As the dawn began to break over Faerieland, none of the guards noticed a slender figure leaping from parapet to parapet of Fyora's palace. Sirocco, the infamous Thief of Time, had decided to sneak his way into the palace gardens. However, the Skunk Zafara wasn't planning on stealing anything this night; no, he had something far more important to do. He was here to try and vindicate a friend of his.
It had been a little over a year since Faerieland crashed, and yet it seemed like it was only yesterday to him. He remembered the horrific sight of the great city in the sky plunging into the earth, and the shaking of the ground upon its impact. He remembered the cackling of the Shadow Wraiths, overconfident in their belief that their foes, the Faeries, had finally been vanquished. He remembered seeing his friends – Sir Hunter Penn of Meridell, Lady Ashlynne of the Darigan Citadel, and Sergeant Miraja of Shenkuu – all petrified. But most importantly, he remembered the sight of Xandra, the Xweetok sorceress he thought of as his closest friend, reveling in the destruction that she had caused. However, he knew he saw something more than a megalomaniacal glee in her eyes – he also felt that there was more to her hatred of the Faeries than simply believing they didn't use their powers enough to help Neopians. He believed that a Faerie must have done something truly awful to his friend long ago, something that would push any Neopian over the edge into insanity.
Sirocco jumped down from a spire and alighted next to the petrified form of the sorceress – he stood up, and walked towards her as he reached into the satchel he wore on his belt. He removed a pair of glasses from its burlap confines, and gently placed them on Xandra's face. He had kept them as a memory of the friendship he shared with her before she set her plan into motion, but with a little help from Ashlynne's magic, they may just hold the key to the secrets of Xandra's past, and ultimately, her redemption.
"I really hope Ashlynne was right about this..." Sirocco muttered under his breath, and removed a scroll from the satchel.
"Okay, so all I have to do to make this work is say 'Feicim an solas?' Sounds kind of –" Suddenly, in a flash of light, Sirocco disappeared from the gardens, only to find himself in a library – Xandra's, to be precise.
"Oh, great, so it was just a teleportation spell? This is just perfect." Sirocco then heard footsteps coming towards him – instinctively, he ran for cover behind one of the many tall bookshelves. However, when he saw who was walking down the hallway, he broke his cover!
"Xandra!" He ran towards the Speckled Xweetok, but she didn't acknowledge his presence, even as he passed right through her like a ghost!
"Oh. So that's it. This is her memories, and I can't change anything." Sirocco immediately quieted down when he saw Xandra sit down at a desk and remove her glasses. It seemed she was deep in thought about something, but what?
As Sirocco watched, Xandra opened a drawer in the desk and furtively glanced around. After she was sure that nobody (that she could see) was watching, she removed a book with a picture of a happy young Speckled Xweetok on the cover, standing in a field with Brightvale Castle standing in the distance. She then opened the book, and a quill pen levitated from between its pages, seeming to stand at her attention.
"Dear diary," Xandra began, and the feather began to write in elegant letters at her voice.
"I... I can't believe this. Today's lesson in the magic academy was about the history of Neopian civilization, and... And what I learned was that the Faeries really don't care about us Neopets." She scowled, before her face softened a bit.
"I learned about the fall of Altador, and the curse on Qasala, and the destruction of Maraqua, and the theft of Darigan's Orb... All these horrible things happened to innocent Neopets, and the faeries just sat around and did nothing! They didn't try to stop Scarblade, or Sir Claudus, and... And... An actual Faerie is the reason Altador fell into ruin!" Xandra stopped speaking, and the book turned to another page.
"When I was a little girl, I thought the Faeries were the best and nicest beings in Neopia." She paused again, as if she was recalling a painful memory.
"And you know what happened, dear diary? A Faerie attacked my village. And do you know who she was? She was Drakara, Fyora's advisor! And nobody believes that it could be her!" Tears began to stream down Xandra's face as she continued her monologue.
