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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 290
You are on Week 291
Week 292

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Two Hundred Ninety One Ends September 22

“Ha! Your powers can’t touch me, no matter how hard you try!”

“I wouldn’t be so confident; it will hurt more when you’re caught off guard.”

A stream of fire burned its way through the clouds, only to be met by a gush of water. The two elements clashed in a glorious burst of steam.

“Ladies, what is going on?” an air faerie asked as she appeared, accompanied by a gentle breeze that blew the steam away into curling mists. She looked sternly from the angry fire faerie to the fuming water faerie. “I understand the old grudges you both are carrying, but one of these days, an obstacle will arise that the two of you can only face together.”

“I don’t need her or anyone!” said Sernia the fire faerie, her face contorted in anger. “Just watch... there won’t be any use for you by the time I’m done.”

* * * * *

A candle dimmed in the night as its wax dripped onto the table. With an impatient sigh, Sernia waved her hand over the candle’s wick, bringing up a cheery, flickering flame. She would have to get new candles soon - the magic on these was wearing off from so much use.

Returning her attention to the book, the fire faerie peered down at its ancient, yellowed pages. She had been told not to dabble in other magics - in fact, it was strictly forbidden - but she knew the extent (or rather the limit) of her own fire powers and craved more. Sernia nibbled at her quill and then scribbled a few words down. Glancing up slightly, she drew herself together and, despite the heat around her, shivered. The night’s darkness was almost oppressive, and there was a powerful presence near her. She could sense it.

Just as her attention turned once more to her book, there was a knock on the door...

Author: Air Faerie
Date: Sep 15th
...She hesitated only a moment. After all, fire is an impulsive element. Within a moment she had leapt to the door, cracking it open and staring out into the dark night beyond.

A heavy smell of frankincense and grape leaves hovered in the air outside. She snapped her fingers, illuminating the darkness by her will -- "Who is there?" she demanded imperiously.

"I AM." The intonation was strange and unsettling. She turned her head sharply upwards, and found herself face to face with an upside down harlequin mask.

The masked being perched atop her porch roof, hanging over the eaves to look down at her. The edges of its tattered black and white wings hung down on either side of her lintel.

"Who are you?"

"Why, I'm..." it hesitated, tilting its head back and forth at her, like a curious Kadoatie watching a butterfly. "Why I've quite forgotten who I am. I'm a Nupie, I'm a fruit pie, I'm a pied piper -- that's it! I'm the lord of the dance!"

Sernia frowned, her red eyebrows coming together in an irritated V as she glared up at this strange interloper.

"Are you a faerie?"

"I'm certain fae and possibly failing -- I'm seldom unfair but always be wary... what else could I be if I wasn't a faerie?"

"I have no time for riddles." She turned her back on her, thinking to go back into the house. Sernia was always beset with half-besotted Neopets who wanted quests from her. She was probably no different than the rest of them.

"Evo-eeee!" It sprung off the roof, backflipping to land on the walkway before her house, crying out shrilly as it did so. "I am youth! I am joy! I'm a little bird that's broken out of its shell... wait, wait... that's not me, is it?"

Now that all of it was visible, the creature certainly looked like a mutant faerie. It had impossible long legs and arms, as sinewy and agile as a Spyder or a dancing Lenny. It wore striped black and white stockings over its legs and long striped sleeves that hung down well over its hands (or paws? or claws? ... it was impossible to tell) and bounced about its knees. Over these sleeves it wore a velveteen buckled up jacket which may have been meant to be royal, but with the sleeves looked more like an insane asylum outfit. Over the black and white harlequin mask a tangled mess of wild golden hair went in every direction like metallic vines. Its wings, though black and white at the tips, had golden spirals in the center, like eye-spots on a butterfly.

It took a few steps towards her with a slithering walk, swaying back and forth, half dancing and half stumbling. Sernia took a step back, reaching for the doorknob.

"Wait..." the fae-like creature said, her voice suddenly serious, "wait... you want me, I know you do."

"Want you?" Sernia laughed, sticking her chin up in the air. "I doubt that."

