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The Box from 10,000 Years Ago


by chantili_doce

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Chapter 6 – United We Stand, Divided We Fall

     ~~~

     Once she returns where she left Vyim, the blind Uni seems resting peacefully on the grass, his ears perking up as he hears her approach. “Hey Teca, I’m truly sorry for being unpleasant and making you feel bad.” He says with honesty. “This must be why I don’t have friends back in Meridell, I’m always annoyed with something… This when I am not afraid of something. You are my only friend actually.”

     Teca sweetly smiles, she forgives her Uni friend. “It's okay. We have each other now. Let’s keep walking to Faerieland.”

     As she helps the Uni to get up, some malicious Wraiths approach from behind wanting what's inside the bag. They start to laugh maliciously and then Teca notices them coming. At first she appears to be in shock, she has never seen this kind of spirit.

     “Vyim, there are weird ghosts here, we have to get out of here!!” She says while climbing on the Uni’s back.

     The alarm makes Vyim get startled, his irrational fear makes him instinctively run in the prairies to escape the mentioned threat. They are spotted by another group of Wraiths who start to cackle viciously and chase the Uni. Vyim hears them and runs to the other side in a desperate move.

     Teca’s eyes widen in terror as she sees the sinister shadows approaching behind them, it was the first time she literally thought she was gonna die. “Vyim!! The dark spirits are behind us, we can’t let them catch us!!” Screams the Wocky, clinging tightly to his neck.

     He keeps running away with all his might, but the grotesque shadows of the Wraiths are already by their side. Their cackles grow louder in the air and Teca closes her eyes waiting for the worst, till she hears someone in a battle frenzy.

     “BEGONE, EVIL SPIRITS!!! MAGAX SMASH!” Screams the small Blue Wocky, attacking the Wraiths with his glowing Darklight Axe.

     The White Uni stops running as they hear the friendly voice. The male Wocky swings the axe in a triumphant way, eliminating the Wraiths towards them and making others retreat. Once he’s done, Magax falls to the floor panting, it seems he has been fighting these shadows for a while now.

     Teca leaves the back of Vyim, and worried, she runs towards the small Wocky grabbing him in her arms. “Magax…You are here with me!!” She sobs, tears of happiness fall from her face.

     “You came to check on me…” He smiles as she gently caresses her face. “You are no longer mad with me, right?”

     “No, I am not! Someone very special said to me that you didn’t attack Itachiro, and I don’t want to be angry at you anymore!!” Teca gives him a heartfelt hug, she was truly missing him a lot during all this time.

     Magax returns the hug and then steps to the ground. "Teca!! Something really weird is happening, I never saw a mass attack of the Wraiths in Haunted Woods! I wonder if a part of them was hiding all this time... Looks like they found an opportunity to leave and spread chaos. I don't know what triggered them."

     Teca ponders for some moments. “I wonder if they brainwashed Zak, he had the same purple glow of the Wraiths in his eyes. I believe they are after Itachiro’s box.”

     “You saw Zak?? I didn't have the opportunity to meet him again, but I imagine he might be under the control of the Wraiths. Other monsters are also with glowing purple eyes and are leaving the Haunted Woods in large groups.”

     Teca's thoughts are now filled with concern. "This is only getting worse!! We have to do something to help our friend Zak!"

     Magax nods in agreement. "Yes, and I have a feeling that someone big might be behind all of this. These Wraiths can only be a creation of a Dark Faerie… They don’t need to do much to create these evil spirits, it’s like a sneeze."

     “Which Faerie can be doing this? You said Haunted Woods has many rebel Faeries..."

     "The Faeries I know in Haunted Woods are usually minding their own business, they don't depend of shadows or other creatures to do their duties because they are self-sufficient. These Wraiths are following orders of a Faerie that can't do much magic, maybe?"

     Vyim’s voice chimes in. “Well, if the shadows are after the evil box, and judging by Itachiro’s story that the object is related to The Darkest Faerie… So…” He gulps. “Maybe it’s her working to get the artifact back?”

     “Exactly. She's been manipulating things from the shadows, and this chaos could be part of her plan.” Concludes Magax, pondering with his hand on the chin.

