The Prophecy Faeries: Part Six
PART SIX: PREPARATIONS
Bernadette was able to fly for about a mile before her wings began to give out. Carefully she descended, trying to keep her weight off of her injured foot. After leaning against a nearby fence for support, she studied her surroundings.
She was in one Faerie City’s richer neighborhoods, with three-story Neohomes, well-manicured lawns, and gated communities. She considered knocking on one of the doors and asking for help, but she had no explanation as to why she was wondering around Faerie City at sunrise with a sprained ankle, and she knew that few in Faerieland would offer help to a dark faerie.
Finally, she decided she had no choice but to start walking. She set off in the direction of Hentoff’s house. After about an hour, she was forced to stop and rest. Her ankle was throbbing painfully.
She was still sitting on the sidewalk when Hortensia found her. “There you are!” Hortensia said with relief.
“Tenny! You got out!” Bernadette exclaimed, equally relieved. For a moment the two friends had a blissful reunion, but they couldn’t stop for long.
“I’m sure the guards have figured out that we’ve left the palace,” Hortensia said. “We have to keep moving. If someone spots us, we’ll be in big trouble.” Hortensia aimed her magic at Bernadette’s ankle and attempted a minor healing spell, which relieved the pain and allowed Bernadette to walk.
“How’d you do that?” Bernadette asked. “We don’t learn healing spells until our last year at the academy.”
“I took a basic health class as an elective,” Hortensia said casually. Bernadette shook her head in amazement. Sometimes she forgot just how much academic knowledge Hortensia had acquired.
“How’d you find me?” Bernadette asked as they began walking.
“We all split up to look. Hentoff searched around his house in the south, Clarisse went north, I went east, and Victoria went west. You weren’t that hard to spot, since nobody’s really awake yet.”
“What time is it, anyway?” Bernadette asked.
“It was about five in the morning when we got to Hentoff’s, so it’s probably about six thirty now.”
“So, how did you and Clarisse get caught?”
“I overheard one of the guards saying that he was going to warn Fyora, so I followed him and got into her chambers. I was looking for her when some light faerie found me and put some kind of spell on me. I don’t remember anything else. When I woke up, Claire and I were in the dungeon, and a few minutes later, Victoria got us out.”
“How’d Tori get you out? I just realized she doesn’t know the unlocking spell.”
“She did something cool with water, and crashed down half of the dungeon door.”
“Nope. I guess that stuff Hentoff was saying gave her some confidence.”
“Yeah. Hey, Tenny, are you sure you know where we’re going?”
“Yes, unlike some people, I actually paid attention in class when we learned about the geography of Faerieland.”
“Geography was never one of my better subjects,” Bernadette said defensively. “It was a stupid class anyway.”
“You say that about every class,” Hortensia said with a laugh.
The two friends chatted aimlessly until they reached Hentoff’s, where Clarisse, Victoria, and Hentoff met them.
“Where have you been?” Victoria demanded in mock anger.
“Remember your geography lessons, Dette?” Clarisse asked with a smile, relieved at seeing her friend at last.
“We were just discussing that,” Hortensia said, aiming a smug smile at Bernadette.
“Come inside, Bernadette, and let me tend to that ankle,” Hentoff said. Clarisse helped her inside, since Hortensia’s spell was wearing off.
The four friends watched with interest as Hentoff used his peculiar magic on Bernadette’s leg. Again he muttered some strange words, there was a small flash of orange light, and Bernadette’s leg was almost completely healed.
“What language is that?” Hortensia asked in fascination. She was feeling more comfortable around Hentoff, but even so a small blush crept onto her cheeks as she asked the question.
“It is the Old Language, the one that Neopians used to speak. It was dying out even when I was young; I picked it up later, during my scholarly years. I’ve found that my magic, or rather, the magic I gained from the sphere, responds best to it, which makes me suspect that the sphere is quite old indeed.”
“Well, I don’t know about you,” Bernadette said, “but I’m tired and hungry. Have anything to eat?”
Everyone laughed. “Yes,” Hentoff said with a smile, “but nothing too fancy, I’m afraid.”
“Compared to cafeteria food, I’m sure it’s wonderful,” Victoria said, drawing another round of laughter.
