The Prophecy Faeries 3: Linisa's Return - Part Two
PART TWO: LIGHT AND SHADOW
Clarisse walked rapidly down the halls of Faerie Heights, avoiding the eyes of the faeries who walked around her. Despite her attempts to avoid them, stray emotions still appeared, involuntarily, in Clarisse’s mind. She knew that the fire faerie who passed her was angry and vengeful; she knew that the light faerie she passed was feeling triumphant. The faeries who caught Clarisse’s attention were like open books, their emotions as evident to her as if the faeries had openly expressed them.
The moment she felt someone else’s emotion, Clarisse tried to focus her attention on something else, so that the emotion would leave before she could fully process it. Even so, she couldn’t help but sense some of the emotions, whether she wanted to or not. Walking to and from each class was a daily struggle to control her powers, which seemed to have been growing stronger ever since the fulfillment of the first prophecy.
Entering her classroom, Clarisse was met with the babble of aimless chatter and the stream of sentiments that her classmates possessed. Taking her seat near the window, Clarisse couldn’t help but notice that the air faerie sitting in front of her, whose name was Aralia, seemed isolated from the others, which was unlike her. Almost immediately after Clarisse had observed this, Aralia’s innermost feelings flooded her mind. The emotions were so overwhelming that Clarisse closed her eyes to block out the vision of Aralia, but it was too late; she felt the pain and grief, as sharp and bitter as if she were really experiencing it.
Clarisse gritted her teeth and waited for the emotion to fade. She could hear, vaguely, their teacher’s voice as class began, but the sounds were incoherent and distorted. After a long moment, the feelings began to fade, and Clarisse slowly opened her eyes, as if emerging from underwater, to take in her surroundings once more.
She found that several of her classmates were staring at her. “Clarisse,” said Aralia loudly, and Clarisse knew it was not the first time she had said her name. “You’re supposed to pass back these papers.”
“Oh,” said Clarisse, feigning sheepishness. She took the papers from Aralia’s hand and retrieved her own from the top of the stack before passing it back down the row. “Sorry, I was falling asleep for a second.” She smiled at the faerie, wishing as she did so that her smile could alleviate her pain, and knowing that it couldn’t.
“No problem,” said Aralia vaguely, giving Clarisse another disdainful look.
Twenty minutes later, Clarisse was still trying to fend off the emotions emanating from Aralia. When Aralia concentrated on the teacher’s lesson, it wasn’t as difficult, but as soon as her thoughts strayed back to the source of her grief, Clarisse felt her renewed pain, over and over again. Eventually, she caught enough snatches of thought to learn that Aralia was mourning a family member who had recently passed away.
Halfway through the lesson, Clarisse was seriously considering asking the teacher for a pass to the nurse’s office. At that moment, she would have done just about anything to avoid feeling those emotions again. In fact, she was feeling rather sick; she had a pounding headache, and she was beginning to feel numb....
Suddenly, Clarisse knew what was happening. There was nothing she could do to stop it. She didn’t even have the strength to make it out the classroom door before it happened. The numbness washed over her in a wave, and the vision of the classroom before her began to fade, to be replaced by the vision of another time and place.
She was standing in the tall grass outside a huddled building with a thatched roof. Judging by the green-and-white flag hanging crookedly from one of the outer wooden beams, she guessed that she was in or near Brightvale.
As she watched, she saw a blue Eyrie walking towards the door of the building. She noticed a sign with the word “Inn” engraved, but she didn’t have time to see any more before the vision moved inside the building, following the blue Eyrie’s path through what appeared to be a small restaurant on the lower floor of the inn. As the Eyrie turned to round a corner, Clarisse felt a peculiar sensation of magical energy permeating the room, as if a great spell had been cast there. She strained to see around the corner....
It was too late. The vision faded from her view almost as quickly as it had come. As she gradually became aware of where she was, she opened her eyes to see a dozen pairs of eyes staring directly at her. There were so many people talking at once that she couldn’t be sure what, exactly, was being said.
“Is she okay?” someone in the back was asking; it sounded like their teacher.
“Is she dead?” someone else cried, nudging her way through the crowd of faeries clustered around Clarisse.
