The Prophecy Faeries 3: Linisa's Return - Part Eight
PART EIGHT: THE ROSE
This time, the faeries did not have to be shown the hidden tunnel in the mountains that led to the Sun. The memory of its location had been burned into their minds.
After landing at the base of the mountain, they took a brief break to eat the last of the food they had brought with them and rest their tired wings. As they rested, they discussed their strategy.
“I still think maybe we should wait for Fyora,” said Hortensia cautiously. “We can hardly defeat Linisa by ourselves, especially if she has several other faeries working with her.”
“I think we should try,” countered Bernadette. “We don’t have much time to lose. We can’t wait around all day for help to come. We’ll probably just end up captured again. Remember how easily Imagen found us when we were out here?”
“What are we going to do, just try to battle any number of faeries by ourselves? For all we know, Linisa has a whole army backing her up. We’re outnumbered,” protested Hortensia.
“But who knows how long it will take Fyora to get here?” asked Victoria. “We think she’s gathering an army, made up of soldiers from all different lands. That will take days. By then, it could be too late.”
“What do you think, Claire?” Hortensia asked.
Clarisse had remained silent during their discussion. She was remembering the words of the prophecy that foretold a death. Clarisse had wanted to take as few risks as possible, to prevent the death. But all along she had known that it was inevitable; the prophecy would come true in the end. Someone was going to die, and whatever choice they made now couldn’t change that. The prophecies had never been wrong.
So Clarisse ignored her instinct to run. The time for caution had passed. “We don’t have a choice, Tenny. We have to do this now.”
They quickly outlined their strategy, using their strengths to plan what each of them would do. Finally, the plan was complete. Victoria led the way through the forest, following the path Imagen had taken only a few months earlier.
At the base of the mountain was a small opening, just large enough for the faeries to squeeze in. The path within the tunnel led them up a steep incline; gradually, the faeries began to ascend the side of the mountain.
After several minutes, the path grew level and widened considerably. Ahead of them, it opened wide, creating a small chamber. Beyond that chamber, the faeries knew, was another, the one that contained the massive entity known as the Shining Sun.
Clarisse closed her eyes and focused her attention on the room before them, which was too far away for any of them to see clearly. She felt the presence of four different beings. The magical energy of three of them suggested that they were faeries, but she didn’t know any of them. The fourth was unmistakably familiar, because she had already read his mind once within the last day.
“Three faeries are in there,” she whispered to her friends. “Tyrrin, the blue Eyrie, is with them.”
“How is that possible?” whispered Victoria.
“He escaped from the guards in Faerieland,” muttered Clarisse, “and he told Linisa that we’re on our way.”
There was silence for a moment as Clarisse listened to the thoughts of the three faeries. “Linisa is one of the faeries in there,” Clarisse whispered at last. “She’s giving instructions. One of the faeries she’s talking to, named Lesedi, is supposed to go check on some prisoners. Apparently the faeries that are supposed to be guarding the prisoners haven’t been communicating with Linisa in a while. Linisa is leaving now, to talk with some faeries that are somewhere else in the mountain. Tyrrin is going with her. The last faerie is staying behind.”
A change of plans was quickly made as it was decided that Hortensia would follow Lesedi to discover the location of the prisoners, and then report back to her friends so that they could free them later. Clarisse and Victoria would follow Linisa and Tyrrin. Bernadette would remain behind to immobilize the last faerie and guard the room in case any of Linisa’s others supporters arrived.
As soon as all but the last faerie had left the room, Bernadette swooped in and shot a rapid spell at the remaining faerie, who was immobilized instantly. Victoria and Clarisse swooped in immediately afterwards and headed down the path that Linisa and Tyrrin had taken. Hortensia took the opposite path, which Lesedi had headed down.
Hortensia had never been in this tunnel before. Unlike the one they had come in, it remained fairly level. Hortensia and Lesedi stayed in the tunnel for what seemed like hours (with Hortensia staying far enough behind that Lesedi would not notice her) before Hortensia caught sight of the end of the tunnel.
After squeezing through the opening, Hortensia found that she was hovering about fifteen feet above the tops of the nearby trees. In the distance, she could see the light faerie disappearing through the thick trees. Hortensia flew to the ground and hurried after her, trying to remain as quiet as possible.
After another hour or so of walking, Hortensia caught sight of a village in the distance. She recognized it as Neovia. Suddenly, she remembered the story about The Rose that she had told her friends, and the words of the prophecy flashed in her mind. She knew, in an instant, that the “guardians” of the Shining Sun had been imprisoned within the abandoned building. As quietly as she could, she followed the light faerie through the edge of the woods.
