A Normal Girl
I stared at them in confusion.
"You said you… wouldn't fight me…" I said.
"Think girl. We created the Essence. We gave
it to you. We can take it away."
I nearly dropped my spear.
"No!" I shouted, "You can't!"
"I thought you didn't like having this power,"
the dark element said with a trace of amusement.
"I don't… but - Aldrai! I just want my pet!"
The exchanged glances as if they knew this would
happen. I stepped forwards and raised my spear.
"I'm not letting you keep him," I said, and
then leapt into the air.
I flared my wings, allowing the thermals to
carry me above the island. I gathered the power to me, so much power, so ready
to be used. I would free Aldrai, they could not stop me. I wouldn't let them.
I felt something strange wrap around me then.
A burning arose in my chest and I gasped. My heart was beating wildly and an
icy sensation slid down my spine. Multi-hued light surrounded me, shot down
towards the island, and was gone. I shuddered and fell from the sky. I tried
to flare my wings to stop my fall only to discover they weren't there.
A hand closed on the back of my shirt. All the
air was knocked out of me and I gasped at the sharp stop to my fall. I could
feel the heat wrapping itself around me like a blanket, heat that had previously
been unnoticeable. Whoever held me by my shirt collar carried me back up the
short distance to the island and dropped me on the ground. I glanced up to see
Shi'viv staring down at me with amusement.
"You seem to be fond of falling," he said with
"Shuddup!" I snapped and twisted around to see
what had happened to my wings.
They were gone. As was my tail, my horns, everything.
Everything that made me the Essence. I could no longer feel the threads of power,
could no longer call upon that magic rooted deep within Neopia. I was just a
normal girl. Nothing more.
I doubled over, shuddering violently. I tried
to stop my shaking but I couldn't. Although the air around me was still uncomfortably
warm I felt cold.
"Calm down Kiddo," Shi'tri said gently, kneeling
by my side and grabbing my shoulder, "Just calm down."
"Wha -- what…"
He gestured and I looked over to see Shi'kly
kneeling on the ground, a multi-colored starburst crystal in her hands. The
Essence of Neopia.
I could feel the edges of my vision growing
black. I tried to take deep breaths but all I could do was short panicked gasps.
"Shi'kit… help me… she's gonna faint…" Shi'tri
"Let her. Might be best."
I felt light-headed and dizzy. And very very
ill. The last thing I felt before I fell into a full faint was Shi'tri laying
me back onto the rock.
I woke to voices. For a moment I had no idea
where I was. Then I felt the heat and bare stone beneath me and remembered.
I kept my eyes shut, listening. The absence of my tail and wings and other features
I had borne for so long was a jarring reminder of what had happened.
"You agreed to this," someone was saying.
"I agreed but I still don't like it," Shi'tri
"I never would have expected you to have a soft
spot," the other marveled.
I thought for a moment and was able to identify
the voice as Shi'eus, the fire element.
"Not so much as a soft spot as respect. She
was just trying to save her pet."
A sigh. "I didn't like it either, Shi'tri,"
Shi'eus continued, "But we didn't really have much choice. She had a responsibility
to protect Neopia and she wanted to release something that wanted to destroy
it as we know it. It's her own fault, really."
"Yes. I know."
"And we couldn't really have beaten her in a
straight fight, could we now? We bound her too strongly to Neopia - she's just
like us except combined. Our fault there."
"But now Neopia doesn't have an Essence."
"Neopia doesn't need one anymore," Shi'eus said
dismissively, "The entire civilization walks around armed. Sloth is gone. The
faeries are still around. There isn't any other threat like the Shadows. Really,
this might be for the best. Maybe now child_dragon will have that normal life
she's so desired."
Sudden wild hope arose in my heart. A normal
life. No more risking my life, risking my pets. No more having to shoulder the
responsibility of immense power. I was free.
But I still didn't have Aldrai.
I cracked my eyes a bit and looked around, careful
not to move. Shi'tri and Shi'eus sat on the edge of the island, their backs
turned towards me. No other element was visible. The crystal imprisoning Aldrai
was a couple feet away, as was the Elemental Spear. My spear.
I slowly brought myself to a crouch, preparing
myself to lunge. My feet were no longer hooves now and I could feel the rock
beneath my bare feet. I flexed my toes, hoping the sudden change in bone structure
wouldn't throw me off too badly. The two elements were still talking. I moved
forwards slowly, still in a crouch, and stretched out my hand to grab my spear.
It burned. A shock like electricity shot up
my arm and I dropped it with a cry. Shi'tri and Shi'eus jumped to their feet
and turned. I stood there sheepishly rubbing my wrist with the Elemental Spear
at my feet.
"It's not yours anymore," Shi'eus said, immediately
understanding what had happened, "Only the Essence can use it."
"I know," I replied demurely.
"Feeling better?" Shi'tri asked, "Probably not.
But we'll get you out of the Forge. Our power stretches far enough to make sure
you reach the tunnel that will lead you back to the Infernal village."
I stared at the ground. I'd failed then. Come
all this way and for nothing. For more than nothing; I had lost the only power
that might have saved Aldrai. Tears built in my eyes and through them I could
see a hazy outline of the Spear at my feet. Wrought by an upheaval in the Forge.
As was Aldrai's prison.
I suddenly became aware of a weight at my belt.
I snapped my head up and stared at Shi'tri and Shi'eus. Then I turned and strode
over to the edge of the island and stared down at the magma below.
"What are you doing?" Shi'eus asked casually.
"Saving Aldrai," I replied and held up Sabreur's
"No!" they both shouted simultaneously and lunged
But I had already dropped the bomb, straight
down, towards the magma.
Sabreur's Genius The bomb exploded the instant it touched the boiling magma.
