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Chapter Twelve: A Catastrophic Guardian

Taking a breather for a moment, Damien and Evelyn sits down on the rubble boulders that Xena pushed off of Silver Tongue. As they sat there Damien smiles over at Evelyn and takes her hand. Evelyn smiles back and tilts her head as she begins playing with a stand of it with her left hand.

“You think we will find this scroll? I’m worried for Gary.” Damien asks.

“Yeah. We have too. Gary needs us.” Evelyn replies. “You know it was not easy expressing how I feel about you earlier.”

“Why is that?” I think you’re cute too.” Damien grins widely.

“Well to be honest a king is supposed to marry other royals and well I am not a royal. I am only a daughter of a Dame. I may be noble but I am not royalty. There are laws that must be kept you know.” Evelyn sighs but with a smile.

“Well you know what that is stupid. A king or even a queen should be able to marry whom ever they want. Once I am dubbed king I will make sure that law is changed immediately.” Damien tells Evelyn. “When I am king I will be making many changes. Including this treaty of old.”

“What’s wrong with the treaty? You know the gods made it so that peace would be made with in Granderhill.” Evelyn comments.

“Yes, well not every clan and tribe believes in the same god you know. I mean if you get to know how Earth is, the religion there is crazy. Everyone believes in what they want pretty much. No god or goddess has ever smite anyone because of not believing, and though there are rumors of a one true god, the proof of it is only through gossip and a book of stories.” Damien giggles.

“Your world is very odd to me. Not a lot of it makes any sense. Here gods and goddess exists just like you and me. I have never actually seen a god myself, but I have heard many speak of seeing or even speaking to one. They say they stay hidden, and often disguise themselves to blend in with us. So it could be anyone.” Evelyn comments. “But you are right as far as many types of gods, many of the clans and tribes worship different gods, so it would be hard to get those who worship gods that are not of the treaty. So changing the treaty or getting rid of it all together may be a better choice. But if we got rid of it, what would bring the clans together?”

“Honestly I haven’t really thought about it all that much. But I figured that the loyalty must come from somewhere. Whether it is helping them with a problem they have like low food sources, or some threat terrorizing their village. But we will work on what we can and do our best to fulfill our promises.” Damien states.

“Well aren’t you speaking like a true king already.” giggles Gordo as he listens into the conversation sitting across from Damien and Evelyn. “You’re thinking of promises may pay off. I know what you have promised Lady Heidella will please her once you fulfill it. As I believe the Minotaur will also once you save Brute’s people.”

“You know another tactic you could take is fear. Power always seems to make people join you.” Echo comments. “Although Kenders don’t fear so it wouldn’t work on us.”

“I don’t think fear is the answer here. Yes that may be the way of the Demon King, but it has never been the way of Torman.” Evelyn comments.

“I believe strength of power is more effective to show that you mean business, but making one be loyal through fear is not a good idea. though the minotaur are forced to be slaves for Crux, I believe a rebellion will strike sooner or later against the warlock wolf. Minotaur are not ones who care to be pushed around.” Brute comments.

“I only hope we get there in time before that happens. Or at least while it is happening so we can assist in taking out those who command such a place.” Damien comments.

“So what do you think that ruby does?” Liam randomly asks.

“Still thinking about that ruby are ya?” Echo giggles.

“Of course I am. I almost got eaten from that thing.” Liam comments.

“Only because you couldn’t keep your sticky hands off of it.” Gordo states.

“Silver Tongue did say it could help me later in the journey. But the question is how?” Damien replies.

“He said the name of it was The Ruby of Sight. Maybe it will give you sight of what will happen. Maybe you can use it to see if a decision we are about to make will be a wise one?” Echo comments.

“Perhaps, but for now we will keep it safely tucked away.” Evelyn smirks and nods.

Bredan walks over after talking alone with Razlyn. He looks at Damien and Evelyn and then the others. “So Red and I have come to a conclusion. It seems that there is something else out there on the island that Red thinks would attack if we flew out of here. So we will continue by foot and face whatever else is down here.”

“But there are two more creatures at least down here that we must face. We don’t even know what they are. Why not face whatever flying thing that awaits us?” Echo asks.

“Well we actually figured out the other two creatures that lurk in this mountain. There were symbols about the guardians in here.” Razlyn grins. “They are creatures that I think we can get by or defeat with no trouble. Especially now that we have Xena here.”

“What are they?” Damien asks as he stands to his feet.

“One of them is some sort of black cat guardian which transforms into a big version of itself when it dies. It only goes through a few stages.” Razlyn responds.

