Greatclaw: Part Nine
Part Nine: Light and Dark
Ac’real kneeled before the hooded figure he had met on many occasions before, bruised and beaten. The figure before him stood rigid. “You have failed me.”
“I’m sorry, my lady.”
The figure’s angry stance didn’t change. “Not only did you allow him to discover who he was, but you also almost lost Greatclaw’s blade.”
“Please, give me one more chance,” Ac’real begged.
“Why should I?”
“Please, I beg of you... Creal, don’t do it!”
The Light Faerie’s hood suddenly flew off, revealing a face contorted with rage. Then, a malevolent smile plastered the face of the former Guardian of Meridell. “I won’t, not yet.” Her smile broadened. “I still have use for you. Now, why don’t we go and fetch his little servant friend?”
“Of course, my lady.”
When Dredian returned to consciousness, the first thing he noticed was the cold. As he blinked open bleary eyes, he noticed that he was in a cell. Everything around him was dark.
As Dredian sat up slowly and rubbed the back of his head, he heard a voice call his name. “Dredian!”
Dredian looked around and noticed someone else two cells down from his. “Tom!” he cried in surprise when he saw the Techo.
“Good to see you’re awake,” groaned Tom.
“What happened? Why are we here? In fact, where are we?” Dredian could not stem the flow of questions that burst forth.
“Well, the boss...” Tom paused and gave a little cough. “Excuse me, Ac’real, used some sort of dark magic on you to put you to sleep. I realized what was going on, and didn’t want you to be hurt.” Even in the gloom, Dredian could see Tom wink. “I still owe you, don’t I? Anyways, I attacked Ac’real and made him lose the sword momentarily. Although, he still managed to push me off and knock me out.” Tom shrugged. “I guess after that he took us here, but I’m as clueless as you as to where we are.”
“Oh,” murmured Dredian quietly. Then, as an afterthought, he added, “Did he get the sword back?”
“Afraid so,” Tom replied. “I don’t see what’s so special about it, except that it’s probably pretty expensive.”
“It’s Greatclaw’s sword, infused with magic.” Dredian felt tense, wondering what would happen with the sword in Ac’real’s clutches.
“Magic! How do you know?”
“I could sense it.”
“But... how?” Their conversation was cut short when a Light Faerie entered the room.
The Light Faerie put magical chains on their hands and opened the doors to their cells. “Come, you’re wanted.” She attached the magic-created manacles to ropes of light, which she held firmly in her hand.
Tom glowered angrily at her in response, seeming keen to hold firm and fight. Dredian, however, had something he needed to know. “You’re Creal, aren’t you?”
Creal gave a long, cackling laugh. “Still as sharp as ever, aren’t you, Greatclaw?”
“Greatclaw?” gasped Tom, looking at Dredian with an open mouth. Dredian neither denied nor accepted that claim, for he knew not what the truth was.
Creal dragged them down the corridors of what seemed to be an ancient dwelling. She glanced back at the two silent neopets as they followed. “How do you like your stay in my home?”
Neither replied, only glared at the former Guardian of Meridell.
She cackled. “I suppose you’re wondering why I turned you into an egg, aren’t you? Well, I guess I can divulge the information now.” Her eyes blazed. “I knew that the war with the bandits was doomed to failure, and also that my power was beginning to drain. If I wanted to finally have control of Meridell, I’d need more power, else they’d be able to overthrow me all too easily.”
“Take control of Meridell?” gasped Tom.
“Quiet, Techo!” snapped the Light Faerie. “Yes, take over Meridell. I knew that such power resided within Greatclaw’s sword. I could not kill him for two reasons. One was that there were witnesses.”
“And the other?” Dredian asked sourly.
Creal ignored his question. “After the battle with Ac’real, I had to give up my position as Guardian of Meridell. I was still losing power, the knight who escaped could reveal who I truly was, and I no longer had the stomach for the job.”
“What’s the other reason?” spat Dredian, anger flaring up inside him.
“Only Greatclaw can bring the power out of the sword, though you never figured it out before.” A malicious grin twisted her features. “I knew if you remembered who you were, you’d never do it for me. Even back then, you might have seen right through me. But now, I have more leverage.” And then she pushed open double doors and entered a large chamber.
Dredian froze as he entered. “Nieror!” In front of him stood Ac’real, with the tip of Greatclaw’s sword just gently touching Nieror’s neck, whom he held captive with dark specters. Nieror’s eyes were wide with fear.
