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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 18th day of Storing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 143 > Continuing Series > Journey of a Knight: Part Five

Journey of a Knight: Part Five

by laurensama

"And then he came out of the shows Fir! Like…almost like a shadow himself!"

     "Hmm…" "Then, you know that statue of the Draik behind the castle? Well it's actually a tunnel! Can't believe it huh? Anyway, he pulled the tail!" "You don't say..." The one-sided conversation trilled on as Jeran animatedly prattled on and on while Firiden hurriedly worked about. All around them the challenger's tent erupted with the roar of excitement. Restless steeds neighed, swords clashed and clanked, armor was shined and finished while all the while the time slowly ticked away closer and closer to the contest. Jeran looked around in a bit of a forlorn state. The knights all had armor which was almost too beautiful to describe, gilded with their family coast of arms. Though Jeran cold not entirely sneer at the armor which he had managed to scrape up, he couldn't help but feel a twang of jealously at what he did not have.

     Yet as he held his faithful sword in his paw, a kinship with the inanimate object sprung to his mind. He knew that even without the things which the knights had, he would be fine with his simple sword by his side.

      "Okay, now Jeran, remember what we practiced with footwork and swordplay….just…be careful, okay?" Firiden offered a bit unenthusiastically as he rustled through his things to check that he had given Jeran everything. The young Lupe gave a large grin towards the nervous Ixi, taking his faithful sword in his paws again.

     "Don't worry, Fir, I mean..." Jeran gave a sigh and looked around at his surroundings. The finest knights of the kingdom were here, with some of the most luxurious armor that Neopoints could buy...but he wasn't afraid of them, and he voiced this feeling to Firiden.

     "Look Fir, we can't buy a Uni, or maybe even a perfect sword, but I think we have a halfway decent shot! I mean, how many of these knights here can say that they've trained as hard as we have?" Jeran asked, a pure smile coming over his face. Firiden looked up at his friend, a glint of nerves in his eyes. However, at the words of Jeran his face broke into a true smile just as the crowd erupted into a roar outside.

     "Better get ready, looks like you're up next..." Firiden said, nudging Jeran towards the opening of the tent. The Lupe gave another heart-warming grin and, adjusting his cheap armor and belt, pelted towards the area opening. He could feel his heart racing in his chest as he ran; this was the sort of thing that he lived for!

     He honestly had no idea of the outcome, whether it would be good or bad. But to simply feel the power of the fight and the vigor and passion that came with it, he knew that in the end, win or loose, it would all be worth it.

     "Here we go..." he asserted himself before stepping into the circle. It seemed almost as if then his ears had fully been turned on as the roar erupted all about him. The sky above glittered while the puffy white clouds soaring about. The stands were filled to the brim with all manner of citizens of Meridell, noble or peasant alike, while the king sat in the royal box, surveying it all. Cheerfully the flags wafted in the breeze, the colorful sight a smile of laughter to Jeran's face.

     From the other side of the area he saw his opponent sulk out of the darkness, a hulking figure in what seemed to be dark armor. Jeran could not make out his face at all, which caused him a slight chill at the thought of a faceless knight. They both studied the situation before them, waiting for what seemed like the perfect moment to strike.

      And then they did.

     The swords clashed together instantly, a loud clanging filling the stadium. The cheers and jeers were lost on the pair's ears as the flittered around the area, each of them parrying and dodging each blow. Though the dark armored stranger possessed a hulking brutality in which he could crush any normal pet with a single blow, Jeran's small frame was more menacing then his adversary. And though the giant's blows appeared to be devastating in many respects, every hit Jeran made was slowly denting into the armor of his foe. However the expert craftsmanship behind it did not allow for such a pathetic sword to deal a decent amount of damage.

     This is impossible! Jeran thought. His armor is too thick, I can't get through! His thoughts buzzed about as he tried to think of every conceivable way to beat his opponent, but with every dodge and jump he made was more vigor lost. Jeran began to wonder how long he could continue with such pathetic hits before he was too tired to continue, when saw as his foe raised his sword in a mighty attempt to finish him off. It was then Jeran took note of the gap under the dark night's arm. A huge gap in which the armor seemed to be lacking...

     That's it! he thought. Quickly he dodged the blow and thrust his sword up towards the foe. The opponent gave a howl of pain at the pain as if he sustained an injury worse than this. The underlining of the armor was punctured, exposing their dark brown fur underneath. Jeran gave a smirk of triumph and went in for the final blow. His intentions, however, were easily spotted from the injured knight. With a mighty blow the dark knight struck at Jeran, who tried to parry the blow with his sword...

     CRASH! The sword on a sword contact has fared for the worse on Jeran. His beloved sword was simply no match for the shining weapon of steel as it snapped in two upon contact. There was a hush over the stadium as Jeran held the pitiful hilt of the sword. He tried to weigh the rest of his options, yet none seemed to fare too good for him.

