Nothing is As it Seems: Part Six
The crowds slowly turned to stare at the two falling shapes,
trying to work out what was going on through the single scream.
Faster... faster... Pete began to worry his plan
hadn't worked as her screwed his eyes tightly shut through the scream amplified
unintentionally by Illusen's spell. They were still falling... this shouldn't
Estantia floated before his eyes, smiling at
him, funny he was seeing her now just as he was about to fall to his death...
He then realised something strange, that scene she'd finished reading, that
was ... it was.... how could she read it from the Times?
She spoke, words whispering through his mind,
That sort of magic is in everyone, all of you can spin a tale, because it
all starts right here...
Pete's eyes jerked open as they abruptly slowed
down; he could feel arms, several, slowing down the fall of him and his sibling,
then more, supporting, guiding, slowing, saving them. He let go of his brother
and whispered a hearty thanks to who, or whatever had possessed him to do that,
as the battlefield was now silent.
He looked up and saw a ring of faces around him
and Rance stopped screaming to gulp with awe as he was placed on the ground.
Pete met the green eyes of Illusen and the pale orbs that belonged to Lord Darigan
in front of him, both staring alternately at and behind him. His head turned
to look behind him to his left and gulped as black and green hair met his sight,
along with the accusing purple orbs of Jhudora, though she wasn't looking at
him, but to the blind-spot on his other side.
Pete's eyes widened as he saw the other person
to be bearing his weight, the violet orbs of the Faerie Queen herself met his
with a kind smile before shifting to the others. Pete turned back to meet Darigan's
kind gaze, which was what Fyora had been concentrating on.
"Nice work, where was she?" Darigan asked evenly
as he looked over at Illusen.
"Haunted Woods, in the other faerie's home,"
Pete replied promptly, he could deal with talking to Lord Darigan, and was doing
his best to ignore the imposing auras of his other saviours.
"What do you mean, 'Nice work', Darigan?" Fyora's
voice was icy as she questioned him.
Illusen replied hastily, "Your majesty, I believe
Lord Darigan was one of the first to believe the true story of my capture."
"The first being me." Pete and Rance were relieved
to hear Lisha's voice approaching, "Your majesty, these pets were the ones that
discovered the plot against Illusen and tried to warn her."
"Whereupon I ignored them and was captured,"
Illusen said ruefully. Pete felt rather than saw Fyora glance sharply at Illusen
before turning her gaze onto the back of his neck as the story unravelled, fixing
her eyes on the brothers.
"They then tried to find me as they thought I
would listen to their story, when Skarl refused to listen we went to Darigan."
Lisha looked at the Korbat as he took up the telling.
"It was around that time Illusen was discovered
missing and you accused me directly after I had been convinced myself, it was
also the point Jhudora offered her alliance. I sent these three of to find Illusen
and prove we were not her captors."
Now the brothers had to turn round. An expectant
silence descended. Pete looked up and met Fyora's eyes, Rance did also, but
then fund himself looking at her feet instead, cheeks a brighter red than usual
over his scream. It was up to the Tuskaninny.
Pete's mouth opened... and shut. A moment later
he then continued to fill in the blanks the others had left, ending with his
idea to make Rance scream, at which point his brother's head jolted up, temporarily
forgetting the others eagerly listening. "You did that deliberately? I thought
you were something evil attacking me!"
"Think of a better way to make you scream, nothing
is as it seems, remember?" Pete still found himself held by the Queen's gaze.
"That is all, your Majesty,"
There was a silence as Fyora turned her wand
in her grip. "I do not think I will need to hear any more at the moment, though
you will of course be summoned for the trial. Until that time you may remain
in the castle. It should not take long to find the faerie you speak of."
She turned to the dark faerie and the Korbat.
"It seems that I have done you a great mis-service."
"Indeed you have." Darigan was short and noncommittal,
"Thousands of us have died through a misunderstanding.
I am truly sorry for them."
"Sorry won't bring back the dead, Fyora." The
harsh voice was Jhudora's. "Trust you to cause this fuss, Illusen."
"Sister mine, I would willingly have forgone
the pleasure." The dry tone seemed to break the tense atmosphere and Fyora smiled.
"I will leave you to your reunion and return
to business, but first..." Fyora raised her wand and suddenly everyone could
see her and her companions.
"Know that his battle was caused by treachery,
not by any known, but by another faerie who will be brought to justice as soon
as she is located and captured." She paused, before continuing in a gentler
tone, "Also know that the ones who have ended this war are the two brothers
that stand before me."
