Beautiful Chaos: Part Seven
"So you're saying you have absolutely NO idea what's going on in Meridell?" Leo asked Lord Darigan tiredly, slumping back in his chair and grunting.
"For the fourth time, no. I'm sorry that you had to travel all this way to come here, but there is nothing I can tell you," Darigan said regretfully, rolling up one of his pieces of paper and handing it to his supervisor. "Why did you think I would know?"
"Oh, well, it's a long and... really weird story, but mostly it's because we found a piece of paper on King Skarl's desk written 'Darigan knows the source'. It's cryptic I know, but it's all we had to go on. And everyone in Meridell is acting weird!"
"Yes! Very." The Lupe sighed and rested his head on the desk. 'Darigan knows the source', do you have any idea what that might mean?"
Darigan scratched his head and looked thoughtful while gazing down at his desk, littered with pieces of paper.
"I don't know what to tell you, Lenny-"
"Right, sorry, Leo. I don't have much to do with Meridell's affairs right now. We're in a truce and as far as I am aware nothing has changed with that. I only deal with Meridellians when it comes to things like supplies and trading. We don't socialise."
"I realise that, sir, but please try to understand where I'm coming from. Is there anything, ANYTHING at all you can tell me to help us out?"
Darigan frowned at the Lupe across the desk, his eyes glittering suspiciously.
"I am not going to discuss my Citadel's details with a young apprentice magician and a Meridellian one at that! Did Skarl send you, boy? To snoop around my home and get all my information for you to report back to him?"
"What? No!" Leo said hastily, glancing around the room nervously as the guards shifted slightly closer to them. "I promise, sir, I come with no ulterior motive. I only want to set things right in my home. Skarl's missing, he hasn't said anything to me and even if he was around why would he talk to me, I'm nobody special, well special in the sense that I'm a magician and all that but if it were to be a job for magicians he would definitely call for Lisha or Kayla before he asks for me and Cedrik, because we're good, don't get me wrong I can cast a mean fire spell and Cedrik, well, he always makes it snow, but if he needed a magician, a proper one, he definitely would-"
"You're rambling," Darigan interrupted his steady flow of words and Leo took a deep breath.
"Sorry, sir. It's just... not been a good couple of days for me and I could really use some help, and I don't often ask for help. Please, is there anything you can do?" The Lupe lowered his head in an uncharacteristically humble gesture and waited for the Lord to answer.
Darigan sighed deeply and rubbed his eyes.
"One of my guards will escort you to my archive room. You may look through my collection to see if there is anything that might help you. There's nothing I can tell you that would make a difference so you're only wasting time in here with me, so I wish you good luck with your little Meridellian problem and I hope you find something useful. But if you abuse this offer, and use the knowledge you find for your own purposes, you will no longer have my pity, and may Skarl protect you if you do so," he said, signalling to one of the guards, a surprisingly short Grarrl and nodded at Leo.
"Oh, yes, thank you, sir! I understand, and I really appreciate it." The Lupe smiled brilliantly at the Lord and pushed his chair back. "I'll get out of your hair... er, head, now."
"You do that."
I'm lost but this place is so familiar have I been here before surely I would remember if I had but I'm here now what am I supposed to do here and I'm carrying a rock is that normal to walk around carrying a rock I feel like I'm missing something something very important no it's not something it's someone it's someone that I'm missing who is it and where are they how did I even get here and I don't even know where here is I can't remember anything oh my head.
"I suppose it's absolutely necessary that you stand there watching me," Leo said over his shoulder in a conversational way to the guard standing at the door.
He was feeling much more like his usual chipper self since settling himself down in the warm and comfy archive room and rifling through the papers.
"Yup. Lord Darigan's very fussy about his stuff. You're lucky he let you in at all." The Grarrl smiled pleasantly, shuffled his sword's hilt more comfortably on his side, and leaned against the door.
"I figured it might be. Looks like I'm in for a third night of no sleep," Leo commented dryly, pulling another book off one of the shelves and flipping through it.
"Three nights? That's rough," the guard said sympathetically. "Why don't you sleep tonight and pick up your search again in the morning? I hate night shifts, personally. I enjoy my sleep way too much."
"I hear you there. I feel like the walking dead right now. But as crazy as this may sound, I'm the only one left to fix this. The people who normally deal with situations like this are all missing so it was up to me and my friend Cedrik to sort this whole mess out."
"Where's Cedrik, then?" the guard asked curiously, pulling two apples out of his pocket and taking a hearty chomp out of one before offering the other to Leo, who accepted it with a sad smile and bit a small nibble out of it.
"Thanks. I lost Ced on the way here. We stuck together from Meridell to the forest at the pass, but something happened and we got separated. I was going to stay and look for him but our friends we were travelling with -they know the terrain and they were our tour guides- told me I couldn't hang around the forest or I might not make it out either. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I had to leave Cedrik there and travel here to the Citadel to talk to Darigan. I'm Leo, by the way," he added, opening a drawer and pulling out a stack of papers, dumping them on the small table in the middle of the room.
