An Eternity Unbreakable: Part Six
Also by 777lehuanani
Part Six: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...
A shudder from her wand charm startled Xeresa before she was overcome with waves of frozen, unexplainable terror. The room itself seemed to shiver, plunging into a drafty darkness while the doors of the potionery slammed shut all at once. Xeresa and her tourists barely had time to react when a circle of eerie blue flames blazed in front of them.
“I do not recall being so merciful as to have let you survive our first meeting,” an invisible speaker hissed. The flames twirled into the air and Salis emerged only seconds later. The same, dreaded ember eyes cast a dagger-sharp gaze at the three. “Tell me, how did you manage to escape?”
“We– climbed out,” Justin sputtered, Kameron frantically nodding as he spoke. Any mention of Xeresa’s abilities would hasten their doom. “And... bribed your statues to fly us out from the windows.”
If it were any other time, perhaps at the Spooky Foods café with several of her friends, Xeresa would have burst out laughing. Justin meanwhile sank deeper in dread, knowing the price of his brashness would be worse than a marooning on a deserted island.
Fortunately, Salis hadn’t waited for his answer, instead being occupied examining her reflection in a blue orb she now held. She flipped her glossy dark hair and adjusted her onyx pendant. Without the terror of the moment, Xeresa would have rolled her eyes at the sorceress being vainer than a Uni but hastily waved the thought aside. She gasped, recognizing the blue spell orb from the strictly forbidden Book of Bones.
“I believe that Luperus still is expecting dinner.” Salis turned, the growing orb swirling with more and more dark energy.
“Even Jhudora is kinder when her quests are failed,” Justin muttered in annoyance to his brother. They both nodded in agreement, though were quite oblivious of their unfolding doom.
Xeresa trembled in horror. As she would do whenever in distress, she reached for her softly-glowing charm and tightly clutched it. Xeresa grew puzzled upon seeing how brilliantly its crystal twinkled in the midst of her despair.
From her own pendant, Salis noticed a strange glimmer from behind its claws. Then, beams of light radiated outward and connected with the emerald rays emitting from Xeresa’s charm. Both the sorceress and Zafara became equally at awe as the entire room was engulfed in a radiant green flash.
Xeresa, while shielding her eyes from the bright light, looked down to see that the gem in her charm was glimmering restlessly. As if a similar jewel was within the clutches of Salis’ pendant, violet sparkles burst forth through its claws.
As suddenly as the light had come, it subsided within seconds, leaving all bedazzled. Xeresa had always regarded her charm as a source of reassurance, but now it seemed much, much more than that. What it truly was, however, seemed like infinite textbooks away from her knowledge.
Meanwhile, a long-dormant ambition re-ignited within Salis. Her scarlet eyes were locked upon the Zafara’s necklace; her ascension to power lying only meters away. Salis seethed with impatience as she realized Xeresa would have to be separated from the protection of the Stars before she could safely retrieve her prize; ignorance and fear, though, would serve as her allies this time.
“Do you value your survival, little neopet?” the Aisha sorceress demanded. She became enshrouded in a hideous darkness, its evils too unbearable to behold.
“Yes– of course she does!” Justin yelled, stunned when Xeresa refused to answer. Had his tour guide turned deaf, or had someone just happened to have stuffed dubloons in her ears at precisely this crucial moment?
Xeresa had heard, but another force had taken over; instead, she had hidden her charm from view with her paw in response to Salis’s half-threat. Indeed, without quite understanding it all, she already knew of the difficult decision she would soon be faced with...
“Then she will not mind giving up her little necklace to leave unscathed.” Salis’ words pricked like shards of ice.
“Never!” the tour guide blurted out defiantly, though shocking herself with the declaration. The charm was very dear to her, yet Xeresa was horrified at her strong and inexplicable response all the same.
“What? For a pointless little trinket, you’re bargaining to have us end up as Lupe treats?!” Justin exploded. “What a tour guide you are.”
Xeresa could not imagine parting with her charm. She would feel so desolate, so alone without its comforting presence, as if a part of herself was missing. Xeresa knew she was being horribly ridiculous in the eyes of her tourists, but no one could understand what she felt. She couldn’t really understand it herself. But, as her gaze fell upon a vial of slumberberry powder on a nearby shelf, however, she was reassured that perhaps, the situation wasn’t so hopeless after all.
“Give me an hour to think about it.” Her eyes met with Salis’. “It is about an hour to midnight, and my mind will be made up by then.”
“Arbitrary fool...” Salis began, and then promptly gave in to silence. Her lack of patience had not served her well with Cryptia nearly a century ago, but that was not to happen again.
“Empress of Neopia.” What a title it would be. Salis gazed into a looking glass, seeing a reflection that her vanity deemed fairer than the faeries and more majestic than Fyora the Faerie Queen. Most importantly, she saw an Aisha embraced by the most generous blessings of destiny, being capable of a feat even Dr. Sloth had failed to succeed in – the overtake of Neopia. Only the painstaking minutes of time stood in the way.
