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

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Week 316
You are on Week 317
Week 318

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 Three Hundred Seventeen Ends April 14

Casandia ducked neatly as a roll of bright purple tissue paper flew haphazardly through the air, only to be caught near a corner of the ceiling by a hovering Shoyru.

“Nice dodge, Casandia,” the Shoyru called, while beginning to twist the paper and stick it to the ceiling.

“Thanks,” she shouted back. “Be careful with that!” The air faerie headed through another doorway and took flight, just as some royal red carpet rolled across the floor beneath her.

“Looks good!” she called to the faerie Yurble who was smoothing out one of the carpet’s ends. She turned back to wave to the Yurble -- only to crash headlong into a ladder that was propped against the staircase banister. The ladder collapsed to the floor, spilling miles of coloured ribbons and various ornaments in every direction. The Cybunny who had been on top barely managed to leap out of the way in time.

“I’d been doing so well, too,” Casandia muttered to herself. “Sorry about that,” she added out loud, while helping to right the ladder.

“It’s all right,” the Cybunny said good-naturedly. “Can’t say that I didn’t expect it would happen sooner or later.”

“Casandia?”

The air faerie turned as she heard another small voice near her elbow. A petite faerie Pteri stood there, her wings holding some sort of box.

“What is it, Miriel?”

“How’re the preparations for the big celebration going?” the Pteri asked politely.

“About as well as they could be,” Casandia replied, vaguely waving her hand about. “Everything’s a bit hectic, but nothing’s gone horribly wrong... yet. I do, however, have to go downstairs and speak to the cooks about the cake... but never mind that,” she added, shaking the thought out of her head. “What do you need?”

“A package came in. I assume it’s for Queen Fyora,” the Pteri answered, holding out a plain white box wrapped with a red bow.

“Why didn’t you just put it with the other gifts?” Casandia asked. “Her Majesty gets gifts every day, whether there’s an occasion or not.”

“This one arrived rather... mysteriously,” Miriel said cautiously. “I was cleaning the entryway like I was told to when it just appeared in the middle of the hall. Neither I nor any of the others working with me saw anyone strange enter or exit, and we were all working in various corners of the room, not in the centre. It just kind of… materialised. Also, it’s not addressed to anyone, and there is no name or clue as to who might have left it...”

Author: Faerie Author
Date: Apr 6th
...Casandia frowned. "Well, a gift appearing out of thin air is certainly odd. I think you were right not to put it with the other gifts after all, then."

"Can you take care of it?" Miriel asked hopefully. "I need to get back to the entryway, and if there's something iffy about it that can get past faerie magic, I figure it needs a faerie to look after it.

Casandia smiled wryly. "Either that or it specifically needs someone who can do non-Faerie magic. I'll get it taken care of." She accepted the mysterious package and made her way (carefully!) out of the area being actively decorated. She slipped through several elaborately and royally adorned rooms and at last into the places where the usual work of running Faerieland was still getting done.

She set the package down on a desk, keeping one hand firmly on it at all times, and scribbled a note to Fyora (and her clerks) explaining that a gift had been received under strange circumstances and was under investigation. She folded the paper carefully into the shape of a butterfly, balanced it on the palm of her free hand, and blew softly.

The butterfly fluttered off, and Casandia scooped up her package and did the same.

Much to her surprise, however, she met the Faerie Queen herself two corridors later. "Your Majesty!" she said, curtsying as best she could with her hands full.

"Casandia, greetings," Fyora said. "Forgive me for being abrupt, but is that the package you reported to me?" She held up the white-paper butterfly.

"Yes, it is," Casandia said in bewilderment. "I'm so sorry, the mode of delivery, I didn't think -- were you expecting it?"

"No," Fyora said. "Or yes. I was... not sure what to expect."

The air faerie blinked. "I'm sorry. I don't understand."

The queen sighed. "I wish I did." She released the butterfly, which circled in brief confusion and then attached itself to her hair, and extended her hands. "But I think I had better take it quickly."

Casandia held it out, then hesitated, gripped by sudden suspicion. She trusted her queen, but was this really her queen? Would Queen Fyora insist on personally taking a mysterious package that might be dangerous, instead of suggesting precautions and carrying on with her other responsibilities? Or could there be an impostor?

The other faerie's hands closed on the box, which was perhaps uncharacteristically impolite -- and then there was a tug of actual magic, which was definitely impolite but also so clearly that of the Faerie Queen that Casandia's sudden doubts were as suddenly dispelled. But before she could let go, she felt a sudden burning heat on her arm.

