The Prophecy Faeries: Part Three
PART THREE: ESCAPE
Rutherford marched Bernadette down the hall to his office without speaking. Bernadette knew she was in big trouble. She had to come up with a plan, and fast. She wished she had Hortensia’s brains; Hortensia had come up with most of the plan to escape. True, the plan had some gaping holes, as was now evident, but considering the circumstances they’d had to work around, Bernadette thought it was a brilliant plan, or at least she had until she’d been caught.
Surely there must be some way out of this predicament. Bernadette could avoid punishment by saying she had a habit of sleepwalking and a careless teacher must have left something unlocked, but then she’d be trapped in the school, watched more closely than ever, unable to escape and meet the others. How could she avoid punishment and convince Rutherford to let her wander around the school?
She thought back to the conversation that had started it all, when she overheard Rutherford and Dinusa, and thought about everything she knew about Rutherford’s personality. He definitely wasn’t in charge of the plans, just a sidekick to Dinusa. That meant that he would follow her orders exactly as she had given them, and wouldn’t consider any exceptions. Unless...
Unless she convinced Rutherford that she was working for Dinusa! After all, she was a dark faerie. Maybe Rutherford would believe that she was a spy...
This would take serious acting ability, an ability that Bernadette did not possess. Victoria could have pulled it off, but Bernadette was certain that she couldn’t. However, unable to come up with a better plan, Bernadette gritted her teeth and thought of every nasty dark faerie she had ever encountered. She would have to convince Rutherford that she was just as nasty as them, if not more, in order to pull this off.
They had reached Rutherford’s office, or rather Dinusa’s. Rutherford swung open the door and glared at Bernadette, indicating that she should go in. Bernadette returned the look with an icy stare that she herself had received many times. Rutherford looked rather unnerved.
Bernadette stalked through the doorway and seated herself in one of the chairs, still glaring. Rutherford shuffled nervously over to Dinusa’s chair behind the desk, looking uncomfortable.
“What were you doing wandering the halls after lights out?” he demanded, trying to sound stern. “And how did you get out of your dormitory?”
“Let’s cut to the chase,” Bernadette said abruptly. She pointed her finger in the direction of the door and recited a spell in her head. It closed with a loud snap.
Staring pointedly into Rutherford’s shocked face, Bernadette said, “I guess Dinusa didn’t tell you about me and the others.”
“Others?” Rutherford asked. His hand had started shaking; he tried to hide it behind the desk.
“Yes, stupid, me and some other dark faeries,” Bernadette snapped, remembering that dark faeries were almost always insulting. “We’re not really students at this school, just pretending to be. We’re spies for Dinusa, watching the students, making sure no one gets out of line and everything goes according to plan.”
Rutherford was still giving her a questioning look.
“Let’s make this simple,” Bernadette said with a sigh, as though speaking to someone dimwitted. “We are on the same side. We are both working for Dinusa,” she said slowly.
“I—I don’t believe you,” stuttered Rutherford, looking flustered.
“Good, maybe you’re not quite as stupid as you look,” Bernadette said calmly. “Nice to know a student can’t trick you so easily. Back to the point, if I were really a student, how would I know about Dinusa? I would think she’s just an ordinary school principal, wouldn’t I? And how would I have gotten out of my dormitory? Students can’t undo the locking spells.”
“True,” admitted Rutherford, weakening. “Wait—I saw you the other day, sitting outside Dinusa’s office, when we were meeting!”
“Of course, I was meeting with her too. I had some information about some students. Classified, naturally.”
“Right,” said Rutherford. “Well, I think I’d better check with Dinusa on this, just to be sure.”
Bernadette was about to point out that Dinusa would be angry if he called her, but she didn’t get the chance. At that moment, something crashed through the back window and flew across the room in a tangled heap of glass and window curtains. Rutherford and Bernadette jumped to their feet as the same time. Bernadette muttered a spell that sent the curtain flying off the huddled mass and hurtled it across the room, revealing the limp form of Clarisse, huddled and bleeding on the floor, surrounded by broken glass.
