The Defender: Part Two
Years had passed by since the village had been destroyed and Jerdana’s worst fears had become reality: the Sleeper had turned herself against the others. Now she was known as the person she really was, the Darkest Faerie, or, as Jerdana preferred to call her, The Betrayer. The destruction of the village had been her first attempt to seize control of the city of Altador; many more had followed. Nowadays, protecting the city against her had become Jerdana’s main task. She didn’t know how much longer she could hold on, though. Although Jerdana refused to give up her beloved city without a fight, the fight seemed more and more hopeless every day. Unless....
There was a certain spell Jerdana knew about, which might protect the city, but the price for it would be very high. More and more, however, the thought came to her it might be worth it, for there was little hope left.
Jerdana looked out of her window. A very crestfallen Timu was sitting in the palace’s gardens. She was petting a beautiful Faerie Yooyu. They both looked as miserable as ever. It isn’t your fault, girl, Jerdana thought. Don’t blame yourself for what happened. You’ve given everything you could, and maybe more, but it was crazy. We should have cancelled the Cup in these current circumstances.
Herme’s idea about making a game out of their play with Yooyus had taken root. Yooyuball had emerged, and with it, a yearly tournament had started. They called it the Altador Cup. At first, it had only a local tournament, but over the years, more and more lands had participated, as well as lands form father away like Shenkuu and Faerieland. For many years, Herme, later joined by Timu, had guided Altador’s own team to the victory. No one was as good at the game as he was, no one seemed able to understand the Yooyu and what its next move would be better than him. Herme might have claimed the Yooyus to be the true stars of the game, but he was another star of it himself.
The twelve Yooyus Monya and Timu found in the secret corridor had been even more than stars; they had been heroes. Twelve Yooyus, each Yooyu bound to one of the founders of Altador. They had lived in their own room and were treated like kings and queens themselves. Some of them turned out to be rather good in Yooyuball, or otherwise their offspring was. One day, that terrible day, almost a month ago, they had been found dead in their cages. One single spell had killed them all and it was not hard guessing who had cast that spell.
It had been the worst for Herme; he had dedicated his life to taking care of these Petpets. It was one of the events that had stopped him from participating in the Cup this year. The other event... Jerdana shivered.
Shortly after the Yooyus had been killed, Monya had disappeared. Again, there was no doubt who was behind it. In a desperate attempt Jerdana had sent Herme on a quest to find her, but when Herme did return to the city only a few days ago, Monya was not with him. Herme refused to tell Jerdana anything about the ordeal, which had made her think there was little hope left for the slender Spotted Lupe.
The result of it had been that Herme withdrew himself from competing in the Altador Cup that year. Part of the reason was his own grief over the Yooyus, but he was also still searching for Monya when the Cup had started. Because of this, the city of Altador didn’t have its star team ready for the Altador Cup. Next to that, the team had also been worn out by the strain of the never-ending siege the city had been under for the last few months. Taken that into consideration, it was a miracle Timu and here team-mates had made it even to the finals, the finals where they had to play against Faerieland. One Faerie Yooyu had sealed their fate: Altador had lost. It was the worst omen possible.
It was needless to say how bad the Yooyuball team had felt about this; even the Yooyu who scored the winning goal for Faerieland blamed himself for it. Now, Jerdana felt how, slowly, the whole city had given up hope. She wasn’t sure whether even King Altador still believed they could win this battle. She wasn’t even sure whether she believed it herself.
It was still early in the afternoon when Fyora entered Jerdana’s private chambers.
It was all she could say.
The more years the Altador Cup had lasted, more teams from different countries had joined it and their rulers had visited the city during the Cup to support their players. When Faerieland joined, Jerdana had found herself a friend and ally in the Faerie queen to help her aid in her battle against the Darkest Faerie.
“Sorry for what?” Jerdana replied. “Sorry for your team being fresh and at the top of their power while our team has been worn out for months due to all the recent events and on top of that they were missing their best player?”
When Jerdana mentioned Herme, Fyora came to the point at once.
