Fire-Born: Part Three
The group of Neopets and their owner stared at the Blue Peophin who had been caught trying to kidnap Vineti, a Chocolate Aisha. It was the middle of the night, and according to the Peophin, his boss would know if they went to the Chia Police.
“Should I still go?” Kata asked uncertainly. Lina looked at Vineti before answering.
“No. If what he says is true, I doubt that other pet will tell their boss that they got caught; he’d be too scared of being punished. Am I right?” Lina asked the Peophin, who nodded. “Okay. What does your Boss look like?”
“She’s a Fire Faerie, a real scary one,” sobbed the Peophin.
“A Fire Faerie…” Lina mused, one hand straying through her hair in an unconscious attempt to comb it.
“Fyora might know which one,” Yellow piped up. “Anyway, she’d definitely want to hear about this. If a Faerie is ordering attacks on innocent Neopets, it will definitely affect her.”
“Right,” Lina said, nodding. “We’ll need a carriage to get to Faerieland. Kata, come with me while I go get one. Ed, Dragon, can you hold onto him?”
“He’s not even struggling now,” Ed said.
“Good. Tie him up, just in case.”
Lina and Kata came back with a large carriage pulled by a huge, shifty-looking Moehog who turned a blind eye to the tied-up Peophin. He was quickly ushered into it by Dragon and Ed. Lina, Yellow, and Vineti followed them. “Stay inside until I get back,” Lina called to the pets who were remaining behind.
Moehogs didn’t have as smooth a gait as Unis, and the carriage bumped along roughly. The Peophin sniffled at random intervals, and Lina yawned once. Every once in a while a light from a house lit up the surroundings, but mostly the night outside was pitch-black.
The random patches of light increased as they entered Faerie City, and the carriage stopped outside the castle’s gate. Yellow, who worked in the castle, hopped down quickly to talk to the guards posted outside. After a moment, they reached in and grabbed both of the Peophin’s arms. He blubbered quietly but came without protest.
The lights in the castle were still on, but subdued; a guard went ahead to alert Fyora of their arrival. Dragon and Ed, who had never been in the castle before, had their heads tilted back to examine the tall, extravagantly decorated ceilings.
“Oh gosh, you’re sick,” Lina said, clamping a hand to her own forehead as she remembered. She finally seemed fully awake. “Vineti, you shouldn’t be out of bed. And in the middle of the night.”
“It’s not as if she could have done anything to prevent it,” Ed pointed out. “She didn’t plan on having intruders break in.”
“Still,” Lina looked around the entrance hall. “You should sit down, at least. I’ll ask the guards to fetch a chair.”
“It’s fine, Lina. I’m okay.” Vineti had her eyes on the double doors at the end of a hall; they opened, and Queen Fyora floated towards them. If they had woke her by their sudden late-night arrival, they couldn’t tell; she looked as well-rested as ever as she settled in front of them.
“Lina, Yellow, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I’m sorry for bothering you, your majesty, but two Neopets broke into our home. I normally would have left it to the Chia Police, but we captured one of the intruders and he said a Fire Faerie ordered him to kidnap Vineti.”
“A Fire Faerie?” Fyora turned to look at the Peophin, who was determinedly looking at everything but the Faerie Queen.
“Yes. He says that he never learned her name,” Lina added.
“Did you see the other Neopet?”
Lina looked at Vineti, who answered. “No. But I think he was tall; his voice seemed to be coming from up high.”
“Why do you think a Fire Faerie would want to capture you?” The Faerie Queen asked.
Vineti paused as she considered. She had never wronged a Faerie before, and neither had Lina. She might have been targeted because of Yellow, who worked closely with Queen Fyora, but if that were the case, why not just capture Yellow himself?
“I’m not sure,” she finally answered.
Now Fyora walked towards the Peophin, who cowered even further into the guards’ arms. “What is your name?” she asked.
“I’m called Mo, your majesty,” he answered, his eyes on the floor.
“And the Neopet who was with you, what did he look like? What was his name?”
Now Mo broke into more tears, his voice barely audible from beneath his sobs. “We… didn’t… want… to… We… had… too…”
“There were other options,” Fyora replied sternly. “You were scared, which is understandable, but that is no excuse. Now you must rectify your mistakes by helping us as much as you can.” She waited until Mo’s sobs had calmed back down to the occasional shaky breath. “Now, the other Neopet. What was his name, color, and species?”
