The morning was quiet and peaceful, almost identical
to the one 12 years ago. The gentle breeze stirred the leaves of the ancient
tree outside where the Pteri's were busy chirping and fluttering their energetic
wings. A ray of morning sunshine streamed into the cottage room where a young
and beautiful Ixi lay dreaming. The light shone brightly on her eyes and the
Ixi awoke. She looked around her room, which was decorated with banners and
streamers. She smiled happily. Today was her birthday.
An aroma of warm pancakes drifted into the room
and tickled the Ixi's nose. She got up and walked downstairs where Kallisto,
her Acara nurse, was busy preparing the breakfast. "Ahh, hello dearie. Happy
birthday," she said as the Ixi entered the kitchen. She couldn't stop smiling
when she saw the large box wrapped with pink bows in the center of the table.
She loved getting presents. "Go ahead Ritz, open it up," said Kallisto with
a gleam in her eye. The Ixi excitedly ripped off the pink paper and bows and
lifted off the top of the box. She peered in and shouted with glee. Inside was
a tiny Faellie petpet. Ritz held it in her arms and cuddled its large ears and
"It's perfect!" she announced happily. The Faellie
squeaked with joy at its new owner. The little creature opened its delicate
wings and whirled around in the air. Then it plopped back into the box clumsily.
"I will name it Flutter!" Ritz said. The Ixi and Acara giggled as they watched
the Faellie try to fly out of the box again.
"Can I take Flutter outside to play, Kallisto?"
At this, the Acara's cheerful mood broke into a frightened glance. Her eyes
shifted darkly as she studied Ritz.
"I don't think that's a good idea, sweetie,"
she said trying to sound like her usual happy self again. "I'd rather you just
stay here." Something dark was haunting the Acara inside.
"But Kallisto!" protested the Ixi. "I'm 12 years
old now. All my other friends get to do more stuff than me," she sniffed.
"Oh alright. But stay by the cottage and don't
talk to any strangers!" she replied. The usual rules. The type of rules that
Ritz wanted to break.
The Ixi trotted to the door with Flutter by her
side. Kallisto sighed and shuddered as she followed the young girl carefully
with her eyes. The second the door clicked shut, the Acara knew she had made
a terrible mistake.
Outside, the day was warm and bright. The Faellie
skipped ahead to a small patch of flowers and picked a lovely pink blossom.
Than it flew back to Ritz and gracefully handed her the flower. "Oh thanks Flutter,"
she said sweetly. She tucked the flower behind her ear and kissed the Faellie
on its nose.
They continued to walk along the path that wound
behind the cottage. Flutter leaped in excitement from the beautiful meadows
and streams around them. Finally the Ixi stopped and rested. "This is my favorite
place to play," she said. Flutter was busy nipping on a piece of grass. The
world was dead silent, but something stirred behind the trees. "What was that?"
gasped Ritz. Flutter sat up and crawled closer to the Ixi. Something strange
rustled behind the bushes. Ritz suddenly had the odd feeling that she was being
The noise rustled again, but this time Flutter
was frightened and started bouncing and jumping into the air like crazy. She
squeaked with horror and began partly flying, partly running, down the narrow
path into the dark woods. "Flutter, come back!" shouted Ritz at her friends'
unexpected fright. She began to chase the little creature through the meadows
but came to an abrupt stop once she saw the Faellie run into the dark and haunted
woods. Ritz gulped with fear. She was not supposed to go this far away from
She slowly entered the forest, shaking uncontrollably.
Around her, the trees grew like towers of an enemy. They loomed in front of
her and suffocated her breath. The shadows cascaded over her eyes and the last
bit of pure light fought to survive under the grasp of the darkness. "Flutter?"
she trembled. There was no reply, only the haunting call of a Weewoo in the
distance. Now she was truly petrified. The Ixi desperately tried to see where
she was going. She made turns left and right, but she seemed to be going nowhere.
A cold icy breeze sifted through the trees and chilled her bones. It seemed
as if the wind was speaking to her. If only she could make any sense of it.
At last she could make out a tiny sound. It waltzed
softly to her ears and she recognized it at once. The familiar squeaking of
Flutter who lay motionless behind a hollow of a large oak. "There you are,"
Ritz panted with relief. But something was wrong with the Faellie. It stood
dumbstruck, gaping with a large open mouth and wide eyes at something around
the corner. When Ritz came to eye level with the Faellie, it still didn't move
a muscle or acknowledge her presence. "Flutter, snap out of it. Come on, I want
to go home," cried the Ixi.
"Help me…" whispered a voice between the trees.
"Who was that?" cried Ritz. Her heart raced and
pounded in her chest violently as she stepped closer. There, tangled between
the trees, was a beautiful Faerie. She was obviously in need of someone to help
her. Her exquisite purple gown and black cloak was tattered and shred. She was
left hanging almost unconscious from the trees by the loose ends of the threads.
