Get up to 50% Off! Code: GIFTS Ends: 12/7 Details
Apply
  1. Help

Battle and Rescue

Hello, you either have JavaScript turned off or an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.

Battle and Rescue - Page Text Content

S: Battle and Rescue Karen Miller

FC: Battle and Rescue by Karen Miller

1: Battle and Rescue A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP AND ADVENTURE Karen Miller

3: Chapter One A screech could be heard throughout the kingdom, coming straight from the castle itself. No one will have known what caused it though, because the regular people in the Brightvale never knew what went on in the castle. Not even the low guards did. The screech belonged to a young royal draik named Evoi. He would soon be the king, for his dad, King Everoi, was very ill. Right now he was in training to become a fierce knight, a leader of battle, but his clumsiness had cost him his ability to walk for a brief moment. He had dropped the heavy training sword that his personal trainer had handed him on his foot! He hopped around on his left foot, favoring his crippled one, a few times before he fell sideways with a thump. Darvien shook his head in disapproval. He expected, being the mighty king’s son, that Evoi too would at least be able to hold a sword. Most people would have been surprised too, because knowing the king’s reputation as a great war leader led them to expect his son was born with a toy sword in hand, the reins of a kougra cub in the other. Kougras were the steeds used in Brightvale, and in fact Evoi was born with one at his side. Arridi, he had named him, and he was the best friend Evoi had. Arridi would agree too, having no friends other than the steed of Evoi’s sister, Evalyn. Evoi limped out of the castle’s practice grounds, having been dismissed by his teacher after another disappointing practice. 1

4: The first two practices, he had wielded a much lighter sword, and after taking a few swings, assured his teacher that he was ready to move on to a heavier one. If you had seen the first two practices too, you would disagree, but Darvien believed that, by showing Evoi that he in fact, wasn’t ready to move on, he would have taught Evoi a good lesson. 2

5: Chapter Two Evoi opened the door to his massive room and was welcomed by a wet swipe across his face. Arridi. In Brightvale it wasn’t strange to keep your steed with you in your own home or room. They believed it was good to grow a tight bond between Neopet and mount. Of course even if Evoi and Arridi were apart, it wouldn’t lessen their close friendship at all. Evoi would probably visit him everyday spending hours either riding him or talking to him. “Hi Arridi,” Evoi said, smiling for the first time that day. His practices were treating him bad and he hadn’t been getting as much sleep, always dreading the next day. Of course, Arridi couldn’t talk, and could understand few greetings and commands, so he just looked up at Evoi. He sensed something to be wrong so he nudged Evoi’s leg with his cold wet nose. Evoi grinned. Arridi never failed to cheer him up a bit. He led the way over to his bed where he lay down not bothering to change out of his soiled practice clothes. “What will I do Arridi? I can’t be king! Let alone a war leader.” Arridi curled up next to Evoi, and laid his chin on Evoi’s pillow as though to comfort him. “Daddy can’t die. He just can’t! What will Evalyn and I do without any parents? How can we rule a kingdom on our own? Daddy is always making the wise decisions that I could never make.” Evoi went on, turning to face Arridi. Arridi just watched with those loyal eyes and that was enough 3

6: to make Evoi feel he wasn't alone, to know that someone would always be there to listen to what he had to say. He scratched Arridi absent-mindedly. The kougra seemed to be enjoying it. Finally, a maid knocked three times on the door, meaning that it was almost dinner time. Evoi hurried up and took off his practice clothes, pulling on some clean dinner clothes. “Well I guess I’ll see you after dinner. I’ll bring you back a souvenir.” He said grinning again and patting Arridi one more time before heading down to the dining room. The maids brought Arridi food three times a day, so he was well fed, but Evoi would always bring back a little something anyway. 4

7: Chapter Three When Evoi entered the dining room, he spotted his dad sitting at one end of the table looking sicker than ever. Evoi frowned and looked away trying not to let him see the usual tears flood his eyes. He looked down the table to see who was going to join them for dinner that day. It changed just about everyday. Sometimes it was Darvien, a few high ranked knights, and King Everoi’s top general, Stelpe. Stelpe was an old friend of King Everoi, and was usually one of the people who joined them, but the situation determined the guests. If there was an illness being spread around the stables, which rarely happened, it would be the top stable keeper, to update Everoi on what was going on. By doing this, Everoi would have more time for other business when it wasn't dinnertime. However, these days King Everoi took care of things sitting in bed more. Today, it was the usual group Darvien, Stelpe, and Gorob, another trainer. Evoi assumed they were here to talk about his progress in training, so he kept his eyes glued to the ground as he walked to take his seat, one of the two nearest to his dad. The other seat that was closest to his father belonged to Evalyn, who was looking at Evoi somewhat puzzled by his behavior. He usually took his seat and dug right into his food. Evalyn imagined that’s how all boys his age were. Today Evoi had no apetite. The only time he looked up from his plate which was emptying a lot slower than usual, was when his eyes strayed to his mother’s 5

8: chair which had been empty every dinner for as long as he could remember. She had died from the same illness as King Everoi had. Evalyn, figuring there wasn’t much she could do for Evoi, started on her own plate, adding a helping of vegetables. He had looked at that chair everyday as if expecting his mother to be sitting there with that encouraging smile of hers directed at him. Of course, he had only seen that smile in pictures, but he felt as though he knew the mother he couldn't remember just because of the many pictures of her he had been shown. From the stories he had heard from the maids ever since he was a little Draik, she was best known for her kindness, generosity, and beauty. Queen ever to rule Brightvale. Seeing the usual empty chair, Evoi looked back to his food and continued eating, slipping a few chunks of potato into the pocket of his pants once he was sure no one was looking. King Everoi was first to finally break the silence. “You wanted to speak to me?” He said in the frail tone that had overcome him these days. Evoi always felt pain rush into him at the sound of this voice, foreseeing the day that his father was buried next to all of the other Kings and Queens of Brightvale. He couldn’t bear to look or listen to his father at all. He preferred to pretend that his dad looked like the same old happy king that everyone in Brightvale loved. The voice of Darvien broke through Evoi’s thoughts, and he knew what was coming. “I’m afraid Shenkuu has declared war on us, sir.” A clattering of spoons hitting the stone floor echoed around the dining hall. Evoi looked up with a puzzled expression. This was far worst than what he had expected Darvien would say. 6

9: Chapter Four Darvien paused for a few seconds, allowing it to soak in. "They are on their way, which of course, could take several months, for they are taking their whole army across the sea, and it will take some time for all of them to arrive and organize themselves. I do not wish to have to bother you but, of course, this is very vital.” King Everoi let out a long breath of air. Evoi continued to look startled. He had expecting so much for Darvien to tell King Everoi of his disappointing practice sessions. But war? Evoi could hardly remember the last war in which his father was strong and healthy enough to fight in. They had successfully won that one that was against Shenkuu, the land that had often declared war on Brightvale. This time, Shenkuu was bound to have made a strong recovery and add to their army. Brightvale on the other hand had been caught totally off guard. King Everoi had not been ordering training to continue anymore, other than for his son, for he expected the Shenkuu would have never declare war on them again, and all the other lands didn’t bother with the trouble of crossing the sea to go to war. Most of his previous warriors had retired to peaceful lives, losing almost all of their skill. They just didn’t have the time to build up another army. The King looked very sad at this news, and asked, “What is it this time Darvien?” He reached for a chicken leg, more for doing something than intending to eat it. 7

