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Return To Knightmare Castle

by Paul McIntosh (Member No. 25)

castle

Rain lashed relentlessly and fiercely, enormous forks of lighting illuminated the vast expanse of the Great Ocean. About one mile from the South West of the coast of England a makeshift craft struggled onwards. The craft had travelled for many miles and held just one man, one Holy Grail and one very frightened elf.

Another huge wave crashed against the seemingly enchanted boat. Pickle the elf cowered over the precious Grail while Treguard stood defiantly against the small mast as they drew ever closer to England. Treguard spoke to Pickle but his words were drowned out by the storm. "I'm sorry Master but I am afraid you'll have to speak up!" shouted Pickle. "This is no ordinary storm is it Pickle?" boomed Treguard. "This is Sorcery, foul Sorcery!" "Yes Master," replied Pickle "I - I'm afraid you're r-right, and it's getting worse as we approach England." Pickle wasn't the only frightened one, even Treguard was nervous.

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In spite of the relentless storm, the boat, or what was left of it, reached the English shores. Even as it hit the land, parts of the boat were breaking up, it would not be taking them any further. Treguard and Pickle wrapped themselves tightly in their cloaks, they never imagined that reaching Knightmare Castle would be so difficult. In the distance a badly damaged village could be seen, it looked hopeless, but suddenly Treguard shouted happily "I know this place Pickle! Come on, follow me." Clutching tightly onto the Grail, Pickle obediently followed, confused but in no mood to argue! Treguard marched on confidently across the rocks towards the village with Pickle struggling on behind him. They reached a vast cave with an entrance set into the cliffs and as the rain showed no signs of letting up they wasted no time in entering.

Once inside the cave Pickle was ready to settle down and fall asleep but Treguard was allowing no time wasting and headed deeper into the cave. Once again Pickle obediently headed after him. Despite the violent storm outside the dark damp cave had an eerie silence. This didn't appear to bother Pickle and once he had caught up with Treguard he said excitedly "Well Master, where are we then?" "I can't believe we've been so lucky Pickle" exclaimed Treguard "The village we are heading for is Castleden!" Pickle looked confused. "I'm surprised that you don't know Castleden, Pickle: it is the neighbouring village to Wolfenden - on the other side of Wolfglade!" Pickle remained doubtful. "But how can we ever hope to reach Knightmare castle from here in this weather?" he asked. Treguard thought for a moment; he realised that he must keep Pickles spirits up. "I do see what you mean, Pickle, but cheer up. Things can't get any worse!"

They decided to rest until morning in the hope that the weather would improve and in spite of the uncomfortable ground, they managed to sleep until morning. It was a delighted Pickle who awoke Treguard. "You were right Master!" he exclaimed. "The storm has died down!" Sure enough there was nothing more than a slight drizzle to be seen from the cave entrance. Pickle was ecstatic. "Now that the storm has gone we can go straight to Knightmare Castle and..." "Slow down Pickle!" interrupted Treguard. Pickle's spirits had obviously been raised a little too far. "You know as well as I do that it will not be easy, after all the storm could start again at any time, of course we could be lucky and our path could be clear but I doubt that very much."

As they approached the damaged remains of Castleden they were shocked to see badly injured people lying in the streets. Treguard began to help some of them as Pickle asked an old man with a broken leg in a makeshift splint if there was anything he could do. "Thank you young man, I thought that the storm would last forever! Strange storms they are, you can always tell when they are coming" "What do you mean?" asked Pickle, as Treguard joined them, the man continued "These little green thingies start dancing around on the floor and then everything goes silent just before the heavens open and the wind starts." Treguard's fears were confirmed, "I thought so, a Sorcerer's storm" "Not just one though," continued the man "we've had loads of them, there'll be another tonight, you'll see." Pickle was worried again. "We must hurry on Master!" Treguard agreed and they began helping the injured into the sheltered safety of the cave. "We will return soon, I promise, but not until we have stopped these Sorcerous storms," announced Treguard, and they set off again.