Pete stood tall as he felt the focus of millions
on him. Rance looked up with some sort of pride as a cheer started. Pete found
himself smiling without being able to stop as even Fyora looked on in approval.
It had been nearly a week since the adventure
started, nearly a week and their owner still hadn't returned. Pete was feeling
more than a little uneasy about it as he walked into the main justice hall of
the castle and sat on the row for witnesses, waiting to be called up.
The trial seemed to stretch forever as complicated
legal speak washed over them. Pete caught vague bits of the statement he had
written for the Queen but could withhold a yawn just as he heard his name called
and he moved up to the witness box.
"Is this the faerie who you say held Illusen
captive?" Fyora indicated the earth faerie who had just been led in. The faerie
looked up at Pete with hatred in her brown eyes behind the unkempt bush of brown
hair. The dark green wings at her back were ragged and looked slightly soggy
as she tried to straighten her back.
"Yes." Pete's reply caused whispering among the
"It mentions in your statement that you worked
out both her type and a plan to outwit her; how did you do this? If your statement
is correct you had never seen the faerie."
Pete took a deep breath and began to speak, strongly
and clearly. "She had to be an earth faerie, your majesty. For a start she had
to be able to switch two pieces of forest and also be connected with them to
know exactly where we had been. Also, her home was underground, in stone."
"Most forget that earth faeries deal with the
"Naturally your majesty, nothing is as it seems.
As for the plan... it all hinged on her paranoia."
Fyora's eyebrows rose in shock before lowering.
"When she first discovered us she would not let
us touch each other for fear we could communicate mind to mind. She also ensured
we didn't see her, sensible, but paranoid. She also had a series of traps designed
for any who entered her home that were not her weight. She even murmured to
herself to stop being paranoid when we were in her bathroom."
"But I was right, wasn't I? I was RIGHT to be
paranoid!" the faerie burst out before a silencing spell was clapped on her.
"Since she was paranoid and clever we knew she
would notice more if the door was a hair off closed rather than left half open.
It would have made her suspicious; it would also make her think we had remained
quiet to try and escape, hence hiding in the same room."
He took another breath. "I guessed from there
she would work out correctly that someone had helped her escape, but paranoia
would make her overshoot and assume more than had occurred, hence her flight
and making her guilt more obvious than previously and making it simpler to escape
and locate her." His gaze was locked on the earth faerie, not smiling as he
carefully laid the plan open before her.
"Be seated." Fyora seemed pleased, though she
didn't smile as Pete returned to his seat, Lisha did smile though as Rance went
up and Pete returned to Rance's seat, choosing to sit next to Lisha, and not
just to annoy Rance.
"This strange guide you both spoke of," Fyora
said. "Neither of you managed to work out who or what it was?"
"No, your majesty."
"And you do not know how she was seemingly aware
of all these events before they happened? Along with the essential bit of advice?"
"No again your majesty, I wish I knew." Fyora
sighed before continuing,
"Very well. Was it you who screamed?"
"Yes, your majesty." The Lenny was concentrating
quite hard on the floor at this point.
"Could you refrain from screaming so loudly again
"I did have an amplifying spell on me," he protested
before he quailed under Fyora's gaze, "I will try not to scream like that again
unless I need to draw the attention of a battlefield."
"Thank you, that answers quite a few complaints
I had from the dark faeries." Fyora made a note of something on her paper before
dismissing him to the bench. Pete grinned as Rance noticed where he was sitting.
"I hate you," he whispered as he sat in Pete's former seat.
"Glad to hear it," Pete replied in a similar
manner, Lisha giggled before turning it into a cough as she went up to the witness
After all the witnesses had spoken Fyora turned
to the earth faerie and lifted the silencing spell off her carefully. When she
remained silent Fyora let there be a pause before she asked the question, "Many
have died from your plan; do you have anything to say for yourself?"
The untidy faerie looked up at her queen with
some aspect of her near regal calm she'd had before, though this time it almost
seemed a mask. She was shaking. "Your majesty could have prevented this many
"You question me?" The earthen faerie looked
at the floor, unable to meet the angry ruler's gaze.
"I question your decision to evict a faerie whose
family had looked after the Meridell and Brightvale woods for generations in
favour of a city faerie." Pete nearly whistled; this faerie was brave, she was
still extremely wrong, but brave. She even continued to speak.
