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by ridergirl333


I had lost everything.

      They had taken it from me.

      I don't know how long I sat there, in that Timeless place between Neopia and Beyond. I don't know how long I drifted aimlessly between the stars, through galaxies gone by. I could still think. This came as a bit of a numb shock to me. Even after I was blasted to a pile of sludge, I could still think. But what should I think about? My mind grew numb as the stars slowly faded into peaceful blackness.

* * *

Gathelianne, Lady of Ambition strode around her moonlit chambers in an angry huff. That pathetic wretch of an Eyrie! Down on his knees, begging for mercy like some sort of child. If he had shown a bit more dignity, perhaps she may have been easier on him.


      "My lady," grunted Nuntio, Master of Greed. The hideous, ogre-like Skeith sidled up to the faerie cautiously. "My lady, Meridell is burning, just as you wish."

      "But it'll be rebuilt again!" Gathelianne said, her ghostly white hand lashing out and shattering a porcelain lamp. "Those Meridellian fools don't know when to give up! See, already they're putting out the fires. I need something bigger, the biggest blaze Neopia can give me! I need the fire that will end the world once and for all!"

      "Calm down, my lady," said Ranagro, Lord of Revenge. The muscular Gelert drew a shining violet blade from his sheath. It was Nalarus, the sword he had given to Kass and taken away again. Carefully, he examined the blade for cracks, then sheathed it again. "You'll get your chance soon enough. We all will. After all, we have all the time in the world. We're ghosts."

      Gathelianne was silent. Nuntio shivered. The lady had the power to change the mood in the room with just a glance, or a snap of her fingers. She held a hypnotic power over other people. Almost as hypnotic as Ranagro's. Though, for reasons unknown to the Skeith, Gathelianne was the dominant of the two.

      The air was tense. Nuntio watched with baited breath. What would his lady's next move be? "Where did we go wrong?" The faerie asked, twirling a lock of raven-black hair on her finger. "Did we choose the wrong person to possess? Was there a fault in the plan?"

      "My lady, you're pacing," Ranagro said nervously.

      "Of course I'm pacing, you twit! But anyway, I know the answer. The fault lay not with us, but with those Meridellians. Too smart for their own good. Especially that Aisha with the glasses. Breaking the spell on the Court Dancer. That dancer was a key part of my plan. She was to occupy Skarl. Once Skarl knew what was going on, the whole plan fell to pieces."

      "And that wretch bat creature had to get involved."

      Gathelianne nodded. "Darigan. It seems he has become quite the hero. He must be so proud of himself." There was a trace of mockery in the faerie's voice. "So very proud."

      She sighed and continued to pace. "But we'll crush his pride soon enough, my friends. We'll reduce his Citadel to rubble, just a legend lost to time."

* * *

A road… a path opening up before me. A glittering, twinkling path of stars. I stepped onto it. It felt cool to the touch. Sharp, but not sharp enough to cut my feet open. I looked down. My paws were my own again. Real paws. I ran my hand through my head feathers again. They felt slightly surreal. Like they were there, but they shouldn't be.

      Something was seriously amiss. Why wasn't I dead? After all I had put my Citadel and my people through, I deserved to die. But instead I stood here, suspended between life and death, between harsh reality and the land of spirits and demons.

      "Welcome to our world, Kass," said a sweet, melodic voice. I turned to see Lady Gathelianne floating towards me, hovering slightly over the path of stars. She glowed a pearlescent violet color. Approaching me, she touched my cheek, and a bit of that glow rubbed off on me. Slowly, in a confused trance, I wiped it off. What was going on?

      "Welcome to Everlife, where restless spirits are doomed to wander all their days, or until their restlessness is put to an end. Welcome to the world of horrors and haunts. Don't cringe so, Kass. It takes a little time to grow accustomed, but you'll do so."

      "Why did you bring me here?" I demanded, unsure of hat else to say. I was certain that it was she who brought me to this place. "Wouldn't it have been more merciful just to kill be and be done with it?"

      The faerie laughed, a sound that held no joy. "Kass, when have I ever been merciful? Besides, my Eyrie. You're needed here."

      Behind her appeared Ranagro and Nuntio. The Skeith wasn't too happy to see me. But Ranagro, Ranagro was grinning from ear to pointed ear. He enjoyed watching me suffer like this. Gathelianne was an ice block, her emotions unreadable.

      "Needed?" I asked, "Needed for what?" A gnawing feeling in my stomach told me that I didn't want to know the answer.

      "Why, to help bring down Meridell, of course." Gathelianne said coolly, playing with a lock of her hair. "After all, you died in a war against them. It is their fault."

      I shook my head. Her voice was so tangy sweet, but I knew there was poison in that honeyed fruit. "They weren't the ones that released the lightning bolt. They weren't the ones who saw me fade away. You were."

