Alysia's Destiny: Part Two
The Gelert pulled me along at a run for a while along the faerie cloud away from Faerie City, and, consequently, the exact opposite direction I wanted to be going. My home was back in the other direction and every second I was more and more painfully aware that it was retreating into the distance. I couldn’t call for help, there was nothing I could do, and I didn’t even know if the Gelert I was following was good or evil, or where in Neopia he was taking me.
I was breathing heavily after a while and I was stumbling with fatigue, but the Gelert just kept trotting along at the same pace, never slowing, never tiring. I began to wonder if I would collapse with exhaustion before he even decided he was getting a bit winded. Eventually, though, he did stop, and I, gulping for air, collapsed onto the ground at his feet.
After regaining my breath, I looked up at the Gelert who stared down at me with a contented smirk.
“Really, you’re tired already?”
“What do you think?” I shot back, nearing wits end.
“Hey, no need to get upset at me; I was just asking,” he answered.
“No need?!” I burst out. “I almost got captured by Grarrls, I’m being taken somewhere by a Neopet I’ve never met before in my life, I’m miles away from home, and completely exhausted! And you’re telling me not to be upset!? Do you have problem or something!?”
The Gelert knelt down and tried to put a reassuring hand on my shoulder, but I batted it away and stood up.
“Tell me what is going on NOW!” I yelled down at him.
The remark seemed to catch him off guard as being more forceful than he’d expected, but then he very calmly stood up, rising up taller than I was. I glared up at him.
“Sit,” the Gelert commanded.
Slowly, I sat down. The Gelert sat down next to me, eying me seriously.
“Now, what I’m about to tell you, is, frankly, going to be hard to believe.”
I nodded, listening dutifully.
“My name is Jester. I’m an apprentice to Master Nathaniel of the Guild for the Oracles of Neopia.”
“What?” I cut in.
“An oracle is someone who can see the future.”
“I know that,” I said, exasperated with his assumption that I had a rather small command of knowledge. “What’s this guild?”
“The Guild seeks out Neopets who have a penchant for clairvoyance, and then teaches them the art.”
“What’s penchant? And clairvoyance?” I asked, annoyed by his obviously large vocabulary. He didn’t have to do that just because I knew what an oracle was.
“A penchant is a tendency and clairvoyance is the ability to see the future,” Jester answered, haughtily. “Basically, pets that can see the future.”
“Who were those Grarrls, then?” I asked, assuming that they weren’t part of this order he was talking about.
“They,” Jester said menacingly. “They work for the evil Lord Pellinor.”
“Lord Pellinor was once a part of the order; he became a master prophet, but then turned to the dark side, and began to use his power for evil. He tried to take over the order, but we called upon Ferival, and he was able to help us defeat him and he was banished to the remote edges of Meridell. For a time...”
“So... what’s all this got to do with me?” I asked, confused.
Jester rolled his eyes. “Haven’t you figured it out by now?!”
“YOU’RE AN ORACLE!!!!!”
It took me a few moments to recover from that one. “Y-yeah right, very funny...”
“Fine, don’t believe me.”
Suddenly my whole life had been turned upside down. I was an oracle? Could it be possible? The idea sure made my Poogle racing victory seem more plausible. Still...
“But how...?” I began.
“One of our master prophets predicted you would be at the Poogle races, so my master sent me to track you down,” Jester replied. “To be honest, it wasn’t that hard, seeing as only an oracle would be able to see the future and know which Poogle would win. That whoop you let out directed me towards you, and when I saw those Grarrls following you after the races, I knew you were the one I was looking for.”
“So, you’re taking me to the guild?”
“To become a master prophet?”
“And Lord Pellinor’s minions tried to capture me to keep me from learning the art?”
“But... why would Pellinor send those Grarrls all the way from Meridell? Wouldn’t that be too much work?”
Jester bit his lip. “There’s a lot more to this than I am able to tell you. Master Nathaniel sent me here to rescue you and bring you back to the guild headquarters. Personally, I don’t know why the Dark Lord is so interested in you, but perhaps one of the guild masters can explain.”
Jester let all that sink in, and we sat in silence for a time. Then I spoke.
“So you’re an oracle?”
“Still in training, but yes,” answered Jester.
“Where did you learn magic, though?” I asked, referencing his incredible defeat of the two Grarrls.
“Oh, I was studying to become a magician before Master Nathaniel found me. When he offered me an apprenticeship, though, I couldn’t refuse.”
“Can anyone learn to be an oracle?”
“Yes, and no,” Jester said. “You see a crystal ball can tell you the future, and of course it’s possible to learn to use one, but very few Neopets have what they call, a natural penchant, for it. And those few Neopets, are powerful beyond measure.”
