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Kimberly Cordell Kimberly Cordell
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Princes & Frogs: Chapter 3

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She had a friend.

Chapter 3
In The Darkest of Dungeons

       When she awoke, Arianna felt no better than when she had fainted.  A sickening feeling resided in the pit of her stomach and her head felt as if a horse had kicked it.  After a few moments she was able to recount the events of the day, though she was not sure of where she was other than being in some kind of dungeon.  A morbid odor hung in the air.  The prison was very dark, though a few dim torches hung on the walls across from her dank cell.  She stood warily, still aware of the poison that lingered in her body.  Looking out of the prison bars, she could barely see anything, though she heard a hideous moan coming from another cell.  She sat back in utter despair.  

       The moaning continued for what seemed like hours.  Eventually, it changed into a shrill scream.  The shrieking did not seem to be coming from a human.  Arianna stopped her ears to retain her sanity.  The horrible screaming finally stopped after a few minutes.  She heaved a sigh of relief.  When she got up again to explore her tiny cell, she noticed a familiar weight at her side.  She put her hand down to find her sword still intact and hanging from her belt.  Why would they not take my sword?  she wondered.  A brilliant white light leaped into her cell.  She jumped back in fear and trembled in the corner.  The light hurt her eyes.

"Arianna" a familiar voice whispered.

"Shylah!"  exclaimed Arianna in disbelief.

"You are in the fortress of Lord Carden," said Shylah calmly.

"Lord Carden!"  exclaimed Arianna.

"Keep your voice down.  Now, listen carefully.  Two dragons fed you a poisoned apple, though I warned you expressly against trusting such foolish things," said Shylah.  

Arianna lowered her head in shame.  

"Evangeline, a witch that you once knew, had you captured and brought to the Black Citadel of Carden.  She wants to destroy you, but little does she know that you were to come here either way, for your battle is to be fought here.  Your battle is not with Evangeline, but with Carden's dragons; the Rindeth."  

Arianna gasped.  Lord Carden was not so very different from Shylah once.  Before becoming known as Carden, his name was Ronan.  He was once one of the Telaphir; a servant of the Most High King in Elestara.  He was created to be most beautiful of the Telaphir until he allowed pride into his heart.  The Most High cast him and several other Telaphir out of Elestara because of their ever increasing evil.  That part of the Telaphir became know as the Rindeth, the evil ones or the traitors.

       Carden was the very one that had deceived the first princess and prince into committing a great crime against the Most High King shortly after the King had finished shaping the land of Nalion and its inhabitants.  He was part of the reason for the frog-witch curse.  Ever since that time many years ago, he wreaked havoc among the peoples of Nalion and even went so far as to attempt to destroy the land itself.  His black fortress now stood in Beramord, a wasteland on the southern border of Nalion.

"Why have they left me with my sword?" asked Arianna.
"They left it alone because they would not dare to touch such a holy object.  It would burn through their claws," replied Shylah.

"How am I to fight when I am locked in this vile dungeon?" inquired Arianna.  

"Have you even tried the locks?  If so, then you have failed to notice that they are unlocked and that you are not bound with chains.  Once you become a princess, you cannot be bound with chains ever again," said Shylah kindly.  "Now go you must; you have a great battle to fight, and do not ask me any more questions.  You will know what to do and when to fight when the time comes.  Go, blessed child."  Saying this, Shylah yet again disappeared.  Arianna was not caught by surprise the second time.

Arianna wasted no time after Shylah disappeared.  She opened the unlocked prison door, stepped out of her cell, and reached for an oily torch hanging on the wall.  Before touching the greasy handle, she realized that she could see in the dark without it, for a faint, blue-tinted light radiated out of her.  She turned and hurried down the darkened corridor.

As she made her way through the labyrinth of cells and iron-barred doors, she heard the moaning increasing in volume.  Fear did not grip her as it had before Shylah's visit.  She now knew that the voice was in fact, human.  Instead of fleeing from the noise, she followed it to discover its source.

The source of the moaning came from another tiny cell.  Arianna saw a figure crouched in the corner of the chamber.  A tear-stained face looked up at the sound of Arianna's softly approaching footsteps.  Peering into the cell, Arianna found herself looking into the face of Sienna, the princess of the wind.  

"Sienna," called Arianna.

"Who…who are you?"  asked the weakened voice of Sienna.

"Do you not remember me?" asked Arianna.

"Arianna?"  came the timid reply.

"Come with me," said Arianna, "we have a battle to fight."

"What?  I am locked in this tiny cell, I am very weak, and I cannot see in the darkness.  How on earth can I fight?" asked confused Sienna.

Arianna opened the door which swung open on rusty hinges with a loud creak.  "Are you so blinded by your disbelief that you cannot see the light coming from yourself?  Have you forgotten that neither princesses nor princes can be bound by chains, nor can we be locked behind bars?  We are free!"

Sienna bowed her head in shame, her reddish-brown hair falling in her face.  

"I am such a fool," muttered Sienna.  She pushed herself onto her feet and walked through the opened door.  The moment she stood, her eyes were opened and she could see the light around her.  "I can see in the darkness!" she exclaimed joyfully.

Strength returned to her as she continued down the dark corridors beside her companion.

The princesses found their way out of the dungeon and into the castle's main halls.  Arianna opened one of the heavy doors.  A cool draft blew in their faces.  As they entered the room, the light emanating from their bodies revealed a room laden with treasure.  Sienna was awestruck by the sparkling gems.  Arianna disregarded the treasure and instead moved toward a pile of various styles, shapes, and sizes of armor.  The pile contained belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, and helmets.

They outfitted themselves with tunics, leggings, and armor.  Looking at each other, they could not help but to laugh when they saw the ridiculousness of the overly-large armor that they wore.  Arianna could find no sword that was light enough for Sienna to use.  Instead, she found a polished wooden bow and a matching quiver filled with arrows.  Sienna seized the bow and quiver that Arianna had offered to her.

As they turned to leave, Shylah appeared before them.  Sienna fell back in fear.  Arianna lifted her to her feet and made her face Shylah.  Shylah put each of her glowing white hands on their foreheads and closed her eyes.  The princesses closed their eyes as well.  A wind blew through their hair and the room filled with a brilliant light.

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Next: Princes & Frogs: Chapter 2