Candles Go Out
We returned to my house in silence. There was nothing
left to do except wait until sundown. Melody dropped Padiglione off at her house,
gently covering the Kougra with a blanket until she awakened.
"Does he really know how much he's hurting us?"
she asked me.
"I doubt it. He's not like that… but -- like
Sabreur said -- he's gone nova."
She nodded and returned to the buggy from which
we returned to my house.
The Faeries failed attempt at stopping Aldrai
was being broadcast and re-broadcasted all across Neopia. I noticed Infernus
slumped over in a corner. I just curled up on the couch to wait. It was indeed
getting worse. I doubted I had much time left.
My pets didn't have much time left either. Lady
MoonFall so far seemed fairly safe but she had a rather aggressive and spiteful
streak buried within her. Melody would probably be the last to fall, as would
Sakuko and Netsuko. I didn't know about my brother, I had assumed he would have
collapsed with Infernus. With that thought I realized I hadn't seen him in a
I stood and headed over to the kitchen, from
which I heard the most noise. MoonFall was making lunch with Sabreur's help
"I will not be inept, I will not be inept,"
he muttered, walking past me with a pan full of water.
"Just follow the directions!" MoonFall called
in his direction.
"There's thousands of instant meals to choose
from," he retorted, "So why on Neopia do we need to cook?"
"Just because you forget to feed yourself does
not mean cooking is unnecessary," she replied.
My brother was about to reply when his eyes
suddenly slid shut. I caught him as he fell, struggling to lower him to the
"Oh no… Kiddo…" MoonFall said with a gasp.
"I-I was expecting it," I managed to say, "Just…
help me get him up to my room for now."
Melody came and helped lever my brother onto
MoonFall's back. Together we walked him up the stairs and onto my bed. Then
my Uni and friend left me. I drug my chair over to his side and sat down, watching
his sleeping face. A strange reflection of my own face was there, deluded a
bit from when we were children, but still there.
"I know you can't hear me," I said softly, "But
I'm going to say it anyway. 'Cause I didn't get to tell you this before. And
I don't think I'll be able to tell you afterwards. We've had our disagreements
and I've been jealous of you before. Of how easy things seem to you, how smart
you are. But then sometimes you drive me nuts with your absent-mindedness and
logical mind. Either way, it doesn't matter. You are who you are and I wouldn't
want anyone else for my brother."
I took a breath and fought back tears.
"You've been my friend all through life. When
we were little and again when we were teenagers. Now we're both adults and you're
still my best friend. You helped make me who I am today and your opinion matters
more than you think it does. I am so incredibly proud of you and I hope you
can say the same about me. I hope you know that I love you and count myself
the luckiest sister alive."
I stood and wiped my eyes. I should have told
him that earlier. Now it was too late and he wouldn't wake until after I was
No one really talked to me much after Sabreur
fell into the sleep. I stayed curled up on the sofa with a blanket wrapped around
me. The hours passed and I dozed for a short time. When I woke it was to MoonFall
bringing me dinner with a solemn look on her face.
"Swifty has fallen asleep. As has FireDarkWolfX.
There's not much time left. Kiddo… be careful. I know I'm next… but… just… be
careful. Do what needs to be done. Don't do anything stupid."
"Don't worry, MoonFall," I said softly, "I know
what to do. It'll be okay."
I hugged her and she left to feed the other
people staying in my house. I forced down the meal she'd brought me. It tasted
like ash in my mouth.
I slipped into the kitchen and stood in the
entrance. Everyone turned to regard me.
"I'm off," was all I said.
They bid me good luck but that was all. The
strain was evident on everyone's faces and no one wanted a long tearful goodbye.
I would either fail or succeed. If I failed, nothing would matter. And I did
not want to worry them further with what success would mean.
I flew all the way to the castle, stopping just
outside the barrier. Aldrai was a beacon in the darkness, the light magic a
nebulous web surrounding him. I gathered the darkness to me, wrapping it like
a shawl around myself. And I flew into the barrier.
The two elements met with a sound like thunder
and then negated each other. Aldrai's head snapped up and the power around him
grew more erratic and frenzied.
