Switched Beings, Switched Minds: Part Three
Cecelia warned, "Be careful. Don't open the door to anyone except Mom. Got it?"
Mary nodded. "'Kay. I'll see you soon." She opened the front door, and then glanced at Taelia. "You will try your best to find our mother, won't you? She's so special to us."
The former faerie hesitated. Her face was unsure, and there was another look, another look that Cecelia couldn't see. "Of course, Mary. Hailey will be found before long. I hope Jaiden finds Fyora quickly. We don't have time."
"Time for what, Taelia?"
Taelia gave Cecelia a quirky look. "To cast the spell to reverse the switch, of course."
Cecelia had grown attached to being a faerie. Quite. As much as she hated not being able to cast magic like protecting Jaiden the Weewoo, it was pretty cool. Taelia was probably missing being a faerie, and Cecelia was sullen. For these three and a half hours, besides the fact she had learned that two faeries wanted to subdue Taelia's power for whatever reason, it had been awesome. Now she had to give it up.
Now, she couldn't just stay in here forever. Taelia was looking terrible. Sick. Pale. Weary. She was unaccustomed to being in a neopet body, and it had taken away her strength. Cecelia had gained strength, so she was fine. Were there any spells to help this?
When they walked outside, the wind was starting up again. Taelia hugged her coat tighter around her, but Cecelia was tempted to take off hers. It was absolutely sweltering. Was Taelia always like this?
Cecelia had seen the illustrations of Taelia. But she always had a parka, and she usually had been drawn at a terrible angle. Her wrapped up in a coat with a grumpy look on her face. When Cecelia had met Taelia, she was absolutely gorgeous. As Taelia, did Cecelia look like grumpy-picture-Taelia, or nice-real-Taelia? She hadn't seen her reflection since they left Taelia's home, so... she really didn't know.
Taelia stumbled, and almost fell down. Cecelia caught her, and she saw how bad Taelia was. She was breathing fast and shallow, and it was almost a groan every time it left her mouth. Taelia's Ixi form wasn't going well, and Cecelia absolutely needed to do the spell. Taelia wasn't immortal anymore. She was mortal, and if she went on like this, the great faerie of Terror Mountain would die.
Half-dragging, half-carrying Taelia up the slope to the top of Terror Mountain, Cecelia began to get more worried. Would it end like this? Taelia would fade from Neopia, and Eve would triumph, and perhaps do the same spell on other faeries? Cecelia shuddered when she thought of the evil faerie enslaving Fyora. Neopia would be tipped into destruction. And this scared Cecelia.
Soon she felt helpful paws helping her with Taelia. Cecelia's eyes flashed open as she looked at Xavier.
"Come on, Cece," Xavier muttered, "you can do this."
Cecelia didn't have time to ask Xavier how he knew that she, Cecelia, was herself in Taelia's body. She didn't have time. They carried Taelia up the slope and at last were there. The top. Strangely, it was completely silent.
"Eve," she murmured, but still began to carry Taelia inside her home. It was freezing, even to Cecelia herself. Her wings brushed the side of the walls and she turned to face Xavier, who laid Taelia on the couch.
How would Cecelia do this? She didn't know the spell. Her frustration turned to bewilderment as Xavier left the room and entered again, carrying a jug of water. He poured some water into a cup and gave it to Taelia, who opened her eyes and weakly gripped the cup. She pressed the edge of it to her mouth and drank, and soon gave it back to Xavier.
Taelia's eyes were wild as she gazed at Cecelia. "The spell; it will reverse this. Hurry, find the book. It is... it is in my... roo..." She trailed off and went limp, her eyes closing. Shock closed in on Cecelia. It was Xavier who woke her up from her daze.
"We've got to find the book, Cecelia!" Xavier ran into Taelia's room. Cecelia followed, and frowned as she saw no book in sight. "What are we going to do?" she asked.
"Search!" Xavier hissed. "Look in every drawer, every cabinet. We have to find the book, or Eve triumphs and Taelia dies." He almost tipped Taelia's desk over as he scoured a drawer and closed it heatedly as he found that it was empty. "This was part of Eve's plan all along!"
Cecelia helped, clawing at every hidden spot she could think of. "How do you know about Eve? How do you know it was me and not Taelia carrying me?" She almost gasped in relief as she pulled out a dusty book. "I think I found it!"
Xavier ran over, and raced out with the book in his hand. She blinked and charged after him, feeling utterly helpless. He was clawing through ingredients in another room close to where Taelia lay unconscious. Cecelia grabbed random spices and powders, and Xavier strode back to sit next to Taelia. She sat next to him.
