The Prophecy Faeries 2: Imagen's Revenge - Part Six
PART SIX: IMAGEN'S PLAN
When Clarisse used the magic charm, it seemed as if she were traveling through space at lightning speed. Images flashed before her eyes, but they always disappeared too quickly for her to process what she was seeing. Lights and colours swirled in the air around her, and indistinguishable voices filled her ears, only to be snatched away and replaced with another before she comprehended what they said.
In the blink of an eye, she felt solid ground beneath her feet and, opening her eyes, found herself standing in a small cluster of trees, with Victoria standing right in front of her.
“Wow,” she murmured in surprise.
Victoria let out another scream when she saw someone materialize from nowhere.
“Tori, it’s me,” said Clarisse, looking amused.
“People have been appearing from nowhere in these stupid trees,” said Victoria irritably.
“What’s going on? I sensed that something bad happened,” Clarisse said.
“Nothing, I guess. Some Eyrie was following me while I was following Vrioli. When I saw an Eyrie in the shadows, I thought it was Imagen and I overreacted. Everything’s fine, but that stupid pet made me lose sight of Vrioli.”
“Well, I followed Thothorin, but he went home,” Clarisse explained, “so I guess we’ve hit a dead end. Time to head back to the inn and meet the others.”
“I want to try that charm thing,” said Victoria eagerly. Together, the two friends grasped their charms.
“To Bernadette,” said Victoria.
“To Hortensia,” Clarisse whispered.
The blue Eyrie, watching from the shadows, let out a gasp as a small flash of light lit the night. In the blink of an eye, the faeries had vanished.
“Where have you been?” Bernadette demanded when Clarisse and Victoria materialized in her and Hortensia’s room. “We were about to contact you with the mirrors.”
“We were a little busy,” said Victoria. “What happened to you guys?”
Bernadette started to explain, but Clarisse interrupted. “We need to contact Fyora immediately,” she said, “and tell her what we know.”
Clarisse and Victoria quickly pulled out their mirrors and contacted the Faerie Queen.
“What did you discover at the festivals?” Fyora asked.
Clarisse and Victoria quickly told Fyora about Professor Kohl’s lecture on mind control, as well as seeing the magicians Thothorin and Vrioli.
“That is quite troubling,” Fyora mused. “I’d like the two of you to contact me again first thing tomorrow morning. I’ve already spoken with Hortensia and Bernadette and asked them to do the same, so that all five of us can discuss your findings.”
Clarisse and Victoria promised to speak to Fyora in the morning and then headed back to their own room, promising to discuss everything that had happened the next day. Completely exhausted from all that had transpired, they fell asleep immediately.
The next morning, Hortensia awoke bright and early. She then woke Bernadette (who complained loudly) before walking next door and waking the others. All four friends gathered in Clarisse and Victoria’s room. Pulling out the mirrors, they all spoke Fyora’s name and then waited for her image to appear in the mirrors.
After several minutes of waiting, Fyora still had not appeared.
“Has anyone else reached Fyora?” Victoria asked. “I don’t think my mirror’s working correctly.”
“She’s not in mine either,” said Bernadette.
“Or mine,” said Hortensia and Clarisse at the same time.
“Well,” said Victoria decisively, “I guess we should compare stories while we wait for her.”
The two groups swapped stories, explaining what they had discovered at the festivals the day before.
“That’s odd,” said Hortensia when they were finished. “We thought the magicians at the festival were getting information about us, and the powers that we have, but none of us have the powers of mind control.”
“Not that some of us have any powers at all,” Bernadette muttered.
“Imagen doesn’t know that,” Hortensia reminded her. “So, maybe he thinks that one of us has that power?”
“Or maybe,” said Clarisse, “he’s researching both our powers and his own. Mind control isn’t one of our powers, so it must be one of his.” All four faeries were silent for several minutes as they contemplated this.
“But that doesn’t make sense,” protested Victoria, “because the lecture was about faeries who could control the minds of others, not sorcerers.”
“Anything that applies to faeries may or may not apply to magic in general,” said Hortensia. “Maybe he wanted to know how faeries used mind control, so he had a better idea of how to use his own powers.”
“I know some sorcerers have had pretty amazing powers,” said Victoria, “but I didn’t think they could control people’s minds. And anyway, Imagen was only an apprentice, remember? Surely he’s not powerful enough for something like that.”
“I don’t think we’re talking about ordinary sorcery,” said Clarisse. “Remember all of the power that Hentoff had, after he came into contact with the Shining Sun? Imagen, Baerlin, and Dinusa spent who knows how long in that cave near it. I think maybe so much exposure to it, especially after the battle, would have given Imagen different powers, ones we can’t even imagine. Remember, the prophecy says that the Conquering One is the one who ‘has gained the power of the Sun’. It’s possible that Imagen has a plan that involves mind control, and he wanted to learn more about it so he can learn to use his new powers.”
“Mind control was all part of Dinusa’s plan, after all,” Victoria recalled. “It was all about hypnotizing people to do what she wanted.”
