RUINS OF MARAQUA - Fiery eyes pierce the seas, radiating a sense of pride and
determination. Fists are clenched and bat-like wings are spread open, ready to
take to flight even under miles of water. Around her neck, an amulet of some sort
glitters and shimmers as the currents toss it around. She's ready to fight, but
for what? For the side of good or evil? For Maraqua, or for some other force in
a place unknown? And what exactly is that amulet?
I rented a little submarine with which to explore the Ruins of Maraqua, and
take a closer look at that statue. Then, I had hired a guide named Krista Longfin
the blue Koi, a gentle creature with a vast knowledge of Maraquan Mythology
and Lore. Now, I was down there gazing at the statue, wondering what secrets
it held. "I witnessed the destruction of Maraqua." Krista said softly, voice
echoing in the confines of the submarine. "This is only my third time being
down there since it happened."
"Really?" AmethystSkye111 my purple Peophin asked.
Krista nodded; shifting the weight of a green backpack she carried around
on her back. "You want to know more about that statue?"
I nodded. "It seems like quite a work of art. Extremely… lifelike."
Krista laughed hollowly. "You have no idea how lifelike it is. What do you
know about it already?"
"It's a Faerie made of a silver-colored stone. I couldn't call it gray because
gray doesn't glisten as this does. It has probably been forgotten for years.
It has that amulet-thing. Oh, and it's batwings suggest that it's a Dark Faerie."
Krista smiled. "Good. Very few people notice the batwings. She is indeed a
Dark Faerie and forgotten for a long time."
"How long, exactly?"
"Centuries," Krista said without batting an eye. "I can readily say that that
statue was built around the year 500 B.N., A full two-hundred years before the
Invasion of Meridell took place."
"How can you say that?" I asked curiously. "It seems to be in good condition
to me. It doesn't look like it has been worn and eroded by water for centuries."
"That's what has puzzled Maraquans. There are a few legends about that statue.
Only one has any basis in fact, as far as I know. My grandmother used to tell
me about this statue for a bedtime story every night.
It wasn't like Halma was a bad Faerie. Let me assure you that from the beginning.
She was respectful and polite and loyal and all of the good qualities one could
find in a friend. She also happened to be skilled at swordplay and archery.
At the time, Druina, the old Battle Faerie was getting ready to retire. She
was training lots of aspiring faeries in her Battle Training School and Halma
received a full scholarship.
At the time, Halma was a fire Faerie. And a beautiful fire Faerie at that,
with eyes red like dying embers and hair gold like the light of the sun. She
was at the top of all of her classes and soon became the next Battle Faerie.
She wandered the world, having all sorts of adventures and defeating all sorts
of enemies. Those who witnessed her in battle called her a firestorm of fury,
blazing with the intensity of a thousand suns. They said that it was impossible
to look into her eyes without being blinded by her light."
"Then what happened?" I asked.
Krista's voice dropped to a whisper. "She failed."
"It was a dark, moonless night in the Haunted Woods. Only the light of the
stars illuminated Halma's path as she walked, swift and silent as the wind disturbing
not a leaf on the forest floor. The trees leaned in eerily, as if attempting
to scare the Battle Faerie. But they tried in vain, for Halma was nearly fearless.
She strode with sure confidence, as if this had been her home all her life.
Then, a scream rang out.
Halma heard the cry and rushed to investigate. A tiny young Acara was being
attacked by a swarm of angry Korbats. 'We've got her now, my flock!' called
the leader, a shadow Korbat by the name of Nightwing. 'I want her dead!' The
poor Acara was running and running, tripping over branches and stumbling over
roots, shrieking at the top of her lungs. 'Help me! Help!'
No one knows what happened next. Halma just seemed to… freeze. She tried to
move, to draw her sword, to run and grab the Acara, to do anything but stay
there and watch. She even tried to move her head so that she wouldn't see the
Acara, but she couldn't. She just watched that Acara run… and run… and run until
she was just a speck in the distance followed by a squeaking, living cloud.
In the meantime, Taylor Seapaw the yellow Acara managed to find a cave and
hide in it until the Korbats passed. 'Dratted Battle Faerie.' She muttered.
'Her boss will hear about this.' So, she reported Halma's failure to the Faerie
Queen, Fyora's grandmother Leila. 'A Battle Faerie of mine sat and watched while
a poor young Acara was being attacked?' Leila yelled in disbelief.
'Yes ma'am. She just stood there, watching. I thought I saw her smile. She
was enjoying the show! Yes, she just stood there and laughed like a Dark Faerie!'
'Well if a Dark Faerie she behaved like, then a Dark Faerie she'll become!'
With a snap of her fingers, Leila summoned Halma to her chamber. The Battle
Faerie kneeled at the Queen's gilded throne. 'What may I do for you, my Lady?'
Halma asked dutifully. Then, she saw the Acara and gasped. 'I can explain!'
'No need to explain, my child.' Queen Leila said sadly. 'You never loved rescuing
people. You just loved battle and destruction.'
