Catching Up: Part Eleven
The Faerie Courthouse stood just in sight of Fyora's palace, and was built out of a similarly neutral purple stone. Lianar nodded as she saw it and banked into a turn, followed by the others. Patricia didn't think it was just vertigo that gave her the peculiar swooping feeling: it was the perfect timing of their turns, the almost instinctive way they knew where everyone else was and when to do what.
The Dark Faerie shook her hair out of her face, letting it flutter behind her in the wind, and concentrated on landing. Together the six Faeries settled their Racers into the gated courtyard, landing on purple paving stones.
As one, they turned off their Racers and vaulted out. Six pairs of booted feet hit the purple paving stones at the same moment. Patricia started to grin. Therisa saw it and smiled too. Soon everyone was smiling, and Lianar threw back her head to laugh.
"Come on," she said after a moment, "let's find Ms. Evea."
They sobered, their smiles disappearing, and nodded. Lianar led the way in, flanked by Arielle and Lillian again: the others followed close behind. The wide double doors of the Courthouse stood open, and they passed through without a challenge. Everyone let themselves relax.
The entrance hall wasn't quite as large as the one at Faerie Academy, but it was still big. The ceiling stretched up past two floors' balconies, resolving at last into a dome. Unseen Faeries' footsteps echoed through the still air.
On the opposite wall of the atrium, a Light Faerie sat behind a desk carved out of purple marble. The wall behind her was made of the same material: inscribed into it was the motto of the Faerie courts, Light and Justice, translated into the ancient Faerie language.
They stood just inside the doors for a moment, and then Lianar moved forward, and the rest followed. Lillian and Arielle fell back a few steps as they approached the desk, joining Emm, Therisa, and Patricia. They stood in a loose semicircle behind Lianar when she stopped in front of the Light Faerie secretary.
"Good day," the Light Faerie said politely, flicking a look around all of them. Despite her manners, they could all tell she was puzzled by their appearance.
"Good day," Lianar replied. "We're looking for someone who we think is in a trial... here."
"What is... the Faerie's name?" the Light Faerie asked, still taking refuge in good manners. Emm glanced over at Therisa, frowning. She had an odd feeling about the Light Faerie. The Fire Faerie looked back at her and tipped her head inquisitively. Emm shrugged and looked away. It was probably nothing, she thought.
Lianar hesitated before she spoke. "Her name is Ms. Evea."
The Light Faerie looked between their faces, and seemed to reach some sort of decision. "How do you know her?"
"That wasn't the question," Arielle muttered.
"We are her students at Faerie Academy," Lianar said, waving a hand for Arielle to be quiet. "She chose us to teach specially."
Watching them, the Light Faerie nodded. "Shouldn't you be at school?"
"We should be in class with Ms. Evea," Patricia said mildly.
The Light Faerie leaned back in her chair. She sighed. "Very well, then. You might be too late, but maybe just in time. Take that hallway, and take the first left. Third right, and it's the fifth door on the left."
Lianar beamed. "Thank you!" She hurried off, followed by the others. Patricia hung back for a moment, watching the Light Faerie. After a moment the Faerie glanced up and raised her eyebrows.
"Well, go on."
Patricia shook her head. "What's the hearing on?" she asked. The Light Faerie chuckled.
"I'm afraid officially I'm not at liberty to say," she said. "You should catch up."
The Dark Faerie glanced at the hallway where her friends had gone, and then back at the Light Faerie. She hesitated, and then nodded.
"Thanks for helping us," she said, and ran to catch up.
Patricia caught up with the others as they were making the second turn.
"One, two, three..." Lianar was counting under her breath as they crept along. "Four, five." She glanced back at the others. "Ready?"
They nodded. Patricia hung back, frowning. "Emm. Therisa. Isn't this--"
Lianar eased the door open slowly, peered inside. She straightened abruptly. "Ms. Evea!" The others crowded forward to see, and the Light Faerie flung the door all the way open, dashing inside.
The Fire Faerie was standing at the center of a courtroom, talking with a Dark Faerie. She turned around at Lianar's call.
"Lianar," she said. "Therisa. Arielle. Emm. Lillian?" She shook her head, almost laughing. "It's the whole school!"
"What's going on?" Therisa asked, looking around. Other than Ms. Evea and the Dark Faerie, there was no one in the room. "Where's the judge, and the jury? What did you do?"
Ms. Evea frowned at them. "What?"
