Neofaerie roared as Happiness hung stationary
for a minute, and then plunged down towards the pool of fire. NSQ felt wind
blow over her as a blur of white shot past, narrowly missing her ear. Happiness
was inches above the lava as the blur whizzed past. NSQ looked around wildly;
Neoangel was descending gently a few feet behind NSQ, Happiness clutched safely
in her arms. NSQ heaved a huge sigh of relief and sank weakly to her knees;
she heard Neofaerie let out a feeble moan.
Denriada seemed enraged. She looked as if she
was thinking very hard, for a minute, before her face relaxed into a casual
smirk. "Well then," she said, "I guess I should be going."
When no one else replied to this, NSQ said shakily,
"I guess you should."
Denriadas leathery wings stretched, and she rose
a few inches above the ground. Suddenly, one of her scrawny arms stretched out,
and her fingertips brushed against the green rope before she hissed and rocketed
up towards the hole at the top of the volcano.
NSQ screamed as her Kougra pelted down into the
magma. Neoangel, startled, had no time to react. Neofaerie disappeared as the
bubbling lava consumed him.
NSQ dashed towards the pool, but Neoangel was
there first, one arm still tucked around Happiness, the other flung out in front
of NSQ. The Zafara dropped Happiness, and squeezed her eyes shut. Her arms tensed
as she waved in the air with her fingers. A disturbance appeared in the lava
as one part started bubbling even more, and a second later, Neofaerie rose out
of the water and crashed down onto the ground, beside NSQ.
The human girl tore over to his limp form. His
eyes were shut, and he was clearly unconscious. Parts of his fur were burned
and charred. NSQ ran her hand over his head helplessly, but withdrew it quickly
when she found out his fur was still hot.
Wordlessly, Neoangel waved NSQ aside and kneeled
down in front of Neofaerie. She placed her paws a few inches above his back
carefully. An orange glow surrounded first her paws, then the Kougra's body.
NSQ picked up Happiness and held her tightly.
The scene was still for a minute, and then Neoangel
slackened. NSQ caught her as she fell, and supported her with one arm. "Neoangel,
what are you doing?" NSQ whispered tentatively.
"Healing," murmured Neoangel. She sat up again
and continued her work. Her eyelids were drooping shut, and her shoulders sagged;
she looked positively drained.
"Don't," said NSQ, pulling the Zafara away, "your
energy must be running out by now. Don't use anymore Neoangel, or you'll both-
you'll both be…" Tears filled her eyes, and she looked away.
"Listen to me, NSQ," said Neoangel gravely, lifting
the girl's chin, "there is still time. If you can get Neofaerie to the hospital
immediately, he can still make it."
NSQ met Neoangels eyes, and she knew what the
Zafara meant. Neofaerie might not make it at all. "How will we get there?" asked
Neoangel seemed not to have an answer for that
for a minute, but then she said, "you will take Daydream."
She turned around and murmured something. A popping
noise and a swirl of dust, and the Cirrus was there, already enlarged.
"Daydream can't go fast enough," said NSQ uncertainly.
"Daydream, you must take Neofaerie and NSQ to
the hospital, alright?" explained Neoangel urgently. The Cirrus smiled vaguely.
Neoangel laid her paw on it and continued, "Neofaerie is in critical condition.
I want you to go as fast as you possibly can."
The Zafara turned back to NSQ and said, "Daydream
will go faster with fewer passengers. NSQ, you will take Neofaerie. I will stay
here with Happiness for now, and recover a bit of energy."
NSQ clambered onto Daydream, and dragged Neofaerie
on awkwardly. His fur had cooled off, probably from the healing, but he still
looked terrible. Neoangel nodded to the Cirrus, and they were off.
Daydream was flying faster than she ever had,
and although not quite as speedy as her owner, Neoangel, she was still covering
considerably a lot of ground in a short time. They were definitely going faster
than they would have if they had walked, but was it fast enough. "Come on,"
NSQ encouraged the Cirrus, "you can do it, Daydream." The Cirrus made a soothing
clucking noise and put on a sudden burst of speed.
NSQ sat back, and chewed her lip fretfully. There
was nothing she could really do now, except wait and see. Still feeling powerless,
she held Neofaeries paw in her trembling hands and began, more to calm herself
than anything else, to tell him an old Neopian story, about the heroes of Neopia
and how they stood strong in the face of evil. "Stand strong, my little hero
of Neopia," she whispered to him, "stand strong."
Neoangel looked up at the patch of sky showing through the hole at the top
of the volcano; she could still see Denriada, just a little speck of brown now.
The Zafara let out a little sigh, regretting that she would not be able to find
out who the Draik was.
"Aren't you going after her?" A little voice
piped up from down on the ground. Neoangel started; she had almost forgotten
that Happiness was still there. Patting the Cybunny distractedly on the head
she replied, "no, I will stay here with you, like I said I would. Besides, I
am out of energy now. I feel a bit more refreshed, but the most I could do is
fly around and shout questions while I hope she doesn't hit me."
"So why don't you fly around and shout questions
while you hope she doesn't hit you?" asked Happiness, sounding confused. "I'll
be fine, if you're worried about me. At least you might find out something about
why she's after us."
Neoangel looked up hesitantly at the sky again,
before saying, "do not move from this spot, Happiness. I will be back shortly."
And then she shot up through the air like an arrow, squinting through the bright
beams of sunlight now pouring through the volcano's top. Although they blinded
her, they gave her hope.
Neoangel paused on the volcano's ledge, scrabbling
around uncharacteristically as she took a deep breath. She really had lost more
energy than she thought she had. Standing was alright, but she feared that she
would have to pause and land every few seconds if she kept moving, as if she
were playing a game, and she had to keep an eye on her energy meter. She brushed
the tuft of hair out of her eyes and crouched, ready to spring, her eyes on
the Mutant Draik hovering above the other side of the volcano's rim. Her gristly
wings were beating loudly on either side of her, and she looked full of energy,
the opposite of Neoangel.
