An Eternity Unbreakable: Part Seven
Also by 777lehuanani
“Hello, I’m Walter.” A green Xweetok dressed in a brown overcoat and top hat nodded solemnly to three confused neopets. He leaned weakly upon an oaken cane.
In their panic, Xeresa, Kameron, and Justin had fled up one of the castle towers, ending up in a large library-like chamber. There, tall bookshelves, which each harbored countless spyder-web coated spell books, stood in endless rows. Xeresa had sworn she had sighted ghost meepits darting through the thick volumes, leaving odd trails in the dust, though it may have been simply her imagination.
At the back end of the room, moldy velvet chairs were circled around a rug overlooking an abandoned fireplace. But most peculiar, at the adjacent wall Xeresa and her tourists had discovered a wall mirror reflecting images of entirely different neopets staring back at them.
Walter the Xweetok had patiently learned their names before introducing the four others in the mirror. The sight of the five mirror neopets was like flipping through an album of living photos from the past, their elegant accents and clothing long faded into history.
Ingrid, the faerie Ixi at the far left, was dressed in a fancy gown and held a frilly parasol, both having matching shades of pink. The white Bori next to her, Janyr, reminded Xeresa of the plain, modest librarian in her school. He clutched a blue tome in his right paw, while a smarmy monocle dangled from the bridge of his nose. Danleigh, the red Gelert dressed in a blue militia coat, stood out the most in his dashing regalia.
Xeresa squinted for a few seconds until she noticed the last neopet, Verita, the grey Poogle. She seemed to blend right into the shadowy background. A withered chain of daisies around her wrist barely swayed in the wind, as if Verita was really an illusion in the greyness.
A single, leafless tree shaded the group of five from the feeble light. Beyond them, Xeresa saw indistinct grey knolls rolling endlessly into the gloomy horizon.
“How are you in this mirror?” Justin felt prompted to ask. He had seen artifacts that were indeed quite strange at the Smugglers Cove, but Salis’s mirror outmatched all of them.
“It is a long story, and very tragic,” Danleigh sighed. The light had seemed to shift, shadows now deepening his somber expression.
“Many, many years ago, an evil Aisha sorceress had cursed our beloved home. Why? Because did not meet her demands, which were utterly impossible,” Walter said bitterly. Though they had suspected earlier, Xeresa, Kameron, and Justin gasped as they realized that perhaps, the mirror neopets before them were the lost citizens of Cryptia.
“That sorceress sought the Forest Stars, which we neither knew of nor owned. Our Mayor had been overthrown as she ravaged through our city, searching,” the Bori librarian, Janyr, continued for Walter; Xeresa felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for the Mayor and city officials. “Cruelly, however, she had acted as if we were trying to deceive her– what did we have to hide? As Verita said, we, and our city, were then turned into glass.”
“I recall, she had used a peculiar locket to curse us,” Danleigh added.
“I had fallen while struggling to escape. This is the reason why I, and the rest of us, are in this mirror,” Walter sulked. “The sound of shattering glass rang in my ears before my consciousness blanked. I found myself in this place after an indefinite amount of time, restored as a neopet but condemned here.”
“And I broke apart when several leaves from the trees shattered upon me. Leaves!” Janyr clenched his fists, his tail lashing angrily.
“They were all blubbering for you back at Cryptia. It’s great that you’re still around,” Justin exclaimed. He could contain his excitement no better than a cannon with a lit fuse, though it often still came out with his usual brashness.
“You– you know about our town?” Walter’s eyes widened. The mirror neopets brightened, though their hope was soon replaced with anxiety.
“Yes, we were sent to break your curse.” Kameron strode forward majestically, pushing Xeresa aside as his royal arrogance returned. “Though it seems there are two curses we now have to break.”
“We’ve never been able to understand why that sorceress kept us around after being shattered for good,” Ingrid replied. She grimly continued. “It does not seem improbable, though, that she is planning more sinister plots against dear Cryptia– involving us.”
“But wait,” Walter interrupted, looking unsure. “How have you three children survived long enough in this place, plagued with evil and villainy, to have found us?”
Xeresa quickly explained their encounter with Salis, taking some time to gloat of her Level 3 abilities that she had used to escape the perilous dungeon. Since Level 3 had served her so well, Xeresa no longer cared that broomstick flying was still two whole levels away.
“Then, Xeresa blew slumberberry powder in her face and she fell asleep. We couldn’t get out, though, so we went upstairs and... yeah,” Justin concluded.
“What great luck!” Walter gaped. “Say, could you free us from this mirror?”
“What exactly is the mirror anyways?” Justin inquired, his wings twitching in wonder.