An explosion rocked the cave, sending gouts of magma into the air. Shi'tri cringed
and in an instant all the elements had manifested.
"What the heck did you let her DO?!" Shi'mio
"This could be very bad… keep the island safe
everyone," Shi'eus said as the thundering roar of fire and explosives reverberated
across the chamber.
The elements grouped together, watching carefully.
I knelt by the edge and peered over. The lava was still erupting and falling
back from the explosion. Chunks of rock had started to fall from the ceiling.
"Get back," Shi'kit hissed and pulled me away
from the edge by one arm.
Shi'mio was watching the falling rock all around
"Oh no," she breathed as one boulder the size
of a small house smashed into the wall, "It's ruptured a gas pocket."
There were various expressions of consternation
from the elements.
"Nice job, Kiddo," Shi'viv snapped, scooping
me up in his arms.
I let out a squawk of protest as he flew up
into the air, flying higher until he was up near the furthest most corner of
the Forge. Below us I could see gouts of fire leaping into the air. The explosion
was apparently over.
"It didn't work," I said sadly, struggling against
Shi'viv holding me in the air.
"The bomb didn't create an upheaval, as you
were apparently wanting. But it did rupture the stone between the Forge and
an underground gas pocket. Now hold still unless you want me to drop you."
I fell still and waited. A gout of flame licked
near the new break in the wall of the Forge. Something ignited.
There was a deafening roar and I screamed, grabbing
hold of Shi'viv's shoulder. I could feel waves of heat rushing over me as explosions
reverberated across the Forge. This was much, much larger than the firebomb.
Everywhere was the sound of splitting and falling rock. The place shook and
gouts of magma shot high into the air, some even nearing us. I closed my eyes
and prayed Shi'viv could keep me safe.
Suddenly, there was a sound like an approaching
tornado. I opened my eyes again and stared at the bottom of the forge. The magma
and water were swirling together at the exact center of the Forge. Soon wind
joined it, and earth, chunks of rock spinning into the mix. Light and dark danced
across the whirling mass of raw power. Then it exploded upwards in a beam of
pure magic, smashing into the island and continuing on to the top of the Forge.
The entire area was shaking as if it would fall apart on top of our heads. Slowly
it died away, slowly the Forge returned to equilibrium. I was shaking and the
adrenaline was pouring through my veins. The island was still there.
Shi'viv flew down to its surface and dropped
me at the edge, hurrying forwards to meet with the other elements who had appeared.
Aldrai lay in the center of the island, blinking. His prison was gone. The upheaval
that had created the crystal had been undone by yet another upheaval.
Aldrai hissed and leapt into the air, shooting
upwards on his Darigan wings.
"Aldrai!" I cried, standing and watching his
"Com'n, we've got to stop him!" Shi'eus cried
One by one they transformed into the creatures
they were when I had fought them so long ago in the realm of the Shadows. A
winged snake of fire. A water dragon. A beast of stone. A lightning bird. And
Shi'tri became an immense shadow Lupe and Shi'kly a white Kougra.
They split up, each taking to the air on wings
that they either had to begin with or grew. Aldrai remained in the center of
the cavern and watched them come. Shi'eus neared him first. Aldrai gestured
and a bolt of light magic struck the fire snake head on. It shook its head and
Aldrai gestured again. The light magic wrapped around the snake and threw it
aside. It fell and vanished into the magma, only to appear a few minutes later.
Aldrai by then was fighting the other elements.
"Aldrai! Stop!" I cried.
I had not just risked everything for my pet
to loose him to the magic again.
He seemed to not notice me. An explosion from
the fighting elements and Aldrai rocked the cavern once again. I lost my balance
and toppled from the edge. I managed to catch myself on an outcropping stone,
my arms straining to hold myself up. Below me was magma.
"Aldrai!" I cried again, with true desperation
in my voice.
I looked down and swallowed hard. I could not
fall. Shi'viv probably wouldn't catch me this time.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light and I felt
someone grab my hand.
"Kiddo… hang on…" a very familiar voice whispered.
I let go of the rock and held onto Aldrai, my
heart filled with joy for the first time since coming underground. The elements
stayed back for a moment, seeing that things had changed now. That I had truly
thrown my lot in with Aldrai.
"I can't fight them off. We're getting out of
"Are you in control of the light magic?" I asked.
"Yes, I am. Because of you."
And he flew. Straight up, his power building
around him. Solid stone parted before him and he soared up out of the Forge,
through the earth. The shifting veil of Aldrai's magic was all around us as
he carried us up out of the earth to burst through into brilliant Neopian sunlight.
I gasped as the unaccustomed sunlight burned my eyes. Aldrai landed then and
let go of me. I wiped away tears and knelt before him.
"I'm so sorry Kiddo," he said, trying to avoid
I gently lifted his chin so that he looked me
in the eyes.
"It's okay. You're free now."
"But I don't deserve it… I can hardly remember
what I did when I was controlled by sheer magic… but I do remember I hurt people."
"Aldrai, look at me. I gave up the Essence so
that you could be free. You're not going to wallow in self-pity, alright? You're
going to come home and be my pet from now on."
He slowly nodded, his own eyes filled with tears.
"Now, why don't you change back to spotted?"
I said with a soft smile.
He shook his head violently.
"No. I lost my angel wings because I took my
power as a gift, a right, instead of a responsibility. I will keep the Darigan
color to remind myself to never lose control again."
He looked at me fiercely, determination shining
in his eyes. It was then I remembered something very important.
"Sabreur! And the rest!" I cried, leaping to
my feet, "they're still underground."
Aldrai laughed then.
"They're coming. I can sense it. Just give them
a couple days… apparently they've figured out it's time to head to the surface."
I smiled and scooped up my pet, hugging him
"Welcome home," was all I said.
To be continued...