10: Darvien hesitated. Then he started, “This time, they don’t want the money and they don’t want slaves, they want the land.” Evoi didn’t think a draik could look sadder than his father did right now, but the frown grew and you would think he was about to cry, but King Everoi cried only once, and that was when his wife died. Now, it was his beloved land's safety he feared for. "How can this be? They’ve left us alone for so long. And now! Now of all times.” King Everoi gently laid his fork down. “Yes sir, I agree, but what to tell the people? What to do for an army? I was hoping you could answer these questions so maybe we could start preparing. The earlier the better,” Darvien said. He hadn’t wanted to bring this news to the King anymore than other people. He, like so many people of the land respected the King, who was not harsh or cruel. He was gentle, and ruled Brightvale well. “Yes, yes,” King Everoi replied, understanding that Darvien only meant good. “Come to my room after dinner and we shall discuss this.” And so the rest of the dinner was a silent one, the only sound being the occasional scraping of a fork or spoon. Everyone ate hurriedly sensing the rush in the air. 8

11: Chapter Five Once dinner was over, Evoi took the steps back to his room two at a time. He pushed open the door and shut it quickly behind him. Arridi ran to his master looking up expectantly. He was used to Evoi bringing him food from dinner just about everyday by now. Evoi pulled out the food he had tucked in his pocket at the table, and laid it gently in front of Arridi, who leaped forward happily and began munching down the snack immediately. He was too absorbed in his treat to notice the quiet, sad atmosphere about Evoi as he lie down on his bed to think. This was no time for a war. King Everoi couldn’t lose his city to those Shenkuu, nor could he fight for his land. With his loss of strength, Evoi would be surprised to see his father holding a sword or shield. How would he command the army in such condition? Evoi, wondering what his father could possibly have in mind, had an idea. He remembered those last words spoken at dinner. “Come to my room after dinner and we shall discuss this.” That was it. Evoi would go to his father’s room and listen! He had to know what his father had in mind. He just had to. By the time Arridi looked up from the remains of potato, Evoi had already gone. A bit confused, Arridi turned back to his meal, and once finished, bounded to the door where he lay in wait for his master to return. Meanwhile, Evoi crept up a few flights of stairs 9

12: the second to the top level, where his father’s rooms were. He tiptoed passed a couple till he reached the door to his fathers meeting room. He put his ear to the door, but heard nothing, so he tiptoed to the next trying not to make one little sound. A few voices could be heard from this one, his father’s main room, so he pushed his ear to this door. “-choice we have is to give up our land so no one will get hurt, dear King. We don’t have the time to build up a decent army! I’ve sent a spy to see their numbers, but I fear I know what the answer will be.” That voice belonged to Darvien, Evoi thought. “I should’ve never let our defenses down. Dear me, I think you’re right. We will have to give up our land But first, let’s hear what Scrart has to say. I called him here, so he should soon arrive.” Evoi recognized that as his father’s voice. Scrart? Who was that? Evoi had never heard the name before. “Scrart? He’s still around? But sir, what could he possibly do. He must be old and lost his skill by now,” said Darvien. “Scrart losing his skill? Now dear Darvien, what could possibly make you think like that. Scrart will surely die with his bow in one hand, an arrow in the other. He would never give up his skill that easily. Besides, he is an old and trusted friend. Not to mention a great advisor. He might just hold the answer to what we must do in this battle.” And as the King said this, Evoi’s head turned around abruptly. Standing behind him was a hooded figure. A Hissi to be exact. Evoi was astonished! He had always had a great sense of hearing, but he hadn’t heard that Hissi as it crept up behind him. 10

13: Chapter Six The Hissi moved forward and Evoi had a better look at his face. Evoi looked him straight in the eye and sensed a high superiority. In fact, this Hissi was far more intelligent than anyone Evoi knew, but Evoi did not yet know that. Evoi stepped aside, and after one look at him, the mysterious Hissi gently took the doorknob, twisting it, and pushed the door open in a quiet manner. This took the King and Darvien by surprise, as their backs were turned to the door. They jumped as Scrart mumbled something of a greeting. “Scrart! It feels like ages since I last saw you. You gave me the usual startling greeting though.” The King gave what was supposed to be a chuckle, but turned into a cough. Darvien patted him gently on the back, then rubbed it, and the King was soon back to talking condition. “Why come dear old friend, come take a seat,” said King Everoi, gesturing to an empty chair. “Thank you sir. What trouble has caused you to call upon me, Everoi, my friend?” Scrart said in a low gentle voice, taking the seat King Everoi had gestured towards. “Ah, it is but sad news, Scrart. Shenkuu has declared a war on us. I need your opinion on what to do,” the Kind said sadly. By now Evoi had recovered from the shock of his encounter with the Hissi they called ‘Scrart.’ He recalled what he had looked like. 11

14: A deep hood that covered most of his face. A belt wrapped around his waste which held many different tools, including a knife, Evoi had noticed. He had a sort of cloak wrapped around him, to block out the cold. And one last thing. A longbow slung over one arm, a quiver strapped behind the other. He looked as if that was a normal outfit. As if he took his bow and arrows like that everywhere. It just so happened Scrart did take his bow and arrows everywhere. Without them, he would never go out in public. In the safety of his little cabin, Scrart would always keep these near, but not on him. This, Evoi thought, was not someone he would ever mess with. His curiosity risen, Evoi put his ear back to the door. 12

15: Chapter Seven “This is indeed, bad news sir. I’m sorry to hear. And how much time might we have?” Scrart said, his low voice not giving in one bit to surprise. Darvien replied for the King, “Three to four months, maybe.” Scrart’s eyes darted from the King, to Darvien, and back again. “Hm I see. Not very much time at all, but I believe that would be enough time to build up some kind of army. Maybe not big enough to fight, but we have a chance I’d say,” Scrart said, to everyone’s surprise, including the small figure standing on the other side of the door with one of his big ears listening carefully. Darvien, probably the most surprised, couldn’t believe this. “Are you crazy Scrart! That’s nonsense. If we can’t build up one big enough to defeat them, then how do you suppose we have a chance? That is just impossible!” It wasn’t that Darvien disliked Scrart, because it was just the opposite of that. He actually respected, and liked the ways of Scrart. It’s just that it didn’t seem possible to him. King Everoi put his hand up, signaling Darvien to calm down, as he spoke, “Oh? I don’t doubt what you say Scrart, buy may I know what you’re thinking?” Scrart started nodding his head, lost in thought, but soon snapped out of it and said slowly, “Yes sir. I’ve studied the ways of different lands for years and years now, and I know enough to 13

16: say that Shenkuu are very superstitious people. They believe in all kinds of crazy things. The ‘Ghost of Emperor Shen’ to be one example.” Scrart gave a mysterious smile as if remembering something An experience maybe. Everoi’s confused expression slowly turned to a smile. “You’re up to your old tricks again Scrart, aren’t you?” “I suppose you could say that,” replied Scrart. Evoi was as confused as ever. Who was this Emperor Shen, and why would the Shenkuu be so superstitious about him. A sound at the stairs startled Evoi out of his thoughts, and he saw a shadow coming up the stairs. 14

17: Chapter Eight Evoi ran to hide in the doorway of a linen room across the hall just as King Everoi’s servant reached the top of the stairs, and soon entered with a tray holding three cups of tea. She didn’t suspect for one second that the young prince was across the hall. Not even when he made for the stairs and all the way back to his room. He had some thinking to do ****** The next morning, Evoi was missed at breakfast. He was wandering through the woods where he assumed Scrart might live. He had a faint memory of playing in these woods with Evalyn when he was younger, and they had come across a small cabin near the edge, so this was where he hoped to find Scrart. He had been searching for half an hour now, his hopes slowly fading away. Then, he saw smoke, and the tip of a chimney poking through the top of some trees. He headed for that direction, and soon came to a cozy looking little cabin. Sure enough, this was the source of the smoke, and Evoi followed the short path to the door. He hesitated, and knocked gently hoping that no one would be home. That would be a nice excuse to tell himself to go home. To his disappointment, he 15

