Crystal the Cat Demon

Treguard was relieved. It had been ages since he had had a vacation. He wasn't very happy that their vacation was in the elf village, but he didn't want to have a massive argument with Pickle and Kully. He was just happy that the two siblings had received the Elf King's permission to visit for a while. Majida thought the same thing. She was getting annoyed at the elves' constant quarrels and she wasn't happy that she was going to be surrounded by even more elves. But she thought it would be better than serving Treguard 24/7. After walking for a few hours, they finally reached the elf village. Two twin girl elves were standing in front of the entrance to the village.

"Pickle! Kully! Welcome home!" they both said in unison. Pickle and Kully went to say their hellos to the two and whispered something else to the two of them. They immediately began to show their kindness to Treguard and Majida.

"Welcome to the elf village! Come on in!" they said to them and began to beckon them over.

Treguard and Majida felt a little uncomfortable being foreigners in this village, but Pickle and Kully were as happy as could be to be back home again. They, and the elf twins, were waving to everyone they could see.

"Ees dees common elf behaviour Treguard?" asked Majida.

"I assume so, yes," replied Treguard. "Heavens knows how they came to pick up this behaviour though."

After a few more minutes of walking, they came to a big wall with a big hole in it, which was covered by some sort of curtain made of leaves.

"Who goes there?" said a tall elf holding a badly made spear.

Pickle approached the guard and took out a small scroll from his pocket and handed it to him. He whispered something to him as well. The guard unravelled the scroll and read it. After a few minutes, he nodded his head.

"Very well. All but the twins may enter." he said. The twins gave a sigh of disappointment, then said goodbye to Pickle and Kully and ran off. So the four pulled the curtain back and entered through the wall.

There sat the Elf King on his throne. He had half a dozen of slaves fanning him with leaves. Treguard felt this was necessary for the king, as it was the middle of summer.

"Who calls?" asked the Elf King.

Immediately, Pickle and Kully bowed to their ruler.

"Your majesty," said Pickle. "We have brought our guests."

"Treguard! It's been a while." The Elf King got out of his seat and went to shake hands with Treguard. He was right; it had been three years since the two had seen each other.

"And this must be your assistant. A pleasure to meet you." He shook hands with Majida as well.

He went back to his seat and muttered to the two elves to get up off the floor on his way.

"Pelikalos and Kulaemii here have been telling me how much you have wanted a vacation, Dungeon Master. When I heard about this, I knew I must extend my services to you and your charming assistant." This made Majida blush a little. "Therefore, all the elves welcome you to our village and we hope you enjoy your two weeks of stay here."

"The pleasure's all mine, your majesty," said Treguard. "We must thank you for letting us stay here."

"Oh there is no need to thank me," said the Elf King. "I only wish that you have a good time. Pelikalos! Kulaemii! Show them to where they will stay immediately."

"Of course, your majesty." said Kully. "Come on you two." She and Pickle began to lead the two out of the king's chamber.

They walked for another few minutes; with Pickle and Kully still waving to everyone they saw. Treguard was on the verge of shouting at the two to stop, but couldn't find the heart to. After all, this was probably the only vacation he was going to get in a long time. And the last thing he wanted was to get angry with anyone.

"Oi! Pickle!" someone shouted. They all turned to see who it was. It was a brown haired elf that wore clothing similar to Pickle's. He ran up to the four of them.

"Martingo! Long time no see!" said Pickle, grinning from ear to ear. It seemed this elf was an old friend of his.

"Good to see you and Kully are well," Martingo continued. "And who are these two?"

"This is Treguard and Majida," said Kully. "They're going to be staying here for a while."

"Well you guys better be careful," said Martingo in a quieter voice. "There's been rumours of a black elf being sighted around here."

"What? That's ridiculous! The black elves were wiped out years ago." said Pickle.

"Well the elves are saying all sorts of things about it. Some say it's even a spy that's been sent by Lord Fear." said Martingo.

"Dat's terreebell!" said Majida, looking a bit shocked. But then a look of confusion crossed her face. "Umm… Treguard? What ees a black elf?"

"I'll explain later, Majida." he replied. "I'm sure it's just a silly rumour, young elf. We'll be on our way now."

Martingo let the four through. After another number of minutes, they came to a small hut.

"Here you go!" said Kully. "We'll be off now. Goodbye!"

Before Treguard could stop them, the two elves were off in a flash. He was not happy with the accommodation they had been left with. He would have preferred to sleep in his big castle, not a miniscule hut.

"Oh well, eet's better than nothing." said Majida, knowing full well what Treguard was thinking.

The two went straight to bed; they needed the rest from a whole day of walking.

"Up and at 'em, you two!"

The two were woken by an energetic shout from Kully. Majida was already out of the door before Treguard could get up, and she wasn't happy.

"What are you two doing?" she shouted.

"Waking you up, what does it look like?" said Pickle, giggling slightly at the moody genie. "Where's Treguard?"

"I'm here!" he shouted as he came to the door. "What hour is it?"

"Judging from the sun, it's about nine in the morning." said Kully. "We thought you two might like to come to a nearby beach for the day."

"A beach?" said Majida in surprise. "Oh dat would be wonderful! What do you think Treguard?"

"Well the weather looks promising…" he replied, looking up at the sky. "…alright then. Lead the way you two."

The three assistants whooped in delight, but a sharp look from Treguard shut them up. The elves silently lead the two to the beach, not daring to look back at the grumpy looking Treguard. When they got to the beach, however, they began to cheer and ran around the sand like maniacs. Majida began to laugh at them and soon joined them. Treguard just rolled his eyes at the three of them.

"Calm down everyone!" he shouted. "Lets just all sit down and relax for a bit; it's still early morning."

They found some large rocks and sat down on them.

"Do you want some breakfast?" asked Kully. She rummaged in a bag she was carrying and presented a couple of apples. Treguard and Majida took them off her and began to eat them.

The four talked for hours about past quests and how ridiculous the dungeoneers had been these months, even bursting into laughter talking about the team that had failed to answer the question, 'How many days are there in a leap year?' and as a result didn't get any magic from Stilleta and was incinerated with a fireball in the next room. Now that was a quest they'd never forget.

But the laughter soon stopped when Majida remembered something.

"Treguard?" she said. "You told me yesterday that you would explain what a black elf was and you never did. What ess it then?"

Treguard looked at the two elves and they nodded back at him. He took a deep breath and began to explain.

"Decades ago, there existed a race of elves that went against the common elf laws. They practiced the arts of dark magic and became deadly to all the other clans. They relied on it so much that the darkness completely overtook them and their faces became as black and dark as their magic. In the end, the Elf King had had enough and he decided to end their evil ways by destroying them. The forest elves outnumbered them and they were victorious, but many of the black elves fled and took refugee under Mount. Fear."

"I heard dee rumours," said Majida. "But I never thought eet was true. Didn't Lord Fear make an alliance with the rest of them?"

"Yes," replied Kully. "But Hordriss quickly sorted them out. Now the black elves are thought to be extinct. If there really is a black elf wandering around then we're in deep trouble."

"Poppycock!" said Pickle suddenly. "Like Master said yesterday, it's just a rumour. I'm not letting a stupid rumour ruin our vacation."

"You're right elf,' said Treguard. "We're here to enjoy ourselves, so lets enjoy ourselves!"

And they did. The four spent the whole day on the beach, eating all the apples that Kully brought, looking out at the sea and bursting into fits of laughter at funny quests that had happened. When the sun began to set, Pickle and Kully lead the other two back to the hut and ran off, leaving the two to sleep.

