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Chronicles of the Chosen: Taking Flight - Part One


by pretsel_is_back

--------

A sequel to Chronicles of the Chosen: the Last Battle.

     —Prologue—

Prison. As if the name itself had already sounded welcoming. But, as a certain Dark Faerie had recently discovered, the gruel-coloured building was sickening enough to send even the most treacherous into turmoil.

     Upon entering through the barbed gates into the cold, rugged perimeter, Jhudora almost relaxed at the completely ordinary sight. The faeries were dressed in prison orange, chained and glaring and spitting and whatnot; the guards were looking bored and grim, worn down from years of shouting at lazy prisoners and withstanding the weather's harsh elements. No pink. No girly, flowery décor. For a moment, everything at Fyora's prison actually seemed... normal.

     "Keep moving." The Fire Faerie at her left grimaced. Even on such a fine, sunny day in Faerieland, her once warm brown eyes were now dulled with hatred."You're cutting into my break time."

     'You COULD'VE said please, you little blechy' was the lightest of Jhudora's grumbles as she nodded and trudged onward.

     Never once did she raise her head to anyone, not even the guards at the entrance to her new residence. No one deserved to look her in the eye. No, not after such a horrid blunder. Never again could she walk the streets of Faerieland -- or even the halls of prison -- unscathed of such a great burden. She was marked, branded like livestock for all to stop and scrutinize.

     "There's that Dark Faerie," they would say. "The one stupid enough to test Fyora's power."

     And stupid she was, too, to believe her time in here would be ordinary. For the moment the guards swung open the door, light poured into the interior of the jail, illuminating every rug and flower in the entire hallway.

     Every PINK rug and flower in the entire hallway.

     It was revolting, I tell you, to see the softies' version of red lingering everywhere you looked. Desperately Jhudora's burning eyes scanned the hall for something, anything, which was dark enough to stare at with some decency. But alas, the floors were a muted orchid (still pink), garnished with mauve rugs covered in swirling designs. The ceiling was an almost sugary sort of pink, somehow accenting well with the cerise (still pink!) chandeliers that hung every twenty feet, or so. Even the walls were a bright magenta (Yep. STILL PINK.), accented with plum-colored violets in their gold pots between each cage. Not even Usukis would wear this much pink!

     "Fyora hates it, too." The Fire Faerie to Jhudora's left shook her head in dismay. "She says the floors are too purple-y to match the theme."

     Jhudora closed her eyes tight, but the colour had already burned itself into her memory. "You're kidding, right?"

     "Madam, I am a professional prison ward under the guidance of Fyora; I never kid."

     And so the three faeries proceeded down the bright, girly aisles, paying no mind to the outlaws on either side of them as they glared through the lavender bars of their cells. They, too, seemed far from thrilled by the feminine theme – even if, technically, all of the faerie prisoners were female. Jhudora didn't bother to glance at them, though; she was too busy squeezing her eyes as tight as they could manage, in hopes that the visions of lilac would strain out of her petrified eyelids.

     But the further they ventured down the hall, Jhudora realized, the darker the room seemed to become. The echoes reverberating from their feet grew sharper as they trudged onward, until finally she could hear her shoes clack against the tile floors. One Fire Faerie loosened her grip, just a little, as she reached out to grab something. By the sound of its clanking, Jhudora assumed it was the key to her cell. She counted one Bikiwan, two Bikiwans, three, in sync with the fire faeries swinging her back and forth...

     SLAM!!

     Before Jhudora even finished the fourth count, she could feel her body go airborne for but a second before it smacked down onto the stone-cold flooring. Home sweet home, so it seemed.

     "Thanks, I suppose," Jhudora grumbled loud enough for the two wards to hear.

     But instead of simply turning and walking away – like they really should have done – the two Fire Faeries stood their ground. Even with her eyes closed, Jhudora could still feel their cold, hard glares scrabble away at her being.

     "Oh, you're not done yet," one of them growled threateningly, her voice so deep and menacing that Jhudora had to think twice before assuming it was her own. "Because of your little crime, we believe that a more Jurassic action must be taken before we leave you be."

     Great, Jhudora groaned mentally. Just my luck.

     Just then, a rather sharp and very painful heel struck Jhudora's unprotected side, leaving her wincing and hunching over in agony. "Open your eyes, you dark filth! There's no pink in here."

     There wasn't? Timidly Jhudora opened her eyes to the darkness that engulfed her cell, with nothing but a few diminutive candles to illuminate the space. Ah, MUCH better! For one brief moment, Jhudora dared to relax, and allow herself to be enveloped in her native element.

     It was the dumbest decision she had ever made.

     Right then, just as her muscles began to relax, just as she exhaled with an iota of relief, it happened. With one loud snip from behind her, a bloodcurdling scream had found its way up her sealed, violet lips. Pain surged through her once mellow back, leaving her gasping for breath that never seemed to come. Her heart pounded so furiously that it almost collapsed altogether.

     "Oh, I'm sorry." The Fire Faerie smirked and lowered the dreaded wing clippers. "Did that hurt?"

      Now Jhudora could feel the transformation, the waning of her once dynamic powers through the wound on her back, as her hair blanched itself into a dull, lifeless gray. She would've looked up and glared at her two tormentors, but a sudden wave of despondence washed away her dwindling anger. Finally, as her elegant dress drooped into a melancholy rag, she could hold in her sorrows no longer. For the rest of the night, all that could be heard from her cell was a Grey Faerie's cries of lament.

     ---

     Call me crazy, but the Neopian Pound was more than just an orphanage for ownerless pets. It's probably just my seven years residence talking, but I actually think of it as a home. I mean, think about it: I have a bed -- a very hard bed, but still; I share my dormitory with my best friends, Johnny and Maurice; we get three edible meals a day, as long as Rose the Adoption Uni is serving them...

