I opened my eyes and looked around. I realised where I was-- the small room with the painting on the wall. I had been here before, but I did not know when. I had no memory of the visit. And yet I knew that the only safe way out was the secret door in the wall opposite the obvious exit.
I also knew that I had not the means to open it. And that if I tried to go through go through the wooden door, I would be killed. But I didn't know how I knew. The secret door opened. A tray was placed in front of me and the door slammed shut. On the tray was a cup of tepid water, a chunk of stale bread, and a half-rotten apple. I ate what I could of it, which wasn't much. Last time, I remembered, I'd brought my own food. Wine and fresh bread.
The door opened again. The tray was taken out. I sat there for a while before I remembered that there was a third way out. But where was it? Someone had put a block in my memory, and I couldn't get past it.
Two days later, I heard a noise, like someone knocking on stone. It came again, from below me. "Get off the door!" someone said. I moved to a corner of the room. The floor where I had been sitting began to rise. Now I remembered that there was a trapdoor.
A head poked up through the opening. Black hair, brown eyes, tanned and handsome. My brother, Adam. I knew that much, at least. "Adam! What happened? I can't remember anything!" I exclaimed.
"Quiet, you idiot! They'll hear!" he hissed. "They put a forget-spell on you. Sleep-spell too. Kept you out for a month. Come on! I'll disenchant you as soon as I can!" It didnít occur to me to ask how he knew how long Iíd been out.
Unluckily for him, his magic was not perfect and I saw through his shallow mask. Or did I? It's irrelevant, he wasn't gonna convince me he was really my...what was it, brother?
We had made it a little ways through the maze beneath the trapdoor. "Now I can get to work on disenchanting you," my brother said.
Well, if this man just said it, and it was said by my brother, he must be my brother, mustn't he?
He began to cast a disenchantment spell. I felt my memory begin to come back. Then it stopped. I looked down to see Adam laying at my feet, with an arrow through his back. I took his sword from his black leather sheath, and continued down the passage.
It only took me a moment to realize someone was following me. I decided to wait for it to try something before I attacked it. It wouldn't be long now. I'd soon be out of this blasted passage. Then I heard it draw its sword....
I heard footsteps slowly aproach me. I swung Adam's sword around as hard as I could. I had missed! The fiend had ducked.
"Wait! It's me, Adam!"
"But you were dead."
"You know I have powerful healing skills, why didn't you wait for me? Never mind, your memory."
"Where did you get the other sword?"
"After I killed the guard that shot me, I took his."
I knew now that this man could not be my brother. Adam was a man of peace, and there was no way that he could shed another's blood. I stared at him long and hard, trying to read his face.
"Alright, let's get out of here," I said quickly, "before we are stopped again."
"No!" Adam responded. "First we must clear your memory." He began to chant.
"I think it would be better if we found a way out first," I interrupted.
"Quiet!" he screamed. He began to chant once again.
I was certain now that the man who stood before me was against me as well. I raised my sword high and struck down hard. Adam fell with a thump, and once on the ground, remained there. I breathed a sigh of relief, but this relief did not last long. As I wiped the sweat that had formed from my brow, I noticed that the figure on the floor before me began to move. I watched in horror as it rose, and I realized that the image before me was no longer my brother Adam. I could not see its face, until finally it rose and stared straight into my eyes. I fell back in disbelief, my voice stuck in my throat. Everything for me froze, for I realized that the figure standing before me was myself.
I decided I had better run. It would not be very smart to stay. I did want to live to find out what was going on...
The tunnels/caves went on for what seemed like an eternity. That's when I saw the trap door that had gotten me into this. "How did I get back here?" I turned around to see myself still following me.
"What is going on?!?!?! Why are you doing this to me?!?!"
"You'll learn.......it won't be long now........"
I continued to flee, only to be greeted by the trap door an hour later. I did this two more times, then I was too tired to move. Someone was coming. I grabbed a sword laying on the ground and prepared to strike...
My alter ego appeared before me again, breathing heavily and dragging his sword behind him. I hefted mine up and swung it at him, trying to remember some of my swordplay lessons.
He countered with the most obvious block--I should have seen it coming; it's the one I would have used. Of course, it was me standing there using it. And I realized how easy it would be to beat my opponent, at least this time. But what weaknesses did I usually have?
A light flashed across my memory, as I realized I always left my right shin unguarded. With a swift motion, I hacked his right calf. He keeled over, bleeding onto the floor.
I dropped the weapon and jumped over him (me?), back into the maze, knowing the spell to cure injury would take longer than the death cure would.
