A Faerie Tale: War - Part Three
Banks the Scorchio pulled out a well-used handkerchief and blew it noisily.
“I hate the dungeons,” he complained to Bane, the Grarrl who towered over him. “They’re always so damp, I get a cold.”
Bane lifted an eyebrow the size of Petpet in scepticism.
“You? A cold?” a Shadow Ruki scoffed from a nearby cell. “I think that’d be a service to society! At least we won’t have you blowing up all over the place!”
Bane reared his head at the prisoner, and gave him a cold, hard stare. The Ruki took the point, and retreated into the safety of the darkness within his cell.
“It’s not my fault I have allergies,” Banks said sadly.
Bane patted him on the shoulder, attempting to reassure his fellow guard member. Instead, the force sent the Scorchio toppling to the floor into a puddle of water.
The Faerieland dungeons were not like the rest of the palace, covered in gleaming pink and purple. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, and marble tiles were a distant memory for the prisoners. It was dark and gloomy. Deep beneath the castle proper, in the heart of the clouds, the morose brickwork let in a surprising amount of condensation. So much so that some prisoners seemed to be caught in a constant downpour equal to some tropical storms. Dungeon guard duty was not a favourable job. None of the prisoners were particularly interesting, and none of them had any hope of escape, as the bars of their cells were enchanted. Fyora was a cautious Queen, though, and had always insisted that the dungeons be guarded at all times.
“It’s so boring down here!” Banks complained, clearly exasperated, as he sat down on a rotten old stool.
“A game?” Bane asked, like a volcano gurgling iron nails.
Banks put his head in his hands.
“Not I spy... please, not again,” he begged.
“Hide and seek perhaps?” the sarcastic voice of the shadow Ruki asked from his cell. “Can’t say I’ve got anywhere to hide, though.”
“Neopoly?” an elderly Bruce from the opposite cell suggested.
“Charades?” someone croaked in the distance.
“We’re not playing any games!” Banks shouted, standing up in frustration. “If you carry on like this, I’ll have one of my episodes!”
Taking the hint, the prisoners fell silent. They didn’t want to be burnt to a crisp.
The sound of footsteps echoed throughout the dungeons, and a moment later, a Faerie Kougra appeared out of the gloom.
“You two!” he said sternly. “Both of the Captains have ordered all guards back to the break room. They’re going to make an important announcement.”
Banks and Bane exchanged looks.
“Sandra hasn’t got a transfer application accepted, has she?” Banks asked.
The Kougra frowned at the pair.
“Something much more serious,” he told them. “Trouble is brewing in Faerieland.”
Maelstra the Dark Faerie paced backwards and forwards in the royal gardens of Faerieland. Iyana the Earth Faerie walked beside her, the two clearly troubled.
“Mavara will surely challenge the Queen to the throne,” Maelstra snapped. “Jhudora must have been gathering a secret army all this time, waiting to strike!”
Iyana looked at the Dark Faerie strangely. Everyone had expected that all the Dark Faeries would turn against the Queen, rallying behind Jhudora, eager to bring chaos to Faerieland. To their surprise, a few Dark Faeries such as Maelstra had declared their loyalty to the Queen. Such acts had impressed many, showing that Fyora had indeed crossed the boundaries of element, and united her people.
“The Queen will never fully prepare to defend herself,” Iyana mused. “If Mavara and an army of her sympathisers were to storm the castle, we would be overrun.”
Maelstra nodded in agreement.
“Yet Mavara does not have many supporters... the longer this feud continues, the larger her numbers will grow,” the Dark Faerie said acidly.
“You wish for a quick end to this battle, with the Queen attacking Mavara while she is weakest?” Iyana asked.
“Yes...” Maelstra replied, thinking to herself.
Iyana glanced over her shoulder.
“Oh, there’s Fuhnah!” she said happily. “I haven’t seen her in so long! I’ll talk with you more about this later, Maelstra!”
She ran off to greet her Fire Faerie friend on the opposite side of the courtyard.
This war is going to happen. There’s no stopping it now, Maelstra thought to herself. It needs to be ended quickly... but none of us, those loyal to the Queen can declare a war... the Queen would be angry; she would cast us out of Faerieland. What we need is a scapegoat, someone who isn’t one of us...
“Excuse me?” a voice broke Maelstra’s concentration.
The Dark Faerie wheeled around. There was a small red Kyrii standing in front of her.
“I went off wandering and seem to have got lost,” the Kyrii explained, ashamed. “Could you point me the way back to the reception? My friend’s there and I’d hate to get separated.”