“The other is a Tarasque. A creature hybrid we have never faced before. But I am up for such a challenge.” Bredan smirks. “And I am sure Francis will enjoy a good battle as well.”

“Si senor. It will be excited to jump into a fight. I haven’t used my sword in a long time.” Francis hops down from a boulder, takes out his sword and jabs it around.

“We then should get a move on while we can. Who knows how long that leprechaun will wait for us.” Damien replies.

With Bredan escorting the fellowship at the front, the band moves forward into the cave where Silver Tongue laid. As they descended deep into the cave, the walls seemed to close in to a single thin pathway in which wasn’t big enough for a centaur to fit, making the band move in a single file line down the tunnel until they reached the opening of another chamber.

The chamber had a running stream of water running through the center. A large apple tree with golden leaves sat near the pool of water in which is where the stream lead to. Nothing seemed to be threatening to the fellowship as they looked around. Just bizarre as the tree was full bloomed with no sunlight to help it grow.

As Damien looked himself he soon found himself looking at a familiar beast laying upon one of the branches in the tree. It was a domestic house cat, but with spotted fur, much like a wild cat of the jungle would have. It’s ears were a little different as it had black turfs at the end. “Look there.” Damien points. “Is that the guardian?”

“It must be.” Bredan smirks.

“But it’s only a cat. Nothing more.” Damien comments.

“Senior I am offended. I may also be a tabby cat, but I am much more than come to eye.” Francis bloats.

“Hmm, I guess you have a point there. But that cat isn’t like you. It’s just a cat.” Damien responds.

The domestic feline lifts its head and looks over at the fellowship. It tilts its head and blinks twice. Slowly it stands to its feet and stretches its body. Looking over at the fellowship the cat leaps down out of the tree and begins to walk towards the band. As the cat came close, it’s eyes turned from brown to bright blood red. It hisses and swipes its front paw towards Damien’s leg. Damien feels the scratch and jolts backwards. ‘

“Ouch! You stupid cat!” Damien yells at the feline and takes out his sword. “You should end you now.”

The cat hisses right at Damien, ignoring the others completely.

“Why is it attracted to you?” Echo wanders.

“I don’t know.” Damien comments.

“I think it has some sort of sense to know your purpose.” Evelyn comments. “Perhaps it is another one of the Shadow King’s fiends.”

“If that is so, we should kill it now.” Francis steps forward with his sword in hand.

“No! Not you Francis. Not yet.” Bredan calls. “I believe the creature wants Damien, and so it shall be struck down by Damien’s blade.”

“Then go on Damien. Stick your blade into the creature so we can move on.” Liam giggles. “It is certainly a boy’s kill for sure.”

“Who in the hell are you calling a boy?!” Damien turns and looks at Liam. “I am fourteen. I am not no boy anymore.” Damien turns away from the satyr looks down at the feline and pierce the end of his blade into the domestic cat. The cat gives out a shrieking cry and flops to the ground in a puddle of bright red blood. “I killed the cat. Can we move on now?”

A shimmering glow surrounds the dead feline, like crystals that the sun shines upon. Suddenly a transformation of the dead cat turns, morphing the dead creature into a slightly larger cat. It was not only a new height and had a better look to it, but it was alive sitting there where the blood of the domestic cat once laid. The cat was slightly bigger with a yellow-tan coat with spots and stripes, big ears, and long legs.

“Look. It morphed.” Evelyn points out as the others started to walk across the chamber.

The others turned to see the wild feline sitting there alive and well.

“It’s no longer domestic.” Echo comments.

“It’s a Serval. I have seen them in the Whispering Woods.” Evelyn points out.

“Another wimpy cat no doubt. I will handle this one myself.” Liam steps forward with his spear and begins to walk straight at the wild feline.

As the satyr approaches, the serval hisses at the goatman with the spear. It lifts it’s back and growls staring the goatman in the eyes. With in seconds, the serval leaps and attacks Liam, piercing it’s white claws into Liams chest and gripping onto the satyr. Liam yells in agony of the serval’s claws as it releases them out of the satyr’s flesh and leaps down back to the black stone cave floor.

“It’s a devil that is!” Liam yells out as he backs away from the wild feline over to the rest of the fellowship holding his chest area with one hand.

The fellowship all chuckle at Liam as they look at the satyr and then over at the Serval that sat there licking it’s paws.

“Awe did the puttee cat hurt the tough mountain goat?” Brute says in a baby tone then laughs.

“Shut up you over grown steak.” Liam bleats.

Brute huff, pushes the satyr down as he walks towards the wild feline with his ax handle in both hands. “Let me show you how this is done.”

