Greenglade: Part Ten
Without another word Lorelei fired a dark purple ball at Laerya. The Cybunny ducked; the ball hit the roof, causing it to collapse. Lae leapt on to the other cottage roof, panting furiously. That roof crashing down could have been her.
No, there was no time to think about the danger she was in now. She had to ignore the fact that her life was at stake. "How can I hit her?" she mused, watching the Faerie Bori hovering above her. Laerya could not sprout wings and fly like Jinny could; she was an earthbound creature. She could not fire any magic at Lorelei. What could she do?
"If she flew just a bit lower, I'd be able to get a good kick in..." Laerya was beginning to lose hope. A kick would do nothing but wind Lorelei. But what did she really want to do to the Bori?
Lorelei held a hand out and dark magic shards materialised in front of them, much like Jinny's attack. Lae didn't know what to do as the shards hurtled towards her. There were too many of them to dodge.
She yelled as the shards made contact, though they quickly disappeared upon impact. They did not do too much damage; Lae's body stung from where the shards had struck her, but it wasn't an unbearable pain.
Still, she would have to put up with this until she could get her move in. The shards kept coming; Lae tried to duck, dodging a few, but more took their place. Should she get help? The shards hit her again. Stinging pain. There was no way she could defeat Lorelei on her own now. The shards made contact yet again – stinging. Shard after shard, the magic never actually physically piercing Lae's fur, but it still hit. It was painful.
Laerya was preparing to jump down when she heard someone call her name. "Take this!" Akorri shouted to her from far down below. He thrust his arm back and threw something shiny towards Lae, who caught it expertly in both her hands. She did not have time to examine the object before Lorelei attacked again, this time sending the smoky wisps towards her.
The Cybunny took a running leap towards the tree closest the roof so the wisps missed her. Unfortunately the tree was weak from the attacks happening around it and the branches almost snapped under Laerya's weight. She clung on tightly to the trunk but the object in her hands prevented her from properly grasping the tree. She almost fell, taking a step back and chancing a jump back to the roof. She landed right at its edge; she could feel the horrible sensation that she would fall, but adrenaline pushed her up so she steadied herself.
"You can keep hopping around, but I will get you," Lorelei said patiently.
Laerya briefly glanced down at the object in her hands. Her reflection stared back at her, though she was barely recognisable. Her purple fur was matted and her hair was sticking out in all directions, her eyes tired despite the liveliness she felt now. It appeared that Akorri had given her the mirror he found in the small room they were locked in earlier. But what good could it do?
She endured a few more attacks from the shards, but she knew she was in trouble if Lorelei used her wisp attack again. She had nowhere to run; the tree she used was now being climbed by Wraiths. Soon they would reach her and it would be the end. She had to act fast. She whipped her head around to find a safe place to jump; nothing. Wraiths on one side, Lorelei on the other.
"Got nowhere else to hop now, do you?" the faerie Bori sneered. She licked her lips and held out her hands which emanated a purple glow. She was preparing to immobilise Lae, which would ensure that the Cybunny had absolutely no way of moving.
Laerya tensed up and prepared for the worst. She saw no hope; she may as well already be immobilised. Looking back at the mirror, she stared desperately at it. Why had Akorri given it to her?
Soon the dark purple beam would zap her and she would not move. Laerya continued to stare at the mirror until she had a thought. The mirror was reflecting her appearance back to her. Perhaps she could...
No time to think. The beam of magic shot towards her. Flinching, she stuck the mirror in front of her, using it as her last feeble means of protection.
She heard Lorelei scream. Chancing a look, she saw the magic bouncing right off the mirror, heading straight for the Bori. She did not move away in time, struck by her own immobilisation beam. Laerya watched her wings freeze as Tayheir's had done and the Bori crashed downwards, shrieking with fury.
When Lorelei reached the ground, the Wraiths stopped moving. Laerya watched from her position up on the roof as Lorelei tried to move, but she could not. She was hurling insults all around her, but the Wraiths did not come to her aid. They stood, watching, as everyone else did, waiting for their master to stand up.
Tayheir seemed to have regained the ability to move and he slithered towards Lorelei. Even from Lae's viewpoint the Hissi looked menacing, inching slowly closer to his enemy. "This is the end," he growled. There was silence all around them now, the only noise being the crackling of the flames.
Tayheir was about to strike when Laerya called him out. "Stop!" She couldn't stand Tayheir finishing off the Bori like this. It didn't seem right, in spite of everything that happened.
Tayheir thrust his head towards her. "What's wrong with you?!" he snarled.
Laerya shook her head, unsure of how to respond. She did wonder what was wrong with her. Why couldn't she let Tayheir end the fight? Instead, she jumped down from the roof, landing awkwardly on the ground next to Akorri. "Just... don't do it," she murmured.
