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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 120 > Continuing Series > Dark Flame: Part Twelve

Dark Flame: Part Twelve

by child_dragon

Twisted Mirror

Un-eairkagh knew that child_dragon would not approve of what he was doing. So he slipped out shortly before dawn, taking no weapons, telling no one. He and Aldrai had always been close and all the Eyrie wanted was his brother back.

     "He called me traitor," Un-eairkagh said outloud as he neared the ruined castle, "Please Aldrai… just listen to me."

     The crumbling stone building sported only one sound structure in the entire heap: a single tower. At the top of the derelict roof crouched a red shape with huge bat wings. Aldrai. Power flickered around him, lighting up the tower like some great candle. Un-eairkagh flew closer and saw many pets, humans, and faeries gathered near the castle. Even as he watched one swayed and collapsed. No one seemed to be taking any action, just milling about in confusion. A couple pets tried to cross a certain stretch of ground only the be thrown violently back with a burst of light. Aldrai's barrier.

     "Not gonna stop me," Un-eairkagh growled and soared higher.

     The air currents carried him up above the castle. Aldrai and his tower was directly below him.

     "Brother!" he cried, and folded his wings.

     He fell, straight down onto the barrier. It flashed with power but Un-eairkagh did not open his wings to get away. The magic coursed through him and he screeched in pain. Then it was gone and he fell, smashing onto the tower roof and sliding to the edge. At the last minute Un-eairkagh managed to regain his senses and claw a hold on the tower roof. His hind legs dangled over the edge and he slipped further to falling. He dug his claws in and looked up to meet Aldrai's vague eyes.

     "What are you doing here?" Aldrai asked in a lilting voice.

"I came to talk to you," the Eyrie gasped.

     "Why? What more is there to talk about?"

     "Terraile has fallen into that coma. What are you doing to her?"

     "She'll wake once the evil is gone."

     "What do you mean?"

     "I'm getting rid of all darkness. Those that have fallen in a coma will wake once it's all gone."

     "But…"

     The Eyrie felt his grip slipping even further. He dug his claws in deeper, straining his muscles to support his weight. Now only his chest was on the roof.

     "Aldrai… a little help…?"

     But Aldrai wasn't paying attention anymore. His gaze was fixed out onto the sky and his eyes had faded to white.

     "Aldrai! Please. Don't you remember… when Terraile smashed the obelisk? Not all darkness is evil! And… what about Deealoe? You forgave him even though he'd done so much wrong! Please… Aldrai. Ah - I'm about to fall off here."

     "Darkness leads to evil," the Darigan Zafara said absently, "It's best to just get rid of all of it. When I'm done there will be no more pain and suffering."

     "You're hurting others though!"

     This time Un-eairkagh saw something. Aldrai shuddered and the light around him faltered. Then it coursed through the Zafara anew and Aldrai's back straightened.

     "I knew you wouldn't understand. Just go. Brother."

     Aldrai gestured and Un-eairkagh lost his grip on the roof entirely. He fell and managed to twist in midair. His wings snapped out and he flared them desperately, but not soon enough. He hit the ground with a horrible snap and fell on his side as his right front leg gave out under his weight. He lay there, faint and gasping as pain throbbed up his leg and into his chest. After a few minutes he reluctantly staggered to his three good paws and examined the damage. Probably broken. With a moan he tucked his paw up close to his ruff and limped towards the group of pets just outside the barrier.

     "You got through!" one cried as he exited the protected area, "Why didn't you attack that thing?"

     "Because… violence begets violence…"

     "That's stupid," the pet replied scornfully.

     "Leave him alone," a new voice snapped, a water Faerie.

     The crowd reluctantly moved away to leave him and the Faerie. alone.

     "Here. Give me your paw," she instructed.

     Un-eairkagh held it out to her and she gently placed one hand on it. Warmth spread through his injured leg and the pain vanished. He gingerly put it down and tested his weight on it. Fine. Perfectly healed.

     "Thank you," he muttered.

     "What did you find out?" she demanded.

     "Nothing that concerns you."

     "It does concern us! If child_dragon wasn't-"

     "Be quiet!" the Eyrie snapped.

     The Faerie. stiffened.

     "Fine. But we're going to try to break through that barrier ourselves. If she won't stop him, we will."