"I remember seeing her arrive with her own personal Faerie guards – the only Faerie she ever has to answer to is Fyora herself. And after my guardian – the mayor of the village – welcomed her and let her stay in the guest room, I was so happy that I got to see a Faerie. So, I went to visit her that night, but I saw she wasn't a Light Faerie at all – it was all a disguise for her true form, a Dark Faerie who makes even the Darkest Faerie herself seem nice. She was talking with two of her guards about a plan to overthrow Fyora, and..." Xandra let her diary turn to another page.
"She saw me. I knew her secret, so she ordered the two Faeries standing guard over her – a Dark Faerie and a Fire Faerie – to seize me. I screamed for my guardian to help, but when he arrived, Drakara cast a horrible spell on him, and he... He was gone." Tears began to stream down Xandra's face, and Sirocco instinctively reached out towards her shoulder to comfort her before he remembered he wasn't really there.
"More of her guards arrived, and she ordered them to destroy my village as I she cast a sleeping spell on me. When I awoke, I found myself in a room at Faerieland academy. I thought it might have just been a bad dream, but when I woke up, I saw Drakara – in her Light Faerie disguise, of course – standing over me. She told me never to speak to anyone of what I saw, or else I would suffer the same fate as my guardian, and that just to make sure nobody would expose her plan, she had her minions burn my home village to the ground and imprison the survivors as 'threats to Fyora's throne.'" Xandra's voice started to crack from a mixture of hatred and sadness.
"And nobody will listen to me. I have to find some way to defeat her, even if it means the end of the Faeries. If any of her minions are watching me now, they can tell her I will make sure she pays for what she – " CRASH! The sound of a falling vase echoed from the main hall in the library to Xandra's room.
"Excuse me, diary. It seems I have an unexpected guest." Xandra wiped the tears from her eyes and locked her diary away before dashing to the main hall, unaware that the invisible thief was running alongside her.
"Stupid vase! There has to be SOME way to fix you – Uh-oh." The intruder looked up at Xandra, and Sirocco stopped in his tracks when he saw who it was – it was his past self!
"No. Way." Present Sirocco tilted his head to the side as he saw Xandra summon some ropes to tie his past self to a chair. He chuckled to himself when he saw his past self try and distract Xandra with his characteristic wit. He decided he'd stay and watch his first meeting with Xandra; he needed something to lighten his mood after what he heard from the Speckled Sorceress.
"Rest assured, fair maiden, I, the phantom thie – I mean, phantom borrower Sirocco, am not a spy for.. Who was it again?" Past Sirocco raised his eyebrow, trying to get Xandra off her guard.
"It doesn't matter. You broke into my library, and you are NOT going to get away from me with some half-baked lies and attempts at beguiling me." Xandra adjusted her glasses before summoning a spark of green energy with her hands. Past Sirocco rolled his eyes and hung his head down to the ground.
"Okay, I didn't want to do this, but you leave me no choice... Get ready for the Eyrie's Gaze." Sirocco raised his head with an odd expression on his face, with one eyebrow raised, a small smirk and his eyes half shut. Immediately, this look was rewarded with a spark in his face and a release of the ropes binding him as Xandra chased him out, screaming various spells at the top of her lungs.
"Those were the days..." Present Sirocco looked away before the vision around him began to fade. He awoke in the morning light by Xandra's statue, and after getting his bearings, used his twin daggers, the Hands of Time, to slow down the time in the palace so he could escape unnoticed. He knew what he had to do, and after getting out of the palace, made a Buzzer-line right towards Xandra's library. After he picked the lock to the library doors, he dashed up the stairs to her room and opened the drawer where her diary was.
"Perfect, it's right where she left it!" Sirocco grabbed the diary and stored it in his satchel before running back to Faerie City.
"Excuse me? I have something important to show the Queen." He walked right up to the captain of the guard – Brynn.
"Oh, great. You again." Brynn rolled her eyes.
"I deal with crazy thieves enough, and now you say you have something to show me?"