Then I realized what I knew. "I'm a sorcerer!" I whispered. And suddenly ran straight into a wall, right below the trap door again. My alter ego, fully cured, had been waiting.
I collapsed. My other self had me cornered.
He laughed diabolically, saying,"that was bad, running away like that. I'm going to have to punish you now." He began an incantation. Defenseless, I threw myself at him and knocked him onto the floor.
He lost his breath for a moment, then kicked me away from him. I slammed into the wall again, and he started the chant all over. This time, I repeated it after him, word for word. He didn't realize what I was doing until we were up to the arms-flailing part. He stopped suddenly, his eyes growing as wide as plates.
"No! You can't do that!" he cried. "Ummm...anyway, you won't be powerful until you regain your memory."
"We both know you're lying. Of course, it's all up to you if you want to continue with the spell," I challenged. He remained silent, sweat dripping from his brow. "Now," I continued, "tell me what is going on. Who are you? Why are we here? Where's Adam?"
He stared at me silently for a moment, then turned and ran. I followed, shouting the first words of his spell after him. He stopped suddenly, and turned around beneath a different trap door.. "Don't!!" he begged. I knew I had the upper hand.
"Answer my questions!"
"All in good time." He looked up. "We can get out through here. Then I'll tell you everything. Promise."
He seemed to help way too easily. I followed, carefully. I had probably took an hour before we reached a portion of the maze that hadn't existed a moment ago. Above, I could hear fighting. Was I a prisoner of war?
We stopped at dead end, where he quickly turned, and punched me. Everything went black...
I woke up after a fireball turned a rock next to my head into dust. I turned to see my magic spewing, shape-shifting friend in a battle with what seemed to be another sorcerer. As far as I could tell, no one was winning.
My friend shifted into Adam's shape again. Presumably this was because Adam was stronger than me, both physically and magically. He let loose another fireball, grabbed me by the arm, and ran like hell. My head hurt, but he wouldn't slow down for me, so I just gritted my teeth and put up with it.
After what seemed an eternity, he stopped. We were once again under that gods-be-damned trapdoor. I decided that I never wanted to see it again. "Adam" began the memory spell again, but I kicked him hard in the groin. While he was writhing on the floor, I climbed up the ladder to the trapdoor and opened it. Oddly enough, it was not the one I had come down through. It would do, though, so I pulled myself up through it and slammed it shut. That done, I quickly pushed a heavy chest over it so that "Adam" couldn't come up through it.
I crept down the shadowy hallway. This must be one of these old, unused passages I keep hearing about, I thought...
Suddenly, I heard voices. I looked around, but no one was there, and the passage was straight for as far as I could see in either direction. Then I realized. There were people above me.
I studied the ceiling closely, but there was no sign of a trap door or secret passageway. Just my luck. And the voices weren't sinister, either--they sounded like normal people walking around the marketplace, and if I could just get out right there, I'd be safe, away from the secret underground passageways and shapeshifters and magicians. Though I still didn't remember much about who I was. And then I heard a strange, faint squishing noise, like someone was trying to tiptoe down the passageway and sneak up on me unaware. But even knowing he was there didn't do me much good. I couldn't tell which way he was coming from, and there was nowhere to run.
The squishing was getting louder and louder, and I knew whoever it was was almost in view. I pressed my back to the wall and shut my eyes tight. Then, just as a reflex, I whispered a few words in a language I didn't understand. A shiver went up my spine, and I felt like the wall was pushing me away. I stumbled forward and opened my eyes, coming face to face with an unshaven, burly soldier wearing soft, wet shoes that squished very softly with each step. He walked through me. I realized what it was I'd said--an invisibility spell, from my days as a sorcerer with a fully functioning memory. I turned and followed the guard, who led me to a large, almost empty room at one end of the passageway. He stood still in the middle and seemed to melt, all the muscle rearranging itself until I saw the sorcerer "Adam" had been fighting. He waved his hands at the far corner of the room, and "Adam" appeared, bound and gagged with iron chains glowing with magic...
I debated whether or not to help him out. I knew I could if I wanted to- I was invisible, and it is difficult to fight an opponent you cannot see, even if that opponent is a sorcerer with a bad memory. And, if I did help "Adam" he might tell me what was going on. Then again, he might not. As I stood thinking, the two sorcerers- "Adam" and the one he had been fighting- began to talk. "All right, Mistival," the sorcerer said to "Adam", removing his gag, "are you going to tell me or not?" Mistival just looked straight ahead, blankly staring at the wall. Finally, he spoke. "No, Zanthrol, I am not." Zanthrol sighed in exasperation. "Very well. You asked for this." In one quick movement, a stroke of lightning flew from his hand, directed toward Mistival. That is when I noticed that I could see my feet. The invisibility spell had worn off...
