Faded Memories #2: Rise of the Battle Faerie - Part Seven
“Fyora has done what?” demanded the dark faerie.
Sirine sat upon her ‘throne’ in the rebellion’s headquarters; her face displayed her disbelief. She could have sworn that her messenger had just said that Queen Fyora had challenged her as a monarch. The queen had requested that Sirine send forth a champion to duel against her own.
“It is true, milady,” said the younger faerie. “Somehow, they managed to find the Swords of Fire and Ice and appoint a new Battle Faerie to act as their champion.”
Sirine was slightly startled to hear this, but it did not come as a complete surprise. She figured that something of this nature must have occurred or that jumped up snob of a queen would not have challenged her. Leaning back in her chair, Sirine considered the situation. She tapped long, talon-like nails against lips colored with purple lipstick. Slowly, a malicious grin formed on her face.
“Tell them that I accept the challenge.” she said finally. The messenger bowed and departed instantly. When the faerie had disappeared, the leader of the faerie rebellion beckoned into the shadows.
Another dark faerie appeared. She was about the same age as Sirine herself; young enough to still be in her prime but old enough to be considered middle aged. She dressed simply in shirt and breeches. Her belt was adorned with various weapons, including a dagger and a sword.
“Well, Dyra,” said Sirine. “I think I have finally found a job that suits your unique talents. How would you like to act as my champion?”
The faerie’s only reply was to smile evilly.
Valeane sat on her bed in her room at the palace. The Swords were sitting on her desk across the room, their jeweled hilts glistening. Her green eyes stared at them, contemplating. The Swords both awed and scared her. When she fought with them, it was like holding air. She hardly noticed their weight, and to her surprise, the blades seemed to enhance her every move magically. Her already amazing amount of natural speed and endurance had increased ten-fold.
She had a feeling that these swords could do more than improve her battle skills. She could feel the burn of their magic on her skin whenever she touched them. Fyora had said she would try to find out more about their abilities. The queen had thought that perhaps spells could be cast, and perhaps augmented, through the blades.
Valeane frowned at the thought of her sister. The queen had been edgy ever since Valeane had been appointed Battle Faerie. Worry constantly dominated her features and Valeane had often caught her glaring at the swords in distaste.
A knock on her door aroused her from her thoughts.
“It’s open,” she called. A maid stuck her head in the door.
“You’re wanted in the council room, milady.” Valeane nodded and got to her feet. After a moment’s hesitation, she reached out and clipped the legendary weapons onto her belt.
“Ah, Valeane, there you are,” greeted Fyora. Valeane smiled and sat down with the other council members. “Sirine sent her reply.” Valeane raised an eyebrow in question.
“And?” she asked.
“She fell for it.” Mithana smiled. The look on the young dark faerie’s face was one of sheer triumph. She was looking forward to the defeat of her elder cousin, Sirine. Valeane shivered inwardly. Very young though Mithana was, Valeane had gained a great amount of respect for the dark faerie. Mithana was not a faerie she would like to get on the wrong side of.
“The duel will be held in three days time,” stated Fyora. Valeane winced. That was sooner than she thought it would be.
“Do we know who her champion is?” she asked. Fyora looked over the message she held in front of her.
“We have a name, but it isn’t one I recognize,” she said. “Dyra.”
Valeane shrugged, for she didn’t recognize the name either.
“Is there a last name?” questioned Mithana. The dark faerie’s eyes gleamed with sudden alertness.
“No,” replied the queen. “Why?”
Mithana leaned back in her chair and sighed. “This just got complicated,” she muttered under her breath. The others looked at her confusedly.
“I think I may know who she is,” explained the young council member. “Dyra Blackwings. She was a friend of Sirine’s when they were young and she has a mean streak as wide as Faerieland.”
“Is she a threat combat-wise?” questioned Lilia.