Closing in on the feline, the black furred minotaur raises his ax and with a bowling cry, Brute swings his ax and cuts through the feline like a cooked piece of meat. The minotaur butchered the creature, and a large stream of blood flowed down towards the stream of water from where the caracus of the wild cat lied.

Brute pulls his axe out of the caracus and walks back towards the fellowship while looking at Liam, “And that’s how you take care of pests.”

Looking over at the dead feline, the fellowship watches the glittering light return surrounding the dead animal. The blood upon the ground seeped into the rocky cave floor, and the dead caracus turns and morphs into a bigger wild feline. This feline had no spots but a red brown coat, with a shorter tail, tufted ears, intimidating teeth and long sharp claws. The feline was bigger than the last one and much more fierce looking.

“Stage three it seems.” Gordo comments.

“Yes my friend. Another challenge in which this one will be mine!” Francis steps forward slashing his sword around.

“Evelyn what kind of cat is that?” Damien asks.

“A Caracal I believe.” Evelyn tilts her head, “Though this one is a little different. Larger claws and sharper fang like teeth.”

“You sure you can handle this feline Francis. It’s as big as you are.” Ming giggles sitting on Evelyn’s right shoulder. “Perhaps someone taller should kill it.”

“Nonsense I can handle my self.” Francis gives a small grin as he walks towards the Caracal cat.

The ginger cat in black boots walks with sword in hand towards the reddish brown cat with pointy tufted ears. As the biped feline engages his victim the wild cat growls and stares upon the booted cat. The puss in boots smirks a grin and leaps into the air flipping forward with his sword jabbing towards the wild feline. As Francis comes at the feline, the beastly cat quickly moves to the side and slashes its front claws upon the puss’ back. Francis falls to his stomach with a great cry.

The wild feline with large sharp claws, tufted ears and sharp fang like teeth circles Francis, glaring it’s yellow eyes upon the hurt cat. Watching Bredan reaches back to his quiver and pulls out a single arrow, as he grips his bow in his other hand. Quickly as the wild feline seemed eager to pounce upon Francis’ back, Bredan perched his arrow upon his bowstring and fires the arrow. With speed, the arrow pierces into the feline as it leaps for its attack on Francis. The feline limps and falls flat on top of the ginger cat.

“Hey! Get this darn cat off of me!” Francis yells out.

Bredan walks over with a smirk and pushes the Caracal cat off of his feline friend, “Seemed you didn’t have it after all my courageous furball.”

Francis slowly stands to his feet, :I simply was just warming up. I could have handled the fleebag if you just gave me a chance.” He turns to the caracal cat and kicks it.

Bredan squats down to Francis, “Come on my friend. Climb on up. That wound looks like it hurts and walking is no option for you right now.”

“What’s this?” Liam huffs, “The cat gets it off easy and I still have to suffer? I am in pain as well you know.”

“Your wound is simply small; Francis’ covers his whole back.” Bredan glares at the satyr. “You will be fine.”

“Do you suppose that was the last stage of that feline?” Evelyn questions. “It wasn’t much of a fight for a guardian.”

“Perhaps Evelyn is right. I don’t think that was the end of the cat.” Razlyn nods.

Looking over at the dead caracal cat, the fellowship watches closely as the glowing light appears again around the dead feline. Evelyn was correct. The feline morphed once more and this time into a more ferocious beast it seemed. The creature seemed to look like a large lion that stood as tall as a horse with long saber fang teeth, long sharp claws and blood red eyes.

‘What creature is that? That is no regular lion.” Damien asks.

“A Nemean Lion that is Sir Damien.” Echo comments. “A creature with skin and fur as tough as dragon scales, razor sharp claws and long sharp fang teeth.”

“How do we kill it if the skin is too tough to penetrate?” Evelyn asks.

“This is my job. I am the only one who can kill it.” Razlyn snarls as her eyes brighten with red.

“No Red. It is not your fight.” Bredan places a hand on Razlyn’s arm. Razlyn calms herself and her eyes turn back to a orangish red color. “Than who my love?”

“The children. Evelyn and Damien must fight the beast.” Bredan smirks a slight grin as he walks over to them. “This is your fight Damien. Though I think Evelyn should assist you. You two are now closer than ever and are both well fighters in my opinion.”

“Do you think that is a wise choice my love?” Razlyn questions.

“They can do it. I believe they can.” Bredan says still with a smirk on his face as he pulls out two short elven sword off his back. “Here these should be useful. Elvish weapons are the only weapons that can harm the beast. I have seen a Nemean lion go down once before. It was my old pal Michael who killed the last one I saw. Though he had a special axe in which the metal was unknown.”

Damien and Evelyn take the elven swords and take a deep breath.

