The sun rays shine down from the sky peaking through the lush green trees onto the glistening waters of the pond, making the entire place glow and glitter. Bubbles that have every color of the rainbow in them are floating around the bushels of golden, pink, baby blue pastel colored flowers in full bloom.
One of the women dressed in a long white flowing dress pulls a beautiful, ripe, golden orange fruit from a tree.
"Here, eat this, it'll make you feel better."
The girl holds the fruit in her hand as she looks around seeing all the other young women enjoying the fruit.
"Where am I?" The girl says to the woman who gave her the fruit. She looks around curiously but cautiously as she is not sure where she is or how she even got there.
The woman looks at her, looks around, smiles, and says, "This is faerie land, my dear, only a faye can enter this magical land. Hazel, you are a faerie, and I have been watching over you for quite some time now."
Hazel looks to the woman a little startled at how she knew who she was. "How did you know my name? Who are you?" Hazel holds the fruit, looks down at it ripe and shiny it looks so delicious. She looks around at all the faeries feasting on this fruit, they seem so much to enjoy.
As she continues to observe them she feels nervous and unsettled. As she looks again closely, she notices something has changed, the faeries are no longer happily enjoying their fruit. They are ferociously shoving the fruit in their mouths like gluttons, like some type of force has taken over them.
Hazel drops the fruit on the ground.
The woman notices the same thing and slowly rids her fruit as well before anyone else notices and turns to Hazel, "We must get out of here, the fruit has been rigged. Don't eat it."
As they both look around, the lush trees are turning brown and broken. The pond is being dried up. The flowers are quickly shriveling up, as if every bright color and happy feeling was being sucked away.
Hazel and the faerie are running for some type of escape. The faerie says, "Look for a portal, don't wait for me just get to a portal Hazel!" The woman was grabbed from behind by the fruit eaters who have turned from faeries to some type of possessed beings. Hazel stops and looks back at her. The woman yells, "Keep going, get out."
"What is your name?! How will I find you?" Hazel cries.
The earth below her is turning to nothing she must find an escape.
Hazel looking back at the woman faerie being captured while running straight on. The ground is shaking and branches and rocks are grumbling from the ground that was once a land of beauty. She trips, she falls. Everything goes black...
Hazel is awakening slowly, she can't quite see but she hears mysterious cackling getting closer to her. It is dark, she hears tribal music and drums playing in the background. She can't move when she opens her eyes she sees herself tied to a tree. A man steps up to her. He has tribal looking red and black makeup on his face along with a big white bone as a nose ring, and big jewelry rings and bracelets draping him. He cackles, his voice is deep and big and he step to her...
"You're in the Haunted Woods now dame..." He cackles loudly...
Date: Jul 30th
"Who are you?!" Hazel asked, her voice quivering from fright.
The man's bracelets rattle as he reaches out to untie the rope entrapping Hazel. His dark brown eyes are concentrated with a fierce intensity on the rigid knot that seems to come undone by his sheer will. Was this... magic? Like Hazel's own?
"My name is Bram," grunts the man, "and I am a magic practitioner here in these Haunted Woods. You know, you're in these woods now and someone defenseless shouldn't be wandering about in a stupor. It's probably how some mischievous Neopets found you and tied you upright. Really, though, I should be asking who you are?"
Hazel is released from the tree and lands on her two feet. "My name is Hazel and I... I am a faerie." It was the first time the words had left her mouth. The entire incident she escaped from moments earlier flashes through her mind. She sits down, trying to calm the oncoming headache. "At least, I think I am a faerie... there was this festival, something akin to the Faerie Festival and some of us were invited and promised to be recognized as true faeries. And you said-- you said that you're a faerie, too?"
Bram looks up into the eerie groves and weighs responding with a sarcastic answered. He decides not to, recognizing Hazel's question is innocuous. "A magic practitioner. People like me tend to not get the faerie label around here. How did you end up here, anyway? We're quite some distance from Faerieland, you know."
Hazel thinks quietly to herself, still sitting on the ground as Bram looks on, his chilly disposition warming to concern. "There was rigged fruit. Cursed fruit, and another faerie told me to run. I can't remember much. We tried to escape and all I remember is darkness. Perhaps she used the last of her magic to transport me as far away as she could. I didn't catch her name... all I could see before everything went black was her being captured by some of the faeries who did eat the fruit."
Bram receives this knowledge and immediately knows what is happening. "It's Bathlazar's Faerie Round-Up. In fact, I'm certain some of his cronies were headed through the Woods earlier this evening. I stayed concealed for my own protection, but I have a feeling the faerie I saw them leading away could have been the one you're referring to."
