The Knight's Task and the Warrioress' Test Chapter 2
The Warrioress... Lufia
By Elizabeth Whittaker
Devur finally made it into the deserted town of Alekia. He thanked the Goddess that no one was there as he walked into the dorms of the training grounds. Eventually, he came to where his room used to be, picked up his things, put them on his bed and looked at them. Everyone else who came in and saw them disregarded them of no utter importance. But they were important to him.
He looked at them carefully. First came the letters that Jerin, Aguro and Demetri had sent him over the past three years, then the statue of a dolphin that Tassi gave him for his 17th birthday . . . Finally, he saw that deep blue sapphire necklace that Roman gave to him. He told Devur that his mother had it and that since his sister died and she had no other children, Roman thought that she'd want Devur to have it. But he didn't know what to do with it.
"Thought you might be here," Jerin called. "Sorry for spoiling your Ceremony."
Devur turned around and shrugged. "You didn't ruin it. I thought it was . . . honorable having you guys say the things that were on your mind. Did you know about Lufia coming here?"
"No. All I knew was that she thought that if she came back, you wouldn't love her or something." Then Jerin saw the necklace that Devur was looking at. "Where did you get that? It's beautiful."
"It's my mother's," Devur replied softly. "I've had it for a while now. She died when I was young. I really didn't know her too well." Tears welled up in his eyes. Quickly he wiped them away.
Jerin looked at the door, seeing someone approach. "I'm sorry. I better leave you alone now." With that, she walked away, closing the door behind her. Devur was glad to see her leave, since he wanted to be alone anyway. But he didn't expect her to come after him. And Jerin wasn't who Devur wanted to see.
Someone else knocked on the door. "Devur? You in there? It's me," Lufia called into the door. Devur didn't answer. "Please, open up the door. I want to talk to you." When he still didn't open up, she let herself in, brushing the violet hair out of her eyes. "Devur . . ."
"What do you want?" His voice was angry.
Lufia sat down next to him on the bed. "I just . . . there's something I need to say . . . I saw Jerin come in and I think she might have said something that I didn't want her to . . ." Devur now looked at her, seeing tears fall from her face. Just as he did when they were little, he wiped them away. "Thank you."
Devur smiled for what seemed like for the first time in a long time. "Sure. What did you want to talk to me about?" He took her hand in his, noting that her hand was cold. "I was worried when I heard about the attack on Arus . . . what was that all about?"
Lufia looked at him, then at the floor. "They took Flake, Devur. It was all because they wanted me. Because of me . . ." She looked at him strangely, as if in a trance for a minute. Then, "You've changed, Devur. You really have."
"So have you, Lufia," Devur told her quickly, noting the hint of sorrow in her voice. "You don't yell that much anymore . . ."
"I do too!!"
"Maybe I said it too soon." He laughed, trying to cheer her up. It wasn't working. "So, what was it you wanted to tell me?"
"I . . . ever since I regained my memory . . . I don't know why, but I've missed you. I always have. I think that's one of the reasons why I went with you when you left for Sheran three years ago. I didn't want to miss you."
"One?" Devur asked her. "I thought it was because . . .oh, it was nothing. Forget what I just said."
She shook her head. "No. I want to know what it was you were going to say . . ."
Suddenly, the window crashed open, with glass shattering all around the room. Devur pushed Lufia off the bed, shielding her as she hit the floor and the glass that was shattering. They both waited until the glass completely shattered before they got up.
"What was that?!" Lufia asked, her voice trembling.
Devur walked over to the window and saw a rock with a note tied to it. He carefully picked it up, untied it, then read it aloud. " 'Give us the girl, or the old man dies. You must bring her to the Shore of Sadness at the third hour after the sunsets. You must be the one to bring her to me, Knight of Alekia. If you don't, not only will the old man die, but the town will be burned to ashes as well.' " He looked at the signature, then gasped. "What's this?!"