18: heard a slight sound as someone made for the other side of the door. He wanted so badly to run, but forced himself not to. Even as the door slowly crept open, Evoi stood stock still. 16

19: Chapter Nine He probably couldn’t have run even if he wanted to, for there, in the doorway, were those eyes. Those intelligent eyes froze Evoi. He opened his mouth to talk, but as nothing came out, he shut it again. “Yes?” questioned that low, mysterious voice. This time as Evoi opened his mouth, a whisper came out. “Uh Scr-scrart?” said that small whisper. The Hissi looked annoyed by now. “Yes, that’s me. Come in boy, you look like a nervous wreck out there in the cold,” he said to Evoi’s relief. Evoi walked past Scrart towards the fire place and took a seat in an old, but still very comfortable, chair. A very good smell drifted in from what Evoi guessed to be the kitchen. He hadn’t realized until then how hungry he was. After closing the door, Scrart followed Evoi to the fire place, and he saw Evoi’s longing eyes staring towards the kitchen. He sighed. There went his breakfast. Although Scrart seemed like a person who disliked people and being around them, he actually was very generous. Evoi watched Scrart slide towards the kitchen, heard a few pots and pans clanging, and some silverware being thrown around. He wondered if he was going to have to watch Scrart eat his breakfast, and was confused as to how Scrart handled his guests. Normally a Neopet would let a visitor in, show them to a seat, and 17

20: sit down to see what they had come for. Evoi was starting to think Scrart had forgotten he was there when the Hissi entered the room with plate and fork in hand. On the plate was two perfect over easy eggs, a few slices of bacon, and one slice of toast, not burned, but not too light. Evoi’s stomach made a small noise, and he wondered why the Hissi had to torture him like this. He looked away towards the fire place, trying to take his mind off of the perfect breakfast so close, yet so far by running the question he wanted to ask Scrart through his head. To his surprise, the plate was set on the small wooden table directly in front of him. “Eat up,” came Scrart’s voice. So the next few minutes passed quickly for Evoi, but slowly for Scrart. He hated that he had to give up his breakfast, but he figured the young Draik was hungrier than him, so he just watched as Evoi finished off the last few crumbs of toast. He lay the plate down with a satisfied look in his eyes, but remembering where he was and why, that look quickly disappeared and he looked up to face Scrart. Scrart spoke up. “What is it that you want anyway?” Evoi, his nervousness returning to him quickly replied, “Well I overheard your conversation with my dad last night and” He stopped, thinking over how to finish off his sentence. Scrart looked at him expectedly, waiting patiently for Evoi to gather his words. “And Can you teach me how to shoot arrows? I hear you’re an excellent archer, and I just know that sword fighting isn’t for me.” 18

21: Chapter Ten Evoi said these last words quickly, trying to get it over with, and Scrart gave it a few seconds thought, gathering what he had said. He was quite surprised by this. He had expected something like Evoi begging him not to tell his father he had been eavesdropping at his door last night. After giving this question some thought, Scrart replied, “Why? Why do you want to learn archery?” This, Evoi had been expecting, and he had already come up with an answer. “I want to be able to be a good war leader like my father when I grow up. Only instead of knowing how to fight with a sword, I want to know how to shoot arrows. Please Scrart, I feel so useless!” Scrart sighed. The reason he had disappeared for all those years, only letting the king know where he was, was because so many people had come to him asking this same question. Could he teach them archery? The truth was he didn’t know how to teach people, because for him it was just something that one should teach themselves. At least, that’s how he had learned it. He had watched his father for so many years shoot arrow after arrow into the trees surrounding their home. He had soon developed his own eye for things, and after all those years of watching his dad, he felt that he could shoot an arrow, even if he had never picked up a bow in his life. So one day when his father had gone off to the village to buy 19

22: a few things (his mother had died giving birth to Scrart, so couldn’t go and buy things for them), Scrart took his father’s bow in hand, and an arrow from the quiver next to it, and went out. If someone had seen him shoot that arrow, they’d think he had been shooting arrow for years! But, as should be expected, Scrart still had a lot to learn, so he began to teach himself everyday, and soon was as good as his father. His father though, was gone now. He had passed away of old age only a couple of years ago. Scrart suddenly realized that two hopeful eyes were on him. Those eyes told him that Evoi was expecting an answer. For once, Scrart hadn’t said that immediate ‘no’ to the question. He liked this young Draik. He liked his curiosity, his courage to visit the Hissi that most feared, because of his amazing talent of archery. He liked his father too, and so for the first time in seven years, Scrart said ‘yes.’ Well he didn’t say it directly. “A boy that can’t pick up a sword?” he had actually said, although he only meant it as a joke. “Well a bow is certainly lighter, isn’t it?” he finished, giving a faint, yet rare smile. Evoi looked up in surprise. Scrart had watched him at his practices? He knew that Evoi had dropped his sword? In fact Scrart had gone to all of Evoi’s practices, curious of the king’s young son. He had watched each time, as Evoi tried so hard to earn his father's approval, and the more he saw Evoi fail at sword fighting, the more he knew Evoi was born to be an archer. 20

23: Chapter Eleven And so the lessons were to begin. Scrart and Evoi agreed not to tell the king about them yet, because Evoi felt confident, but knew that not everything worked out, so didn’t want his father to know until he was sure he would be able to at least shoot an arrow. That way if it turned out he wasn’t the ‘natural archer’ Scrart thought he was, the king wouldn’t be disappointed. But Scrart was always right. Years of observing the world around him, and paying close attention to everything that happened Closer attention then people would normally do, taught him the truth in things. So he always noticed things that a normal person wouldn’t, and he could always tell what the truth was and what wasn’t. It was another quality he had learned from his father, who had also been very intelligent. Evoi continued his sword lessons though, and learned a few things that might come in handy, for archers couldn’t just learn how to shoot arrows. Because if an enemy ever got close enough, their bow would be useless. Evoi would also have to learn to fight with knives. The morning of his first practice with Scrart, Evoi was excited. Arridi felt the excitement of his master, and copied him. He ran about Evoi’s room, jumping up on the couch or bed every now and then, followed Evoi, and constantly went to Evoi to lick him. He wasn’t sure why Evoi was excited, but like any steed that developed a friendship with his rider, Arridi shared feelings with Evoi. He sat 21

24: at the door where he would wait until Evoi returned, and watched as the door closed. Scrart on the other hand was building an idea he had thought of the previous night. A strategy he was going to use to train Evoi was slowly forming in his mind. So, when Evoi came and saw Scrart poised to shoot an arrow into a tree trunk, he was confused. Was Scrart going to teach him, or just shoot arrow after arrow through that tree. In fact, that was just what Scrart was going to do. He was going to shoot arrows into the old tree, and Evoi was to watch. After about twenty minutes, though, Evoi had had enough. He stood up from where he was sitting and said, “Well? Are you going to teach me or shoot all those arrows into that poor tree?” he wasn’t happy. All excitement he had had this morning had left him. Scrart looked at Evoi with a look that told him to be quiet, sit down, and watch. “If you want to learn, you watch first, okay? If you don’t want to watch, leave,” came Scrart’s demanding voice. So, Evoi sat down, and watched, his impatience growing. But Evoi knew better than to ignore what that demanding tone had ordered. He grew sore as hour after hour passed, and he had by now seen Scrart shooting fifteen or so arrows, walking forward, pulling them out of the trunk, and walking back to where he had been standing before, and repeating the process. It wasn’t until then that Evoi took notice of a long leather cuff around Scrart’s left arm, and as he watched, he saw the cuff’s purpose. As Scrart nocked an arrow, and carefully, but quickly drew back the string of his longbow, and soon after released it, the string would whip the inside of his left arm, but it did no harm with the leather cuff there. Evoi soon had the basic idea of shooting an arrow, and after 22

