Awakening: Part Five
Massie swallowed her mouthful of toast with difficulty. “I do have a name, y’know.”
The faerie bent down, so the Shoyru could see the scowl on her face. “I don’t know what your name is, Prisoner,” she growled in her low voice, “and I don’t want to. Besides, you won’t be needing one. Not where you’re headed. Now, get moving.”
“Can I walk through these bars now?” the Shoyru asked, getting to her feet.
The faerie sighed and mumbled something. “Don’t try any funny stuff,” she warned, as the door swung open and Massie pranced out, glad of an excuse to not finish her toast.
“Don’t you faeries like funny stuff?” the Shoyru asked curiously, while memorizing what had sounded like “suo mort”.
“No, we don’t.”
“Then why are you always smiling? And how come—”
With an exasperated snarl, the faerie strode forward, grabbed her forearm, and marched—there really was no other word for it—her out the door and down the hall, stopping before a luminous purple sphere.
“In,” she ordered.
“What’s it for?”
“Sealing your doom.”
“What kind of doom?” asked Massie, as the faerie pushed her into the shimmering spell.
The faerie glared at Massie. “What do you care?”
“Don’t the dead guys always get a last wish?”
“The correct term would be condemned, not dead... and that’s only in books.”
“You mean you faeries are even worse than the bad guys in books?” the Shoyru was horrified.
“No, we are better. Far better... it is cruel to get a last wish... not that this would be your last wish,” she added in an undertone.
Massie appeared not to have heard the added-on comment. “Why not?”
“A glass of juppie juice, a dish of Jelly, a conversation... they will merely tighten your bonds to this world.”
“And what’s so cruel about that?”
“What’s wrong is that you will become a ghost, not belonging here yet unable to move there! Now cease your questions, Prisoner.”
“But shouldn’t knowing how I die make me go faster? What if you don’t tell me, and I turn into a ghost and come back and haunt you?”
“She managed to keep her head down long enough to grow up... She learned spells and hexes of the worst sort, read forbidden books, spoke to the oldest and foulest beings in existence... but still, none of it showed... She was seen as an unfortunate faerie—many faeries lamented that She had been born as a dark faerie—but one who made the most of what She had—much, much more than any of the still unaffected faeries did.
“She became famous... all of us listened to Her speeches and read Her books.
“And what books they were! They became a matter of legend... words written in spirals, like a whirlpool that drew in the reader’s mind and never let it escape. Spells that opened doors in the mind to admit the imps of madness. Songs so beautiful they broke one’s heart like a Negg...
“But no one knew just how many had been entranced by Her words until the day She appeared in the square of Faerie City to declare war on the mortals. ‘It is time to rid Neopia of filth,’ she cried, and nearly every faerie followed her...”
“But She didn’t succeed, of course, right?”
Jhudora cast him a withering look. “If She had, you wouldn’t be here.”
“Ha!” Dethrin wiggled. “See? The good guys ALWAYS win! Bad is never as powerful as good; go on, admit it!”
“Her rage alone granted Her the power to wipe Neopets out,” the dark faerie whispered. “She wasn’t defeated—She was betrayed. By Her own kind.”
Jhudora stopped in the middle of a courtyard, stooping to feel the clouds beneath her feet. “Hmm, yes, I think so,” she murmured.
Then she blasted a hole in the cloud that the three of them fell through.
“...and in an hour, you will dissolve, your entire being transferring itself into your wings, which we will use to ensure the rebirth of the Faerie Age!”
“Oh,” said Massie, lying on the floor of the sphere.
The faerie smirked and turned away.
I wonder if I still have any gummies, Massie wondered, thrusting her paw into her pocket. They’ll make me feel better...
Dethrin considered screaming for a moment, but decided against it. It’s not really that scary, anyway, he thought. It just makes me nervous...
The Zafara looked expectantly at the dark faerie, waiting for her to continue the story of the glorious old age, but she seemed disinclined to say anymore.
But we don’t even know the end of the story yet, he thought, and when Jhudora looked at him, frowning, he realized that he had said it aloud.
“Stories never end; they only go through tedious periods... but all the while, foundations are being laid for the next chapter. However... you should have guessed the identity of Her by now.”
“She was the Darkest Faerie,” whispered Annette.
The faerie nodded, and the trio spent the rest of their plummet towards Low Sky in silence.
Massie tugged hard at the skeith wing-shaped gummy, forcing them to stretch and twist.
I think it’s almost an hour, she thought, comparing the sizes of her own wings and the candy. She grinned in satisfaction, letting the wings drop to the floor.
“Arrrgh...” she screamed as loudly as she thought a dying pet could, flying upwards. “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh...!”
The orb contracted, then vanished as the faerie turned to collect the life-force imbued wings.
Maybe I should have used the Korbat wings instead, thought Massie anxiously. The Skeith wings don’t smell like me... so that means I’ve got to fly. Really fly. Or maybe walking would be better.
