A Faerie Tale: War - Part Nine
Sandra’s emotion was spent, her powers drained. The fragile Fire Faerie collapsed to the floor, the smoking ruins of the lobby around her. The rest of the castle guard were with her in seconds. After years of dodging Banks when he had an allergic reaction, they were all largely fireproof. Jones the Pteri held Sandra’s head in her lap, gently stroking her.
“Will she be alright?” she asked.
Captain Smith looked down at the Fire Faerie in amazement.
“I have no idea...” he replied honestly.
All around them, the Faeries that had survived the explosion, or had the sense to hide behind rubble, began to recover themselves. The madness that had possessed the castle seemed to have evaporated in the flames of Sandra’s sorrow. The fighting was over. Now they all crowded around the unconscious Fire Faerie.
In the main hall, Aethia stood over Fiona the Dark Faerie, her hair singed, her clothes ripped.
“Go on then!” Fiona hissed. “Finish me!”
Aethia shook her head.
“I am here to protect, not to kill,” she told the Dark Faerie. “Now go... I never want to see your face in Faerieland again.”
The Battle Faerie turned her back, following the route many were taking back to the lobby. Fiona’s face contorted in rage.
The stupid Faerie had even shown her mercy!
She spat at the floor, and cast what little magic she had left to disappear into the shadows.
In the courtyard, the Dark Faerie Sisters lay beaten once more. Psellia and Siyana stood over them, triumphantly. The statue of the Darkest Faerie remained safe, her evil kept at bay for at least one more day.
Slowly but surely, all the Faeries found their way to the lobby. The roof was long gone, letting the piercing sunlight shine down upon the Fire Faerie and the guardsmen, in the centre of a ring of Faeries. Sandra’s power seemed to have brought the Faeries together at last.
“Is there anyone who can help?” Smith asked the gathered crowd.
“She might benefit from the Healing Springs,” a Water Faerie suggested.
Habbard nodded in agreement.
Held in the massive hands of Bane the Faerie Grarrl, the guardsmen led the way out of the castle. Slowly, the Faeries followed in their wake.
Illusen woke with a start, memories of fire, of smoke, of falling, came to her mind.
Events organised themselves in her mind. She’d been fighting Jhudora...
Her brain connected, but far too late. As Illusen rolled over to pick up her staff, she found Jhudora’s foot upon it. The Dark Faerie’s own staff was pointed at Illusen, magic already brimming down the length.
“Seems as though your wretched luck has only held this far,” Jhudora snapped. “Imagine, of all the places for us to land, a passing Shenkuu Ship.”
Illusen looked around. They were on a deck, slowly passing through the clouds of lower Faerieland... had they fallen that far?
The crew of the ship were gathered behind Jhudora, clearly afraid to move.
“Now I can finally say goodbye to you, and rid myself of your tiresome face forever,” Jhudora said happily.
She lifted her staff, preparing to strike down and hit Illusen, but instead another staff collided with the side of her head. The Dark Faerie was sent sideways, hitting the deck hard. She did not get up.
Above her, a simple wooden walking staff in her hand, Baelia the Grey Faerie stood. Beside her, the Kyrii, Tavi, jumped from foot to foot excitedly.
“I’ve really had enough of Dark Faeries now,” Baelia said distantly, allowing the staff to drop from her hands.
The crystal waters of the Healing Springs washed over Sandra. The Healing Springs Faerie splashed from pool to pool, mixing up a healing potion, which she gently gave Sandra when it was ready. The gathered Faeries watched, almost afraid to breathe, waiting for the outcome.
Eventually, Sandra opened her eyes groggily and coughed.
A sigh of relief washed over the crowd.
“Is... is it over?” Sandra asked blearily, looking up at Captain Smith.
The Draik cast his eyes over the assembled Faeries. They all seemed united at last.
“Yes, yes I’d say it is,” he replied.
“Did we win?” Sandra continued. “Is the Queen safe?”
For the first time since the explosion, thoughts turned towards the Queen. Everyone had been so preoccupied that they just hadn’t thought about it. Everyone had just assumed she was part of the crowd.
“Mavara’s not here either...” Nuria told the others.
The focus of the crowd drifted away from the Healing Springs, back towards the castle, or the ruins of it.
“Last time I saw the Queen, she was heading towards the throne room,” the Soup Faerie added.
“Mavara was in there,” Aethia confirmed.
“The throne room got blown to pieces...” the Tooth Faerie worried. “You don’t think...?”
“Two Faeries that powerful?” Vyline laughed. “Never!”
“They’ll have fallen into the Underclouds, I bet!” the Library Faerie said confidently.
