A Peace that Would Last One Thousand Years?: Part Seven
Jeran looked up at the Castle Defender from the ground in
horror, seemingly defeated. The spectre advanced on him, smirking. Jeran searched
frantically for some way to defeat the seemingly undefeatable Defender, but came
up with nothing. He lifted his sword painfully to block a swipe from the Castle
Defender, who continued to press down on Jeran. Jeran knew he could not hold the
Defender off for long, but he had to try...
Meanwhile, Kass watched, torn. How could he stay
there and let the only one willing to face the Defender fall? But Jeran had
told him not to interfere... Forget it, Kass thought, I can't just
wait here! He flew out into the courtyard, striking at the Castle Defender's
head repeatedly. Unfortunately, Kass's blows were not powerful enough even to
harm the Defender, who turned quickly and knocked the Eyrie out of the sky.
Kass fell heavily to the ground, landing in a heap next to Jeran. Jeran used
this second's distraction to shoot a flaming arrow from his Faerie bow. As strange
as it may seem, however it flew over the Castle Defender's shoulder, continuing
in a path towards the castle itself. The Defender laughed at his unfortunate
"How could you miss?!" screeched Kass. "You have
a faerie bow! No one has such horrible aim as to miss with such a bow! You just
doomed us both!" But Jeran only grinned weakly, pointing at a tower, which exploded
as it was hit by Jeran's arrow. The Castle Defender was knocked face forward
off his feet, causing the ground to shake as he hit it, and the remnants of
the tower Jeran had hit landed on him, pinning him to the ground. The Defender
was finally defeated.
"You did mean for that to happen, right?" asked
Kass, getting to his feet and helping the injured Jeran do the same. Jeran smiled
"Of course," Jeran said. "I did mean for it to
happen, though I doubted that it would. You see, I hit the powder room."
"Why would you think that the powder room wouldn't
explode?" Kass asked.
Jeran laughed. "Not that kind of powder," he
said. "Makeup powder. It really was a long shot." Kass just stared incredulously
for a moment.
"I must thank you for remaining behind, despite
my command to leave. Without your distraction, I never could have defeated the
Defender," Jeran said finally. "Your loyalty went far beyond any I have seen
before, even in Meridell."
"It was the least I could do," said Kass. "You
have earned that loyalty, proving through your battles that you are willing
to do anything to save Meridell. Besides, I tried to destroy Meridell before
myself. How could I convince anyone that I truly changed if I ran scared and
let Meridell be destroyed?"
Jeran smiled. Kass had proven himself in his
eyes, proven to be a valuable ally, and a true friend. He looked up at the sky,
watching the sun set. Meridell was safe, if only for another day.
At that moment, Darigan flew out of the sky,
startling Jeran. "They took out the engines," he growled. "The Citadel has been
evacuated, but we still must not let it fall. We may be able to keep it flying
with a magical artifact, which we could take if we defeated The Three themselves.
The Three must fall, or we will never be safe." Jeran agreed, standing straight
and readying himself to fight. Just then, something interesting happened.
The Castle Defender, still pinned under a pile
of debris, changed color, from inky black back to its original blue, then started
vanishing slowly. Out of the sky, Ambition spoke to Darigan, Kass, and Jeran.
"So, you have defeated our Defender," the Faerie
said. "Well done, Lupe; few could stand against the Defender. Your victory,
however, is meaningless. Meridell is ours!"
"Never!" shouted Jeran. "I will never rest until
Meridell is restored to the way it was before!"
"You do not even know where we are!" Ambition
boasted. "You cannot fight that which you cannot find!"
"Cowards," hissed Kass. "Too afraid to fight
these 'insignificant mortals.'"
"We are not cowards!" shouted Revenge, incensed.
"We will fight you!" he said, and a portal opened in the ruins of Meridell Castle.
"Come in...if you dare!"
Jeran and Kass walked to the portal, but then
noticed that Darigan had not moved. "Why should we trust you?" Darigan called.
"How are we to know that we are not walking into a trap?"
"You have no way of knowing," Greed stated. "But
those who accuse their enemies of cowardice would do well not to back down from
Darigan growled, then walked resolutely into
the portal, in front of Jeran and Kass. The other two followed.
"See, that wasn't so bad!" giggled Ambition.
"Just follow our voices!" she called.
Jeran found that he could see well in the smokey,
dark realm of The Three, much better, he realized, than he ever could if he
had not been transformed. The fog floating around felt heavy on him, increasing
Jeran's uneasiness. Looking around, Jeran found that The Three's realm was very
empty- there were no trees, grass, or rocks of any kind, and the ground itself
was invisible, looking just like the sky above. Jeran almost felt as if he was
at the end of the universe, and his guess wasn't too far off. He began to wander
off, but Darigan brought him back to the 'trail,' warning him against wandering,
as there would be no way to find a way back.
After what seemed to be an eternity of walking
through nothingness, Jeran, Darigan, and Kass found something of interest- a
circular, raised area as large as a castle, surrounded by twelve pillars of
marble. In the sky, floating over the center of this formation, were The Three.
"So, you have dared to enter our realm?" asked
Ambition. "You must know what this means- you shall never leave! Although,"
she continued, floating down towards Kass, "You, on the other hand, may survive,
even rule this realm with us, if you help us by getting rid of these two pests!"
"They were your enemies before," growled Revenge.
"They stole your Citadel from you! Why should you help them?"
"And what of your possessions? What have they
done to help you regain what was yours? We will give you all you could possibly
want, if you join us!" said Greed. Kass's eyes glowed green, and he began advancing
on Darigan and Jeran.
"What are you doing?!" yelled Jeran, who had
not heard a word that The Three had said. As soon as Jeran said this, The Three
turned their sights on him.
"Why should you fight alongside them?" Revenge
asked. "They only brought you along so you would fight us for them! They do
not care about Meridell- if we fall, they would just take you out and take over.
You should punish them for what they did to Meridell!"
"If you join us, we will restore you to your
former self- no Darigan mutations, and we will place you on the throne in Meridell!
Why fight us?" Ambition asked.
"You will have everything you could ever dream
of! Nothing would be beyond you! It would be just like you always wished when
you were young!" Greed declared. Jeran's eyes, like Kass's glowed green, and,
like Kass, he advanced on his allies.
Darigan realized what was happening- The Three
were taking control of their opponents, hoping to force them to fight each other.
Darigan, however, had vowed never to let himself be fooled by The Three again.
When the Three tried to tempt him, therefore, he was ready.
"We could give you the Orb back! You need the
Orb now, don't you? Your Citadel needs some magic to survive! We could give
you it!" said Greed.
"We could give you all of Meridell!" said Ambition.
"All you have to do is defeat your usurper and
your opposing champion! It would be so simple!" Revenge declared.
"I have already told you, I no longer need you!"
Darigan called. "I will never fall for your tricks again!"
"Your two friends seem to think differently!"
Darigan dodged attacks from both Jeran and Kass,
wondering how to bring them back to their senses. Perhaps knocking them out
would release them from the spell, but they would be no help in fighting The
Three if they were unconscious, and Darigan was unsure whether or not he could
defeat The Three alone. There had to be something missing...something he could
do to break the spell... Unfortunately, these thoughts were rather distracting
when trying to fight two opponents, especially two as strong as Jeran and Kass,
and Darigan found himself loosing ground. Darigan blocked blow after blow from
Jeran and Kass, glad that the Sunblade at least was unable to work properly
for the puppet Jeran. But even this was small help, as Darigan was backed into
a marble pillar, unable to maneuver any longer. It seemed that The Three had
won without even moving a finger.
To be continued...