The Trial of Her Mind: Part Seven
The door didn't even make a sound as it swung open, and neither did we. In front of us was a short hall, which led to a large, circular room with a long stone altar in the middle. I easily recognized it as the place where I was cured of my paralysis, but I didn't remember seeing a large iron cage filled with my friends and family, nor did I recall the Darkest Faerie sitting on the altar as she filed her scarlet nails.
I could tell that a small rainbow fluffball was about to shout in happiness, but I quickly put a finger to my lips. I don't know why I did that, because I just cleared my throat afterwards.
The faerie looked around in shock before throwing her file to one side and then whirling around to face me. "So you finally came," she said mockingly.
I crossed my arms. "Sure I did," I retorted, "I'm not so stupid as to ignore you. It's over; just let my friends go and maybe we'll spare you a lot of pain."
She smirked. "Do you expect me to take someone such as you seriously? I mean, look at you! What in Neopia is up with your eye?"
"Why? It makes you look tacky, and furthermore, you seem to be trying too hard to act intimidating. In short, you look ridiculous."
I stood there for a few minutes with my mouth gaping open. She insulted me, but she didn't feel like killing me or anything?
Finally, I closed my mouth and set it into a tight, determined line. "It's a self-confidence boost."
The Darkest Faerie laughed deviously. "It won't help you then!" she cackled. "What good is confidence when you've already lost?"
For some reason, this comment got to me. I planted my feet firmly on the ground and yelled, "YOU KNOW WHAT? I'VE BEEN THROUGH A LOT LATELY. I JUST GOT OUT OF MY OWN MIND AFTER GOING THROUGH TRAUMATIZING THINGS SUCH AS EATING LEAVES. LEAVES! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHATSOEVER HOW DISGUSTING THEY ARE?! ALSO, I HAD TO COME ALL THE STINKING WAY OVER HERE THROUGH ALL THE STUPID TWISTS AND TURNS OF THE CAVE, AND HANSO FELL OFF THE CLIFF AND WOULDN'T BUDGE FOR TEN MINUTES. AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE LAST ADVENTURE I HAD!!! JHUDORA WAS EVIL AND THEN SHE WAS SYMPATHETIC AND THEN SHE HELPED CURE ME... AFTER PUSHING ME OFF A CLIFF, AND IF IT WERE A STORY (or a series) THEN IT WOULD BE THE MOST POORLY WRITTEN VILLAIN EVER! OH, AND DON'T FORGET, I WAS PARALYZED FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS; WHAT KIND OF STORY IS THAT?! AND THEN I GOT KNOCKED OUT, LIKE, SIX TIMES! SO YOU KNOW WHAT, LADY??? I AM NOT IN THE MOOD FOR YOUR DUMB LITTLE VILLAIN LINES!!!" I ended this with a big flail of my arms and gasps for air.
Apparently, I had woken up all the hostages. Mom came over to the metal bars and grinned. "Dira! You're-you're alive! And at the right time, too!" She paused for a second. "Why was I so hysterical before? Terri told me about the vision, so I should have known you weren't dead." She shrugged. "Mother instinct, I guess."
Prism was flying around excitedly, or as much as he could with the chain around his ankle that was keeping him close to the cage. "Dira just gave a speech! A very good one too."
The Darkest Faerie, surprisingly, looked slightly uncomfortable. "Well... admittedly, I don't have a response to that one. Oh, sweet Tax Beast, it's you." She glared past me and at Brynn and Hanso. "Xandra told me all about you. What are you little pipsqueaks doing here?"
"We're not pipsqueaks," Brynn growled, her hand on the hilt of her sword. "What are you doing with her friends?"
The faerie rolled her eyes. "Giving them waffles. What does it look like?"
I stepped forward. "Set them free, now," I demanded threateningly.
She only sat down on the altar once more. "As much as I'd love to, Dira, I'm afraid I can't unless you agree to some certain... conditions."
I was a bit calmer now that I had vented at the top of my lungs, so I didn't explode at her for just not attacking me straightforward; that's what I had been prepared for, anyway. "Fine," I huffed, "Tell me what those conditions are."
