Fire-Born: Part Five
Vineti was chained to the wall, watching Eithne with wide eyes. Could it possibly be that she, a mere Chocolate Aisha, had fire powers?
“That’s right, you understand now, don’t you?” Eithne said. She brought the hand with the stick backwards, and then whipped it forward. Vineti flinched, bracing herself for impact, but it never came. She opened her eyes again and saw that the stick was now lit, Eithne looking Smug. “Just as I thought.”
She grabbed the other flaming stick from Tommy and placed both of them beneath the cauldron, before sticking her hand in the potion and flecking the fire with droplets. Instead of quenching the fire, the potion seemed to make it grow. It engulfed the bottom half of the cauldron, causing the potion to start to boil within. Eithne raced back to the chest, pulling out dried leaves and bits of what looked like stone. Using a giant metal ladle, she stirred each of these into the potion. Finally, she added a very tiny drop from a vial, and the potion turned bright white.
Now she ladled some of the potion into a stone cup, which she brought to Vineti. “Drink,” she ordered, thrusting the cup underneath Vineti’s nose. It smelled mouthwateringly sweet, but Vineti clamped her lips firmly together. She was confident that the potion would cause her harm.
“Drink, you scum!” Using her other hand, Eithne fiercely pinched Vineti’s nose shut. Vineti refused to open her mouth, but she could feel her lungs screaming for air. If it was true, she needed to, now more than ever…
Vineti gasped, choking in air, just as a burst of flame issued from her right paw; it melted through the manacle just as Eithne tipped the potion down Vineti’s throat.
Vineti succeeded in forcing Eithne away from her; the Fire Faerie hissed, clutching her injured check. Quickly, Vineti started tugging on her left arm; perhaps she could manage to burn her way through that manacle too…
But all of a sudden, it felt as if fire was pulsing through her veins. Vineti screamed, but the sensation had only lasted for a second. Now she felt leaden, as if a great force of gravity was pushing on her. She sagged, hanging by the one arm still trapped. Something warm was running from her eyes, nose, and mouth.
“Yes!” Eithne shrieked, her burned cheek forgotten. She rushed forward, holding a clean vial to Vineti’s face. Vineti watched dully as Eithne collected the last of the liquid; it was a bright red-orange color, and seemed to be emitting a faint glow.
Just then there was a loud thud, as if something had hit the stone entrance. Another thud followed it, but this time, there was a crash. Dust and bits of stone fell down the staircase, and from the wreckage emerged Queen Fyora. She raised her faerie wand and sliced it through the air; the vial was tugged from Eithne’s grip into Fyora’s hand. Eithne hissed viciously at the Faerie Queen.
Fyora waved her wand again, but Eithne dodged the spell. She flew towards Fyora, using both her hands to send a burst of flame at the queen. Fyora raised her wand, creating a shield in mid-air. Eithne flew past her, up the stone staircase, before blocking it with a wall of fire.
Fyora cast her wand, putting the fire out, but it was too late; Eithne had vanished. Fyora turned to examine the room, taking in Tommy, who was staring, wide-eyed, at the entrance, and Vineti, who was still chained to the wall by one arm, slumping towards the floor.
“If you’re wise, you’ll stay where you are,” she said to Tommy, who nodded mutely. Fyora pocketed the vial she had taken from Eithne and went to release Vineti from her bonds. “Don’t worry, little one, you’re safe now,” she said to her, picking her up easily. “Come,” she ordered Tommy, who seemed to decide that the safest thing to do, now that his boss had left him, was to do as the Faerie Queen said and hope for mercy.
Fyora had a carriage waiting. Two large Faerie Elephantes were attached to the harness, talking to two guards: a Draik and a Tuskaninny.
“Your majesty!” the Draik exclaimed when he saw her. “You should have let us go with you.”
“There was nothing you could have done, Terrance. We must return to the castle as quickly as possible.” Fyora entered the carriage, setting Vineti on the seat next to her. Tommy was ushered in and sat between the two guards; he seemed relieved that Fyora did not tell them to bind him.
“How are you feeling, Vineti?” Fyora asked.
Vineti blinked slowly. “Foggy. And tired.”
“That’s understandable. I think I’ve figured out why Eithne wanted to kidnap you. But we’ll wait until we’re at the castle to talk, shall we?”
Vineti nodded, grateful that Fyora didn’t expect her to talk now. She closed her eyes as the carriage flew along in the air. She felt hungry; when was the last time she had eaten?
With two fast Elephantes pulling the carriage, they were able to make it back to Faerieland much faster than it had taken Eithne to fly them out to Mystery Island. They landed smoothly in front of the palace’s gates. The Tuskaninny guard got out first, followed by Fyora and, after a moment, Tommy. The Draik guard offered Vineti a hand and helped her down the carriage, where she stood next to Fyora.
Another guard was hurrying out of the castle towards them. “Fyora! Guard Aaron was found attacked in the guest quarters. The human Lina is here, looking for her pet.”
“Tell her that she is safe and sound,” Fyora said. “Put this Quiggle with the Peophin; I shall deal with them later. Have Lina meet me in my study. Come, Vineti.”
Vineti followed Fyora obediently into the castle and through a series of doorways and staircases. She still felt drowsy, but less so than she did in the carriage. In fact, she was becoming more alert the more that she moved. The strange pressure she had felt in the stone room seemed to slowly be lifting, although it definitely wasn’t gone completely.
Two more guards were posted outside of Fyora’s study. They saluted her as she walked in, Vineti following. The Faerie Queen sat down behind a large desk and motioned for Vineti to take one of the seats opposite of her.