Clarisse looked around slowly. She was lying on the floor of the classroom near her desk. Aralia was nearby, watching Clarisse with wide and terrified eyes. Many of the other students just looked at Clarisse as if she were a particularly entertaining show.
It was Aralia who finally helped her stand up. At first, Clarisse almost recoiled from her touch, expecting to be flooded by her grief, but the faerie was so focused on Clarisse that her pain was, for the moment, hidden.
Their teacher finally made her way through the crowd, talking so rapidly that Clarisse didn’t catch every word.
“Are you all right, dear? We were all so worried... you just fainted...do you know if... never mind, I’m sure the nurse will know what to do.... Does Principal Petrici, I mean, do you think we need to contact her? I mean, has she been informed of your, well, rather peculiar condition...?”
Clarisse wasn’t sure which of these questions she was supposed to answer, so she just said, “I’m fine.”
“Who will volunteer to escort Clarisse to the nurse?” trilled the teacher.
“I’ll go by myself. I’m fine,” Clarisse insisted, and abruptly pushed her way through the crowd of onlookers and strode out the door before anyone could protest.
Of course, Clarisse had no intention of seeing the nurse. She knew that there was nothing really wrong with her, except perhaps insanity. Instead, she headed to the first floor and navigated her way through a labyrinth of corridors until she arrived at her room.
Since her friends were still in class, Clarisse had their dormitory to herself. Clarisse walked over to the window and opened it wide, letting a refreshing breeze wash over her. After a moment, she felt considerably better, and the last residues of her symptoms were blown away with the wind.
Reaching under her mattress, she pulled out a battered notebook. She had been documenting her visions for many years, even before she was sure if they were really coming true. Casually she flipped through its pages, watching her handwriting progress from that of a small child’s to a more eligible penmanship.
Producing a pen from a nearby drawer, Clarisse flipped open a fresh page and jotted down the date. Carefully, she wrote down every detail she could remember about her vision. At the bottom of the page, she scrawled her immediate thoughts about what the vision might mean:
Something is going to happen in an inn in Brightvale.
The inn was empty of customers except for the Eyrie—why? Is it closed? Abandoned?
Who is the Eyrie? A customer? Owner? Employee?
Could be the Eyrie from the 3rd Prophecy!!!
Clarisse glanced at what she had written and sighed. As was usual with her visions, she had more questions than answers. Returning the notebook to its hiding place, she then retrieved the old sheet of parchment upon which the third prophecy was written, and read it to herself once more.
She could make no more sense of the lines than she had when she’d first read them months ago. She avoided looking at the dreaded last line, but the words came, unbidden, into her mind: “the inevitable death foretold.” There was no mistaking it; one of them was going to die.
Clarisse remembered, with a jolt of pain, the extent of the grief Aralia had been feeling today. Clarisse knew that, if something should happen to one of her friends, the pain she had felt today would be nothing compared to the pain that was to come.
On the outskirts of Brightvale, a small, thatch-roofed building sat, huddled in the shadows of several large trees. The decrepit structure housed Marshall’s Inn. The lower floor consisted of a small eating establishment, while the upper floor held five rooms available for rent. A portly green Skeith named Marshall was the owner and manager of the inn.
Marshall was the only employee overseeing business on the lower floor that night, so he was the only person who noticed the arrival of an unusual customer. A tall, thin figure, shrouded in a heavy, dark cloak and hood, entered the door of the small inn. Marshall watched the figure warily. He sensed instantly that there was something sinister about this guest.
As the figure moved towards him, she stepped in front of several flickering candles, and the Skeith knew intuitively that something was wrong, but it took him a moment to realize what it was: when he looked at the wooden floor behind the figure, he expected to see the dark silhouette of the figure’s shadow. Instead, there was nothing.
Marshall blinked rapidly and studied the wooden flooring intently, believing that his eyes had betrayed him. But, as the figure progressed even closer towards him, he was certain that the stranger cast no shadow.
“C-can I help you?” he stammered as the figure drew near.
“Yes,” the figure replied, and Marshall was again taken aback. The figure’s voice was high, clear, and feminine. It reminded him of the pealing of tiny golden bells.
