Neopia, Year 200 Book II: Earthly Winds - Part Nine
Chapter Nine: Tempest Unleashed
“I don’t understand,” Cillo said, frowning. “Why isn’t she moving?”
Yorick took a tentative step forward and peered closer at the Air Faerie, who was frozen with utter surprise— literally. Even her cerulean hair, which appeared to have been, in life, a raging sea of curls, looked to have been tamed by the force that had enchanted the rest of her body.
“I think she’s under a spell,” Yorick said, after a while. “Brianne, you’re the expert. Got any ideas?”
The Fire Faerie studied Empesta’s frozen form for a moment before coming to a conclusion.
“It seems to me to be something like Temporal Leak,” she said, “but far, far stronger. I think that only the Uber-Dark Faerie could possibly cast a spell this powerful.”
“But she obviously didn’t,” Yorick said, “because if I remember correctly, Fyora sealed the Valkaeum herself. So who did?”
“That’s not important,” Layla said. “Figuring out what happened here isn’t our priority. What we’re going to do about it is.”
“Does this mean we don’t need to do anything else?” Kayna mused. “After all, we’ve technically stopped her from causing harm. Even if we weren't the ones that stopped her”
“Yeah,” Cillo said. Layla sighed.
“But remember the Faerie dolls? We’ll never truly capture the Valkaeum if we just leave these Faeries where they are! Persepa would still be able to cause chaos if we hadn’t taken the trouble to defeat her properly, and to retrieve the doll with her essence in it!"
“If you can remember correctly, Layla, ‘properly capturing’ Persepa didn’t do much good in the end,” Kayna said, crossing her arms. “We practically destroyed the Dusty Quill and didn’t even thank Vaiglor for his help.”
“No,” Layla snapped, “you didn’t thank Vaiglor for his help. This entire trip you’ve been nothing but a hindrance.”
“Oh? And who was it that shattered the Orb of the Rising Sun? Who helped weaken Persepa? Who helped defeat Scylla and free the trapped Water Faeries?”
“Actually, Kayna,” Yorick said thoughtfully, “in the case of defeating Scylla, you really didn’t do that much.”
“Well,” Kayna said coldly, “if you all think the same as Yorick and Layla here, I might as well go home. I see I’m not needed.”
She made a motion for the tunnel entrance, but was stopped by Brianne.
“Look at us all; fighting over nothing,” Brianne said, “when we’ve got more pressing issues on our hands. It doesn’t matter how much each of us did each of those times— all of it helped. That’s one thing the Valkaeum never learned - to work together. Their petty jealousies were the reason they fell."
Kayna sighed and, after looking back and forth at the dark passage from which the group had come and at her friends, shrugged and took her place next to the others.
“Great,” Yorick said. “Now, let’s think about what we’re going to do.”
“Each of the previous members of the Valkaeum have been captured by reversing the trait they’re known for— Scylla forgave, Rheani calmed, and Persepa, the controller, lost control,” Layla mused. “Empesta should be the same.”
“But if she’s the Tempest,” Cillo said, “hasn’t she already been tamed? I mean, look at her. She’s as icy as a Chia Pop.”
“I don’t think that’s the solution,” Yorick said. “What did Lexica say when she told us the legend of the Valkaeum? Brianne? What was Empesta imprisoned for?”
There was an uneasy pause.
“I can’t remember,” Brianne muttered, looking at the others, who nodded. “None of us can.”
“Don’t you think that’s odd?” Cillo said. “We can remember everything else Lexica said, but not that speech!”
“What?” Kayna said, chuckling. “You honestly think Lexica did something? She’s just a Library Faerie, Cil. She doesn’t have the power to erase memories.”
“Maybe not,” her younger brother said. “I can remember telling Persepa about all those kings she hypnotized, and I definitely learned that from what Lexica told us.”
He stepped back and blinked. “Wait a minute... now it’s gone!”
“That’s impossible,” Brianne said, stunned. “Memories just can’t disappear in the blink of an eye. In all my years at the Academy, we never learned magic that powerful, or if it even exists.”
“You’re not a particularly powerful Faerie, Brianne,” Yorick said.
“Hey!” Brianne said, frowning. “I resent that!”
