Things Best Remembered: Part Three
Ria muttered an enchantment and waved her hands to the right. Janice found herself floating towards the ceiling of the Training Room.
Again. Déjà vu was so annoying.
"Is this really necessary?" she asked. "I know almost as much about magic as you do!"
"The key word in that sentence would be 'almost', Protector. Now, try changing your gravitational pull so that items orbit around you."
Ria tossed several colourful beads in the air (higher into the air, anyways) and demonstrated, moving her feet about in an elaborate dance and chanting a spell. Sure enough, the beads circled the Draikess like she was the center of a miniature solar system.
"And when you master this..." Ria muttered out another enchantment, "You will be able to aim and fire the objects as projectiles."
The beads flew towards Janice in a maelstrom of colour. "Ouch!"
Ria smiled. "And when you master that, you will be able to deflect items flying towards you. Any questions?"
Janice thought for a moment. "Do I really have to do that dance to complete the spell? It's rather long, and Guardians could easily hit me if I have to do a three minute dance to change my gravitational field."
"Yes, the dance is necessary," said Ria. "By doing it, you can still do the spell without becoming too tired. If you try a shorter variation on it, it will take far more energy. You'll most likely faint – it takes that much out of you."
"Like when you used the Rod of Mysti during our duel."
Ria shook her head. "Not really. The Rod uses element magic – in this case, magic of the earth."
"You see," she continued, "The elements – earth, air, water, fire, darkness, and light – are forces of nature. This makes controlling them... difficult. Nigh impossible, honestly, unless you've been blessed by a faerie, or something of the like. The magic I use is mostly uncategorized – meaning that it doesn't belong to any of the element groups." She paused. "You understand?"
"Good. Now try the gravity spell. We'll just turn the dance into some kind of evasive maneuver."
Gareth, meanwhile, was doing what he had been doing before all the trouble had started: cleaning the library. He had two reasons for doing this. One was that it reminded him of a time when things still retained some semblance of normalcy – before Janice came and turned Calladamos upside down.
The other reason was to find out more about the Eternal Gardener. Gareth had been thinking of what the Guardian had told Atlanta – what if it was right? To his knowledge, Guardians didn't lie. Sure, they took over fallen cities and erased them from Neopian history, but they were truthful.
So, he was no longer sure if he trusted Janice completely anymore. Of course, she did free Calladamos from the Three. But still. Better safe than sorry. He would not let his city be disremembered again.
He sorted through the piles of scrolls and books – he and Janice hadn't quite finished arranging the library yet – and picked up a book – coincidentally, it was the same book he had been reading that night in the library when he had had his first proper conversation with the Protector.
The book bewildered him. It was at least a thousand years old, and in excellent condition; but it wasn't that. The majority of the books in the library were fairly old.
What confused him was how the book was written like an interview. How had the author known so much about Janice? The Shoyru in question would have to be at least a thousand years old as well.
Gareth couldn't help smiling at that idea. Janice, a thousand years old! It was ridiculous. And yet, it only displayed another mystery: how old was Janice? Scribes and philosophers alike had been writing about her for millennia, and not just of her obvious attributes, but about her favourite colours, her least favourite plants, her personality, her history. It was completely improbable.
Gareth shook his head, pondering every possibility from every angle he could think of. He was given to thinking like this; it made sword fighting much easier if you knew your opponent's movements even better than they did.
It also made being suspicious of the Protector seem almost justified.
"Gareth!" he heard from the hallway. The voice belonged to none other than Janice, and she sounded impatient. Odd.
Gareth kept silent. Good things come to those who wait, he thought. Sure enough, Janice burst through the double doors of the library with an annoyed air. Very un-Janice-like. No longer sure if this could be considered a 'good thing', he tensed, instantly reaching for the scabbard holding his daggers. An un-Janice-like Janice could mean only one thing: a Guardian imposter.
Keeping his voice calm, Gareth said, "Yes?"
"Oh, please!" Not-Janice scoffed. "Don't 'yes' me, like you're totally innocent. I can't believe you three! Why didn't you wake me up for the Council meeting?"
Her speech pattern was vaguely familiar. "But Janice, you were at the meeting."
Not-Janice stared at him, and Gareth noticed her eyes were amber-coloured instead of brown. She said the one thing he had not expected: "I was not at the meeting, and the name's Atlanta. Be sure to remember that, hmm?"
That did it. He pulled out his daggers, and, just as fast, Not-Janice pulled out a long sword. It was made of the finest Emberatia, inlaid with amethysts, with the name Atlanta engraved along the golden hilt.
Amber eyes. Sarcastic speech. Atlanta's sword. It hit him like a tidal wave.
Gareth hesitated, then asked, "Princess?"
Not-Janice – Atlanta – caught sight of her Shoyru hand as she swung up the sword and gave an only slightly suppressed shriek. She looked herself up and down, frantically, and fluttered her new wings. She swallowed.
