Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 194,561,505 Issue: 775 | 31st day of Running, Y19
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Before the Rise


by erroro

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      A lexandra was sitting in the chair next to the principal’s office for the second time in the week. She was surprised that they hadn’t pulled out a straitjacket to put on her yet, but she was sure many pets probably thought it.

      The speckled Xweetok didn’t mean to explode the stupid little Bruce’s pencil case. But he’d insulted her glasses, and everyone seemed to forget that part. And then the pencil case exploded completely on its own! The six year old Xandra didn’t understand. Why was everything happening to her?

      Xandra numbly heard the door swing open, and the clomps of her parents shoes step towards her. She could feel their burning looks of disappointment.

      James Xweetok gave an air of being strict, despite is short stature. Well, being a librarian of the Brightvale Public Library gave him that status. The red Xweetok’s serious brown eyes surrounded by thick rectangular black glasses seemed to see right through anyone (which was the reason that most of Brightvale returned their books on time).

      Aleria Xweetok was a bit more lenient than her husband, most would admit. The green Xweetok was usually quite calm and understanding. It was hard to make her dark blue eyes burn with anger (something that her husband and daughter lacked). Her gaze at her daughter was not heated at this time, but more disappointed. And Xandra hated disappointing her parents.

      “Ah,” the principal said, looking over them with a wary eye. Xandra fought the urge to duck behind her parents. “Come in, come in...”

      They all sat on the musty chairs. The principal also sat, shaking his bald head.

      “I am afraid that this cannot continue Alexandra. You are disrupting your classroom and other pets learning.”

      Xandra winced, but didn’t say anything in her defence.

      The principal adjusted the glasses on his nose. “If any sort of incident happens like this one more time, you will be expelled from our school.”

      “You can’t do that,” James gasped. “My daughter has done no real damage to your school! A broken pencil case is the least of your worries! How do you know she did it?! The pencil case could have-”

      “I’ve heard enough! Sir, your daughter has a strange anger problem and it will not be tolerated!” The gnarl retorted. He sighed. “You have one more chance to correct your ways, Alexandra, otherwise you’ll be thrown out for good,” the principal stated, a steely glint in his eye.

      Xandra looked desperately for any help from her parents. Aleria calmly looked the Garrl in the eye, unflinching.

      “I do believe your punishment may be too severe, but I am not one to judge. However, I will make sure that this will never happen again to my daughter. And you will dare not accuse her of any of your foolish crimes.”

      “Uh... good. That’s good,” the principal stammered out looking quite flustered at the Xweetok’s cold but definite anger. Aleria swiftly picked up her daughter’s schoolbag and marched out the door, tail swishing behind her.

      “What happened Xandra?” she asked gently to her daughter as the family walked home.

      “Someone made fun of my glasses, and then a pencil case blew up,” she supplied, not meeting her eyes.

      “Alexandra, you know that you should let your temper get the better of you!” James put in, casting her a stern glance.

      “I didn’t mean to, it just happened!” Xandra protested, looking at the verge of tears. “Why does this always happen to me?”

      Xandra felt herself being scooped up off her feet into the warm arms of her mother.

      “I know, we aren’t so sure of what happening either, but it’s not fair for them to blame you for a crime that you did not commit. Things will get better, I promise.”

      “I trust you,” Xandra said before burying her head into her shoulder.

      ***

      Her parents were even willing to keep her at home for the day, but she refused. Today was the day that things would get better, like Aleria promised.

      How wrong she was.

           Xandra was on her best behaviour. She did all of her work, raised her hand to answer the teacher’s questions, and tried to think happy thoughts.

      She ignored her classmates’ mutters and distrustful glares, just pretending to be oblivious.

           BRRRRING!

      The small children scurried outside, needing to burn off all their energy. Xandra slowly followed them, unwillingly, and sat on her almost reserved spot on the bench.

      “So, why aren’t you suspended today, Alexandra?”

      “Does it matter?” Xandra asked, trying to be polite.

      “Yes,” the yellow Blumaroo seethed, eyes narrowing. “Bad pets deserved to be punished.”

      “I’m not bad,” she muttered, under her breath.

