Next morning, Nįriėl wope up early. But even though, the boys of Arrentax were already up. Nįriėl yawned and streched herself. She stood up and pushed the door open. Outside, she found Marcus and Zacky examining an old map.
"Look, we should go here and then turn left and-"
"No! That is the hall with the most boobytraps! We have to make a way around!"
"What way around? From the roof you mean?"
"But the treasure room is all the way in the basement!"
"Goodmorning!" Nįriėl giggled.
Zacky and Marcus looked up startled.
"G'morning, Nįriėl!" Zacky said cheerful.
"What are you doing?"
"Zacky wants us to take the hall with the boobytraps", Marcus said.
"I do not!" Zacky protested. "I'm just saying we have the take the shortest way possible!"
"Hey, you're not the proffesional here, I am!"
"Stop it you guys!" Dantė called as he approached together with Nibbles. "Ah, Nįriėl, you're awake!"
Nįriėl nodded. "Where've you been?"
"We've been taking out the guards for the mission", Nibbles grinned.
"No Manticores today!", Dantė laughed evil. "We blocked all cages with our special tricks! It would take them days to open them again!"
"Speaking of Manticores", Nįriėl started. "What happened yesterday?"
Marcus stood up. "I was on a mission to shut down Christopher's boobytraps, but failed."
"Oh I see."
"And it still remains a problem", Dantė said. "With the boobytraps still operative, the mission's going to be twice as dangerous."
"Oh, don't worry about that, Dan!" Zacky said cheerfully. "We've been in bigger trouble before! You'll think of something!"
"I hope I do", sighed Dantė. "Or else we'll just have to find the book and the treasure room by avoiding every boobytrap in the mansion. Luckily we've got most of them located."
Marcus, Zacky and Nibbles nodded. Nįriėl looked around at the huge mansion owned by Christopher, with its flags and stained glass. She wondered how the book was like. Was it big, or small? Heavy or light? No, what she really wondered was wether they would surely make it or not. She had never done such kind of thing before.
"Are you alright, Nįriėl?" Marcus asked worried when he saw her staring.
Nįriėl quickly turned to Marcus. "Oh, yes I'm fine", she said. "Just nervous I guess."
"No need to!" laughed Nibbles. "It'll be alright! Arrentax's never failed before!"
"Then what are we waiting for?" Zacky called. "Let's go!"
"Alright", Dantė said and kneeled on the floor. The others joined him and stuck their heads together. "We're going to split up in three groups. One, Zacky alone, two, Marcus and Nįriėl, and three, me and Nibbles. Zacky, you are the one to look up ahead. You are our guard, our watcher. You must make sure the coast is clear. Marcus, Nįriėl, the two of you try to sneak to the library of the mansion, where you will find the book on a pedestal. Nibbles, you and I are going for the basement to the treasure room, while Zacky stands watch. But first-" He took a paper bag from under his clothes. There seemed to be something in it which made a squeazing sound. Nįriėl's eyes widened at the sight of it.
"Dantė..." Zacky grinned aloud. ".. you are a g-e-n-i-u-s!"
"Indeed!" grinned Nibbles sinister. "This Mug-Worm will bite the golden walls of his mansion! Then he'll come out, Christopher, and we can go in."
"Just one thing", Marcus suddenly said. "How are we going to get in? The front entrance is being guarded for twenty-four hours."
Nįriėl turned toward the mansion while she heard the others thinking. First she lay her eyes and on an open window on its third floor, but then she spotted the chimney. She narrowed her eyes and thought for a moment, then she said, "I've got an idea, you guys!"
The boys all looked up surprised, but Dantė and Marcus smiled.
"Tell us, Nįriėl!" Dantė suggested.
"Quick, this way!"
"Dantė! Not so fast!" Nibbles called out of breath.
"Is Zacky already done with the worms?" Marcus asked as they ran around the mansion to the back.
"I don't know!" called Nįriėl.
But then suddenly, when they ran just another few feet, Dantė fiercly banged in on someone. The rest banged and trippled too when Zacky knocked also Marcus off his feet. Panting, Dantė drew his sword and put it on Zacky's throat.
"No, no, wait!" Zacky called. "It's me!"
Dantė stared at him for a moment, still panting and then withdrew his sword again.
