The Prophecy Faeries 2: Imagen's Revenge - Part Five
PART FIVE: THE NEXT INVASION
Clarisse followed Thothorin through Meridell for several minutes. After focusing almost all of her attention on the Tonu, she was able to hear some of his thoughts. What she heard confirmed much of what she’d already guessed from listening to Vrioli.
Thothorin had attended the lecture at the festival on the orders of someone named Idris, who was apparently a more powerful magician than Thothorin himself. Idris had promised to perform a spell for Thothorin, one that Thothorin was too weak to perform himself, in exchange for extensive notes on the lecture of Professor Kohl—specifically, the mind control portion of the lecture. Clarisse knew that Idris must be Imagen’s alias. After all, it made sense that, as a sorcerer, he would be able to perform a spell that a minor wizard like Thothorin would be incapable of. It seemed he had made a similar deal with Vrioli, promising to brew a potion in exchange for information.
After only a few minutes, Thothorin turned onto a street called Illusen's Forest Drive, which was lined with small, thatch-roofed houses. Surrounded by the forest on three sides, and filled with tall trees, the neighborhood was ideally located for Imagen and Thothorin to meet in secret. Clarisse looked around warily, but no one else was moving about the street. The neighborhood was filled with the usual sounds of muffled voices issuing from nearby homes, with the occasional petpet making noise. Clarisse didn’t think it was likely that Imagen was living in this neighborhood, but she still felt that Imagen might emerge from the darkness of the forest at any moment.
Thothorin stopped at a small house, produced the key, and entered. Clarisse realized that she had hit a dead end; Thothorin did not appear to be meeting with Imagen any time soon, and she couldn’t wait constantly outside his house for him to reemerge.
She decided that finding Victoria would be the simplest thing to do next. It was possible that Vrioli was meeting with Imagen. If not, the two faeries could return to the festival and see if they could spot another magician before the festival ended for the day.
Quickly, Clarisse memorized Thothorin’s address, just in case they wanted to locate him again. Then she closed her eyes and concentrated on Victoria, casting her powers outward, searching for the familiar feeling that symbolized Victoria’s presence. After a moment, Clarisse located her a few miles away from where she was standing. However, Clarisse grew alarmed as she sensed that Victoria felt panicked and fearful.
Clarisse knew that her friend was in trouble. Quickly, Clarisse reached for the bag she wore and pulled out her good luck charm, feeling the heat of its magic under her fingertips, and whispered Victoria’s name.
Meanwhile, Hortensia and Bernadette had wandered about the festival until closing time, but had not spotted any more of the magicians. They left the festival and returned to the inn.
When they arrived at their rooms, they knocked on the door to Clarisse and Victoria’s room, assuming that their friends had returned ahead of them, since they hadn’t seen them at the festival. However, no one answered. “Should we use the mirrors to check on them?” Bernadette asked.
“We need to contact Fyora first, and tell her what we know,” said Hortensia.
Once they reached the privacy of their room, they pulled out the mirrors and contacted Fyora. The Faerie Queen’s image appeared in the mirrors almost instantly.
“Have you found something already?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Bernadette. “We found one of the magicians, Mirothi, and followed him. He went to a lecture on ancient and unusual powers. Some of it was about powers like what Clarisse has—mind reading, visions of the future, that kind of thing. The faerie talked about how over the years, some faeries have had some of these unusual powers. Most of it was just about genetics, and whether the traits are passed down through faerie families. But some of it was on how these powers work, and how they’re controlled. We think Imagen is bribing these magicians to attend these lectures because he wants to find out more about our powers, and what we’re capable of, so he can find a way to defeat us.”
“That’s a plausible theory,” mused Fyora. “After all, he has no way of knowing if all four of you possess special talents.”
“There are a lot of rumors going around Faerie Heights about what Claire can do,” added Bernadette. “It’s possible that Imagen could have heard some of the rumors.” Both Bernadette and Hortensia felt that Harmony and Melody must have passed this information on to the mysterious Drake, who was possibly Imagen in disguise, but they did not voice this theory to Fyora, for they were not sure if the Faerie Queen would believe them.
“There’s more,” Hortensia added softly, feeling shy, as she always did.
“Oh, right,” said Bernadette, who had agreed to do the talking because of Hortensia’s shyness. “Another part of the lecture was about faeries with unbalanced magic, just like what Hentoff thinks Victoria has. Somehow, Imagen must also know about Tori’s magic.”
“She’s had special tutoring at Faerie Heights, hasn’t she?” asked Fyora.
“Yes,” agreed Bernadette.
“If Imagen is receiving information from within Faerie Heights, it’s possible that he also knows about the special classes Victoria has been taking.” Fyora was silent for a moment, apparently deep in thought.
“I would like you to attend the festival again tomorrow,” she said at last, “and see what else you can find out. I’m sure that we are getting closer to uncovering Imagen’s plan. I’m still waiting to hear from Victoria and Clarisse to find out if they have learned anything. I want all four of you to check in with me again before you leave for the festival in the morning.”
“All right,” Bernadette and Hortensia agreed, and Fyora’s image vanished.
In her haste to find Vrioli and Imagen, Victoria had not noticed that a young blue Eyrie had been following her up the path. When he emerged from the shadows, Victoria let out a scream, mistaking his dark blue feathers for Imagen’s shadowy ones.
