The Prophecy Faeries: Part Two
PART TWO: THE PLAN
Bernadette nearly gasped aloud. She was so shocked that she missed some of the following conversation.
“Very well,” Dinusa was saying. “I leave in two hours. Until then, mind your class as usual. Oh, and Rutherford? I’ve heard that our friend Professor Hentoff told his first class a little story about Khorianna. See to that he understands he is not tell any more stories of this nature.”
“Yes, Dinusa,” said Rutherford. There was more scraping as someone stood from the chair, and then rapid footsteps coming towards the door. Quickly, Bernadette whispered, “Undo,” just before the door creaked open. Out came a small, timid-looking Meerca, who Bernadette recognized as the temporary substitute for a teacher in the water faerie department, who was sent home several months ago because of illness. Bernadette pretended to be digging through her book bag.
“You wish to see the principal?” he asked, looking startled to see her.
“Yes, just let me find my schedule,” Bernadette said, even though she knew perfectly well where it was. Rutherford took the red cloth off of the doorknob and replaced it with a green one. He strode away, and Bernadette knocked once before hurrying inside, her mind spinning with what she had just heard.
“Yes?” Dinusa asked as Bernadette entered the room. “What is it?”
For a moment Bernadette forgot why she had come. “Oh, uh, there’s been a problem with my schedule,” Bernadette said, pulling it from her bag and handing it to Dinusa. While Dinusa looked at the schedule, Bernadette glanced around the room. She was standing beside a wooden chair that she guessed Rutherford had just vacated. On the other side of the desk Dinusa sat in a high-backed armchair, behind which a fire burned in the grate. All of the windows had been covered with heavy drapes, which Bernadette hadn’t seen in her previous visits to Dinusa’s office; she wondered if Dinusa was worried about someone finding out about what she and Rutherford had been discussing.
“Yes, you do have a problem,” said Dinusa after a moment. “I’ll speak with my secretary about correcting it, and a new schedule will be sent to your dorm room after lunch. What is your room number?”
After giving Dinusa her dorm room number and thanking her for her time, though she didn’t mean it at all, Bernadette hurried out of the room and ran back to the dining hall, where breakfast was just letting out. She spotted her friends and ran over to them.
“What’s wrong?” Clarisse asked as Bernadette neared them.
“You will never believe what I have to tell you,” Bernadette said. Clarisse gave her a funny look, and Bernadette suddenly wondered if Clarisse was reading her thoughts. After a moment a surprised look appeared on Clarisse’s face.
“Yes, you have quite a story to tell,” she said softly. “You’d better wait until there’s no one around.”
“Yes,” agreed Bernadette, as Hortensia and Victoria gave them strange looks.
“Well, let’s go to class then,” Victoria said, and she and Hortensia hurried to join the throng that was filing out of the dining hall.
“By the way,” Clarisse whispered as she walked past Bernadette, “I wasn’t reading your thoughts, just watching your memories.” With these haunting words, she walked away, leaving Bernadette standing speechlessly behind her.
After classes ended for the day, Victoria hurried to the air faerie floor and went to Clarisse’s dormitory. Bernadette and Clarisse were already there. As soon as Hortensia arrived, breathless from running down three flights of stairs, Bernadette shut the door.
“So, what is it you wanted to tell us?” Victoria asked.
“When I went up to Dinusa’s office, Rutherford, that substitute in the Water class, he was in her office talking to her, and I heard—”
“You were eavesdropping?” Hortensia scolded.
“Tenny, listen, Dinusa said she was going away and she was leaving Rutherford in charge. She said he wasn’t allowed to let anyone out of the school. Rutherford asked where she was going, and said something about plans. She was talking about an object; I don’t know what it was. She said she was taking it to the person who made it, and something about activating it so she could use it. The she said they were going to conquer Neopia! Oh, and somehow she knew Hentoff told us that Khorianna story, and told Rutherford to tell Hentoff not to tell that story anymore.”
Hortensia and Victoria stared at her.
“Well, don’t you think it’s strange?” Bernadette continued hesitantly. “They were acting like it was some big secret, like they were doing something wrong.”
“Don’t you think you’re blowing this out of proportion?” Hortensia asked.
“No!” Bernadette said stubbornly. “Tenny, you weren’t there; you didn’t hear it!”
“So what are you suggesting, that Dinusa’s evil?” Victoria asked skeptically.
“That’s exactly right,” said Clarisse in a strange voice. The three faeries turned to look at her. Her eyes were glazed over and out of focus. “Claire, are you all right?” Victoria asked.
