Herald of Darkness: Part Three
“I trust it went well?” Jhudora’s words greeted Xandra like a half-rotten Zombie. She could tell that the dark faerie was working some magic in the back of the small castle, for a strange purple mist was coiling thickly around her heels.
“Enough,” Xandra replied, walking though the crumbling entrance hall. “I convinced most of the Court that the need for concern about my recent activities was unneeded.” The sorceress walked through a fake wall, and was suddenly standing in a small, old room. A boiling cauldron stood smoking in the middle, and shelf upon shelf covered every wall, filled with rotten books, ingredients, and little bottles of strange pickled items. Standing over the cauldron was Jhudora herself, eyes closed in some sort of meditation. “Fyora, however, is still deeply troubled by the little security spell mishap. She may be on to us already.”
“By the time she gets the Court to act, it will be too late,” Jhudora said, not even opening her eyes. The dark faerie’s right hand moved in a circular motion over her brew, which was turning a clear, shimmering color, like that of water. “We will have the entire Court in our hands, and the Queen won’t be able to do a thing about it.” Jhudora suddenly flung open her eyes, and her arms snapped up over her head. The watery potion separated into sixteen separate, wavering spheres about the size of a Mynci Beach Volleyball floating in mid air. The faerie spoke a word of power under her breath, and the spheres solidified until they looked like glass crystal balls. Jhudora flicked her index finger, and the balls flew onto already made stands, shining brightly like little suns.
“To help us See and control, I assume?” Xandra asked, motioning towards the spheres.
“Exactly,” Jhudora replied. “Once we have more faeries in our grasp, it will be impossible to directly impersonate each and every one. Like we already agreed on, we will create puppets, and control them from these.” Xandra nodded, and set to pacing around the room.
“The puppets will have to be very carefully made.” The sorceress spoke half to herself, thinking aloud. “They won’t act perfectly like real faeries unless one of our entire attentions is focused on the one. Once we have to operate many, their speech will be somewhat choppy, relying on some small personality that we will have to give them... and a spark of intelligence. That’ll be the hard part.”
“But you can do it, right?” Jhudora narrowed her eyes at the Xweetok. She had said that she was capable of doing it when she had broken her out, but maybe the girl had been bluffing, looking for a way, any way, to break free... .
“Yes, but it won’t be easy.” Xandra pushed up her glasses, and rubbed her hands together. “But yes, I can do it. I will need clear images of each of the high seven faeries on the Court to mold the puppets after. Then, after the outer shell is finished, I’ll have to draw some extra power from you to fill each...” Xandra wandered out of the room, and starting thinking to herself. Each of the fake faeries was going to have to be entirely made of magic and no physical materials. Xandra had only done one before, and it had been a small petpet. Now she had to do seven life sized faeries... it was going to require massive amounts of energy to pull it off.
Xandra stepped into the small workshop she had made for herself the day before, and started making the basic outlines for the first of the seven fake faeries. They would have to look exactly like their real counterparts, or a passing faerie could notice... no, she mustn’t think of that now. Jhudora stepped into the room, and brushed a small silvery cloud off of her hand, like brushing sand from a dirty palm. The little cloud floated across the room, and came to rest in front of Xandra. A small image of a tall, elegant air faerie appeared, and the sorceress smiled. Chleofa was first, then. Xandra brushed the hair out of her face, and got to work.
She started with sketching a rough outline of the faerie onto the floor with some white chalk, careful not to make a mistake. Then, the sorceress took a small charcoal rod and started drawing tiny faerie runes into the outline, letting magic flow out of her hands and into the markings when she had completed each one. It took about a half hour to completely surround the body sketch on the floor with runes, and when she had finished, Xandra spoke a few words, and the drawing rose off the floor and stood like a 2D version of a blank outline of a faerie. Xandra stole a glance at the picture of Chleofa, and had an idea. She enlarged the magical image, and took a magical copy directly out of it. Now, the Xweetok had a shimmering air faerie standing before her, smiling gently. The sorceress fit the image into her outline and molded it with the wavering faerie. Then, she began a long stream of complicated verbal spells that would transform the image into flesh and bone, or as close as magic could get to it. If the puppet damaged itself too much, it would simply dissolve in a flurry of glowing sparks, and dissipate like cotton seeds on a western wind. Gradually, the chalk outline grew thicker, and wrapped itself around the image of Chleofa. Now stood before the sorceress a chalk-person, covered with glowing, swimming faerie runes. Xandra chanted for several hours, watching the chalk change into skin and cloth, and the facial features of the puppet gain detail and color.
