By My Honor: Part Five
The Moehog shoved her roughly out of the forest clearing,
and the two Skeiths that held her brother halted beside them. “This is the place,”
he said, gazing up at the grey overcast of clouds. “We have only to wait.”
The Draik twins were too exhausted to struggle or
resist. Deprived of food and allowed little sleep for the duration of their
captivity, they could do little more than slump weakly in their bonds.
Even the sudden roiling of the clouds did little to
rouse them from their bleary haze. They watched through half-lidded eyes as
the wind tore at the branches of the trees, scattering green through the grey
of the sky. The clouds began to twist and turn in a violent whirlwind, funneling
down to touch the ground. Emerging from the point where they met was a tall,
shadowed form, whose very sight snapped the twins from their numbness, arresting
their fear-filled gaze in almost a spell.
As the figure approached, the twins could see that
it was a faerie – the Dark Faerie to whom they were to be sold. Her face was
strangely beautiful – glowing purple eyes were large within her oval, tapering
face, and her hair fell about her shoulders in a smooth wave of violet, unaffected
by the violent storm around her.
Ignoring the guards, the Faerie bent down, her orblike
eyes level with the trembling Draiks. Her mouth hinted at a smile, but her eyes
were unchanged. “Pretty little heirlings,” she said in a voice deep as the howling
of the wind. “I shall enjoy them, I think.”
“Our payment?” interrupted the Moehog.
She rose, a flicker of contempt in her glowing eyes.
“Patience, Sir Morgon,” she said, and reached into her robes. The Moehog flinched,
as if expecting a horrible curse, but she only withdrew a bag of Neopoints.
“Two million for each Draik, to be split among you.”
Recovering himself, the Moehog snatched up the bag.
“Come on, ye half-minded lumps of muscle,” he ordered the Scorchio and Skeiths.
All three turned obediently behind him, continuing out into the open plain.
None of them looked back.
“You will have no need of these,” said the Faerie,
lifting her hands, and the Draik twins felt their bonds fall away to the ground.
The Faerie smiled at their confusion. “I have more efficient ways of keeping
my prisoners under my control,” she explained.
Abruptly she turned from them, facing the funneling
cloud, and lifted her arms and hands high above her. Her voice sung out into
the whirling wind, combining with its thunderous tones, and she began to levitate
from the ground as if caught up in the billowing gusts. To their horror, the
Draiks followed her, lifting up into the grey of the sky.
The icy winds bit and nipped at their faces and scales
as they soared helplessly through the churning currents. They could see nothing
but the dewy white of the clouds as they glided through them, and then the winds
faded and the dark tunnel of fog opened apart, revealing at last the Faerie’s
Like the Faerie who had taken them, the place had
a dark beauty to it – walled in by clouds, and roofed by sunlight, the inside
was filled with a large, twisting palace of silver and violet, whose peaks reached
up far into the sky. Around the castle the clouds sprouted with flowers and
herbs – brambles of blackberry and thistleberry, patches of blossoms and pebeanjays.
Despite its beauty, though, there was an air of deep, permeating malice in the
domain that would not allow the Draiks to be at ease.
The Faerie set them down near the front garden of
the palace and stepped away, watching them with a strange calmness in her purple
The Draiks stayed frozen for a moment, wondering what
she would do to them, but she made no move. They risked glancing at each other,
and still she remained motionless. Slowly, cautiously, Aratisil sent his sister
a message. I don’t like this place at all – somehow, I would rather be with
I agree, she thought back. It feels as if
something horrible were about to happen.
She could sense that her brother shared the emotion. Let’s wait until she
leaves us, and we can figure out how to escape, he said in her mind.
The glow of the Faerie’s eyes blazed to life, and she swooped her arm at Aratisil,
catching him up in a powerful current. Araril screamed as her brother flew through
the air, crashing with bone-crunching force against the Palace wall. But the
Faerie’s face betrayed no other sign of rage, and her voice was calm as she
asked, “Escape, hmm? I see there is some fire in you yet.” Her eerie eyes glanced
to the princess, and she felt herself draw back from the glare. “You as well.
I have some Royal heirlings to break, it seems.”
She can read our thoughts? cried Araril in
her mind to the weak life-force of her brother.
Yes, I can, little heirlings, came the horrible
voice of the Faerie, within their minds. And I thank you for giving me your
link. You will do so much better without it.
A searing pain shot razorlike through Araril’s head,
and from where he lay near the palace wall, she could hear her brother moan
in the same agony. The pain grew and intensified, coloring her vision red and
throbbing in her mind and body until she thought they would shatter apart –
then it was gone.
And so was her sense of Aratisil’s presence.
“Aratisil!” she shrieked, and ran toward her brother’s
still form. Behind her, the Faerie lifted her hand, and if was as if she were
running into a wall of air. Driving into it with all of the strength of her
desperation, she sought to break through it, but it was useless: the spell was
too powerful. As she felt a wave of unbelieving horror rush over her at the
thought of her brother dead, he moved, staring up in a daze.