She looked down to see that the red ribbon had formed itself into the shape of a tiny fire-breathing Draik.

"Let go!" Fyora said urgently.

The air filled with soft white smoke...

Author: schefflera
Date: Apr 9th
...which seemed to fill the hallway, to become the air, to dangle there forever as if it fully intended to take up permanent residence. Coughing, Casandia summoned a breath of wind to drag the smoke away, and instantly the pale smog began to disperse. Strangely enough, it seemed to be moving toward her, but she didn't feel anything brushing against her skin, no wisp of cold or heat or feeling of movement. Another surge of warmth on her arm, slightly less intense than last time, made her gasp, and an odd taste lit upon her tongue as she inhaled. Her gaze shot down, and she saw the mist, still completely unfelt, flowing about her face. She must have inhaled some of it. Irked, for some reason, and slightly alarmed, she strengthened the wind, shoving the rest of the smoke forcefully away. It obligingly dissipated, fading into the air as if it had never been.

"Casandia," a soft voice said, and the air faerie's eyes lifted to meet those of her Queen. That violet gaze was wider than usual, and uncharacteristically concerned. "Are you all right?"

"Of course," Casandia answered promptly, automatically. Of course she was all right. Why wouldn't she be? What a stupid thing for an impostor to ask.

Impostor?

No, that was Queen Fyora. The real Queen Fyora. The magic that had tugged at her earlier had been unmistakable. Where had the strange suspicions come from?

"Casandia," Fyora said, in a low, almost wary voice, "I think you should take the Draik off."

"Draik?" Casandia's gaze was drawn almost unconsciously to her arm. Oh - there was a Draik there. Not one of those long-tailed, stubby-legged creatures with which one usually associated the name; this one was lithe, almost serpentine, with ruby scales that seemed to glow with a river of living fire that flowed through the creature's molten core. It was beautiful, coiled around her arm like the most priceless of bracelets.

It suddenly occurred to her that she didn't want to take the creature off. It was hers, it was beautiful, and she wanted it to stay. She wondered briefly if it was alive. It seemed completely inanimate, frozen as if its body were composed of crystal. And yet, at its blazing heart, it shone with more vibrant, fiery life than anything she had ever encountered. A little container of life, she fancied.

And she didn't want to take it off.

"No," she said simply, half shocked to hear herself say the word. And yet more followed after it. "No, it's mine, and I want to keep it."

The moment the words had left her mouth, they felt right. The Draik really was hers, wasn't it?

Of course it was. It was on her arm, it had chosen her, and only a liar, a thief or an impostor would ask her to give it up...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Apr 10th
...Fear, but not complete shock, flickered in those violet eyes. "Casandia," she said, softly, as if persuading an overemotional toddler to part with a beloved plushie, "I really must insist that you-- "

"But it's... it's so beautiful," Casandia found herself saying, almost to herself, in a nearly inaudible whisper, and then her eyes narrowed as she glared at the Queen, her pale eyes spitting daggers. "Why should I part with it, Your Majesty?" she demanded, uncharacteristically hostile, giving majesty a nasty, sarcastic tone. "Only a fool would get rid of a... a priceless treasure like this." The torrent of words that was pouring out of her mouth was unlike any she had ever said to anyone before, let alone to Queen Fyora. "Who are you, really? A queen, or a lowlife, a cheapskate faerie too absorbed in her power to ever favor the little people?" The moment these words were out of her mouth, looming in the air like a rain cloud ready to erupt in a downpour, she knew they were right. Fyora was the Faerie Queen, after all; she had plenty of beautiful gifts and dazzling items of jewelry that by far outstripped the Draik as far as beauty went. Couldn't Fyora see that the Draik had chosen Casandia?

Fyora looked alarmed. "Oh, no -- Casandia -- "

"It's mine," Casandia spat, feeling a ripple of impatience and anger beneath her skin. She glanced back at the Draik and felt a sudden, unexplainable warmth that filled her entire body as if she'd just been wrapped in a blanket of... of what? Warmth? Eternal happiness? Elation, to be sure. It was a curious feeling, but Casandia could not bring herself to doubt the Draik; it was like a Petpet that had strayed from home and just returned. She connected with it. She understood.

And Fyora expected Casandia to give that all away?

