The Adventures of Trina: The Glass Key: Part Twelve
"All Keys retreat!” Aardo called grudgingly. “Abort mission!”
“What’s going on?” Linny asked. “Did…Did we win?”
Aardo shook his head with sorrow. “Afraid not. Something went very wrong. You see, when you’re with us, battles just simply aren’t ‘won.’ There are always losses…”
“But is Trina okay?” Pat asked anxiously.
“And Tomaru?” Kail added.
He nodded. “Let’s get to the checkpoint. Remember those water vials we gave you? Use them!”* * * * *
I was piggybacking on my father, who was limping. I vaguely remember opening my eyes to see Cassie getting struck with blinding white light. I desperately hoped it was some terrible nightmare.
Then I saw it, a serene yellow blur moving in the opposite direction. Brightstar and I exchanged eye contact.
“It’s nice to see you Rorren, after all these years. How many years has it been now?”
“My, how time flies. Unfortunately for you, I never make the same mistake twice. I’m afraid neither of you are leaving here.”
“I figured that much,” my father growled.
“Why…” I began. “Why do you hate us so much?”
She giggled. “How cute. You’re so naïve. It’s simple. No Neopian has the right to tell a faerie how to act. The world doesn’t belong to you, dear. As a fan of archeology, you sure don’t know anything about the ways of the world.”
“It’s you who doesn’t know anything!” I cried. “First with the Heart, then Alhasutek’s staff. These aren’t yours! They’re dangerous weapons! Please stop collecting them, or…or else!”
“Or else what?” she crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “You dare threaten a faerie?”
“Or else I—we—will stop you!”
Suddenly, an image of the staff flashed in my head. I recognized it as my first encounter with Brightstar in the desert, yet I did not see Brightstar anywhere. I had entered her memory. Next there was a quick flash of a golden orb and something with a sun on it. Finally, an image of the staff in one piece appeared, and then I was back staring in the eyes of evil.
“Hold on tight,” my father whispered. “Oh, and don’t look down!”
I was about to ask what we meant until a volley of yellow fireballs soared in our direction, and my father ran toward the far side of the domed room, the place where she had given me her quest.
With a crash, we broke through the tall window and started tumbling through the air. I screamed. I clutched my hands together as tight as possible. I forgot to close my eyes, so the tiny purple squares and the puddle below us grew larger and larger.
I hit the water with a giant splash, and suddenly I found myself shivering in a metallic room, soaked. That’s it; this was too much. I was done for today. I closed my eyes and everything went black.* * * * *
I sat up in bed, entangled within a swath of heavy bedding. I was in another room with metal walls; this one decorated with maps and filled to the brim with knick knacks. Clusters of crates with books were all over the floor. My father sat in a red rocking chair nearby, staring out into space.
“Where am I?” I asked. My stomach rumbled.
“You’re at headquarters,” he began. “The Glass Key.”
“It’s my work. We’re basically protectors of Neopia from dangerous artifacts—and that faerie. You’re safe here.”
There was so much to say, I didn’t know where to start. Everything felt so tangled up in my head, flooding my thoughts. My father—my father—was sitting across the room, staring at me. That alone was hard to grasp. I didn’t know how to feel about it, either.
“Wow…I have to say, you’ve grown up better than I could have imagined,” he said. “Though to be frank, I envisioned you as a spotted Wocky.”
“What’s wrong with camouflage? Spotted was so boring.”
He grinned uneasily. I could tell he wasn’t sure what to say, either.
“So…I keep having this nightmare where Cassie—the Usul, my friend— was hit with some kind of light. And you were there and you were…Surely it was just a dream, right?”
He frowned. “No, it’s real. All of it. Cassie saved you…from me. That pirate grabbed you and I couldn’t let him win, so I removed his powers. I’m sorry. I didn’t notice that Cassie had jumped in at the last second. Thankfully she’s on track for a smooth recovery.”
It was hard to swallow. Cassie injured because of me. What a terrible friend I was. If only I was stronger…
“Can I see her?”
“Not yet. We’re still running some tests; they should be done shortly. But rest assured, it looks like she’ll be okay.”
“But her powers?”
He hesitated for a moment. “Unfortunately, they’re gone,” he said sadly.
