Master of Ceremonies: Part Ten
"You are the most beautiful Neopet to have ever lived," Vira told her reflection in the river. She tapped the surface of the running water and watched the ripples flow downstream. "After all these years, I’m finally living my dreams."
The beautiful Acara giggled softly as she sat relaxing by the Demonica River. Her flowing locks of hair were braided with the finest flowers that her little world had to offer, and she wore the most beautiful, white gown.
"This is where I’m meant to be," she told herself happily, looking above her at the awesome, darkened sky.
Both the sun and Kreludor appeared together, locked in a total solar eclipse. Hues of majestic purple and twilit gold streamed down from above, and meteorites streaked the broken sky like falling diamonds. There were never any clouds in this realm, but the thousands of stars were always watching and admiring Vira’s newfound beauty from far above the earth.
Living in the realm of mirrors was such a fantastic and intriguing experience, for there was something new—and something taken away—every day. Time passed by so strangely here. It had perhaps been two weeks since she came to this new world, but days were too difficult to keep track of without the rising and setting of the sun.
She rose to her feet and stretched, wondering what else she could do with her time. There was no fairground in this dimension, nor was there any Neopian land to travel to other than the acreage that her father used to own. The limits of this realm were surprisingly restricted.
As Vira headed up the knoll toward her mansion, she lifted her dress to keep its hem from turning shades of pink and orange. She slid her feet through the pastel sands below her and let its silky texture massage her feet.
Thinking back to her childhood, she remembered all of the feelings of warmth and love that she had been able to experience with her sisters in these places surrounding her home. The river, the fields, and the forest glades, as bizarre and whimsical as they were now, were the very ones that she grew up in.
Before her mother had passed away, Vira had enjoyed such a wonderful life, but that family and that childhood happiness were both gone now. It had taken her these twenty long years to rediscover what that joy really felt like, and now, here in this new realm of hers, she had finally found her new home.
She would never go back. She would never leave this picturesque world nor give up her perfect beauty.
Vira stepped across the checkerboard patio and into the mansion’s grand hall. The toes of her bare feet pressed uncomfortably against the cold, marble floors, and the silence of the abandoned dwelling was equally unwelcoming. No one ever came to visit her in this mansion, but even if someone did, there was no house staff to take care of a guest. It was somewhat off-putting that not a single other soul had yet showed up in this realm.
She walked up the grand staircase from the center of the room to the first landing, and as her body rose into view, she watched her elegant, queenly ascension in the large mirror ahead. She stepped forward and smiled at her radiant beauty.
"Vira, Vira, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?" the Acara giggled.
Vira twirled her ritzy dress left and right and admired how wonderfully her flower-entwined braids flowed with it as she turned. The reflection also turned left and right, mimicking her movements exactly, but its face portrayed utter depression. Its swollen eyes could barely hold back the tears.
"Come on… smile for me!" she petitioned, but the Acara in the mirror remained stone faced and unwelcoming. "Aw, how disappointing."
Vira put her gloved paws onto her hips and leaned forward. "But that’s what you get for stealing from me!"
She continued up the stairway to her left and walked through the double doors. She headed down the long hall to her bedroom door, but upon opening the door she realized she had made a mistake.
"Ah, I keep forgetting," she said. "My room’s on the other side now." She closed the door and walked back down the long hallway toward the grand hall. Ever since she had entered the mirror, left became right and vice versa. It was odd being left-handed, and even more of a pain was reading.
After taking numerous, regal strides down the velvet carpet, she realized that she wasn’t getting any closer to the glass panel doors at the end of the hall. It was almost as if the hallway were elongating itself as she walked; the walls to her left and right even seemed to collapse in on her. She sighed realizing that another change was taking place in her little world.
Stopping where she was, she listened to the walls as they expanded. Wooden beams creaked as the white chocolate rooms throughout the house shifted in their places. The nailheads in the floor beneath her pressed upward against her feet, and the etageres and console tables leaned precariously forward as the walls pushed in against them.
The mansion soon calmly settled back into place, and the enduring silence resumed its oppressing reign. Vira closed her eyes as the silence fell, and she wondered what new additions to her house had just arrived.
Then Vira heard it… the stale air was carrying a distant voice to her. Opening her eyes, she surveyed her surroundings. There was no one else in the hallway, but perhaps someone had finally come to the mansion to visit her.
She continued down the elongated hallway and opened the glass panel doors to the grand hall. Approaching the balcony, she looked down and noticed that the mansion’s front doors were open, but no one stood in the grand hall below.
Nervously, Vira descended the staircase to the first landing and turned to descend the rest of the staircase.
To her bitter surprise, her unannounced guest was already ascending the stairs to meet her. When he reached the top, he sarcastically bowed himself to her with a sinister grin.