"Why shouldn't I?" Tayheir turned fully to face Lae. "I've been waiting for this for so long. And now I can savour it."
Laerya did not like the sadistic tone the Hissi used. It set her on edge, and she wondered how she, Akorri and Jinny had survived in his company. He was not to be trusted.
Before she could say anything a strangled cry diverted her attention. "She's disappearing!"
Sure enough, Lorelei seemed to have regained mobility and she curled into a tight ball, exuding purple wisps. The magic wrapped her up in a cocoon and then she was gone, leaving her minions behind. The Wraiths quickly slithered away into the unknown.
It all happened so quickly that it took a moment for it to register with everyone. Tayheir stood for a whole minute with his mouth open before exploding on Laerya, shrieking insults and words Lae had only ever heard come out of the foulest of mouths.
She let Tayheir insult her. She knew how he felt; he wanted revenge, and she did not let him have it. She was right to be blamed and screamed at, but it did not help calm the guilt and anxiety that was growing inside her. She let Lorelei escape again. For the second time.
What would the Bori do now? Lae had stopped her plans not once, but twice. If Lorelei hadn't had it in for Laerya before, she did now.
There would be trouble. Severe consequences. That was all she could think about as she let Tayheir screech at her until his voice gasped for strength.
It took a week to repair the damage, even with the combined magic of those Greengladers fit enough to work. Lorelei's magic had a lasting effect on the buildings and the rubble could not be moved for a few days, as if the smoke wisps had infected it.
Those seriously injured were taken to the Greengladers who specialised in healing. One of them, a white Lupe, had offered to sort out Laerya's injuries – as it turned out, they were more severe than she thought. Her body was severely bruised all over, but her legs had it worst. After the adrenaline left her she could barely move them. She declined the Lupe's offer, deciding it best that he treat the Greenglade Neopets first; they were more important than she was.
Once Lae was sufficiently healed she decided she had no more business here. She had failed in stopping Lorelei before the Bori reached Greenglade, and she upset Tayheir beyond redemption; she couldn't face staying in the once lush, homely magical village anymore. It only brought her sadness.
Surprisingly, Jinny came to see her and Akorri off. The Kyrii could barely look both of them in the eye, so she spoke to her hands. "I... I want to thank you for everything you've done."
"We haven't done anything," Lae retorted quietly. "This place is a mess. This could have been prevented."
"I don't think so," Jinny replied. "Don't beat yourself up about it. I actually wanted to thank you... for... for..." She trailed off, her face flushing with embarrassment.
"For...?" Akorri gave her a small grin.
"For telling me that I shouldn't hold myself back because of doubt," Jinny finished, turning her head away.
"Your weakness is nothing to be ashamed of," Akorri sighed. "A lot of us feel like that sometimes. Me especially."
Jinny managed to look at his face. "It's nice to know that there are others like that." A smile flickered on her lips for a moment. "I might actually try to work on my magic for real now."
Laerya grinned. "That's what I like to hear." She felt jealous that Jinny could control magic while she couldn't even summon a spark of light anymore, but she kept those thoughts to herself. No need to spoil the farewell.
"W-will I see you both again?" Jinny asked shyly.
Laerya and Akorri exchanged a glance. "If you leave Greenglade," Lae muttered. "I'm sorry, Jinny, but I don't think I can ever come back here."
Jinny's ears drooped. "Understandable," she murmured. "You two helped me find myself, so I owe you. Maybe I'll seek you out one day."
"Let's hope so," replied Lae. She and Akorri held out their hands for Jinny to shake; this seemed to be their standard greetings and farewells now.
Jinny shook them both firmly and smiled. "Goodbye," she said. "I wish you luck on your travels."
"And we wish you luck with everything," Akorri said.
Without another word, the purple Cybunny and the red Xweetok turned away to trek onwards, leaving Greenglade and all the negativity associated with it behind. Where they would go now, Lae did not know, but she could not rest easy knowing that Lorelei was still out there, able to wreak havoc.
"That was really dangerous," a voice squeaked. "They almost met their ends, y'know!"
In the darkness, two Neopets sat together, one large, one small. A slightly cracked glistening ball sat between them. Inside it was a faded image of a village that resembled Greenglade. "I knew they would be fine," the bigger creature murmured, his voice deep.
"You can't keep sending them on these quests for your sake!" the smaller Neopet protested.
"They're in no danger, so long as I am watching them." The larger pet's eyes narrowed. "They are crucial to my research. Soon I'll be able to deal with Lorelei myself."
"And what then?"
"Then I will let the two travel normally as they please. But for now, I need them both."