Hortensia waited anxiously, her ear pressed against the door. She had no way of judging the time, since her dormitory didn’t even have a window, so she didn’t know if Bernadette should have been here by now. They also didn’t know how long it would take her to perform the unlocking spell. After all, spells were always difficult the first time, especially for an amateur faerie. Hortensia tried to convince herself that it was just taking longer than expected and that she was overreacting, but somehow she knew that something was wrong. She wasn’t sure how she knew, but something told her that her friends were in trouble. She felt extremely frustrated, being trapped in her dormitory.
She could use the emergency X, the one Victoria had been relying on, but of course there was no emergency, and Hortensia didn’t know how to make one. There weren’t any plants in here, besides the small one she had just used that now sat in her pocket, so there was nothing magical she could do to create chaos, like Victoria should be doing right now. Besides, teachers would become suspicious. Most people knew that Victoria and Hortensia were friends, so if they both completely destroyed their dormitories on the same night, it wouldn’t look good. Anyway, Hortensia never broke the rules. Victoria had caused her roommate to use the emergency X several times already, and she was known for being unpredictable, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone, but no one would ever believe Hortensia to be capable of such a thing.
There was nothing to be done but wait. Normally Hortensia was a patient person, much more so than Bernadette, but tonight, when so much was at stake, she could not bear to wait.
Suddenly, after what was surely an eternity, she heard a scuffling noise outside her door. She stepped away from the door, expecting it to swing open, but nothing happened. Then, she heard hushed voices. What was going on? Bernadette was supposed to be alone. Listening closely, she suddenly recognized Victoria’s voice. What was Victoria doing here? She was supposed to escape outside when one of teachers tried to take her to the principal’s office. Maybe something had happened to Bernadette, so Victoria was trying to get her out. But that made no sense; Victoria didn’t know the unlocking spell that Bernadette had found, and even if she did, she couldn’t do it, because she was a water faerie, not a dark faerie. She didn’t exactly have the best spell-casting reputation, either.
Suddenly, Hortensia heard the second voice, the one that Victoria was talking to. It sounded very, very familiar. It was Hentoff, Hortensia was sure of it. “What’s going on?” she whispered wonderingly.
After Clarisse escaped from the light faerie and jumped out the window, she soared away, trying to keep in the shadows. Once she had determined where she was, she flew quickly to their meeting place, keeping low to the ground in case anyone happened to be looking out windows. Their meeting place was a huge tree, set beside one of the small ponds on the school grounds. Not many people came to this part of the grounds, so naturally it was a great place for the self-proclaimed Faerie Outcasts to meet.
She was surprised to find, however, that no one was here. Surely Victoria would have been out here by now. Hortensia had predicted that Victoria and Clarisse would reach the tree at the same time, and Bernadette and Hortensia would arrive shortly after. Growing worried, Clarisse sat down at the base of the trees and stared up at the stars. For a while, nothing happened, but suddenly a familiar feeling of numbness washed over her. Her vision clouded, and she could no longer see the stars. She didn’t know it, but she had collapsed onto the dirt. There was a pounding in her head; she could no longer hear herself think. Soon, as she knew it would, the vision possessed her.
She was in a large room, a room she recognized as Dinusa’s office. Sitting in the high-backed chair was a short Meerca who could only be Rutherford, and sitting in the chair across from him was Bernadette. Bernadette had an icy, hateful look on her face, but Clarisse noticed that the spiteful look didn’t quite reach her eyes. Clarisse was certain that Bernadette was pretending. She knew immediately what had happened: Bernadette had been caught by Rutherford. She needed help, and she needed it now.
It was quite a challenge for Clarisse to shake off the vision. Usually they came and went on their own, and there was nothing she could do to control them, but this time she had to stop it. She sensed that this vision wasn’t far into the future, and she had to get Bernadette out of there before the whole plan was ruined.
Finally, with some difficulty, her head cleared, and she was aware that she was curled up against the tree trunk, shaking violently. Slowly she stood up and rose into the air. She felt very weak, as she always did after strong visions, but she was determined to get to Dinusa’s office. Very slowly she flew around the side of the school and drew level with the middle floor, searching until she found the windows of Dinusa’s office. She could see that Bernadette was already seated in the chair. She needed to distract Rutherford so that they could escape, but how? Finally, she decided a shattered window would do the trick.
