The Prophecy Faeries: Part Seven
PART SEVEN: BATTLE
When the four faeries heard the voice, they immediately tried to fly away, but they were simultaneously hit by a powerful magic that rendered them all frozen in place.
“It seems the little prophecy faeries have arrived,” said the voice with a chuckle. The dark figure emerged from the shadows to survey the trapped faeries.
He was a Shadow Eyrie with haunted, dark eyes and cruel features. He wore a long, black cape, similar to the one Dinusa always wore, but the edges of the cape were lined in purple, the traditional color worn by a sorcerer’s apprentice. Noticing this, Hortensia guessed that he must be apprenticed to Dinusa.
“I suspect Dinusa will want to deal with you personally,” he sneered. For the first time Hortensia noticed his youth. She knew that they had best not underestimate him, as he looked both clever and ruthless. “Not that we’re in a position to underestimate anyone at the moment,” she thought to herself.
Without further comment the sorcerer placed another spell on the frozen faeries, causing their motionless forms to float helplessly after him as he strode away into the black forest.
It was so dark that none of them could see where the Eyrie was taking them. Hortensia did notice that they were gradually moving up a steady incline, so she supposed that they were ascending one of the mountains. The Eyrie did not speak as he led them purposefully through the dark mountain. After a while, he muttered an incantation and, to the faeries’ amazement, began to fly up the side of the mountain. Hortensia then remembered that more experienced sorcerers had the power of flight. This told her that this Eyrie was probably nearing the end of his apprenticeship.
The five figures flew silently through rocky tunnels and outcroppings for some time. Finally, they could see a small speck of glowing light up ahead.
“Here we are,” said the Eyrie with a wicked smile. “The headquarters of the future ruler of Neopia.”
“That’s what you think,” Bernadette muttered. The Eyrie’s spell was wearing off, allowing Bernadette to speak.
“Silence!” commanded the Eyrie, and he placed another spell on them, preventing them from speaking.
Suddenly movement could be heard down the passage. “Who’s there?” called the familiar voice of Dinusa.
“It is I,” called the Eyrie, “with the prophecy faeries captured!” He could hardly contain his delight as he spoke the words.
Footsteps approached rapidly, and then the silhouetted form of Dinusa came into view. She stopped for a long moment and studied the half-frozen faces of the captives.
“I don’t believe it,” she whispered softly. Apparently she had recognized her students.
“Perhaps they’re not the prophecy faeries,” the Eyrie said hurriedly, misinterpreting Dinusa’s reaction. “That one is a dark faerie, after all. But there were four of them, and they were talking about you and the Shining Sun, and Rutherford did say that the faerie that tricked him was dark, so I thought that surely...” His voice trailed off in distress. Hortensia took careful note of his actions, trying to judge his personality. It seemed that he would do anything to please Dinusa. She wondered if his loyalty was out of reverence or fear.
“No, you’ve done well, Imagen,” Dinusa said, smiling sinisterly. The Eyrie’s features grinned hideously, matching the malevolent smile on Dinusa’s face. Quickly Dinusa and Imagen walked back down the passage towards the glowing light, with the four captive faeries floating behind.
The passage opened into a small chamber. There was a large stone door on the far side of the chamber, through which the golden light was issuing in large quantities. Presumably Baerlin had created this room to shield himself from the effects of the Shining Sun in the chamber beyond.
The furnishings in the room were sparse but expensive. In one shadowy corner, a Darigan Hissi sat on a gold-lined chair, surveying the two pets and four faeries below him like a king on his throne.
“What have we here, Dinusa?” he asked in a weak, croaky voice. “Could it be the prophecy faeries?”
“It is,” Dinusa replied smugly. “Four of my own students.”
“I wasn’t expecting them to be captured so easily,” Baerlin said softly. “It seems your young apprentice has done well.” The Eyrie glowed with pride.
What the Eyrie didn’t know was that sorcerer’s spells work differently on faeries than on pets. They must be constantly renewed, for faerie magic will fight against the spell constantly until the faerie is freed of it. Imagen did not know this, for he had only ever used magic against pets, and so he did not renew the spell binding them. Even as this exchange was happening, the faeries could feel the effects of spell dwindling. They pretended that nothing was happening, however, so as to gain the element of surprise.
