The Prophecy Faeries 2: Imagen's Revenge - Part Eight
PART EIGHT: THE ATTACK BEGINS
Clarisse and Victoria soared through the sky, looking down at rolling fields of crops, fifty feet below them.
“I hope you can read that map,” said Victoria, glancing at the piece of paper in Clarisse’s hands.
Bernadette had hastily drawn a replica of the map she had seen in the War Room of Meridell Castle when it was decided that she would not be accompanying Victoria and Clarisse.
“It makes sense, I think,” said Clarisse absently, glancing at the map. “We’re about five miles south of Meridell but still northeast of Brightvale, so the first storage buildings should be coming up.”
Sure enough, several minutes later, the faeries spotted several large, hastily erected buildings, situated in the middle of nowhere. A lone guard patrolled the area, making sure that the weaponry contained inside the structures wouldn’t be stolen. Swooping lower to the ground, the faeries could see an enormous path of trampled grass, indicating that Meridell’s army had already marched through. A quick inspection of the buildings revealed that they were full of weapons.
“I’ll take the one on the far left; you get the one on the right,” said Victoria.
The guard looked up and spotted two figures swooping towards him. “Hey,” he called, “this is a restricted area!”
Clarisse swooped down until she was only a few feet above the guard, who was quite unnerved at the sight of an air faerie, especially one with such peculiar eyes. “I’m warning you!” he cried, holding up his weapon.
“I’d stand back if I were you,” said Clarisse.
Before the guard could respond, Clarisse fluttered over to the small structure on the right. She raised her hands in the air, feeling the breeze rushing past her fingers. Gathering up vast amounts of air, she began to spin around and around, spinning the air with her, until she hung in the vortex of a massive tornado.
The guard, realizing what was happening, had fled in terror. Assured that no one was nearby, Clarisse released the tornado from her grip and sent it whirling into the storage building. The structure was flung apart. The weapons inside were ripped into pieces or flung about by the strong winds until they were battered beyond repair.
When Clarisse was satisfied that all the weaponry was now useless, she put an end to her spell, and the tornado collapsed. She turned to her left and looked for Victoria.
Where the second building had been, there was now a pile of rubble sitting in a rather large puddle of water. All of the weaponry the building had contained was now so damaged by the flood Victoria had unleashed upon it that it was useless. Clarisse and Victoria shared a smile as they surveyed their handiwork.
“According to the map,” said Clarisse, “we only have thirty left to go.”
Victoria groaned. “Let’s hope Tenny gets help quickly,” she said. “We might never get them all.”
Before Clarisse and Victoria had departed, it had been decided that Bernadette would travel into Meridell Castle once more. Once there, Bernadette would try to find the dungeon where Skarl and Hagan were imprisoned, and break them free of Imagen’s mind-control spell. Clarisse had cast the invisibility spell on her once more, but it would protect her for only a few hours.
Now, Bernadette walked once more into Meridell Castle. To her surprise, she found that the castle was no longer full of tourists; instead, it was closed to the public and heavily guarded.
“Claire was right,” Bernadette said to herself. “Imagen saw us, and he’s afraid we’re going to attack the castle. They’re preparing for some kind of invasion.”
Though the drawbridge was closed, Bernadette flew over it easily, landing in the castle courtyard. She waited for a guard to enter the castle, and followed immediately after him.
Bernadette had absolutely no idea where the castle dungeons were, but she assumed that they would be far below the castle, so she decided that the simplest thing to do was look for a descending staircase.
Bernadette wandered about the castle, opening doors here and there, looking for any staircases. Though she found plenty of staircases leading up, she found none going down. Bernadette was beginning to worry that the invisibility spell would wear off before she even reached the dungeons; she looked down at herself repeatedly, to make sure that she was still invisible.
At long last, she found herself in the castle kitchen. Workers bustled about, preparing meals to feed all the residents of the castle. In the far corner of the room, where there was very little activity, there was a small flight of descending steps.
Bernadette flew through the room, landed on the top step, and headed down. She found herself in a musty, dimly lit basement. After wandering about for several minutes, Bernadette found a second, smaller staircase, also leading down. A nearby sign read “Kitchenware Storage” with an arrow pointing to the stairs. Bernadette had no idea if these basements would lead her to the dungeons or to a dead end, but without any other ideas, she descended the stairs.