      “Maybe you bewitched them into letting you stay,” he mused, voice low. “Being a witch and all.”

      “I’m NOT a witch!” Xandra snapped back, anger flaring.

      “Yes you are!” he cried, pointing a paw at her. “YOU’RE A WICKED WITCH!” He cried to the playground. “SHE’S AN EVIL WITCH!” Xandra covered her ears, trying to block out the sound.

      The rest of the playground began to chant. “WITCH, WITCH, WITCH, WITCH!”

      She felt the burning rage churning in her stomach. She couldn’t let it happen; she had to control it...

      “WITCH, WITCH, WI-”

      BOOM.

      ***

      Xandra walked along side her parents, away from the school for the very last time. They said nothing to each other, all focus on the cobblestone path.

      As they arrived at the small, modest house, James immediately sank into his favourite armchair, and Aleria buried her face in her paws. Xandra stood, not knowing what to do.

      Suddenly, James stood up, fire burning in his eyes. He marched upstairs, tail swishing agitatedly at his trail.

      A few moments later, he came back lugging a suitcase. He threw it onto the ground.

      “Well? Pack you things; we have no point living here anymore.”

      “James, there is no need for this!” Aleria said, getting up.

      “We might as well go to Neopia Central, there are many schools there...”

      “But,” Xandra put in. “I love Brightvale! I don’t want to leave!”

           “Well then, maybe you should’ve thought about that before you started blowing things up,” he replied coldly.

      “BUT IT WASN’T ME!” Xandra cried back, stung.

      Her Father did not respond, continuing to stuff the random objects of their living room his suitcase. She turned to face her mother, eyes pleading. Aleria turned away.

      “Pack you things Alexandra,” she said slowly. “We’re leaving.”

      “No we aren’t!” Xandra protested. “We aren’t leaving!”

      “You have no say in this!” she hissed back. Xandra could feel tears welling up in her eyes, but she willed herself not to let them fall. Aleria looked at her eyes, the strange vivid purple eyes that she had always wondered about... and then to the ground.

      “I just wish you could’ve been a normal child,” she replied softly, letting go of the desperate hope go that her daughter was an ordinary Xweetok.

      “THIS IS YOU’RE FAULT!” Xandra screamed back. “YOU SAID THINGS WERE GOING TO GET BETTER, BUT THEY’RE ONLY GETTING WORSE!”

      “Alexandra, I di-”

      “YOU’RE ALL JUST LIARS! ALL OF YOU ALWAYS LIED TO ME, SAYING THAT EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY FINE!” Xandra took a breath, purple eyes now filled to the brim with tears. “IT ISN’T FINE!”

      She closed her eyes, choking back a sob. She desperately wanted her problems to disappear.

      And all at once, she felt a wrenching in her gut, followed by a scream.

      “XANDR-”

      Xandra’s eyes flashed open. The view of her living room was replaced with vivid green, approaching her, dancing and flickering, eating away everything that it touched. Magic.

      She backed up into a wall, cowering, heart in her throat.

      “N-no,” she pleaded.”Go away.”

      The flames seemed to waver for a second, confused by its caster.

      “GO AWAY!” she screamed. She dropped to her knees shaking. Everything was a blur; she didn’t know what was happening...

      A strange violet aura had surrounded. “Huh..?” she managed, feeling dizzy.

      She felt the burning flames consume her, as she passed out.

      ***

      “She’s doesn’t have a scratch... amazing...” a voice looming over her said, awed.

      Xandra opened her eyes, and blinked rapidly. “Wha-”

      “It’s alright, you’re safe,” the Defender called proudly, straightening up. Xandra also scrambled to her feet, feeling a bit shaky, and looked around.

      What happened?

      “My parents,” Xandra said, feeling a strange lump in her throat.

      “Now, you shouldn’t worry yourself about that just yet,” he said, with a reassuring smile. Xandra immediately relaxed. That meant they were all right!

      She was wrong.

          ***

      The room was pink.

      It was covered in it, top to bottom. Fuzzy bubblegum rugs, cotton candy walls, lamps, a bed, and a dresser. All pink.