The scoundrel – yes, I said that – pointed to her neck. "The Bead. Give it to me and I'll let you and your friends free."
"DON'T DO IT!" Terri and Cora yelled in perfect unison, as if they had rehearsed it for months. "DIRA, IT'S A TRAP! DON'T YOU DARE EVEN THINK OF HANDING IT OVER! Oh, and it's good to see you," Cora added.
"Shut up," the Darkest Faerie snapped. They instantly quieted down, but continued to make hand motions at me. She turned back to me, pointing at the cage. "So, Dira," she said, glowering with her ruby eyes, "Which shall you choose?"
Glaring at her spitefully, I reached into the pocket and held up the Bead. It sparkled and glinted. in the makeshift chandelier (mostly just a chain of jars that were filled with light faerie magic). The little A appeared out of all the smoke inside it. I had grown so attached to this thing. In a sense, I'm like Prism; if you take away his 'special' spatula, he'll turn from a colourful ball of fluff into a ferocious beast that would make even the Bringer of Night cower in a corner.
I set my face into a look of determination. Finally I threw it before I could think twice; there was no going back, and now the only thing I could do was watch and see if my newly-formed plan would work. I made sure my resolute gaze didn't waver as the choker landed lightly in her lap.
"NONONONONONONONO!" Prism wailed.
I pretended to ignore him, taking another step towards the enemy. "You got what you want. Now let them go."
I can't say I was very surprised when she tied it around her throat and then stood up, silver mist erupting from her fingertips. "I think I may want to wait a while," she said, smirking in an extremely evil manner, "Until then... " She never finished her sentence, as she was too busy sending the fog my way.
"Hanso!" I yelled, running through the vapor.
Behind all the panicked whispers of the captives and the coughs of Brynn, I heard the thief's reply: "On it!" I was sure that he was reaching for the mini lock-picking kit in his coat.
Someone grabbed my shoulder, but before I could unsheathe my sword and swing wildly, Brynn struggled to choke out, "Let's split up. It'll be easier to attack." A small ring sounded as she pulled her blade out from her belt, and then she ran in the other direction.
If I was anxious before, now my heart was pounding so hard that my chest was growing numb. It seemed that with every step I took, I was that much closer to plummeting off the edge of Neopia. Or running into the altar.
The total horror of the situation finally leaked into my mind. For one thing, I didn't know how to wield a sword, so it was practically useless in my hands. Two, at the moment, those bombs wouldn't do me any good, because I'd most likely end up throwing them at my allies. And three... well, to put it in a sweet and simple way, I was toast.
I was still sprinting around in confusion when I heard a voice over my heartbeat. "I can't get it!" Hanso muttered. "It... it keeps melting my lockpicks! It must be magical or something!"
"Then go defend yourself!" I hollered back. "Just keep your shield in front of you and you should be fine!"
The smoke finally began to thin out and I could see the various dark forms of everyone. Hanso had his back up against a wall, Brynn was still looking around, and the Darkest Faerie was right in front of me. Actually, I didn't see her until I practically bowled her over. I almost stooped down to help her up, but then I remembered that it probably wasn't the best thing to do right now.
Something narrowly missed my head, and I realized that she was casting spells at me in her fury. I quickly put up a shield around myself and drew my sword, only to put it back upon wondering how I would be able to attack her without admitting her into the barrier.
By then, the mist had almost completely disappeared. I pulled out my bag of bombs and threw an explosive at the Darkest Faerie as hard as I could. She gracefully sidestepped it, and the small explosion it made didn't even scorch the rim of her dress.
"Just give up!" she laughed. We were standing opposite from each other, alone. Brynn had inhaled too much of the smoke and couldn't even get up from the floor. Hanso had no weapon, so all he could so was plant himself in front of her as a guard. And of course, the hostages were no help at all; especially not Prism, who was just yelling, "CRUSH HER LIKE AN EGGSHELL, DIRA!" and other rather interesting encouragements. "You're done for; how about you call it quits and maybe it'll all be fine?"
