"YOU ARE HERE ABOUT THE PIECE."
"Sweet mother of Wombats, err…" I summoned all
my courage. "Yes. We are. And you better let my Kougra go, you fiend, other
wise I'll stick this here weapon so far down your throat you…"
"I CANNOT LET YOU HAVE IT. YOU HAVE WON TWO
PIECES BY THE STRENGTH OF YOUR SOULS, BUT EVEN NOW THOSE PIECES ARE WEARING
AWAY AT THAT STRENGTH. ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY THE ULTIMATE PRICE TO SAVE YOUR
I shivered, unnerved. "You know. About everything.
"I KNOW ENOUGH," it hissed, uncoiling to produce
an unharmed Hina. "GO. I CANNOT LET YOU HAVE THE PIECE. I HAVE SEEN IT WORK
TOO MUCH DESTRUCTION…"
Hina rolled to the bottom of the pile, sat up,
scratched his head and then jumped strait into Negotiator mode.
"Listen, Snowager, dude. Just because, like,
other dudes have used the Spectra-thingy for bad mojo, it doesn't mean we all
will! All we're going to do is use it to save my big sis; we're not even, like,
necessarily going to kill the bad Faerie-lady who stole her. Chrissy can't even,
like; kill Mootix when the petpets get infested. But we might have to. We don't
want to, but we might have to. And if we aren't, like, prepared for anything,
"OH?" The Snowager looked mildly amused, if
giant snow-snakes can look amused, turning to face Hina. "AND WHAT HAPPENS AFTER
YOU HAVE SUCCEEDED? IF THE FAERIE DIES, WHAT THEN? WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE
"What should have, like, been done in the first
place! We're gonna get those spirit-thingies out of that thing and get them
to pass over or whatever it is they do."
I blinked and opened my mouth, as shocked as
the Snowager at that statement. Hina shot me a look that clearly said 'Stay
out of this'. How on earth could he know? Of course. Hina had the best hearing
of any Kougra I had ever met, and that was saying something.
There was a long pause. The Snowager's expression
"NO," it replied, finally. "NO, I CANNOT. I
MADE A PROMISE. PROMISES LIKE THIS ONE CANNOT BE BROKEN… EVEN IF YOU WERE TO
PUT THE SPIRITS TO REST, THE PRICE IT WOULD INFLICT ON THE ONE WIELDING IT…
IF CERTAIN CONDITIONS WERE NOT MET… I COULD NOT ALLOW IT TO WREAK THAT KIND
OF DESTRUCTION ON A PET, AN OWNER…" It looked at me. So did Hina, who was grasping
"Dude, Snowager, we don't even really want to
use it. We probably aren't going to kill this Faerie…"
"THEN WHY DO YOU WANT THE SPECTRUM?"
Hina gaped, looked at me, then shrugged and stepped
back. I gulped, realising that I was still holding the Spectrum and didn't know
"Listen…" I walked up to just under the Snowager's
head, gulped twice, then began talking again with no particular rhyme or reason.
"I'm not a hero. I don't do heroics. And in truth, that thing about the Mootix
is an exaggeration… I'm not really even that nice. But this isn't just my Ixi.
If Anuina has stolen my pet, it means she's done it before… and might do it
again. I don't want anyone going through what we have. It wouldn't be fair if
we left her running loose, where she could hurt more and more people. So, we
are going to have to kill her, or at least stop her from hurting anyone. And
if that means I have to pay the price, well…" I gulped, tilted my chin upright
defiantly and finished in a rush. "I'll do it. I'll do it for Neopia, I'll do
it for all of Neopet kind, and I'll do it for my pets!"
There was a suitably stunned silence. Finally,
the Snowager sighed a great, snowy sigh.
"YOU HAVE A BRAVE HEART, LITTLE ONE. THIS IS
TRUE. I WILL FEAR FOR YOU, BUT YOU MAY HAVE THE PIECE. IT IS, HOWEVER, NOT QUITE
"Oh." Hina scratched his ear, dislodging a chunk
of snow. "Is it, like, hidden in a deep and scary dungeon, 'cus it certainly
isn't in your hoard."
"ALLOW ME TO PUT IT THIS WAY. HOW GOOD ARE YOU
"Dentistry?" I slapped my forehead, realisation
dawning on me. "Sweet mother of Wombats… of course… the only way you'd be able
to kill a Faerie is with your mouth, and that means…"
"IT WILL BE QUITE A RELIEF TO FINALLY GET THAT
PIECE OF METAL OUT OF MY GUM. IT DOES HURT QUITE A LOT."
