Chapter 4

A Guardian In Training

As the months turned into years Mukaun was busy building an army. He had declared himself Lord of the Shadow Forest. The feeling of power was overtaking Mukaun and he considered himself better than any cat. His army was slowly becoming skilled and ready to fight in battle. But it would be awhile before a war. "Patience is a virtue," Mukaun said often.

Meanwhile at the old barn King Arthur was busy watching his young kitten, Lancelot. Moran the wise old Persian was waiting outside to teach the young Lancelot how to be a guardian. It would be a big responsibility but Moran knew that Lancelot could do it. It was his destiny. "Father do I have to go and practice with Moran?" Lancelot whined. Arthur chuckled, "Yes my son you do. Now hurry along. You know how Moran gets when he is kept waiting." Lancelot sighed and ran out of the barn and to where Moran sat waiting.

Arthur watched his young son leave and a smile spread across his face. Sapphire would have been so proud of their son, if she were alive. Lancelot, with his soft black fur and kind attitude, would make any parent proud. "I only wish he could enjoy his young life more," Arthur said to himself sadly. Lancelot would probably never get to experience life as other cats did, for he was to be the guardian.

Outside the barn and in the great big grassy field, Lancelot sat in front of Moran. The wise Persian was telling Lancelot of the battle that had happened there not too many years ago. "It was a terrible battle, one which none of us knew would occur. Mukaun and his followers left the heat of the battle though and ran to the Shadow Forest," Moran said. "Is Mukaun still alive Moran?" Lancelot asked eagerly. "Yes, I'm afraid he is. He and his followers now reside in the Shadow Forest. It is their kingdom and soon they will attack us for Mukaun wishes to rule over all cats," Moran said sighing. "You once said that I must one day guide the Light clan. How can I do that? I'm so small," Lancelot said looking down at his black furry paws. "Ah my young friend in time you will grow into someone that the Light clan can be proud of. You will be our guardian in times of darkness. That is why I must teach you the guardian ways every day," Moran said smiling.

"Now come and let us begin your training," Moran said. The wise Persian taught Lancelot the ways of the guardian. He took it slow so as to not confuse Lancelot too much. The ways of the guardian could not be taught to anyone, only the chosen one could truly understand. Lancelot did just that, he understood even though he was just a young kitten. "That is a very good sign," Moran said to himself as he watched Lancelot practice his pouncing moves.

The kitten and Persian stayed out until nightfall. By the time they made their way back to the barn Lancelot was exhausted. "My young friend, tomorrow we will practice at night. You must learn how to move at night so as to not make a sound," Moran said. "Oh I'm so tired of practicing. All I do is practice pouncing, running, and leaping. If I am to be the guardian shouldn't I be doing other things?" Lancelot asked. "Wisdom and other things will come to you in time. You must be patient. Now go to bed and get some sleep," Moran said as he turned and climbed up into the loft.

Lancelot stayed down on the dusty barn floor and looked up at the starry night sky. "I wish I could understand what is going on? Why do I have to be the guardian of the clan? I'm just a kid," Lancelot said aloud to the stars. He sighed and hung his head. "In time you will understand your destiny," Moran's words echoed in Lancelot's ears. The old Persian's words comforted Lancelot a little but he was still confused.

Chapter 5

Lancelot's Bodyguard

The next night Lancelot met Moran outside the barn after all the rest of the cats had gone to sleep. Moran had thought it best they go alone and unseen. "Where are we going?" Lancelot asked as he followed Moran into the field. "I'm taking you into a dangerous place. We are going to the Shadow Forest. I want you to see what force you will be fighting against," Moran said. The two cats made their way through the tall grassy field. As they did Lancelot looked around him. He could hear other animals stirring in the tall grass, probably rabbits and birds. But surprisingly Lancelot wasn't the least bit scared.

"Yet another good sign," Moran said to himself. Bravery was one of the traits that a guardian must have. At the edge of the Shadow Forest Lancelot could sense some sort of evil lurking in the forest. "Stop here," Moran said as he held up his white paw. "Aren't we going in?" Lancelot asked. "No, but I will show you what goes on inside there," Moran said as he motioned Lancelot over to a pool of water. "This is not just any kind of water. It lets cats see what goes on in different places. It will let only some cats see. . .the future. But you must have the right password. Nimuach is the password and it means open," Moran said.

Just as Moran had said the word the water began to ripple and soon a moving picture appeared in the water. Lancelot was completely amazed as he looked down at the picture. He could see cats in the picture. Some were dressed in hideous armor but there was one cat that frightened Lancelot. He was a dark looking cat and his eyes seemed to be red. "Who is that?" Lancelot asked. "Ah that is Mukaun. He has grown more powerful and more evil over thee years. He is building an army of cats. Soon he will have a large army, much bigger than ours," Moran said sighing as he looked at the picture in the water.

