The Prophecy Faeries 3: Linisa's Return - Part Five
PART FIVE: THE PROFESSOR
Fortunately for Hortensia, the woods where the four faeries had landed were full of thriving plant life. Drawing more energy from the plants around her, she recovered quickly. She awoke to feel sunlight dancing across her face as it streamed in through a break in the trees. Feeling refreshed, she sat up and noticed that she had been lying beside a large tree; its energy had undoubtedly fueled her recovery.
Her friends were not so lucky. Though Clarisse was also recovering quickly, thanks to the fresh air, Victoria and Bernadette didn’t look much better than they had before. Hortensia guessed that being in contact with the elements that gave them magic would help them just as it had helped her.
She was digging around in her bag, looking for water, when she heard Clarisse stir behind her.
“I don’t know who this faerie is,” Clarisse muttered, “but she can cast one strong spell.”
“That’s for sure,” Hortensia agreed, pulling a bottle of water from her bag. “Come on. Let’s see if we can help Tori and Dette.”
After the two faeries had gently splashed Victoria’s hand with water, she began to recover almost instantly. Within a few minutes, she was well enough to sit up and take a drink, which sped her recovery still further.
“This is ridiculous,” Victoria gasped. “Even when we fought against dark sorcerers, we were never this drained.”
“I think it had something to do with the spell,” muttered Clarisse. “It did more than hold us captive. It was draining our energy from the start, impairing our magic.”
“Not to mention the fact that we used magic for hours trying to break it,” added Hortensia.
“How are we going to help Dette?” Clarisse asked, casting a worried glance at the dark faerie, who had not stirred.
“This sunlight can’t be helping much,” said Victoria. “Darkness will help her recover more.”
“Let’s see if we can move her out of the sun,” suggested Hortensia. The three faeries carried Bernadette over to the shade of two trees, where it was considerably darker. Still, Bernadette showed no signs of recovery. The other three felt their strength rapidly returning, until they felt stronger every minute, but Bernadette did not stir.
“Where do we go from here?” asked Victoria as they waited. “We can’t contact Fyora to ask for help, but we’ve got to get out of this area. It won’t be long before the Eyrie realizes we’re gone and comes after us. We’re barely out of sight of the inn. He could find us easily if he looked.”
“You’re right,” Clarisse agreed, “but there’s nothing we can do about that until Dette wakes up. The three of us aren’t strong enough to carry her.”
Looking at the position of the sun, Hortensia judged that it had been mid-morning when they had awoken. It was mid-afternoon before Bernadette began to stir.
“Dette! You’re awake!” cried Victoria joyfully when Bernadette finally opened her eyes.
“Yeah,” she muttered shakily, closing her eyes again.
“Dette, you really need to wake up now,” Victoria scolded. “We need to get back to Faerieland.”
“Go without me,” Bernadette muttered.
“No way,” said Clarisse. “We don’t split up, remember?”
“There’s no way I’m getting back to Faerieland today,” said Bernadette weakly. “I don’t think I can fly right now.”
The three faeries exchanged worried glances. If Bernadette couldn’t fly, they had nowhere to go.
“We should head into Brightvale,” suggested Clarisse, “and find a place to stay until Dette recovers.”
“But the Eyrie will come looking for us,” said Victoria. “Won’t Brightvale be the first place he looks?”
“Maybe not,” said Clarisse. “After all, he’d expect us to be long gone by now, not hanging around less than a mile from the inn. Anyway, the center of Brightvale is filled with people, so it will be easy to hide there for the night.”
“Claire’s right,” Hortensia agreed, “and anyway, I don’t think Dette could make it anywhere else.”
“Hey,” said Bernadette feebly, barely opening her eyes, “I have a suggestion.”
“What?” said Clarisse, Victoria, and Hortensia all at once.
“Hentoff gave me a list of names,” Bernadette reminded them. “He said they were all friends of his that we could rely on for help, if we needed it. One of them lives in Brightvale Castle.”
The faeries considered this for a moment. “Sounds like a plan,” said Victoria at last. “After all, if Hentoff trusted them, I’m sure we can.”
“And we should be safe inside the Castle,” added Clarisse.
Together, the faeries helped Bernadette to her feet and set off. At first, they walked in the opposite direction of the inn, knowing only that they wanted to put as much distance between them and the inn as possible. Eventually, they emerged at the opposite end of the forest. Ahead, they could see the pinnacles atop the parapets of Brightvale Castle, rising above the landscape. As they drew closer, they could see clusters of buildings, with smoke rising from chimneys into the air.
“Almost there, Dette,” Victoria reassured her. “We’ll make it!”
The journey seemed to take forever, for Bernadette moved at an agonizing pace, occasionally relying on one of the others for support. Night was falling when the faeries reached the main streets of Brightvale.
“Let’s avoid the main roads,” Victoria said. “We don’t want to be noticed, not with the Eyrie looking for us.”
They traveled through alleyways and dark passageways, cramming themselves single-file between thatch-roofed houses, avoiding the cobblestone streets in favor of the unpaved, muddy alleys.
At long last, they arrived at the castle. The battlements of the castle loomed before them, made even more intimidating by the deep shadows they cast in the moonlight. The faeries made their way to the back gate of the castle. The gatekeeper took one look at the four exhausted, grimy faeries, and grew instantly suspicious.
“No faeries allowed in,” he said hotly. “Don’t you know about Hagan’s negotiations with Fyora? He ordered that no faeries be allowed into our great land until the trading issue is resolved—”
“We came into Brightvale before that,” said Victoria quickly.