"Yeah. It's something that'll make the Faeries' Ruin all the more clear. Are my friends still discussing matters with Fyora?" Sirocco's usual flippant attitude disappeared – he had the perfect opportunity to expose Drakara and help his friend.
"Yes. They're right up the stairs and down that hall-" Brynn barely had time to finish her sentence before the Zafara ran up the stairs and barged in Fyora's chambers!
"Your majesty!" Sirocco panted as he flung open the doors.
"Sirocco?" The White Lupe Knight, Hunter turned his head.
"Where have you been? We've been discussing how to help Faerieland be rebuilt since last night, and you were – "
"Probably off stealing things. Again." Miraja, the Striped Xweetok, leaned against her giant tessen, or iron fan, and smirked.
"Miraja, let him talk. I'm sure he has something very important to say." Ashlynne, the Darigan Aisha sorceress, smiled. She was the only one who knew about his journey to the center of Xandra's mind.
"Fyora, what do you think?"
"If you have something important to say, speak up," Fyora said calmly.
"Well, your majesty..." Sirocco proceeded to explain what he saw to Fyora, accentuating it with passages from Xandra's diary. After he handed it to her, the Faerie Queen stood up.
"Normally, I would question the testimony of a thief. However, the company you keep – and the fact that you were one of many who aided in Faerieland's restoration – means that I cannot ignore this testimony." Fyora paused, placing her hand under her chin.
"I always sensed that something was troubling Xandra, but to imagine my trusted advisor would do such horrible things, and disguise her true self... If it wasn't for you finding this diary, I would discount this almost immediately. Guards – You are now under orders to arrest Drakara."
"And as for Xandra?" Sirocco queried, wanting to make sure she'd be safe.
"I will have her unpetrified so that she may testify against Drakara. Of course, you realize she'll need some moral support to help with her rehabilitation, correct?" Fyora smiled reassuringly.
"You four are all she has left. No one else would trust her, and she will need bodyguards. Not to mention the strong bond she shared with you, Sirocco. I believe you would be the only one capable of restoring her mental health after the traumatic experiences she's had." Fyora motioned to some more of her guards after the four Neopets sitting with her nodded at her command, even though Miraja only did so reluctantly.
"Fetch Xandra from the garden." Fyora sat back down and waited for the statue to be delivered to the chamber. When it was, she placed her hand on Xandra's forehead, and the four Neopets watched as the grey stone changed to purple cloth and green fur.
"HANSO! YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A TRAITOR TO THE NEOPET RACE, AND... Fyora?!" Xandra began muttering a curse under her breath, before Sirocco grabbed her by the arm.
"Xandra. It's okay." The Skunk Zafara thief embraced Xandra, causing her to stop the spell.
"Sirocco? What's going on? Why aren't the Faeries – "
"Hanso revived them," Hunter said as he got up.
"And thanks to Sirocco, you're getting a second chance," Hunter continued, patting Xandra on her shoulder.
"Mainly 'cuz we need you to help bring Drakara to justice." Miraja placed her hand on her hip and smirked.
"The only reason I'm okay with this is 'cuz I trust Sirocco," Miraja continued as she glared at Xandra. Xandra was confused, and rightfully so – how had all this happened? Then she saw her diary in Sirocco's open satchel, and her eye twitched.
"YOU WERE ROOTING AROUND MY LIBRARY AGAIN?!" Xandra summoned sparks from her hands and began to chase Sirocco.
"YOU... YOU... YOU..." Xandra then calmed down and gave the Zafara a hug. Sirocco returned the hug as Fyora, Hunter, Miraja and Ashlynne looked on approvingly.
"Thank you." A single tear streamed down Xandra's face – Not only was Drakara finally about to be brought to justice, but she had four bodyguards to protect her, and one of them happened to be her best friend in Neopia.
(Author's note: I really wanted to write another story, but I have to give credit to my Neofriend Saeryena for her take on Xandra, which inspired my own. Also, "feicim an solas" means "I see the light" in Irish.)