25: twenty more minutes or so, Scrart finally stopped his routine and motioned for Evoi to get up from where he sat. 23

27: Chapter Twelve Evoi walked over to where Scrart stood. The Hissi held out a small bow with both ends of it curved to make a ‘C’ but then curved back out at the very ends. “This is a recurve bow. You will start with this, and if you get good enough, when you are A bit bigger, you can use a longbow like mine,” Scrart said, placing it in Evoi’s hands. Then from his belt, he pulled a leather cuff like his own, and also handed it to Evoi. To Scrart’s satisfaction, Evoi slid the leather cuff up his left arm. “This is good,” thought Scrart, “he has, at least, learned something from watching.” So the practice that Evoi had really hoped for began right there. He picked an arrow from the quiver lying at his feet, and attempted to nock it. After quite a few seconds he had it about right. So he slowly drew back the string, took aim at the center of a nearby tree’s trunk, and let go. Whoosh! The arrow flew past the tree, somewhere into the woods behind it, yet Scrart still seemed happy with the outcome. But, of course, he didn’t let Evoi see that. He knew that if Evoi grew too confident of himself, he would never learn to be a great archer. 24

28: Confidence was definitely needed, but too much definitely wasn’t. Scrart nodded his head slowly and motioned for Evoi to try another. This time Evoi was a bit faster than the last try, but still, the arrow hadn’t found its destination. So as arrow after arrow was fired, each one missing its target by less and less, Evoi at last shot an arrow that landed home. It was now deep in the center of a huge oak. Evoi smiled to himself, and Scrart once again nodded his approval, but turned away with the last words of the day to Evoi. “Now, go retrieve all of those arrows.” Evoi looked up, astonished by what Scrart had said. Go find all the arrows? There were at least nine had flown past the nearby trees deep into the dark woods. But, he didn’t dare say ‘no’ to Scrart, so he trudged off into the dark gap between two huge oaks in search of the arrows. ***** Elsewhere, the front gate of Brightvale Castle shut slowly behind a small Shadow Draik that rushed up the steps leading to the huge door to the castle itself. He knocked three times, and was soon let in by one of the door guards. The Draik hurried past the guard and towards a small door leading to the planning room of the castle. This was where the king was now, as sick as ever. As the Draik entered, three eyes looked to him. One belonged to the king, another to Darvien, and the last pair to a cloaked Fire Hissi. “Sir,” the Draik spoke, “I spotted half a dozen ships, but I'm sure there are more. They hold the flag of Shenkuu, sir.” 25

29: Chapter Thirteen That night as Evoi fell asleep easily, Scrart, Darvien, and King Everoi stayed up late into the night planning what they would do in the weeks to come to prepare for the arrival of the Shenkuu. Evoi hadn’t heard a thing about the Shenkuu being so near, so that night he slept soundly dreaming of a mighty Royalboy Draik Archer and of Scrart showing his approval and giving Evoi a pat on the back. That was the last thing he would expect from Scrart ***** The next morning, Evoi awoke most unpleasantly with one big, familiar paw on his chest. This paw belonged to Arridi, but there was something about him that told Evoi he didn’t want to play fetch or go for a ride deep into the forest. No, something was wrong, and as Evoi thought of the possibilities, he rolled out of bed and pulled on his usual outfit, he pictured the worst of them all. He pictured his father motionless in bed, eyes shut, but suddenly shook the thought out of his head as he took one quick look in the mirror before wrenching his door open. He ran down to breakfast. To his relief, King Everoi was sitting at one end of the table. For a minute, Evoi figured he had misunderstood Arridi’s behavior, but then he saw that the chair that sat across from his 26

30: own was empty. Evalyn was gone. The king, looking gray and devastated, beckoned Evoi over, so Evoi took a seat. “Evalyn has been kidnapped by a Shenkuu spy. A Shadow Draik to be exact.” And for the first time since Evoi's mother died, the king began to cry. 27

31: Chapter Fourteen No! This couldn’t be happening! Evoi couldn’t believe his ears as he realized that the only thing nearly as important as his father being close to death was his sister being in such danger. Evoi knew that King Everoi had lived a long happy life, and that he wouldn’t mind passing away at any time, but his sister was barely fourteen! She hadn’t seen anything she wanted to yet. This was the sacrifice of being the princess, but Evoi would never let anything happen to her if he could help it, and he knew that now, of all times, she needed him. He rushed up the stairs, back to his room, ignoring his father’s quiet voice that was calling after him, and slammed the door behind him. As he came in, Arridi ran to his side wearing the same grim face he had that morning. Arridi had warned Evoi that something was wrong without words that morning. And indeed, something was wrong. Arridi followed Evoi around, confused as to what he was doing. He had never seen Evoi like this so, as always, he matched his emotions to Evoi’s and became worried. Evoi was busy throwing things into one pile or another. He walked over to the items that were tossed onto his bed. A warm tunic, a pair of thick breeches, biscuits from the plate that the servants brought him every morning as a little before breakfast snack (Evoi's apetite had started to grow recently), and finally, 28

32: a small dagger that was given to him by his father on his eighth birthday. He also grabbed the canteen that sat on his nightstand in case he got thirsty in the middle of the night. Although tasteless, the biscuits were heavy and it took very little for them to fill you up. The dagger was light and easy to wield unlike a full sized sword, and it had many more purposes than just a weapon. Evoi's dad had taught him how to use it as a throwing dagger and also as a defensive weapon when he had given it to him. He pulled the blue sheet off of his bed, and folded it into fourths. This made it small enough to manage and he laid the items that were laying next to it into the neatly folded sheet. Then he brought the four corners of the sheet together and tied them together tight enough to hold its contents in, but in a way that would make untying it a simple task. Evoi beckoned Arridi, who had given up following him by now and was standing and the foot of the bed, over. Arridi was still confused, but he walked over to where Evoi was and looked up at his master. Evoi draped his thick patterned quilt over Arridi, and ripped a strip from his pillowcase off. He used this strip of cloth to tie the quilt into place. Then, Evoi walked over to a corner of his room and picked up the recurve bow and quiver of arrows that Scrart had given him. Then he swiftly walked to the door and took the handle in his hands. “C’mon Arridi. We’re going to find Evalyn.” 29

33: Chapter Fifteen Evoi crept down the stairs that led to the entrance hall, pulling Arridi along behind him. When he arrived at the end of the hall that led into the entrance hall, he peeked around the corner to make sure his father hadn’t cut dinner short to pace around the entrance hall, but he hadn’t. Either he was still eating, or he had gone back up to his room. He pushed Arridi ahead of him pointing to he big door and soon followed Arridi, tiptoeing. He let out a sigh of relief once he reached the door, and when he stepped outside, he turned left and got into the safety of the shadows that the roof made, and walked along the wall. Arridi immediately wondered where they were going. The gate was the other way! But, of course, he continued following Evoi. As soon as Evoi reached the west side of the castle, he made quickly for the stables. No one should be there yet, as most of them would either be eating or sleeping. So, he entered the stable, and walked down to where his sister’s steed, Relcore, would be. Since Evalyn was gone, a servant had been ordered to take Relcore down to the stables where he could be cared for while she was gone. Arridi wouldn’t be able to carry both Evoi and Evalyn if he found her, so it would be wise to bring Relcore along too. Plus he 30

