The Path: Part Three
"Good morning, Amelie," was the first thing she heard when she woke up. Amelie was on the couch of Ronnie's aunt house. He convinced her to stay there for the night, as it was too late to go back to Meridell.
"Hey," she said, yawning, "good morning! What time is it?"
"It's almost midday. Shh, don't worry, you needed some rest," replied Ronnie, who was bringing milk to his aunt's petpet.
The two had stayed up late last night talking about their fears, their adventures, and their dreams. She told him about the terrible dragon that had appeared in Meridell, she also opened her heart and told him about Derek.
"So why exactly do you wear these hoodies? And all the hiding?" asked Amelie.
"When I'm carrying very valuable items, I just try to take precautions. There are people who would do anything to get what they want."
"Even pretending to be someone they're not?"
For the first time, Amelie had a shoulder to cry on and a hug to comfort her. It made her feel as if she took a weight off her heart. She woke up feeling well and rested.
They had breakfast, and then went for a walk in Faerieland. Amelie had still not visited much of that beautiful city.
"Will you really go back this afternoon?" Ronnie asked.
"Yes, I must go. Fyora didn't believe my story and I need to tell it all to Rose, or she'll be worried."
"Oh... I'll miss you, let me know when you need stamps for your collection okay?"
"Sure! But I won't buy stamps so soon, I barely have money left to buy my daily Pyramibread," Amelie said, awkwardly laughing of the situation.
Ronnie got himself thinking of something to help her out. "How about we go to the employment agency?" he said. "We're close, and we might even have some fun working with the faeries."
"Okay, let's do this!" she agreed, encouraged.
As they were walking toward the agency though, someone stopped them. "I found you!" Fyora shouted, with an expression of relief. "I saw him!"
Fyora did not used to go out without the company of bodyguards, but in that case, she was alone and wearing a simple purple hood, trying not to get much attention to herself.
"You saw? You mean... Terask?" Amelie asked, surprised.
"He was watching me from the window last night! He is... horrifying!" Fyora had a look of distress on her face that Neopians could ever imagine.
"Oh no, he must be planning something!" Ronnie said.
"I'm sure he is..." said the Queen, wondering who was the White Kacheek. "Guys, who else know about it?" she asked.
"Just me, Ronnie, Rose... And ah, the faerie who escorted me to the exit when I visited the tower yesterday. I don't know anyone else that has seen him, but probably someone else did," Amelie responded.
"Please, keep the description, I don't want to alarm everyone. I will try to resolve it as quickly as possible," Fyora ordered. "I've spent the morning reading books from the castle's library and I think I know where to start."
"We can help," said Amelie, remembering that the dragon carried an important artifact of Rose.
"I don't want to get two young Neopians in trouble," Fyora objected.
"We want to," Ronnie said, bravely. "Let us try! We're up for some adventure."
"Oh... well," Fyora thought she might need a little assistance, they already knew about the dragon and she didn't want to involve more people in this matter. "Maybe you can be helpful." she said. "Now, I just need you to tell me everything you know about him."
Amelie then said everything she had seen. Fyora listened carefully, and explained them about their next step: Visiting a Blumaroo named Rohane.
The three arrived in Meridell, where Rohane lived. Fyora had read about him in her books, and found out he was strongly connected to Terask. Rohane was now a retired space explorer who once had a great adventure.
She rang the doorbell, and a yellow Blumaroo answered. "Hello," he said, looking tired.
"Hi, are you Rohane?" Fyora asked. "We came in search of important information. Can we talk to you?"
Only then Rohane realized he was facing the Queen of Faerieland. "Oh... come in, please." Rohane quickly opened the door and showed them the way to the couch.
They sat on the couch near the fireplace, and Rohane brought them tea. They began to discuss the matter and tell their suspicions. The Blumaroo decided to hear everything first, and then started speaking.
"So, King Terask... I remember him, that dragon is truly scary! But he was only part of a simulation; it's shocking to know he actually exists," said Rohane, intrigued.
"Can you tell me everything you know about it?" asked Fyora.
