A Faerie Tale: War - Part Four
Captain Smith did not like Captain Habbard, the dashing, handsome Captain of the Hidden Tower guard. Whilst Smith was technically in charge of the palace guard in its entirety, and answered only to the Battle Faerie and the Queen, Habbard had never acted as such. Whenever Smith had made guard-wide announcements, Habbard had made his own. They were always the same announcements, but Habbard acted as if he had made them himself. Over time, the Queen had been fooled by the pristine Faerie Kougra’s attitude, and despite no official announcement, the Hidden Tower guard had been made a separate unit.
Smith and Habbard had rarely spoken since. It was therefore a great surprise, and a matter of much gossip among the palace guard that both Captains had called a joint meeting. The Faerie Kougras that made up the Hidden Tower unit secretly hoped that Habbard had been promoted, while the palace guards feared it... Smith wasn’t due for retirement, not yet.
Either way, the break room was packed full of Neopets and a single Faerie who thought she was a Neopet when both of the Captains entered. Habbard strode in first, his polished armour nearly blinding many of the room’s occupants. Smith followed him in reluctantly, and leaned against the door after he closed it.
“Listen here, troops,” Habbard barked like a General. “I’ve been given some official word from the Queen. It seems as though some evil Dark Faeries are plotting a civil uprising.”
Smith chuckled to himself from the door. Habbard turned and glared at him.
“What Habbard meant to say was that we’ve been given word from the Queen,” Smith said, narrowing his eyes at the Kougra. “It’s not just Dark Faeries. Her majesty is expecting a full revolt, civil war kind of thing... She wants a complete lock down of the castle. No one comes in; no one goes out, without express permission. Understood?”
The members of the palace guard nodded. The Kougras from the Hidden Tower shifted their attention to Habbard.
“Quite so,” the Kougra continued, barely acknowledging Smith. “We begin lockdown immediately.”
The Hidden Tower unit saluted as one, and then followed their Captain out of the door.
“What do you want us to do, Captain?” Jones the Pteri asked.
“Illusen’s got an Air Faerie, the one that runs the furniture shop, casting magic on the windows to keep people out,” Smith explained. “We’ll have to keep alert... Jones and Banks will be with me in the lobby. Bane, Sandra, you are to guard her majesty with your lives, understood?”
“Is it that bad, Captain?” Banks asked nervously.
“Illusen said the Queen’s so shook up that she’s sealed herself in her chambers... and all of the Faeries seem to be walking around on tenterhooks,” Smith mused.
“Has someone called for the Battle Faerie?” Sandra questioned.
Smith looked to the floor gravely.
“There are rumours going around that she’ll join the fight against us, if it comes to that,” he informed his troops.
There was utter silence in the break room. The Battle Faerie, the General of the Faerieland army, had turned against the Queen?
Every single one of them remembered mournfully the days when all they had to worry about was a replacement biscuit tin.
Baelia and Tavi crept on through the dark mists. There were tortured screams in the distance, undoubtedly from Neopets who had failed Jhudora’s quests. The two thought they heard a Bartamus fluttering menacingly above them at several points. But other than that, the place seemed strangely deserted.
An army of evil Dark Faeries wouldn’t have been nearly as scary as the absence of any Dark Faeries. The pair were convinced that they must be hiding, watching, waiting. Perhaps it was a trap? Perhaps the Dark Faerie in the palace gardens had planned it this way all along?
But what else could they steal from Baelia? Jennumara had taken her home, her name, her wings, her powers. The only thing she had left was Tavi. The Grey Faerie clung tighter to her friend’s arm.
“Look!” the Kyrii whispered. “The passage is widening out!”
Ahead, the mists seemed to give way to a large space. The purple walls were made of the mist, spiralling like Cobralls. It was undoubtedly the centre of Jhudora’s lair. There was a throne shrouded in darkness in the centre. A figure, equally dark, was sat atop it.
“Jhudora?” Baelia called out as they pair entered the room.
“I am not her!” a raspy, evil voice replied.
Baelia couldn’t place the voice... but it had been so long... could it be Jennumara?
“So you’re the one we’re looking for, then!” Tavi said triumphantly. “A Dark Faerie at the castle told us you’d be here. We’ve come for vengeance!”
“The Castle!?” the figure on the throne screamed. “So they do want a war after all!”
“I’ve come so far,” Baelia said quietly, her voice trembling. “I’ve met so many people... all I’ve ever dreamed of is this day, when I would meet you again and reclaim what you took from me!”
“What are you talking about, you worthless little girl?” the dark figure rasped.
Baelia exchanged a glance with Tavi, and swallowed her fears.