"But isn't there anyway he can be stopped?" Lancelot asked now worried. "Yes my friend, and that force is you and our army. I know you may not think you can do great things but you will for you are the guardian. You have powers beyond any cats' imagination. Just use those powers wisely," Moran said as he placed a comforting paw on Lancelot's shoulder.

At that moment something moved in a nearby bush. "Get behind me Lancelot!" Moran said as he stepped in front of the young kitten. The old Persian and the kitten waited as a dark figure emerged from the bush. Lancelot was expecting to see one of the dark knights of Mukaun that he had seen in the pool of water. But to his surprise and Moran's it was not a dark knight but instead a young kitten. "You foolish boy Bright Eyes! What are you doing here?" Moran asked irritated. The young brown Persian kitten, Bright eyes looked rather frightened, "I'm sorry Sir Moran. . .but I-I-I was following you. But I finally thought it best to show myself." "Well I suppose you overheard our conversation then?" Moran asked. "Yes. . .sir I did," Bright Eyes said. "Since you were so eager to spy on young Lancelot and I then you must accept a mission that I am about to place on your shoulders," Moran said. "Oh anything Sir Moran! What am I to do?" Bright Eyes asked eagerly. "From here on into eternity you must be Lancelot's bodyguard. Dark times lie ahead of us all and he will need someone to help him along the way. When the nights are cold and dark Lancelot will need someone to be by his side," Moran said.

Lancelot watched as Bright Eyes straightened up his shoulders and sat upright as Moran spoke. "I pledge my life to Lord Lancelot and I will protect him," Bright Eyes said when Moran was finally through speaking. "That's a good lad. Now come we must go back to the barn before we are spotted here by Mukaun's spies," Moran said and the wise old Persian and the two kittens made their way back to the barn. Along the way Lancelot looked over at Bright Eyes and smiled, "It will be good to have a friend." "Yes it will. I will be your friend Lancelot and I know that as the years pass you and I will become wonderful friends," Bright Eyes said with a smile.

Chapter 6

Good Will Triumph

In the Shadow Forest Lord Mukaun stood before some of his most trusted knights. "Men, such news has come to my ears that the Light clan has a certain guardian. He is but a young kitten now but when he is older he will be a powerful weapon for them," Mukaun said. "What is it you want us to do my Lord?" Soraun, Mukaun's most trusted dark knight asked. "I want you to find young Lancelot and kill him. Go now Soraun and take with you two cats and kill Lancelot," Mukaun said with an evil smile. "But my Lord what about the white Persian?" Soraun asked. "Avoid him as much as you can for he has powers that you cannot fight nor defeat," Mukaun said. Soraun took three cats and they emerged from the Shadow forest in their hideous armor. They made their way to the barn where young Lancelot lay sleeping.

In the barn loft Lancelot was having a fitful sleep. He tossed and turned and finally decided to get up. He quietly walked past his sleeping father and climbed down the hay loft. Making his way out of the barn Lancelot went out into the tall grassy field next to the barn. He sat there looking up at the sky and sighing. Suddenly out of the shadows and tall grass emerged three cats dressed in hideous armor with their swords raised. Fear gripped Lancelot's heart and for a horrible moment he couldn't move.

Soraun chuckled as he watched the young kitten. "Ah and what is your name?" he asked. "I am. . .Lancelot." At that moment a new strength rushed over Lancelot and he glared at the cats, "My name is Lancelot and I'm the guardian of this clan. Now go back where you came from!" "Very brave for such a small lad," Soraun said as he and the two other cats moved closer to Lancelot. Just as Soraun raised his sword to cut Lancelot a bright light appeared from behind Lancelot.

The dark knights were surprised by the bright light and for a moment they couldn't see. A deep voice from the bright light boomed out, "Back away!" The two dark knights were struck down and killed. Only Soraun was left standing. Turning and fleeing Soraun made his way back to the Shadow Forest before the bright light could do any harm to him.

Lancelot stared at the bright light in fear. But soon the bright light left and revealed none other than the wise Persian, Moran! "Moran I was so afraid," Lancelot said as tears welled up in his eyes. Relieved that Moran was there Lancelot lay his soft black head against the white Persian. A smile spread across Moran's face and he let the young kitten lay against him for quite some time.

Finally Moran looked down at Lancelot, "You must be more careful from now on my young friend. Dangers lurks everywhere so you must always be alert." "Who. . .were they?" Lancelot asked as he glanced over at the two dead cats. "Ah they are dark knights. Followers of Lord Mukaun. Lord Mukaun wants you dead because you are a threat to him. As long as the Light clan has you Lord Mukaun will have a hard time taking over," Moran said. "Do you think we will be able to defeat Mukaun?" Lancelot asked. "As long as we have hope and faith. Always believe Lancelot, that good triumphs over evil. If you believe it can then it will."

