Faded Memories #2: Rise of the Battle Faerie - Part Six
“Mithana, you are dead meat, young lady!”
Valeane and Mithana had entered the council room to find three very angry faeries waiting for them. Well, waiting for Mithana. The dark faerie seemed to shrink inside herself as her three childhood friends stormed up to her with looks of frustration on their faces.
“Don’t ever, ever scare us like that again!” demanded Lithine. The three faeries began to forcefully scold Mithana about carelessness and lack of proper planning.
“I’m sorry,” apologized Mithana. “I didn’t expect that to happen.”
Valeane was secretly impressed. She had never seen the stubborn dark faerie back down like that. She apparently, was not the only one with that feeling.
“Can you teach me that?” asked Sira, a sly grin on her face. Mithana glared at her.
Fyora came to Mithana’s rescue by holding a hand up for silence. When she got it immediately, she spoke.
“I think we had better put the reunions aside for later and figure out exactly how to deal with Sirine and her rebels.” The other nodded in agreement. “Now that Mithana, as well as Lithine, Ariella and Nova, can all give us information that they have learned without worrying about revealing their sources, I think we may be able to stop her.”
“First off, what are we going to do about the tunnels into the castle?” asked Valeane. “I am assuming that that was the problem that Mithana was trying to solve when she was...” She paused. “...delayed.”
“Not trying,” stated Mithana. “I gave those maps of the tunnels to the rest of my sources and they are going to place guards there.”
“Oh?” inquired the queen, her voice clearly telling her council member to go on.
“We found out several days ago when Sirine planned to attack and that she planned to sneak into the tunnels. We were hoping to find a way to trap them inside the tunnels,” she said. “They don’t know their way around very well and it would be easy to point them in the wrong direction. They won’t be expecting to have another dark faerie mislead them.”
Valeane thought about this plan and found that her mind had automatically switched to ‘strategy mode’. She began to imagine the event in her head, searching for flaws. She found one that stood out more than the others.
“One problem,” she stated. The others turned toward her. “I was under the impression that we wanted to avoid any type of head on conflict. The rebels would resist and fight back when they figured out they were trapped.”
“True,” pondered Lilia. The earth faerie’s eyes were troubled. “I personally would rather avoid such a conflict, but to be truthful, it is the only way out of this that I can think of.”
Silence descended over them as each faerie tried to figure out a way that would allow them to remove Sirine from power while at the same time avoid a full on battle with the rebels. An idea began to form inside of Valeane’s head. She turned toward Mithana.
“Will a dark faerie answer to a challenge?” she questioned. Mithana looked at her, startled.
“Well,” she began slowly, as if thinking. “It depends on the type of challenge and the challenger.”
“What do you mean?” asked Prilla.
“If another dark faerie was to challenge her by, say, insulting her, then she would be honor bound to face it.” The other faeries nodded in understanding. “But as far as a challenge by a faerie outside of her element, well...” Mithana shrugged. “Sirine is as cowardly as she is powerful. She’ll try to sneak her way out of any personal fight and try to get others to do the dirty work for her.”
“What if there was a prize involved somewhere in the deal?” asked Valeane. Mithana glanced at her sharply.
“Depends,” she stated simply. “What are you thinking?” Valeane smiled.
“You said she calls herself a queen.” Mithana nodded. “Then let Fyora challenge her as a ruler. It has been done before and the winner takes complete control while the loser relinquishes it.”
“Thanks for volunteering me,” muttered Fyora, though her face was thoughtful.
“She’ll never agree,” insisted Mithana. “She wouldn’t dare take on Fyora and even if she did, you can bet that there will be cheating involved somewhere.”
“Exactly,” said Valeane triumphantly. “According to the rules of single combat, the person who cheats automatically loses. Either way, Fyora wins.”
Everyone was quiet. They knew that Sirine would accept as long as she thought that there would be an easy way out. Not to mention the fact that if she won, she would automatically become queen. It was risky, but so far the risk was worth it.