Hina began scraping snow off his claws. "Right,
dudettes, I'm gonna need Chrissy's toolkit, a candle and a load of ice…"
* * * * *
Waterlily idly flung an eyeball off the table. Magic she could handle.
Limbo she could handle. Anuina and an evil Shoyru she could handle. Dissecting
petpets under the gaze of Deathstrike, who was attempting to pull off 'steely'
but had been left with 'rubbery', she certainly could not handle.
"Listen." The Ixi wasn't even thinking properly
about escaping any more. "You don't know how to escape the Limbo, do you?"
"No." Deathstrike shivered a little, then added,
"It doesn't matter, does it? This way, I'm not going to let you out no matter
how much you try, and Nightwing can always take me anywhere I want to go."
"Yeah. Sharp one, that Shoyru of yours. Think
about it, though, have you ever asked him to take you somewhere?"
"Well, no, but…"
"Try it. I bet he says no. Go on, I bet you."
* * * * *
"Now, remember, dude. Just relax, and it won't hurt too much."
"YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY."
"And you're going to tell us everything you
know about the Spectrum afterwards, aren't you?" I tapped the blade against
my boot in what I suspected wasn't a very threatening manner.
"OF COURSE. IT IS THE LEAST I CAN DO."
Hina peered into the cavernous depths of the
Snowager's mouth, stifled a scream, and began examining the many rows of teeth.
After about a minute, he struck gold.
"Dude, found it! But, like, this looks terrible…
you should have, like, had this yanked out ages ago. I don't think I'm gonna
be able to pull the piece out without taking some of your gnashers with it…"
Selecting a small screwdriver, Hina held it in
the candle flame for a few moments and then pressed it against the icy where
the piece was embedded.
"Sweet mother of Wombats!"
"I told you to, like, hold still, dude!"
I can't remember how long it took, except that
it took a long time. The Snowager was very patient, but having a large chunk
of metal burned out of your mouth must have hurt an awful lot. Immacolata took
on the role of nurse, handing Hina the tools he needed in his precarious position,
deep inside the Snowager's mouth, while Elenna was on hand with blocks of ice
to heal up the wounds afterwards. There wasn't much I could do except sit, and
watch, and wait.
Finally, Hina glanced out at me with a worried
expression, and then up at the Snowager. Or rather, the roof of his mouth.
"Dude, we have a leeeeeetle problem. This bit
of metal here is stuck to one of your teeth… we're gonna have to take them both
out. This is gonna hurt a lot, so Immacolata, like, hand me the pliers and then
you three, like, hold onto my feet and pull!"
"On the count of, like, three!"
After the four of us impacted with the wall and
the Snowager stopped screaming, and, admittedly, after everyone had checked
they had the same number of limbs as they did before, Hina held up the piece
triumphantly. There was a vague, sleepy sort of sensation in his head that could
be concussion, or could be something else.
**Concussion? Moi? Hah, you Kougra couldn't
tell a Mortog from a Faerie…**
"CAN I HAVE MY TOOTH BACK, PLEASE?"
Hina looked a little embarrassed, handing me
the chunk of icy metal with barely disguised haste. "Err, sorry, dude. You can't,
like, stick them back in again after you've pulled them."
"OH." The Snowager digested the information,
allowing Elenna to rush up and put a very large ice cube on the wound. "WELL,
I DO SUPPOSE I OWE YOU. IT'S VERY SHARP. KEEP IT."
After a few practice swipes that almost disembowelled
the rest of us, Hina started grinning. It was true that the tooth made a very
"Now." I hopped up onto one of the Snowager's
coils, examining the Piece of Air. It had an elegant; showy design etched on
it. "This'll fit on the other end of the other piece of shaft, if you understood
"Good…" I placed the two pieces in my lap. "Now,
you have a story to tell."
Once upon a time, more than seven thousand years ago, there was a great and
powerful Light Faerie known as Lulia. Through her goodness and magic, she was
appointed the position of Uber Light Faerie upon the death of her predecessor.
Soon, however, Lulia became dissatisfied with her place in the Faerie courts.
She thought that the Faeries should rule over all of Neopia, not just offer
help and wisdom. Through her machinations, the Faerie Queen known as Kissiame
was assassinated. Quickly, the other Uber Faeries gathered to decide which among
the Faerie kind should take Kissiame's place.
