Cerena's Song 2: The Amulet's Curse - Part Five
I stand outside the small shack, peering inside the cold, dark room. My body is frozen in shock from the frail old voice that came from within, and I feel a chilled wave run down my spine. My eyes are the first to move again, shifting nervously in the direction of the woman, and I close my mouth, swallowing the fear to take a step inside.
It is pitch black inside, and once I have fully entered, I look deep into the room with my eyes open wide, trying to adjust to the engulfing shadows. Nothing happens for a few minutes, not a word is uttered, and finally I can make out a figure sitting in the room. Her features begin to get clearer, as though I am slowly waking up from a dream.
Her skin is incredibly wrinkled and emaciated, and she looks more like a monster than an Acara. I assume that it must have been her who I followed to the shack, but she is so much older now. Her clothing is the same; the bonnet still resting on top of her head, and I figure that my eyes must have deceived me back at the kelp. There is no way that youthful girl had aged so quickly.
She stands now, slow and careful, using the arms of her chair for support until she can reach her wooden cane. Her weak tentacles take a few steps closer to me and I can now make out the scowl on her face. She reaches out to me and I gasp, shutting my eyes tight. I feel my necklace being slowly lifted and glance back down to see the old Acara examining the jewelry. The necklace falls back against me and she nods, turning back to her chair.
“Who are you?” I ask cautiously, staring into her cold green eyes. Something about her is so familiar, like I somehow knew her from long ago. The only thing that keeps me from running away is the strong sense that she is connected to my old life.
The Acara glowers back at me for a while longer before saying anything. “My name is Fay, Fay Silva.”
My heart stops the moment those words escape from her lips. I feel the room begin to spin around me, and then a vision appears inside my head. I am now in Cerena’s home, a row of pictures lining the wall in a sequence, and the photo that precedes the rest features an old Acara. In her arms is Cerena, just a baby, and around the old woman’s neck is the same necklace now wound around mine. I snap back to the present feeling sick and confused.
“Impossible,” I mutter. “Why... How-“
She cuts me off, holding her hand up, and clears her throat once more before speaking. “I have waited years for you to come. It was only a matter of time before you returned.”
I stare at her in disbelief. “What do you mean you’ve waited years for me? I have never even met you-“
She cuts me off again by raising her hand and shaking her head. I hope this won’t be a frequent occurrence. “I was speaking to the jewelry around your neck.”
I consider this for a moment, and the only thing I conclude so far is that she is insane. “Alright, well, can you answer one thing for me?” Her eyes tighten, and I take it as a yes. “Why would you, Cerena’s grandmother, be in this shack out of the middle of nowhere?”
She smiles, which is nice considering all I have seen from her so far is an angry glare. “Dear child, I’m not Cerena’s grandmother. Any of my relatives have been gone for quite some time.”
I can’t respond to this. All I can do is stare questioningly.
“I suppose I should explain, but it may take some time.” She points her ancient cane to something behind me, and I turned to find a chair which I don’t remember seeing when I first entered this place. I sit down and wait for her to begin.
“When I was a girl, my world was ended by a wicked Faerie. Her name remains a mystery to me to this day, although it doesn’t matter much to me anymore. I still remember that night and the years that proceeded extremely vividly, as though it all happened to me just hours ago.” She pauses, thinking back. “After that night, I found that something peculiar had happened to me. Almost every night I would release the most beautiful voice from inside of me, a power that I never knew I had and I never wanted. It was a curse, and it was all brought upon me by that amethyst.” She points to my necklace once more, and I instinctively reach up to touch it, while still keeping my eyes on her.
“At first I didn’t know what to do. I wandered the ocean day and night in search of the Faerie that had brought this curse onto me, but she was gone. I began to lose hope, secluding myself from everyone I once knew, for I was too afraid of what they may think were I to go see them. My loneliness got the best of me, however, and I knew I had to go back to them. It was the worst decision I had ever made.
“I came to my small hometown, only a few wooden houses, for back then in the early ages of Neopia, that was all a town usually consisted of. I stood outside my front porch step, and when my parents came outside, they welcomed me in with a warm embrace and streams of tears. They held a big feast for me, inviting the five other Neopians who lived nearby... and halfway through dinner I felt the song coming. I knew I had to warn them, for I didn’t want them to fear me, so I informed them of the true reason why I had been missing for so long, clutching at my stomach in pain. I told them of the Faerie and the curse... and the fear on their faces is burned into my memory forever.”
The story stopped, and it took me a while to realize how silent it had become. Her eyes were glued to the amethyst, looking deep into it. “When I began to sing, I couldn’t hear it because of the protection around my neck. However, everyone else in the room clutched their hands over their ears, dropping to their knees in agony, and I closed my eyes waiting for it to be over. If only I had looked, I would have known to try and save them, though I’m not sure what I could have done. One by one they rose, taking zombie-like steps closer to me, and when they rested their hand on the purple jewel, they were gone.
“The song was almost over, and I finally opened my eyes to see that the room was empty, all except for my mother. She was standing before me, reaching out, her wide eyes fixed on mine. I would have screamed were it loud enough to overpower the noise.” Fay stopped again, and I can see the pain in her eyes. “When her hand touched the glowing amethyst, she turned a very light purple, and slowly, slowly, she became transparent, as though she were a ghost. Her eyes were emitting the darkest purple, and then like the rest of them, she disappeared.
