The Dark Faeries' Apprentice: Part Nine
It was so dark that Neofaerie thought he must have gone blind. He spun around desperately. There was Cin, momentarily tied up by Denriada; he could tell from the whirls of many coloured ropes in motion, like a carousel out of control. He spared a glance back at the house, but NSQ and Happiness still hadn’t reached the roof. Neoangel was nowhere to be seen. The cloud in the sky was darkening.
Denriada let out a shout of alarm to let him know that Cin had escaped. Neofaerie could tell that the Faerie was weakening from the way that she hovered, only a few inches above the ground. He took a deep breath, feeling the cold metal of his dagger handle against his tongue.
He lunged at her, forcing her to move backward. Soon her feet were on the ground, struggling to keep from tripping over themselves. Denriada waited, trying to regain energy as the ropes writhing on the ground beside her refused to rise. Finally they shot up and entangled the Dark Faerie.
Neofaerie pounced. It was over in a second, both of her wings lying uselessly under his claws.
She let out a devastating shriek and curled up on the ground. Staring hatefully at Neofaerie, she shot out her last bit of dark energy, but it fell short. A tear slid down her cheek and her eyes closed.
Neoangel blew the air out of her cheeks. “Cin is down.”
Myseraine smirked. “I do not think that matters now.”
“On the contrary, it matters very much.” The ends of her cloak wavered slightly, and then dropped again. “My apologies for not fighting you earlier. I have not been at my full power.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” the Faerie taunted jeeringly. “You were fighting all three of us in the last match!”
“That?” Neoangel said calmly. “I recovered from that the day after.”
Myseraine’s lips curled. “You never stop talking. Why have you been at such low power, then?”
Neoangel’s cloak fluttered again. “I have been using all of my power on preparing an enchantment. Unfortunately I could not use it earlier. It is not selective, you see, and very unstable; it annihilates everything within a certain vaguely defined area.”
The Dark Faerie rolled her eyes. “Stop saying things that we both know are lies. You could never complete that spell. Final Destruction? To have that spell handle even one Faerie you would need to have started working on it-”
“The very day that Denriada showed up on my doorstep?” finished Neoangel. “Yes, I have been working on it for a while... I suspected that someone would come for Denriada, and I wanted to be prepared. I was not actually expecting that I would have to use it... but these things happen.”
“If you really had Final Destruction at your disposal, you would not have waited this long to use it!”
Neoangel’s fur had started rising. “If I had tried to use Final Destruction to take out all three of you, my family would have undoubtedly been caught up in the devastating effect as well. I also could not use the spell on only you; it would have sucked me in too, and I needed to be conscious to protect my family until the end of the battle.”
Myseraine cackled. “There you have it! You can’t use Final Destruction- it will take you down as well! It will obliterate everything surrounding us!”
They both froze, capes suspended in mid-air, eyes unblinking, hair impervious to the cold wind. From Neoangel’s unmoving lips came the rhetorical question: “Why do you think we are so high up?”
Blinding light flashed remorsefully, the dark clouds faded gently, and two figures fell from the sky.
NSQ took a huge gulping breath as the slime pulled her under, but she soon found herself sitting upright on the floor, the mud receding from Happiness and herself. It unstuck itself from furniture and walls, little globs slowly disappearing into the air. It melted off her clothes and skin until there was nothing left, not even a grubby little remnant in her nails.
“It’s gone?” she blubbered.
She staggered to her feet, collecting Happiness in her arms. “What were we doing?” she asked vaguely. “Ugh... the roof... high as we can... Neoangel!” Remembering this, she stopped shaking her head and dashed off.
She ran up the rickety stairs into Neoangel’s bedroom, and scrambled up the ladder outside her window. Happiness hopped out onto the roof first. She peered up into the air and called back, “I think the clouds are fading!”
“What’s going on?” spluttered NSQ, rushing to the edge of the roof as well. Gazing up, a lump rose in her throat as a tiny, doll-like white and brown object began its descent to Neopia.