“Yes,” she said, and suddenly she looked fine. “Dette is right.”
“What are you talking about?”
“When I found out about what Dette heard, I went past Dinusa’s office and I could tell what she was thinking. She’s planning something, something bad. And it has to do with the prophecy we heard in class today.”
“Are you sure?” Victoria asked.
“Positive. Don’t you remember the prophecy? ‘An evil villain with a wicked heart who pretends to be a friend must be defeated.... Four faerie heroes will discover a devious plot to conquer all.’ I know it’s true, and the four faeries are us,” Clarisse said firmly.
At first no one seemed convinced, but the Hortensia said, “Didn’t it say something about the four faeries being outcasts?”
They all knew what Hortensia was talking about. Years ago, when they first came to Faerie Heights, none of them knew each other. They were different types of faeries who were in different classes and didn’t associate. The one thing they had in common was that they were unpopular. Hortensia was very shy, and didn’t talk to anyone she didn’t know very well, a trait that made the other faeries think that she didn’t talk at all. They also disliked her because Hortensia was smart. All of the teachers loved her and praised everything she did, which made the other faeries jealous. Clarisse was considered insane or sick or just strange. Bernadette didn’t act like the other dark faeries, and had the rather annoying habit of spouting off facts and statistics at every given opportunity. Victoria had the nasty habit of unleashing floods, rain, and puddles onto her classmates accidentally, which did not earn her any friends. One by one, each of them discovered a hidden alcove on the main floor, off a small hallway between the vice principal’s offices and the library. Each of them liked to visit this alcove whenever they wanted to hide from their classmates. One day, they all ended up in the alcove at the same time, and from then on they became friends. Bernadette jokingly called the alcove “Outcast Alley” and the name stuck. From then on they thought of themselves as “the faerie outcasts.”
“‘Outcast’ is a pretty common word,” Victoria said stubbornly. “It could refer to anyone.”
“It refers to us,” Clarisse insisted.
“Okay, so what do we do about it?” Hortensia asked, finally convinced.
“We have to tell someone,” Bernadette said.
“Who can we tell? We don’t have any proof, just what you think you heard, and what Clarisse knows. If you tell someone, they’ll think you’re crazy,” Victoria pointed out. “And anyway, we don’t know which of the other teachers are working with Dinusa.”
“Your families live here in Faerieland,” Bernadette said, looking at Hortensia and Victoria. “Tenny, your sisters even go to school here! We could tell them.”
“They’d never believe me,” Hortensia said. “Especially since the only witness is a dark faerie. No offense, but they wouldn’t believe you.”
“Neither would mine,” said Victoria glumly.
“We’ll have to tell someone really important, someone who can’t take the risk that we might be lying,” Clarisse said.
“How about Fyora?” Hortensia suggested. “There’s no one more powerful in Faerieland than her.”
“But how will we see her? Rutherford’s not going to let anyone out of the school, and not everyone can see Fyora whenever they want to.”
“We have to try,” Bernadette said firmly.
“Okay,” Victoria said, “but I still think you’re all nuts.”
“Speaking of nuts, did you know that sixty percent of all Neopians polled said that their favorite type of nut is the cashew? Twenty percent said peanut, ten percent said almond, and ten percent said another type,” Bernadette chimed in.
Clarisse and Hortensia groaned simultaneously.
“I rest my case,” said Victoria.
That night Hortensia told her roommate that she was staying up late to study for a test, but really she had no intention of going to sleep. As soon as the other earth faerie was slumbering away, Hortensia silently slid her book onto the nightstand and tiptoed over to the door. Unfortunately Hortensia’s dormitory was on one of the inside walls and didn’t have any windows, so she’d have to creep silently through the school.
First, she’d have to unlock the door. The teachers always locked the doors from the outside at night, so that no one could sneak around and cause trouble. Teachers first locked it with a key, and then used a spell on it, a spell that no student in the history of the school had ever undone, or so everyone said. The same spell was also used on all dormitory windows.
Hortensia felt her heart pounding. She had never done anything with such a blatant disregard for rules. In her nervousness, she tripped and sent something heavy toppling from the nearby bureau with a loud crash. Her roommate’s eyes fluttered. “What was that?” she asked.
“Sorry, going to the bathroom,” Hortensia lied, slipping through the nearby door into the dormitory bathroom, hoping that her roommate hadn’t been able to tell what she was wearing. She quickly shut the door and waited, counting the seconds. After counting to five hundred and twenty, Hortensia peeked through the bathroom door. Her roommate appeared to be asleep again. Hortensia left the bathroom, knowing that she had to hurry. The others would be waiting for her.
