Out of the Shadows: Part Nine
Adele was furious. She had never been so furious in her life; even when people used her full name she had never wanted to destroy something so much. She just couldn't understand why Cobalt had attacked her. And she was also furious with herself for being caught by surprise.
So now she was fuming as she led the other faeries towards the Academy. They had snuck out of the Palace using a back door, and they had all felt the ominous rumbling beneath their feet, but the Palace had blocked their view of what was happening. The other faeries had been slightly curious to see what was going on, but they had been given a task to accomplish, and Adele was too busy simmering to care. She spent most of the trip thinking about what she would say to Cobolt when she saw him next. Her hands were shaking, permanently surrounded by a nimbus of purple, and she couldn't calm down enough to stop them.
They entered the deserted Academy, and the faeries all looked around in shock at the ruined entrance hall, then studied the remains of the Shadow Wraith imprinted on the wall with interest. She ignored it and swept past, towards the nearest stairwell.
The door in the basement store room was still shattered on the floor, and she took flight over the remains. She could see perfectly well in the darkness, but the annoying Light faerie tagging along behind her had the weird urge to summon a globe of Light. It stung her eyes, but she let it pass, speeding towards the room with the bottled faeries.
The light began to flicker as they approached, and when Adele flung open the door it was extinguished.
"There's a powerful ward," Adele said, as the Light faerie backed up and summoned another globe further away. The Earth faerie with them stared into the room, and then she nodded sharply.
"We should be able to do this," she said decisively. "Everyone put in a little bit of magic."
The faeries all summoned their element and the Earth faerie shaped the magic into a glowing multicoloured sphere. Each of the six elements swirled within, but there was a bit more Dark than the others, thanks to Adele's contribution. With a sharp word, the faerie sent it flying towards the magical barrier.
Adele expected it to fade away like every other spell that had approached one of Karl's wards, but the faerie must have been a Master, because the sphere made a beeline straight for the ward and then exploded.
It was fantastic. Adele watched in awe as it burst, showering the room in an amazing array of rainbow light. When that had faded all that was left was a few wisps of smoke where the ward had been. The jewels Karl had left to maintain the spell tinkled to the ground in several pieces, and the Earth faerie stepped forward. She picked up the nearest bottle and opened the lid. There was a flash of blue light, and a Water faerie stood there, dazed and confused. She looked around with wide eyes, but the Earth faerie pointed to the door.
"Wait outside," she ordered. Adele was impressed by her no-nonsense attitude, and took some mental notes. Then the Earth Faerie turned to the waiting faeries. "Help me get the rest of these open. Get them to wait outside and then we'll all leave together."
Adele stepped forward, reaching for the nearest bottle, which was glowing purple. She shivered as she remembered her own time imprisoned, and quickly opened the lid. Without waiting for the other faerie to form, she picked up the next one and did the same. Soon more than a hundred faeries were waiting outside, being told what was going on by the Water faerie who had taken pity on them, but there were still bottles left.
I hope this works, Adele said silently in her head.
Oblivion didn't bother with theatrics. After the first roar had faded into silence the Shadow took a huge step forward and ripped through the wall surrounding the Palace. Purplish stone flew in all directions, including up in the air where Cobolt was watching on his cloud. He quickly moved to the ground and stared at the Chomby. There was something nagging at the back of his head. He knew the Chomby, but he couldn't remember from where.
Something flew overhead and he snapped his head around, the pain in his head increasing when he saw it was a faerie. Growling, he sent a blob of Darkness up to meet it, and the faerie only barely managed to dodge it. But Oblivion had already spotted her, and one huge claw moved through the air and knocked her casually away. She landed on the roof of a nearby building, clutching her side in pain.
"It's over!" said a booming voice, and Cobolt saw that it had come from the Chomby, who was grinning. "You can't stop me now. With the power of this staff I have summoned the most powerful of the Shadow creatures to destroy you. With Oblivion by my side I will rule Neopia!"
There was silence, and Oblivion paused to look down at the pet. The Shadow was no longer attached to the Chomby, but neither did the Chomby have a shadow of his own. It sent a shiver down Cobolt's spine for some reason, but then he saw a wave of faeries approaching, and he growled, moving towards Oblivion.
The Chomby caught sight of him and his smile, if possible, became wider.
"Well, I'm glad you came to join me, Wraith," he said, and Cobolt frowned, trying to place his recognition. But then the faeries attacked, throwing their most powerful battle spells at Oblivion. Many bounced off harmlessly, while the rest sunk into the deep black pit that was Oblivion's body and were completely swallowed. Oblivion's only reaction was to raise its claws and fire a stream of dark purple light at them. They scattered, only to be attacked by the Wraiths waiting below.