“I’d like a table for four, somewhere private,” she continued. She dropped several golden coins onto the counter in front of him. The Skeith eyed them greedily.
“Of course,” he said, his fears assuaged by the pretty sound of her voice and the authentic appearance of her coins. “Right this way.” He led her to a table in the far back corner of the inn, mostly shielded from the view of the other customers.
“Will this do?”
“This will be fine,” she murmured, sliding gracefully into her chair despite being hindered by the voluminous folds of her cloak. She glanced around the table critically. “Could I have some more candles brought?” she asked. “My companions and I aren’t accustomed to darkness.”
“Of course,” said Marshall, not understanding the reason for this odd request but happy to oblige if there was a possibility of receiving more golden coins.
Several minutes later, three more strangers entered through the same door. Like the first, they were heavily cloaked, with their faces covered. Marshall led them straight to the far table, which was now lit with more than a dozen candles. Marshall could not help noticing, as they moved in front of the candlelight, that they, too, did not seem to cast a shadow. Marshall felt a moment of disquiet as he contemplated this, but temporarily put it out of his mind as he went to find his best waitress.
After ordering a waitress to their table, he wandered into the kitchen, where the only cook was preparing dinner.
“Ontagio,” Marshall murmured, “have you ever heard of a Neopian creature that doesn’t cast a shadow?”
Ontagio thought for a moment. “Of course,” he said. “Light faeries don’t cast a shadow. It’s one of Neopia’s great mysteries. I heard it’s because they’re made of light. Light doesn’t cast a shadow; if you had a place full of light and nothing else, there would be no shadows. It’s the obstruction of light that creates shadows. The objects around light faeries will cast shadows, created by their presence, but the faeries themselves don’t have them.” Ontagio said this in what he considered to be a rather knowledgeable, worldly tone.
“Hmm,” said Marshall musingly. He hadn’t heard of such a thing, but he had never had any cause to deal with faeries before. He wasn’t entirely convinced by Ontagio’s explanation; it didn’t sound very scientific to him, and Ontagio wasn’t known for being a wealth of accurate information.
“What do light faeries voices sound like?” Marshall asked.
“I can’t say for certain,” said Ontagio, “because I’ve only met one light faerie before. Her voice was pretty, like... like bells.”
“Well, I think we’re in luck tonight!” Marshall cried, finally convinced that, at least in this instance, Ontagio knew what he was talking about. “Four light faeries have come to my inn!”
Meanwhile, back at the corner table, the waitress had taken the faeries’ orders and rushed off.
“Are you sure this is safe? Meeting out in public like this?” hissed one of the faeries, looking at the first.
“Of course,” said the first carelessly. “I know for a fact that the Faerie Queen doesn’t frequent small, dingy inns in Brightvale.”
“But what if someone here gets suspicious, and reports to her?” whispered one of the others.
“Why would they? We’re not doing anything suspicious, only eating a meal and having a quiet conversation,” said the first faerie confidently, but there was a hint of deceit in her eyes.
“Now, listen to me,” she continued. “You three are the faeries I trust most to carry out this plan. I’ve found plenty of faeries myself, but I’m going to need a lot of support if we’re going to pull this off. I need all of you to guarantee that you can bring more faeries to help us.”
All three faeries instantly assured her that they could. “You know what is at stake,” the first continued. “If we succeed, all of Neopia will be free of Fyora’s tyranny. Faerieland will be ruled with justice and benevolence once more. I know that there are many faeries who have been treated unjustly since the beginning of Fyora’s reign as Queen. We need the support of all of those faeries if we are to succeed in making Faerieland a peaceful kingdom once more.”
The other three faeries murmured their assent.
“Very well,” she said. “Lucine, I will meet you tomorrow and give you very specific directions on where to find me. I will expect you to pass the information on to Lesedi in person; do not mail the directions or trust anyone to pass them on. Lesedi, you will then give the directions to Lucasta. All three of you assemble the faeries and meet me at that location in two days.”
“Yes, Linisa,” the faeries murmured.
As the faeries left, Linisa smiled grimly to herself. Soon, her plan for revenge would begin. Fyora would regret her decision, and so would the Prophecy Faeries who started it all.
To be continued...