The New Prophecy: Part Four
Jhudora approached the newly built ice stadium on top of Terror Mountain within moments, her wings arcing upward as she touched down on the patted-down snow outside of the arena. It was huge and beautiful: a sparking coliseum with an open roof and high sides that could seat hundreds more than the Battledome.
Of course, she wasn’t the only one who wanted to get in. There was a long line of excited neopets and faeries, all chatting to each other animatedly and dressed in scarves and colorfully knitted mittens as they walked inside through the large arched doorway and were handed a program of all of the acts. But the line moved quickly and the dark faerie was up to the front within moments, given a program by an orange Grarrl, and ushered inside.
Much to Jhudora’s annoyance, the place was packed. Neopets and faeries alike were all seated in the stands, taking up space and filling the air with the loud din of sound. And as if that wasn’t annoying enough, there were vendors everywhere trying to sell Non-magical Chia Pops and Snoranges. Jhudora groaned as she passed Mr. Chipper, a blue Lutari, and his ice cream cart as she walked up the aisles trying to find an empty seat. At least it was slightly warmer in the stadium than it was being outside in the freezing weather.
After finding a seat (one which a “generous” Uni had given up to her after being threatened to be turned into a pile of soot), Jhudora sat down in the surprisingly comfortable ice chairs that had been conjured, and looked at the field down below, ignoring the cowering yellow Mynci seated to her left.
The last time she had witnessed a Faerie Display was back when she had attended the Faerie Academy. Actually, she had been more-or-less forced to go because she really couldn’t have cared less about watching the clumsy inept faeries in her school prancing about with wands in their hands. That year the display had been held in the Lost Desert (not the best place to hold a major activity since it was nearly 120 degrees outside), but Jhudora had actually had fun. Despite the fact that she found each act completely boring and unentertaining, after performing a bit of magic from the sidelines, she had made nearly every contestant think that they were suffering from the heat and seeing mirages of giant ghost Meepits.
But now there was no time for foolery and tricks. If she was going to stop the green-eyed fiends, she needed to pay attention.
Suddenly, a light faerie with her golden blond hair held up in a high ponytail and fuzzy yellow earmuffs walked out into the center of the stadium. There was a roar of cheers from the audience (causing Jhudora to cover her ears with her hands) and the light faerie, using a spell to amplify her voice, began to speak. “Welcome, everyone, to the 564th annual Faerie Display.” Her voice boomed loud and clear. “Thank you for coming to this spectacular event and believe me when I say you won’t be disappointed! The faeries who are about to perform for you today have practiced for most of the school year to perfect their acts, guaranteeing you all the greatest show you have ever seen or will see...”
The light faerie continued with her little welcome speech, but Jhudora wasn’t listening anymore. Instead, she had opened up the program and was scanning the acts. The first performance was a trio of fire faeries, but it was the following act that caught her eyes: a group of five earth faeries, who happened to be both the only earth faeries performing during the entire show and the likely culprits for prophecy that she was in the middle of solving.
Jhudora was already prepared for anything that could happen. Her wand was safely clenched in her hand, hidden away in her purple jacket pocket, and her eyes had already located the section of the stands where all of the contestants were seated. It was easy to spot the bright green earth faeries who were chatting amongst one another happily, their identical chestnut hair being blown about in the wind and their cheeks reddened from the cold.
They didn’t appear to be plotting anything from Jhudora’s perspective, but she that she could be wrong. After all, earth faeries were craftier than everyone thought; Illusen was living proof of that despite the fact that she was an annoying goodie two shoes.
But what Jhudora couldn’t seem to understand was why a quintuplet of earth faeries would want to take over Neopia? Earth faeries were peace loving faeries, more preoccupied with trees and flowers to really care about anything else. And with spring finally here, what else could they want? True, they usually lived in modest homes that could use a bit of redecorating, but they wanted to live a simple nature-filled life. What did they have to gain by taking over?
The second thing Jhudora couldn’t understand was how they planned on accomplishing this goal. True, there were five of them, but compared to the number of neopets and faeries in the stands they would be totally outnumbered! Besides that, they were only students! How much damage could they really do by themselves?
“Maybe Illusen really is in league with them,” Jhudora mumbled to herself, the earlier joke now turning into something that could prove to be a real threat. But she shook her head at the thought. If there was anyone who was least capable of taking over the world, it was Illusen.
