The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 19
By Silent Elegy
Queen Leene sat in her cell and wallowed in despair. At first, she thought Frog would come for her, as he always had before. But she had been here for weeks with no sign of rescue. Eventually, she gave up hope. At first, she cried, but now, she no longer even did that. She simply sat.
At first, she thought it was her imagination. Two voices seemed to be arguing with one another. Then, she decided it must be Dalton and Garret. Then she heard what they were saying.
"And I's tellin' ya, I don't need yer help."
"Well, Glenn told me to help you, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I don't like it any more than you do, but there you have it."
"Oh, be quiet. I don't know why ya don't like me so much; I ain't done nothin' to ya."
There was a short pause, then, "It's not that I don't like you. I'm just angry with myself. I should have been there for him, and I wasn't, and look what happened."
Leene licked her lips and stood shakily. Her legs were weak from sitting in one position for a long time, but they held her weight. She walked to the bars and called, "Is someone there?" Her voice was hoarse from crying and disuse, but it was strong enough.
There was a sound like claws scratching against metal, and Rat appeared in field of vision. Leene squealed with fear and jumped back, earning an exasperated sigh from Rat.
"I's yer friend, okay?" she said. "No worries, Queenie. I's gonna get ya outta there, okay?"
Leene brought her breathing back under control and crept back up to the bars to watch Rat pick the lock. "You know who I am?" she asked.
"Yah, I seen ya a'fore. Name's Rat. I's a friend of Frogger's."
"Frog's here?" Leene exclaimed. She brightened considerably at the knowledge that Frog had, in fact, come for her.
Rat nodded. "Yah. I dunno know where, though. We got separated, and then I found you, so I figured I'd free ya and we'd find him together." She looked around, drawing Leene's attention to Doreen. "This here's Doreen. She's a friend of Frogger's, too."
Doreen bowed and walked closer. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness. Sir Frog speaks highly of you." Leene blushed.
The lock clicked and Rat swung the door open. "Ya gonna be okay, Yer Highness?" Rat asked, sincerely worried. Leene nodded.
"Yes, I'll be fine. Will you take me to Frog now, please?"
Doreen bowed and gestured for them to follow her. "Right this way, Your Highness."
No matter how many golems they killed, Dalton kept summoning them. For every one they managed to destroy, it seemed that two more took its place. Frog had long since given up trying to use the Masamune and was simply casting magic as fast as he could, but he was becoming worn out. He growled angrily. "How many of these creatures are there?" he asked rhetorically.
Mariel finished casting Dark Matter again, then answered, "As many as Dalton can summon." She tried to ignore the rising pain in her skull as she cast more magic than she safely could have. She raised her scythe to finish off the golem in front of her, but its companion mimicked her Shadow magic and cast Dark Matter back at her. A flying, grey blur darted between them and knocked her to the ground. Without a target, the spell aborted itself.
"Rat!" Mariel exclaimed. "You're okay!"
"Ah, ya can't get rid of me that easily," she teased. She jumped to her feet and launched herself at the nearest golem.
Frog, farther away, saw Leene hanging back at a relatively safe distance from the rout. "Frog!" she yelled.
"I shall be but a moment, Your Highness!" he called back.
Now, I'm back. Don't ask me to leave you again.
He smiled inwardly at Doreen. I would ne'er dream of it.
After what seemed to be an eternity for all involved, the golems' numbers grew fewer and fewer. What remained of them amassed between the allies and Dalton. In front of the army, one final portal opened and a pink golem, larger than the others, appeared.
"Oh, no," Frog breathed.
"What?" asked Mariel, her voice thick with fatigue. She was ready to drop, and remained standing by force of will alone.
"Tis the Golem Boss," he replied. "We would ne'er have defeated him if he had not been afraid of heights."
Rather than ask for clarification, Mariel studied the Golem Boss. "I.have one last spell," she said. "Two, actually."
The Golem Boss began counting down slowly. Dalton laughed with glee and yelled something, but no one paid much attention.
"Glenn, take Rat and Leene and get out of here," Mariel said.
"Mar-" Rat began, but Mariel kept talking.
"Get as far away as possible. If all goes well with my first spell, the second one will take effect. If it doesn't, finish him off for me. Now, go!"
Frog was about to argue, but one glance at Mariel's eyes changed his mind. He realized that she was trying to atone, though for what, he didn't understand. He nodded. "Fare thee well, Milady Magus," he said.
"You as well, my noble frog knight. Tell Archy.tell him to name the town Medina, after my sister. I think mom and dad would've liked that." She turned to face the golem army as Frog led Rat and Leene out of the hideout.
You're serious, aren't you? You really want to do this? Even you won't be able to stand the force.
Mariel didn't answer Doreen; all her concentration was on casting the spell. The Black Wind howled around her and gathered itself into an unstoppable force. Mariel's eyes glowed with stored power. She raised her arms above her head and yelled, "Release!"
The force of the Black Wind was visible even to those who couldn't see it. Dalton stumbled as his golems were destroyed, one by one, and the Black Wind came for him. He was blinded and deafened, but he heard as clear as a bell someone say snidely, "Where's your crown, now, Your Highness?" Then he knew no more.
The explosion was so great that it completely leveled Truce Canyon, where Dalton's lair was hidden. Rat pulled herself to her feet and looked around. She found Leene first, and ran to help her. "You okay, Queenie?" she asked.
"Yes, thank you," Leene answered. Her eyes went wide as she noticed the smoking hole that was once the canyon. "How did we escape that?"
"I dunno. Ya see Frogger anywhere?" Rat sniffed the air. "I c'n smell him, but he smells weird. I hope he's okay." She followed his scent to a large chunk of rock.
"Oh." someone groaned.
"Frogger?" Rat called.
"Hither." he answered.
"Frog, are you well?" Leene asked.
"Nay, I am hallucinating."
Rat and Leene exchanged glances and made their way around the boulder. Leaning against it, staring at his hands, was a man. He wore Frog's armor, although it didn't fit him quite as well. His hair was a bright shade of green, but his eyes were hazel, as Frog's had been. He looked at them, and his expression was one of pleading. "What doth thou see?"
Rat cocked her head. "Well, ya sounds like Frogger, kinna, and ya smells like Frogger, mostly, but ya looks like a human."
He blinked and shook his head, then jumped to his feet and hauled Rat off the ground. "I am human again!" he yelled, laughing. "Tis Mariel's spell! She has restored my true self."
"Yah, yah, that's all well and good," Rat yelled back. "I's really happy fer ya. Now, c'n ya put me down, please?"
Glenn laughed and obliged her. She pretended to dust herself off and sniffed. "Human cooties," she muttered just loud enough for him to hear.
Leene's eyebrows creased as though she was trying to remember something. "Glenn?" she asked tentatively.
He faced her and bowed his head. "Aye, Highness. Tis I. Forgive me for deceiving thee, please."
"Oh, Glenn." She gathered him into her arms. "I always thought you were dead."
"I wanted to tell thee," he said, attempting to hold back tears. "I could not."
Leene didn't bother. She hugged Glenn again and cried openly. "Don't worry about it," she said. "You don't have to talk about it now."
As Glenn and Leene carried on, Rat sniffed and shuffled away, her tail dragging the ground. She looked back once, then dropped to all fours and ran.
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