As they sat down to eat, Bernadette shared more of her extensive poll knowledge. “Did you know that more than half of Neopians get omelette in Tyrannia, even though many of them can afford better food?”
“Of course,” Victoria said. “Why not take free food if it’s there?”
“Some people might argue that it’s unethical, taking free food you don’t need. And anyway, don’t Neopian pets deserve better?”
“Have you ever considered taking debate?” Victoria asked. “I think you’d be good at it.”
“Are you serious? No one would ever agree with my side, since I’m a dark faerie.”
“Unless your opponent is a dark faerie,” Victoria countered.
“Dark faeries never sign up for debate,” Bernadette scoffed.
“Maybe if you did, other dark faeries would.”
“Yeah, right. Dark faeries think they should be terrorizing the student population, not participating in upstanding extracurricular activities.”
“See, you’d be perfect for debate. You know lots of big words, you know how to make a point, and you love to argue,” Victoria pointed out.
Bernadette opened her mouth to retort, but Clarisse stopped her. “Can you two stop arguing for five minutes?” she asked irritably.
“What’s the matter with you?” Bernadette asked in surprise. Clarisse was hardly ever irritable; she took everything in stride.
“Don’t you realize what happened today?” Clarisse asked softly.
“Yeah, we stormed Fyora’s palace and officially broke just about every law in existence,” Bernadette responded with a laugh.
“No,” Clarisse said. “Things went terribly wrong, with two of us captured and one of us injured. If we can hardly even manage to get out of school and enter Fyora’s palace, how will we ever stop Dinusa?”
For once, Bernadette had no snappy reply. She had secretly been wondering the same thing.
“The prophecy never actually says that we defeat Dinusa,” Clarisse said. “What if that’s because we don’t?”
“Well, I don’t know how valuable my opinion is,” Hentoff said, “but would you like my observations?”
Clarisse nodded, interested.
“Imagine for a moment if the four of you had been in the same room when escaping the academy. Bernadette and Hortensia could have unlocked the door, and you would have escaped easily. If you ran into Rutherford or anyone else, your combined magic would have stopped him easily, correct?”
“Yes, I suppose so,” Clarisse said, wondering what his point was.
“Now, think back to when you first arrived at the palace. You were able to break in and take out the entire guard, something that has not been done in the five hundred and fifteen years I have lived on Neopia, if it’s ever been done. How were you able to accomplish such a feat?”
“Luck,” Victoria muttered under her breath.
Suddenly, Hortensia gasped as she realized what Hentoff was saying. Her three friends turned to look at her curiously. “Of course,” she exclaimed, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.” Hentoff smiled knowingly.
“It makes sense,” Clarisse said slowly. From her strange look, the other four guessed that she had just seen the thoughts in Hentoff’s mind.
“Could someone explain to the lesser minds in the room?” Bernadette asked irritably.
“When did things begin to go wrong at the palace?” Hentoff asked her.
“Well, I guess when Claire and Tenny flew off, Tori and I didn’t see which way they went, so we were separated, and then—”
“Exactly,” Hentoff interjected.
“What? What did I say?” Bernadette asked as Victoria looked wonderingly at Hentoff, finally understanding.
“Think, Dette. We were separated,” Victoria said slowly.
“Yeah, just like I said, and then—”
“Dette, listen. Things started to go wrong when we separated! Both at the palace and at school, we were great as long as we were together!” Victoria explained.
A look of understanding appeared on Bernadette’s face, but still she looked skeptical. “So, you think we’re fine as long as we stay together?” she asked.
“Yes. The way the four of you work together and help each other is quite remarkable. I would guess that this is strengthened by Clarisse’s ability to know what the other three are thinking. It is probably also due to the interesting combination of magic. Earth, air, water, and dark magic have never (to my knowledge) been combined and used together. As individuals, you are talented but inexperienced young faeries, but together you could be unconditionally powerful.”
“The Prophecy Faeries, unstoppable forces of nature,” Bernadette said with a laugh.
“So it would seem,” Hentoff agreed.
By this point they had finished eating, and all quickly agreed that sleep was desperately needed. Hentoff graciously showed them to his guest rooms: two small but comfortable spaces, each equipped with two twin beds, two nightstands, two wardrobes, and a closet. A small bathroom connected the two rooms, stocked with soap and shampoo. After thanking Hentoff for his hospitality, the four faeries quickly headed to bed.
