ALISTAR TURNED TO the rumbling door. He put his good hand to his head. "Does
this seem familiar to anyone else?"
"It's déjà vu all over again," Flick whimpered
from behind the couch.
The door burst inwards, and a smoky darkness
exploded into the room. The three could only cower as a deathly chill gripped
A shape emerged from the fog. It had emerald
eyes, pale skin, and brilliant purple hair. It was in every way the epitome
of Dark Faerie.
And it wasn't Umbriel.
"Alistar?" May asked. "You haven't been doing
any... quests... have you?"
"I was just about to ask you the same thing."
Flick stared. "I don't believe this." He took
off his sunglasses and looked again. "I still don't believe this! What is she
doing here, of all places?"
Jhudora smiled. "Don't you know? I'm here to
finish what I started."
May shook her head in disbelief. "No. This can't
be. It was Umbriel. It has to be Umbriel. I saw..."
"Come now, you can't believe everything you see,
dear." Jhudora laughed, sending icy waves up their spines. "Did you honestly
think it was Umbriel? How amusing! That wretched little girl wouldn't pull the
wings off a Fleye! I should know. I asked her to on numerous occasions."
"But I saw..."
"What you saw," Jhudora cut her off, "was Umbriel
trying to save you." May's eyes went wide, to Jhudora's delight. "Yes, now you
understand. That foolish girl actually had the gall to think she could overcome
one of my spells! But let's be serious. Nobody gets the better of Jhudora!"
Alistar looked at Jhudora in confusion. "But
why?" he asked. "Why us? I don't remember you ever coming after Yes Boy Ice
Cream or Chomby and the Fungus Balls. Why The Crows?"
"I can answer that."
Jhudora turned to the door. "Ah, Umbriel," she
said. "So glad you could come. You're just in time to watch me destroy your
little friends. For a moment I thought this whole affair would end rather dull.
But this makes it so much more interesting." She turned to the band. "Don't
Quicker than the eye could follow, Umbriel was
between Jhudora and the three frightened pets.
"You wanted to know why she and I don't get along?
I'll tell you why."
Umbriel pointed a menacing finger at Jhudora.
"That," she said, "is my mother!"
Jhudora raised her eyes to the ceiling. "Ah,
the drama of it all! You just had to spill the beans, didn't you, darling?"
"Don't you 'darling' me, mother! You never treated
me like a real daughter! I was just your 'little Queen of the Dark Faeries'!
Just an heir to your throne!"
"Must you turn this into a family affair, dear?"
Jhudora began to walk forward. "Don't make this any more difficult than it has
to be. We can talk all about it later. Just let mother finish up her business
here." Jhudora's voice had changed. It had become soft, almost loving. "You
don't want to fight, now do you? You know that fighting doesn't get us anywhere.
I know how much you hate fighting. You hate all those nasty, evil things. But
we don't have to fight, dear. We can all be happy. Don't you want to be happy?"
Umbriel seemed to hesitate. Her posture slackened,
and the angry grimace melted from her face.
"You're right, mother," she said in a toneless
voice. "I want to be happy."
"That's my good little girl." Jhudora walked
past Umbriel, grinning evilly as she cracked her knuckles. Alistar, May and
Flick backed away.
"And this band is what makes me happy!"
Umbriel turned and hurled a ball of darkness,
point blank, at Jhudora's back. The band leapt out of the way as a blinding
explosion of blackness engulfed the Dark Faerie Queen.
But Jhudora was unmoved by the attack. She turned
and faced her daughter, still grinning.
"I underestimated you, Umbriel. Attacking your
own mother! And I thought you didn't have it in you. I'll make a fine Dark Faerie
out of you yet."
"No!" Umbriel cried. "That's not what I want!"
Jhudora's grin faded. "Umbriel, whether you like
it or not, you are a Dark Faerie. You can't change that!"