“Like she said,” the Grey Faerie shouted. “I’m here for vengeance, Jennumara!”
“Who?” the figure on the throne asked. “Who do you think I am?”
She got up, slowly stepping forward. The shadows that had encompassed her seemed to dissipate, revealing the Dark Faerie that had been hidden.
“Who are you? You’re not Jennumara! Is this a trap?” Baelia asked, panicked.
Her eyes darted around the room for signs of an ambush.
“There is no Jennumara here, foolish girl; she left Faerieland a long time ago,” the Dark Faerie said harshly.
“But the Dark Faerie...” Tavi trailed off, confused by the situation.
“She lied to you!” Mavara cackled. “She hoped you would kill me, and end the war they so fear before it had even started!”
“I... was lied to?” Baelia questioned, taking a step back.
All this time, she’d thought Faerieland had changed... yet it was all the same. Faeries who would betray you at the drop of a hat. She felt sick.
Mavara the Dark Faerie held out her hand.
“You said you wanted vengeance, little Faerie,” she told her. “Join me and I can give it to you. We can have our revenge against the cruel Faeries inside the castle, and then together, we can rule Neopia. Jennumara cannot hide from such an Empire!”
There was a maddened glint in her eyes; it discomforted Baelia. She backed away, almost stumbling over.
“I... I didn’t come here to fight a war...” she said frailly.
She turned on her heels and ran back down the passage, away from Jhudora’s Cloud. Her sobs could be heard echoing through the mists. Tavi looked from the passage to the Dark Faerie, and then ran after her friend.
A new figure emerged from the purple mists of the walls, as if she had been formed out of them. It was Jhudora, and she looked more ruthless than ever.
“Do you see?” she asked Mavara. “They send pawns to do their bidding. They want a war; there can be no diplomacy with such people.”
Mavara let her hands tighten into fists.
“Yes, I see now,” she answered. “We have no choice but to remove Fyora from the throne. We shall need like minded Faeries to storm the castle.”
Jhudora’s smile intensified.
“They are already awaiting your commands,” she said evilly.
Everything was going exactly according to plan.
Fyora looked out through her window. She didn’t dare open it, lest she break the magic that bound it shut. The magic, she feared, she would need to keep her safe.
The clouds had completely covered Faerieland... the evening sky was blotted out, Fyora couldn’t even see as far as Faerie City. Was it Air Faerie magic? Psellia had seemed as if she was on Mavara’s side during the meeting...
Lights began to glow in the misty land beyond her window. They were red, and flickered ominously. Behind her, the Queen’s door opened quietly, and Illusen walked in.
“It has started?” Fyora asked dismally.
Illusen nodded, “Our scouts just reported back. Faerie City has been set aflame. Mavara commands a vast army.”
“Is Aethia heading it?” Fyora asked, anticipating the worst answer.
“Yes,” Illusen confirmed. “Many former soldiers have joined her as a result. We cannot hold Faerie City, my lady. I have given orders that all forces loyal to you fall back to the castle. We shall make our stand here.”
“Thank you, Illusen,” Fyora said as she turned back to the window. “You’re support has meant so much to me... what is happening now?”
Illusen rushed over to the window. Below, through the mists, the two Faeries could just make out a group of people, standing just beyond the cloud maze. One seemed to be standing in front, and purple magic swirled around her, like she was caught in a tornado of her own making.
“Jhudora,” Illusen cursed. “She’s casting her spell!”
“Her spell?” Fyora asked.
“The spell she’s been collecting items for all these years!” Illusen shouted suddenly with anger. “I always thought she was collecting them to breach the magic that I cast on my glade! That’s why I started collecting items, to work a counter spell. All this time... she’s been planning this for so long...”
“The spell she is casting is designed to break magical barriers?” Fyora questioned.
“Yes, it’s a powerful one... but it shouldn’t be enough to completely break through the magical enchantments that have been placed on the castle,” Illusen answered.
“Then why is she casting it? She must know it will not work... surely?” Fyora asked, frowning with the mental effort of deducing Jhudora’s motives.
“Unless...” Illusen said slowly. “Unless the spell is weakened from within beforehand!”
“Then there may be a spy in our ranks!” Fyora gasped.
“My Queen...” Illusen began, having trouble forming the words in her mind. “Those inside the castle would have their morale boosted if you were to address them. You have not left this room all day...”
Fyora seemed to have been off in her own world again.
“Yes, it wouldn’t be right for me to sit up here while they fight for me,” she said, taking up her magical staff. “Let’s go – I can already see the flaming torches moving through the cloud maze. They will be here soon; Jhudora’s spell must almost be complete.”
To be continued...