Defender Scarlet Shadow in the Backstab Knight: Part One
Author's Note: This story is a third instalment to a series I call the Scarlet Shadow Adventures series. While this story can be read and understood without reading the first two, it is recommended that you read them first. Click here for a link to my works, including the first and second instalments. Enjoy! ~Orisasda
The Shield of Kings has been passed down the royal Meridellian family by the many kings that have ruled Meridell from the time of its establishment. It is made out of the strongest metal alloy to be found on Neopia and is said to be infused with many magical charms to project it from being scarred or broken by weapons. So it is known as the Shield that Never Breaks. At least in one battle, a king as ridden into battle with this shield at his side (although it is debatable if King Skarl has done this yet). But as a shield of legend, it is very coveted by many and some would do anything to obtain the shield. Many have tried to steal it, but the separate room for the shield is under constant guard and only one with inside knowledge could ever hope to have a chance at getting the shield away from the castle. But some men would do anything to get the shield. Even if it involved turning your back on everything you vowed to be. Or be the very thing that you have despised for as long as you can remember.
At Defenders Of Neopia Headquarters, Sopherie the camouflage Kacheek watched the many Defenders pass her as she waited near the door to the records room like she was instructed to earlier. Apparently, she was waiting for Aspen, her former mentor, as they had a mission together. She hoped it wasn't going down into the records room to retrieve something as she'd get cobwebs at over her red and black uniform there and she knew the only reason the desk workers sent the field Defenders down there was because of the basement ghost that was in there who would scare off anyone who wasn't a field Defender. He wasn't so bad once you got to know him; just annoying. Then Aspen came strolling towards her in his silver armour, part of his uniform as Phantom Warrior.
"Well, you took your sweet time, Phantom Warrior. You were supposed to be here half an hour ago!" Sopherie said to him.
"Sorry, Scarlet. Classicca stopped me and she went on forever about something she needed advice on. Told her that she was better off asking another Defender and went on my merry way." Aspen said. Sopherie felt a little sympathy for the ghost Ogrin. Classicca was a silver Zafara who had the power to manipulate sound waves through music. She was a good Defender, she was just still fairly new and unsure of herself. So she'd often ask advice from other Defenders. However, she probably should have known better than to try and ask Aspen. He was notoriously unhelpful when it came to advice.
"I'll forgive you this time." Sopherie said with a joking smile. "So we're going on a mission?"
"Yep, I was told that I needed to bring someone I trust and I can't trust anyone more than you, Scarlet." Aspen said, his eyes sparkling.
"So we're not going down to the records room?" Sopherie said in relief.
"Far from it." Aspen said. "We're going to Meridell."
Sopherie's heart began to beat faster. This was much better than getting something from the records room.
"Are you going to tell me why?"
"You'll find out when we get there. Just know that it won't quite be like other missions we've gone on together."~~~
When they arrived in Meridell by ferry, Sopherie drank in all the sights of Meridell, as she had never been here and did her best to ignore the stares of its inhabitants. She and Aspen had to ride on the ferry in full uniform and she had her fill of people staring at her while she was on the boat. But she was also asked for autographs by some young fans and they always made her feel better. Aspen simply walked through the crowds, looking quite at home. Makes sense since Meridell was his homeland. Sopherie thought as she did her best to follow him. They made their from the docks to the path that lead to castle.
"Going to Meridell Castle, huh?" Sopherie asked Aspen.
"Yeah, His Majesty King Skarl is actually the one who sent the mission we're on to the Defenders. And the problem is only on this land" Aspen replied.
"Really? Must be pretty serious as usually a land's law enforcement is capable of taking care of problems that afflict their lands." Sopherie said.
"I should be honest with you before we go in." Aspen said, stopping before the drawbridge that lead into the castle. "This is a guard job. You see, there's a ball held at Meridell Castle around this time every year. It's also when the castle is at it's most vulnerable since a number of the Meridell knights will be at that ball. Usually there are enough knights to protect the castle's treasures but knights have been mysteriously getting sick which is dropping the amount of knights that will be able to guard the castle's treasures for that night." Aspen explained.
"Sounds like someone is doing an inside job." Sopherie mused.
"King Skarl apparently thinks so too. So we'll be extra security for whatever treasures he wants us to guard."