Eventually, the decision was made to pass the
crown on to a young Fire Faerie, a Battle Faerie in training that showed an
uncanny sense of compassion and justice. Although Hileomne was far younger than
any of the Uber Faeries, she listened well to advice and was set to become one
of the greatest Queens of all time.
The ceremony that would transform the young Faerie
into a fully-fledged Faerie Queen was disrupted, however. Lulia was unsatisfied
by this choice, and finally put into action a plot that she had been formulating
for many, many years. By an ancient ritual not recorded, forgotten by the passage
of time, Lulia transformed herself into a Light Queen. THE Light Queen. The
only one ever known to have existed, able to challenge a Faerie Queen in power.
Since there currently was no Faerie Queen, her attempted conquest of Neopia
was almost unhindered.
"Wait a moment." I scratched my head, slightly
confused. "If she was a Light Queen, doesn't that mean she would have been good?
Surely, if she was evil, she'd have transformed into a Dark Queen."
"EVER STOOD TOO CLOSE TO A SUPERNOVA?"
"Not personally, but I think I get your meaning."
"BESIDES, LULIA BELIEVED SHE WAS ACTING FOR
THE GREATER GOOD. THERE IS ALSO A LOT OF RIVALRY BETWEEN THE ELEMENTS; LULIA
COULD NOT, AND WOULD NOT, GIVE UP THE POWER OF HER OWN ELEMENT FOR THAT OF ONE
THAT SHE DESPISED. NOT YET, ANYWAY."
"Right. So, in other words, this Lulia was a
bit like Anuina. Totally crazy. Continue."
The ceremony to turn Hileomne into the Faerie
Queen could not be completed until the circumstances were perfect, which would
take many, many days. However, there was another hope. Hileomne had a young
friend, a powerful Faerie well advanced in her Battle Faerie studies that had
not yet made the final transformation. She was brash, selfish, ineloquent, close-minded
and totally incapable of subtlety, and yet she had an essentially good heart.
She offered to help Neopia in the only way she knew how. By creating a weapon
capable of destroying the Light Queen. Her name was Junadila.
"I don't quite get this transformations and
ceremonies thing. Are you telling me Faeries are essentially the same as butterflies?"
"A LITTLE CRUDE, BUT THE COMPARISON IS ADEQUATE.
FAERIES CAN ONLY BE BORN INTO ONE OF THE SIX ELEMENTS. THE OTHER FAERIES ARE
ACHIEVABLE BY HARD WORK, POWER, MAGIC AND CERTAIN RITUALS."
Junadila had four pets. Together, the five of
them poured their essences into a weapon the likes of which had never been seen.
Firefly, a Scorchio of unparalleled intelligence, etched her piece with ancient
secrets of fire magic, to protect her beloved owner. Greenleaf, a powerful Ixi,
imbued a blade with all his strength and determination. Windwalker, an elegant
and beautiful Shoyru, gave her piece the grace and dexterity of the air itself.
Deepwater, a Peophin with a dark side, wrought into the weapon every scrap of
stealth and cunning he possessed. Junadila herself bound her life-force into
the gem at the centre of the Spectrum, giving it all of her courage and tenacity.
The Spectrum was constructed for one purpose alone; to kill the Light Queen.
"Wait a minute. There's only five of them, and
they couldn't use Light if they were trying to destroy it, so that means that
"A DARK FAERIE, YES."
"Well, I'll be a Wombat. They ARE good for something,
However, there was a slight snag.
Lulia became aware of the weapon minutes before
Junadila attacked. She knew, in almost an instant, all of its powers and its
one weakness… it had been built to destroy a Light Faerie. That was the only
element missing from its makeup, and when all six elements were united the results
would be catastrophic for the weakest element. In this case, Light. Even with
magic, five on one is not good odds.
So, Lulia embarked upon the only course of action
she could see to take. She willingly transformed herself into a Grey Faerie.
"Sweet mother of Wombats!"
Junadila interrupted the process just before
it could be completed. There was still a shred of Light in Lulia's soul, and
so the Spectrum performed it's function and destroyed her. However, because
of the absence of the overwhelming light they had been expecting, the remaining
time for Junadila and her pets was limited. They knew, instantly, what they
had done. Their last act was to break the weapon into its five component pieces
and scatter them. In doing so, each piece claimed their souls separately. Now,
as the pieces unite, so too do their spirits. They believe the only way to set
themselves free is to complete the process properly… to kill a true Light Queen.