"If you'll excuse me, Your Highness," said Casandia, stealing a look at the Faerie Queen, who appeared concerned; the creases on her forehead attested to that. Fyora opened her mouth to speak, extending a pale hand as worry flashed in her eyes.

She's just afraid I'll get away with it! She's going to steal it!

Casandia wheeled around, her wings fluttering with excitement, and she made for the end of the hallway with a swiftness borne of an Air Faerie. Fyora did not follow -- Casandia could hear no footsteps. As she rounded the corner, she tossed a careless glance over her shoulder.

The Faerie Queen was gone.

That's strange, thought Casandia, pausing. Why would she leave like that?

Her eyes darted to the ruby-red Draik on her arm, expecting to feel a surge of warmth and delight, a feeling of contentedness that made her feel as if nothing in the world could possibly be wrong.

But the Draik had vanished.

And then she heard a voice...

Author: raizindaroof
Date: Apr 10th
..."Casandia."

One word was spoken -- just one, but with such perfect tone, such flawless grace, such serene majesty and nobility that the faerie knew instantly that she was in the presence of someone royal.

Falling instinctively to her knees, Casandia dared look up. The sight that met her took her breath; awestruck, she found herself gazing into a pair of wise, powerful eyes that glittered the same ruby-red as had the vanished Draik.

"Rise, child," commanded the lady standing before her softly. Extending her arm slightly, the being flicked her wrist, offering a guiding push to help Casandia to her feet. In it, the faerie could feel the distinctive presence of magic -- this lady must be some sort of faerie as well.

Sure enough, two glistening wings rose from the lady's tall shoulders, almost hidden by a voluminous mane of fiery curls cascading about them. The faerie herself wore a gown of sheer maroon that trailed the ground behind her in a gentle caress, embroidered with beads of gold and tiger eye.

She was beautiful.

"How can I s-serve you, Highness?" stammered Casandia. Although she stood as straight as she could before the faerie, her instincts still screamed for her to kneel before such a divine presence.

The faerie's lips curved in the slightest of smiles, but it was enough to transform her countenance into one of exquisite kindness. Casandia felt a rush of warmth return to her -- the same blanketlike feeling that had enveloped her once before -- and realized that she would do anything to win such smiles.

"Call me Alostaire, child," requested the faerie. "Casandia, you are one of the Chosen, one of the few powerful enough to aid me in my quest."

Casandia's heart swelled to hear such words, and she felt a tremendous eagerness to prove herself arise within her -- to be favored by such a being was the highest of all compliments. "How can I help, Lady Alostaire?" she asked quickly.

"I wish to be your queen," replied the faerie softly.

"Yes," replied Casandia at once. It felt so right; it could not be a mistake. Alostaire was a faerie of such grace, such nobility, that petty, self-absorbed Fyora easily paled in comparison. What right did Fyora have to rule when one such as Alostaire could be queen in her stead? One who truly deserved the position?

"Yes," she repeated, feeling a rush of euphoria surge within her as her resolve became determination. "I will help you, Lady Alostaire..."

Author: laurelinden
Date: Apr 11th
..."That pleases me immeasurably, Casandia." Alostaire's voice was firm and demanding, carrying with it all the refinement of a lady. Each word that escaped her lips was sonorous and beautiful, hanging upon the air before evanescing into silence. "Forthwith, you are my vassal and my trusted servant. I shall rely on you to bring out my accession to the throne."

Casandia beamed. "I am willing to do whatever I must, milady," she breathed, nodding her head in respect. The noble faerie smiled in response.

"There are several things that must come about before I can accede to the throne, Casandia. The Scepter and Crown must be in my possession. Wielding the regal magic of the Scepter, and absorbing the ancient magic of the Crown, only then will I become the Faerie Queen." Alostaire's eyes flashed crimson.

Casandia knew of the two relics of which she spoke. They were the sacred, royal instruments, passed down from generation to generation since the birth of the Faerieland monarchy. They were archaic, having existed for countless aeons. Faerie tales abounded of the twin relics' omnipotence and magic. Casandia's eyes glittered as memories of her childhood flooded to her.

The relics were much too valuable, much too powerful to display publicly. As such, they were kept in a secret, hidden place; Fyora only carried with her representations. The power of Fyora's tiara and staff were naught compared to the Crown and Scepter.

"Lady Alostaire," Casandia breathed, "how are we to obtain such relics? Their location is kept secret; none but the highest of faerie officials know of their whereabouts. No doubt they are under heavy guard, through magic and otherwise."