Jester turned to me solemnly. I swallowed. When I thought back on my life though, I could remember many instances when I’d seemed to know something was going to happen before it happened. With each moment I was believing more and more of what Jester said. I still wasn’t sure about all of this, though. Despite this, I was curious, and it wasn’t like I had a choice of whether or not to go with Jester. He was going to use force to command me if he needed to.
“Are we almost there?” I asked, looking in the direction we’d been running.
Jester smiled wryly. “Actually, yes. But you can’t see the entrance because it’s hidden. Come on, I’ll show you.”
Jester rose and began to trot ahead. I followed. A few minutes later, he abruptly stopped and looked down at the Faerie cloud beneath him. Then he turned and looked at me.
“We’re there,” he said. Then he stepped on part of the cloud, and a trapdoor swung down, revealing a dark tunnel leading straight down into the cloud. The next thing I knew, Jester had taken my hand and jumped into the tunnel, pulling me in after him.
I screamed. We were falling through darkness. Then, I felt the edge of the tunnel under me, as it curved, slowly catching us in our fall. The next thing I knew, we were shooting along a slide that led into a huge, bright room.
I let go of Jester’s hand held my paws over my eyes to block the blinding light. Then, the slide disappeared from under me and I was thrown into Jester’s arms, coming to an abrupt halt.
I awkwardly let go of Jester, smoothed out my fur and looked around. The room was what looked like a giant entry way. The walls were made of spotted, stone cold marble, as was the floor, which had a thick red carpet laid across it. The ceiling was circular shaped, inlaid with a rainbow of twinkling crystals that curved around, like the color wheel in my art class last summer, forming a beautiful work of art. The slide we had been on was steel colored, and entered the room from a small opening near the ceiling, and curved around the wall before coming to a stop on the floor.
“Yes,” answered Jester quickly, and glancing up at a giant silver clock on the wall. “But we’re late. Everyone must already be in the meeting hall. Come on.” Jester grabbed my hand and roughly pulled me after him, through a great archway and down a long hall to a giant set of double oaken doors.
“...and we must take immediate action to prevent this crisis from happening,” a voice boomed through the room we had just entered. It echoed off the high ceiling which was inlaid with the same crystals as the other room. Rows and rows of long wooden benches lined the floors and at the front of this was a great throne on a dais. Sitting on the throne was a regal shadow Lupe, who was speaking to the many Neopets in the room, and next to him stood a starry Eyrie. Jester now pulled me up a long red carpet which led through the center of the room, past the rows of benches on either side of us and connected the door we had just entered to the base of the dais on which the giant throne was placed.
I felt completely conspicuous as many of the Neopets turned to stare at me as Jester led me up the isle, and murmurs arose as we neared the throne. All the other Neopets were wearing the same dark colored, silver stitched robes as Jester. The shadow Lupe had stopped speaking and now stared as we neared him and the starry Eyrie stepped down from the dais and walked over to us. Jester bowed.
“Master,” Jester said in greeting, straightening up to meet the giant tawny eyes. Then the Eyrie turned to me.
“I see you’ve brought the Xweetok to us in one piece. Excellent work, my young apprentice. I’m glad you’ve learned something from me after all these years.”
Jester beamed at his master.
“Your name is Alysia, correct?”
The Eyrie locked his deep tawny eyes on me for a moment, and I got an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. Maybe I was just nervous. I was relieved when he looked away.
“My name is Nathaniel,” the Eyrie said. “Allow me to introduce you to someone.” Nathaniel gestured up towards the shadow Lupe. “This is High Master Ferival.”
We all turned to face the High Master, who smiled at me and said, “Welcome, Alysia, to the Guild for the Oracles of Neopia. We’ve been waiting for you. I assume Jester told you of our mission to teach the many clairvoyant Neopets in Neopia and I hope you will be inclined to accept an apprenticeship.
“I understand this is a life changing event for you and all, so we are willing to give you plenty of time to make your decision.”
“Thanks,” I said respectfully. I took an immediate liking to Ferival, sitting there, dutifully on the throne, though I wasn’t sure why. He was powerful looking and richly furred, everything a Lupe should be. Also he had larger claws than any I had ever seen in my life, which added to his rather formidable appearance. He was cool, in a medieval/old fashioned kind of way.
“In the meantime, we must finish our discussing of the pressing matter of Pellinor. Feel free to take a seat if you wish...”
Jester and Nathaniel sat down on one of the benches in the third row, and motioned for me to sit next to them, between Jester and a striped Pteri. I did, after an encouraging nod from High Master Ferival.
As I sat down, the Pteri winked at me.
“Hey,” she whispered, as the meeting resumed. “I’m Lyra.”
“Hey,” I whispered in return.
Lyra smiled warmly, immediately reminding me of Shelby’s friendly nature. I settled into my spot.