The next day…

"Up and at 'em! It's morning!"

They were awaken again by Kully's morning shout.

"We decided to go to the apple orchard today. It's a really nice place with a beautiful fountain. Fancy going?" asked Pickle.

They agreed. They had to walk through the elf village and it seemed to be market day. Elves were filling the streets, buying odd-looking things that Treguard thought must only be valuable to elves as they looked absolutely worthless, but the elves were taking a great interest in them. It seemed like a happy day for everyone.

Until…

"THE BLACK ELF! THE BLACK ELF HAS BEEN SIGHTED!"

A small group of three elves (consisting of two males and a female) were running down the market place screaming this. But this quickly turned from a small group to the whole market place. All the elves began to run around screaming and waving their arms around in panic. Kully clinged on to Pickle so she wouldn't get lost in the crowd. The four had to avoid all the panicking elves running around. In fact, they were the only four who were not panicking. Some elves shouted at them to escape whilst they can, but they stood their ground.

"SILENCE!"

A booming voice filled the market place. Everyone stopped and turned to see who it was. It was the Elf King looking very angry. Everyone bowed down to him, except Treguard and Majida. The Elf King noticed them immediately.

"Treguard! Majida! Are you all right?" he asked, rushing towards them.

"Yes, we're fine, your majesty." said Treguard.

"You! Pelikalos! Stand up!"

Pickle stood up straight away.

"What is going on here?"

"Umm…" he struggled to find an answer. "You see… some elves were shouting about a black elf being sighted and then everyone went into hysterics."

The Elf King nodded at him and then turned to all the other elves.

"STAND EVERYONE!" he shouted. Kully and all the other elves stood up.

"Have any of you even seen this black elf?" he asked.

Everyone looked at each other and many of them muttered 'no' to the king.

"Who started this ridiculous outburst?" he shouted to everyone.

All the elves remained silent for a while. But then the three elves from before came forward.

"We did, your majesty." one of them muttered.

"Well explain yourselves then!" he said in an angry voice.

"We saw it though! We saw a black elf!" said the female elf.

"Well…at least it looked like a black elf. We couldn't really see it's face properly, but it looked as black as it's clothes." said a male elf.

"But there was something wrong with it," said the first male elf. "It was walking like it was in pain."

The king thought about this for a minute. then he raised his voice again.

"Everyone! You will continue with your days work as normal. We will assign all sentry posts to look out for this creature. If any of you see anything then you are report to them immediately. Remember thought, we still have guests in this village and you are not to forget that they are here on vacation. You may continue."

And with that, he left and the elves carried on as if nothing had happened.

"…now that that's out of the way," said Pickle after a brief pause. "Do you still want to go to the apple orchard?"

"Err… we might as well." said Majida.

They walked for a bit longer until they came to the orchard. To their surprise, the elf twins were there. They started smiling when they saw the four of them and ran up to them.

"Hello Amanda, hello Adeline," said Pickle. "Did you hear the news before?"

"About the black elf? Yeah, Martingo told us about it." said Amanda (or was is Adeline?).

"When we heard the uproar before, we were worried." said the other twin (whoever it was- Treguard couldn't tell). "There isn't really a black elf around, is there?"

"I don't know. I can't promise there isn't one." said Pickle who was biting his lip with worry. But then Majida hit him on the head.

"Do you even remember what you said yesterday? You said you wouldn't let a stupid rumour ruin our vacation."

"Aha…yeah, fair point Majida." he said, rubbing his head now.

The two elves joined the four on their day. They all sat by the fountain and exchanged stories and by the time the sunset came, they were all bursting into fits of laughter and had forgotten about the ordeal that had happened before. They eventually waved goodbye and set about to the hut.

The next day…

Instead of Kully's shout, the two were awoken by the noise of a horn. They panicked for a moment thinking it was a goblin horn, but it was just Pickle blowing it.

"Nice change for a wake-up-call, eh?" he asked.

"No! You made us theenk dat Skarkill was coming!" shouted an angry Majida.

"Sorry, it was his idea, not mine." muttered Kully, pointing to Pickle.

"You liar! You know perfectly well it was your idea!" shouted Pickle.

"Was not!"

"Was too!"

Suddenly, Majida was behind Pickle with her dagger at his neck, which took him by surprise.

"You promised not argue, REMEMBER?" she snared down his pointed ear.

"Ugh…okay…get off me!" he struggled to speak with the dagger so close to his neck. Majida let go off him.

"And dat, Treguard," she turned to Treguard. "Is a death threat! You agree?"

Treguard just stood there, stunned. He'd never seen Majida that angry before. But then if it was at Pickle then it was understandable.

"Umm… so!" said Treguard, quickly changing the subject. "Are there any plans for today Kully?"

"Well the weather's a bit dull today, so we figured we should just go for a walk? Is that okay?" she asked.

"Hmm… you're right." said Treguard. There were a few clouds in the sky, but they didn't look like rain clouds. "Okay then, but can we please avoid the elf village this time? I don't want to risk getting caught up in another uproar."

The two elves understood. They avoided the streets and walked on a more peaceful path that lead to the edge of the wood. And thankfully there wasn't any rain.

But what happened next caught them off guard.

A mireman approached the four of them. But not just any mireman; this one was three times bigger than an ordinary one!

"Oh my god!" shouted Kully. "How in the underworld did that thing get so big?"

"I don't know. And this one seems faster than an ordinary one." said Treguard wearily.

Elves were beginning to gather behind them and were shocked at what they saw.

"What's that thing?" someone said.

"It's a mireman. They're not supposed to be here!" another one said.

Everyone was beginning to panic. Majida gripped the handle of her dagger, getting ready to arm herself with it.

But she didn't need to.

Everyone felt something jump over their heads but when they looked up, nothing was there. But then they heard the mireman moan in pain. When they looked back to it, it had a big scratch mark on its chest. It wobbled around for a bit and then collapsed on the ground.

And there was someone behind it. It had their back to everyone.

"Is that…the black elf?" whispered Kully.

"Kully, since when did black elves have claws and a tail?" said Pickle in a 'duh' voice.

He was right though. Whatever this thing was, one of its arms was bent in by its chest, but its other arm was extended out. And its nails were sharp and pointed, exactly like claws. And it had a long black tail.

Suddenly, the unknown creature passed out on the ground. Without a moment's thought, Treguard ran towards it.

"Treguard, wait!" It was Majida. "Eet could be dangerous!"

"Well that's a risk I'm willing to take!" Treguard snapped back. He bent down by the creature as everyone gathered around. No one could see its face, as it was covered with black hair; the same colour as its clothes.

"Hmm…it's still alive." said Treguard, checking its pulse.

"Look at its nails!" said Kully. "They look like they've grown right through this material."

She was right. The area around the sharp nails had been badly ripped and it looked like Kully's suggestion was the only explanation as to why.

"Turn it over Master. We can't see its face." said Pickle and all the elves nodded in agreement.

But when Treguard turned it over, everyone gasped in shock.

"That's not a black elf!" said Kully. "W-what is that?"

"…I have no idea." breathed Treguard.

Whatever it was, they knew for certain it was a girl now. She looked quite young, possibly fifteen. Her clothing was a black full-bodied outfit and just below the neck-hole, there was a dark purple crystal stuck there.

But her face was another story.

It wasn't like a black elf's face. It was peach like a human's face. But not all of it. The top half of it (apart from her eyes) was covered with, what Treguard assumed was, a mask. The design was completely black and had whiskers coming out of the nose part. She also had peculiar ears on top of her head. This being reminded Treguard of a cat…

"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?"

