Coronation: Part Ten
Also by bookworm7
"Dear Book." I began my neomail. "You mentioned that Galaxy wanted to help the Space Faerie be rid of the black hole. I have found out that an evil enchanter is causing it, and Saskia, Yuruyuki and I need to go to the source to get rid of him. I could use Galaxy's wings. Can you spare him now so he can help us?"
Yuruyuki was staring over my shoulder as I wrote, her lips pursed in concentration. "Do you think that's detailed enough?" she asked.
I sighed. "We don't have time for more details than that. It is a long story. We'll just have to make it through this last adventure so we can tell Book all about it."
Yuruyuki, startled at my condemned tone, quickly glanced at me. "You'll definitely make it through this," she said to me. "I won't let anything happen to you." Putting her wings around me, Yuruyuki gave me a quick hug, then randomly handed me the Neomail Addict avatar before pumping her wings to get up into the air and fly away with my neomail in her satchel.
"Well, that's ironic," I mumbled to myself.
"What is?" Saskia demanded. I looked back to where Saskia casually leaned against Coltzan's Shrine, that ever-present smirk still pasted on her face as if she were begging to share in the joke.
I decided to indulge her. I explained, "I've neomailed Book hundreds of times, secretly hoping that this time I'd get the Neomail Addict avatar, and the one time that it's the last thing on my mind, it happens. It seems so insignificant compared with the task we face now, yet collecting avatars is normally so important to me."
"So you're one of those obsessed with collecting avatars, eh? I'm glad I don't have to spend so much time in that time-consuming hobby. I am much more content working on my masks," Saskia said.
Who would have known that I'd get to know Saskia so well on this adventure? Saskia was a passionate artist and okay for a grumpy cybunny. She'd spent this past week away from her cart and her masks to help me and Yuruyuki stop these masks from scaring me.
"Saskia, I know I forced you to come along on this trip with me and Yuruyuki, but I'm glad I got this chance to know you. You stuck it out when the Enchanter influenced me to destroy the masks and helped Yu find me and convince me back to reason. I'm glad you're my friend."
Saskia snorted. "I never thought I'd call a crazy reporter who accused me of evil a friend, but I like you, lass. You race headlong into danger and you've got a devious, scheming mind."
"You're always insulting me, Saskia, even when you're complimenting me." I couldn't help but grin.
Something in the sky caught both our eyes. Yuruyuki had come quickly back with Book's reply and Galaxy in tow. After they landed, I let them both catch their breath while Saskia and I read Book's neomail: "So you're going to save Neopia again? Galaxy would be thrilled to help you. Wish I could come too, but I have to be at the Auction House to hand my Royal Paint Brush over to the winning bidder. The transaction is about to expire. My thoughts are with you, and I wish you good luck!"
I looked at Galaxy. "Galaxy, we're so glad you are here!"
Galaxy's face crinkled with pleasure around his light blue eyes, which seemed depthless just like space. He said, "I am excited that you asked me for help. I will take you to the black hole right away. I just got back from patrolling it with the Space Faerie's group of volunteers. It is getting bigger."
With that reminder of our mission, I issued quick orders, "Then we'd better go quickly. Galaxy, if you'll take Saskia, then I'll get on Yuruyuki."
Following those directions, we got organized and took off into the sky. The breeze was at first deliciously cool after the hot air of the Lost Desert, but we were soon high above the clouds and in freezing space. I felt myself inexorably drawn toward our goal. The stars slid past us as we flew out beyond Kreludor. I could see Cafe Kreludor as a tiny speck on the surface below.
At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because it looked like there were stars winking out. Galaxy suddenly broke the silence, "That's the black hole ahead of us. You can't really see it because it's so black except as an absense of what should be there. The stars seem to disappear behind it as we get closer and it fills our vision. It looks twice as big as when I left last." After that ominous note, I mentally prepared myself for my plan. This had to work or I wouldn't be the only Neopian under the Enchanter's power.
Yuruyuki was picking up speed and the black hole loomed larger and larger in our path. "You're getting heavier, Sin," she complained. "How close do we have to go?"
I had never seen a black hole before and wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but it was alarming how quickly we were approaching that menacing void. I tried to keep the panic out of my voice as I said to Yuruyuki, "That's close enough. Saskia needs to get in position between us and the black hole. You can stop here."
Yuruyuki tried to backpedal with her wings, stalling us momentarily; however, once at rest I felt myself being pulled slowly forward over her shoulder. Since I wouldn't let go of her, we both began moving again toward the black hole. I looked over at Galaxy and Saskia who had no problem coming to a full stop. Just as I had thought, the half of the Enchanter's soul inside me was being drawn to the other half on the other side of the black hole. We were still far enough away from the black hole that the black hole's gravity had no force on us. Only the pull of the Enchanter's soul was drawing me into that yawning rip in the fabric of space.
