A Faerie Tale: War - Part Two
“What did you see?” Fyora asked urgently.
Illusen and the Queen were alone, in her private chambers. Rumours of war were not something that should be shared with the entire court, lest panic ensue.
“It was Jhudora, I’m sure...” Illusen told her Queen. “Though, she seemed darker than usual, as if she was encased by shadows. I looked into her eyes and saw Faerieland in flames! The castle was ripped clean in two, most of the city was reduced to rubble... and there were fallen Faeries everywhere.”
“You are absolutely positive?” Fyora questioned.
“Yes... it was horrible. The Great Vine fears the worst; that war in Faerieland would spread. It fears a return of the old days,” Illusen confessed.
Both Faeries shuddered slightly at their memories of that ancient time, when Faeries fought other Faeries. The war had almost consumed Neopia.
“I shall act on it immediately,” Fyora said kindly.
Many Faeries would not have believed Illusen. The Great Vine, the network of whispers that connected all of Neopia’s plant life, was largely considered an old wives tale by all aside from Earth Faeries. The idea that it could foretell events was laughable to many.
But Fyora was that kind of Queen. She bridged the gaps between the different Faeries; she understood all of their customs, and all of their magic. Fyora trusted the words of the Great Vine as much as she trusted her own.
Without waiting to think, the Queen strode over to the door and pulled it open quickly. Celandra the Gelert maid toppled inwards.
Fyora knew she’d be there; Celandra always listened at doors for the latest gossip. Of course she then later told the Queen what she’d heard, so Fyora couldn’t complain all that much.
“Sorry, ma’am,” the pink Gelert said hastily. “I was just cleaning the door frame.”
“No time for excuses, Celandra, call a meeting,” the Queen said curtly.
“Of whom, your majesty?” Celandra asked.
“The Faerie council, at once,” Fyora answered.
Both Illusen and Celandra gasped.
The Faerie council, an official gathering of Faeries that represented all of Neopia and all of the Faerie elements, had not been held in centuries. Not since Faerieland had originally been founded.
Celandra adjusted her jaw from its dropped position and scurried off down the corridor.
Captain Smith put the shiny new biscuit tin on the table in the break room. The rest of the palace guard smiled appreciatively while the large mass of Bane the Faerie Grarrl licked his lips expectantly.
“Now be careful with this one, Bane,” Smith said authoritatively.
“Yes, sir!” Bane boomed back while saluting.
The force of the movement caused a small tremor in the break room.
“Right, it's guard change time again,” Smith said, changing the subject.
Collectively, the gathered guards groaned.
“Don’t put me with Banks again, Captain,” Sandra the Fire Faerie requested. “He sneezed outside the guest chambers the other week and I barely escaped with my life!”
“Wouldn’t have hurt you,” Banks pointed out. “You’re fireproof.”
“Why would a Kougra be immune to fire?” she snorted.
A brief silence followed in which the green Pteri, Lieutenant Jones, ruffled her feathers.
“Right,” Smith continued. “Banks and Bane are together this time. You’ve got dungeon duty this month. Sandra, you’re with Jones on throne room duty. I’ve got lobby patrol.”
“Can’t see why we can’t involve the Hidden Tower guards in the shift change,” Sandra mumbled.
“You just want to hang around with Faerie Kougras all the time.” Banks laughed.
Sandra scowled at him. Smith drained the last of the coffee in his mug.
“Right, let’s get back to it. Break’s over,” Smith said, checking the small clock on the wall.
One by one, the Faerieland palace guard trudged out of the break room.
The council chambers were dusty. Spyderwebs hung from the ceiling and some of the chairs. Celandra had done her best to dust the place, but she was only one maid and no one had set foot in the chambers for at least a century.
But that didn’t matter. The Faeries that filled the room more than made up for the dustiness. Faeries of all colours, from all nations, were gathered. They’d answered the call quickly, aware of the urgent nature of any council session. From Taelia the Snow Faerie, to the Soup Faerie and Tooth Faerie, everyone had arrived. The representatives from the Dark Faeries were strangely diminished though. Jhudora was absent; she had not returned the signal. Instead, the Dark Faerie Mavara sat in her place. Lesser Faeries such as Maelstra stood behind her. The Space Faerie too was missing, though that was because she was tending to another Galaxy. She wouldn’t be able to return for days.
“What is all this about?” Mavara asked coarsely.
“Illusen has received a startling vision from the Great Vine,” Fyora said gravely.
Several of the Faeries gathered around the table scoffed.
“Is that all?” Fiona the Dark Faerie laughed. “Illusen had a nightmare?”
