Faerie Wars I: The Six Kingdoms - Part Three
Demelza's death was a tragedy the Morwena tribe had not seen in a long time. Because the tribe was very small and close, it affected all of them on a deep and personal level. A service was held, and Demelza's physical form was released as air, per the custom for Air Faeries. Many of the faeries wept openly, including Nereza. Uriele's eyes remained dry.
Unlike her sister, Nereza had not noticed the fyora was gone until after she had finally reappeared. She waited patiently until all the wounded had been tended to, and then followed Morwen into her tent to ask what the meaning of her absence was.
"It was necessary, my child," Morwen had answered. "For if I had been unprotected, and had shared your mother's fate, where would our people be now?"
This had not sat well with the dark faerie. "Uriele and I would have replaced you, naturally," she'd retorted. "And we would be helping the wounded like we have been already. Why had you not warded the place, seeing as you so clearly foresaw this event? Did you also foresee my mother's death? Is this why you so easily let us leave the village for the afternoon?"
Morwen's eyes narrowed. "Your claims insult me. I have kept our tribe's most prized possessions safe. Of course I foresaw the attack, and of course I knew your mother would be lost in it. Do you think you can truly become fyora without experiencing any sorrow? This world is dangerous, and full of ill will. The fact that we live at all is nearly a miracle; save, as you know, a fyora's magic against wraiths. That is why tribes have fyoras. It is what keeps us hidden. Neither you nor your sister possesses this ability yet, nor are you ready to. Would you have the lives of the entire tribe drained away by our very greatest Enemy, or would you suffer a personal loss now only to save many others in the future?"
"That is unacceptable," Nereza snapped. "Why do Ellie and I not know this skill? Why have you not taught it to us?"
"How could two very naïve girls possibly know how to ward against wraiths? Uriele is more than capable magically, but she cannot truly wield such an immense power and responsibility. She has not faced any hardship. She, indeed, does not even believe in the wraiths, which is a denial brought on by her immaturity and reluctance to understand or face true evils."
Nereza scowled, displeased with the fyora's accusations against her sister. "And what of I?" she demanded.
"You?" Morwen laughed. "You are entirely capable of understanding evil and darkness, for you were born of it. It is who you are."
At this, the dark faerie's blood turned to ice. The hair on the back of her neck stood up on end. Coolly, she asked, "What are you implying?"'
"You are a dark faerie," said Morwen matter-of-factly. "Surely you know your kind is inclined toward evil. It is fortunate that you have no such aspirations. Your love of the law is proof of that. However, it is also proof of the very reason why you have not yet been made fyora: you are not a leader."
Nereza scoffed. "And Ellie is?"
Morwen nodded. "She would be a benevolent and strong leader for our tribe."
"Ellie is incredibly arrogant. Ultimate power would suit her poorly."
"She is young. Leadership and age will humble her. Leaders make rules, and others follow, Nereza; you are a follower. You are too wary, but you are wise, and very good at organizing and strategizing. That is why I am pairing you and your sister together. You complete each other. Apart, you are both inadequate. Together, you would be indestructible."
Nereza let this sink in for a moment. She was livid, but was more or less calm. She evaluated the situation rationally. While it made sense, Morwen's methods were questionable to say the least. And there was still something she had not answered: "Did you, or did you not, foresee our mother's fate?"
The fyora sighed. "Yes... and no. I knew she would die at some point, but I did not know when or how. I merely suspected it this time. But do not make the mistake of thinking it was planned. There was no way I could have saved her without putting myself, or the two of you, or the whole of the tribe, in danger. Believe me, I am very sorry things had to happen the way they did."
Dissatisfied, but fully aware that the conversation could go no further, Nereza had excused herself and gone to find her sister.
Almost immediately afterward, the Morwenians patched up their tents, packed what little they had up, and departed for a new temporary home. The Wood of Mystery was left behind, with Uriele's secret sealed inside.
A year passed. The tribe had moved around several more times, as was usual. Much had changed since the loss of the girls' mother, and grief took both sisters differently.
Nereza mourned deeply. For half the year she allowed herself to cry, feel angry, and desperately miss her mother. Yet her sorrow did not consume her. She took out time that she felt was necessary for her personal healing, and then returned to her tasks and studies. She had reached the conclusion that justice must be had, and her mother must be avenged. The tribe of fire faeries that had taken her mother must suffer the same loss. Warring faerie tribes fought plenty, and injuries were common occurrences, but not often did the loss of life occur. The case of her mother would not go unforgotten, and, indeed, would be gifted back upon the ones responsible.