I couldn’t follow most of the rest of the discussion. There were a lot of references and code words that didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Also Ferival kept talking about how other great prophets had done this in a time of darkness, or that, which reminded me of a pep talk at a school sporting event, except everyone was talking in that weird way that people do in Meridell, where they tack a title like ‘lord,’ ‘master,’ ‘apprentice,’ or ‘highness,’ on to everyone’s name. Even though I thought it was weird, everyone, even the younger Neopets, like Jester, were listening gravely. After a while I lost interest and let out a yawn. For a top secret Guild of powerful oracles, the meetings were rather boring.
“Are there any...”
Master Ferival stopped speaking as suddenly, and unexpectedly, I keeled over onto the floor, as a wave of nausea washed over me. Jester reached down to lend me a paw and the Master Ferival and several others in the audience stood up in alarm.
Then the strangest feeling came over me. I lost control of my entire being. It was as if I was being possessed.
In a state of hysteria, I wrenched myself from the floor, ran full throttle up the aisle, leapt up onto the dais and knocked High Master Ferival to the ground. Less than a millisecond later, a black feathered arrow whizzed over our heads and stuck itself in the mahogany throne where the High Master had just been standing.
Ferival tossed me off of him and was up in a flash looking to where the arrow had come from. In the back of the room, a shadow Uni was flying down from her hiding place in one of the giant bowl lamps hanging from the ceiling and was making for the door.
“Stop her, Nathaniel!” Ferival bellowed, and the starry Eyrie hurled himself into the air after her and caught her in his giant paws just as she was nearing the exit, dragging her to the ground and then throwing her up the isle where she landed heavily in front of Jester who whipped out his sword in a flash and pointed it at the Uni threateningly.
“Don’t. Move,” Jester growled.
She raised her head. “I know when I’m beat,” she squawked, hoarsely.
Ferival stalked over to the Uni sullenly and asked, “Who are you, and what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m a proud servant of the Dark Lord Pellinor,” she said, letting out a wild screech and standing up to look Ferival in the eye.
“You’re an assassin,” Ferival said calmly.
“And you’re here to assassinate me, I take it?” Ferival said, raising a bushy eyebrow.
“Yes,” said the Uni with a glance at the arrow still sticking out of the throne.
Master Nathaniel growled, suddenly. “She’s hiding something.”
“N-no, I’m not.”
“There’s another reason you’re here, isn’t there?” the Eyrie said, nearing her.
“TELL ME NOW! UNLESS YOU WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IN THE DUNGEON!”
The Uni cried out as if in pain, and then raised a shaking hoof and pointed at me, still in shock, nausea, and sprawling on the velvety dais. Then, as all eyes in the room turned to me, the Uni knocked Jester’s sword out of his hand and sprang into the air.
“Fools!” she shrieked as she swept out of the meeting room before anyone could do anything. “Lord Pellinor already knows about your secret! The Guild is FINISHED!”
The room was silent for several moments. Then the High Master spoke.
“It can’t be true,” he whispered, starring at me. I stared back, confused.
“It is,” Nathaniel whispered in his ear. “She’s the Oracle of the Prophecy. She’s your daughter.”
At the sound of Nathaniel saying the word daughter, I finally came to my senses.
“WHAT?!” I shrieked. “Daughter? I might believe that I’m a clairvoyant, or that I should commit my life after about an hour’s notice to an apprenticeship in a top secret guild, but now I’m supposed to be somebody’s daughter?! Who are you people? Do you realize about thirty minutes ago I had a normal life and I was casually talking to my friend?”
I staggered to my feet and made like I was headed for the door, but I tripped as I stepped off of the dais and fell flat on my face.
“Alysia...” began Ferival. I cut him off.
“I don’t want to hear it! I don’t believe you! I grew up on my own! I didn’t have a mother or a father! Just a Kacheek who adopted me. My parents disappeared a long time ago!” My world was shattering, as I tried in vain to pick up the cracking shards.
“No,” Ferival said softly. “You were the one who disappeared.”
“I won’t believe a word of it!” I yelled at him, picking myself up and trying to push past him towards the door. He grabbed my wrist.
“Alysia,” he growled. “Come with me.”
“NO!” I wrenched my wrist away and ran for the door. To my surprise he leapt over me and landed nimbly in my path, the folds of his robe swinging back to reveal a long, golden sword.
But I was done being pushed around by a bunch of sword wielding weirdos. I was scared, and I wanted out. I wanted to get back to the Poogle track, back to Shelby, and away from this frightening new world.
“If you’re going to stop me, you’re going to have to use force,” I warned.
“I don’t want to do that, young one,” Ferival said.
“I don’t CARE!” I yelled, my voice cracking.
Then Ferival nodded, and while I puzzled over the gesture, Jester snuck up behind me and touched me gently with the flat of his sword.
I fainted dead away.
To be continued...