Chapter Three

Everyone froze, even the very dust in the air. Ryan though he didn't understand the severity was scared. "Where are they?" Father time suddenly asked pushing himself out of his chair.

"We don't have long till they get here." Nick wheezed.

Just then as if hearing his softly spoken words, loud hollow sounding bangs echoed through the walls. All eyes turned towards the wall with a steel chest against it as dust rained down.

Raising his arm into the air Father Time furrowed his brow. "Now to show you our power." He told Ryan. The toll of a grandfather clock struck as a gold staff appeared within his raised arms grip. A quickly moving clock was held at the top.

Gripping it with both hands he brought it down in a resounding crack that made Ryan jump.

A ring of gold light flew along the floor washing over the knight armors that stood in the room and hall.

"What?" Ryan asked watching as the armor shook and took a step forward. Not missing a beat the suits rolled their gloves, the swords spinning point up as they moved out to the hall.

"Ryan come here!" Tina yelled.

Looking to her Ryan ran over and helped her as she struggled to life the lid of the chest. Inside oddly enough were some weapons. A white handled sling shot was the first to be grabbed. Looking at it as Tina held the weapon expertly he couldn't help but wonder if it was made of teeth.

Suddenly he was shoved to the side as Eric reached in and removed a boomerang and belt with Easter eggs on it.

Nick was next reaching in and drawing out two scimitars. "Your turn kid." Nick told him clapping Ryan on the shoulder.

"But it's empty." Ryan told him gesturing to the chest, where he could see the material of the bottom.

"Is it?" Nick asked looking in. "Reach in and find out."

Sighing Ryan shut his eyes and reached in. A frown creased his face as his hand went deeper, and deeper. Before he knew it he was in up to his shoulder. He was just about to pull out when something nudged his hand.

Slowly, hesitantly he grabbed the item. Pulling it out slowly Ryan opened his eyes and watched as a bronze pummel was revealed the Hallowed Knights candle engraved on it. A wire wrapped hilt was next and Ryan gripped it feeling as it fit naturally in the palm of his hand. An obsidian colored blade came after the bronze cross guard. A little longer than his arm, the blade was a deep black that was far wider than normal.

Ryan recognized this type of sword from school when they were learning about knights, a broadsword.

"No time to waste mate." Eric reprimanded clapping a hand on his shoulder and pushing him to the door.

The sounds of clashing metal assaulted their ears as they entered the hall. Down the long way too the end Ryan could see the figures of knights fighting. One group he recognized, their silver metal scuffed and dented, were the ones from the library they were just in. The other group though, he had never seen, and never wants to see again.

Black fog rolled about their feet sucking up all the light and color. The lanterns on the walls flickered, the flames within sputtering and desperately trying to stay alight.

"Come." Father Time ordered leading them down the opposite hall.

"Where are we going?" Ryan asked. Looking around he could see the lanterns flickering in their sconces, the shadows under and around them deepening.

The rattling of moving armor came from around the corner. "Please tell me those are ours." Eric begged.

"I'm afraid not." Father Time sighed.

The Shadow Knights rounded the corner and without pausing broke into a run. Ryan started to back up, turning paler and paler as they got closer, heart pounding in his chest. Swords spinning into a stabbing position they were just getting into a range when colored clouds exploded on them.

"These dingoes are mine." Eric told them stepping forward as the clouds cleared. The Knights stood there like nothing happened, swords forward.

"Let's dance." Eric grinned drawing a sharpened boomerang and charging.

Before he could see anything Ryan was pulled to the side and through an opening in the wall. The opening was sealed closed plunging him into darkness. Slowly flames flickered to life on the walls showing that the passage moved down in a steep slope.

"Hurry!" Tina encouraged grabbing Ryan's left arm, his right held the broadsword, and tugging him.

"Where are we going?" Ryan asked stumbling after the quickly moving fairy.

"Somewhere safe."

The sound of rushing water greeted their ears as the air grew heavy with moisture. Slowly moving down the now moist stone Ryan was forced to pay more attention to his footing than the sound. Even looking and watching his steps he failed to notice the sudden drop before him.

"Ryan watch out!" Tina yelled rushing forward and pulling back on his shirt collar.

His heart was pounding in his chest as he looked at the wobbling weapon before him. Embedded in the hard stone wall right where his head was, was an arrow.

A drop was just before him, on the other side of the arrow, a whirlpool churning in its depths. Directly across from him, seemingly defying logic was a waterfall, a waterfall that flowed upwards.

Just to the side of the waterfall at an angle that made aiming awkward stood more Shadow Knights, bows drawn taunt.

"Jump. I'll deal with these." Tina told him sling shot ready in hand.

"Jump? Are you kidding me?" Ryan yelled. Leaning slightly he looked at the churning water below. White froth moved in streams within its depths.