     “It can’t be… So the devil really exists among us…” Teca’s voice is full of concern as she remembers the stories she heard about the Faerie when she was a kid in the theater of her mother. “So she is no longer in the stone statue… Magax! You have to go with me to Faerieland! Only you can destroy the shadow spirits with your powers through the way!”

     “No way… The Faeries will look at me as if I was still a criminal…” Says Magax with his shyness.

     “That’s your chance to show them you are different now!” She climbs on Vyim. “We have to go now!”

     The Blue Wocky clenches his fists, his determination repaired. “Right. I’ll do my best, Teca!”

     The Fire Wocky nods with a determined face and lets Magax sit on Vyim’s back too. “Vyim, you have to trust me once more! I’ll guide you in the air while pulling your mane.”

     “Oh no… I said to you it is not going to be a good idea…” Says the stubborn Uni.

     Magax ponders for some moments and, with a smirk, he shouts. "Look! There's a Werelupe behind us!"

     The alarm makes Vyim get startled, his irrational fear makes him instinctively open the wings and take off to escape the mentioned threat. Magax bursts into laughter at his reaction. "Gotcha!"

     Teca also laughs and she pats Vyim’s side, then firmly grips the strands of his mane to guide him in the air.

     Vyim's face flushes with a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance when he notices that there was no real threat. "Sometimes I hate you...!" He mutters, but the annoyed temperament fades out as he feels the gentle breeze through his mane and wings. Having a good feeling, he flies with more confidence with the Wocky friends. "How I missed this!! I forgot how wonderful it is to fly!!" Says the Uni while appreciating the air.

     “You know what? When we first met, you were pretty scared and cowed. And now, even without your sight, you still experience fear but despite all that, look at how far we've come together... You are actually very brave.”

     Vyim listens to the words of appreciation from Teca. "I never thought of it that way." His voice has a grateful tone. "I always wished to be as brave as my Uni colleagues and to be the best helper I could be to my knight partner, but my reactions were always to escape or to hide myself. I am glad that I've made some progress!!"

     Magax's smile widens. “It’s actually hard to see our own progress. Thankfully, friends help to perceive things differently.”

     Their journey continues as they fly, their bond is now stronger than ever. The three Neopets were able to fly for some more minutes till Teca notices the dark clouds and the flashes of lightning illuminating the sky. A strong fog also starts, making her unable to see anything under them. "Hey. Better we get back to the ground. Things are getting hard to see up here and may be dangerous."

     Vyim then begins to gradually descend the skies while trusting in Teca guiding his movements. They are able to return to the solid ground with a gentle thud. The Uni shakes his mane and the female Wocky releases a sigh of relief as she leaves his back. "I'm glad we're all safe and sound! I love flying with Unis, but this flight seemed special."

     The Blue Wocky chuckles. “I think it's because you never flew with a blind Uni!!”

     Teca examines the place they landed in. All she sees in the dense fog are ruins scattered on the ground and objects covered in a dark and viscous thing that she is disgusted to touch. She finds herself completely disoriented, having no idea where they are on the map.

     “Oh no... The Wraiths and monsters have raided this place already...” Says the Blue Wocky while noticing the belongings left behind by Neopets. “A kid left her doll on the ground and it has traces of Wraiths…”

     “Poor kid… Her village got destroyed, must be very scared! OH, we found a village! It’s definitely on the map… So Faerieland must be that way!” She points to the north and all they see is thick fog covering the horizon.

     The three Neopets then walk carefully to the way indicated to the map. The first drops of rain start to fall, Vyim uses his large wings to protect the Wockies from the cold rain and Teca manages to find a large leaf that is enough to cover Vyim's head. The wind picks up, the trees sway and the rain keeps intensifying as if everything is testing their determination.

     In the horizon, Teca spots a huge group of Meridellian knights marching towards Faerieland. She gets excited and runs towards them, just to realize that she is being ignored. The knights march past her as if she wasn't there, as if no one there knew her, a mere stranger to them. Magax gets near Teca and asks why they are acting like that.

     “Rule number one, a knight who deserts the troop is no longer recognized as one of their own… The knight's code is all about unity and loyalty to the King above all else…” Mutters the sad female Wocky with a bowed head.