“Yeah, I remember,” whispered Clarisse, who was the only one of the four whose mind Dinusa had invaded with a hypnotic curse.
“So, his plan involves mind control,” Victoria said, “and he expects us to defeat him, because he’s been gathering information about us. But how does he even know about what Claire can do, or about my magic?”
“Harmony and Melody,” said Bernadette instantly. “Remember their little club, and how they were asking Elesempra to collect information about us? I’d bet anything that the twins and their Musical Clones told him about the rumors about Claire, and the tutoring that Tori’s getting.”
“They were giving the information to someone named Drake,” said Clarisse, “but I know from listening to Vrioli and Thothorin that Imagen’s been calling himself Idris. Either he’s using two different names, or we’re dealing with two different people.”
“If Drake really is Imagen in disguise, then where did Harmony and Melody meet him?” Hortensia said. “As far as we know, they’ve been at Faerie Heights while he’s been in hiding.”
“Is he disguising himself as a teacher or something at Faerie Heights?” Victoria asked. “After all, he’d have to know that Harmony and Melody are popular enough to get lots of faeries to join their club.”
“No,” said Hortensia, “we would have noticed if a shadow Eyrie or someone named Drake were at the school.”
“How else could they have met him?” Bernadette asked.
Suddenly, Hortensia’s eyes lit up. “A few weeks ago, at the start of the Faerie Magic Festival, I remember that Ella was begging my parents to go on some kind of trip to Meridell with her friends. My parents wouldn’t let her go, and they asked me to keep an eye on her to make sure she didn’t sneak off to Meridell. Maybe the ‘friends’ that she meant were also friends with Harmony and Melody, and they were going to Meridell to attend the start of the festival!”
“And that’s important because...?” asked Bernadette.
“So,” Hortensia explained, “Harmony and Melody decide to go to this festival, just for fun. All of their friends go along with whatever they’re doing, so a whole bunch of faeries, including some of Ella’s friends, decide to go. So, sometime when they were in Meridell, Harmony and Melody met someone pretending to be Drake. Drake knew that they were popular faeries, because they had so many friends with them at the festival, and somehow he finds out that they’re from Faerie Heights. So, he tricks them into starting this ‘club’ to get whatever information they can about us.”
“But if they met Drake at the festival,” said Clarisse, “he couldn’t be Imagen in disguise, because Imagen hasn’t wanted to risk attending the festivals himself. Could it be one of the magicians we’ve been looking for, using a fake name?”
“Either that, or Drake is really Imagen, but they met him somewhere else in Meridell, outside of the Festival,” said Hortensia.
“Not to interrupt the brain-storming session,” said Victoria suddenly, “but Fyora still hasn’t showed up. She knew we were going to contact her this morning, so where is she, and why doesn’t she have her mirror with her?”
“Good question,” said Clarisse, looking worried.
Suddenly, a loud knock sounded on the door. Jumping to her feet, Bernadette answered it.
Standing at the door was a young Kougra wearing the uniform of a newspaper delivery pet. “Breaking news,” he recited, holding up one of the papers. “We’re selling special editions of the news today because of breaking updates.”
“Is it free?” Bernadette asked in a bored tone. The boy nodded, and Bernadette took a copy of the paper from his hands.
“Your regularly scheduled news will be delivered at the regular time,” the Kougra added, concluding his rehearsed speech and heading across the hall to the next door.
Bernadette shut the door and, glancing at the headlines of the paper, gasped aloud.
“What is it?” Victoria asked anxiously. “What’s going on?”
“I know why Fyora didn’t contact us this morning,” said Bernadette softly. Hortensia walked over and peered over her friend’s shoulder.
“Meridell and Brightvale’s armies have joined forces,” Bernadette read, “and conducted a surprise attack on Faerieland early this morning. Initial reports are just coming in... but it appears that their armies are using sorcery and other forms of magic against the magic of Faerieland’s citizens and the Faerie Queen. Fyora herself is engaged in a desperate magical battle to keep her palace from being overrun by the forces of her formerly friendly neighbors.... It seems that Meridell and Brightvale’s soldiers who did not have wings were transported to the city in the sky by means of enchanted flying carriages and other such devices.... Faerieland does not have an army, and has relied solely on the magic of the Faerie Queen for support....
“The amount of destruction in Faerieland is unlike any that the city has seen before.... The massive battle has continued for hours, since the attack began just after midnight this morning.... Numerous citizens of Meridell and Brightvale claim to have known nothing about the attack or the reasoning behind it. Furthermore, many Meridellian and Brightvalian citizens have begun openly protesting the attack on one of Neopia’s most peaceful cities....
“We can now report that the reasoning for the attack has now become apparent. Just after dawn this morning, King Hagan abdicated the throne and expressed his desire that his brother, Skarl, should inherit his lands, thus joining the lands of Brightvale and Meridell. King Skarl quickly accepted the Brightvalian throne but, only an hour after Hagan’s announcement, he abdicated himself, and left both thrones to someone he referred to as his royal advisor, a shadow Eyrie named Imagen. We can now confirm that, just a month ago, Fyora herself declared this Eyrie to be a dangerous criminal and fugitive. It seems that Imagen, after his abrupt coronation this morning, has every intention of continuing the attack on Faerieland, and it has been suggested by many that Imagen has orchestrated this attack from the beginning, even before he became the official king of both Meridell and Brightvale.”