I had no choice. My feet were the only things visible, but my time was running out. I charged at Zanthrol. Unfortunately, he could hear me. Almost as a reflex, he waved his hand, and I felt the pain of walking into electricity.
Needless to say, this was enough to put the lights out. I almost stayed awake long enough to see myself hit the ground....almost.
I awoke in a cave, shackled to the wall. Standing on my tiptoes, I tried to ease the tightness in my shoulders. Caught again, I thought, and this time I have a sneaking suspicion that the reception might not be so pleasant this time around. Looking around I saw that the other three walls also had shackles and there was a cage hanging from the ceiling. My survey was cut short as the wall in front of me shimmered and a portal appeared. Two uniformed soldiers came through and took positions on either side. Following them was....
...what I can only guess was a commander of some kind. He was wearing a grey uniform that was accented with several pins and medals of different kinds. He looked to the guards, then back at me. "Is this the one?" he asked a guard. The guard nodded hesitantly. The commander, or whoever he was, seemed to instantly get furious. As I looked up, all I saw was his obsidian-dark eyes staring down at me, and then his fist coming towards me.
I looked up, seeing someone steal into the room, striking the guard. "Bellinda! What are you doing here?" I asked in surprise.
"Saving you, what does it look like? Maybe from now on you'll listen to me when I tell you that women can handle 'men's' jobs just as well. Perhaps even better!"
She was just as beautiful and stubborn as I remembered her. An enchantress is how she could be described. Quite decieving is her beauty, for underneath lies the strength and soul of a warrior. She easily broke the shackles with her strength.
Bellinda and I ran out the door and began to silently travel throught the maze of hallways. So far, no one had seen us. All of a sudden, Bellinda screamed out in pain, I turned around to ind her gone. Now I was all alone. I headed down the hall by myself, dreading who I might find at the other end. Suddenly, someone grabed and turned me around.
"I've been waiting for you my love."
"Darren? What are you doing here?"
"I came with Bellinda to rescue you. Where is she?"
"She's vanished! Hurry, we must leave. They are probably already alerted of my escape."
"No, Belinda is more powerful than that. They won't know of your escape for a while. Come on, there's a passageway to get out of here." At this, Darren went to a wall and pushed in two or three bricks, and the wall gave away. Behind was a chamber with a ladder that led to the outside world. He and I went to it and left that maze. On the outside the light was blinding until my eyes adjusted. We were in Nephel Forest. I helped him out. A butterfly alighted upon my hair.
Darren looked at me. "You always did like butterflies, didn't you?"
I laughed. "Guess so." We looked about. It was a very beautiful place in the early morning. But we had no time for this. We must hurry, and we knew it. We must make it to Nelyen, our home.
"Who sent you?" I asked.
"Your father of course! But don't think I wouldn't have come after you had you not returned!" He slipped his hand in mine. "When you didn't return, your father got worried. He knew Zanteal was up to something when you did not come back to him."
"Well, my father is a wise king, but I think this deal is bad! And to think we wanted to ally with Zanteal! Oh, poor Penny! I'm glad she doesn't have to marry his son, Zanthol. Horrible!" As we were walking, we came upon a small pond. From the reflection I could see the butterfly. It was purple and white. Very strange. Very rare breed that I only saw when she was around!
Then Darren turned toward me, and somehow our lips met. God, he still knew how to kiss! But it was urgent we leave this place. As the kiss lingered on, I heard a huge fluttering.
"Ah, just what should I tell Belinda??" asked a familiar voice. I knew it at once. I looked over and sure enough, there she was.
She was Bretilya, the Butterfly queen. She was a huge butterfly and had the face of a woman with dark raven locks. She was a wondourous creature, and no evil abode therein. And none could imitate her, or take on her shape to deceive others.
I went over and hugged (well, sorta hugged) her. "What are you doin' here?" I asked.
"Came to take you home. Yr father is waiting for you. We will then plan our stratagem against Zanteal. Now, should I tell Belinda about that little kiss you gave Darren, Nance?" She gave a smile at me.
"Bretilya, don't you dare tell Mother! I'd have to do something dreadful to you if you did tell Mom!" I said playfully.
"Well, I guess I'll let this one pass." She gave me that playful smile again. "I'm sure Belinda and Aphax have done that a few times in their youth."
"A few?? Whatever! I mean, Mom and Dad have ten kids! More than a few!"
