A Better Magic
Tanya smoothed her clothes worriedly and looked around. "Well, it's a lovely house," she began slowly. "Plenty of fun fixing-up, eh, guys?"
Her three Neopets nodded glumly- Everest, the blue Kacheek, Emelyn, the red Shoyru, and Elle, the yellow Xweetok.
Everest grabbed Elle's paw and dragged her outside. "C'mon, let's explore!" he exclaimed eagerly. Emelyn shook her head at them through the doorway and went to sit down with Tanya- she was older than them and acted much more mature. Or rather, in Everest's opinion, she acted like a snob.
Everest and Elle stared at the huge expanse of land that was now theirs. "I can't believe it," whispered Elle. "It's so beautiful!"
And it was. A sea of green, speckled with brightly colored flowers, rolled over the hills toward a line of swaying trees. The trees seemed to be beckoning; they swayed gently in the breeze, encouraging the two Neopets. A little stream came gurgling down the hill, straight out of the woods, and ended in a wide, shallow pool next to the house. The house itself was in great need of cleaning and repair, but the beauty of the land seemed to make up for that.
With a cry of delight, Everest hurled himself into the grasses and rolled around, laughing. Elle giggled at the sight of him on the ground, and started to run up the hill, toward the woods. "Last one there is a rotten omelette!" she called over her shoulder.
"No fair!" yelled Everest. Leaping up, he ran after her, easily catching up. Soon he was sprinting far ahead, and almost as soon he was standing in front of the trees.
Panting, Elle trotted up beside him and let out a sigh of delight. "They're pretty, but definitely not prettier than me when I wear my spring dress," she joked, playfully shoving Everest to the ground.
He jumped back up, a horrified expression on his face. "You? In a spring dress?" he demanded, then groaned. "I'm glad I've been spared that sight."
"Oh, be quiet," she replied and walked into the woods.
"Wait! Elle!" Suddenly, Everest felt nervous. He wasn't at all sure they should just walk right into the unknown woods. "We should at least tell Tanya!" he yelled.
"Pfft. She knows we're exploring, at least." Elle surprised him by popping right back out of the woods a few yards away. She giggled at the panicked expression on his face. "Don't be such an Emelyn!" she teased, and slipped back into the forest.
Hesitantly, Everest took a step towards the now forbidding line of trees. It happened in a flash- he was brought to his knees as it ripped through him. Pain and fear swirled through his mind- he couldn't bear it. Screams echoed in his ears as he saw everything that had happened. All of it, from the very beginning...
A dark faerie smiled up at the mutant Bruce she took with her everywhere. When she spoke, her voice was silky and smooth, but behind it, Everest could feel a horrible power- one that spoke of evil and darkness.
"What a beautiful place to settle, don't you think, my servant?" The Bruce grunted in reply, but the dark faerie ignored him as she surveyed the trees. "Of course, I shall have to bend these... beings... to my will. In them is a power I cannot face..." Her expression grew thoughtful. "Only those Neopets who carry the true heart of Neopia within them can defeat me. Why is that this place- so full of Neopia's magic- would attract me more than any other place?"
Neopia's magic, wondered Everest. I didn't know Neopia had its own, special magic. But in the next second, another scene had dragged him back in.
The dark faerie stood in front of a tree, whispering soft words under her breath. Suddenly she pressed her hand to the rough bark, and the tree seemed to change. Its branches swirled and swayed with new force, anger flowing freely through them.
She smiled. "You will honor my wishes, for I am your mistress. You will do as I say, for I am the one who feeds you the anger you need. You hunger for it; you cannot live without it. For I have made it so." Still smiling, she took her hand away from the tree and slid it into her long, black gown.
Everest stared in shock. She was taking control of the trees! He had to stop her... but how? It was already done. Again, a new scene yanked him under.
The faerie stood with her Bruce again, in a clearing in the center of the forest. Around her the trees twisted and turned, forever lost in the powerful anger they could not survive without. She cackled as a tree that did not twist and turn like the others, seemingly in pain, was brought to the ground. "See what happens?" she shouted. "See what happens when you stand against me?" She turned and looked Everest in the eye. "Come in and fight me, little Kacheek. Come and see if you can save the others like this one-" here she gestured at the dead, fallen tree- "who think they can overpower me!"
Everest's eyes were wide with terror. He stared after Elle, into the woods. "No! Elle!" His voice cracked with horror. He was afraid, afraid for Elle, afraid for himself, afraid of the dark faerie who could change trees.
He stared down at his trembling paws and looked back up at the woods. And then, yet another vision slid over him. But this one was different- he didn't feel an urge to fight this one. He felt calmed, as if it were taking him under its wing...
Silvery wisps flew around him. He stood in the same clearing the dark faerie had been in, moments ago, it seemed, but now it was different. The branches drifted almost dreamily in the breeze, and the air was full of calm and happiness. He reached out to touch one of the wisps, and it stopped for a moment, then flooded into him.
He was full of a power of good, a power that could vanquish anything. A power that he hoped would be able to restore peace to the forest, a power that he somehow knew belonged to Neopia.
