Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 115,191,906 Issue: 230 | 9th day of Running, Y8
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The Treasured Diary: Part Five


by twirlsncurls5

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To everyone's surprise it was Jase who spoke first.

     "No way," he said, stepping back. "Close spaces, not my thing. These wings are meant for wide open skies, not nasty old tombs."

     "Y-yes," agreed Lord Cyril, "I don't think this is such a good idea either. I really should get back to the manor."

     Ramaya rolled her eyes. "Men are cowards." She snatched the diary from Hayden's hands and read the cryptic poem aloud once again:

    "Behind the wares

     Of the common and poor

     Dwells the underground domain

     Of Henry Delore.

     Since I was married away

     He's long since been alone

     So don't expect the door open

     Or a pathway to be shone.

     The door only opens

     For a noble request,

     Your answers rest beneath the surface

     So tread lightly at best."

      She looked thoughtful for a moment. "The door only opens for a noble request," she murmured. Curiously she approached the rectangular monolith that marked Delore's gravesite and started feeling along the two pillars that stood before the doorway.

      "Couldn't a noble request mean…um…a well intentioned question or something?" suggested Sophia.

      Hayden nodded. "What kind of question I wonder?"

      Fenmere tried one. "May we enter in the name of Queen Arin Elise Bavarian's Treasured Diary?"

      Nothing.

      Sophia tried next. "Can you permit us to look for Gansvere's greatest treasure?"

      Still nothing.

      Meanwhile, Ramaya was still feeling along the edges of the door.

     "Aha!" she cried out. "Come take a look at this!"

      They all hurried up to her. She pointed to a long elegant sword, the mark of a knight, which was carved with intricate detail into the marble. The sword's tip pointed to a small round hole.

      "Cayleb, hand me your necklace," she ordered.

      The red Moehog lifted it hesitantly over his head. Dangling on the chain was a golden ring bearing the Cyril family shield; a whinny in the upper left and bottom right corner and an olive branch on the opposite sides.

      Ramaya snatched it from his hands and pressed the ring into the tiny hole.

      The sound of stone grinding against stone followed immediately. The door slid open.

      "H-how-?" stammered Lord Cyril.

      "Well the door only opens to a noble request," she said as if it was obvious, "Lord Cyril is a nobleman, and with his noble ring he requested to enter."

      Hayden shook his head bemusedly. "Clever girl."

      "Indeed. Now if this is like any other creepy tomb I've walked into, the door will close the instant we're all inside. And according to the poem, we shouldn't expect 'a pathway to be shone'." She walked towards the spiny trees surrounding the cemetery and began pulling off branches. "So I suggest we light some of these."

      Hayden nodded and pulled a piece of flint out of the pocket of his purple vest. He struck it, sparks flew, and soon each of them held torches to light their way.

      "After you, milady," Fenmere said mockingly with a curtsy in Ramaya's direction.

      The Ixi rolled her eyes and walked in.

     Jase still lingered outside the doorway. "I think I'll stand guard."

     "Aww, is wittle Jasey wasey scared?" Ramaya teased.

     He crossed his arms. "Darn right I am. There's no way I'm setting foot in there."

     "Leave him, Ramaya," Hayden said, his shadowy face commanding. "He needs to make sure no one comes in after us." He then took the necklace from Lord Cyril and handed it to Jase. "Just in case you need to get back in."

     They turned and stepped into the tomb.

     Just as she'd said, the stone door slid shut as soon as they were all inside.

      The dim light of their torches illuminated a steep staircase leading downwards into the dark abyss.

     "Well," she said at everyone's obvious hesitation, "let's go."

      They all walked single file down the gray stone steps as the air around them began smelling dank and stale.

      Ramaya flipped casually through the pages of the Treasured Diary.

      "Uh-oh," she said stopping suddenly.

      "Uh-oh? What's uh-oh?" asked Fenmere, stopping abruptly.

      "There was another page stuck to the poem we just read." She started separating the two pieces carefully. Her face went white.

      "What?" asked Fenmere again, his heart beginning to race.

