This instalment is 1,001 words long, just a random fact for you. Also option one was voted in by all my lovely voters. Oh, and I found the random 'Trancos Identity' guesses amusing. Some of you weren't far from the mark. :D In this part you'll get to find out even more, and perhaps you want to take a second guess...
Now to the story!
“What are you doing here, of all places?” the dark shadow asked tiredly, his voice reaching them easily across the distance.
Flicks felt the blood drain from her face. How long had he been standing there for?
The shadow leant against a tree. “Well?” he asked. “What are you doing here?”
Nainsi and Skilf both looked to Flicks. “What?” she hissed. “Why should I answer?”
Skilf frowned. “I dunno, I just thought you might have a good idea.”
“I’m not planning on waiting forever you know,” the man continued. “I was entrusted with the guard of this clearing and I don’t plan on letting you four run away with The Stone.”
“It’s the guard,” Larzik whispered. “We are doomed! He’ll kill us all. Best to attack now before it is too late. Perhaps we will have some chance.”
Larzik turned around and picked up a stick. “I don’t think that’s a good—” Fred began but Larzik interrupted with a shriek, “ATTACK!!!!!!”
Ciara leapt from Nainsi’s hands and, with a ferocious yip, streaked across the gap between them and their watcher, launching herself at the shadow’s face.
“Aaahh!” he gave a strangled shout and fell back.
“Ciara!” Nainsi cried and ran towards the struggle. Flicks, Skilf and Larzik followed close behind.
Another yell erupted from the man and Nainsi paused in her run to grab up a stout stick, as thick as her forearm.
The shadowed man was struggling up ahead, Ciara attacking him with astonishing speed and skill.
Nainsi was the first to reach the pair. The man was, at that moment, shaking his hand desperately to rid himself of the ferocious fox.
Nainsi jumped forward and swung the stick at him. It cracked into the side of his head with all the force of Nainsi’s fury behind the blow.
The figure crumpled to the forest floor.
Nainsi bent down and picked up Ciara, stroking her soft fur. The Phenik fox slowly began to calm, her growls changing to a purr.
Flicks, after a moment’s hesitation, knelt down beside the unconscious man. Tugging his cloak out of the way, she rolled him over onto his back.
Her mouth dropped open and she sat back on her heels. The man moaned softly and Nainsi glanced at Flicks. “Has he got any—” she broke off, staring at the man’s face.
Skilf moved forward. “Who is it?”
“I...I think it’s Trancos,” Flicks replied in a dazed voice.
Skilf’s eyes opened wide and she looked down. “Yes, I’d say you’re right.”
Trancos groaned again and his eyes flickered open. It took him several moments to focus on his surroundings and when he did he scrambled to a sitting position in shock. “Wh – what happened?” he asked.
“Umm,” Flicks said, wondering what to say.
Trancos reached a hand to his head, pulling it back as he felt the sticky heat of blood. He looked back at the four people around him, then froze.
Nainsi, her expression fixed, stared back.
Flicks stood up, looking from Trancos to Nainsi and back again. Then she glanced at Skilf who shrugged uncertainly.
Trancos struggled to his feet, swaying uncertainly. “N-Nainsi,” he said.
Nainsi stepped backwards. “No...No...” she shook her head slowly, fear and shock on her face.
“Nainsi I can ex—”
“NO!” Nainsi shouted and spun around and ran.
“Hang on!” Flicks protested and set off through the trees after her.
“Do you know her?” Skilf asked Trancos.
Trancos paid her no heed, instead he stumbled forwards and crashed through the undergrowth in the direction Nainsi had taken.
Larzik and Skilf gave each other a sidelong glance and then ran after the others.
“Oi! Nainsi, wait up!” Flicks called.
Nainsi was stumbling along ahead, pushing through the ferns and bracken that grew up under the trees.
Fred jumped off Flicks’ shoulder and rose into the air. “Something’s wrong,” she said. “Something’s really wrong.” She whizzed off through the trees, disappearing in a green blur.
The trees were thinning and Nainsi burst from them and into the sunlight, Flicks just meters behind. Flicks saw a movement out of the corner of her eye and yelled a warning, jerking Nainsi backwards.
A sword swished through the air previously occupied by Nainsi.
A tall, broad-shouldered man stood in front of them, holding a massive, two handed battle sword. “Delighted to meet your acquaintance,” he said, lunging forward with the point of the sword.
Flick jumped backwards. “I guess this might not be the best time but, who are you?” she asked.
The man paused. “I am,” he said haughtily. “Sniperscope Asesino. King of the country of Manirus and ruler to be of these very lands we are now standing on.”
Flicks remembered one line of the prophecy with sudden clarification: Though target they be for Sniperscope. Obviously this was the Sniperscope that was supposedly targeting her and Skilf. Not a nice situation.
“Oh,” she gasped. “I’m afraid I don’t feel so delighted to meet you.”
King Sniperscope swung the sword in a bewilderingly swift motion and Flicks dropped to the ground to avoid the razor blade.
Nainsi was backing slowly away, unnoticed by Sniperscope as of yet.
Flicks rolled to one side as the sword descended toward her. But the Manirus king was too fast and he predicted to movement and Flicks found herself lying on the ground with a sword at her throat.
“Choose your last words carefully,” the swordsman snarled.
Flicks took several deep breaths then whispered one word.
Trancos appeared behind Sniperscope.
He swayed for a second, blinking his eyes to clear the fog that was an after-effect of the transportation.
Some sound alerted the tall Manirisian and he spun around, forgetting Flicks in his surprise.
“Sir Trancos,” he growled softly. “So you have returned after all these years.”
Trancos narrowed his eyes. “On the contrary,” he replied. “It is just that you have finally found my abode.”
“We have unfinished business,” Sniperscope snarled. “It has come to a time when we must settle past troubles.”
1. Trancos drew his sword in a fluid motion, twirling it in his fingers with practiced ease. “I’d be happy to oblige,” he said, pulling his cloak off and tossing it to the side.
2. “Now, now, Sniperscope,” a voice came from the trees. “Don’t get distracted in revenge. Remember the deal?”
3. Flicks, who had scrambled to her feet, felt a light tap on her shoulder and she turned her head curiously...
Okay, thanks for reading, everyone! You may have noticed that I'm trying to bring back the Prophecy. So if anyone needs reminding of what it was I'll put a link right here (The link goes to part 13 in which Flicks and Skilf read the prophecy).
Have fun choosing your favourite option!
Fare Thee Well!