For the second time tonight she raised her hands into the air, calling on the wind. Unfortunately, her powers weren’t working well after her vision; the gust of wind was too strong, far too strong, and she could not control it. It swirled around her, sucking her into its vortex, and slammed her into the glass window. Clarisse couldn’t see anything. Something heavy was wrapped around her, constricting her movement. Suddenly her arm exploded with pain, burning and stinging unbearably. She felt something wet on her hand and realized that it was blood. She didn’t even notice when she slammed against the far wall and fell to the floor.
The wind Clarisse had created was still swirling around the room. Rutherford was chasing things, trying to keep his papers from flying out the window. Bernadette’s first reaction was to run to Clarisse, but she knew an opportunity for a distraction when she saw one. Quickly she muttered a series of spells, and every light in the room went out. She heard a crash as Rutherford ran into something. Quickly, she felt her way over to the corner and helped Clarisse clamber to her feet. Clarisse was covered in something sticky; Bernadette realized with horror that it was blood.
“Wait!” Rutherford shrieked, still fighting the raging wind and utter darkness. “Don’t even think about leaving this room! You’ve got some explaining to do!”
Bernadette ignored him and helped Clarisse limp her way over to the window. She wanted to say something to her friend, but she was afraid that any sound would alert Rutherford to their location. Finally, they clambered up onto the window ledge, carefully avoiding the broken glass, and flew out. Bernadette had to support Clarisse, but finally they made it back to the tree.
“Clarisse, are you okay?” Bernadette gasped, panting heavily.
“Yeah,” she muttered, but she didn’t convince Bernadette. Bernadette examined Clarisse’s arm.
“This looks bad, Claire. There’s a lot of broken glass in your arm. I don’t think I can get it out.”
“Need to see the nurse,” Clarisse panted. Bernadette knew she must be in real pain, since Clarisse disliked the school nurse and would do almost anything to avoid seeing her.
“What can we tell her, Claire? Rutherford knows we’ve escaped! He’ll be sounding the alarm any second!”
Clarisse didn’t seem to hear her. She slumped to the ground, clutching the wound.
“Don’t touch it, Claire, you’ll push the glass in farther,” Bernadette said absently, trying to think of a plan. Hortensia was still upstairs waiting on her, and Victoria was nowhere to be found.
“Have you seen Tori? She should have been here by now,” Bernadette said frantically. Clarisse shook her head, her eyes pressed tightly closed.
“I’ll listen for them,” Clarisse rasped, her voice barely above a whisper. Bernadette didn’t know what she meant, but she remembered Clarisse’s words from before: “I wasn’t reading your thoughts, just watching your memories.” Could Clarisse really communicate with them from all the way out here?
As a matter of fact, she could. Usually she didn’t feel thoughts in people’s minds unless she was near them, but she had gotten to know her friends so well that she could hear them from miles away, if she tried. Sometimes, on weekends, when Victoria and Hortensia had left the school to visit their families, Clarisse could hear some of their thoughts racing around in her head without even trying, a fact she had never shared with them.
Now, she concentrated very hard, and tried to hear their thoughts. After a minute, she heard Hortensia, wondering where Bernadette was. It didn’t seem important, so Clarisse focused on Victoria. Bernadette watched her apprehensively.
After several long moments, Clarisse’s eyes opened, and a look of shock appeared on her face. “How is it possible?” she wondered aloud.
“What?” Bernadette hissed, but at that moment Clarisse’s face twisted with pain and she clutched her arm again.
“We have to go to Hortensia,” gasped Clarisse.
“Why? Claire, you need someone to heal you!”
“Someone will be there, and so will Tori. Just hurry, before we miss them. They’re on their way.”
Bernadette desperately wanted to ask what was going on, but decided that now was not the time. She helped Clarisse stand, and together they flew once more across the grounds, coming to a halt outside the kitchen door that Bernadette had unlocked earlier. They crept through the school, wandering down twisting hallways and heading up two flights of stairs before they reached the earth faerie dormitories.
“Which number is Tenny’s?” Clarisse asked, still gripping her wound. The knuckles on her hand had turned white.
