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Riddle of the Blades


by jedimaster891

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Wield me, Faerie, if you will,

But remember to keep in mind still,

If you cannot answer the riddle asked,

When you face an opponent yet unmasked,

My help will not be mine to give,

So find the answer if you wish to live.

The word's burned in Aethia the Air Faerie's mind constantly. Even in sleep. For they were the words written on the Sword of Ice in the ancient Faerie Tongue for the Battle Faeries who wielded it. And Aethia intended to be one of those Battle Faeries.

She rolled over and brushed her long pastel violet hair from her face. Some still stuck to her sweat-covered forehead, physical evidence of her most recent nightmare. Unable to sleep knowing if she did not answer the riddle on the Sword of Flame, she might die like some of the Battle Faeries before her, Aethia rolled off of her bed and onto her feet with a groan.

Still a little bleary from the bit of nightmare-plagued sleep that she'd snagged, she walked to and opened a small cabinet. From it she withdrew a strangely shaped bundle, wrapped in a rough cloth. She unwrapped the cloth and carefully withdrew the Sword of Flame with both hands. Her palms burned, but she clutched it tightly. For what was probably the thousandth time, Aethia silently read the words inscribed on it.

What is the most precious gift in all of the land,

More valuable than riches and gold?

With it comes happiness in magnitudes untold,

However, to achieve it, you may have to use the opposite,

A tool most unpleasant, yet at times necessary,

What is this gift, precious and unique?

A treasure that all over people seek?

The riddle was extremely confusing to Aethia. How could something so important be achieved by its opposite? She sat heavily in her dining room chair, pondering the riddle that if went unsolved, could kill or rob her of her strength.

The legends of the Swords' origins were many, and none had been proven true yet. But it was known that they had been kept for years by the Faerie Queen and given to the one she deemed worthy of being the next Battle Faerie. Then the Battle Faerie had to solve the riddle inscribed on the face of the Sword of Flame-and it changed from Faerie to Faerie-so that the Sword of Flame and the Sword of Ice could be wielded properly.

If the Battle Faerie could not solve the riddle, and someone else discovered the answer before them and spoke the word aloud, the Faerie would be reduced to a Grey Faerie or killed. That had happened to many Battle Faeries throughout the years. Including the last Battle Faerie: Valeane.

Valeane's riddle had been solved before she could solve it and Fiona the Dark Faerie allegedly reduced Valeane to a Grey Faerie by speaking the answer first. Valeane fled to the Haunted Woods and hid the Swords. But Aethia found them. And she had no intention of following Valeane. So she sat and simply pondered the riddle.

Could it be love? Love was precious and sought all over, but could love be achieved through hate? Aethia didn't believe that it truly could be.

Could it be rest? Rest was sometimes achieved through its opposite. And its opposite could be unpleasant. But was it truly more valuable than riches and gold?

Frustrated, she laid the Sword of Flame beside the Sword of Ice and wrapped the cloth back around both. She placed them back in the cabinet and locked it.

No one could find the Swords, or their riddle, for then they might find the answer before Aethia. And she had vowed solemnly to herself not to let that happen. She had even placed a spell over the Swords to keep them from revealing the riddle to others, just in case. Little did she know, Valeane had once done the same. But she knew that if she herself could not solve the riddle, she would never face another Faerie again for fear of being reduced to a Grey Faerie.

Aethia collapsed back on her bed. This was beginning to seem impossible.

No, she thought sternly to herself. It is in no way impossible.

She rolled over. Maybe sleep, even if it was plagued with nightmares, would help her solve the riddle. Aethia closed her eyes and overcome by fatigue, she fell immediately into sleep.

Suddenly, she was in the midst of a great war, on the front line. Behind her rode the enormous Queen's Army, emitting fierce battle cries with weapons drawn. The sky was very dark, as if reflecting the pain of war. Aethia found herself riding a horse, gripping the reins with one hand and in the other hand the Sword of Flame. The Sword of Ice was sheathed on her left hip, within range should she need it. But the riddle that should have been visible on the Sword of Flame was not there.

What? thought Aethia frantically. Where has the riddle gone?

Then the realization hit. She was riding into war, at the head of the Queen's Army, wielding the riddle-less Sword of Flame.

She was a Battle Faerie. Wait, no, the Battle Faerie!

Her riddle was solved. Happier than she'd ever been in her life, Aethia pushed her horse faster and rode into battle, sword swinging.

Later, once the battle had been won, Aethia sat on the ground with the Sword of Flame in one hand and the Sword of Ice in the other. She was dreaming, she was almost sure of that, but she still couldn't help but feel satisfied. At least now she could think of herself as a Battle Faerie, past finding the answer to her riddle.

Since the battle's end, the sky had cleared up.

Then a voice called out to her. "Aethia, Battle Faerie, you have brought peace to Neopia. Through war, you have brought peace." Aethia recognized Queen Fyora's voice immediately.

She stood quickly and bowed to the tall, violet Faerie. "Thank you, Your Majesty," Aethia said.

"No, thank you, Aethia," the Queen replied. "Thank you for the gift of Peace."

"You are wel-" Aethia stopped as realization hit her hard: she finally had the answer to her riddle!

*****

Roused from sleep by that marvelous revelation, Aethia rolled off of her bed and onto her feet quickly. She ran to and unlocked the small cabinet. Then she once again withdrew the Swords.

She quickly but carefully unwrapped them and laid them on the table top. Aethia then took the Sword of Ice in her right hand and chanted back the words written on it. Her palm was freezing, but she did not loosen her grip. After she had finished with the Sword of Ice, she picked up the Sword of Flame in her other hand. And she chanted back the riddle that had baffled her for so long. And then she spoke the words that would make her a Battle Faerie.

"I, Aethia the Air Faerie, student of Shyvara and daughter of Dreeana, wish to be Battle Faerie," she said slowly. "To bring peace to Neopia and defend the innocent. Your riddle, Sword of Flame, has been solved.

"For I, Aethia the Air Faerie, student of Shyvara and daughter of Dreeana, have solved it. The answer to your riddle is . . ." She gulped. "Peace."

THE END

Author's Note: The Riddle of the Sword of Ice is credited to trappedelements from her story "From Fire to Ashes" in Issue 162. To read more about Aethia, check her out in the Neopedia. Fan mail is appreciated.

 
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