      Xandra wanted to gag, but thought it might offend the light faerie who had guided her way.

      “This will be your new room,” the Faerie said, as if she needed to be told.

      “Oh,” the Xweetok responded, a bit put out. In her excitement of seeing Fyora’s castle, she had forgotten to ask one question. “When are my parents coming?”

      “Soon,” the light faerie said, smiling, although she had no idea what she was talking about. Xandra smiled, suddenly feeling quite lighter.

      “And her Majesty would like you to see you again once you are settled,” the light Faerie added.

      “Uh, I don’t ha-” Xandra started, but to her amazement, she was already gone.

      “I don’t have anything to get settled with...” she finished softly, looking down. She only had her school uniform, her glasses, and the purple beads that her Mother always put in her hair. She carefully pulled them out, and put them on the dresser, so it didn’t look so bare.

      She looked around the vivid pinkness. She felt exhausted, as if she had walked the distance from Brightvale to Terror Mountain. Not caring to change, she went into bed, clutching the covers.

      “Goodnight, Mom and Dad,” she whispered to the ceiling, as she drifted off.

      ***

      After trying to find her way from the dining room to the Hidden Tower, Xandra was only beginning to realize how big the Faerie Queen’s Castle was.

      Most the food there seemed to have wings, so Xandra assumed they were alive, and didn’t dare touch them, nibbling on some Faerie toast instead. It gave her a warm, fluttery feeling that she assumed was good, although it made her feel a bit queasy.

      After asking multiple passing Faeries, she finally found the winding staircase. Hurrying up in circles, she made it to a Neon pink dead end.

      “What!?” she exclaimed in frustration. “Why in Neopia did the Hidden Tower have to be hidden?!”

      She aimed her feelings at the wall, kicking it with ferocity. Passing through, she stumbled and hit the marble floor of the Hidden Tower with a thud, causing a Kyrii jump with fright and drop her huge Neopoint bag.

      “Alexandra? Are you alright?” Fyora said, hurrying over, clutching a royal paintbrush.

      “It’s Xandra,” she reminded her, muffled. She helped her up, smiling kindly.

      “Welcome to the Hidden Tower,” the Faerie Queen said, gesturing at the huge circular room around her. “And now we’re closed,” she added to the Kyrii. The Kyrii looked walked away muttering to herself. Xandra stared expectantly at Fyora’s face.

      “Alright Xandra,” The Queen said, smiling at her new pupil. “What do you know about magic so far?”

      “It can blow up stuff,” Xandra replied solemnly, nodding.

      “Er, yes, it can blow up stuff,” Fyora repeated, taken aback. “But it can also be used for other things, like protection.”

      Xandra nodded, thoughts turning to the strange purple shield. She didn’t bother mentioning it though. She was sure; it was probably only a dream. Who had ever heard of green fire? That wasn’t even possible!

      Or, at least she convinced herself.

      “Let’s try a simple spell first,” she said, flipping through Spells for Beginners: Part 1

      Xandra shifted from foot to foot, looking around. The Hidden tower was also pink, coincidently, like the whole castle. The walls were lined with shelves, Faerie artefacts stacked in neat rows upon them. As far as the eye could see, there were the strangest and most powerful items she had ever seen, from cardboard cannons with cabbages, to a pair of beautiful faerie blades.

      “Ah yes,” Fyora said, looking up from the book. “The levitation spell.”

      “Will I be able to fly?!” Xandra gasped, unable to suppress her excitement. Fyora smiled, but shook her head.

      “Only levitating for other objects.” The speckled Xweetok nodded, fully attentive. Fyora set the book on the marble floor.

      “Altum,” she said firmly, pointing at the book. Immediately the book began to hover. Xandra’s eyes widened as Fyora raised her hand, making the book fly and zoom all over the room. She soon directed it to the same spot, as it landed on the floor with barely a sound.

      “Will I be able to do that?” she asked astonished.

      “Remember, the incantation is altum. And if you don’t get it the first time, it’s okay, there no need to be discoura-”

      “Altum!” Xandra said clearly, focusing with all her might on the book. At once, it began to float a few feet off the ground. Fyora looked surprised, and delighted.

