The Ghost of Meridell: Prelude to War - Part Two
Jeran tossed and turned in his sleep. Memories haunted his dreams, turning them into horrible nightmares. In his mind he was back in the forest, reliving that ill-fated night over and over again.
He watched in horror as Sir Gavin fell to the ground, badly hurt.
Jeran rushed to his side. But when he got there, it wasn’t Sir Gavin that was lying on the ground, it was Danner.
The Lupe jumped back in shock. What had just happened?
Jeran desperately tried to shake Danner awake, but it was no use; his friend was gone.
“No!” Jeran jumped up from bed and looked around franticly. Seeing he was in his own room made him feel slightly less panicked. Making a desperate attempt to calm the wild beating of his heart he took in a few deep breaths and let them out slowly.
The squire was shaking from his hands down to his feet. It was bad enough to see Sir Gavin in his dream, but to see Danner like that was too much... and what did it all mean anyway?
As tired as he felt he didn’t think he could go back to sleep. At least not right away. Maybe a walk would help. Deciding it would be better than sitting in his room, the Lupe walked to the door. By reflex Jeran grabbed his sheathed sword and tied it around his waist before stepping out.
The Lupe really had no destination in mind; he was perfectly content to let his feet take him wherever they wanted to go. And apparently they wanted to go to the royal gardens, for that’s where he ended up.
Jeran walked down a cobblestone path with flowering bushes lining each side. He walked past a fountain and right to a statue of the late Sir Gavin. It had been sculpted in his honor shortly after his death. The Lupe sighed and sat down on the stone bench that sat across from the statue. “Why are you doing this?” he asked. “Why are you haunting me? What are you trying to tell me?”
Jeran shook his head and buried his face in his hands. In the stillness of the night you could’ve heard a needle drop in the grass. And that’s about as loud as the figure coming up behind him was, but somehow Jeran still heard it.
In one lightning fast motion he jumped up, drew his sword and pointed it at the cloaked figure. She made no move to defend herself. All she did was rise a pair of ghostly colored hands to show she carried no weapons. “Have you always been this jumpy?” she said bitterly. “Or is this new?”
“Krystal!” Jeran whispered harshly. “What are you doing here?”
“It’s a free kingdom,” the ghost Lupess retorted as she put the hood of her cloak down.
The squire sheathed his sword. His cross look was returned by an amused one. Rolling his eyes, he repeated, “What are you doing here?”
“I believe we’ve gone over that subject already. Let’s do a different one.” At Jeran’s icy glare the Lupess surrendered. “Okay, okay! Geez, don’t get your tail in a knot. I’m here because half the kingdom saw that royal Krawk when she came parading through the market like she was queen and I was hoping to... get a souvenir of her visit.”
Jeran slapped himself on the forehead and shook his head. “Please tell me you weren’t seriously thinking about sneaking into the castle and taking something.”
“Okay, I won’t. But I’ll give you half of whatever I lift if you let me in there.”
“Are you trying to bribe me?”
“That depends; is it working?”
“Krystal,” Jeran growled.
The Lupess heaved a sigh. “Alright, we’ll do it your way. I was never here, and I never had any intentions of breaking and entering. You never saw me.”
Before the squire could say anything more the Lupess had already slunk back into the shadows and was gone. Jeran slumped back down on the bench and moaned. “Thieves...”
“Squires...” Krystal moaned back before she left.
Jeran rolled his eye, stood up and started walking back inside; calling over his shoulder has he went, “I better not wake up tomorrow and find out that you broke in, because if you get caught you’ll get no help from me.”
The Lupe couldn’t be sure if she even heard his remark or not. But he was sure that if she did she’d be sticking her tongue out at him right now.
Jeran walked back through the hallways of the castle on his way back to his room. Just as he passed the room where Lady Hadassah was staying he saw a flash of light from the crack under the door. The Lupe couldn’t figure what in the world that might have been.
Concerned and also a bit curious Jeran knocked softly on the door. “Lady Hadassah?”
No answer came. This was certainly odd. Jeran carefully tried the door and to his surprise it was unlocked.
Opening the door just a little, the Lupe peeked inside. He saw the royal Krawk standing on the balcony, her scepter was raised above her head and a harsh wind was whirling around her. Jeran couldn’t hear but it sounded like she was saying something.