Treguard jumped when he heard the shout. He turned to see the Elf King pushing his way through the crowd. All the elves bowed down to him.

"Oh get up, for goodness sakes." he said in annoyance. "Treguard! I heard there was a mireman around here. Where is it?"

"It's been slain," he replied, pointing behind him at the corpse. "By this creature." He signalled back to the girl. "You wouldn't know what it is, would you?"

The Elf King bent down by the creature and studied it for a few minutes.

"It certainly isn't human or elf. This 'mask' seems to be part of her face and these look like her actual ears."

"Then…what is she?" said Pickle.

"Maybe Hordriss the Confuser would know something!" said Kully in her usual loud voice. "He always seems to know interesting facts."

"An excellent idea Kulaemii!" said the Elf King. "Could you call him please Treguard?"

"With pleasure. Malefact! Malefact! Malefact!" Treguard shouted.

Within an instant, Hordriss appeared in front of them.

"Who summons me?" he bellowed, not noticing the crowd in front of him.

"Hordriss! It's me!" said Treguard standing up.

"Treguard? Why have you summoned me to the elf village?" he asked.

"We have found a creature we cannot identify. We were wondering if you knew of it."

"Really? Well then show it to me!" said Hordriss in reply.

Treguard moved out of the way to show the girl to him. As soon as he saw her, Hordriss' eyes widened.

"Karas Karom! It can't be!" he said, bending down to the creature.

"What is it Hordriss?" asked Pickle.

"Why this is a Cat Demon! But it can't be here; they're extinct!"

"But it is here!" said Kully. "She slew that big mireman over there and then just passed out!"

Hordriss thought for a while and then stood up.

"I think we should discuss this further at Knightmare Castle. This girl seems to have passed out from starvation and we can't just leave her here on the ground like this. Your majesty, if you'll excuse us."

"You are excused you two. Peikalos, Kulaemii, you can go as well. I am so sorry that your vacation is ruined Dungeon Master."

"It's not your fault your majesty." said Treguard. "We'll be on our way now."

Hordriss cast a spell and the group found themselves back at Knightmare Castle. Hordriss picked the girl up and placed her on an old battered couch.

"Well then Hordriss," said Treguard. "If you could explain what a Cat Demon is, then we would all be grateful."

"Very well, Treguard." said Hordriss. "You may want to sit down, this might take a while to explain thoroughly."

Hordriss clicked his fingers and five cushion appeared on the floor. The five sat down and Hordriss began to talk.

"I read a few days ago that the Cat Demons were a clan that existed thousands of years ago, maybe near the time of the Brollachon. They were always at war with Atlantians and Mireman, but the Cat Demon's ruler sent well-prepared armies to deal with them. And if dark wizards ever crossed their path, then they would remain unharmed as it says that they were immune to all dark magic.

"There was also another important person amongst the clan as well as the ruler. It was a woman called the 'Crystal Maiden', but was more commonly referred to as 'Crystal'. She alone carried the sacred 'Crystal of Power', which had to be guarded by her carefully, as it eventually had to be used for grave importance."

"And what ees dees grave importance?" asked Majida.

"One unfortunately doesn't know of it. I will have to research into the matter further." replied Hordriss.

"So is this the 'Crystal of Power' then?" asked Pickle, indicating at the crystal at the girl's neck.

"I assume so, yes." he replied. "Meaning this girl must be the current Crystal Maiden."

"But I thought you said they were extinct!" said Kully.

"One shall finish the explanation." said Hordriss sternly (obviously getting impatient). The assistants immediately turned their attention back to him.

"So, this crystal's power was said to come from the owners themselves. When they reached a certain stage of their life, they would seal themselves inside the crystal and then pass it on to their daughter, who would do the same when they reached that stage. The crystal is also said to change colour whenever a new maiden was sealed inside it."

"Change colour? What do you mean?" asked Pickle.

"It is said that the crystal was originally lilac, but as each maiden was sealed, it turned darker, indicating that there was more power in it."

"Well it must have quite a bit of power in it if it's such a dark purple." said Pickle.

"Quite so Pickle, but please stop interrupting Hordriss!" said Treguard sternly.

"Thank you, Treguard." said Hordriss. "Anyways, it is said that one day, an unknown force wiped out the entire village and the royal family with it. A few families, along with the Crystal Maiden's family, fled the village in time. They all lived together in a cave for many months, but were soon found Atlantians. They killed all of the families, along with the Crystal Maiden's husband, but she and her daughter fled and came to the sacred ritual circle, where the sealing of the maidens took place. The Maiden, knowing that she would die if she lingered, sealed herself inside the crystal and left it for her daughter. But she was never seen again after that. Some presumed she was dead. Obviously…they were wrong."

"So…how did she wind up here, thousands of years later?" asked Pickle. "And why is it she hasn't been eating?"

"One has no idea how she ended up in this time, but one presumes that she must have gotten hopelessly lost and had no provisions to her name. The poor thing."

Just as he said this, the girl began to stir a bit and muttered something, then fell still again.

"What did she say? 'Field' or something?" asked Kully with a puzzled look on her face.

"No, it sounded more like 'Fear' to me.' said Pickle.

The other three looked at each other, and then nodded.

"Lord Fear." they all said together.

The two elves stood up and looked at them in horror, but then looked back at the girl who was beginning to wake up. She sat up, looking horrified and breathing heavily. Treguard assumed that she must have had a nightmare. She noticed the other five in the room and became fully alert.

"W-what the?" she said, looking scared. "Who…no, what are you lot?" She stared at the five of them with dazzling emerald eyes.

"Calm down miss." said Hordriss. "We pose no harm to you whatsoever."

"Okay…but that doesn't answer my question." she said.

"I'll explain then." said Treguard stepping forward. "I am Treguard Dunshelm, a human. Hordriss here is a mage, Majida is a genie and these two, Pickle and Kully, are elves." He pointed to his friends as he spoke their names.

"Hmm…I've heard of mages and genies before, but never of humans and elves. As for me, I'm Crystal the Cat Demon." she said, considering the information she'd just been given. But then face turned to one of realisation. "Hold on a minute. Didn't I save you guys before from a mireman?"

"Indeed you did, but one was not present however." said Hordriss. "Now before we talk anymore, you look dreadful. Let me restore your health."

Hordriss cast a VIM spell and the colour returned to the peach parts of her face.

"Now then Crystal," the mage carried on. "We think we know your situation. But one asks how you came to this time, if you can remember of course."

"Oh…someone brought me here." said Crystal trying to recall previous events. "When my mother sealed herself in the 'Crystal of Power', a mage brought me to this time."

"So you were right about the crystal, Hordriss?" Kully turned to him.

"It would seem so, yes." muttered Hordriss. "Do you know who this mage is, Crystal?"

"I think it was something like Fear. I think he called himself 'Lord of Technomagic', whoever that is."

Treguard and Hordriss didn't even bother to hesitate. They ran straight out of the room. The other four looked at each other in confusion.

"I guess we should follow?" said Crystal.

So they all ran out of the room and followed the other two. In a matter of seconds, everyone was in the antechamber.

"Lord Fear! Show yourself!" Treguard shouted at the magic mirror. A few seconds later, Lord Fear's face appeared on it, making Pickle and Kully a little squeamish.

"Oh, it's you Treguard." said Lord Fear. "I thought you were on vacation old thing. What do you want?"

"Lord Fear, I don't suppose this girl is familiar to you, is she?"

He beckoned Crystal over and she stood by Treguard's side. This made both Lord Fear and Crystal gasp in shock, but then the Opposition's face turned to that of seriousness.

