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Turning Pages: Part Six


by warriorsrock965

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      Stephanie backed away from Magis Magister, tightening her grip on Sir Alberts. “What do you mean the story was already written?”

      We need to think of a way out of here. I don’t want to even imagine what she has in mind, Stephanie thought, wondering if it would even be possible to escape from the powerful mage. The chances seemed slimmer by the moment.

      “Stupid girl!” Magis bellowed. The light of her staff flashed brightly, but only for a second. “Alberts was supposed to be trapped back there with the monsters. That is how I would finish my story!”

      “Had it not been for you, Stephanie, there would have been almost no hope of me escaping…” Sir Alberts whispered. After a few seconds of contemplation, his voice raised as he turned towards Magis. “Since we were able to escape the monsters, it appears that we have control over the story’s end after all… and potentially your means of escape. Is that not correct, Magis?”

      “Very perceptive, Meepit.” The white Kyrii clapped mockingly. “For now you understand why it is that you must disappear. I cannot have you two changing my story again. Your destruction will merit the ending I’ve been seeking for a long, long time.”

      “Wait a second, Magis.” Stephanie lowered the Meepit to the ground, causing him to grant her a confounded stare. “Why do I have to disappear along with Alberts? He’s the reason you’re here, not me.” Please let this work, Stephanie thought to herself, trying to keep her expression stern. All these years of telling white lies might finally pay off.

      “What?” Sir Alberts exclaimed, clearly hurt by her words. “Stephanie, I—”

      “Shush. I’m talking with Magis.”

      The Mage cackled between a few hushed whispers. Within an instant, two magical field enveloped outside of the trio, one of which pinned the Meepit to the ground. Hordes of creatures, scratched and gnawed at the shield, their forms illuminated by the bleak humming light. Try as they might, the wall barricaded them.

      “Now… say that again, Stephanie?” cooed the mage after whispering under her breath. Sir Alberts squirmed about, but could not budge. His eyes narrowed into slits.

      “Well… I want a second chance to get rid of Alberts since, you know, he destroyed everything I hold dear, as you said before.” Stephanie sniffled. “I realize now that I was afraid of your power, and for a while there, I almost thought that maybe Alberts was telling the truth. Now I know that he lied when he said my mother was safe. I should have believed you, Magis.” She bowed in front of the mage. “I’m sorry.”

      Sir Alberts struggled desperately to move his mouth, but his entire body felt rigid. Watching Albert’s efforts seemed to bring Magis much pleasure, as she squealed in response to his every attempt. Stephanie twitched an ear just once, but tried to keep her composure.

      That was my worst lie yet. I hope Magis doesn’t see through it.

      “So why don’t you use that shimmering sword of yours to do the job, dearest Stephanie? We can both escape now with the power in the sword, and when we leave, this book will vanish.” Magis stared intently at Stephanie, smiling.

      “Well, I would, but… wouldn’t it be more fun to do it with your magic?”

      Magis’ happiness seemed to fade.

      “Explain?”

      Stephanie nodded nervously before continuing.

      “Well, since I don’t really know any magic and stuff wouldn’t it be more embarrassing for him to be defeated by someone using an unfamiliar instrument?” The mage eyed Stephanie skeptically. “You could teach me the spell that destroys the Meepit and lets us escape?”

      “I suppose I’ve already won,” she stated, waving a paw nonchalantly. “And that would be a most excellent way for him to go. Fine. You have to aim it at the Meepit, though, for the spell to work.”

      “Oh, but wait!” Stephanie chimed in with a cheery bounce in her step. “Wouldn’t it be even more fun if he were unfrozen? Target practice and all.” Sir Albert’s eyes widened for just a moment before lowering his head.

      “Don’t push your luck.”

      “If you’re worried, I can disarm him first? Then he would be defenseless and a moving target. Besides, I bet you did not know this, but my Mom and I can do some basic magic spells and such. You know, just the simple faerie abilities for now, but I am interested in learning so much more. You’ll be like a big sister to me, or better yet—a new Mom!”

      The mage tapped a finger to her mouth a few times, cackling lightly.

      “I like the way you think. Get on with it then.”

      Oh, I will, Stephanie thought, walking over to the frozen Alberts. From his paws, she tugged away both the shield and cane-sword, placing them both a distance away. As she removed the cane-sword, however, she gave the slightest of winks, to which Sir Alberts responded with a couple of startled blinks.