"We met Clocia, in the infirmary, and she said you were here, and to ask for urgent hearings," Lianar said. "We thought--"
The Dark Faerie laughed. "Evea, you were right. They do remind me of us."
"You met Clocia," Ms. Evea repeated. "You thought I'd been arrested?"
Therisa shrugged. "We weren't sure what had happened. We thought you might blame yourself for the accident."
Ms. Evea glanced at Lillian. "I do, a little. It was bad timing on my part." She grimaced. "I'm sorry."
"Your friend Clocia--she healed me," the Water Faerie said. "So I'm all right." She smiled a little. "I was blaming myself, too."
"Evea? Are you all right?" The secretary stepped into the room. The whole group turned to face her. "I just wanted to make sure that your students found you all right."
Ms. Evea smiled. "So they did. I gather they came here just on the off chance that I was in danger, ready to fight the Faerie Queen herself for me."
Lianar looked at her feet and flushed.
"A very noble thing to do, though," their teacher added.
"Why did you leave, if not compelled by force?" Patricia asked, leaning against the back wall of the room. The Dark Faerie raised her eyebrows at Ms. Evea.
The Fire Faerie glanced at the Dark Faerie. Patricia looked at her, too.
"You're Jhudora," she said slowly, standing up. Even these years later, she looked the same as she did in her portrait in Faerie Academy's entrance hall. "Were you on Ms. Evea's team in school, too?"
Swallowing a smile, the Dark Faerie nodded. "I was," she said. "So was Sira." She looked up at the Light Faerie secretary, who looked back at her, amused.
"And Clocia--but you knew that," Ms. Evea said. "Our Air, Gwendolyn, is on Fyora's council now." She grinned.
"We always knew she'd be famous," Sira said with a wry smile. "She's on her way, Evea, I sent her a message."
"Good." The Fire Faerie nodded. "As for why I left," she added, turning back to the younger Faeries, "well--I realized how stupid we had been, before."
"We being our group," Jhudora said, pulling a chair over and seating herself comfortably. "Sit down, Evea. See, we had an accident like the one your group had earlier today--a long time ago, when we were still all at school. Sira got hurt, and Illusen thought that our teacher was to blame."
"Illusen?" Lianar asked, and the rest echoed her--all but Patricia, who just watched Jhudora from the back of the room.
"Didn't you tell them?" Jhudora asked Ms. Evea, who smiled.
"Not really. No." The Fire Faerie flushed, turning away to find herself a chair.
Jhudora laughed quietly. "All right. We all have secrets. Anyway, so Illusen blamed our Racing teacher for it, and she told Illusen it was an accident, but Illusen's not very good at giving up. She pleaded the case with anyone she could think of, and after half a year she decided that something must be wrong with the system, and she decided to drop out of the Academy."
"It made sense to her," Evea added. "At the time, anyway. Illusen had always been planning on a career with the Racers, but she hated violence, and she thought Sira's accident was just the first of many if she kept on that way."
"We argued with her," Sira put in from the back of the room, coming forward to sit with her friends. "Even I did. Jhudora kept going after her for longest, though."
The Dark Faerie raised her eyebrows at Sira, but smiled. "Yes. Illusen and I were good friends, and I thought she was throwing away her potential."
"So they argued, and Illusen left the Academy anyway, and went to live in Meridell," Evea said. "And Jhudora, who can be quite as stubborn as Illusen when she puts her mind to it, decided that she should never have anything to do with her again."
"And then I graduated," Jhudora said, "and decided a life in the Racers wasn't for me, anyway, and went into quest-giving up here."
Sira grinned. "Evea and Clocia and I were in the Racers together for a while, and there's not much chance for communication with the outside world when you're in the leagues, so we lost touch with them."
"By then, we'd just sort of gotten into our ruts." Evea smiled wistfully. "None of us talked to each other for the longest time. This year was the first time I had spoken with Clocia since we were in Racers together--I found her out to talk to her about your group. But somehow I still thought that everyone else was too distant for me to possibly reconcile with, until today."
Silence fell softly on the room. Lianar nodded slowly. Emm looked thoughtful.
"So now what happens?" Lillian looked from their teacher to Jhudora, and then to Sira.
"Now--well, now we wait for Gwendolyn, and then go meet Clocia, and fly down to Meridell to tell Illusen that we were being idiots all this time," Evea said. "You can go back to school, if you'd like."
There was an instant outcry against this option, and Evea smiled.
"Or you can come with."
To be continued...