Revenge was not a concept Nereza took to lightly. She did not believe in it when borne out of blind anger. In fact, she preferred peace and order above all else, and if the situation allowed such things, she felt it was the best path to take. However, this was an instance in which she could calmly deduce that revenge was necessary. An innocent faerie had lost her life, and those who had done it would be punished. It was as simple as that.
This was not so for Uriele. The light faerie never once shed a tear; never fell prey to the heated emotion that so often comes from grief. She did not attend the mourning service for her mother, for, in her mind, her mother had never existed. There had never been such a faerie as Demelza. What was the use of mourning something that never was?
Instead, Uriele threw herself wholeheartedly into her magical pursuits. She became increasingly absent from the village, inciting fear and worry in her elder sister. Uriele spent a large portion of her time with the fyora, learning deep and mysterious magic, studying legends and stories, practicing new spells, and perfecting ones she knew.
She also had a rare talent: the ability to invent new spells. This was a secret she kept close to her heart and from the fyora, and from her sister as well; though, she was not aware, Nereza had reasoned it out for herself after being shown her sister's stone Neopet. Nereza knew that was not a spell anyone had performed before, and that Uriele had only managed it because she had created it.
Nereza was angered by Uriele's refusal to mourn, accusing her of insulting their mother's memory.
"This is not good for you, Ellie," she told her. "Holding it all inside... The sorrow will not simply leave on its own. You will collapse all at once."
"I do not understand what it is you believe I am holding inside," Uriele replied coolly. "There is no sorrow within me. I am quite fine. Please, leave me."
Eventually Nereza gave up trying, though she loathed the thought of her sister rotting inside. The two sisters grew distant, despite the elder sister's attempts to keep their ties close. Any suggestion to spend time together was rejected, and Nereza could feel Uriele pulling away from her. It reached a point where Uriele began almost living in the fyora's tent, and the only times Nereza saw her was during her own lessons. She would ask Morwen, "Where has Ellie got to?" but she would get only a noncommittal response. The distance saddened Nereza greatly.
One day, as she was presenting to Morwen yet again her determination to avenge her mother, Uriele stepped into the tent. The light faerie looked at her sister as if she were a stranger.
"Your plan for 'justice,' as you call it, is unneeded," said Uriele. "There was no crime done; an air faerie's life was lost, but these things happen. Your insistence on dwelling upon this matter is as juvenile as it is absurd."
"We have had no such attacks since then, and in fact we recently won a battle against an earth faerie tribe that was being especially... difficult, during trading. Surely you know this."
"I do, but it need not have become violent," insisted the dark faerie. "There are ways to go about these things peaceably. In the end, we are all faeries, and we ought to band together. As a force we might be able to put an end to the terror of the wraiths!"
Uriele threw up her hands. "You and those wretched wraiths! Must you insist on going on about them?!"
At that, the fyora stepped in. "Uriele, enough. Nereza's desire for revenge is not one I agree with, but she has her reasons for feeling that way. After the unfortunate loss of your mother, you have become an entirely different person. This is unacceptable. How can I name you fyora when you refuse to believe something as simple as your mother's passing? How can I possibly have you lead our tribe when you deny the very reason we faeries are nomadic?"
Uriele said nothing. Nereza held her breath.
"You have been apart from your sister for too long," Morwen stated, "and it is not well for either of you. At this rate, neither of you will become the fyora. You are very powerful practitioners indeed, and have studied long and hard, but Nereza cannot be fyora on her own without you, and you have proven nothing to me in the past year that would persuade me that you are capable of the job, either."
Nereza recalled the conversation she and the fyora had had a year ago, and she shuddered. Uriele, too, was stunned. Did Morwen favor her over Nereza? This was the first she had ever heard of something like this.
"If it weren't for the intensive training I have given you," the older light faerie went on, "or the secrets I have divulged, I would dismiss you both as my apprentices and find a new one. It is time you grew up, Uriele, and faced reality. Do not make me believe I have wasted my time."
The inside of the tent was so silent one could have heard a pin drop. As it were, Uriele's pale face was burning intensely with shame. Nereza could think of nothing to say.
The fyora waved her staff at them. "Get out of my sight," she said. "Both of you."
To be continued...