Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 113,598,787 Issue: 227 | 10th day of Awakening, Y8
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The Treasured Diary: Part Two

by twirlsncurls5


Fenmere was lifting the leather bound cover when Sophia gasped and dropped the candle, plunging the room into darkness.

     Fenmere followed her terrified gaze and his eyes grew wide.

     There, perched on the windowsill of his chamber was a tall and sinewy Draik, wings outstretched, its figure silhouetted in the moonlight.

     "GUAR-" Fenmere started to shout, when the Draik flew at him in a blur of red and stifled his cry with an icy claw.

     "Don't scream," he ordered Sophia who nodded fiercely.

     Then to Fenmere he whispered, "Have you read the diary?"

     He shook his head. How did he know about the diary?

     "Have you showed it to anyone?"

     Fenmere pointed a shaky paw at Sophia.

     "Anyone else?" His grip tightened threateningly.

     The prince shook his head and cried a defensive "No!" that was muffled under the Draik's claw.

     "Good. Now we just need to get your father."

     My father? Fenmere wondered in terror.

     Suddenly the crash of the wooden palace doors bursting open sounded from below.

     The Draik groaned. "Too late."

     While still holding onto Fenmere, he shoved the diary into his tunic, grabbed Sophia under his other arm and leapt onto the window sill. Sophia screamed despite herself as they stared down at a staggering drop of over two hundred feet.

     What on earth was going on!? Fenmere's mind was racing. Who had just come in through the doors? Where was his father?

     The Draik jumped.

     For one horrifying moment they were weightless, plummeting towards the dark ground. Then the intruder's huge wings caught the thermals and they were airborne.

     The scene below was beautiful, even if Fenmere couldn't really appreciate it in his current state. The villages of Gansvere were aglow with the light of peaceful fireplaces. He could imagine families gathered round sharing stories, safe and sound, completely unaware that their Prince was being kidnapped and that Gallion's Keep was under siege.

     Fenmere tried to turn his head to see if Sophia was okay but he couldn't see her face behind the constant beating of the Draik's wings. He wondered how much longer their kidnapper could hold onto them.

     He was answered a few minutes later as they touched down in the middle of a vast field. The Draik was smart; he'd made sure to land where he knew his captors would have nowhere to run.

     Once his feet were planted firmly on the ground, Fenmere came out of his state of shock. As a child of royalty, the Prince was not accustomed to being pressed (let alone forced) into anything. He was furious.

     "Who do you think you are?! Do you have any idea who I am?"

     The Draik looked at him bemusedly. "Why? Do you not know yourself?"

     Fenmere's lips curled into a snarl. "I hope whatever ransom you're collecting is worth it, scum," he said furiously. "You'll hang for this."

     The Draik ignored him and said, "Follow me," before pushing through the tall grass.

     "I'm not moving an inch, nor do I plan on taking any orders from the likes of you," Fenmere insisted, hands on his hips.

     Sophia turned to him shakily, her white face looking even whiter.

     "Just do what he says," she hissed, "or who know what he'll do to us?"

     But Fenmere was stubborn; he'd forgotten his title meant nothing outside the palace walls. He turned back to their kidnapper.

     "I want an explanation!" he shouted.

      "And you'll get one," the Draik was getting impatient, "if you follow me."

     They took a few steps forward before their kidnapper stopped suddenly and began stomping his foot on the ground. One spot echoed back with a hollow sound. With a look of satisfaction, the Draik bent over and tapped three times on the hollowed spot.

     The dirt promptly swung open on a wooden trapdoor, revealing a gaping black hole.

     "Well," said the Draik, "get in."

     Fenmere looked at the seemingly bottomless pit incredulously. First he'd found some ancient diary behind his fireplace, then he'd been snatched right out of his chamber, and now some criminal was asking him to jump into a hole.

     "Are you insane? There's no way I'm going into that filthy place!"

      The Draik rolled his eyes and gave the Prince a push.

     Fenmere was sent reeling into the darkness, his stomach in his throat. Then the hole sloped and he was sliding down the dirt tunnel at a breakneck speed. A sharp yelp let him know that Sophia was coming fast behind him.

     There was a burst of light and he was sent flying into a burrow-like hollow. With a sharp thud he collided with the dirt ground. He rubbed the grime from his eyes and took in his surroundings.

     The room was carved entirely out of the dirt and was held up only by several wooden beams on the ceiling. It was bare with the exception of a single wooden table in the center and three pets sitting around it.

     In one was a small brown Ixi dressed in worn tan pants, her large eyes glaring at him distrustfully. Next to her sat an intelligent looking Shadow Nimmo, tapping the table apathetically, and a particularly noble looking Red Moehog. He wore soft-looking blue trousers with a matching blue tunic and an expensive looking fur cap. He looked vaguely familiar somehow.

      A moment later Sophia came tumbling out of the hole, her usually immaculate white fur covered in dirt. The Draik fluttered down gracefully behind her. He'd obviously been down that hole many times before.

      Everyone immediately forgot he was there.

      "Well done, Jase," said the Nimmo, standing up to shake hands with the tired looking Draik. "I wasn't sure if recovering them would be possible."

      "Recovering us?" echoed Fenmere quietly. No one heard.

      Jase rubbed his temples in frustrated disappointment. "They got there before I could get the King."

      Fenmere glanced back and forth between the shocked faces of the three. The Moehog looked as if he'd been slapped.