She almost collapsed with relief.
“No, he is not dead,” said the Faerie from behind.
“I haven’t given up on the two of you so soon. But I will have to destroy your
The wall of air holding her turned to a cage, lifting
up with violent force to pin her against he castle wall. Her brother’s body
lifted beside her, and the Faerie advanced, setting them with her soulless purple
gaze. “This might sting a bit,” she warned, her mouth curved upward in the slightest
The pain slammed into them like a physical blow. Both
of the Draiks writhed in unbearable misery, crushed against the palace wall,
as they felt her tear away at the power of their minds. The Faerie seemed to
decide to concentrate at one at a time, then – she let Araril tumble to the
ground like a discarded doll, and focused on her brother.
From where Araril lay, her eyes a glaze of tears,
she sent out a weak, desperate thought to any who might hear:
Help us… please…
* * * * *
“Stay where you are,” growled Aiad as he alighted.
Tory slid off his back in a fluid movement, and drew his new blade.
The tracks they’d been following led up to the two
figures before them – a Moehog and a Scorchio. Two other sets had branched off
along the way, but the knight and squire had chosen to track these.
The Moehog turned, reaching for his sword, and the
Scorchio next to him did the same. Although both of their faces were masked,
there seemed something strangely familiar about them…
“Morgon,” whispered Aiad. Then Tory realized where
he’d seen them before – this was the Moehog who had jeered at him during the
squire selections, and the Scorchio whom he had chosen.
The Moehog grinned, his eyes a slanted sneer behind
the mask. “Oh, it’s the head knight, I see!” he cried, giving an exaggerated
mock-bow. The Scorchio at his side chuckled.
Aiad ignored the taunting, and said in a low, dangerous
voice, “Get your hoof away from the sword, Morgon, and come with us to the King
“Oh, ye don’t need to try me, Uni,” laughed the Moehog,
holding aloft a bag heavy with Neopoints. “I confess I did it, well enough –
why shouldn’t I? It’s not like yer going to be alive to tell anyone.” Throwing
down the bag, he drew his sword. “My squire is my second.”
“And Tory is mine,” said Aiad, his eyes flashing.
Lowering his horn into guard, he stepped toward the traitorous knight.
Before Tory could comprehend what was happening they
rushed at each other, blade and horn meeting in a tremendous clash. Aiad leapt
nimbly back, shaking his head to clear it, and the Moehog flexed his wrist.
Both squires watched in wide-eyed panic; neither could match his knight’s opponent,
should his knight fall.
The two circled each other slowly this time, measuring
the other’s movements. Tory saw that the Moehog held the blade in his hoof at
a low guard, as if hoping to swing beneath the Uni’s deadly horn to get to his
unprotected neck. Aiad noticed this as well, and lowered his head slightly,
moving on weightless feet.
The second crash of blade and horn was far deadlier.
The Moehog struck out straight, and tried to disengage around the Uni’s parry,
but Aiad had been expecting this, and met the loop halfway in. He riposted with
blurred speed, cutting his opponent deep on the sword-arm. “That was a warning,”
he said as he backed. “Drop your blade now, and no more harm will come to you.”
Morgon spat at the Uni in answer. “I need no warning!”
he screamed shrilly, and lunged at the head knight again, catching his horn
in a bind.
Tory scarcely dared to breathe as the two knights
struggled, interlocked, each trying to slide forward into the other. For a fleeting
moment he wondered if he should help – but no, this was between the two of them.
It was a duel, not a battle.
With a mighty wrenching of his head, the Uni twisted
the blade from the Moehog’s grasp. It fell to the ground beside him, and Aiad
lunged in to close the distance, his horn at Morgon’s chest. “Yield!” he commanded,
his eyes a flash of silver.
The Moehog said nothing, but ground his teeth in fury.
“Tory, bind him!” the Uni cried, and Tory gathered
up the very rope that had been used against the prince and princess and ran
to where the Moehog stood. As he reached for the enemy knight, though, Morgon
spun to face Tory, whipping out a dagger from his boot. The glint of steel shone
in blinding doom before the Zafara’s eyes – then fell away.
Blinking, Tory dared to look up, and saw the Moehog
fall slowly, slowly to the ground. As he had prepared to stab the squire, Aiad
had plunged his head forward, ending the traitor’s life.
Both Aiad and Tory whirled to face the Scorchio, half-expecting
him to attack. The Moehog’s squire looked pale beneath his mask, though, and
the blade dropped from numb fingers. “Tie him,” commanded the Uni gruffly.
As Tory fastened the ropes tightly around the Scorchio’s
ankles and feet, he frowned. It seemed a voice was coming from far away.
Help us… please…
“Do you hear that?” he asked, puzzled.
Aiad looked at him blankly. “Hear what, my squire?”
“The… voice…” replied the Zafara distantly, gazing
unseeingly at the ground. “It says they are trapped in the clouds above us –
it’s the princess, I think!”
“Let’s go,” said the Uni. “Leave the prisoner here.
We have the heirlings to rescue.”
To be continued...