      When Stephanie returned by the mage’s side, Magis hastened to whisper a few words into the Cybunny’s ear.

      “Do you remember the words, Stephanie?”

      She nodded, whispering it back to the Kyrii.

      “Good girl. In a few seconds, I am going to release his freezing spell. The moment I do, I will hand you the staff. Use the spell I taught you, and then promptly return the arcane artifact to my possession. Do we have a deal?”

      Magis outstretched one paw, which Stephanie gingerly shook.

      The Mage gripped the staff tightly, arching her brow once more. She hissed out the counter-curse, causing Alberts to fall to the ground, unfrozen.

      Stephanie could feel the heavy wooden staff thrust into her paws. Just its presence alone sent shivers up her spine.

      Alberts began to rise up as Magis sternly reminded Stephanie of her mission.

      “I know, I know,” started Stephanie, pointed the staff towards Sir Alberts. The Meepit froze, biting onto his lip. “Ready, Alberts?”

      “Please, Stephanie! D-don’t do this!” he pleaded, slowly edging back.

      “This is the end, Alberts! Catch!” The staff flew through the air and into the Meepit’s paws.

      Stephanie scrambled from the enraged mage, barely escaping the grab she made at her neck.

      “Huh,” the Meepit mused for the slightest of seconds, openly laughing. “And here I thought I could go through ordeal without magic. Ah well, might as well have one last hoorah!”

      The staff seemed to radiant a new orange aura. Alberts himself was surrounded by a mass of energy. He chanted a few words in a language she could not understand, and the mage froze in place.

      “Let me guess, Stephanie.” The Cybunny had already placed a paw behind her neck and was rubbing it nervously. “This was all part of your deviously elaborate plan and… you are about to say some sort of quip about my ‘evil Meepit magic,’ regardless of whether or not I have said ability,” the Meepit rolled his eyes gently.

      “How did you—”

      “I’ve heard it all before. It is nothing new, really. But—ugh!”

      Alberts winced, keeping one of his beady eyes closed and the other, monocle covered one only partly opened.

      “I’m… much… stronger… than… you…” the mage choked, inching her way towards the Meepit.

      “You certainly are, Lady Magister, truly. Sweet Fyora, that stings.” He shook his head a few times before turning to Stephanie. “Right, then. Whilst I whittle away at what little magical prowess I have, you must escape from here, Stephanie.”

      “Wait, what? Y-you mean—”

      “Without me? Yes… yes, indeed…”

      “But—”

      “Just listen to me, please!” he began to shake, desperately croaking out the next words. “Magis is much too strong. If I let her go, she will overwhelm both of us once again. By holding her in place, you can return home without worry, Stephanie! See?” The portal’s location, once a burnt patch of grass, now held a tower of light. “I have created an ending for you. Now you can see your Mother again! You can live happily ever more.”

      “But, Alberts, I—”

      “Now… before… before it is too much for me to bear. You must go.” Small droplets of water began to pool around Stephanie’s eyes. “And Stephanie?”

      She looked up at him. He was smiling.

      “It has been fun.”

      Both ears drooped as she ran over to hug the glowing Meepit. After their short embrace, she bit her lip, staring between the two. Judging by her increase in dexterity, Magis was quickly breaking out of the spell. Time was running out.

      “Besides, I have to make amends for causing this poor Neopian such grief…”

      Scrunching her paws, Stephanie turned away, dashing into the odd pillar of light…

*****

      Inside of the ‘employees only’ section of the press, everything seemed status quo except for an ominous message left in glowing orange text. Each word had the appearance of a note scrawled by a scrambling, hurried paw. The group of Neopians watched each word intently. Some even made hushed gasps.

      Once Stephanie has returned safely, seal off the book’s exits for good. Please alert Queen Fyora that I will require her magical expertise one last time, and that I apologize for once again requiring her assistance…

      Genevieve’s claw shook as it climbed from her chin to her head.

      “Thank Fyora…” the Krawk managed to whisper.

      Without warning, a gust of wind whipped about the room, emanating from Monsters: Night of Despair’s open pages. A tall pillar of light shot into the air as a silhouetted figure grew right before their eyes before falling onto the floor. Residual glow still radiated from her ears and face.

      “Stephanie!” The mother ran in to embrace her daughter.