There was a long silence while I digested this
information. Finally, I spoke, a little nervous as I watched my pets fencing
with their new weapons.
"So that's how this weapon lasted so long, because
most magic weapons, you get maybe ten years, twenty-five years tops before they
start failing on you. But, do you mean… do you mean, if I don't want to kill
Anuina, they're going to force me?"
"Oh." I paused, then added, "Cheesecookies."
"YOU CANNOT CONTROL THEM. AS I SAID BEFORE,
WHEN IT IS FIVE ON ONE, THE FIVE WILL NEARLY ALWAYS SUCCEED."
"Hmm. Yes." I scratched my head; avoiding the
accusing glare the Spectrum was giving me. Wait, what was I saying? It was a
weapon, for goodness sake.
A weapon with seven thousand year old spirits
bound into it.
"Okay." I looked up at the Snowager. "I want
your opinion… do YOU think that if I kill Anuina, they'll be set free?"
At first, it didn't want to answer. Finally,
in a small voice, it replied. "I THINK THAT SEVEN THOUSAND YEARS OF SOLITARY
CONFINEMENT WOULD BE MORE THAN MOST PETS COULD BEAR. I BELIEVE THAT IN SUCH
CIRCUMSTANCES, PEOPLE MAY MAKE MISTAKES."
"Hmmm. Okay, do you think I should kill the
Faerie? Or should I find some other way to set the spirits free?"
It looked at me, with large, cold eyes. For a
moment, I wondered why its eyelids didn't freeze shut, but quickly squashed
the thought. I think of some pretty stupid stuff when I'm nervous.
"I THINK THAT IF YOU ARE ABLE TO, YOU SHOULD
MAKE YOUR OWN DECISION."
There was a long silence. Finally, I slid off
the coils. "One last thing… what happens if, if, if the spirits get too strong…
and, just maybe, this whole kill-the-Faerie-and-set-us-free thing doesn't work
out the way they hope… and they stay stuck in the weapon… what happens to me?"
With a great, drawn out sigh, avoiding my gaze,
the Snowager replied. "THEY WILL TAKE OVER YOUR MIND, WIPE IT AS BLANK AS A
SNOWDRIFT AND FORCE YOU TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SET THEM FREE."
A river of cold ran down my back, and it had
nothing to do with the current ambient temperature. Whatever it takes…
"My pets," I croaked. "What happens to my pets
then? What about Elenna, Immacolata, Hina, Waterlily… I don't really have any
friends that could take them in, though HQ… I never thought that I might be
gone one day…"
"IF IT IS ANY COMFORT… I WOULD HELP. ILLUSEN
WOULD HELP. EVEN THE CURRENT FAERIE QUEEN WOULD HELP… YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED
HOW MANY PETS ARE ORPHANED BY THE MACHINATIONS OF EVIL. WE NEVER LET THEM STARVE."
"But I'd be gone. I might even kill them, if
the spirits decide that's what they have to do… even if they finally got themselves
free and I was alright, which I doubt I would be, I wouldn't be able to live
"THAT IS YOUR DECISION. YOU MAY ABANDON THIS
QUEST AT ANY POINT. AT EVERY STEP, YOU HAVE THE CHOICE TO TURN AROUND, HAND
THE PIECES BACK AND SAY 'I CAN'T DO THIS. THE RISK IS TOO GREAT.'"
"BUT, I AM AFRAID, THE WORLD IS NOT SAVED BY
THOSE WHO TURN ASIDE FROM THE PATH OF THE RIGHT. IT IS LOST."
"Cheesecookies." I stared at the snow, feeling
insignificant and downtrodden. Finally, I looked up again. "I'm gonna do it,
may the mother of all Wombats help me. But, if I don't come back… I want a promise
that someone will look after my pets when I'm gone."
"DONE. I SWEAR BY EVERY FAERIE THAT STILL DRAWS
BREATH THAT I, PERSONALLY, WILL MAKE SURE THE FOUR OF THEM ARE CARED FOR AND
NOT SPLIT UP."
"Thank you. I needed that." I sighed, strapping
the Spectrum across my shoulders again and slinging my rucksack on. "Oh, and
one last thing… do you have a pen and paper?"
To be continued...