Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 90,556,196 Issue: 161 | 8th day of Collecting, Y6
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A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Three

by ikkin_with_attitude


Jeran felt incredibly strange. One minute, he was being torn apart by that awful potion given to him by Darigan, completely unable to stand; the next, he was upright, perfectly fine, and being told by Darigan that it was time for their plans to be put in motion. There was definitely something different about himself, as well, though he was not sure what it could be, too confused by the rest of the events going on. As he walked with Darigan around the Citadel, he noticed that none of the Citadel's residents looked strangely at him anymore, something that had previously made Jeran uncomfortable. Wondering why, he looked at his paws -- and received the biggest surprise of his life.

     Jeran stared blankly at the purple paws that he knew could not be his own, and the long, curving, dangerous black claws that grew from them. These were not his paws -- these were Darigan paws! Looking over his shoulder, he found a pair of dark purple wings- Darigan wings! Jeran was horrified -- he had been turned into a Darigan mutant! The part of him wanting revenge fed on that, telling him that this dishonour must be punished, while the rational side realized that if he were to fight for Darigan, Darigan colours would be necessary. But even the rational side did not want to accept the fact that he had been turned into a monster. Jeran promised himself that he would never use his new wings, that he would never become comfortable in the form of his enemy. As far as he knew, those who were given the form of a Darigan became vicious and violent, as hideous on the inside as on the outside. Perhaps if he could keep himself from becoming comfortable with the form, however, he could keep himself from this fate.

     "But, Darigan, why?" asked Jeran, though he already knew the answer. "Why did you have to turn me into...this?"

     "I had to make sure you would not betray the Citadel," Darigan said simply, confirming Jeran's thoughts. "As a Darigan, you will find it near to impossible to change sides. Meridell does not accept hideous beasts such as ourselves," continued the Citadel lord bitterly. "Also, everyone knows you. Do you really want to hear, 'Traitor' wherever you go?" Jeran completely understood Darigan's last thought, and was surprised that he had not thought of that himself. On the other hand, what would Lisha think of this?

     "Now, Jeran, your position in this conflict will be completely up to you. If your wish, you could be commander of the Darigan forces, as you did well in a similar position for Meridell. However, you may also be more of a champion, an example set for others to follow. This may make it easier for you in your attempt to keep peace, as you would not have to worry about taking care of an army. However, whatever position you take, you will give us the advantage of your knowledge of Meridell, as you are familiar with the land. Now what is your choice?" Darigan asked.

     "I think that the position of champion would be more use in my quest for peace. If you could convince your generals that a strategy of minimal loss would be best, it would be very useful, however. The only victory in this conflict is if both sides escape ruin. I suppose we must storm the castle to reach The Three, however, so that strategy will be difficult. First, however, we must make plans for the defense of the Citadel. I will return to Meridell to try to find when the attack will strike," Jeran declared.

     "You are dismissed," Darigan told Jeran, who went back to the Uni that he had flown up to the Citadel on. The Uni did not want to let Jeran on, believing him to be a Darigan, but Jeran calmed him down, convincing him that he was Jeran. With that, both Uni and rider flew back down to Meridell.

     Lisha was crying in Meridell's gardens, outside of the castle. Her brother, Jeran, was gone forever, and Skarl was just sitting around, waiting for Darigan to attack! She was hidden behind a rose bush, hoping to be left alone, when a rustling sound in the bush next to her broke her dark and dreary thoughts. She turned around and looked at the bush, wondering who was going to disturb her. A Darigan Lupe stepped out of the bush, looming tall over a sitting Lisha.

     Lisha screamed. Was Darigan after her, as well, to make Meridell even more miserable? The Lupe, however, had other ideas.

     "Lisha, why are you crying?" Jeran asked, realizing at once that Lisha could not recognize him, even by his now-changed voice. "It's a beautiful night, you're surrounded by flowers, and Kreludor is full."

     "What do you want, you foul, loathsome Darigan?!" Lisha screamed. "Why do you act like you care about me! Did you care about Jeran? Is that why you let that tyrant Darigan kill him?! Go away!"

     "But Lisha, I am Jeran," Jeran said hopelessly, realizing that there was little possibility of convincing her, but knowing that he had to at least try. "Don't you recognize your own brother?"

     "Yes, I do!" cried Lisha, bursting into fresh tears. "It was my brother that Skarl showed us, the brave knight who fell taking on Darigan Citadel by himself! My brother would never turn traitor! Never!"

     "Lisha, you have to believe me!" Jeran called desperately. "I would never be such a fool as to take on the Citadel single-handedly! All I wanted was to find the truth, whether or not Darigan was planning an attack. But he wasn't, and- The Three- Meridell destroyed- and Darigan turned me into this! Lisha, how can I make you believe me?!" Jeran pleaded.

     "Get out of here, you imposter!" Lisha screamed. "Get out, and never let me see your filthy Darigan face again! What are you trying to do, get me to jump off the tallest tower of the castle? Why must you torment me like this?!"

     Jeran shook his head sadly. His own sister had turned against him. As he walked away slowly, head down, he realized at last the full implications of his decision for Darigan.