"And you want to carry on the tradition??"
"As long as it's with me, wouldn't be that bad!" Darren laughed.
"Come on Nance, get on my back, we're going home." Darren and I climbed upon her back, and we took off over the lake, headed toward home. Off in the far horizon I could see Nelca, Mount of the Dead. Zuefnon the Dragon made his abode there. It was rumored that Zanteal had dealings with that dragon. His domain was a little farther than Nelyen. Nelyen lay in a valley located a fair distance from the base of the mountian. I knew there would be trouble yet. I looked back behind me. There it was. Castle Draughtnon. Evil! Evil indeed!
I looked over at it in a deadly stare. "Please?" I asked Darren.
"Sure," Darren agreed. "What?"
"Just... can we go in?"
"What?" Darren burst out, forgeting to hush. "Are you crazy???"
"No." I looked hurt.
Darren put his hand over my shoulder. "Really, Nancy."
I frowned, being stubborn. "I want to."
Darren sighed, like he was in real pain. "Nancy!" He jiggled around like he was a little boy who needed to use the bathroom despretly.
I shook my head. "Darren!!!" I immiated him.
"No, really, Nance. C'mon! Let's go home." Darren grabbed my head.
Suddenly I flashed a cruel look at him. "Darren," I stared. "I'm GOING."
Darren grabbed me. "No!!" He started for my hair.
"I WANT to!" I scowled.
Suddenly he really grabbed at my hair. My golden, yellow hair. "Nancy." He looked serious. "I'm your worst nightmare."
I laughed, thinking it was a joke.
"Don't laugh, human. You're gone forever." Darren's eyes turned red.
I began to get scared. I didn't know where I wanted to go. Home, of course, was too obvious of a place to find me. And so I headed straight for the castle.
Darren was yeling and calling for me.
I held my breath in.
The doors opened!
I heard MORE yelling. "In know you're in there, Nancy!"
I gasped. He was coming closer to the closet door.
"Nancy?" He moved swiftly about the room.
I sighed in relief.
But then Darren came right towards me!
I squirmed. Darren was getting closer. I could smell his breath. My heart pounded.
"Um, Nancy?! Where ARE you?" Darren shouted, his voice echoeing.
"NANCY???" he growled.
I felt like calling back to him. I really, truly did. I loved him, and the bet was that he felt the same about ME. But I didn't.
Darren kept moving. His feet made a loud "clink!" while he moved.
And then the closet doors opened...
Unfortunately, I didn't notice the airship. It came out of nowhere, and it's archers and cannons started firing. We had managed to get past the first wave in one peace. Of course, I was almost able to guess what was about to happen. I could feel tons of energy everywhere around us. I then I saw the wave.
It was pure energy, and moved towards us at speeds which couldn't be measured. Finnaly, it ungodly bright light engulfed us, and we closed our eyes.
"You can open yours eyes now." And so we did. I was first. A man stood before us, average height and build. He wore a black overcoat, which went almost all the way down to his shiny boots. A sheath was noticable underneath. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Morcane, and you're going to die." With a click of his fingers, a dozen guards came and took everyone but me down a dark staircase.
"What about me?"
"I thought you were curious."
"Start with yourself, then."
"Fine. I was born into the guild of the Paladins of Azeroth, next in line for command. That's when Zanteal's horde came. I was one of the few they couldn't defeat, so Zanteal did the logical thing. He offered my a position in his armies. With everything I knew and loved gone, It wasn't difficult. He taught me great magics, and gave me control of his most powerful group: The Shadows. Your shapeshifter "friend" is one of us."
"How did you know about my meeting with the shapeshifter?" This question seemed to make him quite uncomfortable and he avoided my eyes.
"Did you send him to kill me?"
I still received no reply and he tried to change the subject. I knew that if I was to get any further with this mystery I had to find out why I was in the tunnels and who was after me.
"Do you know where Shane is?" I asked, as it occurred to me that I hadn't seen him when I was being rescued. (apart from when the shapeshifter took his form but that doesn't count) If I was being rescued he would have been the first one to come to my aid.
"He is in my dungeons. I needed him so that my shapeshifter could imitate his form."
"If you've so much as touched one hair on his head I'll kill you, I promise you I will!" I said. This got me thinking again as to why he would send the shapeshifter after me.
Now that he has practically admitted that he did send the shapeshifter after me I was still none the wiser.
"What do you want with me and why have I lost my memory?"
The code for this page seems to have gotten too long for Tripod's editor. Therefore, I have created another page to continue the story on. Click here to go to it. (You'll also find the form there to send in your own entry.)