"Never.. ever do that again!" he heaved. "You.. scared me.. to death!"
"Sorry!" Zacky begged. "I won't do it again!"
Nįriėl climbed over Nibbles's head to reach Zacky. "And?" she asked impatiently.
"All done!" said Zacky proud. "Even all the city guards are distracted now! Looking throughout the grounds and everything.."
Everyone stared at him. Dantė held his breath and took Zacky at the collar. Then they all ran when footsteps approached around the corner.
"No, nothing here", they heard a voice say. "Better help Fat Bastars Christopher before he boils us alive."
They heard another voice laughing and then they were gone.
Dantė holding Zacky tight at the collar and covering his mouth, Nibbles, Marcus and Nįriėl stood pressed against the wall behind a pillar, breathing for this close call. Dantė sighed, threw a disgusting look at Zacky and let him go harshly.
"I don't want to know how close that was", Nįriėl panted and sack down to the ground.
"Well, almost screwed it all, didn't you?" Nibbles said angirly at Zacky, who stood up and held his nose high.
Marcus looked around and then up. The mansion was so huge that nobody would see them climbing it, even though it was a long, long way up.
Nįriėl sighed nervously, but Dantė lay a hand on her shoulder to encourage her. Nįriėl nodded.
"Let's go then", she said.
Everyone agreed. Zacky crept away past the walls to the front, just in case the diversion had ended, he had to cause one again. Dantė pulled on the rainpipe to see if it was steady enough. Then he made a sign to the others and climbed up. Nibbles followed, then Marcus and then Nįriėl. Her robes swept in the wind, which grew stronger the higher they climbed. When they finally reached the top, Dantė climbed up the roof. He gave a hand to Nibbles. Then Marcus climbed up, followed by Nįriėl, who was quicker than the rest. She turned toward the edge and stared at the morning sky ahead of her. She was lost in thoughts for a moment, until she heard Dantė calling her.
"Shhhh!" Dantė hissed at Nibbles, who almost cracked through the tatched roof. "Nįriėl? Are you coming?"
"Oh, yes, of course", Nįriėl said and joined the others.
"Have you got it?" Dantė asked Nibbles.
Nibbles nodded and grinned. Then he got a long, heavy rope from under his vest. They taught the rope to the peak on top of the roof and le the other end sack into the chimney.
"I'll go first", said Marcus and made a sign at Nįriėl, who swallowed.
"Don't be afraid", said Dantė quietly to her. "It's going to be alright."
Nįriėl nodded and followed Marcus down the rope into the chimney.
Inside it was pitch-black and dusty. Nįriėl couldn't see a thing. Then suddenly she saw just a small light appear. The lower she climbed, the bigger the light became. And then she realized the rope was on fire. It was the fire in the fireplace.
"Oh-oh", she heard Marcus whisper.
"What do we do now, Marcus?" she asked while staring at below. "How do we get passed there?"
"Jump and roll", said Marcus shortly and prepared to jump.
"What?" said Nįriėl startled. But it was too late. Marcus had jumped down already and as soon as he hit the fire, he started rolling over. The flames that took his coat went out and he lay heaving on the ground.
"Okay, come down!" he shouted. "If I can do it, you certainly can too!"
Nįriėl stared down and swallowed. Then he squeazed her eyes closed and let herself drop. She felt the heat of the fire drawing near. Then she opened her eyes and rolled over when she hit the ground. The flames moved from the fireplace onto her robes, but Nįriėl rolled over to the other side of the room and breathed heavily. The flames were gone.
"That was sick", she moaned.
Marcus agreed. "Indeed... well, we made it. Now we have to go on."
He walked toward the fireplace and stuck his head up the chimney. "Dantė, all clear, you can come down!"
"Alright!" Dantė called back. "You go up ahead! Zacky has just slipped in! You'll meet him in the hallway!" Good luck!"
"You too!" He pulled his head back and shuck it heavily.
Nįriėl meanwhile had already stood up and walked to the door. She carefully opened it and peered around the corner. Marcus looked over her head into the hallway.
"Zacky?" Nįriėl whispered.
"Over here!" a voice hissed.
Nįriėl gave a laughter and crept through the door with Marcus on her heel. Zacky came to them from the kitchen and made a sign.