     The ears of Magax drops as he sweetly takes her hand. Teca stands there between the knights amidst the raindrops, painfully aware of being invisible to them. The knights' march toward Faerieland continues, many synchronized footsteps on the mud echoing in the air. "It's a harsh rule, I know." Magax says softly. “Isolation is one of the worst feelings. I've experienced it myself. It’s terrible.”

     “AAAAAAAAH!!! A CRIMINAL!! CATCH THE CRIMINAL OF FAERIELAND!!” Screams the Faerie Kiko pointing at Magax.

     Immediately, a group of knights surge forward to surround the small Wocky and quickly immobilize him on the ground, mud splashes to all the sides. They put the handcuffs as they force his arms behind his back. “Ouch…!!” Screams Magax under brutal force.

     “Wait!! No!! He’s a good Neopet now!! I can swear!!” Screams Teca, pleading desperately. “Magax, you can use your powers to break these handcuffs! You should get out of here!”

     Magax slowly gets up from the puddle with a defeated expression, his blue fur and clothes dirty with a slimy mud. “No. I don’t wish to run anymore. I must be judged by my crimes… It's the only path to redemption, the only way I can be considered a good Neopet again.”

     Teca’s eyes get teary as she gazes at her friend. She understands his decision, yet a part of her wishes that the situation didn't have to unfold this way. Standing there and left behind, drenched in the rain, she watches the knights escorting Magax, leading him toward the road to Faerieland.

     Teca's heart sinks as she feels hopeless, she ends up kneeling on the muddy grass and collapses in crying once again, fearing the worst for Magax's fate like an entire life behind bars or even a grimmer fate.

     The gloomy Fire Wocky hears someone approaching behind her on the muddy floor, and she slowly turns behind. To her shock, it's Elvira, positioning menacingly. Her sword is in position to give a lethal blow. The world seems to freeze as their eyes meet, and in an instant Teca reacts, narrowly evading the sudden attack. The sword hits the floor and splatters mud in all directions.

     The Fire Wocky rolls to the side and takes a step back, the heart pounding in her chest as she realizes the danger. Elvira's serious gaze remains fixed on Teca as she removes the sword stuck in the muddy ground, her intention in clearing the task given by Skarl back in Meridell.

     "Are you crazy or what?? Is there any motive behind this sudden attack? Wait till I report this to the king!"

     Elvira's lips curl into a sinister smile, she raises her sword once more towards the Wocky. "He was the one who sent me here. Loyalty to him is all that matters, traitors stand no chance."

     Teca's heart aches with the weight of the words, she spent years serving for Skarl and now she feels like she's getting discarded by him. Now, she has to fight for her own survival, but being under the rain, she is unable to summon the fire abilities to fight the Yellow Acara. Being defenseless, there’s no alternatives but to turn and flee.

     “Vyim!! We gotta leave from here!!” Says the Wocky climbing on the Uni in despair. “We are not safe!”

     Although the blind Uni can't understand the full situation, he obeys the command and takes off. The two Neopets fly, carrying them away from Elvira and the pursuit ends, but the Acara still won't give up easily. She retrieves a bow and arrow from her back, skillfully aiming towards the skies.

     Flying while defying the storm and the lightning strikes, Teca holds onto Vyim's mane tightly fearing that they can be hit by one of the lightning bolts. The rain grows colder with altitude, mixed with hailstones. The Fire Wocky glances back, the heart pounding as she searches for any sign of that Yellow Acara, but everything she can see is a dense dark fog.

     "We have to keep going, Vyim!" She shouts amidst the storm. "We will only stop till we reach Faerieland!"

     Vyim responds with a positive nod, pushing himself to fly faster. Despite his blindness, he trusts Teca's guide through the turbulent storm. However, a loud pained neigh from the Uni is heard through the skies as a sudden arrow pierces one of Vyim's wings, making their flight dangerous as they begin to descend uncontrollably.

     The Fire Wocky grips onto Vyim's mane with all her strength in an attempt to guide him to correct his position. Teca screams desperately to Vyim, her voice barely audible amidst the raging wind.

     Right when they're about to go into a catastrophic impact as the ground draws ever nearer, Vyim's instincts kick in. Despite the sharp pain in his wing, he fiercely flaps wings battling against the gravity and manages to slow down their descent right in time. Vyim manages to change the direction of his fall and ends up colliding onto a lake. Water splatters in every direction, the impact is less severe than it could have been on ground.