The years passed and soon Lancelot grew into a handsome cat. His chest had filled out and he now had broad shoulders. His jet black fur glistened in the sun and he was strong and willing. Moran had taught him well and now Lancelot was officially the guardian. It would not be long before he would have to put his skills to test for darkness was on the horizon.

"I know you are here Lancelot," Bright Eyes said smiling as he crept through the tall grassy field. Now a tall and full grown brown Persian, Bright Eyes was ever loyal to Lancelot. The two had grown to be best friends through the years. They were almost like brothers and wherever Lancelot went Bright Eyes would be close behind. "Someone's got to watch him," Bright Eyes would say chuckling.

At that moment a dark beast flashed in front of Bright Eyes. The beast jumped upon Bright Eyes' back and knocked him down. Bright Eyes turned over on his back and looked up at the beast. "Lancelot! Get off of me," he said chuckling. "I got you that time Bright Eyes!" Lancelot laughed. Bright Eyes sat up and sighed, "You shouldn't be out here Lancelot. You know how dangerous it is. Sir Moran says to always be watchful." "Ah Moran! He worries too much about things," Lancelot said as he began to lick his paw. "But you know he is right and the wisest of us all," Bright Eyes said as he lay down in the tall grass.

"You're as bad he is," Lancelot chuckled. "I'm only looking out for you and doing what I pledged to do when we were kittens." "Yes I know and I am very grateful for that Bright Eyes. You have been my dearest friend but I just wish I could live a normal life sometimes. Being the guardian is. . .rather boring," Lancelot said sighing. "It will not be boring for long," a voice said from behind them. Bright Eyes quickly jumped up in front of Lancelot ready to fight. But it only turned out to be Moran.

"Oh Sir Moran! I thought you were a dark knight come to destroy Lancelot," Bright Eyes released a heavy sigh. "It is good that one of you is alert to danger," Moran said angrily as he looked over at Lancelot. "You must be more alert Lancelot. An enemy could kill you at any second. Mukaun has spies all around," Moran said. "I know, I know and I'm sorry. I'll try to be more careful," Lancelot said.

Lancelot would have to start being more careful, Moran thought to himself. For he feared that soon Lord Mukaun would strike and Lancelot would the Light clan's only protection.

Chapter 7

The Spy

In the Shadow Forest Lord Mukaun paced back and forth in his 'throne' room. The room was actually the inside of a dead tree. Mukaun's eyes turned red with anger, "He must be killed! I will not rest until I am ruler over the Light clan." "My Lord perhaps you should rest. You are looking a bit tired out," Soraun said from where he sat nearby. "I am tired out because I have an idiot as my trusted knight! If you had killed Lancelot when he was a kitten we wouldn't be having this problem. But you let a bright light scare you away!" Mukaun yelled angrily. "My Lord is was not just a bright light. It killed the two cats that were with me," Soraun said quickly for he was afraid of Mukaun's anger.

"That old Persian Moran probably had something to do with it," Mukaun said as he sat down. He sat there for awhile trying to come up with a plan. It wasn't too long until he had devised a plan in his mind. "Soraun, go get Nika, that Siamese cat. Bring him to me immediately," Mukaun ordered. Turning and exiting the throne room, Soraun went to find Nika. He soon returned with the white Siamese cat. "My Lord, you wanted to see me?" Nika asked as he bowed. "Yes I did Nika. I am going to send you on a mission," Mukaun said. "I will do whatever it is you wish my Lord. What am I to do?" Nika asked. "I want you to go to the Light clan under disguise as a lost and lonely traveler. You are to stay there and find out what is going on within the Light clan," Mukaun said.

"You wish me to spy is that it? Ah I love being deceitful," Nika smiled evilly. "Yes that is what I wish you to do. In a week's time you must come back here and report to me all that you saw and heard within the Light clan. You must leave immediately," Mukaun ordered. "I will do just that my Lord," Nika said as he left the throne room and the Shadow Forest hidden under a dark cloak and armed only with a small dagger that was hidden within his fur, a trick of magic of some sort.

Meanwhile at the barn Lancelot and Bright Eyes were lying around in the hay loft. It was a hot day and all of the cats were staying in the barn to keep cool. The quiet scene turned into excitement and foreboding for a knight came rushing into the barn. "King Arthur, a stranger is approaching the barn!" the knight yelled. King Arthur climbed down from the loft and went outside. Lancelot, Bright Eyes, and Moran followed. They looked to where the knight had said the stranger was approaching. "I cannot see who it is, or what it is for that dark cloak it is wearing," Lancelot said as he squinted his eyes trying to identify the stranger.

Soon the stranger had made his way to the barn and now stood in front of the King. Three knights stood beside the king, ready to do what they must if the stranger was a dangerous animal. "Sir, I am but a lonely and tired pilgrim from afar. I happened to stumble upon this place and decided to stop by and ask for some food and water," the stranger said. "Anyone is welcome here my good man but I would feel much better if you would remove the hood of that cloak from your head," King Arthur said.