“Do you think Hentoff’s right?” Victoria asked softly as she and Clarisse, who was sharing the room with her, were drifting off to sleep. Clarisse hesitated for a moment.
“I think the prophecy is true,” she replied after a moment, “and obviously it’s only logical to suppose that the four of us are more powerful together than apart. As far as whether we can defeat Dinusa... I guess that’s up to us.”
“Do you think we even stand a chance?” Victoria asked worriedly. Clarisse knew that the reason Victoria had been the most strongly opposed to the prophecy was her secret fear of defeat.
“Yes,” Clarisse said. “Maybe we are at a considerable disadvantage, but I think we might have a chance. We outnumber Dinusa and Baerlin, after all, and I doubt he’ll be doing much fighting.”
“You know, Rutherford would have contacted Dinusa and warned her after you and Dette escaped, and someone’s sure to notice that Tenny and Hentoff and I have disappeared. I’m sure Dinusa’s expecting some kind of attack.”
“But she doesn’t know how much we know,” Clarisse said optimistically. “All we really need to know is where Dinusa is, and what the object is.”
“Yeah, and then we just have to have a magical duel and destroy the object, no problem,” Victoria said facetiously.
“Don’t worry about it, Tori. We’ll be fine,” Clarisse reassured her.
Before Victoria could argue, she and Clarisse were fast asleep.
Later that day, the four faeries awoke to discover clean clothes laid out for each of them. The bathroom was also stocked with four toothbrushes, toothpaste, and four hairbrushes. Gratefully the four friends took turns bathing. One by one they met Hentoff in the main room, where he was cooking omelettes.
“Where’d you get the clothes?” Victoria asked when she entered the room.
“Oh, I went to see an old friend last night, trying to learn more about Dinusa’s current location. On the way, I thought you all would need some personal items for your trip, so I packed a few things for each of you, excluding the items I laid out this morning.”
“Don’t you ever sleep?” Victoria asked incredulously.
Hentoff laughed. “I slept briefly while the four of you were in Fyora’s palace. You forget that it is actually five o’clock in the afternoon.”
“Is it really? How long did we sleep?” Victoria asked anxiously. She knew that time was short.
“About nine hours,” Hentoff replied casually.
“Why didn’t you wake us?” Victoria asked frantically. “Another day is gone!”
“You needed the sleep,” Hentoff said firmly. “None of you would have made it anywhere without rest. Besides, my contact assures me that Dinusa is not too far from here.”
“You know where she is?”
“Vaguely. I will tell all of you what I know once you have eaten.”
Victoria sighed impatiently, but she did not press Hentoff for information, knowing that he would share everything in due time.
Hortensia was next to drift into the kitchen. She and Victoria helped Hentoff make omelettes while they waited for the last of their group to arrive. Clarisse was the last one up, which was rather unusual for her.
“You okay, Claire?” Victoria asked when Clarisse finally entered the kitchen. “You look tired.”
“Didn’t sleep well,” Clarisse said. The other three faeries exchanged glances. The only times Clarisse didn’t sleep well were when she was troubled by dreams and visions. Clarisse did not elaborate, however, so no one made further reference to her lack of sleep as Clarisse hungrily ate her omelette.
“Now will you tell us everything?” Victoria asked when Clarisse had finished.
“Certainly,” Hentoff said agreeably, unaffected by Victoria’s impatience. “My ‘friend’ informed me that Dinusa has indeed gone to visit Baerlin, who is currently residing somewhere west of the Haunted Woods.”
“In the mountains?” Hortensia asked.
“It would appear so,” Hentoff replied.
“Isn’t that a bit of a coincidence? Baerlin and Dinusa being in the same place where you and Khorianna...”
“Yes, it is quite remarkable,” Hentoff said. Though his tone was lighthearted, Hortensia noticed concern flash in his eyes momentarily.
“How will we find her?” Bernadette asked.
“I have prepared everything you will need for the trip. Once again, I am unable to travel with you, for I must return to the school and spread a convincing story to explain your disappearance, and attempt to hinder Rutherford in any way possible. However, I have not left you without available resources.” Here he produced four small drawstring bags. Each cloth bag was embroidered with the initial of one of the four faeries.