This time she made it to the door without incident. From her pocket she took out a small bean plant that had only just begun to sprout. Concentrating, Hortensia willed the plant to grow. She didn’t say the spell aloud for fear of attracting the attention of her roommate, but it took much more concentration to do it silently. Finally, the plant had grown about three feet and molded itself so that it fit into the keyhole of the door. She heard the satisfying click as the door unlocked. Now she had to hope that Bernadette was on the other side of the door, ready to undo the locking enchantment placed upon it. Bernadette was convinced that she would be able to do it, because she had read something about the spell in an old library book. She was supposed to sneak out her dormitory window, double around, enter the school through the back door of the kitchen, and unlock Hortensia’s door.
Hortensia waited, hoping that Bernadette was on the other side of the door and had heard the lock click. But nothing happened. “What happened to Bernadette?” she wondered silently as she waited in the darkness.
Clarisse didn’t have the problem of roommates or unlocking spells. The school nurse had been quite convinced that Clarisse’s claims to having visions and reading minds was some type of illness, and had instructed a school prefect to wait outside the door each night. Clarisse was instructed to tap three times on the wood of the door if she was sick or thought she was having a vision, which the nurse thought were hallucinations, and the prefect would escort her to the nurse’s office. Of course, Clarisse was not ill or mentally unstable (she hoped), and never told anyone when she had visions if she could help it, but tonight, she decided to use this service to her advantage.
Clarisse sat at her locked window and heard the teacher’s call for lights out. She also heard the familiar footsteps of a young prefect stationing herself outside the door, probably planning to catch up on homework or fall asleep until another prefect came for the next shift. Clarisse watched the sky, counting the number of stars that she could see, entertaining herself by seeing if any craters were visible on the full moon. Finally, when she thought enough time had passed, she pulled on pajamas over her clothes and mussed her pale hair to make it appear as though she had been sleeping. The she hurried to the door and tapped loudly three times. There was a pause, and then the door was flung open.
“What?” asked a frazzled light faerie wearing a silver prefect badge.
“I feel sick,” Clarisse croaked, rolling her eyes back into her head.
“You’d better come see Nurse Waitfield right away!” the light faerie said, looking concerned. Clarisse felt the thoughts stirring in the faerie’s mind, and knew that her concern was not for Clarisse, but that she would get into trouble if something happened to Clarisse on the way to the nurse.
Deciding she’d better make it a bit more convincing, Clarisse suddenly let out a high-pitched shriek. “The fire! It’s everywhere!” she screamed, closing her eyes as though she was having a vision. She dropped to the floor in a faint and writhed about as though having a seizure, rather enjoying herself as she did so.
The light faerie was becoming generally panicked. “We have to see the nurse! Can you walk?” she asked slowly and loudly, as though Clarisse were deaf.
Clarisse nodded feebly and picked herself up off the floor. The light faerie pulled her out of the room, locked the door, and lit the way through the dark hall, grateful that the nurse’s office was only one floor up.
Clarisse stumbled along the passage, making sure not to look at anything in particular so that she appeared to be hallucinating. When they reached the stairwell, Clarisse caught sight of a window tucked away beside the janitor’s closet. Seizing her chance, Clarisse flung her arms out wide, sending a gust of wind hurtling through the window and knocking the light faerie off her feet. The light faerie, caught completely by surprise, crashed into the stairwell, and the magical light she’d been providing was extinguished. Quickly and silently Clarisse ran to the window, shoved it open, and jumped.
Luckily for Bernadette, her dark faerie roommate had been suspended for performing magic against another faerie, leaving Bernadette alone in her dormitory. It made it much easier to attempt to unlock her window without worrying about waking her roommate. Bernadette wished she had Hortensia’s abilities with plants, because it would be much faster to go out the door and head upstairs to Hortensia’s room. But, unable to produce a key that would fit the lock, she was forced to take the scenic route.
She retrieved the library spell book from its hiding place beneath the mattress and flipped through it until she found the correct page, which listed an unlocking spell. Hoping that it would work, Bernadette walked over to the window and tried to concentrate. Breathing deeply, she closed her eyes and focused all of her attention on the task before her. Finally, she opened her eyes and recited the spell from the book.