“Now,” Creal said, dropping the ropes of light to the floor, “I want you to release the sword’s power for me.” Dredian and Tom both tried to escape, but the ropes of light had attached themselves to the floor, preventing it.
“What if I refuse?”
“You won’t,” replied Creal with certainty, “for if you do, I’ll do this to your little friend.” Creal suddenly grabbed Ac’real, who cried out with surprise. The Kougra’s hood flew off to reveal a battle scarred and weathered face underneath. There was a sudden flash of light that exploded from Creal. Dredian squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them again, all that remained of Ac’real was his cape, which Creal let drift slowly to the floor.
Though the dark specters had disappeared because Ac’real was no more, Creal still went up and grabbed her. “Now, make your choice.”
Dredian felt fury rise within him, but knew he couldn’t just let his friend be killed. “Ok, fine, hand me the sword.”
Creal smiled. “I knew you’d see it my way.” She grabbed the sword and walked over to Dredian, carrying Nieror with her. She handed the sword to him, and he glowered at her in turn.
“Don’t do it, Dredian,” Nieror suddenly whispered. Dredian and Creal both looked at her in surprise. “If you do, she could harm so many more.”
“Silence!” spat Creal angrily.
“She’ll kill you if I don’t,” whispered Dredian helplessly.
“That doesn’t matter. Don’t do it!”
Dredian looked away. “But I have to.” That’s when he remembered what Nieror had told him, the night when he had snuck into the castle treasury to steal the sword. That’s when he truly knew what to do. He reached for the power in the sword. He could feel it dimly, but he couldn’t pull it out. “It’s not working,” he muttered under his breath.
“What?” screeched Creal.
“I can’t release the magic.”
“Impossible! Do you not know how, worm?”
Dredian looked her directly in the eye. “Maybe I’m not Greatclaw.”
Creal looked stunned by the possibility. “No... no, that can’t be right!” She dropped Nieror in astonishment. “I had it all figured out! Your egg was there, your fighting was able, your personalities are the same... even your voice at this age is the same! Where did I go wrong?”
“Now will you let us go?” snarled Tom.
Creal was drawn out of the depths of her anguish by his remark. “I have no further use for you,” she said. The evil smile was back on her lips as she raised her palm. It glowed with a white light. “Therefore, I shall dispose of you.”
“No!” cried Dredian. He could feel the energy of the sword, but he didn’t know how to obtain it. I’m not the real Greatclaw, he thought in frustration. He whispered words aloud, anguish ringing in them, “I can’t get the magic out. Only Greatclaw can. I can’t take his place. I can’t save my friends... I can’t save Meridell... I can’t even save myself.” He bowed his head, tears washing down his cheeks as he wept that he could do nothing but watch the horror unfold. “I’ve failed.”
“Dredian,” murmured Tom.
“Dredian.” Nieror added her voice to the Techo’s.
Dredian... Dredian... Greatclaw... Dredian Greatclaw... of course! That was it! For what seemed the first time in his entire life, Dredian’s eyes were opened. No, he was not the ancient warrior that had fought for Meridell... but he had a heart like Greatclaw's. Greatclaw's memories had just been played through his mind by the magics of Creal and Ac'real. It didn't matter that he wasn't Greatclaw the knight. He was still Dredian Greatclaw. It was who he was truely meant to be. With that realization, the sword began to glow in his hand.
With a roar, Dredian drew himself up to his full height. He felt power rush through him from the sword as Creal shot the energy that she had been gathering up in the palm of her hand. Light and darkness together burst from the sword, shielding the three neopets from Creal’s attack. As the light faded, Creal jerked with surprise. “But... how?”
Dredian’s sword sliced through the ropes of light that held both he and Tom captive. “I know the truth now,” he said. It seemed there was another voice speaking with his, the voice of Greatclaw, who he had been long ago.
“You’ve accessed the full power of the sword,” whispered Creal, beginning to back away. “Who are you?”
“I am Dredian Greatclaw!” he roared. He took a step forward. “And you, traitor, shall fall.”
“No!” wailed Creal in dismay. She tried to form light magic in her hands, but only a few glimmers appeared. “No,” she whispered again. Dredian realized then that Creal’s light magic had finally all drained away. “You can’t do this to me!” she cried to him desperately. “I’m Meridell’s Guardian!”
Despite all that she had done, he felt pity for her. Still, he knew that it had to be done. “Not anymore,” he whispered, his face darkening with sadness. His sword blazed with light and darkness, and Creal only had time to wail with dismay before she met her end.
To be continued...