The Dark Faeries' Apprentice: Part Eight
Denriada was awakened by an agitated, unsettling feeling in the back of her mind. After only three hours of restless sleep, she sat up, her eyes easily adjusting to the darkness, as there really was none.
“Neoangel?” Denriada whispered. “Are you okay?”
The Zafara turned at the sound, quickly lifting a finger to her mouth. In her other hand, a candle almost flickered out, sending dim shadows dancing about the room.
Neoangel pulled a piece of paper towards herself and scrawled quickly in pen, ’Noise on roof. Need to check, stay here.’
Greatly confused but noticing Neoangel’s serious expression, Denriada scribbled back, ’I can check with ropes?’
Neoangel crumpled up the paper surreptitiously. “No magic,” she whispered softly, before slipping out the window with no sound at all, bright white fur muffled by her dark cloak.
Unable to stay where she was, Denriada crawled to the window as quietly as she could and sat under the windowsill, one hand over her mouth like it was dangerous to breathe.
”You’re sure this is the one?” scowled one Dark Faerie, running long fingers through dark hair in irritation. She stomped her boots on the roof.
“Always whining, Cin, why can’t you be more patient?” snapped Yalfeda. She paused, and then clacked her shoes against the tiled roof as well, a doubtful look on her face.
Myseraine glanced out at the rolling hills. “That is unnecessary,” she said quietly. “We have come; they will sense us soon enough.”
Cin sighed and stopped stamping. “I wish we had dealt with the Zafara earlier.”
“If I had known that she was the apprentice of the actual Light Faerie leader...” Myseraine shook her head slowly. “It makes no difference. We are here to take care of her now. And...” The Faerie’s thin lips curled into a smile. “She is here.”
The other two turned eagerly in the direction that Myseraine was facing. A second later, a voice spoke out behind them.
“Good evening,” said Neoangel calmly.
“Evening,” replied Myseraine, turning sharply on the balls of her feet almost before the Zafara even began speaking.
“What brings you three so far tonight?” Neoangel asked.
Cin snarled. Myseraine took a step forward, her eyes locked on the Zafara. “Our business is not pleasant- for you. We have come for you and the Draik. We failed to realize your position. We cannot have you leaking information to the Light Faeries.”
Her hand flew out before she’d finished her last sentence.
Neoangel blocked the resulting shot of dark energy at once.
“We are quite evenly matched,” remarked Myseraine.
Neoangel dipped her head. “Such an honour to hear you say that.”
“But you are outnumbered- there are three of us, and one of you.”
“I noticed,” Neoangel said nonchalantly.
Myseraine opened her mouth to reply, but at that moment Yalfeda shrieked, “Let’s get her!” She fired what looked like a blotch of pitch-black ink at Neoangel; hit in the stomach, the Zafara was thrown against the chimney.
NSQ woke up when she heard a thud somewhere above her. “What’s that?” she muttered sleepily. “Happi? Is that you?”
She rolled over. Beside her, Happiness was curled up peacefully, her eyes shut.
NSQ would really have rather gone back to bed, but her paranoia took over. “Is there someone on the roof?” she mumbled to herself. “Thieves? Villains? Ninjas? What’s going on up there? Of course... it could be my imagination...”
She trundled out of bed, pulling on a sweatshirt as she went. “May as well... check it out...” Yawning, she trudged to the door.
Fully awake, Denriada heard the crash and had to clap a hand to her mouth to stop herself from screaming. ’Who was that?’ she thought. ’Was it Neoangel? Someone else? What if...’
“...She’s hurt?” whispered Denriada out loud. Gasping, she tried to clasp her claws back to her mouth, but found that something was already there.
A thick blue rope, one of her own, was pressed firmly against her mouth. Another one was rubbing her shoulders gently. They were out.
Cin blinked. “She’s here.”
Yalfeda stepped back, panting in excitement from her attack. “The Draik?” she hissed.
“Well, well, just our luck!” crowed Myseraine. “And here we thought you had already sent her away in fear... how noble of you to let her stay! Unfortunately for you, you have led us right to her... go fetch Denriada!” she shouted.
Cin disappeared over the side of the roof. Neoangel got to her feet. Then the Dark Faerie was back, Denriada completely tied up at her side.
“It’s so kind of you to join us,” said Myseraine triumphantly. “Isn’t it?”
“Too kind,” replied Neoangel slowly. But she seemed a few notches less composed now; still, she wrapped her cloak around herself carefully and said, “Then, my dear Faeries, do you have what you came for?”
Myseraine’s face split into a sneer. “Only half.”