At first, nothing happened. But then Bernadette felt the magic flowing through her veins, and purple sparks began to dance around her fingertips. After several long minutes of breathless waiting, the magic left her, and the sparks were gone. Tentatively Bernadette approached the closed window and lifted the latch. It worked. Quietly she swung the window open and looked out. It was a beautiful night, with bright twinkling stars; Kreludor was a silvery sphere hanging in the inky sky. Taking a deep breath of fresh, pure air, Bernadette climbed out of the window and perched on the ledge. She looked across the lawn to their meeting place, but it was too dark to see if anyone was there.
Remembering that Hortensia was waiting for her, Bernadette flew off the ledge and closed the window behind her. Then she soared away, carefully avoiding the occasional lights shining from locked dormitory windows. She flew around the other side of the school and slowly descended into a clump of bushes just beside the back door of the cafeteria kitchen.
Once again she tried the unlocking spell, this time reciting from memory. She found it was much easier the second time. Proud of herself for figuring it out, Bernadette slipped through the door into the darkness of the school kitchen. She stepped around the scattered kitchen utensils and cooking equipment until she found the door leading out to the dining hall. She flew over the tops of the long tables, because it was faster than walking, and landed beside the massive doors. Luckily, one of them was partially opened, allowing her to slip through without any noise. Convinced that everything was going smoothly, Bernadette didn’t notice when, passing by the vice principal’s office, a dark shadow appeared behind her.
“Going somewhere, are we?” asked a familiar voice as someone placed a paw on her shoulder. Turning around, Bernadette saw a stumpy Meerca standing behind her with a look of satisfaction on his face. Bernadette had just been caught by none other than Rutherford himself.
Victoria’s roommate, a water faerie named Arilene, was extremely annoyed that she shared a room with the most inept water faerie in the entire school. Twice this year she had called the principal when Victoria had gotten water all over some of her personal possessions. Arilene knew that Victoria didn’t do mean to do it, but being a spiteful sort of faerie, she pretended that Victoria did it on purpose. Knowing all of this, Victoria had chosen a plan that involved a lot of water, mostly concentrated on Arilene’s side of the dormitory.
Victoria was quite certain that she would get into trouble for this, but of course there were bigger things at stake here than a few detentions. She got ready for bed as usual, ignoring Arilene’s usual complaint that she spent too much time in the bathroom.
Victoria lay down on her bed and turned out the light, as usual, but there was one small difference in her nighttime routine. She did not close the curtains over the window, allowing a thin shaft of silvery moonlight to partially illuminate the room. Arilene did not notice, as Victoria had hoped. This small amount of moonlight allowed Victoria to see what she was doing.
It also allowed her to guess how much time had passed. Hortensia, who had figured out most of tonight’s plan, said that the riskiest part of the whole thing was timing. They didn’t know how long it would take Bernadette to get to Hortensia’s room, or how much trouble Hortensia and Victoria would have with their roommates, or how long it would take Clarisse to escape from the prefect. It was crucial that Victoria timed things exactly right.
Victoria closed her eyes and feigned sleep, but occasionally she cracked open one eyelid to peer out the window, judging time by Kreludor’s position in the sky. After what felt like an eternity, the moon looked right. Victoria glanced at Arilene, who seemed to be asleep. Grinning to herself, she studied Arilene’s side of the room for a long time, so that she could imagine it perfectly when she closed her eyes. Then, Victoria called forth the water. To her surprise, it wasn’t nearly as hard as she thought it would be. The water came quite willingly; she didn’t even need to whisper her commands.
Before she realized what was happening, a torrent of water rained down from the ceiling, materializing from thin air. Arilene woke, screaming, but it was too late to do anything. A flood of water soaked the bed, the floor, the walls, the furniture, the miscellaneous items strewn about the room, and of course Arilene herself.
“What did you do?” she shrieked, staring at the soggy remains of her possessions.
“Absolutely nothing,” Victoria said innocently. “The water just came out of thin air.”
“I’m calling the principal!” Arilene cried. She sprang from the bed, only to slip on the wet floor and crash into the nightstand.
“You’ll pay for this!” Arilene raved, trying and failing to regain her footing.
“Will I?” said Victoria vaguely, smiling. She had never had so much fun before.
Finally, Arilene managed to get up from the floor. She ran a finger through the magical X carved into the wall, which alerted teachers of an emergency. All Faerie Heights dormitories had this, as a way of protecting the students.
When the dormitory door opened, Arilene had composed herself. Professor Trahtooh, the Practical Use of Water Magic teacher, opened the door to find Arilene standing on one side of the room, which looked completely flooded, and Victoria, still lying in bed with a rather triumphant smile on her face, completely dry.