“But wait,” Baerlin cried as he studied the captive faeries before him. “One is a dark faerie! Can she truly be against us?”
“She has always been unusual,” Dinusa commented dryly. “Teachers report that these four have formed some sort of alliance.”
“Most unusual, such different types working together,” Baerlin muttered, almost to himself. “But of course, all dark faeries are dark to the core; it goes against their nature to do good. Surely the young faerie here has no moral objections to our little plan. Perhaps she would like to be in on the action?”
Dinusa understand instantly. Casually she broke the spells binding Bernadette, and she fell to the floor.
“You could join us,” Baerlin said softly. All traces of menace were gone from his voice. He spoke compellingly, almost coaxingly, as he addressed Bernadette, who was steadily rising to her feet. “We can offer you a position in the new world. No pet or faerie can stop us. We will gain power, and become victorious! If you do not join us, you will perish. But assist us, and you can have all the wealth and power you desire. Dinusa will be reigning ruler, and Imagen shall be heir, but you could be second in command, if you so desire.”
Bernadette pretended to be watching Baerlin intently, but really she was watching her friends for a signal. Once Imagen’s spell wore off, they would strike. Victoria was first to be free; she winked subtly at Bernadette. Hortensia and Clarisse were released at almost the same time just seconds afterward. Hortensia twitched her fingers, while Clarisse flicked her wrist. The moment they gave the signal, chaos erupted.
The room was filled with blue, white, green, and purple light as the four faeries released huge quantities of magic. Bernadette attacked Baerlin with all her might, sending him flying from the chair and sprawling on the floor. Victoria conjured a tidal wave of water, sweeping Imagen off his feet.
Unfortunately, Dinusa had the fastest reflexes. She realized what was happening and instantly attacked Clarisse with a burst of power. The white magic flowing around Clarisse’s fingers was immediately extinguished as she fell, unconscious, to the cave floor.
Seconds later there was an explosion of green light as Hortensia, angered at the attack on her friend, thrust all plants growing nearby forward, blasting through the rock walls. The plants surged through the small space, forming chains around the wrists and ankles of Imagen, who was recovering from Victoria’s attack. Hortensia and Dinusa were soon locked in a ferocious battle as Hortensia’s plants fought against Dinusa’s magic.
Victoria ran to Clarisse, attempting to rouse her. Clarisse did not stir. Blood trickled slowly from a fresh gash on her forehead and from the old wound on her arm, which had reopened when she crashed to the floor. Victoria wished she could somehow tell Hortensia to come heal Clarisse, since Hortensia knew the most healing magic, but Imagen’s silencing spell had not yet worn off, and so she was unable to speak.
Luckily, Bernadette was hovering overhead, observing the situation. Quickly she flew down to Hortensia’s side. She had no trouble speaking, since Dinusa had removed all magic binding her.
“Go heal Claire!” she hissed frantically. “I’ll take care of Dinusa!”
Hortensia flew down to where Victoria was waiting, and healing magic began flowing from her fingers, spreading over the still figure of Clarisse. Suddenly, Hortensia was struck from behind with a spell, and fell with a crash to the rock-strewn floor.
Victoria spun around to catch Hortensia’s attacker, and found herself looking into the laughing eyes of Imagen. Fury clouded her vision, turning the room before her a deep, angry red. As she struck, the laughter vanished from Imagen’s eyes.
Victoria lifted the water from the cave floor and spun it rapidly into long strands, which lashed out at Imagen. Suddenly, sparks began to appear as the water struck, and Imagen howled with pain. Startled, Victoria looked up to see Bernadette, who had placed a Stinging Hex on the water Victoria was controlling. Nearby, Dinusa was immobilized on the cave floor.
The victory did not last long. Bernadette was suddenly struck in midair and hurtled to the floor. “No!” Victoria shrieked. She changed the shape of the water, forming a thick cushion, and moved it below Bernadette so that she was protected even as she fell. Baerlin emerged from the shadows, where he had struck Bernadette. He moved over to the still form of Dinusa, counteracting Bernadette’s spell. Victoria had no time to attack him, for she was forced to concentrate on Imagen, who had recovered from the earlier attack.
