Beautiful Chaos: Part Two
The Castle was completely empty and Leo was freaking out.
"Where are they? How can they be gone? Where was the meeting? Was it here? Maybe they were holding it somewhere else. Where's Lisha? Is she okay? Where's Skarl? Oh, no, it's Darigan again, isn't it? We're not ready for something like this! Where is─" the Lupe was cut off as Cedrik pointed his wand at him and sent a spray of cold water into his face. He stood stunned for a moment before spitting out a mouthful of water and glaring at his friend.
"Alright, then?" Cedrik asked calmly, as a roar of thunder clapped over the Castle and the rain pelted down in torrents. The sky outside was as dark as night and the shadows were alive.
"Yeah, great," Leo said dryly, lighting the tip of his wand and looking into the council chamber. It was in ruins. There were papers scattered all over the floor, glass goblets of water had been shattered, the curtains were ripped and the windows had been smashed.
Cedrik waved his wand at the broken glass on the floor and the pieces soared back up inside the window frame and became whole again.
"What happened here?" Leo breathed, shining the light from his wand against the windows and peering outside.
"This is Kayla's," Cedrik said suddenly, picking up his tutor's wand from the table. "I'd recognise it anywhere; she hits me over the head with it about five times a day. She never goes anywhere without it..." he trailed off, leaning across the table to pick up a loose piece of paper flapping around. It had been weighed down by an overturned goblet, and it was drenched in water. Cedrik pointed his wand at the soggy piece and in an instant it was crisp and dry again.
"Cheese. Potatoes. Some of those little green cakes Illusen makes. Soap. Crown to be polished at 3:00. Council meeting at 10:00," Cedrik read aloud, turning over the page in disbelief. "It's Skarl's shopping and to-do list! Oh, but look, there's something on the back─"
"─Great, a shopping list, that'll be really helpful while we're trying to find all the major important people of Meridell when they've just vanished from this room," Leo snapped, nervously fiddling with his wand and sending little gold sparks shooting out the end.
Cedrik glanced over his shoulder at his friend.
"It'll be alright, Leo. Listen up. Now, first things first," the Draik began, adopting his authoritative voice he was often forced to use when it came to reasoning with his temperamental and quite often, rude, mirror. "We need to search this whole room to find some sort of clue as to what happened here. Then we can check the Castle. It seemed empty on the way here, but that doesn't mean it is. We have to make sure, we can't just assume. Now. Where's that piece of paper, the one with the ─ oh, I've got it. Right. Look, on the back here it says 'Darigan knows the source'. It's not Skarl's writing either. Interesting. What say you?"
The Lupe raised an eyebrow at his friend.
"I honestly have no idea. Lisha never talked to me about the Darigans, you know how she is. Who do we know that knows stuff about them? Who's old enough to have been in the War." Calm now, Leo scratched his head thoughtfully.
Cedrik looked at Leo. Leo looked back at him.
"Morgan," they said together, as a loud clap of thunder boomed over the Castle.
As they navigated their way through the Castle towards the kitchens, the two friends checked every room they passed. Expecting to find no one, they were surprised when each room contained the person to whom it belonged, it appeared that the Castle was only missing people of the higher Council, the magicians, the King's advisors, the scholars and the King himself.
"This is super creepy," Leo whispered as they closed the door on another room. The Chia who was occupying it was sitting staring blankly out the window. "The Castle's never this quiet!"
Cedrik agreed- it was creepy.
By the time they made it to the kitchens, they both were thoroughly spooked. Cedrik had chills running up and down his spine and Leo's eyes were narrowed and darting back and forth suspiciously. With their wands in hand, they crept quietly into the normally loud and energetic kitchen, only to find the head chef leaning against the counter with his head in his hands.
"Morgan? Are you okay?"
"My cake didn't rise."
"My cake. I was baking a cake and it just... fell in on itself. Sad, really," the big Yurble said listlessly, staring at something over their heads.
"I'm sorry about your... cake. What's going on here, Morg? Where are all the cooks, and the waiters?" Cedrik asked while Leo peered cautiously into the cake tin on the counter. He screwed his nose up and violently sneezed.