"Do you doubt me, Casandia?"

The royal voice trembled, saddened, almost as if hurt. Casandia shook her head fiercely.

"No, milady, I--"

"Learn of the relics' whereabouts, Casandia," Alostaire declared with sudden urgency. "That is imperative. It is... of utmost importance. The other Chosen can handle the rest. You, however, were Chosen for this task."

Casandia's eyes glowed. That would make sense. She was nowhere near the status of the Battle Faerie or the other advisors, but as the Keeper of Festivities, she did hold some authority amidst the palace walls. There were very few of importance who did not know her name, after all.

This was her purpose. This had been fate.

"I am trusting that you will do this, Casandia," Alostaire whispered. "I must go, to seek the other Chosen, for they all have tasks that must be completed. I send with you my fondest wishes. Be secret, be safe!"

With that, the magnificent faerie vanished in a blur of light. Casandia was left gaping for a moment -- she had wished to speak farewell to her lady -- but she soon steeled herself upon the task at hand. There was no time to lose.

Who would know of the relics' whereabouts?

It dawned upon her without much thought. Yes, Casandia mused. Yes, of course! She would know. Of course she would know!

The Air Faerie's cerulean wings began to flutter. Her destination in mind, she set off down the hallway...

Author: really_awesome_d00d
Date: Apr 11th
...and promptly ran into Queen Fyora.

“Y-your Highness!” Casandia bit her lip and dipped into a fleeting curtsy, but even the brevity of that motion made her insides crawl. Fyora did not deserve such respect. And if Casandia continued allegiance to this self-possessed faerie much longer, there was a chance -- just a chance that Alostaire might consider her a traitor. Strong, beautiful Alostaire. She couldn’t let that happen.

The Faerie Queen looked down at her, her expression concerned with perhaps a hint of suspicion. “Casandia, where is the Draik?” It was more a statement than a question, and too stern for comfort.

“The Draik.” Casandia swallowed, her mouth dry. “It... it’s gone. It disappeared.”

Might as well stick to the truth, she thought nervously, and nothing but the truth.

“Indeed? How interesting.” The Queen was watching her carefully. “I suppose you shall now return to finish the party preparations?”

Casandia forced herself to look up into those deep violet eyes, which presently felt as though they could bore holes through her body. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

Those eyes. A gaze of wisdom, of compassion, of strength and power and sympathy. It suddenly struck her how very different these eyes were from Alostaire’s ruby ones. There had been some kind of undercurrent, the hint of a shadow behind Alostaire’s demeanor, while here with Fyora there was none.

At this, Casandia tore herself away from the queen. Don’t let yourself get swayed, she told herself firmly. Fyora is a fool.

“I suppose I’ll see you later then, Your Highness,” said Casandia in as level a voice as she could manage. “At the celebrations, I assume?”

“Possibly sooner,” was the grave reply, and then Queen Fyora vanished.

Casandia shivered; she hated whenever that happened. But at least now she was alone, and she had a mission to carry out.

She skidded back into the main hall where most of the others were busily setting up, accidentally knocking down the ladder a second time and crashing into the friendly Yurble. Once again, ribbons and decorations were strewn everywhere.

“Sorry!” she called out over her shoulder, which was followed by a chorus of good-natured assurances and chuckles. But Casandia no longer cared about the state of the party. Everyone in Faerieland was going through all this trouble, and what for? Just to celebrate Fyora’s birthday? She scowled, a startling replacement of the air faerie’s characteristic grin. Fyora was nothing compared to Alostaire.

Finally she came to a fluttering halt in the main entryway and quickly scanned the Neopets at work. Casandia had to admit, the hall did look magnificent by this point -- the walls were lit with festive candles and the color purple seemed, if anything, even more predominant than usual.

But none of this was important. Casandia glanced around impatiently; she had to find--

“Miriel!”

The faerie Pteri glanced up from a pile of ornaments. “Yes?” she asked, ever so delicately.

Casandia rushed forward, skirting another ladder along the way. “I’m so glad I found you,” she breathed, lowering her voice so no one else could hear. “You’re one of Fyora’s handmaidens, right? I need your help.”

“What is it?”

“I need something, Miriel. It’s very important. And I know this is going to sound weird, but I can promise you that it’s for a good cause.” Casandia took a breath. “I need... the Scepter and the Crown.”