‘Neofaerie and Denriada.’ Even as the thought flashed wildly in her mind, she knew that they would never make it, saw them on the other side of the sloping hill, too far away. Neoangel would have definitely saved herself by now if she could.
’I’ll catch you.’ NSQ jumped off the roof; she hit the ground on all fours and tumbled onto her shoulder, but staggered up and ran forwards. ’I won’t stand and watch. Not this time, not again.’ Still staring into the sky, she spread out her arms. ’I’ll catch you.’
NSQ was five feet off. Beside her, ropes rocketed out of the ground like angry vines. One swept wildly for Neoangel and missed, while the others curled into a mat to soften the blow as she hit the ground.
“Neoangel!” squeaked NSQ, rushing to the Zafara’s side.
She didn’t seem to be hurt, with her eyes gently closed, fur still white and even her cloak only as tattered as it had been before. Desperately, NSQ felt her forehead and held her hand. Finally she undid the clasp that held Neoangel’s cloak. Looking into the little mirror, all she could see was her own frantic, wide-eyed, scratched and dirty face. “I... w-what should I do?” she whimpered. “Neoangel, can you hear me?”
The ropes slowly disappeared as Neofaerie, Denriada and Happiness ran up to Neoangel as well. The little band of light that always hung over her head was dim. Happiness lightly pulled the brown cloak over Neoangel’s bare arms.
“Denriada, can you heal her?” Neofaerie asked abruptly.
“I- healing...” The Draik seemed speechless. She looked at the expectant faces around her, and then at Neoangel’s closed eyes. “I’ll try.”
There was a long pause, as Denriada knelt by Neoangel’s side, flickers of light occasionally shooting between their bodies. Denriada kept opening her eyes, checking for any signs of consciousness from the Zafara, but nothing happened.
“Neoangel,” said Neofaerie quietly, brushing the hair out of her eyes. “What are we going to do?”
“May I take over?”
The entire group turned around; a gorgeous Faerie in a shimmering pale yellow dress stood before them. She was glowing with a soft radiance, bathing the onlookers in light.
Denriada let out a small squeak and backed off. The rest of the stunned group sat speechless as the Faerie stood beside Neoangel and placed her hand over the Zafara’s head.
“Well, I can’t say this is a familiar sight,” she said gently. “How did you overexert yourself so much, my dear Alithiora? I know you never used to.”
Neoangel opened her eyes, as if all this time she had merely been pretending to sleep. NSQ let out a strangled cheer, and Happiness reached out to touch Neoangel’s knee.
“Mistress?” Neoangel said in astonishment.
“It’s good to see you,” the Light Faerie Leader replied with a smile. “I do believe we have some catching up to do.”
Neoangel sat up quickly. “What made you come to Neopia Central?”
“Mostly you. I really didn’t want to interfere, you know,” she said vaguely. “But I suppose I too was involved... please forgive me for not coming to your aid sooner... you always seem to have things so well under control, Alithi- Neoangel.”
“Neoangel, are you alright?” murmured Neofaerie, looking hesitant about interrupting the Light Faerie.
She nodded, getting to her feet with support from Neofaerie and Denriada. Happiness helped the Zafara up as well, but NSQ was still crouching on the ground, staring in awe up at the Light Faerie Leader.
The Faerie looked down in surprise. “It’s been even longer, hasn’t it? You certainly look different! You even changed your form, I see. But please, stand up... I can’t talk down to you like this, not when you were so much more powerful.”
“... Wha?” proclaimed NSQ in a stroke of genius.
“Oh, so you still haven’t remembered? That’s quite interesting... forgive me for saying so, but you always did seem a little absentminded. In that case...” She stooped down as well, so as to be on the small level as NSQ. It was strange to see her kneeling in the grass like that.
Glancing down at the brooch that NSQ was still gripping onto, she said, “I finally managed to return it to you.”
“Umm...” said NSQ intelligently.
“I know this must be difficult for you to take in, but every time I look at you I can still see my old tutor and no one else. And yet you must think of yourself as a completely different person... how strange it is.” She smiled. “But you seem happy here.”
