This is part two of the Quest of the Living Water, read the first part here.
He stood motionless, staring at the huge man in front of him in fear. 9 feet tall, the giant shot him a glance filled with malice.
“What is a kid like you doing here?”, he asked in a terrifying voice.
“I want to contribute too”. His confident voice rang out into the sparsely populated room, covering up his fear, but it only earned him laughter.
This was dangerous, he could feel the anger begin to drip into his veins and his mouth formed a snarl, but he reigned it in at the last moment after he heard a voice ring out.
“It won’t end well for you if you keep angering him.”
Mio stepped out from the shadows and continued, the crooked smile an odd look for a boy of 13.
Instantly the room quietened down, and everbody turned to him. So Mio wasn’t lying after all. If a room of uniques obeyed him,then he had really acquired the pinnacle- the highest power of all. Anger leaving bit by bit, Kaid stood his tallest at 5’9″, quite tall for a 14 year old.
“He doesn’t stand a chance against the creature”, the giant insisted, but Mio’s smirk remained.
The uniques were a shunned conglomerate but shapeshifters were uncommon even among them. They had been considered sport and hunted, hence, they had fled far inside the forest, barely ever venturing out into the sun.
Mio didn’t seem to follow that logic though, he thought of Kaid as a friend, and in turn, he had vowed to aid Mio in his requirement. This battle was going to be fierce, but he needed to win. It was important to Mio for some reason that he had chosen to withhold.
Shrieks and wails filled the air as he focused on his surroundings once more, eyes drawn to the creature in the cage.
Aptly named, he thought as he and Mio nodded at each other, a slight thread of longing in the latter’s eye that set him off balance and he turned around quickly.
The Creature before him stared silently, eyes devoid of emotion, fierce claws hanging loosely by his sides, bare chest glistening with binding potion-the mark that bound him to his master, the one who put him in the cage, unable to leave, unable to think, just able to fight.
The clang of the metal lock being opened seemed to register with the Creature, though, as it looked at him from the corner of it’s moss green eyes, wordlessly moving it’s lips, as if to form words.
The lock clicked shut with another clang, and Kaid prepared himself for the task that had to be done, watching the Creature for any sudden changes.
He didn’t have to wait long.
A whistle pierced the silence, and the Creature reacted immediately, eyes glowing wildly, mouth foaming and claws fuming, secreting a poison that would kill if it touched one’s skin.
Mio watched the both of them, as the Creature change into a green battle form and hoped Kaid was up to the fight.
He heard gasps and yells and turned his eyes to Kaid, realizing belatedly that his form had already changed. Red armour now covered his skin, claws forming on his hands and a tail growing out of his rear.
“Impossible! A shapeshifter can only take forms of those he has vanquished!”, the giant screamed incredulously from behind him. Mio didn’t even bother turning around. They underestimated Kaid.
Ten years he had waited for the moment that was now within his reach. He wasn’t going to lose sight of his goal now. Kaid might require his advice at some point in the fight. This fight had to be won at any cost.
The two opponents circled each other, and on the second whistle, charged.
The Creature raised an arm and struck against the dragon’s skin, throwing him backwards, but not leaving a scar.
He has strength to overthrow a dragon, the poison is not the only thing to watch out for.
Kaid prepared himself for the second strike and dug himself into the ground with his front claws, rising suddenly when the Creature was only a few inches away, using his opponent’s momentum to fling him to the ground.
It wasn’t moving, it couldn’t be over yet, could it?.
“KAID, GET BACK, AWAY FROM IT”
Kaid hurried to get back as Mio commanded but the Creature opened it’s mouth in that instant and unleashed a spray of the concentrated poison, scarring his right claw, but not penetrating the skin.
The crowd was silent, get again no saviour in sight,they watched the cursed creature pouncing on it’s prey.
Mio’s hands clenched into fists and his lips bled from the force of his teeth. Had he overestimated Kaid, or underestimated the Creature’s resilience?
Either way, Kaid wouldn’t last long with that sort of bruise, that arm would be useless for a while.
He watched the dragon get up nevertheless, he would rather die trying.
Kaid stood back up, the creature still emitting those horrid green fumes, the dragon’s scales scarred. One more hit and they would burn through.
He only had one more chance. His scales began to disappear, the red fading slowly into orange, as the armour appeared, the orange sword glistening.
Mio lurched forward, screaming at Kaid to stop, that this was folly and that he would be burnt alive.
Quiet followed his outburst and everyone watched as the tiny armoured blob lunged towards the huge Creature.
The Creature did not move one centimeter from it’s position.
The strike of his sword was loud, forcing the potion off of the Creature’s chest.
“Unbelievable, he used the colour”, was all Mio could say before his body lurched into the air, the Creature screaming, moss green colour streaming into the thirteen year old suspended in the air until the carcass of the monster lay at Kaid’s feet. Empty.
All of Kaid’s attention, however, was focused on Mio, who touched ground silently, his brown eyes turning black.
Spinning on his heel to face the door, a soft sentence was heard,
“Only regrets lie in wait for those that separate a protector’s dark half from him. Where one side lives for peace, the other will wreak havoc wherever it can”
Standing up now, Mio was no longer a thirteen year old, his body grown, his features matured, he commanded the attention of the entire crowd, amidst the shaking of the ground that had thrown people into a frenzy.
“Fear Not.Long have the oppressors hunted the shapeshifters, long has it been since they dared venture into the sun. Long have the uniques been hunted themselves. The Curse aid upon it by the dark half is now lifted. The forest has encroached, those who hunted you have fled outside its borders. This very ground shall be your land, this castle shall be known as Mayalo Donum – the castle of illusions and this land shall be known as Tvor.”
The stone underneath their feet felt warm, sunlight streamed into the stadium. The trees extended their branches, placing a crown of flowers on Kaid’s head.
“Stay with us, help us rebuild”,Laid asked of his friend.
“I cannot, I must return to Celaver, the land that lies in peril. I must aid them.”, was the soft, sorrowful answer.
There the supreme protector left the uniques, to rebuild their country and reclaim their lands under the rule of their newly crowned king, Kaid the Drocorex.
The rule of Kaid was strong and just, and the shapeshifters abandoned the mountains to move back into the cities. In time, Kaid’s successors made peace with the neighbouring land of Celaver.
When Valdir stood against the protectors, the uniques stood with Luxslpendcastro until they we’re told to fall back.
The barrier of light separated the castle from the outside world, and the uniques mourned the fate of their allies and the deaths of the protectors, returning to their forest cities that not even Valdir’s armies dared to breach.
But now Prince Arbor stood at the tower edge, a bad feeling creeping into his heart.
He looked out from above the forests to the sandy dunes of Ammolofoi which was once a flourishing kingdom on their borders.
Devoid of life, devoid of light,something moved in the shadows.
Stealthily, slowly, creeping closer to their territory. He hoped they would be enough to hold the ground. He hoped for as little bloodshed as possible.
But in his heart, he knew. The hope was in vain.
© Sonali Mukherjee