“We can do this.” Damien says to himself out loud.

“Damien I’m right by your side. I will not let anything happen to you.” Evelyn grins at Damien gripping the sword in her right hand. “I love you. Our love will protect us.”

Damien steps forward with Evelyn, holding Evelyn’s left hand and the sword in the other as they draw near the beast. The large lion fixed its eyes upon the two teenagers as they walk towards it. It’s blood red eyes more fierce than Damien could imagine as it shows it’s saber fangs and sharp teeth. Letting go over each other’s hands Damien and Evelyn begin to circle the beast in opposite directions. The large lion kept its gaze more on Damien than Evelyn. It for some reason had fixated itself with the young heir. With a war cry, Evelyn runs towards the lion from behind with sword in hand, and as she came near the lion turns and steps aside as Evelyn swings her sword, missing her target. The lion roars and swipes its long claws at Evelyn. Stepping quickly back, Evelyn dodges the swipe of the beast by just a few inches. Evelyn’s eyes widen by the quickness of the large feline as she grips her sword tighter in her hand.

With a glaring look, Damien steps in and jabs his sword as the lion was fixed on Evelyn. The blade’s tip pierces the lion’s shoulder and the lion reacted with a quick swipe of the right fore claw pushing Damien and sending the heir flying back onto his back near his fellowship. Rushing towards him Gordo and Brute helps Damien back to his feet.

“Are you alright sire?” Brute asks.

“I’m fine.” Damien huffs and starts heading back towards Evelyn and the lion.

Evelyn stares into the Nemean Lion’s eyes at it stares right back at her. The two walk in circles keeping their fixes upon one another. As Evelyn stares, a weird tingle runs up her neck. As the tingle ran up her neck, the lion jerks and shakes his head and mane. Staring at the beast, Evelyn slowly tilts her head, and the lion followed her motion. The lion was no longer breathing hard but has calmed itself as it looks into Evelyn’s eyes. Evelyn stops from walking and stares. The lion does the same, and suddenly as Evelyn tilts her head the other direction, the lion tilts his head as well.

Watching Bredan grins, “Seems she has this under control.”

As Damien approaches he stop before getting to close. He watches Evelyn and the lion with a confused stare. “What is happening?”

“She has a gift.” Xena grins. “A gift not many posses in Granderhill. Not even I can do what she is doing.”

“What is she doing?” Damien asks.

“She has control over it. She possesses the gift of a Beast Tamer.” Xena comments.

“A natural.” Bredan grins.

Watching further, Damien sees Evelyn whispering some sort of weird language at the lion. The lion suddenly sits down and then lays upon it’s stomach. As Evelyn walks up to the beast she squats down and pats it on the head. With a grin she stands back up and walks over to Damien. “Did you see that?”

“What language were you speaking?” Damien asks.

“The language of the gods of course.” Bredan comments.

“Wait I was speaking another language? I thought I was speaking English?” Evelyn asks.

“You weren’t speaking no English that was for sure. What did you say to it?” Damien asks.

“I just told it that we meant it no harm and that it could rest.” Evelyn tells Damien.

“Can you do that with all animals?” Damien asks.

“I do not know. This is the first I have ever done such a thing. I didn’t even know I could do it until I felt the weird tingle down my neck. I don’t even know if I can do it again.” Evelyn replies.

“You’ll do it again I assure you that.” Bredan grins. “I knew you could handle this on your own. I had a feeling one of you had something impressive to show. Even if it was Damien turning his sword into flame again.” Bredan states. “Though I did not expect it to actually be a gift of a tamer and from you of all people Evelyn.”

“It surprises me as well.” Xena smiles. “I gift that I must insist in helping you learn how to use.”

“You want to help me?” Evelyn asks. “After how I treated you?”

“Your action was only for the sake of love, not of hate towards me.” Xena replies. “So yes I want to help you. Being a druid and a powerful one in fact, I know much of what you can do. I also have many books and writings in which can help me teach you on becoming a grand beast tamer.” Xena gets down on one knee, “So Evelyn Scarlet will you allow me to serve you as your mentor and teacher of the arts of the Tamer?”

Evelyn walks up to Xena, “My dear druid, I would be honored to have you as my teacher. Tough Dorlius has taught me much, as did my teachers in battleschool, this I believe is something that can not be taught by them. So Xena I place my life in yours to teach me the ways of the tamer. Stand my friend.”

Xena stands with a grin, “This pleases me. Though I thought my allegiance belonged to Damien, I can see now that I must align with you instead.”

“And who will teach me of what I need to know? I have much to learn to be come heir, and to learn of this magic in me as well. Turning my blade into flame was no parlor trick.” Damien asks.