NSQ looked into the little mirror. “Is this really mine?” She polished the glass with her thumb. “Could you tell me... what it is I see in this thing?”
“I’m afraid I still haven’t figured it out. But I think that recently, you have been seeing things which pose a threat to your loved ones.”
The girl stared at the brooch for a long time. Finally she asked resignedly, “Are you going to take Neoangel back?”
The Light Faerie regarded her thoughtfully. “Why do you think so?”
“A while ago, I saw you in the brooch... I guess I must have thought it would somehow hurt us if you took Neoangel away. But she needs to be where she belongs, right?”
“Yes,” the Faerie agreed, “she needs to be with her true family. But if I wanted Neoangel back, I would have taken her a long time ago. She somewhat delivered the brooch, which was all that I had asked her to do.”
Realization seemed to dawn on Neoangel. “It was you, wasn’t it, mistress?” she asked. “You were the one who erased my memories of that task, and why it was I came to Neopia Central. Did you want me to stay here?”
“I did, although I admit it was never part of my original plan,” said the Faerie. “You were simply... much happier here. I knew you had found your place.” She smiled. “I owe you an apology, Alithiora... I never should have chosen you to be my apprentice. I was only looking for the student with the most powerful magic and desire to learn... I should have realized that we would not connect. But, I have no regrets. You really have taught me a lot.”
“Pardon me,” spoke up Neofaerie, unusually meek, “but if everyone’s in their proper place and all... then I think we need to take care of the two remaining dark Faeries. They should be coming to any second.”
“I will certainly take care of it. But I do have to take care of one last thing before I go... now that you mention it, I do indeed have to take someone back to Faerieland with me.”
”Is it Nesqu?” piped up Happiness.
“No, I am afraid that... what was it, NSQ? will never do magic again. Denriada... you will be coming back with me.”
The Draik didn’t look surprised at all. “I’ve done a lot of wrong,” she said dolefully.
“Yes you have, but luckily you have not yet done anything unforgivable and it is not too late for you. You will stay at the Faerie Academy and teach for three years.”
The Draik paled. “Teach? At the Academy? I can’t...”
“On the contrary, I know you are capable. And your knowledge of Dark Faerie magic, although dubiously attained, will be most useful.”
Denriada turned to Neoangel. “Neoangel, I’m so sorry... for everything. I know I can never pay you back for all that you’ve done for me, but maybe this way I can help others the way you helped me.”
“I know you will,” Neoangel said. “This time, I will say it... goodbye, Denriada. Although I know we’ll meet again.”
A spotted Blumaroo who had remained remarkably unnoticeable the entire time popped out from behind the Light Faerie Leader. “The Academy is open to visitors on weekends,” she offered helpfully.
“Well, there we go!” said Neofaerie brightly. “We’ll see you next week, Denriada, alright?”
The Draik laughed, her eyes filling with tears. “This all seems so impossible!” she said. “I didn’t think I could ever be forgiven... I didn’t think I could ever return, or move on, just stay in the same place forever. Thank you all...”
“Tirikil,” the Light Faerie Leader addressed the Blumaroo, “are the Dark Faeries taken care of?”
“Yes,” replied Tirikil. The two Dark Faeries were nowhere to be seen. NSQ stared in disbelief.
“Then it is time for us to go,” said the Light Faerie. “Neoangel, this time, you may keep all your memories. Come visit me sometime.”
“I will. Thank you... ah...”
“Oh yes, I suppose you’re now officially no longer my apprentice. Please, call me Yulleia from now on.”
“Okay, Yully,” chirped Happiness.
Neofaerie and NSQ dove for her. “Happiness!” they yelled. “You can’t say that!”
“If I could ask one last thing, Yulleia... do you know what my original power was? The one unique to me?”
The Faerie looked at Neoangel thoughtfully. “It was the ability to create rain,” she said finally. “I removed it from you on your request. It always seemed to make you sad.”
