Nidela sat in the dark, cheerless chamber and waited.
She was no longer young, she knew, even by faerie
standards. The evil that had devoured her did little to help, and she was fading.
Her time was passing, and unless they could finally find a handle of Power,
none would survive the ravages of time. She pulled her black cloak closer about
her and narrowed the pale, misty eyes that glittered with malice.
"Mistress…" hissed a faint, sibilant voice.
Before, she did not have to use magic to hear Lighteater. Oh yes, they were
all fading. "We have a prisoner for you." Nidela barely had to allow them access
before Lighteater and Venomheart appeared in the room. Their faces were already
no more than mist, and their green skin was dull, but they would suffice.
"Dela?" a small voice came from between them.
She looked down to see a bound light faerie kneeling on the floor. How dare
the vermin speak her name? How did she even know her name? The faerie looked
up. "Don't you remember, Dela? Don't you?" Yes, she did remember. She didn't
want to, but the memories lurked in her mind, and flooded in with surprising
"Sta-arr!" shrieked a piercing, wailing voice.
Starr fumbled the spell-thread she was working on, and watched the whole, messy
ball of spells slip through her hands and vanish. An hour of work…gone! The
novice light faerie spun around to see Nidela, her tormentor, sitting in a carved-wood
chair and smirking. "Why did you do that?" she screamed. "That was my homework!"
Nidela smirked, toying with a strand of pale
blond hair. Her large, amber eyes were just a little meaner than Starr's astonished
blue ones, and her smooth, bleached-white skin and slightly turned-up nose worked
in sharp contrast to thin, bright red lips. "Do I care? Learn some concentration,
junior. I outrank you, so you'd best look to yourself."
Starr trembled with anger. "I…I HATE you! I
can't stand you! Why don't you just stop bothering me? It's NOT funny!"
"It's too bad we're roommates then, isn't it?"
Nidela replied coolly. "And besides, I wouldn't, as you put it, torment you
if you weren't such a tale-bearing sneak. Toodles." She sailed out of the room
and into the hall while Starr stared after her. If looks could kill, Nidela
might not have made it out alive.
As soon as Nidela exited, a gaggle of other
seniors surrounded her. "We heard Starr shriek in there," piped up Lane. Lane
was actually the most sensible of Nidela's friends, though she didn't look it.
Everything about her was pale-the almost white hair, faded green eyes, and bone-white
skin. Now, she wrinkled her nose in imitation of Starr. "It's NOT funn-ny!!!"
Everyone burst out laughing.
"Coming with us to Meridell?" asked Tara. "It'll
be so much fun, you know."
"No, I think I'll finish my scroll," Nidela
said absently. She didn't know how that scroll had slipped past the tough old
light faerie monitors in the library, but it was absolutely fascinating! It
was all about how to harness the power of pure evil. She had barely even started
yet, but what she had read was intriguing. Even know, she remembered the words
of the first passage…
An account by (a name had been blurred by a
spot of ink) of the true Power.
The power of Three is underestimated in all
lore. Indeed, this is the instrumental number of the true Power. Therefore,
there are three ways to acquire that power-first, to kill off the Faerie Queen
(which will destroy you utterly if you are not strong enough), to have the power
in you from the beginning (that line has ended) or the third way, the most terrible,
yet the only way to access and hold the True Power for all time…
Nidela was jerked out of her reverie by a babble
of protest from the cloud of seniors. Scrolls were useless, for bookworms and
for old professors, blah, blah, blah. Why did she even keep these useless bubbleheads
as friends anyways? Ignoring their protests, she headed off to the library,
got a passcard from the matronly librarians, and retrieved the scroll from a
dusty shelf near the back of the room.
"…A faerie and two Neopets are needed. These
two Neopets must know hate and the pulse of evil, and the Faerie too. Even for
a heartbeat, if the magic triangle is formed, at any time the Faerie can access
the True Power and contain the magic through the two Neopets. While in the triangle
the magic shall be strongest. Who can stand against the Power of Three?"
On and on it went from there. Nidela was spellbound,
even though she didn't understand the next bits. They were all about the lurking
evil and the power of pure hate and fear, with stories to chill even the most
brave faerie's bones to the marrow. She rolled up the scroll and placed it back
on the shelf. And then the alarm went off.
Nidela spun around. Right there, in the library,
professors were filing directly towards her! They appeared to be escorting something
that throbbed with a malice that Nidela could feel clearly. Was it the creature,
or was it the influence of the scroll?
"YOU!" shrieked the elderly Professor, Strom.
"How DARE you? You bring ruin upon our heads, this very Academy! You..you Dark
spy!" Nidela gaped. She could clearly see that Strom's eyes were spell-glazed.
Looking around, she saw Starr in the watching crowd. As their eyes met, Starr
smiled. It was not a pleasant smile.
The professors began to slowly file towards
her. As they spread out, she saw that there were two creatures there. Powerful,
lurking, monstrous and hideous creatures that only vaguely took the form of
a watching, evil-minded Lupe, and a hulking, bloated once-Skeith. As she met
their red eyes, she suddenly knew what malice was, what hate was, what it was
like to walk alone and scorned under the harsh light of the cold and unforgiving
moon. To be blamed and disfigured, to feel the hate of others and learn to hate
Her feet moved of their own accord. For a split
second a triangle was formed in the midst of the circle of Faeries. Lane and
the others were pushing through the crowd, shouting her name. The explosion
rocked the whole Academy. A despairing scream was cut short by falling rubble.
Nidela and her new minions were gone. The scroll was buried forever, and that
was a good thing. For every word it said was true. Against pure evil only the
Spheres united could stand, and that chance had been decimated long ago.
Nidela stared at the now full-fledged light
faerie. A deep scar ran from her hairline to partway down her throat, and the
once smooth flesh was bumpy and permanently raw pink, but she knew her. It was
Lane. Lane looked up, and for the first time in countless years their eyes met.
For once in that dark tower of horror, hope flared in a prisoner's eyes. Hope…and
a strange sense of forgiving joy.
Hastily, Nidela assembled the magic triangle
and looked down at the prisoner with cold eyes as she felt the first jolts of
magic begin to flow. Even before she began, Lane began to scream.