“Suo mort,” she whispered.
Then it hit her—she was Prisoner 59, wasn’t she? Who were Prisoners 1, 2, 3 and 58?
“Well, let’s go in!” Dethrin bounded forward, quite wild with enthusiasm, but was pulled back by Annette.
“The door’s open...” the Peophin muttered.
“Shouldn’t it be?”
The other two ignored him, staring at the open door as though expecting to see the Darkest Faerie come storming out.
Massie was delighted to find that the password could apparently unlock every door in the building. The entrance, the snack bar, the lab...
She flapped through the halls in search of prisons, humming the Year 7 Faerie Festival Theme Song.
“Wind beneath my wings, sun teaching the stars to sing, I—”
“—don’t think so.”
Massie looked down and saw the faerie from before, glaring up at her.
Uh-oh... Then she looked around her, and howled, “SUO MORT!”
Fyora stormed down the steps, her long cloak billowing behind her. Where was Jaina? The silly faerie had asked for a squad of trained warriors and rushed off with them as soon as Fyora had granted them to her.
She sincerely hoped that Jaina wasn’t actually planning to fight. She had no desire to be Queen of a war zone. Besides, there was no proof at all that Jhudora was behind those pets...
“Although... it won’t be long before everyone knows who it is...” she whispered, her hands clenching. “And then it will be too late to do anything...”
The captives charged through the open doors with wild glee, flying, running, jumping and slithering. Whoops and yells filled the air, all of them with one idea in mind: Escape!
The faerie was not amused as all forty-one of the remaining captives stampeded towards the door (and her).
“Back!” she screamed. “Back!” Fans of blue energy from her palms, scything through the air at them.
Massie ducked and squinted through the parade of passing legs for something she could hop onto and get her away faster than she could herself.
She spied a set of shadowy hooves thundering towards her and readied herself for a jump.
The Shadow Uni twisted her head around briefly and scowled heartily at the sight of the Shoyru.
Massie noticed that she neglected to remind her to hold on, so she said it loudly, to remind Raven to say it to her. “Hold on!”
The next few minutes were a nightmare. Raven kept her head down and ran hard. She did her best to dodge obstacles—the dungeon was strangely also an art gallery of sorts—but her weaving didn’t help Massie’s balance.
“Go! Go!” Massie shrieked, weaving her paws into Raven’s mane. “Yee-haw!”
In answer, Raven made sure to slam Massie into a hanging statue.
Dethrin paced around Jhudora, waiting for her decision, practicing brandishing her dagger. “Oh come on, just make up your mind; are we going in or not?”
But at that moment her decision became quite unnecessary, as everyone in the building came charging out; captives in the front, a group of mages and warriors in hot pursuit.
Dethrin only had a moment of reaction time before they were swept into the wave and a Tonu came at him, holding up a huge axe.
Dethrin dodged the weapon. Hey, that’s the Tonu who chased me and Annette through Fyora’s garden, he thought vaguely, and kicked the Tonu in the stomach. It had always worked in the Swashbuckling Academy.
Unfortunately, this particular Tonu had a very tough belly (from years of being kicked there during wars, fights and arrests) and he just laughed and swung again with the axe.
Dethrin ducked again, looking for a good place to stab. Head? No, too high. Stomach? No, probably enchanted. Arm?...
“You’ve had this coming a long time,” the Tonu said as he lifted the axe.
While he was wasting time saying this, Dethrin rammed his dagger into the Tonu’s arm, scoring first blood.
Or so he thought. The dagger managed to penetrate the Tonu’s tunic easily enough, but he felt no penetration of flesh, and when he yanked his dagger out—which took more effort than expected—there was no blood on the blade.
Magic, Dethrin thought with a feeling of doom.
Taking a deep breath, the Zafara moved in and refused to let up. He leapt swung at the Tonu’s neck, which was deflected with the Tonu’s burly forearm, then immediately went for the stomach, then the neck again, then the legs.
The Tonu fought back with powerful swings, hacking viciously at Dethrin’s limbs and neck. He feinted slightly to the right, and as Dethrin dodged, swung at the Zafara’s unprotected left.
The axe was a lot bigger than Dethrin’s dagger, but that meant it took the Tonu a lot longer to swing it, as he had to wind up to strike, which gave Dethrin a few seconds to either dodge or parry. Hmm... I wonder if the guards are really as strong as the Cap’n says they are, Dethrin thought, and chose the latter. The attempt resulted in an impact of blade on blade that sent convulsions through his entire body, leaving the Zafara to embrace the efficacy of the former.
Or so he thought—the fifth time he dodged the axe, he tripped (over his untied shoelaces) and fell to the ground.
Above him, the axe was falling—
He raised his eyes to the sky. “Help,” he cried.
To be continued...