Tales from Number Five: Under the Highest Sky - Part Two
"But why," Galgarrath asked, interrupting the story. "But why did he want to enter Faerieland?"
"Because Jelly World exists!" Number Five exclaimed before he remembered himself. "Sorry, force of habit. Anyway, he wanted to reach Faerieland for a very special reason, and there is another story behind it, which I will now narrate." The Lupe continued with his tale.
* * * *
Ten years before we begin the tale of Altair and his tower, Altair was a normal four-year-old Lupe of his time. He lived with his older brother Alex, who took care of them both. They didn't know what had happened to their parents. They had simply left one day and had never returned from the woods, a fate that befell many other Neopets as well.
So, the two had wandered around for a long time before Alex got a job working in a small cottage, corking bottles. It didn't pay much, but they at least got all of their meals and a place to stay. While Alex toiled from dawn to dusk, Altair was lost in a world of fantasy. He was still young, and every nook and cranny of the world beckoned with hidden wonders to him. He didn't understand much of what was going on.
"He's too young to work," Altair had overheard Alex saying to his boss. "I think that he should have a break for three years more before beginning to work."
The boss, a Yellow Kacheek chuckled. "All right then. I just wanted to let you know that someday he's going to have to leave that dreamland of his and start working like a man oughta." Altair wandered into the woods after that.
The woods was his favourite place, a place filled with wonders yet to explore. He often imagined himself as being an explorer in a foreign land, or an adventure, or a knight with a sword. He would play for hours on end. There were lots of his favourite places, like the meadow, or that grove in that huge tree where he would hide. But today, he went near a quiet corner of a lake. He never feared falling into the lake, because he had been swimming for as long as he could remember. His brother had taught him how to swim to catch the fish that they ate long ago. But today Altair wasn't going for a swim.
He just sat down at the shore, amongst the flowers of various colours and scents whose names that he did not know, and stared up at the blue sky. The whole place was beautiful, but his mind was disturbed by what he had overheard. While Altair's face was usually lit up by joy, his brother's face was lined with wrinkles of worry and fear, a haggard face that had long ago came to peace with life's harsh realities. Altair knew that Alex worked hard to support them both, but somehow, somewhere in his heart he could not accept the idea that he was doomed to forever do menial tasks for small wages. I am special, he thought, and though it might have been vain, it was the only thought that warmed him during the cold nights when they did not have blankets to throw over themselves.
A cool breeze began blowing, and it blew away his troubles and worries and he fell asleep. When he woke up, he wouldn't have first realized that something had gone wrong. The sun was setting peacefully in the horizon, he had been asleep for quite some time, and he had had the most wonderful dream. In it, he was a sorcerer who helped the people against the faeries. Altair had heard stories about the faeries, how the Dark Faeries always attacked Neopets and burned down houses and hexed them, and how the others, though they didn't hex them, were no better and were snobs who never thought to help Neopets when they were being attacked by Dark Faeries. There queen was lazy and sat on her throne all day long and did not think of disciplining her subjects.
But for now, the dream was over, and when Altair turned around he saw that a part of the forest was burning. He immediately ran over to the cottage to find that it too had been engulfed in flames. His brother and his boss were standing outside it, cowering before a dark figure with wings that Altair realized was a Dark Faerie. The faerie cackled wildly and spoke,
"Cower all you want. None shall be spared from my wrath." Altair shivered, that voice was enough to scare even a wild Elephante. The faerie turned her head towards him, and then lifted a finger. A bolt of dark lightning left it, but before it could hit Altair, Alex jumped into its path, and then he had been turned to stone. The faerie cackled, amused by this display of bravery, and left after setting fire to some more trees.
"I can't believe it," the boss said. "She destroyed everything, and now you're brother's been turned to stone. It's just so horrible I..." He couldn't finish and sank to the ground sobbing.
Altair didn't cry. A single tear didn't leave his lips. He stared at this brother's statue and realized exactly how much his brother had sacrificed for him. He turned to the spot where the faerie had been, and spotted a book that she had left. It was a book of dark magic. Immediately, the young Lupe began opening it and reciting spells, learning the magic with prodigious speed. He had made up his mind. He would strike at the faeries. They would pay most dearly for what they had done. He would learn their every secret, he would strike them.
Therein lay the canker in his heart. He would get back at those Faeries, and every moment of his life from that moment had been spent scheming of ways to strike at the Faeries.
He began immediately. Once he had mastered the book, he went on to learn other forms of magic from other parts. Even though his book was more advanced than most of them, he guessed that he needed to learn basic spells as well, and they did help him, and he understood the spells in his book better after that. He travelled far and wide, for sorcerers were extremely rare. He memorized every scrap of knowledge that might help him like a thirsty Neopet would gulp down water. Once, he had travelled six hours in intense sunlight to pick up a small fragment of paper only to spend the next six hours decoding it to receive some information on the Faeries. He was that committed to his cause. He went to every place that the Faeries had been, in case they had left some book or anything else that may have been of help.
On his explorations he had found the giant petpetpets, only that time they were as small as Puppyblews and he carried them to a place beneath Faerieland. He knew a lot about it now, and formed a plan as he watched his petpetpets working and building at an amazing rate. He knew he couldn't do it alone, but that was no problem. Everyone detested the Faeries, and soon he would gather warriors from all over Neopia to lay siege to Faerieland.
Altair remembered all of this as he gazed up at Faerieland and the faeries that were lying high and mighty, unreachable, thousands of feet above. He decided to return to the top of the tower to continue the meeting that had been planned that day.
Most of the floors were empty, so they didn't have too much problem with space for the soldiers and weapons. The empty floors were stored with thousands upon thousands of weapons made of sorcery that would be incredibly deadly to the faeries.
At the top floor, everyone was already gathered for the meeting. For now, there were only one-hundred and eight of them, but he knew that that was because everyone thought that their idea was crazy. Once they saw them reaching Faerieland, he knew thousands would flock to aid them in their assault on Faerieland.
He cleared his throat to address the people gathered there. The people had been chatting for the past few minutes, but silence fell as he entered. For a moment, Altair's gaze rested on the door that was adjacent to the room, which was invisible to all but his eyes. For inside the room, there was the statue of his brother.
His brother had been fourteen at petrification, and now Altair was as old as he was then. He couldn't allow a single scratch or chip to befall the statue, otherwise who knows how he would turn out to be when he was released from that spell. That was why the room was heavily fortified, and no one besides him, not even the petpetpets knew where it was. There were ancient hexes and jinxes guarding the room, and not even Queen Fyora's magic could allow someone to go in there without setting off a dozen alarms.
Not a single spell could free his brother. It was simply magic beyond him, and his book didn't have anything in that regard. Given a few years, he would be able to free him learning by hit and trial, but for now they didn't have that much time. And justice had to be done swiftly.
He snapped out of these thoughts, and turned to address the people in the room.
To be continued...