..."Who?" Norbert inquired sheepishly.
"Who?" the dark faerie shot back mockingly. "It doesn't matter who, so long as she can provide the spell."
Jhudora retrieved Sea Spells from the table. Mirroring her, Norbert found his copy of The Nox Memoirs and tucked it under his arm.
He smiled tentatively and nodded, indicating his readiness.
In a flash of purple and green smoke, the pair abruptly disappeared from the humble confines of the Ixi's kitchen...
Tatsu grew impatient as Marina led them through Moltara's internal cave system. "We've passed this stalagmite... or tite, whatever it is, like ten times now!" he stressed quickly.
"Hush, Tatsu," Illusen responded reassuringly. "The path to the Bridge of Tears is long and monotonous -- and, it's not the same stalactite," the earth faerie continued, stressing the exact name of the cave dripstone, "but merely a chain of identical ones to deter trespassers." She smiled.
Marina smiled as well. "Don't worry, we're almost there."
Norbert and Jhudora stood outside the Mystery Island volcano.
"Shall we enter?" Jhudora asked with an oddly alluring smile.
"I can't enter the volcano -- I'll be killed," the Ixi complained.
The faerie sighed. "You weaklings," she grumbled under her breath. "Fine. You wait here, I'll talk to her myself.
Jhudora flew toward the volcano. Norbert gulped as he saw the mountain swallow her up, secretly hoping it would not ever spit her out...
The trio made their way further into the rocky dense.
"It's getting increasingly warmer in here," Tatsu observed, her tone indicating weakness to the heat.
Marina created a ball of cool water, which promptly surrounded the Eyrie. "It's like a Water Mote," the faerie commented, "but much better." She smiled.
"Yes," Illusen started, "the closer we get to the bridge, the hotter it gets. Think of it as an asymptote -- the hottest, steamiest point in all of Neopia lies just beyond the bridge itself. No one not possessed with faerie magic could live to get there..." the earth faerie trailed for suspense.
Tatsu gulped nervously as the three continued on...
"Eithne," Jhudora called as she floated above the lava.
The fire faerie rose from her ordinarily unsurvivable depths. "Ah," she said with a smile. "The mighty Jhudora. To what do I owe the honor?"
Jhudora smirked. "Are you familiar with Sea Spells?"
Eithne gaped. "You rediscovered that ancient grimoire?"
The dark faerie nodded. "Yep! You know it pops up every thousand years, meaning access to the bridge is available."
"Did you read it?"
"I've gotten this old Ixi to decipher the text for me."
"So, what are you planning to do with that Bridge of Tears?" A maniacal look possessed the fire faerie's face. "Are you going to destroy it?"
Jhudora frowned. "Not really..." she trailed. "That Bridge of Tears, as per my understanding from my own research and the encyclopedic Sea Spells, once linked the realms of every power together: light and air; water and fire; earth and dark; good and evil. All this magic was intertwined, one and the same, but with almighty power on the side who sought to abuse it, the magic of the bridge was shifted to instead prevent the 'evil' from accessing all but a tiny amount. This involved breaking certain links, and creating others -- for example, the link between earth and dark was strengthened heavily, the earth supposedly helping to keep darkness under control."
Eithne frowned. "So... are you going to destroy the bridge?"
"No!" the dark faerie insisted. "To destroy the bridge would be to destroy Neopia's global fountain of magic! No," she continued with a mischievous smile, "no, I'm merely going to break the ties." She clenched her right hand into a fist. "With every direct link broken, all symbols will once again link with each other and become one. Then," she said, power surging through her body, "then, absolute power will once again belong to everyone, but -- as I will be closest to the bridge and know, first, about the re-intertwining of the symbols -- I can use that power to destroy every tie but darkness, meaning darkness will possess all magic... darkness will no longer be hampered by earth... darkness will rule Neopia."
Eithne was at a total loss for words. "Intense," was what she eventually came up with.
Jhudora smiled. "However, the destruction of the links is where you come in..."
Marina, Illusen, and Tatsu continued their journey through Moltara.
Norbert saw Jhudora emerge from the volcano with a fire faerie behind her. He sighed.
The two neared him and landed.
"You," Jhudora commanded Norbert, "hand over your copy of The Nox Memoirs."
The Ixi did as instructed. Jhudora promptly gave it to Eithne, who opened it to a particular page. "'Through power absolute,'" the fire faerie read, "'one can achieve goals far beyond even their own expectations.'"
"So?" Norbert asked.
"The first line of a fire faerie curse begins with the quote of a famous Neopian villain," she said, then smiled. "I'll say the entire thing once we're down near the bridge. Rumor has it that there's an entrance underneath the volcano, much like there's an entrance underneath the Healing Springs. If so, we should be able to get to it through the basement of the Secret Ninja Training School."
"Everyone should be training for a great battle upcoming," Jhudora commented, "so we should get through unnoticed."
The three made their way toward the school.
The other set of three hit a wall.
"Dead end?" Tatsu inquired nervously.
"No," Marina replied in awe. "See these symbols? This is ancient faerie text -- fifteen symbols used to create thousands more." She brushed her hands across them as she read; "'The blessing of water shall strengthen, while a fire's curse shall destroy.'"
"Well, you are a water faerie," Illusen said with a smile, patting her companion on the back.
Smiling and closing her eyes, Marina rose her hand in the air and chanted something. After she was finished, she lowered her arm.
Marina and Illusen then locked fingers, and a wind started to whirl around them...
The path through the Secret Ninja Training School was far shorter than the Moltaran path. Eithne, knowing the ways of fire, also managed to provide Norbert with a heat shield.
"A dead end!" Norbert uttered emphatically.
"No," Eithne replied. "See these symbols? This is ancient faerie text."
Norbert adjusted his glasses. "Ah," he said, more carefully making them out. "The fifteen symbols used to make thousands more." He squinted and proceeded to read them; "'The blessing of water shall strengthen, while a fire's curse shall destroy.' It's taken from Sea Spells -- or, vice versa."
"Sure," Jhudora agreed. "And Eithne is a fire faerie."
Smiling and closing her eyes, Eithne rose her hand in the air and chanted something. After she was finished, she lowered her arm.
Eithne and Jhudora then locked fingers, and a wind started to whirl around them...
The rock parted ways, revealing a thin river...
The rock parted ways, revealing a thin river...
"Illusen?" Jhudora asked the green figure about five feet away on the other side of the stream. The dark faerie's eyes widened and she was clearly dumbfounded. "When did you get here?"
Illusen grinned. "At the same time you did, which means that the Bridge of Tears was blessed and cursed at the same time -- in short, no change to any links."
Eithne gaped. "But Jhudora, the bridge can only be accessed and altered every thousand years--"
"You think I don't know that? I told you that!" Jhudora stormed. "This was my chance to free myself from Illusen -- all in vain."
She turned toward Norbert, clearly enraged...
Illusen saw this and quickly fired a blast of green his way. She did likewise for Tatsu...
Norbert and Tatsu found themselves in the elderly Ixi's front yard.
"Do you know what happened?" Tatsu inquired.
"No -- except for the fact that I've lost my copy of The Nox Memoirs. Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!" he shouted.
The Eyrie scrambled to his feet and ran toward his house.
Norbert smiled. After that whole ordeal, he didn't think Jhudora would ever come back to his place again.
Content (for the most part) after the journey, he wandered back into his house, made himself a cup of tea, and picked up his old notes on deciphering the ancient faerie texts.
Until he went out and bought another copy of The Nox Memoirs, he figured he might as well increase his understanding of nuances...