She leaped into the air and sent a rain of ink soaring down towards Neoangel. The Zafara shielded her body in a blue bubble, which collapsed upon impact. She dodged back and blocked the rain with a screen of light that materialized between her hands. The rain crystallized and turned white, then shot itself back at Myseraine. The two exchanged a few blows like this, neither of them at their full potential yet, when suddenly both parties froze. Neoangel’s eyes widened.
“Yup, there is definitely something goin’ on up on this roof,” said a voice. A few clunky footsteps could be heard, and then NSQ’s head popped up right next to Denriada’s feet.
Black rope flew out of a roof tile and wound itself around her arms and legs. “Wha-what’s going on!?” she gasped, struggling to get to her knees next to Denriada.
“Denriada led us here,” crooned Cin.
“I didn’t!” the Draik cried.
“No, that’s true...” Yalfeda smirked in amusement. “It was actually Neoangel. But it really doesn’t make a difference now... we’re taking them both!”
Neoangel glanced at their leader. “I don’t quite understand... I thought you only wanted Denriada and me. What is the purpose of capturing my owner as well?”
“We can’t have anything getting in our way,” cackled Cin. “Myseraine, should I get the others?”
“Don’t bother,” Myseraine replied. “We are almost done.”
The three dark Faeries launched themselves at Neoangel. NSQ reached out, and discovered that her bonds had been untied. She glanced at Denriada, who was making the ropes slither away across the floor. Fear in her eyes, the Draik mouthed, “Get help.”
With the Faeries focused on Neoangel, NSQ fumbled down the ladder and back into the house. ’Get help, get help!’ she panicked. ’What do I do? Who can I call? Should I wake up the others? I need to wake them up... we all need to get away, get away from here...’
She staggered to her own room and grabbed Happiness without a word. With the confused Cybunny in her arms, she ran to Neofaerie. “Faer!” she hissed, wrenching open his bedroom door. “Get up, we need to move! Dark Faeries are here!”
He stumbled to her blindly and demanded, “Where’s Neoangel?”
“She’s fighting them right now! We need to get help- Oh Faer, who’s gonna help us? We need help!”
“There’s no one!” he spluttered back. “It’s 10 minutes to Neopia Central, we’ll never make it in time! There’s no way we can get to anyone!”
“Daydream!” Happiness piped up. “She can send a message for us.”
NSQ froze. “She sleeps outside.”
“I’ll get her,” Neofaerie said immediately, moving to the front entrance. “Start writing the note.”
“You’ll get caught!” squealed NSQ. “The Faeries are on the roof!”
“If I had a distraction-” His eyes fell on Happiness, but he looked away. Strapping a Lost Desert Dagger to his arm he assured the girls, “I won’t get caught. I just need to get to Daydream and tell her to go to you, anyways. After that it doesn’t matter.”
Without waiting for a response, he crept through the door. NSQ grabbed a piece of paper and had barely started writing when she heard screeching laughter and a shout from Neofaerie.
She dropped her pen and paper.
“We can’t stay here,” said Happiness sincerely.
NSQ gave her pet a petrified nod, and stepped outside.
“Everyone’s here now!” jeered Cin as NSQ and Happiness came into view. Neoangel was lying against a tree, Denriada and Neofaerie at her side. As one, the dark Faeries flew into the air and surged down to where their prey was.
“I suppose we will have to finish you all,” said Myseraine, although she didn’t seem too troubled by the thought. “After all, you probably all know by now; she must have leaked the information to everyone. Never could keep your mouth shut, could you, Denriada?”
“Know what?!” screamed NSQ. “She hasn’t told us anything!”
“You’re wrong,” said Neoangel suddenly, standing up to face Myseraine. “Out of guilty loyalty, she never once offered to teach me.” She cupped her hands. “That she would keep secrets even for cowards like you... shows me how faithful she is.” Light flashed in her paws.
Neofaerie whipped his weapon out and went to stand beside Neoangel. “NSQ, get my shield,” he said.
The girl took a step forward, and was immediately thrown into the air.
Neoangel took to the skies as well, engaging Myseraine in a fight. Yalfeda caught NSQ and began to fly in circles low to the ground; Happiness tumbled out of the sky; Neofaerie caught her and bolted after the dark Faerie.
Struggling to her feet, Denriada was just quick enough to avoid an arrow shot by Cin. The arrow hit a tree and both weapon and target turned to ash. Dodging a rain of arrows, Denriada finally managed to throw back a shot of pure dark energy.
“Oh, Myseraine, Yalfeda, come look at this!” cackled Cin, easily catching the bolt in one hand. “Isn’t this fun? The student takes on the teachers!”