     Reappearing on the surface, the duo gasp for air and swim together to the ground. They take a moment to recover from the adrenaline while the hail continues. Teca spots the arrow stuck on his wing and removes it, patting the Uni's side with affection as she realizes they are both safe and sound.

     “I may need a bit of time to recover from the injury of my wing…” Says the Uni panting while laying on the floor.

     “Right. I’ll let you have a rest for now. You deserve it!” Says the young Wocky, proud of her mount.

     With a happy neigh, Vyim nuzzles Teca and she reciprocates with a warm hug. The Fire Wocky then gets up and analyzes the area they are in. She spots the long towers of Faerieland city emerging from the fog and Teca smiles big, finally they have the sensation of arriving at the goal. “Vyim!! We've made it! We arrived in Faerieland!!”

     “Is it Faerieland?? Wooow!! I can’t believe it!! After all this time!!” Screams the blind Uni, who starts to jump in joy.

     But Teca’s smile fades out as she sees through the dense fog shadows of monsters with glowing eyes wandering the place like zombies, just like what was happening to Zak. Some are destroying the shops and others are inside or climbing the towers, a true chaos. The frenzied presence of numerous Wraiths chasing the Faeries brings a crazy and chaotic climate in Faerieland, where it is not used to snow.

     “No, Vyim, it can’t be… It seems more like a nightmare. I need to find Fyora in this chaos." Teca speaks as she turns to Vyim. "It's too dangerous for you to continue with me. I want you to hide somewhere so you can recover from the wing injure." She looks at every side, hoping that she's not spotted by any monster. She finds a house partially destroyed, she brings Vyim inside and covers him with blankets behind a ripped couch. “Shhh… I’ll come back!”

     Although Vyim can't fully understand the situation they are in, he nods and awaits there, being kept away from monsters and the hailstorm that is slowly intensifying. Teca leaves and carefully sneaks, looking for the Faerie Queen or for the Faeries who are leading the resistance. All she can see above her is a bunch of elemental powers from Faeries being thrown to every side, a true lights show. And on the floor, she can see the Meridellian troop arriving and already engaging in a battle with the monsters.

     Everyone seems to be fighting valiantly against the encroaching threat. The monsters and shadows can be in smaller numbers among the Faeries and knight Neopets, but they are too aggressive with a strength above the normal. Teca has to be cautious with elemental powers clashing above her, the broken towers falling from the sky and the monsters wandering on the ground.

     While sneaking, she finds a group of Werelupes fighting a group of Faeries and finds Zak with a broken leg. Teca thinks it's nice to see him together with his siblings, but she finds it weird that he acts like the broken leg was nothing to him, he keeps in a rage battle despite the severity of the injury and it leaves her in shock.

     The hailstorm intensifies, the Faeries have to battle in this crazy climate with the sudden threat. Everything starts to be covered in snow, making the knights shivering as cold invades their armor. It seems the monsters are not affected by frigid conditions nor sensation of pain, they continue the ferocious assault.

     The Fire Wocky doesn't feel drenched anymore and decides to do something to help the knights. She strategically runs through everyone and knocks down everything that is flammable in the middle of the streets and away from the buildings. Monsters that were engaged in combat with the knights shift their attention to Teca and start to chase her, as they feel the presence of the box in the bag.

     As she reaches the end of the street, Teca ignites a strong fire on the row of objects thrown to the floor, making monsters stay alert and back off while it gives an opportunity to warm the knights around. The girl sighs in relief seeing the plan taking effect, the controlled blaze illuminates the darkness while allowing the knights to aid themselves near the fire. Monsters seem to be bothered by the strong glow to draw near.

     "Teca!! It's amazing!! Everything is so dark here, thanks to your powers, we are able to see better!!" Says a knight Lupe.

     "I am no longer freezing!! Thanks a ton!!" Another knight also comes, his gratitude is immediate.

     It's the first time Teca is being treated so well after using the powers, a large smile appears on her face. She was treated as a traitor of Meridell minutes ago by everyone there and now the same Neopets are thanking her with the strategy. Well, except for Elvira, who suddenly advances on Teca and catches everyone by surprise.

