you’re instructed, or you shall meet
your fate as all traitors in Meridell do!” The group did not need telling twice
as they scurried away in the passage, terrified that if they perhaps stayed
any longer, the insane old Eyrie might actually make good on his threat…
Jeran tried to feign as if the idea was out of his head, as if he no longer
cared that some of Meridell’s most dangerous and fowl were perhaps lurking out
among him. Yet try as he might, the rather reasonable burden of these thoughts
shone through in his face. He would give a melancholy sigh as he rested on the
tree-branch, dolefully staring up at the sky while the birds sung cheerfully.
“Hrm, I should start to practice my offence, I guess…” Jeran mused to himself,
but he did not feel very much like it today. He knew however that if he told
Firiden that he just ‘didn’t have the heart’ to practice today that he would
make Jeran find it in his heart with an extra hour or two of practice. Jeran
gave a mighty leap from his tree limb, gracefully landing on the soft forest
ground. The world seemed so different at the forest floor level than it did
from his haven in the trees. The blue Lupe looked forlornly at his branch before
unsheathing his battered sword and mercilessly hacking away at the tree in front
He soon became engrossed in the training, his
thoughts completely lost within his own world. That was particularly what Jeran
enjoyed about fighting; no matter how cluttered and clouded his mind was, the
sheer fight seemed to bring him about within him a focused passion. Jeran was
so engrossed with the mangling of the tree that he didn’t hear Firiden loudly
run up to him, waving his hooves madly in the air.
“Jer! Oy Jeran!” Firiden hollered, stopping just
short of being hit with Jeran’s sword. Jeran quickly stopped his training, wiping
his sweaty brow on the tattered vest he wore. Firiden fumbled about in his backpack,
trying to desperately to grasp at something in the bag yet failing. Frustrated
(or perhaps simply too exited to let it drag on any longer) he upturned the
bag, snatching a flyer that fell out with the rest of its contents. “Look at
this! You have to do this Jeran, I’m serious!” he yelled excitably. Jeran gently
took the paper and read it, a bit confused in many respects.
On Thursday King Skarl invites all of his kingdom
and loyal subjects to partake in a festival!
The festival will last from Thursday to Sunday
with dancing, banquets, and a tournament for all to enter on Friday!
Those who wish to enter the tournament are
requested to come to the large central tent on Friday. The tournament will last
Friday, Saturday, and end on Sunday with a champion.
“Erm… okay… what about the festival, Fir?” Jeran
asked as he read through the brightly colored flyer.
Firiden slapped his hoof to his head in an exasperated
manner, shoving the flyer even more into Jeran’s face. “Didn’t you read it,
your fur-brained-twit?! A tournament for all to enter! I think that speaks for
itself!” Firiden smiled, the idea slowly dawning on Jeran. “Come on, Jer! A
little dancing, food, and then on Sunday you win the tournament and we walk
off with a sack full of prize money!” Firiden laughed loudly. Jeran’s face gave
an incredulous look, he was sure that he would be able to beat some of the best
and brightest in the kingdom.
However, the idea of a tournament did seem like
a rather fun idea… “So waddi say Jer? A quick little night out in Meridell!
Come on, what else do you have to do this weekend?” Firiden slowly smiled as
Jeran looked-up up at his friend and gave a delighted nod.
“Alright Fir I’ll do it…” Jeran smiled.
Of course, when Jeran agreed to take the tournament, he thought that Firiden
would allow him to continue practice on his own. But if anything it simply made
the Ixi more maniacal about combat. From archery, to climbing, to simple swordplay,
they practiced it all, step by step, in a violent flurry of work.
Yet it concern Jeran when Firiden failed to show
up one day. Jeran checked all the rooms within their home, yet could not, for
the life of him, find the Ixi. Relieved, however, the Ixi returned late that
night, professing that he had something to do in Meridell.
Eventually the hot afternoon sun gave way to
the cool breezes of night, the fireflies skirting out among the winds to play.
Firiden watched Jeran with a hawk-like eye, while the Lupe continued to swat
at the tree branches above him with a continued vigor.
“Hrm, all right, Jeran you seem to be at the
top of your game, but I want you to get up early to get in a few rounds with
me before we set off for Meridell,” Firiden nodded.
“Tomorrow? Fir, the tournament isn’t for two
days,” Jeran questioned, sheathing his battered sword. Firiden waved a nonchalant
hoof at the idea, slowly climbing the stairs towards the house in the trees
as Jeran followed, close at his heels.
“Yeah well, I thought that maybe we could stay
in the village. Makes for a nicer entry through the crowd…” Firiden said continuing
to walk into his own section of the home. Jeran didn’t push the subject any
longer, choosing simply to watch the door of his friend’s room close. In all
the years that the two had lived together, Jeran had never heard his friend
answer that quickly before in his life…
To be continued...