“It should’ve been me.” I dug my nails into the blankets in frustration. “I was the one who lost my wand…”
“Oh, that reminds me…” My father pulled something from his jacket and placed it on the nightstand beside me: my wand.
“One of our agents found it while surveying the scene, just before leaving. He said it was caught on a rock somewhere off the cliff.”
Part of me felt guilty as I held it between my fingers. Still, that meant Evrilin didn’t win.
“And Evrilin, the pirate?”
“He got away,” he said shaking his head. “I’m sorry. We searched as much as we could but we ran out of time. Without his powers, though, I doubt he’ll be much of a problem now. I’m just so glad you’re okay. When I heard you got caught up with the ordeal with Malkus Vile, and then Brightstar, I feared the worst. But I underestimated you.”
My emotions were overflowing now; there was no stopping it. “Of course you did. You don’t know anything about me, not anymore.”
“So when you were in the castle, did you see a Skeith anywhere?”
“A Skeith? No, why?”
“Just asking…that’s all.”
Silence fell between us. Neither of us looked at each other.
“So why do you keep ignoring the Elephante in the room, Dad?”
He remained silent.
“Why’d you do it?”
“What exactly?” He was horrified, like he had been dreading this moment for a long while.
“You left me and Mom behind…and then it was only me.”
“The sudden illness was unexpected. But I couldn’t return yet, I wasn’t ready.”
“You weren’t ready?! I cried so much because of you! I thought everything was my fault…”
“No, you’re not! I just…I can’t even! You keep saying that, but you’re not! All because of you, I got dumped in the pound and for three months, I waited….every single day just waiting and waiting in that cold cell. I started to think no one would ever come for me… until finally Mom’s lousy parents picked me up and sent me off to live in our old home. Alone! They haven’t spoken to me much since…And all this time, you were alive somewhere? Going on missions? Going on with your own stupid life without me! Just…why, Dad? Why’d you abandon me?”
“I didn’t know you ended up in the pound. If I had—”
“Of course you didn’t know! You didn’t care!”
“STOP!” he shouted, distressed. “Just stop! I did it to protect you, the both of you! All of it, it was the hardest, most painful decision I ever had to make. I’ve been with the Glass Keys since before you were born and as that faerie grew in power I didn’t want both of you dragged into my war. I had no choice but to go into hiding and this was the best way. Your mother agreed with me—”
“Agreed? That’s garbage! She was devastated! You weren’t there to see it!”
“I know, but it was the only way to keep you safe. If I stuck around, Brightstar would never stop hunting me, so when she arrived at our home I had to disappear.”
“The only way, really? You couldn’t paint yourself invisible or something? Was leaving me to suffer the only way?”
“I’m not proud of it. Thinking about what I did to you and Polly rips me apart. I’ve desperately wanted to be a part of your life again, but I can’t return, not full-time, until my work is done and the world is safe.”
“Does the world matter that much to you?” Aren’t I supposed to be his world? Isn’t it that how it works? Was I entitled for thinking such a thought?
“I’m one of the only people who can protect it from the Prophecy—the Star Prophecy. It is my duty to stop it at all costs. When it’s all over, we can be a family again.”
“But it’s not over, isn’t it?”
He shook his head. “That’s why I’m hoping you want to stay. Come join the Glass Key and together we’ll train. There’s nothing more I want than for you to stay out of danger, but now Brightstar has made you her enemy and you’re no longer a child. You can learn magic from some of the most experienced magicians on the planet. And if that’s not enough, we’ve got a whole library worth of history texts—with pictures.”
“I’ll think it over. I need time…”
“Understandable,” he nodded. “It’s not a decision to make lightly.”
“And…I have neoschool.”
“Then you can stop by on the weekends and holidays. I’ll make it easy for you; teleportation is my specialty.”
“I’ll have to talk it over with my friends.”
“That’s fine. Take all the time you need.”
He now lingered in the doorway. “When you’re ready, there’s something I need to show you. I know there’s a long list of things I need to work on parenting-wise, but I hope this helps us see eye-to-eye.”