"My queen," the Draik acknowledged, his Crown of Splendour remaining perched atop his head.
"I thought I got rid of you," she sneered.
"You came to live in my kingdom, did you not?"
The enchanter abruptly waved his staff, and an ominous, dark aura arose from the ground!
Surprised by his sudden advance, Vira stumbled backward and reached out to the mirror behind her for support, but she had underestimated its distance and suddenly toppled over. The darkness in front of her grew like a fire reaching for the sky, fiercely blowing chilling winds against her while engulfing the enchanter in its shroud.
After a moment, the aura finally dissipated, and a large mirror stood in its place.
Fear struck Vira’s heart, for the mirror that had been summoned reciprocated the mirror’s image behind her, and together they showed an endless corridor of shadowy enchanters stretching into the eternities.
But the enchanter was not the only image caught in the mirrors’ vast illusion. Bound in his awful, heavy chains, a beautiful Acara dressed in white stood next to him. Tears streamed down its cheeks as it was being held captive by the heinous king. Images of their fateful union stretched as far as the eye could see as the two haunting figures stood above her.
"I looked into your heart, Vira," he yelled threateningly. "I saw the endless power of your weaknesses that are so easy to manipulate. You have the most vile and filthy soul to have ever come to Neopia, and now you belong to me."
"That’s a lie!" she screamed.
The mirror in front of her began floating toward her, and the staircases pressed in from both sides, trapping her between the mirrors.
The enchanter continued in his twisted ploy. "Willing to betray anyone and everyone… just to satisfy your own desires, I knew that in the end you would reverse my spell and cast the entire world of Neopia into my everlasting dominion. You are pure evil!"
He squatted down and quickly put his face right next to hers on the other side of the glass. Widening his eyes maliciously he screamed at her, "That’s what makes you perfect!"
Vira screamed in terror and put her paws over head. She sobbed and hunched down as much as she could as the four walls pressed in on her.
"Now all their souls are trapped in my domain, and I may do as I please! I am the god of Neopia!" the enchanter shouted triumphantly as he rose again to his feet.
He quickly regained his calm composure and grinned as he looked down at her.
"Cheer up, my queen. You are the master of ceremonies, and wedding day… is finally upon us."
Vira remained cornered on the ground. She sobbed uncontrollably, realizing what she had done to herself and to the world. She had selfishly dragged everyone along with her into this alternate reality just so that she could regain her stolen beauty. Now it was too late for her to change her past and take back what she had done wrong.
She never should have let the enchanter come to her. She never should have let him whisper his enticing thoughts into her mind. If only she could go back in time to that day when he first approached her... maybe then it wouldn’t have been too late to save her vengeful soul.
But here she lay, trapped in his cunning snare three years later. She had slowly brought upon herself this condemnation, and he had finally sealed her his within the walls of this wicked domain.
She drowned in the bitter, teeming darkness and cried in anguish as her soul was crushed beneath her heavy burdens. This eternal prison was to be her final destiny.
"Vira!" a muffled, female voice called out from behind. Someone hastily tapped against the glass behind her. "Vira, look here!" the familiar voice called again.
Peering out from between her elbows, Vira looked into the mirror behind her and saw a white dress on the other side of the glass. Someone was bending down to talk to her.
"Vira, I am here for you. Please don’t give up."
Vira uncovered her head and looked to see whose voice was so kind and so familiar. Just a few inches away, Vira saw her own mother!
"Mom!" Vira sobbed as she climbed onto her knees and pressed her paws against the glass. "Mother, you’re here!"
The beautiful Acara whom she longed to be with was in a long tunnel of reflected mirrors, completely enveloped by bright light.
Her mother stood up and said, "Vira, please go home. Neopia needs you to leave this place."
Vira stood up as well. "I’m sorry, Mom, but I can’t go back to Neopia. There’s nothing there for me; I’ve ruined everything." She wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Everyone despises me anyway. This is where I belong now…"
"That’s right," the enchanter called out from behind her. Vira looked over her shoulder at the mirror where the never-ending channel of enchanters and imprisoned Viras stood. He explained, "Neopia will never accept you the way you are, you hideous creature. You’ve spent decades giving out your pitiful mirrors, hoping to put the innocent under your same condemnation. You’ve wallowed in revenge too long for their forgiveness. Neopia rejects you!"
"Vira," her mother repeated. "You can always make amends with Neopia and be forgiven of your mistakes."
The enchanter crudely replied in return, "Even if you did go back, your family will never forgive you for what you’ve done! You rebelled against your father and threw your sisters’ lives into despair. You caused your family to drift apart, and now there is nothing left for you or for them!"
Her mother’s soothing voice continued, "It is true that you have made many mistakes, but if you make the sacrifice and restore Neopia to its proper order, you will be greatly rewarded. You will be able to rejoin us one day, and we will welcome you with open arms."