The stranger removed the hood from his head revealing himself. King Arthur studied the white Siamese cat very carefully. "My name is Nika and I come from nowhere. I travel the world just to see new places," the Siamese said. "Come in and help yourself to some of our food and water. Bright Eyes will show you to it," King Arthur said and Bright Eyes led the white Siamese cat to the water and food. "I don't like him," Lancelot said when the Siamese cat was gone. "Now son just because he's new and different doesn't mean that he's dangerous," Arthur said smiling. "I must agree with Lancelot this time my Lord. There is something strange. . .and evil about that Siamese cat," Moran said. "Well, we will see if his deeds are evil in time," Arthur said as he turned and walked away.

"Who do you think that Siamese cat is, Moran?" Lancelot asked. "I'm not sure. I fear that your father was not too wise in letting Nika stay here with us. He could be a flowerer of Mukaun," Moran said sighing. "How will we know if he is evil or not?" Lancelot asked. "Only time will tell. He may not be evil but we'll keep an eye on him just in case," Moran said as he turned and walked away.

Lancelot went to where Bright Eyes stood talking to Nika. The white Siamese cat was lapping up a bowl of water and smiling. "Oh yes I have seen many places, many new worlds," Nika was saying. "Have you ever been to the Shadow Forest?" Lancelot asked suspiciously as he came and sat down across from Nika. "The Shadow Forest? No I have never been there and I doubt I ever will. The name sounds evil enough, not a place I would like to visit," Nika said finishing up the water. "Come with me and I will show you your living quarters, oh that is if you are going to stay with us a little while," Lancelot said. "I will stay a little while yes. I rather like this place," Nika said as he stood on his four paws and followed Lancelot and Bright Eyes up to a section of the loft.

When they had showed him where he would be sleeping Nika smiled, "Ah thank you my young lads. Now I think I will lie down for awhile. I've had a long journey." Lancelot and Bright Eyes left Nika to his sleep and went out into the field to enjoy the cool breeze that was blowing.

Chapter 8

Consumed By Darkness

The days went by and Nika became rather famous among the Light clan. At night everyone would gather around and he would tell stories of his travels. Even King Arthur began to like him but still Lancelot and Moran sensed something evil about Nika. One night while all the Light clan were asleep Nika slipped on his dark cloak and exited the barn without anyone seeing him, or so he thought. Lancelot had been sitting up in the loft unable to sleep, as usual, and saw Nika leave the barn.

Going and awaking Bright Eyes, Lancelot followed Nika into the dark night. The two cats stayed far enough behind to not be seen. Nika had no idea that he was being followed. They followed Nika a great distance but finally Nika came to the Shadow Forest and it was there he stopped. Glancing around nervously, Nika sat down and waited. Lancelot and Bright Eyes hid behind a bush and watched.

Soon a dark figure emerged from the Shadow Forest and came up to Nika. "Give me your report and I will deliver it to Lord Mukaun," the dark figure said. "Tell Lord Mukaun that I have only found out that the Light clan appears to not be expecting any attack. But it is not them I am worried about. I am worried about that Lancelot they call their guardian. He will be hard to defeat," Nika said. "I will deliver your report. Now you must go before you are missed back at the Light clan," the dark figure said as he disappeared into the Shadow Forest.

Lancelot and Bright Eyes watched as Nika turned and made his way back to the barn. "I knew he was working for Mukaun!" Lancelot hissed. "What must we do now?" Bright Eyes asked. "We must go and tell Moran this news. He will know what to do before it is too late," Lancelot said as he and Bright Eyes turned and made their way back to the barn.

Back at the barn Lancelot and Bright Eyes went to where Moran lay sleeping in the loft. "Moran, wake up. We have some news," Lancelot said he touched the old Persian with his paw. Moran opened his eyes and raised up, "What has gotten into you two? Waking me up in the middle of the night!" "We news about Nika," Lancelot said. This caught the old Persian's attention and he sat up, "Well, tell me what it is you have found out." Lancelot told Moran what he and Bright Eyes had seen at the edge of the Shadow Forest and when he had finished Moran sighed, "Nika is a spy sent by Lord Mukaun. We must inform King Arthur of this at once. Although I doubt he will believe us."

When the three went to awake King Arthur they were shocked to find him awake. "Father, there is something we must tell you," Lancelot said as he walked over to King Arthur. "What is it my son?" King Arthur asked. Lancelot looked into his father's eyes and noticed that his father was acting rather strange. "I've come to inform you that Nika is a spy for Lord Mukaun. We must be rid of him before it is too late!" Lancelot said eagerly. "Ah, there's no need to worry about Nika. He's a good and kind cat. He means us no harm," Arthur said sighing. "Arthur, your son saw Nika speaking to someone at the Shadow Forest. Nika talked about plans of attacking us. You must listen to us!" Moran said as he stepped in front of King Arthur.