"Yesss.... yes you do." It cocked its head at her again. "Because I'm magic. I'm a different magic, a not-in-books magic, a you-can't-find-me-out magic, a stranger kind of magic ... a you'll-never-see-again-if-you-close-the-door magic . . . and I'm here because you want me."

"I don't understand," she said, but it was partly a lie. The book inside, sitting open still on her table, was entitled A STRANGER MAGIC. It was a book of invocations. "What are you?"

"I'm the Madness Faerie," it said, laughing like a Lost Desert Kougra. "And I can teach you...."

Author: threskiorn
Date: Sep 18th
...Darting about the window panes of the home like phantom lanterns gone astray, the glitter from a swarm of tumbling faerie lights blazed through Sernia's curtain of autumn here-and-gone hair as she slowly swayed her head back and forth. "I have no time for the likes of you," the Faerie told the Faerie very seriously, and it released a purling noise of inquisition, or merry hostility. "No time. You see, I'm trying to fulfill a vendetta."

The Madness Faerie's feet seemed to furl into themselves as it considered this rather gravely, giggling all the while. "Vendettas!" it yowled at last, yanking one of the shredded wings from its back for closer examination. "I understand vendettas. Well, that's all right then. Ding dong, five bells today!" Waving the wing in an ebony banner in an elipse round its head, the Madness Faerie strutted joyously in place for a moment before settling down to gnaw on the wing's joint bone.

All the while, Sernia regarded the black-and-white enigma with equal amounts of disdain and gout. "So... you'll be leaving now?" she suggested hopefully, her stomach turning as the Fae-mutant rolled a shred of wing skin about its mouth in apparent relish. "Provided you'll be all right with one wing?"

"This?" It used what remained of the wing bone to gesture incredulously in the direction of someone with whom it appeared to be carrying on a very personable conversation, but who just didn't happen to be there at the time. "It's all right, dearie, I can bake another one. By the way, say hello to your mother for me when you get the chance," Thoughtful, the creature took a last lick of the wing bone, then tossed it aside. "Lovely person."

Sernia rolled her eyes, but being a creature of magic, she was used to quite mad things happening about her without any particular reason. Why shouldn't those mad things send a representative now and then to have their opinions known? They had as many rights as anyone else. The fire faerie turned back to her tome of invocations, leaving the Madness Faerie to twitter a song of two syllables and crushed-velvet tongues flicking against teeth.

This plan suited the both of them swimmingly, until the Madness Faerie decided to wrench Sernia's ear into a position it definitely was never destined to be in. "Can you see me?" the black-and-white menace hissed into her ear, before springing away to land with a room-shaking whumpf in the middle of an incantation for filling people's ears with mashed potatoes.

In fact, looking at the outcomes most of these spells were supposed to produce was making Sernia consider that the Madness Faerie might, in fact, be a great help. This was a disheartening revelation, after she had poured so much dedication into thoroughly ignoring the Madness Faerie in the first place.

"Dadeebleweedleweedlewanted, dadeebleweedleweebleweedlewanted... You're doing it wrong."

Sernia had been patient. She had been very, very patient. But contempt is the one voice that pushed the righteous fire faeries to their breaking points, and this was just too much. "Get out of here!" she snarled, raising a fist to swat the Madness Faerie off her book and out of existence. But it had darted away by the time her arm thought to move, a black-and-white blur singing 'round the edges of her thoughts.

A few seconds later, and a fraction of an inch calmer, Sernia submitted to Fate, who obviously had a vendetta of its own that day. "All right," she adressed the fizzing creature. "How can you help me free myself of that wicked Parabel forever?"

"The water faerie?" A slitted tongue lolled from the Madness Faerie's mouth to stain her tome with drool. "Oh, no, you don't get to fight her yet. First you have to save her."

"What?!" Sernia howled, her nails gauging the Warfication instructions in two.

But the Madness Faerie was a sore on her ear, a humming dust particle suspended in the wind, whispering, "The sushi, it taunts me. And then come the clowns." She swatted at the creature yet again, and its laugh barreled backwards down its throat as it darted away.

"Everyone knows a rivalry can't be forged when one of the parties is in danger. Are you the only one who didn't know? You must be. Parabel's been stolen..."

