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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 117 > Continuing Series > Dark Flame: Part Nine

Dark Flame: Part Nine

by child_dragon

Stolen Candle

No one talked as the vampire led us through the forest. I kept my eyes firmly on the vampire, watching his cloaked form carefully. If he betrayed us in any way I wanted my spear to hit its mark first try. Behind me was Terraile. She hovered a few feet of the ground, bow notched and ready. MoonFall took the center with Un-eairkagh and Sabreur taking up the rear.

     Hardly any light made it through the forest canopy. It grew steadily darker as we neared our goal. The darkness did not disturb me. As unstable as the currents of magic were, the deep purple and white glow of light and dark lit the surrounding area. Sabreur and the others were having some difficulties, though.

     "Hold up," I ordered the vampire as Sabreur dissolved into incoherent threats as he tripped over another tree root.

     "Ve are almost there," the Count said impatiently.

     "But ve can't see," I replied sarcastically.

     The vampire sniffed to show what he thought of me mocking his accent.

     I ignored him and cupped my hands over MoonFall's horn. A soft light arose and then grew steadily until my family could see the ground safely. I turned back to Von Roo. He had himself wrapped in his cloak so that only his head showed. His eyes glittered blackly in the light and I could see his hatred of the stuff.

     "I do not like this," he said tersely.

     "Want your forest back or not?" I snapped.

     He didn't press the issue but returned to guiding us to the forest center.

     Eventually we reached out destination. Up ahead I could see where the trees dropped away suddenly. Light filtered into the clearing, the hazy sunlight of pre-sunset. I gestured and the light from MoonFall's horn vanished.

     "This is as far as I go," the Count whispered, "Goodbye, Essence. Farewell, mortal. Perhaps ve shall meet again…"

     "I look forward to it," Sabreur said grimly, "I've been wanting to try my hand at vampire slaying."

     The Blumaroo chuckled and vanished back into the forest. My brother turned to me.

     "See, this is why I keep my door locked," he said matter-of-factly.

     "I still maintain that it's cause you're an obsessive-compulsive freak," I replied, and led the way into the clearing.

     It was as I remembered. Shrouded by the neighboring trees, letting in only the barest of light. The shattered remnants of the obsidian obelisk littered the clearing. At the base of the small hill where it had stood crouched a Zafara. He was a deep red with jagged batwings and black claws. His head was bowed and I could only see the tips of his spiky fur.

     "Stand up. Turn around," I ordered.

     The Zafara obeyed. He drew himself up to his full height and stared at me with fever-glazed red eyes.

     "What have you done in Neopia Central?" I demanded.

     "I broke up a fight."

     His voice was soft and it raised the hair on the back of my neck. Something was very, very wrong here.

     "You destroyed a good portion of the shops and hurt a lot of people."

     "Those things happen. They… wouldn't listen. None of them would. None of them believed me."

     My brother shifted uneasily beside me. Something… that voice…

     "Where is Aldrai?" I whispered.

     The Zafara looked at me and something familiar sparked in his eyes.

     "Look what they've done to me… I've only tried to help. Ah, wretched ungrateful world…"

     "Aldrai? Where is he?" I whispered, sinking to my knees in the grass, not believing what my heart was telling me.

     "Aldrai… is here. He's always been here. Him and his magic. His power. Ungrateful… all of them…"

     "Please. What have you done with my pet?"

     "Nothing. I'm what I am. Do you not want me Kiddo?"

     "I want my Aldrai!" I cried, "What have you done?!"

     "This is what I am!" he screeched in defiance, to me, to my family, to Neopia, "I am Aldrai! I am ALDRAI!"

     "No," Un-eairkagh said fiercely, "Our Aldrai would never hurt anyone else. He would never put his power above other's safety. He has wings! White wings! Not those things!"

     "I thought I could trust you," Aldrai spat, "Brother. Traitor. What have you done to me? I had white wings. Now I bear these because Neopia does not care for me and my magic! Child_dragon! You are Neopia incarnate. Why have you done this?"

     "I have done nothing!" I cried, "You aren't what you were Aldrai! Your magic… you're using it for the wrong reasons. You've gone too far and now… you're not Aldrai. You're something else. Something evil."

     "I am not evil!" he howled, "I knew you wouldn't understand! You've never understood! I'll make you understand. I'll make them all understand. If my wings must be these than so be it! We all pay a price for our power and this is mine. The world will be good, whatever the cost!"

     And he leapt into the air, the light magic gathering around him like a torch. His eyes went completely white and the power surged through him.

     "I am tired of this!" he howled to the sky, "Tired of the hurt. Tired of the sorrow. Deealoe killed my mother. Rycio cursed me. WeatherWolf betrayed all of Neopia and tried to kill my owner. His pack tried to kill all of us. Infernus nearly died. Melody nearly died. Child_dragon nearly died. We ALL nearly died. AND THAT IS JUST ONE DROP IN AN OCEAN OF SORROW!"

     He took a deep breath.

     "By what magic I have there shall be NO MORE!"

     And he shot into the air, a burning candle flame of raw magic that was quickly lost to my sight.

     I knelt in the grass, stunned. Aldrai. My Zafara was the one who had caused the explosion. The one everyone was hunting for.

Nobody messes with family, I thought.

Aldrai has fallen.

Aldrai is family.

I'm the Guardian of Neopia.

I protect Neopia against evil.

I wrapped my wings around myself and cried.

Nobody messes with family.

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

Dark Flame: Part One

Dark Flame: Part Two

Dark Flame: Part Three

Dark Flame: Part Four

Dark Flame: Part Five

Dark Flame: Part Six

Dark Flame: Part Seven

Dark Flame: Part Eight

Dark Flame: Part Ten

Dark Flame: Part Eleven

Dark Flame: Part Twelve

Dark Flame: Part Thirteen

Dark Flame: Part Fourteen

Dark Flame: Part Fifiteen

Dark Flame: Part Sixteen

Dark Flame: Part Seventeen

Dark Flame: Part Eighteen

Dark Flame: Part Nineteen

Dark Flame: Part Twenty

Dark Flame: Part Twenty One

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