“Damien I forever will be with you. I love you and care deeply for you.” Evelyn smiles as she looks into Damien’s eyes. “I gave a promise to Dorlius that I would help you become king and that I will do. I will teach you all that Dorlius and my mother have taught me. But power is one thing I can not teach.”

“Damien we can assist you with that.” Razlyn comments. “Bredan and I both have experience with magic, though ours are totally different from what you can do, we can at least guide you and teach you on how to control your gifts.”

“What do we do at this present moment though? What about the lion?” Liam asks still holding his chest.

“The lion will not do us harm. It will allow us to live and proceed.” Evelyn tells Liam. “But we should tend to both yours and Francis’ wounds. They could get infected.”

“How do we heal them? We do not have the Elixar or that green weasel.” Damien asks.

“I will tend to them. I have some Athelas herbs that will help the healing process.” Bredan states. “But here is not a good place to do so. We need light and air. It is hard for the wounds to breath down here.”

“Bredan is right on this matter. Nature is not so kind down under ground. Only the earth is here and that will not be enough to heal the wounds.” Xena states.

“Then we must get to surface as fast as we can.” Liam states. “The pain is agonizing to me.”
“A scratch is what you have. Nothing more, you will be fine.” Bredan states. “Francis is what I am worried for. His wound is much larger and deeper.”

“Senior I will be fine until we can get your herbs. It is also merely a scratch. Deep yes, but bearable until we can get out.” Francis states.

“Though you are strong my furry friend, I am more worried of it getting infected than any. The wound is deep and if infected and not taken care of with great pace, than you could get ill.” Bredan sighs.

“We only have one last guardian to face. Once we finish it off we will be able to help Francis. But for now we must move, and take on what is up ahead.” Evelyn tells the others.

“Agreed.” Damien nods in agreement.

Leaving the Nemean Lion alone in its chamber, the fellowship headed on leading through another tunneling pathway in which slanted upwards. Huffing up the incline of the tunnel the fellowship comes across another chamber. This one had a much larger opening in the ceiling letting in tons of light. A small grass field laid with in the cave chamber, as water also flows, and trees grew. Sitting in the center of the grass field was a large watering hole in which was more of mud than water. And there laying next to it was a creature in which was unusual to all eyes. Even to Xena the creature was foreign. The creature was large and short, with four stubby like bear legs, the body of an ox, the head of a lion and a snapping turtle, with thick rough sand color skin, wearing a large tortoise shell with spikes, and a long serpent tail with a stinger of a scorpion at the end. Though the creature was short and fat, it was as big as a dragon.

“What is it?” Damien asks.

“I haven’t got a inkling of what that is Damien.” Bredan answers. “This is a new one to me.” Bredan looks over at Razlyn.

“I do not know either. It is not a dragon that I know of.” Razlyn states.

“Xena have you got a clue?” Evelyn asks. “I do not remember this creature in my studies with Dorlius.”

“I too am a blank. I do not know what it is.” Xena replies.

“It looks like a turtle of some sort.” Damien guesses. “A really ugly and monstrous turtle.”

“It seems like a type of chimera to me. Just much larger.” Echo comments.

“How’d that thing get in here? It’s bigger than Red in her dragon form.” Damien asks.

“The question we should be asking is how to defeat such a large monster. I mean it’s huge, and seems that it could be difficult to kill.” Evelyn responds

“You’re the key Evelyn. Your power of taming should handle the creature.” Gordo comments.

“I don’t think I can do that. They thing is huge.” Evelyn says looking up at the beast. “I barely could control the Nemean Lion.”

“Evelyn is right. She has no clue how to use her powers, and to think of her to control a beast like that is insane.” Xena states. “It’ll take years before she could control even a guardian dragon.”

“It seems to be sleeping senior. Maybe we can just walk on by the creature, no?” Francis suggests sitting up on Bredan’s shoulder.

“Maybe Francis is right. The creature is to large for us to fight. We must just move by it.” Echo agrees. “Though I am not one to run from a challenge, this creature we do not know nothing about. Until we can figure out what it is, there is no point in rousing it and fighting the creature.”

“Yes, let’s pass this creature. I would hate to loose a friend over stupidity.” Liam adds.

“Very well. Everyone move slowly and quietly. The passage out is not far.” Bredan whispers. “Follow me.”

Very quietly the woodland elf moves through the thick grass field escorting his fellowship pass the large creature to the other side of the cave chamber where they reach a small tunnel in which lead to sunlight. There they exit with no looking back, where they find themselves in the woodlands of the island.

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BJ Swabb
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