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The Dark Element and Vortex.
“Battle stations!” roared the king. “And the rest of you,” the king said to his children, my friends, and me, “will follow the guards to safety.”
“Me?” I asked.
“Yes, you!” the king said.
“But, Your Majesty!” I started to protest.
"But nothing," the king said. “I'm the king, I make the rules around here, and I order you to-.” Before he could finish, an evil looking man burst through the doors and strutted into the room as if he owned it. A small group of villains followed him in.
“Vortex!” The king hissed, rising from his throne.
So this is the creep who wanted me dead, I thought, watching him carefully.
Vortex’s slick raven black hair seemed glued to his head by either its greasiness or something even fowler than that. The only thing slicker than his hair was his pointy beard that formed into an obsidian hook at the end. His sharp black eyes studied his surroundings for a brief second and then they wandered around as if they lost interest. He flipped his slate tinted cloak over his shoulder revealing his dark gray armor.
“Ahhh, King Stieress, why do you try to avoid the inevitable?” Vortex asked the king, in a casual manner. Tilting his head in our direction, he smirked. “I didn’t know the ex-king entertained children. Trying to find a new job as babysitter since you are no longer king?" He strolled toward me and my friends.
“I am still king!” the king firmly declared “And as king, I demand that you leave my kingdom at once!”
“Such a brave speech,” Vortex chuckled, looking gravely at the king, “considering you have no hero to back you up.”
Do something, I thought, looking at the hilt of my sword. Do something! You’re the hero, so you should do something! I grasped it tight. C’mon, you’re the hero! I should be taking action not just standing here listening to all this hot air!
A spark from the corner of Terril’s eye caught my attention. He smiled gently at me as if he knew what was going on inside of me, and told me it was ok. Stifling a yawn, he stretched his free arm behind him and spread his finger out wide.
A secret signal! Clever! I thought. Disguising it as a stretch in hopes that Vortex won’t notice. But did he notice it?
Vortex’s attention was still on the king. “I sent one of my creatures to slay her.”
Nah, the cock’s still crowing, that’s good, I thought. And according to Terrill’s signal, I have to wait for the right moment to attack him. For all I know they have a strategy going on.
“Even if your hero was still alive, I have the Dark Element- the Dark Crystal and the Dark Orb,” Vortex boasted.
Terril’s face went pale at the mention of the Dark Element.
“And we both know,” Vortex continued in his arrogant manner, “that the hero wouldn't even last a second if she came close to them. They would have a certain affect on her…” He unpocketed a pure black crystal with a red diamond in its center.
It emitted an evil glow.
Instantly, my vision began to swim and my limbs became weak. Quickly, I shot one of my arms out to the wall behind me to help catch me before I fell.
Vortex happened to see me at that time, and he turned toward the king.
“Well, well, well,” Vortex said, “Steiress, have you been holding out on me? It looks like we have the hero here after all," he announced. Glaring, he pointed at me. “You are foolish to even think that you could beat me and my army!” As he pointed crystal toward my face, Terril stepped in front of me. I saw him quiver as if something had shaken the ground beneath his feet. Within minutes he fell to his knees.
As that was going on, a horribly strange feeling started to envelop me. It was like nothing I ever experienced before. Waves of pain crashed inside my body at every junction, and a black void began to take my vision from me.
Your sword! Quick your sword!
I weakly grabbed my sword, and pulled it out of its sheath. The darkness began to shake for a second as if it were afraid of my sword. Then, like a tsunami, it suddenly gathered it strength and came at me in full force.
I swung my blade toward Vortex as the darkness slammed down upon me and took me into its depths like an under toe.
Nothing. For the longest time I knew nothing and felt nothing.
Suddenly a soft heavenly light encircled me, and I saw an angelic figure in the distance. It was too blurry to make out what it looked like.
“Don’t worry,” the voice said. “It’s going to be alright.”
“She’s going to be alright,” said a female’s soft voice. My vision began to focus and I saw a slender young woman in a long flowing white robe. A little flicker of soft yellow light engulfed her fore finger that was pointed at my eyes. A soft smile formed upon her lips, and her long blond hair flowed down her side in nice even strands.
It must be nice to have hair that listens to you, I thought, thinking of how unruly my hair was.
My eyes began to feel heavy, and I was about to close them when I felt a bolt of anguish hit my body all at once. Moaning, I winced and tried to curl up in a little ball, but firm hands held me still. The pain finally ebbed to a point where I could relax.
“Is she going to be ok?” asked the king’s voice.
“She should be able to make it,” replied a woman’s voice. “We did all we could for her, and fortunately the affliction was not prolonged so it did not cause permanent damage to her.”
“That’s a good thing, right?” asked the princess.
“I think she means, that I’m going to make it,” I replied, opening my eyes once again.
“Thank goodness you're alive!” Terril exclaimed, looking a bit eased.
The king sighed with relief. “We were afraid you wouldn't make it.”
“Where am I?” I asked weakly. “Where are my friends?”