34: could help carry Evoi's supplies. Only when Evoi untied the sad Kougra, did he look up. Evoi led him over to where Arridi was. He wasn’t worried about Relcore running away, because Relcore recognized Evoi and figured that he probably was going to find Evalyn, Relcore’s best friend. Relcore cheered up and played with Arridi for a minute, biting his ear gently and rolling in the soft hay that covered the floor. Evoi was too busy looking around for where they kept the dry beef that they fed to the animals in the stable. Soon, he spotted it and walked quickly to a corner of the stable. It was occupied by a mean looking Fire Kougra, so he stepped over it and carefully untied the sack of dry meat from a hook on the wall. Then he carefully stepped back over the Kougra, but the tail had twitched enough to where Evoi had stepped on it. He didn’t realize at first, until he noticed the heavy breathing of the Kougra had stopped. That was when he looked behind him and met angry eyes of the Kougra, who was now on his feet. Evoi was terrified, and he made for the stable door wondering how long that rope was. And how thin it was too He motioned for Arridi and Relcore to stop playing and follow him, so they did, and as he slammed the stable door closed, he noticed a black ear had been caught and heard whimpering sounds. Evoi couldn’t just leave that ear stuck in there until the stable caretakers arrived, so he opened the door just enough to let that ear back into the stable and closed the door. Or at least he thought he did. 31

35: Chapter Sixteen Evoi had put the sack of dried beef and his own luggage on Relcore’s back. He didn’t mind at all. It was lighter than a human, and he could probably run at a moderate speed with it on his back all day and never get tired. Plus, it divided itself in half, and made the beef go to both ends of the bag, and the padding of the clothes in Evoi’s bag was a plus. And Relcore wouldn’t have beef digging into his back all day. So Relcore happily followed Evoi and Arridi. As they reached the corner of the West wall of the castle, Evoi shot an arrow to the East side and all of the guards, hearing and seeing something come from that direction, headed that way. Evoi ran as fast as his legs would allow him once the guards were far enough from the gate, and pushed open one of the big doors. Arridi and Relcore followed him, and even pushed their noses against the big door to help him close it gently. Evoi mounted Arridi, and they ran towards the shelter of the forest. By now Evoi figured the guards would see the arrow, and one of them was bound to have noticed the door closing. Sure enough, when Evoi was half way to the forest, Relcore following closely behind, he heard shouts of the Shoyrus that had been distracted by the arrow, and probably had seen the gate close 32

36: its last few inches. Evoi gently patted Arridi’s side, which told Arridi to speed up, so he did. Evoi was now a few feet from the forest, and he heard the gate opening along with more shouts. “Come on Arridi, almost there!” said Evoi’s urgent voice. Arridi felt the urgency, and switched to full speed mode which he could only hold for so long, and made one great leap into the forest. Relcore followed in unison, being able to hold the speed because of his light weight passenger. Relief spread over Evoi as he pulled Arridi and Relcore behind a big tree to catch their breath, which took about five seconds. This is why Kougras were such popular steeds throughout Brightvale. Not only could they run at amazing speeds, but it didn’t take them long to recover. They could also run fast speeds and hold them for a long time depending on the load on their back. Evoi watched as two of the three Shoyru guards came out looked around for the person who had snuck out of the gate when they weren’t looking. People like maids were only allowed out of the castle on certain days, and this was not one of them, so they had to keep an eye out for a lazy servant that decided to go visit their family or maybe run away. When they saw nothing, they retreated back into the castle grounds, taking their usual places by the gate, wondering if their eyes had tricked them. Once the gate was closed, Evoi mounted Arridi again. The land that Evoi was sure the Shenkuu would anchor that was north, so Evoi faced the north path and they set off into the forest at a medium speed. The journey to rescue Evalyn began. 33

37: ***** Seeing that Evoi had not come to dinner, King Everoi ordered his personal maid to go up and knock on his door again. When the maid returned, she said, “Sir, your son is not in his room.” And that’s when the king knew that he had lost both of his children in one day. 34

38: Chapter Seventeen Evoi had been riding Arridi for an hour now, but the Kougra showed no sign whatsoever of tiring. Relcore had been the same. He was in a somewhat cheerful mood on realizing that Evoi was definitely going after his sister, and was thinking about the treats she always gave him so much, that he forgot that he was running. Every once in awhile, Evoi would pat Arridi, telling him to speed up, but in a few minutes he would pat him again, which told him to slow back down. This way Evoi wouldn’t have to worry about injuring Arridi or stretching his limits. The sea might be a day or so journey from the castle, so Evoi would definitely stop for the night. As soon as the sun began to set, Evoi directed Arridi onto the side of the North path into a spot that he would not be visible from the path. When Evoi was just ten, his father hired a teacher for him, who taught him survival skills. The king had gotten lost in the same forest Evoi was in right now, when he was little, and knew nothing about building fires, what foods were poisonous, and where to find edible food, so he made sure that Evoi knew these things. One of the things Evoi was taught was how to build a fire. After taking the quilt off Arridi and the dried beef off Relcore, 35

39: he led them to a small pond in a clearing to drink. After Evoi had taken a few sips himself and filled up his canteen, he walked back to the spot he planned to rest for the night, and gathered some dry wood that surrounded the area. Then he formed a little teepee out of them. After that, he took one of the sticks he had gathered and started rubbing it against a rock which soon produced a small flame. He slowly put this flame into the heart of the ‘teepee’ and a small fire started. Evoi quickly gathered dry leaves and sticks and fed these into the fire. Soon enough there was a big fire dancing before Evoi, and he brought Arridi and Relcore back to eat. It was a cold night, and Evoi was sure the kougras wouldn’t want cold beef, so he carefully pulled two reasonably big chunks out of his bag, stuck them on a stick, and held them over the fire. The flames licked at it, and as soon as a delicious smoky smell drifted to Evoi’s nose, he took off the beef, and gave one piece to each of the drooling Kougras. Normally the Kougras were spoiled with food three times a day, but they had skipped lunch today, and were ready to attack the delicious smelling food. Evoi took off a small piece from the beef for himself, but being so used to juicy moist meat, he found the dried beef quite disgusting. So, Evoi had to settle with the tasteless grain bars that he had packed. He carefully opened the bag that held the bars, and pulled half of one out. He wasn’t hungry at all. The thought of his sister somewhere out there in danger made him lose his appetite. Evoi quickly munched down his own food. He knew it wouldn’t be healthy to go to sleep on an empty stomach. As soon as the two Kougras were done eating, they settled 36

40: down next to Evoi, and he pulled the thick, warm quilt over all of them. Soon he was very warm despite the chilly night. And he eventually fell asleep. ***** Hours had passed since Evoi’s disappearance, and by now the King had ordered some of his best men to go looking for Evoi. This group of men had asked the guards a bunch of questions, and soon figured that Evoi must have made for the forest, and so they all followed Darvien, the leader of the group. ***** Evoi woke to shouts of at least a dozen men. He only recognized one of them, and it belonged to Darvien. At least he thought that was what woke him until he turned to his left and saw the fire he had made the previous night was spreading over the grass, and sending a lot of smoke into the air. 37

41: Chapter Eighteen “Oh no!” Evoi cried to himself. He had forgotten to put the fire out the previous night. He grabbed his canteen and started squirting the flames down, which helped a little in keeping it from starting up the big tree that stood nearby, but if Evoi stood there trying to put the fire out that way, either he’d catch fire himself, or the men that owned those shouts would get to him and stop him from finding Evalyn. Suddenly, a miracle happened. Behind Evoi a bucket of water was produced and splashed over the fire. This was repeated several times before the wide-eyed draik thought to turn around, and there, standing feet behind Evoi, was Scrart. “Go boy!” he hissed. “Go to the girl!” and Scrart continued dipping the bucket in the pond and throwing the water to the fire. Evoi stood there for a second, until finally he realized what was going on and he ran to Arridi. He grabbed the quilt, throwing it across Arridi’s back, gently throwing the sack of beef and his own pack over Relcore’s, and then he started running through the forest until he heard a faint cry, but this didn’t belong to any of the men, it was a girl’s cry. Then Evoi remembered the words Scrart had spoken. ‘Go to the girl!’ Evoi had thought he meant Evalyn at the time, but now he realized that the girl who this cry belonged to must be the one 38