“I see... I wish I had kept it. It would be helpful, since only one person in the house can shower at a time.”
Yulleia smiled in surprise. “You have changed, Neoangel. I’m so happy to see it.”
She moved a few steps away, and Tirikil and Denriada followed her. NSQ accidentally blinked, and the three were gone.
“NSQ, come on!” whined Neofaerie, digging through a pile of junk in a closet. “Make me lunch! I’m going to be late for my knight training! And have you seen my helmet?”
“Look, Faer!” exclaimed Happiness, rolling about in the aforementioned helmet. “I’m a Bori!”
“Happiness, give it back!” roared Neofaerie. “This is very serious business!”
“You should be making my lunch!” scowled NSQ, parading across the kitchen with a light attached to a plastic tiara on her head. “I’m like... your queen!” she giggled.
“Yeah right! Ugh, I wish that Light Faerie had never told you about your past or whatever; man, you’re so annoying! NSQ!”
“Here, I have lunch,” said Neoangel, flying in through the open front door. “I picked up sandwiches on my way back from Faerieland.”
“Thank you, thank you for being responsible, Neoangel,” groaned Neofaerie. “NSQ! I – am – late!”
“You better stop talking to me like that,” she said, pouting. “I’m going to zap you with my magic powers!” She reached out and flicked his ear.
“How was Denri?” asked Happiness, hopping into Neoangel’s arms. “I wanted to go see her too!”
“Yeah but Faer had his dumb knight thing,” said NSQ, taking off her tiara and pulling on her shoes, “and we didn’t have time to all go!”
“It’s not dumb. Did you know that only 6 out of 100 Neopia Central applicants were accepted?”
“Yeah you told us a million times,” grumbled NSQ. “But still, that’s like 30 percent!”
Neofaerie stared at her, dumbfounded. “6. It’s 6 percent, NSQ, because 6 percent of 100 is 6.”
“Denriada is doing very well,” Neoangel told Happiness. “She is still settling in, but she seems to really like teaching. She said it is much too soon to decide for sure, but she is considering staying longer than the required 3 years.”
“That’s great,” said NSQ. “Wow, Neofaerie, I wanna teach too!”
“Teach what, how to be annoying?”
“Maybe I should teach a class on how to deal with really ungrateful Neopets!”
Neofaerie stopped walking. “Are you aware that I bring in all the neopoints around here?” he scowled.
“Untrue! Come on, keep walking. You’re gonna be late!”
“It is true,” he said, catching up to the others. “For example, when was the last time you were published in the Times?”
She paused. “I... I’ve been busy!” she cried out.
“La la la, we’re going to Meridell,” sang Happiness. “And I’m going to buy a po-ta-to, po-ta-to, la la la.”
“Hey Neoangel,” said NSQ, as they boarded the boat to Meridell. “Did you go visit the Light Faerie Leader too?”
“No, I did not have the time.”
“Well then, after Faer is done, we can go back to Faerieland, right?” suggested NSQ.
Happiness clapped. “We’ll get to see Denri after all!”
“Umm, Miss Denriada?”
The Draik turned around. Her office was tiny, but she really didn’t have many things to put in it anyways. She didn’t have any of her old material possessions; she was starting over.
The runty little Poogle in front of her shifted his feet nervously. “I can’t really get the spell you assigned today in class. I tried hard on it, but it seems like everyone else already got it, so maybe it’s just not going to work for me... so, err, I was wondering if you could give me a different spell to work on?”
Denriada considered it. It was a valid request, she reasoned, especially if he was the only one having trouble. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” she replied.
“B-but I can’t do this one...”
Denriada smiled. “There’s always hope; only when you give up will you be completely incapable of performing this spell.” She got up from her desk and stood in front of him. “Can you show me the spell? Let’s see where you are having trouble.”
Author’s Note: Thank you for reading! This story has been in the works for a looong time, but I know I promised some people a sequel. I’m sure everyone’s forgotten about it already, but I still wanted to finish this. I hope you enjoyed it!