"No more guards in the house!" he said proudly. "Only left the boobytraps! But we'll master them!"
"Lead the way then, Zackles!" Marcus grinned.
"Don't call me Zackles", said Zacky grumpy. "Follow me!"
They crept through the hallway toward the stairs. At the edge of the first step, Zacky took halt.
He drew a stoen from his pocket and threw it up the stair. Immediatley an axe swept past from the air. Nįriėl, Marcus and Zacky were frozen.
"No taking the stairs then, I suppose", Marcus said to Zacky.
Zacky had his hands akimbo and grunted. "No way", he said. "We'll go straight on. It should be a problem."
"I'll go first then", Nįriėl volunteered and she stepped forwards.
"Are you sure?" Marcus asked worried.
Nįriėl nodded with a straight look on her face. He waited a few times for the axe to swing past and then she ran up the stairs. First she stepped aside for the axe, when more of them came. A lighting flashed through Nįriėl's mind and she bucked, jumped, stepped, rolled and jumped again before reaching the first floor. She sat down at the top and breathed heavily. Downstairs, Marcus and Zacky stared at her with open mouth. But then Marcus wanted to try. It took his just a little longer, but when he was almost there, the flat side of an axe hit himand knocked him back down.
"Hey!" Zacky called.
Marcus stood up and sighed moody. Then he took Zacky on his back and after another few tries they finally made it. Nįriėl patted the boys on their backs while they caught their breather. Then they went on. Zacky and Marcus lead Nįriėl toward another stairs, which was guarded by giant muskietoes. Nįriėl drew Rilya from her sheath and gave a firy swing. A rope of flames binded the muskietoes together and burned them. A few more stairs up and corridors in and out when they finally reached the room they were looking for. It took all three of them to open the huge doors to the library. When they stepped inside, all of their mouths fell open. It wasn't as huge as the library in Argo-Faith, thought Nįriėl, but still it was amazing. At the far end of the library stood a pedestal, carrying a book. Nįriėl took a few steps forward.
"The Book of Spells!" she cheered. "We made it!"
"Nįriėl, wait!" Zacky and Marcus called after her as she ran, but it was too late. The ground began to shake and a loud roar echoed through the library. It made the books move and the glass rinkle. Nįriėl stood nailed to the ground and she looked desperately around her.
"Nįriėl!" Marcus screamed, Nįriėl turned around. "It's a Manticore!"
When then the glass wall on the far end broke into a thousand pieces and a huge lion flew in with its lethery wings. Its tail chomped with its snake-like head on the books and shelves. The beast's roar made all the other windows collapse. Nįriėl gazed with her terrified eyes to the winged creature above her head, frozen to the bone. But when the Manticore raised his paw to strike, Marcus ran and pushed Nįriėl aside just in time. As they lay on the ground, they looked up as the creature raised another paw. But then from out of nowhere, a young wolf appeared and scratched the Manticore's paw, which roared out in pain. The cup landed on the ground in front of Nįriėl and Marcus and growled at the Manticore.
"Zacky, look out!" Marcus shouted when the beast raised his tail.
The young wolf jumped away from the tail, toward the Manticore's neck and bited him. Meanwhio,e Nįriėl was stupefied.
"Z-Zacky..?" she stambled. "But.. how?"
"Zacky's a shapeshifter!", said Marcus while he stood up and helped Nįriėl to her feet. "He can turn into a young wolf, but only when the time truly comes."
"Something like a werewolf, but then different?" Nįriėl asked confused.
Suddenly they heard a high-pitched howling and Zacky was thrown to the floor. As he hit the ground, he lay still and turned back to his human form. Marcus and Nariėl ran to help him. Again, the Manticore's raor made everything shake.
"Protect Zacky!", Nįriėl suddenly called. Then she drew Rilya, the firy stones burning. She pulled off her robes, showing her brown tunic. The Paladins Sapphire around her neck glittered in Rilya's light. The Manticore wanted to strike again, but Nįriėl was faster. She rolled aside to avoid the paw, got to her feet and ran. The Manticore wanted to strike again, but Nįriėl avoided its attacks as she ran. Then she lifted her sword, flames coming off her blade, jumped and stroke the Manticore in the neck. The beast roared out of pain and agony and blood shattered on the walls. The Manticore spread its wings with its last bit of strength and fled. Nįriėl panted and walked back to Marcus and Zacky.