After Bernadette finished reading, all four faeries were completely silent, staring at each other in shock.
Clarisse recovered first. “This was his plan,” she said dully. “He used magic he gained from the Shining Sun, including mind control, to get Skarl and Hagan to do whatever he wanted. He had them abdicate and gave himself both thrones. He also had them order the attack on Faerieland so that Fyora was unable to stop him from becoming king because she was defending Faerieland. He had magicians attending the Faerie Magic Festival because he wanted information that would help him use his new powers, as well as information about our powers that would help him defeat us, in case we tried to stop him.”
“But he must have taken control of Skarl and Hagan before yesterday,” said Victoria, “yet he still had magicians attending the festival for him yesterday. Why’d he have Vrioli and Thothorin attend a lecture on mind control if he already knew enough to take control of them?”
“Sometimes speakers at the festivals give their lectures more than once,” Hortensia said. “I bet Imagen asked multiple magicians to attend the same lecture, knowing that they’d all attend it at different times. If Professor Kohl gave that lecture much earlier, Imagen may have already gotten the information he needed from a magician who attended earlier. We were given the names of a dozen magicians; he could easily have gotten all the information he needed by now. We came here too late.”
“What’s he going to do now?” asked Victoria. “Is he trying to conquer Faerieland? Will he stop at ruling Brightvale and Meridell, or will he try to take over Neopia?”
“More importantly,” said Hortensia, “what are we going to do to stop him?”
Imagen settled back into the plush cushions of Skarl’s throne, smiling broadly. After his coronation that morning, he had secretly placed another spell on one of Hagan’s more capable advisors, ensuring that the advisor was completely loyal to him, and allowed the advisor to oversee day-to-day matters in Brightvale while Imagen returned to Meridell. Everything was going according to plan.
At that moment, a messenger entered the room and, after bowing before the throne, announced, “Lord Darigan has arrived from the Citadel, Your Highness, to meet with you and discuss battle plans.”
“Have him seated in the conference room,” said Imagen authoritatively, “and tell him I’ll be there momentarily.” He grinned to himself, enjoying the power he held, as the messenger scurried from the room and hastened to follow Imagen’s command.
As the messenger left, Drake entered the room. “I have the latest reports from Faerieland,” he said, passing a sheaf of papers to Imagen. Imagen skimmed through them briefly, flipping from one page to the next.
“Did you ever regain contact with your spies in Faerie Heights?” Imagen asked, glancing up from the papers.
“No,” said Drake, “after we lost contact in the middle of their report last night, I haven’t been able to reach them. We lost contact before the attack on Faerieland began, but it’s quite possible that the devastation has prevented them from making further contact. After all, Faerie Heights was attacked heavily, just as you asked.”
“Keep trying to make contact,” said Imagen. “If you haven’t managed to reach them by tonight, travel to Faerieland and meet with them personally.”
“Of course,” Drake agreed. He didn’t like the way his cousin had been acting since he’d gained the throne; he had been treating Drake more like a sidekick than a fellow ruler. However, Drake didn’t dare to confront him, for Imagen was far more powerful than he.
“So,” said Drake cautiously, watching Imagen flip through the reports, “what’s the next part of the plan?”
Imagen sighed. He really didn’t like discussing his grand schemes with Drake, whom Imagen considered to be a myrmidon, rather than an accomplice; however, since he would be disposing of Drake soon enough, he decided that it didn’t really matter.
“Fyora has asked for aid from several other Neopian lands,” said Imagen. “I’m sure that, once they see the destruction in Faerieland, they will ally with Fyora and declare war on us.”
“And that’s a good thing?” asked Drake.
“Yes,” said Imagen irritably, “because we’ll be ready for them. Faerieland has been suitably crushed; Fyora will be so busy trying to recover that she and her faeries won’t pose a threat. We’ll use Meridell and Brightvale’s armies to take care of any opposition. Not to mention that, as soon as my meeting with Darigan is complete, we will have the support of the Citadel.”
“Are you going to place a spell on Darigan, too?” asked Drake.
“If necessary,” said Imagen. “I know he will not be keen on allying with Meridell but, if I explain the plan to him, I think he will want to join us. I’d prefer not to place a spell on him; if anyone suspects that he is under a spell, they will not follow him. That’s why I had to dispose of Skarl and Hagan and rule myself, before anyone realized what was happening.”
“Of course,” said Drake, though he still looked confused. “But, what happens if you battle with these great lands and you lose?”
“That won’t happen,” Imagen assured him. “We have magic on our side. Even if the worst thing happens, and we lose, all I have to do is attend a peace conference and place a little spell on everyone in the room, just as I did with Hagan and Skarl. I’m going to take over Neopia, and there’s no power in the world that can stop me.”
To be continued...