“It must be a portal to another world that they are in,” Xeresa guessed. “It’s probably sealed, though, seeing as we can’t enter and they can’t get out.” The starry Zafara reached toward the lost citizens of Cryptia, only to be stopped by the mirror’s glass.
“Why don’t we break the glass, maybe smash a pathway for them to exit?” Justin asked. He snatched his brother’s staff and pretended it was a Pirate Captains Cutlass, swishing it back and forth in the air. Xeresa began to giggle at the odd sight, but her charm shook furiously in warning.
“No, don’t!” Xeresa quickly realized he wasn’t kidding, and skillfully blocked his strike as he poised the staff. She recalled her studies on portals. “If you physically break the glass, then you’ve just destroyed the portal itself. Then, how are they supposed to get out?”
“Well, how are we supposed to free them then?” Kameron and Justin both turned to Xeresa.
The wonder of the moment quickly broken by the remembrance of their enraged host somewhere downstairs, Xeresa knew she had to act fast to free the mirror neopets in time. Her eyes quickly fell upon the dark Aisha pendant she held in her left paw.
“Perhaps with this? If I can manage to find out how to use it of course,” Xeresa weakly answered. Its hideous scarlet gaze left her feeling dazed and terrified of its power. “I believe this is the locket you mentioned earlier, Danleigh.”
Kameron and Justin became equally unsettled, while the mirror neopets retreated toward the tree in fear.
“How did you get a hold of that?” Walter asked in disbelief, while fury blazed in his eyes at the hateful charm.
“If– no, when she catches you with her most prized possession, it is guaranteed to bring everlasting doom upon you,” Janyr warned. “I am positive that her terrible powers are connected to the very amulet which you hold.”
“Exactly,” Xeresa replied, watching the pendant glow in a cloudy haze of black and purple as she held it closer to the mirror. “This leads me to think that it also contains the power to reverse her spells– our only hope.”
“No!” Walter shouted all of a sudden. “That thing could harm us all if you make a single mistake. When that sorceress used it, even she had been noticeably cautious.”
“Not if I can gain control of its powers.” Xeresa shook her head to clear her daze. She knew she was too close to solving the puzzle to give up.
Stepping aside from Justin and Kameron, the Zafara gazed into the crimson glare of the pendant. Xeresa shivered, feeling as if she was staring into the very eyes of Salis. Nonetheless, she summoned magical energy from the depths of her mind, while the pendant seemed to come alive with Salis’s dark power.
Xeresa’s starry coat shone with determination, surrounding her with a white glow. Kameron and Justin stepped back, startled by the blinding light. However, they grew increasingly worried as they saw a wisp of shadow materialize from the pendant, which grew into a monstrous dark haze in only a few seconds. The whole room grew abysmally dark, and Xeresa was the only light in the darkness.
Good and evil fought persistently, as Illusen and Jhudora would in their final battle for power. Xeresa refused to break her concentration, but her light grew fainter. One by one, the stars on her coat began dimming as, deep in her heart, she knew that the locket alone was only the beginning of the struggle. If she could not conquer the pendant, which offered merely a glimpse of Salis’s true power, how would she manage to defeat Salis, the sorceress herself?
“Xeresa, are you all right?” Justin managed to gasp in the suffocating darkness. Even the air deep in the Fungus Caves of Krawk Island wasn’t this heavy.
“Yes,” Xeresa whispered feebly after a long moment. She was extremely exhausted as the dark magic pierced through into her mind, where shrewd, mocking voices swelled louder and louder. The Zafara’s eyes seemed to have flickered ruby.
Kameron and Justin were now horrified, but unable to help in any way. Only a single star, nearly extinguished, was left shining alone in her fur. Their tour guide fell into despair, bracing for defeat as its faint light blinked.
As if in triumph, a powerful explosion of dark energy knocked Kameron and Justin over, bursting free from the heart of the pendant. Violet flames surrounded the three in a ring of icy fire. The Krawk and Shoyru vainly tried fanning away the flames as the circle began closing.
Although safe, the mirror neopets edged away deeper into the mirror, unable to do more than watch the trio’s doom unfold. They gasped as shadowy claws wrapped themselves around the Kameron and his brother, slowly dragging them into a vortex of shadow forming in the center of the flame circle.
The claws of the pendant flexed as its eyes seemed to gleam with triumph. Another pair of shadowy claws wrapped themselves around Xeresa, and too, began pulling her towards the black whirlpool. The dark pendant floated slightly above her paws in the air.