      The Cybunny lay sprawled on the floor, her head aching. A sudden lifting sensation separated her from the cold, hard ground and the warm touch of silk fabric. Noise pounded against her ears, making it painful to open her eyes.

      “You’re okay!” Genevieve embraced her tightly. “Oh thank Fyora, you’re okay!”

      “Get… get away from me, Magis,” Stephanie muttered, pushing away the Neopian until it twirled a claw through her tangled blue hair. Just like when she was a kid.

      “Mom?”

      “Yes,” she said through tears. “It’s me, honey.”

      Stephanie gripped her mother. “I missed you. I… I never thought I would see you again. So, um, I guess that means I won’t be seeing the concert anytime soon, huh?”

      The Krawk went silent, still trying to comb through the knotted mess.

      “I saw what that Meepit did to you.”

      Stephanie cracked one eye open while turning her head in confusion.

      “What do you mean? Alberts didn’t…” Stephanie could feel her throat dry up. “Alberts… only helped…”

      “But the book said—”

      A loud boom jolted Stephanie from her mom’s lap and onto the floor once more. Queen Fyora looked over the book, staring at it somberly.

      “I came as soon as I got word of the situation,” the faerie queen spoke softly, barely heard above the hum of her scepter. “Is it true that the book is to be sealed?”

      Some of the Weewoos nodded slowly, their faces forlorn.

      ‘Sir Alberts…’ Stephanie thought, imagining the gentle-Meepit’s face at the very beginning of the tour. He was smiling…

      The blue Cybunny managed to stand up, but kept a far distance from the book, just in case. Her mom followed in close pursuit, trying desperately to sit her back down. Stephanie looked up at Queen Fyora, awestruck in her presence. Within close proximity of the Queen, Stephanie noticed a single tear drifting down her face as the scepter turned a bright purple.

      “Stephanie,” the Queen said, pointing towards the book. It seemed to resist the magical force, first turning purple, than pink, and then finally… orange. “You may want to take a look at this.”

      Stephanie tilted her head in confusion. If not for the Queen’s observation, she might not have noticed the strange orange glow enveloping the freshly written words. She didn’t want to read the words, fearful that she would be sucked back into the book.

      “Do not worry, little one,” said the Queen, “The curse has been disarmed.”

      Stephanie looked unsure, and inched towards the book cautiously.

      Although hard to make out the rushed penmanship (which seemed to favor a sort of fancy, italicized script), she attempted to read out each word on the page...

      “Dear Stephanie,

      I can feel the magic within this book slowly fading…

      Before I go, I wanted to thank you for your friendship, as odd as that might sound.

      You showed me how stuffy I had become, how out-of-touch I had been with those of a younger generation.

      My last request is this: live your life. Overcome the obstacles placed in front of you and excel. You have proven to me that you are more than capable of doing such things. Be proud of the independent young Cybunny you are becoming and embrace the future.

      Dearest Queen Fyora, my eternal gratitude for your kindness. I shall miss those impossible clouds that once supported a magnificent city. I yearn for the excited shouts of youth enjoying a Poogle race. For the gentle frolic of faeries at the healing spring. For the most magnificent of sunrises and sunsets. You shared with me so much… Such joy shall resound forever in my heart. But even now, much splendor have I seen in the now shimmering, sloping hills of our fair city!

      Moreover, Stephanie, never give up on writing. You never know where life experiences will spark an inspiration!

      Your friend,

          Sir Pendleton Alberts the Third Esquire (Sir Alberts).

      Stephanie choked through the last few words, barely managing to keep her voice from cracking.

      After a moment longer, the orange glow dissipated, leaving the words cold and hard against the page. The magic in the book was completely gone—or so it seemed—and now it was just an ordinary tale of a Meepit’s quest to save a foolish Cybunny from an evil mage

      “Sir Alberts… stayed trapped in there so that I could escape.” Stephanie sniffed, turning to the Queen. “It’s my fault he’s trapped in there forever. He sacrificed himself for me.”

      “Dearest Stephanie,” Queen Fyora said with a gentle hand upon her shoulder. “Sir Alberts knew what he was doing. Do not fret over the loss of a gentle soul. Perhaps in time, he and the rogue Magister Magis can make amends. For all we know, one day they both may join us again.”

      Stephanie listened to Queen Fyora without uttering a sound, sniffling softly to herself. She heard the sad songs of the Weewoo in the room. Even the remaining benefactors returned, joined by the intern. They all had puffy eyes and sad hearts.