At that moment Arthur's eyes turned red and he bared his teeth, "Nika is not evil! He is my friend and he will stay here forever. I have appointed him my counselor." "What!? Have you gone mad? Nika is evil and is working for our enemy. Besides I am your counselor," Moran said shocked. "Well, you are no longer my counselor Moran. I do not wish to here another word about it. Now leave me," Arthur said as he turned and lay down on the hay. Moran sighed and motioned for Lancelot and Bright Eyes to follow him out of the loft and onto the barn floor. "What has happened to my father?" Lancelot asked when they were out of the loft. "I don't know but I do know he is not himself. Something strange and. . .evil is at work here. Nika must be cast out but I do not see how we are going to do it now that Arthur has appointed him counselor," Moran said as he paced back and forth worriedly. "We must do something," Lancelot said. "We will as soon as I think of something. I want you two to go back up to the loft and rest. I must make a visit to. . .a certain ally of ours. I will speak with you in the morning," Moran said as he turned and left the barn. "What do you think he's up to?" Bright Eyes asked as he watched the old Persian make his way across the field. "I don't know. He's always doing strange things. I hope though that he can come up with a plan to get rid of Nika," Lancelot said.

Meanwhile as King Arthur lay in the loft a dark figure emerged. It was Nika and he had his dark cloak around him. "Very well done Arthur," he said. Arthur raised his head up and looked at Nika, "Thank you. I will do anything you advice because you are my friend." "Yes, I am your friend," Nika said smiling. Everything was going perfectly now. Nika had managed to manipulate Arthur and he knew that Lord Mukaun would be very glad. If Nika was able to turn Arthur against his own son and Moran then all would be well. But it wasn't going to be easy for Nika knew that Moran would try his best to defeat him.

Chapter 9

Moran's Plan & Ally

The night sky was filled with stars as Moran made his way across the grassy field. The wise old Persian crept through the tall grassy field until he came to a dirt road. It was unknown to many and Moran only went down the road on emergencies. Tonight was an emergency. He knew what Nika had done to cause Arthur to turn against him. It was some sort of evil magic and Moran did not like magic. He thought it to be evil and wrong. But ever since he was a young kitten Moran had been blessed with the gift of foresight. He could see what lay ahead in the future. Sometimes it would be rather vague but he could still see it and know what it meant. But tonight he couldn't see what lay ahead and he was getting worried.

It was unusually quiet and Moran could sense evil in the cool wind that blew. He quickened his pace and finally he came to a path next to the dirt road that was now grown up with weeds. Moran turned and went down the grown up path and soon he came to a cave. Stepping inside the cave, the old Persian looked around. "Merlinuss, are you in here?" he called out. A figure emerged from the shadows, "Who are you?" the figure asked. "It is I, Moran. Don't tell me you have forgotten me old friend," Moran said with a smile in his voice. "Moran? Is. . .is it really you? Oh how good to see you again my friend," the figure said.

Moran walked over to the brown and white collie, Merlinuss, "It has been too long since we have seen each other." "Yes it has. Now come with me where it is light," Merlinuss said as he led Moran into a part in the cave where moonlight rays streamed through tiny holes in the cave's roof. The moonlight's rays sparkled and looked rather magical.

Smiling Moran sat down in front of Merlinuss. Despite the battle between cats and dogs that had been going on ever since the dawn of time, the old Persian and the collie had managed to break past those barriers. They had met on a warm summer evening. Moran had been in his prime and so had Merlinuss. They met in a large field and began talking about their lives. At the time Moran had just met King Arthur and was helping him become king, while Merlinuss had been a young soldier in a small army of dogs. The two became very good friends and often came to that very field and spoke one with another.

But one evening they were caught by Merlinuss' General and he had banished Merlinuss to the cave. Ever since that day Moran had felt guilty and responsible for Merlinuss' banishment. But all Merlinuss said was, "I would rather have you as a friend than to be General of my own army." Moran had never forgotten those words.

"So what is it that has brought you my old friend?" Merlinuss asked, interrupting Moran's thoughts of the 'olden' days. "I have come to you now for darkness is coming to my people. King Arthur has been corrupted by a spy that was sent by Lord Mukaun," Moran said sighing. "Ah so it is Mukaun is it? News has reached my ears of that despicable cat. What is it that I can do to help you?" Merlinuss asked scratching his head with his back paw. "I know. . .that neither of us are as young as we used to be. But the Light clan could really use your help. I was hoping. . .that perhaps you could gather a small band of dogs, or any creatures to help us fight when the time comes," Moran said. "That is a very good plan. I have made friends with many of the bush creatures that reside in these woods of which I live. I will talk to them and tell them what is happening," Merlinuss said smiling. "Thank you Merlinuss. I am sorry for asking so much of you. . .but you are the only one I trust and can turn to," Moran said with gratefulness showing in his blue eyes. "I would do anything for you Moran. You can trust me," Merlinuss said nodding his furry head. Moran smiled, "Thank you. Now I must hurry back for evil is afoot." From the entrance of the cave Merlinuss watched his old friend disappear into the night. "Dark days lie ahead," was all the old collie said.