“It is no nightmare,” the mistress of the Haunted Woods, Ilere rasped. “I too have seen the vision.”
Vyline, the palace gardener, also an Earth Faerie, echoed Ilere’s words.
“It seems there is one among us who seeks to bring war to Faerieland,” Fyora continued. “For our sake, and the sake of Neopia, we cannot let this happen.”
“For Neopia!?” Mavara laughed sarcastically.
There was something odd about the Dark Faerie; she didn’t seem to be behaving normally. Her eyes seemed slightly out of focus. Not enough to be immediately noticeable, but enough so that she didn’t look completely aware of what was happening.
Fyora raised an eyebrow at her.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“We spend all our days up here, isolated,” Mavara replied. “Wars wage on Neopia’s surface. We have sat back and let them get on with it far too much. We could intervene, we could make things better!”
The Fire Faerie from the Lost Desert, Nuria, nodded in agreement.
“If Faeries had been in control of the Lost Desert, that business with Razul would never have happened, King Coltzan wouldn’t have been murdered either,” she pointed out.
Her thoughts seemed to gain approval from a number of Faeries, most noticeably those who lived beyond Faerieland’s gates.
“You would have me take control of Neopia?” Fyora asked, stunned.
The Faeries were always creatures of peace, this new thinking among her subjects astounded her.
“For the good of Neopia,” Psellia the Air Faerie agreed.
Fyora sat back, amazed.
“We can’t do that!” the Soup Faerie exclaimed. “Neopets have a right to govern themselves. If we took control... why, we’d be no different from Dr. Sloth!”
This seemed to silence the council temporarily.
“Well, if Fyora will not lead Neopia to a brighter future, someone else might!” Mavara shouted.
She didn’t wait to see the reactions of the other Faeries; she got up and stormed out of the room.
At once, the Faeries erupted into low whispers.
Had Mavara just challenged the Queen to her throne? Was it better to rule Neopia? Or observe from a distance?
Fyora ended the whispering.
“Thank you all for coming,” she said weakly. “I think we should call it a day now.”
Fyora sat back in her comfortable armchair, through her window she could see the clouds rolling in over Faerieland. Celandra rushed in with some tea, and then hastily excused herself, leaving the Queen and Illusen alone together.
“Jhudora has twisted Mavara to her will,” Illusen said gravely. “She must have used powerful magic. That is why Jhudora was shown to me in shadow. She is working from behind the scenes, as ever. Perhaps she has also manipulated some of the other council members.”
Fyora shook her head.
“Dark Faeries cannot twist what was not there already,” she said, almost in a whisper. “They doubt my capacity to rule... they truly want to see Faerieland take this new direction. Jhudora may have only polarised their beliefs.”
“Not all Faeries stand against you, my lady,” Illusen said reassuringly. “I for one will stand by your side. The Soup Faerie and most of the Earth and Water Faeries also believe you are the best ruler we could ever hope for. Jhuidah and the Negg Faerie expressed to me that they’d support whatever choice you made.”
“That is comforting,” Fyora replied. “But I have still lost the confidence of so many... where did I go wrong? Maybe I am not fit to lead any more...”
The Queen seemed to have shrunk back in her chair, physically diminished from the lack of confidence her people had shown in her. Fyora lived for her people, but now they didn’t want her. Seeing the Queen like that also seemed to have an effect on those around her. Illusen found her confidence too, was waning.
“Mavara will surely make a move for the throne, aided by Jhudora,” the Earth Faerie said at last. “It seems my warning was too late to stop anything.”
“Most likely,” Fyora replied distantly.
“The castle guard must be alerted, my lady. You must gather the Faeries that are loyal to you and prepare to do battle!” Illusen said, the immediacy of the situation hitting her.
“Must I?” Fyora asked, looking up at the Earth Faerie.
Her eyes were teary.
“Of course!” Illusen replied incredulously.
“You saw Faerieland in flames,” Fyora told her, forcing back the tears and looking to the floor. “If I ready myself to fight Mavara and Jhudora... your vision will surely become reality. I don’t want to put my people through that. Perhaps I should just step down now, before there is any loss of life.”
“Fyora!?” Illusen exclaimed.
The Queen looked up, as if she was seeing Illusen for the first time.
“I’m sorry, I think I just need some time alone,” she said softly. “See to it that the guard are prepared.”
Illusen let herself out of the Queen’s chambers. She closed the door and lent against it, sighing. Things were going from bad to worse... she hoped they would soon get better, for everyone’s sakes.
To be continued...