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Midnight over Meridell: Part Five

by ratling_guardian


Part V: Solamente Por Pensar

I slowly opened my eyes, blinking in the dim light in front of me. My head ached as though somebody had taken a sledgehammer to it, and my arms and legs burned, similar to being on fire. I raised myself to a sitting position and instantly regretted it, as my back sprung into a huge ache. Images swam in front of me - a mountain, a mutated Lupe, a lot of fire, a sickening plummeting feeling, and a lot more fire. I came to the conclusion that I had a terrible headache. Looking to my left, I saw Triy and Luun, and looking to my right, I saw my pets. My head gave a painful throb. What in Neopia did I do last night?! I lay back down on my bed (at least, it felt like a bed). More images formed in my mind - a pack of winged scorpion-type Lupes, eating conjured food, yet a lot more fire, having my voice removed, Drow, a maybe a little more fire, a Darkness-coated fingertip, a- wait, backtrack two memories. Drow. Drow?! I sat bolt upright again, all pain mysteriously forgotten. My sense increased and I realized where I was: a rather cramped little cabin. My bed was a comfortable pile of leaves, and a fire was crackling merrily in a corner. The light was coming from an orb suspended in mid-air in the middle of the room. I scanned the walls for a door, and spotted one next to the fireplace. I charged to it and wrenched it open to find…

      "Illusen!" I gasped. She stood there, hands on hips, and looking very odd, as in one hand she had a spatula. Furthermore, she had an apron on and was donning a chef's hat.

      "Oh, good, you're awake!" she said brightly, walking over to a fireplace where it looked like several eggs and roughly two dozen bacon strips were cooking, "How do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Poached? Boiled? I can make a nice honey tea as well…"

      I gaped at her for a few seconds. The shock of seeing Illusen as a chef had not quite worn off. Finally, a few words managed to escape the maelstrom of confusion that was my brain, and out onto my tongue.

      "Scrambled, please."

      I shook my head. Why in Thrall's name was I wasting time on breakfast?!

      "Okay, and the honey tea should be ready in about three minutes," said Illusen, turning to a second fire where a kettle was boiling. I shook my head a second time. The pain was starting to return, and I needed to clear it to allow passage for the hundred or so questions I was trying to ask. Finally, I settled on a few select ones.

      "How did I get here, when did I get here, where is Drow, how long have we been out for, is Meridell all right, what types of bread do you have," I said in one breath. Illusen made no indication that she heard, but answered them very clearly without taking her eyes off the eggs.

      "I saved you using my magic, roughly two hours ago, who is Drow, you've been out as long as you've been here, Meridell is fine, white, wholemeal or pumpernickel," she replied.

      "Okay," I said, collapsing into what I thought was a chair, when in fact nothing was there. Illusen noticed this and conjured one before I did the same as in our Neohome.

      "Don't worry, you're safe," she said soothingly, passing me a mug of honey tea.

      "Am I? Oh, good," I said, surprised. I took a sip of the honey tea, and instantly the pain in my body began to ease.

      "I mixed a Healing Potion in the water, so it'll help you," she explained as I stared, bewildered, at the rejuvenating tea.

      "Ah, that explains it," I said, drinking some more. It was very nice - the honey added wasn't overwhelming, so the two tastes of tea and honey balanced themselves out perfectly. But hey, who wants to know what tea tastes like?

      "I've been waiting for you and your pets to wake up for quite some time now," Illusen said, handing me a plate of bacon and eggs, "and while we're on the subject, since when have owners been allowed six pets?"

      "Oh, that," I said, tasting the breakfast. Like the tea, it tasted more than perfect; "you might want to get something that'll keep you busy for a while, cause this'll take a bit of explaining…"

      And I proceeded to tell her the entire story of our so far futile attempts to stop Drow. Once I was done, Illusen looked thoughtful.

      "I think I once read something like that," she said, flicking her wrist. A book appeared in mid-air, and she took it, "something about the Four Daemons of Shadows…"

      "The Four Daemons of Shadows?" I repeated, frowning.

      "Yeah," she said, flicking through the book, "they were responsible for the destruction of Aldaria…"

      "Aldaria?" I said, "Luun told us about that."

      "Yes, very nice place…" Illusen muttered, and I determined that she was too absorbed in trying to find the part about the Four Daemons to actually listen to what she was agreeing to.

      "Any luck?" I asked after a few minutes of page turning.

      "I almost have it," Illusen said, "but there are roughly forty-eight thousand, two hundred and ninety-seven pages, so you might have to wait…"

      I peered over her shoulder at the book, and saw the text was ridiculously miniscule.