“Number fifty-nine,” Bernadette whispered, leading the way down the dim corridor. The hall was utterly silent, except for the faint ticking of a clock down the hall, reminding Bernadette that time was running out.
Victoria stared at Hentoff in shock. She couldn’t believe what he was saying. “That was five hundred years ago,” she finally said, once she had regained the ability to speak.
“Yes, I know it seems impossible. And as soon as I can I will explain it to you. Right now there are only a few things you need to know.
“The first is that I am on your side, and I will try to help in any way I can. You will have to trust me.
“The second is that your friends need our help, and quickly. Rutherford is discovering them as we speak.
“The third is that I am not an ordinary Draik. I have a few magical abilities of my own, some of which you will see tonight. You must not be surprised or alarmed by any of them. Keep focused on the task at hand.
“Now, we are going to get your friend Hortensia, who is still trapped in her dormitory. When we get there, we will run into your other friends. Then I will show you all the way out, and we will go to a safe place, where none of Dinusa’s spies can hear us. Once we are there, I will explain everything. For now, we must hurry.”
Victoria nodded, even though her mind was reeling. She could hardly comprehend everything he was saying. One thought stuck in her head: her friends were in trouble, and things were not going according to plan.
She followed Hentoff back out of the classroom, the way they had come. As before, he was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure that they weren’t being followed. Once they were out of sight of the principal’s office, he broke into a run, with Victoria right behind him.
They soon arrived at Hortensia’s floor, and Victoria led the way to Hortensia’s dormitory. “What now?” Victoria whispered.
“We wait for Clarisse and Bernadette. They should arrive any moment. In fact, I need you to run to the closet down the hall and grab the first-aid kit there; I believe Clarisse may have need of it.”
“Why? Is she hurt?” Victoria asked anxiously.
“You shall soon see. Hurry, please. I cannot move as fast as you can in my old age, or I would go myself,” Hentoff said with maddening calmness.
Deciding to obey, at least for now, Victoria ran down the hall and opened the door of the closet, remembering, even in her impatience and worry, to be as quiet as possible. After locating the first-aid kit she returned to where Hentoff was waiting outside of Hortensia’s dormitory and wordlessly handed him the kit.
After a minute or two, she hissed, “Where are they?”
“They are here now,” said Hentoff, and sure enough Victoria suddenly saw two faerie-shaped figures advancing up the hall. To her dismay, one of the figures was being supported by the other, and seemed to be holding tightly to her arm. A moment later, the faces of Bernadette and Clarisse were visible in the near-darkness as they came to a stop beside the door, where Victoria and Hentoff waited.
Bernadette looked shocked to see them and looked questioningly at Victoria, but Clarisse did not seem at all surprised.
“Bernadette, if you will whisper through the door and let Hortensia know you are here, that would be most helpful. Victoria, please hold the first-aid kit and pass me items as I ask for them. Clarisse, if you would lie down, this will be much easier.” The faeries quickly obeyed.
“Tenny, I’m here,” Bernadette whispered through the door.
“What’s going on?” Hortensia demanded.
“We’ve had some, uh, complications. Oh, and Hentoff’s here.”
“Someone’s coming!” Clarisse whispered frantically.
“Victoria, Bernadette, take Clarisse and hide on the nearest staircase,” Hentoff said, rushing up the hall to meet whoever was coming. Hortensia waited anxiously on the other side of the door.
“What are you doing here, Hentoff?” asked the light faerie teacher, Professor Lumin, who had been walking up the hall.
“I thought I heard noises in this direction. Perhaps it was a student out of bed.”
“Oh, well, Rutherford’s called an emergency meeting of all teachers downstairs. We should hurry.”
“Of course. Let me just finish inspecting the area.”
As soon as Professor Lumin was gone, Hentoff hurried to the stairwell and helped the faeries carry Clarisse back to the hall.
“Bernadette, let Hortensia out,” Hentoff said, still strangely calm. “Victoria, please hold Clarisse’s arm steady. Clarisse, you have to let go of your arm so I can look at it.” Gingerly Victoria lifted Clarisse’s injured arm, and Hentoff examined it closely. Then he muttered some strange words in a foreign tongue that Victoria did not recognize, and suddenly there was a flash of orange light from his fingertips, but in the blink of an eye it was gone.
