The Chronicles of Knight: The Knight Within - Part Ten
Avari and Raatri did not know how long they wandered
in that forsaken world. All they knew was that time didn't seem to pass, and
that though they forever felt tired, they could not lie down to sleep. They
traveled in what they hoped was a strait line, heads down as if they faced a
great wind. Every now and then they would glance up, but there was never anything
other than black mists and gray-black skies. There was no sign of the sun or
even the moon.
You are close… Too close…
At first Raatri didn't register the fact that
there was a voice speaking in his head, a voice other than his own. Then his
eyes widened and he halted. Avari took a few steps forward, then realized that
he had stopped. She turned and looked up at him, her heart and mind pressured
by the evilness in the air.
"What is it?" she asked quietly.
"A voice," he said.
"Where? I heard nothing."
He looked to her, and could tell that she spoke
the truth. Had his weary mind just been imagining things?
"I guess it was nothing," he said. "Let's continue…"
He looked beyond her, eyes narrowing. "What is that?" he asked, and she turned
to see. There, sprawled before them, was a giant black mountain. No, it wasn't
a mountain, Raatri immediately corrected himself. It was a massive building,
tall and shadowy, built of the mists that clung to this place. Eyes narrowing
further, he could see the towers and parapets of a great castle.
You see us now, don't you, foe? We are what
you have come seeking for.
"We have come for Darigan," he replied aloud.
"Who are you talking to, Raatri?" Avari asked.
Yes, we know who you seek. If you succeed,
we will fail… And we can't let that happen.
"Who is that?" whispered Avari, just now hearing
We are They. And you… you are dead.
And then, the Nightmares were released.
At first it seemed as if a tidal wave was rushing from
the gates of the shadow castle. Then Raatri and Avari realized that they were
Nightmares, the blacker-than-black phantoms that had passed as an army beside
them. But these Nightmares were different, for they were crouched down on all
fours like the pair of Lupes, fully four feet at the shoulder. The last thing
that Avari and Raatri noted before turning to flee was the fact that the creatures
were Lupes as well, Nightmare Lupes from a Nightmare world.
Even as they ran, Avari knew that she wouldn't
make it. Her wounds had weakened her greatly, and she didn't have the strength
to continue on. Her strength gone, she was running on will alone: and even that
began to ebb away. When Raatri noticed his friend's slowing pace, he slowed
"No, Raatri!" she cried out to him. "Continue
"I just can't leave you!" he shouted back.
"It is your destiny you must fulfill! Leave me
here now!" There was so much conviction and force in her voice that he
let out a mournful, short howl, and quickened his stride.
Then she slowed down and completely stopped.
She had to slow the tide in any way possible. If she were to be counted as a
knight, she had to be brave, had to give herself up for the right cause: to
return Darigan to the Citadel and restore peace. That was all that mattered
now. Not her dreams, not her plans, not her life. Just hope. That was all that
mattered. Hope that Meridell would be restored, that the Nightmare Army would
be stopped. She didn't care if her name never went down in a history book. This
was all that mattered.
"And so, the one true knight that Meridell needs
may never return. She went off on a mission with Prince Raatri of the Citadel.
Avari… Avari was a true knight. I just didn't want to see it."
Vladimir patted the Eyrie on the shoulder. Aleron
had related to Vladimar all that had befallen, all that had gone wrong, and
all that would help to correct it. He was immensely sad. He wasn't a true knight,
not anymore. The one true knight was on a quest he hadn't believed in at first,
though a few days earlier Blake himself had come in and told Aleron of the prophecy.
Raatri, prince of the Citadel, was the One that would return peace… and that's
just why Blake wanted the Lupe gone. It had reinforced everything that Raatri
had said that night around the campfire, and Aleron had found himself in despair.
For he had truths and not believed them, and that just might cost his home,
"Avari will be fine," Vladimir said quietly.
"She's got a brave heart, and a steady soul. No matter what happens, she will
see this through."
When Raatri had abandoned Avari, at first his
heart had been filled with despair. In his life the only ones that had been
willing to die for him were his own parents; and Avari. Avari had been a complete
stranger when she had leapt before Tamal's strike, did not have the parental
love for him. She only had her love for chivalry. Now, she was willingly giving
up her life so that he, and his destiny, might live. So that Darigan could return,
and peace be restored.
And as he thought of that, rage filled him. She
did not have to die. She did not have to die.
She did not have to die!
He slowed and turned to face the Nightmare Lupes.
Avari's royal blue pelt was the only thing of color in this dark world, and
even that was veiled by the sticky mists. She stood facing the charging Lupes,
ready to die, ready to be the knight she always dreamt she would be. He charged
toward her, and though surrounded by darkness, he felt something he never thought
he would feel, anywhere, least of all here.
He felt Light.
He wondered if this was how the Cybunny Seer
felt when she had called forth the blinding light and the black lightning to
ward off Zev. It felt as if a white flood were raging through him, burning at
his heart; though not in a painful way. It felt cleansing. Avari heard his footfalls
and turned, and he watched as her eyes went wide. He stopped several feet before
her, white fire burning within. He looked to her, and gave a quick flick of
his head. She quickly ran over behind him.
