The Reign of Sloth: Betrayed
A young Red Lutari picked her way through an ash-filled street, frowning at the sight of a half-blackened Faerie Doll. A little girl, if she had gotten away, would be missing that soon. Or maybe it was all that was left of her, or her family... Amnai shook her head, and stopped at the remains of a charred tree stump, to see if she could rest her tired button on it, for whatever little relief it would give.
“Naomi, are you ready?” Amnai looked around the ruined street where she stood, and sighed. Kiko Lake had once been a beautiful little place, but the little town had been no match for the hordes of Dr. Sloth’s undead armies that had come swarming through the area. Rumor had it that a couple miles to the north, Neopia Central was also about to crumble, surrounded as it was by thousands of Sloth’s minions. Amnai and Naomi had only stopped at Kiko Lake to replenish their supplies, and now it was time for them to leave.
“Yeah... let’s go.” Another young Lutari, this time Blue, stepped out of an oddly shaped house that had a section of its roof collapsed. Amnai checked to make sure her food supplies were still slung over her shoulder, and offered her hand to her friend. Naomi took it, and a small blue spark flew upwards at their grasp. Amnai smiled at the little display of magic, and started chanting.
Naomi took up the chant as well, and soon a dull light surround the two sorceresses. They had learned the intricate spell of teleportation under the instruction of Fyora herself, before Sloth had once again declared war on Neopia with an army of its own residents. Gradually, the light grew brighter, and ancient Faerie runic symbols etched themselves into the air, burning like miniature suns. A few seconds later, the lights burned their brightest, and the two Lutari vanished.
A split second later, two lights began to pulse in the center of Altador, like a quick heartbeat. The pulse intensified, and took the shape Naomi and Amnai. Slowly, the lights solidified, until they were no longer light, but true flesh and blood.
“Oh my Fyora...” Naomi whispered to her twin, and Amnai swallowed in agreement. The Red Lutari blinked in surprise a couple of times before she could bring herself to take a step. Her sister followed with the beginnings of a protection spell forming in her palm. Amnai was tempted to repeat her sibling’s earlier statement, but found her mouth dry, unable to form any words, the sight before her was so terrible. She had expected things to be bad in Altador, but this...
Before today, Amnai had only taken Sloth’s invasion half seriously. She knew that yes, he had harnessed the power of the zombie paint brush, and yes, more than nine tenths of the population were roaming around, looking for a meal, but she had expected the might of the faeries, and strong fortresses like Altador, Meridell Darigan, and Brightvale to pull their armies through and defeat him quickly. But, over the past couple weeks, she had been hearing more and more bad news about these places, and her fears were confirmed as soon as her sight cleared from the blinding lights of her spell. When her vision came into focus, whatever hope she had left came crumbling down like a stone wall blown over by hurricane.
For, in front of the twins, and indeed all around Amnai and Naomi, sat what had once been Altador. The mighty stone wall was cracked in places, and in others, completely obliterated. The marvelous structures were little more than piles of smoking rubble, and the small rivers and ponds ran red. About a mile away, on a high hill, was the Hall of Heroes, or what had once been it. Now, there was only a blackened skeleton, surrounded by a blanket of ash that had choked out any plant life.
“They burned it to the ground...” Amnai finally found the strength to talk, but her voice was cracked, like the outer wall, and a small sob escaped her throat. “I thought we would be safe here... but... but they... everyone’s gone... or joined them... Oh Naomi, what’ll we do now?” The Red Lutari buried her face in her twin's shoulder, and tried to keep herself from crying. “If Altador fell, then that means almost everywhere else will have, too. Meridell and Brightvale... they won’t stand a chance! Maybe Darigan and Faerieland will hold out for a while, but if Altador fell... If it’s gone...” Amnai sniffed, and backed away from her sister. “...What do we do?” A sense of hopelessness rang in Amnai’s voice, and her eyes started to glaze over with the dull look of resignation, acceptance of their fate.
“Amnai.” Naomi firmly grasped her sibling, one hand on each shoulder, and met her sister’s eyes. “I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. If the Space Faerie really is gone, or if she won’t fight Sloth again, or wherever she is, then... then we’ll fight for her.”
“What do you mean?” The Red Lutari sniffed, and blinked a few times. She tried to take a deep breath, but instead coughed on the smoke filled air of Altador.
“I mean, we’re powerful sorcerers. We trained with Sophie and Fyora, plus those two Xweetok twins in Terror Mountain.” Naomi looked up at the sky, and smiled a grim smile. “I wasn’t going to tell you until tonight, but yesterday, Fyora contacted me saying that the Faeries have a strong resistance against Sloth, and they still have some land around their city. Fyora wants us to come and fight with her.” A brief spark of hope danced across Amnai’s eyes, and she gave a shaky laugh.
“You mean... Faerieland is still alive? Still fighting?” Amnai asked, not wanting to give herself a false hope. She had heard to many times that a city or province had been making headway against Sloth, only to find out the next day, or weak, that they had been overrun, and hundreds more citizens added to the rotting army of the undead that had destroyed their homes.
“Yes,” Naomi whispered softly, smiling. “The Faeries are far too powerful to simply get wiped out, like... the other places. Most people who escaped from attacks are traveling there, and Fyora has set up a refuge program for them. But I’m not lying when I say she contacted us personally, wanting us to help.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Amnai asked, eyebrows drawn in anger. “We could have been there already, could have been safe, could have-”
“Because, sister,” Naomi cut her sibling off, but still keeping her composure, trying to be strong for her twin. “Because I wanted to see if Altador still stood. I wanted to see if we could help.” Slowly, Amnai backed off, and she nodded in acceptance of her sister’s reason for not going straight to Faerieland.
“So what are we waiting for?” Amnai asked, suddenly impatient. “Let’s teleport there now!”
“We can’t.” The Blue Lutari sighed, shaking her head. “Fyora said that she had strong wards placed all around the city, and that we could only teleport near it, not in it. The closest we can get by magic is a few miles away, and Sloth’s army will certainly be there. We’ll have to be stealthy, if we want to get there alive.”
Amnai nodded, and offered her hand to her sister again. “Then we will be,” she said, jaw set in determination. “If Faerieland needs our help, we can go through a few miles of Sloth’s minions to give it.”
“That’s my girl,” Naomi said, and put her paw in her sister’s. A faint glow spread from it, and a few seconds later, the pair was gone. Naomi had just enough time to place a magical message for Sloth, though, before they were whisked hundreds of miles away. The Blue Lutari was confident that her boss would find it, and then he would send some drones out to fetch her and her fool sister, around the spot where they would appear outside of Faerieland.
Naomi felt a faint twinge of regret at betraying her sister like this, at giving both of their magic services to Sloth, whether willing or not, but she quickly squashed it. Sloth had promised her four fifths of the captured faeries’ magic if she aided the tyrant in his conquest, and that was more than enough incentive for the power hungry Lutari. More than enough to betray her sister for. Maybe when they got to the already-fallen Faerieland, she would have a little chat with Fyora herself about the whereabouts of her other student, Xandra. It wouldn’t hurt to siphon off a little magic from that wash-up failure, as well. And after she had enough power, Naomi would drain her sister, and overthrow Sloth himself.
All this went through the Lutari’s head a split second before they were teleported to Faerieland.
A split second was not enough to see the sparkle of a deep blue faerie wing.
It wasn’t enough to hear to silent vow of a blue haired, red eyed faerie to once again stop Sloth... and any of his followers.
Yay! First short story in FOREVAH! Reign of Sloth isn't a series, but just some short stories about that general idea.