Candlelight in hand, he led me down several staircases without uttering a word. We stopped at a locked metal door. He touched the center of his neckline and a chain with golden key appeared, about the size of half of a finger. He bent down and slipped it into the lock, which clicked open.
The room was barely larger than a closet. There were bookshelves on every wall, and in the center was an open book atop of a table. He placed the candle beside it, revealing ink drawings of faeries in its yellow glow.
“This is a picture book of the first Faerie war,” he said.
“Never heard of it,” I said in surprise. I admit I was unfamiliar with Faerieland history, but I didn’t want to reveal how little I knew.
“What remains of it is part of Faerieland’s secret history. Long ago, a war broke out between Neopians and faeries. An ancient power had been banished to the stars by the faeries, where it still remains, out of our reach. Brightstar intends to claim this power and destroy the world.”
“Destroy it? That doesn’t make sense. Brightstar has a goal in mind. I don’t think even she is that evil.”
His hazel eyes flickered to life. “What do you know about Brightstar’s plan? I’ve been trying to figure it out for years, to no avail.”
“This may sound weird, but I had a vision of Brightstar’s mind—it’s hard to explain. Anyway, I saw Alhasutek’s staff broken in half, a golden orb with a bunch of lines on it, and something with a yellow and orange sun emblem on it. Then the staff was fixed.”
He was lost in thought. “As I feared…she’s set on repairing the staff. No, upgrading it. If it was fueled by the energy of the stars, there’s no telling what she could do to us. As for the sun-shaped object, my first guess would be something Altadorian, but it’s so common of an insignia, it’s unlikely we can narrow our search.”
“I did my best,” I said, crestfallen. “That is all I saw. You see, I sort of have this power…”
He plopped a hand on top of my head and ruffled up my hair. “It seems you’ve been busy acquiring powers too. You really are my daughter. You will do great things for Glass Key. It’s never been clearer to me. You are destined for greatness, Trina.”
I blushed. “You too, Dad. Man, did you see yourself out there? That was pretty cool.”
“Years of practice,” he chuckled with his arms around me. “You weren’t half bad, either.”
Finally, I flashed a smile. “So…why the Glass Key? Why not something more dramatic? Like the Order of Magic? Anti-Artifact Agents?”
“A fragile world that can break if not for the turn of a key. A key to unlock the deepest and darkest of secrets and to lock them away to keep them hidden—that is the Glass Key. The key to the future.”
He laughed. “I thought it up myself. And that last one was already taken.”
My father made it steps from the doorway when he stopped cold. He reached into his pocket and retrieved a small envelope. “I almost forgot. I’m sorry.”
He walked over to me and placed it into my hands. My name was written in beautiful cursive, but the beauty of the words stopped there.
When I reached the plea at the end, tears streamed down my face and unto the faerie tales book below and wouldn’t stop. It was then I noticed that this was the book that ruined everything. I saved this old book from the fire over a decade ago, the very last moment I had seen my father until today. In that fire that destroyed our library, my father was reborn. All because of this stupid faerie tale…If only these cursed tears would be enough to soak through every page. Drown them just enough so no words can be read ever again. I shoved the book off the table, only to see my horrified father catch it before it hit the floor. I never asked for this. I never asked to be a part of this story. But the damage had already been done. I had lost my father that day.
After a long pause, I simply said, “I hope so, too, Dad.”* * * * *
I burst into the hospital wing, and its change from the dark metal halls to the white walls was almost blinding, especially considering the tears falling down my face. Cassie was resting in bed, fully awake.
“Trina!” Cassie cried with joy as we hugged. “You’re okay!”
“I promise I won’t go running off like that again and worrying you guys. I’m so sorry—”
“Hey, don’t apologize! You were just following a dream, that’s all. Don’t blame yourself. I knew the risks. It could’ve turned out a lot worse.”
“And thanks to you it didn’t. I owe you a million thanks for that. I wish I could do something about those powers. Maybe Tomaru could whip up some potion for you?”
“He said it was impossible, so did all the experts here. Looks like they’re gone for good.”
My tongue couldn’t even find the words. I just couldn’t believe it. There had to be another way. If I could just learn more about magic…
“Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer, but look on the bright side: I will still be the lame and great, good old me. Honestly, I think returning to a normal life would be quite nice. Maybe adventuring and all this magic just isn’t my thing. It’s fun for a while, until pirates ruin your day. And let’s face it: in the long run, it’s not going to earn you a paycheck. Sorry I won’t be joining you as a member of the Keys.”