Finally, at one o'clock in the morning, the Xweetok finished the shell of the puppet, gasping for breath through a parched throat. She had planned to finish the fake Chleofa that night, but she was simply too tired; her body felt like a dry corn husk, ready to collapse. The sorceress used the last spark of magic left in her to put a simple guarding spell around the puppet, and barely made it into her bed before she blacked out.
The next morning, Xandra awoke with a throbbing pain in her forehead, and the crisp smell of magic heavy in the air. The Xweetok wasted no time in early morning beauty work; she walked straight to her workroom to find Jhudora standing over her puppet, pouring magic into the insides. Xandra joined her without a word, and began creating a personality for the puppet. Jhudora had Seen the air faerie the night before, and was passing her vague impressions through her mind of the faerie she was like. Chleofa was soft spoken, but fierce in maintaining the beauty of the city and Faerieland around it. She respected everyone, but also wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, either. Also, like all air faeries, Chleofa was extremely vain, but that was to be expected. Xandra worked on threading all of this into the power that her partner was putting into the puppet. When the sun was high in the sky, the dark faerie cut her flow of magic, and stood back.
“That will do it, I think.” Xandra whispered, feeling faint.
“Excellent.” Jhudora, on the other hand, didn’t sound the least bit tired. In fact, the faerie sounded energized, cruelly excited. “Can I test her?” Without waiting for an answer, Jhudora conjured one of the crystal balls she had made the previous day, and stared intently into it. Suddenly, the Chleofa-puppet jerked into life, smiling brightly.
“You have done well, Xandra,” the puppet said. It was strange, very strange, to see an evil smile on such a pretty face, Xandra noted.
“Of course, you won’t be able to directly influence her all the time,” Xandra said, walking up beside Jhudora. “Try just putting a little will into her.” Jhudora nodded, still staring into the sphere. Puppet-Chleofa’s expression faded back into her normal smile, and she wandered about the room, picking up various objects, trying to see her reflection in the glass of some vials. The faerie frowned, and dabbed at her face a little, trying to fix her makeup.
“Hello, Chleofa,” Xandra tried, trying to smile sincerely.
“Hello... Xandra.” The speech of the puppet wasn’t perfect, but a little jerky. The Xweetok dropped her smile, and addressed Jhudora. “That will do.”
The dark faerie blinked once, and stood up straight. “I’m impressed, Xandra,” she said, clicking her long fingernails together. “Now... all we have to do is create six more, and we’ll have the higher Court replaced. For now, though... the real Chleofa must be dealt with.” Jhudora turned from Xandra, and flapped her wings once. Instantly, a dark, malevolent fog lifted from nowhere, and swirled around the dark faerie. Xandra choked, and had to close her eyes to rid them of a horrible stinging from the mist. When she opened them again, red-eyed, Jhudora was nowhere to be seen, and the sorceress stood all alone in the room, with a magically-created faerie staring out into space beside her.
Fyora blinked, and sat down hard on her bed. Why was she taking this all so seriously, letting herself go crazy? Was it that she was just paranoid from the fiasco with Xandra a couple months earlier? Probably. Maybe she should go down and check the cell again... no, the Queen reasoned with herself--that was crazy. She had checked it just the night before, and everything had been fine. Still, though, it would be an awfully large coincidence for the security spells mishap and the Court strangeness to both happen within one day of each other, and not be related. Plus, she hadn’t seen Seria for several hours now... usually the little light faerie brought her tea and talked with her after a Faerie Court...
Fyora shook her head, and closed her eyes. She needed rest; that was all. Everything would be clearer to her in the morning. Just as the blackness of slumber was about to engulf her, the Queen remembered that she hadn’t checked in on Jhudora for several weeks in a row now... but then sleep claimed her, and Fyora knew no more.
To be continued...