“...Okay! So let’s get started!” the light faerie emcee finished off, jerking Jhudora out of her reverie. “Our first act,” she said, flipping her hair in a happy, bubbly way, “are three fire fires who are ready to amaze us with their dazzling pyrotechnics! Give it up for Lisha, Evra, and Areliah!”
The crowd cheered and the Mynci seated next to Jhudora cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Go Areliah!” earning him an evil glare from the dark faerie who already felt as if her eardrums were now permanently damaged beyond repair.
Switching her gaze away from the overexcited neopet next to her and fixing her long, choppy purple hair with her left hand (the hand that wasn’t currently in her pocket gripping her wand nervously), she looked down on the field at the three fire faeries who had their wands out and were smiling nervously. Then, with orchestrated perfection, the wands were simultaneously waved and three identical gusts of flames shot forth, intertwining in air and looping in fantastical designs that lit up the darkening sky.
Jhudora’s jaw dropped; the acts had gotten much better since her last time witnessing a Faerie Display, much better. The brilliant light show held her gaze as she watched the fire swirl higher and higher, making even more complicated designs than before. In fact, the act was so good that it was almost halfway done when she abruptly remembered that she wasn’t there to watch magic tricks, but to keep an eye out on the earth faeries in the stands. However, they looked as inconspicuous as ever, their own green eyes glued to the fire faeries’ presentation.
A few minutes later, the first act ended with a dazzling burst of flame, and Jhudora’s stomach flipped. As the fire faeries curtseyed and walked to their spots in the stands, the five earth faeries walked smoothly onto the field, their wands raised. Jhudora, too, had her own wand out of her pocket now, drawing curious looks from the neopets seated around her, but she didn’t care. This was a serious matter.
Maybe I should have told Illusen and Fyora first, she thought as the light faerie finished her announcing message, but it was too late. The earth faeries had already started their act.
Jhudora gripped her wand even tighter as vines shot from the frozen ground, growing at an alarming rate. “As soon as things get out of hand,” she told herself firmly, “those vines are going to meet an unhappy fate.”
But the thing was that nothing got out of hand. The vines just twisted and grew, blossomed into flowers... and then the act was over.
“What?” Jhudora exclaimed angrily as the earth faeries walked off the field, banging her fist on the arm of the chair and causing it to crack slightly. The Mynci stared at her half curious and half frightened, but Jhudora just sighed grumpily, put away her wand, and defiantly crossed her arms over her chest, blowing at the tuft of hair that had fallen over her eyes.
She had been wrong. It was obvious now that those earth faeries had nothing to do whatsoever with the New Prophecy and she had just wasted valuable time sitting in the stands and getting all worked up for nothing while the real culprits were probably running around with Neopia already under their control!
Standing up abruptly (scaring the Mynci next to her so much that he gave a high-pitched shriek and fainted), Jhudora left her seat and began her way down the aisle, shoving aside vendors and the occasional neopet. She was leaving this blasted display now, and no one was about to get in her way.
But as she made her way down, a glance at the field made her stop. Out on the field was Arisca, Taelia’s annoying young niece who she had met earlier, smiling brightly and waving to the crowd. Next to her were about six water faeries.
Jhudora couldn’t help but be a tad interested. She knew that snow faeries were rare and pretty skilled at ice crafting, and that water faeries were normally too shy to perform in front of large crowds, but still were quite powerful. And here they all were, ready in the center of the stadium to start their act.
The light faerie announcer was still talking, her voice light and clear and obviously full of excitement. “Our third act is a group of water faeries and our very own snow faerie performing an act that will surely surprise us all... since I haven’t even seen them practice! So, here’s to an interesting act! Everyone put your hands and paws together for Ella, Mira, Shelli, Aqua, Krissi, Kara, and Arisca!”
As Jhudora squinted down at the field, she noticed that all of the water faeries were fidgeting nervously, their blue eyes glancing at each other uncertainly as Arisca whispered some reassuring words to each of them. Then, with their resolve strengthened, each of them nodded to the next and they made a circle around Arisca, their wands out.
The next thing Jhudora knew, a blue light had escaped the wands of the water faeries and bathed Arisca in a glow. The crowd gave a collective, “Ooh!” And then, from Arisca’s own wand which was pointed straight up at the sky, ice sprang forth, cracking and growing until it turned into the familiar image of the Snowager.