Suddenly the door flew wide open and Jeran was flung back against the far wall of the hallway. He was barely conscious enough to see three cloaked figures standing before him. As he faded in and out he thought he saw Hadassah approaching, but he really couldn’t tell.
That was the last thing he saw before losing consciousness.
Hadassah looked down at him coldly. “Foolish boy,” she said quietly, “you should know better than to sneak around.” The Krawk turned to the three cloaked figures. “Take him back to his room. You’ll have no need to worry; he won’t remember a thing.”
Jeran woke up tiered and sore. He couldn’t remember a thing that happened last night.
Well, that wasn’t quite true. He did remember the nightmares, and speaking to Krystal in the gardens... but what happened after that? He didn’t remember walking back to his room or climbing back into bed.
The Lupe shook his head. One thing was for sure, he sure didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But he knew he would have to sooner or later, so he might as well get it over with.
As he climbed out of bed he couldn’t suppress a yelp. Everything hurt, even his tail. Forcing himself to ignore the pain he got dressed and grabbing the sword that Sir Gavin had given to him, he headed downstairs for breakfast.
When he reached the dining area he scanned the room for Danner but found no sign of the Wocky anywhere. Slightly disappointed, he went ahead and dished himself a plate of food and found a place to sit.
Only moments later Sir Erick came to sit across from the Lupe. He had no plate with him so Jeran assumed he’d already eaten. “You’re about two minutes from being late,” he said dryly.
“I know,” Jeran replied, picking at his food.
The Ixi looked Jeran up and down. “You also look like something the Gathow dragged in. Are you all right?”
“I just have a bad feeling, that’s all.”
“About what?” Jeran only shrugged. “Well, if you discover what it is you have a bad feeling about, I’ll be in the sparring room.” As Erick got up he looked back at Jeran. “Oh, and if you see Danner, tell him I want to see him.”
Jeran watched the yellow Ixi walk off. With a sigh he began to pick at his food again. Why couldn’t he remember why he felt so jumpy?
The Lupe looked up to see Danner coming toward him at a slow trot. “Hey Danner,” Jeran greeted him. “And I thought I was late for breakfast. Where have you been?”
The blue Wocky slid into the seat across from his friend. “I was up half the night studying for that dumb history test. I still don’t see why a future knight needs to pass a history test before taking the test of knighthood.”
Jeran gave a week smile. “I guess they figure if we read up on the mistakes made in the past it’s less likely history will repeat itself.”
“I guess so... hey, have you seen Sir Erick? I’ve been looking for him everywhere.”
“He just left actually. He’s headed for the sparring room, and he wants to talk to you.”
“Thanks, I’ll see you later.”
“Don’t you think you should eat? It’ll be a while before lunch.”
Danner grabbed a piece of fruit from a bowl on the table as he left. “Yes, Mother,” he said teasingly.
“Sir Erick,” Danner said as he peaked inside the doorway. “Jeran said you wanted to talk to me?”
Erick looked at the Wocky sternly. “Danner, I understand from your teacher that you aren’t doing so well in your history studies.”
The Wocky looked at his knight master. “Well... maybe I’m not doing great. But—”
“No buts. Danner if you don’t get a good mark on your history exam, you won’t be able to take your test of knighthood with the rest of the older squires. If you’re having problems, why don’t you ask Jeran? He's already passed his and I’m sure he’d help you.”
“I’ve heard enough about Jeran!” Danner snapped. “All I’ve heard for the past two months is ‘Jeran this’ and ‘Jeran that’. I’m sick of hearing how great Jeran is or how smart he is! I’m your squire; Jeran’s not, and yet you treat him like he is your squire!”
At first Erick was shocked at Danner’s outburst. But his shocked look quickly turned into a cross one. “Now wait just a minute. Jeran’s been through a lot these past two months and he’s trying to move on. I’ve never treated either of you as a favorite and I never will.”
The blue Wocky wrinkled his nose and stalked off, saying over his shoulder. “If you can’t see what you’re doing, then you’re blind!”
“Danner,” Erick called, but it was no use. Danner had already walked away. The Ixi shook his head in disbelief. What had caused that?
It didn’t matter, he decided. If he gave Danner some time to cool off, things would settle back to normal before lunch.
To be continued...