“Anyway, we really don’t have time for this,” said Bernadette. “We’ve come to visit an old friend, Professor Solon.” She recited the name from memory, without needing to consult the list.
The gatekeeper looked surprised. “Professor Solon doesn’t usually receive visitors,” he said stiffly. “I suggest you leave now.”
“Tell him we’ve been sent by Professor Hentoff,” said Clarisse quickly.
Grumbling to himself, the gatekeeper dispatched a messenger to Professor Solon’s room in the far wing of the castle. A few moments later, the messenger returned to announce that Professor Solon had requested to see his guests at once. Looking vaguely surprised, the gatekeeper allowed the faeries to enter.
The messenger led them through the twists and turns of the castle corridors until they arrived at a small wing of rooms off the library.
“Professor Solon lives here,” said the messenger, indicating one of the doors. He left promptly, casting curious glances over his shoulder at the strange faeries.
Clarisse knocked hesitantly upon the door.
“Come in,” said a gruff voice from within.
The faeries entered the small room. It was filled with books. Books were stacked floor to ceiling, stuffed on shelves, protruding from every nook and cranny, overflowing from every inch of the room. After a moment, the faeries managed to locate the small sofa in the center of the room. Upon it sat a thin, wiry blue Lenny with crooked glasses perched upon his nose. His face wrinkled with age.
“Who in Neopia are you?” he demanded as Hortensia shut the door behind them.
“We’re the Prophecy Faeries,” said Victoria. “Perhaps you’ve heard of us?”
“Heard of you?” spluttered Solon. “Why, you’re all old Hentoff ever talked about! For years and years, I had to listen to him ramble on about old prophecies and dark magic and four faerie heroes. I never thought he’d actually find you... in fact, I was never entirely convinced that you existed!”
“Well, Hentoff was right,” said Victoria matter-of-factly.
“Why did he send you?” Solon said with a frown. “What use could I possibly be to you? I mean, I am an expert in the history of Brightvale, as well as many other histories, but I am by no means more knowledgeable than Hentoff, and at any rate I cannot presume to guess why you would need such knowledge. In what way could I be of service? What would even make Hentoff think to send you here?”
“Honestly, he didn’t send us, exactly,” said Victoria quickly. “He once told us that you were a friend of his, whom we could trust if we ever needed assistance.”
“That is true,” said Solon. “You can trust me with anything. Hentoff and I have always been loyal to one another. What is it you require?”
“Well, we were in the area,” said Victoria softly, “and we need a place to stay, until we can fly to Faerieland.”
“I see,” said Solon. “And I suppose you bring trouble with you, is that it? I presume there’s some villain or other who’s after you at this very moment?”
“That’s a possibility,” said Bernadette, feigning indifference.
“Well,” said Solon, “I suppose you must stay here, then.”
“Thank you,” said Victoria. “We’re very grateful.”
“I don’t have much space, as you can see,” said Solon, “but you can make yourselves at home. How is old Hentoff, anyway?”
The faeries exchanged meaningful looks, imagining Hentoff in his hospital bed.
“Just fine,” said Victoria.
“As ornery as ever, I imagine,” Solon continued, mostly to himself. “A wise Draik, old Hentoff. I could live five lifetimes and not acquire all the knowledge he had.”
“Yeah, five lifetimes ought to do it,” muttered Bernadette, smiling to herself.
“Is he still teaching at the Academy?” Solon continued conversationally.
“Yes,” said Hortensia hastily. “He’s been our Magic History professor all year.”
“Of course,” said Solon, “that was always his best subject. Of course, a genius like Hentoff could teach anything he wanted, really. I don’t know of anyone more knowledgeable than him, in any subject! Though I pride myself on my extensive study of the history of Brightvale, I don’t doubt that he knew far more than me—never let on, of course, that he knew more, he was so humble that way. We scholars like to think we’re the most knowledgeable in our chosen fields, of course. But Magic History, that was where he really excelled. He’s a bit boring as a teacher, I imagine... he never had the ability to make his lectures interesting, unfortunately. Only his fellow scholars, like myself, truly appreciated his teaching... but then, you know all this. He’s your professor, after all. So tell me, have the prophecies come true? How did he find you?”
Solon looked up from his tea to find that all four faeries had fallen asleep almost instantly.
Fyora, accompanied by several guards and attendants, arrived at the inn just after nightfall. Cautiously, she approached the building. Almost immediately after entering, she sensed magic. Quickly, she cast protective spells around herself, so that any magic in the inn would not harm her. Then she rounded the corner and examined the magic lurking beyond it.
After examining the spell, Fyora was able to piece together what had happened. Clearly, the spell had been laid as a trap for the faeries. What surprised her was that the faeries were no longer here. As strong as they were, it was doubtful that the faeries would have been able to escape; the spell was a particularly malicious one that drained faerie magic, in addition to holding one captive.
The most likely explanation was that they had been moved somewhere else, most likely closer to Linisa and the Shining Sun. There was no chance of finding the faeries now; the only option remaining was to plan an attack on Linisa. Of course, Linisa would be prepared for such an attack, and with the Shining Sun as her weapon, she might be impossible to defeat.
All they could do now was head to Brightvale Castle to inform Hagan of what had happened. If she could gather support from all of Faerieland’s allies, she might be able to mount an attack against Linisa. Without the Prophecy Faeries or the Shining Sun, it would be difficult, indeed, but the Faerie Queen was not one to give up without a fight.
“Where to next, Your Majesty?” asked Lyna anxiously when Fyora emerged from the inn.
“To Brightvale Castle,” said Fyora, “and hurry. We haven’t any time to lose.”
To be continued...