Miriel gasped, causing several people to turn in their direction.

“Not so loud!” hissed Casandia and the Pteri quieted, though still looking shocked.

“What in Neopia do you want those for?” she asked in a whisper. “They are ancient, powerful, sacred objects. You -- you cannot possibly--”

“--But you know where they’re hidden.”

Miriel looked cornered. “It is not in my place to tell.”

“Please! Miriel, you’re the only one who knows that I can trust. I have to find out where the relics are.”

But before the Pteri could reply, a shadow fell over the two Neopets.

“Have you completed your task, dear Casandia?” came a hauntingly familiar voice. “I trust that you have done your part well. After all, I do not like to be disappointed...”

Author: inkita_star
Date: Apr 12th
...Casandia whirled around, coming face to face with Alostaire. "Yes, my lady!" she replied eagerly. "I mean, I haven't found out the exact location yet, but she knows--" The air faerie waved a vague hand toward Miriel.

"I see," replied Alostaire evenly, her stunning beauty reducing the rest of the room to what seemed a dull grey. In fact, Casandia noticed with alarm, it really had turned grey! And completely silent, too -- none of the other partymakers moved at all. They stood stiffly in their various positions... Frozen.

Something felt wrong -- horribly wrong. The beauty of Alostaire now seemed red and cruel, and the power that held the rest of the room in place had a distinctly evil essence. Glancing nervously to Miriel, Casandia almost spoke a word of warning, but the Pteri was gazing at the tall faerie in awe, completely amazed.

"You know the location, sweet one?" asked Alostaire gently. That voice, which had once sounded so wise, so clear, so perfect, now had a joltingly false quality about it, like a sugary coating made to hide the taste of poison.

Miriel trembled, but it was not with fear. No, Casandia could recognize the emotions written on her face -- they were the exact same that she'd once felt herself. The Pteri nodded obediently. "I do, milady."

It was as if the urgency bottled up within Casandia exploded all at once. "No, Miriel! Don't tell her! She's evil, she--"

An invisible whip of air snarled itself around her throat. Choking, Casandia clawed at her neck, but her hands could not fight the air spell; this magic overwhelmed her powers tenfold. Her eyes bulged helplessly as she fell to her knees, trying frantically to gasp for breath. She threw one last pleading glance to Miriel, but her once-friend's expression might have been chiseled from stone for all of the emotion her eyes held now.

"I was a fool to trust her," said Alostaire sadly. "She is, as you see, a traitor to my cause. I would be much wiser to trust one as you, Miriel. I believe that you can get me what I seek."

The Pteri nodded solemnly, and the life and color returned to the room around them. And then Casandia was falling...

Author: laurelinden
Date: Apr 12th
...The air faerie exhaled, giving a sigh as if she had just completed a particularly heated race. Her elegant visage, however, bore no emotion; there was nothing but blankness drawn into the lines of her face. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head, and her eyelids fluttered shut. Her cornsilk tresses whipped about her, her dress flowed like water through the rushing air, and suddenly she was unmoving on the cold tiles.

Dazed and semi-conscious, Casandia could faintly register others shouting her name. Footfalls echoed around her like thunderbolts. Around her, the colors, noises, and lights of the front hall began to warp and whorl, twisting, distorting...

"Casandia!"

The next thing she knew, fresh air was in her lungs, and she had returned to full alertness. She was still on the ground, but something was holding her up. She gazed around slowly. In a circle around her were the workers she had assigned to prepare for the celebration. Standing beside her, propping up her back with a paw, was the friendly Yurble.

She gave him a half-hearted smile, and then it all came rushing back. Alostaire had abandoned her. The foul faerie's silk tongue had made a victim of poor Miriel. As if this was not overwhelming enough, the realization dawned upon her at that moment: there was absolutely nothing impeding Alostaire from the Scepter and Crown. No one knew the perils that so threatened the sacred relics.

No one... except her.

"Queen Fyora, where is Queen Fyora? I must see her!"

The Air Faerie's delicate soprano voice quavered with urgency and rising terror. The Yurble shot her a concerned look, and tried to soothe her, assuring her he was going to fetch a doctor. Realizing he would be of no help, she ignored him.

She attempted to rise to her feet, but her legs felt like jelly. She stumbled back towards the ground. She could not give up! With a cry, she beat her wings with all her might; their strength did not fail her, and the faerie lifted effortlessly from the ground. She landed down quickly thereafter, and, parting through the stunned crowd, made her way as fast as she could towards the hallway she had first seen her queen.

