What's in a Name?: Part Five
Xandra – Shortening of the name Alexandra, itself a female variant of the Altadorian name Alexander, meaning 'Defender of Neopets', or 'Warrior'.
I've always had to fight, my entire life. Born into a poor farming family in the Haunted Woods, I was hardly the type of girl a local witch would take on as an apprentice. I had to fight to get to Faerieland, and fight to get an audience with the Queen. Once she saw me, she recognised my raw talent – but all my time in the Faerieland Academy was spent fighting to prove how good I was, that I wasn't just some helpless farm girl.
But then, I saw how little the Faeries actually did for Neopia, and I knew I had a different fight on my hands. I'd need to fight to change Neopia, fight to make it better.
I knew then that all the things witches talk about, Balance and the like, they were all just hollow words. Designed to allow witches the exact same luxuries as Faeries, being able to sit back and do nothing.
When I launched my bid for Neopia, I approached the witches. I asked them to join me; they'd always talked about how much they hated Faeries, after all. But they said no. They said they had to keep the Balance, and the Faeries were part of that.
Well, now I'm back, and I'm going to have my revenge.
The witches are going to pay.
"Xandra, why!?" Edna gasped.
"Why!?" Xandra cackled. "You really have to ask? I've spent enough time thinking over why I went wrong, Edna, and now it's clear. I was thinking that it was just the Faeries that were being tyrannical with magic, but you're just the same! It's the Balance! The entire system of magic that's wrong! I offered you the chance to join me, and you said no. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
"But, surely you understand now?" Morguss asked. "When you petrified the Faeries, you upset the Balance... then the Wraiths appeared as a result. You must understand why it's so important!"
"The Wraiths can be controlled and destroyed," Xandra stated. "As can anything that comes through the darkness. If we abandon the Balance, we can make Neopia such a better place, why can't you see that!?"
"You're going to make Neopia a better place by unleashing a Wisp on it!?" Edna shouted. "It will kill millions, Xandra!"
"Punishment to those who didn't side with me last time," Xandra replied darkly.
"How did you escape?" Sophie asked.
"Fyora seems to think I can be brought round to her way of thinking, and has been keeping me in the Castle," Xandra explained. "It wasn't difficult to get out."
"We're going to stop you," Edna said with finality.
"Are you really?" Xandra laughed. "I'm the strongest pupil the Faeries ever had, and I've stolen most of your magic. You can't even say your own names and you think you have a hope of beating me?"
"At least call off the Wisp," Sophie begged. "It's us you want."
"Ah yes, the Wisp." Xandra smiled.
She summoned up an image, a caravan racing across the plains. A single light was rocking backwards and forwards at the front.
"A spot of fortune, it seems to have found a late night courier," Xandra told them. "It's heading towards Neopia Central, as far as I can make out. After seeing Neovia, the Wisp will really enjoy the bright lights of the city. It should get there soon, at which point you'll have no chance of stopping it before dawn."
"You can't do this!" Sophie spat.
"I can, and I am." Xandra smirked.
"If we work together, we can stop you," Edna said with confidence. "Combined, our power will rival yours."
A brief glance towards Morguss and Sophie was all it needed. Together, they unleashed three beams of raw magic that converged on Xandra. They may not have been able to control and focus the energy, but they could still unleash its raw form in a general direction.
Xandra cushioned the blow. It forced her back a few feet, but she was able to shield herself and remain protected from harm. Around her, sparks from the magical clash ricocheted around the kitchen, breaking the doorframe and shattering the furniture. Plaster began to fall from the ceiling as the intensity of the magic increased.
Xandra simply smiled.
"Is that the best you've got!?" she mocked over the din of the magical battle. "Even combined, you're nothing! Let me show you what a real witch can do!"
Xandra began to focus her own magic, forming tremors in the ground that brought down still more plaster from the ceiling. Gradually, she forced back the magical beams to their casters, easily overpowering the coven.
As the beams were forced back into the hands of their creators, a great shockwave sent the Witches flying backwards through the back wall of the kitchen into the woods beyond.
The Witches recovered themselves quickly, and beheld the damage to Edna's tower. Most of the back wall had crumbled away, and Xandra now stood alone in the kitchen.
