The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 3 – Infiltrating Saris Castle

Without further ado,  I give you Chapter 3 of The Master’s Chronicles.  This is the last chapter that you will see.  As for the rest of the story, you will just have to wait until it’s published.

Just sit back and enjoy!

After they closed in prayer, Nicolas grabbed his shoulder belt and guided it around his waist.  The pants that Darlene gave him felt a little big on him, so he tightened the belt a few more notches.  With the sword securely resting in the scabbard, Nicolas was ready for action.

Nicolas thought about the prayer that they just said.  There was something about the prayer that gave him sudden doubts.  He wondered if the prayer that they said will even reach The Master.  With the events of his recent revival fresh in his mind, he knew that the prayers would reach Him, but a nagging doubt still lingered in his mind.  The Master told him to leave Tulin and he knew very well what happened next.  Prison.  Interrogation.  Death.  What would guarantee that their infiltration would be “safe”?  This puzzled Nicolas, and made him feel all the more uneasy.

Darlene gently nudged Nicolas in the side.  “What’s wrong, Nicolas?”

Nicolas, looking incredulous, shook his head and feigned a smile.  “Nothing.”

Darlene stared at him firmly and frowned.  “Nicolas.”

Nicolas shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know if this plan is going to work.”

Darlene and Donna exchanged glances.  Darlene sighed and took a step forward.  “Nicolas.  The Master is on our side.  Why else would He revive you?”

“I know, and I’m eternally grateful for Him doing that.  I just don’t understand the way He works.”

“We are not supposed to.  No Copian, not even the most learned, has ever begun to understand how He works.  All we can do is trust Him and follow Him.”

“He told me to leave Tulin.  I did just what He told me and I was captured and then imprisoned.  And….”  Nicolas gulped.  “You know the rest.”

“Maybe He wanted to bring you here.  Did you ever think about that?”

Nicolas scratched his head.  “Well, I guess that makes sense.”

Donna nudged Darlene’s arm.  “Darlene.  We really need to get going with the plan.”

Darlene nodded, and turned to Nicolas.  “I agree.  Are we going, Nicolas?”

Nicolas faced everyone and nodded back.  “Yes.  Let’s go rescue a princess.”

And so it was settled.  Darlene carried a satchel filled with provisions and supplies.  It contained a couple sweetspice rolls and a small wool sack filled with gold coins.  Nicolas added the Copian Scriptures to Darlene’s satchel and they were on their way.

Upon leaving Darlene’s house, a sudden rush of wind blew in their faces.  Torrents of rain accompanied the moderately strong gales.  Several puddles formed on the stone-covered streets.  Lightning came in a series of flashes, followed by the peals of thunder.

Darlene led, since she was well familiar with the streets of Saris.  They followed her, trudging their way down the streets, past houses that looked very much like Darlene’s.  They made occasional turns and passed a few trade houses every now and then.

Finally, Nicolas spoke up.  “Where are we going?  I thought we were going to the castle.”

Darlene nodded, and gave him a furtive glance.  “We are,” she whispered.  “We first need to meet with Ruby.  She knows where all the castle passageways are, remember?  She will guide us there and then we’re on our own after that.”

Nicolas gave a nod of approval and motioned Darlene to continue.  They continued on, clutching their arms to their sides, in a futile attempt to stay warm from the rain.  They passed a couple markets, when a beggar began following them.  He held out his hands, earnestly pleading for a gold coin.

Darlene sighed with empathy and gave him a small handful of gold coins.  The beggar gleefully leaped and ran off.

After trudging past a few more houses and making a couple more turns, they finally reached an alleyway, which consisted of two adjoining trade houses.  Both houses were dilapidated, and appeared to be abandoned.  At the end of the alley stood Ruby, who looked like a drowned rat.

Ruby merrily skipped around in the rain.  She was singing a song, using nonsensical words.  Most of them were “la”s, with the occasional “tra”.  Her singing changed to humming.  She hummed for while, and it took Darlene’s voice to snap her out of her trance.

“Ruby! We’re ready!” Darlene shouted.

Ruby, out of her trance, now noticed Darlene and the rest of the party.  “Oh. So you are?  Let me get out of this rain and put some dry clothes on first.”

