The Chronicles of Knight II: Rebuilding the Forsaken - Part Four
Perhaps Too Great an Influence
The small black eyes slowly opened, blearily peering
around at their surroundings. Around him, there were hushed voices. Where was
he? Why did he feel so sore?
"Hush," hissed a female voice somewhere to his
left. He could barely make out her blue form against the constant grey of the
area above and around him. To his right he could just discern another shape,
this one black and more massive. Where was he? Who were these people that stood
Who was he?
It was the thought that he had forgotten who
he was that truly awakened him. His vision became sharper, and his normally
acute hearing began to pick up smaller sounds. His head began to clear.
Who was he?
Those thoughts seemed like a nightmare. Could
he truly have forgotten who he was? Was this all just some crazy dream, or was
Too many questions! His mind tossed and turned,
and he felt dizzy, even dizzier than if he had spiraled down a thousand feet.
Flight… That was something he could remember. Flight. That was something…
He no longer had.
Suddenly the memories began flooding back. He
remembered who he was and what he was, and why he felt so sore. He remembered
what had happened that had broken his wing.
He had to tell the king! Meridell had to be warned!
"I must…" said a very weak voice, and he was
surprised to realize that the voice belonged to him. "Warn the king," he finished.
"Shhh, shhh," soothed the female. "I'll go tell
him that you have woken." The blue form at his left turned and walked away.
He heard a door open, barely saw the blue form disappear from the corner of
his eye, and the door close. The shadowy form at his right shifted, and he turned
his steadily clearing sight to him.
"Greetings," the shadow voiced. He remembered
that voice, though from where he could not tell. "I don't know if you remember
me. You were fading fast when we met."
"You are… the one… that rescued… me." He had
to take a breath every few words. How had he become so weak?
"Yes," the shadow confessed. "We were expecting
you to sleep longer."
"How long… was I… sleeping?"
"It's been four days."
"Four days!" He sighed. "Four days."
"I know that you had an urgent message, but there
was no way to revive you."
"It was… those creatures," he said weakly.
"Creatures?" the shadow asked.
"Yes. They were… long and swift… and sleek… Demons…
Red eyes… And… poison."
"Darigan Techos," the shadow muttered. By now
he could tell that the shadow was truly a black Lupe with wings. "How many were
He was about to answer when the door opened again.
By now his sight had returned to near-normal, and so he could see the shapes
of a Lupe with royal-blue fur, and a blue Skeith that didn't appear at all fat
like all the other Skeiths that he had seen. This one had a regal air about
him, as if he knew what he was doing and what he wanted, and would see anything
"Greetings, friend," said the Skeith, and he
was amazed to hear not the voice of a grown Skeith, but of a pup nearing adulthood.
So truly Vladimir was a young king!
"Greetings… Meridellian king. I must… warn you."
"I understand," the king said kindly. "First,
tell us your name."
"I am… called Avak. I come from… Brightvale.
But I must… warn you."
"Warn us of what?"
"Demons are loose," he said. "Dozens of them."
"Demons? What type of demons?" the king asked.
"Techos. Poisonous Techos. Dozens of them… all
coming from… the Citadel."
Raatri let out a long breath, causing the others
to look at him. "The Lair," he sighed. "The Darigan Techos that Blake trained
have escaped. Do you realize what that means?"
Avari shivered. Yes, she knew exactly what that
meant. It meant that the creatures kin to the Wolf were free. It meant that
they would take revenge. It meant a lot of trouble.
Dozens of poisonous creatures, guided by hate
and filled with the need for revenge… She sighed. She had hoped things would
be getting back to normal as Meridell gradually accepted her as a knight and
as a Council member. But was there ever really a "normal" for a lone female
Her breath came and
went like the thunder, in and out so harsh that her throat screamed in agony
and revolt. Sweat poured down her skin, soaking her fur and stinging her eyes.
She was actually frightened for once, though usually things did not frighten
her. She could not allow things to frighten her; or at least, that's how it
used to be.
Where was he? She knew that he was performing
the Search, but surely she would have found him by now! She had an uncanny talent
for knowing where he was, and his mood, and when he was about to do something.
She didn't know why: she just did. So usually she knew where to find him when
she had to inform him of something. Today, though, right now, she could not
Kaeth was one of the select few minions that
Raatri had secretly taught for the past few years. She had been the first one
he had recruited, for she had a past similar to his. Her parents, too, had been
defiant and defied Blake. Her parents, too, had been killed at Blake's hand.
She had been spared, mostly because Blake didn't
see her as a threat. He had made a major mistake though, for he had killed the
young pup's parents when the pup was aware. He had caused her to begin to hate,
and that hate had grown. Over the years she had learned that to survive, she
had to appear to serve him. She had learned how to survive. But she would always
remember, and the memory of her parents defying and dying Blake would guide
her as surely as Avari's parent's had guided the young Lupe on her journey to
And so, one day the Darigan Prince had come in
secret, telling her all. It had been brave of him to do so, for if she had not
been the creature he thought she was, she could have easily betrayed him. Instead,
she had agreed to allow him to teach her. No one knew that the growing friendship
between the Darigan Prince and the Zafara minion ran deeper than just a friendship.
It ran into conspiracy, and plans of action to take if Darigan ever returned.
