Switched Beings, Switched Minds: Part One
"Gah!" Cecelia shot upwards, feeling big and uncomfortable. There was something uncomfortable poking from her back, and she lifted her hands up to touch it. Almost immediately she drew back, frightened. Where was she? What had happened? All she had remembered was -
Whoa, Cece, she told herself. You're taking it too fast. Start from the beginning.
Before what happened... what had happened?
"Tomorrow you'll have to go find Taelia." Hailey was standing outside with a dirty towel in her hoof. She was leaving the glass door open. Hailey whipped the towel so the dirt flew off it, and walked back inside the neohome. "There's a mighty bad storm out there, but it'll probably calm down by dusk."
Cecelia watched her mother, a Faerie Ixi, cleaning up around the kitchen. Cecelia herself was way too tired to be dealing in such things. Besides, everyone - well, almost everyone - could tell that Hailey was the cleaning type, and the kind type.
Her sisters, Mary, ten years old and a Red Ixi, and Prella, six years old and a Blue Ixi, bounded down the stairs. Prella was hugging her plushie Aisha tightly, and stared up at Cecelia with round eyes.
"Celia, why does it snow?" asked Prella in her babyish and curious voice. She couldn't pronounce "Cecelia" correctly, so she said "Celia".
Bending over, Cecelia swept up Prella in one fluid movement and set her down gently in her lap. "Well, the snow faeries decide whether to let it snow or not. See, snow faeries like winter weather."
Prella chewed on the long ear of her Aisha. "Why do they like winter weather?"
"Snow faeries are cold, icy faeries. They are nice and kind, but they don't like warm weather, because... well, they're snow. Snow faeries are elegant, graceful, and powerful. Terror Mountain is really paradise for them." Cecelia tickled Prella's stomach. "And they'll freeze you if you annoy them!"
Her younger sister giggled. Mary climbed onto the seat nearest her. "But everyone knows that dark faeries are bad! Not snow faeries!"
"Bad people are everywhere." Hailey walked over and sat down. "It doesn't matter what they look like, or what magic they perform. And I knew a dark faerie, she wasn't too bad."
"Mama, you knew a dark faerie?" Mary's eyes widened.
"Once upon a time." She laughed without humor. "But the past is the past. That dark faerie wasn't dark at all. It was just unfair, the way she was treated. But my precious ones, you must be careful of the world outside. Thieves, beggars, criminals, wizards, sorcerers... The horrors are too much to imagine." Hailey's arm stretched across the table, to brush Mary's fur.
Cecelia was lost in thought. "But there are good people too," she argued, looking at the others. "Like Taelia! Like Fyora. Like Xavier. Friends."
Prella held up her Aisha. "Like Plushie!" She grinned lopsidedly, and drew a couple of laughs from her family surrounding her. "What 'bout Saver? Where's he now?"
"Anywhere, really, Prel," Cecelia said. "He could be at a shop, the garage sale, or just sitting at home."
"Home!" said Prella, still smiling. "I'm guessing home." She stared outside and her gaze followed an icy speck. "Snowflake! I'm going to call it... Snowflake!"
Cecelia could barely open the door in the morning, the snow had risen so high. The sun filtered in eerily through the clouds as she stepped out, almost sinking immediately into snow. She gritted her teeth and flailed, getting snow out of the way. A smile grew on her lips as she coated the roof of her neohome with icy flakes.
Trudging onward, she found it difficult to move through, and yes, embarrassing. Anyone could look out the window and see her struggling. She almost sighed with relief as she heard the familiar voice of a friend calling.
"Cecelia!" Xavier came running up, grinning like crazy. "Where are you off to? I just saw you walking, and I was like 'Why's Cecelia out here?' Whatcha doin'?"
"Off to Taelia's igloo - or whatever it is." Cecelia shrugged off a clump of snow. "Hailey said so; we all need some extra stuff." She winced as she spoke. Her family was poor - it was just a fact she could not escape.
"Ah." The Water Kyrii, magically, lived in Terror Mountain comfortably. Cecelia didn't understand it; but then again, she didn't have to. "Can I walk you to Taelia's home? I've been dying to get out for weeks, but Neoschool's been piling homework on me."
"Is it all right with Michael?" Cecelia asked warily. Xavier was a, well, "rebellious" neopet. He'd been known to quite go back on his owner's wishes. Everyone knew that Xavier wanted a true family, like Cecelia, but she would die to get an owner for her family, so they didn't have to worry about her.