Author: missjessiegirl
Date: Sep 19th
...Sernia stared blankly at her uninvited guest for five long seconds, expecting a further explanation. When it became obvious that no explanation was forthcoming, she sighed, gritted her teeth, and prepared herself for the long and convoluted attempt at conversation that doubtlessly awaited her.

“A faerie isn’t an object, like a plushie or a can of Achyfi,” she explained slowly, in what she felt was a very level-headed and charitable manner. I’m doing a service to this creature, she reasoned to herself, although it should know all this very well, seeing as how it says it’s a faerie. “You can’t ‘steal’ one.”

The Madness Faerie seemed to give this some thought, hunched oddly forward in a half-squatting, half standing position; after a moment, with a series of soft clicking sounds, its head began to turn slowly in an counterclockwise direction until it was fully upside-down, at which point it sprang back to its original position with a snap and a ‘ding!’ that reminded Sernia of an oven timer. “Are you the only one who didn't know? You must be. Parabel's been stolen!” it chattered, sorely tempting the fire faerie to slap someone hard in the forehead - either herself or the monochromatic mutant monstrosity.

“You just said that, and I already told you it’s impossible!” she snapped. “Will you please start making some sense?!” Though she was thankful for the fact that it didn’t perform any more nauseating contortions, the way the Madness Faerie was now swaying to and fro did not inspire a great deal of hope that she would receive a straight answer this time.

“Parabel is sleeping in a fishbowl made of iron at the bottom of my heart,” said the Madness Faerie with a poetic sigh, resting what Sernia could only assume was its hand against its masked cheek. “How lovely, how disturbing, how now brown Kau!” It performed a remarkably poorly-coordinated cartwheel then, which was fortunate as Sernia had just made an enraged dive for its throat. “A fishy fishbowl for a fishy faerie,” it crowed, landing on its stripy feet and wobbling a bit before seating itself on the floor of the Fire Faerie’s home, where it rocked back and forth with an air of insufferable smugness about its person.

Sernia was about to give up. There was only so much cryptic nonsense she could handle in one evening, and this thing seemed to have more than its fair share of the stuff. Taking a deep, calming breath, she held up her hands in mingled surrender and exasperation. “All right, you. Where exactly is Parabel?” If the water faerie had disappeared as she was being given to believe, there would be no way to exact upon her any of the delicious hexes she had planned; moreover, she guessed, she would never be able to get her visitor to leave.

The Madness Faerie stared at her for a moment, then raised its long arms up to its head and began ruffling its shock of blonde hair with its hands, still swathed in sleeves. “She is in a fishbowl,” it answered finally. “Grand theft of faerie! A little guppy stolen from her cloud!”

Sernia sighed. Judging on what she’d heard so far, the “fishbowl” could be a metaphor for practically anything. “Okay,” she conceded, figuring that it would be best to humour the lunatic faerie for now. “How can I find the... fishbowl?”

The Madness Faerie leaped to its feet at that, throwing its arms into the air, and Sernia got the distinct impression that, behind its harlequin mask, it was grinning at her. “Why, with my help, of course!...”

Author: _vespa
Date: Sep 19th
...Sernia sighed. Her patience had been drawn far too thin. "You--" She looked sideways at the Madness faerie, then to the books on her desk, then back to the faerie.

"I. I," the strange creature twittered. It pulled it legs behind its neck and rolled across the floor. "I. I. A worm I am not. Not a worm. Not a worm. But a worm there was. A worm and a needle. A camel and a hook. A small silver wing and a big black book." Upon hitting the door, it released a shrill laugh that shattered the rest of Sernia's patience.

"No, you are not a worm. You're a pest!" Sernia slammed the door on her way to the kitchen. She needed water, or cocoa, or tea. She needed something to quell the rising temper that threatened to spill from her tongue.

There's no sense in getting angry, Sernia thought to herself. That thing's just not right.

Moments later, she heard the study door creak open. "Shall we go?" the Madness Faerie asked.

"Go where?" Sernia asked.

The creature twirled a gallant circle. "Fishing, of course!"

Night time in high elevations was cold, and Faerieland was no exception. Even through her thick red coat, Sernia could feel the bite of wind upon her arms. She watched silently as the Madness Faerie spun in a circle in an attempt to find direction.