King Skarl's throne room was quite impressive with white marble walls, red and blue banners and tapestries covered some of them. King Skarl sat in a golden throne padded with comfortable red cushions.
"Sir Aspen, my old friend!" King Skarl's said. "It's good to see you again!"
"It's good to see you too, Your Majesty." Aspen said, bowing to him. Sopherie followed suit by also bowing.
"Who have you brought with you, Sir Aspen?" King Skarl asked Aspen. He was eying Sopherie up and down which made her feel rather nervous.
"This is Defender Scarlet Shadow. She used to be my Defender apprentice. She's a fully fledged Defender now as I would trust her with anything." Aspen replied.
"Little small, isn't she?" King Skarl said.
"I'd ask you to not underestimate me because of my size, Your Majesty." Sopherie spoke up. "I may be small, but I am quite strong and I am the master of my two weapons, the bow and the whip."
King Skarl noddded, seemingly satisfied.
"Well, if you trust her, Sir Aspen I trust her. Although I wish I wasn't asking you to do this in your afterlife." King Skarl said. Aspen chuckled a little.
"I don't mind, Your Majesty. I may not be one of your knights as I was in life. But I am still loyal to you as you are still my King."
"Good to hear, Sir Aspen. As for what I want you and your Defender companion to guard for me. I want you to guard the room where the Shield of Kings is kept."~~~
Sopherie and Aspen were following a knight down one of the many corridors of the castle. Sopherie, with how much she read and how much research she did while working on mission cases knew what the Shield of Kings was. A legendary shield that was nicknamed 'the Shield that Never Breaks' and was passed down through the Meridellian royal family. King Skarl trusted very few knights to guard this precious shield and Aspen had been one of these most trusted before he died. The sickness that had blighted the knights seemed to have only stricken down the ones he trusted to guard the shield so he had Aspen come, along with someone he trusted to help the knights that were left guard the shield. They came to a thick wooden door with strips of metal running along the top, bottom and middle of the door. An iron lock was on the door and two knights, a woodland Ixi and a familiar blue Lupe stood to the sides of the door. The blue Lupe grinned as he saw Aspen.
"Sir Aspen! Good to see you!" The blue Lupe called as they approached.
"Sir Jeran!" Aspen said with a smile. "Good to see you too and as healthy as ever too!"
Sopherie blinked in surprise when she heard the name 'Jeran'. Was this blue Lupe the same Sir Jeran that was the King's Champion Knight? It would explain why he looked familiar, there wasn't a single Neopian that didn't know his face. He was famous after all. Jeran's gaze turned to Sopherie.
"And who is this?" He asked Aspen.
"That's Defender Scarlet Shadow. She was my apprentice once. I usually just call her Scarlet." Aspen said. Jeran approached Sopherie and shook her hand.
"Good to meet you, Scarlet Shadow." He said.
"G-good to meet you too, Sir Jeran." Sopherie said quietly and awkwardly. Jeran looked over at Aspen for an explanation for Sopherie's behaviour and Aspen laughed.
"I think she's a little intimidated by your fame. I thought you'd be used to it now." Aspen said, obviously amused.
"Trust me, Aspen. You never get used to it. I sometimes wish I wasn't this famous hero and was just another knight. But it was my dream to become the strongest of the Meridellian knights. Fame just happened to come with the achievement. At least Lisha will never treat me any different. She was quite disappointed that I would be needed during the ball to guard the shield." Jeran said with a smile.
"Are you not going to let me introduce myself, Sir Jeran?" The woodland Ixi said in good humour.
"Oh! I'm sorry, Sir Harvard. Go right ahead!" Jeran said.
"Well, as you heard from Sir Jeran, my name is Sir Harvard. I'm one of the first class knights." Harvard said. Aspen looked Harvard up and down, obviously liking what he was seeing.
"First class, eh? I see why just by looking at you. I bet you could give Jeran here a run for his money. And perhaps been a run for mine too."
"You flatter me, Sir Aspen. I have heard of your skills. You and Sir Jeran would surely flatten me quite easily!"
"Nonsense! I've seen you with that sword before and I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of your sword."
"I don't think anyone likes to be on the receiving end, Sir Jeran."
The three got into a man talk which left Sopherie very confused as she didn't understand much of what was going on. But she noticed that Sir Harvard spent a lot of the conversation staring at her which left her feeling uneasy. There was something about the stare that made her feel very uncomfortable.
To be continued…