Author's Note: This is it the long awaited sequel to "Balthazar Bait". =) Please read the aforementioned story first before proceeding if you wish for complete understanding.
Sophie glided on silent wings, occasionally glancing back behind her at the house where Balthazar lived and where the faeries were still imprisoned.
She glanced back at her sister, camouflaged in the darkness, her wings stretched wide. Her expression was hard, and Sophie knew there was no point in arguing with a stubborn faerie like Maddie.
For sixteen years, she had always confided in her younger sister, never hiding anything from her. That time was over now. Maddie would never understand risking her own life for complete strangers, even if they were distant kin. She did not understand that the faeries were bottled because of her performance. So she was on her own now.
“Sophie,” Maddie said gently, as soon as the two faeries alighted upon their little nest in the hollow of a great oak. “You’re not still thinking about those faeries, are you?” She was still a little disgusted that Sophie would have risked her own life for the lives of strangers, but she tried to be kind and understanding for her sister’s sake. Hey, she was a dark faerie, and Sophie was a light faerie, and they were literally as different as night and day. But she tried.
“Nnhmm,” Sophie mumbled, her bright golden eyes wistful and clouded as her mind tried to think of a suitable way to rescue the faeries. “NnHMMM... mmm...”
“You can’t go back there and rescue them,” Maddie snapped, getting a little irked. Her sister’s helpful ways were starting to get on her nerves. Her wings were safe; why did Sophie care about putting them back in danger?
“Nnhmm,” Sophie continued, sounding wise and in deep concentration.
“Sophie!” Maddie exclaimed, standing up abruptly, her dark indigo eyes flashing. “Promise me that you won’t try and go back to Balthazar’s home. It’s... it’s crazy!”
“Maddie,” Sophie said gently, trying to get her sister to understand, “it’s my duty to go back and save those faeries.”
Maddie covered her face with one hand and took an exasperated breath. “Sophie,” she said slowly, exaggerating the name, “why would you put your life in danger to save a few strangers?”
Sophie shrugged, her golden eyes gleaming. “Because it’s the first time anyone needed me,” she said, almost rapturously, so passionate were her words. “No one ever needed me before. But these faeries do... and the feeling of being needed...”
Maddie was skeptical. “We’ve always needed you, Sophie!” she exclaimed, just as passionately. “We have always depended on you. I know we shouldn’t have, but we have. You’re not talking any sense. Besides...”
“Enough, Maddie,” Sophie snapped, her eyes glittering. “I’m going back to rescue those faeries.”
Maddie threw her hands into the air, and spread her wings wide. “You’ll regret it, Sophie,” she threatened, dark purple eyes glimmering.
Sophie tossed back her head, throwing back her long, golden hair. “Fine.”
Fuming, Maddie stomped her foot, eyes blazing like cold fire, and took to the starry skies.
Sophie sighed, already regretting her stubborn approach. “There has got to be a way to free the faeries and not get Maddie to hate me forever for it,” she grumbled, between gritted teeth.
Sophie’s eyes strained in the darkness of the night. The way to Balthazar’s lair was hidden in the intricate maze of forest trees.
Finally, she saw the place, the faint glow of faeries illuminating her way slightly. She shivered with uncontrollable fear. Maybe Maddie was right. These faeries had been bottled because they had been watching her performance. Maybe they deserved this. If they had never come to watch her toy with danger, they wouldn’t be here.
But she could not force herself to believe that. A large portion of herself screamed, “It’s your fault they were bottled. It’s your duty to get them out of this mess.” Thinking on this, Sophie grimaced and forced herself to go on.
Suddenly, she found herself staring into startling jade eyes. Sophie nearly shrieked, but managed to clamp a hand over her mouth before the surprised scream started. A body materialized after the eyes, garbed in a beautiful, rustling, emerald dress. It was a faerie! Her lime wings were poised, her face angled, her ears pointed. Her hair was copper and shimmering, and her hands were clasped in front of her. However, a frown of worry played on her lips, and her brow was creased with anxiety.
“You came back!” The Earth Faerie sounded irritated.
“Of course,” said Sophie, surprised. “You thought I would leave you here? And... how did you escape from your bottle?”
The Earth Faerie smiled, her eyes twinkling. “The same way you escaped from yours. After you left, the Light Faeries and the Dark Faeries have been bursting the bottles of all the other faeries. We are almost free. All thanks to you, of course. We never would have thought of such things. It was always every faerie for themselves. But now, we’re working together... and we’re nearly back home.”
The Earth Faerie’s words were rapturous, and her eyes were wistful. Sophie guessed that she had a quiet little glade back at home, warm and loving and welcoming. She felt almost envious. Her only family was Maddie. Her mother... her mother was the entire reason she had been earning money in the first place. Her ill mother... she pushed the thoughts away from her mind and forced herself to look relieved.