"North, north, south, south. East, west, and below. One of these is right, ten of these are wrong. Oh, which way to go." The creature laughed with levity and stretched its arms to catch the wind.

At first, Sernia had hoped to lose the Madness Faerie in the great outside, but the creature stuck too fast. Even with one wing, it managed to keep pace with Sernia. Walking around in the dark was no better. The creature could apparently see quite clearly in the dark. Sernia hid herself behind every bush and building she could find for an hour, but the creature always found her.

She now had to find another way to rid herself of the maddening mutant. Calamia, she thought to herself. Calamia will know what to do.

Calamia was a logical, quick thinking air faerie. Her sage advice had gotten Sernia out of a tight spot more than once.

With a little bit of deviation of her own, Sernia finally managed to get the Madness Faerie to follow her to the small lavender house beyond the fountains. With the back of her hand, Sernia knocked on the door...

Author: afflan
Date: Sep 20th
...After a moment, which hung long in the air due to the chill, the ornate Fae-drawn door fell away. There stood Calamia with her wise blue eyes, looking down at Sernia with a look of pleasant surprise.

"Why, Sernia, what are you doing here?" Calamia said, her reading glasses slipping down her nose as she did so. Then the look hardened. "Don't tell me this is about Parabel. I'm not going to help you carry on your meaningless little quarrel with her now--"

Sernia remembered the day in the clouds where Calamia had broken up her fight with Parabel, saying that someday they would need to work together or some such fiddle-faddle. "No," she assured the air faerie. Then she thought better of it. "Actually, this IS about Parabel. In a way. You see, this maddening lunatic of a faerie--" upon saying this, Sernia flung a thumb behind her, indicating the place where she guessed the monstrosity to be "--has told me that Parabel has been stolen. Now I seriously doubt that, but I was just going to ask you--"

Sernia trailed off when she saw Calamia crane her neck to look behind the fire faerie.

"I'm sorry, dear," Calamia said, turning back to face Sernia. "But I don't see anything out there."

"What?" Sernia cried, spinning about. And indeed it was true... the Madness Faerie was nowhere in sight, and in its place there was silence. "It was just here!" With this outcry Sernia gave a shiver, sensing the same presence she had in her quarters when the candle flames had gone out.

A look of concern spread over Calamia's face. "Come inside now, dear. It's very cold outside."

With one last questioning look at the clouds, Sernia stepped over the threshold and into the warm house. She went to stand by the hearth, her dress surreptitiously catching fire. It did not seem to bother her in the least.

"I just don't understand. It was there only a moment ago," she said to herself. Then she brightened a bit. "Maybe it finally left me alone!"

"What left you alone?" Calamia asked.

Sernia waved a hand. "Oh, just this horrible annoying excuse for a faerie that showed up on my doorstep an hour or two ago. Positively maddening, I'll tell you. Called itself the Madness Faerie."

Sernia made to laugh, but the laugh became trapped in her windpipe when she saw the broken look on Calamia's face. The result of her laugh's entrapment was an estranged hiccupping sound. "Calamia?"

"The Madness Faerie, did you say?" the air faerie said, though her voice had taken on the properties of a cold, near-dead breeze.

Sernia replied slowly, eyes widening. "Yes."

In one fluid movement Calamia's arm swung about the room, and from it came a strong gust of wind. Sernia heard all the windows lock just as Calamia brought her into one arm and crouched low beside the fire.

"What did it say?" she breathed. "What happened to Parabel?"

Confused, Sernia answered, "It said she was stolen. That she was--"

"In the fishbowl in the bottom of my heart," came the voice, emerging from the din and closely followed by the grotesque mask. Its painted mannequin smile somehow made the room darker, and its voice was even... no longer did the blundering excuse for a faerie have that crazed and boisterous look. Now it appeared almost sane... but in a way that turned Sernia's skin to smoldering ash.

"The mask," Calamia whispered. "Don't let it take off its mask..."

Author: mangohomer
Date: Sep 20th
...Sernia turned to her mentor, the boulder comfortably unyielding in the midst of a stream that swirled about her ankles, used liquid fangs as sharp as sarcasm to caress the fragile tendons running parallels up the backs of her legs. Calamia was the rock which she clung to when life snuck in a riptide or rampant current to trip her up - and Calamia was crumbling.