After wandering through a massive basement filled with every kitchen utensil imaginable, Bernadette came across a wooden door. Opening the door, she found herself in a narrow, windowless hallway. She guessed that she was now several stories below the castle; the hallway appeared to connect multiple basements and storage rooms.
At the opposite end of the hall were two staircases, one going up and one down. Bernadette went down. One staircase lead to another hall, with another staircase, and another. Bernadette began to feel as if she’d been descending the stairs for hours; she only hoped that the invisibility spell would last a bit longer.
So far, Bernadette hadn’t encountered another living being. However, as she reached the bottom of the final staircase, she saw a heavyset Grarrl in a guard’s uniform, fast asleep beside a barred stone door.
Bernadette cast a quick spell that sent the guard’s keys flying into her hands. The guard didn’t stir. Bernadette hastily opened the door and entered the dungeons.
She encountered several more guards as she explored the dungeons, but none of them noticed her; the invisibility spell was still working. Bernadette knew that Skarl and Hagan would be kept under the highest security, so she kept walking until she reached the lowest of all dungeons, where the worst criminals were kept. Three guards were standing watch outside two massive prison cells. Skarl was in one, and Hagan was in another. Both kings wore completely blank expressions. They didn’t seem to notice anything about their surroundings.
Unfortunately for Bernadette, these guards were far more alert than the last. Summoning as much magic as she could, Bernadette cast three identical spells in quick succession. The guards didn’t know what hit them; as the purple light of Bernadette’s spells struck, they were completely paralyzed where they stood, unable to move or speak.
Bernadette grabbed the keys to the cell from one of the guards, who was quite unnerved to see his keys floating in midair. Bernadette shoved one of the keys into the nearest cell, which was Skarl’s. The cell door swung open, and Bernadette walked in, leaving the door open behind her.
Skarl glanced at the door with a vague expression, apparently not at all concerned that the door was opening by itself.
“I’m really sorry about this, Your Highness,” said Bernadette, “but I’m going to try some magic on you. This will probably be unpleasant.” Skarl did not respond, but stared forward emotionlessly.
Bernadette had recently studied how to detect a spell’s origins by using a series of different spells; she hoped that, by casting them on the king, she would discover what kind of spell Imagen had used, and reverse its effects. However, she was nervous about using such magic on the king. One misspoken word or incorrect spell, and the king could be killed.
“Here goes nothing,” said Bernadette, and set to work.
Hortensia had rented a Uni Carriage with some of the money that Fyora had given them. She could have flown herself to Faerieland for free, of course, but she knew that a carriage would be much faster, and she needed to preserve her strength.
“Are you sure you want to go to Faerieland?” asked one of the Unis when Hortensia began to climb into the carriage. “There’s a war on, you know!”
“I know,” said Hortensia, “I’ve got to make sure that my family’s okay.”
The Uni nodded knowingly, and before long they had set off.
They were still a mile away from the outer clouds of Faerieland when the carriage stopped abruptly. “This is as far as we can take you,” called one of the Unis, “because our carriage is marked with Meridell’s colours.”
“I understand,” said Hortensia. “Thank you.” She flew out of the carriage, paid the Unis, and flew towards Faerie Heights Academy as quickly as she could.
Hortensia was horrified to see that Faerieland, her childhood home, had suffered massive destruction. Signs of the battle were everywhere. Faeries and pets flocked about chaotically, trying to locate missing family members. Faerieland had never been attacked like this before; everyone had assumed that no Neopian ruler would be crazy enough to attack Faerieland and risk the wrath of Fyora.
Hortensia was shocked when she saw Faerie Heights Academy. Huge portions of the school had been destroyed. The families of students were rushing about, looking for their students. Amidst it all, Principal Petrici was trying to keep order.
Hortensia flew up to Petrici, landing just behind her. “Oh, hello,” said Petrici, startled, when she spotted the earth faerie. “I didn’t realize the four of you were back...”
“We’re not,” said Hortensia softly. “I came to speak with Fyora, and decided to check on my sisters, and Victoria’s.... Do you know if they’re okay?”