      "Wait, who got there? What's going on?" he asked, feeling panicky.

      The conversation continued.

      "Did you get the diary?" the Ixi asked looking fearful. Jase nodded and she breathed a sigh of relief.

      Fenmere stood up now, his face red and furious. He was not used to being ignored. "And how do you even know about the diary? Who are you people? What do you want with me? Why am I at the bottom of a hole?"

      His shouts halted the discussion abruptly and all eyes turned to him.

      "Ah, young Fenmere," said the Nimmo in a calm, youthful voice, looking at him intently.

      "You'd do well to call me by my proper title," growled the Gelert, doing his best to stand tall and regal.

      The Nimmo chuckled. "Yes, of course, Your Highness." His tone was surprisingly sincere. He pulled out a chair and offered it to the Prince. "You may want to sit down."

      Fenmere eyed him warily but eventually took the seat.

      "I suppose I should introduce myself," said the Nimmo. "My name is Hayden." He pointed to the Ixi. "This is Ramaya," she nodded curtly, "and this is Lord Cayleb Cyril." Lord Cyril offered a weak and frightened smile in his direction.

      A Lord, marveled Fenmere. No wonder he'd looked familiar. He realized that this was big; you didn't get the hierarchy involved in for a petty ransom.

      "We are all members of a very ancient group, a secret society if you will," he continued, "called The Paladins of Strain."

      For a moment Fenmere just stared blankly at him. Then he burst out laughing.

      "That Paladins of Strain?" he snorted. Even Sophia, whose wide eyes were still bulging frightfully, seemed to be somewhat amused. "I didn't know the pathetic group still had living members. You're some kind of treasure hunters then, right?"

      The Ixi fixed an icy glare on him.

      "Yes," said Hayden after a long pause, "I suppose we are. But the treasure we seek is very old, and very, very important. Its value is much greater than gold or silver."

     "Do elaborate," said Fenmere sardonically.

     Hayden's face lit up with the prospect of doing so. "Well, it all started two hundred years ago with a stubborn royal Gelert named Arin." The others seemed bored, as if they'd heard this story many times. "Arin was the sole heir to Gansvere, and because she was a female, royal law stated that she must be married in order to rule the Kingdom. Now Arin was both clever and inflexible, she didn't like the idea of being forced to share her power with someone else, especially someone that was not of her choosing. At the time, such a thing was completely unacceptable. The royal court selected a husband they saw fit for the position, a real brute as the historians say. Needless to say, she was quite unhappy."

     Fenmere eyeballed him quizzically. "I'm not sure what that has to do with me, or how it merits my being kidnapped in the middle of the night."

     Jase pulled from his tunic the diary Fenmere had found in his fireplace. He handed it to the Nimmo who opened the cover and slid it across the table.

     Fenmere read the words scrawled in the corner of the inside cover with wide eyes:

     "This Book and all the contents within is the sole property of Queen Arin Elise Bavarian."

     Beneath it, a poem was written in elegant cursive:

     Within these pages, held and bound

     Lies Gansvere's treasure still unfound

     True, I hid it out of spite

     But pity me dearly for my sad plight

     Whilst you read this, my body's long away

     And I realized the treasure should return someday.

     If the reader is worthy and thy knowledge is great

     Then this now bitter Kingdom, can have back its fate.

     So read these pages, held and bound

     And remove the greatest treasure from the unforgiving ground.

     Fenmere read it again. "What treasure is she talking about?"

      "Scholars could only make assumptions," said Hayden, "but most of them didn't believe the myth anyways. After all, the only person to have ever laid eyes on the Treasured Diary before today was the Queen who wrote it. Supposedly she hid the treasure because she didn't believe the new King was worthy of owning it. The purpose of the Diary was so that the treasure could find its way back into the hands of one of her descendants." He paused for a moment and scratched his chin. "It's a treasure map, if you will."

      "My Treasured Diary," Fenmere mused over the title.

      The Nimmo chuckled. "Yes, Arin loved a good play on words."

      Fenmere nodded absently. Now this was a fascinating book. He could only imagine the knowledge within, details of ancient passageways and secret catacombs, and started to turn the old yellowed page.

      Jase suddenly shot across the table, painfully yanking back his paw.

      "I don't think you should read any further," he said.

      "And I don't think you should continue giving orders to a Prince!" snapped Fenmere. "Unhand me!"

      "He is right, young Prince," said Hayden forcefully. "There are forces at work here that you don't understand."

      "Enlighten me," he said scathingly.

      Hayden nodded. "Arin didn't hide the treasure alone," he said. "She enlisted the help of her most loyal servants and made them take an oath to keep its location a secret. Those servants called themselves The Queen's Confidants, and they passed their knowledge along to their descendants so that the secrecy of the treasure could be protected forever."

      Fenmere paled. "The people that burst into the castleā€¦"

      "The Queen's Confidants," he nodded. "They heard that the Treasured Diary had been found and so they came after you. Luckily, we too have spies in high places."

      Jase winked at Fenmere and batted his wings.

      "So you didn't kidnap me?" Fenmere asked him skeptically.

      "I'd say it was more of an interception," the Draik grinned.

      "The point is," Hayden continued, "that the Confidants want that Diary. If you want to read it, I won't stop you. But know this: they will stop at nothing to keep their sacred oath, and they will silence anyone who'd tell their secrets."

To be continued...

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