"Do you really think so? A Round-Up? Do you think it could have been them?" Hazel asks, her eyes watering. "Did the faerie look like she was okay?"
Bram answers, "Well, besides her imprisonment between two Werelupe guards she looked okay, but...
Date: Aug 6th
"…but she was wearing shackles, and they were leading her away," Bram finishes with a grimace. "Likely to Balthazar himself."
"What?!" Hazel bolts upright, trying not to shiver in the frigid gloom of the forest. "She's in trouble. We have to go to her," she demands, grabbing onto Bram's arm. "She knew what was happening with the fruit, and the other faeries. She'd be able to explain everything, and she might know how to stop this. Which way did they take her?"
Bram gestures loosely to the left. "Up toward the edge of Neovia, it looks like. But Hazel, we can't just go--"
Hazel gathers herself and begins a decided march in the direction Bram pointed.
"--running off," Bram sighs, and follows her, muttering to himself. "You know, I worked very hard to conceal myself so I wouldn't be tracked down. If you go tearing through the woods without a weapon, you'll give us both away. You're not going to stand a chance against those Werelupes, or any of Balthazar's cronies."
But Hazel sets her mouth into a thin, determined line, and keeps walking. She half expects Bram to silently slip away between the undergrowth, leaving her to her fate, but he stays behind her with a low grumble, letting her feel his presence by the thud of his steps and the clink of his jewelry. It becomes a comforting presence; Hazel doesn't feel so alone.
After some time, Hazel begins to hear voices between the lattice of trees, a back-and-forth growl as dark as the glistening sky above. Peeking around a tree trunk, she sees them: three Werelupe guards, all poised and straight-backed and casting shiver-inducing gazes into the woods. Hazel takes a frantic look between them, but there is no sign of her missing faerie companion. These are not the right guards. But...
"We should follow them," she whispers to Bram, hidden behind her. "They could lead us to where the faeries are being held."
"No way," Bram tells her, dark and stern. "That is a surefire way to be captured."
"Please," Hazel insists, fighting to keep her voice down so the sharp-eared Werelupes will not be alerted. "Look, they're heading out. Won't you please come with me? If we can find a way to stop Balthazar's Round-Up, neither of us will have to hide anymore." She ignores the voice in her head, the faerie's voice, from before: "Get out! Find a portal!" Is it a mistake to chase after her companion instead of fleeing to safety? Hazel doesn't know what to think. Her head feels like a tangle of bramble thickets.
But Bram must see something in her face, something insistent and brave and perhaps a little desperate, because he bows his head, and concedes. "Alright, Hazel," he says. "I'll follow the guards back to the lair with you." Then he swallows, looking uneasy. "But before we head toward Balthazar, there's something else you need to know…"
Date: Aug 7th
I used to be one of them." Bram said in a low, monotone voice.
"What?" Hazel questioned.
"Long ago," Bram replied. "So that is why it is crucial that we do not get seen."
Hazel pondered for a moment before speaking. "If you used to be one of them, doesn't that mean you already know where the lair is?"
"I do," sighed Bram.
"Good," replied Hazel, her face lighting up. "Then you can take us there right now."
"It is not that simple," Bram answered. "There is a way I can take you, but it is very dangerous, and there is something I need you to do first."
"We must try," Hazel said bravely. "I will do whatever it takes!"
"Very well," sighed Bram. "What I need you to do is..."
Date: Aug 8th
"...The name of the faerie they captured is Pecan and she was my teacher before Balthazar captured her the first time. Being young at the time, I recklessly betrayed our kind for her freedom. Since then Balthazar has been capturing us. The guilt of that day has led me to nearly give up on my faerie heritage. That is the main reason I call myself a magic practitioner and not a faerie I have never forgiven myself."
By this time the pair was so close to Pecan's cell that the unease was starting to slow Bram down. However, Hazel had reminded him of a younger version of himself. This was in a way a redo for all those years long gone.
There was a rustle and they knew the time was up they had been heard. Bram looked around he knew the only way so escape was to create a portal. However, due to his skill level, if he created one he would give up using magic forever. The guards advanced ever faster. Bram had resigned to using this spell if he needed he just hope he could do it in time.
Hazel's sight went black and she lost consciousness. She heard a rustle of chains and thought she to had been captured. At the last moment someone caught her and protected her fall. The last thing Hazel re familiar voice whispering in her ear," Rest we are free."
Date: Aug 14th