42: Scrart meant. Evoi pulled Arridi to a stop and turned him around. He headed off back in the direction that had caused him so much confusion before, and sure enough he saw a young girl on the path. At first Evoi thought it was Evalyn, but looking closer, he saw a number of differences between this girl and his own sister. One thing he noticed right off was the difference in their hair lengths and clothing. This girl was wearing Shenkuu colors, so Evoi figured she must be one of them. The girl was running, but something seemed to be slowing her. An injury, Evoi soon saw, on her left foot. There was a small, but deep looking scratch across her foot. Evoi watched the scene being played out before him, wondering what to do. Darvien leading a group of men on Kougras, chasing after the girl, and crying, “Get the princess!” The princess? What were they talking about? Maybe they had made the same mistake as Evoi, and thought it was Evalyn. But wouldn’t they realize that Evalyn wouldn’t run from them? Evoi thought. He really wanted to save her, for not only did he feel sorry for the young girl who was stumbling to get away from these men, but she might also be able to show him where her people were Where Evalyn was. But he couldn’t get captured himself. Then he wouldn’t be able to rescue Evalyn. Torn between the two options, Evoi saw an opportunity. Down the road, closer to Darvien and his men came three arrows. Each one buzzed past Darvien, barely missing his head. Scrart. But Evoi didn’t have time to take this in. All of the men were shaken and distracted. This was his chance. So with one giant leap, Arridi took Evoi onto the path, and 39

43: Relcore, as usual, followed. “Grab on!” Evoi cried, pointing to Relcore. The young girl Draik acted amazingly fast, and grabbed on to Relcore’s neck, swinging herself onto his back behind Evoi’s supply pack. This caught Relcore by surprise, but he quickly recovered, and with little effort, sped up to match Arridi’s speed with his new passenger. The girl Draik shifted uncomfortably on the sack of beef, until all of the pieces had been shifted to one side or another on Relcore’s back. They could hear the shouts start up again, far behind them, and the sound of paws pounding on dirt, but Evoi’s actions had caught the men off-guard and they had sat there for several seconds, watching the Draiks riding away. Evoi reared Arridi into the forest, because he knew Relcore would need some time to adjust to the new weight on his back, and within a couple of minutes, they came to a stop in a clearing that couldn’t be seen from the dirt path. Evoi got off of Arridi, catching his breath, and the girl Draik copied him. Only she had much more breath to catch, and as she got off of Relcore, she crumpled to the ground. Evoi could see that her cut was starting to bleed worse then before, and he took the strip of pillowcase that he had used the previous day to tie the quilt firmly to Arridi’s back. It was perfect for the size of her cut, so he wound it tightly around her foot. She let out a little whimper. “It’ll have to do for now. We’ll clean it up later,” said Evoi. He paused and then continued, “Who are you?” The Royalgirl Draik looked up, and decided that she could trust this Draik who had rescued her. “I am Princess Yuen Lee, daughter of the Shenkuu King.” 40

44: Chapter Nineteen Evoi probably would’ve been able to make it to the Shenkuu camp in a few hours time, which according to Yuen Lee, was located about where Evoi had guessed. But since the injured princess was with him, Evoi thought it best to stop by mid-afternoon, and so they did. Again, Evoi looked to make sure their resting spot was invisible from the path, and that there was water nearby. Once he found a good spot, he unpacked everything and built a fire. The fire was necessary because this afternoon was very cold compared to the last. Once Evoi had done all this, he sat down and examined the princess’s cut, which she had told him on their ride through the forest, was caused by a sharp rock that jutted out of the ground, but was covered by a thick layer of leaves. “It’s not too bad. Just give it a week or so to heal, and there might be a scar, but it won’t be too bad. Yuen Lee smiled and said, “Thank you.” Evoi poured some water on the cut, used a clean piece of the strip of pillowcase to wipe it up a bit, and tied a piece of the sheet he used to carry his supplies in around Yuen Lee’s foot. Yuen Lee was shaking, so Evoi gave her the quilt to wrap around herself, and she sat quietly on the forest floor staring into the fire. Again, Evoi led Arridi and Relcore to the water to get a drink, 41

45: and he filled his canteen. He then sat by the water listening to Arridi and Relcore lapping the peaceful water. One thing that had been on his mind that he hadn’t even thought of asking was ‘what was the princess doing here in the first place?’ And he was ready to go back and ask her that when there was a cry. That same cry he had heard earlier that day. The cry belonging to the princess. Evoi sprinted back to the spot he had picked to camp that night, only to see four wild Lupes circling the princess. 42

46: Chapter Twenty Evoi didn’t think for a second! He ran to grab his bow and arrows that he had had over his shoulder up until now. One of the big Lupes saw this movement and prepared to pounce on what he hoped would be dinner, but Arridi got to him first, jumping on the Lupes back digging his teeth into one ear. The Lupe, caught by surprise, gave a yelp, and tried to shake off Arridi who had sunk his teeth into the Lupes back. When he finally shook Arridi off, he ran for a gap in the trees whimpering and disappeared. Arridi wasn’t one to fight, and had not even broken through the Lupe's skin, but the bite had hurt all the same and the Lupe wasn’t ready to trade pain for food. By now Evoi had an arrow nocked and soon sent it after one of the Lupes. It whimpered, and Relcore took this opportunity to jump after it. By then Evoi had another arrow nocked and aimed this one for the biggest of the three Lupes. Suddenly it ran at him, catching Evoi by surprise, and knocking him down. The Lupe stood over Evoi, while Arridi and Relcore were occupied chasing the other two away, and Evoi knew he was down to his last minutes. He felt stupid for leaving his dagger in his pack, and the Lupe’s impact had caused him to drop his bow. 43

47: The Lupe, having not eaten for days, was trying to decide what to do with his meal, and Evoi, his eyes closed, was wondering what was to become of him. Then, a black, orange, and yellow blur came out of the dark trees, and knocked the wind out of the Lupe that stood atop Evoi. At first, Evoi didn’t know what happened when the weight that had just been on his stomach disappeared, but when he opened his eyes, he saw a black kougra with flame markings on top of the Lupe that had just been on top of Evoi. It was the Fire Kougra! But why, wondered Evoi, would the Fire Kougra save him? Then something in his brain flickered, as he remembered one day a long time ago. A Fire Kougra stood beside the Queen, his mistress. Something was wrong, he could feel it, and as the Queen used her last strength to run her fingers through the Kougra’s soft fur, the Kougra licked her. She smiled and said, “Good bye friend.” The next thing the poor Kougra knew, a servant had come in, screamed, and that’s when the Kougra realized the Queen was no longer patting him, but her hand lay still and motionless. He was sad and confused, but things only got worse. Two of the Queen’s personal guards came in and pointed at the Kougra that sat next to the Queen. “What have you done!” one of them cried, and before the Kougra knew it he was being dragged by his tail to the king, but before they could get him there, a small Draik came out of a room and saw the poor Kougra being dragged in such a way. “Stop!” cried the young Draik. “That’s my mommy’s Kougra!” This was the Queen’s son, of course, and the guards had to listen to him, so they let go of the Kougra, and gave up, deciding that they would simply tell the king that the Queen died of her illness (which was, in fact, the truth.) That would be much easier then persuading the young Draik to let them carry on with their business. 44

48: So the Draik took care of Arridi and Blaze, the Fire Kougra until his father ordered that the Kougra be taken down to the stable and cared for with the others. Evoi was very sad upon hearing this, but knew he couldn’t change his father’s mind, and gave Blaze a nice meal, and a big hug before the Kougra was taken away. All had forgotten that Blaze had been the Queen’s, and Evoi wasn’t allowed to the stable to visit him, so he had been mistreated and turned from the soft, gentle Kougra to a fierce, rough one. Until years later when his old friend had came to the stable, and shut his ear in the door when all Blaze had wanted to do was lick Evoi. But he forgave him, and escaped out of the door that hadn’t been closed all the way, following Evoi on his journey. 45