"Saskia! Galaxy!" I screamed. "We can't stop! Get in position now!" Galaxy suddenly shot past us as Saskia pulled out Fyoras Looking Glass. Yuruyuki began flapping harder. "Yu, keep it up. We can't fall in."
A weird sensation overcame me like I was being stretched. The Enchanter's soul was starting to slip out of me with my body anchored to Yuruyuki. Like slipping over the edge of a cliff, I felt his presence clamp down on my mind like a vice to arrest his freefall. His voice grated in my head, "What a clever reporter you are getting me close enough to the other half of my soul that I cannot escape the pull, just as one who flies too close to a black hole cannot overcome the gravity. My soul does so wish to be whole again. However, I will not go without you, my queen. I will drag you with me to rule the darkness forever!" The stretching feeling intensified as the Enchanter held onto my mind while Yuruyuki fought to keep my body away from the black hole.
I had to make him let go! His grip was so strong, though. Despite the titanic efforts of Yuruyuki to keep us both from heading into the black hole, we were getting closer by the second.
"I am stronger than you, Enchanter. I seek for all that is good in the world. I have love and friendship where you have emptiness and despair." I directed those words like spears at the Enchanter's hold on my mind and willed myself to believe in my friends and in our success. Was that a relaxing in his hold? If so it was just a smidge. "My friends Book and Galaxy stand with me because they know I fight for the right. I've made a new friend in Saskia, too, prickly though she may be. And I have Yu, who has never given up on me. She sacrifices herself in so many ways to help me pursue my dreams." Yes! The pressure was certainly lessening! "But you, Enchanter, will never know true friendship."
"Nooooooo!" the Enchanter shouted as his waning grip slipped and he pulled out of me toward the black hole.
"I've got him," Saskia called, waving Fyoras Looking Glass around, trying to get between the escaped soul and its imminent destination, the black hole. Galaxy and Saskia were perfectly placed for the soul to smack into Fyoras Looking Glass and be sucked in. Galaxy whirled around, and Saskia hurled Fyoras Looking Glass with its trapped inhabitant straight toward the center of the black hole, which swallowed the tiny object into oblivion.
The black hole promptly collapsed on itself. The edges curled inward until the entire circle shrunk to a dot and winked out of existence. We cheered! Yuruyuki and Galaxy danced around each other in complicated flight patterns. Saskia and I grinned at each other and pumped our fists in the air.
I couldn't believe it. The presence inside me was gone. I pulled out the Fairest of Feathers Mask, which I realized I no longer felt the urge to destroy. I knew that the beautiful Lenny inside could now enjoy life without the shadow of fear that the Enchanter has engendered. He was gone back to the dimension he came from and one half of his soul trapped forever in Fyoras Looking Glass.
I looked around at my cheering friends. Yu smiled up at me and said, "I told you you would make it through this. I can't wait to tell Book all about it! Let's go find her in Neopia Central."
"I agree we should return to civilization," enthused Saskia, "but don't mind me if I skip out on your little reunion. I can't wait to get back to making my masks."
"We won't keep you any longer, Saskia," I meekly replied. "But I want you to know how grateful I am to you for helping us trap the Enchanter. We'll never forget what you did for us." With that Yuruyuki and Galaxy flew us back to Neopia, where Yu and I would let the Faeries know the results of our quest. Saskia would return to the Haunted Woods and continue creating new masks, happily knowing that she was giving the ghosts a new life while also making Neopians happy. As we descended back to Neopia, an intense feeling of relief overcame me. We had saved Neopia! Many more wonderful adventures awaited us in the years to come...
"Sin, the New Years fireworks are about to begin! It's almost midnight!" Yuruyuki said excitedly from the open door behind me.
I stood at the dresser mirror, and said without turning, "I'll be right there. I just need to finish my hair for the celebration." I put the chopsticks perfectly into my hair with the aid of the mirror. She shut the door behind her.
The silence of awaiting midnight set in; the clock on the wall ticked heavily, but patiently, away. I finally achieved the bun in my hair and moved closer to the mirror to see how it was. It was perfect!
A movement of cold air brushed against the left side of my face. I turned my head and looked at the nearby wall, but the windows were all closed. I raised an eyebrow and wondered at that strange occurrence. My eyes glanced back at the mirror to continue preparing myself for the celebration.
My heart pounded, for I thought I saw a fleeting shadow! I squinted my eyes at the mirror's reflection, but nothing appeared out of the ordinary. I was alone in the room and merely nervous this late at night. The party was sure to be a grand affair.
I shook off the feeling by twirling around in my gorgeous, shimmering kimono. My face beamed with excitement; I was ready to celebrate!
The clock on the wall hit midnight. I hurriedly grabbed my shaw from the chair and gave myself one last look in the mirror. "How do I look?" I asked, ready to depart.
A cool breath of air touched my left ear, and I heard as though someone, somewhere close, was whispering to me...
"Sin, you look... enchanting."