"Griffin," the Grarrl replied, his mouth full of apple. "M'name's Griffin. Sounds like you've had yourself a pretty bad few days! I hope you find... whatever it is you're looking for here. What will you do once you've found it?"
"Depends on what I find here, I guess," Leo replied with a small shrug, rubbing his sore neck. He didn't think he had ever ached in so many places at the same time. "I figure whatever I find I'll take back to the Castle, but if I find a clue leading to... I don't know, Brightvale or something I suppose I'll have to go there as well. It would help is I actually knew what I was looking for, though," he grumbled, sitting down heavily at the table and glaring at the pile of papers littering it.
"You don't know what you're looking for?" Griffin asked, looking confused. "Then how will you know once you've found it?"
"And that, my friend, is why I cannot sleep," the Lupe replied wryly. "It's going to be a long night.
I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo. I am Cedrik and I need to find Leo.
"And how come you've never gone to Faerieland then? If you've always wanted to go," Leo asked Griffin, who had sat down with him at the table.
The little Grarrl grinned ruefully.
"I've lived in the Citadel my whole life and I've been one of Lord Darigan's guards for years. I've never had the opportunity to leave, and besides what would the other guards think? For shame."
"Who cares what they think? You do what you want to do, forget them. I remember all too clearly when Lisha and Kayla came to my house when I was just a kid and they told me I was a magician and they wanted me to come live at the Castle and study magic with them. I thought they were having a laugh at first, but once I realised they were serious, I was ecstatic. I was so excited. But when I told my friends they weren't happy for me at all, and I haven't seen them since. I met Cedrik shortly after moving there; he moved there a few weeks later and we clicked instantly. He's been my best friend for so many years and I vow that once I've put things right I'm going back for him, rain or shine. He'd do the same for me, I know he would. That's what a true friend does. He accepts me, sarcasm and all, and I accept his... snow. If any of these guards are a true friend to you, they'll tell you to go for it, and visit Faerieland. You do it and you don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
"Cedrik's a lucky guy to have a friend like you," Griffin said, absently tidying the pile of papers that the Lupe had previously discarded.
"Yup! And I tell him every day," Leo beamed at him, and the Grarrl laughed heartily. "Hey now, what's this? Look, I've found something." He leaned closer to the article in front of him and squinted at the small words before reading aloud. "The source has been found and consequently destroyed. Never shall it fall into the wrong hands. They are safe. Huh. It's from the Meridellian Times and it's dated – whoa, it's from the War. It's very old, I wonder what it means. What do you think?"
Griffin rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"I don't know... the source, huh? Well, whatever it is, or was, it's been destroyed, yes? Then how can it be here, now?"
"The original note we found said that Darigan knows what this source is, but I asked him and he said he doesn't. What possible reason could he or anyone have for writing those specific words if he doesn't really know?"
"Well, to get you here, I suppose," Griffin pointed out reasonably, setting down his apple core carefully by the papers.
"To get what?"
"To get you here," he repeated. "Well, think about it logically. Say you want to get someone to travel to a place, but the two places are... divided. How would you go about getting them there without raising suspicion?"
"Bang up job of not raising suspicion," Leo rolled his eyes before narrowing them. "You seem to have put a great deal of thought into this."
"Me? Ah, I'm a regular genius, didn't you know?" The Grarrl laughed. "But your suspicion is good, it'll keep you on your toes. And you need to be on your toes at the Citadel. Or something metaphorical like that. I'm actually really impressed you made it this far. Most travellers don't get past the first bend in the road, you know what I mean?"
"Mmm, so I've been told. What should I do? What would you do, if you were in my position? All I know is that the last few days have been the craziest of my life and I've lost my best friend. Everything else pales in comparison. Why did I leave him there? What was I thinking? Well I wasn't, clearly. But why would I leave him? I've never left him before in my life. It's those Woods!" the Lupe yelled, suddenly jumping to his feet and sending papers flying in all directions. "They did something, they changed us. I have to go, now! I have to find him before something else happens!"
"Whoa, whoa. Calm down. Yelling and running through the Citadel flailing your arms won't help him; it'll only get you thrown in the Dungeons. Lord Darigan does not like people running around here, so settle."
"I knew leaving him was a bad idea, I felt it at the time but I didn't have a choice, he said I didn't, he said I had to leave or I'd never make it out alive and I was thinking of Meridell and the King and I should've been thinking of Ced and now he's all alone and it's all my fault!"
"You're rambling again. Come on then, time won't wait for us."
"Where are you going?"
"To rescue your damsel in distress! Or Draik, rather. Though he might wear frilly dresses, I don't know. Does he?"
"You're coming with me?"
"No, YOU are coming with ME, seeing as I'm already out the door. Come on!"
To be continued...