Psellia stepped forward.
“I’ll clear us a way,” she volunteered. “We have to find them and tell them to stop this stupid war!”
Deep in the Underclouds, two Faeries fought on, alone in the entire world. Fyora and Mavara, their staffs and magic clashing in hails of sparks and energy, continued the war.
They had recovered themselves quickly after falling from the castle, and now they were fighting, Fyora for her country, and Mavara for her dream... that seemed to be fading, ever so slightly from her mind.
Even despite this, Mavara was able to gain the upper hand. Pink magic rebounded off purple, and slowly, Fyora was forced back.
She was a powerful Faerie, easily able to overcome Mavara... yet she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Fyora was a Queen of peace, not a Queen of war.
Eventually, Fyora collapsed to the floor, Mavara towering over her. The Dark Faerie had the Queen at her mercy. But suddenly, she was hesitant.
Was this what she wanted? Did she want to rule Faerieland? Did she want to kill Fyora? Something didn’t seem right... were these thoughts of hatred hers?
A cool breeze picked up, making the Queen’s dress flutter. Slowly, the clouds that had ensnared the two parted, revealing Faerieland above them in the distance.
Mavara gasped, the staff she had been holding in her arms falling carelessly out of her hands as she brought her hands to her mouth.
“Faerieland!” she gasped. “What have I done?”
The city was in ruins, smoking and unrecognisable. Beyond that the castle, or what was left of it, could be seen. The two battles and Sandra’s final explosion had reduced the once grand palace to nothing more than a pile of purple and pink masonry. Faerieland was destroyed, completely obliterated by the march of war.
“Do you see now?” Fyora asked as she looked up at Mavara. “If Faeries can do this to each other, to our own homes... how could we ever rule Neopia? Imagine what we would do to the rest of the planet!”
Tears running down her cheeks, Mavara nodded.
“I’m so sorry...” she cried. “I never meant it to go this far... all I wanted was to talk... but then things got out of hand and before you know it...”
Fyora got to her feet and put a reassuring hand on the Dark Faerie’s shoulder. From the city, Faeries of all colours, from both sides of the war were approaching them. They were led by Psellia, gradually clearing the mists.
“Am I going to be imprisoned?” Mavara asked.
“No... I don’t think that will be necessary,” the Queen replied soothingly.
The Faeries had all gathered nearby, unsure of what to do next.
“The war is over,” Fyora announced to her people. “Many of you were led astray by Jhudora... for this I cannot blame you, and I hold no grudges against those who fought me. However, Jhudora did not create these doubts you hold, she simply made them stronger, and more violent. It is clear to me now that I have distanced myself from you all... that we have grown apart, instead of closer together. I wish to change this. Starting now, the Faerie council will have a much larger role in ruling Faerieland. I may be your Queen... but you are my people, and you should have the final say in what happens.”
“What about Faerieland?” a voice from the crowd asked.
“If this destruction is what happens when Faeries are fighting against one another... imagine what we can create if we work together,” she explained. “We can rebuild Faerieland, and we can make it more glorious than ever!”
The Faeries cheered, all stood together at last.
Their magic could rebuild Faerieland, and it did.
The palace guard were once again gathered in the break room. Banks was trying out his latest allergy cream; Jones was carefully preening her feathers, while Sandra sat at the table staring at her reflection in a mirror. Her Fire Faerie reflection. Bane sat in the corner, trying his best to stay still. He feared that any sudden movements may cause the destruction of the pristine, newly rebuilt break room.
The door opened, and Captain Smith walked in.
“I’ve got an announcement,” he told them.
The guards were all ears.
“We’ve got a new recruit,” Smith continued.
He turned towards the door, signalling that Habbard, the Faerie Kougra, could come in.
“I’d like you all to welcome Lieutenant Habbard,” Smith said happily.
A round of applause followed from the guards.
“Right,” Smith continued as Habbard sat down. “To business.”
Bane lifted a hand carefully from the corner.
“Biscuit tin?” he asked in a deep voice.
“Ah yes,” Smith smiled. “The Queen’s said no to a new biscuit tin... because Celandra found this when she was cleaning up.”
The Captain produced a tin, burnt and battered.
“Wouldn’t you just know it?” Smith explained. “It was the only part of the old castle that survived!”
He placed it on the table, and Bane rushed forward to sample the treats within.
Outside in the castle, the Faeries walked around attending to their normal business. In her personal chambers, Queen Fyora leant over her balcony and let the wind blow through her hair. The sky was clear, and the Beekadoodles sang on the rooftops.
Faerieland was at peace.