Yalfeda dropped NSQ and Neoangel rushed to catch her as the three Faeries swarmed around Denriada. “You think you can defeat us with our own magic?” laughed Yalfeda. “Is this all you know? How pitiful!”
“That’s right,” smirked Myseraine. “The only magic you know is what we taught you, isn’t it, you academy dropout?”
Yalfeda raised her hands, but at that moment Neofaerie rammed into her side. She fell against Cin, who fired the bolt of energy at the Kougra.
He was tossed through the air, landing a few yards away and sliding roughly across the dirt. Denriada dropped Happiness on the ground beside him, with NSQ right behind.
“I can’t believe this,” cried Denriada, crawling to his side. “This is the second time you’ve gotten hurt because of me! The first, when I even hurt you intentionally, and now-”
“Doesn’t matter,” he snapped, getting to his feet. “Completely different things. Don’t you understand the concept of protection?”
“I-” she fumbled for words, finally bursting out, “I can heal your wound! Wait, stay still-”
“Stop it!” he demanded, brushing away her hand. “I don’t need it, you do! NSQ, where’s- unh! Get away from here, and take Happiness! You’re getting in the way!” He began to run back to the fight, which Neoangel was losing miserably.
“No!” howled NSQ, scampering behind him. “I won’t go!”
“Me neither!” called Happiness.
“Don’t be so selfish!” he yelled, rounding on them. “What can you do here? Nothing! Get away!” At this Cin landed on the ground beside him; he lunged at her.
“Happiness, what will we do?” cried NSQ. Something crashed into her ankle. She gasped and fell down on all fours.
Yalfeda grabbed her, Happiness still clinging to her owner’s back, and the three of them rose into the air. “You’ll never survive this!” screeched Yalfeda.
’What do I do?’ thought NSQ desperately. ’I can’t be useless- I can’t be so useless anymore!’
Above her she heard a ripping sound; Happiness was on her shoulder, part of Yalfeda’s left wing in her paw. “Your wings are like paper,” she commented softly.
“Stop it!” shrieked Yalfeda, loosening her grip on her captives. “Stop!”
Without stopping to think, NSQ screamed, “Hang on, Happiness!” Reaching up, she grabbed the rest of the Faerie’s wing and tore it off in one wild motion.
They plummeted down to the ground, all gripping each others’ limbs, too scared to let go. Somehow, while falling, NSQ realized that no one was going to catch her.
Yalfeda crashed into the ground first. The other two landed on top of her and rolled off, the worst of their fall cushioned by the Faerie. NSQ jumped up and backed away violently, but from that point on it didn’t make a difference.
“My wings,” sobbed Yalfeda, clenching the muddy dirt beneath her with long fingernails. The other wing had fallen off, useless without its counterpart. For a few seconds she could only cry, the way NSQ had never heard a Faerie cry before- then she let out a long sigh and collapsed, motionless.
“The wings,” breathed NSQ... “That’s right...”
Happiness hopped onto her back. “We need to tell the others, Nesqu!”
They sprinted to Neofaerie and Denriada, the closest, who had ganged up on Cin. “Faer!” NSQ screamed. “Denriada! You need to rip off their wings!”
“We’ve been trying!” Neofaerie hollered back. He flung his dagger at Cin, who dodged and scorched the hem of her dress on a jet of dark magic cast by Denriada.
“You think it’s so easy, don’t you?!” screeched the Faerie furiously. “That you can just decide that you’re done with us, and that’s it? You can never get away from it, Denriada!” She threw her hands into the air; Neofaerie ducked, but the spell was meant for the Draik.
There was a quick flash, and Denriada fell to her knees. She stared at her hands, her arms, her tail. “No,” the Draik whispered, “No...”
“See what you really are!” spat Cin. “You think you can wash your hands of us, after all that we’ve done for you!”
“What’s going on?” yelled NSQ.
“She’s being tricked by an illusion,” said Neofaerie uncertainly. “She must see herself as a mutant again. Denriada!” he shouted. “Get up! Don’t give up!”
”Don’t give up, Denriada!”
“What’s the point?” the Draik asked miserably. “I’ll never get this... why are you still so insistent, Neoangel? How do you still believe in me?”
“I believe in everyone. You just can’t stop working. It’s never over, you know?” Neoangel sat down. “Last week you managed to complete the Water Faerie’s spell- it was a week later than everyone else, but you did it. Did you think it was over then? Do you think it’ll be over when we graduate? We’ll keep having things thrown at us. It ends when you give up. When you give up, that’s it. Everything’s over.”