     And the Faerie. turned and flew off. Un-eairkagh growled deep in his throat at her back and then leaped into the air, heading back towards Neopia Central. Child_dragon would be so angry that he went alone. But perhaps what he learned would make up for it.

****

Un-eairkagh returned shortly after our second clan meeting had begun. I was about to yell at him but the look on his face stopped me. I had never seen my Eyrie so serious.

     We sat and listened in silence as Un-eairkagh relayed everything that he'd seen and heard.

     "How on Neopia could he get rid of all darkness?" Melody asked once he was done.

     "It doesn't seem possible. Darkness is a part of Neopia; it's one of the central elements. You can't get rid of it, can you?" Sabreur said.

     I bowed my head and thought. The fabric… what had Von Roo meant? Then it came to me.

     "My goodness… he can't - that's insane," I gasped outloud

     "What? What is it?"

     "He's reworking the fabric of Neopia. That's what this spell is. He's going to remove the dark element from existence."

     Stunned silence greeted me.

     "But... that's not possible. The laws of physics…" Sabreur began.

     "He's rewriting them," I snapped, "But it won't work. The elements are all joined in me. As long as I'm the Essence he won't be able to undo that one last thread that keeps darkness in existence."

     "So this spell will fail. And what then?"

     "It'll rebound on him. All that power he's unleashed so far - and is yet to unleash - will backlash right onto him. It'll destroy him. And it… might even spill over onto everyone that's connected to him through this spell. It could destroy everyone on Neopia."

     "Surely he knows this!" MoonFall cried.

     "I don't think he counted on me," I said grimly.

     "So what do we do?" Sakuko asked.

     I glanced around the room. Un-eairkagh was slumped in the corner of the couch, apparently asleep. I knew with a sinking heart that he wouldn't wake. Aldrai's spell finally got to him also.

     "Kiddo?"

     I took a deep breath. They couldn't do anything. Once again, this was my fight. And I knew what had to be done. I would not kill my own pet. The others… they couldn't know.

     "You all do nothing. I'm going to confront Aldrai. Alone."

Gone Nova

My friends and family protested quite loudly at this announcement. I didn't listen to their arguments, just summoned my spear to hand and started to the door. Sabreur made it there first and blocked it from me.

     "Get out of my way," I growled.

     He didn't move. His eyes were set and for a long time we just stared at each other. When we were younger, my brother and I would have terrific fights that would last for hours. Neither of us would give an inch to the other. And it was on the verge of happening again.

     "I said 'move'."

     "No. You're not going after Aldrai alone."

     "I have to! I'm the only one that stands a chance. I'm the only one that can-"

     I cut off abruptly before I gave away my plan. They'd never let me go if they knew.

     "So if we interfere it'll mess you saving Aldrai up?"

     "Yes. And… you may get hurt. There's gonna be a lot of magic being thrown around…"

     Sabreur sighed.

     "At least wait until night falls. He'll be weakest then, right?"

     I nodded slowly, seeing the logic in his argument. It didn't really matter though, but at least it'd make them feel better. I reluctantly put my spear aside and moved away from the door. Sabreur nodded and followed me back into the living room.

     "I'll wait until night," I muttered, and tried to pick up the unconscious Un-eairkagh.

     He was too heavy. Melody came and lifted him by his back paws and I took the front. Together we were able to stagger over to his room and drop him unceremoniously on his bed. I gently smoothed out his feathers and followed Melody out of the room.

     It was an uneasy and tense silence that pervaded the room. Netsuko finally opened the newspaper. There was a report from the castle Aldrai had holed up in. According to the report, the faeries had gathered and were going to try one last ditch attempt to break through to the Zafara that was causing all this trouble.

     "No way," Sakuko said, standing, "They can't."

     "They can and will, apparently," I said dully.

     "But -- you've already decided to do something!" Sabreur cried.

     I shrugged.

     "I doubt it's what they have in mind."

     "We can't just let them go through with this! It's insanity."

     "Their necks on the line; not mine."

     "Kiddo! Stop this. Whatever happened to your duty as Guardian of Neopia, huh?"

     I winced.

     "Now, these faeries are about to get their pretty little behinds firmly planted into the dirt cause we all know that Aldrai is drawing more power than any sane creature would dare. And you're just going to sit there and let this happen?"

     I studied the carpet, trying to pretend everyone's eyes weren't on me. It wouldn't matter what the faeries did after tonight. Nothing would matter after tonight. But perhaps Sabreur was right. I was still the Essence of Neopia and I still had a responsibility to uphold.