Her queen... was Fyora, now. She was no vassal to Lady Alostaire, who had deceived her with a honey-sweet disguise. A disguise to whom she had been so quick to swear her fealty. Her mind's eye envisioned herself, blindly pledging allegiance, and bitter resentment filled her heart. She would be no puppet for that villainess!

Resolve burned within her, and it steadied her shaking stride. She charged down the hallway at a breakneck pace -- there was absolutely no time to lose! Miriel knew of the relics' whereabouts, and it was only a matter of time before the unthinkable would occur.

"Queen Fyora!" she cried desperately. She had to find her, she had to! It was imperative! This thought drove her past any limits she had ever held. She began to race along with the aid of her wings, which never failed her. She whizzed past several stunned palace servants; she turned to gaze at the last one she had passed -- and then crashed into someone.

Casandia fell backwards. The force of the collision had sent pain coursing through her muscles; she winced. She gazed to see whom she had bumped into, and hope swelled within her. Of all the people to bump into, she had bumped into the very one she was looking for! The air faerie leapt to her feet.

"My queen!" she cried, half-apologetic, half-joyous. She offered a hand for Fyora to take. "Fyora, there is something I must tell you; it is of utmost urgency!"

"Ow," Fyora muttered, and, quite disoriented, took Casandia's hand. She was soon back to her feet. One hand clutched her trademark staff, which she used to steady herself. "I am sorry, Casandia; I did not see you--"

"Your Highness! I must tell you, there is something awful taking place at this very moment!" Casandia could hardly contain herself. Her heart raced with a mixture of terror and adrenaline.

Fyora gave Casandia a concerned look. "What are you talking about?"

"Queen Fyora, the Draik, the Draik I so foolishly refused to yield to you... I cannot explain how, but through it, I met a beautiful faerie named--"

"Alostaire," Fyora breathed, her lavender eyes widening in horror. "Casandia, tell me now: what is going on?!"

The Air Faerie could discern from the look in her sovereign's eyes that she knew Alostaire better than even Casandia did. There would be no need for an explanation of the circumstances. She calmed herself so that she might speak coherently.

"Your Highness, Alostaire, she seeks the Crown and Scepter."

Fyora's eyes shone with terror. "No..."

"She tricked me, Your Highness, she deceived me into searching for its location. I sought Miriel, the only one I knew who would know of its whereabouts. When I did, Alostaire abandoned me; she tricked Miriel into accompanying her to the relics' resting place. As we speak, they are headed there now!"

Fyora closed her eyes. "This... is a situation most dire. Casandia, take my hand."

Casandia did so.

There was a whir of purple light, a rush of wind, and the two vanished from the hallway. She closed her eyes instinctively; the whirring burst into a roaring crescendo, and then died as quickly as it had intensified. The air faerie opened her eyes.

The place she now stood within was foreign to her. She was in a huge silver dome. Upon the floor was an intricate pattern of tiny, interlocking white tiles. Statues of indescribable beauty and craftsmanship stared at them with stony eyes from all sides of the room. Upon the dome itself, beautiful scenes had been illustrated -- the Space Faerie, flitting betwixt the stars; the Battle Faerie, triumphant; a golden Faerie Queen, with staff and tiara.

At the center of the dome was skylight, through which poured a single, radiant sunbeam. It landed upon a platform that stood at the center of the room. Upon it stood the most breathtaking statue of all. Casandia could not help but gasp as her eyes fell upon it.

It was crafted of pure gold. In the sunlight, every angle, every feature was illuminated; the rays bounced off its flawless features, and danced in myriad sparkles upon the floor. It depicted a beautiful faerie, wearing a familiar gown, with a familiar smile, and most familiar eyes.

It was Fyora.

Casandia suddenly noticed that where her staff should be instead was a beautiful scepter. It was crafted of some lustrous white material she could not identify, and encrusted with every color of gemstone. A beautiful glass orb, whirling with silver mist, was ensconced at its top end. Upon the statue's head, resting upon her golden tresses, was a crown that shone of the same white brilliance. It was studded with the same gemstones, each twinkling in the light.

They were the twin relics. They were the Crown and Scepter.

The faerie tales had done them justice -- they were just as awe-inspiring and magnificent as Casandia had expected them to be.

And, standing before the statue, in the presence of the sacred relics, was Alostaire. She was alone; there was no faerie Pteri that flitted beside her.

