Castle Roland

The Great Skype Hunt

by Jandar Tyr


Chapter 1

Posted: 7 Apr 16

The Great Skype Hunt

Copyright © 2016
by Jandar Tyr

Ranjer sat in his seat in potions class tapping his fingers as he watched the hands on the time scale swing back and forth. It was three minutes to the bell and he couldn't wait to get out of there. Master Jeikor was up front going on and on about the ingredients to a potion he knew he would never have any use for. I mean what was the chance that sometime in the future he was going to need a potion to make something invisible? Very small he thought. Being a vampire, he thought strength would get him through anything he ran into. But he knew he had to pass this class or his brother Tof would have him in class over the coming vacation holiday.

As he looked up, he noticed Master Jeikor was staring at him with a frown on his face.

"Mr. Tyr." Master Jeikor folded his arms. "How much arrowroot does the potion call for?"

Ranjer looked at the Master then over at Mera who smiled at him smugly.

[You'd know if you had been paying attention instead of looking at the time scale.] She sent.

[How much?] He asked her. [And I wasn't looking at the scale.]

[None.] She said. [All you have to do is chew it.]

"None sir." He smiled at Master Jeikor. "You just chew the root."

"Thank you Miss Serban." Master Jeikor said without turning. [When are you going to learn I can hear you. I will be seeing you both after school.]

Ranjer sighed as Mera gave him an angry look. He had gotten her in trouble again. Just then, the bell rang and everyone jumped up and grabbed their things to leave.

"Before you leave." Master Jeikor told the class. "No homework over the holiday but I want you to read chapter 5 and be ready for an oral quiz when you get back. Class dismissed. Mr. Tyr and Miss Serban I will see you before you leave school today."

Mera scowled at Ranjer and took her books and walked out of the class room. In the hall she met Ranjer as he left the classroom. With one look, he knew she was mad.

"You did it again." She said as she followed him down the hall. "How is it you always get us in trouble?"

"Just a gift I guess." He smiled.

"I have a gift for you." She threw her books at him and walked off down the hall.

Quickly he picked them up while he called out after her. With his arms full of both their books he chased after her down the hall.

"I'm sorry." He said. "I wasn't thinking."

"Or paying attention in class." She said. "Your brothers going to kill you if you fail and then you're going to have to explain it to Valkar. You know how he feels about your grades. They expects us to pass."

"I'm no good at potions, he knows that."

"Yes he does." She said. "But he expects you to try, and if you did and paid attention, you can do this. I know you can."

"I said I was sorry."

"OK." Mera said with a smile. "Come on. We have to meet Quynn then get to Master Jeikor's office. I hope we don't get detention for the holiday. I was supposed to go to the Academy for the vacation to see my brothers."

From the third floor they walked down the hall and to the transport stones to transport down to the class where Quynn was doing a course with Graym on his flying abilities. As they approached, Ono came walking down the hall from the classroom drying his hair with a towel.

"Hi Ono." Ranjer smiled. "Is Quynn ready?"

"He's doing flying drills." Ono said. "I'm sure Graym won't be keeping him too much longer. How are your classes going?"

Both Ranjer and Mera looked at each other without saying anything. Ono moaned and shook his head.

"What did you do this time?"

"It wasn't my fault." Ranjer said. "I didn't hear the question."

"You weren't paying attention again?" Ono gave him a disappointed look. "Valkar is going to scream bloody murder! When are you going to learn to get your head out of the clouds and into your lessons?"

Ranjer started to object and say something when he saw the look in his step brothers eyes and knew he was serious.

"And how are you in this?" He asked Mera. "I know you're in here somewhere."

"I tried to give him the answer."

"And Jeikor caught you." Ono wrapped the towel around his neck and started to walk off. "Good, you deserve whatever punishment you get. Forget about your Hallow's eve plans, your both going to be busy."

Mera looked at Ranjer as if she wanted to kill him right then.

"And one more thing." Ono turned back to them. "You also just ruined Quynn's plans, so it'll be the three of you. Have fun!"

Angry, Mera stalked off to the classroom and went in and slammed the door behind her.

As Ranjer stepped into the great flying chamber, Quynn in dragon form was doing dips and dives chasing one of Graym's sunbirds. High up in the air they had placed many bars and hoops of all sizes for dragons and other winged students to practice flying through and around. This was one of Quynn's favorite classes taught by Graym and Jayce. As they watched, Quynn chased the sunbird all through the course like an eagle chasing his prey. It sped through hoops Ranjer's size and even smaller as he tried to catch it. Finally Graym clapped his hands making the sunbird vanish and called an end to today's class.

