The Dark Faeries' Apprentice: Part Two
Rain continued to pour, even more heavily, and Neopia Central was seriously in danger of a flood. Pets gazed out their windows, gaping at the endless, black sky, at the rain gushing down roofs and through gutters, at the muddy ground, completely soaked with rain. And they wondered, why was it raining so hard? Was it just because the Faeries, or the Kings, or whatever mystical higher being controlled the weather, had decided that they needed a storm once in a while? Was it because they deserved it? Or was it because somewhere in Neopia, a sad, shriveled pet didn't know what to do?
If it was for that last reason that the rain was pouring down, the sad pet must have been Denriada. She stared at the blank wall behind Neoangel, thoughts racing through her mind. A thorough explanation... every detail... even if she spoke for a lifetime, she could never say everything that should or shouldn't have been said.
"Where should I start?" she asked finally, in a voice so quiet that everyone's heads craned forwards. Even Neofaerie wanted to hear what she had to say now. And why wouldn't he? Wouldn't everyone be curious to hear an explanation from their kidnapper?
"My family does not know about the Faerie academy we both attended," said Neoangel. She turned to the others. "Someday, I will tell you the whole story, I promise. But for now, the short story is that we both went to an academy in Faerieland that trained us in all types of Faerie magic. I left to become apprentice to the leader of all Light Faeries. And after that I... I do not know how I got here..." a deep, concentrating frown appeared on her face, and instinctively, her hand reached up to touch her cloak clasp. It was hardly larger than an eraser, a tiny mirror in the middle. Surrounding the mirror were signs of each of the Faerie elements.
NSQ's jaw hung slightly open. "I found you in the tree," she noted, "outside what's now your bedroom. You were just sitting there, fully awake."
"That's all I remember," said Neoangel. She looked at Denriada suddenly, almost hopefully, as if for one fleeting moment she'd forgotten all about the Draik's motives and past.
But Denriada shook her head. "I don't know," she whispered. "I... lost contact with you after you left the academy."
"I know," said Neoangel quietly.
Neofaerie waited a few seconds before coughing. "I still know nothing," he shot at the pair. "Let's skip to the part where you led us into a trap and tried to drown me in lava!"
"Neofaerie, you won't understand any of that if you don't understand the past," said Neoangel sharply.
"What's done is done," growled Neofaerie. "I told you that before."
Neoangel chose to ignore him. Instead she regarded Denriada again, nodding for her to continue.
"I... after Alithiora left the academy... well, I was a weak student. I always relied on Alithiora's help..."
"Hang on," interrupted NSQ, "who's Alithiora? Was that Neoangel's name?"
"It was," confirmed Neoangel. "When I arrived here, you gave me the name Neoangel. I used to be called Alithiora. And yet..." She closed her eyes tight, her brows furrowed. "I simply cannot remember... how I came here... and why..."
Denriada stayed silent, until Neoangel opened her eyes again. The Zafara shook her head and mumbled, "Please continue." She looked as if she was trying hard to concentrate on Denriada's words.
"I... after I left the academy... I was approached by a Dark Faerie. She... she said if I trained with her, I could become strong..."
NSQ stared at the Draik in disbelief. "You... you went with her?"
Tears glistened in Denriada's eyes. "I wanted so much to be strong..."
Happiness spoke for the first time. "You gave in to evil like that?" The expression on her face told anyone watching that she couldn't imagine someone giving in to a Dark Faerie so easily.
"My heart was... so weak..." A horribly dejected smile appeared on her face. "Now I realize what Alithiora... Neoangel, meant, when she told me that I was once strong on the inside... oh... why didn't I know earlier?"
"So you went to join the Dark Faeries," said Neofaerie hollowly. "Then what?"
"I trained hard... harder, yes, than I had trained at the academy. I think... I may have fueled by misery... but misery is a horrible fuel to feed off of. I was contacted by Sloth, who had, by some strange twist of fate, captured you. I took..." here she broke off, looking, although not directly, at NSQ, as if wondering if she had permission to call her by name. Finally she continued, "I took your owner as bait. What I really wanted... was to fight Neoangel... to destroy her as she had once destroyed me..." Denriada stared at her claws. "Why did I crave destroying her...? Why did I once yearn for destruction, feed on despair, live on spite? I wanted revenge... revenge against the world that had tricked me, made me believe I was wanted? I still remember my hateful thoughts so clearly, although I do not feel them anymore..."
For the first time that night, she looked into Neoangel's eyes; looked directly into them, finally convincing the Zafara that she was sincere, that she believed in her own words. "You saved me," Denriada whispered, "you saved me again... and this time, I did not feel angry that once again, I needed to rely on your help. Oh, I was still angry. I was angry at myself. I couldn't believe that I had been deceived by the Dark Faeries... that I had ruined so many lives... including my own.
"I decided that it was time to take control of my life again. I was let back into the academy... but they quickly found out how much time I had spent with the Dark Faeries, and I was expelled again at once. Now I really was alone.