"So this is where you were Crystal." he said.

"That's him." Crystal whispered to Treguard and then spoke to Lord Fear again. "Err…I'm sorry Fear."

"I can't say it's your fault," he replied. "But now you're with Treguard, he's not going to hand you over easily. Are you Treguard?"

"Lord Fear! Explain yourself! Why have you brought this Cat Demon to our time?" Hordriss interrupted.

"Well to save the poor girl of course!" said Lord Fear, resting his elbow on the side of his viewing pool. "Did you really think I was going to leave her in the past like that, all alone and clueless of what to do?"

"Liar!" said Majida. "You just want her to be one of your minions like dee Brollachon."

"Oh for underworld's sake, this is getting us nowhere. Fine, keep her for now. I'll come back for her soon. Be ready for me Crystal."

And with that, he vanished from the magic mirror.

"I'm guessing he's not a friend of yours then Treguard?" asked Crystal.

"No he isn't.' he replied. "Majida was probably right. Lord Fear was probably planning to deceive you and make you one of the Opposition. And then you would have become an enemy to us. I think it's better if you stay with the Powers that Be, Crystal. You could make a living by becoming another one of my assistants. And this time, it would be for the good of everyone."

"But…what would I have to do?" she asked.

"I can explain all of that to you, if you so desire to become my assistant."

Crystal thought about this for a moment and then nodded her head.

"Okay then. Now tell me what I need to know."

A few weeks later and Crystal had settled down well. She was quite calm and subtle all the time, but the others thought of her as a little weird. Since she came from the past, she was quite curious about everything and when she saw something that she hadn't seen before she'd have a tendency to inspect it thoroughly, even sniffing it at times (like a regular cat). Her senses were the same as a cat and she could see and hear things from yards (maybe miles) away. Her speed was tremendously fast and Pickle, Kully and Majida always tried and failed to beat her in a race. The thing that made everyone laugh slightly was, although she was a brave and courageous girl, she was terrified of water. Crystal always cowered at the sight of a lake or a stream. The only way she could wash herself was if Majida or Kully could throw water all over her and then she'd quickly shake it all off (again, like a normal cat). She had also made good friends with everyone, but Treguard had realised that she had gotten on very well with Pickle. He'd usually find the two talking about general things, like past events or talking about what the next season would be like. Treguard tried to divert their thoughts to chores, but they always seemed to interested in talking to even care about working (which really annoyed Treguard).

The season had begun and it had gone adequately. It started off horrifyingly when Lord Fear extracted the soul of a dungeoneer, but they managed to save her. This had cleared Crystal's doubts, as she realised that Lord Fear was a dangerous person and not the caring person she had thought of him at first. She knew that it would be better to stay with the Powers that Be.

One day, Crystal came down the stairs and found Pickle and Kully already awake. They were passing something from one to each other.

"What are you two doing?" she asked curiously.

"Oh hi Crystal." said Pickle. "You see, we found this in the castle grounds yesterday." Pickle showed her a spyglass.

"In the castle grounds? You'd usually find these in the dungeons, wouldn't you?" asked Crystal.

"We thought that too," said Kully. "We think we should use it, but we're both too scared to that we can't decide who should look into it!"

"Give it here! I'll risk it." said Crystal.

She grabbed the spyglass off Kully and the three of them looked into it. Sure enough, Lord Fear appeared by his viewing pool.

"So you shall realise, Hands, that it's essential that she returns to the Opposition. Since Treguard is not willing to give her up, we'll have to take her back by brute force or some other means." Lord Fear seemed to be talking to Sylvester Hands. "Listen good. I want you to keep your shell phone handy at all times. Any opportunity to bring the girl back could pop up at any minute. Do you understand?"

"Of course I does, your Royal Flush," said Sylvester Hands. "I'll keep my shell at the ready."

"Good. Now clear off! I'll have to change the water now that you've been through it." Lord Fear waved his hand across the pool and Sylvester disappeared. Just then, Raptor and Lissard appeared in the room. Crystal's face filled with anger when she realised that Lissard was an Atlantian.

"Oh sire, do we really need that kitten woman on our side? Black cats give me the shivers!" said Raptor.

"It'ssss Cat Demon, not kitten woman!" Lissard shouted back. "And I agree Lordnessss, my ancestors have been at war with her clans for centuriesssss."

"Well that's your own problem you two!" said Lord Fear. "Besides, she's essential to a plan of mine. I saved her so I deserve to get help back."

"Oh yeah, yer great plan, I remember." said Raptor. "But can we get rid of her when it's finished?"

"I'll think about it, Raptor." Fear muttered back.

"Great plan? What great plan Lordnessss?" asked Lissard.

"Oh yes, I haven't told you yet, have I?" said Fear. "Well it's… wait a minute!"

Lord Fear looked up, directly at the three spying on him.

"The very cheek of it! She's been listening to us all this time!"

"Crystal, drop the spyglass!" Pickle whispered sharply.

"No, not yet." Crystal whispered back.

"Well then, Crystal," said Fear in his usual mocking voice. "It's time you'd see which side you should truly take."

Lord Fear raised his arm slowly. Instead of just dropping the spyglass, Crystal loosened her grip and just let it fall to the floor. As soon as it settled on the floor, a bolt of magic came out of it. It bounced of the ceiling and hit Crystal, who let out a loud but short yelp. Pickle grabbed the spyglass and shouted into it.

"Lord Fear! What did you do to her?" he shouted.

"It will become evident soon, elf. Ciao!" Lord Fear disappeared from the spyglass.

"Are you okay Crystal?" Kully asked.

"I…I'm fine." she replied.

"Are you sure?" asked Kully. "You've just been hit by magic."

"I SAID I'M FINE!" she shouted back, which startled the elfin. She'd never seen Crystal angry before.

"What's going on down here?" they heard Treguard bellow.

As soon as she heard him, Crystal grabbed the spyglass off Pickle, ran to a nearby window and threw it as far as the eye could see.

"What was that for?" asked Pickle.

Before Crystal could answer, Treguard and Majida had come into the antechamber.

"What are you all doing? We heard someone yell." said Treguard.

Kully was about to explain what had happened, but Crystal quickly spoke up.

"Nothing. We weren't doing anything. I just tripped, that's all."

The elves looked at her in confusion but Treguard didn't seem to notice.

"Hmm…well it looks like time-out is gone. We must get a quest moving. So… ENTER STRANGER!" Treguard bellowed.

A young boy appeared in the antechamber. He introduced himself as Shaun. He then summoned his three advisors.

"Alright then," said Treguard. "Crystal, if you would be so kind as to fetch the equipment then we can get this quest started.

"Why should I?" Crystal replied sternly. "He'll probably lose anyway so there's no point."

This surprised Treguard slightly. Crystal always liked to get quests sorted. Why was she acting like this all of a sudden.

"What did you say? How dare you speek to Treguard like dat!" Majida shouted at her.

"Calm down Majida." said Treguard. "Kully, fetch the equipment please."

Kully did so, but she looked at Crystal as she did so. She gave her an intimidating look back, which made her feel uneasy. None-the-less, they got the quest started.

When time-out came, Treguard automatically turned to Crystal, who was sitting in a corner minding her own business.

"Is something wrong Crystal?" he asked. "You've been sat there ever since the quest started. What's the matter?"

"Nothing." was all that she said back, barely giving him a second glance.

"If you say so," said Treguard. "But I'm not happy with how you acted before."

"I'm sorry," she said now looking up at him. "I guess it's just one of those days."