      Everyone knew Sir Alberts… Stephanie thought with despair, letting her ears droop. And because of me, he may be locked away forever…

      “To honor Sir Alberts, I will commission a portrait of him to be hung up in the front foyer of this Neopian Times Printing Press. No one shall ever forget his sacrifice or his service to the Neopian community,” Queen Fyora said with a commanding, yet gentle tone. A small yellow Weewoo nodded and flew off towards the grounded land of faeries.

      “Queen Fyora?”

      Queen Fyora looked over to her. “Yes, Stephanie?”

      Stephanie rubbed her arm on her side, trying to keep some inkling of composure. “I—I was wondering…” Stephanie looked up at her and her eyes widened. The other tour members and the Neopian Times workers had all turned slightly to her, letting their puffy eyes leave the safety of their tissues.

      “As odd as it sounds, I… I was wondering if I could possibly… become a tour guide here, to honor Sir Alberts’ memory?”

      A few cheers arose from the mostly silent, glaring crowd, causing Stephanie to flinch back in alarm. Even her mother seemed unsure.

      “You would stay in a place that almost ended you, Stephanie? Why?” the Krawk looked distraught.

      “An admirable request,” Queen Fyora smiled, all but ignoring the tense atmosphere. She looked towards the Neopian Times workers, some who nodded enthusiastically, others shaking their heads, and a few others averting their eyes, “but it appears that not all of these Neopians share your dream. Such a desire will only be obtainable if you make it so with your actions.”

      “I…” Stephanie bowed her head in respect before bounding forward to give Queen Fyora a hug, tears streaming down her face. “I’m so sorry for causing all this. I-I hope you can forgive me.”

      “Worry not, Stephanie, your earnest apologies have earned you forgiveness from some, including myself. Sir Alberts would have surely agreed to accept your apologies.” The Queen nodded slowly, managing the slightest of smiles. “I believe that you will do many great things in time, dear Cybunny, and I’m sure Sir Alberts is and will continue to be very proud of you.”

      Five Years Later

      Stephanie was sitting on a chair in the Neopian Times Printing Press, waiting for her tour group to arrive. Across the desk sat a portrait of a young Sir Alberts’, his Meepit eyes staring at everything and yet nothing at the same time.

      She was lost in her memories, thinking of her first fateful trip to this place.

      How different I was then, she mused.

      Stephanie broke away from her thoughts when she noticed a group of Neopians coming inside, all of them buzzing. Their excitement was infectious, instantly fueling Stephanie with the energy to begin.

      “Welcome, fellow Neopians,” she began, twirling a cane that wrapped about her paw.

      My name is Stephanie, and we are to be exploring the printing press, circa Y1, home of the much celebrated Neopian Times.” She smiled at her use of Sir Alberts’ words. “This may be my first official tour, but I promise you, it will be a great one. Prepare yourself,” she fiddled with a prop monocle, the way he used to in the past. “This is the only location where you can hear riveting stories about Sir Pendleton Alberts the Third Esquire, savior of Neopia.”

      She heard happy mutterings come from the tour group, except for a loud scoff in the back of the group.

      “How could a Meepit save anyone?” The voice belonged to a Red Aisha with scarlet hair. He wore a Yes Boy Ice Cream t-shirt and a matching hat. “Aren’t they evil and stuff?”

      Stephanie could not help but cringe as memories flooded back like a torrential downpour.

      No wonder Sir Alberts felt the need to pick on me that first time I came here. Was I really this annoying?

      “Oh, don’t worry,” she said with a wink. “You will learn all about him and more as we continue with this tour. Now, if you will follow me, we will begin…”

      Thus, they set off, the portrait of Sir Alberts watching over them as they progressed.

      In the confines of the ‘Employees Only’ section, a new book with the title Sir Alberts’ Adventures opened to its first page.

      In bright, orange glowing ink, a few words began to form.

      “The ending of every adventure is the start of another. Fret not, Stephanie, I am alive!”

*****

      While one story may end, another will always begin. Co-written by parody_ham and warriorsrock965

      The End.

 
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Other Episodes


» Turning Pages: Part One
» Turning Pages: Part Two
» Turning Pages: Part Three
» Turning Pages: Part Four
» Turning Pages: Part Five



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