"Woah.." Zacky moaned, who had awoken.
"Wonderful", smiled Marcus. "A true Child of Ķlma."
"I..", Nįriėl panted, but this was as far as she could get, for she remined the book. She turned her heel and walked to the pedestal. The book lay open on its first page.
"'While the morning sun arrived, I gave my hand to my love'", Nįriėl read. "'But was soon as I discovered my creatures worthy, I had a power never to guess. I planned to share it with others, so when the time comes, we will win again.' This is it!"
She carefully lifted the book with both hands from the pedestal. She had to hold it with both arms not to drop it. Then she read on.
"'When I first reached the top of the Dark Region, dakr energy everywhere. But luckily I found my light in the Ilmin, creatures of summoning. They guided us to a sacret place called Blue Harrow. From there, we found the secret entrance to Ķlma. We walked Ķlma's lands with our bear feet. We have learned spells and charms on our way. But no magic was stronger than the magic we found within.... believe.. signed by Drinn, Child of Ķlma'."
Zacky and Marcus watched Nįriėl walking around the library, with the book still clenced in her arms.
"'As soon as we found darkness, we had our light ready to vanquish it. There came Darlody, the horse-lord, with her pearl body and swan wings, her bells rinkling. Almost as if we could never get lost again.' Darlody...?"
"Nįriėl..?" Marcus said and Nįriėl looked up. "We'd better get going."
Nįriėl nodded and slammed the book shut. As they ran out of the huge doors, into the hallway, down the stairs, they almost banged in on Dantė and Nibbles, both carrying two huge sacks on their backs.
"You found it?" Dantė panted.
Nįriėl held the book high. "We sure did!"
"And what about you?" Zacky asked.
"We've got our foundings", Nibbles grinned and pointed at their sacks.
"Let's get out of here, quick!" Marcus called.
"What happened to you?" Nibbles asked Zacky as they made their way through the main entrance. Outside, they crept around corners. It seemed Christopher was argueing with a guard.
"We were attacked by that damn Manticore!" Zacky moaned. "Even my wolf-forn was no match!"
"But Nįriėl defeated it!" Marcus said proudly.
Dantė smiled at Nįriėl, who felt so happy.
"Cheers!" Nibbles called, raising his glass applejuice.
"To Nįriėl!", Zacky said, cheering Nibbles' glass with his own.
Nįriėl smiled. She couldn't believe it. She did it, they did it! She actually had to book.
"So Nįriėl", Dantė said, wearing Christopher's golden crown, covered with juwels. "What are you up to now?"
Immediately, everyone fell silent. Nįriėl looked at the boys one by one and thought for a moment.
"I.." she began. "I have to find my friends."
"Do you have any idea where they are?" Marcus asked, putting his glass on the table.
Nįriėl shook her head. "No idea.."
"Whaid, I knhouw shomdhing", Zacky said with his mouth full of cookies.
"What?" Nibbles laughed and slapped Zacky on the back as he swallowed.
"I said I know something!" Zacky repeated when his mouth was free again.
"Oh, you do, really?" Dantė said teasing.
Zacky ignored him. "There's something like a tournament being held in Yadrith, a few days from now. Perhaps you can meet them there?"
"But how should Nįriėl's friends know that they should come to a tournament to meet her?" Nibbles asked.
"Because it's the yearly warriors tournament!" Zacky called out. "It's the biggest of all Yennevar. Surely your friends are smart enough to think of that, right Nįriėl?"
"Right!" said Nįriėl hopefully. "I must leave first thing tomorrow then!"
Then it fell silent again. Nįriėl understood that she had just said something wrong.
"I am sorry", she said. "I owe you everything, I truly do! I would never be this far without you boys. But you see.. I.. well.."
"You don't have to explain", Dantė smiled. "We understand."
"Of course", Marcus smiled. "Even though we would like you to stay, we know that it's more important for you to go on, as quick as possible."
Nibbles, Zacky and Dantė nodded in agreement. Nįriėl smiled.
"Thanks you guys", she said.
They spent the rest of the evening telling each other their adventures and happy times. When it was almost midnight, Marcus and Nįriėl were the only ones awake.