Pickle and Kully realised that she seemed to be back to her old self. They thought that the spell Lord Fear had put on her was only temporary and just put her in a bad mood for a bit. But being elves, they always jumped to the first conclusion. They didn't realise that this was something worse…

A week later and Crystal seemed almost normal now. But when time-out was over, she slinked back to the corner she was in before.

The team had just finished spying on Lord Fear. They had heard that Lord Fear was planning something major, but he sensed that Shaun was spying on him before he could reveal what it is.

"A major plan, eh? What do you theenk eet is, Treguard?" asked Majida.

"I'm not sure," replied Treguard. "But if it's something major, then it can't be good. Shaun, I think you have to find out what this plan is and put a stop to it!"

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" Crystal suddenly shouted, which made everyone jump out of their skins. "Your wasting your own breath and time trying to stop him. Just leave him alone for once!"

She bolted it up the stairs after saying this. Kully tried to run after her, but Pickle grabbed her arm and stopped her.

"Leave her!" he whispered. "I'll check on her later."

Crystal was at the top of the castle. She was dangling her legs over the edge of it. Her thoughts were completely mixed and confused. Why had she shouted like that earlier? She knew it was because Treguard wanted to stop Lord Fear's plan. But what was his plan? Twice they were close to finding out and twice they had failed. Crystal was completely bewildered.

"Mother…" she whispered to her crystal. "What do I do?"

Suddenly, she heard something behind her. She turned to look and saw Pickle behind her.

"…hi…" was all she said before turning back to the view of Dunshelm. Pickle came and sat by her. A very long silence went by which made both of them slightly uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry." Crystal finally muttered. "What happened to the team?"

"They've gone," said Pickle. "The Corridor of Blades killed them off."

"It's my fault," she said. "I put them off by shouting like that."

"No you didn't," said Pickle. "If you were paying attention you would have known that the advisors were bad at directing anyways."

This made Crystal smile a bit.

"Nothing's been the same since you were hit with that magic," said Pickle. "You keep switching from being with us to being with Lord Fear."

"I know," said Crystal. "These emotions… they just keep coming suddenly and I can't stop myself from saying them. It making me worry."

Pickle suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him.

"That's not the Crystal I know." he said sternly. "You never worry about anything. I promise I'll help you through this as long as you don't worry about it."

Crystal couldn't even reply to that. Looking at Pickle like this, the peach parts on her face turned red and her heart started beating faster. Pickle himself suddenly started feeling this too.

"Err… what's happening?" Pickle suddenly blurted out without thinking.

"Is this… love?" said Crystal. "I've been taught the symptoms of love, but I've never felt them before."

"Are you sure it's love? We've only known each other for about a month." said Pickle.

"No, this is love." Crystal insisted. "My mother told me that if you suddenly develop these symptoms then you have found your soul mate."

"W-well if that's the case," said Pickle. "Then what do we do now? Kiss or something?"

"No!" Crystal shouted suddenly. "You can't kiss me!"

"Why not?" asked Pickle.

"Because I'll become pregnant right here, right now. And I'll have to deliver the baby right here, right now."

"What? You've got to be kidding me!" said Pickle.

"And besides, even if we do it, heavens knows what it will look like. An elf kissing a Cat Demon square on the lips will surely create some cross-bred creature."

"Wait… will you only get pregnant by being kissed on the lips?" asked Pickle.

"Yes. Why?"

"Would a kiss on the cheek hurt?"

"On the cheek?" said Crystal in surprise. "Well, I've never heard of that 'tradition' before, but I guess it'll be alright."

So Pickle gave her a kiss on the cheek. She blushed even more when he did this and she felt so happy all over.

"Come on. Lets go… darling." Pickle dared to say. The two were as red as roses now.

A few weeks later, Crystal had another overcome of anger to the Powers that Be. As usual, she couldn't prevent the anger coming out of her. She ran to a nearby window.

"Where are you going?" asked Kully.

"Out!" said Crystal. "Don't even bother trying to find me. I'll be back."

She jumped out of the window and plummeted to the earth. Kully looked as if she was about to panic, but Pickle reassured her.

"Don't worry," he said. "Cats always land on their feet."

Crystal ran rapidly away from Knighmare Castle. She didn't care where she was going. She just needed a quiet place to think. The confused feelings came back to her again and, no-matter how hard she tried, she couldn't push the feeling away.

It was getting very dark now, but she had the sight of any normal cat so she could see clearly. Suddenly, she spotted an empty clearing. She skidded and turned around to the clearing. When she reached it, she was amazed. There was a beautiful spring in front of her that reflected a big moonbeam. She instantly forgot about what had happened before and began to admire the beautiful sight before her. But she was soon interrupted.

"I know you're there, Lord Fear. There's no point in trying to creep up on me." she suddenly said.

"Hmph. Your senses still amaze me now, Crystal." replied the menacing voice of the Opposition.

Crystal knew perfectly well it was Lord Fear without looking back at him. She could hear him approaching and she recognised his breathing from the first time they had met.

"Tell me, Fear," said Crystal sternly, turning to Lord Fear. "What has this spell done to me?"

"I guess you deserve to know," he replied. "This spell was supposed to slowly make you realise that the Opposition is the better side for you. But observing you now, it seems this spell is wearing off. Do you know why?"

"Simple," said Crystal. "That spell you hit me with was not dark magic, so I was affected by it. But the Crystal Maidens have the power to slowly reverse the effects of dangerous long-lasting spells."

Lord Fear seemed interested in this. He hadn't realised that Crystal was capable of doing that. It looked like he had to rethink his plot.

"I know you don't lie when you say that you don't want me as one of your subordinates," Crystal continued. "But what is this 'major plan' you speak of?"

"That secret stays with me," said Lord Fear. "Unless you agree to help me with it."

"Why?" Crystal's voice had turned to that of a demanding one. "Why am I so important to this plan?"

Lord Fear gave a small chuckle and walked towards her.

"I told you," he said. "I'll tell you if you help me, kitten whiskers. So are you going to or not."

"Don't take me for a fool, Fear!" Crystal shouted sharply. She tried to scratch his arm, but he quickly avoided her. Crystal saw her chance and ran off quickly.

Lord Fear watched her run off. He wasn't happy at all.

"Lordnessss?" Lissard came out of his hiding place and slithered to Lord Fear's side.

"Get her!" was all he said back.

Crystal wouldn't stop running. She knew she had to get back to Knightmare Castle and tell Treguard of what she heard in the spyglass those many weeks ago. They needed to find out what this plan of Lord Fear's was.

Suddenly, Crystal felt something sting her neck. She stopped and reached for it. She pulled it out and realised that it was a miniscule green needle.

'An Atlantian's dart!' she thought with horror.

She turned around and realised that Lissard was standing a few yards away from her, grinning slyly.

"You… cursed Atlantian!" was all she could say before she blacked out.

"Calm down, Pickle!" said Majida. "You'll make yourself sick worrying like dees."

"How can I not worry, Majida?" Pickle snapped back. "If Crystal was going to come back then she should have done by now."

"The sprite is right, Majida." said Treguard. "Something has happened to Crystal which has made her behave oddly to us and none of us know what's happening."

Kully looked uncomfortable on hearing this. She knew perfectly well why Crystal was acting like this, but she had agreed with Pickle that they wouldn't tell Treguard about it.

"Kully? What's wrong?" asked Treguard. "You look a little uncomfortable. Do you know something?"

"Um… w-well…" Kully struggled to find an answer. She noticed Pickle was giving her a warning look. But she couldn't hide the truth anymore.

