Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 119,806,944 Issue: 242 | 2nd day of Relaxing, Y8
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A Weak Heart: Part Three


by literalluau

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"This poem," explained Kayla, "is used by a particular dark faerie on her victims. The fact that it appears on a notebook belonging to your brother lets me know that she already has him in her power." She looked directly at me, her eyes locked with my own. They were swirling with pity and tenderness.

      I felt anger spark in my chest. "So that means that we can't even try to help him?"

      She shook her head gently. "A dark faerie's power is too great. You'd be under her power or disintegrated in less than five seconds."

      Abbi had been silent, almost catatonic for a few minutes, but now she spoke. Her voice was quiet and low, and the shrillness was gone, as if it had died forever. "What is this faerie's name?"

      Kayla debated for a moment, opening her mouth a few times and then shutting it. "If you really must know, her name is Maelstra. But," she added quickly, "I must warn you again about the danger you will face if you try to seek her." Kayla got up and pulled a dusty volume from the bookshelf lining one wall of her shop. "If I may quote from the Neopedia." She cleared her throat. "Dark Faeries are minions of the evil one himself. They lay in wait to tempt those weak of heart. The power granted by these evil imps is great, but it comes at a price. Once you have been blessed by a Dark Faerie you are forever tainted." She paused, letting the last word thud into my mind, then read the last sentence more quickly. "These evil Faeries' abilities include creating darkness, draining life and night vision." She looked at me pointedly. "I'm going to ask you a question. Please answer honestly."

      I nodded.

      "Was your brother weak of heart?"

      Abbi looked like she was going to cry.

      "Yes," I mumbled, looking down. "A little. I think he'd do almost anything for neopoints. We grew up poor and stayed that way and I think he's always blamed me because I wanted to stay in Meridell. He wanted to move somewhere where there's a steady cash flow, like Faerieland." I sighed. "But he wasn't mean-spirited," I added quickly.

      "Of course not," Kayla said, shutting the volume. "That's not a requirement for falling victim to a dark faerie. "Now, unfortunately I must kick you out. I have customers to attend to." She opened the door for us and flipped her sign back around. "And remember what I told you. He's gone."

      Abbi slumped to the ground outside the castle. I sat down next to her and closed my eyes.

      "How could this have happened?" Abbi moaned.

      "So, what are we going to do? Are we just going to give up?"

      Abbi gave me a blank look, then shook her head slowly. "I can't give up."

      "I don't think I can, either. Where are we going to find this Maelstra, though?"

      "We go to the source," Abbi said. "Jhudora."

      "Whose idea was this?" I asked as we pushed through the undergrowth near Jhudora's cloud.

      "Mine," Abbi muttered. "Ow!" she cried as she caught her arm on a thorn.

      I helped her detach herself from the thorn, making sure not to tear her arm.

      "I hope we get what we need." She continued pushing through the bramble.

      "Me too, I'm tired of flying all over," I responded grumpily.

      "So much green and purple," Abbi panted. "I don't know which way is up."

      I finally reached Jhudora's window and pulled myself into her abode. I tried to be discreet, but I landed on a pile of trinkets and created a loud crashing noise.

      "Ssh!" Abbi whispered fiercely, peering in the window. "I'll keep a look out. You see what you can find."

      I looked around the room. It was separated from the rest of the house by a door, very lucky for me. The room was almost chock full of green and purple trinkets. Who would want these things anyway? I picked up an odd-looking blob of green and purple and dropped it again. As I brought my sight back up to eye level, something in the corner of the room caught my attention. A black notebook, almost exactly like my brother's, sat on a pile of boxes which were, undoubtedly, filled with more trinkets. I walked over and picked up the notebook and flipped it open to a random page. My eyes landed on a line. "Saturday at 5 o'clock. Meeting with Maelstra about official business." Saturday!

      I walked over to the window and leaned out. "Abbi!" I hissed.

      She came over cautiously. "What?"

      "Is today Saturday? I can't remember anymore."

      "Yes."

      "What time is it?"

      She looked to the sky. "I'd say about 5:15. Why?"

      "Then I have reason to believe that Maelstra is in Jhudora's abode at this very moment!" I held the black notebook up, open to that page.

      Abbi started wringing her hands again. "What do we do?" she whispered frantically.

      "I was kind of hoping you would have a plan."