“Here,” Fyora said, waving her wand. Out of midair she conjured a large pitcher of lemonade, which she poured into a glass. “Drink this.”
Vineti did, and the sweet liquid seemed to revive her even more. She no longer felt drowsy, although her limbs did seem rather slow, and the glass seemed heavier than she thought it normally would.
Lina hurried into the room, breathing a sigh of relief when she spotted Vineti, safe and sound. “Oh, thank goodness,” she said, hugging Vineti before kissing her forehead. “I was so worried.”
“Fyora saved me,” Vineti said, hugging her owner back. Lina took the seat next to her, but continued to hold Vineti’s paw.
“Yes. There’s something I want to talk to both of you about.” Fyora reached into her pocket and removed the vial full of glowing liquid. Vineti stared at it curiously; what was it that had come out of her? “Where you able to find that note, Lina?” the Faerie Queen asked.
“No,” Lina admitted. “I had all of my pets turn the whole house upside-down, but there’s no trace of it.”
“No matter,” Fyora said. “I think I have worked out the basics of what was going on. Tell me, have either of you heard of pets that are Fire-born?”
Lina and Vineti both shook their heads, and Fyora continued. “A Fire-born pet is a Neopet who is born with the ability to control fire. It is possible for a Neopet to be born with the powers of any of the elementals. Vineti, it appears, has the abilities of a fire elemental. She can produce, control, and manipulate fire. Unlike a fire-breathing Neopet, or a fire-painted Neopet, Vineti’s abilities will not be affected should she change color or species.
“Fire-born Neopets are very rare, and it seems that, once Eithne had learned about you, she was determined to steal your power for herself. When this happens to an elemental Faerie, the Faerie will lose her wings and become Grey. Eithne probably wanted to steal your power since, as a Fire-born Neopet, it would be harder to determine what had become of your power. She probably thought she would be more likely to succeed if she stole power from a Neopet. She was successful in removing your power from your body, but thankfully, she did not make it her own. If she had, she would have become one of the most powerful Fire Faeries alive.
“Now, however, you must make a decision. This,” Fyora tapped the vial, “is the physical manifestation of your Fire. Now that it has been removed from your body, you will no longer be able to create fire, and any other powers you may have had will also be gone. However, the element of Fire is very dangerous and unpredictable. Your life will probably be much safer if you decide that you do not want it back. I don’t think Eithne will try to go after you again, now that I know about you. I used this to track her,” Fyora pointed to something like a golden compass, but its face was swirly and non-distinct, “but I’m willing to bet she’ll use a scrambling spell to prevent me from finding her again. Still, you must not disregard her completely; she is still a threat.
“If you do want your Fire back, then I request you start training with a Fire Faerie, to learn how to control your gift. It’ll be a lot of work, and there will probably be others who will want you for your power. The choice is yours to make.”
Vineti stared at the tiny bottle; the liquid inside of it seemed to dance. She hadn’t even known until a few hours ago that she had any type of Fire power at all.
“Did Eithne have a sister?” Vineti asked suddenly.
“A sister?” repeated Fyora. “No, I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of Eithne having a sister. Why?”
“She said that it was her sister, who tried to hide me. She said that she suppressed my powers.”
“That would certainly explain why you haven’t noticed anything unusual until recently. A strong suppression spell would make you appear normal, but such spells don’t last forever, and it must have been wearing off.”
Vineti nodded, thinking about this unnamed Faerie who had loved her enough to hide her away with a normal Neopian family. Was she a Fire Faerie, like her sister?
“That Fire, it was a part of me all my life, even if I didn’t realize it,” Vineti said. “I’d like to keep it, if that’s alright.”
“Of course.” Fyora handed Vineti the vial.
Vineti looked at Lina once, who smiled and nodded, before tipping the vial to her lips. She swallowed as the liquid rushed into her mouth.
It tasted like every flavor at once: sweet, sour, tangy, salty, spicy, savory. But the most overpowering sensation it gave off was of heat. It didn’t burn Vineti’s tongue, but she could feel it forcing its way throughout her body, filling her with warmth and fighting off the heaviness that had overtaken her. Her whole body seemed to be tingling, and suddenly she sneezed. A burst of flame issued from her mouth, creating a fire ball in midair before going out.
“Bless you,” Lina said.
“Wow,” Vineti said, opening her eyes. “Wow. I feel… I feel, so… so alive.”
Fyora smiled warmly at her. “Fire is a part of life. Make sure your Fire brings good and light and life.”
“Yes, your majesty,” Vineti said, smiling back. She could feel power tingling in her fingertips. “I will.”***
Later, back in their Neohome on Market Street, Vineti’s sister, Cream, was on making jokes about Vineti’s new power.
“So should we call you Hot Chocolate, now?” Cream asked, smiling.
“That was barely funny the first time you said it,” Lina responded.
“Do it again!” Ed asked Vineti, who smiled in response.
“Queen Fyora says that I’m not supposed to play with my Fire. I need to meditate and control it.”
“Aw, come on, what fun is having a power if you’re not going to use it?” Ed whined.
Vineti smiled, before concentrating on her hands. She focused on the tingling sensation, trying to make it more pronounced, before finally…
A little burst of flame sparked into life.
Ed gasped “Wow!” in amazement, and Vineti flicked the flame out.
“Hey, Vineti, if you’re ever made into a S’more, you can toast the marshmallow yourself!”
“Enough, Cream,” Lina said.
But Vineti laughed anyway. She had so much to be grateful for. Whatever had happened in her old life, it had brought her to this moment, right now, surrounded by the family she loved so much.