"Why?" the fire faerie asked gently, brashly. "What do you know of it?" She WAS a fire faerie, when all was said and done, and what is a fire faerie but fire caged, pacing forever the confines of its flesh-and-bone prison until it is free at last, at last. When tamed, what is a fire faerie at all but the coals withering in the fireplace of an empty room, a candleflame dying with every breath it takes?

At her back, the Madness that was not a Faerie at all hovered, patient and cruel. Time meant nothing to the Madness, for it had lived since the concept of "I" entered a soul, since there had been insiders, outsiders, and all between. It had time. It had all the time in the world.

"You have to tell it what you've done to her."

Calamia's lips had not moved, but the words came all the same. Perhaps the Madness had said them for her. The air faerie's chin swayed to her chest like a puppet hanging limp.

"To Parabel?" Sernia asked, bewildered. Though her mentor's simple flat was bedecked with windows, she felt as if the walls were advancing, crushing her wings, the fire welling in her heart; making a puppet of her.

Aren't we all the Madness's puppets, in the end? a voice murmured somewhere inside her skin, leary with exhaustion. Fear is as good as loyalty, after all, and often more effective in the long run.

No.

No. Sernia was fire. Sernia would pull against her strings until she was free, or until she trapped herself. Ashes or ashes or ashes again, all preferred to giving in.

"I did nothing to Parabel!" she protested, now not to pitiful Calamia, who crouched on the floor with her hands clamped against her own mental demons, but to the Madness itself.

The black-and-white rip in time said nothing. It merely stared through eyes that saw everything, and nothing at all. Somewhere beyond the roof of Calamia's cottage, Sernia felt the stars wink out.

"You can't run away from it," the air faerie at her heels managed hoarsely. Though Sernia kept her gaze fixed mulishly on the Madness, she raised a brow in question. Calamia took a deep breath, choked on the richness of air tinged with an aroma of the world being swallowed alive.

"The madness is your own."

Sernia meant to reply, she really did. But her thoughts were being nudged away by the string of song threading through her mind. Fishbowls of faeries and one for the moon! Ding dong, four bells today...

"Tell me why you were looking through the forbidden tome after your fight today," Calamia whispered, both feeling the silence closing in. "Tell me what you did to her. Or it will take the mask off and consume us both."

Sernia took in a breath through her nose, while tiny blips of black and white set about gauging her eyes.

"I hated her..."

Author: missjessiegirl
Date: Sep 21st
...Calamia sighed, placing a delicate hand to her temple. She closed her eyes, blocking the Madness from her thoughts. It did little good; the image seemed to have been etched into her irises, and she could see the would-be faerie dancing on her eyelids.

"We know that you hated her," said the air faerie. "Dear Fyora, it is no secret that you hated her!" Sernia hesitated before replying.

"You can't know how I loathed her," she breathed, desperately wishing that she had never touched the cursed book, never laid eyes on A Stranger Magic. Sernia clenched her fists, remembering her plans for the evening. Madness giggled menacingly (was such a thing possible?) at what it took to be a confession.

I am everything you are not. I am freedom, I am insanity, I am purity, I am indolence. I am everything you want but dare not wish for. I am your Truth.

No! Sernia felt as if she were physically pushing Madness out of her thoughts. It was painful, for it seemed as though this shadow of a creature had rooted itself in her very being, had laced itself with her soul.

"I wanted to destroy her. But Calamia, I swear by Fyora that I did nothing!"

I am everything. I am nothing. A fishbowl in the frigid depths of YOUR heart. Avast, ye wicked Aisha, or you’ll be handed off to the sheriff by your ears!

Sernia felt a hand on her shoulder. Calamia, her rock with a cool countenance, had returned from whatever demons she had faced. Madness twirled about the flat, stroking its horrible mask sinisterly.

"I believe you," Calamia said. Sernia wasn't sure she believed herself. Everything was so surreal. The walls seemed to shrink, and the moonlight that had spilled through the gaping curtains turned a most horrendous color. The silence was obliterated, replaced by an unending loudness. As soon as Sernia felt she grasped what the noise said (for it was, in fact, a multitude of voices), the meaning twisted.