“No, no,” Yorick said, claws held up. “Hear me out. As far as Faerie society goes, you don’t hold an important role. You’re not an Uber-Faerie, or even a member of Fyora’s staff. Why would you be taught advanced magic over anyone else? It doesn’t make sense.”
“But that means there’s a lot we don’t know, then,” Layla said, “especially about magic like this.”
“I know,” Yorick said, “but the least we can do is try. Brianne,” he said, turning to the Faerie, “are there any spells that can restore someone like Empesta to their original state?”
Brianne pursed her lips. “There might be one, but it won’t do much good. As I said, this is a powerful spell we’re working with.”
“You’ve countered powerful spells before, Brianne,” Layla said. “Remember on Terror Mountain, when you freed those two pets from their enchantment?”
The Fire Faerie sighed. “A lot depends on the strength of the spell you’re countering. Rheani just wanted some minions, not henchmen capable of independent thought. And the emotions of the caster are another matter. If magic is used in a tense situation, it can often be a lot more effective.”
She gestured towards the frozen Empesta with a flick of a wrist. “This is clearly not a tense situation.”
“Good point,” Layla said. “Do we have anything else magical that might work?”
“There’s my Rainbow Gun,” Kayna offered. “It’s got that purple jewel thing on the end.”
“I wouldn’t use that,” Brianne said hastily.
Kayna frowned. “Why?”
“You might need it,” she said. The Faerie Zafara put the piece of equipment away, but continued to sneak curious glances at Brianne as she did so.
“Anything else?” Layla said pointedly while looking at her eldest brother. Yorick suddenly jumped, as if woken from a dream.
“I still have two Codestones!”
A few minutes of frantic digging about in his pack later, the bag containing them was clutched in his claws.
Cillo raised an eyebrow. “How is a Codestone going to help us here?”
“The Techo Master said every Codestone contains mystical energies,” Yorick said. “Maybe we can harness them in some way... but how?”
“Let’s just stop for a moment here,” Kayna said. “Has anyone thought about what’s going to happen once we actually free Empesta?”
Yorick paused. “Oh, she’ll probably be too dazed to do anything. Don’t worry about it.”
“But what if she isn’t dazed?” Kayna pressed. “What if she does something? Say, create a storm?”
“Hang on,” the Draik said. “Kayna’s right. We can’t really predict what she’ll do when she’s free.”
“Yes,” Layla said impatiently, “but freeing her is the only option we have. Are you backing out on us?”
“No,” Yorick said. “I just think we should think this through a little bit more.”
His youngest sister rolled her eyes. “Do you realize how little time we have? The CCN are probably already wondering where we are. Maybe they found the tunnels, too!”
“That’s enough, Layla,” Yorick said. “If they had found the tunnels, we would have heard something by now.”
Layla rolled her eyes. “Just give me that!” She snatched the Codestone bag from Yorick and pulled out one of the stones.
“Brianne,” she said, “do you know any spells for unlocking the powers of magical objects?”
“Yes,” the Fire Faerie said, startled by the anger in the Aisha’s tone, “but—”
Brianne nodded, a little concerned, and closed her eyes.
The Codestone began to shake intensely in Layla’s hand; the Aisha dropped it, surprised, and watched as the engraved stone began to pulse with a pale blue energy. The light surrounding the Codestone began to expand, until...
A powerful ray of energy shot from the Codestone and hit Empesta square in the chest. The Faerie began to blink, slowly at first, then rapidly as she discovered she could move again. Yorick held his breath.
As the Air Faerie became used to movement, she regarded the group for the first time. Their presence was only a minor curiosity to her, however, as the ceiling of the chamber was a far more worthy target.
Empesta raised her hands.
“Stand back,” Yorick murmured as the rest of the group began to retreat. A sphere of wind began to form above Empesta’s outstretched hands as the Draik began to hastily retreat himself.
Then she let the sphere fall to the floor, and in the space of a moment all was chaos.
A small tornado formed on the chamber floor, growing at incredible speeds until it burst out of the ceiling, tossing its other five inhabitants into the air, held captive by the burst of air magic Empesta had summoned.
Yorick tried to locate his siblings within the whirling maelstrom, but nothing much was clear, except for the occasional flash of flame-hued wing and cerulean tail as he was tossed higher and higher into the sky.
Then the whirlwind stopped, and all was darkness.
To be continued...