“I have placed a simple spell on the bags and their contents,” Hentoff explained, handing one bag to each faerie. “The objects are shrunk while inside the bags, but will grow rapidly to full size once removed. The strings can be fastened easily around the neck, and once there only the wearer can remove it. It will not fall off, and no one else can forcibly remove it, even with magic.
“There are clothes, food, and other necessities for each of you. For Hortensia, there is a pouch of Neopoints, should the four of you require anything. For Bernadette, a small parchment on which you will find a series of names and addresses. They are various friends and contacts who will provide you with any service necessary. The parchment is spelled so that only you can read it; to others it appears to be blank. For Victoria, there is a small stone; I have placed a spell on it so that it is drawn to Dinusa’s location. You can use it to locate her. For Clarisse...” Hentoff paused for a moment. “A rather important parchment. It will appear blank for now, but when the proper time has come, you will be able to read it.” Hentoff did not elaborate on this point, but quickly changed the topic. “Victoria, I already gave you the magical crystal; I would strongly recommend carrying it in the bag as well. Should you have need of me, feel free to use it. Most of these items you will not have need of, but I feel it is best for you to have them.
“Finally, you each have an identical charm. It can be worn as jewelry, but I would suggest keeping it in your bags for now, so as to hide it from Dinusa’s view. Each has been enchanted with a good luck spell; they are quite powerful. You need not use them in any way; merely carrying them with you will provide protection. They are, quite literally, lucky charms.”
“Thank you,” Clarisse said when Hentoff had finished. “I don’t know what we would have done without—”
“It is the least I could do,” Hentoff said, and for a moment he looked terribly sad. “I can only wish you the best of luck on your journey.”
“Yeah,” Bernadette added, “because we’re sure going to need it.”
Soon afterwards the conversation ended, and the faeries readied themselves to leave. Just before joining her friends in the main room, Hortensia picked up the small bag and examined it closely. The bag itself was made of a soft but durable cloth. A large letter H had been magically embroidered with green thread. Opening it, she felt around inside. Her fingers touched clothing, food, water, and other necessities. When her fingers touched something she did not immediately recognize, she pulled it out of the bag; it grew instantaneously as it left the confines of the bag.
It was a small, flat object, strung onto a small cord, allowing Hortensia to wear it as a necklace or other piece of jewelry. Strong magic seemed to emanate from the center. It was colored a deep, forest green. Right in the center of one side the letter H had been engraved, matching the embroidery on the outside of her bag. Running around the circular edge of the charm were the words “The Prophecy Faeries”. There was another engraving on the back, written in flowing script. It read: You need not always be perfect. Trust in your friends to catch you when you fall.
Puzzled by the meaning of the message, Hortensia put in back in the bag and headed to the main room, intending to ask Hentoff what it meant. However, she found that her friends were already saying hasty goodbyes to Hentoff. Knowing that they had very little time left, Hortensia put thoughts of the charm in the back of her mind and concentrated on the task before them.
The faeries quickly flew away across Faerieland as fast as they could manage.
“Hentoff was acting kind of weird, wasn’t he?” Victoria commented when they were halfway across Faerie City.
“Hentoff’s generally weird,” Bernadette said with a laugh. “Guess it comes from being a five-hundred-and-fifteen-year-old magician, huh?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Victoria said, hiding her amusement. “He was acting like we were never going to see him again. Does he think we’re going to die or something?”
“No,” Clarisse said calmly. “He thinks he’s going to die.”
“What?” Hortensia, Bernadette, and Victoria exclaimed simultaneously.
“You heard what he said last night. He’s dying; he hardly has any magic left. He’s afraid he might not live long enough to see us defeat Dinusa. That’s why he gave us the Neopoints and the list of contacts. If we need them someday, he won’t be around to give them to us,” Clarisse said emotionlessly.
“But we have to defeat Dinusa tomorrow!” Hortensia exclaimed. “He’ll still be around tomorrow, won’t he?”
“Maybe,” said Clarisse vaguely. Her friends had the feeling that she was hiding something from them.
They flew in silence the rest of the way across Faerie City. They steered clear of the palace, knowing it would be dangerous to approach it after the mayhem they had caused the night before. They reached the outskirts of Faerieland just as darkness was descending upon Neopia.