Things were now looking very grim for the faeries. Bernadette had been wounded from the spell Baerlin had used, and Hortensia and Clarisse were still unconscious. Baerlin was quickly freeing Dinusa, so soon Victoria would be outnumbered three to one. “If only I knew healing magic!” she thought to herself. That was when she remembered the crystal Hentoff had given her. If Hentoff could come and revive her friends, then they might have a chance.
She threw all of the power she had at Imagen, who was promptly knocked off his feet. She then yanked the bag down from around her neck and thrust her hand inside, quickly producing the crystal. Frantically she filled it with water just as Imagen regained his footing.
“What’re ya gonna do with that, throw it at me?” he sneered. Victoria had no time to respond, for the room was rapidly filling with golden smoke. In the midst of the smoke, the form of an elderly Draik appeared.
“Help the others!” Victoria shrieked at him, engaged in a fight with Imagen. Baerlin had stopped what he was doing, looking stunned. “Marpameus?” he breathed incredulously.
Hentoff strode quickly to Clarisse. Orange sparks flowed rapidly around her. Hentoff’s power seemed to be ten times stronger here, when it was so close to its source. Clarisse was revived almost instantly. He moved on Hortensia without a word.
Clarisse surveyed the scene. Baerlin still looked dumbstruck, standing with wide eyes over Dinusa, looking after Hentoff. Nearby Victoria was battling against Imagen, and Clarisse could see that she wasn’t winning.
“Tornado!” Clarisse shouted to her, whipping the still air in the chamber into motion while white sparks played across her fingers. Victoria understood. She spun the water she was holding around Imagen, and Clarisse added the wind. Soon Imagen was trapped in a whirling, spinning water tornado. He attempted several spells, but they could not pass through the vortex. Leaving the tornado to do its job, the two friends turned their attention to Baerlin, who had recovered from his shock and had freed Dinusa from Bernadette’s spell.
“Hentoff, what are you doing here?” Hortensia gasped when she awoke, looking up into the Draik’s kind eyes.
“Victoria contacted me. It seems three of you were unable to fight,” he said calmly, helping her to her feet. Hortensia quickly seized control of the plants, which had overtaken the room in her absence. They had wrapped themselves around the stone door and broken chunks of it, revealing the shimmering, blinding light of the sphere beyond.
As Hentoff moved to help Bernadette, Hortensia wrapped vines around Baerlin, who smiled wickedly at her attempt.
“You think you can defeat me, little faerie?” he wheezed maliciously.
Hortensia ignored the threat and encouraged the plants to hoist Baerlin upward and hang him upside-down from the ceiling, which they did. Ignoring Baerlin’s yells of rage, Hortensia turned to help her friends, who were engaged in battle with Dinusa.
As the fight raged on, it became impossible to tell which side had the upper hand. Hentoff could revive the faeries as soon as they fell, but his powers were waning rapidly, and the faeries’ own powers were diminished each time a dark spell hit them. Dinusa proved to be every bit as powerful as the faeries had anticipated, and it often took three of them to stop her for even a moment. Baerlin and Imagen were less skilled, as Baerlin was old and Imagen young, but their presence certainly aided Dinusa, as they were able to strike down some of her attackers.
At one point, Hortensia shot to the ceiling as Baerlin shot a well-aimed curse at her. It missed by mere inches. As she hovered near the cave ceiling, she caught her breath and studied the scene below. Her analytical mind was observing each angle of the fight, looking for a way to win.
All at once, she realized what their problem was. Their combined powers worked well for offensive attacks, but what they were lacking was defense. If all four of them could attack at once, Dinusa and the others were outnumbered, but the faeries were falling so often that Hentoff was constantly reviving someone. Almost as soon as she realized the problem, she tried to come up with a solution. Some sort of shield would work nicely, if the sorcerers weren’t able to penetrate it. The problem was, anything that blocked the sorcerers’ magic from getting in would almost certainly block the faeries’ spells from getting out.