Over the years Kaeth had helped Raatri recruit
others, until a small, quiet, and secret force that went against Blake rose
right under Blake's nose. He never knew, and probably never suspected. Thanks
to Raatri's actions in recruiting the young minions like Kaeth, Darigan's return
had been much easier.
Kaeth's breathing gradually became harsher as
she continued to sprint down the halls, trying to find Darigan. Khallon had
told her the news nearly an hour before, and she still could not find Darigan.
Where was he!?
Of course! If she had the time, she might have
smacked her head in frustration. Darigan was constantly tired, constantly dreaming
his nightmares, both in sleeping and waking hours…
Darigan was in fact
sleeping, though the sleep was troubled and plagued by nightmares. Again, he
dreamt of his worst nightmare, the shadow-creatures referred to as They. Those
voices… those terrible, terrible voices…
"Darigan," hissed a voice - a real voice, not
one in his head. Something real and hard shook his shoulder. He opened his amber
eyes and found the rust-colored face of Kaeth staring down at him, eyes wide
with worry. "Darigan, they all escaped."
"The creatures," she whispered, voice tight.
"The demons. Darigan, the assassins are free!"
At first Darigan didn't
believe what Kaeth had said. But no - Kaeth wouldn't lie, at least not to him.
He suddenly realized the implication of it, and shot straight up, leaping out
of his bed. The Zafara hurried to dodge out of his way. He half-ran, half-walked
to the door and down the halls, the young minion at his heels. It didn't take
them long to reach the room where the secret passage into the Lair was hidden.
Darigan walked quickly up to the wall and touched it with the palm of his hand.
The place between his hand and the wall glowed for an instant, and the secret
door swung open to reveal the long staircase. Kaeth, unsure whether to stay
behind or follow, nervously watched the departing form of Darigan until he rounded
the passage on his way down the long spiral staircase. She had vowed to Raatri
to serve Darigan, she remembered suddenly, seeing the face of the shadow Darigan
Lupe in her mind. She decided. She would have to follow him.
She quickly descended after him, wondering if
it was magic that kept the passageway lit.
"They're all gone,"
Kaeth heard Darigan whisper. She looked around the semi-massive room. Cages
lined the walls, save for the wall with the passage and the wall opposite them.
All the cages were open, and each was empty.
"Do you think you know how they escaped?"
"One - or more - must have had magic. All the
locks could only be opened by it." He turned around to look at her. "A Techo
assassin with magic… Can you imagine?"
She shook her head. "And I thought a Search would
be hard enough," she said with a small smile. "I wonder why they didn't try
to attack you or anyone else. They just passed Khallon and the rest of the Guard."
"Who knows what is in an assassin's mind?" he
asked. "Cunning, sly, and quick… We have another problem to account for." He
scratched his head, clearly tired. "Go send a message to Meridell to warn them."
She nodded and bowed slightly, then turned and
rushed up the stairs.
Darigan watched her until she rounded the corner,
and then sighed and turned around. The room was now empty of life, save him.
The cages around him seemed like the maws of great beasts, wanting him to enter
in and be crushed. Magic was present in the air - one of magic could always
feel the magical presence of one with lesser magic. Most was the musty, ancient
magic that lit the room. Some was the poisonous, cunning magic of the assassin
that had freed the others. But he could sense a third, he felt, somewhere on
the air. Whoever had left that essence had probably had more magic than he -
but for some reason Darigan could feel it. He walked toward the opposite wall,
peering up at it. Once he was two feet from the wall, that strange magical presence
a dull hum in his ears, he paused and waited. Then, slowly, he raised a hand
and placed his palm on the wall. His hand glowed for an instant, and the wall
swung inward with a heavy sigh.
Darigan shook his head, entering into the double-secret
place. Who would ever think there was a hidden passage within a hidden passage?
The room beyond was surprisingly small, perhaps seven feet back and four feet
wide. Inside there was a table covered with papers and books. Darigan walked
up to it and looked over them.
Plans for other invasions and the like… Blake's
plans. Darigan leafed through the books, finding them filled with all sorts
of dark magic, and even a book that Blake himself had been writing about the
skills and uses of Techo assassins. He picked up the four books and the many
papers, turning around and heading up the long passageway. The dark books and
the papers would all be burned, so that Blake's influence would be destroyed.
Darigan was grateful he had found Blake's hidden stash of plans, though he still
shook his head in disbelief at all the mayhem his "mysterious" disappearance
Yet even with that Search of the Lair and the
double-secret room, it never occurred to him that beyond that secret passage
was another, even more secret one - a thrice-secret room - guarded by magic
so rare that even one with incredible magical gifts such as the Seer or Raatri
would have a hard time seeing it even if they were looking in the right place.
Yet perhaps if he had found it, he would have discovered two more books. One
detailed Blake's rule, an unfinished tale that told of everything, from his
plots to overthrow Raatri's parents to the day before Blake had met his downfall.
Probably the most influential of any of the six
books was the other in the thrice-secret room. It was a dangerous book that
told of They, of how to summon They, of how to persuade They. Perhaps Blake
was too great an influence to be completely wiped out. Darigan never found the
last two books in his Search - nor would he ever find them. Eventually one day
the two books would be discovered…
But by wrong hands.