An hour to spare was an understatement, for what good could come out from ‘sparing’ such a tedious, lengthy wait for power? Unsure of how to deal with her guests in the meantime, Salis contemplated a few ideas until she saw that her nails had become brittle in the dry autumn. A meticulous manicure complete with a new coat of nail polish hadn’t done much; therefore, she sent Xeresa and Justin to quest in the forest for the ingredients needed in her nail rejuvenating potion. Kameron was kept back at the castle as collateral for their return.
“Found it,” Justin thought to himself once he sighted a clamatoe. “OUCH!” It angrily clawed at his paws, but couldn’t escape Xeresa’s basket. He rubbed his arm, wondering how a fruit could be more stubborn than the Smugglers Cove pirates were with visitors.
“Finished at last,” Xeresa exclaimed. She felt guilt gnawing away at her, seeing that Justin was still too furious to even notice that she was there. She sighed, knowing her tourists were extremely angry with her for earlier.
Xeresa and Justin had barely batted an eye when they found themselves back in the potionery. Xeresa, despite her anxiousness, took time to marvel at Salis’ teleportation powers.
A tall Aisha seized their gatherings. In the backdrop, Kameron sighed in relief at his brother’s safe return while polishing the floorboards with a swabby-fashioned mop.
“We’ve gotten everything you wanted,” Justin grumbled, still daring to go about his impudent ways in the face of doom.
“Good.” Salis barely even heard him, her mind concentrated upon Xeresa’s charm. She blankly commanded, “You and the Krawk, go sort the madvines from the slorgblossom. And Zafara, to the cauldron.”
Xeresa stirred the potion with a large ladle, dizzy from the noxious, rising fumes that strangely reminded her of nail polish. She stroked the spoon through the potion, watching the concoction change to a deep gold.
“Fetch me a vial of kadoatie essence; that shelf,” the Aisha directed.
Xeresa scurried to the cupboard, sifting through the hundreds of tiny vials. She found a bottle of kadoatie blue liquid to the side, but nearly dropped the container as Salis’ hiss interrupted.
“It is midnight. I presume you have something to say about that charm?” The sorceress fought to contain her growing impatience.
The vial of slumberberry, where was it? Xeresa knew she had seen it earlier, unless it had been the work of her imagination... No, there had definitely been purple Zs on the bottle, she was certain. Her mind raced as her eyes darted up and down the shelf in panic, when a single beam of light from her charm suddenly illuminated the correct bottle.
“Yes,” Xeresa gasped, still facing the shelf.
“So, how do we know you’ll really let us go afterward?” Justin demanded.
To his horror, Salis did not respond. Xeresa, meanwhile, pretended to remove her necklace, but smoothly dropped it in her pocket instead. Her back still facing Salis, she poured a handful of indigo powder into her paw.
“Hand it over,” Salis insisted.
Xeresa turned around and approached the sorceress, her fist closed around the powder. As Salis lowered her gaze to behold the charm, the Zafara suddenly flung the slumberberry upward into her face. Salis sneezed once before collapsing to the ground, fast asleep. Kameron and Justin stood motionless in amazement.
“Slumberberry,” Xeresa muttered as she clapped away the residue in her paws, holding her breath.
To the side, she saw Salis’ locket lying astray on the floorboard, the clasp broken. Xeresa’s amber eyes widened as she recalled that Salis had used a mysterious pendant to curse Cryptia, according to Raulin’s tale...
The tour guide picked up the locket with a quick sweep of her paw, remembering how it had united with her charm. Perhaps it would be of great importance later on.
“Witch, come on! You don’t want to be around when she wakes,” Justin tugged at her arm. She followed the two downstairs, leaving Salis to snooze on the cold floor.
The party of three tore through the corridors of the ground floor, searching for the exit. They eventually discovered a pair of colossal doors with brass handles near a flight of stairs. Fierce Eyries with blazing eyes were carved into the brass, their outstretched wings acting as the knobs.
Xeresa reached and tugged, but found the door locked. Kameron and Justin joined the weary Zafara, but the three only succeeded to breaking the Eyries’ wings from the handles. The doors remained tightly shut.
“Looks like we’re doomed. Good try with the slumberberry, though I would have preferred facing her less angry than she’ll be once her nap’s over.” The pirate Shoyru heaved a sigh, staring disappointedly at the broken brass wing in his paw.
Xeresa felt a twinge of annoyance, wondering how he still had an ounce of impudence leftover after the whole ordeal.
“Now how long will that slumberberry last?” Kameron warily looked around.
“There wasn’t much, so a few more minutes...” Xeresa gulped.
Immediately, the little candlelight in the castle was completely extinguished by an icy breeze, plunging the three into darkness. A hush fell in the nearby forest, while a too-familiar flaming blue circle began blazing in front of them.
“Run, up here!” Kameron hurried up a flight of stairs, his companions following without hesitation.
As their thudding footsteps faded, Salis emerged. Still dazed somewhat from the slumberberry, she had not seen the neopets escaping to the east wing. Instead, she headed the opposite direction, determined to fetch her quarry.
The sorceress assured that she would be far less merciful in their next meeting, for the Zafara was not going to get away this time. Yet in the midst of her fury, the sorceress was oblivious to the hollow feeling around her neck...
To be continued...