     Oh, and I'm one of the six Chosen Neopets who help kick evil posterior.

     Oh yeah, NOW you're interested! You heard me right; I, Kendall, am one of the six Neopets chosen at birth to control a certain element. This, of course, is for an important reason. ...Now, what was it? Something about this war that Jhudora started a long time ago, and now she's trying to start another one, yada yada yada, so Fyora chose us to fight alongside the faeries and "ward off the evil works of the dark faerie's forces."

     All I really know is that I can blast wind in your face. That's all that really matters, right?

     Enough with the explanations! Flamethrower had stopped her story at around the end of the Last Battle, right? Hmmm... nothing really exciting happened till about a year or so after that, so let's start there. You better prepare yourself, 'cause Sandra isn't going to narrate this one. No, for the next few weeks, you'll be experiencing my AWESOME storytelling skills in ways that even Flamethrower would be jealous of!

     I'm 11514411212, better known as Kendall, and this is my story.

     ---

      Click!

     What was that? I wondered silently, although I already knew the answer like the back of my paw. After more than half a decade of living with Maurice, you come to know the sound of his Zafara Tourist Camera.

     Click!

     Reluctantly my eyes pulled themselves away from dreamland and opened themselves to reality. There he was, camera held firmly in front of his eyes, his finger hovering readily above the shutter button... right in front of my face.

     "Dude! Get off!" I exclaimed, and obediently the blue Mynci hopped down from my bed. "What were you doing?!"

     "You were snoring in your sleep," Maurice replied simply. "Your mouth was open and everything! I just had to take a snapshot."

     "Who'd want a photo like that?" I rolled my eyes playfully.

     Maurice smirked as he returned the camera to his dresser drawer. "Me, of course. And anyone who's looking to blackmail you."

     "Whatever." I managed to keep my eyes from rolling a second time before sitting up in my dilapidated bed.

     Suddenly, a light, spasming pain erupted from my shoulder blades. Painfully I winced as the sensation spread and retreated across my back almost rhythmically. It almost felt like something beating in and out, in and out...

     "Kendall!"

      Before I could even blink, let alone brace myself, a yellow Nimmo's long legs sprang up from his bed and landed right behind me. Yelping slightly, I gripped my paws deep into the bedspread to keep from somersaulting onto the floor.

     "Are you all right?!" Johnny's voice sounded through my ears in its worried tone. "You looked like you hurt something!"

     "I'm fine, Johnny," What do you know, another eye roll. "I must've just slept on my back funny. That brick-hard mattress can do that to you."

     Who cares if that might've been a bluff? Who cares if, in reality, that same pain had been haunting me for the past three months? It's not like they had a lie detector, or anything.

     "True enough," Maurice laughed. "I bet the door would be softer than that old thing!"

     Johnny nodded his head in agreement, then stood from his crouched position and walked over to the door. "Come on. Jamie's gonna treat us to breakfast in honor of the Faerie Festival."

     We didn't need to be told twice. After being frozen during last year's festival, the earth faerie had gone out of her way to celebrate anything and everything on the calendar. Even on the day that was cancelled due to lack of interest, she had dressed in dirty, messy clothes and made Sloppy Joe's extra sloppy to celebrate. I think she must've confused "lack of interest" with "lazy day."

     Either way, any sane Neopet would turn down pound food to one of Jamie's gourmet dishes. We practically trampled over each other as we raced down the hallway to Flamethrower's room. In case you actually care, the door had been replaced after it disintegrated into ashes, and a new picture had been drawn by Kathryn on the substitute. This one, instead of having just Kathryn on it, now featured Flamethrower and Monica, as well, each with their respective elements radiating from their palms.

     But, like I said, who cares about that? Give me some food!

     Once we ran – or rather, walked quickly and with purpose – into the girls' dormitory, Jamie glanced up from her cooking and smiled. "Just in time, boys! I've whipped up some Faerie Leaves Hot Dogs and Illusen Leaf Burritos, and for dessert, a Cherry-Tastic Faerie Pie!"

     I love this woman.

     Jamie had barely lifted the hot dogs from the stove before I grabbed my fair serving of food: five hot dogs, three burritos, and a carton of milk on the edge of Jamie's private desk. By the time Maurice, Johnny, and I had filled up our plates, both serving plates were completely empty, minus the few crumbs sprinkled here and there.

     "Hey! We haven't even eaten yet!" Flamethrower exclaimed. I didn't even have to look up to know she was glaring at me.

     "Give them some food, boys," Jamie sighed.

     It wasn't until that moment when I finally had a good look at her face. Her once radiant smile now seemed forced on her lips, as if any real reason to be happy had completely vanished. Let me tell you, it was not an appetizing sight. My eyes stayed locked on that fake smile, even as I handed half of my meal to the girls, and one of the burritos exploded all over Flamethrower. The only time I looked away was when Flamethrower smacked me on the shoulder for being a jerk (The nerve of women, let me tell you.), and even then it was only for a split second.

     Conversation had bubbled here and there between satisfied bites and chews and burps. Apparently Kathryn had lost her Shell Faerie Wings, and was brutally sorry that she had lost such an expensive treasure. Monica had found a little Scarabug in the drain a few days back, and has decided to name it Merlin and keep it. Flamethrower was happy to announce that her dreams have been quite ordinary lately, so hopefully the dark faeries have decided to leave them alone for a while.

     But my mind was elsewhere, focused right on that false smile on Jamie's face. Jamie was almost always smiling – really smiling -- so much that it puts Monica to shame.

     Something had to be wrong. Seriously wrong.

     And I was going to find out what it was, one way or another.

To be continued...

 
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