"I didn't mean to do anything," Sernia amended. "Madness said something, said I needed her. Madness said she -- it is all magic." Realization crashed like a wave upon her, and the fire faerie would have been forced off her feet had Calamia not been at her side.

"I must have repeated whatever Madness said. The only thought in my mind was my vendetta against Parabel. I wanted her magic; I wanted to banish all necessity of her. I put her in the proverbial fishbowl, but I don't know where it is!"

"I do!" Madness all but shrieked. Calamia's nails dug into Sernia's shoulder as the creature placed a hand on its face and proceeded to remove its awful mask...

Author: hajohngirl
Date: Sep 21st
...Sernia stood still, aghast. Knowing what would happen if the dreadful mask came away from the shadowed face of wild Madness, she felt she must do something, say something, anything to stop the inevitable, but a sense of helplessness did much to snuff the faerie’s fire. Haze clouded around her, voices pounded in her head, and the room swam in pools of unnatural colors. Her eyes were forced, by some power other than her own, to focus on Madness’s terrible mask, which the shadowy hand was peeling from its face torturously slowly.

Sernia tried to think, but Madness’s many voices wove in and out of her thoughts, confusing them. She tried to shove Madness out of her head as she had before, but she felt herself growing weaker, weaker as the mask came away.

The surreal room swirled away from the fire faerie. She wasn’t there any longer... she was somewhere else. Blurry fragments of colors and forms mixed in her vision, filling her eyes as well as her mind with muddled confusion. Yet when Madness spoke, she heard it clearer than ever.

The bottom of my heart! Frigid fire, don’t be burning there! I have a lantern for you to light.

An image was forced before Sernia, though she did not see it in the mess of nonsense shapes that her eyes looked upon. Madness had pushed it in front of her, made her to look at it, though it did not exist.

The fishbowl.

The fabled fishbowl built of metaphors and riddles from the twisted non-faerie’s crazed tongue. The fishbowl that Sernia had unknowingly thrust her enemy into and sealed with a lock of hatred. The fishbowl that didn’t exist, yet somehow did. And in it was Parabel, haplessly swimming, blindly unaware of the glass walls that Sernia had built up around her in all their years of bitter rivalry.

See the pretty fish you caught! Fire and water can’t work together, what can happen when one steals the other? Only one can be free -- I won’t go fishing with you, cursed bird!

“Free!” Sernia’s spinning mind clutched wildly at the word. She looked at Parabel, trapped in the symbolic fishbowl. This was what she had hoped for all her life, to ruin Parabel, to plunge her life into a worthless existence. For some reason the fire faerie felt ashamed. But there were more pressing matters; it seemed that she, Parabel, and probably Calamia too, were all spiraling down to the center of Madness. Sernia strained against the confusing onslaught of Madness’s thoughts in her head, and cried out the question, “How can I free Parabel?”

Faerie thief turning herself in, and I’ll be the jury! Fishbowl has faerie, but lantern has nobody; feeble fire, come in and light the candle, and I’ll fish for you! Now go and say you’re sorry!

A trade. As she worked to figure out the situation, Sernia hardly noticed how hard she was pushing against Madness’s forces to regain use of her thoughts. If she filled the empty space in the metaphorical lantern of Madness’s heart, Parabel would be released from her fishbowl.

I am justice among other things. Punish the culprit, free the victim! Throw the fish back into the sea! Come and let’s steal Madness together!

Madness. No. Sernia could never succumb to this madness. Sernia might have unwittingly sealed Parabel into the heart of this horrible creature, but she would not knowingly surrender herself into that same grasping hand.

And what of Calamia? Madness probably had a little cloud in her heart all ready for the air faerie.

“I’m sorry,” Sernia choked out. The words were desperate; twenty minutes earlier, she wouldn’t have dreamed of saying them. Looking at the water faerie in her fishbowl, Sernia went on, “I’m sorry I hated her. I don’t know why I did. It’s just that everything about her... disgusted me!” Thoughts of Parabel’s disgusting habits began to turn Sernia’s mind to anger, but the Madness rushed back at the same time. Forgetting Parabel’s wrongs, the fire faerie struggled to regain control. “I never did anything to her. Let me out -- let us all out, and I’ll never bother her again. I’m sorry!”

