Out of the Shadows: Part Seven
Well, he had to say it. He was impressed. After much searching they had finally found the Pink Lutari in the main entrance hall of the Academy. They had kept to the shadows, but the Academy had been empty of pets and even the faeries that had been there before. Cobolt took a guess that the faeries had gone to help defend the Palace against the pets, who had gone to attack it under the influence of their Wraiths.
The entrance hall was a smoking mess. There was chunks of stone missing from every wall, and the pair of doors leading to the Library were hanging off their hinges, while another pair was burning merrily away under emerald green flames. A number of long icicles quivered on the ceiling, and directly in the centre of the room was Mariel.
She had her wand clutched tightly in her paw, eyes flashing wildly. The wall directly opposite her was covered in what looked like black soot, but as Cobolt approached and had a look from a better angle he saw that it was the shape of a Wraith, three times the size of the Lutari, with its arms thrown up and an expression of horror on its face. He waited for it to move, and then realised when it remained motionless that Mariel had somehow managed to destroy it, leaving this imprint behind.
He stepped out of the shadows and padded towards her. With a growl the Lutari spun around, aiming her wand, arm shaking. For a second he thought she was going to fire a spell, but then she lowered her arm and launched herself forward.
"Oh, Cobolt, I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed, grabbing his shoulder so tightly he felt a bruise forming. "I thought you were one of those horrible shadow creatures! You have the same colour, but then I recognised you. Do you have any idea what is going on?"
She gave a muffled squeak, and Cobolt guessed that Adele had appeared behind him. It was probably something new for her to see someone just appear out of thin air. The Dark faerie surveyed the remains of the Wraith with grudging respect, then turned to them.
"Did you do that?" she asked Mariel.
"I-I, well, yes," Mariel said, looking confused. "I don't know how. I kept firing spells, and of course they just went crazy." She indicated the smashed walls, the doors, and the icicles hanging above their heads. "But then one smashed into Ylan's shadow and that happened to the wall."
"Where's Ylan now?" Cobolt asked.
"Well, he was really strange when the shadow was attached to him, but as soon as it was gone he followed all the faeries that were zooming past. I think they went to the Palace. I didn't bother to follow, after all the mess that I made here."
"Listen," Cobolt said, then reached over to her and ripped her necklace off. The white stream that had been snaking away from it and out the front doors abruptly disappeared, and the stone lay in his palm, glinting innocently.
He paused and waited, not knowing exactly what he had expected to happen. No, that was a lie – he had been hoping to hear some sort of enraged cry from the Chomby as he realised one source of his power was cut off, but nothing happened.
"Hey!" Margaret cried, clapping a paw to her now empty neck. "What did you do that for? That was a gift from—"
"Your brother, I know," Cobolt said, tossing the necklace to the floor and then casually destroying it with Dark magic. "But your brother has been stealing magic off you since he gave it to you." The Lutari was still looking outraged, so he indicated the burning doors. "If you don't believe me, try and put that fire out. Whatever Karl did to the necklace was interfering with your magic."
She glared at him suspiciously, then pointed her wand at the green flames. They immediately vanished, leaving the somewhat charred doors behind. Mariel stared at her wand in astonishment, then transferred that gaze to Cobolt.
"What?" was all she could manage to say.
"Alright, we're wasting time here," Adele snapped, arms folded. "We need to go find Karl, but thanks to you destroying that necklace we can't even use it to track him down. We could have followed that stream of aura."
"I don't think we need to worry about finding him," Cobolt said. He padded over to the door, and stared outside, towards the Palace. He could see flashes of different colours playing around the walls and towers, and dark, twisted shapes dancing along the walls. "They're attacking the Palace."
The three of them raced along the street towards the Palace. Neither Cobolt nor Adele bothered trying to hide in the shadows in their haste. Mariel's face was set in determination, and she had a newfound confidence that she wore about her like her brother wore his cloak, as if nothing could touch her now.
They were a street away when they were attacked. Two pets walked towards them, their gait slow and steady, almost listless. Cobolt stared hard at them for a moment, and then he noticed their shadows.
"Stop!" he shouted, skidding to a halt.
The shadows of the pets reared up to the walls of the houses behind, grinning, then sped towards them, skimming over the cobblestones. They headed straight for Adele, who stood tall, both hands glowing. She snarled as she shot off balls of Fury, but they had no effect on the Wraiths. Of course they wouldn't. Fury was used to stun opponents by transferring all thoughts of the caster's anger to the victim, leaving them shaky and scared. But the Wraiths had no emotions, so the spell was useless.
There was a flash of light and Mariel grinned in triumph as a ball of white fire ignited and sped towards the closest Wraith. The creature merely dissolved and reformed above the Lutari, claws reaching.
Cobolt watch in horror, then realised that neither of the creatures had come after him. They hadn't even appeared to notice him. Playing on this idea, he leapt forward, towards the Wraith that was just about to slash at Mariel, and bowled it over.
The Wraith seemed just as surprised as he was; he hadn't expected to be able to touch the thing. And instead of attacking him as a new threat, it moved around him, approaching the Lutari again. Cobolt glanced over his shoulder and saw that Adele was holding the other Wraith back with a wall of Darkness. She looked like she could deal with it on her own, so he bounded towards the two pets.
He vaguely recognised them. They were third-years that he only really saw in the dining hall, but they certainly didn't recognise him. Their eyes were completely blank. Carefully he constructed a spell, then blew a purple stream of mist over the two pets. Their legs folded and they fell into a deep sleep.
He turned back to see the Wraiths pause. They seemed to shrink a bit, and the fierce purple glow faded a bit so that they looked more like normal shadows.
"Let's go!" he yelled. "I don't think they can follow us very far without taking their pets with them."
Mariel shot one last ball of fire at her Wraith, then dashed towards him. Adele gathered a cloud of darkness and disappeared, reappearing seconds later beside him. They turned and ran, and Cobolt glanced back to see the Wraiths trailing after them, then come to an abrupt halt a hundred metres away from their pets.
"Stop! In the name of the Queen!"
There was a wave of heat, and fire burst out of the stones at their feet. The flames surrounded them in a circle just large enough not to burn them, and they looked up at the walls of the Palace to see a pair of Fire faeries, their faces grim.
"What are you doing here?" the one on the left demanded.
"We're on your side," Adele said coolly, allowing a dark purple light to gather behind her wings. "We want to help defend the Palace."
The Faerie frowned suspiciously, then raised a hand. A giant ball of fire formed above them, and both Faeries studied the two pets carefully.
"Their shadows look fine," said the one on the right.
They let the fire die and nodded. "You can come in. Most of the pets that have come here have been possessed by Shadow Wraiths. Only one pet has come without one, and that was only a few minutes ago."
Adele had already launched herself into the air and was winging her way to the wall. Cobolt followed, summoning dark clouds as steps to climb up. He glanced back to see Mariel gingerly following, looking slightly scared as her foot sunk into the darkness. They reached the top of the wall and Cobolt turned to the Faeries.
"What did this other pet look like?" he asked.
"He was a Halloween Chomby," said the first Faerie who had spoken. "Why?" she added, as his eyes widened
"That's not good."
His words were met with a loud roar. All of them turned, shielding their eyes, to stare at one of the towers. It was blazing with multicoloured light.
"What is that?" he hissed.
Adele turned to him, her face a mask.
"It's Fyora's tower," she said.
To be continued...