"What?" Lufia walked up and snatched the note from him. She too gasped. "Delivered from the First Disciple of the Lost Souls, Vala. She was the one that froze Arus and killed everyone!!!"
Devur looked at her. "She was?"
"I thought Roman would have told you about them. They've formed some sort of cult, dedicating their lives to reviving the Sinistrals. They have three disciples, from what I know. The first is Vala, a woman who was serving them for years before they were destroyed. And she was. That much I remember. Amon was teaching her magic because she was going to be his henchwoman. The second is Sarhakin, which is a woman also, if I remember correctly. The third is some guy, Gurkn. I don't know who their leader is, though."
"They must be desperate to be doing this. After all, they're a bunch of nuts, if they're trying to revive the Sinistrals!!"
"They took Roman, though!!" Lufia cried at him hysterically.
"I know that! We're going to get him back, Lufia. That much I promise. Besides . . . I couldn't bear to deal with the fact that I let my old man die . . ."
She retorted at him. "Your old man?! He isn't old!"
"Seventy-seven is pretty old. Especially considering that no one lives to be even sixty with all the diseases and the monster attacks that have been going on. Little children die around here, and they're no more than five, six at the most. Our age, if they're lucky."
"We weren't so lucky, remember," Lufia reminded him. "After all, we were only . . . what, sixteen when we had to save the world?"
Devur grabbed his mother's necklace and held it into a fist. "Yeah." He began to walk out the door, then looked back, seeing Lufia look out the window. "Lufia?"
"Yeah?" Her voice was strangely quiet. She turned around slowly, then walked up to him. "What is it?"
"I was leaving. Why were you looking out there?"
Lufia said nothing for a moment. Then, "Just remembering old times, that's all. I wish it was like that again. No worries about the Sinistrals, or the Lost Soul cult, or anything like that. I just want to be an ordinary girl whose biggest worry is when her best friend is coming home from training." She sighed longingly. "Oh, well. Nothing can change what's happened. I might as well get used to it." Her lavender eyes looked at the floor, then at his sapphire ones. "Don't you wish it was like that again, Devur?"
"Yeah." He paused a moment, looking at her eyes. For some strange reason, he couldn't look away. "Come on. We better go before they look for us."
But she shook her head. "Let them. I don't care about them right now. There's something I was going to say to you, and I'm going to say it to you." Lufia looked away from him, taking a purple and pink flower out of her hair, handing it to him. "I don't know how to tell you this, but ever since I met you in that crammed inn that Roman calls home, I felt like I knew you somehow. I could trust you with anything I say . . .anything I did; I felt that I couldn't do without you. And now . . . now that I remember you again, I don't want to lose you." Tears slipped from her cheeks. "I guess what I'm trying to say is . . . I . . . I . . ."
Devur took the necklace that was still clenched in a fist and put it around her neck, clasping it in the back. It looks perfect around her neck, he thought to himself. It does. It really does.
"Devur? You okay?" He didn't think her voice could sound any softer. It sounded like she was singing to him. He was surprised to see a smile on her face. Lufia never smiled. Not that he remembered, anyway.
He nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. It looks perfect on you." He took her hand in his and looked at her again. "I love you, Lufia." The words sounded strange to him as he said them.
Lufia wiped away the tears in her eyes. "I . . . I never thought I'd say this, but . . . I love you too, Devur. I . . ."
"Shh, Love. Don't say anything," he whispered softly in her ear as he held her close and kissed her passionately. He knew that what everyone else had been telling him had been true. It just took him a long time to realize that. After about a minute, they stopped, and he held Lufia's hand. "Come on, Love. We better go tell the others."
Lufia smiled as she looked at him. "Okay," she replied dreamily as she looked at his eyes.
"Hey," Devur called out. Instinct told him to feel her head. If she went like this, it usually met that she had a fever or something. But her head wasn't hot at all.