"Come with me", Marcus said quietly after a while, taking off all his juwelry.
"Why? Where to?" Nįriėl yawned.
"I have something to show you."
Nįriėl followed Marcus out of the house, wandering what in the world it could be he wanted to show her. They crept through the silent of the slums, through the secret passage out of the Rindoor gates and onto the field. Marcus lead Nįriėl out of the tall grass onto the wasteland. After walking for a few minutes, Nįriėl saw something coming into sight. It was a shrine, lit by the moonlight. The wind made the small gongs rinkle. One candle was litting the inside. Marcus pointed at the shrine.
"Go ahead", he said.
Nįriėl didn't question aloud and walked silently toward the shrine. When she stepped in, she felt a cold breeze pulled her hair. There was an inscription on the wall and a stone pedestal on the ground. Marcus gave Nįriėl the candle, who held it up high and began to read.
"'Thus in time, she would return to summoning hands. Her black element magic vanquishes all kinds of pure darkness. Her moonlit staff strikes not through wood and stone, but through flesh and heart. She once lived as the first fe-line witch, but now her fate is bound to a summoning.'"
Nįriėl's mouth fell open. In the wall below the words was a small fe-line shaped hole. She reached for her pockets and got out the Kirinimh sculpture. She hesitated, but then carefully placed it into the wall. Immediatley, the sculpture glew up.
"Place you Ocarina on the pedestal", she heard Marcus say.
Nįriėl carefully took her Ocarina of Life and lay it on the stone pedestal. Then the entire shrine brightened and more words appeared on the wall.
"'Play a tune, sing a song, to find where Kirinimh should belong'", Nįriėl read. And below the new words she saw some notes appear, mucis notes. Nįriėl stared at her ocarina.
"Here", Marcus said, taking the candle from her. "Go on."
Nįriėl swallowed. She felt sweat on her forehead. Then she took her ocarina and brought it to her mouth. She played the notes signed on the wall and a lovely tune filled the night sky. When she finished, the Kirinimh sculpture brightened even more and then disappeared. For a moment, Nįriėl's ocarina brightened too and felt warm for a second. Then all light disappeared, exept for the moonlight.
"What happened?" Nįriėl said quietly.
"You are now able to summon Kirinimh", Marcus said. "The Book of Spells shows a song somewhere, the song of Kirinimh. Sing it, play the tune and she will come to you aid."
"Thank you so much, Marcus", Nįriėl smiled.
The next morning was a cloudy one. Nįriėl stood at the sandy path, gazing ahead.
"Well", Dantė started. "Here it ends."
"No", said Nįriėl and turned to him. "Here it begins. Thank you all so very much!"
"With the gold we took from Christopher, we can get to Mearly, where we can join the Airpirates!" Nibbles said.
"Yes", replied Zacky. "And the gold that remains, which is a LOT, we can help the people here in the slums!"
"And when we are good enough, we and fly you to Ķlma on that Airship!" Marcus said.
"Yes", Nįriėl nodded. "That would be great!"
From behind the hills, they could hear Farmer John's singing and whistling, the horse's hooves hitting the ground.
"Well", Dantė sighed. "Take care."
"You too", Nįriėl bowed to all of them. "And thank you again for everything!"
"We'll see you around", said Nibbles.
"Sure we will!" Zacky said, trying to hold back his tears.
Nįriėl turned to Marcus and sighed.
"Marcus", she said. "... I'm going to miss you most of all. Because you remind me of my best friend", she added when she saw Macrus' expression. "And when I see him again, he will remind me of you. Thanks."
Marcus nodded and watched the floor. Dantė poked him in the ribs and made a sign.
"Oh yes", Marcus stambled and felt himself turn red. "Thank you too, Nįriėl. Bye."
"Good-bye", Nįriėl said as she climbed up the cart.
"Good luck at the tournament!" Zacky called.
"Thanks, Zacky!" Nįriėl called back as the cart began to move.
"Where to now, lass?" John asked friendly.
"To Yadrith!" Nįriėl said.
"Ah, the tournament, he?"
"Had a good time during your stay at Rindoor?"
Nįriėl sighed as she looked back at Arrentax. "I sure had."
And so the first part of our mission ended. Silian and I were parted again, but surely would meet very soon. I know now, without a doubt.... that everything will be all right...