The audience clapped, but Jhudora could tell that something wasn’t right. From her spot in the aisle she could feel the electricity in the air and it wasn’t normal magical electricity. It was different, more sinister. Something very dark was happening.
And then to confirm her suspicions, every single one of the water faeries in the circle around Arisca fainted, collapsing on the partially frozen ground in watery heaps.
The crowd gasped, but Jhudora put two and two together. Arisca’s eyes began to glow, the wind whipped around her robes, her black hair flared about dangerously, and she laughed loud and menacing. And then, as sudden as a lightning strike, the Snowager figure shattered and ice spread forth from the ground under Arisca’s feet almost as if it was alive and headed into the stands. Neopets and faeries alike gave terrified screams as they turned to flee the stadium, but within moments, the ice had reached them, devouring every single one of them and turning them into frozen ice sculptures. But the ice still wasn’t content. It continued to spread out from the stadium, making its way out and towards the Ice Caves.
But Jhudora’s wings had instinctively taken her into the air and the word “RUN!” screamed through her head as she flew as fast and as far way as she could from the ice stadium and the power-hungry Arisca with her piercing laughter.
Jhudora didn’t entirely understand how the prophecy made sense. Some things fit, but Arisca definitely did NOT have green eyes. What had happened?
But she didn’t have time to think. Instead, she had to get to Illusen and Fyora as quick as possible. It would only be possible to win if the three of them, as different as they were, were together. Otherwise, there was no way they could defeat Arisca, no way at all.
As swiftly as she could, Jhudora reached the Ice Caves, still full to the brim with happy neopets, ignorant of the magical ice coming their way. Illusen, who was pacing around near the scratch card kiosk, quickly spotted the dark faerie zooming above her. “What’s the hurry?” she called confused as Jhudora whizzed past, but Jhudora only had time to shout, “Get in the air NOW!”
Startled, Illusen obeyed quickly, and it was just in time, because the bewitched ice had finally reached the Ice Caves and was grabbing onto unlucky neopets and covering them each of them in a solid layer of ice.
Screams filled the caves and there were startled gasps as the neopets tried to run away, but it was hopeless. The ice was too fast and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Illusen’s jaw dropped and salty tears began to roll down her cheeks as the last screams subsided and every single neopet in the caves had been turned into an immobile ice sculpture, frozen permanently in their looks of terror. “What happened?” she asked Jhudora, her green eyes laced with tears as she hovered unsteadily. “What did this to them?”
“Ice magic,” Jhudora said grimly, feeling a pit of dread building inside of her stomach.
Illusen looked shocked. “You don’t mean that Taelia did this...”
“No, it was her bratty niece,” Jhudora responded harshly, angry at herself for not stopping Arisca sooner. “Now come on,” she said, starting to chart a course out of the Ice Caves. “We need to find Fyora now.”
“I don’t understand,” Illusen said sadly, her green jacket hood dropping over her face as she flew. “Arisca seemed so sweet, so nice.”
“Looks can be deceiving,” Jhudora growled, quickening her pace.
Within moments, they had exited the Ice Caves and reached the Happy Valley. It looked even more deserted and depressing than it had earlier and a fresh coat of magical ice made the entire area look like a churning frozen river. Soft flakes of snow were falling from the darkening sky where not even the starlight could break through and the wind harshly blew into their ears, making a creepy whistling sound in what was normally a bustling, happy place.
“Please let Fyora be all right,” Jhudora found herself muttering as she scanned the valley from her spot up above, a phrase that she had thought she never would have uttered in a million years, but after a loud sob from Illusen, she knew it was too late.
Illusen was hovering near Wintery Petpets and once Jhudora reached her, she saw the frozen Faerie Queen, her head turned and her mouth slightly opened as if she was about to say something. Her tiara looked as if it had been ready to fall off from its spot on top of her violet hair and her dress was in mid-swirl, but she continued to look flawless even in her frozen state.
Illusen’s face was buried in her hands and she gently landed on the slippery ice besides Fyora, but Jhudora was looking around. It was quiet, too quiet...
“Illusen!” she shouted suddenly. “Get off the ice!”
But it was too late. The ice she had been standing on sprang to life, wrapping around Illusen’s waist, and before Jhudora had time to think, the ice lunged at her too and made contact with her skin, wrapping itself relentlessly around her with a firm, icy grip.
And then she heard the laughter, the maniacal sound that brought terror into her heart, which was a feat in itself.
It was Arisca.
To be continued...