49: Chapter Twenty-One Evoi’s thoughts broke to the howling of the small group of Lupes, which announced their retreat. As Evoi looked around, he saw three Kougras with a few scratches and a frightened princess. “Evoi! Are you okay?” asked Yuen Lee. Evoi thought about that question, and looked over himself to see if he had been hurt. Fortunately, he hadn’t, thanks to Blaze and of course the other two Kougras. “Yeah, I’m fine. Are you alright?” Evoi finally said. The princess nodded her head as Evoi picked up the discarded bow and quiver. He set these down by his bundle of supplies and walked over to Blaze. Arridi, soon recognizing the Fire Kougra, also ran over with a silly look on his face. Blaze had been his friend when he was a cub, and he could never forget him. Blaze got one big swipe across his nose by Arridi’s tongue, and a bear hug from Evoi. Finally, he could see his old friend, and this time he wasn’t running away. That night the three Kougras settled down next to the two Draiks while Evoi told the princess that he was searching for his 46

50: sister. Neither of them talked after that, and eventually they shut their eyes to fall asleep. This time, Evoi made sure to put the fire out. ***** Darvien walked into the entrance hall of the castle, his head down. “Ah, Darvien, at last you’ve arrived. Any good news?” came the king’s voice. This startled Darvien, and he looked up surprised. “King Everoi! I didn’t think you’d be up this late,” Darvien said. “You know I won’t get any sleep until my young ones are found,” the king said, letting out a small cough. “Yes, well” Darvien thought for a minute. He didn’t like bringing bad news to the king, but he didn’t like lying either. He was saved when the doors to the castle swung open, and a hooded figure stood in the doorway. “Hello there Everoi. I’ve brought you news of your son. He is safe in my cabin resting for a bit. I’ll bring him to you once he has recovered. You see, he is suffering from lack of sleep, but nothing serious,” Scrart said, drawing the eyes of both the king and Darvien. For a second the king looked at Darvien, a confused look on his face, and Darvien shrugged. He was as confused. Finally the king decided to break through the silence saying, “How did you find him now, Scrart?” He asked this question more to break the awkward silence then he did to know, because anyone in their right minds knew that Scrart was an amazing tracker. After a few seconds, Scrart replied, “I followed his footsteps. Now, good night to you both.” With that, Scrart made a slight bow and backed out into the cold night pulling the doors closed gently. 47

51: King Everoi gave Darvien one last look of confusion, but then decided to just be grateful. He rose from his chair and exited to the staircase that led up to his room calling out behind him, “Good night Darvien.” And Darvien was left standing in the middle of the entrance hall. What was Scrart up to this time? He wondered. 48

52: Chapter Twenty-Two The stirring of Arridi woke Evoi the next morning, and he pulled himself from under the warmth of the quilt into the cold morning breeze, careful not to wake the others. Soon he had a fire burning, and searched the nearby bushes for berries. After going through three groups of bushes that had poison berries on them, Evoi finally found a group that didn’t. These berries were blue, and has Evoi sniffed them, looked at them closer, cut one open to take a look inside, and finally licked one, he decided they were not poisonous. This was another of those skills he had been taught by his survival teacher, and, although then he hated the lessons, now he was grateful for them. Evoi wandered back to where he left the others lying under the quilt with as many berries as he could carry in a makeshift bowl he had made out of his shirt, and saw that the only one still sleeping was the princess. The Kougras, soon noticing the absence of Evoi, had awoken and sniffed around the clearing looking for something to eat. Relcore had caught a small mouse, too tiny to share with the others, so when they saw Evoi coming back with berries, they got excited. Evoi put some dry beef over the fire, making sure that each Kougra got a reasonably large amount, and setting aside a medium 49

53: piece for Yuen Lee. As soon as the beef began to give off a smoky smell, Evoi set down a piece for each of the anxious Kougras, and piled a few berries on top of each. Soon the princess was awake because of the aroma, and Evoi handed her some berries and beef. He settled with a biscuit and whatever berries were leftover. “You never told me who you are Evoi,” Yuen Lee said suddenly. Evoi looked up, as if he wasn’t sure if she had really spoken or not. But soon enough he replied sadly, “I’m the son of King Everoi. But my dad’s really sick and I might have to take his place soon.” To Evoi’s own surprise, the princess didn’t look at him in disbelief or anything. She just continued eating as if he had said nothing, until finally she spoke. “I thought you were. You just don’t act like regular people.” And their conversation ended there. Once they had all savored the last moments of rest, Evoi piled whatever items he had removed from his pack back into the sheet, and as soon as Blaze, who had refused to go back home, was loaded with the supplies, they were off again on the same dull ride through the forest. Evoi wouldn’t have minded so much if it was scenic, but the only things the five Neopets ever saw were trees, and the narrow dirt path that they rode alongside. They rode in the forest instead of on the road, just in case a traveler or Shenkuu guard was caught by surprise and decided to fire an arrow. The trees made it nearly impossible for anything to hit home. Finally, after what Evoi estimated to be three hours of sore riding with only two rest stops, a massive camp came into view. About a thousand red tents were scattered everywhere, people moving around here and there, and one huge tent that was red with 50

54: beautiful designs covering it, sat in the center of all the tents. “Is this it Yuen Lee? Are these the Shenkuu warriors? The princess nodded her head slowly taking in everything. She hadn’t realized how big it was when she was actually in it, but now here eyes moved over every detail taking in the amazing scene. She was just about to ride down the steep hill when Evoi stopped her. This was his chance to ask her the question that had been nagging at him the second she had told him she was the Princess of Shenkuu. “Wait Yuen Lee. How did you get into the middle of the forest where you were? Why didn’t you just stay here?” 51

55: Chapter Twenty-Three The princess looked in the distance for almost a minute, but finally she turned to Evoi and said, “I hate war. I’ve always hated it, ever since I was a little girl and my father would go to wars everywhere. Nothing I said could stop him, for he believed war was the answer to all things, and a way of getting power and money. As soon as Nite came with the ‘good news’ of how Brightvale believed that the Shenkuu were miles out in the sea, my dad was going to send him right back to tell King Everoi that Shenkuu ships were spotted, but not too close, even though we had already set up camp here. My father believed this would throw them way off. “I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad was a coward! He was being so unfair, so I thought maybe I could beat the Shadow Draik, Nite, back to Brightvale. Maybe I could tell them the truth, and maybe I could stand between the war and stop it all! But I was wrong, and it was foolish of me to think so. That’s when I bumped into those Kougra riders, and you saved me.” Evoi thought all of this through, and it all began to make sense. The King of Shenkuu probably thought that his daughter had been kidnapped, and sent this ‘Nite’ to not only tell the king the lie of how the ships were spotted, just in case the king hadn’t actually ordered anyone to kidnap his daughter, but to also take Evalyn just in case the king did take his daughter. That way he would have something valuable to trade for the 52

56: Princess of Shenkuu, but also he could ensure that if the king hadn’t taken his daughter after all, he was thrown off by his own spy That was actually the spy of Shenkuu. Evoi nodded his head. “Okay. It’s time Yuen Lee. You go down first so they won’t think I’m holding you hostage, and shoot at us. Tell them everything! Maybe they will listen to you if you ask them to free my sister.” After giving Evoi a firm nod and a pat of encouragement saying, “Don’t worry Evoi. I owe you, and I will make sure you see your sister again,” Yuen Lee rode off down the hill to the camp. There were several shouts from a few of the closer tents, and the shouts spread through the camp until practically the whole camp was full of shouts. Evoi waited and waited for at least twenty minutes, and finally the familiar Yuen Lee walked to the foot of the hill and waved Evoi down. Without being told what to do, Arridi went bounding down the hill almost losing control of himself. Blaze followed and was just about to fall head over heels, but finally they came to a stop at the bottom next to the princess. “Come on Evoi! Follow me!” she said hurriedly. Evoi got off of Arridi and walked after Yuen Lee. After at least five minutes they arrived at the heart of the camp, but Yuen Lee stopped outside of the tent before them. She put on an encouraging smile and said, “Don’t worry, I promise my father won’t hurt you or your sister. Just go inside and talk with him.” Evoi hesitated only just a second, and entered the tent to see a round Red Draik with a crooked crown atop his head. 53