To Victoria’s surprise, the shadowy figure let out a scream as well. “What’s going on?” the blue Eyrie shrieked, wondering what could have frightened the water faerie. He spun around, looking for some sign of an attacker or monster hiding in the trees behind him.
Victoria gasped in surprise as she realized her mistake. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, “I thought you were someone else.”
The Eyrie turned around to face her again, looking relieved that nothing was wrong. “Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“What are you doing here?” Victoria asked.
“I saw you sneaking around, so I decided to follow you and see what you were doing. You’re not about to cast some kind of magic spell, are you?” He looked rather excited at the idea of witnessing faerie magic.
“I’ve never seen a real faerie before,” he added, looking awed. Victoria realized for the first time that he was very young, perhaps only eleven years old or so, and decided that he was just a curious child.
“No, I’m not going to cast any spells,” Victoria said, “I was just following someone.” Turning away from the Eyrie, she scanned the area, looking for a glimpse of Vrioli or Imagen, but saw no one. Because the Eyrie had startled her, she had lost the magician.
When she turned back to where the Eyrie had been standing, she saw that he was gone, but another figure was materializing from the shadows.
Earlier that day, the guards of Meridell Castle had been troubled by a series of strange events. That morning, King Skarl had suddenly refused to allow visitors into the castle, even those who were coming to tell him a joke. Furthermore, a strange shadow Eyrie and a small starry Draik were constantly lurking around, observing the movements of the guard and keeping near Skarl at all times.
The guards were certain that something was wrong, but they were unable to voice their concerns to Skarl, who constantly dismissed them and assigned them to menial duties whenever they began to question him.
By early afternoon, even some of the other castle servants were beginning to notice that something was amiss. Someone recognized the Draik as a lesser magician who worked in the castle, and rumors abounded as everyone wondered why Skarl would have asked a lesser magician into his presence. Someone even suggested that Skarl had been enchanted with a spell, but this idea was quickly deemed ridiculous; no lesser magician could have placed such a spell on the king.
Around mid-afternoon, the head of the king’s personal guard and the head of the rest of the castle guards were called into Skarl’s throne room. Skarl was, as usual, sitting atop his throne. Behind him, the Draik and Eyrie were reclining in cushioned chairs that had been brought in for them earlier that morning.
When Skarl issued his orders, the two guards exchanged worried glances. “But, Your Highness, wouldn’t you rather—” one began to say.
“Silence!” thundered Skarl. “I know perfectly well what I am doing. Now, follow my orders at once!”
The guards, thoroughly confused, left the throne room and began to issue Skarl’s orders. All members of the castle guard who had the ability of flight were ordered to accompany the shadow Eyrie, whom Skarl referred to as his “personal advisor”, on his flight to Brightvale Castle to speak with King Hagan. The highest-ranking members of King Skarl’s personal guard were commanded to stand watch outside his throne room and allow no one to enter or exit until Skarl said otherwise. The rest of the guard would have to rearrange shifts to compensate for the missing guards.
The shadow Eyrie, accompanied by an extensive guard, soon left the castle and flew to Brightvale. They arrived in the city just as the sun was beginning to set.
The guards standing watch outside Brightvale Castle were shocked to see a throng of armed guards, wearing uniforms emblazoned with the emblem of Meridell Castle, land on the edge of the castle lawn. They formed a loose circle around a shadowy figure who, upon closer inspection, appeared to be a shadow Eyrie.
“What is your business here?” demanded one of the guards gruffly.
The guards in front shuffled to the side, and the Eyrie stepped forward, holding a small scroll. “I come bearing signed orders from King Skarl,” said the Eyrie. “King Skarl asks that I, his royal advisor, be given an audience with his brother, King Hagan the Wise, in King Skarl’s stead.”
The guards took the scroll from him and examined it; they quickly determined that it was authentic. Not knowing what else to do, they followed the proper protocol and gave the scroll to a messenger, who soon delivered it to King Hagan.
Hagan was quite confused after he finished reading the message. He could not imagine what sort of emergency would have merited such action. Furthermore, he didn’t know why Skarl hadn’t just explained the situation in a letter and had it delivered to Brightvale, as he usually did. Feeling both puzzled and curious, Hagan granted the Eyrie’s request for an audience.
When King Hagan entered his conference room ten minutes later, the Eyrie was already seated and waiting for him. There was no one else in the room; Hagan’s guards were stationed just outside the closed door. They had searched the Eyrie for weapons, magical or otherwise, before admitting him into the room, and had determined that he was not a threat.
“Well, this is quite unorthodox, but I—” Hagan began to say. Before he could finish his sentence, the Eyrie’s paws glowed, and a bright orange fire erupted from them and landed upon Hagan, who hadn’t realized what was happening.
Instantly, Hagan’s face became blank and expressionless. His eyes showed no hint of emotion, but appeared dead. Just like his brother, Hagan was now a mindless puppet, controlled by the Eyrie who had cast the spell.
Imagen smiled to himself; success was his at last. Quickly, he issued his orders to Hagan. Hagan then called his guards into the room.
“Yes, Your Majesty?” asked the guards who entered the room. They looked at their king and gasped, for they could see that something was terribly, horribly wrong; they had never seen Hagan’s face look so blank, so dead.
“Send out for my war general at once,” Hagan said, “and call all the knights to high alert. We must mobilize the army immediately.”
“But, sir,” a guard protested, “whatever for?”
“The armies of Meridell are going to arrive shortly,” said Hagan, “and aid us in our fight. We are now at war.”
To be continued...