"Not enough pepper?" Morgan asked, looking right at them for the first time.
"Pepper? Since when do you put pepper in cakes?" Leo asked, grabbing his nose as tears streamed down his face. "And I'd say you had more than enough in there!"
"Maybe it didn't rise because I didn't use any salt," the chef mused thoughtfully, pushing himself off the counter and grabbing a container from one of the shelves. He pried the lid off and dumped a large cupful of salt into the tin on top of the gooey cake mess. It sat like icing, and the Yurble stared at it with such concentration the tip of his tongue was poking out over his lips and his eyes were narrowed and beady.
"Uh, Morgan? You okay, buddy?" Cedrik asked, looking at their friend with concern, as Leo shrugged at him over the bowl.
"Just dandy, thanks."
"What's going on here, Morgan? All the Council are missing and everyone else is just sitting there, in their rooms!"
"It feels like last time," the chef said suddenly, backing away from the counter, looking surprised.
"I don't remember, it was a long time ago. But I feel... like the cake needs more pepper. And cakes don't need pepper. Why am I thinking that? I know how to make cakes, I'm a chef. I've worked at the Castle since the first War, I've always made cakes. But it's like I've forgotten how... and I don't really care to remember. Isn't that odd?" Morgan reached up to the shelves and plucked another container. "Basil might work okay, though."
Cedrik grabbed the container of basil out of his hands and set it down on the counter.
"You don't need basil," he said firmly, trying to look his friend in the eye. "Listen, Darigan knows the source. Does that mean anything to you?"
"I don't remember," Morgan sighed, leaning against the counter and resting his head in his hands once more. "Why, will it make my cake rise?"
"Er, not exactly. But it's important, trust me. What can you remember about the War, about Darigan? Something's happening here and we need to do something about it, and you're the only one who can help," Cedrik said urgently, while Leo doubled over with a sneezing fit.
"The War... it never stops, does it? It's always there, in the darkness, waiting, waiting for me. But not this time," Morgan said, slowly turning his gaze to meet the Draik's wide eyed one. "It's coming for you, this time. Both of you. You will fight, and you will fall. We will fall."
Cedrik glanced at Leo, who seemed to have snorted some pepper up his nose and was paying for it dearly. While the red Draik would normally have immensely enjoyed seeing his overconfident and often– arrogant– best friend in such a humbling position, there were much more pressing matters at hand.
"Morgan, tell us what's going on. With the King, and our tutors, and Darigan, what's he got to do with this?"
"Tutors... Kayla and Lisha. Yes, they are very talented. Brilliant magicians. And now they're gone, at such an impertinent time. Well, you must find them, clearly," the Yurble stated, as if it were the most obvious of all solutions.
"But we have no idea," Leo wheezed, grabbing the edge of the counter for support, "where they are."
"Darigan knows the source," Cedrik repeated, remembering the piece of paper was still in his pocket and grabbing it out, thrusting it under the cook's nose. "That's what it says, see?"
"Indeed he does," Morgan said slowly, a small, strange smile on his face. "You need to talk to him, not me."
"You have to go to him, at the Citadel! Find out what he knows."
"Are you crazy? The Citadel? I mean sure, there's the treaty, the truce between Meridell and the Darigans, but to actually GO there? It would be madness! You do know the Darigans, right, you have actually MET them, not just seen them in picture books? For potatoes' sake, Morgan, you were there at the War! How can you have forgotten?" Cedrik exclaimed incredulously, exchanging a look with his (now stable) teary friend.
Morgan turned to him with cold, empty eyes.
"I remember, kid. I remember like it was yesterday. Now unless you want to be in here with me baking cakes when the next War starts, I SUGGEST YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BEFORE THEY DO!" He picked up his cake tin and hurled it at the wall, sending a gooey mess down the bricks and another cloud of pepper to engulf Leo, who promptly dropped to the floor and covered his face.
"We're going to fix this, Morgan," Cedrik promised, helping the sneezing Lupe to his feet and slowly backing away from the cook towards the door. "Whatever it is, whatever's causing this, we'll put it right, I swear. There won't be another War, there won't! Not this time. We're going to the Citadel, and we're going to make this right."
To be continued...