A Renewed Hope: Part One
Author's Note: This story includes three of my pets: Janice1997721 (Janice), Atlantastic (Atlanta), and Riallia (Ria, who will soon be a Draik).
Janice despised being incarcerated.
She wasn't sure exactly why – was it it was the damp floor? The magical rocks? Or was it the intense boredom and anxiety?
Whatever the reason, she hated being stuck in prison. She wished she could work some Mysti on this place – it was dreary and didn't have anything colorful – but the ridiculous magic rocks in the walls prevented her from doing so, as they were a barrier from magic. The walls weren't really made of rocks, per se. They were made of a Calladamian crystal called Emberatia. But since the walls were coated in thousands of years' worth of dust and grime, it made sense for them to look like plain old stone.
Janice glared at the Guardian keeping her captive. Then she glared at her fellow inmates, directing most of her fiery gaze at a ghost Draikess. For a queen of an ancient, powerful kingdom, she certainly knew how to get someone kidnapped and imprisoned.
It had been a mere month ago when her life was totally normal. In the mornings, Janice, an ordinary yellow Shoyru, would practice Mysti, a powerful Earth Magic bestowed upon her by Irele herself. Janice's afternoons were spent reading books or playing with her Tanizard, Mistia. Nighttime was reserved for flying over the wild, beautiful forests of Neopia, looking for exotic new plants to add to her garden.
It was on one of these nightly flights that she happened upon an extremely unusual forest. The trees seemed to glow; they seemed to speak to her, beckoning her to come near and look at their magnificent luminescence. Janice had never seen anything quite like these trees before, and her curiosity got the best of her, so she decided to get a closer look.
The Shoyru began her descent, tucking in her wings and spiraling down towards the forest as fast as she could. If one had been watching her, they would have thought that she was falling, but Janice stopped just before she hit the forest floor, cushioning her fast fall with air pumped from her enormous wings. On two feet once again, Janice began to explore.
The forest was really a wonderful sight. There were the glowing trees that had first caught her attention, with wind whistling through their leaves, creating an ethereal melody; grass swaying in the breeze, their movements fluid, like water; the silver moon and stars above, adding to the radiance. Janice was completely entranced, and she hadn't even found a single plant yet – though she thought it would be nice to add a glowing Moonlace flower to her garden. It would match beautifully with her Sundust bloom, found only in the clouds of Altador.
She was thinking about her flowers when she saw someone in the forest, flying parallel to the ground. Her first thought was to greet them.
And that was also her first mistake.
Her second thought never came, but the next mistake did – and it was not guarding her mind against the mesmerizing powers of the Guardian. She was rendered useless, hypnotized; and that was what made it easy for the Guardian to knock her out and toss her into the hidden city. Or maybe it was the fact that the Shoyru was not very strong; she was no Battledomer, and the only intimidating thing about Janice was her wings. They were quite large compared to the rest of her, and could have been mistaken for a Draik's wings rather than a Shoyru's. But whatever it was, she was easy to apprehend. As Janice was tossed through the air, through the barriers of the city, her body took on an emerald-green glow.
Janice awoke on a soft, warm, queen-sized bed, feeling very disoriented. She shook her head to clear it of some of its fogginess, and looked around the room, taking in her surroundings. The room was huge, at least twice the size of her garden back home, and shared the same eerily beautiful luminescence of the forest. The walls had odd, silvery markings on them, as though someone had been carving upon them with moonlight itself. The ceiling was a wonder to behold; it was as if someone had grabbed the salt-sprinkled night sky and used it as a roof. Janice hopped off of the bed, and cringed as she put weight on her ankle. It seemed to be sprained, maybe broken.
She sat back down to inspect it, and then stood up again abruptly (on one foot, of course) and screamed. "Why on earth am I glowing?!?"
It had looked nice on the trees and the room, but a glowing Janice was unnatural... or had she been painted in her sleep?
Janice knew, however, that her new radiance was not from a paint brush. Her skin was still a yellowish-peach colour, and when painted Glowing, her skin should have been neon green. The luminescence that hovered around her was different than a paint brush colour, too – it was more of an emerald-y, jade colour, and seemed almost alive, in the way that a fire was alive – not literally living, but alive.
Janice felt frantic. Beyond frantic. She needed to get home, and back to Mistia, and away from here, and to stop glowing... oh, how she wished she had never come upon that wretched forest.