He saw her shivering instead. Then Lufia fell over in a dead faint. It happened so fast, Devur almost didn't catch her as she fell. He knew he couldn't leave now, for he wouldn't risk carrying her back. That would cause a lot of confusion and fear in the villagers, and Devur didn't want that. Carefully carrying her, he laid Lufia on the bed and held her cold hand, keeping a constant vigil by her bedside.
A half an hour later, the others came. No one came in, but Devur could tell by two people yelling that everyone had come.
"You knew that he was going to come here, Aguro! You knew!! So why didn't you bring him back!?" Jerin cried, her voice getting louder and harsher with each word.
"It wasn't my fault that Lufia decided to follow you! What was I supposed to do? Vanion and that other guy were holding me back!"
"Well, you still could've fought them . . . You are a warrior, after all."
"Stop it, you two!!" Demetri yelled at them. It was unusual to hear the Prince yell, for he was usually quiet. "All I've heard ever since I came here with you two is bickering, and I'm sick of it!" Both of them were quiet as they entered the room that Devur and Lufia were in. "The window . . ."
"Shattered when a rock was thrown in, along with a threat. Here," Devur told them as he handed it to Jerin. Aguro hovered over her while Demetri went up to him.
It took awhile for Demetri to form words and put the news in a delicate way. "Devur . . . how can I put this . . . something bad happened while you were away. That old man . . . the one who ran that inn . . . he . . . um . . . how can I put this . . . he was kidnapped and taken hostage. The only way he will return is if . . ."
"Somehow, Lufia is at the Shore of Sadness at the third hour after the sunsets tonight," Aguro finished. "Though it doesn't look like she's going to be waking up anytime soon. Lufia looks dead, to tell you the truth. Her face . . ." He stopped after that, seeing the pain in Devur's eyes.
"Devur . . ." Jerin started, "where's that necklace you were holding? The one you said was your mothers?"
"On Lufia," he answered. "Why?"
"There's something about it . . . it felt like it was under a magic spell or something. Just the aura that it had . . . I have a feeling that that necklace had something to do with why Lufia's not waking up." Devur looked at her confusedly. "You see . . . there's a legend about some band of necklaces that were cursed. They belong to the Tranvent family. They were ambitious and greedy, willing to do anything to get money. Well . . . some ancestor of yours cursed them long ago because the girl that he loved deserted him, and when she went back with him, he decided to give her the cursed sapphire. It killed her." Jerin paused, then went on, seeing that Devur was now scared out of his mind. "There were three necklaces that were cursed by the same ancestor. One was a jade, one an amethyst and the other a sapphire. Do you remember your mother ever passing out by putting it on when no one was around?"
Devur looked at the ground, thinking. "No . . . not really . . . wait. There was one time where she laid there on the floor, her face as pale as Lufia's, and her hands as cold as ice; her eyes were open and glazed. It took a long time for my father to wake her up."
"You see," Demetri cut in, "I know from personal experience that necklaces like those have to have . . . someone who has the power to deal with the curse. The first time that anyone wears it, it drains all the energy from their body, and it takes awhile to regain all their lost strength. They also no longer have a clasp on the back of the necklaces."
Aguro lifted Lufia's head carefully, and lifted her hair from her back as well. "Um . . . then I guess she was the chosen one here. There's no clasp on the back."
"It figures," Jerin mumbled. "Always has to happen. At the wrong time, too."
"Oh, will you just shut up, Jerin!?" Devur yelled at her. "I swear . . . sometimes you complain too much . . ."
"Look who's talking!!" she shot back.
"Guys . . . and Jerin," Demetri interrupted, "we have to come up with something so we can get their old man back. Any ideas?"
Devur glared at him. "He has a name. But I don't think Elfy-Girl here told it to you. It's Roman."
"Translation--the old man," Jerin put her two cents in. Then she giggled.
"What?" Aguro asked calmly.
She looked at Devur, then at Aguro. "You're going to hate me after this, but it's the only way to do this."