      "We're gonna be here for about three hours, you realize," I told her conversationally.

      "Possibly," she said, shrugging. Three hours later she found it and read aloud, "'The Four Daemons of Shadows are possibly the strongest beings known to any Neopian. Summoned to be part of the Shadow Army of Oban, they were brought from the Shadow Realm and set to wreak havoc on Aldaria. They are Drow, the Bringer of Pain, Scorned, the Hand of Destruction, Rar, the Ruler of Terror and Entrada, the Destroyer of Peace. As the leaders of the Shadow Army of Oban, they practically destroyed Aldaria completely, until they were finally called back by Oban and never seen again. The ancient Neopians who inhabited Aldaria concluded that their land was the home location of the Gates of Shadows, which lead to the Shadow Realm. A group of the strongest Archmagi in the land banded together and created a portal to a land replicated to the shattered Aldaria, and named it Neopia, sealing the portal behind them, and thus sealing the entire Shadow Army to both Aldaria and the Shadow Realm'."

      She looked up.

      "Well, I sort of see how this works now," I said. "First we have Neopia, and that's a replica of Aldaria after the nations were torn apart. Meridell is obviously where the other side of the portal was created, and on the other side is Aldaria itself. And somewhere in Aldaria is where the Shadow Gates are, and they lead to the Shadow Realm. Mind, that book that Luun showed us was wrong - it said that Neopia was Aldaria."

      "Yes, that sounds about right," Illusen said. "There sure are a lot of 'Shadows' in this plot, aren't there?"

      I shrugged, "Hey, I was low on ideas, alright? Gimme a break."

      "And incidentally," she continued, "in a way, the book was right, because Neopia is a replica of Aldaria after it was shattered - it's just that this version of Aldaria isn't teeming with demons."

      I was spared having to answer by the entrance of my pets, Triy and Luun.

      "Oh, good, you're all awake," Illusen said, hurrying to conjure up several plates and serve some more bacon and eggs.

      "Yeah, where are we, anyway?" Eralta asked interestedly. "Your place?"

      "That is correct," Illusen said, handing her some honey tea, along with the others, and returning to serving the bacon and eggs. Eralta looked at the tea, and then at me, and I nodded. She took a sip, somewhat nervously. She then pulled a 'thinking face', swirling the contents around in her mouth.

      "Don't do that, Eralta, it's disgusting," Alkarasydes said.

      "Hmm… Healing Potion XII?" Eralta shot at Illusen, ignoring Alkarasydes' protests.

      "Yup," Illusen replied, handing her some bacon and eggs. "Sharp tongue, eh?"

      "When it comes to waking up, yes," I said, grinning. Eralta ignored me, as well.

      "No, I'm just so used to them cause of how many Daddy's poured down my throat during wars," Eralta told Illusen.

      "Ah," Illusen said, and turned with a reprimanding glance at me, "why do you let your pet fight until she gets KOed? That's not entirely responsible."

      "Spare me the sermons," I said tragically, holding the back of my hand to my forehead and pulling a face of what I thought was mock agony, although by the way my pets snorted with laughter, it was probably more of a 'sad clown' face.

      "Even still," Illusen continued, slightly louder, with her reprimanding stare practically cutting into me, "you should not set your pets up against those stronger than them."

      "Yes, yes, whatever," I said impatiently, waving her reprimand aside. "Can you give us any idea how to defeat Drow?"

      "Yes, it says here something about a Rainbow of Light," Illusen said, consulting her book, "Oh, where is that little piece of Rain-"

      "Thank you, Illusen!" I snapped, "Now how 'bout being a bit serious? Meridell is at stake here!"

      "I'd thank *you* not to interrupt my song!" Illusen snapped back. "Now where was I? Oh yes, Where is that little piece of Rainbow-"

      Fortunately, Luun performed her voice-trick upon Illusen, and I attached five extra lenses to my glasses and looked at the book.

      "It says here something about the Sword of Four Colours," I said as Illusen grasped at her throat, trying to dislodge the voice-preventer. "Hmmm… doesn't sound too hard… oh wait, it also says that the Sword was shattered years ago… and we have to collect the Gemstones from its hilt, or something crazy like that… Let's see, the Gemstone of Water is in Maraqua, the Gemstone of Earth is in Tyrannia, the Gemstone of Air is in Faerieland, and the Gemstone of Fire is back on Mystery Island… in the Volcano…"

      I looked up to see my pets and Triy (Luun was busy fighting off Illusen) gaping at me.

      "What, is there something on my face?" I asked, procuring a mirror out of my pocket.