“She always had an aptitude for the fighting arts in school,” answered Mithana. She glanced at Valeane. “Though I don’t think it really matters too much. What we are going to have to look out for is the fact that she has no honor whatsoever and has more tricks up her sleeve than every fire faerie out there combined.”
Valeane thought this over. “Such as?”
Mithana twiddled her fingers in suggestion of magic. “She is very powerful when it comes to dark magic, curses in particular. And you can bet that she and Sirine will put their heads together to try to come up with ways to twist the laws of single combat in their favor.”
“Well, that’s no more than we expected,” said Rani. “We will just have to keep an eye open for those kinds of things.”
Valeane nodded in agreement though she had to admit that she would have to be extra careful. Magic had never really been her strong point and she hesitated to use it in combat. She always felt like she was cheating when she used her powers to win a duel.
Despite the reassurances from her fellow council members, Mithana still looked dubious. Valeane put a hand on the young faerie’s shoulder. When Mithana’s violet eyes glanced at her, she smiled.
“Don’t worry about it now,” she said. “We’ll figure it out.”
“I certainly hope so,” was the dark faerie’s only reply.
Later that day, Valeane found her sister in her study. The queen stared blankly at the report she was reading. She tapped the pen in her hand repeatedly against the surface of the desk. It was obvious that her mind was elsewhere.
Valeane sighed, and moved closer to her sister, grabbing Fyora’s attention.
“Oh, sorry,” muttered the queen. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Fyora, we need to talk.” Valeane sat down across from the royal faerie. Fyora raised an eyebrow in question.
“Something is bothering you,” stated Valeane. “And I am willing to bet that it has something to do with the Swords.”
“Why do you say that?” questioned Fyora. Her facial expression was perfectly casual. Years of being queen had perfected her ability to mask her feelings at a second’s notice.
“Don’t play innocent on me, Fyora,” said Valeane sternly. “I’ve seen you watching me when I wear them. You can’t stand being near them. Why do they bother you?”
The queen’s shoulders slumped. The worried expression which had been present on her face all day returned. She spoke slowly, thinking her words through.
“Those swords, they’re powerful, Valeane,” she replied. “And not all of their power is benign. Every faerie that has ever handled them has left their mark on them and not all of those faeries were as kind as they should have been. It’s uncomfortable to be close to them, to feel that small trace of evil. They’re made for killing, and it’s hard to forget that.”
Valeane nodded her head in understanding. It didn’t surprise her that Fyora could feel the magic of the Swords even better than she. She was after all, the faerie queen.
“So why the personal reason for disliking them?” she asked.
Fyora looked away. “They chose you, didn’t they?”
Valeane looked up, startled. “What does that have to do with anything?” she demanded.
“Valeane, those Swords don’t just give you their power. You have to earn it; you have to prove your worth. Have you not seen the writing on their hilts?”
“Yes, what about it?” Valeane wasn’t sure where the queen was headed with this.
“If you have read it, then you will know that it is a riddle. You and you alone can answer it. If you don’t...” Fyora’s voice trailed off. “Valeane, those things have destroyed stronger faeries than you and me because they failed to solve a simple rhyme. I don’t want to lose my sister again because of some stupid piece of magicked metal.”
Valeane winced at her sister’s words as comprehension dawned on her. Fyora wasn’t worried about the Swords; she was worried about Valeane.
“Fyora, I don’t plan on letting these blades destroy me.” When Fyora still looked doubtful, Valeane reached forward to take her sister’s hand in hers. “I promise I’ll solve the riddle. I promise that, and I quote, I won’t let ‘some stupid piece of magicked metal’ beat me just like I won’t let Dyra beat me in the duel tomorrow.”
The queen watched her sister for several seconds, her lavender eyes scanning the face of her Battle Faerie and Champion. Finally, she smiled.
“Alright,” she said, the worry disappearing from her face. “Just don’t break that promise or I might have to get all queenly on you and throw you in the dungeons or what not.”
Valeane laughed. “Deal!”
To be continued...