Out of the Shadows: Part Eight
The purple light shone for a full ten heartbeats, then faded slowly away, leaving all those who had seen it blinking unexpectedly in the sudden darkness. The white spot behind Cobolt's eyelids refused to go away, and he shook his head irritably.
"Do you have any idea what just happened?" he asked the Fire faeries, but they shook their heads. He turned back to the tower just as a shadow passed over them.
The Wraith took a swipe at one of the Fire faeries, who forced it back with a wave of flame. Her sister joined her, and they managed to hold it at bay. The Wraith scrabbled uselessly at the fire, then slowly moved around it, trying to find another position to stage its attack. Looking over the edge of the wall, Cobolt could just see the blurry outline of a Lupe below.
"Find out what's happening at the tower," one of the Faeries snapped to Adele.
For once she didn't snap back, only nodded curtly and indicated that Cobolt and Mariel should follow her. They climbed down to a courtyard, and another Wraith leapt out of the nearest shadow, knocking her into a wall. Before it could do anything else, Cobolt slashed at it, and it withdrew. The empty eyes stared at him, obviously trying to figure out why he had attacked it, then it swooped over his head and headed for Mariel.
She was ready, and when it was only inches away from her face it suddenly reared back, white sparks flying between it and the invisible wall she had cast. The Lutari gave Cobolt a stern look. "I'll deal with this. You go," she said, waving her wand again.
He nodded at her and then turned to help Adele back on her feet. "Stick to the shadows," he hissed, and she quickly faded away. He followed, always on her heels, careful to never lose sight of her as she led the way through the maze of corridors. As a faerie she had been to the Palace before, but Cobalt was just beginning to fear that maybe she had gotten them lost, when they came to a stairwell.
She paused, eyes scanning down a hallway. "I swear I saw..." she whispered, then shook her head. "It doesn't matter, we have to go up here."
She moved to the stairs and began to climb, for once not bothering to summon a cloud to carry her. There was plenty of shadow to hide in, and Cobolt raced after her. After several hundred steps and countless doors they finally reached the top of the tower, and Adele stepped out of the shadow. Cobolt wanted to hiss and drag her back in for being so careless, then he realised that the room was empty except for the Faerie Queen.
Fyora was standing in the middle of the room, and she was unnaturally still. Cobolt moved forward, still shrouded by shadow, and his paw crunched onto something. He glanced down and saw that he was standing on a piece of crystal, which had began to crumble away under his heel. Similar pieces of crystal lay nearby, and he traced them to a gold chain that still had several colourless crystals hanging off it. It was Karl's necklace, but the magic had been used up.
"Fyora?" Adele was approaching the Queen slowly, but she remained still. It was only when Adele placed a careful hand on the Queen's arm that the faerie slowly came to life, blinking slowly and looking around.
"What's happened?" she asked slowly, taking in the debris scattered on the floor. She patted down her dress, then frowned, gazing around the room again, eyes searching frantically for something. "My staff is gone."
"Do you remember anything at all?" Cobolt asked desperately, walking up to her. He had forgotten he was still in shadow, and her eyes widened slightly as he appeared, but then she quickly recovered.
"There was a pet... A Chomby, I think. He came running up the stairs, looking frantic. And then there was this flash of light, and I woke up when you came," the Faerie Queen said.
"It was Karl," Cobolt said. "He must have taken your staff for some reason. Probably because it's full of faerie magic, and if you had used it against the Wraiths they wouldn't stand a chance."
"What are you talking about?" Fyora asked him, eyeing him like he had gone crazy.
Just then there was a commotion on the stairwell and a dozen faeries shot into the room, hovering with their arms raised offensively. All the different types were there, and they glared suspiciously at Cobolt, completely ignoring Adele. He gulped, confronted by their anger, then quickly launched into their story. A few Faeries looked disapproving when he mentioned their midnight escapades, but this quickly turned to rage as he recounted the room of bottled faeries. By the end of his tale they were nodding.
"It makes sense," said an Air faerie, finally lowering her arms. "That staff is one of our most powerful artefacts. It would be easy to destroy the Wraiths with it."
"Not that I'm completely defenceless without it," said Fyora, her kind features infused with anger. It was quite startling. Her hands began to glow pink. "It doesn't matter that he took the staff, we can take on these Wraiths."
