After they had spent precious time with their families, Matticus and Revis got back to work. They went over everything they had learned about what had happened while they were gone. Then, they went over it again. What they had learned was not much.
Jaded, and her sorcerer, had led an army of sparkly vampires to the castle. Without the leadership of the First Knight, the rest of the Kingdom’s warriors weren’t prepared to deal with the invaders. They put up a valiant defense, but were overmatched in the end. The Queen and Prince were flown out by Rara right before the castle fell.
Since then, the sparkly vampires had been slowly building up their numbers. Publically, the vampires had only replaced the army, and local law enforcement, with their own. Behind the scenes, however, they were moving their army around. When Grayson showed Revis a map showing where the vampires were repositioning their troops, he could only scratch his head. The movements made no sense at all.
“This is ridiculous,” Revis spat. “There is no reason at all to move soldiers to these locations.”
“What do we do,” Matticus asked.
Revis thought about it for a minute before answering. “The smart thing to do would be to figure out what she’s doing before we make any moves,” Revis began. “But, since this has taken way longer than it should, I say we just go confront Jaded and get this over with.”
“Direct assault? Small chance of success? Almost certain to mean our death? What are we waiting for?” Matticus sarcastically rolled his eyes.
“That sounds familiar, did you steal that from a movie?”
“What’s a “movie?”
“Never mind, it doesn’t matter,” Revis sighed, exasperated, “Do you have any better ideas your Jesterness?”
Matticus slid his gaze over the map, studying the troop placements again, racking his brain to find some connection, some small clue, that made it all fit together into something that made sense. But, in the end, he shook his head in defeat. Either the vampires had no idea how to stratigcally place troops to run a kingdom or they were smarter than he cared to admit.
“Nope, you are right. It’s time we finish this madness. Let’s track down Jaded again, get her to divulge the whereabouts of the sorcerer and the details of their plan. And then…”
Revis raised an eyebrow.
“Oh, sorry,” Matticus continued, “I should have finished that with a question mark. And then…? What are we going to do once we have all the information? Neither of us can fight a sorcerer on our own. We are going to need some help, right?”
“We already have your two friends and two dragons. How much more help do you think we’re going to need?”
“Nonsense, Jester. We’ve got this covered.”
Matticus wanted to protest further, but Revis began going over the details of his plan. The more he listened to his Knight, the less he worried. Although, he still thought that they needed more people than they had. An army to help them defeat the vampires wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere, however.
Once he was finished going over his plan, Revis looked at each person, in turn, to make sure they understood their part in the upcoming attack. Deb, Dani, Grayson, and Rara all nodded their heads when it got to be their turn. Finally, it got to Matticus. He still wasn’t completely convinced that this was going to work, but they really didn’t have much of a choice at this point. His head nodded, as well.
With a nod of his own, Revis produced the ink bottle that made portals. He used the brush to cover the entire wall in front of them. Matticus was going to ask why he used so much of the ink, but then he realized that the dragons wouldn’t fit through the portal if Revis made the portal smaller. As soon as his Knight was finished, Matticus jumped through the portal, if only so Revis wouldn’t push him through again.
The laughter at his own cleverness died on his lips, though, as the Jester felt himself come through the other side but was immediately blinded by the thickest darkness he had ever encountered. He waved his hand in front of his face, but couldn’t see it. He rubbed his eyes and blinked to see if there was something covering his face, but there wasn’t. He knew he should move to keep from getting knocked over by the rest of the group when they came through, but without knowing what was in front of him, he wasn’t sure if he should risk it.
The thought of having traveled so far just to be trampled by either Rara or Grayson got his feet moving and he shuffled forward until his right boot caught on something and he fell forward with a grunt and a groan. On his hands and knees, with what felt and tasted like dust swirling around his head, he yelled a warning over his shoulder, “Careful, something isn’t right here!”
A moment later he heard one of his companions come through the portal behind him and also call out in surprise and alarm. Matticus shuffled forward in the dirt to make as much room as he could.
Revis was the last one through. He knew that the ink worked by transporting whoever walked through the portal to wherever they wanted to go. That meant that the dragons were going to be coming out somewhere else. The warning that Matticus had called out had come through the portal all garbled, so Revis didn’t know what he had said. It wasn’t until he felt the cold steel of a blade against his throat that he knew something besides the darkness was out of place.
“And who might you be,” the Knight asked his unseen assailant.
A voice from the darkness answered, “I am your worst nightmare.”
“No. Waking up without my penis is my worst nightmare.”
“OK, fine. Maybe I’m not your worst nightmare, but I am quite up there.”
While the assailant was talking, Revis was trying to think of a way out of his predicament. If there was light, he’d just turn himself invisible and use the confusion that created to get out. In the dark, however, that advantage was negated. The Knight realized his best hope was to keep his would-be captor talking to give Matticus an opportunity to come to his rescue, so he quickly replied, “You aren’t my second worst nightmare either, that would be to lose my family. And I’ve been living my third worst nightmare, spending weeks on end on the road with only the Jester for company. So, really, where does that leave you?”
“Quit your yammering, Revis, or I’ll…”
Despite feeling the blade press more tightly against his throat, Revis cut off his attacker’s response, “Nowhere, if you think about it. I mean, I’m already experienced my third worst nightmare, and you aren’t anywhere near that, so why don’t you ease up out of my face before something bad happens to you.”
“How dare you… How can you possibly threaten me when I could kill you with a flick of my wrist?”
Despite the darkness, Revis shrugged, “If you were going to kill me, you would have already done it.”
The assailant began laughing, “Oh, no, poor misguided Knight, so confident in your abilities and your worth, all of this was just a distraction. We are the bait to draw Matticus out, and once he is captured, I will kill you.”