“You’re in the healing chambers,” the queen replied.
“Your friends were abducted by Vortex,” replied the princess.
“I have to rescue them!” I exclaimed. I tried to sit up, but the woman stopped me.
“You're in no condition to go on a rescue mission,” she said. “Besides you couldn't save them. Vortex has The Dark Element, and you saw what they did to you. You wouldn’t last a long with them around.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am a healer,” she replied, smiling at me.
“What about my friends?” I asked.
“We are mustering up a party to send some soldiers who are brave enough to go over there,” said the king, “but that might take a while… After what he did to you, they all fear for their lives now.”
“It can’t wait!” I said. “They’re in danger!”
“You just focus on getting healed,” said the king. “You can’t help them in the condition you are in.”
Knowing he was right, I sighed and resigned myself to the truth.
“How long will I be here?” I asked the healer.
“Three days,” she answered.
“Great,” I muttered. “Hopefully that won’t be too long…” A few seconds later my brain began to tick, and I remembered something. “Terril, are you ok? I remember that you fell trying to protect me. What exactly happened during the tumult? I can’t recall if I did any good swinging my sword at him…?”
“I have a Remembering Stone here,” said the king, placing it on a stand. “It’s set to record any important event that occurs in the castle. It’ll show you everything that happened.”
Suddenly a small 3-D image appeared, and I saw what had occurred.
As I had swung my sword, Vortex easily dodged the blow and I fell to the ground.
Once I had fallen, Terril managed to get up and lash out at Vortex with his staff. Vortex, however, dodged his blow and grabbed the staff. After he struck Terril with it, he cast the staff aside and pocketed the Dark Element.
Suddenly June rammed into Vortex and knocked him down.
“Curse you, girl!” growled Vortex. He grabbed June by the arm and pushed her over to his minions. One of Vortex's evil vampires seized June from behind.
Beth was rushing over to help her when two other vampires pounced on her.
“I’ll leave you and your family alone for now,” Vortex said told the king, “but just so you can agonize about what tortures I will have in store for you and your entire kingdom. And there's nothing you can do to stop me!” he added, cackling. Then he and his army left in a puff of smoke, taking my friends along with them.
After their departure, Terril came to and staggered to his feet. He walked over to where I was laying and knelt down by me. Placing his hand on my neck, he frowned.
The king and queen rushed over to where I was and stood beside Terrill.
“Is she dead?” the king softly asked.
“No, but she her condition will worsen if we don’t get her to a healer immediately,” Terril replied firmly.
The king ordered two of the soldiers to get a stretcher to put me on. When they came back, they picked me up, placed me on the stretcher, and carried me off to the healing chamber.
The image faded. “That’s what happened. Don’t worry about you’re friends. We’ll think of a way to save them. You just get some rest and recover.”
I nodded and closed my eyes.
Oh, Lord, I silently prayed. Please let me know how my friends are someway please tell me.
When I finally drifted off to sleep, I had a horrible dream.
My friends were chained to a wall covered with moss that was stained by the blood of its previous victims. Some of the old stones that were not hidden behind the greenery also bore similar evidence of the cruelties that had occurred in the horrid place. A dark shadow loomed over them.
“You will be perfect bait!” laughed Vortex. “Once that hero knows that you are here, she will rush to your aide, and when she does my plan will spring into action!” He laughed vilely.
“What do you have planned!?!” Beth demanded.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” He jeered. “Do you think I’m stupid? If I tell you, you would tell her. I don’t like people who want to spoil my plans!” He paused a bit, as if he was thinking something over. After a few minutes, he looked up at my friends and then continued. “I would like to torture you, but I must make plans for future events.”
Once he left, my friends looked at each other.
“Do you think Chris is alive?”
“I'm sure she is,” June assured her. “You heard what Vortex said; he wouldn’t be scheming so soon if she was dead.”
“Yeah, but, you saw how she reacted when he pulled out that crystal,” Beth said sadly.
“Yeah, it was as if it was draining the life out of her….” June said, choking back her tears.
“I told her I didn't like her being a hero. That it would get her killed!” Beth cried. “But she didn’t care! She said she had to help these strangers at all costs!” She started to sob.
After some time had passed, Vortex returned. He sneered darkly at my friends.
My dream was suddenly shattered by the sound of Terril’s concerned voice and the shaking of my body.
“Thank goodness, I've woken you up in time!” he said nervously, as he let me go.
“Why were you shaking me?” I asked, in a daze.
“You were having a nightmare,” he answered. “I had to wake you up!”
“You knew I was having a nightmare?” I asked.
“You were tossing and turning,” he explained.
“Why didn't you just let me sleep through it?” I asked. “It’s not like they are dangerous.”
