Legend Seekers: Mysterious Magic - Part One
Author’s note: This is the second Legend Seekers series. If you haven’t read the first, read the summary below or (for the full story) check out Pemero’s petpage. Otherwise, just skip the next part. :)
Synopsis of the first series: A young silver Kougra by the name of Pemero and his friend Jen, a shadow Wocky, find themselves on the shores of Mystery Island, having stowed across on a stolen rowing boat. Upon arrival, they embark upon an epic adventure into the unexplored wilds of the Mystery Island jungle, where they eventually become separated.
Pemero meets with a Faerie who leads him to the summit of the volcano in his search for Jen. Unfortunately, it is not Jen who is waiting for him when he gets to the top. The cruel Light Faerie, who harbours a secret grudge on Mystery Island, throws Pemero into the mouth of the volcano, causing a terrible eruption that wipes out most of the life on the island. Miraculously, the cub survives—however, the Light Faerie escaped, leaving him to shoulder the blame for the destruction...
The Faerie Queen takes him back to her Palace for questioning. She is one of the only ones to believe in his innocence. Because of this, he must remain within Faerieland, where she can keep a watch on him and protect him from the vengeful. His newly discovered powers of magic are the only thing that kept him alive during the eruption; Fyora offers to help him gain control of this magic by offering him a place at an exclusive magic school hidden somewhere in the Faerie City...
For two weeks before the start of the course, he is entrusted to three triplet sisters; Lisa, Samila and Peonie, all of whom are fire Faeries. They agree to feed and shelter Pemero until he can move into the magic school and begin his training. This new chapter in his life begins from a few days before the school opens for the year...
Pemero peered over the cloud thoughtfully. It had been two weeks since he had woken up to find himself in Faerieland... two weeks of dull shock fading into fear and regret. Two weeks that seemed more like two years to him.
The disaster was still fresh in his mind – almost burned into him, branded on his memory forever. Along with strange voices, he was sure he remembered his friends’ voices, ringing with shock, and hatred, and fear. Fear most of all.
A black shape danced on the ground below, entrancing and mysterious. For a moment, the young Kougra felt a flash of hope –
“Jen... is that you?”
Pemero... please answer me... are you there?
“Yes! I can hear you! Wait—”
As he craned over the cloud to see the shadow better, the blank slip of paper drifted from his pocket and upwards, before curving downwards - almost in slow motion.
I think I’m falling...? Where am I? Pemero!
“Hold on! I think I can reach...!”
Heart dropping like a stone, the cub crept closer to the edge of the cloud. It was a breathtaking view, but every time he looked down his head swam with terror. This is for Jen, he told himself sharply, mentally swallowing his fear. Again, he reached for the paper – his paw brushed against it briefly, pushing it further away.
A sudden sound distracted him momentarily – a voice. Possibly a Faerie?
“Stop! It’s a trap!” The voice was distant and slurred. Unimportant. The paper was important, but it was falling away from him; towards the dark, unimaginable ground.
The paper danced ever faster in the turbulent winds. Pemero reached out again in a vain attempt to grasp it. His back claws were barely gripping the cloud now, but he almost had it – almost...
The cloud grew thin under his weight. He dug his claws in desperately, but it was no good - seconds later it faded completely, sending him flying through the air. Everything was moving too fast for him to be afraid; yet he was – horribly, sickeningly. He’d failed his friends (and countless others) once, and it wasn’t going to happen again.
The colours seemed bright and surreal through the blur. It was hard to move, but slowly he reached out again, and grasped the sheet in both paws.
“I’ve got you,” he said, holding the torn sheet close, as if to protect it from the harsh winds. But the paper was only paper; nothing was written on it and no sound came from it, even in Pemero’s own mind. The shadow wasn’t just dancing now - it was shaking with suppressed laughter. It was a kind of laughter that chilled him; even though he couldn’t hear it, he could feel it.
Where are your friends now, Pemero? They’re not laughing, are they? They’re screaming... screaming for revenge!
“No,” he hissed to himself vehemently. Behind his closed eyes, the scene was playing out again. This time, every face was the face of a friend, and they all looked livid.
I’ll never fail you again... any of you! Please, wait...
He was only a few feet away from the ground now. The paper slipped from his grip and landed on the beach, only to be washed away by the ocean. How careless! He’d always been a careless cub...
It was the voice again! One thing was certain in his mind – it wasn’t Jen. It couldn’t be. Or could it?
Wake up, Pemero...
Far above the streets of Meridell, a young Wocky lay sleeping on the castle roof, unaware of her surroundings. A small company of guards surrounded her, muttering in low, fearful voices. The recent war had shaken the country, and planted a seed of paranoia in its people.
“D’you... d’you think she brought a curse?” said one guard, peering cautiously into her face. Another guard stepped forward and lifted the Wocky down from the wall.
“No. If something bad was happening, it woulda been more obvious by now...”
“She only came last night! How would we know? How--”
“--did she get here?”
The last voice belonged to the head guard, a stern-faced blue Draik. The others stopped mumbling, but failed to contribute anything. It was an enigma to them, and at a terrible time – the whole of Neopia was in turmoil over the loss of Mystery Island.
“I see. So, none of you were keeping watch at this part of the castle when she arrived?”
Silent tension circled the guards for a moment or two. Finally, one of the guards stepped forward.“Sir? I saw her arrive. She fell from the sky, and landed on a low-flying cloud, which carried her down here. I wouldn’t’a believed it, but I saw it with my own two eyes!”
The others looked at the Yurble incredulously, but stayed quiet, since they had no way to disprove her claim. In one movement, the whole group looked towards the sky, shielding their eyes from the rising sun. The clouds were gone now and the sky was an expanse of blue, green and gold.