As she pondered the problem, she stared unthinkingly at one of the vines she had enlarged, which was attacking Imagen. When she saw the vine, she instantly knew the solution. Her plants could wrap themselves around her friends, providing a living shield. The plants could stretch out to any oncoming spells and absorb them. The dark magic would probably kill the plant, but a simple rapid-growth spell would cause the plant to re-grow immediately. The sorcerers would not be able to penetrate the plants, but the magic of herself and her friends could, because it was elemental. The elemental magic could pass through the plants and attack their opponents, but they would not be able to penetrate the vines themselves.
Instantly excited about her plan, Hortensia swooped down towards Clarisse, bringing bunches of plants with her. Clarisse was having the most trouble, since she was trying to hear everyone’s thoughts and anticipate her opponents’ moves all at once. Hortensia quickly assembled the groups of plants in a wide circle around Clarisse, where they wove together and created a living wall, surrounding her from all sides. Clarisse was not at all surprised to see the wall form, having heard Hortensia’s plans. She shot her friend a smile and a thumbs-up as she sent wind hurtling forward to blow dust in a swirling mass around Imagen, who quickly fired a curse at Clarisse. The spell was strong enough to go through the dust tornado, but was instantly absorbed by stretching vines as it drew near Clarisse. The plant began to wither and die, but the remaining roots grew rapidly, so that the plant was large and strong again in mere seconds.
Pleased with her successful plant wall, Hortensia decided to try one more spell. It was highly complicated, not the kind of spell most faeries her age could manage, but Hortensia had studied it extensively in the library and felt confident that it would work. She sent showers of green sparks dancing through the air to Clarisse, where they settled easily on the growing plants. The spell would allow Clarisse to move the vines at will, so that she could control their direction and movement without Hortensia’s help.
Hortensia then turned her attentions to Victoria, who was locked in a duel with Baerlin. She repeated her actions, forming another plant wall around the water faerie, who quickly took advantage of the protection and hurled massive amounts of water at the unprepared sorcerer. Hortensia formed another plant shield around Hentoff in exactly the same way.
The one small flaw in the plan was Bernadette. Being a dark faerie, her magic was not quite as elemental as the magic of her friends. While all faerie magic is elemental in some ways, Bernadette’s powers were also similar to the powers of her sorcerer opponents. Hortensia could not be sure if any of Bernadette’s stronger spells would penetrate through the plant wall. The plants would undoubtedly recognize her magic as the same as sorcery, and would therefore repel it just as they did against Baerlin, Imagen, and Dinusa.
Luckily, Bernadette had observed Hortensia’s creation of the walls around Clarisse and Victoria, and understood that she would need a shield. Remembering a spell she had read in the library, she formed a glowing purple shield around herself. It covered her completely, looking rather like a miniature of the golden sphere in the room beyond. Her magic passed through it easily, but it repelled any forces that came near her.
Satisfied that her friends were sufficiently protected, Hortensia dropped to the floor and formed a final plant wall around herself before rejoining the fight.
With the addition of defensive shields, the faeries gained the advantage immediately. The fight had become almost easy for the faeries now that their opponents couldn’t harm them. They were almost celebrating a victory when suddenly things went wrong.
Dinusa had assessed the situation and knew that her side was about to lose everything. The thought so enraged her that she decided to take drastic measures. She reached into her cloak and produced a small, glowing object.
“No, Dinusa!” Baerlin shouted as he saw what she was about to do. “It needs more time!”
Hearing this statement, Hentoff, who had been sitting against the wall looking rather sick, glanced up. “Shield your eyes, Dette!” he shouted to the dark faerie, who was currently the only one fighting Dinusa.
Bernadette covered her eyes just in time. The glowing object in Dinusa’s hands shot out jets of green light towards the dark faerie. Bernadette’s shield was not strong enough to keep the light at bay. Had she not covered her eyes in time, she would have been hypnotized by the powerful curse.
Angry that the attempt had failed, Dinusa sent more magic streaming from the object in her hands, striking at all four faeries and Hentoff. Everyone would have covered his or her eyes in time, had it not been for Baerlin. He deftly shot a spell in Clarisse’s direction when she wasn’t looking. It shot through the smallest of holes in the plant wall, and Clarisse had to react quickly in order to fend it off. Unfortunately, she was so preoccupied with protecting herself from Baerlin’s sudden attack that her hand flew to her eyes a second too late. The green light struck her face, and Dinusa cackled in triumph.
To be continued...