"You seem to be all about 'maybes'," I snapped, "And why would I surrender to you? That would be one of the worst things I could ever do."
"Any ordinary person would have given up the second they saw me," she said, firing another spell at me. I dropped to the floor so quickly and so hard that my chin rattled with the impact.
I kept dodging spells and aimed a few of my own at her while Brynn recovered. "But I'm not ordinary," I protested, "I'm--"
"Extraordinary?" Fyora offered, raking her fingers through her silky lavender hair with such jerky motions that I was afraid she was going to start ripping it out. Apparently, she was growing restless and wanted to help me.
I danced away from an orb of darkness that the enemy had aimed at me, almost tripping over my feet in the process. "I was going to say 'weird', but they're pretty much the same thing. And seriously, what in Neopia is taking Susan so long?"
"What happened to Susan?" the queen asked in fear. I quickly assured her that she was just looking for something, and she calmed down, if only a teeny-tiny bit.
I put up another shield, but instead of letting it surround me, I sent it hurling into the Darkest Faerie. She fell instantly, shouting her irritation and a variety of words I'm not going to use here (Oi! Don't swear! This site is family friendly.). I dove for Brynn and started to unleash all the healing spells I could, hoping that I accidentally wasn't poisoning her instead. Fortunately, I wasn't, and she was back up in no time, shoving me and Hanso out of the way of a spell.
"Where is Susan when you need her?" she roared, flailing her weapon everywhere. "I have a feeling my legendary, wraith-smiting sword will do no good on her. And Hanso... has a shield. Like that will help."
An idea popped into my head. "It actually can," I said, rushing over to the cage. "It's pretty bright. Hanso, are you following me here?"
That Ixi is the smartest thing I have ever seen, I swear. He already knew what I was on to before I even did.
He chucked it at the Darkest Faerie, right in her eyes. The light was a bit too much for her, and she knelt to the ground with a frustrated cry. She was blinded, if only temporarily.
Temporarily. That meant that I had to get the prisoners out of the cage, and fast. If only I had my wand, I thought grimly, If only! Why is it all about 'ifs'?! And for the third time, where in the world is Susan?
I fumbled for the lock with my bare fingertips and yelped in the sudden shock and pain. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that it was magically enhanced. I knew the counter-spell, but guess what I didn't have?!
Bear with me while I explain something to you: I'm useless without my wand. Other faeries, faeries who have mastered their powers, don't need theirs. But as for me, since I dropped out of the Academy in my first year, I rely on my enchanted rod for almost anything I do. Alright, can we get back to the story? You readers ask so many questions!
Anyway, as I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me, the lock had burnt my hands. Raw, pink patches of skin were dotted on my palms. Grimacing from the intense stinging sensation, I leapt back from the cage and immediately fell over.
"Brynn!" I growled, rolling over and getting back to my feet. I looked around, kicked the shiny helmet out of the way, and narrowed my eyes in concentration. I didn't see any Darkest Faerie, just Brynn picking up her helmet and Hanso retrieving the shield.
"Where'd she go?" Hanso muttered. "One second she was sitting right in front of me, and the next... POOF! She's gone."
"She's still here," said Brynn, polishing the dirty smudge off her helm and giving me a cold stare, "That creepy feeling in the air hasn't left. She has more of a scary aura than Xandra ever did."
"I think so."
I rubbed my hands together in an effort to soothe the wounds, but I resolved that I would have to do a couple healing spells. I placed my fingers together and prepared for the spells. A small white radiance was emitting from where the tips were, and the pain was lessening. Just as my hands would have been cured, an enormous beam of navy hit me square in the stomach. I was sent hurling backwards with a small scream, hitting the wall and most likely bruising every single part of my body.
The Darkest Faerie materialized out from one of the corners of the cave, smiling wickedly. Brynn rushed forward with a sharp cry and her sword held above her head, but fell forward with her hands stuck to her sides and her legs locked together; I quickly recognized this as an Immobilization spell. Hanso shared the same fate, but he was lucky enough to land on his back.