She turned to the faeries hovering above her. "Get everyone to withdraw into the Palace. It will be easier to defend against them in the passages. Make sure every hallway is lit up so we can see the Shadow Wraiths approaching, but don't hurt the pets. It's not their fault. If you can, put them to sleep, like this young Ogrin did. It will halt the advance."
Half of them split off to relay her orders, and she turned to Adele. "We can handle them here. You need to guide these faeries to the room that you found under the Academy. If the Wraiths gained power from the absence of our sisters, then we need to set them free as soon as possible."
"Yes, my Queen," Adele said, and then she bowed. Cobolt goggled at the unexpected behaviour, but then the Dark faerie hurried down the stairs. The other faeries dove after her, and Cobolt had no choice but to follow, unless he wanted to stay in the same room as an angry Faerie Queen. He didn't relish the thought, but when he glanced back up, Fyora had already leapt out one of the floor-length windows to join battle below.
He caught up to Adele, who was now lagging behind the other faeries. They were heading to one of the more disused corridors in order to escape the Palace, so they didn't need her guidance just yet. She looked at him, and suddenly there was a sharp jab in his mind. He hissed and she gave him a questioning look, but he had already paused, and was holding his head, groaning.
Behind his eyes there were images flashing. They were blurry and distorted, and he was pretty sure it wasn't from his memory, but there was one thing he did recognise; faeries. And they were attacking him. They were evil, he had to stop them!
With a roar he leaped for Adele and knocked her backwards. They tumbled head over heels until their progress was abruptly halted by a wall. Adele looked shocked, her mouth slightly open as she stared at him in disbelief. He glanced behind him and saw the other hated faeries looking back, their faces puzzled and searching, and realised he had pushed Adele into a shadow, so that they were shielded from view.
He turned back to Adele just in time to see her hand moving before she had slapped him across the face.
"What was that?!" she shouted, and Cobolt saw the other faeries finally zone in on their location.
He didn't answer, only growled and leapt away. He dived headfirst into a wall of mist, and felt his limbs go numb. But he knew this magic – it was just an illusion until he was out of the mist. So he forced his legs to keep moving. He exploded out of the other end of the mist and sent a blinding cloud of darkness towards Adele's head. He couldn't let himself get caught. He had to destroy the faeries before they caught him.
He focused his magic, and a dark cloud erupted from his body, shooting out cover all the faeries. He felt a fireball shoot in his direction, and dissolved enough for it go through his body, before sending a ball of Fury in retaliation. There was a cry as it found a target, and he smiled in satisfaction. But then Adele appeared directly in front of him, her own ball of Fury hitting him full in the face.
The blow stunned him, and he stumbled backwards, his limbs going weak with fear. If he had been himself her anger would have been enough to make him to curl into a tiny ball of fur, whimpering. But the images behind his eyes urged him to recover, to fight the faeries. He couldn't place his emotions, and the Fury didn't have quite the effect on him as the faerie expected.
He snarled and bounded towards her, but then a flash of light disintegrated his dark cloud, and he found himself facing a very angry Light faerie. There was nothing to do now but flee.
He leapt to the side as an Air faerie sent a gust of wind towards him, and disappeared into the safety of a shadow. Without pausing he leapt to the next, and then the next, not even risking glancing back. He needed to get away from them as fast as possible, and found that now it was almost effortless blending into the darkness. His paws barely even touched the ground as he flitted away. He had only one purpose now, and that was to join the other Wraiths.
After several corners he finally found a window and leapt out, creating a dark cloud to carry him towards the walls. Shadow Wraiths danced along the length of it, their pets slowly climbing over, and then there was a loud rumbling sound. He looked down at the gate, where a solitary Chomby stood, his cloak flapping despite the lack of wind. The Chomby was holding a sky blue staff with a glowing purple orb at the head. As he watched the orb began to darken until it was almost black. The Chomby's shadow began to grow, taller and wider, glowing a sinister purple.
When it had grown to twenty times the Chomby's size the shadow rose up from the ground, the dark strand connecting it to the pet's tail splitting into two clawed feet. The ground rumbled again, and the shadow solidified, glowing purple mist appearing around the claws and horned head as it raised its high and roared to the skies.
Oblivion had arrived.
To be continued....
Author's note: This is the same Oblivion that was in the Faerie's Ruin Plot.