Neopia, Year 200 Book II: Earthly Winds - Part One
This is the second book in the Neopia, Year 200 trilogy. The first book, The Beginning, was published in Issues 319-329.
Chapter One: The Darkest Hour
The silver radiance of Kreludor, cast in clear and starlit skies, illuminated the Faerie Castle courtyard as a lone cloaked Faerie made her way across the rose-pink cobblestones cast into shadow at the arrival of night.
As she glanced up at the moon far above, Janadoa noticed that there was a slight wind picking up, and shivered as currents of air swirled around her. She could have easily cast a shielding spell, but the parting words of Fyora’s message rang as clearly as the bells in the castle’s eastern tower.
Be quick, and make sure no one sees you. Janadoa was determined to follow those instructions at all costs, and the glow from a Faerie shield could attract unwanted attention. Ahead of her, moonlight illuminated the castle’s sculpture garden, a darkened hedge maze filled with sculptures of all sorts of Faeries. Only two legendary Faeries hadn’t been immortalized in the garden; one was Jhudora, and the other...
Janadoa’s pace increased as she neared the end of the garden, where an ornate, long-dry fountain stood. The statue that usually stood on top always made the Earth Faerie pause for some reason, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
The statue of the Darkest Faerie— even her moniker sent shivers up Janadoa’s spine— had vanished some months before. The only reason Faerieland hadn’t been thrown into a panic was that Fyora had quickly cast a perception spell on the fountain, making all but a select few unaware that the Faerie’s statue was actually missing. Janadoa, as usual, was one of those few.
Be quick, and make sure no one sees you. Fyora’s words woke Janadoa as if she had just been firmly pulled out of a soothing pool. The Earth Faerie walked carefully through the courtyard, avoiding any patches of light. After what felt like a thousand years, she reached the front doors of the castle and slipped through them with practiced ease. It wasn’t far to the small courtyard where the invisible door to the Hidden Tower stood, and as she slipped through and began to climb its transparent stairs, Janadoa glanced out at the slumbering city, a patchwork quilt of purple below the indigo canopy of the sky. She loved looking at the stars— it was a pity that the portal to Altador had been sealed off, as it had always been a treat to watch the skies from the observatory there on her nights off.
Those days were gone, however, and would likely never return. Yorick, Kayna, Cillo, Layla and Brianne seemed to be doing their best in capturing the members of the Valkaeum, but Janadoa still had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that such a long journey could only end in disappointment. She knew full well just how powerful the Valkaeum were, and four Neopets and a bumbling Fire Faerie were just not going to cut it.
The aged wooden door of the Hidden Tower appeared and the Earth Faerie banished thoughts of failure from her mind. She ascended the last few steps and knocked lightly on the door’s ancient surface, which swung open at once to reveal a tall, well-lit chamber. A tall pink chair was at its other end. Janadoa took a deep breath and entered the room.
“Your Highness,” she said, “I believe you wished to see me?”
Fyora put down her quill and exclusive pale pink stationery, stood up from her desk and smiled graciously at the castle maid. “Yes, Janadoa, I did. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“It was nothing,” the Earth Faerie said gracefully. Fyora nodded and returned to her chair, continuing to scribble as she spoke.
“So, how are our friends doing?”
“Rather well, I’ve heard.”
Fyora moved slightly. “That’s good. Continue.”
“They began on Mystery Island, where, after befriending a young Flotsam named Naia, discovered that Scylla had been capturing and draining fellow Water Faeries of their powers, possibly to unleash their collective energies in a great storm of some sort. After Scylla was defeated, Naia was revealed as the Uber-Water Faerie in disguise, and is currently monitoring the seas of Neopia.”
The Faerie Queen nodded. “Go on.”
“They then made their way to Happy Valley, where they came into contact with Julius Herbert Fawkes the Third, a Fire Aisha, and Luther Prewett, a red Bori. Through Luther, they met a group of rebels that were planning to overthrow Rheani. It eventually transpired that Luther was, in fact, a servant of Rheani, and after a struggle between both parties, Rheani was captured. Luther was shipped off to Neopia Central to be imprisoned by the Defenders of Neopia.”