"Sure, well, it's a long story... As you know I was the captain of a spaceship that was exploring unknown regions of the universe. Me, Talinia, Mipsy and Velm were a team. We were traveling for about one month in our mission when we intercepted an unknown signal... but it turned out it was a virus that took control of our ship's computer. Before we realized it we got ourselves trapped in a virtual dimension, and set our spaceship to fly into the nearest star." Rohane paused to remember those tense moments and took a sip of tea from his cup.
"Well," he continued, "the only way to remove the virus was being part of that simulation as characters in a game, going through lands and villains. Terask was the last enemy, and in there, he had captured your highness Queen Fyora and taken control of Faerieland. We managed to defeat him, and so the virus was deleted. We retook control of our spaceship seconds before a collision, it was close... No one knows for sure where the virus came from or what was its purpose, but the department of space security suspect that it was a work of Dr Sloth, and the simulations were ways of testing his evil plans before putting them in practice. Much has been speculated whether Dr Sloth is hiding in some place close to that region, but there are skeptics who say that it all is just a legend."
Fyora, Ronnie and Amelie remained in silence, trying to absorb everything they heard from the Blumaroo.
"Well, that's it... I know the great Terask from a simulation. And he was terribly scary, but unrealistic. After a while, a very very crazy guy created a game based on our adventure called NeoQuest II. The game became popular among the teenagers and gave rise to a collection of stamps dedicated to it, that includes the King Terask Stamp that you mentioned," Rohane concluded.
"So... Wow..." the Kacheek said, perplexed. "So you're saying that the simulation could be a way of testing Dr Sloth's weapons? I think that at the moment it actually... makes sense..."
"Does that mean he's willing to capture Queen Fyora and take over Faerieland?" Amelie said, hesitantly.
Everyone realized that, and a tense atmosphere emerged.
"Oh... oh no," that was all Fyora managed to say.
Rose's house was not far from there, it was getting dark, and they decided it would be better to spend the night somewhere close than return to Faerieland with the imminent danger. Rose opened the door and received the guests as if she had been expecting them. They entered and Amelie presented her to the Queen and to her new friend Ronnie.
They sat and began to explain and argue about the circumstances. The climate was tense for everyone. Fyora was thinking of a strategy to prevent the worst from happening.
"Is the Queen always this quiet?" Rose whispered to Amelie.
"No... the situation made her so," she responded softly.
It was revealed an individuality of the Queen they did not know: Despite her sovereignty and strength, she had feelings and concerns as any Neopian.
Rose sat by her side and said, sweetly, "Hey Fyora... I want you to know that I will help you with whatever I can. You're not alone!"
"Thank you, Rose, I appreciate that," Fyora said. "I'm thinking of attack strategies, but that's not all that bothers me... I saw Terask through my window, I looked straight into his eyes, and at that very moment... I had terrifying flashes as if it already happened. I'm sure this means something."
"Hmm, that's peculiar," Rose replied, thoughtfully. "I've seen something like that happen once," she got up and started to look for something in her shelf of potions. "If your heart says it's important, so it's not something to be ignored!" Rose said while examining her potions, then she finally found the bottle she wanted. She turned to Fyora and smiled. "Squibble Berry Seeds Extract! It is a very good potion to enlighten minds. If these visions are just a head confusion, you will know. If they are forecasts, you will feel. If they were really part of your past, and for some reason you don't remember it, you will find out."
Fyora hold the potion and looked at it for a few moments. It was blue and gross. "Am I supposed to drink it?"
Rose nodded, and Fyora drank the whole bottle.
"I do not feel anything different..." speculated the Queen.
"Sometimes this potion does not work instantly. In this case, there is just one thing to do to make it effective... You have to be faced again with what caused you the flashes," Rose said, worried. "The potion will take full effect when you confront Terask..."
The Queen felt butterflies in her stomach at the thought of facing him again, but she was sure that the visions meant something important. Besides, if she wanted to protect her land she would have to dare doing so, sooner or later.
Fyora made a decision. "Tomorrow we will go to my castle. We'll prepare for a battle!"
To be continued...