Maelstra casually pointed down one of the many corridors leading away from the gardens.
“That way,” she said, slightly irritated.
“Thank you so much!” the Kyrii said, turning to run off. “I hope Baelia hasn’t got lost too.”
Like electricity had just jolted through her body, Maelstra was suddenly paying a whole lot more attention.
“Did you say Baelia? The Grey Faerie?” she asked.
The Kyrii nodded.
“I brought her to see the Queen,” the Neopet told the Faerie. “We think she might be able to help us find the evil Dark Faerie, Jennumara. Why, if I ever get my hands on that foul woman, after what she did to that poor Faerie, I’d teach her a lesson!”
Maelstra lifted an eyebrow.
The outcast; perfect, she thought. It can’t be traced back to the Queen, or me!
“You’re in luck, little Neopet,” the Dark Faerie said slyly. “I have heard the location of Jennumara from one of my friends, another Dark Faerie.”
The Kyrii looked up with genuine interest.
“She has been hiding on Jhudora’s Cloud for some time, so it seems, under the false name of Mavara,” Maelstra continued.
The Kyrii made a hurt expression.
“She has stolen yet another Faerie’s name?” she asked, shocked.
Maelstra watched as the cogs turned in the little Neopet’s head.
“I’d best go and tell Baelia about this right away!” she said, making up her mind. “Thank you!”
She ran off down the corridor, leaving Maelstra alone with her schemes. Not all Dark Faeries were evil, but there wasn’t a single one that wasn’t manipulative.
Jhudora smiled evilly at the Dark Faerie stood before her.
“The new Queen of Faerieland,” she said. “I think the title suites you.”
The evil Faerie sat on her throne, surrounded by the swirling purple mists of her cloud.
“I don’t know if I did the right thing, Jhudora,” Mavara replied, almost ashamed. “I didn’t need to storm out of the meeting like that. Perhaps if I were to talk to Fyora, she would see my point?”
“Nonsense!” Jhudora shouted, green flames appearing in the pupils of her eyes. “The Queen is a jaded bureaucrat! She has grown out of touch with her people! She no longer represents our best interests!”
Mavara seemed to sway slightly, as if entranced.
“But... to fight the Queen...” she said distantly.
“You are not a violent Faerie,” Jhudora told her. “You do not seek war; I see this. But Fyora is a wicked woman. She has grown greedy upon her throne of riches. She does not want to give it up to someone as righteous as you. She will try and harm you, to remove you from opposition.”
“And if she does...” Mavara whispered, seeming almost in a trance.
“...you will have no option but to reply with force,” Jhudora finished, using her words like magic.
Mavara stopped swaying. Whatever Jhudora had been doing to her had stopped.
Jhudora looked off into the distance, through the swirling purple mists of her cloud castle, and smiled faintly.
“Now...” she said, in a voice that almost bordered on being nice. “You’re going to have to get used to sitting on thrones. Why don’t you try this one for size?”
The evil Faerie stood up, vacating her golden throne from which she ruled over her own private kingdom, and gestured for Mavara to sit down.
The Dark Faerie took a light perch on the chair. She didn’t notice the dark mists swirling around her, obscuring all but her silhouette. Jhudora walked away a few steps, calmly.
“Yes, I’d say that looks just right,” she said to herself.
“Is something the matter?” Mavara asked from the newly shadowed throne.
“No, not at all,” Jhudora replied evilly. “I have some business to attend to elsewhere... quest stuff, you understand? I won’t be away long, though, so you just wait right there until I get back. I need someone to look after the place.”
Mavara nodded in the shadows.
“Alright, Jhudora, but hurry back,” she answered.
There was a flash of purple, and a cloud of smoke surrounded Jhudora. When it faded, the Dark Faerie had gone.
Baelia the Grey Faerie and Tavi the Kyrii stepped onto the purple cloud. It was like an illness, a parasite latched onto the side of Faerieland, determined not to let go. The purple mists swirled around their feet, and a dark entrance to Jhudora’s lair was carved into the solid purple cloud.
“Are you sure Jennumara is here?” Baelia asked, shivering.
“That’s what the Dark Faerie said,” Tavi answered. “Are you sure about challenging her? She’s a powerful Dark Faerie... and, well... we have no powers.”
Baelia took the Kyrii’s hand.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you don’t need magic to be strong,” she said, before leading Tavi onwards towards the dark cave.
To be continued...