“I saw Victoria’s sister myself,” said Petrici. “Her mother picked her up not long ago. As for your sisters...well, the youngest one was involved in an... incident, the night before Meridell’s armies arrived.”
“What kind of incident?” asked Hortensia.
“Fyora had warned me that two students here, light faeries named Harmony and Melody, might be passing information to someone outside of the school. It just so happened that your sister, Elesempra, suspected them of something, and caught them in the act. She prevented them from further communication with someone named Drake, and alerted me immediately. Harmony and Melody are currently in the Faerie Queen’s custody, to be dealt with as she sees fit.”
“I need to see Elesempra,” said Hortensia at once. Petrici led to Hortensia to a room on one of the lower floors, which was still standing. Elesempra and several other faeries sat inside, waiting for their families to arrive. Hortensia was relieved to see that her sister Orfanthea was here as well.
After the three sisters greeted each other, Hortensia questioned Elesempra.
“I made a mistake,” Elesempra admitted. “When you asked me to carry your books to your room, Harmony and Melody offered to help, and I let them. When they saw the prophecy in your room, they got all excited about it, and wanted to tell someone named Drake. I was afraid Drake might be someone bad, so I followed them secretly. They used some kind of magic mirror to talk to him, and were about to tell him all about the prophecy. I didn’t know what to do, so I put a spell on them that immobilized them. The mirror went blank when they stopped talking, so whoever Drake is, he didn’t learn about the prophecy. Then I told Petrici, and she had them taken to the palace, so Fyora can find out how much they know about Drake.”
To Elesempra’s surprise, Hortensia hugged her. “You have no idea how amazing that is,” said Hortensia proudly. “Did you see this Drake in the mirror? Do you know what he looks like?”
“He’s a Draik,” Elesempra said, “and he was blue, with spots of yellow.”
“Someone named Drake?” interjected Orfanthea, who had been listening to their conversation. “That’s funny. I was just researching name origins for my elective etymology class, and I came across the name Drake. It means ‘dragon’.”
At her sister’s words, the last lines of the prophecy flashed in Hortensia’s mind:
Beware the duet
Who cloak darkness with light,
For too soon they will grant
The Conqueror’s might.
Beware the Dragon
With the sky on his wings
For the war will commence
When the informer sings.
“The war began just after the twins tried to contact Drake,” Hortensia whispered, in a flash of realization, “so he must have contacted Imagen.... Drake is a starry Draik, so he’s the Dragon, and he’s the informant, so the war began just after he contacted Imagen! If Ella hadn’t stopped them....”
Hortensia turned to her sisters. “Thanks, Ella,” she said simply. “I have to go now. You two stay here, okay?”
Orfanthea rolled her eyes. “Older sisters are so bossy,” she muttered.
“We will, Tenny,” Elesempra promised.
After saying goodbye, Hortensia left Faerie Heights and headed into Faerie City, the palace looming before her.
“I can’t believe this has happened,” said the Faerie Queen, looking sadly out the window at the war-torn city below her. “I never imagined such destruction.” She turned to face Hortensia, looking at her quizzically. “Do you know why this has happened? How did Imagen gain such power?”
“Clarisse thinks it’s because he came into contact with the Shining Sun, and it gave him special powers,” said Hortensia. “He’s used those powers to force Hagan and Skarl to bend to his will, and now he has control over the forces of both lands.”
Fyora shook her head sadly. “This is my mistake,” she said. “I underestimated Imagen and his powers. I didn’t know he was capable of fueling a war.”
“We have a plan,” said Hortensia slowly. “Right now, Victoria and Clarisse are destroying the supplies of Meridell and Brightvale’s armies, so that they cannot advance the war or come to Imagen’s aid. Bernadette is in Meridell Castle, rescuing Skarl and Hagan and trying to reverse Imagen’s spell on them. If she succeeds, the kings will reclaim their thrones.”
“And Imagen will flee,” Fyora finished. “We have to trap him in the Castle, so that he cannot escape.”
“Exactly,” said Hortensia. “That’s why I came to see you. We could use a little help distracting Meridell Castle’s guards, so we can get to Imagen in time.”
“I think there are quite a few faeries here who are willing to be of service,” said Fyora, and she smiled grimly.
“We need to gather them as soon as possible,” said Hortensia. “We’re running out of time.”
To be continued...