"By the Protector's wings! I mean... I mean, by my wings! I have wings! I'm, I'm..."
"Janice. You're Janice." There was an obvious incredulity to his words. "No, you're not Janice..." Gareth frowned. "I mean, you're Atlanta. Just in Janice's body."
Atlanta gave another shriek. "Did we switch bodies? You mean she's traipsing around as me? Oh, no! My reputation!"
"I never said that she was... traipsing... around as you, Princess. In truth--" he bit back a smile, "--you are the one traipsing around as her."
Atlanta glared at him. "You aren't helping. If you haven't noticed, Gareth, I am not just a Shoyru, but I am Janice. No mere morphing potion can do that. This is wrong on oh-so-many levels, and you're telling me about how I'm traipsing!"
"My apologies," Gareth said, not feeling in the least apologetic. "Perhaps we should tell Janice."
"Oh," Atlanta scoffed, "you think?"
From the door came a call of, "Gareth!"
Janice again, only this time, the real one. Before Gareth could answer, she opened the door and strode into the library. "Have you seen Atlanta? She's not in her room..."
Janice caught sight of Atlanta. For the second time that day, Gareth watched a Shoyru shriek. Then Janice composed herself.
"Gareth," she said, her voice barely controlled. "Please get out of the way." It was not a question, and – almost too late – Gareth realized exactly what Janice was about to do.
He raced into action, grabbing the Rod of Mysti – which she had been pointing towards Atlanta – and pulling it out of her arms. But Janice was quick. She snatched it back and tried again to complete the spell before getting the staff wrested out of her hands by Gareth.
"Have you gone insane?" she yelled, tugging hard at the staff with one hand and pointing at Atlanta with the other. "That is a Guardian! Let go!"
"That," Gareth growled back, "is Atlanta, who you will not be turning into a flower!"
Blinking in disbelief, Janice let go of the staff. "Sorry about this, Gareth," she said softly.
Quick as a whip – when had Janice gotten so fast? – she reached into Gareth's scabbard, pulled out one of the daggers, and ran towards Atlanta.
Atlanta grinned and pulled out her sword, slowly and deliberately. She held the blade off to her side until the last second, then whacked Janice smartly on the head with the handle. "My name is Atlanta," she said, sighing exaggeratedly. "Why is everyone having such trouble remembering that today?"
Dazed, Janice backed off. "Revunelled," she muttered. This time, instead of north, east, south, and west, Janice pointed her hand towards Atlanta and moved it in a circular motion. A wispy image of a blue Peophin rose seemingly out of nowhere, then went to hover above Atlanta's head. It quickly evaporated, sprinkling blue dust onto Atlanta's Shoyru-y head.
Gareth glanced at Janice curiously. "That was new."
"A variation on reveal," Janice said absentmindedly. She stared at Atlanta as though willing what her eyes were showing her to be false. It wasn't. She looked into Atlanta's amber eyes, the only physical difference between the two. Even their spirit glows were exactly the same: an emerald-y, jade green.
Then, as if she had come to a decision, the Protector screamed at the top of her lungs, " Ria!!!"
The next hour was complete chaos. Ria arrived and had to be convinced that the second Shoyru before her was, in fact, not a Guardian and instead her younger sister. This took quite a while; Janice was pretty much still in a state of shock and Atlanta knew nothing of how she'd been turned into a Shoyru. Gareth was stuck doing the explaining, and as he knew little more than Janice or Atlanta, there were many missing pieces. Ria's attempts to blast Atlanta with her staff didn't speed up the process, either.
They found a Peophin morphing potion (though, to Gareth's knowledge, they didn't keep them in the palace) which Atlanta downed in one gulp.
Nothing happened. So now they also had to decide what to do about the situation.
"The Council cannot know," Ria said. Gareth thought it a rather obvious statement.
As though she had read his mind, Atlanta sneered, "Well, no duh."
Before Ria could make a retort and continue the argument, Janice said, "So we've established that the Council can't know." Trying to be optimistic, she added, "At least we've got something."
"What we really need to know is how to change me back," Atlanta muttered, frowning. "That morphing potion didn't do anything. No offense, Janice, but your wings are ridiculously hard to keep out of the way. How do you do it?"
"How did you not notice your – my – wings when you were coming down to yell at Gareth? Or the fact that you were me? Anyways, in regards to your question, practice makes perfect."
The conversation was going off track. "We must stick to the problem at hand," Gareth said. "We don't know how to change her back; perhaps we can use this to our advantage?"
All three turned to look at him. Ria and Atlanta seemed interested; Janice looked a little more than annoyed.
"What do you mean?" she asked apprehensively. "Somehow, I don't think I'll like this idea."
Gareth shrugged. "You don't have to like it," he said. "Because it might just win us the war."
To be continued...