He opened the book. He found a page and ordered Cecelia to put liquids into flasks and mash pumpkins and Floranges together. They were cooperating, as Xavier occasionally helped Cecelia. Soon the flask where the final potion was stored began to steam with a bubbly, clear liquid below the steam.
Xavier began to chant random words and Cecelia peeked over at the book, crushing red plants when asked. Wherever she crushed, an icy, very light blue mist began to rise from the remains of the ingredient. Cecelia gasped as it closed around her, surrounding her and Taelia. She looked at Xavier's book, and found that the spell was almost done.
Remorse and relief washed over her. Taelia would be safe, but Cecelia would no longer be a faerie. She shook her head as she worked. Why did it matter? She read the next instructions:
Take an object that was last touched by one of the partners, same with the other, and crush the objects together.
Cecelia dug in her pockets. A spare piece of paper. Oh well. This will do. She glanced around and spotted a necklace on the nightstand next to the couch. She grabbed it by the chain, careful not to touch the jade hanging from it, and threw it onto the ground. Xavier raised an eyebrow. He clearly hadn't gotten to that part about the two objects from the two people. Oh well! Gritting her teeth, she leaned back, seeing there was nothing else for her to do.
Soon, the icy door swung open and Cecelia jumped to her feet. She gestured to Xavier to stay sitting, and glanced at the intruder. Immediately she took out her wand.
"So," said Eve, flashing an enticing smile at Cecelia, "how do you feel about getting destroyed?"
Apparently Eve was an air faerie, but there was no time to completely quiz Eve. Cecelia stepped in front of Xavier, trying to hide him. She took a quick peek, and with a jolt she realized that Xavier was not there. How is this happening?
"Not too good," replied Cecelia, sounding a lot more braver than she actually was. "Eve, why are you doing this? You're an air faerie, supposed to be light and happy. What don't you understand about that?"
Eve's eyes shadowed. She threatened, "You've been such a blind, good soul, dear." Her voice was sounding more like a mother telling her daughter she was special. "And I'm glad you've come this far. It's such an achievement, for one as dull as you are."
"What are you -"
"Oh, nothing." Eve's figure flickered, and Cecelia nearly gasped. "Just the fact I've been hiding very close to you for all of your life. My banishment was from this glorious form for fifteen years was, well, unfortunate. But I could watch you, make sure you fell into my trap. My companion, Ali? Oh, she was confused, of course, when I returned to her after my run-in with Jhudora. Little Ali has been blind, perhaps even more blind than you have been."
Cecelia focused on Eve. Underneath her air faerie self, there was a familiar shape, a beautiful Faerie Ixi, one who had been by her side her entire life. Fear shot through Cecelia as she discovered the horrifying truth.
She whispered, "Hailey?"
Eve sighed. She said, "Oh, yes, it's about time, dear. I was very depressed, you know, when you didn't see my air faerie shape flickering about me, don't you? You and your sisters were abandoned, left in that horrible excuse of a home away from home, the pound. I rescued you three, and put you into my plans."
This was impossible. Cecelia's knees began to quake. The mother she had had her entire lifetime simply did not exist. She had been a cruel illusion by Eve. Her head began to spin, and she gripped the desk for support. Her wand was still clenched in her hand - her wand! Maybe the duel between Eve and herself would last only a few moments, but it would buy Xavier some time to make the final switch. Cecelia could not die, but Taelia could. And Cecelia would not allow that to happen. It would not happen!
Cecelia demanded, "Why did you care for Prella, Mary, and me? Why did you even take Prella and Mary? I was the only one you needed!" Her voice rose. "Now they're going to die!"
Eve lifted her gaze to just stare at the ceiling. "Oh, boo-hoo," she sneered. "I'm so sad! Those neopets are going to die! Does it look like I care? I just want to rule Neopia, set things right, and get my revenge on all the symbolic faeries of the world! I could make do with AAA," she added as an afterthought. "Get revenge on him too."
"Uh... for what?"
"Like you care!" snapped Eve. She raised her white wand. "Well, toodles! Guess the reversing-the-switched-body-thing won't work if one of the participants is dead." A cruel smile formed on her lips. "Let's get on with it."
Just as her mouth began to open to speak, the familiar whiteness of switching came to her mind. Cecelia had only time to smile before the whiteness overtook her and pain grew inside of her, grew to a burning flame, grew to an uncomfortable raging fire. But her triumph almost overcame the pain, until the scream of Eve told her that something was wrong. It wasn't a scream of fury. It was a scream of terror, and it was something Cecelia could not understand. Everything she knew was reduced to specks as she melted away...
To be continued...