I tried to get up, but I couldn't do this, let alone prop myself on my elbows. So I just lay there on my side, feeling as if my spine had broken, while the evil sorceress roared with triumphant laughter. "I told you that you would never win," she bellowed, "I'd give you another chance, but you refused me before, so why should I? Now, prepare for the e – Ah, here comes my apprentice!" she said curtly, grinning at the doorway.
It took great effort to move my neck, but I did it somehow. I flushed with rage, and for the second time in the last few days, I said a name in surprise: "Beck?"
The fire faerie nodded at me, an odd look covering her orange eyes like mist. "Yup. You called, Mistress?"
The Darkest Faerie smiled, but in an endearing way. "I didn't, actually," she praised lightly, "but look at you! You came even when I didn't ask you to. She's so dedicated, isn't she?" she added, turning towards me with a malicious glint in her eye, "Dedicated, clever, and obedient. It must have taken her a little bit to get you to me, but with hard work and motivation, she did. I couldn't have asked for a better pupil; I don't think you could have d--"
"--What do you mean?" I said, my cheeks blazing red with anger, "She-she helped bring me to you?"
"Of course! A great liar, isn't she? Once I found out that you were going to get out of your mind eventually, I sent Beck in to bring you out so I could deal with you. It's much easier, you understand. Oh, chin up. It's not as if you two had formed a friendship or anything. Right, Beck?" She sent a small glare over at her apprentice's way.
"No, Mistress!" she stammered, "How could you even accuse... how could you accuse me of such a stupid thing?"
They bickered back and forth for a little bit until the smallest ounce of my strength returned. I propped myself up on my forearms, my wild hair covering my face. "We had an alliance," I breathed. "She helped me escape. She helped me fight. That counts as a partnership, sort of."
"Fool!" screeched the Darkest Faerie, abruptly snapping her head towards me. "Don't you get it? I was the one who sent her into your mind so she could get you out. I was the one who instructed her on what to do. I was the one who set everything up so I could get rid of you!"
"Well, why pick on me?" I hollered, "Why not pick on Tor or something? Haven't you got a life?"
Beck answered for her master. "You aren't familiar with these types of powers, and people like Tor would know what was up instantly. You don't have much experience in the dark type of magic. Your mind was the easiest to get in to, and to trick into falling into the trap; besides, once the Mistress realized that you were her arch-rival's daughter, then it just made her decision final."
Terri yelled something very rude to her that I won't repeat here, and my mom was absolutely seething. The Darkest Faerie laughed so hard that she almost fell over, but unfortunately, she caught herself on the altar. "Finally!" she cackled, "I get to destroy the things that I hate the most; the Faerie Queen, the Battle Faerie, and the current Neopia. You will regret the day that you ever turned me to stone, my queen. And of course, you all will be able to witness each other's ending."
"And what will become of me, Mistress?" Beck asked innocently, clasping her hands in front of her. "I mean, I know you'll become Ruler of Neopia, but what are you going to do with your apprentice?"
The Darkest Faerie tapped her chin for a moment, looking pale. "Well... I-I hadn't thought of anything yet. Maybe I'll let you continue the apprenticeship until you're done... then I could either set you as an ambassador or possibly my personal servant. It depends."
"So, I wouldn't get a share of the power?"
"Well, I wouldn't say that, but I haven't thought that far... "
"Yeah. I thought you'd say something like that," Beck growled, whipping out her wand and setting a ring of fire around the faerie. She reached into her red cloak and tossed me a straight object. I grasped it gratefully and felt it along the edges, even though I knew every detail by heart; sky blue, twelve inches, with a small white star on the tip. Finally, after much complaining, I had gotten my wand back.
I knew it was a bit rude to go without thanking her, but I figured this was no time for politeness. I rushed to the cage, performed the spell that unlocked it, and hoisted everyone out. The Darkest Faerie was... grinning. Surrounded by fire, but grinning giddily as if she had just hit a home run.
"I suppose I never told you," she cackled. "I drained all of your powers while you were sleeping. You prisoners won't be able to use any magic right now. Do you feel like surrendering yet?"
To be continued...