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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 28th day of Hunting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 119 > Continuing Series > Dark Flame: Part Eleven

Dark Flame: Part Eleven

by child_dragon

Believe in Me

I eventually landed in the Haunted Woods. I don't know why I picked that place. I guess I just wanted to be alone. No one would disturb me here. I settled myself at the base of one of the trees and wrapped my wings around me. I had given up on the tears, there was no stopping them. I just buried my face in the feathery softness of my wings and sobbed. I cried until it hurt, until my breath was strained and my body ached. I clenched my hands and gasped with sudden pain as my claws came out and pierced the skin. I reluctantly folded my wings and healed my hands, the tears gone now for I had none left. My heart seemed to ache and Fyora's words kept circling through my mind.

      "She's right," I said out loud, "I can't do anything right. Why am I the Essence? A miserable little girl that can't even care for her own pets. I don't deserve them."

      "Oh, a pity party. May I join?" a familiar voice asked from the shadows.

      I tensed as Count Von Roo stepped out to stand just behind my shoulder.

      "Go away," I snarled.

      "Not yet. This pet then, he is yours?"

      "My Aldrai. Yes."

      "So Aldrai has allowed the light magic to overtake him. And this is your fault?"

      "Yes."

      "Of course. Because everything in the vorld is your fault. It's because you can't take care of things, because you are too irresponsible, correct?"

      "Stop mocking me!"

      "I am not mocking you. I am merely repeating vhat you said earlier."

      "Stop it!"

      "You honestly believe there is nothing you can do? Aldrai must ve stopped. I do not know vhat he vill do but I am fearful. Vampires are not looked kindly upon by anyone."

      "Hurrah for you. Stop him yourself then."

      "Because you can't?"

      "Because I can't and won't."

      He moved then, with lightning quickness. Before I knew what has happening I felt his paws tangle in my hair and jerk my head back to expose my neck. His fangs brushed my skin. But I moved just as fast. I seized his cloak and threw. He smashed into a tree, shattering the wood, and fell heavily to the ground. He then picked himself up, brushed himself off, and surveyed the smashed tree.

      "Very good. You see, you vere able to protect yourself and not harm me."

      "But you're a vampire."

      "And Aldrai is more than vhat he vas."

      "Fyora said that the only way to stop him was to kill him or strip him of his power. And I won't do that."

      The Blumaroo snorted.

      "Fyora overreacts. There are other vays. Find one."

      "What would you suggest?"

      "I do not know. He is not my pet. But vhatever you do, do it fast. For ve creatures of the night are vorried and vill move to defend ourselves. I believe you, the Essence of Neopia, vill be able to do something. Not all share my views."

      "Great. So the only person who believes in me is a vampire Blumaroo," I said sarcastically.

      He smiled softly, his fangs glinting in the faint moonlight.

      "Is that such a bad thing? A creature that has seen more darkness and evil in his very long life than any mortal believes you are strong enough to overcome this new threat? No, I vouldn't consider that a bad thing if I vere you…"

      He trailed off, a strange and worried look appearing in his eyes. Then he gasped and staggered back. I leapt to my feet.

      "Roo! What's wrong?"

      "Ahh… he… the fabric of-"

      And then he collapsed. I rushed over to his side and checked his pulse. I found none.

      "No no no no no…" I whispered.

      A nagging thought finally broke free of my subconscious. He was vampire. Vampires don't have pulses. They're undead.

      Feeling like an idiot I placed one hand on his forehead. The fur was cold beneath my hand but I now realized that was normal. The ties binding Von Roo to whatever life he had were still intact. And something else was there too. Light magic.

      I studied it closer. Aldrai's doing. Von Roo wasn't hurt, just… in an unnatural sleep. Just the same as the one Jhudora was in. What was going on? Aldrai wasn't anywhere nearby.

      First things first. I could rationalize all I wanted: Von Roo was evil, he was a vampire, he had hurt others many many times, etc. But the nagging little voice in my conscience would not let me just leave him here or anywhere else the sun might possibly reach. Besides, he said he believed in me.

      I flew him to Sabreur's house. My basement had a window in it so I couldn't leave him there. Sabreur met me at the door, a strained look on his face.

      "I'm all right, Von Roo here bullied some sense into me," I said to stall any questions.

      I carried the vampire into his living room and towards the basement.

      "Kiddo? What?"

      "Aldrai is doing something to all evil. I can't leave him where sun will get him."

      "But my house?!"

      His eyes were slightly bugged and frantic.

      "Oh, don't worry about it. I'm sure he'll appreciate the fact that I didn't leave him to burn enough to not hurt you when he wakes up."

      "But - I - no… Would he mind titanium reinforced doors welded shut?"

      "I thought you already had that!" I called up the stairs as I found a corner of the basement not already taken up with stuff.

      "Not the welded shut part!"

      "Whatever," I replied irritably and lay the vampire down.

      As an afterthought I found a blanket and lay him on that. No sense on leaving the poor thing on the concrete.

      "He's gonna hate us for this," Sabreur said gloomily.

      "Maybe. Maybe not. Before he collapsed he said something about the fabric. I'm not sure what that meant though. I think we need to find Aldrai fast though."

      "Your pets are at your house. Shall we go have another meeting then? This time one that won't be interrupted by faeries with the temper of a hornet?"

      "Sounds good to me. You drive?"

      "Certainly."

Darkness in All

It seemed everyone who looked at me did so with pity in their eyes. I had to reassure everyone at least three times that I was fine, that Fyora hadn't upset me too badly. And that we were going to do something about Aldrai that would not hurt him. Once the preliminaries were over Lady MoonFall broke the bad news.