Abruptly, a warm emerald glow from Xeresa’s charm shone through the shadow’s grasp. As it pierced through the surrounding fog, the darkness immediately lost its hold on her, retreating back as the glow grew more brilliant. Xeresa was overcome with wonder as she lifted her now radiant charm.
She remembered the day she had won the charm, then Ilere’s mysterious message to her, “Keep this charm close at hand as you follow your destiny to greatness.” A smile broke across her face as she felt its engravings, knowing that indeed, no forces could triumph over grace.
The green glow forced the darkness to the walls of the library, before the whole room was engulfed in a dazzling radiance. As the last of the shadow disappeared, a purple vapor lifted from the pendant before being dragged away by the night air.
The eyes of the pendant glistened amber as the terrible red dissipated. Its claws relaxed, releasing a crystalline shard. It united with the misshapen crystal on her own charm, forming a perfect, cloudy diamond. Then, the pendant dropped to the ground and shattered.
Xeresa did not understand what had just happened, but strangely, felt a new confidence as she faced the mirror. Her charm now seemed to radiate with power.
“What happened?” Justin stirred and rubbed his head as the glow disappeared, though the charm remained more stunning than ever. He fetched his pirate bandana from nearby.
“I don’t know, but definitely a lot.” Kameron stared at the smashed pendant and then to the smiling Xeresa. He smoothed the creases of his robes before rising.
“I did it!” Xeresa cheered. The mirror neopets and Krawk soon joined in.
“You did great!” Justin couldn’t conceal his amazement at her. However, he was also quite startled, feeling as if Xeresa had sailed to the edge of the world and turned back just at the last second. “In the future, though, whenever I happen to be around, don’t you dare do that again.”
The trio shared a few relieved laughs until the seriousness of the situation returned.
“How are we supposed to free them, now that the locket is gone?” Justin asked faintly, slightly dazed in confusion at what had just happened. She responded by pointing to her charm.
“Salis’s powers must have transferred to my necklace, since a crystal fell from her locket and became a part of my charm...” Xeresa trailed off, quite confused herself. “Why though, I haven’t the slightest clue.”
“I reckon we don’t have much time left.” Kameron warily thought of Salis again as he glanced toward the mirror neopets. “We need to hurry.”
Xeresa wondered how to make use of her wand charm, which now contained some of what had been Salis’s powers. She pictured a basic unlocking spell opening the portal, though she was certain a much more advanced spell was needed.
Xeresa held her charm as she cast the hex. Beams of emerald emitted from the jewel, piercing the through the delicate mirror glass. Xeresa was left astonished, for she had meant to cast a measly Level Two spell. Instead, the magic she had just initiated had looked far beyond the abilities of even her professors.
Sparkles of emerald showered upon the mirror. Then, Xeresa, Kameron, and Justin now found themselves gazing right into a world once parallel from Neopia. A gusty breeze greeting their faces confirmed that the portal was indeed unlocked.
“You can come out now.” Justin grinned, reaching into the mirror and holding his paw to Walter.
“Thank you.” The Xweetok was unable to stammer any further as Justin helped him out. He was the first to cross over, setting his cane onto the library floor and stepping carefully past the mirror frame. The others eagerly followed.
“It was really no problem.” Kameron and Justin were quick to step in front of Xeresa, trying hard to look modest.
“You do not understand,” Verita gasped. “We haven’t taken a breath of fresh air in untold ages...”
The rejoicing was very brief. Xeresa noticed her charm shook once again in warning.
“Hold on; Salis is still looking for us,” she whispered in dread. Silence fell.
“What should we do? I don’t know how we’ll all safely get out of here,” Danleigh finally mumbled.
“And we still need to defeat that witch.” Justin smacked his forehead at his forgetfulness. “As if that locket already wasn’t enough trouble...”
It wasn’t long before Xeresa recalled that the portal was still open.
“Well, there’s plenty of room left in there,” she enthusiastically pointed to the mirror. “Also, I think I know how to lock the portal again...”
“Why, that’s brilliant!” Walter and his companions agreed. “But how will you lead her to your deception?”
“Easy.” The Zafara smirked. “Why don’t we cause a racket to get her attention and then... Justin!” she snapped at the Shoyru, who seemed to be ready to knock over the bookshelves like dominoes. “Not yet!” she sighed, exasperated.
Watching the meepit specters float about through the scrolls back at the bookshelves an idea suddenly formed in her head. She lamented at their ghostly flimsiness, until her eye fell upon a more suitable petpet.
“You there, come here,” the Zafara ordered at a yellow meepit lurking in a bookshelf nearby.
The seven neopets listened intently to her plan. It wasn’t too long before they all smiled, for hope was undoubtedly close at hand.
To be continued...