Nicolas, staring at Ruby, was unable to restrain his laughter.  “What was the singing all about?” he chuckled.

Ruby’s face blushed and she stared at Nicolas.  It was the kind of stare that could look directly into your soul.  “Can’t a girl take a shower in peace?” she snapped. “It’s really none of your business.  And you best stop laughing, or I will smack that smile off your face!”

Nicolas regained his composure.  “I’m sorry.  I just haven’t ever seen that side of you before. I usually see you…”

Ruby interrupted.  “And you won’t see that side again. Let’s get out of this rain already. I’m showered enough.”

Ruby led Nicolas, Darlene, and Donna into the abandoned trade house.  The place was in ruins.  There were broken tables, scraps of iron and metal tools scattered everywhere.  The rain came in from the holes in the ceiling.  A large pile of rags sat in one corner, while another pile of stitched up rags sat in the corner opposite to it. A small pile of bulging satchels sat in the middle of the room.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Ruby said with a smile.

Nicolas looked at the satchels sitting in the center of the room.  “Is that where you keep your money?”

Ruby stared at Nicolas and sighed.  She then let out a tiny chuckle.  “Nuh-ah!  Do you really think that I would store my money out here in the open?  My money is in a secret place, and I’m not telling!”

“Then what’s in all those bags?”

“Those?  They’re my magic stones.  I’ll let you touch those.  They’re actually pretty useful!  You should….”

“I know what they are.” Nicolas interrupted.  “I’ve seen them before.  I never use them because they’re too expensive.”

“And you should never use them either.”  Darlene said sternly.  “I try to encourage Ruby not to use them.  But alas, she uses them anyway.  I can only tell her not to use them, but I can’t make her do what I say.”

“That’s right!”  Ruby grinned.  “And I’m sorry to say that you’re really missing out. They’re so fun to use!  What’s the harm in using them anyway?”

Nicolas glanced over at Darlene.  “She’s right.  What’s wrong with these stones?”

Darlene’s scowl turned to a frown.   She then turned, facing Ruby.  “Ruby, you have already heard this several times before, so I am not going to tell you again.  Do you mind if I have a couple minutes alone with Nicolas?”

Ruby nodded.  “Sure.  Just go into the other room.  I can change while you’re talking anyway.”

“Thanks, Ruby.”

Darlene led Nicolas into the adjoining trade house.  It looked just like Ruby’s, only without the rags and stones.

“Now Nicolas,” Darlene began.  “Do you know why I have a problem with those magic stones?”

Nicolas shrugged his shoulders in confusion.  “No.  All I know is that they’re expensive.  That is why I never use them.”

Darlene took a step closer toward Nicolas.  “Fine.  I’ll tell you.  Those magic stones that you see everywhere are the work of the Cobra.”

“Cobra?”

“Yes!  Cobra!  If you read your Copian Scriptures more, you would know what I’m talking about.”

Nicolas thought about this for a moment. Where did I see this cobra mentioned before? After a while, his face lit up.  “Oh yeah!  I just read about it!  There was a cobra that that tricked the woman into eating the golden apple.”

“Yes.  And that cobra is another name for Ivion, the ultimate deceiver and master of lies.  Do you have any idea how those magic stones are made?”

“How?”

“Here’s how.  The followers of Ivion practice dark magic.  They chant incantations and practice witchcraft.  For those who don’t, they take the essence of their spells and store them in stones.  They originally did this for their own personal use but began selling them when they realized that other people could use the stones.”

“I thought that it was just another way for the king and the nobles to make more money.”

“That’s only part of it.  Most people today don’t know how dangerous they are.  And that’s exactly what Ivion wants.  He doesn’t want anyone to think that they’re dangerous.”

“Are we in danger of them now?”

“No.  But if you touch the stone, you will absorb the magic contained inside it.  About five years ago, I touched one by mistake.  It was a fire stone, and I felt sick to my stomach the whole time I had the spell inside me.”

“Why doesn’t Ruby feel sick?”

“Nicolas, Ruby doesn’t really know the Master personally.  In my case, I felt sick to my stomach when I had that spell.  I believe that the Master was doing this to protect me from becoming addicted to them.  I used that fire spell as fast as I could on the ground, and I immediately felt better.  To this day, I have never touched another magic stone, and I try to keep away from them at all costs.”

