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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Gathering, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 148 > Continuing Series > The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Eight

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Eight

by neo_star_queen

"NO!"

     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 NSQ hopelessly.

     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?"

     "Yes."

     "There was a time where we flew together in Faerieland, ownerless."

     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 striped Draik.

     "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, always."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part One

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Two

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Three

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Four

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Five

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Six

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Seven

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Nine

The Light Faeries Apprentice: Part Ten

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