“Maybe not in your world, but here they are,” he told me. “Somehow villains have mastered the black art of dream witchery. Such techniques make whatever happens in dreams affect the dreamer. Its first occurrence happened in our kingdom when Vortex’s invasion was beginning. It struck a man in his old cottage by the water lands. He was having a pleasant rest until he began to toss and turn and scream. By the time his wife reached him, he was dead,” he went on. “Several similar instances have been reposted since then. Just to be on the safe side tell me what yours was about. It might be very important to discover if he is planning anything.”
I told him what I dreamt.
“It doesn’t sound like dream witchery… However it does have a feeling of foreboding…I sense that your friends are in grave danger,” Terril said grimly. “I’ve have a meeting with the king soon. I’ll tell him about it then. We will think of a way to save your friends. Don’t worry. Just focus on recovering.”
Time just became one big blur as I was recovering in the chambers. I was in a stone room with no windows. My bed was comfortable yet small with plain sheets. The room had no decorations like paintings or figurines so there was nothing to preoccupy my mind with. It was quiet boring. The only thing that broke the stream of timelessness were the visits from the blond woman who came to see how I was progressing, or Terrill doing the same thing, and talking about various things. Usually he would tell me that the king had plans on sending some warriors out to free my friends or to say encouraging words to me.
But even though I knew he meant well, it did not relieve any of my anticipation.
This is going to drive me crazy, I thought. Who knows how long I’ve been in here…it could have been a week! And Vortex! For all I know he could be coming right now for me and the castle!
The door to my chamber slowly opened, and I looked over to see who it was. Terril’s head poked through the opening.
“Just checking to see how you were doing,” he said.
“I’m feeling better,” I told him. “However my friends are in still danger.”
“The king has sent a party of warriors to try to free them a few days ago,” Terril told me. “I’m sure they are on their way back. Oh, by the by, Princess Siba wants to see you. She wanted to make sure you were up to talking.”
“I am,” I told him, comforted in the fact that the king had taken action to help my friends.
He nodded and called the princess in, and then left.
She entered with a troubled look on her face.
“What's wrong?” I asked, while doing my best to sit up.
“I came down here to see how you were doing,” she said, “We have been really worried, and have been praying that you would have a fast recovery.” She glanced down to the floor, trying to hide her tears.
“Princess, is there something else that’s bothering you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “I’ve been worried about this since the encounter you had with Vortex. It’s about what would happen if Vortex comes when you're still not fully recovered!” she added, bursting into tears.
I took a deep breath and sighed. “Princess, I’m doing much better. I’m not doing as bad as you think I am. I wouldn’t drop dead if something like that happened.”
She looked relieved. “I’m so glad to hear that! Oh, father wanted me to give you these.” She handed me some items, “This,” she said pointing to the dragon armlet, “will give you contact to any good dragon anywhere near you.”
“This?” I inquired pointing to a griffon necklace.
“That lets you be invisible,” she told me, “and this,” she said, pointing to a golden ring that had two wolf heads facing each other, “allows you to have keen eyesight, hearing, sensing, and swift movement,” she replied. “All are tokens of our gratitude.”
“Thank you,” I said. I put on the dragon armlet before pocketing the griffon necklace and wolf ring.
“It’s happening!” A healer ran down toward us, panting heavily. “Vortex and his sinister mob have come for the kingdom!” He closed the door quickly and locked it.
“What are we going to do?”
inquired the frightened princess.
“You two are going to hide somewhere where he can't find you,” I told them. “Best to hide in different areas, you have less of a chance of being found that way.
“What about you?” she asked.
Loud and heavy footsteps were heard from the stairs that led to our room. The monsters were at the door in no time, and they were pounding at the door so heavily that it seemed to bow under their force.
“Don't worry about me,” I whispered. “You two go hide before it’s too late!” I said, quickly taking out the necklace.
The two of them ran off.
“Hope this necklace works,” I said as I slipped it on.
The door splintered and fell to the floor in pieces. Monsters swarmed into the room.
“Where is she?” a tall troll growled.
“It matters not,” said a vampire who was accompanying the troll. “We shall find her.”
I picked up my weapons, which too, turned invisible as I held them firmly in my hands, and charged swiftly and silently, toward the troll.
When I reached him, I stabbed him in the back, and he let out a death screech before he fell.
“Who ever did that shall pay dearly! I will make it so,” snarled the vampire, swirling around to find the attacker, but when he couldn't see me he got furious. “Show yourself! Or are you a coward?” he smirked devilishly, and scanned around the room, looking for me.
Call me anything you like, but I ain’t showin my face, I thought. I ain’t no fool.
“So, you're a coward, huh? Well, I'll find you soon enough, craven,” he said. He began to pick up everything in sight and tossed it against the walls and floors in an attempt to find me.
If he keeps this up he might find the princess or the healer, I thought.
I walked up in front of him and thrust my sword into his chest.
“Gggggaaaaaa!” he screamed, falling into a heap onto the floor.
“Nicely done, hero,” said a sinister voice, “but those cheap tricks won’t work on me.”
The voice sent the hairs of my neck on end. I didn't have to turn around to know who it belong to. It was Vortex.
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