      "Lies. Kass, dear, we're on your side. We gave you the power and magic you needed. And in turn, you got rid of the wretched knight for us. He was a danger to your people, Kass. And now that he's gone, the Citadel is safer."

      It was so easy to surrender, so easy to believe her. My mind raced through a million thoughts. Why make things harder for yourself, Kass? Just go with the flow. You've got no other choice. Come with me, it won't hurt a bit…

      "No. The Citadel was never in danger, was it? You just whispered those lies in my ear so I would start this war."

      "Oh, but the Citadel was in danger, Kass," Gathelianne said, her palm glowing pale silver. "Let me show you a future that might have been." She raised her palm in front of my eyes. It became a mirror, and I saw myself, silvery and wavering. Insubstantial, not even sure if I was real.

      Then, the screen changed. Fire blazed. Smoke plumes fled from the screen, enveloping my senses, wrapping me in this thread of time-to-be. I heard the screams of my people. A Darigan Uni ran by, his wings ablaze, while a peasant farmer chased him with a pitchfork. Lord Darigan, my old friend, drew his sword, his mouth set in a grim line. A Meridellian Wocky, (I remember him. Jeran's friend, Danner.) drew his crossbow and let the arrow fly. The ruler of the Citadel collapsed.

      Another sound made me whirl around. The sound of thunder in the mountains, reverberating and powerful. A sound that made my heart leap into my throat. I turned around. The engines that kept the Citadel aloft roared like a thousand angry beasts. Then, with one feeble sputter, they died.

      The ground beneath my feet shook with the vibrations of screams and the motions of pattering, frantic feet. As if in slow motion, the Citadel fell from the sky. The old hag, Morguss, grabbed her young daughter's paw and tried to bolt, but it all happened too quickly. They were done.

      The last thing I saw as the vision faded was a tiny purple and white banner on the Citadel's ruined tower, waving at me ironically.

      "A threat?" Ranagro asked with a smirk. "Admit it Kass, they were a threat."

      His voice, so powerful and commanding. It would be so easy to submit to his will. But I fought. "Lies. You're showing me lies again. That's all you Three do, is lie. All you've ever done for me and my kingdom. I don't want to be on your side, never meant to be on your side…"

      "But you are," Nuntio growled. "You embody, erm… embodied, us," He said, taking a look at my pale, ghostly form. "You were Ambitious. Vengeful. Greedy. And foolish. Now you're on our side. Whether you like it or not."

      "But Darigan broke free!" I protested.

      "He had strength that you could not hope to possess in a thousand years," Ranagro said bluntly, putting his paw to the hilt of his sword. He sensed my growing anger and indignation. Foolish Gelert, I thought, no sword can harm me now.

      "Then where do I get that strength? How do I learn?"

      "You don't," Gathelianne sneered. She was clutching something at her neck with one hand, using the other to take it off. A ghostly replica of my amulet, a tiny bird skull with green feathers. I watched it, entranced. The thing she and her vile companions had used to track me. To control me, like a puppet on strings. Another lie, another dark drop in an already poisoned well. I had lapped it all up mindlessly. Only now was the bitter aftertaste catching up on me.

      Common sense struck me like a thunderbolt. The amulet was destroyed! They no longer had a hold on me! How could they harm me?

      Another bolt. They had controlled Kass through the Orb. And using the Orb, two faerie sisters had been able to bring Darigan back to life.

      What if the same could be done with my amulet? What if someday, I could escape this false life, this half-life, this world of deception?

      I held out my paw in an offer to take the amulet from Gathelianne. Grudgingly, she agreed. "I've no more use for it." She said, putting gently in my hand as though we were old friends. Yet her voice remained ice-cold. "If you can figure out how to get out of here, then you're a more deserving Eyrie than I ever dreamed you'd be. But you'll never find a way out, Kass. Never. Not unless you help us."

      I shook my head. They were lying again. It tuned my back to them and began to walk down the star-strewn path, dangling the ghost amulet in front of me. Once a symbol of my imprisonment, it had turned into the key to my cage.

      As I walked, I stared at the amulet and saw the reflections of a world gone by. The flaming spectre of Lord Darigan, with the Orb I his hand. The Orb shone like a miniature sun, yet the light it shed was not warm. I saw their faces reflected. The Three, beautiful and terrible. I saw the blazing of the Sunblade, shedding a light that warmed even my ghostly self. I felt the tears of a sister on my shoulder, heard the whinny of a Uni steed. The bell-like laughter of a faerie.

      This amulet was my second chance, my link to the world I know.

      This time around, I'd be vindicated. This time around, I'd learn from my mistakes. This time, I wouldn't listen to the lies. This time…

The End

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