Fyora frowned. “Is that all?”
Janadoa bowed. “Yes, Your Highness.”
The Faerie Queen bit her lip. “What of their current progress? Were they not approaching the Haunted Woods only a few days ago? What are they doing now?”
“I-I know not, Your Highness,” Janadoa admitted, her head hung low. “The Haunted Woods is a place of great darkness, ma’am, and has become even more so over the years. Telescopes of Faerie design can no longer penetrate the aura of evil that shrouds the Woods.”
She glanced up, a glimmer of hope in her eyes. “If we were to seek assistance from Altador...”
“For goodness sakes, Janadoa!” Fyora’s reply was as sharp as the Sword of Skardsen that lay beside her chair. “Don’t think such thoughts. I know Altadorian telescopes are the finest in Neopia, but we are still a banished race! Never forget that!”
“If we’re banished, why is Brianne down there, then?” Janadoa muttered under her breath. Fyora looked at the Earth Faerie curiously.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” the Earth Faerie said, smiling. “Is that all, Your Highness?”
Fyora was silent for a few moments, then spoke. “Yes, Janadoa. You are dismissed.”
“Thank you, Your Highness,” Janadoa said, curtseying and then leaving the tower as quickly as she had arrived. Fyora remained smiling, then, as soon as the Earth Faerie had gone, frowned.
“There’s something peculiar about that girl lately,” the Faerie Queen mused, absentmindedly twisting a lock of her hair. “Something I can’t quite place... does she want a raise? No, no, that’s not it...”
Fyora got up from her chair and walked over to the balcony of the Tower, a view that allowed the monarch to survey her entire kingdom. This was not the original location of the Tower; just before the banishment, one of the anti-Faerie pamphlets circulating had alleged that the Faeries had closed the Tower and were using it as their personal supply of weaponry for an impending attack on the rest of Neopia. Afterwards, everything inside the Tower had been relocated to a smaller, much less accessible location further inside the castle grounds, a tower then made invisible. The original Tower had, not long after, been destroyed in the event now known as the Siege of Faerieland.
The Siege had been the darkest hour of Faerieland’s history since the Great Fall in Year Twelve – the Fall was only reversed when Faerie exile became necessary, Faerieland flying once again thanks to complex spells only Fyora and the Uber-Faeries were privy to. The Siege had been much more taxing, and its outcome much less positive.
The Siege had left a fifth of Faerie City devastated and an even larger part of its population without magic. It had begun when a small group of Neopets, claiming to be ambassadors from various regions, had gained access to Faerie City. Using a new wand-like item developed by Balthazar, Hubrid Nox and a rogue Light Faerie named Pandora, the purported ambassadors began firing rays from the wands. The wands, as it was soon discovered, transformed Faeries into Grey Faeries upon contact. As a result of their abilities, the wands soon became known collectively as the Devastation.
Eventually, the Faeries captured the leaders of the group and divided the Devastation into a hundred pieces subsequently scattered far and wide across Neopia. The pieces hidden on Terror Mountain and Mystery Island had, by all reports, long since vanished, but Fyora secretly hoped that the Haunted Woods, with its endless shadowy glades and corners, had somehow by virtue of its nature ensured that the pieces hidden there still existed and could be tracked down. The possession of such technology could easily turn the tide against the Valkaeum if used properly, and Fyora was willing to consider any opportunity to weaken the Valkaeum's resources as a viable one.
But was there any point? Lexica had been covertly dispatched to the Woods in the guise of a Neopet to try and hunt down the Devastation’s pieces, but the chances of her finding anything all these years after the Devastation had been scattered were slim. With a delicate sigh, the Faerie Queen crossed the room, locked the door, went down the Hidden Tower’s stairs to the courtyard far below, and began the long walk to her own chambers.
As Fyora lay in bed at last, she began to drift off to what she hoped would be a deep and dreamless sleep. Unfortunately for Fyora, such a sleep was not meant to be. The moon was turning gray with cloud, and the darkest hour of Neopia’s history had just begun.
To be continued...