There wasn't time to survey it for long, the three Witches launched a fresh assault on the Xweetok, weaker than before but still with some force.
"You just don't learn, do you?" Xandra laughed.
One more, she began to focus her energies and forced the magic of the Witches backwards.
But then, a wicked grin spread across Edna's face, and she broke her magic away from Xandra, focusing it instead on the remaining walls of her tower.
Edna's magic may have been weakened, but it was still more than enough to buckle what was still left of the wall.
Xandra's eyes opened in horror as the wall began to cave in, bringing the rest of the tower down on top of her. She broke off her magic, attempting to create a shield above her, but all that did was leave her open to the magic blasts of Sophie and Morguss, which sent Xandra falling to the floor as the bricks came down.
In the aftermath, the Witches felt their magic returning to them as they regained control. The stolen names had returned.
Sophie rushed forwards and began moving stone. It didn't take long until the body of the speckled Xweetok was uncovered. Sophie checked her pulse.
"I told you two once, that the second biggest killer of Witches was a house falling on them," Morguss said smugly. "Didn't believe me, though. Well, here we are, a case of Sudden Houses in the flesh. Who's laughing now?"
"She's still alive," Sophie informed the others, ignoring Morguss's comment. "But she'll be out for a while."
"No doubt Fyora will be happy to have her back," Edna said. "I should quite like to get started on rebuilding my home now, if you don't mind."
"Edna!" Morguss gasped, taking a little delight in being able to say her name again. "The Wisp!"
Edna nodded, using her magic to locate the trio's broomsticks, buried in the tower rubble. A moment later, the three were speeding across the sky, leaving the body of Xandra behind.
The Witches came in low behind the caravan as it sped across the Endless Plains to Neopia Central. From their vantage point they could see the lights of the city close by, and it was only a few minutes until dawn.
"Just one light!" Sophie shouted, pointing ahead to the single lantern, rocking about as the caravan travelled.
"I can feel the Wisp there," Morguss confirmed, reaching out with her magical senses.
"We don't have time to corner it," Edna told them. "We have to deal with it right now!"
Edna pointed her finger towards the lantern, and a little spark of green energy shot out, sailing down towards the lantern. The magic collided with the lantern, causing it to explode in a brief flash of light, followed by immediate darkness.
With all its energy used up assuming its orb form, the Wisp was unable to escape, and faced with the surrounding darkness the evil little eyes in the fire simply died out.
The Witches shot overhead, their work done.
"Ruddy witches!" the driver of the caravan shouted up as he shook his fist at the sky. "Always causing trouble!"
Ahead, the first rays of dawn streaked across the sky.
Fyora sat opposite Xandra, the bars of a magically enchanted cell separating the two.
"What do you think you learned, during your escape?" Fyora asked.
"That witches are all talk," Xandra spat. "They talk about how the world would be better without Faeries messing things up, but then they try and protect them."
"This is because they understand the nature of Balance," Fyora explained. "They understand that their personal feelings towards us are of secondary importance."
"They are weak," Xandra replied.
"Yet they defeated you," Fyora pointed out. "As did the thief, Hanso. Why do you think this is? Because they were stronger, or faster than you? Because they possessed skills you do not?"
"No, of course not," Fyora agreed. "They succeeded because they understood their duty, at that point their duty to stop you, for the greater good of Neopia, was more important than their feelings, their property, or even their lives. Duty, Xandra, it is something that binds us all. It is the duty of Witches to keep the Balance. It is the duty of Faeries to shepherd Neopia."
Xandra remained silent.
"Perhaps one day, you will understand duty," Fyora said. "It is the founding principle of all forms of magic, and no matter how much magic you can wield, you will always be defeated if you do not understand the concept. Without it, you are weak."
There was silence as Fyora let her words sink in, until the Queen stood up.
"I will talk to you again tomorrow, Xandra," she said.
The Queen left, and Xandra was alone in the Castle Dungeons. Alone with her thoughts.
For now at least, Fyora's words meant only one thing. Xandra had always had to fight. To her, that was her duty.
After all, she was a prisoner. What other duty could there be?
What was the point of her, if not this?
Doubt was already creeping into the Xweetok's mind. Perhaps in time, Fyora would succeed in rehabilitating Xandra. But for now, the anger was enough to keep the Queen's words at bay.