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The Beauty Within: Part Two


by queen_aingeal

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Alton Moughbry the Kacheek woke up early that morning. He got out of bed and walked to the window, yawning as he looked out at the fields of potatoes. He had barely gotten any rest that night, for he was still haunted by nightmares of that horrible place known as the Darigan Citadel. The monsters he had seen there had been terrifying, so terrifying… Two had attacked him, and one had tried to, but failed. He closed his eyes again and thought of the last one. It had been a young Uni, and there had been something about her… something behind the anger in her face. A look of - could it be? - sorrow.

      Alton shook his head and opened his eyes. "No more thought of that," he told himself, and he heard footsteps in the hall. He turned and saw his wife, Lydia, standing at the door and frowning. "What's wrong, my love?" he asked her, going over to her.

      "I heard something outside last night. It sounded like screaming," she said, looking at him.

      Alton cocked his head, thinking. "Well, I might have heard that… but I thought it was just part of my dream."

      Lydia looked concerned. "You've been having those nightmares again, haven't you," she said.

      Alton nodded. He looked out the window, then frowned. "What's that?" he asked.

      "What?" Lydia asked, moving beside him.

      Alton pointed. "THAT." There beside one of the haystacks was a small figure, moving around slowly. Without a word, Alton pulled on his clothes and ran out to see what was going on.

      He came up at a run, then slowed down as he approached the haystacks. He could see something moving, and he caught a flash of grey and blue. He froze and brandished his pitchfork. "All right, now, who are you?" he called out.

      Silence.

      "I mean it!" Alton called again, trying not to let his voice tremble. "Who-whoever you are, come out and show yourself!"

      Slowly, a figure emerged from behind the haystack. "Why do you think I'd hurt you?" said a low voice, and the words triggered something in Alton's mind. "Because anything as hideous as me must be dangerous, right?" the voice continued.

      "Who are you?" Alton asked, his hands sweaty and shaking.

      "My name is Daria," said the figure, still hidden in the shadows.

      "Come out of there… let me see your face," Alton demanded.

      "You've seen it," Daria said sharply.

      "How is that possible?" Alton asked.

      "I'm the Uni that saved your life in the Citadel. The one you were terrified of. I only tried to help you."

      Alton gasped and dropped the pitchfork as the figure emerged from the shadows. But he forced himself to keep looking at her eyes, and he saw the same sorrow he had seen the first time. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

      Daria smiled, and for a moment she looked almost normal. "I accept your apology," she said graciously. "But I am hungry."

      "Would you like to come in for breakfast? We've got fresh berries - and LOTS of potatoes!" Alton offered, opening the gate.

      Daria's face brightened up. "I would love that! Just a second!" The Uni turned and went back behind the haystack, soon emerging with a Drackonack on her back. "OK, all set," she said with a smile, and she walked out the gate and over to the farmhouse.

     * * *

     After a healthy meal of potatoes, fresh bread and berries, Daria said goodbye to Alton and his family and set off. She stopped at the Turmaculus and sat down, realising that she had no idea what she was doing. "Where am I going, Spike?" she asked her petpet. Spike purred at the sound of his name and snuggled up to her. "What am I doing?" Daria continued, getting up and beginning to pace. "What am I looking for?"

      Spike growled and nipped her leg. "What?" Daria asked, looking down. Satisfied that he had her attention, Spike began to walk determinedly towards Illusen's Glade. Daria smiled and walked after him.

     * * *

     "So do you think you can help me?" Daria asked after explaining the story to the Faerie.

      Illusen thought for a moment. "Mmm… you've had a hard life, Daria," she said. "But, I think there might be some help I can give you."

      Daria smiled. "You can make me beautiful?" she asked hopefully.

      Illusen shook her head. "No, I can't. And even if I could, I wouldn't." She knelt down and looked into the Uni's eyes. "Daria, you ARE beautiful. And nothing can change who you are inside."

      Daria shook her head. "You know that, and I know that, but THEY don't know that!"

      "Who are they?" Illusen asked, a slight smile on her face. "Tell me that. Who are these people you speak of?"

      "Everyone!" Daria said.

      "Who is everyone?" Illusen persisted, her green eyes wide and innocent.

      "I don't know!" Daria said in frustration.

