Chapter One: A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed
I looked sadly at my photograph album. The book was open to a page, dedicated to pictures of my youth. Most of the pictures brought happy memories, most. There was one picture that brought back my horrible past, and picture alone was enough to break me down to tears. I’m not the type of person who cries about little things, even death doesn’t scare me badly. Only torture. My fear of torture often took the better of me, making me do things that I regret later on in life.
Oh, here I go again, on and on, not even explaining what the picture was. It had an image of a girl, her arms wrapped around my waist. She was an attractive girl, her figure rather curvy, and her skin very fair. Her hair was flaming red in colour, and hung loosely around her shoulders, reaching half-way down her back. Behind her slight fringe, were two glowing sapphire eyes, that seemed to emanate a sense of jubilation from them. Even the way she dressed was beautiful. In the photograph, she was wearing a pair of low-waist black pants, that flared out at the bottom. Her top was a spaghetti-strap top, and a canary yellow in colour. Her sandals were covered by her pants’ flair, just as her stomach wasn’t by her top.
And there, standing next to her, arm around her shoulder, was me. I was rather tall, and therefore couldn’t look face to face with the girl. I wasn’t all that much taller, but taller anyway. My shock of jet black hair fell in front of my right eye, in spiky bangs, while it just about managed to miss my left eye. The remaining eye, my left one, was emerald green in colour as was my hidden right one. My arms were bare, for I was wearing a red tank-top that reached half-way down my thighs. It was rather loose for me, but then again, so were all my other clothes. My legs were covered by a pair of baggy black pants that sagged dangerously low, and dragged across the floor. My hands were encased in black gloves that stopped at my knuckles, leaving my fingers bare.
The background was an outstandingly beautiful lake, with the sun plunging into it. The last rays of the sun cast pretty orange patterns across the lake surface. On both of our faces was plastered a silly grin, the type one gets when they are in love. And, right at the bottom left corner, written in small yellow letters by my best-friend was a sentence that went like this: Jake and Ginny, the inseparables
The very sentence made tears well up in my eyes, and I felt a burning sensation as I tried to blink them back. A sharp knock on the door brought me back to my senses, and I got off the couch, opening the door. There stood the very same person who had written those words. Chester was my best-friend, and no matter how much grief he caused me, it’s always unintentional. He’s slightly shorter than me, but slightly stockier. His hair was dark-brown in colour, sporting a bit of golden-brown on his gelled up spikes. His eyes, hazel in colour, always look concerning, and now, they looked even more concerned than usual. He must have noticed the tears in my eyes. Quickly wiping away the tears with my sleeve, I gestured for him to sit down, afraid that if I spoke, I would burst out screaming at my stupidity.
He didn’t sit, but his eyes darted to the album on the table, and immediately knew what was making me cry. His words were comforting as ever, “There’s no need to cry over it Jake. It’s happened, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s been a week since Ginny was taken hostage by Lord Desceptor, and I thought that the shock would have died down in your heart. Obviously, I was mistaken, but I’m sure that wherever Ginny is, she doesn’t want you to be crying about her.”
Surprised by his speech, but reassured, I took my seat on the black armchair, closing the album in the process. I opened my mouth, and was surprised to find my voice coming out, without any problem, “I know Chester, it’s just that all of our happy times together have gone. I’ll never be able to hug her again, leave alone kiss her.”
Chester looked taken aback by my words, but only for a second. He was back to his normal self in no time, “Well, for starters, you two never did go around, snogging each other in public –” a small grin appeared on my face at this, and Chester took that as a good sign and continued, “– and, who says that you can’t get her back?”
His last words made me jump off my chair, as if pricked by a thorn. A loud yell flew out of my mouth before I could sop it. After calming down a bit, curiosity took the better of me, and I began to question Chester about his findings, “How? Have you found a way past Desceptor’s defences?”
“Well, the minute that I left you after the fight, I headed for the city library, looking up and researching Lord Desceptor’s –” he began, but I cut him short.
“Would you stop calling that cold bastard ‘Lord‘. He’s nothing of the sort, more like ‘fraud‘. I don’t even see why we should be calling him by his name!” I yelled, sitting back down on the chair and banging my hand on the coffee table.