     “Elvira!! Cease this!” Shouts the Grarrl Commander in gold armor. “Don’t do that! Teca is trying to help us! Elvira, I command you to STOP!”

     Yet, she won’t listen. The Acara immobilizes the Fire Wocky on floor and takes a dagger from the pocket, the blade poised menacingly at Teca's neck, but another Neopet, the Gelert in golden armor, grabs her wrist. “The Grarrl Commander has ordered you to stop!”

     The angry Acara exchanges angry glances with the Gelert and Teca uses the opportunity to run away. The Wocky runs desperately through the labyrinthine city under the echoes of destruction and roars of monsters in the air. Finding temporary shelter behind a partially destroyed building, she takes a moment to catch her breath, one hand clutching her neck involuntarily. She got unharmed, but the scene with Elvira immobilizing her sends shivers down the spine.

     Teca was not able to see Magax among the knights and wonders where he might be, but she probably doesn't want to return to avoid seeing Elvira. She thinks on the next move, still needing to locate Fyora and deliver the box. "How I wish Itachiro was here with me..." She wonders.

     Gathering courage, Teca peeks out from her hiding spot. Faeries unleash their elemental powers against the horde of monsters and Wraiths, colorful flashes of light and bursts of energy illuminating the dark and chaotic landscape. To the other side, the battle continues to rage around the knights of Meridell as they fight valiantly, their armor reflecting the fiery glow of the flames Teca had ignited. It seems the knights from Brightvale and Altador are also arriving to help.

     Among the chaos and danger, a sparkle of hope emerges for Teca. She’s able to spot a group of Faeries coordinating their efforts on a very high tower near a cliff, directing their powers with strategic precision. Among them is Fyora, the Faerie Queen herself. Teca's heart pounds with a mix of happiness and apprehension as she decides to leave the shelter.

     The Fire Wocky aims to reach the Queen, she then tries to escalate the tower all alone. In the middle of the war and under a strong snow storm, Elvira spots Teca climbing the big tower. The knight Acara in a golden armor looks to the sides, ensuring no other knights will trail her steps or might seek to interfere with her plans. Then, she begins to pursue the Fire Wocky and try to finalize her commitment with the King.

     The Fire Wocky, unaware of her pursuer, continues on escalating the tower “This would be much easier with Vyim!!” She mutters to herself. She keeps climbing the tower until she feels surprised by an arrow striking the wall just above her. The unexpected impact startles the Wocky, causing her to lose equilibrium and fall to the ground. Thankfully, she wasn't too high on the climbing.

     “Grrr, I missed the aim… Traitor of Meridell, your time for surrender has come. Or you go to the Meridellian prison or your story ends here.” Declares the Yellow Acara, pointing the sword at Teca’s face.

     “Not now! Can't you see the world is in chaos right before your eyes?” Shouts the furious Wocky. “I’m trying to help Fyora!! Leave me alone!!”

     However, the Acara won’t listen and engages in a battle with Teca, landing a blow to her side. Fortunately, the bag was in front of the flank and the box inside endures the attack, but the bag tears up, dropping the box itself and the sword's hilt.

     “See?? I don’t have a sword to fight with you! Rule number ninety-eight: for a fair duel, a knight must abstain from engaging in a battle with a fellow knight who is without a sword!”

     “Outside Meridell, such regulations hold no weight.” And the Acara once again, with a malicious smile, runs forwards to Teca and strikes another attack. The Fire Wocky dodges it, but her shoulder is cut by the sword.

     Despite the intense pain, Teca grits her teeth and pushes through the discomfort to grab the hilt of her broken sword on the floor. Focusing her fire powers on it, she manages to create a sword entirely made of fire.

     “Oh, so you finally decided to show your powers…” Elvira giggles with a malevolent glint in her eye. “I thank you for not using your fire abilities during your stay in Meridell. You know… The Neopets in golden armor like me are the top three knights of the castle, the King probably would move me down rank to put you in my place. A bitter demotion would have been waiting for me, he always saw you as a wondrous find that would put his kingdom on top of the world.”