"Aldrai. It's me."
He stared at me with pale glowing eyes. There
was madness in them, a madness of magic. Utterly consumed. My resolve faltered
then. Was there enough of him left to bring back?
He rose into the air, flapping his wings slowly.
"You've come to stop me. I knew you would."
"You're plan won't work," I said evenly, "The
only way to succeed is to kill me. You know this is true."
He was silent, considering my words.
"Then so be it."
I smiled grimly. Step one taken. Now, everything
rests on what happens next. I summoned the Elemental Spear to hand and flew.
Up, higher into the sky, with Aldrai right behind me. Up and up, to the clouds.
I then leveled out, far above Neopia, hovering in mid-air. The Darigan Zafara
hovered opposite me, trailing light magic.
"Would you really kill me, Aldrai?" I asked
quietly, "I thought you would never take a life."
"That's what must be done, since you won't step
"I won't step aside because I can't. To undue
darkness would be to undue me. I am the Essence. Your plan requires my death.
And are you truly prepared to do this?"
In response he gestured and the light magic
swelled around him.
"Very well then Aldrai," I said with bowed head,
"I gave my life to you when I dove into the river. I gave it again when I fought
the Shadows. And I give it now so that you may be saved from yourself."
His eyes grew confused for a moment and then
the light magic took over. He gestured sharply and shouted a word of power.
The full force of the spell hit me. I did not fight back. I let it strike, the
light magic wrapping around me, through me.
I could not breathe. There was no pain, just
light. Pure, unfiltered, light. It coursed through me destroying everything
it touched. I could not breathe. My heart beat as if it were to burst. And just
as I knew the magic would destroy me utterly I heard a shriek of anguish.
The light stopped. I hovered in midair, suspended
by the very same power that had just torn through me. I could see nothing. There
was pain now, unimaginable pain tied with a numbing cold that told me that soon
all pain would be gone.
"Child_dragon! Your life… given… aih! What have
I struggled to open my eyes. Through a red haze
I could see Aldrai. His head was thrown back, every muscle in his body trembling.
And his fur was orange spotted black with angel wings.
The light magic around him twisted and seethed
like a thing alive. He gasped and slowly, slowly, brought it under control.
Then he turned to look at me.
"I-I lost control. I can't… can't stop it."
I could not reply.
"I know what you're trying to do," he said softly,
looking at me with terror in his eyes, "It worked, but only for a moment. I-I
almost killed you… I will kill you if… I know you want to save me. But I can't
be saved. It's too late. Too much power… my fault… You can't bring me out of
He was himself again. That was accomplished.
Darkness hovered on the edges of my vision and I knew there wasn't much time
left. But I could not speak, could not move. I desperately clung to life knowing
that I had no chances left. Aldrai must break free completely or my sacrifice
to snap him out of the nova would be wasted. And all darkness would die.
"I'm sorry Kiddo. I love you, you know that.
I won't hurt anyone else anymore."
I gasped and tried to speak. Then I saw the
edges of his eyes turn white with power and I knew that his control was slipping.
"I won't hurt anyone else…" he whispered.
And his fur deepened to red and his wings turned
And the magic holding me fell. I could not stop
my fall. My wings were ruined, worthless. I was dying. The magic had destroyed
me. And this time there was no Un-eairkagh to catch me.
Darkness reached for me. Tired… too tired to
keep fighting. At least I would be gone before the end of my fall.
"Still no sign then?"
"Life. Hope. Anything."
"Neither. Everyone's rejoicing because they
don't know what price our salvation was wrought…"
"And even if they knew - "
"Would they care?"
The darkness was all there was. Darkness and
nothingness. That was all there was, all there ever would be.
"It's been over two weeks now."
"If you're asking me to give up hope then
"I'm not asking you to give up hope. I'm
asking you to be realistic."
"I am being realistic. I will not give up
either of them."
Sometimes there were glimmerings of things in
the darkness. Figments of the past. Shadows of what was, perhaps. But they were
just as quickly glimpsed and just as quickly gone.
"I never told you how much I love you. I
wish I had. I still have that white feather - from when we fought the Shadows..