Then he looked to the advancing Lupes. Rising
his wings above him, Raatri could see from the corners of his eyes white light.
White, amid a black and gray world. It was pure and clean. It could drive the
It was magic.
Raatri had not known before that moment that
he possessed magic. It did not matter now. He could drive back the Lupe hoard.
He flapped his wings in the direction of the Nightmares, and wasn't all too
amazed when white light shot forward; just as it had from the Cybunny's paws.
When the light had been released, the Lupes had
hesitated. Then they had stopped altogether, watching the light come forward.
Time seemed to slow. The light hit the Lupes, and the impossible happened.
The Light simply tore them apart.
It was as if a wave were hitting a castle of
sand upon a beach, so powerful that they were annihilated in a single stroke.
Avari gasped softly, awed by the power of it. In seconds, all trace of the Nightmares
The light faded from Raatri's wings, and he turned
to the friend that had saved him before. He had now repaid that debt. She gazed
at him in wonder.
"Your eyes were white," she said.
"What do you mean?"
"When you were running back to me, and when you
were calling up the light, your eyes were white. Did you know you had magic?"
"Not until now," he replied. "Not that it matters.
Magic sometimes comes naturally, without training. I knew what I had to do,
and did it."
She shook her head, eyes still wide in awe. "Thank
you for coming back for me."
"You're my friend. You've saved me once before.
I was simply returning that."
You are powerful, yet we cannot allow you
"We have come to take back Darigan," Raatri replied
to the motionless castle.
Peace is what you desire. What we desire is
darkness. And that is what we shall receive. But come. Try to save your king.
You will never win.
"Come on, Avari," said Raatri without the slightest
indication of fear. "We will return with what we came for."
And so, they stepped into the very gates that
the Nightmare Lupes had been release from. There seemed to be nothing but the
same dark swirling mists everywhere, as if the castle were just fog taken form.
The deserted steps they found were solid enough, even if they did give the impression
that they would collapse at any second. The voices inside their heads were missing
as Avari and Raatri climbed and climbed.
Following an innate sense of direction-the very
inner voice that told Raatri just where to go to fulfill what was required of
him-the Lupes were able to come to the base of a circular stairway that obviously
led up a tower. "This way," he muttered, feeling in his heart that he would
see the long-lost king soon.
Again they climbed, around and round, so very
long it never seemed it would end. Just as Raatri was beginning to question
his direction, the stairs stopped and they were faced by a single, locked door.
The pair walked up to that door and peered through the barred opening.
Without question, they knew that the weary creature
they saw inside was the very one they had come for. Raatri warned Avari to stand
back, and then called up his magic again, destroying the door. The sleeping
creature inside woke with a start and looked up to them.
"The One," he said with a smile. "Prince of the
Citadel, I wondered when you would come to rescue me."
Raatri smiled and bowed to his true ruler, as
"Who's this?" Darigan asked, looking to Avari.
"His enemy will become his closest friend, am I right, Meridellian?"
She nodded. "I am called Avari, squire to the
courts of Meridell. I have come with Raatri to help fulfill his destiny."
"Raatri," Darigan said quietly. "We should be
leaving now. They won't be pleased."
As they were heading down the last flight of
stairs Raatri realized that They hadn't showed up. Nothing had come. Here they
were on the last step of the journey, and yet the guardians had not yet tried
Fool, Raatri. Don't think we can't hear your
thoughts. Don't think you'll win.
The mists started to swirl faster, becoming stickier
and heavier, trying to drag them down. On instinct Raatri brought up his magic,
forcing a path for them to follow. It had to be harder than this, he kept telling
himself as they hurried down the stairs, then out the gate. It had to be.
You are indeed powerful.
The voice this time was softer, as if it were
Though we ourselves were not able to stop
you, don't think that you'll return to the Citadel before the Army does. When
the Army reaches the summoner, all of the light side will be doomed.
Avari had a plan sometime when they were traveling
back through the dark side. She was slowing them down terribly, and that did
not have to happen. And so she proposed that she be carried by Darigan in flight.
Darigan and Raatri agreed, knowing the risks
involved if the Army made it to the Citadel first. For some reason they knew
that if Blake were overthrown, the Army would have to retreat. For some reason
they felt that the summoner was the key to this whole mess.
Flight proved to be many times quicker than walking.
Hope flared up in Avari's weary mind as she saw the white border on the horizon.
She loved that border. She loved the unevenness of it, the fact that it separated
light from dark. She loved it because it meant she would be away from the dark
side of the world.
For she had hated, and feared, that side.
They realized when they entered again into the
bright side that it was night, and that neither Avari nor Raatri had slept for
an uncounted amount of time. They stopped at the same place they had before
they had entered that dark place, and both Lupes instantly fell asleep.
The next morning they made haste to resume flight.
Before they began to fly away, Avari had the chance to look back at the borderline
and the land beyond. As she stared back at the place that had nearly taken her
life, she found herself desperately vowing never to return to it again. Yet
even as she made that silent vow, Avari felt that one day, she would return
to the dark side of the world.
To be continued...