The mirror's face clouded, tendrils of fog curling out from its depths and spilling onto the floor. The fog poured out slowly at first, then quickly, enveloping the Neopets' bodies within seconds.
Rosalina's eyes grew wide. She sputtered, "Mirror, mirror on the wall--" But it was too late. The mirror's fog surrounded them completely, and they were gone.
Ellia opened her eyes to find herself sitting in what looked like a throne room of glass. Transparent columns rose from each side of the room and held a ceiling beyond which she could see the sun, moon, and stars. No one sat in the glass throne.
She turned to the Ruki, who seemed to be getting her bearings as well. Rosalina's face betrayed a mix of confusion and anger, with her mouth curled into a snarl. She impatiently stood and dusted off her robe.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall!" Rosalina yelled towards the ceiling. "Get us out of this great hall!"
The voice was as calm as it was resolute. It came from everywhere, Ellia noticed. Could they possibly be inside --
'This has gone on long enough. It is time for you both to learn.'
A bubbling sound called Ellia and Rosalina's attention to the throne. It seemed to be morphing, glass melting to form golden wings and hair, growing into the shape of a light faerie. Her eyes were calm as she stepped toward them.
"Now," the faerie said, "I'm sure this place does not look familiar to you, but this is my prison. The mirror you both so dearly covet. The mirror that neither of you own."
Rosalind snarled. "But it was given to me by--"
The faerie waved away Rosalind's protest. "Yes. And given to her, and given to her, and so on. But did you ever dare question where it originated? Nothing belongs to anyone if it is stolen."
Stolen? Ellia thought. But it couldn't be. "Magic mirrors will rebel if stolen," she blurted.
"Quite right, Ellia." The faerie smiled. "However, this is not a true magic mirror. You may not know her, but many years before you, I had a dear friend, a Zafara named Orell. I believed Orell and I were close, though it was apparent that Orell thought otherwise.
"One day, Orell invited me to her home to show me a new mirror she had obtained -- the most beautiful in the land, she said. She was right. I'd never seen anything like it before.
"'Lean closer,' Orell told me. 'If you get close enough, you can see the surface sparkle like diamonds.'
"Naive me, I did. With a swift push, Orell transported me into the mirror's world. I could hear her shouting ancient incantations as I fell, words I recognized that commanded obedience and entrapment.
"Ever since that day, I have given power to the wishes brought by the users of this mirror. I have seen this mirror exchange more hands than either of you can realize. All the while I have built myself this comfortable prison, waiting for someone to ask who this mirror belongs to. And now I must ask both of you a question in return.
"Will you let me out?"
The faerie fell silent, and Ellia could see the desperation in her eyes. To be trapped in a mirror for all of your life, condemned to obey? It was the worst prison Ellia could conceive. "Of course, we'd be --"
"No." Rosalina's voice was harsh. "It's your fault for getting yourself trapped in a mirror. You belong to me now."
Ellia turned towards the Ruki. "Are you kidding me? She's been trapped this entire time, and she's answered our every wish! Seems like it's about time!"
"Hardly," the Rosalina scoffed, her mouth twisted into a cruel smile. "It seems like it's only just beginning."
The Ruki stepped back towards the center of the throne room, her voice again sickly sweet. "Now, Ellia, unlike you, I'd like to get out of here. I was saving this spell to disappear with the mirror, but now's a good a time as any, if you'll be trapped here too. So if you don't mind..."
Rosalina began to incant a spell the Aisha recognized as a deserting spell. Ellia cried, "But Rosalina--"
Suddenly the faerie was behind Ellia. "Do not worry about her. Just say this." The faerie whispered in Ellia's ear, ancient words that Ellia vaguely recognized from her magic studies long ago. Ellia spoke quickly, following the faerie's lead.
The glass throne room disappeared.
"Ugh." Head pounding, Ellia opened her eyes to see her room once more, the mirror faithfully standing in the corner. Nothing had changed. "What happened?"
"You have set me free." The Aisha turned to see the light faerie standing behind her.
"Friend is a strong word," Ellia said, standing and clutching her head. "Is leaving the mirror supposed to hurt this much?"
The faerie laughed. "Well, strong words require strong consequences."
Ellia smiled, through the headache was not the most amusing. "So where's Rosalina?" she asked.
"Trapped in the mirror," the faerie said, looking resentful. "Unfortunately. In order to escape, someone had to take my place."
"Don't worry about it," the Aisha laughed, "she deserves it. Too many notions of grandeur, wanting to end hunger and all that."
Smiling, the faerie said, "Well, I'm glad you think so. The mirror will still work, by the way, since your friend also practices magic. Though perhaps not in the way you might like -- Rosalina seems clever enough to manipulate the bounds of her obedience.
"And with that, I will take my leave." The faerie walked towards the window, stopping just before the ledge. She turned, her eyes soft. "You know, you were my favorite. Despite your worst wishes, I knew you had a good heart." The faerie turned and opened the window, preparing to fly out.
"Wait!" Ellia cried. A thought had been bugging her. "What is your name?"
"Oh," the faerie noted as she stepped on the window ledge. "You may call me Mira."
With that, she finally flew out, free.