"That's right! I know what happened!" she blurted out without thinking. She quickly covered her mouth when she realised what she had done.

"You what?" bellowed Treguard. "If you knew something then why didn't you tell us sooner, elf?"

"It was my fault." Pickle spoke up. "I told her not to tell."

"You knew too?" said Majida. "You eediot elves! What happened?"

"We found a spyglass a number of weeks ago," said Pickle, calmly but nervously. "Me, Kully and Crystal looked though it and we heard that Crystal had something to do with Lord Fear's 'major plan'. But before we heard what it was, Lord Fear sensed us and hit Crystal with magic."

"You should have told us about this sooner, you idiot elf!" shouted Treguard.

"We tried to," said Kully, coming to Pickle's defence. "But Crystal wouldn't let us. We thought it'd be best if we didn't say anything."

"We could have sorted dees out if you'd have told us," snapped Majida. "And now Crystal hasn't come back because of you!"

"Calm down, Majida." said Treguard. "At least we know now that Lord Fear seems to have a need for Crystal. If she hasn't come back yet, then we can assume that Lord Fear has got ahold of her."

"So what do we do now, Master?" asked Pickle.

"We bring her back, that's what!" exclaimed Treguard.

Crystal heard some voices. She tried to open her eyes.

"What do we do with her then?"

"Lets cut her tail off!"

"Nah! Lets pull her teeth out!"

Her eyes focused and she recognised Lord Fear's minions: Lissard, Skarkill, Sylvester Hands and Raptor.

"No," said Skarkill. "Something quick and simple. Do you hear that Cat Demon? You'll regret trying to attack his Lordship. Raptor, lend me your dagger!"

Crystal tried to get up, but the other two turned out quicker than her. She suddenly felt a horrible sharp pain in her guts. It made her collapse back on the floor in agony.

She had just been stabbed in the stomach!

The pain was horrendous. It hurt even more when Skarkill digged the dagger deeper into her stomach and then pulled it out slowly.

"You see?" he said to his friends. "Even the most simplest things can be the most gory."

The other three laughed at this remark. Crystal was miles away from the feeling of happiness. She felt her blood spread across her clothes. She closed her eyes again. She just wanted this pain to stop. She wanted her agony to end…

"What's going on here? What are you four doing?"

It was Lord Fear. Crystal recognized the voice immediately and opened her eyes again.

"Your Lordnessss!" said Lissard in surprise. "We were just…um…"

"What the?" Lord Fear noticed Crystal and quickly ran to her. He bent down by her side and noticed the stab wound.

"YOU IMBECILES!" he bellowed, which made all the assistants cower. "WHO DID THIS?"

"Err… I did's, yer Fearship, eh, Lordship." Skarkill muttered quietly.

Lord Fear's face filled with horror and rage. He got up and grabbed Skarkill's neck, clinging it hard.

"I said nothing, NOTHING, about killing her!" he bellowed into his face. "You'd better explain yourself IMMEDIATELY!"

"Y-yer Lordship," Skarkill struggled to speak. "It was your seneschal! He told me that we had to kill her."

Lord Fear let go of him and he fell to the floor. He automatically turned to Lissard, who knelt on the floor and spoke quickly.

"Your Lordnessss! I apologize! I just can't stand the creatures! We were always taught that we were enemies of them."

"That doesn't change the fact that I asked you to get her, not kill her!" he shouted back, but he sounded calmer now.

"Your Lordships!" said Sylvester Hands. "She's not dead yet! Carry on taking like this and she'll die soon."

"Nnngh, you're right." said Fear. "I'll deal with you lot later. You are dismissed for now."

Lord Fear picked Crystal up into his arms. Crystal felt his cold armour press on her, but she felt some warmth in his arms. Lord Fear teleported away.

The two appeared in Mount Fear. There was a stone block in the corner of the room, which Lord Fear placed Crystal upon.

"I'm sorry about my stupid assistants," said Lord Fear. "I'll heal you if you agree to help me. Understood?"

Crystal nodded without a moment's thought. She wanted the pain to go away, but she didn't want to die.

"Very well. Just relax, Crystal."

Lord Fear closed his eyes and began what sounded like an incantation. Crystal felt her blood seep back into her wound, which soon followed by the wound closing back up again. She was so glad that the pain was gone now.

"Rest now," said Fear. "I'll come back for you later."

Lord Fear walked out of the room. Crystal didn't see why she needed to rest. This incantation had fully healed her and she was full of energy. She sat up and found where the dagger had teared through her clothes. She ran her nail across it and the tear disappeared (the fabric of her clothes was special so Cat demons could easily repair them like this). She then got off the block and started to walk around the room. There wasn't anything in the room, not even a window. The only exit was the door, but Crystal knew that it would be too risky to try escaping. Who knows what was in these corridors? It could have been Frightknight for all she knew.

Suddenly, she heard a noise behind her. She turned to see who it was and got startled out of her wits. It was the Brollachon.

"I hunger… now you will feed me with knowledge…" it moaned.

'A Brollachon?' Crystal thought. 'So he really did have one.'

"Why do you seek knowledge?" she asked him. "I thought Brollachons were just as intelligent as us Cat Demons."

"My knowledge has been stolen from me… but looking at you, you seem very familiar…"

"I should be," said Crystal. "We both lived in the same era."

"If that's the case…" said the Brollachon, which seemed to be slightly happy. "Then can you return some of my knowledge?"

Before Crystal could answer, Lord Fear came back into the room, but stopped when he noticed the Brollachon.

"What's super-sulk doing here?" he said puzzled. "I thought I told you to search for Smirkenorff. Why are you lazing around here?"

"This girl comes from my era…" it replied. "I thought she could return my knowledge…"

"Ugh! I've told you countless times! You have only one purpose in life! What is it?"

"To kill the dragon… Smirkenorff…" it moaned, seeming a little disappointed now.

"Good. Now vamoosh!" shouted Fear.

The Brollachon disappeared from the wall.

"Don't bother talking to the Brollachon," Fear said to Crystal. "He'll just ask you endless questions. Come now! Everything's ready."

Crystal followed Lord Fear out of the room. As she suspected, there was a Frightknight in the corridor, but it looked like Lord Fear had disabled its movement for the time being.

The two of them went down countless corridors, before they came to a door. Lord Fear opened it and his antechamber stood in front of them. He walked to his viewing pool and sat behind it. He beckoned Crystal over and she made her way towards the front of the viewing pool.

"Before we begin," said Lord Fear. "I'll black out all communications, just in case your stupid friends are spying on us."

He waved both his hands over the pool and the water in it turned dark.

"There. Now no-one can interrupt us." he said.

"You promised to tell me, now what is this plan?" asked Crystal.

"Do you know what powers the 'Pool of Veracity'?" he replied.

"No. I thought it was just some technosorcery," said Crystal.

"Yes, but all technosorcery has a power source," said Fear. "And this source is fuelled by a special type of dark magic, which could certainly be helpful to me. But no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get it for myself."

Upon hearing this, Crystal finally realised why Lord Fear needed her so much. She was immune to dark magic so she could easily grab it out of the pool.

"It looks like you've realised now what you have to do. Can you do it?" he asked.

Crystal looked into the pool. It was filled to the brim with water. She began to feel a little uncomfortable. She reached her left hand out and brought herself to touch the surface of the pool, but she quickly retracted when she felt the chill of the water.

"It's too much…" she whispered. "I can't…"

"I thought so," said Lord Fear. "Don't worry, I'll help you. Give me your hand."