You never knew I had it but I do. I kept it and it keeps me strong."
The glimmerings are getting stronger now. I
- that is strange - I am able to make out shapes now. And this I - I have no
memory. But I am defiantly an I now. I do not know what that means.
"Keep fighting. I know you can. You never
gave up then, you can't give up now."
"She can't hear you."
"What makes you think that? Science?"
"Yes. I thought you lived by science."
"No. I live by the ties of family. And I
know she can hear me. Wake up Kiddo… please."
Kiddo. The name seems almost familiar. The glimmerings are getting stronger.
I can almost tell who they are. It is just there, on the edge of my reach. I
stretch out my hand to grasp them but fall just short. I feel like I will never
get there and wonder if I should just give up.
You can't give up.
But I can.
They need you. He needs you.
The Zafara The one you tried to save. We
have him here with us. Come find us and find him. He needs you.
It's gone now. But I reach out my hand and try
to reach across the gap again. And this time I make it.
"Melody! Come' mere! Hurry!"
The voices are painful to hear. But somehow
there is a swell of joy just to hear them. I can feel now and behind the darkness
is light. I open my eyes and the light nearly blinds me. I close them again.
I can feel someone holding my hand and I vaguely remember the voice as Sabreur's.
"Kiddo! You awake? Can you hear me?"
"Y-yes," I say, "I'm awake now."
It was a long time before I was fully awake. The doctors were in and out constantly.
At least one family member was by my bed at all times. When I finally came to
fully it was Terraile.
"Hiya," I said weakly, opening my eyes to take in the pristine whiteness of
a hospital room.
There were flowers by my bed.
"Kiddo," my Shoyru said tearfully, her eyes
alight, "Are you okay?"
"Ngh, I hurt. Is it safe to sit up?"
"Yes. You're all healed, just really really
weak right now."
She hurried to my side as I struggled to bring
myself to a sitting position.
"How long was I out?" I asked.
"Bordering on three weeks now."
I sat there, stunned. Three weeks…
"The doctors thought you wouldn't wake up at
"I heard them."
A funny look came across her face.
"You heard everything that was going on around
"No, I just remember voices. I don't know what
they were saying, though."
Terraile smiled grimly.
"Sabreur will be glad to hear that. He was about
to swear off science the last time the doctors told him there was no sense in
talking to you for hours on end."
"Hours and hours. He'd just sit and talk… it
was as if he were going to bring you back through sheer determination."
"What… exactly happened?"
"Well, you fell. You hit a lake instead of solid
ground which I think is the only thing that saved you. As it was, you were very
badly injured. Very, very badly. A normal person would never have survived the
fall to begin with… the fact that you're the Essence is the only thing that
saved you. That and the Faeries. Fyora looks like she's had a nice healthy dose
of humble pie. They worked non-stop for nearly a week after you fell to save
"So the Faeries healed me then."
"Yes. And then we just waited for you to wake
"And what happened to Aldrai?"
Terraile took a deep breath. When she spoke
again her voice was strangely hushed.
"No one really saw what happened. We could only
guess. People saw someone in the sky get hit by light magic - a lot of it. That
must've been you. Then it vanished and all the power Aldrai had accumulated
faded. A couple minutes passed and he flared up again. Then you fell from the
sky. A couple seconds after you started falling the entire sky lit up with this
shockwave of light magic. It was centered around Aldrai. Then it all retreated
in, like Aldrai was sucking the power to him. At that instant every light in
Neopia went out. And everyone who had fallen into a coma woke up. Just like
that; in an instant."
"What happened then?"
"Well, Aldrai went into a nosedive. It was like
a comet falling from the sky. All the power he'd gathered was trailing around
and behind him. He hit the ground… and the earth… swallowed him up. There's
been nothing since then."
I took a deep breath, held it, and let it out
"I-I'm sorry Kiddo."
"No, it's okay," I said slowly, "He's still
alive. I know he is. And I think we can get him back."
She looked at me, puzzled.
"I'll explain later. Just trust me on this.
What I did wasn't in vain."
"I'm glad. We were really worried for a while
there. I'll go call the others. They'll want to see you -- now that you're awake."
To be continued...