"So," she rasped quietly, so that Neoangel strained
to hear, "we meet again."
"I don't believe I know you," replied Neoangel
in the same, quiet, composed voice.
The Draik gave a dark chuckle. "You know me,
oh yes. You just don't remember me. Do you, Alithiora?"
Neoangel froze, caught of guard. In a millisecond,
it flooded back to her. Why had she forgotten to tell NSQ about the mirrored
brooch? Well, there were more pressing matters at hand that required her immediate
attention. Still, Neoangel could not resist asking, "you knew me as Alithiora,
then?" She had to find out more about her past.
Denriada didn't answer. Instead, she glanced
down into the volcano and said, "your little sister?"
"Yes," replied Neoangel warily.
"I see," said Denriada sourly. "And the girl
earlier, your owner?"
"There was a time where we flew together in Faerieland,
Neoangel held her breath. If she could keep Denriada
talking, she could recover enough energy to attack. And Neoangel found it quite
easy to keep Denriada talking, since she was so curious about what the Draik
had to say.
Denriada sniffed and went on, "I was accepted
into Faerieland's most prestigious magic academy. I was overjoyed. I had been
wanting to learn magic forever. That day, the professor told me I had weak magical
ability. He told me that I would never have great powers, and he told me to
go home. Then you came. You said anyone could do anything, if they were willing
to work at it. You helped me. We became the best of friends. We were inseparable.
"Over the years, I continued working hard. You
were always better than me, but I didn't mind at all. I was glad that I had
a friend, and one who could teach me, at that. We studied magic together.
"One day, a light Faerie came to the academy.
And not just any light Faerie, the leader of them all. She wanted an apprentice.
She chose you. This time, you were the one who was overjoyed. And I was so happy
for you. But you packed your bags and left the academy. I waited for 3 hours
in the library, our normal study place, at our normal study time, before someone
told me that you had left to train at the tower of the light Faerie. You were
gone forever, and you never bothered to say goodbye to your best friend."
Neoangel was shocked by so much information at
once that she stayed silent. Even more memories came flooding back to her, memories
that had slipped away on that day when she fell into NSQ's garden. She remembered
poring over ancient scrolls in the tower, and playing with the Petpets at the
academy, and sitting in a dusty old library, demonstrating something to an attentive
"Denriada?" she said, finally understanding.
"Are you really… what happened to you after I left?"
Denriada smiled grimly. "I studied at the academy
for another year, but soon I was kicked out; I was useless without your help.
That made me angry at myself. I had grown to depend on you so much, that I couldn't
do anything by myself anymore. I was milling around, trying to perform a spell
one day, when a dark Faerie saw me. She laughed at first, but then she told
me that I had potential. She told me the same thing as you, in fact: anyone
can do anything if they work at it. And although it had led me wrong the first
time, I listened to her. I went to train with the dark faeries."
"What happened to you?" Neoangel whispered.
Denriada smirked. "I became strong."
"Strong?" said Neoangel, her voice growing sturdier.
"Strong, Denriada? This is not strong. You were strong once, because you tried
your best to follow your dream. You were strong on the inside. Now, you have
fallen to darker powers, and do their bidding, staying in their shadows… is
this what you call strong?"
Denriada laughed, a sinister laugh, yet mixed
with pain. "Would the professors laugh at me now? Would you, Alithiora?"
"I never laughed at you," pleaded Neoangel, "please
don't do this to yourself-"
"It's too late," snarled Denriada. "I have changed,
Alithiora, and so have you. But I, unlike you, have changed for the better.
So now it is time to see who is stronger. I hope you have been training, my
old friend." She began to float up.
"I haven't been training," said Neoangel, slowly
rising into the air as well. "I've been with family. Family, Denriada. And it's
so much more worthwhile than trying to see who is more powerful, and studying
magic until you cannot stand it anymore. If you would listen to me, Denriada-"
For a moment, the Draik merely looked heartbroken,
like someone who has lost everything. Then she said, "You went soft."
"You destroyed yourself from the inside."
"Goodbye, Alithiora." Denriada stretched out
her arm, extending her thin fingers, and black smoke billowed out of it; a stream
of black, foggy smoke, so thick that it could have encased Neoangel easily.
And then Denriada was falling back into the volcano, half laughing, half crying,
as she slowly dissolved into nothing. Neoangel wasn't even scratched as she
landed back on the ledge, shimmering indistinctly with a yellow glow.
"All for a little bit of revenge," she said softly.
"Was it really worth it?"
For a moment, Neoangel thought she saw something
dart out. It was very, very faint, but Neoangel thought she saw a faded striped
Draik fly into the clouds, a carefree look in her eyes.
Neoangel smiled sadly. "You're free now, Denriada.
No more dark Faeries to take control of you anymore. You can fly around Faerieland
once more, like you used to. I will go back there to find you, one day, and
we can talk for a long time."
She sighed and dropped back into the volcano
as well, back to where Happiness was humming naively and examining a picture
that had been scratched into the rocky floor. In fact, it was NSQ's picture
that she was looking at.
"So how'd it go?" asked Happiness cheerfully,
with the air of one asking about a Neoschool test that the other had taken,
as Neoangel landed.
"I think I did all that I could," said Neoangel,
picking up Happiness in her arms and giving her a little hug. "Now, I've got
enough energy back. We should go and see how Neofaerie is doing."
"Neofaerie? Oh, he'll be fine," said Happiness
confidently. "My big brother is always alright, no matter what happens. Always,
To be continued...