57: Chapter Twenty-Four The Shenkuu King didn’t even look up when Evoi entered. He was too busy whispering to the guard beside him. Finally the king saw the small draik out of the corner of his eye, and looked up. “A bit smaller then I had imagined. Oh well. Let’s get straight to the point, as I’m a very busy man, and it wasn’t my intentions to leave here empty handed, but it appears I have no choice.” The king paused looking at Evoi to make sure he understood what he was saying, and then continued. “I must thank you for saving my foolish daughter. I don’t know what she was doing going into those woods by herself, and I certainly am grateful for what you have done. I also realize I have something of yours. A certain relative? Yes, well now that I see you Brightvalieans haven’t kidnapped or harmed my beloved daughter in any way, you may have her back. Of course, that is no reward is it, since you hadn’t kidnapped her in the first place. So here it is. A great sacrifice on my part, but an offer all the same. I will not come and disturb your land or your surrounding lands as long as I am king. My daughter is worth all the world to me, and the loss of her would be much greater then to stop raiding your lands. We will be allies. Is it a deal or no young man? Please do hurry as I have much things to do.” Evoi didn’t think twice before saying, “Yes!” This would save his father so much trouble and worry, and 54

58: Evoi knew that his stress was a big impact on his illness. The King of Shenkuu nodded his head and waved a hand of dismissal. “Then you have my word. No more wars, no more raids, you and I are now allies. Now off with you, I’m a busy man.” And Evoi left the tent, his happiest in the last several days. One of the guards was ordered to take Evoi to a tent that had been emptied except for a bed, just for Evalyn. Evoi entered this tent and saw Evalyn sitting on the bed her head down. “I’m not hungry,” she said softly when she felt the presence of someone besides herself in the tent. “Evalyn!” cried Evoi. “Are you okay?” “Oh no! They got you too Evoi!” Evalyn looked up with her surprised expression fading to a sad look. “No, no Evalyn! I saved the Shenkuu Princess, and now the King of Shenkuu is letting me take you home, and no more wars. He promised no more wars Evalyn!” Evoi was so excited at this point, he wanted to tell Evalyn everything, but there was no time, so he ran to her and gave her a big hug. Now she was back to her surprised face, and the two siblings sat hugging each other until Relcore happened to wander in. Upon seeing his old friend that he had missed so much, Relcore got excited and leapt onto the bed settling next to Evalyn. She switched from hugging Evoi to hugging Relcore tightly. ***** “Thank you for everything Yuen Lee,” Evoi said, who was sitting on Arridi ready for the long ride back home.” “No, thank you Evoi. You saved my life!” Yuen Lee said, and just as Evoi, Evalyn, and the three Kougras were about to leave, Yuen Lee pressed a small, soft bag into Evoi’s hand. 55

59: As Evoi looked into his palm, she spoke again. “Here, take this herbal tea to your father. It cures almost all illnesses.” Evoi didn’t know what to say. It was like she was giving him his father’s life back. Then Evoi thought of something. He produced the small dagger given to him a long time ago and handed it to Yuen Lee. “Here, take this and keep it with you at all times. It will protect you from wild Lupes.” Both Draiks smiled, and Evoi and Evalyn were off. 56

60: Chapter Twenty-Five When Evoi and Evalyn finally arrived to the edge of the forest, all they wanted to do was sleep. To their surprise, Scrart appeared out of the trees, and motioned for them to follow him. Evoi recognized this path. He had taken it once before when he had wanted to learn archery. That’s when he realized. Archery had helped him quite a few times on his journey. He had used it to distract the guards at the gate, and Scrart had done the same to Darvien and the other men in the forest. Plus, he was sure that if he hadn’t shot an arrow into the wild Lupe in the forest’s leg, it would have most definitely done a greater amount of damage to Relcore, who had been the one to chase it away. Evoi didn’t know how to express his gratefulness to Scrart, for taking his own time to teach a skill he had already mastered to another. Finally, they arrived at Scrart’s cozy looking home. Scrart led the three Kougras away towards a small shed at the side of his house, and let the Kougras settle down in there on the soft hay that was piled high, while Evoi and Evalyn wandered into the house. When Scrart entered, he saw that both Evoi and Evalyn were fast asleep on the sofas nearest to the fire. 57

61: “Perfect,” he muttered to himself. ***** Evoi woke up all of a sudden to the sound of knocking on the door. Scrart hurried to the door and opened it to see the king standing on the other side. “Hello sir,” came Scrart’s voice. “Oh uhm Scrart” the king was distracted trying to look around Scrart into the room behind him. “Ah, you want to see your young ones, do you?” Scrart asked, ignoring the king’s attempts to peer past him. “Yes please Scrart. Oh! Did you say young ones now Scrart?” the king gave up and looked at Scrart. “Oh, did I forget to mention that your daughter his here? Hm. My bad.” And at last the confused king was allowed inside, and the two young Draiks immediately ran into his arms. “Daddy!” they both cried in unison. Except Evoi continued, saying something about Shenkuu being their allies and no more war. “Ah, at last! I have missed you both so much,” said the king. “Now what’s this about Shenkuu being our allies?” And so Evoi told the whole story, leaving out the part about them only arriving hours ago. (He figured Scrart had lied to his father so the king would have one less thing to worry about.) This left the king confused for the rest of his life as to how Evoi accomplished all of this in one day, but he never bothered to ask. ***** Days later, a letter arrived for Evoi. He ran up to his room from breakfast, excited because he 58

62: had never gotten a letter before. These days he wasn’t greeted by one swipe across the face, but two. The king had listened to Evoi as he told him of how Blaze once belonged to his mother, Queen Sonia. This time Blaze wasn’t sent to the stable. This time he was allowed to live with Arridi and Evoi, and they were all happy. Evoi settled down in his bed and opened the envelope. The letter was folded, and one of the sides said ‘YUEN LEE OF SHENKUU.’ Evoi carefully unfolded the letter and read the three words that were written in ink on the paper. ‘Stay in touch.’ Evoi smiled at the letter from his friend. 59

63: Epilogue So life went on in Brightvale, but with a few changes. Evoi continued sword practices, and became one of the best Knights of Brightvale, but he put more effort into archery. The herbal tea that the Shenkuu Princess had given to Evoi had completely cured the king who lived on to be the ‘The King Who Lived the Longest’ (and best by far.) The three Kougras became strong, mighty steeds, and very popular throughout Brightvale. And, of course, Evoi grew up to be the ‘Second Best’ for not only was he the second best king, but he was also the second best archer Yes, Scrart lived to an amazingly old age, and died as, still, the best archer. Yuen Lee, on the other hand, being the only child of the King of Shenkuu, made sure that the alliance between Shenkuu and Brightvale was kept. She frequently sailed across the sea to visit her old friend, Evoi. 60

Sizes: mini|medium|large|jumbo
Default User
  • By: Karen M.
  • Joined: about 7 years ago
  • Published Mixbooks: 1
No contributors

About This Mixbook

  • Title: Battle and Rescue
  • Tags: None
  • Published: almost 7 years ago

Get up to 50% off
Your first order

Get up to 50% off
Your first order