     Mounting his Uni, Jeran took off into the skies of Meridell, lost in thought. As he approached the Citadel, however, he realized that it would be a good idea to find a point of attack for Darigan, one that would leave innocents out of the conflict. All he could see were farms and villages, hardly a good place to attack if you wished to keep innocents from harm. Looking down on Meridell in the darkness, it seemed peaceful, oblivious to the horrors that were soon to be unleashed. One barn, however, was brightly lit, in sharp contrast to the darkness of midnight that enveloped the rest of the land. Jeran landed and dismounted his Uni, the only one who remained loyal to him, wondering why anyone would be outside at such an hour.

     Peering into the barn, Jeran saw the impossible- Kass was still alive! The Darigan Eyrie was definitely not in his best form, looking rather diminished, but still alive. To Jeran's even greater surprise, his former foe was being fed by a young Usul. Jeran used every bit of restraint left in his Darigan body to keep himself from attacking Kass. It would be so easy to finish Kass then and there.

     Inside Jeran's head, he saw again a spectral Gelert, urging him to take his revenge. "Do it! Look at him! He was the one who almost ruined Meridell! He was the one who almost killed you! It would be so easy! He is unable to fight! Finish him now!"

     Jeran's eyes glowed green. He would do it, finish Kass. It was only right- the Eyrie deserved punishment! "I will finish Kass," the Lupe whispered. But at this very moment, the Usul overheard Jeran and realized that he was there, and everything changed.

     "Sir, please don't hurt Beaky. He is good now, like Darigan. He would not harm you. Please don't hurt him," Sally pleaded.

     Jeran's eyes changed back to normal. What was he thinking? "Of course I won't hurt Beaky," he said, "Miss, what is your name?"

     "Sally, Sir," she replied politely. "You won't hurt Beaky, right?"

     "No, I won't hurt Beaky," Jeran sighed, "though I am unsure whether or not Darigan would. I will leave him with you, if you wish."

     "Of course! I love Beaky!" Sally said. "I wouldn't want you to take him away!"

     "Okay, then, I will leave him with you," Jeran called, walking out the door. "As long as he doesn't do anything wrong, you can keep him. If he does, though, he will answer to me."

     "He won't," said Sally. Jeran smiled. Sally was so much like his sister Lisha, finding the good in everyone. But Lisha could not seem to find the good in him now, and he wondered if his sister had lost that youthful, innocent ability. He mounted his Uni once more, and flew back to the Citadel.

     In Meridell Castle, Lisha woke up in the middle of the night because of an awful nightmare. In the dream, she saw Jeran fly to the Citadel to ask Darigan to stop his attack, but Darigan coldly disposed of the knight with his sword. To her surprise, however, Jeran stood up, though his survival seemed impossible, now a Darigan Lupe. The Darigan Lupe bowed down to Darigan, siding with the enemy of Meridell. Lisha watched on in horror as her brother, now a monster, hunted down all who stood for Meridell, until there were none left. Her brother, destroying Meridell! Her beloved brother, destroying the castle! Her brother, who protected her and her friends from the bullies at Neoschool, smirking as he destroyed her friends, her last connection to her life before Meridell! And the grinning face of a Darigan Lupe, the previous champion of Meridell, as he finished off his own King...then turned his blade on Lisha herself. Just before the Lupe attacked, Lisha woke up, out of breath. It was only a dream, all that dratted Darigan Lupe's fault...but what were those voices she heard down the hallway, where King Skarl's private chambers were located?

     Lisha stealthily sneaked down the hallway, finding King Skarl's door open a crack, the room where the voices were coming from. But who could Skarl be talking to at this hour?

     Lisha recognized one of the voices as King Skarl's, but there were three others that she never heard before, one female and two males. She peered into the room through the crack carefully, hoping not to draw attention to herself, and saw who the voices belonged to - a Faerie, a Skeith, and a Gelert, all of which seemed to be spectres. Lisha had heard of them before, of course -- The Three; a legend that grew up in Meridell after Kass had been defeated. No one from Meridell had actually seen The Three, or by whom their existence had been revealed, but legend said that they had caused the attacks by both Darigan and Kass. Jeran had rejected these tales as myth, saying that no such creatures existed, but Lisha had not been so sure, though she was now. The Three were real -- now if she could only figure out why Skarl would be following such unsavoury characters...

     Lisha heard the voices speak up again. "You must attack tomorrow," the Gelert, who Lisha knew to be Revenge, ordered Skarl.

     "Yes," the Faerie, Ambition, continued. "Jeran's actions, though foolish, have given you a perfect opportunity. Meridell wants war. You must not waste all of their energy. It will be useful."

     "You should assemble your forces at dawn," the Skeith, Greed, finished.

     "Yes, perfect!" said Skarl. "Darigan will fall this time!"

     "And if he does not, there is always 'Plan B'" said Revenge.

     "You, however, ought to hope it does not come to that," warned Ambition.

     "And if you fail us..." Greed trailed off.

     Lisha gasped, covering her mouth to prevent herself from being caught. She ran back down the hallway to her room. The Three...Meridell destroyed...the Darigan Lupe was telling the truth! Jeran was alive!

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» A Peace that Would Lst One Thousand Years?: Part One
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Two
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Four
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Five
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Six
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Seven
» A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Eight

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