Shad and Saura: The Story of Elversti - Part Nine
It took them a while to awaken the guard inside the gate but eventually the lid opened to reveal a pair of very sleepy eyes.
“Let us out, we’re taking the guards some refreshments to keep them awake,” Saura said cheerily. “Wouldn’t wanna be in their shoes at this late hour, don’t you think?”
The gatekeeper grumbled. “Well, you have to be as I’m not letting you in anymore. I deserve my sleep.” The gap he opened between the gates was so narrow that they barely pushed themselves through, fighting with claustrophobia, and as soon as they were out, the gates closed again.
“So much for that,” Shad muttered as they headed over the grass towards the small group of soldiers by the wall. Everyone looked sleepy but had tried hard not to take a nap, even for a short while – outside the Fortress only the magic inside the seven warriors was the spell that sealed the Air Faerie who was more awake than her guards, leaning against the wall and humming, “Good night, sleep tight, you’re all tired of light – close your eyes, float away, ‘morrow is another day…” The two brothers hadn’t seen a meaner flare in anyone’s eyes, including Jhudora’s.
“Can’t we at least knock her unconscious?” a Peophin moaned.
“Tempting, but we had an order not to touch her,” a Kacheek hissed back.
“You have a beautiful voice…” a Shoyru mumbled absently, rocking back and forth as he sat there. His buddies whacked him to keep him awake for another few minutes.
“Good morning, fellows, how are you this fine day?” Saura greeted them with a wide friendly yawn. Shad couldn’t help feeling sorry for the soldiers as they were staring at Saura’s mouth – yawns are, as everyone knows, hopelessly contagious.
“We brought you a refreshing drink,” the Zafara added. “All that guarding must be tedious.” He uncorked the bottle that smelled strongly of coffee. “Family recipe, step right up.”
It took the guards half a minute to empty the bottle. And fifteen seconds to fall asleep one after another.
“Never drink something that smells like coffee but looks nothing like coffee,” Saura suggested with a wide grin. “Let’s see about these shackles now…”
“Don’t bother,” said the Faerie, raising her slim arm to show the massive iron shackle around it. “You won’t be able to break it. Just step back…”
Both brothers watched in awe as bright blue haze started forming around the Faerie’s hands, then wrists, then arms… then her hair started flowing in unseen wind… the look in her eyes concentrated and turned blank… and with a bright, yet surprisingly quiet blast the ancient magic of the Air Faerie attacked the shackles which cracked, twisted for some odd reason and then simply melted, dripping down onto the grass and forming a dark grey puddle which cooled quickly.
“I thought Air Faeries only did those pretty tricks with the wind and clouds,” Shad said before he could stop the sentence. The Faerie, getting up now, just smiled – luckily.
“That would be the first-level elemental magic,” she said. “We’re more powerful than that; raw ancient magic is free to use for all of us. Let’s go now. When these guards wake up, you won’t be welcome in this fortress anymore.”
“You think?” Shad muttered as they disappeared into the woods. The forest was waking up and the sun was about to rise. In the dawn the Haunted Woods looked a lot more welcoming than in bright daylight, possibly because they were calmer and quieter.
Saura ran as fast as he could, seeing that Shad was generally faster than him and the Faerie had no problems half-running, half-floating through the forest. “How come they captured you in the first place?” he asked. “The magic made you powerless but couldn’t you escape when you felt that?”
The Faerie smiled in the weak light. “Yes, but I wanted to find out how well their tactics work. Apparently well enough, so we need to hurry and bring my sisters the word. They know that if I don’t return, the magic of Seven works, but now I’m afraid that the Fortress folk will attack sooner as they know that you’ve betrayed them.”
They ran on in silence for a short while.
“So you were fully aware that if their magic works, you won’t return?” Shad asked slowly.
The Air Faerie gave a one-shoulder-shrug to say that she was fully aware of that and didn’t really mind. “We needed to know.”
“So if we hadn’t saved you…” Saura started after another short moment of silence.
The vague shrug again. “They hate us.”
They really are prouder and stronger than the Faeries we know… Shad thought as they ran on. Then again, how much do we know about Faeries anyway?