Chapter 10

The Warrior

The next day was a busy one for Moran, Lancelot, and Bright Eyes. Moran had returned that night and told Lancelot of his friend Merlinuss, the collie. He told of their plan and it eased some of the tension but still they were worried about Arthur. He was not himself and Lancelot was very worried. "Isn't there any way you can. . .get him out of the trance he's in?" Lancelot asked Moran. "I cannot do miracles. I've tried talking to him and breaking the trance but I can't," Moran said sadly. "What are we to do?" Lancelot asked. "First off I want you and Bright Eyes to follow Nika if he goes out tonight. We need to know what Mukaun is planning in order to prepare," Moran said.

The sun wasn't shining in the Shadow Forest like it was in the 'outside' world. Mukaun was standing up in a chamber in the dead tree that was his 'castle' ,or so he called it. His yellow eyes watched as his army of dark knights were busy with building and going about their daily tasks. At that moment Soraun appeared from behind, "My Lord I have brought the warrior that you requested." "Ah thank you Soraun," Mukaun said as he turned to gaze upon the cat that now sat in front of him. The cat wore a drab gray cloak and on the cat's back was a bow. "Words has spread through my men and then to me that you are a skilled warrior. Quite handy with a bow, they say," Mukaun said as he studied the cat up and down. "I am swift with a bow my Lord," the cat said. "Then you are just the cat for my quest," Mukaun said smiling. "And what is that my Lord?" the cat asked. An evil smile spread across Mukaun's dark face as he told the cat of his plan.

That night Lancelot and Bright Eyes sat up in the loft waiting to see if Nika would go out. Sure enough soon Nika, in his dark cloak, climbed out of the hay loft and made his way across the grassy field. Just as they had before, Lancelot and Bright Eyes followed close behind the white Siamese cat. Nika took the same path he had taken the other night when he had went to report what he had found out. He stopped at the edge of the Shadow Forest and waited. Soon the same dark figure emerged from the Shadow Forest and Nika began to report. "I have gotten King Arthur into a trance. Soon I will be able to kill him but I am waiting awhile because Lancelot and Moran are suspicious. Tell Lord Mukaun that it will not be long until he can attack. That is if he has come up with a plan to defeat the guardian, Lancelot," Nika said. "He has come up with a very wise plan. Lord Mukaun told me to tell you not to worry about Lancelot because he will be taken care of," the dark figure hissed.

The meeting ended and Nika made his way back to the barn. Meanwhile Lancelot and Bright Eyes emerged from their hiding place behind a cluster of bushes. "Quickly Lancelot! We must hurry back for there could be danger ready to spring upon you," Bright Eyes said as he searched the darkness for any danger that might lie there. "Yes you are right. We must leave now," Lancelot said and they turned and made their way back to the safety of the barn. But as they walked along Lancelot could sense someone following them. He stopped for a moment and listened carefully. He could hear the tree frogs and many other sounds of the night. "What is it? Do you hear something or someone?" Bright Eyes whispered. "I feel as if we are being followed," Lancelot said.

In one strange moment Lancelot could see a dark creature that sat in a tree afar off. He saw into the creatures eyes but he could not tell what or who it was. "We should keep moving," Lancelot whispered. They had only walked a few steps when suddenly Lancelot heard a creature hiss loudly and then he felt sharp claws sink into his back. Lancelot rolled over onto his side trying to get the creature off of his back. Meanwhile Bright Eyes had managed to jump upon the creature and they were clawing and rolling along the ground. Finally the creature knocked Bright Eyes down and turned its eyes upon Lancelot, who now stood on all four paws ready to fight. The creature lunged at Lancelot but he was ready and he and the creature collided. They began rolling on the ground until finally Lancelot sat atop the creature and had it pinned.

By now the creature's cloak's hood had fallen off revealing a. . .cat! Lancelot stared down into the eyes of the beautiful calico cat and was unable to speak for a moment. He was shocked to see that the cat was a female. Finally he asked, "Who are you?" "I will tell you my name when you let me up," the calico said angrily. Lancelot let the calico up and asked the same question again, "Now who are you?" "My name is Starlight," the calico said. Bright Eyes, who now was standing beside Lancelot protectively, asked "Why did you attack us?" "I. . .am sorry about that. I thought perhaps you were dark knights or some creature of that sort," Starlight said sighing. "Well we are certainly not dark knights. I am Lancelot, son of King Arthur, who is king of the Light clan," Lancelot said. "Lancelot? I have heard of you. The guardian aren't I right?" Starlight asked smiling. "Well, yes that is who I am, guardian of the Light clan," Lancelot said. "I'm just a warrior without a home. You see my father taught me how to use a bow and when he and I mother were killed I went off on my own," Starlight said with sadness in her voice. "You can accompany us to the barn where I live with my clan if you wish," Lancelot offered. "I. . .think I would like that very much," Starlight said.