      “Higher,” she called, gaining her confidence slightly. The book floated in place, trembling slightly.

      “HIGHER!” she yelled, starting feeling a bit weak in the knees. It felt strange, like a hole gnawing itself in her stomach.

      Instantly, the book began zooming around the hidden tower, narrowly dodging a Sword of Skarsden.

      “No! Stay still!” Xandra cried out, chasing after. The book expertly flew off, knocking over a royal paintbrush from its pedestal, barely missing her, and out the open window.

      Xandra glanced around, wincing at the knocked over items. “I…”

      “Oh, it is quite alright,” Fyora said, waving her sceptre and setting everything properly once again. “I don’t think we should be practicing in the Hidden Tower, next time.”

      She nodded, thinking inwardly. I didn’t even explode anything that time, but I still made a mess…

      “There’s one thing that you must remember when spell casting,” Fyora said. “That magic is closely connected with emotions.”

      Xandra nodded, not taking in the full meaning of her words.

      ***

      Under the shade of her favourite birch tree, the young speckled Xweetok scribbled feverishly in her favourite notebook. She loved the spot in Fyora’s courtyard. Although she found the statues of the different Faerie elements lining the walls slightly unsettling, she could live there forever.

      At least living there forever was a long way off.

      Dear Diary,

      I almost forgot what day it was today! Can you believe it? It’s finally my birthday! I’m finally seven, that’s a lot older than being six. Mom said that today she would bake me a cake, but she hasn’t come yet… well, I know she’s coming. Dad too, but he might need someone to take his place in Brightvale’s Library. Hey, he could start working at Queen Fyora’s library, there’s no librarian here! And they could meet her at the same time. Queen Fyora is very kind, just like the other faeries here. They can do anything with their powers. One day, I’ll be like her, just as powerful. She says I am progressing very fast, and my magic is becoming much more controllable. I’ve even stopped blowing up stuff! Mom and Dad will be so proud of me! When they come, I’ll show them all of the things I’ve learned.

      Yours,

      Xandra

      ***

      “When are my parents coming?”

      “I beg your pardon?”

      “When are my parent’s coming?” Xandra repeated, looking the Faerie Queen right in the eye. “I thought… they’d be here by now.”

      For a moment, Fyora hesitated. She couldn’t possibly tell a child that her parents were gone…

      “They’ll be coming… soon,” she replied, faking a smile. Xandra practically glowed at the news, but that didn’t ease the pit in her mentor’s stomach. How long could she possibly keep lying to her student?

      ***

      “I’m ready for my next lesson, your Majesty!”

      “I’m sorry Xandra, but not today. There is a conference today, with the other faeries.”

      “Really?” Xandra gasped, grinning. “Can I come too?”

      “No, it’s only for Faeries,” Fyora replied, smiling. “And honestly, all they do is argue with each other.”

      The Xweetok nodded, putting on her I-don’t-mind-face. “Okay then.”

      But, curiosity led her to outside the door, and with a few spells that she had read about was not so soundproof.

      “I swear, why do you even let that wretched cloud float in Faerieland skies! Jhudora is a villain and deserves to be arrested for crimes against Neopia’s air!”

      “Wait, I think I smell the Rubbish Dump from here,” a sarcastic voice replied.

      “Why do you two always fight?” Another voice asked in exasperation. .

      “Wait, do you hear a pet falling? Better go catch it quick! Or maybe my hearing is acting up today too,” the same voice seethed.

      Xandra fought the urge to facepalm at the pointless arguments. This is what the most powerful faeries in Neopia did with their time?

      “Enough!” Fyora bellowed, and immediately they became silent. “Let us go back to our original topic; what we should do with the Neopoints the Hidden Tower has provided?”

      “The Soup Kitchen could use more funds,” One said hopefully, who’s voice reminded Xandra of melted chocolate.

      “Ha, do any pets go there anymore? Besides, you get enough funds from the Money Tree.”

      There were murmurs of agreement all around. Xandra felt a flare of anger in her stomach. As far as she knew the Money Tree was only filled with rotting objects and cheap stamps that no one wanted.