“Any news about Monya?”
Jerdana looked down and gave a sigh.
“There’s no hope for her anymore. That’s all I want to say about it.”
There was a dark look in Jerdana’s eyes Fyora had not seen before. The Faerie Queen realized the fight against the Darkest Faerie was beginning to take its toll on the Protector as well. Fyora was shocked about this; it was not a good sign.
“But why? I could understand her going after Altador, or any of the Twelve for that matter, but why Monya?”
“She hated her. She hated her ever since Monya set a paw into the palace, because Monya took away a great deal of the influence she had on Altador. He would still listen to her advice, but to Monya’s advice as well.”
Jerdana fell silent for a moment, then continued.
“Besides that, Monya was an amazing way to hurt Altador. He would have done anything the Betrayer would have asked him to save her life, I’m sure about that.”
“Poor Monya,” Fyora said, “and poor Altador too. Somehow I believe he can’t keep up this battle much longer. This city is giving up the fight; so is their king. Talking about it, what about you, Jerdana? Can you continue this fight forever? You know she won’t give up until she’s has won and she wants the city at her control. She’s winning, Jerdana, you should realize that.”
“Even you are giving up!” Jerdana accused Fyora.
“I wish I wouldn’t be saying this, but I’ve never seen the future as black as today. Do you still see any way out of this? Even with the power of that orb of yours, you are no match for her."
Jerdana clutched the magical golden orb with its red stone. She could feel its power floating through her fingers. She hesitated.
“There is a certain spell...”
“You know the spells of Slumber?” Fyora gasped in surprise. “Those are very ancient magic. I never realised there would be any Neopet around who would still knows these spells.”
“I know it has been said they were lost very long ago, but they were taught to me when I was still a child,” Jerdana said. “I know how powerful those spells are and they are not to be used lightly, but this is not the situation one can call lightly.”
Fyora nodded. “I’m not even sure if I would have the courage to use those spells myself. You’re planning on using the last spell?”
“Yes, the strongest one. It will place the city in a time bubble, for a thousand years. In that way, the Betrayer won’t be able to touch the city in any way. You should realize, she was one of the founders of the city, so it creates a magic bond. She’s draining energy from it, energy from the fear and despair of anyone who lives in the city. That’s what’s making her so powerful. If she can’t touch the city anymore...”
“Then I might be able to defeat her,” Fyora whispered. “But the price is high, Jerdana, very high. Is it worth it?”
“Do I have any other choice? I see no other way anymore; not even evacuating the city will help us now. Besides, where should we go? Next to that, I helped to found it, I’m the Protector, I won’t let go of the city of Altador without a fight!”
A slight magical glow surrounded the Aisha. Fyora was shocked by seeing it. Until now, she never fully realised how strong Jerdana was.
Jerdana paused for a moment; however, when she continued, the glow around her had disappeared and her voice was a lot less steady.
“Besides that, what would happen if she would finally conquer the city? Could you imagine what she would do to me, or to Altador for that matter? We are the two she hates more than anything in the world. She won’t let us retreat in peace, that is one thing I know for sure.”
“When do you plan to cast the spells? I figure you don’t have that much time anymore?”
Jerdana was silent for a short time. They both knew the answer she would give already.
“As soon as possible. I might even be able to cast the spells today.”
“Do whatever you have to do, but please let me know in some way when you do it.”
Jerdana tried to keep her voice as steady as possible.
Fyora looked like she wanted to walk away, then she suddenly turned around to face Jerdana again.
“Remember, Jerdana, we Faeries, we are here to stay forever.”
“You mean whatever I’ll do, we will never get rid of her?”
“I mean whenever you will return, I’ll be there waiting for you.”
The two friends hugged each other for what they knew would be the last time in a thousand years, then Fyora left, this time for good, leaving Jerdana alone to fulfil her almost impossible task.