Ropes slithered out of the ground and coaxed Denriada up. At last she stood, brilliantly coloured ropes dangling in front of her expectantly. She glanced over at Neofaerie.
“We’ll take this one,” said the Kougra, snapping his dagger into strong jaws.
“Where’s Neoangel?” gasped NSQ, looking around. “She’s flown too high up; I can’t see her or the other Faerie! Happiness, I need to see if she’s okay.”
“Daydream left to Neopia Central already,” replied the Cybunny, standing up on her owner’s shoulders.
“It’s not high enough!”
“It’s the highest we’ll get!” choked NSQ. She ran to the house, flung open the door and screamed. “Th-there’s something in the house!”
Dark shapes crept through the rooms, stepping over pools of thick black mud. Feeling all her fur rise, Happiness whispered, “It’s some kind of shadow spell... but we have to get through it, don’t we, Nesqu? We can’t get any higher than the roof.”
“I... wh-what should I do,” cried NSQ, “I don’t know how to get through it!”
“There must be some way... light? Fire?”
“If I can just make it to the kitchen!” NSQ sank one of her feet into the muck. Immediately the shadows flickered; they all dove for her, while the sludge thickened and tried to drag her in like quicksand.
“Help!” she sobbed hysterically. “It’s going to devour me!”
Happiness jumped in as well, little paws digging for her owner’s foot. She thrashed about, kicking back with both hind legs, and the shadows backed away.
“You need to fight them!” she hollered, practically swimming through the mud. “NSQ!”
The girl flailed wildly, plunging through the mire in an effort to stand up. “I- I can’t breathe!” she gasped.
“You can’t stop now! We have to make it there!”
Neoangel could hear shouting and banging below her, accompanied with faded voices, urgent but indecipherable. It was impossible to see anything through the dense grey fog that surrounded Myseraine and herself, two Faerie magic users circling each other cautiously in the air, aware of every little move and motion that the other made.
“It’s pretty dark, isn’t it?” taunted the Dark Faerie. “One of my specialties... how high up do you think we are? Hard to tell?”
“I’m sure I’ve been higher,” replied Neoangel coolly.
Myseraine grinned. “I am still surprised that you threw your ‘family’ into this... here I thought that you would attempt to fight all three of us at once! Well... you are too intelligent for that...”
“I don’t throw them into anything. They do what they wish.”
“Of course. It doesn’t make a difference what they chose to do... this battle will be over soon.”
“Since one of yours is already out, I would have to agree.”
“Oh, so you sensed it even through the mist? I’m impressed... then there is no point hiding it, as you must already know that Cin is weakening too quickly for her to last much longer either. They will both wake up soon, but not quickly enough for either of them to redeem themselves in this fight. But it does not matter... I think we both know what the most important fight is.”
Neoangel instinctively raised a paw to her brooch. “I think the outcome is clear as well.”
The smile slipped off of Myseraine’s face; she frowned, staring at the elaborate pin. “She has been watching us, you know... your Light Faerie.”
Neoangel’s heart didn’t miss a beat. “You felt it?”
“I tried to block her, but she was too strong,” said the Dark Faerie, sounding uncertain for the first time. “What is such a powerful Faerie doing watching a Neopian?”
“She’s the Light Faerie Leader: my old teacher. She keeps a constant eye on me,” Neoangel bluffed calmly. “She’ll be upset to hear of what situation her former pupil was forced into.”
Myseraine sneered. “And I wonder how upset she’ll be when she finds out what I did?” She had already prepared; black lightning shot out of the air and struck Neoangel on the spot.
The worst of the attack bounced off a thin layer of light which sprang up to surround Neoangel’s fur, but the Zafara faltered; in the second she took to recover, Myseraine was right in front of her; she threw two smoking hands into the Zafara’s shoulders.
“You still haven’t healed from our last encounter!” she cackled. “Don’t be ashamed; I’m surprised you can fly after that.”
Neoangel drifted down, but the Faerie grabbed her by the wrist and wrenched her up into the air with sickening ease. “Don’t think you can go down there!” screeched the Faerie. “I’m finishing you up here!” Purple fire streaked violently through the air, slamming into Neoangel’s stomach and forcing her further into the sky.
“This is too much... isn’t your Light Faerie going to help you, Neoangel? I’m waiting for your brilliant move, after all that talk!” She smiled. “Always with that cool look on your face... I must admit, you had me worried at first! But now...” She spat something black out of her mouth, which Neoangel barely dodged. “It’s too easy!” she crooned.
Struggling to stay in the air, Neoangel rubbed her broach again. ’It’s so close,’ she thought urgently. ’I only need a little more time.’
To be continued...