Her face was smeared with dirt and mud and she groaned wearily.
"Help me," she repeated desperately.
At once, Ritz bravely stepped forward and climbed
up the tree, the sharp bristles and leaves cutting into her skin. Once she had
reached the branch where the Faerie lay slumped over, the Ixi prodded her gently
with her nose. "Take hold of my back and don't let go," she said. With great
trouble, the Faerie managed to grasp the little Ixi and hold on. Then Ritz pounced
off the branch and landed on the ground softly using her wings. "I guess being
painted a Faerie comes in handy," she chuckled once she was safe and sound.
"So what happened to you?" Ritz asked. The girl sat upright and smoothed out
"I was attacked by WereLupes. I tried to fly
high up into the tree but I got stuck. I waited here for hours for a young brave
pet like you to come and rescue me," she said gleaming. Ritz blushed with embarrassment.
"Oh it was nothing," replied the Ixi shyly.
"But surely you wouldn't think that I would let
your kind act go without a reward," she said with a smile curving unto her lips.
She reached into the pockets of her black cloak and held out a small velvet
bag. "Here, take this," she said with a hint of excitement in her breath.
Ritz took the bag from the Faerie and looked
inside. In the bag there was a beautiful black star, a dark nova. It sparkled
like the midnight black sky and its edges gleamed in the shadows. It was the
most magnificent treasure Ritz had ever seen so she carefully held it in her
hand to see closer.
Suddenly, Ritz was no longer in the forest with
Flutter by her side and with the Faerie. She was inside a shadow and there was
nothing but darkness around her. All she could hear was piercing screams and
hopeless cries. They were getting louder and louder, and the shadows were getting
thicker and thicker. Then an icy dark hand stretched out its long fingers to
grasp the Ixi. Ritz tried to run away with terror but there was nowhere to run.
"Come…" the hand seemed to say. "Come to the dark side." She looked again and
there were eyes, yellow slits of fury. They seemed to suck some of her soul
away, forever lost to the dark powers. Ritz was giving up strength, she was
losing the battle. She lowered herself to the ground and shut herself off from
"Ritz! Ritz! Wake up. Please wake up." Ritz opened
her eyes at last and looked around. There were no more shadows or dark evil
voices. She was back inside her cottage and lying on her bed, safe and sound.
"Kallisto, what happened to me?" muttered the
Ixi with difficulty. Once she had regained her vision slowly, she noticed five
Faeries surrounding her with worried looks on their faces. "And who are they?"
"Ritz, I think that it's time to know your true
story," said Kallisto, close to tears. Ritz sat up with attention. Those faeries
seemed strangely familiar to her. She tried desperately to search back in her
memory to when she had seen them before. But it almost seemed as if she never
had a memory…
"Ritz," said a Light Faerie. "I believe that
you should know your true past and your fate, as your life is about to change
forever," she said. Ritz gasped with confusion.
"I know you think that you lost your parents
and I adopted you," began Kallisto slowly. "But this is a lie. You are not Ritz,
the little Ixi who lives in the meadows… you are Princess Ritzalina, heir to
the throne of Meridell." The Ixi could not believe a word she was hearing. How
could she be the princess? She stared at Kallisto for the longest time, questions
bursting in her head by the dozens. Now a fire Faerie spoke.
"We are the Faerie guardians," she said presenting
the others with a gesture of her hand. "Twelve years ago, we blessed you with
wonderful gifts, but the Dark Faerie, Phaedra, cursed you with a horrible fate.
That fate was inflicted upon you today in the woods," she shuddered.
“So that Faerie that I helped in the forest was
really Phaedra. And that nova I touched was what caused me to fall in a shadow
dream. What exactly is this curse, anyway?” Ritz whispered with fear. She was
afraid of what she was going to hear next.
“Well we don’t really know exactly,” said a water
Faerie. “But we think that as long as you keep having more of these dark dreams,
your soul and pureness will be destroyed, as well as the kingdom of Meridell.”
At this, Ritz peered out the window. Already dark clouds were forming in the
distance by the castle. She seemed to feel fine herself, only terribly weak.
“The only way to rid yourself of this curse,
is to destroy the nova,” said an Earth Faerie. On the table by her bed, Ritz
gazed at the little velvet bag containing the dark magic artifact. She shivered
with fear, but in her heart she knew what she had to do.
“You still have a choice,” the air Faerie said
simply. “You can chose to hand your life and the kingdom of Meridell over to
the dark powers, or you can fight for what is rightly yours.” Ritz breathed
in smoothly and calmly, she was not afraid.
“So be it. I chose to destroy the nova.”
To be continued…