Now it was Umbriel's turn to smile. "You misunderstand
me, mother. I don't care about what I am. I care about who I am. You never realized
that, in all these years, did you?"
All traces of smugness left Jhudora's face. "What
are you talking about?"
A yellow glow began to surround Umbriel. "I don't
care about being a Dark Faerie. In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way. But
I do care about being who I want to be! You never appreciated the real me! You
ignored my talents, and you hated my love of music! But not The Crows! They
looked past what I am, and saw who I am. They never judged me until you came
along, and ruined everything!" The glow became brighter.
Jhudora took a step back. "What in Sloth's name
do you think you're doing, Umbriel?! That's Light Magic!" She turned to Alistar.
"What have you done to my daughter?!"
Umbriel's eyes began to shine with white light.
"The only thing they ever did to me was to show me kindness, mother! I chose
Jhudora stared in awe at her daughter. "You chose
the Light? How could you? What have you become?"
"I haven't become anything! Don't you understand?
This is me! This isn't a matter of Good and Evil, nor of Darkness and Light!
This is about choices!" Golden rays of light poured out in all directions. "The
world is not set in stone! The only reason we see Black and White is because
we choose to acknowledge them! But the truth is that neither is real!"
Jhudora fell to her knees. "What are you saying?"
Umbriel blinked, and the light in her eyes disappeared.
The glow faded.
"All I wanted from you, mother, was acceptance
for who I was. But you never really saw me."
"I only wanted what was best for you, Umbriel..."
Jhudora shook her head.
"Yet you failed to see what I wanted. If you
really want what's best for me, mother, you'll leave this band in peace."
Jhudora lowered her head. "Forgive me..."
Before Umbriel could answer, Jhudora vanished.
Alistar slowly got up and made his way towards
"How did you do that? Dark Faeries can't use
Light Magic. Can they?"
Umbriel laughed. "Don't be silly! Of course they
can't!" She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small jewel. Inside, all
the colors of the rainbow swirled and danced. "I picked this up from Auntie
Fyora on the way here. To tell you the truth, I didn't know what this thing
would do, but she said it would work when I really needed it to."
"Clever girl," May said. "So all this time you
Umbriel nodded. Flick fainted.
"Umbriel," Alistar began. "This is kind of hard
for me to say... could you... well... oh, you know..."
"I think what Alistar means to say," May took
over for him, "is if you could ever find it in your heart to forgive us for
what we did."
"That's a tough one," Umbriel said. "I'll have
to think about it."
Alistar held his breath.
Umbriel laughed. "Just kidding! Of course I forgive
you! I didn't just save your skins so I could go on being mad at you, did I?
Besides, what are friends for?"
The telephone rang.
"I'll get that," May said. She picked up the
"Hello, Miss May? This is Mr. Bakomoto."
May grimaced. "Oh, hello, sir. Ah... how... are
"I'm fine, thank you. Er... this is going to
sound rather awkward..."
"After last night, I have been thinking... you
see... after the incident... well... I've been getting a lot of phone calls.
It seems your little... stunt... last night went over quite well with the fans.
Battledome attendance has risen by thirty four percent."
"It's true. Ah... I was wondering if you might
possibly forget the things I said, and... er... perhaps we could try that concert
thing one more time?"
"You can count on that sir!"
"No hard feelings?"
"Oh, none at all, sir!"
"Good! Is tonight at 7:00 okay by you?"
"Perfect. We'll be there!"
"Excellent! I shall see you then! Goodbye."
"Goodbye, sir." May hung up the phone and turned
to the band.
"Gang, you will never believe me when I tell
you who just called..."
The platform rose into the stadium amid the cheers of thousands of pets. Alistar
turned to the band. "Ready to rock, gang?"
"Then let's do this!"
He turned and faced the audience. For a moment,
he froze. There was a green-eyed face watching him from the back of the cheering
The face smiled.
Umbriel smiled back.
With a grin, Alistar struck the first chord.
The concert had begun.