Greenglade: Part Four
Laerya knew she should heed Tayheir's words, but she couldn't move. She couldn't leave. Resolve conquered her apprehension and she stood still, trying not to look away from the Hissi's bitter eyes.
"If you don't get out, I'll force you out," Tayheir hissed.
"Laerya, we should go..." Akorri coughed and nudged her.
She shook her head. "No. Tayheir, we need to talk."
"I don't even know you. There's no reason for us to talk. Now get out!" Tayheir lashed out with his wing, missing Laerya by an inch. She knew he'd intended that to be a warning and not an actual attack, but she shuddered all the same.
"I can't leave until we've discussed what your group does around Greenglade." She tried her best to feign confidence, though she was trembling inside. Why was she so scared? The only time she remembered being this scared before was when she went down that tunnel... Neopets never scared her – there was something about Tayheir, an eerie quality...
"Don't talk about that place." Tayheir's voice was dangerously low.
Laerya's eyes widened. "Why shouldn't I?"
The fire Hissi bared his sharp teeth. "Don't come around here and talk about Greenglade." He lowered his head. "Not on my turf."
"Lae, come on..." Akorri nudged Lae again.
She didn't budge. "What's wrong with Greenglade?"
"Not until you stop the Vesiers from causing trouble in Greenglade."
Tayheir opened his mouth wide; flames leapt out, heading straight towards her; the Cybunny managed to dodge before they hit her. Tayheir hissed as he unleashed more flames, trying in vain to sear Laerya. Each time she dodged, Tayheir's frustration mounted.
The Hissi lunged towards Lae, his wings aflame, his hood flying off to reveal two long, dark pink horns protruding from his head. Laerya ducked and rolled away – Tayheir spread his wings and took to the air, hissing threats as he watched the Cybunny dodge his every move.
From his place in the air he launched more flames at her. She gasped as the fire streaked past her, narrowly avoiding the flame catching her backpack. In spite of the danger she was in, she found it difficult to take her eyes off the Hissi's horns. They definitely looked like a property of magic.
"Please, stop!" she gasped as she dodged the flames again; she glanced back to make sure Akorri was safe. The Xweetok hid himself behind a tree. Pushing thoughts of his cowardice out of her mind, Lae held out a hand, hoping that it would light up.
Tayheir sighed, closing his mouth, his eyes slits. "If you leave I'll stop."
"Just listen to me," Laerya pleaded, her voice quiet, her initial fear gone. All that she felt now was irritation and helplessness. "Please." She narrowed her eyes at her hand, which refused to cast light.
The Hissi swooped down and landed close to Lae, his movements wary, nodding. "Okay."
Laerya took a deep breath, bracing herself, surprised that Tayheir was willing to listen. "I'd like the Vesiers to leave Greenglade alone. They deserve peace."
"Oh, do they?" Tayheir sneered. "I don't care what my group gets up to."
"But... you're their leader, aren't you? It's your job to care."
"It's not my job." Tayheir's thin tongue peeked from his half-open mouth, as if in a taunting gesture. "I couldn't care less about what they do."
"Do you even care about them at all?" Laerya knew she shouldn't be horrified by this, but Tayheir's selfishness appalled her.
"The only reason they stay with me is because they think I'll protect them," the Hissi murmured, his voice so quiet that Lae had to strain her ears to hear. "They aren't too smart."
Laerya was beginning to lose sight of why she was here. Tayheir's words discouraged her enormously – she felt a hole yawning inside her, a hole of pity for the Hissi and the Vesiers. They didn't seem too smart at all if they were following an arrogant, resentful leader such as Tayheir.
"Why do you hate Greenglade so much?" Akorri asked, emerging from his hiding place.
"It's none of your business." Tayheir clicked his tongue, his sharp gaze penetrating the Xweetok. "If you try making it your business, I won't let you leave."
Laerya hung her head, feeling all her energy leave her. "Fine..." She turned to Akorri. "Let's go."
Tayheir smirked and nodded with satisfaction.
Before Laerya could take a step a red Moehog crashed towards them, stopping beside Tayheir. He cast Lae and Akorri hateful glances before speaking to the fire Hissi. "Tay, I've heard something and I know you ain't gonna like it..."
Akorri was making his way back, but Lae caught him by the tail, anxious to hear the Moehog's news.