Donna heard a noise in the distance, and glanced in the other trade house.  “Darlene….”

Darlene turned around.  “What is it, Donna?  I was talking to Nicolas….”  She then glanced at the other trade house.  “Oh.  Ruby’s done changing?  Thanks.  Let’s come back in, Nicolas.”

Nicolas followed Darlene back to the other trade house, with Donna trailing behind.

In the corner of the trade house sat Ruby, who had a smirk on her face.

Ruby approached Darlene and frowned.  “You had a bad experience.”

Nicolas looked at Ruby and gasped.  “Did she….”

Ruby nodded.  “I heard the whole thing.  How else do you think I get paid so well?  I have really good ears.”

Darlene sternly pointed her finger at Ruby.  “We discussed this before.  No amount of convincing….”

“….is going to make you use another magic stone.”  Ruby said in a worn out tone.  “And having discussed that before, I’m fine with that.  I still say that you’re missing out on all the fun.”

Nicolas’s stomach growled.  “Do we have any food around here?”

Ruby’s face lit up.  “That too is hidden.  I’ll let you have some, but it’s going to cost ya….”

Darlene motioned her hand over to Ruby.  “That’s okay, Ruby.  We brought our own food.”  She then opened her satchel and tore off a rather large piece of a sweetspice roll.  “Here.  Have this.”

Nicolas quickly grabbed the piece and ate it.  It was gone in seconds.  After that, Nicolas licked the crumbs and sweetspice off his fingers.  “That’ll do for now.”  He then looked at Ruby again, noticing that she was in the same rags as before.  “With all the money you have, can’t you afford decent clothes?”

Ruby shook her head.  “Why would I buy clothes?  I’m a streetear.  Streetears don’t make money by wearing nice clothes.  They wear rags, like this!  And for your information, this is a new set of rags.  I like my rags and I don’t want to wear anything else!  I have dressed like this since I was four, when my parents couldn’t find any decent clothes for me anymore.  I don’t tell you how to live your life, so don’t tell me how to live mine!”

Nicolas backed away from Ruby.  “Whoa….All I asked was a question….”

“And all I gave you was an answer.  Now, do you want to sneak into Saris castle or what?”

Darlene looked around the room and frowned.  “How do we get in?  I don’t see where the entrance would be, even if it was hidden.”

Ruby nodded.  “Exactly,” she whispered.  “We don’t want anyone finding these secret entrances, or the soldiers would seal them off.”

Nicolas looked around the room and shrugged.  “How are we getting to this room?”

“With a little fun.” Ruby said, giving her widest grin.

And with that, Ruby led them over to the center of the room.  She crouched down and grabbed two different satchels.  “Follow me…oh!  My rain shield is wearing out.  One second, everyone!”

Ruby reached into the satchel in her right hand scooped out a handful of magic stones.  The stones dissolved as each spell was absorbed into her body.

With each spell that was absorbed, a small magical shield grew over her head.  It was big enough for anyone who was nearby her to remain dry from the rain.

Donna and Nicolas stood underneath the shield, but Darlene backed away.

Ruby frowned.  “What’s wrong?”

Darlene scowled.  “I’m not standing underneath that shield.  I’d rather stay soaking wet then under that….that work of the cobra.”

Ruby shook her head and shrugged.  “Very well.  I’m not forcing you to remain dry but we need to hurry.  The rain shield spell doesn’t last long.”

Darlene shrugged and followed Ruby.  Nicolas and Donna stayed closely by her while Darlene followed at a distance.  Ruby led them a short distance into the other trade house.

Once there, Ruby stopped moving.  “Now this is the fun part,” she tittered.

Ruby reached into the other satchel and scooped out a heaping handful of magic stones.  The stones dissolved and her body began to glow as each spell was absorbed into her.  An aura then began to radiate from her body.  Tee hee hee hee hee….

The ground beneath Nicolas, Darlene and Donna began to lightly rumble.  The aura surrounding Ruby began to expand.  “This is so fun!” She giggled.  “I can’t believe you guys don’t like these things!”

Nicolas gasped, and began to look worried.  “Is what you’re doing safe?”

The glowing Ruby turned to face Nicolas.  “Of course it is!  I do this all the time!  How else can I lift these enormous slabs?  Tee hee!  Watch and learn!”

