Faded Memories #2: Rise of the Battle Faerie - Part Two
Valeane and the others stayed up very late talking. It had taken a while for her to explain where she had been for the last few years and why. Some had taken it just like Fyora had and others merely shook their heads in dismay, as if it were one of her many pranks.
Valeane had also taken the time to get to know Mithana, the new dark faerie. She had been pleased to find that Fyora had been speaking truthfully when she said that the girl was kind. The dark faerie, though very shy at first, had been quite entertaining, for she possessed a lively sense of humor. Valeane had gone to bed feeling better than she had felt in years.
The morning sun shone brightly and Valeane was pleased to find that her sister along with the council were already up. With a sigh, she sat down in a chair and smiled.
“Do you know what I’ve noticed?” she asked the other faeries who looked up from their desks. “It’s much more entertaining watching people do paperwork than actually doing it yourself.”
“That was so funny I forgot to laugh,” muttered Lilia. The other council faeries smiled before returning to their work.
“Don’t be getting too comfortable, Valeane,” said Fyora. The look on the queen’s face was far too cheerful for her sister’s liking. “You’ll be having quite a bit to do before long.”
“What do you mean?” questioned Valeane, sitting up in her chair.
“Well, we’ve been thinking,” said Prilla.
“That’s a new one,” muttered Valeane. The light faerie gave her an exasperated glare.
“Well, we thought that it would be kind of,” she paused as if searching for the right word. “Awkward, if the princess suddenly reappeared. I mean, not many people even know you exist.” She looked at Valeane with an apologetic look on her face. The princess shrugged.
“Good,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
“What?” gasped Rani, startled.
“I left to get away from all of that,” said Valeane. “I just want to be able to enjoy myself here.”
“We thought you might say that,” laughed Fyora. “I’m wondering if you would like a little job to keep you occupied.”
“What kind of job?” questioned Valeane, as suspicious as ever. Fyora smiled.
“Well, considering the fact that you have taken quite an interest in fencing and other forms of fighting, how about, shall we say,” she paused, smiling. “A guard?”
Valeane smiled brightly. She had actually wanted to ask if Fyora would allow her to be a palace guard. It gave her time to practice her fencing and it would be fun. Much better, in her opinion, than sitting at a desk doing paperwork.
“When do I start?” she asked.
The palace guards who had been practicing in the training courts paused when two faeries entered through the door. One of the faeries they all recognized as the infamous Lydriel. She was widely known for her skills with a blade and also for her unusual use of two swords during combat instead of one sword and a shield. The other, however, was someone they had never seen before. She, like her air faerie companion, wore the light lavender and white uniforms of the palace faerie guards. Her hair, however, was dark purple. At first glance, she seemed like a dark faerie, but closer inspection showed bright green eyes and light pink, butterfly-like wings. Surely she could not be of the dark element.
The two faeries chatted casually as they made their way to an empty dueling circle and drew their swords. All the watching faeries did a double take when they saw that, like Lydriel, the newcomer bore two swords instead of one. The other guards stopped all exercises to watch them. This was something they definitely wanted to see.
Oblivious to their watchers, Lydriel and Valeane took up guard positions. With a smile, Lydriel asked her former student
“So, I haven’t dueled with you in a while. How much better are you?”
Valeane shrugged. “A little, I guess.”
“So modest,” teased the air faerie. Without warning, Lydriel lunged at Valeane and was instantly blocked. Drawing back, she studied her opponent, the lightning like response to her attack making her wary.
Valeane and Lydriel both fought with incredible skill. Though it was obvious that the air faerie was stronger, she was never able to touch Valeane. The younger faerie dodged around her opponent, never letting her stay in one place for more than a second.
The bout continued for far longer than anyone expected. Neither faerie could best the other. To everyone’s obvious surprise, it was Valeane who finally ended it. Bringing one sword around in an arc, a fencing move known as the Crescent, she forced Lydriel to block by crossing her swords together. Using her second blade, she brought the flat side of the metal down toward the back of the air faerie’s leg. Because of the position she was in, Lydriel was unable to block without allowing the blade above her to come slamming down into her shoulder. Lydriel’s knee buckled as her opponent hit her in the back of her leg with the flat of the blade. The air faerie became unbalanced and toppled to the ground. When the guard looked up, her former student was looking down at her with a grin on her face.
“So you’re just a little better?” she asked, raising her eyebrow in question.
Valeane blushed and helped her friend to her feet. “I just practice a lot,” she mumbled.
Both faeries were offered water by the observing faeries once they had made their way out of the dueling circle. The guards instantly began to introduce themselves to Valeane, congratulating her and asking where she had learned to wield a sword in that manner.
Lydriel watched as her former student was introduced to her fellow guards, a thoughtful expression on her face. Her defeat had come as a surprise to her, though she did not resent Valeane for it. It had been years since she had been beaten in a duel and she relished the challenge. She was also curious as to where the younger faerie had learned her fighting skills.
Just then, one of the guards, an earth faerie, stepped forward out of the crowd.
“Let me give the newcomer a try,” she challenged. Lydriel looked up and felt a feeling of dread come upon her as she recognized the faerie. Valeane, however, smiled and greeted the challenger.
“Anna!” she cried. “How...” The young faerie’s voice trailed off as she realized her mistake.
Lydriel instantly took control of the situation and grabbed Anna’s arm before she say anything about the princess’s sudden reappearance. Luckily, the earth faerie kept her mouth shut until they were well out of earshot.
“Lydriel,” whispered Anna, her green eyes wide. “That’s Navaleen! I thought--”
Lydriel cut her off and instantly began explaining the whole situation. Her long time friend listened carefully as understanding dawned on her face.
“So just pretend you met her in the Battledome. You’ve gone there before so no one will question you,” finished the air faerie. Anna nodded but gave her friend a reproachful glare.
“You could have told me, you know,” she accused. Before Lydriel could respond, Valeane had walked over and began speaking.
“Sorry about that,” she apologized to Lydriel. “I forgot I was ‘under cover’.”
“Don’t worry about it, but you and Anna are now officially ‘Battledome Buddies’, so play along.”
Anna smiled at the younger faerie before linking her arm through Valeane’s.
“Well, little one,” she began to talk loudly as she led Valeane toward the dueling circle. “I’m glad you finally came to your senses and left the Battledome to work as a guard.” She cast a wink over her shoulder at Lydriel who only shook her head in amusement before following them.
The veteran guard watched as her two friends prepared to duel one another. Her eyes watched Valeane closely. Lydriel wanted to get an idea of her former student’s fighting style for she had been unable to get a feel of it during her own bout with the younger faerie.
As the fight began, it became obvious that Valeane would win. Her earth faerie opponent simply could not touch her. Instead of wasting energy by blocking Anna’s attacks, she darted around them, forcing Anna to move with her. In the end, Valeane disarmed the earth faerie of both her shield and sword before Anna yielded. Lydriel was slightly startled to see that the disarming maneuver Valeane had used had been the same one Lydriel herself had used against the faerie in their previous duel. Only this time, it actually worked.
When the three friends had finally decided to call it quits, Anna questioned Valeane on the origins of her skill. Valeane’s reply had been the same as before.
“I just practice a lot,” she insisted before changing the subject.
Anna and Lydriel looked at each other. Most warriors gained their skills by training with others and learning techniques from mentors. Valeane couldn’t have just been born with such an amazing natural talent for fencing.
To be continued...