They had not gone far when the green flickers that the man had described began to move around their feet. "Oh no!" exclaimed Pickle. "What shall we do Master?" "Run!" shouted Treguard "Or we could be caught up in the same kind of storm that hurt all those villagers." The gentle breeze soon became a gale force wind as they battled against the elements to reach the Castle. As they reached the brow of a hill they spotted a cottage, seemingly untouched by the tempest. They continued to run for all their worth, they both knew this was their only chance for survival. Finally they reached the cottage and, summoning all their strength, they hammered on the door as hard as they could. A small wrinkled old man slowly opened the door. "Please come in you need to shelter from the storm." He closed the door behind them and as Treguard and Pickle began to warm themselves by the fire the wizened old man shuffled out of the room. "What a stroke of luck!" said Pickle. "Yes, but I can't help thinking that I recognise that shuffle of his..."

The next thing that they were aware of was a loud banging and to their amazement they found themselves lying in the centre of Wolfglade having fallen asleep in the old man's cottage. "Good day to you both!" called a jolly voice, it was Brother Mace who had been chopping wood. "May I say what a pleasure it is to see you again Treguard, and you too Pickle." Suddenly Pickle had an idea. "I don't suppose you happen to remember where the magic elf path is do you, Brother Mace?" "Just behind you, but be warned, it could take you anywhere!" And with that Brother Mace left, humming a little tune to himself. Pickle and Treguard headed for the elf path, both totally bemused by the events of the last few minutes, the menacing sight of Wolfglade and the thought of Tree-trolls spurred them on.

Treguard had never actually used an elf path before. "Don't worry Master," said Pickle jokingly "I'll look after you!" Treguard smiled anxiously, suddenly a blinding flash threw them both back, there in front of them was a huge portcullis. "Knightmare Castle!" exclaimed Treguard with relief in his voice. "Yes!' boomed a deep voice which seemed to come from nowhere. Pickle trembled."Ha, ha, ha!" came the voice again, "Yes Treguard, it's me, Lord Fear, Of course if you want it back, why not take up my challenge... If You Dare!"

The portcullis was slowly raised revealing darkness ahead. "I shall reclaim my castle no one will stand in my way" shouted Treguard as he strode purposely forward [sic], Pickle following nervously on.

The first room they entered was small and circular with a narrow set of steps to the right and left. "I know this place," said Treguard. "Pickle, have you a staff or a talisman?" "Erm.. no, Master," replied Pickle. "If you did, we could take the right hand passage, straight to level three. But since you don't all we have is my memory - come on, Pickle, follow me." They set off and to their amazement, nothing halted their progress. "This is odd Master, we can't be far from level three now." "No, Pickle," replied Treguard. "I would guess that there are less than 100 steps ahead of us." The tunnel itself was hardly appealing, with no source of light and a sewer-like smell.

Suddenly a loud metallic scraping sound shattered the silence. "Oh no! It's a F- frightknight!" yelled Pickle, The Frightknight advanced on them with it's almighty sword raised. Somehow they both managed to dodge it's blows until a vicious swipe gashed Pickles leg. As he fell to the ground the Frightknight stumbled slightly and Treguard saw his chance, he pushed the metal warrior with all his might. The huge Knight fell down the steps, disintegrating as it fell. "Well done, Master!" said Pickle. "You must go on without me, my leg is very badly hurt." "As you wish," said Treguard, not wasting any valuable time, as he headed for the opening door he turned to Pickle. "Wish me luck!" he cried, picking up the Frightknight's sword, ready for the final conflict. This was to be the toughest test of his ability yet.

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Treguard burst into the main chamber, Lord Fear sat proudly in Treguard's chair. "Why you..." muttered Treguard. "Now, Now," mocked Lord Fear "your task is simple, all you must do is strike me once with that sword and I will surrender" Treguard lunged forward but he fell to the ground as Lord Fear disappeared and rematerialised on the other side of the room in a puff of smoke where he sat pompously. "Tut, tut Treguard, very silly!" He started to walk across the room but as he moved a hand reached out from the door, tripping Lord Fear and he fell to the ground. Treguard wasted no time and drove his sword into his enemy, who disappeared with an evil scream in a cloud of thick green smoke. Pickle came through the door, smiling. "So, it was you who saved me!" exclaimed Treguard. "How can I ever repay you?" "Oh, it was nothing,." smiled Pickle, modestly.

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A flickering image began to form in the centre of the chamber, Merlin appeared. "Well done, Treguard! And you too, Pickle! You have broken the spell, now I can attempt to bring Good to the Knightmare Castle with you again. May I take the Grail?" Pickle handed it over. "Thank you," said Merlin cheerfully. "This will help me restore the damaged castle." As Merlin turned and shuffled away Treguard realised where he had seen that walk before... in the cottage on the hill.

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