Amid the bright light in the mirror, Vira’s father stepped into sight and put his arm around his wife’s shoulder.
"Vira, you will always be a Claymore," her father calmly said as tears streamed down his daughter’s cheeks. "And vanity never was the true character of your heart."
The enchanter snarled at her rebelliously, "If you leave this world, you will never see your family again! The only thing awaiting you on the other side of the glass is misery and torment!"
Vira ignored the enchanter’s lies and kept looking forward into the mirror where her parents were.
"Your mom and I have always known that your greatest desire is for everyone to rejoice in the beauty of the world. You have the potential to make Neopia even greater and more beautiful than how I ever imagined it. Now please… go home and share your light with everyone."
Vira tapped her palms against the glass. "Don’t make me go back to that cruel world! Please… take me with you," she begged of her parents.
"We can’t bring you home yet, Vira," her mother replied. "If you choose to go back, you will have to return to Neopia, but the three of us are always watching over you and your sister, Ylana. We love and miss you both."
To Vira’s delight, a Red Acara stepped into sight. It was Lucy, her younger sister.
"You will never find true happiness here, Vira," she said. "Here in this realm you will never age, and you will never die. Please go back home and live a fulfilling life… so that one day we can play in the fields together again!"
Outraged by the Claymores’ outpouring of love and encouragement, the enchanter reached his claws out of the mirror, trying to grab hold of Vira in a violent fit. He snarled and barked wildly at her from behind. "Your fate has been sealed mine!"
Unyielding, Vira stared into each of her family members’ eyes and promised to herself that she would live… for them.
"Please, Vira, go home," her parents said as they reached their paws through the glass, "and one day we will all live together again."
Vira grabbed hold of her parents’ paws and stepped forward into the light, fully aware that she was returning to her life in Neopia as a misunderstood outcast, but the days ahead of her—as long and difficult as they would be—would be well worth living.
Light filled her eyes and hope swelled within her healing heart…
True happiness was now in her future, and she would never look back.
The old Vira was no more.
"Whoa!" I shouted as I sat up in my bed. Predawn sunlight pleasantly warmed up my comfortable bedroom. I had just woken up from the most bizarre and haunting nightmare.
I looked at the clock. It was five in the morning on the first day of the month of Storing. I climbed out of bed, put on my Faellie Slippers, and left my room. I cracked opened Yuruyuki’s door to check in on her, but the covers on her bed messily lay empty.
That’s weird, I thought. How is she already up this early in the morning?
I closed her door and continued down the hallway to the bathroom. I flicked on the light, closed the door, and raised an eyebrow warily at the girl in the mirror.
I folded my arms and looked sideways at her. There was no denying that she had come to life yesterday… and that all of Neopia had been in a panic for months before then because of the missing reflections.
I remembered being pulled in and experiencing some of the insanity of the enchanter’s world, but the details of what happened there fleeted from my mind like an old, childhood nightmare. I didn’t remember what it was like being on the other side of the glass, but I certainly didn’t want to go back there to find out.
What had happened in that world? My reflection and I shook our heads and bit our lips in unison.
Well, whatever had happened, Vira somehow got us out of there and returned everything back to normal. Neopia would probably never hear of Vira’s decision to rescue us from the enchanter’s world, but… that was probably for the better, since it was her own selfish wish in the first place to bring us all there.
Memories of Neopia’s short time in the mirror world would slowly fade away along with the many other secrets that remained hidden in Neopia’s past. Everyone was probably waking up now, wondering what strange nightmare they had just experienced, but life would quickly return to normal.
"I love you just the way you are," I said to my reflection as I held my right hand out to shake hands with her. Fortunately my reflection reached out with her left arm, so the two of us couldn’t shake hands. Everything was truly back to normal.
"You’re an amazing person. And thank you for helping me out yesterday." The two of us stood there staring at each other. "I’ll be sure to take better care of you."
It felt great knowing that the enchanter and his army of animated reflections were all gone and that peace had been restored to Neopia. I looked at my reflection’s outstretched hand and chuckled to myself.
"Thank goodness," I sighed with relief.
But as I stood there staring, something unusual caught my eye. There was something on my hand…
I lifted my palm up toward my face, but there was nothing on my hand. Looking up into the mirror, my eyes widened in shock as they caught sight of something on the back of my reflection’s left hand.
There was a ring on my reflection’s fourth finger! It was encrusted with several accent stones, and they all sparkled in the light along with the large, elevated diamond in the center.
"What is that?" I gawked in bewilderment. Left completely speechless, I scanned the details of my reflection for something else out of the ordinary, but everything else seemed perfectly normal.
"Why am I wearing a wedding ring?"
I looked up into my reflection’s eyes, and as I stood there with my mouth gaping wide open, my reflection smiled back…