“I see only one problem with this,” said Prilla. Everyone looked at her. “It is against the law for the monarchs themselves to fight. They would both need Champions and there hasn’t been a Faerie Champion in centuries. At least not since the last Battle Faerie and that was during the Great Faerie Wars, which were so long ago that the records from that time period have all but turned to dust.”
Valeane winced, for she had forgotten about that certain rule. There hadn’t been a Battle Faerie for years and there was no way to appoint one. They would need the Swords of Fire and Ice and they had disappeared with their last bearer.
“That could be arranged, I suppose.” Fyora’s gaze was far off, as if she was contemplating something. Valeane looked at her, startled.
“How?” she demanded. The queen hesitated. Lilia’s jaw dropped in shock.
“You have the Swords?” she asked. Everyone looked at Fyora, who nodded.
“They have been hidden in the catacombs beneath the palace since the last Battle Faerie’s defeat,” she said. “I found their location in some of the old journals kept by the queen of the time.”
“If we could get the Swords to choose another bearer, that faerie could act as Champion,” said Rani thoughtfully. The others nodded.
“They were hidden for a reason, you know,” pointed out Fyora.
“Why?” asked Ariella, curious.
“Their magic comes at a price,” explained Fyora. “Many Battle Faeries were unable to pay that price and suffered severe consequences. Once the need for a Battle Faerie diminished, the queen saw fit to hide them in order to protect any possible candidate for the swords’ next bearer.”
“But how do you choose the Battle Faerie?” asked Mithana.
“If I remember correctly,” replied Valeane, “you don’t. The swords choose the faerie.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, this seems like the best solution,” said Fyora. “I just hope that whoever the swords choose feels the same way.”
Fyora refused to let any of the others accompany her in the catacombs. Valeane got the distinct feeling that there was more hidden down there than her sister let on but did not press the issue. She knew that the queen could easily take care of herself. Besides, she was the only one who knew her way through that endless maze so the probability that she would run into trouble was small.
It seemed like hours to Valeane and the council before Fyora appeared with two sheathed swords in her hands. The hilts and sheaths were wrapped in some strange fabric, hiding their true appearance. Valeane could almost feel the magic cloaking the legendary weapons. She shuddered at the feeling.
The queen set the swords down on her desk before turning towards the others. When she saw that everyone was watching her, she gave them a wry grin.
“Why are you all looking as if you expect some dramatic revealing of these things?” Her grin grew larger when everyone instantly found something else to look at.
“How will we know who the swords choose, though?” questioned Lilia.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure that when they do choose a faerie, we will.”
“Why don’t we take them down to the practice courts,” suggested Valeane. When the others looked at her, she continued, “Well, I would assume the swords would choose someone who was already a warrior and where else is there a greater number of warrior faeries?”
“True,” agreed Fyora. The others nodded.
“Let’s go then,” said Valeane. She reached out to take the swords with them.
Valeane let out a loud yelp as the swords let loose a jolt of energy into her hands. Startled, she tried to drop them, only to find that her hands were wrapped firmly around the hilts and that she was unable to remove them. The Sword of Fire glowed the cherry red color of heated metal while the Sword of Ice began to glow blue. Her hands began to feel as if they were burning and freezing at the same time.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the weapons’ magical assault on Valeane stopped. The swords fell from her hands and clattered to the ground. She backed away from them her eyes wide. A close inspection of her hands showed that they were unmarked, despite the fact that the faerie could have sworn they had been burning as she held the weapons.
“Are you alright?” questioned Rani. A true healer at heart, the water faerie moved next to her and began to examine Valeane’s hands for herself.
“What happened?” asked Valeane.
“They chose you.” Everyone turned toward the queen. Her face was slightly pale. Fyora looked at her sister with pain-filled eyes. “You’re the new Battle Faerie.”
Elation filled Valeane. She couldn’t understand why she felt so happy, but she did. But why was her sister so distressed? But, for the moment, she ignored this observation and, smiling the whole while, accepted the congratulations of the others in the room.
She couldn’t believe it. She was the Battle Faerie.
To be continued...