Herald of Darkness: Part One
Deep in the darkest, coldest depths of the Faerieland Castle was a cell. It was the only cell in the entire building, and also the most high-security holding chamber in the world. It was guarded by dozens of spells, all with the intent to stop anyone from breaking out... or in. Five foot thick walls of Faerie Metal made up the structure, with magic woven into the very fabric of the prison. There were no windows to look out of, no chairs to use as weapons, and no living guards to trick. Fyora herself had designed the prison, only months before, for a single purpose.
Fyora stood outside the cube, which sat in a pitch black room the size of several Yooyuball fields put together. The Faerie Queen was the only source of light in the chamber, but even her pink, strong glow was diminished by the special properties of the area. Fyora raised her staff, and touched it once, lightly, against the Faerie Metal cube. Nothing happened for a second, but then the spot where the staff had been touched began to shimmer, and melt away. Finally, after a few seconds, a small area big enough for a crouching faerie to fit through had been melted away, revealing the interior of the cube.
A single statue stood inside, with chains etched with humming, glowing faerie glyphs wrapped around the statue’s hands and feet. The statue itself was that of a young Spotted Xweetok woman frozen in a stance that suggested she was about to strangle somebody. A crazed look was still shining in her stone eyes, as if the Xweetok had been so close to something... or to stopping someone.
“Xandra.” Fyora spoke, her voice echoing softly in the darkness. “Dear, dear Xandra.” The Queen rested a hand on Xandra’s rocky shoulder, and a single tear slid down her smooth, faintly pink cheek. She stood like that for a long time, staring at her former student, contemplating the past events of the young woman’s life. Where had she gone wrong with her? How had she become this... this... monster? The Faerie shook her head sadly, and turned to leave. Maybe it was because she wasn’t a Faerie. Maybe the secrets of their race weren’t meant to be shared with such outsiders.
Whatever it was, Fyora would leave it for another time. She couldn’t bear being in that room with Xandra any longer. Silently, the glowing Faerie stepped out of the chamber, and closed her eyes, trying hard not to run back in there, and take the stone curse off of Xandra. But the Queen didn’t notice a silent shadow slithering across the floor, or even when it flitted into the chamber while she thought. A moment later, she opened her eyes, and hardened her resolve. Xandra had done enough damage already, and she wouldn’t free her just so she could do more. Silently, Fyora strode away from the cell, and vanished with a flash of pink light. Before she did, though, the Faerie Queen promised herself something. She wouldn’t leave Xandra down there, like that, forever. No one, no matter how twisted, deserved that fate.
A small smudge of darkness crawled across the floor of the prison cell, scooting along like liquid shadow. It stopped a few feet from Xandra’s slipper clad feet, and started to bubble. Slowly, the darkness grew taller and longer, and took on the shape of a faerie. Point tipped wings sprouted from the heaving mass of blackness, and long, silky hair separated itself from the head. Gradually, the dark magic hardened and changed, until it became a real faerie, one surrounded by an aura of evil and decay, one that stank of dark deeds and mistrust.
“Xandra.” Jhudora wasn’t aware that she had started her one-sided conversation with Xandra exactly the same way as Fyora, albeit in a very different tone. While the Queen’s voice had been laced with sadness and pity, the dark faerie’s was cold, bitter, and venomous.
“My my... look what you have become.” The faerie slowly circled the statue, tracing a finger along Xandra’s head, clucking her tongue amusement. “The great Faerie Conqueror... reduced to literally nothing more than a pile of rubble. How... pitiful.” The last word of the sentence was filled with poison, and Jhudora narrowed her eyes.
“Unlike that fool Fyora, I know you can hear me, Xandra.” A smile crept up the sides of the dark faerie’s face, making it ugly with hate. “And I have a proposition for you.” Jhudora drew level with Xandra’s eyes, and tilted her head a bit, holding it in one hand. “We both have one thing in common--we hate all the other faeries. But you... you were going in the completely wrong direction. The faeries are too powerful to simply be destroyed--that’s a miserable waste. No,” Jhudora’s smile widened, making her look rather like a grinning Transparent Wocky. “What you have to do is harness their power, bend them to your will. That’s why I intend to overthrow Fyora herself, and take the throne.” Anyone watching could almost see Xandra’s eyes following Jhudora, see the stone orbs filled with greed. “If you help me, I’ll share the throne with you... to an extent. All you have to do is help me, and I’ll return you to your normal state, and you get a portion of control for Faerieland....” A small, purple spark blazed into life on the tip of Jhudora’s index finger. “So what do you say?”