She stood up and started to leave the room, not noticing how her shadow unattached itself and walked up to a wall. "Be ready," a raspy voice said. The shadow smiled. It flitted away, dark as a starless night, and left the room, heading towards the armory. The great room darkened in its wake, and a laugh rang out from the darkness, a laugh the sucked the warmth out of the air itself. "Soon," the voice whispered, its horrible sound echoing off the walls and tripling itself. "Soon."
Janice, exiting the room, heard these words. But, confused as she was, Janice decided that it was simply an echo of her footsteps.
How wrong she was.
Janice flew haphazardly through a great hall and up several flights of stairs, looking for somebody, anybody, who could get her home. She glanced at her paws again and saw she was still glowing, and her great wings beat the air mercilessly, speeding her up immensely. She crashed through two double oak doors and accidently (and painfully) collided with a ghost Draikess and a red Lupe. Breathless, Janice stood herself up (once again on one foot), dusted off her dress, and panted, "Forest... explore... woke up in a... room... help me get... home to... Altador?" Then the Shoyru collapsed on the floor. The excitement of the night and that long flight up all those stairs had been extremely taxing, and her ankle still ached. The Draikess and the Lupe leaned over her, concerned. As she drifted off to dreamland, Janice heard snippets of conversation:
"Do you think... ?"
"I doubt it, Ria. Do not be absurd. She looks similar, but... "
"You forget your place, Gareth."
"Apologies, milady, but still... "
"Gareth, I think she is the Protector. Shall we awaken... ?"
"Perhaps we should. It would do no harm to interrogate her."
She felt herself being lifted and placed on something soft. Janice cried out – her ankle had been shifted – and she felt a warm paw on her foot, steadily growing warmer until the pain wore away. "We should wake her now," said the Draikess. With that, Janice was shook gently. She began to stand up, then, remembering her ankle, thought better of it. She wasn't quite sure it was healed, and she didn't want to find out the painful way. She looked up.
"Who are you?" she asked, not caring about her rudeness.
If the Draikess noticed it, she didn't say anything about it, but instead said, "I'm Princess Ria, and this fellow--" she gestured to the Lupe "--is Gareth. What is your name, dear?"
Janice didn't respond, feeling snappish and indignant for a reason that she could not find. She felt oddly insulted – the Draikess, Ria, was barely older than her... younger, even, and she acted like Janice was a small, dull pet – Ria spoke her sentences slowly, as though Janice couldn't understand. She felt the little temper she had in her rise up, but she fought it down.
Ria suddenly gave her an angry look. She raised her staff, and for the first time, Janice realized that Ria was glowing, too. Her glow was a silvery colour. It looked like moonlight would if it was a vapour, and it flared and snapped, like a fire. Her staff was charged with electricity and the light it radiated was blinding. Janice turned away, and noticed something dark and quivery behind her, holding a sword just inches from the back of her head. Ria blasted it, and the shadow creature dissipated into mist. The sword clattered on the floor. The shadow had looked like Janice.
Ria dusted herself off, and glanced at Gareth. He nodded and pulled two daggers out of nowhere, and Ria once again raised her staff, this time pointing it directly at Janice.
"Listen," Ria said, rage and fear obvious in her voice. "I do not know who you are. But if you summoned that shadow creature, then prepare to be blasted. I will ask you again. What is your name?"
Janice swallowed, wondering how to get herself out of this mess without being blasted to smithereens. Then, strangely, unexpectedly, and certainly very un-Janice-like, she felt annoyed again. How dare this stupid Draikess accuse her of summoning a 'shadow creature', whatever that was? How dare she? Why, Janice could easily turn her into a dandelion – and with that thought, she pointed her own staff, intertwined with vines, at the Draikess. "My name is Janice. And unless you wish to be blasted and turned into a tree, I would suggest you stop accusing me of summoning anything." She turned to Gareth, who had his two daggers in both his paws, and her voice changed from threatening to pleading. "Please," she said. She lowered her staff a bit. "I honestly just want go home."
They both stared at her – Ria didn't lower her staff and Gareth didn't sheath his daggers. Then, unexpectedly, they both bowed... well, Ria curtsied. "It is Janice," Ria murmured. "Forgive me, Enchantress."
To be continued...