"Jump!" Tina yelled again launching something from her sling shot. "Jump or I'll push you!"

Gulping Ryan was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or rather a fairy and a whirlpool.

His answer was made for him as out of the corner of his eye he caught the shadow of a movement and leaned forward. The shock of a second arrow wobbling just behind him scared him into leaning to far. Heart stopping, scream catching in his throat he fell.

His arms swung as a small shine of some odd hope made him wonder if he could fly. His small hope was dashed as the water rushed closer and closer.

Closing his eyes he caught what little air he could in his lungs just before he connected.

Water washed about him as he flailed trying to break towards the surface. The current carried him in seemingly endless loops, the froth blinding and stinging his eyes. Somehow, through all this he had kept a hold on the hilt of his blade, his finger seemingly locked on it.

It became tough to hold air in his lungs. He shut his eyes even tighter, squeezing them tight as light started to dance beneath his eye lids.

Like a switch was flicked the water calmed. The pressure lessened and his back became cold from the chill of air. Shifting so his breath broke the surface, Ryan gasped sucking air greedily.

He was just floating there in the calm river, his body weak, and his mind numb.

Splashing caught his muffled hearing and something grabbed his shirt collar, tugging gently. Looking he saw bright green eyes before his own shut.

Head throbbing Ryan blinked, opening his eyes. He was warm, his body completely covered by this soft, light material. The slightest traces of light flickered beside him and he turned to look at the source. A brass lantern flickered, its shutter partly closed to dim the light that escaped.

Slowly sitting up he leaned against the head board taking in the room. It was made of stone, the walls still holding the rough,

natural appearance. Two lanterns one on either side of the room sat in sconces, flames covered completely. A single side table beside him held up the other lantern and beside that a folded up white shirt. A wooden door across the room was the only way ou7t.\

Slowly slipping from the bed he took up the shirt, feeling the smoothness. It definitely wasn't his old one. In fact not even the pants he wore were the same. Which raised the question of who changed him?

He'd rather not think of that.

Slipping the shirt over his head he inched his way towards the door, pressing his ear against it to try to hear anything. No sound, not a murmur or a squeak.

Gently pushing the door open he moved out into the stone passage beyond. Moving slowly he tired to muffle the sounds he might have made. His bare feet were chilled on the slightly damp stone floor.

Moving on he felt like he was slowly angling upwards, climbing up a small hill. Soon he reached another door. The warm glow of light bled from under it, the sounds of clanking greeting his ears.

Suddenly the noises stopped and a smooth, slightly accented voice reached him. "It's rude to snoop, please come in."

Gulping Ryan walked in fearing the worst. A pale man stood before a pot bellied stove, odd green tinted flames licking within its depths. "Dragons fire," the man explained rubbing his soot stained hands on a piece of worn cloth, "never goes out. My names Demetrius."

Ryan studied the man before him. He was slightly taller than most grownups he has seen. A bit on the lanky side. He also had pale skin, almost unnaturally so, with thick black shoulder length hair. Bright blue eyes twinkled at him over a perfect smile.

Still unsure Ryan slowly reached forward to shake the mans hand. "Ryan."

"It is nice to see you awake." Demetrius told him turning around to draw something from the depths of the stove. "When I first saw you, you were knocked out and dripping wet."

"What happened?" Ryan asked watching as the strange man set the item on the marked stone of the counter.

Back still to him Demetrius began. "My daughter, Alexandra is very…adventurous if you will. She tends to wander off deep into the woods. The other day she snuck out, or tried to and returned hours later with you, a dripping, bruised and sword carrying human. It's over there by the way."

Looking to where he pointed Ryan saw that his sword was indeed leaning against a wooden chair. Only now it was in a sheath, only it's bronze cross guard holding it in the though leather.

Ryan turned to see that Demetrius had turned to look at him with a studying gaze. "You aren't like the stories I've heard."

This caused Ryan to frown slightly as he tried to figure out what Demetrius meant by that. "What do you mean 'stories'?"

It was like mirror image as Demetrius also frowned. "Don't you know?" At Ryan's shake of the head Demetrius's face morphed into one of surprise. "Have a seat, this might take awhile."

Moving to the table that had stood between them, two older wooden chairs on either side, Ryan sat down.

Just as Demetrius was about to open his mouth and begin, finger raised to make a point, a large clang sounded from the hall.

"Dang it!" A soft voice, not unlike Demetrius's own voice, but this one was female with only the smallest hint of an accent, cursed.

"Forgive me." Demetrius sighed pushing himself to his feet. "I have to help my daughter."

Stepping around the stove, he left through a slightly hidden door.

Ryan could hear the mumble of voices but they were too muffled to hear properly.

A couple minutes later Demetrius returned. "Ryan, I'd like you to meet my daughter Alexandra."