“I’ll take your word for it,” said the chief finally. “She doesn’t seem untrustworthy, but you can never be too sure. I’ll consult the King about this, but it looks like she’ll be staying in the dungeons for a while...”
Light poured through a stained glass window on the far side of the room. It was set to be a beautiful day – not that any day was rainy in Faerieland. The door opened, and a fire Faerie peered in cautiously before entering.
“Wake up, Pemero,” she said softly.
“It’s morning. Your classes start tomorrow. Aren’t you looking forward to training with us?”
“Yeah,” he said. “It’s just...”
“I know. You had another nightmare last night.”
“It was different,” he said, almost defensively. “I caught the paper this time! But...” he trailed off, deep in thought. Did the Faeries know about the paper, or had that been a dream, too? The expression on her face gave nothing away.
“It’ll pass,” she said. “When you’re able to concentrate on something else, the nightmares will stop haunting you quite so much.”
“I doubt it.” He sighed. “But it could happen, I guess.”
“You’d better come downstairs now. Breakfast will be getting cold.”
Pemero slid onto the floor, fixed his eyes on the ceiling and padded towards the door. When he got downstairs, the Fire Faerie was placing pancake stacks on small silver plates. Her sisters were waiting eagerly at the table for the cub to sit down.
“Morning, sisters,” he said, as cheerfully as he could manage. They all nodded and smiled, but no reply came, so he shrugged and took a place between them.
“Breakfast is served!”
Four stacks of pancakes complete with strawberry syrup floated from the counter and landed squarely on their intended plates. The three Faeries ate heartily, but Pemero, who was used to small portions, only managed half a meal. Nobody spoke – in Faerieland, it was customary not to speak until the meal was over.
Finally, the plates were cleared, and disappeared to the wash-basin on the far side of the room.
“How are you settling in here, Pemero?” asked the youngest Faerie.
“Well... okay,” he said, somewhat stiffly. “It’s just strange.”
“I know the feeling,” said the eldest. “Things do change, and you always have to be ready to meet that change.”
“You Faeries are full of wisdom,” the cub mused.
“What makes you say that?” the middle sister asked. “It’s nothing special. We just spend more time studying than... well, than most pets do.”
“I... will I be studying these things in my classes?”
“Eventually. If you survive, that is – some pets simply can’t take the strain... they just collapse with exhaustion a week or two in. But given what we’ve seen from you already, I don’t think you need to worry about that.”
“M’kay.” Not entirely reassured, Pemero checked his pockets to make sure the paper was still there. It was.
He sloped off the chair and headed for the door. “I’m going for a walk. I’ll be back soon!”
“Okay!” they called in unison. As the tip of his reflective tail slipped past the closing door, they exchanged glances.
“I think we’d better keep an eye on him,” the eldest sister said. “He’s holding something back. I can feel it.”
In a deep, dark part of Meridell, what looked like a furry shadow was huddled against a dusty, pale grey wall. Not fully sleeping, but not awake, either. It’s cold here, she thought numbly. So cold. I wonder where I am now...
“Hey! Are you up yet? I brought down your food for the day.”
The voice was rough, but not unkind. Jen stretched one paw against the cold stone and opened her eyes. It was so dark that to begin with, only the shadows were visible.
“Uh... where am I?” she asked, fur bristling against the cold. Her eyes were adjusting to the darkness. Ahead of her, lit by a thin, flickering torch, a grid of thick rusted bars shut her off from the world. On all other sides, she could see nothing but bare stone. The guard shifted slightly, but didn’t reply.
“Thanks for the food, anyway,” she said hesitantly. Somehow, she felt misplaced here. Strange places had never been her strong suit. Maybe this was just another dream, but dreams never seemed so cold or warm to her - they just... were. That was all.
Despite her misgivings, she was truly hungry. Surely, just a bite or two would do no harm. Shuffling forward slightly, she grabbed the meagre bowl of soup and mouldy bread and began to eat.
“I’m not supposed to tell you, but you’re in the dungeons of Castle Meridell.”
“What? Why am I in Meridell? I thought...” she trailed off momentarily, rethinking her question as her numb mind returned to action. “Actually, why am I in the dungeons?”
“We found you passed out on the edge of the castle walls. None of us have any idea where you come from, or how you got there, or... well, it’s just strange. That’s why they put you here.” He paused for a moment, claws tapping on the bars. “People fear what they don’t understand.”
Jen paced the cage. Her mind was racing painfully, working to repair the damage of long and fitful sleep. Everything was flooding back – and it wasn’t pretty. Shrill screams, dark laughter and blackness... the whole island had been swallowed. Oh, dear Fyora... the whole island! Now she realised why they were hesitant to trust her.
“Um... when will you let me out of here?” she asked, making her expression as blank as possible.
“It’s not my decision. Sorry. I can tell ya that you’re due to speak with His Majesty King Skarl at dawn tomorrow. Your fate will be decided then.”
“My... fate?” That did not sound good.
“Yes. Your fate. I imagine the worst that could happen is you’ll end up back in ‘ere, but with any luck you’ll be set free once the King knows you’re not a threat.”
“Great.” Sitting down, the Wocky started to draw shapes in the layered dust. Were these dungeons ever cleaned? An old smell hung around the place, as if the last occupant of her cell had stayed here for a hundred years before being moved out. It was all well and good that the King was giving her a chance, but it might prove to be false hope... what would happen then?
That, I can only guess, she said to herself. Whatever happens tomorrow, I’ll find my way out of here somehow...
To be continued...