Chapter 11

Defeat Of A Spy

Starlight liked the Light clan very much. They made her feel welcome, that is all except Moran, the white Persian. He looked at her suspiciously and did not say much to her. "Don't mind him. He's always like that," Lancelot said noticing Starlight's confusion. By now Lancelot had forgotten all about Nika and the danger his clan was in. All he could see was Starlight. "It's as if she has cast a spell on him," Bright Eyes said to Moran as they watched Starlight and Lancelot laughing and smiling. "Her beauty has cast a spell upon him," Moran said. "Do you think she's another spy?" Bright Eyes asked worriedly. "It is very possible but she's probably not just any spy," Moran said. "What do you mean by that?" Bright Eyes asked puzzled. Moran didn't answer him but instead continued watching Lancelot. Starlight was very beautiful and already it appeared that Lancelot was. . .feeling something for the calico who claimed to be a warrior.

That night Moran spoke to Lancelot alone. "My friend there is. . .something I must remind you. That is the three laws of which a guardian must obey and abide by," Moran said. "Oh Moran! You brought me here to just tell me the three laws!? I know them by heart," Lancelot said frustrated. "Number one: A guardian must be courageous and willing to die for his clan. Number three: A guardian must always be fair and just. And most importantly is Number three: A guardian must never fall in love. To do so will mean the losing of his special powers," Moran said angrily. "Why are you telling me this?" Lancelot asked. "I wanted to remind you who you are. Don't let anyone or anything get in the way of your destiny," Moran said. "I will not let that happen Moran," Lancelot said sighing. "Now we must do something about Nika. You seem to have forgotten all about him. Tell me what you heard Nika report tonight," Moran ordered. Lancelot told the old Persian what he had heard and when he had finished Moran grew worried. "There must be something done about Nika. Right now we must go to some of the guards and order them to banish Nika from the Light clan. Come," Moran said as he turned and walked to where the guards stood at the entrance of the barn.

Moran told the guards what to do and at first they were hesitant. "But the king has not mentioned anything to us about banishing Nika," one of the guards said. "The King approves it. Now go and find Nika and banish him. I will be close behind," Moran ordered. The guards went off to find Nika and Moran turned to Lancelot, "Come with me. If I am right, Nika will put up a fight." The Persian and the guardian went to where the guards now stood. They had found Nika and they had him cornered. "Leave! Me leave! How dare you order such a thing!" Nika yelled as one of the guards told him he had to leave.

At that moment Moran and Lancelot appeared on the scene. "Nika we here by banish you forever from the Light clan. We know who you really are. Now go before we are forced to kill you!" Moran said angrily. "You cannot make me leave. Besides the king is going to make me his new counselor. I'm sure he would be furious to find out that you and his son had tried to banish me," Nika said smiling wickedly. "You have manipulated Arthur and for that you must leave. Go now!" Moran yelled.

Anger filled Nika's eyes and stood up on his back hind legs, "Moran you have forced me to take drastic measures." The white Siamese threw a small crystal at Moran and Lancelot. But just before the magical crystal could hit them and explode, Lancelot jumped in front of Moran. Suddenly a bright shield surrounded him and Moran. Lancelot didn't know how he had made the shield surround them, but he didn't have time to think about that right then. The magical crystal his the bright shield and bounced back and landed at Nika's feet. In a horrifying moment there was silence and then the calm night was filled with a loud explosion as the magical crystal exploded. "Ahhhhhh!" Nika screamed as he was knocked across the ground by the explosion.

Finally all was silent and Lancelot moved and the shield disappeared. Moran walked over to where the dead body of Nika lay, "Yet another poor soul that was corrupted by Lord Mukaun." At that moment King Arthur came running towards them." What's going!? What happened?" Arthur asked as he came to stand beside Moran and Lancelot. "Father! You are back to yourself. Thank goodness," Lancelot said smiling at his father. Arthur rubbed his head with his paw and sighed, "I don't know what happened to me. Everything seems to be a complete blur."

Moran explained to him what Nika had done and when he finished Arthur was angry. "That Siamese cat tricked me! I'm glad I have you Moran, and you Lancelot. If it wasn't for you two the Light clan would have probably been destroyed," Arthur said. Moran then explained what had been going on lately and he told the king of his recent visit to see Merlinuss, the collie.

A few moments after Arthur had went back up to the loft Moran turned to Lancelot, "I see your powers are starting to take shape." "I know. I can't believe that I created a shield. I don't know how I did it. It. . .just happened," Lancelot said. "That's the way it is my friend. The powers just. . .come when you need them the most. They will protect you, and others when it is needed," Moran said smiling.