“Tommy, he’s a Sketch Quiggle.” Mo gave a particular loud sob after saying this.
“And the Fire Faerie who commanded you, what did she look like?”
“Well, she had orange eyes. And I don’t just mean her eye color - the whites of her eyes were orange. And she had orange cuffs high on her arms.”
“Eithne,” Fyora said. She was tapping her finger on her cheek as she thought. “Tell me, did you meet her on Mystery Island?”
“Ye… Yeah,” Mo said, startled. “How’d you know?”
“Lock him in a tower room,” Fyora said to the guards. “I don’t think she’ll try and rescue him, but we should keep him here in case we need to ask him anything else.” She turned to Lina and Vineti while the guards dragged the Peophin away. “Eithne is a Fire Faerie who has a knack for causing trouble and doing what she wants. By itself, that wouldn’t be so bad, but she often oversteps the boundaries. She’s wreaked havoc on Mystery Island more times than I can count, but if I know her, she won’t leave her home. That’s why she sent henchmen to do her deeds for her.”
“But what would she want with Vineti?” Lina asked.
Fyora studied Vineti, who felt unnerved by the Faerie Queen’s steady gaze. “Tell me, Lina, did you create Vineti?"
“What? No,” Lina said, surprised by the question. “She’s adopted.”
“Who did you adopt her from?”
“I…” Lina paused. “Well, we don’t really know, to be honest.” Fyora looked at Lina, who continued to explain. “You see, we rescued her. She was stranded in the middle of a snowstorm.”
“There was a note, though,” Yellow added. “Right Lina?”
“Yeah,” Lina nodded, “tied to her collar. It told us that her old owner was watching over us the whole time during the snowstorm, and asked us to take good care of her.”
“Do you remember anything about your old owner, Vineti?” Fyora asked.
Vineti thought hard; the story of her strange adoption had been repeated many times in their household. Even though she was there, the memory of her first night at her new home was blurry. She remembered it in third-person, perhaps because the story had been recounted so many times.
But it wasn’t her first solid memory; before that, there had been warm arms around her, racing away from some danger. In her arms, Vineti clutched her first petpet, the one she had had before April.
“I used to have a Christmas Yooyu,” Vineti said. She felt the stares of her family as she spoke; she had never told them this bit of information before. “I remember that very strongly. But I don’t know what happened to it; it wasn’t with me when I came to Lina’s. But that’s all I remember.”
“That’s alright,” Fyora said kindly. “Adopted pets often lose their memories of their previous homes, especially if they don’t know their old owners.”
Vineti nodded; she had known this. Why did she suddenly have the urge to cry?
“Do you still have the note, Lina?” Fyora asked.
“Yes,” Lina said, but then her brow furrowed. “I don’t know… I’m not sure where it would be. But I definitely wouldn’t have thrown it out, not something that has so much history for Vineti.”
“Go and find it,” Fyora said. “And bring it back here, once you do. I’ll go to Mystery Island and confront Eithne; I doubt she’ll be hard to find. Vineti,” Fyora addressed the Chocolate Aisha. “May I ask that you remain here, where my guards can keep an eye on you? I’m confident none of them will betray me.”
“Of course,” Vineti said.
“Excellent. Aaron will show you to a guest room, and he’ll remain posted outside your door, should you need any help.” Fyora motioned a Blue Korbat forward. He bowed before Fyora before turning to Vineti, ready to escort her.
“Do you want one of us to stay here with you?” Dragon asked Vineti.
“No, go and help Lina find the note.” Vineti couldn’t ever remember seeing the note that had accompanied her during that night, and didn’t have any idea where to begin looking. Dragon and the others would be more of a help at the house.
“Okay. We’ll be back as soon as we can,” Lina said. She gave Vineti a quick hug, her brothers waved to her, and Vineti watched them leave through the castle door.
“You’ll be safe here,” Fyora said to her, resting a hand on Vineti’s shoulder. “I must see to something before I go to Mystery Island, but I must know what Eithne is up to. If she’s scheming, it could mean that she has something much larger planned.”
Vineti nodded, but she couldn’t help the sinking feeling in her gut as she watched her owner leave her behind.
To be continued…