"OK Quynn." He called. "That's enough for today. Your friends are here."

Flying down, Ranjer dropped down to land next to Graym and shifted his form.

Sweat ran off his happy face as Graym handed him a towel.

"I almost had it." He laughed. "Another ten seconds and I would have had!"

"Sure you would have." Graym smiled. "You'll get it. I know you will. Until then, keep practicing and I'll see you after the vacation."

Graym ruffled his hair then turned and said hi to Ranjer and Mera as he left the chamber.

"Did you see me?" Quynn ran over to join them. "I almost had it. Jayce says when I can catch the sunbird, he'll talk my father into letting me fly a patrol with him. I can't wait for that. Flying with the Shadows would be great!"

Quynn smiled up at his cousin then noticed the look of anger on Mera's face. He looked back at Ranjer.

"What's wrong?" He threw his towel at Ranjer. "What did you do this time?

"We have to go to Master Macon's office."

"Why?" Quynn asked Mera. "What did he do now?"

"Day dreaming again." She said. "Let's just go see what our punishment is. Come on Quynn."

"Me?" Quynn looked at them. "How did I get in this?"

"It's your holiday too?" Ranjer smiled. "Come on cousin. We were supposed to go to Eventide together. Are you going to go without me?"

"I should." Quynn frowned. "But I won't. I'm going to get you back for this. Ryel was going to take us to Dree and Aquilona. I so wanted to swim with Mortimer and sail with Prince Haymar. I guess that's out."

"It all depends on what we have to do." Ranjer said as the left the chamber and headed back into the school. "We might still have enough time."

"You mean what YOU have to do." Quynn said. "I'll come along but the punishment is all yours. Maybe that will teach you to pay attention in class."

"OK already! I'll do my best to listen from now on. Let's just get this over with so we can save as much of Hallow's eve as we can."

From the flying chamber they walked on to the transport stone which left them on the first floor where all the administration and the master's offices were. New Keanna kids were moving all through the halls chatting and gathering their things as they left school for the weekend. As they passed the office, Ranjer stopped and looked in. Standing at the head masters office door, he saw his uncle Ono. It looked like he was arguing with Head master Shayn. Ono looked upset about something. Ranjer brushed the hair away from his ears and heard Ono say their names. Then he heard Shayn said there was nothing he could do and that the kids would have to deal with their punishment.

"But Mythioes?" Ono argued. "Why that place? It's dangerous there."

Shayn started to tell him, then glanced up and saw him at the door.

With a spin of his wrist and a pointed finger, the shades on the door slammed shut. Ranjer stepped back away from the door. He couldn't have heard what he thought he had heard. It was impossible. He wouldn't. Would he?

"Well come on." Mera said from ahead of him. "Let's not keep Master Jeikor waiting."

Running to catch up, he met them at the door just as three strange hooded men came creeping out from his office. They stepped back and let them pass as a cold feeling ran up Ranjer's back.

"Who or what was that?" Mera asked. Both Quynn and Ranjer shrugged as the three dark figures floated down the hall and away.

"They gave me the creeps." Ranjer shivered. "I wonder what they wanted with Master Jeikor?"

"I guess a potion." Quynn said. "We better go in and get this over with."

Opening the door, the three stepped into the potion and spell masters office. It was dark in there with only a torch and a few candles for light. To the right of them there was an old couch. To the left was Jeikor's desk. Straight in front of them was his work table covered with all kinds of laboratory and magical equipment. There was a huge cauldron bubbling with some weird concoction giving the room a strange spicy smell. Perched on a coat rack next to the desk, a crow squawked and fluttered as they came into the room. Books lined shelves on the walls with bottles and vials of all kinds of strange ingredients set in clear boxes.

As they looked around the office, they noticed that on the work table, vials and beakers had been broken and smashed. It looked like there had been a struggle here. Then Mera heard a soft moan. Curious, she walked around the work bench and saw someone in the red and black robes of a master lying on the floor Gasping in shock, Mera knelt and found Master Jeikor lying there unconscious.

"Master Jeikor!!"

When Ranjer heard Mera call the masters name, he dropped their books and hurried around the table. Master Jeikor lay there with a gray ashen look shaking and covered in spilled colored liquids and broken glass. Ranjer dropped down to the floor and lifted him up into a sitting position.