Night had fallen over Altador. Only a few of its inhabitants knew it would be a very long night, one that would last a thousand years. Jerdana was looking at the sky, filled with stars. It didn’t take her too long to convince Altador of what she had done. Like her, he too wanted to protect the city at all costs and he had given her the freedom to do whatever she thought was necessary. For the first in a long time, Jerdana had seen a spark in his eyes that told her that maybe, things would turn out alright after all. She needed that assurance from him now more than ever.
Therefore, Jerdana had done everything she had to do, she had cast the spells and she even ensured Fyora would find her orb the following day. The Faerie Queen would continue the battle she had to give up. Jerdana knew she would succeed in that, at least for now.
The only thing that rested Jerdana was one look at Altador’s sky at night. One star was shining brighter then the others, like a beacon, and perhaps a sign Jerdana had done the right thing after all.
She had never wished upon a star before, but now Jerdana closed her eyes. She wished the city of Altador would return again one day, more glorious than ever before and that she could share that new start with everyone who was so dear to her: Herme, the Twelve, or whatever was left of them, Altador, Timu... and Monya.
She opened her eyes again and cast one last, final look at the sky. Jerdana felt how the spell started to work.
It is the end of the afternoon, when Jerdana walks through the Hall of Heroes again and sees Timu’s still sitting at King Altador’s statue
“Are you still sitting here?” she asks in surprise.
“Yes, and I’m free to sit here,” Timu snaps at her, rather cross.
Jerdana leans against the nearest statue, not realizing this is her own.
“Why are you always so angry at me, Timu?” she asks.
Timu looks away and says nothing. Jerdana isn’t sure whether she sees a tear blinking in the Pink Lupe’s eyes or not.
“I miss Herme,” Timu suddenly says.
“Well, you see him daily, don’t you?” Jerdana replies.
Although Herme did give up his job as captain of the Altador Yooyuball team, he was still the Yooyukeeper, the one responsible for the welfare of the Yooyus throughout the year, but especially during the Altador Cup period.
“I miss him on the team,” Timu explains. “It’s not the same without him. We didn’t only lose a good player, when he stopped, but also the one who knows more about Yooyus than anyone out on the field. It’s no wonder we have been down in the competition for years now. The last time we won was more than a thousand years ago.”
Timu spits out the last words.
“They are even making fun out of us, the critics I mean, and the teams who are at the top right now. Why can’t they see it? So much has changed; it is not like any of us can simply step over it. One moment, we were at war, the next moment, you wake up and a thousand years have gone by. You might think it’s just a little work of magic you did, but for all of us, our world has been turned upside down and it’s not something you get over within a few weeks, Jerdana!”
“Of course not!” the latter replies. “That’s what I realized before I did the spells, how hard it would be coming back into a world you left a thousand years ago. There has been a reason I didn't cast them earlier on. It was a last resort for me too!”
“Did you really ever think about that?” There is surprise in Timu’s voice.
“Of course I did. I’m not as ruthless as I may seem! I’ve sworn to protect the city at all costs, but I did realize the cost would be very high when I put the city into slumber. Think about it, however, Timu. Was there really any other way?”
They don’t know who’s walking up to whom. Somewhere halfway in the Hall of Heroes, Timu finds herself back crying in Jerdana’s arms. They stand that way for a long, long time, while shadows get longer and twilight is fallen over Altador.
“I miss Monya,” Timu sniffs. “It’s terrible knowing she will never be around here anymore, never hear her laugh again, never...”
“Sometimes I think she's still alive, even if it was a thousand years ago. I think of a beautiful Spotted Lupe living a safe and long life far away from the city of Altador.”
A voice speaks behind them. King Altador is walking up to them.
“Somehow, that thought eases the pain.”
Timu frees herself from Jerdana’s grip and walks up to her uncle.
“That’s a wonderful thought,” she says.
Jerdana looks at the three of them and realizes it is all right. It was never the way she intended it to be and she would have given much to have made things go otherwise, but considering all the things they’ve gone through, for now, it is all right.
Together, the three of them walk into the Altadorian sunset. Soon, they are joined in by the other members of the Twelve. No one notices the slender female Spotted Lupe who is standing just around the corner of the palace.