“That should relieve the pain,” Hentoff said briskly as Hortensia and Bernadette appeared at his side.
“Could one of you kindly wet this cloth and bring it back to me?” Hentoff asked, passing them a handkerchief he’d produced from his pocket. Hortensia took the cloth and returned quietly to her dormitory, where she wet the cloth in the bathroom sink before returning it to Hentoff.
Hentoff washed all of the blood from Clarisse’s arm with the cloth, then rubbed it down with a disinfectant wipe from the first-aid kit. Finally he dried off the wound and wrapped it securely in a bandage.
“This should hold for now,” Hentoff said, and he and Victoria helped Clarisse stand. Hentoff led the group to a small window nearby (luckily, Hentoff was a Draik and could fly just as easily as the faeries). Bernadette opened it and flew out first. Victoria then helped Clarisse through, and Bernadette supported her once she was safely out. Victoria and Hentoff went through next. While this was going on, Hortensia returned the first-aid kit and supplies to the closet. When everything was put away, she went through the window as well, closing it securely behind her.
Hentoff led the group, with Bernadette and Clarisse flying just behind him. Clarisse’s arm was no longer painful, but being unable to use it put her severely off balance, so Bernadette supported her on one side; behind them were Victoria and Hortensia. Victoria used this opportunity to relay to Hortensia what Hentoff had told her about being Khorianna’s brother Marpameus.
They flew for a long while before Hentoff descended into a small, nearly deserted neighborhood on the outskirts of Faerie City. Hentoff lead them down the street to a small Neohome fashioned rather like a Meridellian cottage.
Hentoff muttered something in the strange language, and the front door swung open. Quickly he ushered them inside, looking around as he did so to make sure no one was watching.
“Make yourselves at home,” he said, gesturing towards the kitchen table. The five of them seated themselves around it.
“We have much to explain, and very little time,” said Hentoff. “First, I want the four of you to explain exactly what you were doing tonight, and everything you know about Dinusa.”
Bernadette began their tale. She told Hentoff how she had overheard the conversation between Dinusa and Rutherford, and recounted their plans to escape the school and bring the news directly to Fyora. She then told them how she had been captured by Rutherford, only to be rescued when Clarisse came crashing through the window, which had caused her injury.
Clarisse then told them about tricking the light faerie in order to escape from the castle. When it was time to tell them about her vision of Bernadette in Rutherford’s office, she became a little apprehensive. She didn’t feel comfortable mentioning the strange things that she saw to anyone except her three best friends, and even then they treaded lightly around the subject. Would Hentoff believe that she had visions? Would he think she was a lunatic? She remembered that he had told his class that he did not believe in Khorianna’s visions.
When Clarisse hesitated in her story, Hentoff spoke up. “You had a vision,” he stated, looking at Clarisse with a knowledgeable expression.
“Yes,” she said softly. She did not ask him how he knew. “I saw that Dette had been caught, so I hurried up to the office. I didn’t mean to crash through the window, but the winds got away from me.”
“After that,” Bernadette said, picking up the story again, “Claire and I went back to the meeting place, but no one was there.” Bernadette didn’t know how to describe what happened when Clarisse said she would “listen” for Tori and Tenny, so she stopped speaking for a moment.
“Well,” she said finally, deciding to gloss over the incident, “since I was supposed to have gotten Tenny out of her room, we headed back up to school, where we found you and Tori,” Bernadette said, looking at Hentoff.
“Perhaps you had best explain how we ended up together, Victoria,” Hentoff said.
Victoria launched into the story. Hentoff, of course, already knew what had happened, but he sat back and listened intently, studying the reactions of the three faeries as Victoria told them how she and Hentoff had ended up outside of Hortensia’s dormitory.
When she had finished, the room was silent for several long minutes. After a long while, Bernadette spoke up. “So,” she said, “I guess the only one who needs to do some explaining now is Hentoff.” She gazed directly at him as she spoke.
“Yes,” Hentoff agreed. “I must admit that I have quite a story to tell. Now is the time for you to learn everything.”
To be continued...