Legend Seekers: Mysterious Magic - Part Two
Three Faerie Pterii swooped down through the sky, causing the clouds to shape shift menacingly and reveal glimpses of the vast world below. Pemero stood watching them, a blank, inscrutable expression on his face. It was a sunny day, but what little warmth the sun held was now gone – replaced by an unmoving dead weight in the pit of Pemero’s stomach.
I wish Jen could see this. She loved Faeries.
The blinding sunset threw opaque shadows over Faerieland, obscuring the dancing, distant figures in the city. Faeries of all types; from all walks of life. All of them had secrets, as far as Pemero was concerned; they were beyond his trust. Somewhere deep inside, he still held a shadow of that instinctual respect towards them, though that respect was slowly waning into fear.
He had been walking for a few hours by now, and was growing tired. The sun would be gone soon. There was no logical reason for him to have been out for so long, doing so little with his time. He just felt like it.
I think I’ll stop here for a while. I’m not that far away from the palace, and maybe the Faeries will understand...
Instinctively, he reached into his pocket and retrieved the slip of paper. It was covered in tiny claw-holes where he’d gripped it too tightly for fear of it escaping. Otherwise, it was just the same as ever – an insignificant sheet of paper. Or not, he added mentally. Never say never...
Beyond the clouds, where the light stopped short, a cluster of electricity was gathering itself, ready to storm the land below. Thin bolts of static rose through the cloud in steady waves, making his fur stand on end. He shivered slightly as the sun disappeared, and the shadows grew to cover the land, buildings and all. Night had fallen.
The air was suddenly full of sounds – all loud, but none crisp or clear. The howling of the wind, the steady thump-thump-thump of Pemero’s pulse as he stood half-paralyzed and a primal, heart-rending shriek:
“Weeee... woooo...! Weeeeeeeewoooooooooooooooooooo!”
A white bird sat atop a tall tower, ruffling its feathers uncertainly. It had intelligent, beady black eyes that followed Pemero as he snuck around on all fours. You betrayed me.
“Shut up!” he called, but it was no use – the screeching only worsened. Instead, he ran, never turning or looking back at the tower.
His head was thumping with shock – should he keep running? Should he hide somewhere? Had the thing really spoken to him in Jen’s voice? It could be nothing... just a storm... the change in atmosphere had hit him too suddenly, that was all. After a moment or two, he slowed to a walk. Somehow, the sound of the strange bird was much less troubling now.
I have to get a grip, he said to himself. This just isn’t like me. I’m not afraid of a stupid dream. I can’t be. I’m an adventurer, aren’t I?...
By this time, the sky was shifting subtly from blue to black. Pemero pondered silently, watching the stars come out to play, tail tapping on the cloud.
A shadowy shape watched Pemero from a little way away. It was dressed in green-lined black silk and wore a mask to conceal its face. Long, pea-green hair and large, alert ears gave it away as a green Kyrii.
Cautiously, the Kyrii began the slow journey towards Pemero. The cub stayed as still and silent as a rock. Reaching into its cloak, the Kyrii pulled out a long, thin vine. Pemero still didn’t move. Had the cub noticed him?... Well, it was too late to turn back now.
In one swift movement, the Kyrii wrapped the vine around Pemero’s back leg and tied it loosely.
Pemero leapt up, shaking the noose off, and pinned the stranger to the ground.
“What in Neopia--?” he started, voice dangerously low, but before he could finish the sentence three other figures appeared. All were dressed just as their Kyrii leader, and carried similar vines, although they were obviously different in species.
“Sorry about this, Pemero,” said the Kyrii. There was a hint of cruel sarcasm in his voice. He threw the Kougra to the ground with ease, and the other three moved in. Meanwhile, the leader withdrew a large brown ‘NP’ sack from the inside of his cloak.
“Get away from me!” yelled the Kougra, tearing at them with all four paws. They just brushed him aside, laughing as they tied his paws together and placed a muzzle over his head. The vines they used were thin, but strong.
“Mmmrrmrmrggghh!” Pemero yelled, trying to attract the attention of a passing Faerie, or even a pet. For some reason, Faerieland seemed deserted – or at least silent. He could see bright shapes in the distance, possibly moving in their direction...
“Time to leave,” hissed the Kyrii. One of his companions, a hulking Grarrl, picked Pemero up and dropped him into the sack.
“Rrrrnnnngggh!” Pemero struggled again, but it was useless. Was this some kind of punishment? Or, maybe, they had learned of his magic and hoped to employ him in some scheme. Never mind that he didn’t have a clue how to harness his magic - that if he tried, it would probably cause another disaster.
Pemero strained his eyes, but it was impossible to see anything. The only sounds he could make out were muffled whisperings from his captors. They were moving now, at least – probably flying. After another hour of failed attempts to break his binds, Pemero fell into a doze, exhausted by the effort.
“I don’t believe this!”
Five hours of work had failed to produce results. Pemero was officially missing.
“I don’t either,” said the youngest Faerie, Lisa. “I swear that’s what happened, though! I was watching him the whole time, and he just... disappeared into thin air. Do you think...?”
“It could be magic,” said the eldest of the sisters, finishing the question. “In fact, it is. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Magic is the only thing that could have hidden him from us. Our main problem is finding out what kind of magic it was, and why it was used.”