      No sword...no shield to hide behind...it seemed over for Jeran...

     Until…

     Jeran heard a soft metal clink down on the ground beside him. Cautiously he looked to the side only to find a shining sword next to his paw. It was easily one of the finest pieces of weaponry that Jeran had ever beheld in his sight with its glittering hilt full of jewels. And though perhaps to any person this would seem like the oddest occurrence, Jeran did not bother to question this odd twist of fate. With lightning fast reflexes he snagged the blade off the ground, graciously evaded the blow from the foe and struck, his aim strong and true.

     Jeran's ears buzzed from the roar of the crowd as the knight fell to the ground. All around him the spectators cheered viciously; completely amazed at the spectacle before them. Jeran himself couldn't help but give a big grin which flitted away when another thought entered his mind. His gaze turned to the wonderful item in his hand. He didn't remember the sword sitting on the ground when he entered the arena…so where did it come from?

     Before he could dwell on the subject any longer, Jeran realized that he was being led away by two rather official looking Aishas. They didn't seem to offer any explanation to Jeran, who was far too stunned to really object to being led away. In the end, Jeran let himself be led off, casting the crowd a sheepish grin to which they happily lapped up.

     "Erm...hey...where are we going?" Jeran inquired of his guides. One of the officials cast him a rather idiotic look before continuing in their way, neither saying a word.

     Out the competitors tent, down the fairgrounds for what perhaps seemed like miles until they reached what appeared to be the last tent on the fairgrounds. Never before had Jeran's eyes seen such a delicately ornate tent, or one which was as highly protected as this.

     As the Aisha's approached the tent, none of the guards seemed to question their presence as they barreled through the entrance, pulling Jeran in with them. The Lupe's eyes darted about, looking around the inside of the tent in an awed manner, but ceased staring once he noticed who he was in company with.

     "Sir, is this the one you wanted to see-,"

     "Yes, thank you that will do!" The voice boomed joyfully, the two Aishas bowed themselves out of the tent. Jeran continued to stare in complete disbelief at the figure before him, so seated in an extremely comfortable makeshift throne was none other than King Skarl.

     "Ahh! Jeran! Good to see you again!" he laughed, causing Jeran to look up in complete shock.

     "You-you remembered my name?" he asked in stunned disbelief. Skarl let out another laugh and waved his claw in a nonchalant manner.

     "Of course! You remembered mine, did you not?"

     "Well...you are the king sir..." Jeran admitted a bit sheepishly to which the king chortled at again.

     "Ahh, suppose you are right! In any case, I simply wanted to congratulate you on your win! Excellent skill! And I must laud you for it!" Skarl said as he hoisted himself out of the chair to clap Jeran on the back. Jeran shook his head and smiled at the king's kindness.

     "Thank you your majesty, however my skill honestly had nothing to do with this! If that spectator hadn't given me this sword...why...I think I would have been finished right there!" Jeran exclaimed, unsheathing the sword to show the king. Skarl let out another deep chuckle and pointed at the sword.

     "Jeran, my boy, I'm rather surprised! You haven't figured it out?" Skarl boomed, wandering back to his chair. Jeran cast the king a quizzical look, who in turn motioned towards the shining sword in Jeran's hands. The young Lupe looked at the sword in his hands.

     Beyond the fact that it was truly a wondrous item, nothing particularly indicatives of what the king was hinting at came to mind. Turning the sword over amid the light from an open flap in the tent, an engraved seal on the hilt of the sword became apparent to Jeran's eyes, which looked exactly like the King's royal seal.

     "Every good knight needs a sword Jeran, and I daresay that your last sword was...rather poor," The king commented, gently taking the sword from Jeran and resting it beside his throne. Skarl began to look about his room, searching for something though Jeran knew not what it was. Thoughtfully the king hoisted himself out of his throne and began to rummage through the delicate cases in the room, stopping only when he discovered what he was looking for.

     "I was never able to properly thank you for your help back in the forest, so I must insist that you take this as a small token!" Skarl's arms extended, holding out a case to Jeran. The Lupe tenderly took the case, silently trembling. He ran his paws over the polished wood with embedded with the seal of Skarl's lineage in the center, slowly opening it, as if savoring the moment. The inside of the beautiful chest amid the folds of dark blue velvet rested a wondrous item the likes of which Jeran had not seen...

     It was a precious blade wrought with the most pure silver Jeran had ever seen. Up and down the spotless blade ran dozens of intricate patterns and swirls, subtly enhancing the beauty of the sword. Jeran grabbed the sword in his hands, swinging it about through the air as it made an almost unearthly whooshing noise, as if it was slicing the air itself. He turned towards the king, his thoughts lost in every aspect.

     "My...my lord it's...I can't...you really..." Jeran tried to make to give the sword back, but Skarl stepped back and waved his hands in a frantic manner.