“I ran. I ran as far away as I could. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened back at my home, and every time I closed my eyes all I could see was my mother’s blank stare. I threw the amethyst down to the ground as the sun disappeared, turning the sea pitch black. As soon as darkness had taken over, I saw the people of my town, walking toward me smiling. I gasped, feeling the tears flooding to my eyes, and dashed to my mother’s arms. I went right through her.
“Every night they would come. It was as though nothing had ever happened, but it wasn’t the same. I would never again feel the touch of my mother’s hand. They never took another breath. And worse of all, when they spoke to me, they sounded almost robotic. They were physically present, only in the sense that you could see them, but their souls were gone.” She laughs, and it startles me, for I was so wrapped up in her tale. “Had you been a few hours earlier, you may have seen them. There’s something about that necklace that, even though you aren’t under the curse, you are still connected to them.”
My thoughts go back to the night I saw Jewell in the cave. She had spoken to me in that same robotic tone Fay describes and had also disappeared right before my eyes. It’s an interesting feeling, finally getting answers after so many years.
“I’m not proud of what I did next, though I can’t say I regret it,” Fay starts again, shifting in her chair before continuing. “I spent the next few years of my life searching for a cure to this curse, visiting all of the libraries I could find. I knew I couldn’t stay long, for the song could start at any moment and I would have to get away from everyone nearby before it was too late. I eventually came upon the Haunted Woods, not nearly as spooky back then but still chilling, and came to Edna’s tower. I had heard rumors about her, and knew she would be the one who could help me if anyone.
“She told me that this curse was beyond any magic she had ever experienced before, and she assumed that the only way to remove the curse was to find another body to put it in.” I realize where this is going and take a quick breath in, horrified. “Edna told me that there was a spell she could create to transfer the curse, were I to give her enough time to research, and it came at a cost. I became her personal ingredient gatherer, taking trips around Neopia for ridiculous items.” She shakes her head angrily. “I felt like I had lived two lives since the day I met the Faerie... but I never aged a day physically.”
My eyes are still glued open, terror in them, and she realizes there is a part she skipped. “That’s another element of this magic; I was forever stuck in a young version of myself. It was like time never passed for me, while the lives of others flew by.
“But I digress. Edna was given some time, and the spell was complete. I asked her for one more spell and went back to where I came from beneath the sea. By that time, Maraqua had been built, and Roseate was in the works as well. I met the Silva family, and I used the second spell Edna gave me to make them believe I was related to them; that way I could live beside them unnoticed. They had a child, Cerena, who was much too young to understand anything that was going to happen, so I used the other spell on her that night.”
I feel nauseous, and as I stare into this old Acara’s eyes, all I can see is an enemy. There is nothing about her that is good. How could she do this to a poor, innocent girl?
“It was the strangest thing,” she continues, though I have no want to hear anymore, “as soon as I finished speaking the words of the spell, I aged dramatically to the figure you see before you now. I don’t know quite how old I am, but I know I have lived in Neopia long enough to look this old, if not older. I waited each night to see if Cerena were under the curse, but nothing happened. The two of us were fine. I moved on with my life, giving the necklace to Cerena for I had no use for it anymore and left Roseate forever. I guess the magic finally caught up with Cerena. Why she gave the necklace to you, however, is a mystery.”
I am the one glaring now. I stand up, pushing my chair back against the wall and approach the old Acara. “You monster... how could you do this?”
“Hush, child, I know this is hard for you to understand-”
“I understand everything perfectly fine!” In fact, it feels amazing to have received so many answers from this one woman, but I still can’t forgive her. “It’s because of you that my whole town is gone!”
“I had nothing to do with that! Your little friend Cerena was the one who lured all your friends and family away, whether I gave her the curse or not. And I certainly didn’t care enough to destroy the town afterward,” she scoffs, just as angry as I am.
“You mean... you weren’t the one who destroyed the supports holding Roseate up? Then who...” I cut myself off, wondering to myself who could have done such a thing. Cerena is the only other person I can think of, but why?
Fay interrupts my train of thought. “Now I gave you what you wanted, answers. So if you have nothing else to say to me, then leave.”
I scowl at her, unable to respond. There is a long silence between us as I think about everything she has just told me. I think about my town, my friends, my family. I will never see them, never be close to them again, and Cerena will never get back the life that was taken from her. Unless... I look into the amethyst and back to the old Acara. I know what I have to do. “If you give me one last thing, I will leave right now.”
Her eyes narrow, studying me. “Fine,” she answers.
“Give me the transfer spell.”
Her frown turns to a smile, and then she begins to cackle insanely. “As much as I would love to, I’m afraid I can’t.”
The fury is bubbling up inside of me. “After all you’ve done, you won’t even do this one thing-“
She holds up her hand once more as she had done earlier, and it takes all my might to not lash back. I have never found myself so furious in my entire life, it is a bit surprising. “I can’t give it to you,” she explains, “because it’s in Cerena’s house, among the ruins at the bottom of the cliff. I put the spell behind the picture of myself, you remember, where I posed with her family?” She smiles, continuing, “And I am afraid I am far too old to remember it by heart.”
I stare in disbelief. How am I supposed to retrieve the spell now? With a smirk, she realizes our conversation has reached its finish and turns away from me.
To be continued...