Darlene closed her eyes.  “Stop it!  Just stop it already!”

Ruby sighed.  “Do you want to get into the castle, or not? Just be quiet and stop ruining the fun!

Ruby stared at the ground and concentrated.  As she concentrated, a powerful shock wave lifted all the stones off the ground to reveal a small hole.

Darlene squinted her eyes open for a split second and screamed.  “Stop it, Ruby!”

Suddenly, a clank was made in the distance.  “Who’s that?!”

Ruby scowled.  “Great.  A soldier just heard us.  Hurry everyone!  Through the hole!”

Nicolas approached the hole.  “Will I even fit?”

“Yes!  Just go!  This psychic spell can only last so long!  Just hurry!”

Nicolas jumped through the hole.  It was a little wider than he thought it was.  Darlene and Donna quickly followed.

“Hey!” A voice shouted.  “Get back here! No! Stop!  Aaaaahhhhh!!!”

Ruby jumped down last.  “The stone slabs crushed him.  I was going to give you all directions, but Darlene had to ruin all the fun.”

Darlene stared at her and began to explode.  “Fun?  We almost got captured by a Saris soldier!”

“He would’ve heard us if you didn’t scream.   Now I don’t understand why you think these stones are so bad.”

Darlene sighed.  “That’s the problem, Ruby.  You don’t understand.”

“Let’s stop arguing and get to the castle.  After that, you’re all on your own.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

Nicolas, Darlene and Donna all followed Darlene through the underground cavern.  As they were walking, a plague of numerous questions began filling Nicolas’s mind.  How were these caverns dug?  How long ago? Are these caverns used as sewers? The questions went on and on.

Darlene stared at Ruby and sighed.  She didn’t mean to argue or yell at her.  If only she knew the danger of those stones!  Then very quietly, she began to weep.  She knew it was okay to, since the cavern was dark enough, and no one could see her. Master, please open her eyes….

Donna quietly kept her pace with the others.  As she walked, a sudden sense of urgency overcame her.  Surely, the princess is still safe!  She quietly cupped her hands together and sighed.  I hope we’re not too late….

Suddenly, a noise was heard in the distance, followed by a voice.  “I think I hear them!”

“Where?” Another voice said.  “I don’t hear anything.”

“Just keep going.  We’ll find them.  They can’t get away!”

“Great….” Ruby sighed.  “They found us.  And we were almost to the castle, too!

“But don’t worry.  I know of a safe exit we can take, and it doesn’t require any magic stones.  We can reenter the cavern when the coast is clear.  Hurry!”

“There they are!” The voice shouted.  “I can almost see them!”

Ruby moved a stone tile and jumped up through the hole.  “Up here! Hurry!”

Nicolas, Darlene and Donna began proceeding forward, but were stopped by two Saris soldiers, that began to surround them.

“Don’t move any further, or we’ll cut you into pieces.” The Saris soldier said, brandishing his sword just inches from Nicholas.

Nicolas stared directly at the Saris soldier.  “Try me.”

Before the soldier could even react, Nicolas quickly grabbed his sword and knocked him back.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the other soldier warned.

“And why is that?”  Darlene said, as she raised her voice.

“There are more of us on the way.” The first soldier sneered.  “And if any of you move again or even speak, you’re all losing your limbs.”

Nicolas returned the sword to its sheath and nobody else even dared to say a word.

“Good.” The Saris soldier smiled.  “Now your sneaky little friend killed one of our ranks.  Fortunately, we were nearby.  I found your fox hole and entered it.”

“I went and summoned more soldiers.” the other soldier added.  “I then caught up with my comrade and led them on a hunt.

“And we caught ourselves a peasant and two adorable women!” The first one said with glee.

After exchanging glances, both soldiers roared with laughter.

Shortly after they laughed, more soldiers started entering through the cavern.

“We caught ourselves three runts!” The first Saris soldier shouted. “What should we do with them?”

“We should let our boss decide!” another one said.  “Let’s throw them in the dungeon!”

One of the soldiers that just arrived walked up to Nicolas and sneered at him.  “Nighty night!”

The soldier whacked Nicolas over the head with the hilt of his sword.  After that, everything went black.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

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