      "I was kind of hoping you would."

      "Well, what do we do? Just storm in there and demand for my brother back?" I asked.

      "Maybe…"

      My heart pounded in my chest. What to do? I gulped and dragged Abbi into the room with me. "We'll save him," I said weakly.

      We sneaked to the door and I opened it a crack. Sure enough, we could see the two faeries talking.

      "We're going to take on two dark faeries?" Abbi asked, incredulous.

      "Got any better ideas?"

      "Let's follow Maelstra home. Then we won't have to deal with Jhudora."

      We snuck back out the window and waited, pressed up against the side of the house, for Maelstra to leave.

      I woke with a start. The light was waning from the evening sky and I realized with a jump in my chest that we had fallen asleep. I couldn't move my left wing. I shook the sleeping Mynci with my right wing and she rubbed her eyes, looking around confused. I pulled my wing from underneath her side, shaking it vigorously to get the blood flowing. The tingling pain made me wince and I hobbled to my feet.

      "I hope they haven't left," Abbi whispered, climbing to her feet.

      No sooner had she finished her sentence than the front door of Jhudora's house flew open. Sure enough, out came a dark faerie and a Shadow Eyrie.

      "Da--" I called out, but Abbi clamped her hand over my beak.

      Maelstra and my brother turned around, but seeing no one, kept walking.

      I sank to my knees, trying not to cry. "Did you see him, Abbi? His eyes. They were so cold and heartless."

      Abbi put her hand on my back. "Let's go, Dwennon."

      I nodded and got up. We followed the pair to the door of Maelstra's house.

      "This is it," I said.

      Abbi nodded, but she was shaking all over. "We'll save him," she affirmed. I noticed I was trembling, too. "One," she counted, "two… THREE!" We barged through the door, visibly startling Maelstra and Darin who were drinking festering coffee over a putrid looking table.

      Maelstra's face turned from startled to amused. "Jhudora's the one who gives quests, kiddies. She lives next door."

      "We demand you release my brother!" I cried. I didn't know where I was pulling my strength from. Abbi was huddled into my side.

      Maelstra laughed. A laugh that disturbed me to the core of my being and shook my red feathers so hard a few of them fell out.

      "Why, if it isn't little Dwennon." Darin's voice was hard and ruthless. "You have no place here. Go home to your squalor." As he chuckled, I felt like all of the evil things in Neopia were running through my body: lies, jealousy, revenge, war, everything vile and dark. When he stopped chuckling, I was exhausted. I barely noticed the little house, dimly lit just a minute before, turning very dark.

      "I am rich beyond your wildest dreams!" he cried. He came over and pushed me to the floor. "And no one can match my power," he whispered, looming over me. He raised his hand up as if to strike me, when Abbi cried out.

      "Darin, don't! He's your brother," Abbi sobbed.

      "Aww, sweet little Abbi," Darin mocked in a singsong voice. "You came to try to take my power away as well? Foolish!"

      "No, no," she whimpered as she backed away from him. "This isn't you, Darin. Look what you're doing to the people you care about most. Neopoints and power aren't the most important things!"

      "Shush!" Darin yelled as he pushed Abbi to the floor next to me. "Don't you lecture me!"

      "Enough of this." Maelstra yawned. "I'm going to give the two of you five seconds to get out of here. If you're not out by then, you'll regret ever knowing Darin." She smiled coyly. "Or should I say Lord Darigan?"

      "Darigan?" I squeaked.

      "Yes. Doesn't it have a much better ring to it?" Darin put his face next to mine and grinned. He went on in a low, gravelly voice. "One day soon I will shed my pathetic Eyrie form and assume a much more noble one. I will then conquer and rule all of Neopia! And don't worry," he leaned in closer to whisper, "I'll start with your beloved Meridell."

      Tears rolled down my cheeks. I looked over at Abbi who was crying, too. I stood up, badly bruised and shaken. "Come on, Abbi."

      We hobbled out of Maelstra's abode as the two of them laughed evilly. We got far away from the house and sat on the edge of a cloud, still shaking and crying. Night had almost fallen; there was only a smudge of light left in the sky.

      I wiped the tears from my face and turned to my companion. Finally I managed to croak, "I've looked evil in the face, Abbi. And it was my own brother."

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» A Weak Heart: Part One
» A Weak Heart: Part Two



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