     Elvira takes a deep breath, remembering her hard times and continues talking. ”For a female Neopet, gaining recognition and respect among fellow knights was always a challenge. I’ve always fought hard to reach the rank I am now, and I would hate to lose all my prestige to a weak Wocky, who merely happened to be born with unique powers.” She frowns angrily with a mixture of anger and resentment aimed at Teca.

     “So... You always saw me as a threat to your position? I now understand your anger with me out of nowhere… Don’t worry, I no longer aim to be a good knight of Meridell!” She holds the fire sword with determination, the flames dance along the length of the weapon.

     “You know what? You would be a good knight resting under the ground!” The Yellow Acara aggressively strikes once more and Teca’s sword proves to be effective in battle. Each time their swords clash, a flurry of sparks lights the dim place they are dueling amidst the blizzard.

     In the middle of the battle with fire against steel, Elvira finds herself at a disadvantage as her blade begins to show signs of melting, unable to withstand the intense heat. Still, her confidence seems unbeatable and the pain in Teca’s shoulder gets worse with every parry and strike.

     The Fire Wocky seizes the opportunity to speak. "You should stop! We are not meant to be enemies!"

     The Acara chooses to not listen and keeps swinging her sword against the Wocky. Her sword is melting, her armor is getting unbearable under the heat, her face is sweating heavily and yet, she’s determined in eliminating the Wocky.

     Some Wraiths draw near the two girls fighting, they are curious about the Acara battling with an immense rage, greed and envy inside her. They sense an opportunity to feed off from her negative emotions, fueling their own dark power.

     However, within the fervor of their confrontation, Elvira gives a calculated strike that disarms the Fire Wocky, knocking the flaming sword aside. Its glow and flames get extinguished and become a mere hilt of a broken sword on the floor. The odds were not in Teca's favor this time against the very skilled Acara with a sword.

     Both girls face each other with heavy breaths, the Acara bursts into laughter, not believing she finally won. "So... Any last words, Tereza?" She readies the sword for a final strike against the defenseless Wocky.

     “Riiight, you won the duel! Are you happy now?? Leave me alone!!” Shouts Teca.

     "Are these your final words? As pathetic as you!" Right when the Yellow Acara swings her sword for the finishing blow, a sudden disturbance interrupts her. The Wraiths that had been lurking nearby, drawn by Elvira's negative emotions, begin to gather around her.Their shadowy forms swirling and distorting with malicious laughs.

     Elvira's triumphant expression fades out as the Wraiths encircle her, their presence feels suffocating. The shadows feed themselves with Elvira's own darkness and leave her body, but their evil energy changes the girl. Her eyes now have the weird purple glowing, just like Zak. The subjugation of her mind to the Darkest Faerie is complete.

     The Fire Wocky watches what just happened in front of her, she doesn't fully understand what is happening, but she feels that something is not right with Elvira. The Acara with glowing eyes is no longer interested in Teca, she turns to the other side, where there is the box that fell from the ripped bag.

     With quick thinking, Teca dashes toward the box on the floor before Elvira can reach it, and it makes the Acara really mad. The Acara engages in another fight with Teca, but the Wocky refuses to hurt her like she refused to hurt Zak when they battled together. She knows they aren't in control of their own minds.

     Elvira acts like an angry zombie, wanting to take the box from the Wocky at any cost. Teca gives a kick on Elvira’s chest so she can stay away, but the Acara with glowing eyes lunges once again at her, being even more aggressive. The two girls end up rolling on the floor, knocking the box out of Teca’s hand. The box tumbles, the wind carrying it dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.

     In a daring move to avoid Elvira opening the object, the Wocky throws a stone at the box, causing it to fall from a high height. Teca thought the Acara would never jump from that height just to go after the box, but her expression turns surprised as she sees the Yellow Acara making the daring plunge. Her will to open the box is stronger than her fear of falling from such a height, revealing the depth of the darkness that now governs her mind.

     The box plummets downward, its fall accompanied by Elvira trying to reach it while defying the dangerous height. Teca watches peering over the edge, her heart heavy with regret for the fallen Acara. A tense silence follows, then a strong beacon of light pierces the sky and illuminates the dark Faerieland, with monsters of all sizes leaving from it. Teca steps away from the edge and watches in horror the worst fear of Itachiro becoming real.

     To be continued…

 
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