After a minute, Devur thought about something. "Does it have to do with us at the meeting . . ."
"Of course it does! Where have you been for the last couple of minutes??!" Then she told them. "If they want Lufia . . .we'll give them to her."
"Jerin!!! I won't do that!"
She sighed loudly. "And I thought Aguro was dumb. I think you top him."
"Just tell us what you have in mind, Elf," he growled, getting angry.
"Okay, okay." She sighed, then giggled again. "Devur, you think you could dress up as Lufia for awhile? Just until this whole thing is over?" Jerin asked him casually, as if it were nothing at all.
Devur gulped, took a deep breath and got ready to yell at her when Demetri looked at the Knight. "Devur . . . don't get angry at her. It's the only way to do this. Besides . . . if you took us, they'd know because of our pointy ears, and that's something we can't hide . . . even if we wanted to. I don't think anyone of those people that were with you know Lufia as well as you do to pull this off; Aguro, I'm sorry to say, would do something stupid in the process and blow our cover. So that only leaves you."
Devur threw his hands up in the air. "Why me?!"
"So you'll do it?" Jerin asked, a devilish grin on her face.
"Looks like I'll have to," he grumbled, "unless you got something else in mind. But knowing you, you won't change your plan."
Jerin had the most innocent look on her face as she faced him. "I would, Devur, but you know that it's the only way." She couldn't keep a straight face any longer and finally looked away. "And Aguro, here, has to be you."
"If he gets to be me, then why can't he be Lufia?!" he argued angrily.
Demetri gave him a look. "You know why, Devur. Besides . . . I don't think he'd like that too much."
"And like I love it!!" Devur retorted. "Besides, he'll end up blowing our cover!" Then he sighed. "Oh, alright. If it's the only way." He saw Jerin smirk. "Jerin, stop it! I don't like doing this!"
That only increased her grin. "Oh, but I do." Her voice was mocking his own.
Aguro rolled his eyes. "Great. Jerin, can we just get this over with? We only have three hours left."
"It won't be hard to get you ready, Aguro," Jerin told him, "so there's nothing for you to worry about. Devur, however, needs a woman's touch for this." She saw his face turn bright red. "You know you do, Devur."
"Can you insult me anymore? It's not I like this or anything."
Demetri interrupted before Jerin could throw a comment at him. "Jerin, that's enough. I wouldn't like to be in his position. What if you had to dress up like . . . Aguro or me?"
"Anyone could be Aguro! You just have to be incredibly stupid!"
"Hey!" Aguro yelled. "I resent that!!"
"But, Jerin . . . I'm just saying, if you had to, would you like it?"
She paused, thinking. "I wouldn't do it, Demetri. You know that!"
"But if you absolutely had to, would you like it?" Demetri's voice had an edge to it.
"Well . . . no . . ." Jerin looked at the floor. Her hair hid her face. She was glad of that as she quickly brushed the forming tears from her eyes. "Look, I'm sorry, okay?"
Devur shrugged. "Nah, I'm used to it from you."
He saw her devilish grin.
"But don't do it anymore, okay?"
The grin disappeared. "Oh, okay." Her voice went down a couple of octaves.
He hugged her. "Hey, don't be sad over it. Just think of it like this. I know it's going to be a bad idea saying this, but I'm going to anyway. Think of it like this: you have something good to tell Lufia later." He paused, waiting to see what she would do.
It took a minute for her to lift her head. "Alright. I guess."
"Good enough," Devur agreed as she walked away from him.. "Now, you want to help us out here and make me presentable first?"
Jerin grinned again. "Sure!! I was waiting to hear that!!"
"Well, now that you have that straightened out," Demetri told them, "we'll make the second half ready. See you soon, Devur. And one other thing."
Devur looked at him. "What?"
Demetri met his eyes, then shook his hand. "Good luck to you." Then Aguro and him left, leaving Jerin and Devur all alone to get ready for whatever path was laid for them.
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