Everest felt like he was on a casual stroll, and to anybody watching, that was what it would appear to be. He whistled quietly, keeping his eyes open for Elle along the way.
She tackled him.
The first thought that came to mind was that she, too, was now controlled by the dark faerie. But when she jumped up, grinning, and held out her paw, all thoughts of any such thing were wiped away. He smiled gently back and took her paw, then leaned into her ear. "Listen, Elle, this isn't just any old forest," he began uncertainly. "I had... visions, sort of, and they showed me what happened. A dark faerie came, and she wanted to live here, but the trees were full of Neopia's true magic. A magic no evil can win over. So instead of trying to vanquish the good, she twisted it so that it became evil. And then..." he took a deep breath before continuing, "She challenged me to come and defeat her. I was too scared to do it, though, until I was given a gift. I'm full now, of the magic she can't destroy."
Elle just stared at him. Then she grabbed his paw and squeezed it. "You're my best friend and you're an amazing sibling," she whispered in his ear, "I'll be with you when you save the trees."
Gratefully, he squeezed her paw back, and the two of them set off. For the clearing in the middle of the forest...
"Here we are," he whispered. She gave him a quick hug and the two of them stepped forward, unsure of what awaited them beyond the thorny hedge surrounding the dark faerie, her trees, and her servant.
She was just sitting there. On the ground, perfectly calm.
Nothing had changed about her. But everything was different.
Her long black hair was pulled back, exposing a perfectly white face. Her lips were red, too red, her eyes dark and mysterious. She was dressed in a long, rippling black gown from her neck to her ankles, and she wore no shoes. Next to her, like a bodyguard, stood the mutant.
She looked... human. Like Tanya.
Too innocent, decided Everest, to have done anything. He began to apologize, ready to turn away, when she spoke.
"We have not been properly introduced, my brave one," she sad, smiling gently. Elle tugged at his paw, but he shrugged her off.
"My name is Everest, and this is-" Elle clapped a paw over his mouth.
"Hello, Everest, hello Elle."
Elle's eyes widened.
"I am Keana, and this is my home. Have a seat."
Elle opened her mouth but was silenced as a chair whizzed out of nowhere, crashing into her legs and knocking her backwards, into it. Looking over at Everest, she saw that he was still standing. She nearly fell out of her chair when she realized that he was speaking- and she stood up as soon as she heard exactly what he was saying.
"-never bother you again. We're very sorry, I realize that I was mistaken. Would you mind excusing us? We have to go back now, I'm sure."
Elle stared at him, mouth agape. "What?" she shrieked. "No! Trees! You have to save them!" she screamed, hysterical.
Keana, the faerie, smiled indulgently. "Save them from what, dear one?" she asked, as if she were speaking to a very young Neopet.
"Um, well..." Elle racked her brain, but for some reason everything was feeling very foggy. She couldn't remember... But why would she need to? It wasn't very important anyway. Then something flashed by, in the fog, and she began to follow it. She didn't know why, she only knew that it was what she had to do. And there it was, just beyond the edge of the fog, just within her reach- a silvery wisp of bright, clear hope. Elle snapped back to the present and tapped her brother on the shoulder. The pure, beautiful magic pierced through the enchantments twined around him, and he, too, was back.
They stood side by side, glaring at Keana, who began to look scared for the first time. "Those are Unbreakable enchantments," she hissed. "Only one thing can overcome..." An expression of pure terror crossed her face. "No," she breathed, backing away. "No, no, no. No! It cannot be!"
Elle slipped away, into the shadows, and began brushing her fur against each tree. The magic awakened them, reminding them of what they really were, until each and every tree in the clearing was cleansed and whole again, freed of all evil.
Meanwhile, Everest began to walk toward Keana. "I'm just a little Kacheek, remember?" he reminded her. "Why be so afraid?" He held up his paw, and white magic crackled around it like lightning. He raised his paw higher and higher, until it flashed upwards, headed for the sky.
Every tree was awake. And every tree was angry. But this time, the anger was for Keana.
Keana dropped to the ground, hands clutching at nothing. She stared around her, face streaked with dirt and tears, as rain poured down to rid the land of her evil.
Elle touched the Bruce gently, and suddenly he began to change. He began to morph, before her eyes. And he became- to her immense surprise- a perfectly normal, blue Bruce.
"My name is Yux," he said shyly.
Elle smiled and patted his shoulder. "Come live with us, we've room for one more," she said.
Everest, Elle, and Yux hurried away, back through the woods and back toward home. Anywhere, Elle and Everest decided, no matter what, was better than sitting in a clearing with enchantments woven so strongly about you that you forgot who you were.
Emelyn met them at the door, arms full of dirty clothes. "Where've you been? And who on earth is that?" she demanded haughtily. Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "Wash these in the pool over there and then bring them inside. Don't get them muddy. When you're back here, come to the hallway. Tanya's repainting it, and you're going to help. Yes, even the Bruce. Meanwhile," her voice turned smug, "I'll be cooking dinner."
Elle and Everest glanced at each other. Almost anywhere, they both concluded.
"And what is with this weather?" she exclaimed, before shoving the clothes into their arms and slamming the door in the faces.