      Illusen stood up. "Well, until you DO know, I suggest you don't go around saying that 'they' don't understand." She smiled. "And now about your problem. It seems to me that you wish to have an owner that would understand you and not hate you for being 'ugly', correct?" Daria nodded and Illusen smiled again. "Good. I understand correctly." She turned away from Daria and did something that resulted in a puff of green smoke that smelled like cinnamon. The faerie turned around and held out a small bottle that looked empty. "This is one of my more powerful spells. Darigan is going to come looking for you, and I want you to be prepared," Illusen said.

      "But it's empty," Daria said skeptically.

      Illusen rolled her eyes. "It's a SPELL, not a potion! You open it, and the spell will come out."

      Daria nodded. "I see," she said. "What does it do?"

      Illusen grinned broadly, an expression that made her entire face look brighter than the brightest star. "That, my dear, is a surprise."

      Daria looked puzzled. "Please, Illusen," she begged, "just make me pretty. I'm begging you."

      Illusen sighed. "Fine. If it will make you happy. But remember, I did warn you."

      Daria nodded, her heart racing. Finally, she would achieve her deepest wish - finally, she would become beautiful!

      "Close your eyes," Illusen said, her voice firm. Daria obeyed, shaking all over with excitement. She heard Illusen's voice saying words that didn't sound like words at all, and suddenly felt a blast of icy wind on her face. She tried to scream, but the wind forced her voice back. At last it died down, and Illusen said, "You may open your eyes now." Daria obeyed hesitantly, afraid of what she would look like. "There," Illusen said. "You are beautiful." She handed Daria a green mirror.

      Daria took the mirror and raised it to her face. She gasped and nearly dropped it as she saw her reflection. "Who is that?" she asked stupidly.

      "It's you," Illusen said, raising the mirror to Daria's face again. "Look at yourself."

      Daria looked again. Instead of seeing a monster in the mirror, she saw a beautiful Spotted Uni looking back at her out of deep blue eyes. She turned her head to see herself from all angles, and a cream-coloured mane floated around her face. "Beautiful," she said softly, bowing her head to take a glance at the golden horn that shone on her forehead. Handing the mirror absently back to Illusen, she looked down at her brown-and-white body. "Beautiful," she said again. She looked up at Illusen, tears shining in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered, and turned to leave.

      "Daria!" Illusen called after her. Daria turned and Illusen tossed a small cloth bag after her. Daria caught it and looked at its contents - a small bottle that looked empty. The spell Illusen had cast. "Just in case," Illusen told her. Daria looked up, but the faerie had vanished back into her home. Daria slipped the bag over her neck and ran off to tell Alton the good news.

      At the farmhouse, Alton looked Daria up and down and all around, while she stood nervously awaiting his verdict. "Yeah, I suppose you're beautiful now," he said. "But to tell you the truth, Daria, I think I liked you better the old way."

      "So did I," said Lydia Moughbry firmly. "But if you like yourself better this way, then may all Fyora's blessings be upon you."

      "Thank you… I think…" Daria said slowly. Lydia nodded briskly and tromped off to tend to the potatoes.

      Daria felt a small hand touch her side and looked down to see one of Alton and Lydia's daughters. "I think you look beautiful," she said, looking up at the Uni with an expression of mingled admiration and envy. "I wish I could look like you."

      "Thank you," Daria said, touched by the child's innocence. "But I think you're lovely just the way you are." As she said this last sentence, she felt a twinge inside of her. She quickly dismissed it, though, reminding herself that she now had everything she wanted… except a family.

      Something sharp stuck in her leg and she jumped, letting out a small whinny of pain. She looked down and was surprised to see Spike looking up at her nervously. He growled and bit her again, and she kicked out. The Drackonack squealed and scrambled away from her hard hooves, diving into a haystack and quivering there.

      Daria went over to him. "Spike," she called softly. "Spike, come back here."

      Spike dove out of the hay and ran off, as fast as his short legs could take him. "Spike!" Daria called, but the petpet disappeared down the Symol hole and was gone.

To be continued...

Author's note: Do not fear for Spike, he'll be back. I hope you're liking the series so far - I know I am! I don't know about you, but I am very excited to see what's going to happen next. Ciao for now!

 
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