"Master, master!" Ranjer touched that spot between his eyes again and again trying to wake him. Jeikor's eyes fluttered open and he looked up at Ranjer, Quynn and Mera. His mouth opened and he tried to talk but nothing came out.

"Quynn." Mera said. "Go get Master Shayn, he'll know what to do."

Quynn nodded his head and hurried out of the office. Mera looked back down at Master Jeikor who was struggling to speak.


"What is it Master?" Ranjer asked. "Who did this to you?"

"Cha, Cha, Chedriā€¦" Master Jeikor reached out his hand to Ranjer. "Poison, need cure."

Ranjer took his hand as Jeikor fell back unconscious.

[Shayn come fast!]

[Quynn told us what happened.] Shayn sent. [We're on our way.]

"Did you hear what he said?" Mera asked. "Chedri? What is that?"

"Those hooded men I guess." Ranjer sat there rocking back and forth with the master. "They did this."

"Why?" Mera asked. "What could he have done to them?"

"I don't know." Then he realized there was something in Master Jeikor's hand. "Wait, what's this?"

Opening Master Jeikor's hand, Ranjer found a piece of parchment paper. He unfolded it and found it was a list of something he couldn't identify.

"What is it?" Mera asked.

[Cure.] Jeikor mumbled in Ranjer's mind. [Find. Save me.]

Just then, Quynn came rushing back in with Master Shayn and his mate Ono. Shayn hurried and knelt down to examine Master Jeikor, He reached out and touched him, then closed his eyes while his magic probed him.

"What's wrong with him?" Ono asked.

"This is very serious magic." Shayn told them. "Someone's tried to steal his soul."

"Can you help him?" Quynn asked.

"No." Shayn said. "I can keep him comfortable but there isn't much I can do. He's not sick, I can't cure him."

"Maybe we can." Ranjer stood up and handed Ono the pierce of parchment. "Look at this."

Ono took the parchment and started to read it. His eyes opened wide as he read.

"Do you know what this is?" He asked them.

"No." Ranjer answered.

"Let me see it." Mera reached over and took the parchment and started to read it out loud.

Five to heal, five to save.
To save a soul you all must brave.
Six tasks for you to help a friend.
To keep him from his deadly end.
One web from a cursed Spider.
The ashes of a little queen.
That which melts but does not freeze.
A tooth from a royal on the bottom of the sea.
A scale of a snake that talks.
Find a Skype.

"This is a mission." Ono looked at Ranjer, Quynn and Mera. "You're all too young to be going on a mission. I can't allow you to do this."

"Uncle Ono." Ranjer stepped up. "Mera and I are sixteen, we're on our last year of school. We're not kids anymore. We can do this."

"So can I." Quynn said.

"And what's your fathers going to say?" He asked. "They still worry about Shayn and I when we go out, I can just imagine what they would say if I let you three do this."

"Wait Love." Shayn laid Jeikor down and stood up. "You were fifteen when you left Tir Na with Jandar and I was sixteen when I got my dragon. I think maybe they should do this. They saw the people that cursed Jeikor, they should help cure him."

"Then you can be the one to explain to Jandar and Rage." Ono stared at Shayn obviously angry. Shayn came over and whispered something in his ear.

"Ok." He said handing Ranjer the parchment. "We'll go find the people that did this to him, you go figure out what that is. But please, be careful. I don't want to have to explain you getting hurt to your parents. You have until Hallow's Eve midnight, that's all."

"Can I ask a question?" Mera raised her hand. "What's a Skype?"

The next morning, Ranjer dressed quickly in black leather pants and a coat of granite gray with a white tunic and slipped from his room in the manor and hurried to Quynn's room. He got there just as Quynn was pulling on his flying jacket.

"You like it?" Quynn spun around showing off the bronze and tan jacket. "Father got it from Fay Shrea for my birthday last year."

"It's nice," Ranjer said trying to hurry him on. "Can we go now before Rage catches us?"


Quynn grabbed his bag and they hurried out to meet Mera in the schoolyard. The morning was bright and the streets of New Keanna were quiet. Only a few merchants were up opening and setting up their shops and stalls for morning business. Ranjer stopped at a baker he knew and grabbed a few breakfast buns made with baked meat and vegetables, then they hurried on to meet Mera at the schools playground.

"You're late." She said as they entered the school yard. "Are you ready to go?"

Mera was dressed in blue elven tights with a dark blue hooded tunic belted around her waist. Her pretty blond hair was tied back from her face with an ornate band that matched the belt she had brought with her from Pentanthin. Ranjer smiled when he saw her. He always thought she was pretty.