      “I still say that my cloud could be remodelled,” the same sarcastic voice said.

      After a few more squabbles, a duel, and some threats, the meeting was finally adjourned, and the Neopoints were to stay with Fyora for a ‘rainy day’. Xandra didn’t really know what that meant, seeing how it never seemed to rain in Faerieland.

          ***

      “The nerve of those Neopians!”

      Xandra , coming in for her next lesson looked confused, “Huh?”

      “How dare they abandon my quest! My quests are such a honour!” Fyora said furiously.

      Xandra raised an eyebrow. “Why didn’t they do it?”

      “They said it was too expensive. Right to my face as well.”

      “What if they didn’t have enough Neopoints to do it?” Xandra said reasonably.

      “That’s not the point,” Fyora sighed. “Anyway, shall we begin your lesson?”

      “What do you even do with such items?” she asked; a question that she had always wondered.

      “It’s a secret, only for Faeries,” she answered, smiling. Xandra couldn’t hide the disappointment on her face, but she let it go. But even then, she couldn’t help but wonder.

      How many secrets do the Faeries actually have? And why won’t they tell me?

      ***

      Dear Diary,

      …I have a feeling Fyora’s hiding something. Whenever I ask her about when Mom and Dad are coming, she always gives me such vague answers.

      Diary? What if they left me here on purpose, because they didn’t like me anymore? Because the mean Principal said I couldn’t come back to school? But Mom and Dad love me… they would never do that! But… maybe I should ask Queen Fyora, just to be sure.

      Xandra quickly closed her notebook and hurried back into the castle. The paths seemed much more familiar, and she didn’t even hesitate to walk through the pink wall.

      “Your Majesty?” she called softly, almost hoping she wouldn’t come. The Faerie Queen looked up from her book of complicated symbols.

      “Xandra? Today is Sunday; you don’t have a lesson today.”

      “I think I know why my parents aren’t coming.”

      Fyora paled instantly, putting down her book. “…What do you mean?”

      Xandra studied the ground. “My parents,” she repeated, much more loudly.

      “Oh, Xandra… it wasn’t your fault. It was an accident,” Fyora said slowly feeling a wrenching in her chest.

      “That’s what I said,” the young Xweetok said bitterly. “But I don’t think they believed me, otherwise they would’ve come by now.”

      “It isn’t that Xandra…”

      ***

      She had run out of the room before Fyora could see her cry.

      The truth, the thing that she longed to know was in front of her. And it hurt, it hurt much more than she should be experiencing at such a young age. She felt hollow, empty. Just a shell of a happy little speckled Xweetok.

      But what hurt the most was that she knew the whole truth, the one thing Fyora did not know. It was her fault. And now they were gone.

      She refused to come out of pink room, even for food. She couldn’t bear.

      “IT ISN’T FAIR!”

      It had been the first time she had screamed in her grief. She was angry. How could they leave her all alone? How could they just die without her permission, without her consent?

      Her paws were alit with the vivid green that led to her parent’s demise.

      Xandra took a sharp intake of breath. She felt the surge of events around her. The scream, the fire, the shield, the blackness…

      “Mom?” she called softly to the ceiling. “Dad?”

      She could feel a tear tracing down her cheek.

      “I’m sorry. It’ll never happen again.”

      The speckled Xweetok clenched her paws, putting the flames out.

      “…I promise.”

      ***

      The speckled Xwee returns to her lessons, albeit quiet, staring at the swirl of green that she protrude from a finger.

      “Xandra,” Fyora started quietly. “Are you sure you would like to practice today? I told you before... emotions are closely connected to magic.”

      “Oh, I’m fine your Majesty. It’s just...” she trailed off.

      “Xandra, I am immortal,” Fyora said gently. “But I’ve also seen far too many pets pass. It’s hard, but life will keep going on.”

      Xandra nodded. She had gotten much better at faking smiles, but she couldn’t hide the unmistakable sadness in her eyes.

      She is much stronger than I thought, Fyora thought to herself. I know, one day she will be destined for great things.

      If only she had known then what great things the speckled Xweetok with the violet eyes was destined for at the time...

     

      The End.

 
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