Slightly confused, Crystal held out her left hand to him and he took it. Even though her hand was gloved, she could feel the warmth of Lord Fear's hand (which slightly surprised her, as she always thought he was such a cold person). He slowly pulled her hand forward until both of their hands had slightly dipped into the water of the pool. Crystal could still feel the coldness of it, but Lord Fear's hand still remained warm.

Suddenly, her fear subsided. She grinned at the Opposition and nodded at him. Fear understood and let go of her hand. She dived the whole of her arm into the water, despite its temperature. She rummaged around for a bit and then found what she wanted and quickly pulled it out. The two of them both looked at it in amazement. It was a small dark orb of energy, which occasionally crackled with what looked like electricity.

"Yes… this is most satisfactory," said Lord Fear. "I must thank you, Crystal. You have been very helpful to me."

"Is there a good reason why Lord Fear asked us to meet us here?" asked Sidriss.

"I don't know, Sidriss," replied Treguard. "But he threatened to attack Knightmare Castle directly if we didn't meet with him."

Treguard, Hordriss, Sidriss, Pickle, Kully and Majida had been blackmailed by Lord Fear to meet with him at the Rift of Angar. They had no idea why, but they suspected it might have something to do with Crystal. She had been missing for three days and they couldn't find her.

Finally, they reached the Rift of Angar.

"Lord Fear!" bellowed Treguard. "Show yourself and tell us what you want!"

"Hmm… you took your time," they heard Lord Fear say. He came out from a rock he was hiding behind. "I called you here to challenge you, Treguard. I've been itching to have a battle with you for a while."

"What?" said Kully. "You blackmailed us just because you wanted a little battle?"

"You have wasted our time, Fear!" said Hordriss.

"No I haven't!" said Fear. "I want to challenge Treguard. Do you accept it, old thing?"

"Of course I don't," said Treguard. "Hordriss is right, you have wasted our time. We'll be off now."

But as he turned away…

"Aah! Treguard, help!" he heard Majida shout.

Everyone (except Fear) quickly turned to see what was happening and they all turned as a white as sheets. Majida was kneeling on the floor, struggling against someone who had their arm around her neck, keeping her hostage.

It was Crystal!

"Let's not be so hasty, Treguard." she said. "You wouldn't want to see Majida covered in scratch marks, would you?"

"Crystal? You're siding with Lord Fear?" Pickle asked in shock and horror.

"Why not?" said Crystal. "He's helped me twice, so I owe him a debt."

"Crystal's right, Treguard," said Fear. "Unless you want Majida covered with scars for the rest of her life, then you have no choice but to challenge me and if you win then she goes free. Also none of your friends can interfere. Understood?"

"Grrr… alright, fine!" shouted Treguard, drawing out Wyrmslayer.

"Much obliged, Treguard." said Fear. He raised his arm above his head and a halberd soon materialized into his hand.

"What is that?" asked Pickle.

"It's a halberd, you idiot!" snapped Lord Fear. "I call it the Fear Striker. Did you really intend me to fight Treguard unarmed?"

'Kind of, yes." thought Pickle.

Treguard and Lord Fear gripped their weapons tightly and made for each other. They soon dove straight into battle. Hordriss, Sidriss, Pickle and Kully stayed back and watched whilst Crystal kept tight hold of Majida. The two weapons made loud clashing noises whenever they contacted each other that kept startling the two elves. At one point, Lord Fear caught Treguard off guard by throwing a fireball at him that narrowly missed him.

"What?" Fear said. "I never said anything about not using magic."

'Shoot!' thought Treguard. 'I don't have combat magic. He'll have the advantage now.'

None-the-less, the battle continued. Lord Fear rarely found an opportunity to attack Treguard with magic since they were both indulged in close combat, much to Treguard's relief. But finally, he saw his chance. The two had their weapons together and were both pushing on them hard.

"Give it up, Fear!" shouted Treguard. "This has gone on long enough!"

"Not yet, Treguard!" Fear shouted back. "This is just the beginning!"

He summoned up all his might and pushed on his weapon as hard as he could. Treguard fell to the floor.

"Now it's time… time to reveal my 'major plan'!" said Fear.

He raised his arm and a orb of energy appeared in his hand.

"By the gods! That's Dark Underworld magic! How did you get your hands on that?" asked Treguard.

"This was the power source for my 'Pool of Veracity' and kitten whiskers over there helped me obtain that power."

Treguard turned to Crystal with anger in his face, but then realised that Crystal looked worried rather than proud. She was biting down hard on her lips.

"Anyways, you're about to taste what Dark Underworld magic feels like, Treguard. Open wide, grey beard!"

"STOP!" Crystal suddenly shouted. She threw Majida aside and ran to face Lord Fear. "You promised! You promised you wouldn't use this!"

"Crystal, I thought you'd already realise that I'm not the one to keep promises." said Fear. "Now stand aside! I'm about to turn Treguard into Dungeon Dust!"

"Liar!" Crystal retorted. "You kept your promise to me! You promised to save me."

This made Lord Fear bit his own lip slightly.

"Yes, but only if you'd help me and this isn't helping me! Unfortunately for you, this magic will affect you. I might as well kill you as well."

"You'll do no such think!" Pickle suddenly shouted running to Crystal without a second thought. "Crystal may have betrayed us, but I'll never let you harm her!" he shouted.

This shocked Treguard. He had never heard Pickle speak like this.

"Oh, so you dare to stand up me too, elf?" said Fear. "Fine. I'll let you have the first taste of this magic. NOW TAKE THIS!"

He flung his arm forward and the magic raced towards Pickle. In panic, he raised his arms across his face. It was the only thing he could think of to defend himself, but he knew it would be futile.

But suddenly, he felt something grab on to him and then was knocked back a few inches. But he found himself unharmed. He looked down and his face turned to that of horror.

Crystal was grabbing on to him. She had taken the hit!

Her grip loosened and she fell to the floor, unconscious. Everyone stared in shock (even Fear).

"Karas karom!" shouted Hordriss as he, Sidriss, Kully and Majida rushed to the others. "Lord Fear! What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Err… I-I didn't know that was going to happen," was all that he said.

"Well you used that magic!" screamed Sidriss. "You should know how to help her!"

"Ugh… this goes against my principles, but since you'll probably never forgive me if I don't, I'll help her." he said grimly.

He bent down by Crystal and told everyone to stand back. When they did so, he closed his eyes and began an incantation. The others didn't know how this was helping because Crystal didn't look any different at all. In fact, they would have probably thought she was dead id they didn't see her breathing. After about five minutes, Lord Fear stopped.

"That's all I can do," he said. "We just need to bring her around now."

"How?" asked Majida.

"All we need to do is cause her a little bit of pain and she'll come to. But there's just one problem."

"What's that?" asked Treguard.

"Crystal is still weak. We can't risk using any magic on her because she'll likely die from it. And using our weapons on her won't do her any good either."

"Would an awakening spell do?" asked Hordriss.

"No good." said Fear.

Everyone started to lose hope, but then Pickle remembered something.

"I think I know how to help her!" he said.

"You do?" said Lord Fear in surprise. "How?"

"Trust me." said Pickle.

He walked over to Crystal and turned her face up. He then leaned over her and whispered into her ear:

"Crystal… I'll always keep you safe. This is from me… to you."

After saying this, Pickle gently kissed Crystal on her lips.

"Of course…" Lord Fear breathed.

A few seconds later, Crystal began to stir and slowly opened her eyes.

"Pickle?" she said weakly. "Did you just…?"

"I did," he replied. "It was the only way to save you."