"Yeah. "Quynn said. "We have to get out of town before I can shift and fly us off."

"Why?" Ranjer asked.

"Because if I shift near the gate, they will see me and report that we left. Then they will start calling us to find out where we're going. Do you feel like explaining?"

"Good Idea." Mera said. "But how do we get out of town?"

"I can shift to a raven and fly out." Ranger said. "I guess Quynn can too, but you can't, right?"

"No." She said. "I don't start morphing classes until next year. We have to find another way."

"I know a spell that would transform you." Quynn said. "But to reverse it and change you back, won't be easy."

"Then I don't think that would be a very good idea." Mera sighed as they started out of the schoolyard and headed back into the city. "Isn't there any secret entrances or hidden tunnels into the city? Doesn't your fathers or one of the dragons have a hidden escape route we could use?"

"There aren't any secret entrances I know of." Quynn said. Then he stopped a thought for a second. There was something he was forgetting.

"Tunnels!!" Quynn jumped up with a smile. "I forgot about Dreik's mines!!"

"What?" Ranjer scratched his head. "What mines?"

"Dreik's iron mines!!"

"What iron mines?" Ranjer asked. "What are you talking about?

"Listen." Quynn pulled them over to the side behind the blacksmith shop. "A long time ago, Winterhaven made a deal with my father to mine iron in the hills outside of New Keanna. They had found a rich vein of iron and Winterhaven and Vasagi needed it to rebuild after some war. Anyway, something went wrong and they had to abandon the whole project and close the mine. A few years later, Dreik opened the mine and used the ore for repairs after that business with the death goddess. He made an opening right here in New Keanna. We could use that to get out."

"Do you know where it is?" Mera asked.

"Sure I do." He smiled. "Dreik use to take me there all the time."

"Then what are we waiting for? Let's go?"

From the market place, Quynn led them through the city pass shops and stalls and into the lanes of small houses. They took a left at the Dragon statue and went through the park Aramis had set up. The smell of all his flowers sailed the winds spreading all through the city. Rows of roses of all colors and wild flowers of violet, blue and red decorated the park.

From the park they headed straight back to the area where most of the elves and fairies live. Ranjer wave to Rose and Tara as they passed the school they had set up for all the little ones left orphaned by pass wars.

After another ten minutes they came to the cliff wall on the south west edge on the city.

"This is it." Quynn said pointing to the cliff. Ranjer stepped in closer for a look.

"I don't see anything."

"That's because you're not a dragon." Quynn walked over a shadowed spot on the wall and just stepped right through and disappeared. It looked like he had walked right through a solid rock wall. As he reappeared Mera smiled.

"And you know your way around in there right?" She asked.

"I know how to get to the exit on the other side." He said. "Will that do?"

"We'll follow you." Ranjer said. Quynn nodded and went back to the entrance and with Mera abs Ranjer following, he stepped in.

Thought it was still morning outside, it was black as night in the mine. Since both Ranjer and Quynn were beings of the night, the darkness didn't bother either of them but it was a hindrance to Mera. As he looked around, Ranjer saw an assortment of mining equipment in the corner. Laying on in a pile, Ranjer spotted a few old torches. He grabbed one and handed it to Quynn.

"Use this for light."

"Thanks." Quynn took the torch and blew on the end. As Quynn's breath touched it, it burst into flames lighting up the small tunnel.

With Quynn in the lead, they started on their way through the mine. As they walked, the torch lit the walls showing veins of silver and gold. Light reflected back from all the different gems that studded the walls. Mera tripped when she stepped on a diamond the size of her fist and almost fell. Ranjer reached out and grabbed her to stop her fall.

"Thank you." She smiled looking him in his brown eyes.

Ranjer blushed as he held her hand.

"Ahem!" Quynn coughed. "Can we move on now?"

Ranjer quickly dropped her hand as they started moving again. It wasn't long before they saw the light coming from the end of the mine and they were out at the entrance of the mine.

"Ok." Quynn said. "What's the first clue?"

Mera took out the parchment and opened it up and read the first clue.

"It says, one web from a cursed spider." She looked at each of them. "Any ideas?"

"Not really. There are all kinds of spiders all over Keanna." Ranjer said. "How are we to find a cursed spider?"

"You know there are people out there that worship spiders." Quynn sent. "They might know."

"Who could that be?" Mera asked looking disgusted.