Chester patiently waited for me to finish rampaging on, and then calmly replied, “It’s always a good thing to respect your enemy. No matter how idiotic or stupid he might seem. Now, if you’d let me continue?” I gave an apologetic nod, and he continued. “Well, as I was saying, I researched on Lord Desceptor’s past, finding out all sorts of things that you might not know. For starters, I’ve found out his true name. The name that can kill him with the correct magical power. Infact, it was Lord Desceptor himself who gave his biography’s author him true name. He said that even if people knew what it was, his power would still rise. But, if the book is published, everyone knows his true name, and I thought that there must be something else that will help us get back. So, while you were sitting here, mourning about the loss of Ginny, I spent days on end, not sleeping, until today morning, when I found it. After careful deduction, I realised that his most prized possession is his magical talisman. If we can defeat his talisman, he is as vulnerable as any man. Even more so, because he relies upon his magical talisman, and nothing else.”
I gaped at Chester in disbelief. First of all, he hadn’t slept, neither had I, but still, he was doing something useful. Lastly, he actually found a loophole in Desceptor’s defences. I had always thought him to be invincible, but not to Chester. But something was bothering me. Something buzzing at the back of my mind, “What is his talisman?”
Even before asking Chester, I knew that the answer would not bring pleasantries. I was not surprised by Chester’s reply. “That’s the problem. His talisman is a locket that is constantly around his neck. He never lets anyone touch it apart from his most trusted men. Even then, he keeps a close eye on them.”
I felt a discouraging sinking sensation in my stomach. I decided to say something before I started sprouting tears again. “Well, you’re a well known wizard, so couldn’t you just use a summoning charm or something like that. You told me summoning charms can make something disappear from anywhere around the world and appear in front of you.”
Chester shook his head, smiling sadly, “I’m glad that you’ve got so much faith in my magic, but summoning charms take up a lot of energy, and I’d have to spend days on end resting and restoring my energy to its fullest before attempting the charm. Also, I’m sure that Lord Desceptor uses some of the most powerful sorcerers in the world to protect his talisman, and even uses some of his own magic to protect it. Besides, to use a summoning charm, I need to see his locket, which I haven’t seen. Therefore, even if I had the strength, and Lord Desceptor didn’t protect it, it would be an impossible feat.”
I gaped noiselessly, turning my back to my best-friend, staring at the wall. Not out of hatred for Chester, nor for anger, but simply for disbelief. Another question popped up in my head, so I tried it, “But, If the locket is protected by magical means, how do you expect us to destroy it? I mean, I don’t even know magic, so I’m of no use –”
“That’s where you are mistaken, “ interrupted Chester. “It’s true that you don’t know magic, but that’s our strength. You see, Lord Desceptor is so strong when it comes to spells and enchantments that he hasn’t bothered to train in any other means. If you manage to get past his defences, and enter his lair, you could –”
“What do you mean if I get into his lair? You must be mad! No one has ever managed that, and I don’t plan on being with the many people that Desceptor has killed,” I snapped, outraged by Chester’s suicidal mission.
“No,” said Chester. “I’m coming with you, and if we combine our friendship together with our powers, we can get past anything that he has waiting for us. And, if we manage to get inside his lair, we can get Ginny back. Isn’t that what this whole thing is about? Getting Ginny away from Lord Desceptor?”
The tone of voice that he used was so accusing, and thrown at me with such force that I took a step backwards, before regaining my senses. “It’s not only about Ginny,” I muttered darkly. Chester opened his mouth in bewilderment. I continued nevertheless. “It’s also partly about my mother and father. You never knew why I was at the orphanage until Ginny’s parents leant me a loan to build this house. Desceptor took my parents, and tortured them until insanity in search for the Rebellion‘s plans. And when they had gone retarded, he killed them. In the slowest, most pain inducing method ever. He dropped boiling hot oil onto their unmentionables, until the pain was too much for them and they gave up the will to live.” After saying this, I crumpled to the floor, trying, not for the first time that day, to hold back my tears.
Chester sat down next to me, putting his hand around my shoulder, apparently lost for words. I was glad that he didn’t have anything to say: I needed the quiet moment. Realising this, Chester removed his hand from my shoulder, steering me to the black armchair. I nodded my thanks, wiping my tears from my eyes, thinking about Desceptor. He had taken all that I loved away form me. The only thing that I had left was Chester, but then I remembered something. A friend is more important than anything else in the world…