"Alostaire!" Fyora cried. The faerie with the blazing locks turned to face the queen, her lips upturned, beaming with triumph.

"You cannot stop me now, Fyora!" Alostaire cackled maniacally. "I have won! I will finally take the throne that was rightfully mine, that should have been mine, since the beginning! The throne you stole from me, my twin..."

Author: really_awesome_d00d
Date: Apr 13th
...“I did no such thing,” said Fyora quietly, intensely. “It is true you were the elder, but did you not choose freedom over responsibility? Did you not flee from Faerieland on the day of the crowning ceremony? You had your chance, Alostaire.”

Alostaire’s voice shook with years of pain and regret. “It was but a fleeting mistake, made in one moment of youthful folly. I was and still am the true Faerie Queen.”

“I am sorry, Alostaire. There can only be one Faerie Queen.”

“And that queen is going to be ME!” A raging inferno burst forth from Alostaire; she had become a demon, entwined in black and gold flames, her eyes churning with the anger of deepest, most excruciating fire. Her very soul was now ablaze, screaming and vicious; there was not a scrap of kindness left in her.

It was with this searing fury that she bore down on her sister.

Fyora gasped. “Alostaire, you will not hurt me!”

Alostaire’s voice was thunder. “Do not think I won’t!” A black spear materialized in her hand...

“No!”

The two faeries looked up. Casandia was standing on the platform, clutching the sacred Scepter and Crown in her small, white hands. A piercing radiance glittered about her, giving light to her frightened, tearful eyes.

“Let her go!” the air faerie cried.

Alostaire turned on her. “Give them to me!”

Casandia’s fingers were white upon the relics. “No.”

No words could describe the strangled roar that shot from Alostaire’s throat. If any effort were made to record that horrible, desperate sound, the pen would shatter and the paper would curl up and turn black. With her last, ultimate strength Alostaire flung herself towards Casandia, towards the shimmering power that had so haunted her for what seemed an eternity.

The air faerie, like a butterfly caught in a windstorm, held tight to the relics...

Fyora shut her eyes.

The world exploded. For a long time afterward, the shock rang around the dome, flailing itself off every atom it came to. Even the statues quivered with fright.

Fyora sat up slowly. “Casandia?” she called out.

The air faerie had flattened herself against the statue, the relics pressed close to her heart. She straightened up carefully, now, and stared at Fyora with wide eyes. “What did I do?” she whispered. “Alostaire just came at me, and I held to the relics and... hoped... and the next moment she’d... oh Fyora, did I k-kill her?”

“I don’t think so,” said Fyora gently, “but we won’t be seeing her for a very long time.”

Casandia held on to the Crown and Scepter for a moment. They felt so real, so miraculously real, in her hands... she could feel the power resonating in them. For a moment she thought she could be Faerie Queen...

...but then she gave them to Fyora. She had seen what happened to those who succumbed to temptation. She had tasted temptation herself. And with power came responsibility, immeasurable, immense responsibility.

That burden belonged to Fyora.

Fyora accepted the relics. There were no words between the faeries, but in that deep, violet gaze Casandia knew she had done the right thing.

* * * * *

The Faerie Palace was awash with splendour. Golden trumpets sounded their passion as crowds of Neopians cheered. Fyora walked gracefully up the red carpet; at her side the air faerie smiled abashedly.

“My beloved faeries and pets,” Queen Fyora spoke. “We would not be celebrating here today if not for the astounding work of our Keeper of Festivities, Casandia.” More cheers rose and subsided. “And not just because she oversaw all the wonders that we will be enjoying. My dear Faerielanders, this air faerie has saved our kingdom.”

An awed hush spread through the crowd as Fyora told the story. Casandia’s face was rosy with embarrassment to receive such honour, but she held her chin high and there was a sparkle in her eyes.

As the golden applause swelled and filled her, tears of happiness rained down her cheeks. She would cherish this magical moment for all of her life.

Later, when she was dining with the Queen, a timid little Pteri came up to them. It was Miriel.

“I’m so sorry, Your Highness,” said Miriel. “She... controlled me... I couldn’t resist...”

“It’s all right, Miriel,” said Fyora.

Casandia put a reassuring arm around the Pteri. “Just remember, Miriel: Hold fast to faith -- and you will resist the greatest temptation.”

The End

Author: yoyote
Date: Apr 13th



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