"Dark elves." Quynn told them. "We should go see Elan Darkshade. He might have an idea."

"So we're going to Eventide." Ranjer smiled. "See, I told you we would get there."

"This isn't a vacation," Mera scolded him and punched his shoulder. "We're not going for fun. We're trying to save Master Jeikor's soul."

"Oww!! Take it easy!!"

Quynn looked at Ranjer and shook his head and frowned. Then he walked out into the clearing and shifted to his bronze dragon and roared.

[Come on.] He sent. [We should get moving.]

It was about noon when they took off towards the south and Eventide. The sky was clear and the winds were warm. Ranjer thought back to the summer days back in Tir Na when all he had to do was play all day with his friends. Rabbit hunts in the woods and pigeon chases with Azeal and Tanis and the lesson Tof would give him in hunting and stalking prey. Now everything had changed. He loved hanging out with Quynn and Mera but school was so hard for him. It wasn't the magic, he was pretty good at that, it was more his concentration. Sometimes a simple thing like a bird flying pass the window would distract him and he would end up lost in his own day dream. He had tried many things to keep him attentive in class. He moved to the front, he sat next to Mera, he even thought of wearing blinders to keep him looking ahead, but dismissed that stupid idea. Still his mind would wander. Maybe school wasn't for him. Maybe he just wasn't meant to be very book smart. Maybe he was meant to be a warrior like Ono, Azeal and Tanis. Maybe he should give up and quit school. It wasn't doing him much good anyway.


Snapping back out of his thoughts, Ranjer looked down. Below them in a field of daisies and violet, Ranjer saw a young elven boy being chased by a pack of Hobgoblins.

"What are they?" Mera asked from behind Ranjer.

"Hobgoblins." Ranjer said. "Nasty little buggers that will eat him alive if we don't stop it."

"What do we do?" She asked scared.

"This!" Ranjer stood up and dived off Quynn's back. As he dropped, he shifted to a hawk and dived down at the Hobgoblins. When he was close enough, Ranjer shifted again and dropped on the lead Hobgoblin and grabbed it and rolled forward. Jumping to his feet, he threw the little creature at the pack as they charged. Like pins they were bowled over and scattered in the field. As they got back on their feet, Ranjer flexed his claws and hissed at them, scaring them back into the forest. Behind him, Quynn came down to land. Mera looked around for more Hobgoblins, but didn't see any.

"You can come out now." She called to the forest. "They're gone and we won't hurt you."

From behind a tree, a head stuck out. He looked young, very young, about 10 or 12. He had blond hair, pointed ears and he was dressed in plain green and brown. He looked out and looked around for Hobgoblins then saw Ranjer, Mera and a dragon. Quynn swung his head around to look at the young elf and a puff of smoked escaped his nose. The elf jumped back to hide.

"Quynn!" Mera scolded him. "You're scaring him! Shift!"

In a blink Quynn shifted from his dragon form to his human form and went to stand with Ranjer.

"It's ok." She called out. "Please come out."

Peeking out, the young elf saw there were no dragons or Hobgoblins. He stepped out still looking quite scared and nervous.

"Aiya." Mera smiled. "My name is Mera and this is Quynn and Ranjer. It's safe. The Hobgoblins are gone. They can't hurt you anymore.

"No." The elf said. "But they can still hurt my father and my brother. They're stuck in the Hollow and it's been overrun by Hobgoblins. I barely made it out."

"What's your name?" Mera asked as he came over to join them. As Mera looked at him, she noticed how dirty and tired he looked. He must have been lost in the woods for hours. She wonder if he was hungry.

"My name is Nym Rever." He said. "I'm from Maron's Hollow, it's not that far from here."

"How long have they been there?" Ranjer asked.

"They just arrived last night." He said. "We found them when we woke up this morning right outside of the Hollow. We had just enough time to get everyone indoors before they attacked. It started in the homes on the lower part of the Hollow then they worked their way up. I'm afraid pretty soon they will crash into everyone's house including mine where my father and brother are hiding."

"Then we should do something about that." Ranjer looked to his two friends.

"What about Master Jeikor?" Mera asked.

"Isn't this what they've been teaching us?" He asked. "Quynn, what would your fathers do? Would he leave them and abandon them to the Hobgoblins?"

"No." Quynn smiled. "They would help."

"Then I think we have to." Ranjer told them. "If we hurry, we can be back on the road before nightfall and on to Eventide."

"Ok." Quynn turned to Nym. "Which way to Maron's Hollow?"

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