      Ramaya swallowed hard and shakily read the missing passage:

     "A word of caution if I might

     To those who take the downward plight

     Be wary of where your footsteps fall

     Or you might not make it down at all.

     Chose the steps whose picture shows

     A strong brave knight so long ago.

     Like I, someone he loved was lost

     And with his search came a heavy cost.

     So if you do not wish to fail

     Follow he whose love has most prevailed."

      For a moment the five could only stare at each other until they were able to comprehend what they'd just heard. With a shaky hand Ramaya held her torch to the stairs.

      There was a small crack dividing the staircase into two separate sections. On the left section each step was carved with the figure of a handsome and noble Lupe, sword unsheathed and dangerous. There wasn't a pet born in Meridell that couldn't recognize the heroic night.

      "Jeran," breathed Ramaya with a sigh of relief. "This is much easier than I thought. 'Like I, someone he loved was lost'," she quoted from the poem, "Queen Arin is talking about his sister Lisha who was separated from him for years."

      The others looked satisfied so Ramaya raised her leg, ready to choose the step bearing Jeran's picture.

      Fenmere casually scratched behind his ears, accidentally shining the light of his torch over the other step. His face paled immediately.

      "Ramaya, wait!" he screamed. "You're choosing the wrong step!"

      Too late. Her hoof touched down on Jeran's shield.

      Ramaya wheeled around to face Fenmere, her large Ixi eyes wide with terror.

      "Chose wrong?! What do you mean I chose wrong!?"

      Fenmere opened his mouth to speak but the instantaneous sound of rock grinding against rock silenced him.

      They all looked down in horror to see the stairs below them seemingly melt away. Fenmere could feel himself sinking as the step they stood on began to drop.

      The staircase had become a slide

     He fell onto his back and began scrambling around furiously trying to find a foothold. There were none. The slope was now as smooth as marble.

      Sophia screamed and almost at once, they were tumbling down the slide and into darkness. Fenmere grabbed at the wall, desperate for anything that could slow them down, but the sharp stones only scraped and cut him.

      He felt like a snowball rolling down a mountain, they were gathering speed, tumbling faster and faster out of control.

     Suddenly, the ground began to shake beneath them.

     "Fyora help us!" Lord Cyril cried out over the noise, "what now!?"

     The ground answered him. The crack that once separated the two sides of the staircase began to widen and Fenmere was right in the middle.

     He braced himself on the edges of the two sides that were slowly pulling themselves apart. Behind him he could hear Sophia murmuring prayers to Psellia the air faerie. Briefly Fenmere remembered her as the faerie that saved Jeran as he fell from the Darigan citadel.

     The crack was too wide now for him to reach across; he lost his grip. As he hung there by one paw, his legs dangling over the precipice, the seemingly bottomless pit beneath him, he looked at the other picture engraved into what had once been a staircase.

     Like Jeran, this Lupe too was recognizable to every Neopian. There were wisps of dark air around his figure, his head arched in a way that was both terrifying and sorrowful. It was as if, even in this simple depiction, he was staring high above the treetops, ever searching for the one he loved and lost. Jeran lived to become a hero; he found Lisha and had his "happily ever after" ending. The young knight once named Sylva didn't. It was his search that came with such a heavy cost, his love that had prevailed through death, and still prevailed through his bitter everlasting search. Sylva, now famous only in death as the infamous Ghost Lupe, gave everything for love.

     It seemed so obvious now why Queen Arin chose him. They were in the very tomb of the one she herself had loved and lost, Sir Gawain McAllister, who had died alone and forgotten after his love was married away.

      And as the edge he hung onto slowly sank into the wall and Fenmere looked around at the others, all scrambling against the force of gravity, he thought of Jeran falling from the citadel, amour gleaming. He heard Sophia's blood curdling scream, slowly fading away as she fell down, down, down.

      It occurred to him, Prince Fenmere, now dressed in the rags of a common peasant that no one was going to save him. There would be no air faerie now to swiftly catch him in her arms.

      The last inch of the slope melted into the wall and Fenmere's paw was holding only air.

      He fell.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Treasured Diary: Part One
» The Treasured Diary: Part Two
» The Treasured Diary: Part Three
» The Treasured Diary: Part Four



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