Chapter 12

Future Of Darkness

The next morning Lancelot found Starlight sitting out in the field. He went over and sat down beside her. When he had awakened he had managed to get past Bright Eyes. He loved Bright Eyes like a brother but having him there by his side at all times sometimes got annoying.

Starlight smiled over at him, "Good morning." "Good morning. It is a beautiful morning isn't it," Lancelot said. "Yes it is. I love it here. It's. . .so. . .bright here!" Starlight said as she looked up at the blue sky. The two cats sat smiling and talking in the morning sunshine. "I saw what happened last night. Why did you. . .kill that Siamese cat?" Starlight asked. "He was a spy for Lord Mukaun and we didn't kill him. His plan backfired and that is what killed him," Lancelot said. "Do you think there will be a battle between you and Lord Mukaun?" Starlight asked. "Moran thinks it will be very soon. But I am not sure," Lancelot sighed. "Come with me and I'll show a place where I used to play when I was kitten," Lancelot said smiling. He took Starlight to a little place deep within the grassy field.

It was a place where a small patch of wild flowers grew. "I used to come and bat at the flowers with my paw when I was a kitten. It seems like only yesterday that I was doing so," Lancelot sighed. "Time does go by swiftly, like an arrow," Starlight said.

As the weeks passed Starlight and Lancelot continued to talk. They would go for long walks in the grassy field and Lancelot would make sure Bright Eyes would not come along. Moran would watch them as they would go for long walks. It troubled him for he knew that if Lancelot fell in love then his powers as a guardian would disappear. It was the law of the guardian and if Lancelot's powers disappeared then the Light clan would be in grave danger.

One evening Bright Eyes came and talked to Moran. "I'm afraid for Lancelot," Bright Eyes said. "So am I. Lancelot, I fear, is falling in love with Starlight and when he does we will all be in grave danger," Moran said sadly. "But. . .isn't there a way to stop them from falling in love?" Bright Eyes asked. "Some things cannot be stopped my friend. Perhaps. . .if you talk to Lancelot, he might listen to you," Moran said. "I will do that then. Tonight I will talk to him," Bright Eyes said as he turned and walked away.

That night Bright Eyes went to where Lancelot usually lay in the hay loft. He was surprised to see that Lancelot was not there. He went out of the barn and saw Lancelot out in the grassy field gazing up at the stars. Bright Eyes went and sat down beside him, "Peaceful and beautiful night," Bright Eyes commented. Lancelot never said anything. "Lancelot, I've come to talk to you. . .about Starlight," Bright Eyes said. "Not you too! Already Moran has warned me," Lancelot said angrily. "I know he has but. . .you must listen to us. You may hate me for saying this but I think Starlight is up to no good. She acts too suspicious," Bright Eyes sighed. "What would you know about her!? You've never even talked to her. I am not going to change my feelings for her. I do not wish to hear what you have to say Bright Eyes. Please leave me alone," Lancelot said angrily as he walked away.

Anger rushed over Lancelot as walked deeper into the grassy field. He was tired of Moran and Bright Eyes telling him what he could or could not do. "Should I have to change my feelings just for everyone else? Do I have to give up everything just to save the clan?" Lancelot asked the night sky. By now he had walked all the way to where the pool of water that he had looked into what seemed to be so many years ago. He walked over to it slowly and finally whispered the word 'nimuach'. The water began to ripple and soon a moving picture appeared in the water.

As the picture appeared a voice echoed out of the water, "What you see before you is the future." Lancelot watched the picture. He saw Moran and then he saw his father. Their faces were covered with sadness and grief. Lancelot could hardly bear the site. Then the picture switched to something else. It showed a dark shadowy place and in that dark shadowy place he saw himself and he was lying in the mud. Beside him sat Bright Eyes and to Lancelot's surprise Bright Eyes had tears rolling out of his eyes and down his furry face.

The picture then switched to another scene in which he saw Starlight. She stood in the rays of the sun and looked so beautiful but then the sun rays turned to darkness Starlight's beautiful face turned into a hideous dark face. Her eyes were red and she laughed wickedly. Lancelot jumped back away from the pool of water frightened. But curiosity caused him to look again. When he did look back at the pool of water the picture was gone. But the voice echoed out again, "What you have just seen is what will happen. Everything you have seen is a perfect picture what lies ahead for you and all those you love. Be cunning and be wise. For the safety of all your loved ones and friends lie in your paws. Your choices and mistakes will direct the future and your destiny."

Lancelot sighed and tears of frustration filled his eyes. He did not understand what he had just seen in the pool of water. It had frightened him and he did not know what to do. "The future seems to hold only darkness and no happiness and peace. But if I must go through it all I will try to be wise in my decisions," Lancelot said. The future did hold dark and evil things. But Lancelot made a pledge to do what he must do to protect his clan and he would try to keep that pledge. Many tests and dangers lay ahead for all of the cats. But all believed that the guardian would lead them out of the shadows and into the sun.

The End

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