“But I was so scared," she whispered, "so, so scared... I had nowhere to go. Who would accept me? I knew the Dark Faeries would shun me, but I went back to them anyways... I was lost. Where does one go when they are lost? The Dark Faeries forced me to leave, of course... I begged their forgiveness... why did I beg their forgiveness?" She almost seemed to be talking to herself now. "They did not deserve it... but I did so anyway. And they left me. Someone told me that this house was often open to the weary traveler... I... I didn't know you lived here..." She turned her head to look out the window, staring hard at something that wasn't there.
Silence. What Denriada and Neoangel had just explained was sinking in. Everyone was thinking hard, and everyone had questions to ask. NSQ hugged Happiness closer.
At last, NSQ repeated, "So you were the apprentice of the Light Faerie Leader? Neoangel?"
"Yes," said Neoangel softly. "For a year. A year of studying Light magic under the Light Faerie Leader's watch..."
"And a year of studying Dark magic, Denriada?" asked Neofaerie loudly.
"Yes," whispered the Draik. Her name sounded so ugly when spoken by Neofaerie.
"You wanted revenge on Neoangel," said Neofaerie, "so you took it out on me, because you knew it would affect her. Is that right?"
Denriada avoided his eyes. "I'm so, so sorry," she said, in a voice that was hardly audible.
NSQ glanced at Neoangel. The Zafara was still deep in thought. NSQ covered her face with her hands. For a minute, Happiness thought that she might be crying, but the girl was just thinking.
"Alright," she said wearily, looking up. "I still have no idea what's going on, but I figure no one here really does. I think the best thing to do now is to let Denriada stay here until-"
"Excuse me!?" barked Neofaerie, facing his owner defiantly. "Let her stay!? What sort of a solution is that!? I won't allow her to stay here and put us all in danger!"
NSQ put her quivering hands on her hips, her mouth forming a thin line. "I am the owner here, Neofaerie, and my final decision is to let Denriada stay- at least for a few days."
The Kougra narrowed his eyes. They glared at each other furiously for a second, neither blinking, and then Neofaerie took a step back. "Alright, fine," he said loudly. "Fine, she can stay. See you around, Happiness, I'm out." He snarled at Neoangel and Denriada, and then went to the door, opened it, and walked right out, not even bothering to slam it shut.
NSQ ran to the doorframe. "Neofaerie!" she yelled over the sound of rushing water. "It's freezing out there! Neofaerie_1, you come back here right now! You'll catch your death, you hear me!?" The Kougra continued walking, as if he was deaf.
NSQ slammed the door shut. "Fine," she growled, "who cares about him?" Then she slid to the bottom of the door and buried her face in her crossed arms.
Denriada looked on the verge of tears. Neoangel nudged her. "Go to my room," she said in her usual quiet tones. "It's down this hallway. The plain wooden door." The Draik nodded, her lips quavering, and left.
Bouncing over to NSQ and leaping onto her head, Happiness put her hands on the door and stretched up, trying to peek through the eyehole. "I think he left," she said uncertainly.
Neoangel went over and pulled Happiness into her arms. "NSQ?" she asked tenderly. "What shall we do about Neofaerie?"
"I don't care," came the girl's muffled voice, accompanied by a sniff.
Neoangel let out a soft whistle. A second later, a tranquil red Cirrus floated over, a smile on her face. "Take this to Neofaerie," said Neoangel, about to remove her precious brown cloak. "Wait..." The Zafara remembered Neofaerie's angry snarl, and his parting words, directed at only one individual in the room. "Take Happiness's blanket." The Cirrus bobbed up and down in comprehension and floated away up the stairs.
Neoangel pulled NSQ to her feet firmly. "Come, NSQ, there is a time for weeping and this is not it. You are allowing Denriada to stay here... that must mean you trust her a little, at least."
NSQ wiped away a few renegade tears. "I guess. She really does seem changed. But... it's more like I trust you, Neoangel. Please make sure nothing happens to us."
"I won't. Denriada will stay in my room, and Happiness can stay in yours. I'll keep an eye on her. And Neofaerie will come back very soon. All will be fine." She patted NSQ's hand gently, and then went into the hallway that led to her room.
NSQ picked up Happiness. The Cybunny seemed somewhat reluctant to leave her post by the door. "Where did Neofaerie go, Nesqu?" she asked curiously. "He said he would read me my bedtime story tonight."
The girl carried her pet through the hallway. "I'm afraid I'll be the one reading you your story tonight, Happiness. I'm not quite sure where Neofaerie has gone."
"He didn't seem very happy," said the Cybunny, her Magaral sitting on her head, wedged between her two ears. Happiness patted him fondly.
NSQ sat down on her bed. "He didn't," she agreed sadly.
A cold, drenched Kougra sat under the deserted Money Tree. He brushed green bangs out of his eyes and growled at the empty space. Water ran off his sleek fur.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a red Cirrus floating towards him. Daydream, Neoangel's petpet. "Stay away from me," he barked, ignoring the fact that the petpet had once pretty much saved his life by rushing him to the hospital. Daydream was completely unaffected by his rudeness; she just kept floating down serenely. She deposited something at Neofaerie's feet and then drifted off again.
The Kougra gently placed a paw on a woolen, rainbow blanket. He pulled it over his back and curled up underneath the branches of the tree. The rain seeping through his fur was very cooling.
To be continued...