"I've known the woods around that kingdom since
I was a child; I was BORN there, Fyora! Then suddenly there's a dispute and
someone who knows nothing about my home is given the entire place without even
consulting me? Then I am sent to the Haunted Eoods?" She was shaking properly
now, looking at the stand below Fyora.
"You know as well as I do that an earth faerie
is affected by the earth where she is master! How could you not expect me to
be affected by it? How could you not expect me to slide? I did try to prevent
it; I built my home underground to avoid the things in those woods. I was scared
of them! I came from Meridell and Brightvale! I became paranoid with intrusions
and so laid my traps to catch them." She was trying hard to fight her tears,
preventing them from breaking away from her control.
"I had to SUFFER, Fyora, suffer for a high and
mighty decision that took me away from the place where I loved and put a pretty,
oblivious city faerie there instead, in my lovely home! The home that should
have been mine! Can you blame me for wanting revenge on her? Can you blame me
for wanting my home returned to me?" Tears were starting to leak out of her
eyes now, despite her efforts, "You thought I could revert the Haunted Woods
to Meridellian standards; they reverted me... I do not like who I've become.
I don't want to go back there, to the person I was then!"
A silence fell as she finished and looked up
at the queen, a simple earth faerie not even trying to hide her tears now. Even
Pete looked on with some pity; nothing is as it seems. She really did have a
reasonably valid reason for her actions, was it true, though?
"Your majesty?" Illusen had stood and moved to
the witness box.
"Proceed, Illusen." Fyora seemed wary of what
the faerie would say.
"I have a solution to this problem. The Brightvale
woods are open to you, should you wish to take them," Illusen said to the faerie.
"I usually stay in the Meridellian woods between the two kingdoms and those
south; the woods northwards to the sea are yours."
"However," Fyora stated before the situation
ran away from her control, "you will need to undergo a probationary period to
prove that you can change."
The earth faerie's jaw had dropped, "IF I should
wish? IF?" She sounded incredulous, "Are you insane, of COURSE I wish to return!
I preferred Brightvale to Meridell anyway! Please! I'll do anything, just let
me go home!" Her wings fluttered at her back, hope in her green eyes.
There was a long pause as Fyora tapped her long
fingers on her desk, the other hand wrapped around her staff, gaze fixed on
the earth faerie as the rest of the room watched her. Eventually she stood and
floated down to the faerie, holding out her hand.
"It is done."
Pete and Rance walked tiredly back to their house
and pushed open the door. "Home, so this is what it was all for," Pete said
as they stepped inside. "Strange how we take it for granted."
"But it's not a home without an owner," the red
Lenny added sadly, "which we also took for granted. What are we going to eat?"
His brother sighed at this last comment, shaking
his head. "You're hopeless, Rance."
"What? It's an important issue!"
"Important issue my..."
Pete's voice faded away as the image in the air
faded and the girl lowered her hands to leave them standing on the hill overlooking
the brothers' Neohome where a friendly argument was now taking place. The girl
contemplated the house for a few moments then looked to her side with a smile.
"Not bad for your first story."
The sand-coloured Wocky at her legs looked up
at her owner and smiled. Her shoulder was at her owner's hip, like a Kougra's
would have been. "I'm glad you approve," the creature purred. "I didn't do much
at all and yet ended up in a gigantic battle!"
"That's called the chaos effect, sweetie," her
owner explained, sitting and stroking her companion from head to white-tipped
tail, "and you'll see an even better example of it soon."
"What?" The Wocky's eyes widened as her friend
and owner grinned. "You've done something, haven't you?" Her owner simply lay
back on the grass, leaving her pet staring at her.
"You've done something right under my nose! In
"I just started another story; it happens all
the time." The girl was not only saying something important but had the air
of excusing her actions too.
"They're not simple things, you know, one neatly
leading to another. They'll all overlap; all the stories are part of life. You
think yours was the only story going on simply because you're here? Of course
not. Each life is a story." She paused and said, a little guiltily, "It's just
some blow up more spectacularly than others..."
"Tell me what you did." The Wocky looked expectantly
at her owner.
"Please? Tell me?" Still no reply.
She stood and looked over at her owner's face
to see that the eyes were closed and she was asleep. Sanrina sighed and curled
up next to the girl with a muttered, "I hate you."
"I hate you too, sweetie."
"Can you tell me what you did?"
That got a laugh out of her owner, "Goodnight,