"Ugh…" Crystal sat up and began to feel pain. "You have to act fast now. I might die if you're too slow."

"Pickle, explain!" demanded Treguard. "What's going on?"

"She's going into labour," said Pickle. "If a Cat Demon is kissed on the lips, then she'll instantly go into child labour. We're going to have to deliver this baby quickly."

"She's haveeng a baby?" said Majida. "Does anyone here know about child birth?"

"Well," Hordriss spoke up. "I assisted in Sidriss' birth, so I'll do what I can."

"And I've read about this," said Fear. "I'll help too."

"Nngh, okay," said Crystal, who's pain had intensified and she was struggling to speak. "But please… let Pickle do it. It's tradition… for the father… to deliver the baby."

"What? You want me to deliver the baby?" shouted Pickle.

"She's right, it is tradition," said Fear. "But we'll assist you with you with it."

I think you know what happens in this next bit.

After a few gory and agonising minutes of cutting and stitching, they were finished. A newborn baby's cried filled the area. Kully, Majida and Sidriss began to cry with joy and Treguard and Hordriss smiled with delight. Lord Fear left, not wanting to be a part of this celebration.

Pickle held his child in his arms. It was a charming little boy. Crystal was right in saying it was a cross-bread, but that made little difference. This baby had the appearance of an elf, but his ears were pointed outwards (like Crystal's) and were on the side of his head (like Pickle's). He had little tufts of black hair and his small little fingernails were as sharp as Crystal's.

"Our child…" said Crystal, whose eyes were filled with tears of joy. "What should we call him? I want it to be an elf name, Pickle."

"Then how about Reconboo? I always told myself if I ever had a boy as a child, then I'd call him Reconboo."

"Okay then," she said. "Welcome to the world, Reconboo."

Four years had now passed. Crystal was now nineteen years old and Reconboo was a healthy four year old. He dressed and acted like a normal elf, but had the talents of his mother. The Powers that Be still continued to battle with Lord Fear, but they never gave up. They continued with the seasons and everything went as normal.

But one day, Crystal had a dream.

She opened her eyes to find herself in a white surrounding. She had no idea where it was. She called out, but the only answer that came back was a mere echo of her voice.

"Crystal." someone said.

Crystal spun round on her heels to see who it was.

"Mother?" she said in shock.

She was right; it was her mother.

"Yes," she replied. "I have come to inform you about the grave importance we have waited so long for."

"The grave importance?" she asked. "Do you know what it is?"

"I have been sworn to secrecy," she said. "But I will tell you what you have to do. Tomorrow, you must make your way to Marblehead and find a sealed chamber near the abandoned towers. The 'Crystal of Power' shall lead you to it. When you discover it, all will become clear.

"My precious daughter, please triumph in memory of our clan."

Crystal's mother began to fade away.

"No! Mother! Wait!" Crystal shouted. But as soon as her mother completely faded, everything went dark before her eyes.

Crystal told everyone about the dream the next morning.

"Oh yeah! I forgot about that!" said Kully.

"You guys must be aware though that I have no idea what will happen today," said Crystal. "I might even end up sacrificing myself because of this."

"Mama, I don't want you to go," cried Reconboo.

"Don't cry darling," said Crystal, pulling Reconboo onto her lap. "But if anything does happen to me, promise you'll be a brave boy for me?"

"I promise!" he replied.

"I leave him to you if anything happens, Pickle. Is that okay?" asked Crystal.

"Of course it is," said Pickle. "He's our son after all."

"We should make our way to Marblehead then," said Treguard. "I'll call Hordriss and Sidriss."

And so, the eight of them made their way to Marblehead.

"So where ees thees sealed chamber den?" asked Majida.

Just as she said this, the 'Crystal of Power' began to glow.

"What's happening to your crystal, Crystal?" asked Sidriss.

"It's telling me where to go," said Crystal. "Follow me everyone."

They followed Crystal for about five minutes, until they came to a wall made of marble (obviously).

"Here!" said Crystal.

She rested her palm on the wall and it suddenly dematerialized in front of their eyes. It revealed a beautiful meadow with a stone table in the middle of it.

"What is this place?" asked Reconboo.

"It's my home," said Crystal, smiling. "None of you can interfere now. This is my job to finish."

Crystal ran to the stone table and jumped on it. The other followed but kept a few metres back just in case. Suddenly, the sky began to turn a thick purple colour and a portal emerged into the sky. Someone came out of the portal. It was a man, dressed in dark green silk.

"No!" he bellowed at Crystal. "I thought I had rid of you! How did you summon me here?"

"You should know why!" she shouted back.

Everyone else watched in confusion. They had no idea who this man was and what he had to do with Crystal, but they knew it couldn't have been good. Crystal reached for the 'Crystal of Power' and tore it off her chest. Then, with all her might, she threw it down onto the stone table. The crystal shattered into six pieces. Each piece began to glow and rose into the air. The others realised the pieces were changing shape and when the glow subsided, they were amazed at what they saw.

There were six more Cat Demons floating in the air.

Crystal turned to see them all. They all looked almost exactly like her, but they were clearly older than her and their eyes were different colours. She spotted her mother out of the six of them.

"We'll all finish this now!" shouted Crystal.

She turned back to the man and pushed her palms out. A mysterious ball of energy emerged in her hands. In fact, all the Cat Demons were summoning energy. The man looked scared and defenceless; he had no idea what to do. At last, all the Cat Demons shot their energy forward and it engulfed the man. He screamed in agony and pain for a good number of minutes, before he finally began to fade from existence. As soon as he was gone, Crystal collapsed onto the stone table and the other Cat Demons morphed back into the crystal fragments, which fell on the table just by Crystal.

"Is she…?" Kully began to cry.

"It looks that way." said Hordriss.

The tears came then (for the girls and Reconboo at least). Kully and Reconboo flew into Pickle's arm and wouldn't stop crying. Majida flew into Treguard's arm (unexpectantly for him) and Sidriss and Hordriss hugged each other as well. Everyone was upset.

The End…

What? You really thought it just ended like that? Of course it didn't. Let's see what happened next.

"She's not gone!"

This voice startled everybody. They turned to the stone table to see the ghostly silhouette of Crystal's mother.

"You mean… she's not dead?" said Pickle, who couldn't believe his pointed ears.

"No," she replied. "Crystal will continue to live. And my ancestors and me will continue to live inside her. None of us will ever be apart."

"But who was that man you just destroyed?" asked Treguard.

"He was the cause of the death of our clan. The evil wizard who remained hidden for so long, and threatened to destroy other races, has now been destroyed for good and we have avenged the Cat Demons.

"Now please," she continued. "Take care of my daughter. I'll continue to live inside of her and guide her to a promising life. Than you so much for all you have gifted her."

And with that, the Cat Demon vanished. The fragments of crystals began to join back together, until it was once again a whole crystal. It then returned to where Crystal has torn it off earlier. She then began to regain consciousness. Pickle ran to her side to help her.

"Pickle?" she asked. "Am I… alive?"

"Of course you are," he said. "Um… can I… offer you something?"

"What is it?" she asked.

Pickle reached into his pocket and pulled out a small ring. It had the appearance of two silver snakes wrapped around each other.

"I would have given you this earlier," said Pickle. "But I wanted to wait until after this 'grave importance' was over."

He then took a deep breath and said the words that could never be forgotten:

"Crystal… will you marry me?"

Crystal stared at him in disbelief. But she soon snapped out of it and managed to say, "…yes, of course."

Pickle slipped the ring onto the second finger of her right hand, and there it shall stay.

For all eternity…

The End…