“I understand.” Cassie sure grew while I was gone. Wow.
“Ha, who are you fooling, Trina? I know you don’t! Adventuring is your life and turns out you’re really good at magic. Plus, you and Tomaru can train here together.”
“Tomaru’s staying here?” I said. I almost felt shafted. I lent Tomaru a room in my house.
“Yeah. But regardless, this place is perfect for you. I’m sorry I won’t be hanging around to protect you anymore, but if anyone gives you trouble in class, if any other random pirates show up, or the homework’s defeating you, you know where to find me.”
“Aww thanks, Cassie.”
“I’m happy for you, for getting your father back and all,” she said. “Good luck. Don’t forget to visit and let me in on the juicy details though!”
“Of course,” I laughed. * * * * *
Everyone gathered in a long hallway lined up against the walls. Some friendly faces clapped as I walked by, others shook my hand. Tomaru gave me a high five. I met Frankie and my father and the rest of the senior members at the end of the hall.
“You’re sure now?” Aardo asked. “There will be enemies after you. Dangers, monsters, terrors you can’t begin to imagine. They will stop at nothing to eliminate everything you stand for, everything this key represents—life, prosperity, and the truth. You will wear it around your neck for as long as you live.”
He held out a silver key necklace. My father carefully placed it around my neck. At once, the key glowed yellow, and so did everyone else’s, illuminating the room in golden light.
I felt their warmth all around me.
“Welcome to the Glass Key, Trinandra Willicks.”* * * * *
A red Tonu entered the throne room and bowed at the sight of the light faerie. Among a throne of gold stars, the faerie sat, legs crossed and preoccupied with an orb hovering beside her. The golden orb was spinning as her long nails tapped against it, its intricate lines and curves on its surface was a stunning beauty.
“Like it?” she asked. “It’s my newest addition.”
“It’s rather familiar,” he said, pulling his spectacles higher up his face.
“I thought you’d recognize it. Lord Darigan’s Orb, the one and only. Our little diversion has paid off big time. A roaring—or might I say, Rorren—success. Lured those Keys out of Meridell like lab rats and cheese!”
“Wonderful!” he clapped. “You have exquisite tastes, my Lady. Though I wonder, wouldn’t they notice if it was missing?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I replaced it with a convincing fake—it is gold, after all! That fat king won’t notice a thing. That fool, he never deserved such a treasure to begin with…”
Suddenly, a rush of footsteps echoed the throne room.
“Lady Brightstar, pardon me for interrupting such splendid news—we’ve captured one of them!” a Green Tonu said urgently.
The Tonu dumped a pirate Mynci at the foot of the throne, falling face first onto a spotless, yellow carpet. He was battered from head to toe and littered with dirt; his hair was a frizzed mess and his black and grey clothing was full of holes. The faerie cringed in disgust, and then unexpectedly, she leaned forward and smiled at him.
“So it’s you again, young Mynci. That was quite a show you put on there. I have to admit, I’m grateful you kept them occupied for so long. Where did you say you were from again?”
“Altador,” he wheezed.
“Then it’s a pity they wiped your powers. So much talent wasted.”
“Lucky for you, I’m in your debt. What’s the saying again? Ah yes, ‘An enemy of my enemy is a friend.’ I’ve conjured a surefire way to get our revenge on Rorren Willicks. And it just so happens I have an open position for an assistant.”
“I won’t be anyone’s servant,” he rasped.
“Oh but this is far more than a servant. You see, my magic could rival even the Queen’s, and sometimes, faerie magic can achieve miracles. I’m confident there’s a way to restore lost powers. In fact, I’m sure of it.”
She gestured to her orb. “All I need in exchange is your loyalty.”
“Then show me proof.”
“I’d be happy to, in the dungeons, that is.”
The faerie opened her palm and both Tonus, both twice his height, surrounded him.
“Alright,” he pledged grudgingly. “I’ll do it.”
“Wonderful,” she finished. “Bring him to the healing quarters. We start at dawn.”