The faeries were saved! A great burden lifted from her shoulders. A group of faeries glowed and fluttered out of the doorway and strode up to the Earth Faerie.
“Emmeralla,” one of the faeries murmured. “There is one more group, and then we are all evacuated.”
Sophie could tell that the Earth Faerie named Emmeralla must have taken charge of the group of nervous faeries. She couldn’t help feeling a glow of admiration for this delicate faerie. She seemed so calm and serene and ladylike, but she was obviously very courageous to have taken charge of the entire escape plan.
A faerie from the group, a sparkling Fire Faerie, looked right at Sophie and gasped, “It’s you! Thank you for giving us the idea to help liberate us from our prisons.”
Sophie smiled modestly, blushing. She was still groping for words when a small group, perhaps five or six faeries, strode out of Balthazar’s lair, escorted by a group of three Light Faeries.
As the group approached, Emmeralla murmured, “Is that all of them?” The beautiful Light Faerie nodded in assent, and Emmeralla sighed with apparent relief. “Good,” she continued. “We can finally get out of here.”
Sophie felt a little better to know that even such a determined and valiant faerie like Emmeralla was worried about their situation. It helped prove to her that she was not a coward.
Emmeralla fluttered up high above the rest of the faeries and exclaimed, her voice quiet and joyful, “Everyone, go! Back to your families and your homes; you are free now!”
The Faeries let out a small cheer and were about to leave, when—a roar of irritation and shock split through the air.
“Balthazar Faeries escape,” rumbled the annoyed voice of a large Lupe, muscles rippling under his navy colored skin.
“Balthazar!” shrieked Emmeralla, but it was more of an annoyed and startled shriek. After all, the faeries had nothing to lose. They were already in Balthazar’s yard. If they were caught and bottled again, they could just escape again.
“Scatter!” screamed Sophie, immediately finding her voice in her shock.
Balthazar roared, reared, and gave chase. The faeries squealed as their wings fluttered into the night air. Soon, they were almost all gone. Balthazar howled in the frustration of having to catch the faeries all over again.
Suddenly, a dark plume of smoke covered the Lupe from head to tail. The Lupe reared and bellowed in frustration, clawing at the mysterious dark mist. Throughout the pandemonium, Sophie squinted at the dark sky and saw a flash of wings. She squinted harder and saw that it was a Dark Faerie, but quite an unusual one. She had the usual dark faerie build—solid frame and dark indigo hair, widespread wings and purple skin. But her eyes were a shining, glittering golden color.
Sophie only knew one particular Dark Faerie like this.
Sophie stared in shock for a few seconds, but then flapped her delicate Light Faerie wings, crying, “Mother!”
The golden-eyed Dark Faerie whirled around, ready to confront another enemy. Her expression shifted from battle fury to pride. “Sophie.”
Balthazar’s furious scream came from below. The large Lupe tried in vain to escape the cloud of darkness. In both fear and anger, he stormed blindly back towards his house door, slammed into a few windows, and fell headfirst into the doorway. The door slammed a second after that, and the remaining faeries cheered with joy.
But Sophie was not happy. Balthazar would just catch another batch of faeries. And she had to do something about it. But what? How could she stop Balthazar from bottling faeries?
“Mother, how did you get here?” Sophie asked, awed, making her mother comfortable in a makeshift bed of leaves a few miles deeper into the heart of the Haunted Woods for safety.
“Maddie,” her mother explained gently. “Sophie, your sister may not always see eye-to-eye with you on things, but you have to understand that she has reasons for it. She can be a coldhearted Dark Faerie, and you’re a hopeful light faerie by nature, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t try. She tries to understand your motives, but this one just seems to escape her.”
“Maddie?” Sophie gasped. “Where is she? What is she doing right now?”
“Eavesdropping,” came a silky smooth voice from nearby.
Sophie bolted with shock and saw Maddie lounging on a nearby bed of leaves. How could she not have noticed her sister when she was so close nearby? She looked her sister in the eye and realized that there was no need for words, not one. Their eyes locked for an instant and more than a million words poured out between them.
At the exact same time, the two sisters opened their arms and embraced.
“Sophie... you did the right thing,” Maddie said softly. “I’m proud of you, you hear me? Your big sister Maddie is proud of you.”
Sophie’s heart lifted with joy. Maddie was proud of her. That was all Sophie had ever wanted.
“You’re not older,” Sophie teased, and as they talked, she realized that their mother was right. They might not see eye-to-eye on everything, but they tried, because they were sisters.