“We don’t have time for this!” the middle sister, Peonie, growled. “Pemero could be in danger. His classes start tomorrow morning, and if he doesn’t show, the Queen will have our heads. We could sit here theorizing for the rest of our lives.”
“Then what do you propose we do, Ms. High and Mighty?” the youngest Faerie asked, slamming her magic book on the table.
“Well... how about this: One of us stays here to watch for him. The rest of us go looking for him, and maybe we’ll have some success that way.”
The youngest still looked somewhat annoyed, but Samila, the eldest sister, smiled. “I think that’s a fine idea! Lisa, why don’t you stay here and keep watch, while the two of us go out and look?”
“Fine,” Lisa snapped, picking up the book again. She had no intention of doing so, but it was best not to let them realise that.
“Great,” Samila said, beaming. “We’ll be back at sunrise. Okay?”
Lisa nodded imperceptibly. Moments later, she heard the door creaking shut behind them and looked at the clock. It was 11:00 already, and she was tired out. It had been a long day. Surely, her sisters would forgive her a short nap...
“I need more information,” Skarl grumped. “Who is the Wocky?”
This was addressed to a timid Meerca, who held a notepad in one trembling hand and a tatty yellow pencil in the other. “I don’t know, sir,” he stammered, “Maybe the guards know something?”
“Fool! I already consulted the chief about this. They have given me all the information they have.”
“I’ll go down to the dungeons and ask,” he said. “Maybe if we have a name...”
“Aha. Good thinking,” Skarl said. “Now, hurry up!”
“Yes, your majesty...”
The Meerca dashed off, half sprinting, half bounding. The king suppressed a snort. He might be grumpy on occasion, but this was not one of them. The Meerca didn’t need to be so fearful.
Still, he wasn’t complaining – it was a welcome distraction from recent events. Every Neopian city had suffered some loss at the hands of the Mystery Island disaster, but none so much as Meridell – a country still recovering from two terrible wars.
In truth, the arrival of the Wocky broke the tension that had been building over Meridell, but brought with it a new fear: That her arrival had some relation to the disaster, or that it would bring further trouble to Meridell and its people. The matter would have to be dealt with quickly, one way or the other.
The door creaked heavily. It was the Meerca, returning with information.
“Your majesty,” he started. “The name of the Wocky is Jen. I could get no further information as she is currently sleeping, but is due to be woken in an hour or so.”
“Sunrise,” said Skarl, rubbing his chin. “Very well...”
Jen had been awake for hours. She made sure that her head was facing the wall, so that the guard would not disturb her – she had some serious thinking to do.
It was true that the king would probably brush her off either way. She could always say that Faeries left her on the wall, or that she was carried there by a strong wind, but would he believe it? Maybe not. Then again, either story was more plausible than the truth of the situation...
She was starting to doze again when a small, paranoid-looking Meerca scurried in, carrying a notepad.
“T-the king will see you now,” he said, before scuttling off again.
Jen turned her attention to the guard, who was fumbling with a bunch of keys. The small, rusted door creaked open reluctantly, and Jen stepped out.
“Follow me, then,” said the guard. “I will lead you to King Skarl’s chamber. You would do well to stay silent in His Majesty’s presence, unless you’re asked to speak.”
Jen nodded. Butterflies consumed her stomach and raced through her mind, making her sick and dizzy. The time had passed so quickly... she felt unprepared. Maybe it would be better to tell the truth, after all... then again, maybe she should wait and see what happened.
The guard led her through the dark, dank dungeon and into a well-lit marble corridor. Red and blue tapestries lined the walls in-between portraits of previous Meridellian rulers. After only a few minutes of walking, they stopped before a carved oak door flanked with armoured sentries.
“I hope, for your sake, that the King is in a good mood,” he muttered. Jen’s lips thinned in quiet worry.
The door opened slowly, revealing a large and glamorous room. At the far end, King Skarl was sat on a huge, imposing throne made with gold painted wood and red silk.
“Your Majesty,” the guard said, with a small bow. “I present our prisoner, Jen the Shadow Wocky.”
“Thank you,” the King said gruffly, finishing off a large chunk of steak. “You may leave now.”
The guard turned tail on the king and marched out, closing the door carefully behind him. Jen, unsure what to do, smiled and curtseyed. The King didn’t return the smile.
“Young lady, what exactly are you doing in Meridell?”
“I don’t know, your Majesty,” she said.
“Oh, I’m sure you do,” he pressed. “Unless you have a bad case of amnesia?”
“The last thing I remember is... I was on the shore of Mystery Island, looking for a friend,” she said. The King’s brow furrowed at this.
“I thought Mystery Island was all but destroyed in that explosion?”
“It was,” she said. “I survived it.” A brief look of panic crossed the king’s face.
“LIES!” the king yelled, throwing his plate down. “I won’t believe this. Have you any proof of such a thing?”
“No, your Majesty,” she sighed. “I suppose I am suffering from amnesia or something.”
“Guards, take her back—”
“No, wait!” she cried, desperate. “I won’t harm you, or your people. If you release me I will leave Meridell without a word. I promise!” It was a long shot, but at this point, anything was worth a try.
“Fine, then.” The king looked unsettled. “Guards, escort this Wocky out of Meridell and see to it that she stays out.”
“Thank you!” she called as she left the room. As the door shut, closing out the throne room and the king, she felt like laughing with relief.
To be continued...