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Nothing is As it Seems: Part Six


by estantia

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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 be happening...

     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, as always.

     "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 people assembled.

     "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 earth also."

     "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. "Continue."

     "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 please?"

     "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 stand.

     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 years ago."

     "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 my story!"

     "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.

     "Please?"

     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?"

     "No."

     "Pig."

     That got a laugh out of her owner, "Goodnight, sweetie."

     "Goodnight."

The End?

 
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Other Episodes


» Nothing is As it Seems: Part One
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Two
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Three
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Four
» Nothing is As it Seems: Part Five



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