Not enough. Let’s dance and make shadows on the lantern walls!

The fishbowl began to fade from Sernia’s view, and the Madness began closing in on her mind. She felt exhausted from fighting it. But with a true fire faerie’s resolve, she kept desperately trying to think her own thoughts, however blurred the Madness made them.

If she went into the lantern... fishing in the great sea is for pirates!... she would be unable... what sort of bait do you use to catch a moon?... and what would Calamia... mind you don’t burn down the house at the top of the sky!

Sernia drew in a ragged breath. She couldn’t let the Madness take her.

She saw a fuzzy picture of Parabel and her fishbowl one last time, and Madness’s words came back to her.

“Fire and water can’t work together...”

Couldn’t they? The writing on the forbidden pages of the wretched spellbook that had begun this all came dancing in her mind. A spell...

Suddenly the fire in Sernia flared once again, burning bright against the Madness that sought her. Madness might be everything, nothing, but it was magic... and magic could be fought. Just as water would always quench fire, so too did Madness have a weakness...

Author: nut862
Date: Sep 22nd
...Sanity.

Sernia flared, chaining the impulsive flames of her existence with the iron hold of her mind. She dug down frantically, pulling at her essence, shaping her magic to fill the depths of her soul, to contain it, to force it to fight. All she knew... what did she know? All she felt... what did she feel? But more importantly, the thought pounded against her, was the need to know what was true, what was real.

But she couldn't do it alone.

From the depths of her heart, from the iron-barred fishbowl of her hatred, her madness, she pulled, pulled with a strength she'd never known before. She needed someone else -- for once in her life, she admitted it. Knew it. She needed the balance, the ignorance battling obsession, the water which fought fire, the solid sanity that kept Madness at bay.

Sernia needed her. Needed not Calamia, but Parabel.

Draw her out, came Calamia's voice, or perhaps her thoughts? Sernia reached out, forcing her conscious to be at peace, to accept, to be aware, taking in the presence of the air faerie, feeling Calamia falter then regain strength, wind feeding fire in a determined surge and preparing Sernia for battle. Calamia would help her. They would save Parabel, and that would save everything.

The Madness Faerie faltered, hand clutching her mask, and suddenly writhing in pain, fingers crumpling. It was losing! Losing... but it never lost...

I have all the time in the world... it thought to itself, gasping, shocked. I have all the time in the world... she's almost here... dance and make shadows on the lantern walls...

And then it happened. At the root of herself, Sernia felt her - felt Parabel.

Water surged through her veins, making her scream, and she felt Calamia fall away as steam burned and hissed within her. Something rose from her, fell away, as she gagged as though she were drowning. The feeling was, at its core, indescribable - something she would never want to feel again.

A coolness washed upon her and Sernia stumbled, dazed, but there was no trace of confusion as she felt a cold, clammy hand grasp hers, bringing new strength into her body. Gasping and bewildered, Parabel lay on the floor beside her, hair dry and tangled, but eyes wondering.

"I didn't... come out of it... all completely right... Sernia, when I'm finished with you...."

Sernia, weak now, gave a dizzy laugh, locking eyes with her worst enemy.

* * * * *

The Madness Faerie perched idly, head ticking from side to side as though she couldn't keep it steady. Humming an absent little tune she kicked up the clouds under her feet before tearing off a portion of her other wing, standing on her head and gnawing on it absently.

"Cuckoo, goes the clock upstairs! But the cat got the birdy, seven o'clock and all is well."

It contemplated the house a moment, before righting itself and dashing away, giggling madly. "Seventy-twelve stops to make, and off we go to that lake of muffins on the Moon! Buh-bye darlings, and say hello to Ms. Wilson when you see her, poor dear. The beakadoodles need feeding, but the Madness Faerie will never forget the ones that got away..."

Her fishbowl was empty and the torch was unlit; she'd rolled the dice all wrong this time. Ah, but there were five little Meepits all waiting in a row - mouths to feed and things to do...

Then off to the lake of muffins on the moon.

The End

Author: x_soranelle_x
Date: Sep 22nd



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