     I stood and summoned my spear to hand.

     "Alright. Let's go join the fight of the century. Which side shall we be on?" I asked.

     "Our own," Melody said grimly, "Right in the middle. As usual."

     We took my buggy to get to the castle. The massive amount of weaponry bristling off it ensured that I could drive 90+ mph all the way there without anyone stopping or getting in my way.

     "I thought you added all this to make sure she doesn't get in any more accidents," Infernus said tersely from the back seat.

     "Yep. And do you see any buggies getting remotely close?"

     "That's cause we're going too fast for them to keep up."

     I ignored the two and concentrated on my driving.

     We reached the staging grounds right as the faeries were falling into line.

     "Fools," I snarled, leaping out of the vehicle and slamming the door behind me.

     A vast amount of pets and humans blocked my way to the faeries.

     "Move it!" I cried, summoning my spear, "I said: MOVE!"

     A couple people looked over and then quickly dropped aside, startled at that sight of me and my family bristling with weapons. I ran across the field to the very barrier edge of Aldrai's shield. Right in between the faeries and him.

     Fyora was there. She glared at me from the forefront of the faeries. Not a dark Faerie. was present.

     "I told you no one messes with family," I said grimly.

     My brother and Infernus moved to stand on either side of me. Soon Netsuko and Sakuko were also there, along with MoonFall and Melody with her two pets. Padiglione was missing and I could dimly see the baby Kougra slumped over near the buggy.

     "We've got to stop him," she said, glancing up at the tower roof.

     "I know what he's doing and I'm going to stop him myself," I retorted sharply.

     "You've already made it quite clear that you're not going to harm your pet!"

     "There are other ways!" I cried, "This need not end in violence!"

     "I think it's way past the time for talking," she retorted, "You should know that better than anyone."

     I held my ground. Time to play the trump card.

     "You kill Aldrai," I said slowly, "And his spell rebounds. I think you can figure out what happens then."

     The faeries shifted uncomfortably behind Fyora.

     "Which makes me glad you're here then, child_dragon," the Faerie. Queen said, unperturbed, "You can catch the spell and keep it from rebounding onto everyone else."

     "You're just using her?!" Sakuko cried.

     "If she won't act, we will."

     "I told you 'I will stop him myself!'"

     But they weren't listening anymore. Fyora rose into the air and started chanting. The faeries followed suit. I bit my lip and watched. Then a crackling like lightning flashed across the barrier. The magic vanished. The faeries had done nothing.

     I turned towards the castle. Aldrai was hovering in mid-air, power glowing about him. He had disabled the barrier himself. My Zafara was to join the battle.

     "No!" I cried, leaping into the air.

     I felt hands grab me and I stumbled and fell back, my takeoff interrupted.

     "No, Kiddo, stay back," Sabreur grunted.

     "Let me go!"

     "No, he's got a point," Melody said worriedly, "You don't want to be caught in this."

     "He's gone nova," my brother said.

     I paused and felt the currents of magic. Fyora and her faeries had something going on. A spell of all the elements except for darkness, directed at Aldrai. And Aldrai just hovered there, gathering more and more strands of light to him. I could not tell what he was doing but the more I watched the more I realized Melody had a point. Something very bad was about to happen and I did not want to be caught up in it.

     The faeries released their spell. The sky exploded in brilliant colors, a conflagration of magic centered on my Zafara But before the spell hit him Aldrai pulled. The threads of light in the Faerie's spell were torn out and gathered around Aldrai, joining his already amassed power. The Faerie's spell fell apart then, missing the strands of light holding it together. And it rebounded right back onto the casters.

     The faeries were violently thrown back. Over half simply fell from the air and did not move. Fyora herself collapsed and for a moment did not move. But then she shakily stood, her wings visibly trembling.

     "What… what happened?" MoonFall asked in a tiny voice.

     "He ripped the fabric of their spell apart. Just like that," I said in an awed voice, "He really is rewriting the laws of magic and physics."

     "Are they okay?" Melody asked, watching the fallen faeries.

     "They should be. Unconscious, hurt, and beaten, but they'll recover," I replied.

     Fyora gave me one last glance before tending to her fallen subjects. I saw nothing but defeat in her eyes. She had no hope in me. I didn't blame her.

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 Eleven

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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