Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 91,590,388 Issue: 174 | 21st day of Sleeping, Y7
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The Prophecy of Four: Part One


by jade_steel

--------

In the midst of the light will rise the Betrayer

From the midst of the dark to fight comes the Warrior

By stands the Healer, to cure wounds of flesh and soul

In the battle, the Believer, who brings all to light.

     ********

     Shadows moved within the darkness itself, which was lit only by the glow of a young Fire Faerie. The faerie was scared, it was easy to tell. Her wings drooped somewhat, and her hair was turning black toward the ends.

     "Tanelle."

     The Fire Faerie jerked instinctively toward the voice. "My lady."

     "Have you what I seek?" the voice from the darkness inquired.

     "Yes, my lady," Tanelle replied tremulously. "I have brought it with me."

     Reaching behind her, Tanelle pulled out a Yellow Buzz Toy. "But why, my lady, would you need a toy for your great work? Surely-"

     "You dare try to comprehend my magic?" The shadowed faerie's voice turned from silky to icy in the blink of an eye.

     Tanelle looked down. "No, my lady."

     "Good." The shadows once again moved, then lay still. "It will be ready soon. So you must be as well. You should be immune to the potion; all the same, do not drink it. It would be a shame to lose you. I would have to take years to train another the way I've trained you."

     Tanelle cast her eyes down. "My lady, I await your command."

     The shadows moved, receding into the blackness. The Fire Faerie waited there for what could have been years, or only seconds, before her mistress returned.

     Pressing a glowing bottle into the faerie's hand, the instructions continued. "Slip this into the drinks of the faeries you wish to know the hearts of. You will see . . ."

     Tanelle was told no more than that. She only knew that she was testing faerie's hearts for evilness, for admission into a grand scheme. Part of her mind screamed against what she was bound to do, but the rest overpowered it. Potion in hand, the faerie headed for her home.

     ***

     "Hey, you!"

     The Floud turned and looked at the air faerie inquisitively.

     "Yes, you!" the faerie yelled. Slowly, the Floud began to make its way across the room - in the opposite direction.

     "That's it," Talusai muttered to herself. Aloud, she called after the retreating Petpet: "Arisen, you won't get any tomatoes today if you don't help me!"

     She got the Floud's attention. It zoomed over to the air faerie so fast she could barely see it. "All right. Arisen, I need you to take one of these each to Kanal'te, Sanalre, and Tanelle. Got it?"

     The Floud bobbed its body up and down happily, then headed out the window with the letters.

     Talusai headed downstairs and grabbed a few tomatoes. She left them on her desk for when Arisen got back. In the meantime, she was going . . . Shopping! (But only for food) she reminded herself reluctantly, and flew out the door.

     ***

     Kanal'te, or Kal as she was sometimes called, was reading on her bed when she was disturbed by a bump on the window. Ignoring it, she kept on reading until repeated bumps forced her to look up.

     The Earth Faerie was greeted by a Floud with a letter. "Ah, you're from Talusai, aren't you?" asked Kal.

     The Floud bobbed itself up and down in a close approximation of a nod.

     Kal sighed. Why did her friend have to use her own petpet instead of one of the typical, lightning-fast, White Weewoos that delivered the NeoMail? She had continued even after she had lost her last petpet, a Magaral, to an interestingly lazy pterodactyl, Turmaculus: The Flying Version.

     Kanal'te scanned the note briefly. "Oh. A party. " She scribbled, 'I'll be there' on the back, then gave it back to the Floud. Examining the Petpet more closely, she found that it had two other letters. One was to Tanelle and the other to Sanalre, a water faerie. Kal smiled as she looked over the last one. If she knew her friends, Sanalre was already with Talusai, shopping, and Tanelle would be shortly be readying extra snacks.

     "Lovely." She sighed again, then carried the vacant-eyed Floud over to the window and pushed it out. Kal watched it head for Tanelle's house, before jumping into her closet.

     ***

     Tanelle received the Floud's note with interest. Glancing at the potion that sat like a threat out on the table, she smiled inwardly. It was the perfect chance to judge the ones she had called her friends.