      "Terraile collapsed. She's in her room right now and we can't wake her. She seems otherwise alright though."

      I nodded grimly and walked over to her room. Sure enough, she was laying on the bed in a coma, the same as Von Roo. Aldrai's magic was evident within her.

      I returned to the living room.

      "He seems to be doing something to everyone that's associated with darkness…" I said slowly, "Un-eairkagh. " Although it was nearly one in the morning, the newspaper was already being delivered.

      "No cause as to these comas has been located as of yet," the reporter said, "The collapses seem to occur without warning and at random. Police say they are attempting to contact the faeries but Faerieland has shut itself to outsiders."

      I nodded at my Eyrie and he put the newspaper down.

      "At random. Hah," I said bitterly, "Betcha ten to one every pet and person in there has some sort of criminal record or trace of dark magic."

      "That's why Terraile collapsed, isn't it?" Un-eairkagh asked.

      "Yep. He's doing something to anyone with a trace of evil in them. But the only problem is: no one is without evil. Everybody has that little urge to do something wrong. And Aldrai is blinded to that fact. So blinded he can't even see the darkness in himself."

      "Too much magic," Netsuko said softly, "You sure you can't cut him off from it?"

      "Not without severing the connection completely. And I'm afraid the shock will destroy him or burn the talent for magic right out of him."

      "I think we need to find him first," Padiglione said, "Since no one seems to know where he is."

      I nodded in agreement.

      "So far no one has been hurt. We've been running on no sleep for a long time. We can't keep this up forever. I vote we get what rest we can then meet back here at eight to discuss our next course of action."

      No one protested and we slowly broke up the meeting to head to our respective homes. I wished Melody and Sakuko goodnight before facing my brother.

      "And what if Von Roo wakes up hungry?" he demanded.

      "Oh, just go home," I said with a roll of my eyes.

      I shoved him out the front door and locked it behind him. Give him a taste of his own medicine for once. I then slowly climbed up the stairs to my own room. Un-eairkagh called after me as I was halfway up.

      "I think you're the best owner in the world. I don't care what Fyora says."

      "Thanks," I replied wearily.

      Sleep came hard that night. The thoughts just wouldn't leave me alone. How had this all happened? Was it really my fault or was Von Roo right? Was I just blaming myself out of self-pity? Could Aldrai be saved? How had he lost control, anyway? Would I ever get my pet back? Would Terraile and the rest wake up?

      Like vicious winged birds the questions chased me through the night and into my sleep. My dreams were haunted by a Darigan Zafara with white eyes. Fyora stood nearby, reciting over and over the words "You've failed. Failure. Child. You've failed." Von Roo made an appearance.

      "The fabric. Look what he's doing to the fabric. I believe in you."

      Their voices melded together.

      "I believe in you failure. Look at the fabric. Child of a dragon. Save them, can't you? Can you? Will you? Won't you? Why?"

      Then Aldrai again, spotted this time.

      "She's nice," he said dreamily and I saw the hazy outline of Shi'kly, the guardian of the light Elemental Spear shard.

      "She's nice," he repeated, "Don't you understand? Everyone should be nice. That's Neopia. Everyone will be nice. They'll all understand. The price to pay. I don't care about my wings. You shouldn't either. Just understand for me."

      His voice merged with the others.

      "Failure. Child. Will you? Fabric. Understand me. Can you? Price. Failure. Wings. Essence. Failure. Failure failure failure… Kiddo… Kiddo… KIDDO!"

      I was jerked awake by the last shout. I blinked and blearily took stock of my surroundings. The sun was rising, the clock showed almost eight, and MoonFall stood by my bed.

      "You were sleeping," she said reproachfully, "I had to wake you. Sorry, but I've got some bad news."

      "The fact that it's morning is bad news enough," I grumbled.

      "Well, this is worse. Get dressed and I'll tell you."

      I sighed and reluctantly found something out of my closet to wear. Nothing like being woken up to bad news. I felt like I hadn't slept at all. The dream still clung to my mind like wisps of a noxious fog. I shook my head to banish them and headed downstairs to hear MoonFall's bad news.

      "Okay, tell me," I said as I entered the kitchen where she was cooking breakfast.

      She glanced guiltily at the floor and dropped the egg she was holding.

      "I watched the news this morning," she said, "Apparently Aldrai has found himself a base. He's at the top of some ruined castle in Meridell. No one can get near it due to the extraordinary amount of magic gathered there. Plus he's shielding it somehow."

      "Do they know who it is that's doing all this?" I asked fearfully.

      "No. No names yet. The Faeries are being rather close-mouthed about all this, thank goodness."

      "Alright. We'll see if we can get to him after we gather."

      "That's not all. Apparently the spell Aldrai has launched is getting worse. More pets keep collapsing. That Mynci that likes to break windows down the street fell into a coma sometime last night. I fear that soon only people like Melody will be unaffected."

      "But even Melody has some wrong in her," I replied, "Everyone will be hit by this eventually."

      "I know. That's why we've got to figure out what's going on and stop it. Oh, one last thing."

      "More bad news? I don't think I can handle much more…"

      "Yes, I know. And this is the worst."

      I groaned.

      "Alright, let's get it over with."

      She looked at me steadily.

      "Un-eairkagh is gone. He left sometime in the night. I think he's gone to confront Aldrai. Alone."

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 Nine

Dark Flame: Part Ten

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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