      "No, it's just that, do you realize how hard this is going to be?" Alkarasydes asked weakly.

      "Yes, very hard," I replied, checking very thoroughly on my face to make sure nothing was there, "why?"

      My pets and Triy exchanged incredulous looks.

      "What about the fact that this'll take days to do?" Triy said, "Meridell might be destroyed by the time we have the Sword!"

      "We'll just have to try and find out, won't we?" I said, pocketing the mirror.

      "But Daddy-" Eralta started.

      "No buts!" I interrupted, "This is important, don't you realize?! Meridell and possibly all of Neopia is on the very brink of destruction, and it's down to us to stop it! We can't just ignore it, or we'll all go with it! We have to try, and if we don't make it, well, at least we'll take a few of them with us!"

      I was expecting my pets to look absolutely stunned at this outburst, but if anything, they looked pleased.

      "Good, you're ready!" Triy said, "This means that we stand a chance. As long as we try hard enough, not even Drow will be able to stand in our way."

      I grinned at the five of them, and then Illusen interrupted us.

      "Ha!" she shouted, "I broke the charm!"

      Next to her, Luun rolled her eyes and mouthed 'I disabled it just to stop her attacking me'.

      "Now, back to my song!" Illusen continued, and we all groaned, "Where'd I put that little piece of Rainbow-"

      "You can't find it? Good," I interrupted. She ignored me and continued singing, and we sighed and began planning our attempts to get the Gemstones while Illusen pranced around the house, singing about how she couldn't find the Rainbow. None of us could positively care less.

      "Wait a moment!" she shouted, appearing at my shoulder and causing me to jump half a foot in the air, "Beg your pardon! Silly me, come and see, it's in the garden!"

      We watched her sprint outside with our eyebrows raised and chose not to follow her.

      "So this is the 'powerful guardian of Meridell'?" I said, jabbing my thumb to a window where we could see Illusen digging like crazy out in a dirt patch, still singing about the Rainbow.

      "Unfortunately, yes," Luun said, shaking her head. "Still, she can be useful… sometimes…"

      We watched her continue to dig as she continued her song.

      "Reckon we should stun her?" I asked, conjuring a heavy hammer out of nowhere.

      "No, no, let her go on," Triy said, smirking as Illusen pulled a rabbit out of the hole she had dug, claiming it to be the Rainbow.

      "Surprisingly enough, that isn't a Rainbow!" I shouted.

      "Oh," she said sadly, coming back inside, "oh, I guess I lost it…"

      "Good thing, too," I said, returning to the book, "Now, can you give us some advice, Illusen?"

      "Oh, sure," Illusen said. "Each of the Gemstones is held by a Guardian of some sort, let's see… The Fire Gemstone is watched over by Pango Pango in the Volcano, Kyruggi keeps the Earth Gemstone at the Town Hall; I'm pretty sure King Kelpbeard has the Water Gemstone and the Air Gemstone is currently in possession of Fyora."

      "Great," I said, closing the book; it disappeared a moment later. "But how will getting the Gemstones cause the Sword to materialize out of nowhere?"

      "Simple," said Illusen, "I'll go find the Sword itself - the Gemstones give it the power, see. Once we have the components, we merely meld them together in a Ritual of Binding."

      "That's when you bind two or more highly magical items together," Luun added, seeing our blank looks.

      "Okay, well, we may as well get going then," I said, removing the five lenses off my glasses. "Thanks for your help-"

      "No time for thanks, no time for thanks, no time for thanks!" Illusen said hurriedly, ushering us out of her hut. "You have to get the Gemstones and stop Drow before he causes midnight to engulf Meridell and all of Neopia permanently! You only have…" She pulled up one of her sleeves and glanced at her blank wrist, "You only have, uh… um…"

      "We'll come see you when we have the first Gemstone!" I said as we left her Glade. "Thanks again!"

      "Hey, you haven't seen my watch, have ya?" she called after us. We ignored her.

      "Rescue at Midnight Castle?" Eralta muttered to me when we were out of earshot. I grinned and nodded.

The End - For Now

Author's Note: Yay! The first of the Midnight series is published! You might remember me writing Eralta and Opessenc's Big Ixi Day? Well, I'm back! I know this story was only five parts, but it's just an introduction to the rest of the series. Keep an eye out for future chapters, and for sneak previews (that is, the entire plot), check Opessenc's petpage! And yes, I am open to any comments, ideas, etc. - Crimpy

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Other Episodes

» Midnight over Meridell: Part One
» Midnight over Meridell: Part Two
» Midnight over Meridell: Part Three
» Midnight over Meridell: Part Four

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