The sun was high when they reached the narrow path between the trees and the Air Faerie’s float-flight changed. Now her wings sent out dusty blue sparks as they fluttered and it carried off between the trees. Obviously enough, it was a call and soon the Faeries started appearing between the trees, looking curious and worried. Eventually the black-haired Dark Faerie landed on the path and folded her thin wings. She didn’t say a word, she didn’t have to as the Air Faerie told her the whole story already, also by using only a few words; “it works very well, these two saved me”, to be exact. Apparently her sisters didn’t need to know more.
“Sounds like we’re pretty much doomed then,” the Fire Faerie in red stated.
“Yes, it doesn’t really matter if the Fortress is protected or not, they can take that power out in themselves and they’re planning to leave the castle one way or another,” a Light Faerie said, sitting down on the path. “Unless the power source of the magic inside the castle is somehow bound to them, which wouldn’t be surprising.”
“Isn’t your magic stronger than the Seven in any way?” Shad asked with his ears drooping. “If you all attacked at once or something…”
The Dark Faerie frowned. “It’s not that simple. You see, the magic of the Seven is elemental. It goes deeper than our force. We just use our raw magic but the Seven come from Neopia itself.”
“Fire, water, stone, metal, wood and soil,” Saura nodded. “Like the clans. But we don’t know what the seventh part is; it has to be something inside all other six parts. We found this verse, see…”
The Faeries stood still as they listened to the verse and thought about it. All rely on one another but they all rely on one, should be six but there is Seven as it is in all of them.
“Duplicate meaning,” the Fire Faerie remarked. “It goes to the room in the castle and also to the six clans. That doubles the strength, as the spell is then harder to break: both requirements need to be met, you see.”
“Tell us then,” Saura said with his eyes narrowing, “you should know – what is the seventh part?”
“What is inside all the clan pets and also inside everything you saw at that room?” the Dark Faerie asked back. “That’s easy. The answer is “soul”.”
“That’s what our magic is built on,” a Water Faerie added with a smile. “The elements we bend and control have souls, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to work with them. It’s all in gently convincing them to work for us, in the matter of speaking. Elements are powerful.”
The Dark Faerie nodded with a smirk. “Tidal waves and wildfires, thunderstorms and earthquakes,” she glanced at the Light Faerie on the path, “and the blinding rays of the Sun, mercilessly bringing out everything that wants to hide. Yet darkness needs no introducing as it’s the most powerful of all, don’t you agree, sister?” Her smirk got a little wider.
“Light always defeats darkness, my dear,” the Light Faerie smiled back, though something in her smile was sharp and cold.
“On the contrary,” the black-haired Faerie said. “No matter how hard the light tries, darkness always comes back as soon as the light fades. No matter how fast light travels, darkness is there before it. Everything began with darkness and will end with it. And even darkness has a soul, I should know indeed… but that doesn’t really matter to you two right now.” She turned to face Shad and Saura who had edged away a little during that short speech. “Turns out that the spell protecting the fortress is extremely powerful – cracking a soul is as good as impossible. Got suggestions?”
“Besides moving away and letting them have the forest?” Saura asked back. “Not really…” Shad had fallen in thoughts.
“Duplicate meaning, you say?” he suddenly asked. “But that means… Saura, I think I’ve got it.”
Now he knew. Now he remembered what had troubled him so much back at the Fortress, what had seemed so strange and what he didn’t bother to think of more specifically. Small, insignificant, obviously too simple to work that way… and yet the only reasonable explanation.
“Really?” the Zafara asked with a confused frown. “What is it then?”
“We gotta go back to the Fortress,” the shadow Lupe stated, standing up. He looked at the Faeries. “We only have one chance here so if it doesn’t work then you’ll all pay with your heads, I’m afraid.”
The Faeries nodded and shrugged, showing that they understood it very well and didn’t really mind. Shad blinked in confusion.
“It’s very dangerous,” he repeated.
“More for you than for us if you get caught,” a Fire Faerie said. “Getting in there won’t be hard. We’ll fly you to a tower and throw you in, the Seven won’t keep you back. But then you’ll have to be very fast.”
“We’ll create a diversion for that,” a Water Faerie added, her eyes gleaming in grim eager that showed that tidal waves would fit somewhere in there very nicely.
The black-haired Dark Faerie frowned, her back straightened – if that was even possible with her current posture – and she seemed thoughtful for a moment. “Then we need to move in now. The sun is high, the guards have definitely awakened by now, if not the ones you tranquilized then the ones on the walls. I’m sure that they’re preparing for battle right now. Let’s go.”
To be continued...