Jhudora didn’t have to have an answer from the Xweetok sorceress to know what she would want. The dark faerie flicked the purple spark onto the statue of Xandra, where it struck like lightning, creating a massive crack in the stone. The crack widened, little veins of breaking stone running all over the statue like the Spider Grundo weaving its nest. Finally, the entire stone figure was covered with cracks, which all shone with a gleaming magical light. A moment later, the stone exploded outward, and Jhudora covered her eyes to avoid getting a shard of rock in her perfect face. Finally, the light dimmed, and the faerie uncovered her face.
Standing there, not five feet away, was Xandra, the sorceress herself. Her long purple robes flowed down her skinny form, and her green hair flowed like sea water. An evil, toothy grin covered her face, and a pair of cracked glasses rested upon her small nose. Slowly, her hands flexed in their chains, and Xandra looked forward at Jhudora, eyes lit with insanity. When she spoke, her voice was high pitched, but still sang with the same beautiful evil as her faerie partner.
“What are we waiting for?”
Fyora climbed wearily up the long staircase to her personal chambers. Her hand slid along the wooden railing, and she didn’t even pause at the window to look outside at the hordes of faeries flying to and fro, slowly repairing the city. Once, a small Blue Kacheek came rushing up the stairs, clutching a small Baby JubJub tightly in his arms. The JubJub was coughing loudly and wetly, weak from its illness. The Queen placed a hand on the baby’s forehead, and a faint glow spread along its body. The Kacheek thanked her with much bowing and scraping. He even tried to give her what looked like the only five neopoints he had, but Fyora turned him down gently, and instead summoned a Maractite Battle Duck from her Hidden Tower, and gave it to the Kacheek as a gift. The Faerie Queen smiled gently for a second at the sight of the little boy and his brother getting something worth more money than many would ever make, then turned, and continued on her way.
It wasn’t long before Fyora reached her chambers, and alighted upon her chair at her desk. Letters and scrolls about the politics of Faerieland all whizzed around her head, wanting to be answered, but the faerie waved them all away, and sat with her head in her hands. Suddenly, a giant lump fell into her stomach. Fyora gasped in surprise. It felt as if someone had just punched her in the gut, and then hastily written a few faerie glyphs in the air; for indeed, there were three shining symbols floating above the Queen’s head, spelling out an alarm. Fyora stood quickly, and felt a cold shiver wash down her back. The security spells in Xandra’s prison had been activated.
The Faerie Queen didn’t even bother with stairs. She clapped her hands once, and disappeared in a flash of bright pink light. A serving faerie that was bringing the Queen her lunch dropped her tray in surprise at the sudden flash of light, and, being rather new, let out a small squeal of fear.
Fyora appeared in the cellar of the castle, and instantly whipped out her crystal staff. Not a thing stirred in the dank chambers, but the Queen wasn’t to be fooled by appearances. She strode forward to the cube that was holding her student; nothing at all seemed amiss. All the security spells were once again calm, and the glyphs were quietly pulsing with a golden light.
She wasted no time in opening the Faerie Metal cube. Inside, everything was just as it should be--Xandra’s statue stood motionless in the center, and the chains were not at all disturbed. None of the guarding spells showed any signs of being triggered, either. Fyora narrowed her eyes at the scene, and then waved her hand over her head. A faint pink glow spread all over, and then returned to the Queen’s waiting palm. Fyora frowned, and tried several more spells on Xandra, her chains, the walls and the floor, but all said that the only way someone could have entered was for the brief few moments that she had let down the spells to allow herself to enter. Fyora’s frown deepened, but she could not find anything wrong with the cell or Xandra. Face still drawn tight, the Queen slammed her staff on the floor of the cell, and was gone.
A couple moments later, the replica pocket dimension that Xandra and Jhudora had created over the real cell flickered, then crumbled away, revealing the ruins of the actual cell... which was now nothing more than a pile of dust and broken chains.
To be continued...
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