In the distance, a small hill rose up, just visible through the trees. A long, winding pathway led the way up to an old mansion. It was clearly abandoned, for it was dilapidated and in need of repair. Weeds had sprouted up all across the lawn and threatened to overtake it. Dead leaves were scattered wildly about the decaying lawn. The bare, black branches of the trees had grown so long that they encroached upon the house, like skeletal fingers reaching out to snatch it. It was the most desolate place Hortensia had ever seen.
Hortensia waited for Lesedi to enter the house before emerging from behind a nearby tree and creeping up. She sneaked around the back, looking for a suitable entry point. As she walked onto the back lawn, she was met with an astonishing sight. Stretched out before her were the remnants of the rose gardens that the house had been named for. As far as the eye could see lay the dry, blackened plants, now unrecognizable. If Hortensia had not known that they were once roses, she would not have been able to distinguish them from the dead weeds of the surrounding lawn.
Hortensia forced herself to look away from the sight and focused her attention on the house. Quickly, she spied an open window on the second floor, flew up to it, and slipped inside.
She was standing inside what was once a bedroom. Most of the furniture in the home had, at some point or another, been removed or stolen. Only a few pieces of an old wooden bed frame remained to reveal the room’s former purpose.
Stepping out into the hallway, Hortensia could hear footsteps issuing from the floor below. Up ahead, however, she sensed the presence of magic. Cautiously, she moved forward up the hall, trying to step lightly on the creaking floorboards. At the far end of the hall was a set of double doors. Magic emanated from the room beyond.
Hortensia remembered the incantation she had learned for detecting the purpose of a spell. Casting it quickly, she determined that the spell on the room prevented a person from leaving if they stepped through the doors.
Once she had realized what type of spell it was, destroying it was simple. Once she was certain that all enchantments on the room had been destroyed, she cautiously opened the double doors and stepped inside.
In the house’s former life, the massive space might have been a game room or a ballroom, but since the house had been converted into a prison, it was filled with row upon row of rusty prison cells. Almost every one of the cells was occupied.
Every head in the room swiveled towards Hortensia and focused on her; each of the prisoners wore a questioning expression. Hortensia felt her crippling shyness overtake her, and she couldn’t think of anything to say.
“Told you they’d just send someone else,” called a voice. The speaker was a bespectacled female Korbat, calling across the room to another prisoner. “Now we’re in more trouble.”
“It was worth a try, wasn’t it?” countered the Buzz she was addressing. “And my idea was brilliant, as I said. The poor execution wasn’t my fault.”
“Yes, we know,” someone grumbled, “you’re a brilliant scientist and our intelligence is no comparison. If you’re so smart, why couldn’t you think of something to get us out of here when your first idea failed?”
As the Buzz launched into an angry tirade, several other prisoners began to argue with each other. Hortensia gave up on trying to speak to all of them. Instead, she approached the Korbat who had first spoken.
“What, exactly, happened here?” Hortensia asked her.
“It wasn’t my idea,” said the Korbat quickly. “Dr. Greymond, that red Buzz over there, figured out how to trick the light faerie guard into letting him and someone else out of their cells. Someone pretended to be sick, and he begged the faerie to let him cure her. As soon as the faerie’s back was turned, the two of them knocked her out. Problem was, neither of them checked to see if she had the key with her. When they dragged the faerie into Greymond’s cell, the door shut behind them, and they were all locked in. So, we’ve been waiting around for Linisa to send in a replacement guard—you.”
Hortensia had to stifle a laugh at the idea of the escapees locking themselves in. “Actually, Linisa didn’t send me,” said Hortensia, “but she did send another light faerie, who’s downstairs now looking for the previous guard.”
“In that case,” said the Korbat, “would you mind immobilizing her for us and getting us out of here?”
Hortensia considered the situation briefly. On the one hand, her friends probably needed her help back at the Sun, and it would take her long enough to get back as it was. Now that she knew the prisoners were here, they could come back to free them after Linisa had been defeated. On the other hand, Hortensia and her friends needed all the help they could get, and the guardians of the Shining Sun would certainly help out.
“All right,” said Hortensia, and she quickly left the room. Moments later, the light faerie had been immobilized, and Hortensia inspected the rest of the house to make sure that there weren’t prisoners in any other rooms. At last, she returned to the large room once more.
“Listen up,” she called. “I’m Hortensia, one of the four Prophecy Faeries who saved the Shining Sun from sorcerers several months ago. My friends and I need your help to capture the faerie who imprisoned you.”
“Let us out, then,” called Dr. Greymond, “so we can get to work!”
Before long, all of the guards and scientists had been freed. Together, they left the mansion and set off for the mountain, knowing that time was against them. Hortensia hoped that the guardians would help outnumber their foes, but she was afraid that they might be too late.
To be continued...