"Spit it out," Tayheir snarled after the Moehog paused, draping his hood back over his head.
"Um... Lorelei's back in Greenglade."
"What? Lorelei?!" Three voices gasped in unison: Tayheir's loathsome look was marred by confusion as he stared at Lae and Akorri.
"How do you know who she is?" His voice was an icy whisper. His eyes, no longer old, looked youthful with naivety, revealing just how young he was.
Laerya and Akorri glanced cautiously at each other. "We had a run in with her several months ago. She wanted to put Faerieland back up in the sky and expand the Haunted Woods." Lae was careful to leave out how exactly Lorelei had gone about to achieve this – she didn't want Tayheir getting any ideas. "How do you know her?"
Tayheir closed his eyes. "It doesn't matter how I know her," he replied, his voice taut with pent-up rage – Lae could detect it easily. "Nelson..." He addressed the Moehog. "Escort these two intruders back to Greenglade. Now."
The Moehog, Nelson, nodded. "Will do, Tay." He turned to Laerya and Akorri, looking almost as spiteful as his leader. "Go on, get out."
"I thought you're supposed to escort us?" Laerya asked.
"...You do know what he means by 'escort', don't you, Lae?" Akorri mumbled, shuffling away.
Lae was about to call the Xweetok back, but one look from Nelson told her what he meant by 'escort'. Quickly following Akorri's example, she turned and pelted away, grabbing Akorri's arm as she ran.
"So Lorelei is back in Greenglade..." Alex mused, flicking his long tail.
Laerya, Akorri and Alex stood together by the training rock while Jinny sat on it. Jinny and Alex had been listening to Laerya's account of her trip to see Tayheir, though Jinny gave no sign that she was interested – she merely looked at Lae from her place on the rock.
"Why does Tayheir know about Lorelei?" asked Laerya. "How do you know about her?"
"She used to live here," Alex replied solemnly.
Laerya's mouth snapped open – beside her, she felt Akorri stiffen.
"Her story's not a nice one," Alex went on, "but I can tell it to you if you like."
Laerya nodded, giving in to her curiosity as always. "I wanna hear it."
Alex took a deep breath and began. By now he had caught even Jinny's attention. "Lorelei was born and raised here in Greenglade. She went to school here, trying to hone her dark magic.
"She wasn't as gifted a pupil as you might expect. It took a long time for her teacher to get anywhere with her. The most she had been able to do for three long years was just simple magic to stun her opponents. I'm sure she's skilled in that area now, though.
"Because of her slow progression, the other kids teased her. I didn't think the mocking had any effect, but it became obvious to me that it was definitely getting to her... I realized far too late.
"By her fifth year studying her magic, she managed to conjure up some pretty good dark spells. Nothing amazing, but it was better than what she'd been able to do before. And still, the others made fun of her...
"She snapped in her sixth year. Bent on punishing her peers for their unkind words, her dark magic wrecked havoc in Greenglade. Her fury lasted a good while before the senior villagers of Greenglade managed to put a stop to her. She fled, but not before one last terrible deed.
"Lorelei cast her magic on a yellow Hissi named Dash. It was really something awful... With that, she left, leaving Dash's younger brother Tayheir in tears."
Laerya felt herself falling. Sympathy for Tayheir crashed over her, mingling with disgust at Lorelei. She didn't know what to think.
"As if I couldn't hate that Bori enough," Akorri muttered. "I should've guessed she'd be capable of something like that."
Lae looked down at the soft grass, her mind whirling. However sorry she felt for Lorelei for being taunted to the point of causing destruction, she hated that the Bori performed such vicious acts. "We should've handed her to the Defenders of Neopia when we had the chance," Lae murmured.
"It's too late to think about that now," Alex said. "No regrets. We just have to deal with the current matter at hand."
Laerya nodded slowly. She glanced at Akorri to see the Xweetok looking gravely at her, as if sharing her thoughts. She nodded at him and a brief moment of understanding flashed between them.
The sound of a whip being cracked caught Laerya's attention. She saw a puff of purple smoke above Alex and a parchment appeared in his hands. He read the letter, his expression resembling Akorri's the further he read on.
"What? What is it?" Laerya asked, her limbs turning to lead. She knew this couldn't be good.
"It's Lorelei," Alex explained. "She says she's got a group ready and is going to destroy Greenglade."
To be continued...