'Not true!' Halma cried, but Leila leaned forward and pressed her soft, pale
hands over Halma's mouth. 'Silence! I am very disappointed in you, Halma. From
this day forward, you shall be a Dark Faerie, shamed and shunned by everyone
you love. And to make sure you are shamed, I give you this.' Queen Leila draped
a golden medallion with red stripes around Halma's neck, the ancient Faerie
symbol of dishonor. 'I have spelled it so that it shall never come off. You
must wear it for the rest of your days.'
'But…' Halma protested but again the Queen silenced her. 'Furthermore, if
you ever take part in another battle, you shall be turned to stone. And your
stone will last forever, to be an example to future Battle Faeries who think
that they can be as evil as you. Now be gone! I wish never to see your foul
face here again.' She waved her hand, as if casting a spell.
At that moment, a pale violet glitter began to form at Halma's fingertips.
The particles of light ran up her arms, tingling her skin like the brushing
of so many butterflies' wings. But the sensation she experienced after the light
had passed was not nearly as pleasant. It reeked of rot and noxious fumes. It
sounded like thunder and lightning and evil cackling. It felt like the wind
brushing against bony wings on night-time flights. Halma's skin was rapidly
changing… changing from its creamy white to a sickeningly lavender hue like
the color of poison. Her hair changed from gold to a dull, greasy purple with
lime green streaks. Her fingers grew long and bony and her fingernails like
razor claws. Her butterfly wings grew tough and leathery and when she flapped
them, they sounded like the wind. The sound of the wind that had blended with
the flapping of Korbats' wings that night, and both noises mingled with Acara
screams. Again, she felt that curse like a leaden weight on her. She was unable
to move. Her vision was gone! She could not see! It vanished in a whirl of mist.
But she could still see… still see the Korbats chasing after the Acara.
When her eyesight returned, she was a Dark Faerie. From the tips of her lumpy
toes to the roots of her greasy hair, she was a Dark Faerie. Queen Leila removed
her slender hand from Halma's mouth, revealing pale purple lips and fang-like
incisors. 'How could you have done this to me?' Halma whispered, a single tear
running from a violet eye. She fled the room and didn't stop running until she
reached the edge of the Faerieland cloud. She took a deep breath and dove into
the waters, still weeping.
She hid out in a cave near a kelp bed for a year or so until a group of Koi,
Kikos and aquatic Neopets came to build a settlement there. She gladly helped
them, using her magic to lift heavy stones. The people loved her. They didn't
know about her past. To them, her amulet was just another piece of jewelry.
Until the day the Shark Conqueror came.
He was a great warlord, famed and feared throughout the seven seas. His ancestors
may have been Jetsam but he wasn't. No Jetsam could ever have as many teeth
as he, nor could a Jetsam be so big! He was easily as big as the Turmaculus.
His flippers were as sharp as razors and his tail was like a powerful club used
to bash his foes. He was thought to be undefeatable.
He and his armies marched out one hot summer's day to conquer Maraqua. There
was no warning, only chaos and panic. But Halma stepped up courageously and,
using her magic, she lifted them all out of the water and onto dry land where
they were helpless and unable to move. The Shark Conqueror, however, was too
big and heavy to move with magic. So, knowing what would happen if she chose
to fight, Halma drew her sword and faced him in combat. He had a sword too,
twice as big as hers. They fought for hours, both playing defensively and neither
gaining the upper hand. And the Shark Conqueror threatened and taunted Halma
with every step he took. 'I will soon rule Neopia, little Faerie,' he said.
'It's useless resisting me. Give up now and I might just let you live.'
Halma didn't respond, instead concentrating all of her energy on fighting.
And while his mind was distracted thinking of witty things to say to her, she
gained the upper hand and won the fight.
Then, the Faerie Queen came down in all of her beauty and wrath. 'See what
happens to all of those who break my laws!' She shouted. Then, she muttered
an ancient and powerful spell and turned Halma into stone. She remains stone
to this day, the medallion of shame still around her neck. Never again to go
"So why all the fuss just now?" I asked.
"After the Maraquans found out about Halma's past, they shoved her statue
into a hidden building in the corner of Maraqua. They locked the door and forgot
about her. She existed only in legends. Halma wasn't rediscovered until the
whirlpool destroyed the building she was in."
"Wow," I sighed. "So… how do you know this legend is true?"
Krista gazed out the submarine window. "On Halma's foot, what do you see?"
I peered through the window, squinting. "It's some sort of carving."
"It's the initials K.L. Katherine Longfin. My grandmother. They were carved
with Halma's own sword, the one she used in the battle against the Shark Conqueror.
My grandmother witnessed the whole thing."
Then, out of the green backpack, Krista pulled a gleaming steel sword. My
reflection showed clearly in its burnished blade. The handle was gold in color
with a carving of a flame on it. Underneath the flame, a single phrase was carved.
Halma, Battle Faerie