One faerie landed in front of Cobolt, and he was about to smother her in a mist of fear, but then the pain in his head receded for a moment. He paused, paw raised, and the Air faerie regarded him warily. She had orders not to harm any pets, but she couldn't figure out exactly what he was doing, either.
A few seconds later the images behind his eyes began to fade, the pain washing away. He blinked, no longer full of the urge to attack the faerie in front of him, and then started as a Wraith darted out of a nearby shadow and leapt on her back. As he had come to expect, it ignored him, but he certainly didn't extend the same courtesy.
He blasted it with as much Dark magic as he could, and then stopped to survey his handiwork. The shape of the Wraith had been burnt onto the stone ground, except for a faerie-shaped patch where the Air faerie was now lowering her hands. She stared at the smoking remains in shock, then they both jumped as a Jubjub suddenly appeared in the shadow of a nearby statue.
Marko stumbled forward a few steps, looking at them in confusion, then stared at all that was left of the creature that had possessed him. There was a loud crack, and all three of them looked over to the Palace, where Oblivion had already blasted away several tiles on the roof. The Faeries seemed to be having no effect on it, and striding underneath it was Karl, the staff still grasped in his claws.
There was suddenly a shrill cry, and suddenly the Shadow Wraiths began to shrink back to their former size. The shadows connecting them to their pets faded, and Cobolt realised that Adele and the other faeries must have succeeded in their mission to release their sisters. There was too much faerie magic in Neopia now for the Wraiths to continue their attack.
He looked hopefully at Oblivion, expecting it to fade away, but the creature was still standing just as tall as before. In fact...as he watched, the Captive Shadow Wraiths poured towards it, each one melding into its shadowy body and disappearing. Oblivion glowed brighter with each addition, and Karl laughed.
"So you've freed your friends, have you?" he said. "No matter, with this staff I have more than enough power to keep Oblivion here. You can't resist."
The faeries were slowly but surely being driven back. Each time one approached Oblivion it blasted at her with unerring aim, and she had to make a hasty retreat. Cobolt saw a pinkish glow that could only be the Faerie Queen fire at Oblivion, and it took a step backwards at the sheer power of her spell, even without the air of her staff.
"I will give you one chance, faeries," Karl said, as Oblivion recovered. "Surrender now and I won't destroy Faerieland. You have ten minutes to decide."
Oblivion halted, and the Halloween Chomby stood beneath it, triumph on his face. He already thought he had won. Cobolt looked around and saw about a hundred pets scattered around the grounds of the Palace, visible in the shadows now that their Wraiths had left. Many fled back to the Academy, but a number streamed towards the Palace, making a wide berth around Oblivion, which was now unnaturally still.
Cobolt joined them, skirting around the giant Shadow creature, and climbed in through a window of the Palace. He needed to find Adele and apologise to her. It had been the magic of the Wraiths that had ensnared him and forced him to harm her. He hadn't been able to resist, but he knew she would be mad. He wanted to avert the crisis that was sure to come.
But she found him first.
His first inkling that she had found him was when he was tossed into the air by a giant ball of purple light.
His limbs froze, and he was suspended in mid-air while the furious Dark faerie Strode up to him, her mouth set in a fierce snarl.
"Do I get a chance to explain?" he asked, quickly forestalling the angry tirade he was sure she was seconds from launching into.
She actually growled, and he waited for her to refuse, but then she stopped and crossed her arms, glowering at him.
"Surprise me," she said in a cold voice.
"Whatever magic was causing the Wraiths to attack everyone included me," he said. He wanted to wave his arms around to emphasise his colour, but that was impossible at the moment, so he just kept talking. "I don't know what was in that paint brush, but it made me susceptible to anything that the Wraiths were affected by. I think it took a bit longer for me, because I'm not actually a Wraith, I just have some of the same characteristics."
Adele stared impassively at him, but before she could come up with something scathing to say a Light faerie hurried up. She glanced between them, taking in Cobolt's current situation and Adele's scowl with mild surprise, then spoke.
"I don't care what you two are up to, but the Queen wants you. She's come up with an idea to stop Oblivion, but she need your help." She pointed at Cobolt.
Cobolt glanced at Adele and they exchanged one of their looks of silent communication, all arguments forgotten. She released her spell and he landed heavily on his paws, but managed to stay upright. Then they hurried after the Light faerie as she led the way to the Faerie Queen.
To be continued...