Throughout the night they flew steadily west across the ocean, knowing that time was of the essence. Dinusa’s three-day absence (which they had come to think of as a deadline) was almost up. If they did not stop Dinusa now, she would return to the academy and take over the school, with the rest of Faerieland following soon after.
At last they arrived on the border of the Haunted Woods. They all agreed to stop briefly. Victoria quickly took the cloth bag from around her neck and opened it. She felt around, recognizing the feel of clothing, food, soap, a hairbrush... After a moment of digging, she retrieved a small, turquoise stone. It glowed dimly in the darkness. Even as she held it, Victoria suddenly had a sense of the direction in which to go. “It works!” she exclaimed excitedly. “It’s telling me how to get to Dinusa!” In her excitement, she dropped the cloth bag. As it fell, two small objects rolled out. Hastily Victoria stooped down to retrieve them. The first object was the crystal Hentoff had given her before she left for Fyora’s palace the previous night. The second she had never seen before.
It looked like a necklace, with a round object dangling off the end of the cord. Victoria could feel the magic in it. She realized it must be the powerful magic charm Hentoff had described. Curiously she examined it. It was cold and smooth to the touch. Its primary color was turquoise, just like the stone. In the center of one side an ornate letter V had been engraved, matching the letter on the outside of her bag. Inscribed around the edge of the charm were the words “The Prophecy Faeries”. Victoria flipped the charm over, and found another small inscription on the back. In flowing, ornate letters, it read: Not everything has a perfect explanation. Trust in what you cannot understand.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Victoria muttered to herself, stuffing the charm and the crystal back into the bag and replacing it around her neck.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” Bernadette called, interrupting Victoria’s thoughts.
“Dette, it would be more practical to save the food we have for when we really need it,” Hortensia reprimanded.
“I’ve been flying all day, I need nourishment,” Bernadette replied.
“Fine, but don’t come crawling to me when you’re all out of food,” Hortensia snapped, her nerves on edge. She had always been terribly frightened of the Haunted Woods, especially since her younger sister had once been robbed by the Pant Devil there.
“You know, I may be wrong, but didn’t Hentoff say something about working together and getting along?” Clarisse asked vaguely, her attention only partially focused on her bickering friends. She was attempting to control her power; she wanted to know if there was anything sinister nearby. “Perhaps if I can hear its thoughts before it arrives, I’ll be able to stop it,” she thought to herself.
“Some help Hentoff’s been,” Victoria commented huffily in response to Clarisse’s statement. “Letting us fly off on our own to face sudden danger and imminent death.” She sat down uneasily on the earthen ground.
“Hentoff would have helped if he could,” Hortensia retorted. She had always been rather fond of Hentoff.
“Yeah? Then where is he?” Victoria demanded icily. She, too, was in a foul mood. She supposed it must be the lack of water in the forest. They had been flying over open ocean all day, but now that they had landed, the sudden deprivation of water had left her feeling depressed. Having lived in Faerieland all her life (a city floating above an ocean), she was not used to the feeling of the forest.
“Would you two be quiet?” Bernadette demanded, stuffing a Tchea Fruit into her mouth. “I’d like to eat in peace.”
“You won’t be eating in peace for long,” Hortensia retorted, “since soon all your food will be gone.”
“By which point I will be safely in Faerieland again. Unlike you, who will starve to death before you get there,” Bernadette shot back.
“Shut up about the food!” Victoria snapped at them.
Clarisse’s concentration was now thoroughly shattered. She turned around slowly and glared at her friends. “Could you be quiet?” she snapped. The three friends stopped their argument immediately, staring at Clarisse in shock. None of them had ever seen Clarisse act angrily before.
“Tenny,” she explained placidly, “I know you hate the Haunted Woods, but if you don’t stop yelling at everybody I won’t be able to hear if anyone’s nearby. Tori, you’re just feeling depressed because there’s no water around. Conjure yourself some water and swim for a while; it will help steady your magic and your emotions. Dette, since you and Tenny are arguing about food, the two of you can go into the woods and look for edible plants. You learned how to do that in class, right, Tenny?”
“Yes,” Hortensia admitted, “that does sound like a good idea.” Actually, Hortensia had thought of this already, but had been too afraid to enter the woods on her own.