"Yeah. He said I had two hours," answered Xavier. "We don't live that far from Taelia's home, unlike some other neopets, if you haven't noticed."
Cecelia rolled her eyes. "I have noticed," she said coolly. "Now, let's get going. I'm tired of standing here out in the cold." The Shadow Ixi began to shuffle onwards, and with a sigh, Xavier followed.
He muttered, "Okay, Cece."
Her nickname really should have been CC, but she thought that Cece was spelled better. Cecelia liked her name and her nickname, and she had taken forever to convince Xavier to spell it right. Cecelia barely had an education; but Xavier knew his stuff, so they were all right.
Yes, it did bother Cecelia that she didn't go to Neoschool. Neopets complained about it all the time. Cecelia would like just one year of pure education, and then go off in her own direction. Hailey had taught her enough without going to school. But up in Terror Mountain, it was way too expensive.
They started slipping and falling when they neared the very top of the mountain, but soon they viewed the famous top of Terror Mountain. Where Taelia's home was, it was a huge snow house. Cecelia glanced at Xavier, and they moved forward.
"Well, good luck with your quest, Cece," muttered Xavier. He wasn't too fond of good-byes. "Wishing you luck. Is that really so bad as going against my owner's rules?"
Cecelia flashed him a smile. "Nope," she told him brightly. "Well, see you later, Xavier. You can stop by my house, tell Hailey that I made it to Taelia. 'Kay?"
Xavier began laughing. "Can you ever call your mom Mom?" he gasped. "You make it sound like she's your aunt or something. You call me rebellious. Honestly, 'Hailey' is going to get tiring real fast."
"I'll tell you what's tiring," retorted Cecelia, "and that's you babbling your head off about saying 'Hailey'. Well, I'll see you around, Xavier. Next time you see Prella, she's going to call you 'Saver' again. She likes calling you that. Even if I told her to stop, she wouldn't."
He grinned. "All right, Cece, bye, then."
She watched him go. Cecelia didn't know why; she was sad. He tripped at the very edge of the mountain and went floundering, but his shape standing up and waving one last time reassured her. Soon Xavier was very much gone; his black silhouette had vanished.
Cecelia turned around and hesitated as she held up her hand to knock on the snowy door. Would it dissolve? But as she thought this, it swung open, and she raised an eyebrow. Definitely creepy.
Taelia was nowhere in sight. Cecelia strode inside, but jumped as the door slammed shut, thumping, behind her. She glanced around the snow house, and saw the snow faerie, tied up and gagged. Cecelia gasped and rushed forward, reaching out and fumbled with the ropes. Then a black shape flew out of the shadows.
"This one will do," said a cold voice in a cloak. It sounded familiar, but Cecelia just couldn't place it. Fear shot through her.
She began to scream. The cloaked figure walked forward and slashed through the air with a knife made of black iron. Red mist followed it and suddenly Cecelia couldn't speak. Panic made her stay still. The figure reached out a gloved hand and touched her face. Cecelia flinched.
"Ali!" called the hidden faerie, that was for sure.
An earth faerie, quite plain, glided over. "You called?"
"Gag this neopet. I want the spell ready within moments." The faerie whipped around and walked off, disappearing behind a curtain. Cecelia watched Ali tie a rubber band around her mouth and fastened her hands with a long piece of rope.
Next to Cecelia, Taelia was sitting, tied to a chair. She was slouching and very limp, her black hair untidy around her face. Her pale blue lips seemed, if possible, paler. Her wand was on a desk close by. Ali finished shoving Cecelia into a chair and tying her up, and then vanished in the same curtain the cloaked faerie had gone through.
Soon, Ali and the faerie returned. They came out with a cutting board (or at least it looked like it) with a set of glass vials with powder, various fruits and vegetables, plants, and purple-colored snow. Cecelia watched as the faerie began to chant, her cold, harsh voice echoing throughout the room.
Xavier! Cecelia thought. Why did I send him away? What are these faeries doing to Taelia and me?
With a cauldron, the two faeries began to sprinkle powder and just throw ingredients into the water. It was starting to turn lilac and as the seconds passed, Cecelia became more nervous.
The cloaked faerie added the last ingredient, and finished the chant. A golden mist was starting to rise over the liquid and it churned and bubbled, though there was no fire. The faerie raised a black wand and shouted the last word of the spell. For a moment, Cecelia just stared. Then pain, fiery pain, started to grow inside of her and she felt her mind losing control of her body. It was a horrible feeling. At last, she felt the last of the pain crawl through her, and everything, instead of black, glowed an eerie white.
To be continued...