     "Really Jeran you act as if this is completely uncalled for! You did after all save my life (not that I couldn't have taken them all on my own, mind you), and so I must repay your gratitude! However..." At these words the king adopted a stricter glare and leaned in closer to Jeran, his words much lower. "If you do loose this tournament, I for one shall be extremely displeased as I bet the royal treasurer that you would indeed win. Do try to win, least I have to pay that fool Snargan, though I'm sure that if I win he'll simply pay me with my own money..."

     Jeran's mouth broke into a smile as he gave a low bow. "Of course your majesty!" he proclaimed before excusing himself from the tent. He felt as if he was simply running on air, on happiness even! Everything in the world itself was wonderful, from the sun above to the rather disgusting pile of brown…whatever it was…down the lane! As he passed by each contestant, all offered congratulations and cheers, while the women from the stands eagerly pointed and giggled as he passed. Jeran rushed through the competitors' tent to where he knew his friend would be, fervent to tell him the experience.

     "FIR! FI-," he quickly stopped, his wagging tail failing slightly as he noticed the Ixi's absence. Sadly Jeran sat down upon the bench, his happiness somewhat deadened without the opportunity of sharing this happiness with his friend. Yet through the sadness Jeran's thoughts turned towards the sword he grasped in his hand. He simply couldn't wait to get out into the area and try out the new weapon when a rather dirty stable Techo tapped Jeran on the shoulder, interrupting his musings.

     "Excuse me sir, but I believe these are yours..." The Techo said before dumping a bundled heap into Jeran's lap. "This was left on the field and we assumed that you wanted the remnants," The Techo explained, leaving before Jeran could make any inquiry about the package. Slowly he unbundled the item only to find his trusty sword lying there, shattered into two. He felt a strong sense of pain for his fallen friend, his most trustworthy sword for these past years. He turned the hilt of the broke sword over in his hands, remembering his glee when Firiden gave him his first sword ever. How strong the opponent must have been if he could smash a sword in-half! Jeran's paw ran over the wound of the sword, yet something did not feel right…

     Above the break, the metal looked as if it had been mercilessly hacked and beaten. Jeran could feel thousands of deep axe-made gouges around the break. He knew that these marks had never been on the sword before which lead him to only one conclusion...

     Someone wanted Jeran's sword to break...

***

The brown Lupe hunched in the corner, whimpering feebly as he grabbed his upper arm. Though extremely big for his size, it did not deter form the fact that he was a huge cry-baby. The wily Acara hissed at the Lupe to be silent while he tried to look the angry Eyrie in the face.

     "Look sir it-,"

     "How hard is it...?" he posed the question silently as the Acara began to cower. "To have a sword weakened, then to have this swine of a Lupe smash the sword and finish off the boy?" his voice was calm and cold, disturbing the two beyond any measure. The Lupe made a motion to talk, but once again was silence from a growl with the Acara.

     "S-sir...we did get the sword to snap! But-but..." The Acara frowned and tried to find the most delicate words to explain the situation. Instead the burley Lupe finished the Acara's train of thought.

     "That Skarl, he gave da Lupe a sword! Threw it down from his stand n then da Loope, he got me!" He said, gingerly pointing to his wound. The Acara tried to hush the Lupe, willing him to say no more, yet the damage had already been done. The Eyrie learned forward, his piercing eyes set on the brown Lupe before him. His twisted beak shone in the crackling firelight, throwing his shadow against the wall in grotesque exaggerations.

     "So the king helped out the peasant?" the Eyrie inquired to which the Lupe vigorously nodded. The ancient jailer thought for a bit, his brain now discerning this information, traveling in thousands directions at once. He gave a cackle as the full thought came into view and waved a clawed hand at the pair.

     "Very well, then. Now both of you leave and do whatever it is that you fools do! I have things to mull over," He turned away from the pair, as if no longer interested in their existence. The two convicts exchanged confused glances before sulking out behind the bookcase, elated that they luck had not run out on them yet. The white Eyrie listened carefully as the hidden compartment behind the bookcase shut, echoing a gentle clunk as it did so. Beyond that there was no sound in the room for a few seconds, save the sinister crackling of the fire place. The Eyrie did not even bother to look up from his pensive musing as he spoke these words aloud to the empty study.

     "I assume that you heard every word of the conversation?" he asked. The words seemed addressed to someone, though no one was even in the room. However a dark shadow from the depths of the study stirred, his eyes fixated purely on the Eyrie while he shifted in an uncomfortable manner.

     "Of course," he replied. The Eyrie let out a sinister laugh, still staring at the opposite wall.

     "And you know what to do, I assume?" he asked again. The shadow paused for a a moment, as if willing himself to not say what he wanted to say.

     "Of course," he said again. The Eyrie's beak twisted and smiled gleefully.

     "Excellent."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Journey of a Knight: Part One

Journey of a Knight: Part Two

Journey of a Knight: Part Three

Journey of a Knight: Part Four

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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