“When you come back, we will all sit down and eat, to keep our strength up. Until then, I’m going to listen for anyone or anything in the woods that might do us harm,” Clarisse said. With that, she turned her back to her three friends and closed her eyes, concentrating very hard on what she wanted to do. Hortensia and Bernadette headed into the woods. Victoria conjured a fairly large pool of water some distance off and began swimming eagerly.
After concentrating for thirty minutes, Clarisse decided that she needed to take a break before her head exploded. She sank down into the soft grass and magically moved a refreshing breeze in her direction. Out of curiosity, she removed the bag Hentoff had given her from around her neck and examined the objects it contained.
The bag itself was made from soft brown cloth. A white letter C decorated its front. Inside were a number of unremarkable objects, such as clothing and food. What caught Clarisse’s interest were two small objects.
One was a folded piece of stiff paper that appeared to be blank. Clarisse could feel strong magic on it, however. Of course, she knew quite well what it was, having heard the thoughts in Hentoff’s mind, but what she didn’t know was when she would be able to read the concealed writing, or why Hentoff had hidden it in the first place.
The second object was the lucky charm. It also contained powerful magic. It appeared to be an ordinary necklace, with a smooth, flat charm connected to a thin cord. The charm was cold when Clarisse touched it. It was as pure white as fresh snow. An engraved letter C was in the center of the charm, identical to the one on the outside of her bag. Inscribed around the C were the words “The Prophecy Faeries”. On the opposite side of the charm was a very small inscription: Trust in yourself. See and understand, listen and know. Clarisse was still puzzling over the strange message when Bernadette and Hortensia returned, laden with edible plants.
Some time later, the four friends were feeling adequately refreshed. They quickly cleaned up the mess they had left, and Hortensia forced the trees and plants nearby to soak up the water Victoria had conjured.
Bernadette retrieved her things, which had been strewn haphazardly around the area. Retrieving her bag from where it lay in the grass, she noticed a small object that had fallen to the ground. It appeared to be a necklace, which she recognized instantly as the lucky charm Hentoff had spoken of. The charm was deep purple in color, engraved with the letter B and the words “The Prophecy Faeries.” Flipping it over, she read the spiraling words: Not everyone sees in black and white. Trust in others to see you as you are. Before Bernadette could consider the message further, it was time to leave.
They were soon in the air again, this time following the guidance of the small turquoise stone Hentoff had left them.
Late that night, they arrived at the base of the mountains separating the Haunted Woods from Shenkuu and Altador.
“Where do we go now, Tori?” Hortensia asked as they stopped to catch their breath.
“I—I’m not sure,” Victoria said, looking puzzled. “I feel like we should go... forward.”
“We can’t go forward, or we’ll hit a mountain,” Bernadette said with a laugh. “Maybe Dinusa’s on the other side of the mountains? Should we go up and over?”
“No,” Hortensia breathed excitedly. “Dinusa is in the mountain!”
“What?” asked Clarisse, Bernadette, and Victoria at once.
“Think about it! Marpameus and Khorianna hid out inside the mountains all those years ago. That’s where the ‘Shining Sun’ is! Think of what the prophecy said!”
“ ‘By themselves they shall discover/The object of many myths and legends/The Shining Sun, the Golden Light/The only thing that can save us/And keep Neopia burning bright,’” Clarisse recited with sudden realization. “We were meant to find it. It’s been in the prophecy all along!”
“And Hentoff knew,” Hortensia added. “That’s why he told us so much about it. After he encountered it, he realized what Khorianna’s prophecy meant. He’s known all along that we would end up in the mountains.”
“Wait, I’m confused,” Bernadette said. “That glowing sphere thing, that gave Hentoff his powers—”
“The Shining Sun,” Hortensia corrected.
“Yeah, that—it’s in those mountains, and we’ve got to find it?”
“Exactly,” Hortensia said. “Maybe Dinusa or Baerlin know about it, and they’ve been trying to find it. Maybe it’s part of their plan to take over. If we find it, we have to stop them from getting to it. We can’t let them have that power.”
Suddenly, Clarisse, who hadn’t been paying attention as Hortensia explained, let out a gasp. “Run!” she whispered frantically, but it was too late.
“Well, what do we have here?” asked a sinister voice from the shadows.
To be continued...