     Tanelle moved to the kitchen, and prepared some drinks. She fretted while she did so, about this and that, until the fact that had been eluding her popped into her head. Once uncorked, the potion would stay at full potency for only 15 minutes. She would have to add it at Talusai's house.

     Tucking the potion into a coat pocket, Tanelle grabbed the tray and zoomed for the door. She was halted there, by the fraction of her other self that still existed.

     Her evil part succeeded for the moment, though. Her indecision was past, and Tanelle flew out the door to her 'friend's' home.

     ***

     Tanelle and Kanal'te arrived about the same time as Talusai and Sanalre, who were back from shopping.

     "Hey guys!" Sanalre, her normal, happy, hyper self, was bubbling over with enthusiasm. "What's up?"

     Tanelle replied for herself and the earth faerie. "Party. According to a rather vacant Floud with a fondness for tomatoes."

     "Too true!" squealed Sanalre, and zoomed into the living room.

     Kanal'te and a rather exasperated Talusai exchanged looks with a sigh. Tanelle, on the other hand, looked only thoughtful.

     "I've got it!" Sanalre exclaimed, an hour and five cups of coffee later. "Let's play Gormball!"

     "Eh, why not," remarked Tanelle, as she withdrew the ball from her bag and tossed it to Sanalre. "Let's go!" she shouted, and the faeries bounced up from where they had been sitting to join her in a circle.

     Unsurprisingly, Tanelle was out first. While the others continued their playing, she decided to serve her drinks. "I'll be right back, guys!" she said, knowing that the match wouldn't last for more than 15 minutes.

     Once in the kitchen, the faerie took out the four cups. Tanelle also took the potion out of her pocket and poured a quarter of it in each cup. As she glanced back at the cups, she realized her mistake.

     All four glasses, she told herself. Stupid, stupid, stupid. At least your lady said you should be fine - so -

     A splash and a shriek from the other room told her that Sanalre was out and Kal would be shortly. Kal always lost her concentration when people screamed.

     Tanelle's guess was not far gone. As she emerged into the room with her tray, Talusai hurled the ball one last time and soaked Kanal'te.

     "Juice anyone?" called Tanelle from the door.

     "Sure!" Sanalre flew over. "I want this one! No - that one! No - neither of them - how about that one!"

     "Just pick one," Tanelle said wearily.

     "All right," said the hyperactive faerie, choosing the one she hadn't pointed at yet.

     Kanal'te and Talusai both reached hands over for glasses. Tanelle picked up her own and set the tray on the table behind her.

     Somehow, the faeries had decided to wait before drinking, and Talusai decided to make a toast.

     "To Gormball!" she pronounced, holding her cup high in the air.

     The other faeries echoed her and trailed off into polite laughter which turned to nothing as all the faeries raised their glasses to their lips.

     As Tanelle drained her glass, she felt a chill course through her. I hope I am truly immune to it, she thought.

     Tanelle watched as her friends fell to the ground, gracefully or less than gracefully. She watched them as, through the effects of the potion, they changed . . .

     Sanalre was first. Her body swirled and reformed into the general shape of a Draik. Then colors emerged, and shapes, until it became apparent that the water faerie was now a Maraquan Draik.

     Kanal'te changed next. As she changed into a Gelert, her color began to solidify and darken. Shadow. Tanelle clicked her tongue as she observed both of these. Both useless.

     Finally, Talusai. Tanelle watched as the air faerie's body shaped itself into that of an Ixi. Wings grew, and color became an overall lavender. Faerie Ixi.

     Tanelle stared. Not one of them had the treacherous heart needed. A waste of a perfectly good potion.

     This was all she thought as the room went black.

     When she woke, Tanelle observed her friends sleeping. She headed up the stairs to the bathroom, observing a need. On the way she fretted. "What if I broke a nail in that fall?" she wondered aloud. At least her vanity was intact. She turned on the light and rounded the corner into the bathroom - and stopped, gazing in horror at what stared back at her.

To be continued...

 
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