“For Fyora’s sake, what happened in here, girls?” asked Professor Trahtooh, looking suspiciously at Victoria.
“Victoria flooded my half of the room while I was sleeping!” Arilene exclaimed indignantly.
“Why did you do such a thing, Victoria?” asked Professor Trahtooh.
“I didn’t,” said Victoria, but she didn’t sound convincing. Victoria was normally quite a good actress, but at the moment she was trying to keep from laughing, and she was hoping that Trahtooh would hurry up and drag her to the principal’s office so she could escape and meet the others. Needless to say, Professor Trahtooh was not convinced of Victoria’s innocence.
“To the principal’s office, Victoria,” snapped Professor Trahtooh. Arilene smiled smugly.
“Just a moment,” said another voice from behind Trahtooh. Trahtooh turned and found Professor Hentoff standing behind her.
“Why, Hentoff, what are you doing up here?” she asked in surprise.
“Rutherford asked me to get something from his classroom for him, so I happened to be passing when I heard the alarm,” he said easily. “If I may, I don’t think Victoria could have done this,” he continued, surveying the room. “No water faerie of her age could cause such a flood.”
“Pardon me, Hentoff, but you don’t know Victoria like I do. She has problems controlling herself. This is not the first time that Arilene has—”
“I am quite aware of the situation,” he interrupted. “And I am telling you that, past instances or no, Victoria could not have done such damage at her age. It is unheard of. I should think I’ve been at this school long enough to know.”
Victoria was very surprised at the latest development. She hadn’t known Hentoff liked her enough to stand up for her. She also wondered why he seemed convinced that she couldn’t have done it. He did seem to know what he was talking about, and Victoria had never seen a water faerie her age conjure up so much water, but did that mean they were incapable of doing this? After all, everyone said she was untalented, useless. How could she do something the others couldn’t?
“What else could have happened?” demanded Trahtooh. “Victoria’s side of the room is completely dry! The evidence speaks for itself, Hentoff.”
“I do not know what happened,” Hentoff replied, “but I am telling you that it was not Victoria, nor could it have been Arilene, nor any other water faerie of their age.”
“Well, what are you proposing we do?” Trahtooh asked. Victoria was wondering that as well. If the teachers didn’t take her out of the room, she couldn’t escape and meet the others. Would they wait for her, if she didn’t come?
“I will take Victoria to the principal’s office for now. You can take Arilene to get some dry clothes and see if there’s a vacant bed in another dormitory. We will leave the room as it is, for evidence, and let Principal decide what disciplinary measures, if any, should be taken.”
Victoria let out a silent sigh of relief. The plan was still on schedule, and better yet, Hentoff would be taking her. He had no magic; it would be easy to escape.
Trahtooh sighed and agreed to the plan. She escorted the still-dripping Arilene down the hall, while Hentoff took Victoria down the stairs to the main floor.
As soon as Victoria saw a window she prepared to escape, but suddenly Hentoff turned and looked right at her.
“Don’t even think about it,” he hissed. Victoria looked at him in surprise.
“I know what you and your friends are up to,” he whispered, “and I’m going to help. Just relax and follow me. Act like I didn’t say anything, and I’m still taking you to the principal.”
Victoria nodded in agreement, though she couldn’t help wondering if it was a trap. Was Hentoff working for Dinusa and Rutherford? How did he know what she and the others were doing? Deciding she had no choice, at least for now, she followed Hentoff down the hall. He led her past all of the front offices, the dining hall, and the infirmary. They turned down the hall, which contained all of the main floor classrooms, including Hentoff’s Magic History class.
Hentoff unlocked the door to the classroom and, ignoring Victoria’s puzzled look, headed inside. Victoria thought about running away and meeting her friends, but decided they could wait awhile longer; she was far too curious to leave. She followed Hentoff inside and seated herself atop one of the student desks, while Hentoff sat in his chair.
“So,” Hentoff said in a friendly tone, “I suppose an explanation is in order?”
“That would be nice,” Victoria said. Hentoff laughed dryly.
“You do remember the story I told to your class, about Khorianna?”
“Do you remember my mentioning her brother?”
“Yes, the one who wrote down her last prophecies in his diary?”
“Yes, very good.”
Victoria was starting to get impatient. “Look, sir, what does that have to do with anything me and my friends—?”
“Well, you see, Victoria, I am Khorianna’s brother. My name is Marpameus.”
To be continued...